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Published Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 249
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Preparations for Festival de la Luz begins at midnight
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Road closing preparation for the Festival de la Luz Saturday will begin at midnight tonight, according to officials from the traffic police.

The festival, sponsored by the Municipalidad de San José, will begin at 6 p.m. and is expected to be complete by 10 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The parade will start at the Gimnasio Nacional before traveling down Paseo Colón and Avenida Segunda until it reaches the Plaza de la Democracia.

Up to 200 transit police officers are expected to assist in the regulation and control of the streets so as to conduct a smooth transition beginning with the parade floats, or carrozas, being transferred over to the south side of La Sabana. Between 10 a.m. and noon on Saturday, traffic will be allowed to pass through while transit authorities remove any parked vehicles along the route.

From noon onward, however, the route through Paseo Colón and Avenida Segunda will be closed to traffic with the majority of vehicles being diverted along Avenida 10.

The operation for the Festival de la Luz will maintain open lanes for emergency vehicles to pass through in order to access the Hospital de Niños and the Hospital San Juan de Dios.

In addition, the Fuerza Pública will allocate 650 of its officers for security at the Festival de la Luz. Officers will be expected along the

Ministerio de Salud photo
The Ministerio de Salud said its float or carroza will discourage the use of tobacco.

festival route from Calle 42 to Calle 15.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional is predicting strong winds through the weekend at gusts between 40 to 60 kilometers per hour.

The Weather Underground, A.M. Costa Rica’s weather service, expects the temperature would dip to 18 degrees C or around 64.5-degrees F Saturday.

The event is expected to draw over a million people, according to organizers who claim to host the best parade of carrozas and bands in the country. Additionally, it is expected to be broadcasted live on several major television channels in Costa Rica. Fireworks will mark the beginning of the festival and the roofline of the route will be bathed in light, organizers said.

A check for $2.9 million would be very welcome
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Imagine betting $145 to win $2.9 million at 100,000 to 1. That's not really good odds. But a lot of people will do it and glue themselves to the television Sunday night as the winners of the Gordo Navadeño are picked.

$2.9 million would go a long way to ensuring a happy Christmas. And the Junta de Protección Social will award four top prizes in that amount. In all, there are more than 12,000 prizes connected with the Sunday drawing.

The balls containing the numbers will be pulled in the parking lot of the Junta on Calle 20 in San José on live television.

A full ticket is 80,000 colons so usually there are multiple winners.

More weekend activities

The drawing is totally random because those wire baskets typical of a casino are used to pick the number. The Spanish-language newspapers have been reporting which numbers have been the most successful in past years, but even the most statistically challenged knows that this is not important.

And it only takes one. For expats who want to get their feet wet, each fraction of a full ticket is just 2,000 colons and that pays one fortieth of the prize earned by the full ticket.

U.S. expats who are lucky enough to win a big prize still have to think about Uncle Sam, who wants to collect taxes on gambling winners.

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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.


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Lots of activities planned for weekend

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Flamenco, Christmas carols, “Alice in Wonderland,” orchestras, a science fair, surfing and a film festival are continuing the Costa Rican holiday season at full swing this weekend.

For dance fans, flamenco dancers from the prominent Costa Rican dance academy Al Ándalus is celebrating 25 years of history with its performance of “De Zapatos.” Organizers said that the show will be a walk-through of different themes common to many bailaoras, or female flamenco dancers, such as renditions of “El reflejo de Mercedes,” “La boda de Macarena,” and “El duelo de Carmen.”

The flamenco group will be performing Saturday at 5 and 8 p.m. at the Teatro Eugene O’Neill. Tickets can be purchased at 12,000 colones. Five musicians and 60 dancers ranging in age between eight and 75 will be participating. Al Ándalus is known for being one of the first flamenco dance academies founded in Costa Rica.

The Teatro Popular Melico Salazar is continuing its presentations of the work of over 170 students from the Taller Nacional de Danza, organizers said. Friday’s show at 8 p.m. will feature the show called “Imaginando territorios.” Tickets cost 5,000 colones and can be purchased until showtime at the ticket office of the theater.

Meanwhile, the Teatro Nacional is continuing the contemporary rendition of “Alicia en el país de las maravillas,” or “Alice in Wonderland,” tonight at 8 o'clock. The last shows will be on Sunday at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online on the theater’s website or at the ticket office inside at a cost of 8,000 to 30,000 colones depending on the seat placement.

For music lovers, the Orquesta 25 de Julio of the Sistema Nacional de Educación Musical, will be giving a concert tonight at 7  in the Parque Recadero Briceño at Nicoya. Meanwhile the Banda de Conciertos de Alajuela, with the group Senderos, will have its Christmas concert on Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Parque Central in Alajuela.

The Orquesta Sinfónica, together with the Coro Sinfónico Nacional, is presenting its free concerts tonight at 7 in the Bascilica de Santo Domingo in Heredia. The Banda de Cartago will also present its concert of music from video games Sunday at 11 a.m. in the Museo de los Niños. The Banda de San José will perform its repetoire of Christmas carols and songs Saturday at 3 p.m. in the Antiteatro de Guayabo de Mora and on Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Iglesia de Curridabat.

In film, the Costa Rican Festival Internacional de Cine is entering its final stretch. From 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., entrance is free of charge. After 6 p.m. there is a fee of 2,000-colones. The various theaters where the films will be playing until Saturday will be at: the Cine Magaly, the Teatro La Aduana, Teatro 1887, Teatro de la Danza, and the Antifeatro of the Centro Nacional de la Cultura. The complete schedule of the films and their showtimes are available at the film festival’s website.

The Museo de Arte Costarricense will be closed on Saturday due to the Festival de la Luz. Its free exhibition of the Premios Salones Nacionales continues until Feb. 12.  The museo’s installations at the Parque Metropolitana La Sabana along with the administrative offices at Sabana Este and the Escuela Casa del Artista are also expected to be closed from Dec. 26 until New Year’s Day and will reopen Jan. 2.

Kids from schools across the country will be participating in the Costa Rica International Science and Engineering Fair Challenge 2017 today from 2 p.m. until 3 p.m. According to organizers, 1,700 students from over 75 different countries will be presenting their projects to the judges with 12 projects competing to represent Costa Rica in the fair being held in Los Angeles, California. The winners will be announced at 3 p.m. and the event is being held at the Intel building in San Antonio de Belén.

This weekend, surfers are expected to catch some waves as the Witch's Rock Surf Camp will open the fourth annual Guanacasteco surf competition in front of facilities at the Playa Tamarindo de Villareal in Santa Cruz.

Over 150 surfers are expected to participate in the competition, organizers say, with each of the four different events that are part of the wider competition bagging a prize of 1,000,000-colones. The Witch's Rock Tamarindo will run on Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. With the award ceremony held at the El Vaquero restaurant at 4:30 p.m. Sunday. 

Government is making a $35 million bet

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country is about to make a $35 million bet and begin construction of a convention center. Most of the money comes from the tourism institute and represents funds collected at airports from visitors.

Instead of putting this money into effective advertising campaigns, the central government has decided to go into the convention business. Some private hotels have convention space, but not of the size of the 15,600 square meters planned for the 10-acre site 10 kilometers west of San José Centro. That is a structure of 167,917 square feet.

The Centro Nacional de Congresos y Convenciones has long been a dream for government planners.

The convention center represents benefits that will filter through the country and make tourism more dynamic, create jobs, promote hotel development, generate productive relationships and improve the image of the country as a destination, according to the tourism minister, Mauricio Ventura.

Casa Presidencial said it sees the convention center reinforcing the rainy or green season.

The decision to build comes at a time when there is intense competition in the convention business and even destinations like Las Vegas are seeing a reduction in convention visitors. The business has been described as a buyer's market.

Costa Rica also has to contend with higher air fares from U.S. and Canadian  destinations when compared to places like Las Vegas. The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo will have to promote the center heavily, although the government agency has never been a standout in marketing. Ventura said that the development and marketing suffered because there was no convention center.

The Contraloría General de la República just approved the construction contract, so government officials are saying that work will start in January. The plan is to finish the center by the end of next year.

Cooperative housing bill proposed

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A bill defining housing cooperatives was presented Thursday by representatives of varying political stripes.

This initiative, if passed, would create a regulatory framework allowing more people in the country to have access to a home through the establishment of a group cooperative. This comes as a response to providing help particularly to young, female breadwinners, the middle class, and others previously excluded from setting up this kind of living arrangement, said lawmakers.

This bill would also set up a state subsidized investment called Bono Familiar de Vivienda for the construction of housing complexes with this cooperative concept.

Proponents argue that the cooperative ownership idea allows people to organize and create their own, formal association. With the association formed, a property could be acquired, where the cooperative association exercises its ownership of the property. The members of the association can then enjoy the right to use the  property.

“Initiatives like this, in countries like Uruguay, have had a great success that we wish to replicate here in Costa Rica,” said Víctor Morales Zapata, a legislator and supporter of the bill, “The support from deputies from various factions is a positive signal.”

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 249
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International Baptist

Monetary Fund team says country is vulnerable due to high debt
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica's efforts to corral the deficit are insufficient and not sustainable, according to a team that visited from the International Monetary Fund. And, the team said in a statement that the country is vulnerable to negative changes in the world economic conditions.

The Monetary Fund team visited for four days, ending Thursday. It said the country's economy was growing robustly and that growth this year would be about 4.5 percent.

The team said it supported the government's efforts to increase
income by cutting salaries and boosting tax collection. And it
said it backed the approval of laws that fight tax fraud, high pensions and the reductions in budget surpluses by decentralized agencies.

The team also said that the reinstitution of the tax on corporations, which is in the legislature now, would make a small contribution to fiscal health. But, the team said, these efforts are not sufficient to make the financial position sustainable. The team called for further adjustments to stabilize the national debt.

Costa Rica is dependent on foreign markets because the country finances about half its national budget with debt in addition to the outstanding deficit that requires payment of interest.

More U.S. arrests highlight Mafia's ties to gambling operations here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica's connection with the Italian Mafia was exposed again Thursday in a New York City courtroom.

Law enforcement officials there said that 13 individuals with close ties to the Genovese crime family have been arrested after being indicted for a number of illegal activities including an offshore gambling operation in Costa Rica.

The Genovese crime family is one of the five Mafia families that dominate organized criminal activities in New York and New Jersey, and it may be the most powerful.

"Throughout the investigation, intercepted conversations revealed the hierarchy and alleged criminal activities of the Genovese crime family enterprise," said the New York Attorney General's Office.  "According to the charges, an illegal sports gambling operation was run through an offshore wire room in Costa Rica,, that handled wagers on various college and professional sports. This gambling operation generated millions of dollars’ worth of wagers."

The indictments also allege loansharking and even the sale of untaxed cigarettes. The Genovese crime family, once headed by Lucky Luciano, is known for being flexible. says that is based in San José and that the domain was registered in 2014 by a person listed as Luis López. Statistics sites say the domain has few visitors.  López is listed as being involved with other sites.

U.S. gamblers like Costa Rica because their paperwork can be done here legally. The internet provides quick access.

The New York newspapers had a field day with the arrests and called the individuals over-the-hill mobsters. "Leave the gun, take the Metamucil," The Post said of the 13. Two are in their 70s.

The defendants are Salvatore DeMeo, 76, of Brooklyn, New York; Eugene Orefice, 48, of Monroe Township, New Jersey;  Gennaro Geritano, 62, Brooklyn; Anthony Giammarino, 65, of Brooklyn; Joseph Tommasino, 52, Staten Island, New York;  


Thomas Alexiou, 55, of Brooklyn; Rocco Maglione, 46, of Brooklyn;  Windsor Lewis, 66, of Brooklyn, Mario Leonardi, 76, of Odenville, Alabama; Vincent Taliercio, 65, of Brooklyn; Jackie Charlton, 53, of Brooklyn;  Michael Epstein, 48, of Brooklyn, and John Giglio, 55, of Staten Island.

“Despite these Genovese members continued attempts to evade detection, our investigation revealed millions in offshore sports betting, lucrative loan sharking, and tax evasion,” said New York Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill in a statement.

In addition to bookmaking, an indictment also charges six defendants with loansharking whereby victims were charged exorbitant weekly loan rates which effectively created a high cost debt trap upon any individual who received such a loan, said the Attorney General's Office.

Two defendants, Geritano and Leonardi, were also charged in a second indictment said the defendants evaded both state and city excise taxes through a combined sale of more than 30,000 unlawfully stamped cigarettes within New York City in violation of the New York State tax law.

The Luchese organized crime family has been linked to gambling operations in Costa Rica, too. And in May 2002, the personal bookmaker of former Gambino family crime boss John Gotti was arrested here, and he was believed to have maintained some kind of betting operation in the La Sabana Oficentro where he was arrested.

There also have been connections involving cocaine smuggling with Italian crime figures, but not the Mafia.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 249
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2016 hurricane season called above-normal in three regions
By the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration news staff

The hurricane seasons is over, and scientists said that the Atlantic and the eastern and central Pacific saw above-normal seasons. Perhaps the most abnormal was Hurricane Otto that  made landfall in southeast Nicaragua and then moved into Costa Rica Nov. 24 for an historic first.

For the Atlantic, this was the first above-normal season since 2012. The Atlantic saw 15 named storms during 2016, including seven hurricanes (Alex, Earl, Gaston, Hermine, Matthew, Nicole, and Otto), three of which were major hurricanes (Gaston, Matthew and Nicole). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's updated hurricane season outlook in August called for 12 to 17 named storms, including five to eight hurricanes, with two to four of those predicted to become major hurricanes.

Five named storms made landfall in the United States during 2016, the most since 2008 when six storms struck. Tropical Storm Bonnie and Hurricane Matthew struck South Carolina. Tropical Storms Colin and Julia, as well as Hurricane Hermine, made landfall in Florida. Hermine was the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Wilma in 2005.

Several Atlantic storms made landfall outside of the United States during 2016: Tropical Storm Danielle in Mexico, Hurricane Earl in Belize, Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas and Hurricane Otto in Nicaragua.

The strongest and longest-lived storm of the season was Matthew, which reached maximum sustained surface winds of 160 miles per hour and lasted as a major hurricane for eight days from Sept. 30 to Oct. 7. Matthew was the first category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic basin since Felix in 2007.

Matthew intensified into a major hurricane on Sept. 30 over the Caribbean Sea, making it the first major hurricane in that region since Poloma in 2008. It made landfall as a category 4 major hurricane in Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas, causing extensive damage and loss of life. It then made landfall on Oct. 8 as a category 1 hurricane in the United States near McClellanville, South Carolina.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration graphic

The eastern Pacific hurricane basin, which covers the eastern Pacific Ocean east of 140 degrees West, produced 21 named storms during 2016, including 11 hurricanes of which five became major hurricanes. July through September was the most active three-month period on record for this basin.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's eastern Pacific hurricane season outlook called for 13 to 20 named storms, including six to 11 hurricanes, three to six of which were expected to become major hurricanes.

The central Pacific hurricane basin covers the Pacific Ocean west of 140 degrees West to the International Date Line. This basin saw seven tropical cyclones (includes tropical depressions and named storms) during 2016.

All seven became named storms, and included three hurricanes of which two were major hurricanes. Tropical Storm Darby made landfall on the Big Island of Hawaii, marking the first time in recorded history that two storms in three years struck the Big Island (Darby in 2016 and Iselle in 2014).

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s central Pacific hurricane season outlook called for four to seven tropical cyclones. That outlook does not predict specific ranges of named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

HIdden Garden graphic
Put Costa Rica on your walls
The Hidden Garden Art Gallery near the Liberia airport is the perfect place to find quality Costa Rican and international art for your home or office.  With over 60 artists and 15 rooms full of paintings, prints, sculptures, and diverse artistic expressions, we have been your source for fine art since 2010.  We also offer commissioned pieces so you can create your own unique masterpiece to cherish forever. Located just 5 kms west of the Daniel Oduber International Airport (towards the beaches).

Visit our Web site at:
Contact us by email:  
Find us on Trip Advisor, Facebook, Twitter,
Moon Travel Guides & Frommer's

Gallery hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tel.  8386-6872 / 2667-0592; U.S. telephone 702-953-7073
International shipping available.

Georgre Lundquist header

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

 (as reported by the moving companies)
Visit many rental options to actually experience the price/amenity options available in more of the areas chosen by Expats for security, comfort, and quality of life.

Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!

Ask the others what you get for your money, and then compare the quality of accommodations, quality, quantity and variety of food and drink to measure the best value for your money. 

Learn how others “talk the talk” and learn who really can “walk the walk”

Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
George Lundquist, retirement, relocation columnist, Guide & Developer/Builder.

George Lundquist

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          relevant fields.
   * Tours led by Christopher Howard, 36-year resident, citizen,
          and the author of "The New Golden Door to Retirement
          and  Living in Costa Rica – the Official Guide to Relocation”
Click HERE  to learn all about our Association of Residents (ARCR)  approved tours at

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

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NOW with the New Power Company Regulations, we're installing photo voltaic systems for solar electricity.
PV systems: we use Enphase micro-inverters. More flexible. Add panels whenever you like. More reliable than any other system and fully guaranteed!

Solar device
NOW is the time to install our new super-efficient solar hot water! New model for condos
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BUY NOW! Your solar hot water system, so in three months, we can calculate a lower install price for your PV system.  Perfect for homes and hotels. Save up to 40% of your electric bill.
More Watts per Panel, Smarter and more Capable Enphase Micro Inverters mean Less Cost and more Flexibility for You.

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Tropical Homes

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

Spectacular rentals are available for low weekly prices on at resorts such as Bahia Turquesa Residences and Villas Sol Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste. We have 
1- to 3-bedroom ocean and garden view timeshares available and most offer air conditioning, cable TV, fully equipped kitchens, and relaxing hammocks on private balconies. Enjoy the unique combination of seclusion and convenience as all resorts listed on our site are close to popular Costa Rican attractions and downtown 
centers, but are surrounded in lush, tropical forest. Villas are also available for sale in our inventory, so you can enjoy yearly vacations to this mesmerizing rainforest paradise. Please visit our rental inventory HERE!  or call us toll free at 877-815-4227, International: 603-516-0200.  Email:

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Fully Furnished American Style Apartment for Rent

San Jose Central 2-1/2-bedroom 2-bathroom apartment on the 2nd floor. Fully furnished American-style apartments with elevator in a secure building in Barrio Amón. Large balcony. Adult Building. Free cable television with two television both in the living room and in the main bedroom. High speed internet cable, WiFi, fully equipped large kitchen with microwave, toaster oven, coffee maker, water cooler, total utensils. King-sized bed in the principal bedroom, all bedding, sheets, towels, etc. It has an over-sized soaking tub off of the second bathroom. Water included. Free laundry rooms on all floors. Convenient to Parque Morazán, 100 meters north of downtown Holiday Inn, other hotels, restaurants, casinos, city government, National Registry. For a single individual it is $650 per month plus your electric usage just inside your apartment. $300 security deposit promptly refunded except your final electric bill. For personal inspection and more information contact: Hilda or Frank at 506-2221-7161.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 249
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Silent cancer cells can spread
but may present opportunity

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Research has found that cancer cells can spread unseen before a tumor develops and leave a ticking time bomb in the body. But the scientists who made the discovery say it soon may be possible for doctors to target these silent cancer cells and kill them before they can kill the patient.

The researchers said the ability of these early cancer cells to spread while remaining silent for years explains why a patient can die a long time after being treated for what was thought to be a benign tumor, or even no tumor at all.

Experts say 5 to 8 percent of cancer patients die of what's called cancer of unknown primary, or CUP. This phenomenon occurs when the disease spreads, or metastasizes, without doctors having found a primary tumor.

In other cases, cancer can be successfully treated but return decades later. For instance, small growths can be surgically removed from breast cancer patients, but the women will die of the disease 20 or 30 years later.

Working with mouse models of breast cancer, U.S. and German researchers discovered biomarkers to identify these abnormal, silent cancer cells that travel from the site of an early tumor and settle in the bone marrow or lungs.

These biomarkers can show whether the cells are seeds of metastasis, suggesting it might be possible to give people with cancer a definitive prognosis.

Oncologist Julio Aguirre-Ghiso at Mount Sinai's Icahn School of Medicine in New York was the lead author of one of two papers on the spread of silent cancer cells published in the journal Nature.

He said metastatic cancers are very difficult to treat, and usually it's because we use information from the primary tumor. Even if one of the metastatic growths is different from the primary tumor, he said, that may be the killer and they just didn't know that. So this focuses more on the specific biology of the metastasis and treating such growths in a more personal way.

Aguirre-Ghiso said that when CUP is diagnosed, doctors usually take a watch-and-wait approach. If even one cancer cell is found residing in bone marrow, he said, the prognosis is usually poor.

But the discoveries by his team and scientists at University of Regensburg in Germany may lead to a shift in the way cancer is treated, he said.

"I'm optimistic, because now we know we have a very long window of opportunity to treat the patients and prevent metastasis," Aguirre-Ghiso said.

The scientists are working with drug manufacturer Eli Lilly and Co. on the development of a drug that kills these metastatic, aggressive silent cells.

Aguirre-Ghiso predicted that in the next four years, drugs will be available to treat wandering, cancerous cells emerging from benign tumors or unknown sites in the body.

Doctors will also have tools to tell whether a migrating cancer cell is active or dormant. If it turns out that even one silent cell is malignant, patients can be put on therapies that might actually cure the disease. That's something that has not happened before.

Austria takes Hitler birthplace
and plans donation to charity

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Austrian government Thursday approved the seizure of the house where Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was born. It will be turned into a base for a charity rather than torn down.

The decision came a day after lawmakers overwhelmingly approved an interior ministry bill to dispossess the owner of the house. She had refused to sell the empty building in Braunau am Inn, a town on Austria's border with Germany. The move ended years of bitter legal wrangling over the property.

The provincial governor, Josef Puehringer, said destroying the structure would have fueled accusations of tearing down a piece of burdensome history.

Instead, officials want to remodel the property's facade to eliminate its attraction to Nazi sympathizers from around the world. They are offering it to Lebenshilfe, a charity that supports people with learning difficulties.

Hitler was born in a rented room on the top floor of the building on April 20, 1889. During Nazi rule, the house was transformed into a shrine to Hitler as the town drew a wave of tourists.

Every year on Hitler's birthday, anti-fascist protesters organize a rally outside the building, next to a memorial stone reading: "For Peace, Freedom and Democracy. Never Again Fascism, Millions of Dead Warn."

The property has been empty since 2011, when Austria became embroiled in a dispute with the owner, Gerlinde Pommer, whose family has owned the 800-square-meter building for nearly a century and has been renting it to the Austrian state. Under the legislation, she will receive an unspecified amount in compensation.

White House joins the chorus
claiming Russian cyberattack

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The White House pointedly suggested Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally authorized cyberattacks to impact the U.S. presidential election even as president-elect Donald Trump complained about attempts to undermine his victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The Obama administration offered no direct proof of its public claim against Putin, however, and Moscow called the allegation laughable nonsense.

Ben Rhodes, a top foreign affairs adviser to President Barack Obama, said, "Everything we know about how Russia operates and how Putin controls that government would suggest that, again, when you're talking about a significant cyber intrusion like this, we're talking about the highest levels of government. And ultimately, Vladimir Putin is the official responsible for the actions of the Russian government."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest pointed to the U.S. intelligence community's October assessment that only Russia's most senior officials could have authorized these activities. He said the reference to most senior officials wasn't supposed to be subtle but obvious, he told reporters.

Earnest Thursday also doubled-down on his assertion that Trump not only knew about Russian interference during the campaign but encouraged it.

“It’s just a fact, you all have it on tape, that the Republican nominee for president was encouraging Russia to hack his opponent because he believed that that would help his campaign,” he told reporters at the White House briefing. “That’s not a controversial statement.”

Trump, however, asked in a Twitter comment, "If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?"

Earnest dismissed concerns about efforts to delegitimize Trump’s presidency, saying Obama has made clear that he is committed to a smooth and effective transition. But he also encouraged Trump to be supportive of a thorough, transparent and non-political investigation into the hack.

One of Trump's top aides, Kellyanne Conway, in a TV interview rebuked Earnest for suggesting Wednesday that Trump might have known during the campaign of the Russian interference in the U.S. presidential contest and that their involvement was having a negative impact on Clinton's campaign.

“That is just remarkable," Ms. Conway told Fox News. "That is breathtaking. I guess he's auditioning to be a political pundit after his job is over soon. That is incredibly disappointing to hear from the podium of the White House press secretary. Because he essentially stated that the president-elect had knowledge of this, maybe even fanned the flames. It's incredibly irresponsible and I wonder if his boss, President Obama, agrees.”

At his last formal press conference in July, Trump invited Russian hackers to look for emails deleted from Secretary Clinton's private server, and then a day later said he meant it as a sarcastic joke.

But Earnest said Trump's suggestion to hack Secretary Clinton's computer might be an indication that he was obviously aware and concluded, based on whatever facts or sources he had available to him, that Russia was involved.

Earnest on Thursday said no one at the White House, in Congress or in the U.S. intelligence community considered it funny that Russia was trying to destabilize U.S. democracy.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter weighed in on the issue during a joint press conference with his British counterpart in London.

“President Obama has directed a review of this matter. I think that the integrity of an electoral system in a democracy should be of concern for all Americans. And since I am in Europe, here we call this kind of activity and this kind of threat in the NATO context, hybrid warfare,” Carter said Thursday.

The White House has not suggested Secretary Clinton would have won the election absent the Russian hacking. However, the vast array of U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Moscow hacked into computer accounts at the Democratic National Committee that helped oversee Clinton's unsuccessful campaign and the computer of Secretary Clinton's campaign chief, John Podesta, to help Trump win.

WikiLeaks, without citing its source, released thousands of Podesta's emails in the last month of the campaign, many of them revealing embarrassing in-fighting among Clinton aides, without any corresponding disclosures about the Trump campaign from accounts allegedly hacked at the Republican National Committee.

Tillerson's experience in Asia
seen as a concern and an asset

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

In Donald Trump's view, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson’s experience in striking global oil deals is such an asset that the president-elect nominated him as secretary of State.

In Asia, analysts said ExxonMobil's deep involvement in developing some fields could complicate his work as America's top diplomat.

For years, the U.S. energy giant has been drilling for oil off the coast of Vietnam near the South China Sea, where the offshore reserves are located in a disputed area claimed by both Vietnam and China.

Earlier this month a senior ExxonMobil executive received a warm welcome from Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung. Both highlighted the importance of close cooperation in the oil exploration projects in that country. ExxonMobil is also keen to continue developing the Ca Voi Xanh gas field.

China had warned foreign energy companies against exploring the disputed South China Sea.

“Tillerson will have to assure allies like South Korea and Japan while working to stop potential conflicts, primarily with China and North Korea,” Alex Ward, associate director of the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, said.

The competition for control of potential energy resources and key energy transit routes through the South China Sea is considered a critical factor heightening the stakes in the maritime disputes.

Although the United States is not a claimant to the sovereignty over disputed islands in the South China Sea, Washington said it is vital to its national interests that various claimants pursue their claims peacefully.

“America's commercial investment and other economic interests in Southeast Asia depend on America's security presence there,“ said Peter Dutton, director of the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College.

Dutton advocates for a robust U.S. freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea.

“Maintaining American economic relationships and political influence in the region will be a tall order” that needs the support of traditional allies," Dutton said.

About 20 percent of ExxonMobil’s global refining capacity is located in Asia Pacific, including facilities in Australia, China, Singapore and Thailand, according to the company’s 2015 Financial and Operating Review.

But Tillerson’s nomination, and his company’s Asian connection, drew mixed reaction from analysts and environmental activists.

“Trump has picked staffers on Asia policy that reflect a much tougher line when it comes to China. And Tillerson, whose company drilled in the South China Sea in partnership with Vietnam, which angered China, is clearly a reflection of this shift,” said Harry Kazianis from the Center for the National Interest, a U.S. foreign policy think tank.

Nguyen Truong, diplomat-turned-expert on Vietnam-U.S. relations, said Tillerson's selection was as surprising as the election itself.

The Vietnamese side welcomes anyone who has deep knowledge about the region, as there is concern that it might not draw much attention under the incoming administration but Tillerson, who is fully aware of Asia, China and the South China Sea is a good choice for the United States in approaching Asian issues, he said.

Le Hong Hiep, visiting fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, said Vietnam is closely monitoring Trump’s foreign policy.

“Like other countries, Vietnam is still trying to decode Trump’s approach to the world in general and their countries in particular," he said. "It takes time for policies to take shape, but, first and foremost, we need to know members of his cabinet, especially his secretary of State.”

Oceana, an advocacy organization for ocean conservation, voiced concerned on Tillerson’s nomination.

Jacqueline Savitz, Oceana’s vice president for the United States said, It’s impossible to imagine that Tillerson’s leadership could reverse the course of climate change impacts given he has dedicated a four decades-long career in the oil company that has used its enormous resources and influence to obfuscate climate science and stifle climate action.

Some experts said a policy review might be possible, especially after Trump told Fox News that the United States is not necessarily bound by the one China policy, and he broke decades of diplomatic protocol by speaking with Taiwan President Tsai Ingwen earlier in December.

"Every new administration there is some kind of policy review on all issues,” Richard Bush, a senior fellow at Brookings Institution, said.

The United States recognized Beijing as the sole legal government of China in 1979, acknowledging the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.

Bush was the chairman and managing director of the American Institute in Taiwan from 1997 to 2002. The institute is the mechanism by which the United States conducts substantive relations with Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic relations.

“I don’t anticipate a Taiwan Policy Review like 1993-1994, but I’ve been surprised so many times this year that I could be wrong,” Bush said.

Twitter trying to stay relevant
and launches live streaming

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Not to be left behind by Facebook Live, Twitter Wednesday unveiled a new live streaming service.

According to a post on the site’s blog, “You can create and Tweet live video from the Twitter app, powered by Periscope.”

To broadcast, Twitter says a user simply has to tap Live when composing a tweet. That will bring you to a pre-broadcast screen, where a user can make sure the shot is right. When ready, the user presses the Go Live button so people can start watching.

Those watching can interact with comments or stickers. “Live video brings moments and events to life in a way that no other medium can,” Twitter said.

Twitter has been struggling in recent months financially behind other social media giants such as Facebook and Snapchat to maintain relevance. Instagram, a social network service developed by the producers of Facebook, also now has their own live-streaming capability and the ability for users to create their own daily, stories that disappear after 24 hours.

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NOW with the New Power Company Regulations, we're installing photo voltaic systems for solar electricity.
PV systems: we use Enphase micro-inverters. More flexible. Add panels whenever you like. More reliable than any other system and fully guaranteed!

Solar device
NOW is the time to install our new super-efficient solar hot water! New model for condos
Solar collector
BUY NOW! Your solar hot water system, so in three months, we can calculate a lower install price for your PV system.  Perfect for homes and hotels. Save up to 40% of your electric bill.
More Watts per Panel, Smarter and more Capable Enphase Micro Inverters mean Less Cost and more Flexibility for You.

    We aren't Cheap...Neither are our Products. Call to Compare.
    More Flexible, Reliable-and Fully Guaranteed!

    Push this BIG RED BUTTON:  (O) and Learn ​details about your deal with ICE     
    SEE our new PACKAGE DEALS.
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Andre 506-8314-8090
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Costa Rica Sotheby's International Realty is a boutique residential property brokerage firm in San Jose Costa Rica dedicated to creating long-term value for its customers and assist you to reach your property goals in Costa Rica. Whether purchasing or selling, our guarantee is an amazing experience for you and your family. You can rely on bespoke advertising and discretion, independent guidance interchangeable with the brand of the Sotheby since 1744. To those who value the exceptional, Sotheby's International Realty® is identifying properties throughout Costa Rica and local Real Estate service providers that offer unrivaled access to qualified individuals. We encourage you to meet with our representatives and preview our on-line portfolio of outstanding properties in Costa Rica.
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Sámara titled land for sale by owner
5.7 acres. Only 150 meters to beach: $275,000
Less than $12 a meter

Fully titled, held by corporation. 150 meters to beach! Paved road frontage. Electric, phone and broadband internet at the road. Year-round water on property for well. 3 -minute drive to Sámara center and a 3-minute walk to Playa Sámara. 23,561 square meters / 5.7 acres. Property was purchased on 2005 with plans to develop 21 villas on the property. Project was halted due to real estate market collapse in 2007.  We are no longer interested in developing due to age, health and motivation!  Priced well below market value for quick sale.  More info click HERE! Email:    Phone: 506-4033-6695.

Owner Financing in San Ramon
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Brand new home with 4-plus bedrooms and 3 baths all overlooking an incredible 180-degree view of the Pacific Ocean
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Completion date is January.  See the Virtual Tour:    or click here If you would like to take a look at this amazing house, please give me a call at  Costa Rica # 506-8755-6743 or if from the States call 509-570-1928 or email

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Fantastic location for condo, hotel, restaurant. Large lower lot, incredible views. Flexible zoning. Easy to get liquor license. Low interest financing. Up to 40% financing / get residency through investor status / includes a corporation that is 27 years old and offshore banking account with  Banco National / possible 50/50 partnership. Super location in front of the Bosques de Escazú  Condos  / Monthly rentals available
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In Costa Rica 506- 8307-0164
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 5 -story penthouse for sale.  One of a kind penthouse on top of the Corobici Hotel in Sabana overlooking the Central Park and new Soccer Stadium in San José.  Excellent location provides you easy access to everywhere.  Other benefits include 24-hour security, 2 restaurants inside the hotel providing 1st class room service plus shared common areas in the hotel. Commercial license is in place. Seller will consider owner financing.  Asking $795K U.S.  Also available for monthly rent for $3,400 per month on an annual basis. Go to  Owners U.S. cell phone: 813 310-7402  Email

horse ranch
Spectacular Horse Ranch and Spiritual/Yoga
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We invite you to a horseback tour of 187 acres of pristine farm land with breathtaking vistas, including the islands of the Gulf of Nicoya. There are multiple springs and streams, wooded areas, hard-wood and fruit trees, rolling hills with a geat variety of birds and wildlife. This property boasts the privilege of being bordered by thousands of acres of forest preserve down a steep canyon, offering its own spectacular views, which will never be developed. The many hills provide a builder an endless array of possibilities for nestling buildings in where they will have both views and privacy. The elevation of the property at 1,200 to1600 feet above sea level ensures fresh breezes and ideal year-round temperatures with a day-time average in the low 80's for open-air living. There is a ranch-style house with guest house with 8 total bedrooms, 5 modern baths, huge eat-in kitchen, landmark palm-thatched giant rancho, stable, and storage buildings. The home will come partially furnished, including beds, ample dishware for large groups, housewares, linens, washer/dryer, and fine hard-wood hand-built cabinetry. The remaining horses, 4 to 6 of them, will also convey if one wishes. We are also including a LARGE BEACH LOT in nearby Playa Bejuco. San Rafael de Nandayure is a tiny rural village nestled into the mountainside above Carmona with all the charms of the simple good life of a BLUE ZONE. Carmona is a thriving town with a clinic, restaurfants, shopping, and everything else one may need.  More information
go to  Call Darin Ricco, phone +619-846-8249 or email:

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news page

San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 249
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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

Country called fourth worse for driving

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica was ranked as the fourth most dangerous country for drivers, according to a new study done by the online fleet management service Global Positioning Specialists.  The study investigated the overall quality of the roads, the number of deaths occurring on the road, and crime statistics in relation to a motor vehicle.

This was based on: The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report for 2015, the World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Road Safety and the U. N. Office on Drugs and Crime International Burglary, Car Theft and Housebreaking Statistics for 2014.

The data compiled from these reports were based on the national statistics of more than 60 countries provided by the governments, according to the analysts. Those with the highest death and crime rates on the road coupled with the lowest quality of roads scored the highest on the list.

Costa Rica obtained the distinction of placing in the top 20 in all three categories, according to the study. The county was 20th in vehicle crime rate with 88.8 vehicle thefts for every 100,000 people. In deaths, the country ranked 15th with 13.9 deaths per 100,000 people. In road quality, Costa Rica was a dismal third place for the worst roads out of all 60 countries examined with a 2.8 score out of 7.

Running in first place for the most dangerous country to drive in was Lebanon. Uruguay, with its first place in motor vehicle theft, ranked second in the report. Colombia was ranked second overall.

Theft suspects held in Puntarenas

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two gangs of thieves have been roving Jacó and other parts of Puntarenas province. Fuerza Pública officers arrested suspects Thursday.

Two men, 23 and 24 years old, and a woman, 45, are suspected of breaking into cars at various areas of Guanacaste and Puntarenas. Their main targets were vehicles of  tourists, according to officials.

Two individuals, both 33, were arrested as suspects of stealing from different shops. According to police, the men were caught with shaving cream, food supplement containers, soaps, clothes, and deodorant. The items were confiscated by police. Officials said the men were suspected of being involved in theft at supermarkets in Buenos Aires in Puntarenas.

Police hold party for underprivileged kids

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Fuerza Pública surprised more than 400 impoverished children  Thursday morning with a party full of gifts and holiday cheer.

The party, held at the Museo de Los Niños, was hosted by the officers from San José who filled the children’s bags with candies, grapes, and apples, as well as organized games to play. One of the officers dressed up as a clown, too, for the entertainment of the kids, officials said.

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From Page 7:

Bill would prohibit government image ads

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmaker Ottón Solís wants to prohibit government agencies from spending money to make themselves look good. He has proposed a law to that effect.

The bill is likely not to find any friends in the Spanish-language press, television and radio stations or advertising agencies. The government uses paid advertising to maintain relations with news outlets.

Solís said his bill would not apply to material issued by the government to provide information to the public. That would include public health messages, notices of road closings, announcements of bids sought and similar.

He said he was targeting image advertising by the government agencies and even the Presidencia with his bill, No. 20.193. He estimated that the government spends 54.6 billion colons or about $100 million on publications and various other advertising efforts. Some of that is justified. For example, included in these expenditures is the cost of publishing bills that have been passed into law for the benefit of the public.

In addition, the government gets lots of free space in newspapers and magazines. There are even laws that mandate that publishers and television operators give a certain amount of space to certain governmental messages.