A.M. Costa Rica
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(506) 2223-1327                               Published Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, in Vol. 16, No. 250                              Email us
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Mother Nature will provide the Christmas lights
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Rudolph can stay home and watch late-night television Christmas Eve. Santa will not be needing his nose so bright this year.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration says that for the first time since 1977 there will be a full moon for Christmas.

Stories always suppose that the moon will be full, and popular commercials show Santa, his sleigh and reindeer crossing in front of the full moon.

The classic "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" even says "The moon, on the breast of the new-fallen snow, gave a luster of midday to objects below.

But such a sky display is unusual.

Says NASA: "This rare event won’t happen again until 2034. That’s a long time to wait, so make sure to look up to the skies on Christmas Day."

Technically the full moon is exactly at 5:11 a.m. Costa Rican time. By that hour Santa should be enjoying a hot foot bath with a little Ben-Gay thrown in.

The average viewer will not see the difference hours before or even Christmas night.

December’s full moon, the last of the year,

Christmas moon
NASA/Goddard/Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter  
How the moon will appear on Christmas.

is called in the north the full cold moon
because it occurs during the beginning of winter, NASA reports.

Costa Rica lacks the snow to produce a luster of midnight, but the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean and in some places wet tropical jungle leaves make a good substitute.

The moon reflects the light of the sun and sometimes even earthlight, so the sky show will be impressive.

Even more impressive is the moon up close and personal. That won't be possible for some years yet, but NASA has a spacecraft currently orbiting Earth’s moon. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission has been investigating the lunar surface since 2009, the agency notes. And the craft has produced some impressive photos.

Weekend weather predicted to be windy and chilly
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A cold front over the Gulf of México is expected to bring high winds to Costa Rica today, and the gusty weather is expected to remain through Tuesday.

That was the word Thursday from the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional, which also predicted a dip in temperature.

The weather institute says it expects winds of up to 90 kph or about 58 mph in the mountains with gusts up to 70 kph in the lower elevations. That's about 44 mph.

A bulletin Thursday said that the cold front is pushing south and increasing the atmospheric pressure, hence the wind.

Winds and chilly weather is typical this time of year. Whenever the temperature in the

Central Valley dips to about 13 or 14 degrees C,  55.5 to 57 degrees F, Costa Ricans button up and complain.

Many homes are not designed to fend off chilly weather.

And along the San José pedestrian mall, street vendors break out woolens and Andean type garb.

The weather institute also said that the chilly weather will increase the rainfall on the Caribbean coast and in the northern zone and increase cloudiness over the Central Valley.

The beach communities will not be getting cold weather, but there is wind likely. That can deceive residents when they are out in the full sun. The weather institute urged that residents avoid being exposed between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

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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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Legal services

Valdivieco header
Lic. Eduardo Valdivieso
your legal adviser for criminal, civil,
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Phone: ( 506 ) 8839-5010 
Address:  150 meters southwest from
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50-year maximum prison term retained

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

At least three magistrates would cut the maximum penalty for murder and other crimes from 50 to 30 years.

They are Fernando Cruz Castro, Nancy Hernández López and Anamari Garro Vargas, but this opinion did not prevail when the Sala IV constitutional court reaffirmed the 50-year maximum penalty.

The three the only magistrates to vote to make the penalty unconstitutional.

The Poder Judicial noted that an international treaty mandates a 30-year sentence except for what were called exceptional cases, like genocide.

The 50-year term is not just for murder. A criminal who is convicted of a multitude of crimes cannot be sentenced in total to more than 50 years.

However, none actually serves that much. Prisoners usually serve about half their term. They also accumulate two days for each day served in preventative detention. That may be for as long as two years.

And hardly any person convicted of a willful murder gets the maximum in the first place. One recent conviction resulted in an eight-year term.

Plush Studios/Chris Gramly/Blend Images/Thinkstock
Pomegranate extract may protect against Alzheimer’s

Pomegranate extract may benefit brain

By the American Chemical Society news staff

The pomegranate is the source of an extract that scientists say may protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

But they do not know why.

The extract is a rich source of disease-fighting substances, but the human brain has a barrier that prevents most of these chemicals from entering.

The recent report in ACS Chemical Neuroscience suggests that the benefit may come when stomach bacteria breaks down the extract into chemicals that will cross the blood-brain barrier.

In previous work, the same researchers showed that a pomegranate extract has anti-Alzheimer’s effects in animals.

Recent studies have shown that a number of common foods can have a protective effect against the buildup of proteins in the brain that is called Alzheimer's.

ICE gets its rate cut instead of a hike

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Anyone following the changes in utility rates and in other services regulated by the government is bound to get dizzy.

The regulating agency Thursday announced that instead of getting a requested rate hike, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad would get a 6.7 percent cut in electrical distribution rates.

The state power company may appeal.

Wednesday the same agency, the Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos, said it had changed the way that the rate for liquid petroleum gas was calculated and that the household gas cylinder would increase in price by 2,000 colons, nearly $4.

And then every month there is a change in the price of motor fuels.

The state power company known as ICE sought a 12.7 percent increase in the rate for generation, 9.8 percent in transmission and 8.3 percent in distribution.

The company's rates filter down to rates charged by companies like its subsidiary, the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz, although ICE has a number of its own retail customers. The Autoridad Reguladora said the rate cut would benefit 739,000 electrical customers.

Refugee totals may exceed 60 million

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.N. refugee agency warns the number of people forcibly displaced from their homes is likely to exceed 60 million in 2015. The U.N. agency has released its Mid-Year Trends 2015 report covering global forced displacement during the first six months of this year.

The report does not include the hundreds of thousands of refugees who made the perilous journey to Europe across the Mediterranean or the thousands more seeking refuge from many conflicts around the world during the last half of this year.

But the report says the numbers are staggering and alarming.  Figures show the global refugee total by mid-2015 had exceeded 20 million, the highest number since 1992. Asylum claims had gone up by 78 percent from last year, and the numbers of internally displaced people had jumped by around two million to an estimated 34 million.

U.N. refugee spokesman, Adrian Edwards, said the current levels of forcible displacement, predicted to reach more than 60 million by year’s end, have not been seen since World War II.

“Today, each of us has a one in a 122 chance of becoming a refugee, becoming displaced.  And, that is very worrying because what happens to people once they become refugees, today they are staying refugees often for very many years.  Some for their lifetime,” said Edwards.

Edwards said huge numbers of Syrians have fled war and persecution during the past five years. He said Syrians account for nearly one-quarter of the world’s 20 million refugees and millions more are displaced within the country.

“I would point to the fact that both in Syria, where you have more than six million people internally displaced, but also in many other countries where we are seeing rising internal displacement, this is a big, big worry because internal displacement is often an early warning indicator of future refugee flows,” said Edwards.

The report says voluntary return rates are at their lowest levels in three decades.  The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says there is little political will on the part of governments to work together to find solutions to the growing refugee and displacement problems.

News for the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 250
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Government says it seeks to make more information open to the public
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The central government says that it wants to improve the access of the citizens to public information in its agencies and institutions.

The proposals are consistent with a strategy for an open government as outlined by President Luis Guillermo Solís.

The government said that three concrete actions are planned for next year, including a proposed law that will improve the access of the public to official information.

Although this right exists in the Costa Rican constitution, Casa Presidencial noted that there is no specific legislation. Frequently those seeking obvious public information have to file a Sala IV constitutional appeal to get it.

In addition, there is a plan to train public employees on how to make such information available.

The third aspect is for the executive branch to issue a decree and directive that will provide access while the Asamblea Legislativa works on passage of a new law, said Casa Presidential.

There is now a Comisión Nacional por un Gobierno Abierto that has been set up with public and private members.

The open government proposal is linked to a survey of official Web sites that was released this week.

Some 105 Web sites from various agencies were studied for their ease of use, the information content and the ease of accessing the data.

Efforts to open up governmental records usually are frustrated by the desire of public employees to keep the information secret.

The United States instituted the Freedom of Information Act in 1966, but bureaucrats use nine specific exemptions to censor a lot of the information.

The United States also passed a privacy act that is being used to censor the names in released documents of nearly anyone who has activities involving the federal government.

Edward Snowden released vast amounts of U.S. government data that was classified. The subsequent publications showed how much the government was hiding from the public.

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton used a private email server when she was U.S. secretary of State, and critics complained that she did so to hide government business from the public. The disclosure of this fact has forced the State Department to release many of Mrs. Clinton's emails.

In Costa Rica over the last three months there have been startling revelations over the salaries and benefits of some government employees. Most of this information was known to only a select few until newspapers and television stations made it public.

The judiciary in Costa Rica has instituted privacy rules that basically prevent the public from finding out who is involved in criminal and civil court cases.

Court files have long been restricted to those involved in the actions and their lawyers, but now even the names of those involved are being protected due to a recent law.

Agricultural inspectors making a sweep of country's avocado trees
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rican plant health officials cut off the importation of the popular Mexican Hass avocados because of the presence of a viral disease in that and in a few other countries.

This was  a controversial action, and importers immediately saw it as a protectionist action. Avocado prices have soared.

The disease involved is called mancha de sol in Spanish and sun blotch in English. It is caused by a viroid which can stunt plant growth and cause other problems.  The disease is present 
in the United States, too, and there are established sanitary
measures for handling it, according to Web sites.

Now the claim has been made that sun blotch already is present in Costa Rica.

So the Servicio Fitosanitario del Estado of the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería has mustered a small army to check tree by tree avocado plantings in the Los Santos zone where it says 93 percent of the country's crop is produced.

Some 100 technicians are checking trees on about 2,000 hectares, nearly 5,000 acres, for signs of the disease. Results will be made known next month, the agency said.

Hotel header

Guanacaste Lodge

Palermo Hotel

Croc Resort

Tarpon lodge

Vista Ballena

La Parcela

Hacienda Baru

Recreo Verde

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, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 250
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$1 billion desalination plant to supply parched southern California
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

North America's largest desalination plant opened earlier this week in Southern California, which has suffered severe drought conditions for the past four years.

The plant in Carlsbad, which has been under construction since 2012, cost $1 billion and will produce 50 million gallons of water per day for roughly 400,000 people in San Diego County.

Supporters consider seawater desalination a partial answer to drought in the U.S. However, opponents say high costs and threats to marine life leave better alternatives, such as recycling and conservation.

Poseidon Water, which developed and owns the plant, has signed a 30-year agreement with San Diego County Water Authority. The company estimates households in the region will pay an additional $5 per month on their water bill to help offset the cost of the plant.

As big as it is, the Carlsbad plant barely cracks the International Desalination Association's list of 50 largest seawater plants, which are mostly in the Middle East.

The plant uses a technology called reverse osmosis, which uses powerful pumps to shoot ocean water through 2,000 white fiberglass tubes to capture salts. Before that, however, silt and other solids are removed to prevent membranes from clogging.

Peter MacLaggan, Poseidon Water project manager, said, "Every two gallons of seawater that go into the plant, we produce one gallon of fresh water. One gallon of double salty water that goes back to the ocean gets diluted on the way out of the plant so it does not harm the marine environment."

Treated water is pumped uphill on a new 10-mile pipeline to San Diego's existing grid.

The San Diego water agency said the plant will provide about 8 percent of the region's drinking water.

Bob Yamada, water resources director, said desalination "is not going to be a silver bullet that solves all of our problems," but it has better positioned the region for drought.

Local environmental groups have criticized the plant, claiming it poses risks to the marine environment and the energy involved in the desalination process.

Julia Chun-Heer, a spokeswoman for San Diego County's Surfrider Foundation, an environmental group, said, "This is the most energy-intensive water supply option with the most greenhouse gas emissions . . .  as opposed to doing things
like conserving water . . . doing the things that are environmentally beneficial, or reclaiming water that has 
desalinization plant
Poseidon Water photo
The Carlsbad Desalination Plant in Carlsbad, California, north of San Diego, is the largest seawater desalination plant in the Western hemisphere and the latest one to come online worldwide.

already been pumped here."

Joe Geever, a consultant to Surfrider Foundation, which unsuccessfully sued Poseidon, echoed Ms. Chun-Heer.

Geever said, "There is a lot of waste in the way we use our water. We can get more conservation without any impact on the economy or, really, with some simple changes to human behavior . . . .  Just change some of our bad habits about the way we waste water."

San Diego began considering desalination in the early 1990s when drought made apparent the region's dependence on water brought hundreds of miles from northern California and the Colorado River.

Officials picked Carlsbad, a prosperous suburb of 110,000 people, because it could draw water from a power plant next door that uses up to 600 million gallons from the ocean daily to cool turbines.

Poseidon is pursuing a second, identical-size plant in Huntington Beach, positioning the Los Angeles suburb as California’s next desalination battleground. The company is seeking a final permit to begin construction next year.

The Carlsbad project is only the nation’s second major seawater plant. The first U.S. foray, in Tampa Bay, Florida, is widely considered a flop.

Tampa, which has half the capacity of Carlsbad, opened in 2007, a decade after it went to bid. Along the way, a key investor declared bankruptcy, its replacement failed to secure financing, and the plant repeatedly failed performance tests.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

HIdden Garden 2016
Largest art gallery in Guanacaste
Drop in to see some of Costa Rica's finest art
at the largest gallery in Guanacaste.

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:   
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.

Click photo for another video

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.


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Real estate rental services (paid category)

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 
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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
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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.

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:  or call Hilda at 2221-7161.

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A.M. Costa Rica's  
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 250
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California friend of Farook
indicted for his complicity

Special to A.M. Costa Rica
Enrique Marquez Jr., a longtime friend of Syed Rizwan Farook, the male killer in the San Bernardino terrorist attack, was charged Thursday with conspiring with Farook in 2011 and 2012 to commit crimes of terrorism. Marquez was also charged with the unlawful purchase of two assault rifles used in the deadly shooting two weeks ago.

A three-count criminal complaint filed Thursday afternoon additionally charges Marquez with defrauding immigration authorities by entering into a sham marriage with a member of Farook’s family.

Marquez, a 24-year-old Riverside, California, resident, was arrested Thursday by special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The criminal complaint filed in U. S. District Court charges Marquez with conspiring with Farook to provide material support, including himself, a firearm and explosives, for crimes of terrorism, making a false statement in connection with acquisition of firearms and immigration fraud.

The affidavit in support of the complaint provides details into parts of the exhaustive and ongoing investigation into the attack on Dec. 2 that killed 14 people at the Inland Regional Center. The complaint does not allege that Marquez was involved in the Dec. 2 terrorist attack. The complaint does allege that Marquez purchased the AR-15-style rifles used in the shooting, that Marquez purchased explosive material ultimately used to construct a pipe bomb found at the regional center, and that in 2011 and 2012 Marquez and Farook planned terrorist attacks that were not carried out.

According to the affidavit, in approximately 2005, Marquez moved to Riverside, where he met Farook, who was his next-door neighbor. After their initial meeting, Farook introduced Marquez to Islam, and, in 2007, Marquez converted to Islam. Farook later introduced Marquez to radical Islamic ideology, which included expressing disdain towards Muslims in the U.S. military who killed other Muslims, as well as discussing the extremist views of the now-deceased imam and Islamic lecturer Anwar al-Aulaqi.

Over the next few years, Farook provided Marquez with radical Islamic materials, and by 2011, Marquez spent most of his time at Farook’s residence listening to lectures and watching videos involving radical Islamic content, according to the affidavit. Those materials included Inspire Magazine, the official publication of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and videos produced by Al-Shabaab.

In late 2011, according to the affidavit, Marquez and Farook started planning to use firearms and explosives to carry out terrorist acts, attacks that Marquez told investigators were designed to maximize the number of casualties that could be inflicted. The affidavit recounts a recent interview with Marquez in which he admitted making plans with Farook to attack the library or cafeteria at Riverside Community College, where both men had been students. The plan was to throw pipe bombs into the cafeteria area from an elevated position on the second floor, and then to shoot people as they fled.

Marquez and Farook also planned to attack eastbound lanes of State Route 91 during afternoon rush hour, the affidavit states. Marquez told investigators that they chose a particular section of the freeway because there were no exits, which would increase the number of targets in the eastbound lanes.

According to the affidavit, Marquez and Farook took steps to carry out their plans by purchasing firearms, ammunition and other tactical gear, as well as going to local firing ranges.

Around the same time as he purchased the firearms for Farook, Marquez purchased explosives, specifically smokeless powder, “in furtherance of his and Farook’s plans to create bombs and commit mass killings,” according to the affidavit.
Four days after the attack on the regional center, Marquez met with law enforcement officials investigating the incident. Marquez admitted a series of statements that are detailed in the affidavit.

In addition to the charges related to the straw purchase of the rifles and the plans to commit terrorist attacks, Marquez is charged with defrauding U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in relation to a sham marriage with a member of Farook’s extended family so that she could obtain legal status in the United States. In return for his participation in the fraud, she paid Marquez $200 per month.
Members of Congress wonder
why social media not checked

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Homeland Security officials came under tough questioning Thursday at a congressional hearing for not having a widespread policy to vet the social media accounts of those seeking a visa to come to the United States.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held the hearing in response to the San Bernardino, California, shooting that left 14 people dead and 22 injured. One of the attackers, Pakistani-born Tashfeen Malik, had come to the United States on the K-1 fiancée visa program.

Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz asked why U.S. authorities could not have prevented the San Bernardino massacre from happening: "It was pretty clear now, looking back, that it was well known among her friends and family that she supported violent jihad against the United States."

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers joined in the criticism.

Rep. Stephen Lynch, a Democrat, said even though Tashfeen Malik's communications about jihad were not posted openly on Facebook as had been originally reported, but were sent via private messages, authorities should have been vetting visa applicants a lot more thoroughly.

"We should have gotten that anyway," he said. "We should have said, we want your social media, your private stuff and your public stuff. That's entirely reasonable to ask people coming from countries that we know are sponsoring terrorism. Why aren't we doing that?"

Speaking for the Obama administration, Leon Rodriguez, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, insisted that homeland security officials have already begun vetting visa applicants' social media posts in three pilot projects.

"In fact, the third of the pilots. we are talking about small numbers, the third of the pilots actually is being applied to thousands of individuals,” he said. “I won't go into detail beyond that, because I don't want to tip people off as to what we might be looking at."

But this did not satisfy members of the committee.

"It needs to not just be pilot programs,” said Rep. Ted Lieu, a Democrat. “It needs to be a policy of our government to look at social media."

Senators having some doubts
about Iran and its truthfulness

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. lawmakers said Thursday that Iran’s continued missile tests had cast doubt on the viability of an international nuclear accord with Tehran and required a stronger American response.

“I think the agreement is off to a really terrible start,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican. “Iran has convicted an American Washington Post reporter, launched cyber attacks against the State Department, defied a U.N. travel ban, exported weapons to Syria and Yemen, violated the U.N. ballistic missile test ban twice and lied to the IAEA," meaning the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“We see no evidence of them paying a price for any of these actions,” Corker added at the start of a hearing to which top Obama administration officials were called to testify.

Stephen Mull, the State Department’s lead coordinator for Iran nuclear implementation, said Iran’s objectionable actions fell outside the scope of the nuclear accord finalized earlier this year, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. On the accord itself, he said Iran is moving to comply.

“Iran has begun dismantling its uranium enrichment infrastructure by removing, so far, more than 5,000 centrifuges,” Mull said. “Iran is also reducing its stockpile of various forms of enriched uranium.”

Mull added that Iran was on track to ship tons of enriched uranium to Russia and to render inoperable its Arak nuclear reactor.

Corker repeatedly pressed Mull on why Iran would continue missile tests if it intended to adhere to a pact that denies Tehran the material for a nuclear payload.

“What does the administration draw from the fact that they are testing missiles that throughout history have only been used to deliver nuclear weapons?” Corker asked.  “This is totally inconsistent with rational thinking.”

“I’m not in a position to characterize what the Iranian government is thinking,” Mull said. “We are focused on making sure they cannot develop a nuclear weapons capability.”

The committee’s top Democrat, Ben Cardin of Maryland, said Iran’s recent actions showed that “Iran cheats and they want to develop a nuclear weapon through covert activities. That is not a surprise.”

“As we go forward, we need to make sure there is zero tolerance from any deviation for Iran’s obligations . . . .” Cardin added.

Fellow Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey echoed that point.

“Iran over the last two decades has tested the will of the international community,” Menendez said. “If we allow them to continue to test us without consequence, believe me, they will continue to expand . . . ."

Mull and Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Countryman repeatedly stressed that non-nuclear sanctions against Iran would remain in place and sanctions lifted under the nuclear deal could be reimposed if Tehran violated the terms of the pact.

That did not satisfy Corker, who accused the administration of “creating a permissive environment” in hopes of affecting elections in Iran next year.

“I don’t understand the argument about a permissive environment,” Countryman responded. “The Obama administration is doing exactly the same thing the Bush administration did, which is to respond to every violation of ballistic missile resolutions, of human rights, of terrorism, of hostage-taking with the legal authorities Congress has given us.”

Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican of Colorado, suggested that the administration “prevent Iran from receiving billions of dollars” in sanctions relief.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that he expected sanctions to end in coming weeks.

Iran’s state news agency quoted the country’s defense minister as saying missile tests were meant “to tell the world that the Islamic Republic of Iran acts based on its national interests.”

Voice of American photo       
Marie Christopherson of Buhl, Idaho, stops to sign Rick Martin's petition to ban refugee centers in Twin Falls County.

Idaho citizen rallies his town
against refugee resettlement

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The national debate about whether to welcome refugees from the war-torn Middle East has become a personal call to action for a conservative activist in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Rick Martin has collected more than one-third of the signatures he needs to force a public vote on whether to allow refugees to resettle in his community.

Martin can regularly be found beside the busiest road through Twin Falls, next to a big sign that reads, "End Refugee Resettlement, Sign Petition Here."

Martin explains his proposed local ballot measure would make refugee centers illegal in Twin Falls County. There is only one in operation now, overseen by the College of Southern Idaho.

Jeff and Joyce Devey of Twin Falls said they signed the petition.

"We've got enough problems in this country without bringing in more problems," Jeff Devey said. "We can't even take care of our own people."

Joyce Devey added, "I believe the county will vote to close the refugee center. I hope and pray that's what happens."

Martin has been involved in Republican politics for years. He said he was moved into action by the prospect Syrians might be resettled in the area.

"There's a very serious concern that rebels and ISIS fighters could utilize this refugee program to get into the country and cause havoc, just like we’ve seen in Paris and San Bernardino,” Martin said, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

He said those attacks have given his campaign momentum.

Martin's initiative also paints refugee resettlement as an unaffordable burden on taxpayers, and part of a leftist plan to alter the demographics of America.

"I believe that's really what they want to do," he insists. "They're trying to change America more into a Middle Eastern-style nation."

Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs said he thinks Martin's refugee ballot measure is flawed.

​"The U.S. Constitution declares that immigration issues, under which this falls, are exclusively within the purview of the federal government," Loebs said during an interview with public radio. "Only the federal government has the right under the U.S. Constitution to legislate in this area."

Loebs acknowledged he does not have the authority to prevent an initiative from appearing on the ballot even if he thinks the measure is "unconstitutional, illegal, unenforceable and will be without any effect whatsoever."

Martin said he was seeking to avoid a federal conflict by declaring refugee centers to be a public nuisance. He said a county's police powers allow it to ban such nuisances.

Loebs said it is legitimate to question admitting refugees from terror hotbeds, but he contends the legal way for local and state governments is through a resolution or similar statement directed to the federal level.

The unusual strategy of seeking a popular vote on refugee resettlement has drawn outside attention.

The editor of a blog called Refugee Resettlement Watch hailed Martin's group as a pocket of resistance. But the Southern Poverty Law Center profiled the Twin Falls campaign under the heading Hatewatch.

A recently formed group in Ada, Idaho's most populous county, is pressing its county commission to put an advisory vote on the May 2016 ballot, asking voters if they want refugee resettlement in the area to continue or end.

Earlier this month, commissioners in Idaho's Bonner County adopted a non-binding resolution urging Gov. Butch Otter to ask President Barack Obama to halt the resettlement of new refugees from Syria until their vetting is "fully reviewed and all of the states' concerns are addressed."

In the neighboring state of Washington, the Seattle City Council also considered the issue of Muslims and refugees. But it passed a resolution rejecting "anti-Muslim rhetoric."

Seattle's resolution stated immigrants and refugees "add enormous value to the economic and cultural life of our nation."

Martin's petition drive is drawing local push back.

Democratic state senate candidate Deborah Silver said, "I couldn't even believe that these people are starting to talk about how horrible it is, and how they're afraid and it's a danger." She founded a group to be a counterpoint.

"Our community is standing up and saying, 'No, this has gone well.' We like having the refugee center. We like being a part of this. This helps us in our Christian faith."

Silver was among the more than 300 people who attended a Christmas party to make refugees from Africa, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Burma feel welcome.

Refugee Center Director Zeze Rwasama said no Syrian refugees have been sent to Twin Falls for resettlement.

The U.S. State Department said 35 refugees from Syria have arrived in Idaho in fiscal year 2015, which ended Sept. 30.

British bask in knowledge
that their teeth are better

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Americans have long teased British people for having bad teeth, but a new study shows Americans actually have more dental problems.

Look no further than the jaundiced, toothy smile of fictional British spy Austin Powers to get the picture.

"Contrary to popular belief, our study showed that the oral health of U.S. citizens is not better than the English," wrote the authors of the study, called "Austin Powers bites back."

Writing in the British Medical Journal, researchers from University College London, the National University of Colombia and the Harvard School of Public Health found that among those 25 and older, Americans are missing more teeth than their British counterparts.

The researchers said the stereotype of the gnarly-toothed Brit "dates back at least 100 years, with toothpaste advertisements extolling the virtues of American smiles."

The study also showed a socioeconomic difference between the two countries with poorer people in the U.S. having worse teeth than their British counterparts. Dental health in Britain is covered by the publicly funded National Health Service as opposed to the U.S. where dental insurance is the norm.

"Those in the lowest socioeconomic position levels tended to be better off in England," the study found.

The British press was ebullient about the news.

"Smile! American teeth worse than ours," read a headline in The Times.

The findings of the study shouldn’t be that surprising however.

In 2004, a study of dental health found that Britain had the lowest number of people with decayed, missing or filled teeth from among all member states. The U.S. ranked in the middle. 
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Office phone: 506-2446-0543
Cell phone: 506-8898-9398
or 506-8314-8090


Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

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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.
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Photo montage of penthouse
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* 3 bedrooms.
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* 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.
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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 Phone (506) 2653-6417 Cell (506) 8825-8942 / (506) 8916-0734

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:

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: Phone 8309-2000.

ocean-view home
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:


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   More photos HERE!

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: or phone 506-8377-8402.

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:

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
- 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

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 or call 506 2416-9324.  Additional photos are available on Flickr album

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
or call (506) 8707-1037  (506) 2778-8408

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.
Toll free US phone 877-778-8515
In Costa Rica 8307-0164

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:
Watch this video for full details.

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:  or call (506) 8707-1037 
(506) 2778-8408 Web:

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:   Check out slide show HERE!

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

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The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2015 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 250
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Pensoft Publishers /Germán Chávez
This is a live individual of Synophis insulomontanus, one of the three new species of fishing snakes discovered in the Andes of Ecuador and Perú.

Researcher finds rare snakes are diverse

By the Pensoft Publishers news staff

Commonly known as fishing snakes, the Synophis genus has been expanded with as many as three new species following research in the Andean cloud forests of Amazonian Ecuador and Perú.

Not only is the discovery remarkable due to the rarity of new snake species being discovered, but also because this is the first time this mysterious and already eight-member genus is recorded from Perú. The study is published in the open-access journal ZooKeys.

The three new species have been identified as a result of both field and laboratory work, undertaken by Omar Torres-Carvajal of the Museo de Zoología QCAZ, Ecuador, in collaboration with herpetologists from Perú  and the U.S. Francis Marion University. The new species differ from their closest relatives in scale features, male sexual organs and DNA.

Although they are commonly known as fishing snakes, these reptiles most likely do not eat fish. Their diet and behavior are poorly known. So far, it has only been reported that one species feeds on lizards.

The fishing snakes have long been known to live in cloud forests on both sides of the Andes of Colombia and Ecuador. Yet, it seems they have waited all along to make an appearance. The new species along with a recent description of one species from southwestern Ecuador also published in Zookeys, has duplicated the number of species of fishing snakes from four to eight over the span of several months.

During their recent expeditions to several localities along the Andes of Ecuador and Perú the authors collected several individuals of fishing snakes, which they suspected to be previously unknown. After comparing their specimens with those deposited in a number of natural history museums, the authors' suspicions only became stronger.

Consequently, the scientists examined the male snakes' sexual organs and DNA evidence. The results left no doubts that the specimens belonged to three undescribed fishing snake species.

"We started working with fishing snakes a year ago as new specimens were collected in poorly explored areas of the Amazonian slopes of the Andes in Ecuador and Perú," explains lead author Omar Torres-Carvajal. "At that time only four species of fishing snakes had been described, and they were recognized in the literature as one of the most rare and secretive groups of snakes in South America."

"In less than a year, we and other herpetologists doubled the number of known species of fishing snakes, showing that their diversity had been greatly underestimated," he points out.

"This story is similar to the story of the woodlizards (Enyalioides), a group of dragon-like lizards with more than half of its species discovered in recent years in the tropical Andes," the scientist said.

"This tells us that this hotspot is more diverse than we thought, so it is very important that basic biodiversity research is properly funded,"  Torres-Carvajal said. "Otherwise, we might never know what other scaly creatures are crawling around us."

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From Page 7:

Fed action on prime interest rate welcomed

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Global investors Thursday welcomed the U.S. central bank's decision to raise interest rates for the first time since the 2008 global financial crisis.

The rate increase apparently is being seen as a sign of confidence in the U.S. economy by many in Asia, where stock markets surged Thursday.

Japan's Nikkei jumped 2 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose nearly a percent. South Korea, Australia, China, and Taiwan, and New Zealand also saw gains.

In Europe, markets also reacted favorably, with Paris and Frankfurt both shooting up more than 2 percent, and London gaining 1.6 percent, just after opening.

The dollar also made slight gains against most other major currencies.

"What is clear is that equity markets are taking the rate hike as a positive," said Angus Nicholson, a Melbourne-based market analyst at the IG Group.

But investors will be watching the Fed closely for further moves, said Nicholson, who notes "historically the second and third rate hike in the cycle has been more negative for equity markets."

China, the world's second-largest economy behind the U.S., responded cautiously to the Fed's decision.

"The interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve will have some direct or indirect impact on China's international business and trade," said China's Commerce Ministry spokesman, Shen Danyang.

"As for how much the impact will be, we will have to do a specific analysis depending on the circumstances," he added.

China has experienced a steady economic slowdown since 2010, following decades of extremely rapid growth. The U.S. interest rate hike may complicate efforts to halt that slowdown.

Partly, that is because if China wishes to cut its own interest rates to stimulate its economy, investors may move their yuan-based assets out of the country, hurting China's economy.

Federal Reserve officials had previously cited the slowdown in China as a main reason that prevented them from raising interest rates earlier.

The Fed cut the rates to a record low range between zero and a quarter of a percent during the 2008 financial crisis in a bid to support economic growth.