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(506) 2223-1327                              Published Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, in Vol. 14, No. 195                          Email us
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Prestiños rellenos
Flan de ayote
Flan de ayote
tropical salad
Tropical salad

San Ramón to celebrate holiday with food encounter
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In San Ramón, the Día del Encuentro de Culturas is celebrated with a cooking competition of traditional foods.

The Centro Cultural e Histórico José Figueres has been putting on the event for more than 10 years, and local cooks come forward with their best and often creative dishes.

The center said Wednesday that registration is open for this year's competition.

Organizers encourage the use of local products such as coffee, chayote and caña dulce. The categories will be sweet dishes and salads. Cooks are expected to also present a recipe for the dish, and then these become permanent records of the area cooking traditions.
The Día del Encuentro de Culturas, known in the north as Columbus Day, is Oct. 11 and, conveniently, a Saturday.

Each year from 10 to 15 cooks present their dishes, said the center. Winners are decided by a jury and then the dishes are put on display. Cooks also can bring extra to share with visitors, the center noted. Those who wish to participate can contact the cultural center at 2447-2178.

Last year one winner was a plate of  prestiños rellenos prepared by a resident identified as Laura Salazar.   Prestiños are like a sweet tortilla fried in oil. But in this case they were rolled in order to create a place for a filling that included miel de chiverre, according to the cultural center.

Other winners were a flan de ayote and a tropical salad.

Big spike in sea-level rise predicted by researchers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Ready for some more bad news about the melting Antarctica ice?

Australian scientists now say that the ocean conditions around Antarctica are disturbingly close to conditions 14,000 years ago that new research shows may have led to the rapid melting of Antarctic ice and an abrupt 3- to 4-meter rise in global sea level.

Such a gigantic increase is up to four times the amount that has been predicted for this century by other scientists in the past.

A sea level rise of up to 13 feet would make drastic changes to both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica.

Towns, like Puntarenas Centro, would vanish.

The research published in Nature Communications found that in the past, when ocean temperatures around Antarctica became more layered - with a warm layer of water below a cold surface layer - 
ice sheets and glaciers melted much faster than when the cool and warm layers mixed more easily, said a summary from the Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science.

To get their results the researchers used sophisticated ice sheet and climate models and verified their results with independent geological observations from the oceans off Antarctica, said the research council. The geological data clearly showed that when the waters around the Antarctic became more stratified, the ice sheets melted much more quickly, it added..

“The big question is whether the ice sheet will react to these changing ocean conditions as rapidly as it did 14,000 years ago,” said lead author Nick Golledge, a senior research fellow at Victoria’s Antarctic Research Centre, in the summary provided by the research council.

“With 10 per cent of the world’s population, or 700 million people, living less than 10 meters above present sea level, an additional three meters of sea level rise from the Antarctic alone will have a profound impact on us all.”


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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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smugled cigarettes
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo            
These are some of the 10,000 cigarettes confiscated Wednesday in
a multi-agency sweep of five retail outlets in the center of San José.

Anti-smuggling bill almost ready

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministerio de Hacienda said it soon will present to the legislature a bill to increase prison terms for smuggling and to reduce the threshold at which prison terms are levied.

Now a smuggler has to be caught with goods worth $50,000 or more to be brought into criminal court. The ministry seeks to reduce that amount to $10,000 and to up the maximum prison term from three to 10 years.

There also are plans for wording that will lump individual amounts of smuggled goods into one lot to reach the threshold.

Also planned are new penalties for those involved in an organized smuggling gang or illegal imports of goods that put human health at risk, jeopardize the health of animals, endanger national security or threaten the environment.

A typical lot of smuggled goods are medicines from Nicaragua. These would fall under the new category of a human health risk

The Dirección General de Aduanas, the customs agency, is within the Hacienda ministry.

A committee from the public and private sectors has been working on the proposal that will be presented to lawmakers.

Illegal drugs aside, smuggled goods from Panamá are usually cigarettes, alcohol or manufactured products. Nicaragua is a source of medicines, cows and horses and animal products like cheese.

Research study says coral will survive

By the University of California at Santa Barbara news staff

Contrary to the popular research-based assumption that the world’s coral reefs are doomed, a new longitudinal study from the University of California at Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis paints a brighter picture of how corals may fare in the future.

A working group reports that there will be winners and losers among coral species facing increasing natural and human-caused stress. However, its experts demonstrate that a subset of the present coral fauna will likely populate the world’s oceans as water temperatures continue to rise. The findings were published in PLOS ONE.

Drawn from universities in California, Hawaii and New Hampshire, the 20 scientists in the working group — Tropical Coral Reefs of the Future: Modeling Ecological Outcomes from the Analyses of Current and Historical Trends — sought to understand the future changes in coral reefs motivated by the threat of increasing ocean temperatures.

This working group brought together coral reef experts with diverse perspectives from ecology and paleoecology, said Frank Davis, the director of the national center. “

To simulate future outcomes, the researchers analyzed contemporary and fossil coral reef ecosystem data sets from two Caribbean locations in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Belize, and from five Indo-Pacific locations in Moorea, Taiwan, Hawaii, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and Kenya. Based on this cumulative knowledge, the team built a trait-based dynamic model to explore ecological performance in a warmer future.

“Although many corals are becoming less abundant, there remain a number of species that are holding their own or increasing in abundance and these corals will populate tropical reefs over the next few centuries,” said principal investigator and lead author Peter Edmunds, a biology professor at California State University at Northridge.

The working group’s analysis shows that the winning subset coral species is fast-growing,  smaller and wider, and more stress-resistant and that it readily produces offspring. Sensitivity analyses also demonstrate that thermal tolerance, growth rate and longevity are predictors of coral persistence when under thermal stress. While this subset of species still supports diversity, a lot is still unknown about its functionality.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 195
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Minister says police caught 700 in the act or nearly so in September
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers caught and remanded to flagrancy courts 700 suspects in September alone. The security ministry issued this statistic to show that police were doing a good job, but the numbers also illuminate crime in Costa Rica.

The statistic means that on average more than 23 times a day in September police just happened to be on hand or nearby when a crime took place.

Celso Gamboa Sánchez, the minister, said that the September total was the highest in a month since the flagrancy courts were created in 2008. He also said that more than 4,800 persons have been remanded to the courts since the beginning of the year.

The minister's report did not contain any statistics as to what happened to the suspects after they appeared before a judge. Typically judges let off first offenders.

The courts were created to handle cases when a police officer has witnessed a crime or has collared a suspect close to where the crime took place. The violations usually are delitos or felonies, such as armed street robberies, burglaries or smash-and-grab thefts.

An example would be the man that Fuerza Pública officers in
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo
The Heredia intruder was carrying this.

Heredia pulled out of a ceiling of a video store Wednesday. The man had a butcher knife and a toy pistol, they said. He was remanded to a flagrancy court and perhaps was the first to go there in October.

Not every suspect goes to the court. Some may have been caught in the act but are found to have more serous warrants in their name. In addition, persons associated with murders and other very serious crimes usually are held until judicial investigators arrive.

San José province led the list in the number of September suspects remanded to the court, said the ministry.  Limón was second, followed by Alajuela and Puntarenas.

Gamboa attributed the large number of arrests to police sweeps of high-crime zones and a permanent presence is high-crime areas.

U.S. Embassy's list of local lawyers is three years old and inflexible
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

U.S. expats in legal trouble who seek out the name of a responsible lawyer from the U.S. Embassy staff are not getting the whole story.

The embassy updates the list just every three years, and newcomers and lawyers who might be expert in a current problem have a long wait to be included. The current list has been on the embassy Web site since December 2011.

The U.S. Department of State declines to take any responsibility for the competence of the lawyers on the Web page lists, but staffers still take steps to determine language fluency and licensing. Then a suggested list is sent to the Bureau of Consular Affairs in Washington.

Under State Department policy, embassy staffers are supposed to send questionnaires to eligible lawyers around the country to see if they wish to be included in the list. An embassy spokesperson has not said that this has been done recently. So basically the list
includes those lawyers who thought to contact the embassy and provided the documents staffers there seek: proof on membership in the Colegio de Abogados and a certificate that shows the lawyer is current with the Dirección Nacional de Notariado.

The value of the embassy list is seen in the fact that the lawyer who is second on the list is a well-known figure in the Luis Milanes-Savings Unlimited case and represents about half of the former investors who are seeking to get some of their money back. The lawyer also received a $2 million fee in negotiating a settlement for his client in the Oswaldo Villalobos fraud case.

A new list was supposed to have been submitted to Washington in June. The embassy spokesperson said it would be posted in a few weeks.

The State Department policy provides leeway for the names of lawyers to be taken off the list, but the policy said that at least three separate complaints from three separate individuals is required for this to be considered.

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, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 195
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Monarchs have been migrating for millions of years, gene study shows
By the University of Chicago Medical Center news staff

The monarch butterfly is best-known for its annual 5,000-kilometer migration each autumn from North America to México, where they blanket forests with undulating orange and black wings. But the North American monarch is in trouble.  Its numbers have dramatically dropped because of loss of habitat and the decline of its primary food source, milkweed. 

Researchers say understanding monarch migration could help promote conservation efforts, and a new study in the journal Nature describes a single gene that appears to be responsible for the migrating behavior and the lack of it. 
Some Monarch species, those found in South and Central America, in the Pacific and in Europe and North Africa, don’t migrate.  

The study compares genomes of 100 of those monarch species.  What researchers had expected -- that the butterfly originated as a non-migratory species in tropical South America, came north and then evolved migration -- was not what they saw in the genetic history, says co-author Marcus Kronforst. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago. 

“We found that the North American populations appear to be the ancestral populations, and that the butterfly was probably ancestrally migratory.  And then it dispersed out of North America into South and Central America, and lost migration.  And then it also independently dispersed across the Pacific and lost migration, and then independently, a third time, dispersed across the Atlantic and lost migration.”

A monarch family tree created from the genomic analysis tells the age of the different populations and how they were related to each other over evolutionary time, with the older populations, the migrating monarchs, at the base of the tree. 

As the researchers looked for genetic change across species to locate where and when migration stopped, Kronforst says one gene stood out.
University of Chicago Medical Center photo
A North American migrating monarch

“Basically in this one gene, a collagen gene, all three times that the butterflies left North America and lost migration, they changed at this one gene in exactly the same way,” he said.

Kronforst says that same gene is related to the monarch flight muscles.

“It looks like what we are seeing is that the North American migratory butterflies are just very efficient in how they fly," he said. "They have enhanced flight muscle efficiency, whereas the non-migratory butterflies actually appear to be pushed in the opposite direction by natural selection."

In scanning the genomic data, the researchers also identified a single gene associated with the butterfly’s signature orange color. Kronforst expects future studies will yield more discoveries about the iconic monarch, whose migration flight has filled North American skies for millions of years.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

La Fortuna
Comfort of your home in the campo, 5 minutes from Fortuna Centro of San Carlos, in the shadow of Volcano Arenal, Flat screen TV, AC, refrigerator, free coffee. Local area activities like four-wheeling, horse riding, zip lining, hot springs, jungle walking tours. Bring your camera for great photos of nature, fishing and swimming, canyoning and more. Call for reservations  (506) 2479-8670   and (506) 8682-9219  Email:

Will Costa Rica Retirement Work For You?
Find out for yourself on Live In Costa Rica Tours

When you visit Costa Rica, you'll want to discover what you need to know to  make the right choice about moving to this tropical paradise.  Our familiarization tours have won hard-earned credentials that prove general excellence and the right focus.  These are the only retirement tours that are licensed and approved by the Costa Rican government and tourism institute  (ICT). In 2006 we were featured on the NBC Today Show and World News.  In 2010, we won the  prestigious Latin America-Asia Travel Excellence Award for the Best and Most Unique Tour in Latin America.

   * Discover how to make the right choices about moving here
   * Find out how to live affordably
   * See how other expats live. Meet other expats who have made
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   * Informative two-day seminar given by local experts in their
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   * Tours led by Christopher Howard, 34-year resident, citizen,
          and the author of "The New Golden Door to Retirement
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Click HERE  to learn all about our Association of Residents (ARCR)  approved tours at

Anywhere Costa Rica plans custom vacations, and has the most comprehensive travel services in the country including travel guides, resorts and vacation homesCosta Rica tours
and car rentals.  
Call 1-888.456.3212 or 2479-8811 locally.

Largest art gallery in Guanacaste
Drop in to see some of Costa Rica's finest art
at the largest gallery in Guanacaste.

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
or contact us by email:   
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.

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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.


Here's reasonable medical care
Costa Rica's world class medical specialists are at your command. Get the top care for much less than U.S. prices. It is really a great way to spend a vacation. See our list of recommended professionals HERE!amcr-prom

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See our listing of real estate brokers on the for-sale page.

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Beautiful fully furnished two floor house for rent
in La Guacima

Guacima montage
La Guacima, Alajuela. 20 minutes from airport, San José or Alajuela Centro and 30 minutes from Heredia. Near highway 27. $1,200 a month. All services included (Internet, water, electricity, security). Very private, very quiet, green areas, fully furnished. Must like animals (we have three gentle dogs), look at high resolution pics HERE! U.S. citizens or Europeans preferred. No children. Call to inquiry and for appointment to visit. Available for rent in December. Contact phone number:  (506)  8839-4315.

Organic farm home
$800 plus utilities.
Two-bedroom, two-bath house, fully furnished, Internet included, cable TV available. Inside organic farm, safe and secure. In the country but close to town. Santa Bárbara de Heredia, Email for more info and pictures. Long term, NO DOGS.

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 of Costa Rica.
We are offering homes for every budget and every need.
Please visit our Web page at or contact us at
or call at (506) 2654-5442.

MONTHLY $800 TO $1,200

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.

HP Cattle rentals
Mountain homes or farm for rent
Barva volcano, Heredia province
We offer for rent a gorgeous two-bedroom mountain chalet and a one-bedroom mountain home located on the slopes of the Barva Volcano, Heredia Province. The homes are situated at 7,300 feet altitude and within a working horse ranch just three kilometers from the Braulio Carrillo National Park entrance. From our homes one can hike to the Barva volcano crater-lake.  Enjoy a spacious living room, kitchen, fireplace and breathtaking views of the Irazú volcano and the Central Valley. Observe dozens of cloud forest bird species to include the resplendent quetzal.  The homes are incomparable in beauty and attention to detail within the Barva highland area.  We are only 35-55 minutes from Costa Rica’s three principal cities (Heredia, Alajuela, and San José), less than two hours from the central Pacific beaches, and three hours from the Caribbean beaches. Enjoy the tranquility of the mountains while maintaining quick access to the conveniences of the city and rapid access to other eco-tourist destinations in Costa Rica. Additionally, we can board your horses at a reasonable fee.  We can also offer our clients rental of a small and fully functional farm complete with stables, pasture, and office space.
Mountain chalet: $750.  Basic mountain home: $400.
Boutique mountain home: One-bedroom $850. Two-bedroom $1,000.
Small Farm that includes a chalet, basic mountain home, stables, and 8,000m2 of pasture/green areas: $1,500.

Apartments Lemur
Apartment Lemur for rent
San Francisco de Dos Rios, El Bosque, furnished, 2-bedroom, 1-bath apartment, quiet area, free cable TV, WiFi. large patio area, swimming pool, parking, security. Close to San José. $440/month. Retired persons preferred. Call 8375-6838.

Beautiful 2-bedroom 2-bathroom American-style apartments with an elevator to your front door in a secure building located in Gringo Gulch the American Section of downtown San José. Costa Rica. Located between the Hotel Del Rey, the Hotel Mona Lisa and the Sportsman's Lodge and The Zona Blue (AKA) Little Habana across the street from Harry's Poas Bar, and next to the Holiday Inn.
apartment view
 There are 15 restaurants and American- style bars on this block and four supermarkets within a few blocks. There are 5 casinos within 2 blocks and dozens of hotels around this apartment. Included in your rental price, fast Internet, the best they have in Costa Rica, cable TV with 80 stations, water, washer
 and dryer. All you pay extra for is electricity. You have your own meter and receive a bill from the electric company every month.  This apartment has a American-style hot water system, hot water in both bathrooms and the kitchen. There is a 25-foot balcony to sit on and watch the people in San José walk by. The neighborhood Barrio Amón is the safest in San José For photos and more information contact:

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A.M. Costa Rica's   Fifth news page

cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 195
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U.S. Secret Service director
resigns in face of criticism

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The director of the U.S. Secret Service, Julia Pierson, has resigned.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday that Ms. Pierson met with President Barack Obama, who expressed appreciation for her 30 years of service to the country. Earnest said Ms. Pierson took responsibility for the service's shortcomings and for fixing them.

Earnest said the president continues to have full confidence in the Secret Service, and accepted Ms. Pierson’s resignation because he agreed with her assessment that it was in the best interest of the agency.
“They reached that conclusion because of the recent and accumulating reports about the performance of the agency, and that is what led the president to believe that new leadership is required,” he said.
The White House press secretary would not go into details of either of the latest security breaches, saying the incidents are under investigation.
Earnest said Obama spoke to Ms. Pierson by phone and expressed appreciation for her 30 years with the Secret Service.
Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson said he is appointing former Secret Service special agent Joseph Clancy as interim director of the agency. 

In his statement, Johnson also remarked how the U.S. Secret Service agency protected the president and 140 visiting heads of state during last week’s U.N. General Assembly in New York without incident, noting that “no other protection service in the world could have done this.”

Ms. Pierson faced tough questions from Congress this week after two serious breaches in security last month.

Earlier Wednesday, key lawmakers voiced new criticism of her and the Secret Service, after recent lapses in White House security.

House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said that as more details emerge about the security breaches, "the clearer it becomes that the Secret Service is beset by a culture of complacency and incompetence." He called for an independent investigation.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi also urged a new investigation.

Their criticism of the Secret Service, the agency charged with protecting Obama and his family, came as accused White House fence-jumper Omar Gonzalez appeared in a Washington court. He pleaded not guilty to charges that he eluded security and ran into the presidential mansion Sept. 19 with a serrated knife in his pants pocket before he was apprehended.

In a separate incident three days before in the southern city of Atlanta, Georgia, a security contractor armed with a gun who had previously been convicted of assault rode on an elevator with Obama and his security detail, even through the Secret Service did not know of his background or that he was armed.

The Atlanta incident was revealed hours after Ms. Pierson testified Tuesday before a congressional committee investigating shortcomings at the agency, but never mentioned the elevator security breach.

Ms. Pierson said the intrusion into the White House was unacceptable, took full responsibility for it and vowed that it would not happen again.

She said the 42-year-old Gonzalez barreled past one agent, and was only caught after running into the ceremonial rooms on the first floor of the presidential mansion, one of the most secure buildings in the United States. 

The Secret Service at first said Gonzalez was arrested just inside an unlocked White House door, and that he was unarmed at the time.  The president and his daughters had left the residence shortly before the incident, while first lady Michelle Obama had departed earlier.

In one 2011 incident, gunfire hit the White House, but damage from the bullets was only discovered four days later.

In other Secret Service wrongdoing, agents were involved in a prostitution scandal on a presidential trip to Colombia in 2012, and a night of drinking in March led to three agents being sent home from a presidential trip to Amsterdam.

Gonzalez served with the U.S. Army during the nine-year war in Iraq. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

Health workers and others
in U.S. are jittery over ebola

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

News that a Texas man was diagnosed with ebola after returning home from a visit to Liberia has raised new concerns about the spread of the disease. For health workers the stakes are particularly high — more than 120 have died in West Africa since the ebola outbreak began early this year. In the United States, public health experts are working to reassure the public and medical workers that the virus does not endanger communities here.

The first ebola patient to arrive in the United States flew on a plane specially equipped and designed to prevent the spread of the virus.  That patient, Kent Brantly, entered Emory University hospital through a special passage to the isolation unit.

During a news conference outside the hospital, Jay Varkey reassured the public that they were not at risk.

“I can’t think of a better place in the world, other than this hospital at Emory University, to care for this patient,” said Varkey.

Some hospitals in developed countries have isolation units equipped with their own laboratories. Technicians do all the lab work right in the unit. And yet, not every worker at Emory was comfortable with having an ebola patient there.

"There was a lot of feedback that we got back from our staff that this infection is a death sentence. This infection can have 90 to 100 percent mortality rates," said Varkey.

Varkey and the hospital's other infectious disease experts met with staff members.

Brantly eventually recovered, as did a second patient, Nancy Writebol. Rick Sacra, the third ebola patient flown to the U.S., was successfully treated at the University of Nebraska Hospital.

"Though my crisis has reached a successful end here, unfortunately, the ebola crisis continues to spin out of control," said Sacra.

Modern hospitals in developed countries are far different from the situation in Africa, where more than 240 medical workers have contracted Ebola in recent months. Most hospitals lack the supplies to contain the disease. In one ebola holding facility in Sierra Leone, at least three employees have died of the virus.

Nurses recently protested in Las Vegas, saying they are not trained to treat ebola patients. Surveys show many Americans are afraid the ebola virus might spread inside the U.S.

Thomas Frieden, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tried to tamp down concerns after a Texas hospital admitted the ebola patient who had arrived last month from Liberia.

"It's only spread by someone who is sick with the virus. And it's only spread through body fluids," said Frieden.

Frieden said the ebola virus is something to fear, but as more people get into treatment early, more people will survive.

Humor as academic topic
leads prof around world

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Analyzing humor, observed American author E.B. White,  is like dissecting a frog. "Few people are interested, and the frog dies of it.” But that has not deterred Peter McGraw.

McGraw teaches students at the University of Colorado Business School how to do research on the topic of humor. He's taken his research out of the classroom, seeking ways to crack the humor code.

“Although you need science, you need a laboratory and experiments to understand what makes things funny," he explained. "If you want a complete understanding of this mysterious, complex thing, you need to go out into the real world. You need to test your theories.”

McGraw especially wanted to test a scientific theory he developed, which he calls “benign violation.” “These are situations that are in some way threatening, unsettling or amiss, but at the same time are safe, acceptable or okay.”

Like pratfalls, puns and risque jokes. McGraw's is only one of dozens of different theories about the basis of humor. It has been studied by biologists, sociologists and some of the world's greatest philosophers; from Socrates and Kant to Schopenhauer.

It's a tough crowd, to borrow a phrase, but McGraw is committed to add to the body of knowledge. His research has taken him around the world. He said the most challenging place for finding benign violation was a country where, at first, he couldn’t make anybody laugh -- Japan.

“On the street, in the subways, at their places of work, there was very little laughter, but we found out that that’s because of the cultural norms. It’s not okay to express emotion in those places.” It turns out, he learned, that tickling the Japanese funny bone depends on where you are. “At the karaoke bars and out in social gatherings, the Japanese really were quite funny,” said  McGraw.

So were the 100 clowns he joined in a poor neighborhood of Iquitos, Peru. McGraw was part of a team trained by U.S. physician and long-time clown, Patch Adams. They entertained children everywhere, using goofy music, silly clothes and round, red noses.

“Since these adults are fooling around, it encourages the kids too. It gives them license to have a little more fun than they would normally,” he said.

But not all humor deserves praise. McGraw found a type of humor he did not like in every country he visited: the stupid joke. “The stupidity joke picks out a group, typically low status, and makes fun of them for not being smart. Frankly, I don’t think it’s a very good form of comedy.”

He has a different feeling about satire, which can be a politically powerful form of comedy, and has been used to great effect all over the world. Serbian activist Srdja Popovic, who led a student movement that helped force Slobodan Milošević from power in 2000, told McGraw it was a weapon against all leaders who take themselves too seriously. “If they get mocked, they do something stupid. If they do something stupid, they give you even more possibility to mock them."
McGraw observed, “I wouldn’t say that humor can overthrow a dictator, but I think it can help.” 
Comedy can bring people together. McGraw recalls a visit to the Middle East. He sat on the steps of a store in Hebron and watched an Israeli police officer sauntering toward the Palestinian shopkeeper. McGraw braced for trouble. But the two men began trading jokes.

“Because they see each other every day, they managed to create a relationship, and a relationship built around fun and laughter and joking.  One that transcended this conflict.”

These global encounters lead McGraw to conclude that humor can be a powerful force.  The quest for what's funny, he says, treads a delicate line between making people laugh, making them yawn and making them cry.

McGraw has coauthored a book about his global adventures, called "The Humor Code." Some universities are starting to use it as a college text. McGraw hopes a better understanding of humor will help people be more creative, successful... and happy.

Fun run was just practice
for major Pacific quake

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

It's not often you hear fun and tsunami in the same sentence, but both words inform the theme and purpose of the inaugural Race the Wave 5K fun run and walk in scenic Cannon Beach, Oregon.

The course leads runners down the hard-packed sand before turning up into the hills behind the oceanfront hotels and cottages. At that point, the course follows a designated tsunami evacuation route: paths that have been mapped out because this coast line is vulnerable to the huge sea waves unleashed by undersea earthquakes.

The ring of fire is the name for the great arc of volcanoes and grinding tectonic plates around the edges of the Pacific Ocean. This year, big earthquakes have hit Chile, Mexico, Alaska and the Solomon Islands. Geologists have identified the U.S. Northwest as another vulnerable location. While undersea quakes can cause massive damage and loss of life, the tsunamis they generate can be even deadlier.

The idea of a race along an evacuation route was hatched several years ago by one of today's participants who works for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s regional office. He is Ryan Ike of Seattle who said it’s about inspiring people to practice and create muscle memory.

"We’ve seen these maps, and we've put these really beautiful things together and you’re looking at it on a table and you think, ‘OK, I could run from here to here. That’s not that far.’ But then you get to the bottom of the hill, and you realize I have only a few more minutes and I have got to get this much further," he said. "And I have my kids, or I have my bags, or I have all this stuff with me. How would you do that?"

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management approached Cannon Beach to host what they hope will be the first of many races. For this race, the finish line is at an emergency supply cache on high ground about one kilometer inland from the ocean.

After a big earthquake, people are supposed to evacuate to this spot by foot — not by car. Emergency planners assume the Big One -- a magnitude 9.0 quake caused by a full rupture of the dangerous Cascadia fault zone offshore -- will buckle roads, topple trees and bring down power lines from Northern California to British Columbia.

Assuming the source of the tsunami waves is the Cascadia fault zone, most people along the Northwest coast would need to get to higher ground within 25 minutes.

Race winner Jason Yencopal of Baker County finished with minutes to spare.

"I’m really happy with that. It’s a great event," he said. "Get the people out here running this so they are more familiar with it, for sure."

A little further back in the field, runner Nancy Thai of Seattle was less certain she would have survived.

“You know," she said, "I might swim the last few feet to safety.”

Ms. Thai, who loves going to the beach, planned this visit specifically to participate in the tsunami evacuation run.

Tsunamis also can come ashore from distant corners of the Pacific. In that case, there would be longer lead time to get away from the water.

Earlier in the weekend, emergency planners from Oregon, Washington state and the nation’s capital compared notes on fun or creative ways to engage people.

“If people get scared about Cascadia and if they get scared of tsunamis, they become fatalistic," said Althea Rizzo, an earthquake and tsunami program coordinator for the state of Oregon.

Ms. Rizzo said the weekend fun run represents the opposite of an eat-your-vegetables approach.

“There is a common thread in risk messaging that you don’t hit them with a lot of negatives," she said. "You offer them a way out of a situation and you give them the tools that they need.”
The enormity of the task facing planners like Ms. Rizzo is evident because 20,000 people might be in harm’s way just in Cannon Beach on any sunny summer weekend. Fewer than 100 practiced the escape route during the inaugural tsunami fun run.

To reach younger people, Ms. Rizzo worked this year with a publisher on an earthquake preparedness comic book. Officials hope teens will read the slick comic and take steps to get themselves and their families ready for the Big One.

In mid-October, Eugene, Oregon, and San Francisco will be the scene of different disaster prep races. In these, contestants compete to move disaster relief supplies by cargo bike.

Bicycle enthusiasts in other West Coast cities have previously staged obstacle courses like this. The events simulate how a well-equipped cyclist can make a supply run with as much as 50 kilos of provisions following a major earthquake.


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house 865
Beautiful chalet in Grecia, with the best fresh natural weather, 1.040 m2 of land, Price $135.000. Click HERE!
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Beautiful house  in Grecia, with the best fresh natural weather, 810 m2 of land, Price $178.000. Click HERE!
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Beautiful large house  in Grecia, with the best fresh natural weather,1.006 m2 of land, Price $290.000.  HERE!
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San Ramon
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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 ft. elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 baths, appliances included. High-speed internet iinstalled, Direct TV via sling box on Internet. $199,000 Contact   Check out slide show HERE!

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Cariari luxury condo for sale
This is not an ordinary condo.
Completed one year ago, a $45,000 renovating made it an exquisite dwelling. As soon as you walk in you know it is a special home. No detail has been overlooked, even minuscule ones. The owner has a need to move on, and someone lucky will be the beneficiary of the fine detailed work. The home itself has three bedrooms, two and half bathrooms plus a maid’s quarters with its own bathroom. Also, it has a living room, dining room and a gorgeous kitchen with a kitchenette. There’s also a small outdoor patio. Being the end unit of this four-home condo complex, there’s parking space for three vehicles.  Approximately 240 sq. meters. All this near the Cariari Golf and Country Club and its renowned Tom Facio golf course. The club also has amenities such as a fitness centre, exercise room, Olympic swimming pool, sauna, 12 tennis courts and many other benefits. Tel:  8384-9608 or 2293-9054  Price $214,500.

Two lovely homes on one big lot in Esterillos Oeste, (Central Pacific)
Located on a breezy hill just 4 minutes walk to the beach, surf and tide-pools, only 20 minutes drive north to Jacó nightlife and shopping or south to the rural town of Parrita.

First, a 2-story, 2-bedroom (sleeps 4), 1½-bathroom house with big kitchen and living room.  Full-width verandah with eating and sitting areas, overlooking lawn, pool and gazebo. Sitting balcony at upper, bedroom level.  Carport and laundry. 

Second, a completely private single-story 2-bedroom (sleeps 4), 1-bathroom home with big back yard at a lower level on the same, big fully titled 1,100M2 lot. Full security bars at all doors and windows, plus locking vehicle access and pedestrian gates at the street. In a very safe neighborhood, with private and natural surroundings

Well maintained, fully and tastefully furnished and equipped, hot water, local phone, cable TV/DVD and high speed wireless internet.   The houses have been rented for both long-term and vacation for $100/$80 per day and $1,500/$1,200 per month respectively. See this place, you will love it! Then make an offer. E-mail or call (506) 8386-8825.  Rodney, asking $350,000.

house photo
More photos HERE!
Another 'live in the view' home in Puriscal
$179,900 includes:
Lot on river, concrete road, custom kitchen & bath with granite counter tops, PEX plumbing, 2” Styrofoam, sandwiched in steel roof, 4” concrete/recycled Styrofoam & steel walls, laminated, bronzed windows, custom wood doors, appliances and all transfer taxes, and fees.

2, 900 sq feet under roof, 1,250 sq feet inside walls, 2 bedroom, 2 ½ baths, laundry room, three separate patio areas, covered carport, shade trees, in upscale, secure project.  This project has river with protected areas & walkways. It is only 10 minutes on all paved roads to Santiago de Puriscal, 45 minutes to La Plaza Mall/Hospital CIMA and SJO airport, and 1 ½ hours to Pacific Beaches. It has recently upgraded public water supply and dependable ICE electric and high-speed internet.
Please come visit our projects and meet four new homeowners who have recently moved into their new “live in the view” homes to verify how happy they are and that they all came in under budget. CONTACT: George Lundquist  Home phone: 2417-1041 Cell phone: 8888 4543 Skype glundquist.
To see more Photos of this house, click HERE!

Beautiful home and separate apartment
The land is 289 square meters with  329 square meters of construction. Three bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, 2 floors, covered parking, with room for  a second parking space. A first floor patio and a second floor balcony with view. Attached apartment rented for $500 per month. Live free. House valued, @ $330,000. asking price with agents is $295,000. With no agent, asking $279,000, negotiable. Must see to appreciate,  Contact: Wayne Winstead,, 8820-1501/8379-7947

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Guanacaste, Liberia Farm
$64,000 NEGOTIABLE and owner financing available.
9 hectares (24 acres). Riverfront property and amazing views of 3 volcanoes.


Beach Front Home - Central Pacific Coast
Pristine condition, recently renovated. The best surfing and boogie boarding in the country. The most magnificent ocean and sunset view. New 20-year, fully registered concession on one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. Easy access from San José (1 hour 25 minutes) located between Jacó and Manuel Antonio, in Esterillos Oeste.  2 or 3 bedrooms. Center room can be living room. House with 2 1/2 baths. Separated rancho with kitchen and large entertainment patio. Landscaped garden with no water shortage. Has both municipal and well water with automatic watering system. Direct access to the beach as no road is in front of property. Protected land on one side of the property for additional privacy.  Alarm system and complete shutters for security while away. Lot approximately 1,725 square meters, Asking price: $385.000.  Contact to Paul at local phone 506- 2637-8858  Cell phone 506- 8823-8550 .  US Mobile 908-400-9772  Emails:  and


Spectacular view property on a ridge near Alajuela.  Large home and 3 rental homes totaling 7,300 square feet (678 square meters) live-in construction.  Property area is 3,376 square meters (0.83 acres) including a vacant lot for expansion options.  In total there are 10 bedrooms, each with an ensuite bath.  Property has pool, rancho, mirador, courtyard and covered parking.  Homes have romantic fireplaces, built-ins, storage, other luxury features.  Turnkey sale includes all appliances, furniture, fixtures, equipment.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See property video here:

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

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ARenal property
Location: Near Arenal        Price: $2.7 million
Size: 113 acres
Web site:

The farm is at the highest point on a stunning ridge bordered by pristine Costa Rican primary forest on all sides of the property, with active wildlife all throughout the area. On each of its gently rolling terraced lomas you get a glimpse of Volcán Arenal from a distance. This property has four different lagunas, a working organic farm and nursery, mature fruit trees, sheep corral, ideal for grazing horses with stunning views from all the hillsides. The Northern Zone of Costa Rica is the country's best kept secret, providing a perfect home base location to travel the country's many destinations while still maintaining the best climate at 400 meters above sea level.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 195
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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Last Beltran Leyva brother captured

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexican authorities say they have captured Héctor Beltran Leyva -- one of the country's most wanted drug kingpin suspects.

Soldiers arrested him Wednesday in the central Mexican city of San Miguel de Allende after a nearly year-long operation.

No other details are available.

Beltran Leyva is one of four brothers who allegedly headed a vicious Mexican drug cartel after it split with the notoriously brutal Sinaloa cartel. He was the only Beltran Leyva brother still operating. One brother is dead and two others are in prison.

Beltran Leyva also is wanted in the United States on drug trafficking charges.

Mom urges action to spring son

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The mother of a former U.S. Marine in a Mexican prison on gun trafficking charges says the U.S. must do more to secure his release.

The mother, Jill Tahmooressi, told a U.S. congressional hearing Wednesday that her 26-year-old son has been threatened by prison guards with rape, torture and execution since his arrest in March. She said he has post traumatic stress disorder relating to his military service and accidentally entered Mexico at a poorly marked border crossing.

Andrew Tahmooressi, who is now in the reserves, was arrested six months ago at a San Diego-Tijuana checkpoint. Mexican authorities say they found a rifle, shotgun, pistol and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in his pickup truck.

Tahmooressi's mother said her son is despondent and urgently needs care for his post traumatic stress.

U.S. lawmakers took the unusual step of scheduling a House of Representatives hearing during a congressional recess in the hope of putting pressure on Mexico and on President Barack Obama's administration to intervene more urgently in the case.

A White House spokesman said Obama has not called Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto because the State Department is handling the issue.

State Department officials say they are deeply concerned about Tahmooressi's case and are in close touch with Mexican authorities, but that every country has its own judicial process.

Mexican soldiers blamed in executions

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexico is charging three soldiers with homicide in the death of 22 suspected drug gang members who prosecutors allege were executed.

Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam said late Tuesday the three are among eight who were arrested in connection with the June 30 shootout in Mexico state, 240 kilometers southwest of Mexico City.

The military initially said 22 suspects died in a prolonged gunfight that occurred when an eight-man patrol came under fire in the town of San Pedro Limón, an area known to be dominated by drug cartels. 

But Murillo Karam said the shootout lasted 10 minutes and afterwards the soldiers entered the warehouse and fired shots "that have no justification whatsoever."  Media reports have quoted witnesses as saying most of the 22 deaths happened after the suspects had surrendered.

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From Page 7:

Food chamber campaigns for healthy lifestyle

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The food marketer chamber has launched a campaign to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

The chamber, the Cámara Costarricense de la Industria Alimentaria, is targeting parents to provide them with information so that their children will adopt a healthy lifestyle.

The campaign seeks to eliminate bad habits that lead to individuals being overweight,  a cause of illnesses.

The chamber also said that it wanted to confront false information that parents and youngsters may be receiving.

Among the suggestions are that families maintain fixed mealtimes and that youngsters up to 12 help with the grocery shopping to get an understanding of basic foods.

The chamber also seeks more physical activity in the schools.