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Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad photo



The power company has good reasons to keep track of lightning strikes. Now there is better equipment to do the job.

At left David Arce and Cristian Berrocal complete the installation of a new detector earlier this year in Buenos Aires de Puntarenas.

Our story is HERE!

Thanks to judge's ruling, the streets are now meaner
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is a scene in the movie "Ghostbusters" where the evil energy peaks to the extent that spooks are swirling around New York like so many wind-driven newspaper pages.

That may be the situation soon in Costa Rica except the ghosts will be very solid robbers and other crooks.

The Ministerio de Justicia y Paz is under court order to reduce the prison population, which now is more than 13,000, about 4,000 higher than what is considered capacity.

Naturally many of these convicted criminals will return to their old ways upon release.

An example is a man with the last name of Calderón, who is the main suspect in a robbery that took place about 9 p.m. Sunday in Parque Central in San José.

According to the Judicial Investigating Organization until Oct. 23, Calderón resided at the Centro Penitenciario La Reforma in Alajuela. He had been jailed for six months on an attempted robbery conviction and three years and four months after a conviction for aggravated robbery.

However, he was given the benefit of conditional execution of the sentences as long as he agreed to sleep one night a week at a halfway house in Guadalupe, said the agency. That is where agents detained him late Wednesday afternoon.
Agents allege that he applied a neck hold on a victim identified by the last name of James so as to allow the assailant to take a billfold and a cell telephone.

Someone else saw the robbery and gave chase unsuccessfully. In his haste to get away, the robber dropped what turned out to be a cédula, an identification card belonging to Calderón.

The suspect exemplified the situation as officials try to reduce the number of those detained.

The Sala IV rejected as unconstitutional 12 years ago a proposal from a U.S. firm to build a high-security prison as a concession. Now officials are hurrying to find funding to build more facilities.

In the meantime, they are releasing hundreds of

convicted felons onto the streets.

Costa Rica's low rate of solving crimes is well-known, and usually a crook has to make a dumb mistake like Calderón to end up in jail.

Only last September, the minister of Justicia, Ana Garita, asked judges to provide other pre-trial mechanisms instead of pre-trial detention. Lawmakers still were considering a measure that would allow the use of electronic bracelets that would be monitored remotely. But that project has been stalled temporarily.

Costa Rican prosecutors almost always seek pre-trial detention for foreign suspects for fear they will leave the county. Some say this device is over used, particularly when someone who has spent 13 months in prison is eventually acquitted.

The same day that Calderón was released, prison officials moved more than 90 inmates from the San Sebastián facility to reduce overcrowding there.

Far worse than the Calderón case is one in Puntarenas where a recently released convict is a murder suspect. The suspect was placed on the street from the El Roble prison three days before the Saturday stickup and murder of a shopkeeper. He was one of 370 prisoners ordered released by a judge and placed in what is known as a régimen de confianza, which might include sleeping nights in confinement. He had been charged with aggravated robbery but served about 15 months of a three-year, four-month sentence.

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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


Marco Cavallini & Associates
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Spend soccer money on Caja,
Acción Ciudadana urges

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Partido Acción Ciudadana has announced an earthshaking idea. Why doesn't the national soccer federal use the money it received for World Cup participation to bring the various soccer teams up to date with the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social.

The soccer clubs traditionally are delinquent, and the Caja has closed some stadiums temporarily in the past over the debt.

Liga Deportiva Alajuelense alone owes 385 million colons, about $770,000, said Acción Ciudadana in a release. Nine first- and second-division teams are in the red with the Caja, it said.

The Federación Costarricense de Fútbol received between $9 and $12 million for the national soccer team to play in the World Cup matches in Brazil next year, the political party said. The federation should divide the money among the teams that owe the Caja the social security payments for its players and employees, it said.

The law requires all employers to collect 9 percent from their employees' salaries and add 20 percent or more depending on the size of the firm.

Red Sox take game and Series
to celebrate at home at last

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Boston Red Sox have won the Major League Baseball World Series, defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1 in Wednesday night's game six to clinch the third championship in 10 years.

Playing in front of a raucous home crowd, Boston jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning when outfielder Shane Victorino hit a bases-loaded double.

The Red Sox struck again in the fourth inning, scoring three more runs, including a solo home run by Stephen Drew, to take a commanding 6-0 lead.

All six runs were charged to Cardinals rookie pitcher Michael Wacha, who had won his four earlier playoff starts this year while giving up a total of only three runs.

The Cardinals had a chance to get back in the game in the seventh inning. They scored a run on a Carlos Beltran single, and had the bases loaded with two outs, but Boston reliever Junichi Tazawa got Allen Craig to ground out to end the inning. No St. Louis runner reached base after that.

Red Sox starter John Lackey pitched a strong six-and-two-thirds innings, allowing nine hits and one Cardinals run.

Boston's victory allowed its fans to celebrate a World Series win in their home city for the first time since 1918. The Red Sox won the title in 2004 and 2007, but clinched both of those championships in their opponent's ballpark.

David Ortiz, an immensely popular player in Boston who was a member of all three World Series teams, was named the most valuable player. He had two home runs and a .688 batting average against the Cardinals -- more than double his average for the season -- and drove in six runs in the six games. Cardinals pitchers also walked him eight times, including three intentional walks in game six.

China-Latin Am trade summit
is scheduled for Costa Rica

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica will be the location for the VII Cumbre Empresarial China-América Latina y el Caribe Nov. 26 and 27.

The announcement came from Promotora de Comercio Exterior de Costa Rica, the trade promotion organization. The sessions will be at the Hotel Real Intercontinental in Escazú.

Some 800 participants are expected, said the organization. The meetings will include conferences and negotiations for trade deals.

Other sponsors include the Ministerio de Comercio Exterior, the Coalición Costarricense de Iniciativas para el Desarrollo, the Consejo para la Promoción del Comercio Internacional de China and the Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo.

These annual sessions have been taking place since 2007 with the location alternating between China and one of  the countries of the Americas.

Jorge Sequeira, the Promotora general manager, said that the idea was to make the sessions a negotiations showcase that expands the possibility for finding new market niches.

The trade summit has this Web site.

Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía   
y Seguridad Pública photo   
Officer on duty at arsenal carries more than a 9-mm. pistol

Security at national arsenal
gets a beefed-up makeover

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A big plum for crooks would be the national arsenal that contains thousands of firearms. Some are destined for destruction. Others are for the use of police forces.

The location is in Dulce Nombre in Vázquez de Coronado. The security ministry just invested 250 million colons, about $500,000, to make the location more secure. The construction of sturdy walls caused residents to think that a new prison was being set up.

In one recent crime, bandits invaded a store warehouse of the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes and took a number of new pistols destined for the traffic police. Officials do not want that to happen at the Arsenal Nacional, so the place is under continual guard with officers carrying combat weapons.

The work there will continue with improvements in the electrical system and with painting.

Mario Zamora Cordero noted in a visit Wednesday that some 9,000 firearms are slated for destruction and that a new lot of some 21,000 firearms will be destroyed in March. The arsenal also holds a large stock of ammunition, some of which also is destined for destruction.

U.N. again condemns U.S.
for Cuban trade blockade

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

For the 22nd year in a row, the United Nations General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to condemn the United States' economic embargo against Cuba.
Some 188 countries voted for the non-binding resolution Tuesday.  Only the United States and Israel voted no.  Three countries abstained.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said Cuba "poses no threat to the national security of the superpower."  He says the embargo has cost the Cuban economy more than $1 trillion.
American diplomat Ronald Godard defended the embargo as one tool in the overall efforts to encourage respect for human rights.  He said Cuba is using the U.S. as a scapegoat for its problems.
The United States imposed the embargo on Cuba in 1960, shortly after Fidel Castro took power and seized U.S.-owned assets on the island.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said condemning the embargo hides the fact that the United States is committed to remaining a leading supplier of food and humanitarian aid to Cuba.

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New detectors amplify monitoring of lightning strikes
By the A.M., Costa Rica staff

The power company, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, is spending $650,000 to beef up its monitoring of lightning strikes.

The company said that new detectors will enhance the range from 360 kilometers to 1,400 kilometers, about 890 miles. Detectors have been added at Liberia, San Carlos, Buenos Aires, Quepos and Limón. The additional devices will enhance the reporting from the system that has been in service since 2002.

The company known as ICE has good reason to know the location, intensity and exact time of a lightning strike. One reason is that power line planners want to know where the hotspots are so they can make design adjustments. Those operating radio base stations also find the information useful in the protection of their equipment, ICE said.

The upgraded system is supposed to detect 90 percent of the lightning strikes to earth and 30 percent of the lightning that goes from cloud to cloud or within the same cloud, the company said.

The company says it can narrow down the location of a lightning strike to less than 150 meters, some 490 feet.

All the information goes into a data base at a central location where the strikes are monitored in real time.

Guanacaste, Alajuela, Heredia, Pococí, Esparza, Orotina, Quepos, Guácima, Buenos Aires de Puntarenas and Golfito are the areas with the highest incidence of lightning, said ICE.

The system has allowed the company to say with precision that in 2012 there were 600,000 lightning strikes in Costa Rica. The firm added that the day with the most strikes was April 27, 2011, when the system counted 20,000. The most intense strike measured 250 kilo amperes, enough juice to light 250,000 100-watt bulbs, the company said.

The manufacturer of the new devices that have been added is  Vaisala of Finland, a recognized maker of environmental measurement equipment.
strike report
Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad photo 
 The display from the central processor shows the impacts
 in real time.

Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad photo
Berny Fallas and Ileana Mora, meteorologists working for  Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, are among those monitoring the system.

Experts from  Tecnológico de Costa Rica are surveying this bridge over the Río Purires in this file photo taken last year.

bridge inspection
Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica photo

Bridge inventory will cost $700,000 a year for four years
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Instituto  Tecnológico de Costa Rica confirmed Wednesday that it will receive 350 million colons per year for four years because its academic experts will be evaluating some of the nation's bridges. That is about $700,000 a year.

The university-level educational institution confirmed it had signed a contract with the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes. The study is being made because there is no inventory of the state of the nation's bridges, the institute said.

However, there was a report in 2007 sponsored by the Japanese
Agency for International Cooperation that covered more than 1,300 bridges. Most were in bad shape the report said.

The survey will include visual inspection and a search for damage on 600 bridges and training of public employees, said the institute.

The survey team at the Cartago university already has studied and done an analysis of fatigue at the General Cañas bridge over the Río Virilla, the so-called platina.

The team, known as eBridge also did a study of a span over the  Río Purires last year.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday,  Oct. 31, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 216
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Coral found more resistent to temperatures than scientists thought, study says
By the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration news staff

Coral reefs may be able to adapt to moderate climate warming, improving their chance of surviving through the end of this century, if there are large reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, according to a study funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and conducted by the agency’s scientists and its academic partners. Results further suggest corals have already adapted to part of the warming that has occurred.

“Earlier modeling work suggested that coral reefs would be gone by the middle of this century. Our study shows that if corals can adapt to warming that has occurred over the past 40 to 60 years, some coral reefs may persist through the end of this century,” said study lead author Cheryl Logan, an assistant professor in California State University Monterey Bay’s Division of Science and Environmental Policy. The scientists from the university, and from the University of British Columbia, were partners with the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the study.

Warm water can contribute to a potentially fatal process known as coral bleaching, in which reef-building corals eject algae living inside their tissues. Corals bleach when oceans warm only 1 to 2 degrees C (2 to 4 degrees F) above normal summertime temperatures. Because those algae supply the coral with most of its food, prolonged bleaching and associated disease often kills corals.

The study, published online in the journal Global Change Biology, explores a range of possible coral adaptive responses to thermal stress previously identified by the scientific community. It suggests that coral reefs may be more resilient than previously thought due to past studies that did not consider effects of possible adaptation.

The study projected that, through genetic adaptation, the reefs could reduce the currently projected rate of temperature-induced bleaching by 20 to 80 percent of levels expected by the year 2100, if there are large reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.

“The hope this work brings is only achieved if there is significant reduction of human-related  emissions of heat-trapping gases,” said Mark Eakin, who serves as director of the federal agency's Coral Reef Watch monitoring program, which tracks bleaching events worldwide. “Adaptation provides no
significant slowing in the loss of coral reefs if we continue to increase our rate of fossil fuel use.”

“Not all species will be able to adapt fast enough or to the same extent, so coral communities will look and function differently than they do today,” CalState’s Ms. Logan said.

While this paper focuses on ocean warming, many other general threats to coral species have been documented to exist that affect their long-term survival, such as coral disease, acidification, and sedimentation. Other threats to corals are sea-level rise, pollution, storm damage, destructive fishing practices, and direct harvest for ornamental trade.

According to the Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2000 report, coral reefs have been lost around the world in recent decades with almost 20 percent of reefs lost globally to high temperatures during the 1998-1999 El Niño and La Niña and an 80 percent loss of coral cover in the Caribbean was documented in a 2003 Science paper. Both rates of decline have subsequently been documented in numerous other studies as a trend.

Tropical coral reef ecosystems are among the most diverse ecosystems in the world, and provide economic and social stability to many nations in the form of food security, where reef fish provide both food and fishing jobs, and economic revenue from tourism. Mass coral bleaching and reef death has increased around the world over the past three decades, raising questions about the future of coral reef ecosystems.

In the study, researchers used global sea surface temperature for the pre-industrial period through 2100 to project rates of coral bleaching.

Because initial results showed that past temperature increases should have bleached reefs more often than has actually occurred, researchers looked into ways that corals may be able to adapt to warming and delay the bleaching process.

The article calls for further research to test the rate and limit of different adaptive responses for coral species across latitudes and ocean basins to determine if, and how much, corals can actually respond to increasing thermal stress.

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costa Rica Starter Kit

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             and Living  in Costa Rica”
    * The 545-page “Official Guide to Real Estate in Costa Rica”
    * Speak Spanish like a Costa Rican! “The Official Guide to Costa Rican Spanish”
    * Christopher Howard’s “Official Guide to Costa Rica’s Legal System for Tontos
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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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A.M. Costa Rica
Real estate rentals
Real estate rental agents
Real estate for rent
Real estate wanted

Real estate rental services (paid category)

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

Real estate for rent (paid category)


Homes for rent in Palmares, Alajuela

See our Web page:

Unfurnished 2-bedroom 2-bathroom house.. One large room for living room, dining room and kitchen. Separate bath.  2 bedrooms with bath on second floor. Washroom. Large 3-bay garage with bathroom, secure  for warehousing and storage. Located  approximately 6 miles east of San José and 1 mile west of Concepcion Tres Rios.  Map on request.  Telephone installed, cable and Internet available.  $250 a month plus utilities. 6 months minimum lease, deposit. Available after Oct. 15.  Tel. 2256-9426 

COMPLETELY and nicely furnished apartments
apartment view
in San José. Fast Internet, cable TV, hot water. Large American appliances including washer and dryer. Both convenient locations. No pets. $600 per month. Contact: or call 8555-9819.

We have many prime properties available for long-term rentals.
Santa Ana

Lovely cottage on private coffee farm
One spacious bedroom, one bath, office room/spare room with high speed DSL internet, fully equipped kitchen, phone line,
Sarchi cottage
balcony with beautiful view, especially at night with the far off lights of San José. Farm is gated and guarded, private and peaceful, owner on-site. Sarchi is a quiet small town about 30-40 min from the airport, a perfect base to explore from and also get a
feel for normal, day-to-day Tico life. Rental is $575 per month, 3 months minimum. All utilities included. Shorter stays at $45 per night, 2 nights minimum. $225 per week, and $30 per additional night. Sorry, no pets.  Contact or 8308-7732.

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.

Barrio Escalante, totally furnished, 1 BR apartment for single, responsible person. $35 daily, weekly rates. Contact 8385-2542,

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.

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About us
What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2013 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday,  Oct. 31, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 216
Real Estate
About us


Pacific Estates

Google and Yahoo called targets
of overseas NSA spying efforts

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. National Security Agency is facing new accusations that it secretly broke into communication networks used by Internet giants Google and Yahoo to move data around the world.
In a report published Wednesday, The Washington Post said it learned of the classified NSA program from documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and from interviews with knowledgeable officials.
The report said the NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ run a project called MUSCULAR, which taps into fiber-optic cables carrying data between global facilities of Google and Yahoo. It said that allows the spying agencies to copy entire data flows, including the content of text, audio and video files.
Google and Yahoo issued statements saying they have not authorized the alleged tapping of their communication links.
The NSA already requests and obtains data from U.S. Internet companies such as Google and Yahoo by seeking court orders through a program called PRISM.
The NSA chief, Gen. Keith Alexander, said Wednesday the spy agency does not enter Google and Yahoo servers. Speaking to reporters at a Washington conference, he said the NSA gains access to data by court order.
Addressing a U.S. congressional panel Tuesday, Alexander said the NSA's massive worldwide collection of telephone and Internet data stopped 13 terrorist plots in the United States and 25 plots in Europe in recent years.
The Washington Post said infiltrating the companies' networks without a court order within the United States would be illegal, and that the NSA has been tapping into parts of those networks located overseas, where the agency faces less oversight and fewer restrictions.
The report said a top secret document dated Jan. 9 shows the NSA collected 181 million data files from Google and Yahoo in the preceding 30 days and sent them to the agency's headquarters near Washington.
In a statement, the NSA rejected suggestions in the Washington Post report that it has found a way to skirt U.S. laws, saying "the assertion that we collect vast quantities of U.S. people' data from this type of collection is also not true."
The new allegations of NSA activity follow a series of recent media revelations of U.S. surveillance activities targeting international leaders and institutions.
Key German and U.S. national security officials were meeting in Washington Wednesday to discuss German concerns about alleged U.S. tapping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone.
The Obama administration said last week it is not listening in on Merkel's calls and will not in the future, but brushed off questions about whether it monitored her calls in the past, possibly as far back as 2002, three years before she became the German leader.
Chancellor Merkel voiced a personal protest about suspected U.S. surveillance of her mobile phone last week in a call to President Barack Obama, saying such snooping among friends cannot be condoned.
Germany wants the United States and France to agree to a no spying deal among the allies by the end of 2013.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament's civil liberties committee is continuing a visit to Washington, where the group is set to discuss the impact the spying scandal has had on European citizens.

U.S. joins suit against company
that cleared Edward Snowden

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Justice Department is joining a lawsuit against the company that handled the background check of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

While the lawsuit is not about the firm's review of Snowden, the Justice Department alleges the private United States Investigations Services failed to perform quality control reviews on background investigations for the White House Office of Personnel Management.

The suit originally was filed by a former United States Investigations Services employee more than two years ago in Alabama.

USIS dominates the background check industry, taking in $195 million in government payments last year.  The firm also vetted Aaron Alexis, the technology contractor who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard last month.

The Department of Justice alleges that since 2008 the firm used software that automatically released investigations that were not yet complete in order to meet revenue targets.  The firm concealed the practice, known as dumping and improperly billed the government for the work.

A USIS spokeswoman said the firm is cooperating with the government's investigation and has replaced its leadership and improved its controls since it first heard of the allegations last year.

Assistant Attorney General Stuart Delery said "We will not tolerate shortcuts taken by companies that we have entrusted with vetting individuals to be given access to our country's sensitive and secret information."


Walking dead represent future
humans see, professor says

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

You can learn a lot from a zombie.

Just ask zombie expert David Castillo, literature professor at the University at Buffalo.

“They reveal who fundamentally we fear we are, and they also warn us about the collective choices we’re making,” Castillo said.

That's a lot of heavy subtext to lay on the mindless undead. But Castillo believes it can help explain the current obsession with the zombie apocalypse.

Undead hordes have been sighted shambling through streets from Serbia to Singapore in organized zombie walks and runs. “World War Z” has grossed more than half a billion dollars in movie theaters globally. And the hit TV show “The Walking Dead” is in its fourth season.

Something is going on here. Could it be that humans see a bit of the future in the zombie apocalypse?

But first, a little zombie history.

Zombie is originally a Congolese word, explained George Mason University anthropologist Jeffrey Mantz. He says it crossed the Atlantic with African slaves, and “it made its way into the religious practices of various Caribbean communities, most notably in Haiti.”

Zombies came to Hollywood with the U.S. occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1934. The first zombie movie, “White Zombie,” starring vampire legend Bela Lugosi, hit the silver screen in 1932.

But Haitian zombies might not recognize their American heirs.

For one thing, Haitian zombies don’t have to be dead.

“Haitian zombies are about the relationship between master and slave,” Mantz said, reflecting the island’s sugar-plantation history. “Someone’s body can be detached from its soul, and that body can be turned into a servant for someone who’s not up to any good.”

Mantz says the undead zombie superimposes a Western concept about honoring deceased relatives.

“In northern European traditions, if you didn’t visit the gravesite, they could come back and get you. They’re called revenants.”

Castillo says the modern cannibal zombie traces its roots to 1968's “Night of the Living Dead.”

That movie was made during a turbulent time in American history, Mantz notes. “There’s all sorts of social transformations taking place. It’s the height of the nuclear age with tensions with the Soviet Union.”

You can attach any number of metaphors to the zombies, he says. But what really stands out is not the zombie attack, but how the living respond.

“The two main characters bicker constantly throughout the movie and can’t seem to cooperate on anything. And their lack of cooperation is their own undoing.”

It’s a common thread in the zombie oeuvre, he adds: “This isn’t really about zombies, per se. This is about humans.”

“The Walking Dead” is as much about relations among the living as it is about fighting the undead.

And “28 Days Later” asks who you can trust when the world comes to an end.

That 2002 movie broke the mold of the slow, shuffling undead.  These were zombies for the digital age, fast as the Internet.

Zombies resonate because they represent something people fear is stealing their humanity, and today, Mantz says, “a lot of the technological transformations that are taking place are turning us into zombies, quite literally.”

It used to be television that turned us into zombies, he notes. “Now video games do it. Now we’re staring into our smartphones. Stand around long enough and you can watch two human beings walk into each other, both with their faces buried into their smartphones.”

He’s only half-joking. There is something dehumanizing about ubiquitous technology, he says.

And it’s sadly ironic, he adds, that the minerals making much of that technology possible come from the Congo -- the same place as the word “zombie," and a place where inhuman atrocities are far too common.

But the question remains: why are humans obsessed with the zombie apocalypse now more than ever? Castillo says it reflects something deep in the psyche.

“Really, there is a general perception of crisis.  More and more we suspect we are living at the very edge. We’re living in the end of times.”

Global warming, disease, terrorism, political dysfunction and economic calamities… Castillo says there’s a sense that maybe the world actually is coming to an end, in a way.

“Our default belief now is that the apocalypse is near. And we don’t seem to be able to stop it. The zombies, in a way, exemplify that. They are that warning.”

Obama accepts responsibility
for clunky health Web site

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Barack Obama says he takes full responsibility for making sure the problems with the new health care Web site are fixed as soon as possible.

Speaking in Boston Wednesday, the president said the Web site is too slow and that too many people looking to buy insurance are getting stuck. He said he is not happy about it and there is no excuse for it.

But he said the so-called Obamacare Web site ultimately will be the easiest way for Americans to shop for a health care plan.

Earlier, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius apologized to a congressional committee for the troubled Web site. She called the technical problems a debacle.

Ms. Sebelius said she has brought in new management, however, to fix the Web site and that it already has improved.

Obama defended his health care initiative at Boston's historic Faneuil Hall, the same place where former Republican governor Mitt Romney signed Massachusetts' state health care law in 2006.

The U.S. president said he modeled the federal law on the Massachusetts law. He pointed out that the state also had trouble getting its plan launched. But he said dire predictions that it would be a disaster did not come true.

Under Obamacare, uninsured Americans have until March 31 to buy a federally subsidized health care plan or face a financial penalty.

Obama repeatedly assured his audience that people who like their current plans will be able to keep them. Republicans accuse him of breaking his word, saying that some people have had their plans canceled because they do not comply with the new federal law.

Republicans also have argued that the troubled health care Web site's glitches are proof the government is not capable of managing the complex program.

Bipartisan committee meets
to try to solve budget crisis

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A select group of U.S. lawmakers from both political parties and both houses of Congress began work Wednesday to end a budget stalemate that helped provoke a partial government shutdown earlier this month. The budget conference has until mid-December to reach a fiscal accord, weeks before federal spending authority expires once again.

Over the next six weeks, the budget conference will strive to achieve something Congress has been unable to do for years: get Democrats and Republicans to agree on federal spending levels and, if possible, craft a blueprint to improve America’s fiscal health over the next decade.

Although most work will be done behind closed doors, Wednesday’s initial meeting was open to the news media. The 29 conferees took turns speaking, and partisan fiscal divides quickly became apparent.

Republicans, like House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, are opposed to raising taxes. “Taking more from hard-working families just is not the answer. I know that my Republican colleagues feel the same way. So I want to say this from the get-go: if this conference becomes an argument about taxes, we are not going to get anywhere. The way to raise revenue is to grow the economy.”

Democrats say a cuts-only approach to solving the nation’s fiscal problems is a non-starter. Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray said she is open to reforming costly programs that provide income and health care to retirees, but only if Republicans show similar flexibility on revenues.

“I am ready to make some tough concessions to get a deal. But compromise runs both ways. While we scour programs to find responsible savings, Republicans are also going to have to work with us to scour the bloated tax code and close some wasteful tax loopholes. Because it is unfair and unacceptable to ask seniors and families to bear this burden alone,” she said.

The conference mirrors the so-called “Super Committee” that tried and failed to reach a long-term budget agreement last year, triggering automatic across-the-board spending cuts that will deepen next year absent a budget deal. Many Democrats want to avoid further cuts to domestic programs, while many Republicans worry about additional military spending reductions. The conference could replace those cuts with other savings, but only if Democrats and Republicans forge a budget deal.

Such a deal also would eliminate the threat of another government shutdown in January, when federal funding runs out once again.

U.S. support for death penalty
reported lowest in 40 years

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Support for the death penalty in the United States is the lowest it has been in 40 years. Still, 60 percent of Americans say they favor the capital punishment for convicted murderers.

The results, published Tuesday in a Gallup poll, show support for the death penalty at its lowest level since 1972.

Gallup has tracked Americans’ views on the death penalty since 1936. Support peaked in 1994, when 80 percent of Americans supported it, but has declined since then.

Gallup said the waning support could be tied to death penalty moratoriums in several states, a trend that started around 2000 when several death-row inmates were proved innocent. Since 2006, six states have repealed the death penalty, including Maryland this year. Currently, 18 states do not allow the death penalty.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, a national non-profit organization “serving the media and the public with analysis and information on issues concerning capital punishment,” the number of executions in the U.S. peaked in the late 90s and has tapered since then.

“This is very much in line with what we’ve been seeing around the country,” said center executive director Richard Dieter, referring to an increase in states that have abolished the death penalty and a drop in death sentencing as well as executions.

Dieter said that while the United States is viewed around the world as a death penalty country, its use is not widespread.

“We recently issued a report that showed 2 percent of our counties are responsible for the majority of executions since 1976,” he said. “When it comes to applying the death penalty, it’s really a small percentage that’s driving this.”

Capital punishment was suspended in the U.S. from 1972 to 1976, when it was reinstated by the Supreme Court. As of April, there were just over 3,000 inmates on death row, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Gallup further identified politics as a major dividing line in how the death penalty is viewed. According to the poll, 81 percent of Republicans currently favor it, compared with 47 percent of Democrats. Independents' 60 percent support matches the national average.

Real estate-related services (paid category)

Project completion specialists
Casa del pacifico logo
Pacifica living
A turnkey home and project completion agency devoted to creative vision and flawless execution. We provide a single, solid and dedicated point of contact for the duration of your real estate project, specializing in:

                      • Building completion services
                      • Interior design & decoration
                      • Custom furniture design & manufacturing.

Our primary goal is to assist our clients with a smooth transition to occupancy while providing highly personalized and distinctive services. We have refined the process to be a hassle free experience, especially valuable for clients who live abroad. We customize to suit each client’s personal taste, lifestyle and budget.
Serving region for 10 years.
We regularly exceed client expectations. We guarantee it.
Cell phone: (506) - 8707-8008
Office phone: (506) - 2288-5644

Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

Swimming pool at night
A Buyer’s Broker offering the best
of Costa Rica Real Estate.

For those looking for quality properties and service at quality prices. Central Valley Rentals. Offering honesty, experience and knowledge. Your Villa Real Expert. Call us now  Toll Free (877) 845-4533. In Costa Rica 2228-5961 or 8339-2112.

Re/Max, the Pacific coast expert
Re/Max offers comprehensive Costa Rica Real Estate, vacation rental and relocation services. Our award-winning team is the largest in the country, and can show you the best lifestyle and financial investment properties in the most desirable locations including prime real estate in Tamarindo, Langosta, Conchal, Flamingo, Pinilla, Coco, Hermosa and Playa Panama.  Give us a call in Costa Rica at 506-2653-0073, or toll free from the U.S. and Canada 1-800-385-5930. Re/Max, the name you trust for the finest real estate services in Costa Rica.

Moran Arenal
Lake Arenal, Costa Rica
The undiscovered jewel of Central America, 35 square miles of blue, pristine, clear water ideal for fishing, swimming, boating, Real estate values still low.
Great lake front, river front land, farms, homes, condos and commercial property. Some with owner financing
This is far and away the most beautiful place in all Central America — cool climate. Try our two-day, all-inclusive discovery tour for $299.

Check with our Web site at
Contact us at the office: (506) 2694-0088
Cell (506) 8880-8888
Phone number from the U.S. (305) 307-0088
Moran logo

Costa Rica,

Central America
Houses, lots and farms in Grecia,
western Central Valley.
Great climate
and safe communities.

Visit our Web Site:

English: (Cristian Arce)
(506) 8309-0173  
English:  (Luis Arce)
(506) 7100-8489  
 Español: (Luis G. Jiménez)
  (506) 8707-4016  
Grecia 794
This is the BIGGEST DEAL of the month now at $850.000: HERE!
30,000 square meters of land and 750 square-meters of construction.
Grecia 768
1,000 square meters of land and 350 square meters of construction. HERE!
Grecia 807
  18,000 square meters of land and 300 square meters of construction. HERE!
  Send us your request to our email:

Real estate for sale (paid category)

beach scenes
Established Hotel/Resort -Great Business Opportunity:
The owner/manager of a successful hotel on the Gold Coast of Costa Rica has listed their property with us. It is a successful and ongoing concern. The property and buildings are well built and maintained. The property has a history of repeat clients. To protect the business for the current and future owners, detailed information of the listing will only be shared after an expression of interest and a non-disclosure confidentiality agreement is executed. It is located about one hour of Liberia airport and less than 500 meters to beach. The land is over 1 hectare allowing room for expansion. There are 18 bedrooms in a variety of apartments, cabinas and houses, A/C, bar restaurant and shop. Near golf, horses, tennis, world class surf and more. Listing Price of $US2.4 million. Mary or Jerre West,, 8879-0235 or (303) 317-6603

San Mateo pool


Includes 4-bedroom, 2-bath, 2-story house built to American standards with a balcony overlooking full-sized swimming pool and rancho with a bathroom and a shower room, and landscaped tropical gardens.  There are two large storage buildings, a carport and electric-gate access to the enclosed property.  It is a short drive to the highways to San José and the beaches.  Owner financing available.  Please call: +506 2446-4901

For sale is a beautiful 50-acre property located in Los Alpes, just 15 minutes outside of San Ramon. At about 4,000 feet above sea level, this finca provides gorgeous views of the Central Valley as well as the Pacific Ocean in the distance while also offering a wonderful climate year around. The main house is two stories with three bedrooms and two full baths. High quality construction using exotic hardwoods such as almond, which covers the ceilings throughout the entire house. There are also two corrals and a small casita on the property. This location is perfect for a farm-style home or for beginning an agricultural business. This truly is a rare piece of property and is available for $399,999. Price is somewhat negotiable and we will be happy to work with the buyer to make it work! Please call 8816-2478 or e-mail for more information ¡y se habla español!

Pacific Estates

Pacific Estates is divided into three distinct sections called Pacific Landings, Pacific Hills and Pacific Acres. Pacific Landings includes unique 2 & 3 bedroom homes incorporating pole house construction, cathedral ceilings, balconies on both the front and back of the house and eco-friendly elements. The homes also include granite counter tops, state-of-the-art stainless steel kitchen appliances, washer & dryer hook ups, internet connectivity and zone controlled A/C. These homes feature 1,290 square feet under A/C space and 1,537 square feet under A/C space with an optional Loft. To learn more about Pacific Estates, schedule a No Obligation Free Virtual Tour today by clicking here!

Samara church and lot
Commercial lot with great visibility in heart of Playa Sámara commercial district. Located alongside town's largest church, bank, hardware store/lumber yard, mini shopping plaza, and Pali (Sámara's largest supermarket). This lot has a large elevated building platform shaded with mature treees. All this makes for many commercial options.  One block from stunning "blue flag" beach. This is a perfect location for a eco/boutique hotel, restaurant/catering, apartments, or condominium. All utilities to this property. Lot size 1,414m2. Price 325K. Email:

Maui, 50 years ago!
One acre with all services located on the Nicoya Peninsula at about 2,400 feet below cloud level with the most intriguing panoramic views to the picturesque gulf, mountains and valleys, as well as sunset over the Pacific. 60,000 USD,    Cell 8916-5550.

Five bedroom home
Five bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths plus guest house
Price reduced $100,000 for quick sale. Features include out door BBQ, swimming pool, plus on the beach. The home is completely furnished with U.S. products. Each room is individually air conditioned.  Hot water in bathrooms, kitchen and laundry room.  Fully furnished. Includes TV’s, refrigerator/freezer, dish washer, microwave, electric stove/oven, washer & dryer and many “as seen on TV” appliances.  To see more, go to YouTube
Asking  $250,000.    Call Gary 8784-2945 or email

humming bird nest

Bed & Breakfast for sale and personal home with 2 houses on property of 3/4 acre (3,030 m2) and buildings w/verandas & carport approximately 350 m2. One house at entrance is central to village w/gated parking lot and a 3-bedroom house for rental or employees/family w/carport/yard/gardens. A 50-meter sendero winds to the top among lush gardens where the main house is situated w/2 buildings attached by verandas & stairway to second floor.  There are 2 bedrooms, sala, 4 baths, large kitchen, laundry rooms, work bodega, storage bodega and hot tub on veranda w/tiled shower room.  Home is surrounded by tropical gardens, views of Arenal Volcano, panoramic views of Lake Arenal, private w/school owned property on one side, pasture land on back side and connecting entry gate on other side to Cabinas El Castillo & Fusion Restaurant.  A bird watcher's paradise w/hummingbirds, Montezuma, toucans, butterflies and visits from howler monkeys.  The B&B is listed four consecutive editions of Lonely Planet and the first established B&B in this area.  Photos can be viewed on the Web site:  Make your dream come true with a slice of paradise in a quiet, private setting. Call Ellen Neely at  8835-8711.  Email:

Naranjo views


4254 msq. 1.2 acres - $59,000.00
• 10 minutes to the autopista and Naranjo centro
• Tranquil and Quiet
• Landscaped with fruit trees and flowering plants, and coffee#
• Incredible views - The Central Valley and nature reserve
• Close to public transportation - paved main road
• Building pad prepared and soil tested
• Survey/topo
• All services in place and underground - water/electricity/phone

Guiones retreat
Approximately half acre on the beach with private path to the surf. Very private three-home complex with pool, spacious patios with two wet bars, barbeque and yoga area. Featuring a three-bedroom ranch style home plus a two story Mexican villa style home with two master suites, large kitchen and living area with ocean views and breezes upstairs and a garden apartment downstairs with separate entrance. A caretaker's or teenager's cottage and lots of space for expansion. PRICED FOR QUICK SALE: $899,000.  Call 506 8867-8883 or

Beautiful fully renovated house in Bello Horizonte, Escazu, 446 sq. meters. Four bedrooms; four baths. Price includes all furniture and fixtures - ready to move in! Light, bright and airy....$550,000 USD. Telephone 2288.6451. More details HERE!

Condo for sale in Flamingo

Ocean view 3-bedroom, 3 1/2-bathroom condo. Designer furnished 1,800 square feet, gated community. Only six units. Huge pool and balcony, pet friendly, parking, walking distance to Flamingo beach, banks, grocery store, farmacia, etc. New building. $349,000 asking. Ask for photos. 8705-0056. or 1-800-536-2322.

Guaancaate condos
Little Dreams La Colina Magnolias

Great Guanacaste Beach Condos Available

$28,500 - Little Dreams - Ocotal beach studio condo, furnished upper floor condo in great complex just 1 mile from Ocotal beach, 2 miles from Coco beach, great price for this complex.
$70,000 - La Colina - another Ocotal beach 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo, 80 m2 and fully furnished with upgraded kitchen, complex has Infinity pool, mountain views.

$75,000 Magnolias 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath townhome just 1 minute's walk from Coco beach and the 2 beach clubs in Coco. Nicely furnished, walk to town, 67 m2, perfect location.
Find out more information on these and other condos at my website All 3 of these condos are about 35 minutes away from Liberia Intl. airport, no need to drive a long way to get to your condo.  Call for more information, 1-415-670-9382 or 011-506-826-1211. Or email

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:

For more details go to:

Nicoya views
Property with ocean and gulf view for sale
Tranquil million dollar view, 5,000-sq.meter property with 3/2 home built to American standards, artistically designed and decorated, 16-foot ceilings of mango and tamarindo, appliances, plunge pool, rancho, caretaker apartment, workshop, covered parking, views of Gulf of Nicoya and ocean, in countryside near San José to Caldera highway. Near the lovely town of Esparza. Can provide extra income from bed and breakfast room rental and stellar Tripadvisor reviews. $180,000 506-8869-9274.

For Sale By Owner
1 lot (1.5 acres)  at SIBU (8 lots total) amongst 50 acres of protected jungle gardens with sunset ocean views of Playa Nosara. Underground electric and water.13 minutes from Playa Guiones. Gated. In house financing available. Home of SIBU Sanctuary.

Real estate services
Real estate for sale
Businesses for sale

Business for sale or lease (paid category)71

beach scenes
Established Hotel/Resort -Great Business Opportunity:
The owner/manager of a successful hotel on the Gold Coast of Costa Rica has listed their property with us. It is a successful and ongoing concern. The property and buildings are well built and maintained. The property has a history of repeat clients. To protect the business for the current and future owners, detailed information of the listing will only be shared after an expression of interest and a non-disclosure confidentiality agreement is executed. It is located about one hour of Liberia airport and less than 500 meters to beach. The land is over 1 hectare allowing room for expansion. There are 18 bedrooms in a variety of apartments, cabinas and houses, A/C, bar restaurant and shop. Near golf, horses, tennis, world class surf and more. Listing Price of $US2.4 million. Mary or Jerre West,, 8879-0235 or (303) 317-6603

In the nine years of operation, DIGITS Resource Guide has grown to cover the entire Southern Pacific Zone, and opened the door to further penetration in San Jose, Jacó, Manuel Antonio, and Osa Peninsula areas.  DIGITS is the only one of its kind with no comparable competition. With the extensive groundwork that has already been achieved, the business is now poised to expand into an even greater level of success. Operating since 2005, the owner is retiring to another Latin American country. For a preview of the magazine, go to, or simply go to a local Distributor for a copy. Details on the business, its history, a strategic analysis of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, as well as a Pro-Forma Income Statement from 2008 through to 2013 are available upon request to aha_jm@yahoo.

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

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A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page

San José, Costa Rica, Thursday,  Oct. 31, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 216
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News from the BBC up to the minute

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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute

Weather system presages
extreme U.S. heat waves

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Days of unrelenting high temperatures are the most deadly weather phenomenon on Earth, but like other extreme weather events, they are difficult to predict.

Across Europe in 2003, heat waves were blamed for 50,000 deaths. Six hundred lives were lost in California in 2006 because of the scorching temperatures.

Now scientists have identified a weather pattern in the atmosphere that may help meteorologists predict heat waves and, as a result, save lives.

While prior studies have focused on land or sea surface conditions to try to identify patterns that precede heat waves, climate scientist Haiyan Teng turned her attention to the atmosphere.

She and colleagues at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, ran a 12,000-year computer simulation over the Northern Hemisphere.

"Instead of just 20 or 30 from the last 50 years of observations, we’ve got 6,000 extreme heat wave events," she said. "This gives us enough samples to study the precursor circulation patterns for these heat waves.”

Ms. Teng says the computer model identified a pattern that showed up before the temperature rose. It is characterized by a sequence of alternating high and low pressure systems - five of each - circling the northern latitudes.

It’s high above the atmosphere in the upper troposphere and this pattern precedes the U.S. heat waves by two weeks, she said.

While the pattern is well documented in the historic record, this is the first time it has been connected to extreme heat waves. When the scientists reviewed real heat waves in the United States dating back to 1948, a similar pattern often emerged.

“We think, OK, this pattern is a pattern in nature, and it is useful for the heat wave probability forecast. It is an estimate of the probability, not exactly how warm the temperature is going to be," Ms. Teng said.

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From Page 7:

California firm picks distributor here

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Incrediwear, a division of Star Nutrition, Inc., a California-based diversified health and wellness industry firm, has announced a new agreement with Laro Suplidora, a Costa Rica-based provider of health, wellness and sporting goods products. Laro Suplidora works with several key distributors throughout the region and is already negotiating with the popular Extremos Sporting Goods and Farmaplace stores.

“This is just the latest example of our growth around the globe,” says Star Nutrition CEO Jackson Corley. “We’re excited to have a presence in the Central American and Carribbean markets. Laro Suplidora’s large network of distributors will make sure that our products are available throughout the region. In addition to their vast network, they are a very professional company who will represent the Incrediwear brand well.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Laro Suplidora has exclusivity for Central America and the Caribbean as a distributor of Incrediwear products. In addition to Incrediwear, the company also distributes products of the renowned brand Switzerland Samkon chewy,  a chocolate confection for diet and sleeping, and Avevitta Clothing, which molds the figure and helps people look thinner.

Incrediwear products, such as the Incredisocks and Incredibrace lines, couple proven health benefits with extreme comfort. Incrediwear products increase blood circulation, improve range of motion, and reduce fatigue and inflammation. The comfortable fabric wicks away moisture and keeps the wearer thermo-regulated.