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(506) 2223-1327                               Published Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, in Vol. 16, No. 249                              Email us
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Costa Rican eggnog can really pack a wallop
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There may not be a white Christmas, but rompope is the Costa Rican lubricant for wassailing.

This is an eggnog-like seasonal drink that can be blamed on 17th century nuns in México.  If there are no nuns around, Dos Pinos makes a pretty good commercial version.

Most Costa Ricans have a grandmother or aunt who makes her own rompope that frequently is much stronger than the 4-percent alcohol version produced by Dos Pinos.

But it is not the alcohol. The creamy liquid is primarily milk. The commercial version suggests a half a glass serving and says there are eight such servings in a liter carton.

Each serving is pretty rich, weighing in at 166 calories.

But there is something worse than putting on some pounds. A rompope hangover is something to be avoided even though there 

rompope
A serving of rompope from a Dos Pinos YouTube commerical

is a theory that milk reduces alcohol absorption.  As the name suggests, the active ingredient is rum. And some jovial hosts like to jack up their rompope punch, perhaps bringing it up to 12 percent or more.

The extra kick is hard to notice when the drink is served over ice. Expats in chilly Zurquí might consider warming up the punch.



An A.M. Costa Rica analysis
Calero decision was far from a complete victory

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Most Costa Ricans were thrilled that the International Court of Justice reaffirmed the country's sovereignty over the Isla Calero.

The authoritative Spanish-language daily newspaper La Nación headlined Victory even as the full decision was being read in The Hague, Netherlands. A similar headline showed up on an editorial later in the day Wednesday.

Wednesday morning's
story on decision
HERE!


However, a close reading of the 229-section decision shows that Costa Rica only won what was obvious. Nicaragua did invade Costa Rican territory in 2010, and the nation's leadership did so with full knowledge that the land involved was Costa Rica.

Dredger-in-chief Edén Pastora, the former Contra leader, even was caught on the radio affirming that the land was Costa Rica. As a Costa Rican lawyer said in a letter to the editor in 2011:

"The treaties of 1858, the Cleveland treaty, the Alexander treaty, maps published by both countries clearly define the borders of both countries. It also has been of public knowledge that the island of Calero belongs to Costa Rica. There is no space for interpretation or opinion about what belongs to Costa Rica and where the limits are located."

What the 15 World Court justices failed to do was assess any punishment on Nicaragua for the military invasion. The court did order reparations for unspecified material damages, but that means the value of trees cut and the expenses in filling in the canals the Nicaraguan workers dug.

What was not assessed were any other kind of costs including the very expensive legal efforts by Costa Rica, and perhaps the cost of mustering hundreds of heavily armed police officers to the border and keeping them there.

The court said that the two countries should spend a year negotiating the damages. Only then and with a new proceeding will the court step in.

The court said that Nicaragua was likely to act in good faith in the future. Yet from the decision it is clear that Nicaragua's lawyers told some tall tales during the four-year litigation process.

For example, Nicaragua's lawyers argued that the canal that workers dug across Costa Rican land was really a former mouth of the Río San Juan. The court rejected that claim because there were large trees in the path of the canal and no indication of previous sediment.

The purpose of the canal was to change the mouth of the river to cut off Costa Rican land and make it Nicaraguan. The south bank of the river is the national border. This was a bold land grab.

The court did find that Costa Ricans have rights of navigation on the Río San Juan, but it also did not void a 2009 Nicaraguan decree that is being used to assess fees on tourists.

Costa Rican officials seem prepared to celebrate the decision and seek renewed relations with Daniel Ortega's government. And maybe this was the point of the court's seemingly wishy-washy decision.

Even La Nación said in its editorial Wednesday that on the border Costa Ricans and Nicaraguans live, trade and establish familial ties together. There is ample space for fruitful cooperation between the two nations, it added.

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A.M. Costa Rica's 
Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 249
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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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 Accountants

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Legal services

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8596-8/27/15
World Court affirms Costa Rica's claim

Editors published this news story late Wednesday morning.

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The International Court of Justice reaffirmed Costa Rica's sovereignty to land south of the mouth of the Río San Juan in a decision announced Wednesday.

The court declined to assess actual damages against Nicaragua, which invaded the land. Instead, it ordered the two countries to negotiate the
amount of the damages over the next 12 months. If no decision is reached,  the court will consider a new proceeding, said Ronny Abraham, the French justice who is court president, who read the decision in English and French.

The decision also declined to issue an order prohibiting Nicaragua from repeating its invasion.

There is no reason to suppose that any state declared wrongful will repeat its action, and its good faith must be assumed, the court

Justice
Ronny Abraham reads decision
president said, quoting the decision.

Costa Rica also did not prevail on a number of environmental claims. The court said that despite general requirements in certain treaties, Nicaragua was not under any obligation to consult with Costa Rica before starting dredging operations in the river in 2010.

The court easily dismissed Nicaragua's claim that its efforts to dredge a channel across land that is part of Costa Rica was just an attempt to reopen an old mouth of the river.  Nicaragua's legal team had argued this. The decision noted that there were large trees in the area that was dredged and a lack of sediment that argued against the prior existence of any channel.

The court also declined to find that the dredging operation had affected the flow of the Río Colorado, which is entirely in Costa Rica. The river, a southern branch of the Río San Juan, is an important waterway in northeastern Costa Rica, and those who use it feared that dredging further west in the river would divert water.

The court decision said that the activities of Nicaragua could not be clearly linked to a reduction of the water, which could have been caused by the lack of rain.

The court based much of its decision on an 1858 treaty and other decisions outlining the border between the two countries.

The court did not seem to be concerned by a breach of its own March 8, 2011, order. Nicaragua excavated two new channels and set up some military facilities after that date on the disputed property, the decision noted.

Costa Rica asked the court to nullify a 2009 decree by Nicaragua that resulted in the inspection of tourism boats on the river.

The court accepted reports of two cases when navigation on the river by Costa Ricans was interrupted. In February 2013 a farmer and an uncle were detained and subjected to humiliating treatment, and in June 2014 a property owner and members of a local agricultural cooperative were stopped from navigating the river, the court affirmed. These incidents were two of five that were not contested by Nicaragua.

Still the court declined to invalidate the decree although the decision agreed that the two incidents show that Nicaragua breached Costa Rica's rights of free navigation.

The case began when Nicaragua invaded the Isla Calero area in 2010 and claimed a small piece of Costa Rica. Because the treaties define the border as the south bank of the Río San Juan, a new channel would have transferred part of Costa Rica to Nicaragua. The channel that since has been filled in would have created a broader and deeper mouth of the river to replace the meandering current mouth that is heavily silted.

This would open up the river to large boats and commercial development.

The slight change in border also would give Nicaragua substantial amounts of potentially oil-rich seabed in the Caribbean.


Vacation exodus starts today in metro area

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Any Central Valley employees with a little vacation time are getting a jump on the Christmas holiday today.

Public employees are supposed to begin vacation at the end of the Friday workday. But many find ways to get Friday off, too.

Many private firms maintain the same schedule as the central government and provide workers with a holiday through Jan. 3. That gives the employees at least a 16-day vacation because both Christmas and New Years are on Fridays.

This is the beginning of the tourism high season. Typically beach and mountain hotels do at least 50 percent of their annual income in December and January.


Cuba-U.S. air travel pact promised

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. and Cuban officials say they are nearing agreement on restoring regular commercial flights between the former Cold War foes after more than 50 years.

Delegations from both nations have been meeting in Washington since Monday to finalize the details of a deal they have been working on for several months.

Josefina Vidal, the director of North American affairs at the Cuban foreign ministry, told reporters Wednesday in Havana the two sides have made progress on a memorandum of understanding, and are close to making a formal announcement.

A spokesman for the U.S. State Department confirmed that progress had been made, but said the teams were still negotiating.

Several major U.S. airlines have expressed interest in establishing regular flights to Cuba, including American Airlines, Delta, United and JetBlue.

News of the pending agreement comes a year after U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced the nations were restoring formal diplomatic relations that were severed shortly after communist leader Fidel Castro overthrew the island's longtime dictator in 1959.  Obama eased travel restrictions to the Caribbean island in September, but general tourism is banned by the U.S. trade embargo, which can only be lifted by Congress.

In an interview with Yahoo! News last week, President Obama said he would like to visit Cuba next year, the last of his presidency, but only if he can meet with political dissidents.  The president said he hopes enough progress can be made in order for a visit to happen, and possibly to "nudge the Cuban government in a new direction."

Vidal said the U.S. president is welcome to visit Cuba, but said it would not negotiate its internal affairs in exchange for better diplomatic relations with Washington.

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A.M. Costa Rica

Third News Page


Don't miss our restaurant specials HERE!
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 249
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Residents in Grecia community block work to protect their water source
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Residents of  Tacares de Grecia blocked work on a water line Wednesday, and the work will continue today under police protection.

The Instituto de Acueductos y Alcantarillados said its contractor was blocked when the residents pulled a trailer over the section where work was to be done and shouted at those doing the job.

There has been a months-long dispute involving residents of this Grecia community because the water company is tapping a water source there for some 21,000 residents of nearby Atenas.

The work Wednesday was to make the connection between existing pipes and the 23 kilometers of new pipe.

Tacares residents have been expressing their unhappiness since the middle of the year over the job.

The work Wednesday was at Calle Flores in Grecia, the state water company said, noting that access to water is a human right. The dispute is similar to others elsewhere in the country.

Residents and agitators in Sardinal burned pipes there in a similar protest against water destined for Playa del Coco developments.


Finance ministry claims success in use of new electronic system
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The finance ministry said that 390,000 taxpayers filed electronic annual returns via the new Administración Tributaria Virtual system.

What the ministry did not say is that plenty of taxpayers had to stand in long lines to get appointments to fix errors that had been introduced into the new system.

The Ministerio de Hacienda mandated the use of the new system Oct. 4. It was used that month to receive sales tax returns and other electronic documents.

Tuesday was the deadline for filing annual tax returns without penalty. But when a lot of taxpayers tried to do so last week they found that the computer rejected them for one reason or another.

Consequently they had to stand in line at various offices of

the Hacienda's Dirección General de Tributación. At some places the lines were blocks long.

There was an incentive to do so. Failing to file a return draws a penalty of 201,700 colons, about $384.

Just like the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, the local tax collectors are not known for their sense of humor.

The ministry said that 21 percent more returns were received in the last four months than in the same period a year ago.

Tuesday also was the deadline for reports of November sales tax, and there were 78,211 of these, said the ministry.

Those who use the new system report that it is better than the previous version which was updated periodically.  That version resided on the computer of a user and required a long download to use. The new system is Web-based.


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Guanacaste Lodge

Palermo Hotel

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You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 249
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Repeated stress considered a trigger for developing Alzheimer's
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

For many people, the holidays are a time of stress, whether it’s caused by the anxiety of making a big meal for friends and family or spending time with grumpy relatives.  Most of the time, the stress has no long-lasting effect. But if it becomes frequent and common over time, researchers say it could increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Everyone experiences stress from time to time.  It could be prompted by the death of a spouse or loss of a job. Psychiatrist Richard Lipton says it could also be something much less traumatic, like getting a traffic ticket.

“One person gets a speeding ticket and they think, 'This is horrible.  My insurance premiums are going to go up and I’m going to get a $100 dollar fine," said Lipton. "This is a disaster for me.'  And another person thinks, 'Hmmm.  I shouldn’t have been speeding.  I’m going to be more careful in the future.'"

While a great loss can be devastating and the effects long-lasting, it’s the person who perceives common situations as stressful, like the first driver Lipton described, who could be putting his or her psychological health at risk.

Lipton, who is with the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, explains that stressing out over the small hassles of everyday life can lead to mild cognitive impairment, which is a risk factor for a far more serious disorder.

“People who have mild amnestic cognitive impairment go on to develop diagnosable Alzheimer’s dementia at the rate of about 10 to 15 percent per year.  So, amnestic cognitive
impairment is essentially most often an early form of Alzheimer’s disease before dementia develops," he said.

In a study reported in the journal Alzheimer’s Disease and Associated Disorders, Lipton and colleagues administered a stress assessment test to just over 500 individuals ages 70 and older.  The test rated their level of perceived stress.

None of the participants had signs of mild cognitive impairment or dementia at the start of the study, called the Einstein Aging Study. 

They were followed for an average of 3.5 years with a battery of neuropsychological tests and given physical exams.

During the study, 71 participants were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.  Those with the highest stress levels were two-and-a-half times more likely to develop the pre-Alzheimer’s condition.  Most were women with less education and higher levels of depression.

Lipton says chronic stress has a number of negative effects on the body.

“When stressful events happen and people perceive them to be stressful, there’s a whole series of physiologic changes that take place. Blood pressure goes up, pulse goes up, the stress hormone cortisol is secreted and, over time, chronic stress can produce wear and tear on the body and wear and tear on the brain and lead to long-term health consequences," he said.

Lipton says that lowering levels of perceived stress by engaging in activities such as yoga and meditation, for example, could help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Vacation, travel and hospitality


HIdden Garden 2016
Largest art gallery in Guanacaste
Drop in to see some of Costa Rica's finest art
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The Hidden Garden Art Gallery near the Liberia airport is a great place to find quality remembrances of Costa Rica to take home or to decorate your home or office in Costa Rica.  We also offer commissioned pieces so you can create your own unique masterpiece to cherish forever.  With more than 60 artists on exhibit and fine art in 15 rooms full of paintings, prints, sculptures, and diverse artistic expressions, we are easy to locate just 5 kms west of the Daniel Oduber International Airport. Visit our Web site at
or contact us by email:
HiddenGarden@TheVanStoneGroup.com.   
Gallery hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tel. 2667-0592 / 8386-6872; U.S. telephone 702-953-7073. International shipping available.
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http://www.vimeo.com/5656822

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

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

   * Discover how to make the right choices about moving here
   * Find out how to live affordably
   * See how other expats live. Meet other expats who have made
          the move.
   * Access the country's affordable health care system
   * Informative two-day seminar given by local experts in their
          relevant fields.
   * Tours led by Christopher Howard, 34-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 www.liveincostarica.com
8479-9/11/14

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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Real estate-related services (paid category)
COSTA RICA SOLAR
Solr array
SOON with the coming of new power company regulations, we'll be installing PV (photo voltaic) for solar electricity. Yes, at last!
* 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.
Solar logo
CALL US TODAY!

Office phone: 506-2446-0543
Cell phone: 506-8898-9398
or 506-8314-8090
OUR EMAIL: Paul.Furlong@CR-Solar.com

VISIT OUR WEB:
www.CR-Solar.com

Real estate rental services (paid category)

Spectacular rentals are available for low weekly prices on SellMyTimeshareNow.com at resorts such as Bahia Turquesa Residences and Villas Sol Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste. We have 
Timeshare
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: info@sellmytimesharenow.com
8766-7/30/16

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
tropical homes
of Costa Rica.We are offering homes for every budget and every need. Please visit our Web page at www.tropicalhomesofcostarica.com or contact us at rentals@tropicalhomesofcostarica.com or call at (506) 2654-5442
8784-2/19/16


Real estate for rent (paid category)
rental home

2-bedroom, 1-bath furnished house inside gated farm.

Close to town. $650  includes electric, Internet, WiFi, cable TV, water. Santa Barbara de Heredia
American owner lives on site. Quiet. Secure.
organicfarmhouserental@gmail.com
8857-12/23/15

Fully Furnished American style Apartments for Rent
2-bedroom, 2- bathroom, fully furnished American-style apartments with elevator in a secure building in Barrio Amó. Cable, Internet, water included. Shared laundry. Convenient to Parque Morazán,
hotels, restaurants, casinos, city government, national registry. $600-$650 per month plus electricity. ½ month security deposit. No lease.  The larger apartments are $650 per month. They have larger bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens. It would be best for the prospective tenants to visit
Barrio Amon
the building to see the apartments.   For more information contact: edificiomorazan@gmail.com  or call Hilda at 2221-7161.
8826-1/16/16




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A.M. Costa Rica's  
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 249
Sports
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Real Estate
Lifestyle
Food
About us

Mistrial is declared in case
of Maryland police officer

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A Baltimore, Maryland, judge has declared a mistrial in the case of police officer William Porter, charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray, a young African-American man whose spine was severed in the back of a police van in April.

After three days of deliberations, the jury informed Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams that it could not reach a verdict.  Williams thanked the jurors and dismissed them.

Porter had been charged with involuntary manslaughter, second degree assault, reckless endangerment, and misconduct.  The jury was deadlocked on all the charges.  Jury decisions have to be unanimous.

It is up to the state's attorney to decide what happens next.  Porter could be retried or given immunity from further prosecution if he testifies in the upcoming trials of the five other officers charged in Gray's death.

A small group of demonstrators stood across from City Hall after the judge reached his decision.  The black neighborhood where Gray lived was also peaceful.

Remembering the riots on the day of Gray's funeral in April, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said police are prepared to protect the city's residents, neighborhoods and businesses.

She said Baltimore cannot be defined by violence and called on everyone to respect what she called the American system of justice, where not every case is neatly wrapped up.

Prosecutors allege Porter, who is also black, and the other officers, two of whom are black, failed to help Gray, who suffered a severe spinal cord injury.  They called the van a casket on wheels.

Gray was handcuffed and shackled by his feet, but not buckled in the seat after being arrested.  This allegedly caused his body to slam against the side of the van, severing his spinal cord and leaving him in a coma.

Prosecutors say Porter ignored Gray's pleas for medical help and abused his power as a police officer.

The defense calls Gray's death a horrible tragedy, but argued there was no evidence to convict Porter and that there is too much of a reasonable doubt.  They also say it was possible Gray deliberately injured himself.

Violence broke out after Gray's funeral, including arson, looting and rocks and bottles thrown at police.  Baltimore's black leaders say the riots were not just about Gray but about a city government that has long ignored the needs of poor African-American neighborhoods.

Gray, who had been in trouble with the law in the past, was arrested in April for reasons that are still not entirely clear.


Obama signs bill to keep
U.S. government in business

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Barack Obama Wednesday signed emergency funding legislation that will keep the U.S. government fully operational while Congress votes on a final budget deal.

The bill will keep the government open through Tuesday, avoiding a partial shutdown this week.

The House and Senate are expected to vote today on a $1.1 trillion spending plan for fiscal 2016.

The budget would extend many popular tax cuts for businesses and individuals. A Republican proposal to end the 40-year-old ban on U.S. crude oil exports is part of the budget deal, while Democrats got the five-year extension of tax breaks for producers of wind and solar energy that they wanted.

The bill also would impose a two-year freeze on a pair of taxes aimed at funding the president's signature health care law: a current tax on medical devices and a tax on high-value health insurance plans that was to take effect in 2018.


Changes in visa waivers
included in spending bill


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. senators welcomed an overhaul of America’s visa waiver program contained in a massive federal spending bill expected to pass both legislative houses in the coming days.
 
Once approved, the measures would constitute the full Congress’ first concrete steps to boost domestic security following the terrorist attacks in Paris and California.
 
Under the overhaul, most nationals from more than three dozen countries would retain the ability to travel to the United States without a visa. They would be excluded from the program, however, if they have traveled to Syria, Iraq, Iran or Sudan in the last five years.
 
The legislation also aims to strengthen information-sharing among governments, and empowers the Department of Homeland Security to terminate a country’s participation in the visa waiver program if its data sharing is deemed inadequate.
 
“Those are pretty reasonable changes under the circumstances,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican. “We want to make sure that we protect the American people in every way we possibly can.”
 
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the changes last week.  Attaching them to a massive yearlong spending bill will help speed them to President Barack Obama’s desk to be signed into law.
 
After weeks of negotiations, congressional leaders late Tuesday finalized the omnibus bill that funds federal government operations through Sept. 30, 2016.  As such, most senators had yet to read specific provisions for themselves, including visa waiver reforms.
 
“I haven’t seen the details, but I know that there are alterations necessary to be sure that we are fully protective of the country,” said Sen. Angus King, an independent.
 
Sen. John McCain, a Republican, said that tightening visa requirements is fine as a first step.
 
“I’m happy with those changes, but we still have a lot of work to do to figure out how we can make sure that there is no terrorist that comes into this country,” McCain said. “We find loopholes all the time.”
 
“We just had an attack on the United States of America.  Clearly it requires that all aspects of immigration into this country be examined,” he added.

  
Homeland Security unveils
new terror warning category


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. has updated its terror system, adding a terror alert bulletin, intended to inform the public of developing terrorist threats.

Unveiling the new intermediate warning category Wednesday in Washington, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson emphasized that there is no credible, specific information about a threat to the United States at the present time.

However, he issued the department’s first bulletin which warns of a new phase in the global threat environment with implications for the homeland.

The bulletin reiterates what Johnson and other federal officials have said in the days following the terrorist attacks in Paris and in San Bernardino.

“Particularly with the rise in use by terrorist groups of the Internet to inspire and recruit, we are concerned about the self-radicalized actor who could strike with little or no notice,” the bulletin continues.

It delineates U.S. government counter terrorism measures and suggests ways the public can help by noticing and reporting suspicious behavior.

Bulletins remain in effect for six months, so this one will expire in mid-June.

A terror alert system was first established in the U.S. after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It was a color-coded system with five levels from low (green) to severe (red).

“One of the issues with the color bars was that there was very little public commentary to go with them,” said Johnson, “and there’s a certain de-escalation factor here. Once you elevate, it’s difficult to de-escalate.”

In 2011, the color-coded system was replaced with the two-level National Terrorism Advisory System to which the bulletin category has been added. The new system included an elevated alert, warning of a credible terrorism threat against the U.S. and an imminent alert that warns of a credible, specific and impending terrorism threat.

The National Terrorism Advisory System has never been activated, although Johnson said his department had considered issuing an alert earlier this year but decided there was not enough specific information to do so.


Obama to meet families
of those slain in California


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Barack Obama will hold private meetings Friday with families who lost loved ones in the Dec. 2 California massacre that killed 14 and wounded 22 others.

The White House said Wednesday that Obama would stop in San Bernardino on his way to spend Christmas in Hawaii. Spokesman Josh Earnest referred to the president as the consoler-in-chief who several times has had to meet with victims' families and survivors of mass shootings.

Also Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey said U.S.-born Syed Rizwan Farook and his Pakistani wife, Tashfeen Malik, the couple who carried out the massacre, made a commitment two years ago to launch an attack even before they met in person.

Comey said authorities had determined that in late 2013, Farook and Malik had direct private Internet conversations sharing their joint commitment to jihad and martyrdom.

However, he said, "We still see no contact with foreign terrorist organizations" ahead of their attack on a local government center in San Bernardino, California.

"We still do not see that they were part of an organized cell of some sort or other parts. Still want to know where they were for four hours and what else were they planning to do and was there anybody who helped them or assisted them in some way,” Comey said, referring to the time after the attack.

Police killed the couple, who were apparent followers of the Islamic State group, in a barrage of gunfire.

The FBI director said that while the couple sent private messages to each other, there is no evidence of postings on social media. After three background investigations, Ms. Malik was cleared for entry into the United States on what is known as a fiancee visa, a document that required the couple to get married within 90 days of arriving in the country, which they did last year.


Study puts migrant workers
at 150 million around world


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A new study by the International Labor Organization finds migrant workers account for more than 150 million of the estimated 232 million people who migrate every year to countries around the world. 

Migration and migrants are headline news these days, and not all the reports are flattering.  The International Labor Organization says government policy debates regarding migration often are divisive and based on inaccurate information.

Authors of the report say they hope to set the record straight by presenting reliable evidence on the true nature of migration.  A just issued labor organization report is based on data from 176 countries and territories representing nearly 100 percent of the working age population, which includes those 15 years and older.

The report finds a majority of migrant workers are men, but women account for 44 percent, a significant proportion of the working force.  It says labor migration occurs in all regions of the world, but most people head for high-income countries in Northern America, and northern, southern and western Europe in search of work.  It adds more than one-third of all migrant workers are in the Arab states.

The report focuses on migrants who are currently employed or unemployed and seeking work.  It recognizes the problem of so-called irregular migration, but has no numbers as such migrants live largely in the shadows of society and don’t appear in national statistics.

The labor organization says the vast majority of migrant workers are in the service sectors, followed by industry, including manufacturing and construction.  It finds 7.7 percent of all migrant workers are domestic workers, with 80 percent of them women.

The report is putting a special focus on migrant domestic workers because it is one of the least regulated sectors of the economy. 

Manuela Tomei of the labor organization said domestic workers provide services in private households where they are exposed to labor exploitation and serious abuses.

“In many countries, domestic work is not regarded as work and, therefore, irrespective of who is performing domestic work, nationals or migrants, that person does not benefit from the protection of labor laws, social security regimes and all the machinery that ensures compliance with the law," said Ms. Tomei.

The International Labor Organization says migrants need work, but many destination economies also need migrant workers, and this need will increase in the coming years. 

  
New York man gets 8 years
for effort to radiate Muslims


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. officials say an American man has been sentenced to more than eight years in prison for providing material support to terrorists.

The U.S. Justice Department announced the sentencing Wednesday of Eric Feight, who pleaded guilty last year to helping another man, Glendon Scott Crawford, modify an industrial-grade radiation device intended to kill Muslims around the city of Albany, New York.

According to authorities, Feight admitted to assisting Crawford by designing and building a remote initiation unit to allow the radiation device to be activated from a distance.

Both men were arrested following an extensive federal investigation.

“Eric Feight aided Glendon Scott Crawford in altering a dispersal device to target unsuspecting Muslim Americans with lethal doses of radiation,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin. “Feight and Crawford’s abominable plot to harm innocent Americans was thwarted thanks to the tireless efforts of law enforcement."
 
Crawford, a self-proclaimed member of the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan, sought financial support for his plot from the Klan, said the Justice Department.  He and Feight later met with people they believed to be KKK financiers to advance their scheme to kill innocent Americans, according to justice officials. Those people were FBI agents posing as businessmen connected to the KKK who were willing to support the scheme. Crawford was convicted in August for his role in the case.

  
U.S. executions take dip
to lowest level since 1991

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The number of executions in the United States has dropped to its lowest level since 1991, according to a study by the Death Penalty Information Center.

As of Dec. 15, 28 death row inmates were executed in the U.S., said the non-profit center, which says it tracks data about capital punishment but does not take a position on the issue.  In a news release, the center noted that “the use of the death penalty in the U.S. declined by virtually every measure" this year.

“The use of the death penalty is becoming increasingly rare and increasingly isolated in the United States.  These are not just annual blips in statistics, but reflect a broad change in attitudes about capital punishment across the country,” said Robert Dunham, the center’s executive director.

The organization said that to date, 14 states and the federal government have imposed 49 new death sentences, marking a 33 percent drop from last year and “the lowest number since the early 1970s when the death penalty was halted by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

This year, only six states went through with executions, the lowest number in 27 years, the report said.  Most of those were clustered in Texas, with 13 executions, Missouri, with six and Georgia with five.

One county, Riverside, California, imposed 16 percent of all death sentences in 2015, the report said.  That was in line with a trend that saw nearly two of three death sentences from “the same 2 percent of U.S. counties that are responsible for more than half of all death sentenced inmates nationwide.”

In total, executions in 2015 have declined 20 percent from last year’s total of 35.

The report also noted that six death row inmates were exonerated this year, bringing to 156 the number who have been exonerated since 1973.

DPIC also noted that two-thirds of the 28 people executed in the U.S. “exhibited symptoms of severe mental illness, intellectual disability, the debilitating effects of extreme trauma and abuse, or some combination of the three.”

   
Real estate-related services (paid category)

COSTA RICA SOLAR
Solr array
SOON with the coming of new power company regulations, we'll be installing PV (photo voltaic) for solar electricity. Yes, at last!
* 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.
Solar logo
CALL US TODAY!

Office phone: 506-2446-0543
Cell phone: 506-8898-9398
or 506-8314-8090
OUR EMAIL: Paul.Furlong@CR-Solar.com

VISIT OUR WEB: www.CR-Solar.com

Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)


Rich Coast Rollover
Thinking of Buying a Vacation or Retirement Home
in Costa Rica?

Rich Coast Realty is a full-service real estate company with property listings in Escazú, Santa Ana, Jacó, Esterillos, Bejuco, Palo Seco, Manuel Antonio, and beyond. We offer efficient, personalized service always protecting our client’s interests. We work hard to find you the property of your dreams, and assist with legal advice, residency, starting corporations, opening bank accounts, etc. Contact us today with your questions about buying property in, and relocating to Costa Rica. With 11 years experience in Costa Rica real estate, we look forward to hearing from you.
USA Toll Free 1 866 833-4005
CR Cell 011 506 8718-9891
Brendan@RichCoastRealty.com
www.RichCoastRealty.com
8790-2/28/15

Penthouse condominium in Playa Langosta, Tamarindo
Photo montage of penthouse
Are you tired of wasting time searching for your home…..with no results?
If so, you should not miss this deal !!!


Special Offer

Penthouse condominium in Playa Langosta, Tamarindo

* Located on 6th floor.
* Elevator.
* Security 24/7.
* Pool, BBQ area.
* 2 underground
        parking,  cellar.

* 3 bedrooms.
* 2 bathrooms.
* 2 terraces.
* Luxuriously
           furnished.
* Negotiable price.

* Enjoy the view,  CLICK HERE
Mafi Real Estate: Houses, lots and farms in Costa Rica
If you do not find, what are you looking for, contact us
WE HAVE A NETWORK OF OVER 500 brokers across the country to get what you are looking for.
English Calls: Miguel Fiatt Sauma or Paule Ortiz
Phone/Fax.+506 2238-5029
Cel. +506 8399-7000
Email: mfiatt@mafirealestate.com 
Web Page: www.mafirealestate.com
8609-2/20/16

Remax logo
Re/Max Ocean Surf and Sun:

The experts in buying property in Costa Rica, with more than 20 years experience and the largest networked team of agents in the country.  We can help you learn if investing in Costa Rica is right for you with our low-key, educational approach to sales. Our professional agents can tell you more about sCosta Rica properties, including condos, homes, lots and commercial real estate.  Call us: Ocean Surf and Sun Int. Realty Ldta at 011 (506) 2653-0073 or send us an email at: info@remax-oceansurf-cr.com
8583-1/27/16

Real estate for sale (paid category)


Playa Grande home
Big House for Sale in Playa Grande, Santa Cruz, Guanacaste
834.62 square meters property with 326 square meters
construction.Two-storey house with front porch, entry lobby, living room, dinning room, large kitchen, breakfast room, large cupboard, 3 ½ bathrooms, 3 large bedrooms. The main bedroom includes jacuzzi and balcony. Playground, office, laundry area, garage for two cars, own and municipal potable water supply, electricity service, cable TV system, A/C. Located 700 meters from Las Colinas Golf Course, near the airport, Tamarindo Beach and the best beaches of the country. Excellent construction and great details. That wonderful large house price is $349,000.  But also you can get a  2,866.33-square meter building lot with three terraces  for $75,000 For more information, please contact us: Email stanleystephendorn@yahoo.com. Phone (506) 2653-6417 Cell (506) 8825-8942 / (506) 8916-0734
8884-3/1/16

Lantz
A beautiful American style suburban home just reduced.

A beautiful American style suburban home, 2,700 sq ft of living space with 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, front and rear living rooms, laundry area, kitchen and small attached library nook, arched windows and doors and connected hallways, exotic wood interior ceilings and trim, tile floors thru-out.  The lot is 835 m2 with mature landscape and orchid nurseries surrounding the house. There is an enclosed workshop and BBQ area in the back yard with lots of storage under roof, plus a nursery for an herb/vegetable garden.  This is a very well-kept property with many upgrades, a private feel but yet only 5 minutes from the center of town.  Pérez Zeledón is the commercial hub of the southern zone and considered to be one of the best places to live in all of Costa Rica, the perfect size town, not too big and not too small.  The beach is 45 minutes to the west and a short drive to the cool mountains is to the east. In between, this large valley has a moderate climate.  Pérez has plenty of modern goods and services, an excellent farmers market, private schools, private doctors and clinics, all you need without having to go to the crazy madness of San José.    Just reduced to $199,000.  Call  Jeff: 8824-8113 or 8725-8176.  Email:  angelsdad@me.com
8883-2/26/16

Safe house
The Safest Place in The World
Residencial La Jolla, Asuncion de Belén
Casa 7 of 19 luxury homes in exclusive gated community.
3 bedroom, 3.5 baths, home office with private entrance.
332 m2 construction. 2-car garage. Central A/C
Lease $2,750 USD per month. Purchase $449,000.
Contact: rafa@rafacr.com. Phone 8309-2000.
8876-1/4/16

ocean-view home
GREAT DEAL $250,000. NICE OCEAN VIEW
Property size: 3,405.14 sq. mts. or 37,000 sq. ft.   Gorgeous house built 5 years ago to U.S. standards on 37,000 sq. ft. titled property. This home (240 sq. mtrs or 2,600 sq. ft) has 360-degree ocean and mountain views and electric gated private road access. The large open style home has soaring teak ceillings, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, custom cabinetry and ceramic tiles throughout and a double-car electric garage door. Their is also a beautiful, large swimming pool surrounded by exotic garden, laundry room and bodega. This is a very special and rare property because of the incredible view and excellent location. This one of a kind home and property is truly a must to see. all custom built furnitures included. Photo gallery:  CLICK HERE!  Please contact Jack, Cell phone number  (506) 8812-1789.  Contact email: quadtours@yahoo.ca
8859-112/26/15

windows

Caribbean paradise: CAHUITA

New home, beautiful well-built house 200 meters from a lovely beach. Very private, fully titled, excellent water well.  2 large bedrooms, 2 full baths, tub, large open floor plan 26-foot sliding glass doors open to covered porch. Encircling back yard are coral rocks 10 feet tall and behind jungle reserve. Lots of birds and wildlife. House 240 mts. sq, 2,400 sq ft. Lot 1,850 mts. or 19,000 sq. ft. Price $179,000. Very nice neighborhood. Contact 2755-0014 or scottlandtodd@live.com.   More photos HERE!
8858-1/16/16

New Arenal

There are many good reasons for moving to or investing in Costa Rica

Are you worried about the safety of the money in your 401k?  Do you think your government has painted a bullseye on all of your assets?  Do you believe it might be time to consider moving some money overseas just in case?  This property, at a distress sales price of only $140,000, should gross a 7-10% return this year and the bookings for this season aren’t all in yet.  The best part from a buyer’s standpoint is that it is utilizing only a fraction of its potential.  What’s wrong here?  Divorce, and a lack of funds needed to make the necessary value-added improvements.  Rental manager says rents could double with moderate invesement, but the current owners are unable to resolve those problems, so selling is their only way out.  This extra-large lot with its modern 2-bedroom home was intended to service a dozen or more apartments to be built on the rear, a really great plan, but that was before the wheels came off of the marriage.  It is a really good investment property in a very desirable location, earning a much better safe return than stocks and bonds, but it is also perfect for buyers who only want to follow the original plan and live in the existing home while building out the rest for a comfortable retirement.  Perfect, too, for the person who intends to move to Costa Rica in the future and wants to buy at today’s prices, but needs a property which will carry itself until that time comes.  To find out more about this opportunity contact:
lafortunaguy@gmail.com or phone 506-8377-8402.
8851-12/17/15

Grecia casa
Mountain home for sale
in Grecia.
Less than a year old. Owners are motivated.  All information regarding the home as well as many photos can be found at Mountain view home for sale Grecia, Costa Rica.   Contact email:   djake888@yahoo.com
8846-4/10/16

puriscal photo
Costa Rica home for sale $163,500 / 2bedroom - 1,984 ft2

Central Valley view home: 10 minutes from Santiago de Puriscal and shopping, hospital services, and soon Maxi Pali. Only one hour to San José or Pacific beaches.
- On .55-acre lot with river on one boundary
- Area under roof, 1,984 sq. ft., Area inside walls, 925 sq. ft. Steel, recycled
      Styrofoam, and concrete construction.
- 2 ½ years old with central living room and kitchen, 2 bedrooms and 2 baths,
       ceramic tile throughout.
- Central Valley volcano and SJO airport views from every room.
- Vaulted ceilings give bright open feeling.
- Entrance from concrete road to large graveled parking area
- VERY energy efficient with VERY low property taxes.
- Covered attached carport with entrance to front door or laundry-guest bath
       door.
- 2 carport storage bodegas.
- 12 foot x 14 foot storage bodega
- Security lights, And Amcrest day & night video recorder system.
- Producing banana trees, and mango, bread fruit, and guanabana trees
     planted.

Includes: Refrigerator, gas stove & oven with electric grill element, microwave, electric washer-gas dryer stacked style, gas on demand whole house water heater. Other furnishings are negotiable. ICE electric service and land line phone. Bajo Burgos Water district. Metro-wireless WiFi is available. Tigo Star Satellite T.V. House is in a Costa Rican corporation, will transfer shares. Contract indyj5vw@yahoo.com or call 506 2416-9324.  Additional photos are available on Flickr album
8844-5/11/16


Goetl in Palo Seco

Charming small oceanfront hotel for sale in Playa Palo Seco
Ideal oceanfront location with back up to a mangrove estuary. The
charming small hotel has a fully equipped kitchen, bar and restaurant and is exceptionnally well maintained. Located on a very private beach of the central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica 35 minutes north of Quepos-Manuel Antonio and 45 minutes south of  Playa Jacó. The main building is a two-storey house with 12 bedrooms. The lot measures 3,054 M2. Beautiful gardens around the large pool and exceptional flora and fauna. Well mentioned in tourist guides like Lonely Planet and Guide Ulysse. Offered at $999,000. USD
e-mail:  marietta234@yahoo.es 
or call (506) 8707-1037  (506) 2778-8408
Web   http://mariettedaignault.point2agent.com
8843-1/2/16

Cohen
For sale 5,200 m2 Escazú
Fantastic location for condo, hotel, restaurant.
Large lower lot, incredible views. Flexible zoning.
Easy to get liquor license. Low interest financing.
www.hotel4salecostarica.com
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In Costa Rica 8307-0164
8828-12/19/15

Osa home
Costa Rica Tropical Paradise Beach House For Sale
Tropical 5-acre forested beachfront property with custom house and guest casita on the Osa Península, South Pacific Coast. Abundant wildlife, exotic plants and fruits, secluded beach.

Located 8 km south of Puerto Jiménez on the way to Matapalo and Corcovado National Park. Great Price $775,000. Contact: osaroger@gmail.com
Watch this video for full details.
8816-1/2/16

private ranch home
Small private ranch for sale
This exceptional private ranch sits on a 9+ hectare lot and supports 15-20 horses. Only 2 hours south of San José, on the road to Puriscal. Roomy stalls all with drains, water hookup, lights and fans, grooming and shoeing área. Two-story house all furnished and cowboy house. Don't miss your chance on that turnkey operation.  Offered at $749,000.
E-mail:  marietta234@yahoo.es  or call (506) 8707-1037 
(506) 2778-8408 Web:   http://mariettedaignault.point2agent.com
8823-11/23/15

San Ramon
Mountain home w/million dollar view near San Ramón
Beautiful home in the mountains near San Ramón with 180-degree view of the gulf of Nicoya. 7 miles from San Ramón, 1 mile from Interamericana highway. 3,200 foot elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, appliances included. High-speed internet installed, Price for sale $179,000    Contact Mike: mmpeace@hotmail.com   Check out slide show HERE!
8736-1/1/16

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A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page

San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 249
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junk cars
Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Trasportes photo
Impound lots are full of cars that never have been claimed
 
Junk cars go to social agencies
 
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes said it has donated 1,343 vehicles impounded by the Policía de Tránsito to various social welfare organizations this year. The value of the junk cars is about 40 million colons, about $76,000.

The cars, trucks and motorcycles generally are not reclaimed by their owners because the traffic fines assessed for various violations exceeds the ability of the owner to pay.

The ministry said that it is holding 30,000 vehicles and about 80 percent of the owners will not redeem them. Even if the vehicle is not junk when it is confiscated, it soon becomes that while languishing in the impound lot.


Study seems to validate rogue wave tales


By the University of Oxford news staff

Mariners have long spoken of walls of water appearing from nowhere in the open seas. But oceanographers have generally disregarded such stories and suggested that rogue waves, enormous surface waves that have attained a near-mythical status over the centuries, build up gradually and have relatively narrow crests.

New research from the University of Oxford in collaboration with the University of Western Australia, however, shows that the anecdotal evidence may not be so far from the truth. Rather than coming at the end of a series of increasingly large waves, rogue or freak waves emerge suddenly, being preceded by much smaller waves.

The mathematical modelling also demonstrates that the crests of these rogue waves are longer than the smaller waves that surround them.

The research is published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

Thomas Adcock of Oxford's Department of Engineering Science, said: "The waves we're dealing with here occur in deep water in the open ocean – very different from the waves you'll see if you go to the beach, which is what most people are familiar with.

'In deep water, where waves are much less regular, you expect a larger wave from time to time. Our paper shows that, in contrast to what was previously thought, if you're the observer on a ship, rather than seeing a gradual build-up of waves, the rogue wave will come seemingly out of nowhere.

'This happens because large waves tend to move to the front of the wave group."

Adcock said: "These findings fit the anecdotal evidence you hear from mariners. They often describe walls of water coming at them in the open ocean that are impossible to steer around. An observation supported by our modelling, which shows that rogue waves tend to have a much broader crest than traditionally predicted by linear theory.


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From Page 7:


As expected U.S. Fed increases its prime rate

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. central bank Wednesday boosted its benchmark interest rate for the first time in nearly a decade, a decision that immediately increased borrowing costs for American businesses and consumers and could ripple through the world economy.

After months of deliberation, Federal Reserve policy makers increased the key interest rate for short-term borrowing for the most credit-worthy U.S. institutions by a quarter of a percentage point, pushing it up from near zero where it has been for seven years. 

Within minutes, major U.S. banks increased their prime lending rates to key business customers, which will affect homeowners who borrow against the value of their residences.

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said policy makers decided to increase the rate as the U.S. economy expands at a moderate pace. She said there has been a solid expansion of domestic spending in the U.S., where consumer purchases account for about 70 percent of the world's largest economy.

She said the U.S. economy, even when economies across the globe are weaker, is showing "considerable strength.

The Fed said it could continue to boost the rate in 2016.  But it said the pace of more increases would be gradual as the central bank continues to monitor U.S. economic conditions, especially whether the very low annual inflation rate in the country, 0.4 percent, advances closer to the 2 percent rate it considers to be optimal.

The rate boost was not a surprise. Economic analysts have been predicting for several weeks the Fed would act as the U.S. economy grows at a modest, if not robust, pace.  The U.S. economy, adding 200,000 jobs a month, is advancing even as the second biggest economy in China slows and Europe's 19-nation euro currency bloc lags with tepid growth. The Fed predicted a 2.4 percent advance in the U.S. economy next year.

World stock indexes gained ground Wednesday in advance of the Fed decision, with stocks closing sharply higher across Asian markets, and increasing more modestly in Europe. After the Fed's announcement, U.S. stock indexes quickly jumped to 1 percent gains for the day, an apparent sign that investors were unworried about the higher borrowing costs corporations will now incur.

The Fed's interest rate hike affects the rate the country's most credit-worthy institutions pay when they borrow and lend overnight funds held by the Fed to each other. But the rate change could also affect financial transactions across the globe because of the influence of the Fed on other central banks.

The Fed had kept the interest rate as low as possible to boost lending and economic activity in the United States as it recovered from the depths of the steep recession in 2008 and 2009 that was the worst in the country since the Great Depression of the 1930's, costing millions of people their jobs and homes.

But now the U.S. jobless rate is at its historically typical 5 percent, even as many part-time workers are still looking for full-time jobs or better positions more attuned to their skills. Ms. Yellen said the current jobless rate could fall even further next year, perhaps to 4.7 percent.

The rate boost could be the first of several if the U.S. economy continues to improve.  Ms. Yellen and other policy makers say a gradual series of rate hikes could be imposed in the coming months to keep the economy from expanding too rapidly and hold inflation in check, but policy makers could also hold off if U.S. economic growth slows.

The Fed said that if U.S. economic fortunes continue to advance, it could mean quarter-point rate increases every three months or so over the next three years that could lead to a 3.25 percent benchmark rate by the end of 2018.

In Europe, the eurozone's central bank is continuing its large-scale purchase of bonds to boost the continent's economy and cut unemployment.  The Federal Reserve also used such a stimulative measure, but ended it more than a year ago