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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 11, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 92
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Jacó zika outbreak could jeopardize surfing games
By Rommel Téllez
and the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The mayor in the canton that includes the Pacific coast community of Jacó confirmed Tuesday an outbreak of the zika virus there.

The disease may jeopardize the World Surfing Games that are scheduled to be held in Jacó from Aug. 6 to 14.

Tobías Murillo, mayor of the Garabito municipality, said 11 people have been placed under medical surveillance there. He said all of those affected by the disease belong to the Pueblo Nuevo neighborhood.

Zika is a disease related to dengue and the West Nile Virus. It causes fever, rash, conjunctivitis and joint pain. In pregnant women, it may cause babies to be born with abnormally smaller heads.

“We are increasing the support to health inspectors so that they can increase the spraying and clean up of the area.” Murillo said.

He also said that municipal police officers are helping protect inspectors from people who are reluctant to let them into their properties.

“Many of them have a bunch of junk in their backyards, so they refuse to cooperate. We let them know that they could face criminal
consequences for obstructing the inspector’s job.” he added.

The International Surfing Association picked Jacó from a list of three candidate locations in April. The surfing event is expected to be a major tourism draw, not just for Jacó but hotels, car rental agencies and restaurants all along the central Pacific coast and in the Central Valley.

The surfing association said that the games feature national surfing teams consisting of up to four men and two women. With 132 surfers representing 27 countries at the 2015 event, 2016 is expected to be even larger as athletes will flock to compete in Costa Rica, it added.

Spectators are expected to number in the thousands.

If the zika outbreak continues, Murillo said “that would be fatal, not only for Jacó but for the entire country. I hope that by then everything will be taken care of and the championships will flawlessly happen. We will do our best.” he said.

This is the first major zika outbreak in the central Pacific coast. Other cases have been in northern Guanacaste. However, residents of Dominical on the south Pacific coast have complained earlier this month of a dengue outbreak. The same mosquito variety carries dengue and zika.

Rampant bribery at customs called main challenge
By Rommel Téllez
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Bribery of customs officials is one of the main challenges in the fight against smuggling and fiscal fraud, according to Margarita Villalobos, who heads the Dirección de Inspección Fiscal at the Ministerio de Hacienda.

Last year the agency detected a record amount of products that made their way through customs with false information so importers pay less tax, she said.

This was allowed to happen by corrupt customs clearance officers who likely took bribes from importers, she said.

“In one of the cases we checked, the person in charge of reviewing the merchandise claimed to have cleared an entire container in 10 minutes,” something suspicious since “it took three people three days to completely clear a way smaller container.” she explained. She spoke in an interview with a reporter Tuesday.

Mrs. Villalobos said that stronger measures are taken in these cases and penalties up to termination have been applied to all those connected with this type of plot.

She also blamed what she called a ring of paqueteros for their responsibility in the scams. Paqueteros are a group of companies and individuals who sell themselves as importers without being registered at Ministerio de Hacienda.

They offer their services to small internet shoppers for very low prices and usually import the merchandise by shipping rather than by plane. Once these goods arrive into customs, bribery takes its part, she said.
A.M. Costa Rica graphic

“It is really risky to rely on these companies because if the merchandise faces any problem, it will be seized indefinitely and the original buyers may never get what they paid for. Probably it’s not their fault but they should have paid more attention with whom they were doing business with.” Mrs. Villalobos added.

According to her, these companies and individuals come from and serve all backgrounds, regardless of gender or socio-economic level.

A similar position is held by Benito Coghi, director of Dirección General de Aduanas, who said that the number of paqueteros are on the rise and only through strict monitoring they can be spotted. He said not only poor or uneducated people fall for these tricks, but also the wealthy and the powerful.

Last October, Hacienda reported a well-known home appliances chain brought in 369 flat screens under the name of individual buyers to avoid tax and then sold those television sets in their stores.

In March, Hacienda officials said they spotted a more elaborate fraud attempt. In this case, importers tried to bring in flat screens under the benefits of the free trade treaty with the United States by lying about the country of origin.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 11, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 92
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Professional Directory
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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Slow reduction of expenses proposed

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The finance ministry proposed a bill Tuesday that it said is designed to reduce the growth of government expenses.

The bill is called the law of fiscal responsibility, and the ministry said that it is part of a larger package of bills that include new taxes. To be effective the legislature must approve eight bills already presented by the executive branch, said the ministry.

At the same time the Partido Acción Ciudadana, which is allied with President Luis Guillermo Solís,  said it would begin discussions with other political parties. The goal would be to define a route for the passage of financial bills.

The executive branch’s efforts to propose budget cuts is having an immediate effect, too. Government employees are worried, and certain proposals about pensions and the latest bill about public finances add to concerns that already have generated a two-day general strike of medical workers and teachers.

The Bloque Sindical y Social, which already has called for an indefinite general strike, has planned a press conference today to discuss negotiations that have been taking place with the Ministro de Trabajo. The Bloque said that it would reply to comments by the president on the topic of public finance.

What is said at the 10 a.m. gathering will indicate if the country will face another crippling general strike.

Antonio Álvarez Desanti, the president of the Asamblea Legislativa, said Tuesday that the salaries that public employees make today would not be touched by any legislation. He said that laws cannot be retroactive. He called for discussions with union representatives and said the time was premature to talk about strikes.

The proposal by the Ministerio de Hacienda, No. 19,952, takes note of a constitutional provision that says the legislature cannot increase expenses without saying from where the additional money will come.

This is a provision widely disregarded.

A summary calls for slowly stabilizing the public debt with gradual implementation of reductions to avoid abrupt cutbacks. The summary also said that the entire process would require financial discipline.

Pensions, old age payments and disability benefits would not be touched nor would public companies facing private competition, it said. That is assumed to mean the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad.

The executive branch is seeking, among other proposals, a renewal of a levy on corporations, a value added tax and an increase in the income tax rates.

Schools near volcano to reopen Thursday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Public schools in the vicinity of the Turriabla volcano are expected to reopen Thursday. Five schools were closed by the Ministerio de Educación Pública because the volcano was erupting.

The schools are in El Volcán, Las Virtudes, Sitio Las Abras, La Reunión and La Pastoras.

The education ministry is taking the advice of the national emergency commission, which said that the activity in the volcano is diminishing.

In another volcano-related development Tuesday the Red Sismológica Nacional discounted messages being circulated on the social network that were incorrect. The Red said that the volcano continues to be under close watch by cameras and also seismic devices.

Other agencies also have been critical of rumor mongering.

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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Legal Notice
The State of Utah To:  Richard Lydenberg you are summoned and required to file an answer in writing to the Petition of Divorce filed in the case number: 164900117 within 30 days after the last day of publication, which is May 26, 2016, you must file your answer with the clerk of the court at: Third Judicial District Court of Salt Lake County, State of Utah, 450 South State Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84114 and serve a copy of your answer to the Petitioner, if you fail to file and serve your answer on time, judgment by default will be taken against you for the relief demanded in the Petition. The Petition is on file with the clerk of the court. You can obtain a copy of the Petition by requesting one from the clerk of the court.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 11, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 92
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Some neighborhood drug operations appear to be nickle and dime affairs
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The public perception is that drug dealers have plenty of money. And some do.

When investigators raided the Mexican home of Joaquín Guzmán, head of the Sinaloa Cartel, they found more than $200 million in cash.

That reality for those in the neighborhood drug business in Costa Rica is that the job is a challenge. In addition to raids by the police, these small-time drug dealers run the risk of being gunned down in the street over territorial disputes or for debts.

The Policía de Control de Drogas of the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública frequently raid the homes of neighborhood drug dealers. Everyone knows who they are. They find hundreds or perhaps thousands of crack rocks attesting to the local demand for drugs.

And they find cash, including stacks of coins that crack users pay for their rocks. The going rate is between 500 and 1,000 colons, about one or two U.S. dollars.

Anti-drug police raided a location Tuesday in Goicoechea  where they said they found 1.8 million colons in cash.  That’s a bit less than $3,400 and a bit more than the amount usually found on these raids.

Some of the money was in coins.

Also typical of such raids, there was what appeared to be a family group, a man, 30, and two women, 38 and 40.  Although the women did not have police records, the man had two arrests for aggravated robbery, one arrest for drug trafficking, and three murder arrests.

As always police were quick to report the discovery of two pistols, but who would run a drug operation without protection?

The location was in Fátima y Minerva de Guadalupe in Goicoechea. Police said they had received complaints from

small change
Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
Anti-drug officer counts the small change during a raid.

neighbors about the drug business, although that may just be a cover. Certainly many neighbors are drug buyers and users. And some may try to fill the commercial void created by the arrest of their neighbors.

In fact, the local drug business is a substantial part of the country’s underground economy. Proof of that can be seen with individuals smoking crack or marijuana on the streets in lower-income neighborhoods.

Cocaine, of course, is easily available in Costa Rica because drug smugglers heading north frequently use the substance to pay for fuel and other services.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 11, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 92
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Brain studies reported to show potential to learn a second language
By the University of Washington news staff

Some adults learn a second language better than others, and their secret may involve the rhythms of activity in their brains.

New findings by scientists demonstrate that a five-minute measurement of resting-state brain activity predicted how quickly adults learned a second language.

The study, published in the June-July issue of the journal Brain and Language, is the first to use patterns of resting-state brain rhythms to predict subsequent language learning rate.

“We’ve found that a characteristic of a person’s brain at rest predicted 60 percent of the variability in their ability to learn a second language in adulthood,” said lead author Chantel Prat, a faculty researcher and an associate professor of psychology at the University of Washington.

At the beginning of the experiment, volunteers, 19 adults aged 18 to 31 years with no previous experience learning French, sat with their eyes closed for five minutes while wearing a commercially available electroencephalogram headset. The headset measured naturally occurring patterns of brain activity.

The participants came to the lab twice a week for eight weeks for 30-minute French lessons delivered through an immersive, virtual reality computer program. The U.S. Office of Naval Research, which supported the current study, also supported the development of the language training program.

The program, called Operational Language and Cultural Training System aims to get military personnel functionally proficient in a foreign language with 20 hours of training. The self-paced program guides users through a series of scenes and stories. A voice-recognition component enables users to check their pronunciation.

To ensure participants were paying attention, the researchers used periodic quizzes that required a minimum score before proceeding to the next lesson. The quizzes also served as a

measure for how quickly each participant moved through the curriculum.

At the end of the eight-week language program, participants completed a proficiency test covering however many lessons they had finished. The fastest person learned twice as quickly but just as well as the slower learners.

The recordings from the headsets revealed that patterns of brain activity related to language processes were linked the most strongly to the participants’ rate of learning.

So, should people who don’t have this biological predisposition not even try to learn a new language? Professor Prat says no, for two reasons.

“First, our results show that 60 percent of the variability in second language learning was related to this brain pattern. That leaves plenty of opportunity for important variables like motivation to influence learning,” Professor Prat said.

Second, she said it’s possible to change resting-state brain activity using neurofeedback training, something that she’s studying now in her lab. Neurofeedback is a sort of brain training regimen, through which individuals can strengthen the brain activity patterns linked to better cognitive abilities.

“We’re looking at properties of brain function that are related to being ready to learn well. Our goal is to use this research in combination with technologies such as neurofeedback training to help everyone perform at their best,” she said.

Ultimately, neurofeedback training could help people who want to learn a second language but lack the desirable brain patterns. They’d do brain training exercises first, and then do the language program.

“By studying individual differences in the brain, we’re figuring out key constraints on learning and information processing, in hopes of developing ways to improve language learning, and eventually, learning more generally,” Professor Prat said.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

                        Garden 2016
Largest art gallery in Guanacaste
Drop in to see some of Costa Rica's finest art
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The Hidden Garden Art Gallery near the Liberia airport is a great place to find quality remembrances of Costa Rica to take home or to decorate your home or office in Costa Rica.  We also offer commissioned pieces so you can create your own unique masterpiece to cherish forever.  With more than 60 artists on exhibit and fine art in 15 rooms full of paintings, prints, sculptures, and diverse artistic expressions, we are easy to locate just 5 kms west of the Daniel Oduber International Airport. Visit our Web site at
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Gallery hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tel. 2667-0592 / 8386-6872; U.S. telephone 702-953-7073. International shipping available.

Click photo for another video

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

 (as reported by the moving companies)
Visit many rental options to actually experience the price/amenity options available in more of the areas chosen by Expats for security, comfort, and quality of life.

Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!

Ask the others what you get for your money, and then compare the quality of accommodations, quality, quantity and variety of food and drink to measure the best value for your money. 

Learn how others “talk the talk” and learn who really can “walk the walk”

Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
George Lundquist, retirement, relocation columnist, Guide & Developer/Builder.


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Puriscal rental
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Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 11, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 92
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Sanders beats Mrs. Clinton
in West Virginia primary

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire service

Voting projections Tuesday evening said that Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont had won the Democratic presidential primary in West Virginia over former secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Sanders was expected to add another 13 delegates, but still has no chance to overcome Clinton's huge lead in the delegate count.

Earlier this year, Mrs. Clinton angered many West Virginia voters when she declared that she would put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business if elected president.

Coal is dangerous to mine and is a polluting energy source, but parts of the state are heavily dependent on coal for jobs and revenue.

Mrs. Clinton apologized last week to West Virginia voters, saying, "I want you to know that I'm going to do everything I can to help" those affected by reduced coal demand.

There were no surprises for the Republicans Tuesday. As expected, presumptive nominee Donald Trump won primaries in West Virginia and Nebraska, as he starts considering whom he wants for a vice presidential running mate.

Trump's last two Republican challengers for the nomination dropped out of the race last week.

Republican leaders grudgingly
begin to accept Donald Trump

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire service

Republicans in the U.S. Senate appear to be coming to grips with a reality many once thought unimaginable: that New York businessman Donald Trump is their party’s presumptive presidential nominee.

“He won the nomination the old-fashioned way. He got more votes than anybody else,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Tuesday after months of refusing to comment on the presidential contest. “We respect the voices of the Republican primary voters across the country.”

Trump is expected to meet with Republican lawmakers of both chambers Thursday, coming face to face with some who have expressed grave misgivings or outright opposition to his candidacy. That will include House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has refrained from endorsing Trump.

“It’s been one week since the primary effectively ended. It was a very, very bitter, divisive primary. It’s going to take more than a week just to repair and unify this party,” said Ryan in a Facebook Live interview with The Wall Street Journal Tuesday. 

Many House Republicans on their way to a floor vote Tuesday avoided answering questions about Trump, or offered tepid endorsements saying they would support the party.

"By winning the primary, he's earned the right to be the nominee," said Rep. John Shimkus, a Republican from Illinois.

But party leaders were emphasizing that reconciliation would come.

“We’re looking forward to having a cordial meeting to discuss the way forward. We know the alternative is four more years like the last eight. . . . .  We want to win the White House,” McConnell said.

“We’re going to engage with him,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. “There may well be, and sounds like will be, some areas of difference, and that’s fine.”

At the start of the primary season, Sen. Jeff Flake openly rooted against Trump and expressed jubilation when the businessman failed to win the first contest, Iowa.  Tuesday, asked whether Trump now needed to heal wounds with lawmakers, the Arizona Republican shrugged.

“I don’t think fences need mending,” he said.

Even so, Flake criticized Trump’s recent assertion that the United States can simply print money to avoid a debt default.

“That’s scary, frankly. The notion that we could play with the markets that way when we’re the world’s reserve currency. That doesn’t sit well,” the senator said.

Democrats, meanwhile, are reveling in their Republican colleagues’ discomfort.

“The party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, Eisenhower,  the party of these great men nominated a misogynistic, anti-Latino, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant xenophobe,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. “Republicans . . . are scrambling to get behind this hate-sowing nominee.”

Trump's campaign pledges, including building a wall on the Mexican border to battle illegal immigration, or radically raising tariffs on Chinese products to address trade problems, break in significant ways from the Republican platform. Those policy differences are a key reason why Ryan has declined to endorse Trump.

But Ryan is making a mistake, according to Trump’s first Senate backer, Republican Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

“Trump does want to meet with him, and I am hopeful that they will meet,” Sessions said. “He went out and won the support of millions of Republicans, and many of his opponents were advocating positions totally in sync with Speaker Ryan’s positions.”

“But Trump won,” Sessions added.

Trump’s economic proposals
draw some strong criticisms

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire service

Presumptive U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump talks tough on foreign policy and global trade, promising to make America great again.

Among Trump’s headline-worthy promises: Raising trade tariffs against China by nearly 50 percent.

China enjoys a huge trade surplus with the United States, which in 2015 bought a record $482 billion worth of Chinese-made goods. China, on the other hand, took in only $116 billion worth of U.S. exports. To correct the $366 billion trade deficit, Trump has proposed raising tariffs against China from about 1.5 percent right now to as much as 45 percent.

The real estate billionaire has accused China of robbing the United States. 

“We have a $500 billion trade deficit with China, and we're going to turn it around. And we have the cards. Don't forget: We're like the piggy bank that's being robbed. We have a lot of power with China,” Trump said.

It’s an attractive and bold proposal to some of the millions of Americans who have lost jobs to lower-paid workers in China. Labor organizations blame trade and globalization not only for the massive job losses, but also for contributing to lower pay and living standards in the United States. Even nonpartisan groups such as Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch say pending U.S. trade deals with Asia and Europe remain a big threat to American jobs, wages and patents. 

Some Trump supporters think his ideas are so bold and so far outside the current orthodoxy that they just might work. But closer examination of Trump’s trade talk suggests otherwise. A trade policy expert who is an economics professor, Gordon Hanson at the University of California, San Diego, said Trump’s proposals are not rooted in economic reality. 

“You can see why he does it politically, but the economic foundation for it, shockingly enough, isn’t there,” Hanson said.

Not only would a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods be illegal under the World Trade Organization’s current laws, economists say the probable international retaliation could prove costly. 

American economist C. Fred Bergsten, co-founder of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, recently penned a scathing review of Trump’s trade proposals, calling them a big loser for the United States.

Bergsten said his analysis suggested that "if you limit imports from a single country like China, those imports are going to be available in most cases from other countries." And if Americans could buy most of the products elsewhere, few U.S. jobs would be saved or restored, he said.

Former World Bank economist Chad Bown said a likely outcome would be an all-out trade war between the United States and China.

“China has shown over the last few years that in any instance that a country has imposed new trade barriers on its exports, it has responded in kind, whether legal or not," he said. "But even under what Donald Trump is proposing it would be legally authorized under the WTO’s rules to retaliate in kind.”

Even if China went along with a tax hike on U.S.-bound goods, Hanson said it would not bring back any of the manufacturing jobs lost to China.

Neither would Trump’s plan to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. Conservative Washington research organization American Action Forum said deporting illegal immigrants from the United States would shrink the economy by about 2 percent. That could prove disastrous for an economy that grew by only 2.4 percent last year.

Critics may be missing the point, said Trump, who says his economic policies are all about winning. 

"You're going to look back and you're going to say, 'You know what? That's when we started winning again, when Trump took over,' and we're going to win, we're going to keep winning.”

But whether Trump’s plans for higher tariffs against the competition prove to be a win or not, Bown worries the damage may already be done.

“I suspect that trading partners would be less likely . . . to negotiate with us because they would think we’re not going to live up to these rules that we signed up to in the first place,” he said.

Obama’s visit to Hiroshima
planned for end of May

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire service

President Barack Obama plans to visit Hiroshima, Japan, May 27, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to go to the city where an American warplane dropped the world's first atomic bomb in 1945 during World War II.

For seven decades, no American president has visited Hiroshima or Nagasaki, where a second A-bomb was dropped three days later. The dropping of the bombs followed Tokyo's surprise aerial attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The White House said Obama would visit Hiroshima with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe near the end of a May 21 to 28 trip to Vietnam and Japan. Obama is scheduled to be in Japan for a meeting of leaders of the Group of Seven, the world's leading economies.

Obama adviser Ben Rhodes ruled out the possibility that the president would apologize for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Rhodes said the president "will not revisit the decision to use the atomic bomb at the end of World War II. Instead, he will offer a forward-looking vision focused on our shared future" with Japan.

At Tuesday's White House briefing, press secretary Josh Earnest was asked why the president was ruling out an apology. Earnest said the president wanted to highlight the remarkable transformation in relations between the two countries, with Japan now one of the United States' closest allies. This would have been unimaginable 70 years ago, he said.

Earnest said the president does believe that the United States bears a special responsibility for being the only nation to ever use a nuclear weapon. Pressed on whether Obama would have made the same decision to drop atomic bombs as then-president Harry Truman, Earnest said he thought Truman made the decision for the right reason: to end a terrible war, saving countless lives. Earnest also said present and future generations owe a debt of gratitude to American World War II veterans, often referred to as members of the greatest generation, for prevailing.

The White House said Obama would visit Hiroshima to "highlight his continued commitment to pursuing the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons."

Brian Harding, director of East and Southeast Asia policy for the Center for American Progress research institute, said in an interview Tuesday that "I think he sees this as an incredibly symbolic step to bring some further closure to the wounds of World War II and also an opportunity to bookend his 2009 Prague speech, in which he called for a world free of nuclear weapons."

Harding said he agreed with the White House that the relationship between the U.S. and Japan was already extremely close: "I actually would not overestimate the importance of this visit for U.S.-Japan relations. I think the state of the U.S.-Japan alliance is a demonstration of just how far we've come and how much reconciliation there has been between the United States and Japan. When United States senior foreign policy leaders look around the world, it's hard to find a closer, more important friend than Japan already."

Harding said the president's planned visits to Japan and Vietnam would both be a testament to the power of reconciliation. Obama will visit Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City before traveling to Japan. Obama will push for passage of the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership during the tour.

Secretary of State John Kerry visited Hiroshima last month and said the memorial there, just steps from ground zero, "is a stark, harsh, compelling reminder, not only of our obligation to end the threat of nuclear weapons, but to rededicate all our effort to avoid war itself."

"War must be the last resort, never the first choice," Kerry wrote in a memorial book at Hiroshima. "This memorial compels us all to redouble our efforts to change the world, to find peace and build the future so yearned for by citizens everywhere."

The two U.S. atomic bombs dropped on the Japanese cities hastened the end of World War II.  Japanese Emperor Hirohito announced his country's unconditional surrender on August 15, 1945, nine days after the Hiroshima blast.

No atomic bombs have been detonated during a conflict since then, and the world has long debated the extent of the nuclear stockpiles believed to be held by 10 countries around the world.

Another Islamic State backer
is given a jail term in U.S.

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire service

A New Jersey man will spend 15 years in prison for attempting to join the Islamic State and helping his brother fly to Syria to fight with the terrorist group.

Alaa Saadeh was arrested last June by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force and later pleaded guilty in federal court.

"Today's sentence is an appropriate punishment for his role in a conspiracy that would have supplied new recruits to a terrorist organization that regularly threatens American lives at home and abroad," U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said Tuesday.

Saadeh paid for his brother Nader's ticket for a flight from the U.S. to Turkey, where he planned to cross into Syria. He also altered Nader's cellphone so he could avoid detection, officials say.

Saadeh and another suspect, Samuel Rahamin Topaz, also planned to head to Syria. Saadeh urged an acquaintance who knew about the brothers’ plan to lie to the FBI if agents questioned him.

Nader Saadeh and Topaz also have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

New studies discount scale
of best human body weight

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire service

Researchers in Denmark say it may be time to add a few kilograms to the scale that charts optimal body weight.

They've done new research suggesting that carrying a bit of extra weight is less dangerous now than it was 40 years ago.

The surprising results came from a study that looked at mortality rates, and compared them to people's body mass index. 

Body mass index is a ratio of a person's height to their weight, and doctors use it to gauge a healthy weight range.

A body of between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy. Between 25 and 29.9 is overweight. Anything over that is in the obese range.

In the 1970's, the optimal index, that is the number that had the fewest deaths associated with it, was 23.7. That corresponds to a 1.83-meter man weighing 77 kilograms or a 1.65-meter woman who checks in at 65 kilograms.

But in this new study, the doctors found that the optimal body mass index has been steadily moving up.

In 1994, the optimal body mass index was up to 24.6, and by 2013, it had shot up to 27.

That means today, the most healthy 1.83 meter man is carrying 14 kilograms more than he did in the 70's, and a 1.65 meter woman, an extra 9 kilograms.

That's good news for anyone who is struggling to reach that optimal BMI.

But the results have scientists scratching their heads. The study, printed in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association only says, "Further investigation is needed to understand the reason for this change and its implications."

That's science parlance for "we have no idea."

The other big news out of the study is that people classified as obese are now no more likely to die than people within the normal weight range. Forty years ago, an obese person was 30 percent more likely to die than a person of normal weight.  Today, at least in Denmark, that percentage has dropped to zero.

The authors are quick to point out that this doesn't mean people should stop eating nutritious food and watching their weight, and that much more research is needed to understand the study’s results.

At least 1,300 new planets
confirmed around other stars

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire service

The U.S. space agency NASA says it has found nearly 1,300 planets orbiting stars outside the solar system, and nine of those are orbiting at the right distance from their stars to sustain life.

NASA announced Tuesday that its Kepler space telescope has validated 1,284 planets among 4,300 potential planets identified by a new statistical analysis of possible planets in space.

Paul Hertz, NASA's director of astrophysics, said the research is important to help scientists figure out if there is life on other planets. "This gives us hope that somewhere out there, around a star much like ours, we can eventually discover another Earth," he said.

And why look for Earth-like planets?

"Engaging in this process of discovery with each other changes us in a very fundamental way," said Natalie Batalha, Kepler mission scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in California.

She says she believes looking at what's beyond our  planet helps human beings appreciate their own lives and the planet Earth itself. She says it even helps people empathize better with other people.

Ms. Batalha notes that the first photo of Earth taken from the moon enabled people to see beyond national borders and imagine the planet and its population as a whole.

While one image can alter many perceptions, Tuesday's announcement shows how one big picture can emerge from thousands of pieces of data. While scientists usually evaluate potential planets one at a time, in this case researchers used a new statistical analysis method to evaluate thousands of candidates in Kepler's database for traits that would establish them as planets.

The analysis described Tuesday, led by Princeton University's Timothy Morton, involved tracking a planet's brightness for changes that would indicate it was orbiting its star, in the way that the Earth orbits the sun. The resulting data gave scientists a planethood probability percentage to help the experts focus on candidates most likely to turn out to be actual planets.

According to the International Astronomical Union, which voted on and approved the first scientific definition of a planet in August 2006, a candidate must have three traits in order to be classified as a planet. It must orbit its star, it must be big enough for gravity to squash it into a ball shape and its gravitational pull must be strong enough to clear smaller objects out of the way of its orbit.

Among the likely planets, nearly 550 were found to be rocky planets somewhat like Earth, based on their size. Nine of those Earth-like planets were found to be orbiting their suns at a distance that would allow liquid water to pool, meaning they have conditions that would make life possible, at least the type of life that exists on Earth.

For decades, the idea of finding life on other planets has intrigued people on Earth. But lately, movies such as “The Martian” and “Interstellar” have focused not on meeting alien creatures, but on finding habitable environments for humans who have tapped out their resources on Earth.

Is that part of what these scientists are aiming for? Ms. Batalha says that, for now, she is focused on the search for life itself, rather than new homes for the human race.

"We have so many questions," she said. "Is DNA the only code that sustains life? How does life begin? Questions about the origin of life, why we're here."

And the latest planetary candidates are providing plenty of material to further the search.

"Before the Kepler space telescope launched, we did not know whether exoplanets were rare or common in the galaxy," said NASA's Hertz. "We now know there could be more planets than stars."

He says that information brings humans a little closer to finding out whether they are alone in the universe.

Some hedge fund managers
earned more than $1 billion

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A new U.S. survey shows even with stock market volatility on Wall Street last year, top hedge fund managers were paid huge sums to handle the investments of the country's wealthiest people.

Institutional Investor's Alpha magazine said its annual look at the earnings of the leading hedge fund managers showed the 25 best-paid collectively took home nearly $13 billion in income.

Hedge funds pool money from investors, mostly capital from wealthy individuals and institutions, such as pension funds, and then invest in a variety of assets.

Hedge fund investors can sometimes reap large returns on their investments, if the hedge fund managers make savvy choices.  But the opposite is also true with bad investment decisions leading to huge losses.

The top two fund managers were Kenneth Griffin of the Citadel firm and James Simons of Renaissance Technologies, both of whom earned $1.7 billion in 2015.

Last year was particularly volatile on major U.S. and world markets.  The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average of 30 key U.S. stocks lost 2.23 percent, although with the reinvestment of stock dividends held by investors, the index barely edged ahead by .19 percent.

As a result, some U.S. hedge funds lost billions of dollars for their investors in 2015, while others went bankrupt or shut down.

But the successful hedge funds did well, with two of Citadel's flagship funds advancing 14.3 percent, while the main Renaissance funds gained between 15.6 percent and 16.5 percent.

The hedge fund industry in the United States now manages $2.9 trillion in investments, a marked increase from the $539 billion figure in 2001.

Real estate-related services (paid category)
Browse timeshares for sale and rent by owner in Costa Rica at bargain prices. We connect existing timeshare owners with those looking to buy or rent a timeshare on the resale market. Timeshares on the resale market are up to 50% cheaper than those sold through the resort. Buy, sell or rent a timeshare at 

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SOON with the coming of new power company regulations, we'll be installing PV (photo voltaic) for solar electricity. Yes, at last!
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Office phone: 506-2446-0543
Cell phone: 506-8898-9398
or 506-8314-8090


Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

If you are looking for information on condos, homes, lots, commercial real estate or development properties our award-winning team of professional agents are ready to help you buying property in Costa Rica. We have over 18 years of experience to educate our buyers in all aspects of purchasing property. Call us or email us today for more information on how to purchase that perfect piece of Costa Rica Real Estate.

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Re/Max Ocean Surf and Sun:

The experts in buying property in Costa Rica, with more than 20 years experience and the largest networked team of agents in the country.  We can help you learn if investing in Costa Rica is right for you with our low-key, educational approach to sales. Our professional agents can tell you more about sCosta Rica properties, including condos, homes, lots and commercial real estate.  Call us: Ocean Surf and Sun Int. Realty Ldta at 011 (506) 2653-0073 or send us an email at:

Axiom one

Sierra Collection. Meridian House or Chateau Montage.
Near Parque Nacional Marino Ballena,
Pacific Coast. 
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Axiom two
The Terraces at San Martin.  Discover the essence of Costa Rica on our Luxury Ocean View Villas . Near Dominicalito Beach and Parque Nacional Marino Ballena.
For more information
Click HERE!

Axiom three
Ellan At Ballena Beach.  Welcome to a world of endless adventure on our beachside condominiums at Ballena Beach, Pacific Coast.  For more information click  HERE!
We will be happy to give all the information you need. Contact:

Costa Rica Office: +506.4001-2343
Mobile: +506.8367-2466
USA Office: +1.786233-1579

Rich Coast
Costa Rica Real Estate
    2.47 acre ocean view property w/ 2 houses & 2 unfinished apartments $249k!!!
    2 houses and pool furnished, great rental potential walk to the beach $327k w/ owner financing
    2-bedroom furnished condo 400 feet from Jacó beach $179,000

and lots of other great properties! Property listings in Escazú, Herradura, Jacó, Manuel Antonio, Dominical and beyond. We offer efficient, personalized service always protecting our client’s interests. Contact us today with your questions about buying property in Costa Rica. With 11 years experience in Costa Rica real estate.

Have a Property For Sale? Contact Us!
USA Toll Free 1 866 833-4005
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Real estate for sale (paid category)

House for Sale in Escazu Downtown
Condo near downtown Escazú Centro, Country Day School and Paco Shopping Center. 2 floors, 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. Maid's quarters, patio, 24-hour guard,   clubhouse and pool  Price $170,000 or best offer Call Lewis at 506 2288-2250 or 506 8828-6749.
Email: or

horse ranch
Spectacular Horse Ranch and Spiritual/Yoga
Retreat Center For Sale

We invite you to a horseback tour of 187 acres of pristine farm land with breathtaking vistas, including the islands of the Gulf of Nicoya. There are multiple springs and streams, wooded areas, hard-wood and fruit trees, rolling hills with a geat variety of birds and wildlife. This property boasts the privilege of being bordered by thousands of acres of forest preserve down a steep canyon, offering its own spectacular views, which will never be developed. The many hills provide a builder an endless array of possibilities for nestling buildings in where they will have both views and privacy. The elevation of the property at 1,200 to1600 feet above sea level ensures fresh breezes and ideal year-round temperatures with a day-time average in the low 80's for open-air living. There is a ranch-style house with guest house with 8 total bedrooms, 5 modern baths, huge eat-in kitchen, landmark palm-thatched giant rancho, stable, and storage buildings. The home will come partially furnished, including beds, ample dishware for large groups, housewares, linens, washer/dryer, and fine hard-wood hand-built cabinetry. The remaining horses, 4 to 6 of them, will also convey if one wishes. We are also including a LARGE BEACH LOT in nearby Playa Bejuco. San Rafael de Nandayure is a tiny rural village nestled into the mountainside above Carmona with all the charms of the simple good life of a BLUE ZONE. Carmona is a thriving town with a clinic, restaurfants, shopping, and everything else one may need.  More information
go to  Call Darin Ricco, phone +619-846-8249 or email:


Luxury condominium apartments for sale in Escazú
The property located in Trejos Montealegre, has three apartments for sale. Excellent location, 400 meters east of Avenida Escazú, next to Village (new commercial and office project), Plaza Tempo, Wal-Mart, CIMA Hospital. To enter and exit Trejos Montealegre no need to pay toll. The condominium is few minutes from San José

♦ Apartment No. 1: 180 square meters, 3 bedrooms, cement walls, two floors, 1 utility room, 3 bathrooms, TV room, living room, kitchen with breakfast bar and island kitchen furniture, garage, electric gate.
♦ Apartment No. 2: 180. square meters,  3 bedrooms, cement walls, two floors, 1 utility room, 3 bathrooms, TV room, living room, kitchen with breakfast bar and island kitchen furniture, garage, electric gate.
♦ Apartment No. 3: This is the largest one. 250. square meters,  3 bedrooms, cement walls, two floors, 1 utility room, 3 bathrooms, living room, kitchen with breakfast bar  island kitchen furniture, 2 garages, electric gate. Total property measures 529 square meters.  Unique opportunity to buy it for $ 750,000 (Seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars).  For more information contact Adrian, cell phone  506-8598-9898  Email:

Pavo onr
FOR SALE - $270,000
Exceptional 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom, fully furnished luxury apartment for sale at the exclusive Terrazas de Escazú highrise complex in Escazú near La Paco Commerical Center.  Situated on the third floor, this apartment has an exceptional layout with stunning views of the Central Valley. 140 m2 bright and spacious floor plan with open sky terrace with 180-degree unobstructed view of the Escazú mountains and Central Valley.  One covered parking spot with additional guest parking available. HOA fee:  $250/month. Held in Costa Rica corporation for easy property transfer. Building features: 12-meter atrium with controlled access entrance to the building, surrounding landscaping, lower level pool, communal rooftop terrace and small rooftop gym. 24-hour security. Contact: José Granados in Costa Rica, phone 506- 6051-5249  email:
paco two

first image
B&B for sale in Costa Rica $650,000

I believe this is the finest area of Costa Rica in which to live and, with a lock on 80percent of all tourists visiting Costa Rica, to invest. There are birds and flowers of every description, terrific neighbors, incredible views, wonderful weather with a healthy climate, visits by sloth, deer, monkeys, a very good business that can expand and grow, if desired, or simply a beautiful place to live. Please look at my Web site and the guest reviews, the people's reaction to the property, and you'll see just what a wonderful opportunity this is

There is about 7,000 square meters of land included (over 1 3/4 acres) as well as another smaller home and an apartment above the carport, designed as maid's quarters but usually rented out to tourists. The rear of the property is bordered by a small and very clean spring-fed creek/river. Across the river there is jungle, which makes for a great deal of all around privacy and which will never be developed. Restaurants, a supermarket, services, and many natural attractions are just a short distance away. The property was appraised at over $1.7 million (US) a few years ago, which might indicate what an incredible bargain this is.

It can also include a franchise for Best Western Hotel, if interested in growing with the tourism business, and a small hobby farm bordering Arenal National Park with spectacular views of Lake Arenal, is also available. All is available at an excellent price for the right person (people) and a package price can certainly be arranged. Email me at: For more photos and info click HERE!


Dorn Home
Beverly Hills Style House for Sale on Pacific Coast, Guanacaste

Lot of 2,866.33 square meters with three terraces, inside luxury house  property with 326 square meters construction. Two-story house with front porch, entry lobby, living room, dinning room, large kitchen, breakfast room, large cupboard, 3 1⁄2 bathrooms, 3 large bedrooms, the main bedroom includes jacuzzi and balcony. Playground, office, laundry area, garage for two cars, own and municipal potable water supply, electricity service, cable TV system, A/C. Located 700 meters from Las Colinas Golf Course, near the airport, Tamarindo Beach and the best beaches of the country. Excellent construction and great details. Price $349,000.   We have another extra large lot (next to the main property)  priced at $75,000.  For more information, please contact us: Emails:   or    Call Lia or Stanley phones:  (506) 2653-6417 /   (506) 7079-6577.

Negotiable price. Thirty thousand seventy square meters. The house is seven hundred fifty squared meters, built three years ago. Five bedrooms plus servant's room with bathroom. Each bedroom includes private bathroom. Master's room includes Jacuzzi and hidromassage. Two main living rooms plus visitor's parlor and hall, two furnished kitchens, all ceramic. Nineteen rooms total counting three offices, eight-car garage. Has 220-volt current with three distribution panels. First-quality water plus well, decorated stone walls, recreational area, second house eighty squared meters, hot water systems, cable, telephone, light system throughout property, river, part forest..

For health situation, the owner make a INCREDIBLE DISCOUNT!!!!

ORIGINAL PRICE: $1.800.000    OFFER PRICE: $1.200.000
 For more information click HERE!
To see more photos click HERE!  To see house video click HERE!

English language contact:
Christian Arce
Phone: (506) 2494-0016
Cell phone: (506) 8309-0173

Spanish language contact:
Luis Gustavo Jiménez
Phone: (506) 2494-0016
Cell phone: (506) 8707-4016

A beautiful American style suburban home just reduced.

A beautiful American style suburban home, 2,700 sq. ft. of living space with 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, front and rear living rooms, laundry area, kitchen and small attached library nook, arched windows and doors and connected hallways, exotic wood interior ceilings and trim, tile floors thru-out. The lot is 835 m2 with mature landscape and orchid nurseries surrounding the house. There is an enclosed workshop and BBQ area in the backyard with lots of storage under roof, plus a nursery for an herb/vegetable garden. This is a very well-kept property with many upgrades, a private feel but yet only 5 minutes from the center of town. Pérez Zeledón is the commercial hub of the southern zone and considered to be one of the best places to live in all of Costa Rica, the perfect size town, not too big and not too small. The beach is 45 minutes to the west and a short drive to the cool mountains is to the east. In between, this large valley has a moderate climate. Pérez has plenty of modern goods and services, an excellent farmers market, private schools, private doctors and clinics, all you need without having to go to the crazy madness of San José. Just reduced to $199,000. Call Jeff: 8725-8176. Email:


San Rmon
Mountain home w/million dollar view near San Ramón
Beautiful home in the mountains near San Ramón with 180-degree view of the gulf of Nicoya. 7 miles from San Ramón, 1 mile from Interamericana highway. 3,200 foot elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, appliances included. High-speed internet installed,  Price for sale $179,000    Contact Mike: 
Check out slide show HERE!

Ocean View Property for Sale in San Ramón
1.5-acre lot with spectacular ocean views. Ready to build. Mild climate year round with an average temperature a cool 74 degrees. Spectacular panoramic views of
                                for sale
the ocean and port of Puntarenas during the day, breathtaking views of Esparza at night. Fully titled and owned under a Costa Rican corporation. Price reduced to $45,000. Short-term owner financing available. For more info: Contact: Frank

Jacó beach unique home. First time offered
This house has never been listed.  It is a 3-bedroom, 1-bath home approx. 100 feet above sea level on the only hill in Jacó one mile to the beach.  Totally remodeled to a Gringo house.Has great fenced yard for dogs and a huge screened porch with  great views all around, including a small ocean view.  New in the last two years includes: new kitchen with granite counter, cedar cabinets, all new windows, tile, water system, updated electric & plumbing, superb new AC units (low electric bill), This is half of a duplex with a platted yard.  Other side is the chief of police.  Secure & private.  $169.900. Call Glenn at 506-6214-0056 or

La Uruca condo
Situated three miles west of the capital, eight miles from the airport. Quiet, secluded area within walking distance to a commercial center including a hotel, six restaurants,  next to two bus line stops. Car ownership is not needed. January-March air temperatures are 72 to 80 degrees F. Apartment 1,200 sq. ft (100 sq. meters), on ground floor, indoor  patio. Large windows without bars, parquet floors. Spacious living room-dining area, two bedrooms, maid's room, two bathrooms, four closets  (including walk-in), fully equipped kitchen (refrigerator, washing machine, small appliances, all necessary utensils, work tools).  Many amenities, (pictures, indoor plants, sewing machine, books, keyboard, dishes, glassware, silverware). Annual cost of maintenance about $1,350 includes water, landscaping service, garbage disposal, 24-7 security and property taxes. Price $120,000. Available for viewing:  Mid-January to beginning of April. Contact:  USA :  585 544-4296. Costa Rica : 506 2231-0410

For sale 5,200 m2 Escazú
Fantastic location for condo, hotel, restaurant.
Large lower lot, incredible views. Flexible zoning.
Easy to get liquor license. Low interest financing.
Toll free US phone 877-778-8515
In Costa Rica 8307-0164

San Ramon
Mountain home w/million dollar view near San Ramón
Beautiful home in the mountains near San Ramón with 180-degree view of the gulf of Nicoya. 7 miles from San Ramón, 1 mile from Interamericana highway. 3,200 foot elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, appliances included. High-speed internet installed,  Price for sale $179,000    Contact Mike: 
Check out slide show HERE!

Grecia casa
Mountain home for sale
in Grecia.
Less than a year old. Owners are motivated.  All information regarding the home as well as many photos can be found at Mountain view home for sale Grecia, Costa Rica.   Contact email:

puriscal photo
Costa Rica home for sale $163,500 / 2bedroom - 1,984 ft2

Central Valley view home: 10 minutes from Santiago de Puriscal and shopping, hospital services, and soon Maxi Pali. Only one hour to San José or Pacific beaches.
- On .55-acre lot with river on one boundary
- Area under roof, 1,984 sq. ft., Area inside walls, 925 sq. ft. Steel, recycled
      Styrofoam, and concrete construction.
- 2 ½ years old with central living room and kitchen, 2 bedrooms and 2 baths,
       ceramic tile throughout.
- Central Valley volcano and SJO airport views from every room.
- Vaulted ceilings give bright open feeling.
- Entrance from concrete road to large graveled parking area
- VERY energy efficient with VERY low property taxes.
- Covered attached carport with entrance to front door or laundry-guest bath
- 2 carport storage bodegas.
- 12 foot x 14 foot storage bodega
- Security lights, And Amcrest day & night video recorder system.
- Producing banana trees, and mango, bread fruit, and guanabana trees

Includes: Refrigerator, gas stove & oven with electric grill element, microwave, electric washer-gas dryer stacked style, gas on demand whole house water heater. Other furnishings are negotiable. ICE electric service and land line phone. Bajo Burgos Water district. Metro-wireless WiFi is available. Tigo Star Satellite T.V. House is in a Costa Rican corporation, will transfer shares. Contract or call 506 2416-9324.  Additional photos are available on Flickr album

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Several profitable businesses, including a regional radio station, are for sale in Costa Rica. Certain purchases can provide the new owner with residency as well as a great lifestyle. So live your dream while making a profit. Contact:

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 11, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 92
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News from the BBC up to the minute

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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
turtle eggs
Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
Officers of the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas removed turtle eggs from a nest on the Caribbean coast at Barra Pacuare. The eggs are transferred to a guarded location so the turtles can hatch.  This is a continuing effort against turtle egg thieves.

Fifth of plant species reported in danger

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Modern civilization has not been kind to the world's flora. More than 20 percent of the plants known to science are facing extinction because more and more of their habitat is being used for agriculture and urbanization.

“There's a lot of mouths to feed in the world now and that's growing, and we need the land, so basically the natural habitat is being converted so that we can have soya plantations, crops, livestock, and as a result, that's really causing species to lose their habitat,” said Steve Bachman, a species conservation researcher.

According to a report prepared by the Royal Botanic Gardens in London, out of 391,000 plants known to science, more than 80,000 are in danger of extinction. Along with agriculture and urbanization, the threat comes from logging and gathering of plants, as well as climate change.

Scientists say governments should do more to create protected areas.

“The real thing we need to be doing is identifying which are the important areas to conserve because of the incredible plant diversity they contain and which areas we should be developing,” said Kathy Willis of the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Plant diversity is so great that each year, scientists identify about 2,000 new plants. 

Carnivorous plants have a huge following on the internet, but other plants, not so much.  And that, scientists say, also creates problems. Botany is simply not a popular subject in schools.

“It's very rarely taught as 'this is a really important discipline because plants underpin all aspects of our human wellbeing,' from climate regulation, through to food and fiber and fuels,” said Willis.

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From Page 7:

Country’s promotional arm opens Qatar office

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Promotora del Comercio Exterior de Costa Rica has opened an office in Doha, Qatar, in anticipation of increasing trade in the Middle East.

The promotional organization describes itself as a public but non-governmental agency. It is allied closely with the Ministerio de Comercio Exterior.

Qatar is known for its petroleum and liquid gas production and spectacular urban growth. The country, a monarchy, is scheduled to host the 2022 World Cup soccer championships.

Costa Rica exported $220,000 in goods to Qatar last year, mostly in ornamental plants.

The Persian Gulf state is a western ally against terrorism.