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New genetic study seeks to find first Costa Ricans
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Who were the original Costa Ricans?

Although for many this may seem like a trivial question, there are academics who are devoting their lives to answer this puzzle.

The results of an extensive genetic study published Wednesday cites the accepted belief that the Americas were populated by Asians who came across an Arctic land bridge 15,000 years ago when the oceans were lower and much of the water was locked up in ice.

The study cites three migrations, but the last two were smaller and those who participated did not make the trip far south, according to the genetic evidence, said the study.

Lead institutions in the study published Wednesday were University College London and Harvard University Medical School. Participating was Ramiro Barrantes Mesén, a professor and vice rector at the University of Costa Rica who has been studying population migrations for years.

A curious aspect of the findings is that Costa Rica's first settlers appear to have continued on into South America and then backtracked.

“. . . Central American Chibchan-speakers have ancestry from both North and South America, reflecting back-migration from South America and mixture of two widely separated strands of native ancestry,” said a summary of the study.

According to earlier work by  Barrantes, the native groups in Costa Rica all appear to be related by blood as well as linguistically and broke off into separate groups starting about 7,000 years ago.

"For years it has been contentious whether the settlement of the Americas occurred by means of a single or multiple migrations from Siberia," said Andres Ruiz-Linares, a University College London professor who coordinated the study. "But our research settles this debate: Native Americans do not stem from a single migration. Our study also begins to cast light on patterns of human dispersal within the Americas." He was quoted in a news release.

In the most comprehensive survey of genetic diversity in Native Americans so far, the team took data from 52 Native American and 17 Siberian groups, studying more than 300,000 specific DNA sequence variations called single nucleotide polymorphisms to examine patterns of genetic similarities and differences between the population groups, said the release from the London university's news service.

What the researchers looked for were slight differences in the way an individual's DNA was constructed. The groups that make up Costa Rica's native populations today seem to be very similar
early humans
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Modern artwork simulates a cave painting

in their DNA variations. The Chibcha language, which is now extinct, was typical of native peoples from northern Colombia to Honduras.

Included are Costa Rican native groups now known as BriBir, Cabécar,  Borũca, Teribe and Guaymi. There are other groups in Panamá and north in Nicaragua and Honduras.

The question of the country's first residents also will be a topic in the Central Valley Nov. 14 to 16 when the  Asociación Latinoamericana de Antropología Biológica holds its 12th congress. Academics from all over Latin American and from the United States are expected to attend.

"There are at least three deep lineages in Native American populations," said co-author David Reich, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, according to the summary of the most recent study. "The Asian lineage leading to First Americans is the most anciently diverged, whereas the Asian lineages that contributed some of the DNA to Eskimo-Aleut speakers and the Na-Dene-speaking Chipewyan from Canada are more closely related to present-day East Asian populations."

The team also found that once in the Americas, people expanded southward along a route that hugged the coast with populations splitting off along the way. After divergence, there was little gene flow among Native American groups, especially in South America.

The research team also said that it was successful in devising ways to overlook the genetic contributions made by Europeans and Africans who arrived in the Americas after 1492.

They also said they discovered that some North Americans traveled to Asia and left evidence of their DNA there.

Although  Ruiz-Linares expresses certainty in his study results, there are other scientists who claim that modern man was in the Americas at least 50,000 years ago. Other reputable scientists suggest that South America was settled by immigrant who came by boat from the Pacific.

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Nation brings in more cash
from taxes in last six months

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The finance ministry said it has taken in 11.7 percent more tax money in the first half of the year than in the same period last year.

The  Ministerio de Hacienda said that one reason appears to be the improved economic condition. Sales tax collection was up 13.2 percent, the ministry said, and income tax was up 12.3 percent.

The ministry quoted Edgar Ayales, the new minister, as crediting addition efforts against tax evasion.  Ayales got the job after the previous financee minister, Fernando Herrero, was caught in late March undervaluing his real estate for tax purposes.

Also going up was government spending, which was 10.4 percent higher in the first six months of the year than in the past year, said the ministry.

Cleanup program to collect
trash from pilgrimage

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Church and government officials are making plans to educate pilgrims to contain their trash.

The program is called  EcoRomería 2012. Some 2 million pilgrims, called romeros, will walk toward the end of this month to the basilica in Cartago to honor Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles, the nation's patroness. Along the way, these pilgrims eat and drink, thus creating trash, some of which can be recycled.

Officials will be outlining the plan this morning at the Catholic Church administrative offices near  Parque Central in San José

Aug. 2 is the feast day of the Virgen de los Ángeles, and there will be hundreds of thousands of persons at the plaza in front of the basilica that morning.

Three more earthquakes
felt in national territory

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three more earthquakes were felt Wednesday in the national territory. The strongest, estimated at a magnitude of 3.9 took place west of the mainland in the Pacific. The Laboratorio de Ingeniería Sísmica said the location was about 85 kilometers (about 53 miles)  northwest of Tamarindo. The time was 7:23 p.m.

Two smaller quakes also were recorded. One was at 2:48 a.m. in the mountains south of San José just 1.3 kilometers (less than a mile) east of San Miguel de Desamparados and 6.9 kilometers (about 4 miles) south of San Pedro, said the Laboratorio de Ingeniería Sísmica at the Universidad de Costa Rica . The magnitude was estimated at 2.6.

Wednesday night at 7:14 o'clock another quake took place in the same area, reported the Laboratorio. The magnitude was estimated at 2.3. the epicenter was reported to be 3.2 kilometers (about 2 miles) southwest of Paraiso and 5.9 kilometers (about 3.6 miles)  northwest of Orosí.

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
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bike path
Bike path will run from Parque la Merced in the west along the Avenida 4 pedestrian walkway to the legislature.
Bike riders to gather to celebrate OK of cycle route in city
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Colectvio Una Ciclovía para San José will host a second bicycling event Saturday at 8:30 a.m. The event is called Cleteando por una Ciclovía en San José to honor the approval of a new bicycle path in the downtown. Cletear is Costa Rican Spanish that means "to ride a bike."

Last year the group organized the Día de Movilidad Activa in September where  approximately 400 cyclists biked in San José.

“We are expecting some 50 to 100 cyclists, which is the usual turnout, but hopefully more and more start to join us every Saturday,” said Mauricio Solan of the group. “The event last year was great. We had 400 people cycling through San José, and we also organized a wide range of parallel activities and entertainment. It was organized as one of the activities worldwide.  The event on Saturday is more informal.” is a a global grassroots movement seeking to address climate change.

The organization here is a collective composed of different people, organizations and companies. Members have been working with the Municipalidad de San José since 2008 lobbying for bike paths.

June 9 the municipal council gave the go ahead for the project and approved the design and route, which will be from the Asamblea Legislativa to the end of Avenida 4 near Hospital San Juan de Dios.  The municipality is in the process of budgeting for it. 

bike path in green
 Bike path will be away from traffic on the pedestrian
 walkway at Avenida 4.

“For such we have initiated this monthly activities to promote the to-be-made bike path, promote urban cycling and disseminate good biking practices,” said Solano.

The organization also gives tips on being a good cyclist.  These include observing the rules for bikers in the street, keeping the bike in good condition, and using a helmet and lights on the bike.

Also bikers should stay on their side of the road, be prepared to slow down or stop, travel at slower speeds, practice caution at intersections and curves, and not assume that that people can see or hear them, the group warns.

This event will be repeated every second saturday of the month.

Anti-drug sweep leads to discovery of captive green turtles
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Coast guard officers sweeping the beaches for possible illegal drugs found two dead and three live green turtles early Wednesday. Two of the turtles, including one dead one, were tied up.

The case began with what officers of the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas thought was a drug intercept. They tried to detain a boat in the water not far from Hospital Tony Facio in Limón.

The operator of the suspicious boat crashed his vessel into a coast guard launch, and then the two men on board fled. In doing so one of the men suffered deep cuts. And officers thought that the pair threw a bundle into the ocean before jumping off the boat.

Both the suspect and the two Guardacostas officers on the small patrol boat were hospitalized.

Meanwhile the search begin for what was thrown into the sea. At 5 a.m. an aircraft of the  Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea joined the search to sweep Cieneguita, Westfalia and other nearby beaches. Some 50 police officers were involved in the search, said officials.

Searchers found the two turtles about 3 a.m. and the other three at 6 a.m.,said the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y
dead turtle
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía 
y Seguridad Pública photo 
Officers haul off one of the dead turtles.

Seguridad Pública. Police officers said they coordinated with environmental officials to bury the two dead green turtles and liberate the three live ones.

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Tattooed man considered
member of Latin gang

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Judicial police and immigration agents detained a 27-year-old man from El Salvador Wednesday because they identified him as being a member of an international gang.

The man, who has the last name of Guzmán, overstayed his 30-day tourism visa by a few days, but he also was working, which is not legal. The man appeared to have no trouble in entering the country June 6 at Peñas Blancas. He had been in Costa Rica previously and is believed to have been living in San José andworking in Hredia.

The man was confined at the Hatillo immigration center to await legal action, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

There is probably little that the man can say to avoid being connected with a Salvadorian gang. He has the words Mara  Salvatrucha tattooed on his stomach. The rest of his upper body is covered extensively with tattoos, as is the custom with gang members.
tatooed man
Judicial Investigating Organization photo
The detained man has plenty of tattoos including one with his name..

Costa Rican-Canadian pianist Jonathan Duarte plans concert

Jonathan Duarte
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Canadian-Costa Rican pianist, Jonathan Duarte, a student of the Tchaikovsky Conservatory college in Moscow, will give a piano concert Tuesday at 8: p.m. at the Teatro Nacional, interpreting works of Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninov and Liszt.

Duarte, 19, has won eight international competitions in North America and Europe.  He has performed in New York, Paris, Rome, Vilnius, Kazan and Moscow.  In 2010 and 2011 he received the Manuel Grynspan award in Costa Rica.  He is now studying in Russia, under scholarship, at the central music school of the Tchaikovsky Conservatory under the tutelage of  Darya Ryabova.

In Costa Rica, he has performed at the Teatro Nacional, Teatro Eugene O'Neill, Auditorio Clodomiro Picado at Universidad Nacional in Heredia, along with fund-raising events for the Red Cross Costa Rica, and at the Russian Embassy in Costa Rica.

During the intermission of the concert, the III edition of the Manuel Grynspan Award will be presented. This tribute is sponsored by Devora Grynspan of Northwestern University, Rebeca Grynspan, undersecretary general of the U.D. Development Programme, and Frida Grynspan in honor of their father, the late Manuel Grynspan.  This award is granted in recognition of achievements of young Costa Rican artists.  This year, the winners are Ines Guanchez and Carolina Ramirez, both students of the Universidad Nacional and the Instituto Superior de Artes. 

For more information, those interested can contact Duarte at 2268-5056/8332-2115, or the Institute at 2226-6946/2226-4991,

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Russian lawmakers moving
to censor Internet sites

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Russia's lower house of parliament has approved a bill that gives the government power to blacklist Web sites containing what officials consider objectionable material.

The Duma voted Wednesday on the measure, which proponents say is meant to protect young people from child pornography and information about suicide and drug use.

The move comes one day after the Russian version of the online reference source Wikipedia staged a one-day shutdown to protest the legislation.

Russian Wikipedia's title page on Tuesday featured a blacked-out logo and the message that the legislation could lead to the creation of extra-judicial censorship of the Internet in Russia.  It compared the proposals to China's heavily restrictive Internet firewall and called on readers to oppose the measure.

Jay Walsh, a spokesman for the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia, says the Russian editors of the all-volunteer-written reference source decided among themselves to shut down the site for a day.  "This is all happening out of the Russian community," he says, adding that the editors fear the definition of objectionable material could be stretched to encompass far more than what is stated in the bill.  Noting that Wikipedia is set up as a so-called free knowledge project that relies on input from around the world, he says the Russian editors consider the legislation a threat to their freedom to contribute and publish freely.

Nina Ognianova, the Europe and Central Asia program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, says the new legislation is the latest piece in a pattern of Russian crackdowns on freedom of expression, along with higher fines for protest organizers and new regulations on non-governmental groups,.

"This is the third wave," she says.  "It's a part of a pattern of censoring, stopping the new civil society from being active."  She calls the Internet "the last bastion of press freedom and freedom of expression in Russia," a platform for alternative views, in a state where the print and televised media are heavily controlled by the government.

Ms. Ognianova says the measure is vaguely worded and could be used by state authorities to suppress civil rights defenders and expression of views seen by the government as undesirable.

U.S. cites progress in talks
on Pacific trade treaty

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. says that important progress has been achieved during the latest round of talks aimed at crafting a wide-ranging trade pact with eight other Pacific nations.

The countries concluded their 13th round of negotiations Tuesday in the western U.S. city of San Diego. U.S. trade officials said particularly significant progress was made on dealing with customs regulations, cross-border services, telecommunications and government purchases.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership scheduled another negotiating session in September outside Washington, with Canada and Mexico slated to join the talks in coming months. Besides the U.S., the partnership now includes Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The office of U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said the talks advanced in 20 areas of negotiation. U.S. President Barack Obama has said that a pact with the Pacific nations is a trade priority, which he sees as a way to cut into the U.S. trade deficit and boost the country's labor market.

One trade expert, Gary Hufbauer of the nonpartisan Petersen Institute for International Economics in Washington, said that after three years of talks, officials had hoped to wrap up an agreement this year. Although that timetable now seems unrealistic, he said an agreement could be reached next year and ratified in 2014.

"Other countries want us to liberalize some agricultural products, which have long not been liberalized: dairy products, sugar, beef," he said, adding that the U.S. is also being asked to liberalize barriers on clothing, textiles, and footwear. "They also want us to liberalize services which have not been liberalized, government procurement of services like contracts for data-processing, and so on."

Hufbauer said the U.S. is not alone in having to confront difficult issues on specific products, and that tough negotiations remain.

The outcome of the upcoming presidential election between Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, he added, is unlikely to make much difference in the outcome of the talks, as both candidates have said they favor the new trade pact.

Peter O'Toole announces
 he's retiring form acting

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Acclaimed British stage and screen actor Peter O'Toole has announced his retirement, saying it is time to chuck in the sponge after a career spanning five decades.

The 79-year-old actor issued a statement Tuesday expressing gratitude for a career that has brought him public support, emotional fulfillment and material comfort. But he says "the heart has gone out of me," and it was time to bid acting "a dry-eyed and profoundly grateful farewell."

O'Toole starred in the recently released “For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada.”  The Web site Internet Movie Database  says O'Toole has two films slated to be released later his year and in 2013.

He says he will spend his time working on the third volume of his memoirs.

The Irish-born O'Toole began his career as a Shakespearean actor on the London stage in the early 1960s, before earning international acclaim playing the title character in the classic epic “Lawrence of Arabia.”  He also starred in such notable films as “The Lion in Winter,” “Goodbye, Mr. Chips,” and “My Favorite Year.”

He has received eight Academy Award nominations for best actor, the last for the 2006 drama “Venus,” but has never won.  O'Toole received an honorary Oscar in 2003.
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Latin America news
Online news eclipsing
print and TV, survey says

By the University of Oxford news staff

A report shows that Germans still prefer a newspaper, while online news has overtaken print and TV news as the most frequently used medium in the United Kingdom and the United States for those using computers, mobile phones and tablets for news.

One in five people in the UK now shares news stories every week through social networks or e-mail. However, the report also suggests out of the five countries studied, consumers in the UK were the most resistant to the idea of paying for online news.

The Reuters Institute Digital News Report, published this week by Oxford University’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, is based on the findings of YouGov surveys in the United Kingdom, United States France, Germany and Denmark. The report finds that more than a quarter (28 percent) of those surveyed in the U.S. and UK access news via their mobile device each week. Six out of 10 tablet owners in the UK said they regularly accessed online news.

In the UK, mobile phone users are more concerned about the cost of accessing news (32 percent) than those who accessed news on a computer. Some 58 percent of tablet users, who are generally from a higher-income bracket, use the device to access news every week and are more likely to pay for news content; newspaper brands with paid apps did significantly better on a tablet than on the open internet.

Of those surveyed, four out of 10 tablet users said accessing news on the device is a better experience than on a personal computer. Overall, in the UK only 4 per cent of those surveyed said they had paid for online news, while Denmark had the highest percentage (12 percent) of consumers, of the countries studied, who have paid for online news.

Report author Nic Newman, a research associate at Oxford University's Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, said: “For many people digital news is now the first place to go for the latest news, rivaling television as the most frequently accessed type of news in the UK and the U.S.”

Of those surveyed, nearly eight out of 10 people  accessed online news every week, but the transition from print to digital is much slower in other European countries. The report suggests that the Germans were the least likely to access news online of the five countries studied with almost seven out of 10, of those surveyed, saying they still read a newspaper.

The report also shows that in the UK, celebrity news is perceived to be more important – and news about politics less important – compared to the other countries surveyed. There is more interest in business and economic news in the UK and the U.S. than in the European countries surveyed.

The young also watch fewer traditional television news bulletins than older people. The young listen to far less news on radio, but spend far more time accessing news on their mobiles than older people, says the report.  The young are also more likely to use social media rather than search for news, whereas for older groups it is the other way round.

In general, the study found, Europe lags behind the U.S. in both the sharing of news and other forms of digital participation. In the UK, Facebook is the most important network for news, accounting for over half (55 percent) of all news sharing, followed by email (33 percent) and Twitter (23 percent).

The Reuters Institute Digital News Report is the first in a series of reports that the RISJ hopes to publish over the coming years, tracking the changes in the public’s use of digital and traditional media to access news. The online surveys were conducted for Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism by YouGov in April 2012 and involved 2,487 respondents. The report reflects only the views of online users and excludes respondents who expressed no interest in accessing news at all.

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