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Amigo Realty
(506) 2223-1327                    Published Monday, March 11, 2013,  in Vol. 13, No. 49                Email us
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Jo Stuart

                Rica real estate

It took murder to generate action on Caribbean coast
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators suspect that individuals detained in a fatal stickup early March 2 may be the gang that has been plaguing the Caribbean Coast since October.

A massive response from police officials required the murder of a 17-year-old girl. The girl was shot at her family's store in Panama near the border but died in the Hone Creek clinic

In fact, in late February, a police officer reported that crime had decreased in the area. There was no mention of a long string of criminality.

In addition, there did not seem to be much emphasis in the Spanish-language press or on television stations about the continuing problem in the Puerto Viejo, Cahuita and Sixaola areas. A.M. Costa Rica editors and reporters monitor such news closely.

The bulk of  reports about crimes in that area came mainly from readers of this newspaper. Those who went public with the situation, such as Carol Meeds, faced extensive criticism from fellow residents, mainly through a local Internet discussion list.

Michael Cook, a Massachusetts resident who used to spend part of the year at Playa Negra, also has been candid with letters urging action on security.

Understandably those in the tourism business along the Caribbean coast feared that extensive publicity of the crimes would hurt business.

That is why tourists appeared to be easy pickings. Judicial agents detained five men and a woman Saturday and said they were suspects in a robbery gang that ravaged the area. The six were linked to three persons who already were detained within hours and days after the 17-year-old died.

The Judicial Investigating Organization attributed an invasion and robbery of the Hotel Sansanti early Feb. 28 to the gang. That was the case where the victims, 18 tourists, mostly U.S. and Canadians, were ordered from their rooms and held hostage for an hour while crooks sacked the hotel rooms and bungalows.

That night a Canadian family, tourists at the Congo Bongo complex in Manzanillo were confronted by at least five men wearing masks and carrying firearms.

Taken were cameras and cash, investigators said. This stickup is being attributed to the same gang by investigators.

The two crimes were the first public mention by police agencies. Presumably many of the robbery reports did not reach the judicial police central headquarters in San José. That agency also was deeply involved in other crimes, including a daily dose of murders and drug smuggling.

Equally silent on what appears to be a crime wave were the various foreign embassies. Although embassy workers are among the first to know about
crimes committed against their nationals, no diplomat has even sought news coverage of the situation. They prefer to make personal comments to their Costa Rican counterparts and are not anxious to rock the boat too much.

A case in point is the U.S. Embassy where workers there decline to even confirm that a U.S. citizen has been involved in a crime. They cite the State Department's expanded interpretation of the U.S. Privacy Act. Even though death extinguishes privacy rights, embassy officials will not even confirm an automobile death or the name of a murder victim, although embassy workers might be the most authoritative source.

Not a single tourism operator sought help from reporters in getting more police into the Caribbean coast area.

The robbery across the border and the subsequent death of Ayad Said Alsur appears to have generated an overwhelming response from judicial investigators. More than 100 agents were assigned to the case. They had the advantage of the quick arrests of two Coast Rican and a Panamanian national.

Officers said that two men were detained shortly after the shooting in Panamá.  Officers carried plenty of evidence in their vehicle that linked them to the fatal robbery. There was a handbag belonging to the dead girl and even a billfold with photos of the family of victims, they said.

Agents detained the third suspect, a Panamanian, March 4 on the strength of an identification by the dead girl's father. The father said he also identified the clothes worn by the suspect as garments taken from his place of business during the robbery.

With these three suspects in custody, agents moved to locate others.  The investigation bore fruit early Saturday when eight simultaneous raids were conducted at Bribrí Centro, nearby Chease, Margarita de Sixaola, Catarata and Hone Creek. All the communities are close to the Panamá border and are in the canton of Talamanca.

Agents said that they found evidence at some of the homes of the suspects that could be linked to robberies.

And the Judicial Investigating Organization said specifically that agents are continuing to look into a number of robberies that have taken place since October and that the participation of the suspects have not been discounted.

The five men join the three earlier suspects in preventative detention. A woman detained in the Saturday raid was set free on the condition that she sign in with prosecutors.

The girl died on the Caribbean coast, but because she was shot in Panamá, the cases will be tried in San José due to a law that covers events outside the country that have an effect here.

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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 11, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 49
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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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bags of
Judicial Investigating Organization photo 
Sacks of coffee await recovery in Guápiles

That's a lot of work to steal
just one sack of green coffee

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Someone carried off a shipping container of green coffee that was awaiting transport at the Limón port. The container was among 14 scheduled to go to Europe, and it held 275 sacks of coffee, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

About 8 p.m. Thursday workers at the port realized that they were one container short. The containers were parked near the Limón park and apparently not inside the secure port area.

But agents said they received a confidential tip as to the location of the missing container. Based on that information they found the container at an old sausage factory in Río Jiménez de Guápiles.

But the crooks got away with one sack, they said.

The container was returned to the docks, and there was no arrest.

Our readers' opinions
Expats should refrain
from criticizing country

Dear A. M. Costa Rica:

I have been traveling to Costa Rica for over 15 years and have seen a great increase in expats complaining about the country and how it operates.  The comments about cane field burnings and how it A.) causes pollution, B.) disrupts driving due to the smoke, C.) people don’t like the smell, and D.) any other whining excuse to halt this long-standing practice. 

These complaints and associated diatribes on how Costa Ricans should live are just the latest in an ongoing attempt to turn Costa Rica into the United States.  I personally spend approximately 50 percent of my year in Costa Rica and find the trend of expats complaining about the country disturbing since one of the reasons I spend so much time here is I enjoy and celebrate the different lifestyle of Costa Rica. If I wanted the country to be just like the U.S. I would stay in the U.S.

As a guest of Costa Rica whether permanent or tourist, I do not believe we have the right to complain about another country.  U.S. citizens are quick to take offense when someone comes to our home country and constantly complains about how it is run either politically or socially so we should keep this in mind when we talk about Costa Rica.  If an expat feels so strongly about making changes to the country I suggest they give up their U.S. citizenship, become a Costa Rican citizen and work to make the changes.  Otherwise keep quiet and thank your blessings you are allowed to live here and remember always you are guest of the Costa Rican people.
Jere Land
Houston, Texas

Leave gambling to crooks
to avoid regressive taxation

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In response to your article “Lottery bets on electronics to fight the illegal numbers games” (March 8) it amazes me how lawmakers around the globe continue to prey on the most vulnerable members of society by running games of chance such as lotteries, electronic or otherwise, to balance budgets or generate new streams of revenue.

Here in the U.S. I see a growing trend of licensing new casinos in the name of job-generation. Every down-on-their-luck municipality is scrambling to establish these facilities. After the luster of the bright lights and new construction fades they are left with the sad faces of seniors and the disabled cashing in their pension and social security checks on futile games of chance and empty dreams.

As for state/municipal lotteries these seem to be even less redeeming ventures. No construction jobs building casinos. No staffing jobs operating casinos. Just automated dispensers (or video games) in bars, grocery stores, and liquor marts spewing out empty promises of fortunes and salvation. I know that independent vendors sell these tickets on the streets of Costa Rican towns and cities, but this work seems marginal and, from what I read, dangerous. I read somewhere that, in the U.S., two-thirds of people living below the poverty line spend one-third of their incomes on lottery tickets.

State-operated games of chance are, at best, a questionable form of regressive taxation. Citizens should ask their lawmakers if government should be involved in directly defrauding the public in the name of revenue generation. Perhaps games of chance should remain the domain of criminal enterprise.

Craig W. Weir
Reston, Virginia

Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary

Costa Rican news summaries are disabled
on archived pages.

Have you seen these stories?
From A.M. Costa Rica

Top story news feeds are disabled on archived pages.

                Rey Hotel

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Third News Page
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 11, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 49
Real Estate
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recycled items
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson 
Marco Morales Coto and his wife, Silvia Calderón, are flanked by necklaces from a computer card and from pills
Society's junk becomes a medium for these recycling artists
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

For many, the solution to getting rid of those odd and end pieces is to place them all in a drawer for a time when they can become useful again.  This time is one that usually rarely comes, and the drawer continues to accumulate random items.

Chemist Marco Morales Corto has found a way to turn those items that have lost their purpose into something worthy of adornment.  He takes ordinary junk and turns it into wearable jewelry through his business Neki Arts.

“A lot of people have things in a drawer that they don’t use,” he said.  “They bring it to me, and I make things out of it.  It works because they are cleaning the house and getting jewelry at the same time.”

Morales’s jewelry is made from conventional recycled items such as bottle tops, beads and buttons as well as unconventional ones like pencil shavings, crushed red peppers from pizza deliveries, expired pills, old fax machine pieces, rusted nails, birthday candles and memory cards. 

He arranges the items in a design inside a mold, and fuses them all together with acrylic glass or polymethyl methacrylate, a clear glass-like plastic.  The compound is commonly used for artificial nails and shower doors.

The formula is something he studied through university chemistry classes and has perfected through experimentation.  The final project is a one-of-a-kind designer piece.

The idea, he said, came to him from watching his father work at his recycling business.  Morales’s dad makes products for industrial use out of polyvinyl chloride.

“I thought I could take the same idea and use it to make jewelry,” he said.  “So I went to the university and learned how to do it.”

For eight years Morales has been selling his art at different festivals such as last weekend’s Transitarte 2013, which brought various artists together and gave them a venue to showcase their work.

The chemist was not the only one at the event with the day of recycled goods.  A few booths down Maria Fernanda Arguedas shared her milk carton creations agreeing with Morales’s sentiment that “some of the best things come from an experiment.”

“I started when I was 16,” Ms. Fernanda said.  “I needed a key chain, and we had a lot of milk cartons around.  I took them and made my key chain, then I kept making different things.”

She began creating things for her friends, and eventually grew a clientele.

Through her business Kibé, Ms. Fernanda now sells hair accessories, earrings and notebooks.  The products require her to cut and layer several of the carton pieces until she receives the desired thickness.  For the hair accessories she then paints the item in a unique design.

The whole process requires her to accumulate a lot of waste,
artist and her
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
 Maria Fernanda Arguedas and some of her products from
 old milk cartons and other discards

a process with which her friends have helped.

“My house has turned into the garbage,” she joked.

The two entrepreneurs continue to develop new products drawing inspiration from random items in the streets or suggestions from friends.

For instance, Morales started a coin jewelry installment after a lady brought him a bag full of coins that he turned into rings.

“A man saw them and said I have a lot of coins, do you want them?” he said.  “I said of course I want them.  They were the really little coins and I thought I can’t make rings out of these, but I can make earrings.”

As for Ms. Morales, she says she will keep cutting and arranging her cartons in different ways to make different things people can use.

Neki Arts can be viewed HERE!

Kibé can be seen HERE!

Police sweep includes 10 centers of prostitution in metro area
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers and volunteers of the Fundación Rahab went into 10 centers of prostitution Saturday and ended up helping the immigration police issue citations to 14 foreigners whose paperwork was not in order, they said.

The visits to city locations such as these are a continuing effort by the police, supported by judicial agents and the traffic and immigration police.

The law enforcement effort began at noon Saturday and continued until midnight. They said they found one person with two homemade firearms and located a crackhouse in Los Guidos where 20 persons were using crack cocaine.

In all police at various points in the metro area checked out 534 persons, 64 vehicles and 58 motorcyclists. They also found a man carrying a 9-mm. pistol that had been reported stolen from a security company, they said. Another man was detained
 because he was the subject of an outstanding warrant alleging robbery, they said.

Traffic officers issued 89 tickets and took the license plates off 14 vehicles and confiscated 16 motorcycles that were suspected of being stolen.

Prostitution is not prosecuted in Costa Rica, but police officers usually check out those found in such establishments.

The Fundación Rahab volunteers usually accompany the police and conduct interviews with the women found in the locations where prostitution is solicited. They seek to encourage them to find alternative means of employment.

A.M. Costa Rica has questioned the legality of private individuals accompanying police on what amounts to raids and then forcing persons there to participate in an interview and fill out a questionnaire. The foundation is financed in part by the U.S. government.

Del Rey Hotel

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 11, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 49
Real Estate
About us

Consejo Nacional de Vialidad photo
The washout took most of one lane.

Culvert fails under roadway
and traffic is being diverted

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The highway that connects Cariari and Puerto Lindo, Ruta 247, is closed until a contractor can install a concrete culvert to replace one of corrugated steel that collapsed.

The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad, an agency of the transport ministry, said that the roadway may be back into service later this week.

Texas Tech University photo
Plankton is the star of high-speed photo techniques.

Plankton appear to cope
with temperature changes

By the Texas Tech University news staff

Understanding plankton and their ability to respond to changes in the environment could have direct implications into understanding the future health of the oceans, according to recent research.

Because of their small size, water is like honey for tiny marine plankton. So, it was often assumed they would be easy prey, especially in the dense viscosity of colder waters, but that is not necessarily so.

Jian Sheng, along with biologists Brad Gemmell and Edward Buskey from the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, have discovered new information that explains how these tiny organisms overcome this disadvantage.

Their paper, titled “A compensatory escape mechanism at low Reynolds number” was published in the current issue of Proceeding of the National Academy of Science.

“The purpose of the study was in trying to determine the effects of climate change at the very base of the food chain,” Sheng, a Texas Tech University associate professor, said.

As one of the most abundant animal groups on the planet, many species, including many commercially important fish species, rely on planktonic (copepod nauplii) at some point during their life cycle. Understanding the ability of these animals to respond to changes in the environment could have direct implications into understanding the future health of our oceans.

By independently varying temperature and viscosity, Sheng recorded their movements with 3-D high speed holographic techniques developed by the Sheng lab at Texas Tech.

“At 3,000 frames per second, it was like tracking a racecar through a microscope,” Sheng said. “We were able to determine that the plankton adapted to changes in viscosity by altering the rhythm of its pulsing appendage.”

The response, built in to its natural muscle fiber, was only triggered by changes in temperature, Sheng said. It could not compensate for changes in viscosity due to environmental pollution, such as algae blooms or oil spills.

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Mountain cabin for rent
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We offer for rent three furnished, 2-bedroom mountain homes located on the slopes of Barva Volcano, Sacramento, Heredia. The cabin-style homes are adjacent to the Braulio Carillo National Park and walking distance to the Barva Volcano crater lake. Enjoy a spacious living room, kitchen, fireplace and garage. Take in breathtaking views of the Irazú Volcano and the Central Valley. Observe dozens of bird species, to include the occasional Resplendent Quetzal, and a pristine cloud forest. We can also offer you an occasional ride on one of our beautiful mares. Contact Allan or Cristina at, or or for more information HERE! $700 USD/month. We can also offer a weekend or short-stay package.

Tropical Homes of Costa Rica is offering the best selection of vacation homes, condos and long-term rental homes in Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito on  the Pacific Gold Coast of Guanacaste. A wide selection of private residencies is providing an excellent choice for your stay in this beautiful part 
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We have many prime properties available for long-term rentals.
Santa Ana

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Villas Casa Loma has everything you are looking for.  Best vistas, climate, value.  Four unique homes in a secure private compound on a ridge near Alajuela overlooking the entire Central Valley.  Two are available fully furnished and equipped, each a complete home accommodating 4 persons in two bedrooms with ensuite baths.  Pool, rancho, mirador, other features.  Ask about part-month rates.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.


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About us
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The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2013 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 11, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 49
Real Estate
About us

bookstore promoe

Venezuelans face new vote
for president on April 14

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuelan political parties are preparing for intense campaigning ahead of a presidential election set for April 14 to replace Hugo Chávez, the socialist leader who died last week after a long battle with cancer.

The date was announced by Venezuela's electoral commission Saturday, one day after Chavez's vice president and chosen successor, Nicolas Maduro, was sworn in as acting president.

Maduro is likely to face opposition leader Henrique Capriles, the governor of Miranda state. He lost to Chavez in a presidential election last October.

Capriles has denounced Friday's inauguration of Maduro as a "constitutional fraud."

Eighteen Latin American presidents and several other foreign leaders attended Friday's funeral for Chávez. The United States sent a diplomatic delegation.

Chávez died Tuesday, two years after announcing his illness. His death devastated millions of mostly poor supporters who revered him for offering the promise of a better future. His death also gave renewed hope to opponents who denounced him as a dictator.

Study says planet is hottest
in the last 11,000 years

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A new study in the journal Science says the planet is becoming the hottest it has ever been in the last 11,000 years.

Researchers used fossils and other pieces of data from around the world to reconstruct global temperatures since the end of the last Ice Age.

They conclude that the Earth was cooling significantly before a spike in global temperatures after 1910. And they say the last decade was one of the hottest on record.

Some scientists say human activity and pollution from cars and factories is causing the Earth to warm up. Others say natural forces are causing global warming.

Fast food and salt targeted
as contributors to disease

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Scientists have implicated dietary salt in the development of autoimmune diseases, which are caused when the body’s naturally protective immune system attacks and destroys healthy tissues and organs.  Some researchers believe the modern diet, including consumption of fast foods, may play a role in the mysterious evolution of these conditions.

Scientists have identified about 100 genetic variants, mutations that shuffle the genetic material of a living cell, that appear to play a role in the development of autoimmune diseases, including the crippling condition known as multiple sclerosis, or MS.  Evidence shows that these mutations are not inherited, but instead are triggered by an environmental factor.

A previous infection, vitamin D deficiency, smoking and obesity have been identified as potential triggers.  Now, researchers believe dietary salt may also act as a gene-altering trip wire, causing the body’s immune system to begin misdirecting protective T-cells against healthy tissue.

In two papers published this week, researchers at Harvard Medical School and the Broad Institute in Massachusetts describe potential molecular pathways by which salt might induce an autoimmune response.

And in a third paper, researchers at Yale University describe dramatic results when they fed one group of mice a low-salt diet and another group of rodents a diet high in sodium.  All of the mice were bred to develop a disease that mimics MS.

David Hafler is head of the Department of Neurology at Yale. Hafler says the rodents that consumed less salt walked normally but with a limp tail.

“Animals on the high salt were basically paralyzed and couldn’t move around the cage," said Hafler. "So, a very dramatic difference in the extent of the disease.”

Hafler says researchers stumbled upon the possible salt link while studying the variety of bacteria living in the guts of 100 human subjects, noticing that those who ate at fast food restaurants had high levels of inflammatory T cells in their blood.  Inflammation is a sign of immune system activation, and autoimmune diseases, including MS, type 1 diabetes, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, have all been on the rise in recent years. Even rates of heart disease, caused by an inflammatory process, have skyrocketed.

Hafler says the genetic variants that contribute to MS and the other autoimmune disorders are not necessarily bad genes.

"But it's a bad interaction between genes and the environment," he said. "And what the study really has demonstrated is that salt is likely or may be one of the environmental factors that was previously unknown."

All three studies on sodium as a potential trigger of autoimmune disorders are published in the journal Nature.

Military contractors fear
results of budget reductions

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. budget cuts known as Sequestration are projected to reduce government spending by $1.2 trillion over 10 years. The cuts are already being felt by U.S. defense contractors.

Davis Interiors is a small company in Norfolk, Virginia that makes specialized furniture and fixtures for U.S. Navy ships.  Administrator Whitney Metzger says the firm is already feeling the impact of sequestration. 

“We have had to cut back on employee hours. Almost everyone in this company has had to go down to a four-day work week. Some employees have had to go down to a three-day work week. We are anticipating lay-offs, probably soon,” said Whitney.

Davis Interiors is one of the many private contractors in eastern Virginia that service the nation’s largest naval base and other military installations.  All together, they employ more than 40,000 people.

The Defense Department’s plan to furlough almost 90,000 employees has not yet impacted the regional economy. But the cancellation of maintenance contracts for 11 ships based in Norfolk is already causing pain to contractors like Davis Interiors.

David Williams has worked for Davis Interiors for 25 years. He says this is the second time in two years that government budget cuts have caused sudden work slowdowns. 

“I am very concerned about it because, I mean, I am still trying to recover from the last time this happened, and you get behind on your bills, and you struggle,” he said.

Whitney Metzger says with foreign wars winding down, defense contractors in the area know that military spending will be reduced, but the sudden sequester cuts are too severe and could put them out of business.

“We don’t know what is going to happen.  We have contracts that we have been awarded that we will be able to see through, but after those, because of sequestration, no new contracts are being issued to anyone," said Metzger.

Defense contractors in this region are the first to feel the impact of the sequester, and, if they remain in place, economists predict the entire state of Virginia will soon spiral into recession.

The cuts this year is about 5 percent of the U.S. budget.

Obama to try personal touch
to get his way with congress

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. lawmakers of both parties are praising President Barack Obama’s overtures to Capitol Hill but say those efforts alone will not spur bipartisan action on the nation’s fiscal woes and other challenges. 
Pennsylvania Avenue, which runs from the Capitol to the White House, will be well-worn this week by presidential motorcades.  Obama is expected to make three separate trips to Congress to meet with lawmakers, hoping personal interaction will spur a rare commodity in Washington: a bipartisan approach to challenges ranging from fiscal matters to immigration reform.
“I have been reaching out to Republicans and Democrats to see if we can untangle some of the gridlock.  I still believe we can come together to do big things," Obama said.
Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press program, Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican, applauded the president’s so-called charm offensive.
“I am welcoming with open arms.  I think the president is tremendously sincere.  I think he actually would like to solve the problems of the country, and it would be to his benefit and certainly every Americans’ benefit if he did that," he said.
Last week, Obama dined twice with groups of Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Robert Portman.  Appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation program, Portman said presidential outreach to Republicans on fiscal matters will be wasted unless Obama convinces Democratic lawmakers to embrace genuine spending restraint.
“To build some trust is a good thing.  But to be honest with you, what the president needs to do is reach out, not just to Republicans, but to Democrats.  And to ensure that he gives them the political cover to do, frankly, what most of them know needs to be done," he said.
The president has been urging Democratic lawmakers to accept politically painful reforms to costly programs that provide income and healthcare for retirees.  But he also is urging Republicans to accept higher tax revenues as part of a formula for large-scale deficit reduction, a point emphasized by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat.
“Ultimately, our Republican colleagues are going to have to back off their position where they are saying you cannot close one single tax loophole for the purpose of reducing the deficit.  So, more talk is good.  But ultimately we need everybody to come together and compromise," he said.
House Republicans have prepared a budget blueprint that would eliminate America’s trillion-dollar federal deficit in 10 years, a first step to ultimately shrinking a $16 trillion national debt.  That plan accomplishes deficit reduction through spending cuts and reforms while actually lowering federal tax rates.
Democrats say any cuts-only plan will dismantle America’s social safety net and place the full burden of deficit reduction on the elderly and the poor.
Obama hopes to bridge such partisan differences with shuttle diplomacy along Pennsylvania Avenue.

Kerry's style as secretary
seems to give him freedom

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

John Kerry wrapped up his first trip abroad as secretary of State. Already, his diplomatic style and approach seem to differ from those of his predecessor, Hillary Clinton.

From the start, John Kerry said he knew he had big heels to fill replacing Hillary Clinton. She said his service on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee made him the right choice.

"He has a view of the world that he has acted on, first as that young returning veteran from Vietnam who appeared before this committee, through the time that he served with such distinction as its chairman."
On his first trip as secretary of State, this son of a foreign service family made clear his commitment to the men and women who carry out U.S. policy abroad.
"I have to tell you that the job you are engaged in is one of the greatest jobs in the world, and I am now privileged to share that journey with you."
So how will John Kerry's time as Washington's top diplomat differ from Hillary Clinton's?
Steve Heydemann at the U.S. Institute of Peace says Clinton's early rivalry with Barack Obama put pressure on her to show loyalty to the president.
"She, I think, worked very hard to preserve the impression of consensus even though we now know that there were some important differences under the surface. It seems to me that Secretary Kerry has been more willing to push the boundaries of policy, to challenge the limits imposed by the White House."

Heydemann says Kerry's legislative career gives him more diplomatic freedom.
"It seems to me he feels that, coming out of a long career in the Senate, that he is in a somewhat different position than Secretary Clinton was in taking this slightly more independent, more assertive role."
Secretary Clinton spent much of her time boosting U.S. diplomatic and commercial ties in Asia.
American University professor Pek Koon Heng says Kerry will have an easier time.
"Secretary Clinton has basically paved the way for Secretary Kerry to have more value added in the impact of policies that the U.S. will see in the coming months."
Heng expects Kerry will advance Washington's so-called Asia pivot. But his first official trip abroad was designed to consult with traditional U.S. allies in Europe and deal with longstanding problems in the Middle East.
With some diplomatic ties strained by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Heydemann says Kerry has an opportunity to build on international cooperation.
"Secretary Kerry is very much aligned with the view of the White House and of Secretary Clinton about the value of diplomacy, about the value of working with allies, about avoiding the kind of unilateralism that defined foreign policy under the previous administration."
Kerry will accompany President Obama to the Middle East later this month.

Russians find unknown DNA
in lake frozen under Antarctic

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Russian scientists say they might have found new life forms in a fresh-water Antarctic lake that has been sealed off from the world for 14 million years.

Bacterial DNA was discovered in samples of water the Russians took from Lake Vostok last year, when they finally broke through nearly four kilometers of Antarctic ice after a decade of intermittent drilling.

One of the Russian scientists analyzing the water samples - Sergei Bulat of the St. Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute - told the RIA Novosti news agency that after excluding all possible terrestrial contaminants, the research team has concluded that the bacterial DNA found in the lake's icy darkness "does not match any known species in world databases."

For now, Bulat said, they are calling the life forms unidentified or unclassified. They plan to take more samples from the lake to confirm their find.

But Bulat said he believes the discoveries will give new information about how life can survive in extreme conditions not only on Earth, but also on distant worlds such as Mars or the moons of Jupiter and Saturn.

British and U.S. research teams have been working to similar ends at other subglacial lakes near the southern pole. The British abandoned their quest last year, but the American team recently drilled through to Lake Whillans and took samples of what they called living cells from the icy water. They are still analyzing the find to identify what kinds of bacteria they are and how they manage to live without light or air.
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View from Orosi home

Majestically situated overlooking the Orosi Valley and the tropical rain forest, this 2-bedroom, 2½-bath home with a separate office is offered at $550,000.  From the extensive use of glass windows visitors are easily captivated by the unbelievably 7 acres of pure, natural Costa Rican landscape.   The property is located 15 minutes from the Cartago metropolitan area, an hour from San José, 1¼ hours to the Juan Santamaria International Airport, 2 hours to the beaches of the Pacific West Coast, or 3 ½  hours to the beaches of the southern Caribbean coast.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 11, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 49
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motorcycle check
Judicial Investigating Organization photo
Agents check a number on a motorcycle

Checkpoints on Isla de Chira
turn up stolen motorcycles

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial investigators showed up Saturday on the Isla de Chira in search of stolen motorcycles.

They set up checkpoints in various areas of the 43-square kilometer island (16.6 square miles).  They reported that they found two motorcycles that had been reported stolen and that there were six more that would be subjected to laboratory study because it appeared that the serial numbers had been altered.

The island, the second largest in Costa Rica, is in the middle of the gulf of Nicoya. The primary occupations are tourism and farming. But it also seems to be a magnet for stolen motorcycles, mainly those taken in Alajuela province, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Some 50 judicial agents participated in the effort, and they had assistance from Fuerza Pública officers, said the agency.

Hotels make up half the debt
that is owed to the Caja

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Hotels and other hospitality operations owe the Caja Costaricense de Seguro Social 1.5 billon colons or a bit more than $3 million, the health services agency said.

The Caja said that half the debt was generated by lack of payment by just 10 hotels. The debt comes from the money employers are supposed to pay the Caja for health protection and pensions for their employees based on the amount of their salaries. The payments are supposed to be made monthly.

However, the fact that so many hotels are behind is a commentary on the tourism situation.

Still the Caja said that its monthly collection efforts have reduced the amount of late payments.

Two more crocodiles
for Santa Ana facility

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Santa Ana residents are getting some new neighbors of the  Crocodylidae variety.

The zoo in San José reported Friday that it has constructed a 600-square meter area for crocodiles. That's about 6,458 square feet.

The Santa Ana facility of the Parque Zoológico y Jardín Botánico Nacional Simón Bolívar has had a male crocodile since 2005. This was a critter that broke a leg, and he was treated in Santa Ana. The two crocodiles that are being moved there are females.

All are American crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus), which can be found in the Pacific from northern México to northern Perú and in the Atlantic from northern México to the coast of Venezuela, said the zoo.

The zoo said in a release that one reason for the transfer was the safety at the facility in northern San José.

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Seventh Newspage

San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 11, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 49
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Study finds bad Internet neighborhoods

By the University of Twente news service

Bad Neighbourhoods on the internet are a real nuisance.

Of the 42,000 Internet service providers surveyed, just 20 were found to be responsible for nearly half of all the Internet addresses that send spam.

That just is one of the striking results of an extensive study by the University of Twente’s Centre for Telematics and Information Technology. This study focused on bad neighborhoods on the Internet, which sometimes correspond to certain geographical areas, that are the source of a great deal of spam, phishing or other undesirable activity. In his thesis, Giovane Moreira Moura describes this situation in detail.

Just like in the real world, the internet has also bad neighborhoods whose streets are not safe and where crime rates are higher than in other districts. Research into these “Bad Neighbourhoods on the Internet” can lead to better security solutions. To this end, Moura has carried out the first systematic investigation of malicious hosts, by monitoring and analysing network data. His main conclusion is that malicious activity is, indeed, concentrated in limited zones: areas in which the IP addresses show strong similarities, per ISP, or even per country. For instance, this doctoral researcher found that 62 percent of the addresses at one Internet service provider were related to spam. This knowledge can be used to link security measures to specific servers, he noted..

Different types of activities are associated with different parts of the world. For instance, spam comes mainly from southern Asian countries, while phishing occurs primarily in the United States and other developed countries. The reason for the latter is that these countries are home to most data centers and cloud computing providers. It is also important to distinguish between individual Internet addresses that launch one-off attacks and a whole bad neighborhood that almost always launches repeated attacks, the researcher noted. This information, too, is very useful in terms of establishing a security strategy. The history of a bad neighborhood, he added.

Moreira Moura from Goiânia, Brazil, carried out his doctoral research in the Design and Analysis of Communication Systems Department.

University of Maryland photo
 Study volunteers sat for 30 minutes in this machine which collects their

Study shows how flu virus spreads

By the University of Maryland news staff

People may more likely be exposed to the flu through airborne virus than previously thought, according to new research from the University of Maryland School of Public Health. The study also found that when flu patients wear a surgical mask, the release of virus in even the smallest airborne droplets can be significantly reduced.

"People are generally surprised to learn that scientists don't know for sure how flu spreads," says Donald Milton, who directs the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health and led the study of influenza virus aerosols published in the journal PLOS Pathogens Thursday.

"Our study provides new evidence that there is nearly nine times more influenza virus present in the smallest airborne droplets in the breath exhaled from those infected with flu than in the larger droplets that would be expected to carry more virus," explains Milton, a physician. "This has important implications for how we prevent the spread of flu."

The Gesundheit II machine collects the breath exhaled from flu sufferers. Study volunteers sit for 30 minutes with their heads in the horizontal cone attached to the machine, which sucks in the air around their heads to collect tiny airborne droplets generated deep in the lungs.

Researchers can then analyze the aerosols for the presence and quantity of virus. Routes of flu transmission include: 1.) direct or indirect (e.g., doorknobs, keyboards) contact with an infected person, 2.) contact via large droplet spray from a respiratory fluid (via coughs and sneezes), and 3.) inhalation of fine airborne particles, which are generated by the release of smaller, virus-containing droplets via normal breathing and coughing. The relative importance of these modes of influenza transmission has not been well understood, but is critical in devising effective interventions to protect healthcare workers and vulnerable people, such as infants and the elderly.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that persons with influenza wear surgical masks to prevent transmission to susceptible individuals. Yet, this recommendation has been supported so far by only one study of mask impact on the containment of large droplet spray during influenza infection. Maryland's study is the first to provide data showing that using a surgical mask can reduce the release of even the smallest droplets containing infectious virus. For this reason, health care facilities should put surgical masks on those suspected of having influenza, and individuals with influenza can protect their families by wearing a mask.

Milton and his research team, including scientists from Harvard and Boston University Schools of Public Health and the University of Hong Kong, collected the exhaled breath from 38 flu patients and tested both the coarse and fine particles for the number of viruses using molecular methods. They found that the fine particles had 8.8 times more virus than the coarse particles (larger but still airborne droplets). They also tested the airborne droplets for "culturable" virus and found that virus was not only abundant in some cases, but infectious. However, there was a big range of how many viruses people put into the air – some were undetectable while others put out over 100,000 every 30 minutes.

The researchers also tested the impact of wearing a surgical mask on the virus shedding into airborne droplets. Wearing a surgical mask significantly decreased the presence of virus in airborne droplets from exhaled breath. There was a 2.8-fold reduction in the amount of virus shed into the smallest droplets, and a 3.4 fold overall reduction in virus shed in both the coarse and fine and airborne particles.

Study shows Egyptians had tough lives

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A common image of ancient Egyptian royalty depicts an opulent lifestyle of palatial comforts and daily feasts. But new research suggests that high government officials typically suffered from malnutrition and infectious diseases, and that most died before they were 30 years old.

Anthropologists from the Universities of Jaen and Granada analyzed the bones of more than 200 mummies found in a 4,000-year-old tomb near the present-day city of Aswan.

They conclude that the population in general, as well as the highest social class, lived on the edge of survival. Infant mortality rates were extremely high. The ancient Egyptians faced chronic hunger and suffered severe gastrointestinal disorders due to drinking polluted water from the Nile River. Many of the mummies were young adults between 17 and 25 years of age.

The researchers also found evidence of interbreeding with the black peoples to the south, in what is now Sudan. Inscriptions describe several journeys one of the governors made to central Africa, and note his return from one trip with a pygmy, in what might be the oldest reference to that uniquely short-statured people.

The anthropologists call the necropolis where the tomb is located, Qubbet el-Hawa, one of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt.
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Torre Sabana, 8° floor,
Sabana Norte.
Box 4017-1000,  San José
506  2290-9091
After hours 506 8381-7968

German flag
Click for Web
Other foreign embassies in Costa Rica
Click HERE!

Costa Rican embassies in the world
Click HERE!

Teatro Nacional logo
Click for Web
Teatro Nacional
Drama, dance, theater
orchestras, concerts

Multiplaza Escazú
Multiplaza del Este


Terramall and Desamparados
CCM Cinemas
San Pedro, Alajuela, Heredia, Plaza Mayor, Cine Magaly, Cariari, San Ramón, San Carlos
Jacó Beach Cinema
Airline info
flight stats
Juan Santamaría in Alajuela
Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia
Other airports of the world

Weather and disasters
Current weather

Instituto Meteorological Nacional
Instituto Meteorological

U.S. National
Information Service



Turrialba volcano
Live camera
on Turrialba volcano

Arenal volcano is HERE!
but it is out of service

World Earthquakes


Live reports of quakes
recorder display
Instituto Nacional
de Seguros

Vehicle inspection

Riteve link
Policeía de Tránsito
Policía de Tránsito
Highway info

Autopista del Sol
Web Page

Autopista del Sol

Dirección General
de Miración
main page is HERE!

Appointment to renew
cédulas for residents
900-00-DIMEX (900-00-34639)
Or click HERE!

Banco de Costa Rica
Community groups
Association of Residents of Costa Rica
Community alliance
Apdo 384-4250
San Ramón de Alajuela, Costa Rica
Phone: 8333-8750

Real Estate
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