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Pretty jar
Museos del Banco Central photo


pretty jars

The Museos del Banco Central has a spectacular exhibit of pre-Columbian three-legged jars that come for the central Caribbean civilizations. These jarrónes trípodes were associated with funeral rituals. And the museums even will show how to make one.

Our story is HERE!

World Court orders Nicaragua to fill in the canal
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Posted at 2 p.m. Friday

The 16 justices of the World Court in the Hague have ordered NIcaragua to fill in part of the controversial ditch in what Costa Rica considers its land.

In an interim decision issued today, the court basically gave Costa Rica everything it was seeking in its appeal.

The court in its decision recognized that there had been digging work on the ditches that could connect an arm of the Río San Juan to the sea. It noted that Nicaragua claimed that the additional work there was  directed by Edén Pastore, the man put in charge by  Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. The country's lawyers had said in the recent arguments in the court that Ortega stopped work there as soon as he became aware of what was going on.

The court had ordered in March 2011 that no one enter the disputed territory, but Costa Rica presented overwhelming evidence, mostly satellite photos, that showed the advancement of digging operations and the presence of Nicaragua military.

The court ordered Nicaragua to fill in part of the ditch within two weeks and report back when the job had been done.

It also ordered that any government personnel, including soldiers, be ordered out of the area and that the Nicaragua government should prevent the intrusion of private parties. Groups of so-called environmentalists have been camping on the disputed land.

The court said that "The decision given in the present proceedings in no way prejudges any questions relating to the merits or any other issues to be decided at that stage. It leaves unaffected the right of the Governments of Costa Rica and Nicaragua to submit arguments in respect of those questions."
So a final decision still is awaited.

The court said that Nicaragua had argued that since dredging activities have now ceased and will not resume, there is no real and imminent risk that irreparable prejudice will be caused to Costa Rica’s claimed rights before the court has given its final decision.

The court recognized that the digging and dredging might cause the river to change course and create a new opening to the sea.

That is the main purpose of the Nicaraguan dredging. The part of the river that drains into the Caribbean is silted, and Nicaragua hopes to open a new channel that will allow increased river traffic.  To do so it must cross land that Costa Rica claims.

The south bank of the river is the international boundary over which the International Court of Justice has jurisdiction.

Said the decision:

"The Court moreover considers that there is urgency. The risk of irreparable prejudice  . . . is not only real but also appears to be imminent, for the following reasons. First, during the rainy season, the increased flow of water in the San Juan River and consequently in the eastern caño could extend the trench and connect it with the sea, thereby potentially creating a new course for the San Juan River. Secondly, the trench could also easily be connected to the sea, with minimum effort and equipment, by persons accessing this area from Nicaraguan territory. "

Caño in this reference, as defined by the court, means canal.

Since Nicaragua did not fully comply with the early court order to stay off the disputed territory, Costa Rica will be watching closely to see what its neighbor does.

Social Security form irks a few expats living here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some readers are not too happy with the U.S. Social Security Administration.

Two sent in required forms and got them returned as undeliverable.

And a Caribbean residents asks Washington bureaucrats "Who the hell are you to tell me that my money may be withheld if I do not jump through hoops to answer your dumb questionnaire."

The unhappiness stems from a U.S. Embassy announcement Wednesday that said that as many as 800 expats here might have their monthly Social Security check frozen because they did not return a form.

The form seeking status information went out in July, and a followup notice went to those who did not respond in October, according to the embassy. The form, which asks questions is only sent to Social Security recipients living outside the United States.

Art Sulenski in Los Angeles Sur de Alajuela reported that he and a neighbor filled out the forms and sent them in to the Social Security Administration in envelopes that the agency provided.

They were returned as being undeliverable, he said.

Efforts to get straight answers from the Social
Security Administration failed, so Sulenski turned to the U.S. Embassy here.

"I scanned and emailed the forms to that person at the embassy then mailed the forms to the same person and received an email back saying that the form and information had been entered into the system. Much to my surprise, a few days ago I received another form from Social Security saying that if I didn’t return this form my Social Security check could be cut off."

"I cannot understand how in this day and age of technology and all the equipment that the post office and government has in the U.S.A. how this keeps repeating." he said. He ended up sending in another form, he said.

Carol Meeds of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca was less diplomatic. "I live in a jungle, she said.  "Mail gets lost.  I am alive and well until you hear otherwise.  Do not cancel the money that I worked for and contributed  to all my life . . . and you might consider softening your tone to a more respectful one when you are talking to people who are grandmothers and grandfathers who have worked all their lives and contributed to this system!"

The U.S. Embassy replied via email that workers there and the Federal Benefit Unit were trying to help solve Sulenski case. However, that response did not make an earlier version of this news story because the reply was inexplicably routed to an editor's spam file.

Is your home all decked out for the holidays?
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Do you have or will you have some cool holiday lighting of your Costa Rican home?

Some expats really knock themselves out to decorate their homes or business. None probably go so far as the Hospital del Niños where a live evergreen bears
12,000 bulbs. But some come close

A.M. Costa Rica will publish a picture of these holiday creation if homeowners send in a .jpeg photo to The photo should be accompanied by a note giving the names of the homeowner or business owner, location and any interesting details.

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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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Real estate agents and services

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Fully bilingual attorney  & notary public

Professional Legal Services
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Another expat group seeks
IRS help for overseas citizens

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Another expat advocate organization has weighed in with suggestions to end the nightmare inflicted by the U.S. Treasury Department.

The Association of Americans Resident Overseas said that it sent to Treasury and Internal Revenue Service officials "a simple, clear and eminently sensible proposal to help these Americans who, far from being tax evaders, are, in the main, eager to correct their situation."

The organization noted that many overseas Americas are confused by the Internal Revenue's Overseas Voluntary Disclosure Program.

It urged the agencies to transform so-called streamlined procedures into a comprehensive program exclusively for bona fide Americans resident abroad with terms substantially different from the current one.

Americans who are living in the United States would face a different program.

"There would be two clearly distinct programs for two very different groups of taxpayers," said the Association of Americans Resident Overseas. "Americans resident in the United States who are hiding assets and related revenues in foreign bank accounts are most likely evading taxes. Americans resident abroad, on the other hand, pay taxes to their country of residence."
The organization said that many overseas Americans are terrified to comply with their U.S. tax and financial reporting obligations, and about others so confused by those obligations that it seems easier to bury their heads in the sand.

The organization noted that its partner, American Citizens Abroad, has written to the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue with a simple, clear and eminently sensible proposal to help these Americans who, far from being tax evaders, are, in the main, eager to correct their situation.

American Citizens Abroad asks that legitimate overseas Americans be exempted from bank account information reports if they are using a local bank for normal bill paying in their daily lives. The proposal would exempt Americans from Internal Revenue reporting requirements if they bank within 50 kilometers of their overseas home. That's about 37 miles.

Now Americans have to file annual reports if they have a bank account that holds $10,000 or more at any time during the year. Owners of corporations, as many expats in Costa Rica are, also face additional and expensive reporting requirements.

Many who have not filed these reports are afraid to do so, but the Internal Revenue Services is gaining access to more and more international banking information.

Orchestra will perform tonight
in the Catedral Metropolitana

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional will present Giuseppe Verdi “Réquiem” tonight in the Catedral Metropolitana.

The orchestra will be accompanied by the Coro Sinfónico Nacional. The event tonight is free.  But Sunday there is a repeat performance in the Teatro Nacional, and that performance is subject to the usual ticket prices, the orchestra said.

This is the 11th concert of the season. In all, more than 170 performances will be on stage. The conductor is the Italian, Domenico Boyagian, who has led the orchestra in the past.

Four Americans will sing lead roles. They are Jonita Lattimore, soprano; Charlotte Daw Paulsen, mezzo-soprano; Daniel Weeks, tenor and Jeremy Gaylon, bass.

Grecia murder recreated
to give investigators leads

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial investigators were in Grecia Thursday morning recreating the murder of a lawyer there.

Killed Sept. 9 was a lawyer, Enrique Alonso Vargas Alfaro. Agents disclosed that they are trying to link the murder to two similar crimes in 2010.

Vargas died when two men on a motorcycle intercepted his vehicle and shot him multiple times.

Agents identified the prior victims as Julio Araya Peñaranda and Róger Ledezma Campos. Araya, who was a tractor trailer driver, died in San Isidro de Grecia.

Tope Sunday in Coronado
as a benefit for children

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Coronado planes a tope or horse gathering Sunday as benefit for children in the canton of Vázquez de Coronado.

The event is sponsored by the Asociación Hípica de Coronado, an announcement said that riders and their mounts were coming from all over the country for the Tope Coronado 2013.

The event will take place at the community's new fairgrounds.

Motorcyclists are planning
new protest Wednesday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Unhappy motorcyclists are planning another protest in front of the national insurance company Wednesday at 11 a.m.

Some motorcyclists have been protesting since they became aware of the new annual fees for licensing. In order to accommodate them, the Instituto Nacional de Seguros created two classes of obligatory insurance, $ 3.5 million colons coverage and 6 million.

Motorcyclists want higher coverage for less money. The protests are being led by the Comité Cívico Nacional de Motociclistas.

Escazú folklore festival
begins end of next week

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Festival Internacional Folclórico Escazú 2013 begins Nov. 30 and runs until Dec. 7 at the Parque Central in Escazú,

There will be international artists from Chile, Panamá, Holland, México and China, organizers said.

Some 50 folkloric groups are expected to perform. Arnoldo Barahona, Escazú mayor, is expected to provide more details at a press conference today.

Researchers find sunburn gene
in study of Icelandic people

By the National Institutes of Health news service

Researchers have identified a genomic variant strongly associated with sensitivity to the sun, brown hair, blue eyes - and freckles. In the study of Icelanders, the researchers uncovered an intricate pathway involving the interspersed DNA sequence, or non-coding region, of a gene that is among a few dozen that are associated with human pigmentation traits.  The study by an international team, including researchers from the National Institutes of Health, was reported in the online edition of the journal Cell.
It is more common to find people with ancestors from geographic locations farther from the equator, such as Iceland, who have less pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. People with reduced pigment are more sensitive to the sun, but can more easily draw upon sunlight to generate vitamin D3, a nutrient essential for healthy bones.
The researchers, including scientists from the National Human Genome Research Institute, a part of National Institutes of Health, analyzed data from a genome-wide association study of 2,230 Icelanders. A study like this compares hundreds of thousands of common differences across individuals' DNA to see if any of those variants are associated with a known trait.
"Genes involved in skin pigmentation also have important roles in human health and disease," said the research institute scientific director Dan Kastner. "This study explains a complex molecular pathway that may also contribute insights into skin diseases, such as melanoma, which is caused by the interaction of genetic susceptibility with environmental factors."

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Hotel chamber says September was the worst since 2009
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The hotel chamber said that business in September was the worse since 2009, which was in the height of the economic downturn.

At the same time, the chamber, the Cámera Costarricense de Hotels, said that prices for some categories of hotels have increased while others have dipped.

The chamber also announced the opening of yet another hotel.  This one is the Hyatt Andaz Península Papagayo, which is expected to open Dec. 15. The hotel features 21 luxury suites among its 153 rooms. The architect is Ronald Zurcher. The peninsula is in northwestern Costa Rica on the Pacific.

Operators of many smaller hospitality facilities have been complaining about the oversupply of hotel rooms and the way international firms can maintain highly effective marketing campaigns. Some hotels have closed in the last few years.

The chamber obtained its data on hotel occupancy in September just last week. It said that the average
occupancy was 35.4 percent. The Central Valley and the south Pacific showed the greatest decline but the Puntarenas area was up slightly when compared to September 2012, it said.

September is always a slow month for tourism.

In general hotels with 51 to 100 rooms showed a slight increase in occupancy while smaller hotels showed a decrease, said the chamber. Three-star hotels, which usually have lower prices than more luxury facilities showed a slight increase while four- and five-star facilities showed a decline.

The average room rate showed an 11.3 percent increase from $86.80 in 2012 to $95.50 a night this year, said the chamber.

The luxury five-star hotels actually showed a decrease in average room rates by 19.1 percent.

There were many promotions during the month.

The average income per room showed a $1.10 decrease said the chamber, which based its figures on a survey of members. Full details are on the chamber Web site

A museum worker applies a leg to a modern example of a three-legged jar. The YouTube video compressed the time, and the artist is highly skilled. When compared to some ancient examples, the final product, despite little heads at the top of each leg, is plain.

Making a jar
Museos del Banco Central photo  via YouTube

Display of pre-Columbian jars includes some how-to advice
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

More than 1,200 years ago residents of civilizations in the central Caribbean coast made jars that had three legs. These were ritual objects that frequently were broken up as an offering at a graveside, said the Museos del Banco Central.

This is a practice known as ceremonial killing.

The museum facility, located beneath the Plaza de la Cultura, has more than 70 of these funeral jars on display.

Some of these three-legged clay creations are elaborate.

They are called a trípode in Spanish.

The jars came from two traditions, according to archaeologists. They call one the Ticbán, made between 300 B.C. and 300 A.D. and the Áfrican which were made from 300 to 800 A.D.

The museums seek to show visitors how the jars were made, but there also is a museum video on YouTube and depicts the making of a passable tripode from scratch. It is HERE!

The job looks easy because the unnamed artist is highly skillful.

Similar jars were made all over pre-Columbian America, including in the Chorotega region of northwestern Costa Rica.

Because of the close connection to burials, the museums cannot overlook descriptions of two types. In one case the corpse was buried intact surrounded by grave goods, including busted jars. In the second the corpse was cut up and placed in a grave mixed with the grave goods, said the museum.

As part of the exhibit the museums opened up a contest for potters and asked them to design a jar that could have been from ancient times. A jury is selecting the best submissions for inclusion in the exhibition.

Of course, ancient Costa Ricans were not the only cultures to use jars and pots in burials. Some cultures actually buried their dead in pottery while others practiced cremation and placed the ashes of the deceased in a jar.
Museos del Banco Central photo 
 Africa tripod bowl with a crocodile figure, 300-800 AD.
 Central Caribbean

The jars from the Caribbean and those from western Costa Rica are very elaborate.  Museums, of course, show the best. Ancient artists decorated the pots with faces, figures, lizards, crocodiles and graphic designs. What they did depended on the culture and anticipated use. They also used bright colors.

Patricia Fernández, archeological curator at the museums, said that one of the reasons for the exhibit is to demonstrate the surprising talent of the pre-Columbian artisans, according to a release by the museums.

The ancient designs have generated a lot of modern copies. Local shops carry replicas for tourists. Costa Rican law prohibits taking the genuine artifacts of the country.

A little Greek philosophy goes a long way in today's world
 This past week, Giselda, a member of my book club, who was reading the works of Plato when she was 13, did a book review of Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations.”  At one point, another member, perhaps our oldest and perkiest, bravely stood up and declared that she had never quite understood what philosophy was.  I expect that some of us were pleased with her statement, like let’s clear this up for once and for all.

Giselda explained that translated from the Greek, it meant the love of knowledge.  Since then I have looked up philosophy in different sources, and it seems to pertain to the study of the meaning knowledge and of life, or can be a guiding principle for behavior.  In many ways, it is a definition of various religions and beliefs, usually based upon the teachings of someone who started that school of thought. 

 Zeno of Citium was one of those creative thinkers in the 3rd Century B.C., and he founded the school of Stoicism. Stoicism developed in a time of turmoil and crisis in Greece as a method of personal survival and sanity in a world seemingly out of control.  Essentially, as a stoic one first must recognize what one can control and what one cannot.  That leaves us mainly with our own emotions and thoughts or reason and how we respond to the joys and vicissitudes of life.  As a stoic, in order to lead a good life, one must be master of both one’s emotions and appetites, and most importantly, live in harmony with nature.  This harmony includes other people, even if we do not always agree with them.

Marcus Aurelius was a stoic and also an emperor.  He ruled the Roman Empire from 161 A.D. to 180 A.D.  For much of his reign, he was well loved by his citizenry, even allowing freedom of the press in a time when criticism of rulers could bring execution.

His book, "Meditations," was more a diary and reminder to himself about what he should strive for as a stoic.  It was only discovered centuries later.  Actually, his advice to himself sounds like good counsel to anyone who has a position in government.  President Kennedy, the anniversary of whose death is remembered this month, was certainly a stoic when it came to his health and physical pain.  No so much when it
Butterfly in the City
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart

Jo Stuart

came to pleasure.  But then, Aurelius fathered 13 children during his marriage, and he lived to be only 59.

For some reason I have always thought of stoicism as being connected to Sparta and thus a Spartan way of life, thinking it meant settling for simplicity and the basics in life.  But that does not seem to be so.  It is alive and well today, and in many people’s lives in the AA prayer that generally asks, “God, grant me the grace to accept with serenity the things I cannot change and the courage to change the things that I can, and with wisdom to know the difference.”  This could almost be a stoic’s prayer. And one might add, in this day of instant communication of our thoughts and actions, no matter how ignoble, “and the good sense to keep my struggle to myself.”

The world seems to be in turmoil again today and there are many things that are beyond not just our ability to change or control, but beyond any one person’s to find the solutions to much of what humans have wrought or what nature is manifesting.  We can only control our response and our own actions.  All of this has brought me to a quote I came across recently; one that I am surprised I never read before since it was evidently said by one of my favorite heroes, Abraham Lincoln:

   “Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of

— Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. president (1809-1865).

President Kennedy must have remembered Lincoln's words when he said, "Ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country."  And then established the Peace Corps.

Del Rey thaknsgiving

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday,  Nov. 22, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 232
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Boca study suggests that even small damage to coral can be significant
By the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute news staff

Can coral reefs recover from even small-scale damage?

Coral reefs are under siege from warming seas, overfishing, rising acidity and pollution. Reefs, especially in the Caribbean, have declined dramatically as a result. Many that remain “live close to their ecophysical tolerance limits,” write a team of Smithsonian scientists in a new paper that examines reef response to small-scale damage.

To simulate damage caused by boat collisions, dragged anchors and coral harvesting, the researchers carved one-meter square plots from four reefs spread around Panama’s Bocas del Toro archipelago. For two years, they monitored the recovery or lack thereof of life on the coral rubble-covered sea floor.

Only one of the four reefs showed clear recovery to its former state. This was surprising since the reef is located on the mainland and subjected to high sediment load and freshwater runoff, two factors that typically limit coral growth. Two reefs expected to fare better underwent big shifts in their species composition, with macroalgae rapidly becoming dominant. A fourth site remained mostly barren.

“This suggests that we may have to be careful in generalizing how reefs will respond to small-scale damage. Predicting recovery may be complex, as even adjacent reefs can show very different recovery patterns.” said Carmen Schlöder, the lead author on the study published in Bulletin of Marine Science.
coral reefs
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute photo
Researchers study Caribbean reefs to determine response to damage.

Why adjacent reefs followed distinct trajectories remains a mystery. Differences in abundance of other organisms, like sea urchins, could be a factor.

“The data do demonstrate that even small physical damage can push reefs into alternative states,” said Aaron O’Dea, a co-author.

“We were not able to tease apart the combined effects of physical damage and marginal conditions in our experiment,” said Schlöder. “But it is likely that more and more reefs will face challenging conditions due to climate change and increasing, human-mediated coastal development.”

“Carmen’s study is cool because it all but begs a question like good science should,” added O’Dea. The data were collected almost a decade ago. “How are the reefs today? We need to go back out there to see if these alternative states have become permanently established.”

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Pacific Estates

Democrats change policy
in Senate to majority rule

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Democratic-led U.S. Senate has voted to change the rules for confirming presidential nominees and strip the ability of minority Republicans to block them.  The move is designed to reduce gridlock on Capitol Hill and smooth the functioning of government, but, it could further scuttle bipartisanship and open the door to a reshaping of America’s legislative process.

Filibusters allow the Senate’s minority party to set a 60-vote threshold to advance almost any business before the 100-member body.  As a blocking maneuver, it is highly effective.

Majority Democrats say Republicans have overused the filibuster when it comes to confirming executive branch and judicial nominees.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:

“Republican obstruction has become endemic in the Senate over the last five years, grinding the work of this institution to a halt, threatening the integrity of this institution, and damaging our country."

Thursday, Democrats forced a series of mostly party line votes to change the rules governing the chamber.  Now, simple majority votes will suffice to confirm federal nominees other than Supreme Court justices.  Republicans like Chuck Grassley objected.

“This is about a naked power grab, and nothing more than a power grab.  This is about the other side not getting everything they want, when they want it," said Grassley.

Not so, according to President Barack Obama.

“All too often we have seen a single senator or a handful of senators choose to abuse arcane procedural tactics to unilaterally block bipartisan compromises, or to prevent well-qualified patriotic Americans from filling critical positions in public service in our system of government," said Obama.

Republicans warn that Democrats will regret Thursday’s vote the next time they are in the minority.  Curbing the filibuster through a partisan vote had been called the nuclear option, given its potential to rile Republicans and further poison bipartisanship. 

Analyst John Fortier sees long-term implications:

“The House  you can get something done if you have a one vote majority.  The Senate, because of the filibuster rule and some other features, has usually been a place where you had to have a more bipartisan coalition.  I think this is the beginning of changes to make the Senate much more like the House, to make it much more a majoritarian institution," said Fortier.

Those changes can be seen as a needed curtailment of legislative abuse or as an ill-advised alteration of the very fabric of American democracy.

Dallas will remembers JFK
with solemn ceremony today

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A solemn ceremony will take place at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, today, near the street where an assassin's bullet took the life of President John F. Kennedy 50 years ago. The commemoration has drawn people from around the world.
Standing at the corner of the former Texas School Book Depository Building, a TV reporter from Portugal notes that the plaque there refers to Lee Harvey Oswald as the alleged assassin of President Kennedy.
For many of the reporters who have come here from around the world, it is both Kennedy's legacy and continuing doubts about the official version of his assassination that hold interest. Nonetheless, the ceremony prepared by the city of Dallas will focus on the President’s legacy, not the conspiracy theories.
There will be church bells ringing, a moment of silence and readings of excerpts from the slain president's speeches by historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough.
For many years, Dallas was stigmatized by the Kennedy assassination, partly because of news reports at the time about right-wing groups that condemned the president's proposed civil rights legislation and other policy positions. Richie Gilbride, a writer affiliated with the Coalition of Political Assassinations, believes extremism may have played a role in what he says was a conspiracy to kill Kennedy.
"Dallas was a putrefying pile of hate in 1963. It was the perfect place to pull off a fundamentally evil, evil act," said Gilbride.
However, films and photos from the time of Kennedy's visit show huge crowds of people enthusiastically cheering the president as his limousine passed slowly through the streets. Bob Jackson was a photographer for a Dallas newspaper at the time, riding in the motorcade just a few cars behind Kennedy. He said that the national media gave Dallas a bad rap by claiming the city was engulfed in an ugly atmosphere promoted by extremists.
"The ugly atmosphere was a small group of people. The majority of people, all you had to do was ride in the motorcade coming downtown and see all the cheering people, not a bunch of protesters with signs and all that kind of stuff," remembered Jackson.
Kennedy is remembered in Dallas today with the Sixth-Floor Museum, situated in the building from which the assassin fired his rifle, and by the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza, a few blocks away. The city has grown and changed dramatically since 1963. For many citizens who were born in the decades after the assassination, the event does not hold the same emotional significance that it does for those who lived through those dark days a half-century ago.

Foreign students in U.S.
continues to show increase

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The number of international students studying in the United States is rising.  Figures released by the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange shows the number of foreign students attending U.S. colleges and universities increased 7 percent during the 2012-2013 academic year.  That represents a record high of almost 820,000, and educators expect the upward trend to continue.

In the pursuit of higher learning, the United States is still the top destination. 

At the International Student House in Washington, a temporary residence for students from over 40 countries, communications student Neena Dominic from India says the United States was her number one choice.

“It’s a known fact that United States is powerful in terms of its education and its skill level.  And I wanted to get a taste of it," she said.

She is part of the growing number of students who come to the United States to study.
The majority come from China with over 235,000 students attending U.S. colleges followed by India, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. 

Zheng Zhu says the U.S. educational system has surpassed his expectations. But he says the biggest surprise has been Americans.

“I would say U.S. people probably are much nicer than what I thought.  Really? Yeah," he said.

Besides making new friends, Zheng says his experience has expanded his understanding of the U.S.

But Alan Goodman, president of the Institute for International Education, says cultural exchange is a two-way street.

“International should be part of everybody’s education.  We should encourage that.  We should require every freshman entering American higher education to enter with a passport, and then to make plans with their faculty member over the course of the four years to use that passport," he said.

Although the number of Americans studying abroad rose 3 percent to nearly 300,000 last year, fewer than 10 percent of American college students have studied overseas, most for only one semester.

That's unfortunate says Ms. Dominic.

“I came here and I realized one thing. While we know a lot about America, Americans don’t know much about our countries," she said.

Another criticism is that immigration laws severely limit the number of students able to live and work in the U.S. after receiving their degrees. 

Lawmakers are considering more options to keep the best and the brightest.  But Evan Ryan, assistant secretary of State for educational and cultural affairs, says current laws reflect American policy.

“Our mission really is to bring people here to study but then to have them return home because our belief is that’s the only way to increase mutual understanding," she said.

International students contribute $24 billion to the U.S. economy, with the majority paying full tuition. Their top destinations are California, New York and Texas.

A.M. Costa Rice file photo

Nuts called key to health
and a way to reduce risks

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Eat nuts, live longer.  Researchers have found that those who eat a handful of peanuts or cashews every day significantly decrease their risk of dying from all causes compared to those who do not eat nuts. A new study concludes that all types of nuts seem to be protective.

It does not matter whether they are peanuts grown on the ground or tree nuts, such as almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts or cashews. Those who eat nuts at least five times per week seem to be healthier and live longer than those who do not consume nuts regularly.

Researcher Ying Bao is with the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard University Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. 

She and her colleagues looked at the impact of nut consumption by analyzing two huge studies that began in 1980, the Nurses’ Health Study, which tracks the well-being of more than 76,000 women, and 42,000 men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

Among the questions asked at the beginning of the studies was, 'how frequently do you eat nuts?'  The information was updated every two to four years. The researcher says the participants were followed for three decades.

“What we observed is that people who eat more nuts are less likely to die over the next 30 years," she said. "So, for example, if a person eats nuts once per day, that person has a 20 percent lower risk of dying.”

Eating a handful of nuts five or more times per week was associated with a 29 percent reduced risk of dying from heart disease and an 11 percent lower risk of cancer death, she said.  A serving size is 28 grams.

Previous studies have linked nut consumption to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, gallstones and diverticulitis or inflammation within the large bowel.

Nuts contain nutrients, including high quality proteins, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, all of which have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects and may help protect the heart.

Researchers are planning studies to find out how nuts are beneficial to human health.

"The exact biological mechanisms are unclear at this point. And the next step we are going to do is to look at the association between nut consumption and the different biomarkers," Ying Bao said. "And we have data available for these two large studies."

The study on the health benefits of nuts was funded by the International Tree Nut Council Research and Education Foundation.

N. Korean has cyber army
in China, South reports

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

North Korea is often viewed as impoverished, isolated and technologically backward. However, officials in South Korea have said that recent cyber attacks traced to Pyongyang have demonstrated hacking capabilities that are world class. Seoul's spy agency further claims that North Korea has trained a cyber army and that its soldiers are receiving support in China.

This month, South Korea's National Intelligence Service gave new details on the scale, operation and goals of North Korea's cyber army of trained hackers.
In a closed-door meeting with the intelligence committee of South Korea's National Assembly, the service described seven North Korean hacking organizations and a network of spies operating in China and Japan.
It quoted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as saying cyber warfare is just as strategically important to Pyongyang as missiles and nuclear weapons.
Ruling party lawmaker Seo Sang-ki is chairman of the committee. He said that North Korea has established its hacking point in China because it is geographically close, the Internet infrastructure is more developed and its activities can be protected.
Seo also said that there appears to be about 1,700 North Korean hackers and 4,200 supporting agents active in China. That number, he claimed, is increasing. He also said that the North Koreans earn foreign money by developing software in China and perform hacking activities to collect national industrial secrets at the same time.
The intelligence service confirmed an earlier report that Pyongyang accessed a South Korean IT company's internal documents in China through an employee of a local subsidiary.
In October, South Korea's KBS TV reported that the attack may have been an attempt to infiltrate Seoul's computer networks. The attacked company had built information systems for government organizations.
Seo would not give the name of the South Korean company, only referring to it by the initial “S.”
China routinely denies it is the origin point of cyber attacks and maintains that China itself a victim of hacking.
Kim Hung-kwang, president of the North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity, said that although Beijing knows North Korean hackers launch attacks from inside China, it has never arrested or expelled any North Koreans. Therefore, Kim said, it appears North Korea is committing the attacks under China’s tacit consent. He said that it is also known that Chinese and North Korean soldiers exchange malicious codes and attack techniques created by Pyongyang.
Despite strict controls limiting Internet access to elites, Pyongyang has been training hackers since the 1990s. While most of its early attacks were simple and used pre-existing computer codes, experts now say they are becoming more sophisticated.
Kim said that North Korea is developing its own hacking codes and using them to test South Korea's security for a cyber war. He also claimed that North Korea’s goal is to successfully complete cyber attacks on national infrastructure, including gas, electricity, transportation and nuclear power.
Seo noted that because North Korea’s Internet system is so closed off, it is easy to defend. That gives North Korea a tactical advantage.
On the other hand, the United States and South Korea have a system in which Internet infrastructure is densely developed all over the country and the security of private firms is relatively weak.
North Korea is believed to be behind attacks earlier this year that shut down tens of thousands of computers and wreaked havoc on major banks, media and government agencies. South Korean officials say the economic cost was estimated at $800 million.
Seo is urging his fellow lawmakers to draft a bill authorizing a more effective response to cyber attacks.

Smokers who quit can
benefit sooner, study says

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Some cigarette smokers over 65 years old who kick the habit may be able to reduce their risk of dying from heart-related problems to the level of those who never smoked and do so far faster than previously believed, according to new research presented Wednesday.

Previous research found that older former smokers who had consumed less than 32 pack years of cigarettes could reduce their risk of dying from heart disease to the level of lifelong nonsmokers after 15 years.

The pack year measure is derived by multiplying the number of cigarettes smoked per day by the number of years a person was a smoker. For example, 32 pack years would be 3.2 packs a day for 10 years or two packs a day for 16 years.

“The new finding is if you smoke less than 32 pack years, you might become like never-smokers much sooner than 15 years,” said Ali Ahmed, who reported the findings at the American Heart Association scientific meeting in Dallas.

Many people in the study lowered the risk of developing heart failure, or risk of dying from heart failure, heart attacks and strokes to the same level as those who never smoked in nearly half the time as previous research had indicated.

“For half of them, it was eight years after cessation,” said Ahmed, a professor of cardiovascular disease at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. “Even for the heavier smokers, who smoked more than 32 pack years, compared to current smokers, they will significantly reduce the risk of total mortality by 35 percent, so there's a positive message for everybody.”

Cutting the risk to the level of never-smokers was a much higher bar than comparison with current smokers, he added.

Researchers compiled their data by analyzing 13 years of medical information from the Cardiovascular Health Study begun in 1989 and sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. They compared 853 people who quit smoking 15 or fewer years before with 2,557 people who never smoked cigarettes. Of the former smokers, 319 had smoked less than 32 pack years.

Smoking remains the most preventable cause of early death in the United States and elsewhere. So the main message remains: “If you smoke, quit and quit early,” said Ahmed.

But even those who do not stop smoking until they reach the Medicare-eligible age of 65 appear likely to derive heart health benefits from stopping.

While the heart-related mortality benefits seen in the study seem clear, researchers said, lung damage is not as easily reversible. Those who smoked less than 32 pack years and quit up to 15 or more years ago were still at higher risk of dying from lung cancer, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Some retailers are joining
the online sales explosion

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Retailers in traditional U.S. stores face growing competition with online sales, a problem that grows particularly acute during the traditional holiday shopping season in November and December.

Internet experts at the technology firm Cisco say traditional retailers can take advantage of the many tech-savvy shoppers who still want to check the quality and color of merchandise in person before they make purchases.

Cisco's chief marketing officer Blair Christy says a new survey shows that retailers can make more sales to often affluent shoppers by making it easier for them to use their smart phones to make purchases while they are in the store.

"It’s also a matter of survival, these are the shoppers of the future, and 43 percent of these tech-savvy shoppers are younger than 49 so you are talking about the way shopping is going to change, not just this holiday season, but going forward," said Christy.

Christy says many retailers are already providing wifi connections and shopping apps.  But some innovative stores are going further by using information gleaned online about shoppers' preferences and making sure shoppers can easily locate relevant items in the store.  Others offer digital coupons, and make it easy for shoppers to place online orders for merchandise that is out of stock in the store.

These new approaches follow years of complaints by retailers about showrooming shoppers who visit traditional stores to evaluate merchandise and then actually buy their goods on the Internet from less expensive online competitors.  Frustrated traditional merchants say online retailers have an unfair advantage because they don't have to pay high rents in shopping districts or pay sales clerks.

Christy says online sales are likely to grow around the world in the wake of the soaring number of smart phones in use in many nations.

Real estate-related services (paid category)

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Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

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(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 792
300 square meters of land, 195 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)

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

Becker montage
Beach property on the Pacific Ocean in Guanacaste.

House and guest house on adjacent half acre lots. Each with separate electric,  private septic and well. Each can be sold stand alone or packaged. Modern kitchen, granite counters, Viking stove, large separate frig and freezer. Private commercial grade septic and well. No water shortages even in dry season. High speed internet and U.S. standard electric. Center of the beach -- NEVER floods. Estuary at each end of the beach with excellent kayaking and bird watching through the mangroves. Excellent fishing right off the shore. Great surfing, horseback riding, bicycling or Turtle watching. Groceries three miles away. Mentioned in "The Lonely Planet" Page 301. "Two of the most beautiful and least visited beaches in Costa Rica. Wilderness beaches of fine silver-grey sand." Despite opportunities for great surfing, kayaking and just about anything else you want to do on a sandy strip of paradise, the beaches are nearly always abandoned. $500K Will finance.  More pictures available at:  Contact information:,  US: 001-612-599-0205 or Costa Rica 011-506-2655-1202.


ULatina, UCR, & U Fidelitas San Pedro, San Jose. $185,000.
Quietly located behind The Foundation Costa Rica Canada, 500 meters north of Iglesia Lourdes, San Pedro. ULatina, UCR, U. Fidelitas, bus & new train station are within five minutes Four-bedroom, three and half-bath unit within a secure complex of 40 condos with high cement outside walls with secure entrance manned by an armed guard 24 hours per day. Security fencing with electric wire, and a CCTV recorded security camera system is monitored within the guard house.  For additional peace of mind, this residence equipped with an independently wired security system, iron bars on windows and patio doors, a telephone communication system to contact the guard house and secure parking at your front door.   Beautiful mountain view from roof covered 3rd floor terraza. A green park area inside the complex for your children to safely play and an outside parking area in from of guard house for visitors. Cable TV/Internet lines and 220-volt service for hot water heater, stove and dryer. Water storage tank with pump maintains high pressure to bathrooms on all three floors. American style washer and electric dryer, refrigerator, glass top stove, and kitchen cabinets included. Other furniture items may be available. Call Bill   (English) C.R. Phone: (506) 6011-6987   or  U.S. Phone:  (630) 886-4458  or   (305) 848-5577. C.R. Spanish  phone number: (506) 8799-4041  or  (506) 8363-9898.  Email:

Med house
Mediterranean inspired home overlooking the Bay of Nicoya and Pacific Ocean. This design allows for barrier free living, yet maximizes views from every room in the house . Vaulted ceiling over the living area and kitchen give the great room it’s spacious, open feeling with a natural stone fireplace and imported Spanish tile floors. $365,000.   Property: 22,000 m2 or 5.5 acres. Construction: 4,500 sq. ft. including porches and garage. 3 nedrooms, 2 baths, full dining room, separate office. Custom wrought iron gates, custom exotic wood cabinets, high-end stainless steel appliances, Granite countertops.    Slide show at   
For more information contact:

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.

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!

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, Friday,  Nov. 22, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 232
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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
24,000-year-old skeleton
backs Siberian migration

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Results from DNA testing of a 24,000 year-old skeleton of a young boy reinforces the theory that the first Americans came from Siberia.

The testing showed that nearly 30 percent of modern Native Americans’ ancestry comes from the so-called Mal’ta child’s gene pool. The remains were discovered in the late 1920s near the village of Mal’ta in south central Siberia.

“Our study proves that Native American ancestors migrated to the Americas from Siberia and not directly from Europe as some have recently suggested,” said Kelly Graf, assistant professor in the Center for the Study of First Americans and Department of Anthropology at Texas A&M, who was part of an international team studying the skeleton.

Graf noted that the Mal’ta child, whose skeleton is at the Hermitage Museum in Russia, had close genetic ties to today’s Native Americans and some western Eurasians, specifically some groups living in central Asia, South Asia, and Europe.

“Also, he shared close genetic ties with other Ice-Age western Eurasians living in European Russia, Czech Republic and even Germany,” she said.  “We think these Ice-Age people were quite mobile and capable of maintaining a far-reaching gene pool that extended from central Siberia all the way west to central Europe.”

This, Ms. Graf said, could explain why some early Native American skeletons such as Kennewick Man were interpreted to have some European traits, an interpretation that led some to believe Native Americans may have come from Europe instead.

The DNA work performed on the boy is the oldest complete genome of a human sequenced so far, the study shows.  Also found near the boy’s remains were flint tools, a beaded necklace and what appears to be pendant-like items, all apparently placed in the burial as grave goods.

The discovery raises new questions about the timing of human entry in Alaska and ultimately North America, a topic hotly debated in First Americans studies.

“Though our results cannot speak directly to this debate, they do indicate Native American ancestors could have been in Beringia — extreme northeastern Russia and Alaska — any time after 24,000 years ago and therefore could have colonized Alaska and the Americas much earlier than 14,500 years ago, the age suggested by the archaeological record,”  Ms. Graf said.

The study was published in the current issue of Nature magazine.

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From Page 7:

Refinery firm gets good rating despite risks

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Fitch rating agency has reaffirmed a BB+ rating for the national oil refinery monopoly, the same rating that the country as a whole had.

The agency did say that the refinery firm, Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo S.A., is exposed to risk factors including political interference and the lack of clarity in the tariff scheme.

The company does not set the prices it charges for petroleum products. That is done by the national price regulating agency, the Autoridad Regulador de Servicios Públicos, a supposedly independent agency.

The rating came via the Fitch offices for Latin America in the Dominican Republic.