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Published Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 205
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Online liberty confab begins here amid contradictions
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sixth Annual Freedom Online Conference opens today in Escazú full of contradictions.

One of the principal supporters is the United States, one of 30 members of the sponsor, the  Freedom Online Coalition, yet that country is engaged on massive spying on its own citizens and seeks to prosecute a major advocate of online freedom, Julian Assange of Wikileaks.

Costa Rica, another member of the coalition is prosecuting a Florida resident for his truthful and sexy stories that violate a national law forbidding calling the country a sex tourism paradise.

The coalition, as is A.M. Costa Rica, says it is devoted to the idea that online users are interested in political news and an informed citizenry is a crucial element to democracy. Yet statistics show that most online activity is personal, recreational and even pornographic.

The same studies do show that citizens who used the internet for news and political information were more likely to express greater criticism about their country’s autocratic political institutions and leaders but that those who spent more of their online time engaging with entertainment content were more satisfied with living under autocratic conditions.

Increasingly the internet also is being filled with false stories which sometimes are designed to incriminate public figures.  In fact, a recent study by journalists showed that Facebook is quick to pick up and mark as trending fake news stories because the company has fired its editors and relies on technicians.

One fake story picked up by a number of pro-Trump sites claimed falsely that  Hillary Clinton had an affair with Yoko Ono?

Of course, many internet users are justifiably suspicious when governments get together to talk about online freedom. The Barack Obama administration is the most current U.S. government to closely guard its secrets, as Assange has shown.

Costa Rican government officials hire armies of so-called journalists to report good news from their various agencies. Consequently, the local public does not get a clear view of the state of the economy, criminality or even presidential trips, despite the efforts of several aggressive media outlets.

And in the United States there is suspicion by some citizens over the weekly economic reports and other economic indexes prepared by government agencies.

The Freedom Online Coalition was formed in 2011. The two-day conference will be at the Hotel Real Intercontinental with full support from the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto, the Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Telecomunicaciones and an organization called the Digital Defenders Partnership.

President Luis Guillermo Solís is expected to speak. The theme this year is  “Enhancing an open, active and constructive online community for the enjoyment of an effective citizenship online.” But there also are sessions on addressing hate speech and harassment online and in using the internet for social change.

A May critique of the coalition said that there was the lack of transparency about its activities, inadequate consequences for countries not meeting their commitments,

intrnet spies
A.M. Costa Rica graphic

frustration at the ambiguity of the aims and objectives of the coalition and the few tangible results that have been produced so far.

That summary was from the Center for Global Communication Studies and the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

Human Rights Watch also has taken shots at the coalition. When there were revelations of mass surveillance by the United States and the United Kingdom, some of its most active founding members, two years ago, the organization said that it is difficult to see that its members will be able to lead other governments on the path to freedom and security in the digital realm if they are not willing to hold themselves accountable to the principles they lay out for themselves.

The coalition itself commissioned the independent evaluation by the Center for Global Communication Studies that issued its report in May. “Ultimately, the question for the coalition is whether it can rise to the challenge of leading the global conversations that will drive action and policy making on internet freedom in an increasingly complex world,” said the evaluation.

Two academics at The Ohio State University issued their evaluation of how internet use affects democracy in July. They are Elizabeth Stoycheff and Erik C. Nisbet.

They said that their study sought to show how the internet does not necessarily serve as democracy’s magical solution. Instead, its democratic potential is highly dependent on how citizens choose to use it.

While some online users join social media groups that advocate for worthy causes and read news stories that change their outlook on the world, others watch Netflix, they said.

They noted that the United States and other democracies have invested a lot of time and resources in promoting internet access, opposing online censorship and circumventing firewalls.

Costa Rica also has invested heavily in providing internet access to poorer homes.

“Ensuring citizens have access to the internet is not sufficient to ensure democracy and human rights.” the academics said. “In fact, internet access may negatively impact democracy if exploited for authoritarian gain.”

Meanwhile, David Strecker, a/k/a/ Cuba Dave, has spent more than a year in preventative detention here facing an apparently unconstitutional charge of writing about Costa Rica and his sexual exploits on the internet. His trial is next month on an allegation that he called Costa Rica a sex tourism destination in his internet blog. The law is one that was laughed off when it was passed, and Strecker, an acknowledged prostitution customer who kisses and tells, is the only person ever charged.

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Drug boat
Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas reports a crew intercepted this Costa Rican-registered fishing boat, the Periquito, and found 826 kilos of cocaine. They credited help from the United States, presumably from U.S. forces at sea in the Pacific.

Airport runway now satellite controlled

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Pilotless passenger jets are still way off in the future, but aircraft landings and taking offs since Saturday at Juan Santamaría airport have been directed by satellite signals.

This is what is called in the United States the Next Generation control that replaces the visual and radar that has been the standard.

The Dirección General de Aviación Civil said that as of Saturday the airport will rely exclusively on satellite location and that this will increase the efficiency of flight operations. For example, the agency said that the distances between aircraft in the air can be reduced.

The controls apply to the 9,882-foot Runway 25, the only strip.

The agency said that the new system will provide greater precision in all visibility conditions.

The system is being promoted by the International Air Transport Association and similar systems are being installed in other airports worldwide.

Airline sources say that the system will reduce delays. Basically the aircraft computers converse with satellite positioning to keep the aircraft on the course and glidepath although the pilot also is at the controls. The efficiency also is supposed to reduce fuel use and provide more comfort for passengers.

Weekend murder toll seems to be 5

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The weekend was a holiday one, but murder did not take any time off. There were at least five killings, according to preliminary police reports.

Three men died by gunfire Friday night in Aserrí and a woman suffered wounds when a shootout took place in what investigators called a bunker, a fortified location for the sale and consumption of drugs. The killings took place about 11 p.m, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

In Quepos later Saturday afternoon the victim was a 44-year-old man who may have been homeless. The knife attack took place about 3 p.m. in a lot in the center of the community. A 28-year-old man was detained.

Shortly after noon Sunday a 36-year-old man died in La Milpa de Heredia when two gunmen riddled him with nine bullets.

In other incidents, those wounded by bullets or knives were hospitalized.

Coyote fee for migrants said to be $1,500

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man from Paso Canoas de Corredores will continue in preventative detention for two more months on a human trafficking allegation, according to a decision by the Juzgado Penal de Corredores.

The man, who has the last name of Anis, was picked up at his home in April. Investigators said he was charging illegal immigrants $1,500 each for safe passage from Panamá to Honduras.

Tax inspectors report visit to Sixaola

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tax police have swept businesses in Sixaola and confiscated medicines, ammunition, illegal alcohol, cigarette paper and shoes, they said.

The Policía de Control Fiscal is an agency of the Ministerio de Hacienda, which reported that the sweep involved 14 establishments in the area near the border with Panamá. The proximity with the country to the south and the porous border makes it easy to bring in illegal items.

Our reader’s opinion
Gringos face some unnecessary burdens

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I am not a fish eater, but my girl is.  After a day at the beach she was dying for fish, so I took her to one of the most up-scale restaurants in Guanacaste. I was shocked to see new management and a menu that had nothing but seafood.  She ordered her meal, and I had a piña colada.  Her grouper turned out to be shark.  Not only inedible, but unhealthy. When she could not eat the first bite, she returned it, and they had no substitute. They also did not take the price off the bill when we left.

It is incomprehensible that a country whose economy is based on tourism (mostly eco tourism) can openly declare the torture and killing of animals being reasonable, much less treating tourists to shark meat, horse meat and who knows what else. It seems Costa Rica is now hell-bent on destroying tourism and running Gringos to a place where they feel welcome.

As we now pay premium prices for electricity to compensate for the increase in fuel costs, for fuel the utility says it does not burn. As a significant portion of the GNP goes to paying for the refining of oil, which we don’t refine.  As we threaten animal rights groups like Sea Shepherd with jail for trying to protect our non-renewable animal resources. 

As we sanction the slaughter of animals in our national parks and jail park rangers for trying to protect them. As every visitor to Costa Rica is held hostage---permitted to leave only after paying a ransom. As, even after paying the ransom,  people are hauled off planes like terrorists just because a name similar to theirs appears on some list.

As fixed-income extranjeros struggle to get by on rising costs and artificially-controlled exchange rates, while now government wants to steal 10 percent of our pensions.  As Transitos hide in the bushes looking for white faces to write bogus tickets costing hundreds of dollars.

As government continues to borrow money to buy/wreck trains that no one wants to ride.  As all government workers belong to unions, pay no union dues, get paid their full salary when they decide not to work and take to the streets to stall the center of government and deny basic services (like medicine). 

As Costa Rica becomes a criminal enterprise (where an average price of $38 for a murder contract is universal) and government reacts by cutting police pay by 15 percent while giving Recope and ICE a big raise . . . .
Costa Rica is directed down the path of Venezuela and Brazil.

Alan Seaman

News from the Spanish-language press
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Officials stage march to raise the morale of residents of Limón
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Wherever there is violence, the security ministry seems to organize a march. This is what happened Saturday in Limón, the Caribbean port town that was the scene of a shootout at a beach two weeks ago.

The Security ministry sent an extra 200 officers to the community to patrol immediately after the shooting, and there has been some low-level detentions and confiscations of small amounts of drugs.

The ministry’s Policía de Control de Drogas staged two raids last week. One was in Siquirres, which technically is in Limón 

limon march
Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
President Luis Guillermo Solís wearing a hat is among those holding the banner.
province. The other involved four individuals in Villa Plata deVilla del Mar, Limón Centro.  Two sisters were detained as well as two 17-year-olds who are their relatives.

This was a neighborhood drug operation. Anti-drug agents confiscated 73 doses of cocaine, 63 doses of marijuana, 120,000 colons, about $219 and $19 dollars in U.S. Currency.

The march consisted of participants dressed in white. At the head of the march was President Luis Guillermo Solís helping to carry a banner.

The entire Caribbean coast is poverty stricken, even though it hosts thousands of tourists every year and is the principal hub for shipping the country’s exports.

A new $1 billion container handling facility is supposed to interject more money into the economy. The concession holder, APM Terminals, has promised to channel money into the province, but most observers agree that endemic corruption has been a serious impediment to development and security.

Crime and illegality seems to have existed unmolested there for years. A.M. Costa Rica recounted five years ago how an expat and police came under automatic weapons fire and retreated while trying to recover a stolen boat.  Police withdrew and failed to respond further.

There also was a case of a private dock constructed on public property with full knowledge of local officials, and investigators claimed the dock was used for illegal drug shipments.

There also has been allegations that some major drug dealers have been able to avoid court convictions. And there is no doubt that local judges and even prosecutors fear the well-armed local drug gangs. Even medical professionals try to avoid assignments to the area.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 205
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Common Market exit is giving a beating to the British pound
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The British pound has fallen sharply over the past two weeks, and is now at record lows against the U.S. dollar, losing around 20 percent of its value since Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

Analysts say the realization that Britain could be headed for a so-called hard Brexit, likely to involve leaving the European Union’s Single Market, has triggered a major sell-off. But the fall in value provides opportunities for foreign visitors.

For a short time this week, a thick black spread called Marmite, a British breakfast-time favorite, became the unlikely first victim of the plunging pound.

Its maker, the giant multinational Unilever, says the drop has forced up import costs, which it wants to pass on to retailers.

Tesco, Britain’s biggest supermarket, refused. So Marmite and several other Unilever products began disappearing from its shelves.

The dispute was resolved, but currency analyst Kathleen Brooks of Gain Capital in London says it shows that Brexit is starting to bite.

“Yes, Marmite might be packaged in the UK or put together in the UK, but all of the individual ingredients, even things like the glass, where the label comes from, that’s all from abroad so they’re having to pay in foreign currency for that, yet they can only sell it in pounds,” she said.

Ultimately, Ms. Brooks says it’s consumers who will likely pay for a plunging currency.

“It’s becoming clear that the market does not think that the outcome of Brexit and the impact of Brexit is going to be good
British pound
A.M. Costa Rica graphic

news for the economy. And a shrinking UK economy means a weaker pound. This
is going to erode standards of living here in the UK, because these are consumer goods,” Ms. Brooks said.

But some industries are benefiting. Tourism is booming as foreign visitors find themselves with more pounds in their pockets, like Derek Hotter from New York.

"Now you come over here knowing it's so much better in our favor, you feel like you can shop a little bit more," Hotter said.

The former head of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, says Brexit is achieving what policymakers couldn’t.

“During the referendum campaign, someone said ‘the real danger of Brexit is that we’ll end up with higher interest rates, lower house prices, and a lower exchange rate.’ And I thought dream on. Because that’s what we’ve been trying to achieve for the past three years. And now we have a chance of getting there,” King said.

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Charming Chalet for Rent
Mountain forest and fresh air. Charming two-bedroom and two-bath chalet style home. Near downtown Heredia away from the noise and traffic in the quiet mountain setting of Monte de la Cruz. Room for parking on a large manicured garden property. Fully furnished with loft and laundry room. Property is gated. No smokers, must have references, and no more than an occupancy of two.  $550 per month. One month deposit.  Please call Leda at:  2267-6306  to make an appointment to view.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 205
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Trump continues to claim
U.S. election is being rigged

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Roughly three weeks before Americans go to the polls, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is telling supporters that the election is rigged against him.

Should Trump lose to Democrat Hillary Clinton on Nov. 8, it remains to be seen whether he would concede or claim that the election was stolen from him.

If he refuses to deliver a concession speech, Trump would break with a time-honored tradition in American politics.

Even in 2000, after the most hotly-contested election result in modern U.S. history, Democrat Al Gore conceded to Republican George W. Bush once the Supreme Court halted vote recounts in Florida, handing Bush a minuscule margin of victory.

“I spoke with George W. Bush and congratulated him on becoming the 43rd president of the United States,” Gore said in nationally-televised remarks. “I accept it.”

As is also customary, Gore called for national unity after a hard-fought and bruising campaign.

“I also accept my responsibility,” Gore said, “to honor the new president-elect and do everything possible to help him bring Americans together in fulfillment of the great vision that our Declaration of Independence defines and that our Constitution affirms and defends.”

Would Donald Trump be gracious in defeat? Last month, in the first presidential debate, he said he would accept the outcome of the election.

"The answer is, if she wins, I will absolutely support her," Trump said.

His message of recent days has sounded markedly different.

“It is a rigged system, folks,” Trump said Saturday at a rally in Maine.

Stung by a media firestorm over allegations of sexual misconduct, fueled by his own words as well as those of multiple accusers, Trump cast himself as the victim of a smear campaign to deny him the presidency.

“The election is being rigged by corrupt media pushing false allegations and outright lies in an effort to elect Hillary Clinton president,” he said.

In recent weeks, Trump has also issued veiled warnings about fraud at polling places.

“Go and vote and then check out areas,” he told supporters in Pennsylvania. “Because a lot of bad things happen. And we do not want to lose for that reason.”

Democrats see a candidate willing to tear at the threads of democracy rather than accept responsibility for his own shortcomings.

“He is blaming the media, he is blaming the GOP,” said the Democratic vice presidential nominee and Virginia senator, Tim Kaine, on ABC’s “This Week” program. “He is saying that America cannot run a fair election. He is swinging at every phantom of his own imagination because he knows he is losing.”

But Trump’s backers say he has a point – that the news media have been more focused on controversies surrounding Trump than on wave after wave of revelations from WikiLeaks about Mrs. Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street and what are believed to be email communications within her campaign.

“This election is being rigged by the national media, who are doing everything they can to suppress bad news about Hillary, and everything to maximize bad news about Trump,” said former House speaker Newt Gingrich, also on ABC.

Agitation runs high among some of Trump’s most ardent supporters, as his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, discovered at a recent campaign stop.

“If Hillary Clinton gets in, I myself am ready for a revolution,” one rally attendee said in a question-and-answer session with Pence.

“No, do not say that,” the Republican vice presidential nominee replied.

Some Republican leaders are uncomfortable with Trump’s latest line of attack. A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan issued a statement saying, “Our democracy relies on confidence in election results, and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity.”

Mrs. Clinton’s secret speeches
show closeness to Wall Street

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WikiLeaks Saturday released full transcripts of three speeches Hillary Clinton gave to Goldman Sachs executives in 2013, along with comments by her presidential campaign staffers about how to handle challenging issues.

Wikileaks has been releasing material hacked from the email account of her campaign manager, John Podesta, for the past week.

According to the emails, her staffers noted potential problems, including her statement to bank executives that political reasons factored into passing a law on bank reforms, and Mrs. Clinton's flattering her audience by saying people in the banking industry know regulation issues better than anyone else.

Mrs. Clinton has been dogged by accusations from her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and other critics that she is too close to Wall Street and other members of the financial elite.

Another email contained suggestions about how she could align herself more favorably with the working class by spending a day working alongside hotel maids or child-care workers. A key Clinton ally, former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, suggested the idea to a Clinton aide, saying, "Our base would go wild for it."

Meanwhile, Republican candidate Donald Trump suggested Saturday that Mrs. Clinton might have been on drugs at the last debate and that both candidates should undergo drug testing before Wednesday's final match.

"We're like athletes, right?" Trump said to his audience at a rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. "I'm willing to do it."

Trump has said repeatedly that Clinton should be jailed for her use of a private email server while she was secretary of State. After an investigation, FBI Director James Comey announced in July that charges against Clinton were not appropriate.

Trump's latest comments came one day after two more women alleged that the real estate mogul made unwanted sexual advances toward them.

A contestant on Trump's television show, "The Apprentice," told reporters Friday that the businessman kissed and grabbed her at a hotel where she had gone to discuss potential jobs. The contestant, Summer Zervos, was a contestant on the show in 2006.

In an article published Friday by The Washington Post, Kristin Anderson said Trump slid his fingers under her skirt and touched her genitals through her underwear in a New York nightclub in the early 1990s.

The 46-year-old resident of Southern California said she pushed his hand away and got up from the couch on which she was sitting. Anderson said she and her companions were "very grossed out" by the incident, which she said lasted less than 30 seconds.

Ms. Anderson said she was reluctant to tell her story publicly, but was convinced she should do so after The New York Times, The Palm Beach Post in Florida and People Magazine published accounts earlier this week of women who said they had been groped by Trump.

Mrs. Clinton was spending the weekend in New York preparing for the October 19 debate, but her campaign is launching an initiative to capitalize on Trump's unpopularity among some women voters.

In this homestretch of the presidential race, Mrs. Clinton has extended her lead over Trump in national polls. The RealClearPolitics national average shows Clinton leading Trump by nearly 7 percentage points (48.1 to 41.4) in a two-way race.

Putin denies claims Russia
will interfere with U.S. voting

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Russian President Vladimir Putin is dismissing the latest U.S. claims that the Kremlin has directed cyberattacks against Washington, as well as scoffing at U.S. threats to retaliate for any Russian attempts to interfere in upcoming U.S. elections.

Putin spoke Sunday in India at a televised news conference, calling the hacking allegations an effort to distract Americans from lots of problems facing their country.

Putin's comments come less than two days after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden warned that "we are sending a message" to Putin. He told NBC news on Friday that U.S. retaliation for Russian cyberattacks "will be at the time of our choosing, and under circumstances that will have the greatest impact."

"You can expect anything from our American friends," Putin said Sunday. He also claimed it is already widely known that "official bodies in the United States are spying and eavesdropping on everyone."

Putin's latest comments also follow a joint U.S. statement Oct. 7 in which the U.S. director of National Intelligence and the chief of the Department of Homeland Security formally accused Moscow of hacking U.S. political organizations.

Those accusations referenced hacking into internal email accounts at the Democratic National Committee, and further accused Moscow of orchestrating the release of information in the hacked accounts through the rogue anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

Sunday Putin said, "I would like to reassure everyone, including our U.S. partners and friends: We do not intend to influence the U.S. election campaign."

The Kremlin was first linked to U.S. political hacking in July, after the campaign staff of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton accused Moscow of hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee.

Many Western analysts and pundits have since accused the Kremlin of favoring Republican candidate Donald Trump in the November elections, and point to Trump's repeated comments praising Putin and calling for closer bilateral ties. Other sources say the hacking comes from U.S. Intelligence agencies that fear Hillary Clinton’s lack of responsibility with confidential and classified documents.

Third missile attack reported
against U.S. Navy off Yemen

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A top U.S. admiral says a U.S. warship has again come under fire in the Red Sea from multiple cruise missiles fired from the coast of Yemen.

The chief of naval operations, Adm. John Richardson, said the guided missile destroyer USS Mason deployed electronic countermeasures to foil the attack and was not hit in Saturday’s incident, the third such attack on U.S. naval vessels in the area in the past week.

U.S. authorities say neither the Mason nor the amphibious transport USS Ponce was hit in the Oct. 9 attacks, and say the Mason and another U.S. vessel were unscathed by further missile fire on Wednesday.

Saturday, the Web site said Richardson, speaking at a ship commissioning in the port city of Baltimore, offered few details of the latest attack and did not say how many missiles were fired.

The Oct. 9 attack on the Mason and the amphibious transport USS Ponce, and Wednesday’s failed attacks prompted a retaliatory barrage of missiles from another warship, the USS Nitze on Thursday. Those U.S. strikes targeted three radar sites in Yemen territory controlled by Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

Thursday, Iran deployed two warships to the Red Sea, but insisted the move was aimed at preventing piracy in the vital shipping lanes.

The U.S. military has been providing intelligence and logistics to Saudi-led coalition warplanes, which began targeting rebel Houthi positions inside Yemen earlier this year.

New technology lets scientists
tackle old sea monster fossil

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Scientists are studying the skeleton of an ancient sea monster. It was discovered in Scotland 50 years ago, but it wasn’t until more recently, using modern fossil extraction methods, that the bones could be pulled out of hard rock. The previously unknown reptile lived in the oceans during the time of the dinosaurs.

The bones of the sea monster are 170 million years old and were discovered in Scotland’s Isle of Skye. Paleontologists are excited by the almost-complete skeleton.

“There’s over 100 bones there, so a whole bunch of the skeleton, and now we get to get down to the fun business of actually studying it, figuring out what it is,” said Stephen Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh.

What the scientists do know is that the sea monster is more than 4 meters long. It is from a class of ancient marine creatures called ichthyosaurs, which resembled dolphins. The reptile could swim fast, and with its hundreds of cone-shaped teeth, fed on fish and squid.

The scientists hope to gain a better understanding about the creature’s ecosystem and more about the Middle Jurassic period that lasted from about 160 to 180 million years ago. Since so few fossils have been discovered from that age, the sea monster is a spectacular find.

"It’s one of the only good skeletons of one of these ocean reptiles from the middle part of the Jurassic Period. This was a time that was a really interesting moment in evolution. You had all kinds of new groups of dinosaurs and ocean reptiles getting their start, starting to spread around the world,” said Brusatte.

Like other ichthyosaurs, this sea monster faded into extinction 95 million years ago, about 30 million years before the dinosaurs disappeared.

“It looks like it was changes in the oceans, in the chemistry and in the ecology of the oceans, and so you had a long-term willowing away of these ichthyosaurs as they became less and less common, less and less diverse, until they trickled away to extinction, and then that is when groups like sharks and ultimately whales and dolphins moved on in," said the paleontologist.

Sea monsters have often captured people’s imaginations. The skeleton of this one will eventually be put on display for the public to see.

European Space Agency says
Mars lander begins its descent

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The European Space Agency’s experimental probe is expected to land Wednesday on Mars, as part of a mission aimed at exploring the red planet's atmosphere and searching for signs of life.

Flight director Michel Denis confirmed the Schiaparelli Mars lander had separated from its mother ship as scheduled Sunday to applause at mission control center in Darmstadt, Germany.

As planned, the 600-kilogram probe separated from an unmanned craft called the Trace Gas Orbiter after a seven-month, 496-million-kilometer flight from Earth.

The space agency said Schiaparelli will enter the atmosphere Wednesday at a speed of nearly 21,000 kilometers per hour, before being slowed by atmospheric drag and then deploying a parachute and thrusters.

Schiaparelli will take images of Mars and conduct scientific measurements on the surface, but its main purpose is to test technology for a future European Mars rover.
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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 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: 
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paco two

Jacó Beach - Super Views - Priced Right
This is a three-bedroom, ine-bath home located at about 100-foot elevation one mile from the beach. Remodeled 2 years ago. Everything is new including total new kitchen, windows, floors, AC units, electric, plumbing, etc. Super fenced yard for dogs. Very low electric bill even with the AC. Very secure & private. Police chief next door. Very easy & inexpensive to expand this house as all neighbors have done. $149,900. Call Glenn at 506 6214-0056.

Costa Rica penthouse for sale
 5 -story penthouse for sale.  One of a kind penthouse on top of the Corobici Hotel in Sabana overlooking the Central Park and new Soccer Stadium in San José.  Excellent location provides you easy access to everywhere.  Other benefits include 24-hour security, 2 restaurants inside the hotel providing 1st class room service plus shared common areas in the hotel. Commercial license is in place. Seller will consider owner financing.  Asking $795K U.S.  Also available for monthly rent for $3,400 per month on an annual basis. Go to  Owners U.S. cell phone: 813 310-7402  Email

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Spectacular Horse Ranch and Spiritual/Yoga
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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
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news page

San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 205
Real Estate
About us

News from the BBC up to the minute

BBC news feeds are disabled on archived pages.

Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
The frustration of not-so-deep pockets

I really need deeper pockets. Not in the way people usually think of it as “I need more money,” but I really need pockets that are deeper.

You see, I have done it again. I have misplaced – okay I have lost – one of
Victoria Torley
my best pairs of clippers. It probably is not completely lost. It’s just out in the garden somewhere. I was in the orchid garden doing a little pruning, clipping and cutting back when they just slipped out of my pocket.

Now, I know that I have talked about putting bright orange tape on
your tools so that you don’t lose
them when they slip out of your pocket, but I ran out of bright orange tape because I have a lot of tools.

It’s really my own fault. I should have stayed with one job. The thing that I went out to do was simply to snip dead pieces from the orchids and the ferns, prune back a few things and come back inside.

Naturally when I got outside, I discovered some things needed to be moved. Some needed to be transplanted from shade to the sun or sun to shade.

So I ran for my shovel forgetting that I still had the pruners in my pocket.

Yes, I am scatterbrained. Yes, I need a better system. On the plus side, I have some beautiful bright yellow tags for my plants, and I have even written on them. But they sit on my desk. Someday I’ll remember to take them out and tag the plants with them.

That tagging part is frustrating as well, see, I have written the names on the tags but I forget which plants the tags belong to. Remember me being scatterbrained? I will sort all that out later, I promise.

Here, I suppose, is the dilemma. I don’t like desk work. I want to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine or even the rain, not inside making a catalog of what I have, where it is, and what its tag name is.

It’s a dilemma a lot of gardeners face. The only catalog we want is the one that comes once a year from Burpee that shows what seeds and plants are available for the up-coming season, but even that pleasure is denied those of us who live in Costa Rica. The catalog may be online, but Burpee does not ship to Costa Rica.

Frustrating, isn’t it?

Plant for the Week

Here is a nice little volunteer that came up near the house, Senna undulata, locally siete cueros. It appears to be native to Costa Rica and might be a good addition to the garden although it does grow to five meters (18 feet or so). Our volunteer is in full sun and terrible soil but is doing well. Since it produces seed pods, it is likely to spread but the yellow flowers are refreshing.

A.M. Costa Rica/Victoria Torley

If you would like to suggest a topic for this column, simply send a letter to the editor.  And, for more garden tips, visit HERE!
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From Page 7:

United experiences, fixes computer problem

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

United Airlines has suffered an hours-long problem with its computer systems that resulted in delays and cancellations globally.

Passengers traveling late Thursday and early Friday took to social media to complain about delays as long as six hours.

United posted a statement on its Twitter account saying "we're aware of an issue with our system & are working to resolve it." By 3 a.m. EDT, United officials claimed to have fixed it and said delayed flights were resuming.

Flight tracking service FlightStats showed 20 United flights were delayed and seven canceled worldwide by European morning hours.

Other U.S. airlines have experienced recent disruptions because of computer system outages. In July, Southwest Airlines blamed a faulty network router for an outage that led to the cancellation of over 2,000 flights. In August, Delta canceled at least 450 flights worldwide because of a computer problem.