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Published Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 251
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The Christmas treat
So what does a new arrival think of a tamal?

By Conor Golden
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The tamal still reigns as one of the archetypical dishes found in most of Latin America.

In Costa Rica, tamales can be found on the dinner tables and in the kitchens of Tico homes and restaurants especially during the holiday season. The tamales here are found wrapped in banana leaves and made with all manner of ingredients, but the core of the tamal will consist of a piece of seasoned meat rolled in a cornmeal dough called masa.

At the Soda Cristóbal at the Mercado Central in San José, the mission for a new arrival was to locate a tamal and describe its taste.

The order comes to the table and looks completely unappetizing at first glance.

The paste is yellowed and mushy like baby food and a small piece of meat forms the center with a carrot also encrusted within. There is also seen a piece of cilantro to give it that soapy-like flavor that people either love or hate in their food. Moreover, the banana leaf that it is presented on top of is a deep green. Is the leaf also supposed to be eaten?

The first try hits with an interesting mix of flavor. The masa has a hint of corn, but there is also a lingering taste of potato.

The steam begins to rise as soon as the fork and knife separate it.

Now it is time to try the meat. The tender piece of boiled pork goes well with a nice batter of masa and rice. The carrot also adds a nice nutritious touch. The only regret is that both pieces are small, but the tamal itself is of a modest size. It’s time to order another one to get the description of the flavor right.

tamal and juice
A.M. Costa Rica/Conor Golden  
The traditional place to eat tamales is in the Mercado Central in San José, accompanied by a juice drink or a milkshake.

The second one is of a similar size, but maybe the cook decided to add a little more rice to this tamal. The rice makes it slightly crunchier than the baby-food like masa paste, but it is not overcooked or hardened to a solid-rock taste. The diversity of ingredients matches the diversity of the dish’s texture.

The combination of the ingredients creates a unique and delicious taste all its own and definitively Costa Rican. Tamals are not exclusive to this country. They have a history going back to the pre-Columbian era with the Aztec and Mayan empires in Central America. From Mexico in the north to Argentina in the south, tamales span different continents and come from different recipes. At 1,100 colons each, the tamal is a cultural necessity for any foreign traveler coming to Costa Rica and wanting to receive the complete experience.

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


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Dental Services Costa Rica

Dr Oscar Vargas specialist in prosthodontics
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Click Here:
Bill would recognize 1921 Coto casualties

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A new bill would create a regional day of commemoration in southern Costa Rica for those killed in the 1921 Battle of Coto.

The originator of the bill, Olivier Ibo Jiménez Rojas, noted that few Costa Ricans know about this border battle with police and volunteers from Panamá. The bill says that 48 Costa Rican soldiers died in the firefights there.

Although Panamá did not have an army, its militia force managed to ambush three Costa Rican boats, the La Estrella, the La Esperanza and the La Sultana. Costa Ricans on the boats took fire from Panamanian forces hidden on the shore and suffered many casualties. The remainder were taken prisoner.

The bill, No. 20.213, seeks to established the day of commemoration in the cantons of  Corredores, Golfito, Osa, Coto Brus and Buenos Aires.

There also was fighting on the Atlantic coast at Sixaola and Boca del Toro. But these skirmishes are not mentioned in the bill.

The border dispute finally was settled by treaty.

doomed                                      bird
Miniserio de Seguridad Pública
This is one of 17 birds police found in a vehicle at a traffic stop in Ciudad Colón.  Fuerza Pública officers also found spurs and other implements typical of bird fights, an illegal activity. The birds were confiscated, police said.

Bus companies get new luggage rules

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Bus systems will start having more formal regulations regarding the handling, delivery, and use of luggage.

The Consejo de Transporte Público, which is the formal body regulating the public bus system, has created certain guidelines after a public outcry was made regarding the lack of rules in the event of baggage being lost or stolen. An investigation by the ombudsman’s office over a passenger who lost his luggage on a bus and the company's refusal to take responsibility for the loss also caused the changes.

The ombudsman, the Defensoría de los Habitantes, recommended to the council that it review its procedures regarding complaints received and reduce the waiting time for a response.

The new rules now require that those who wish to use the storage area of the bus to hold their luggage must be provided a voucher identifying the owner of the luggage, officials said. From there, a properly identified employee of the bus company is the only one allowed to put and remove the luggage. That gives responsibility for any lost or stolen baggage to the company.

However, a bus rider and owner of the missing baggage must file a claim of loss or theft within 24 hours, and the bus company then has 10 business days to carry out an investigation to prove the validity of the claim, officials said. From there, if the claim is proven accurate, then the company must compensate for the loss. This does not apply to merchandise collectively below the value of the Costa Rican minimum wage.

Don’t worry about zika, tourists are told

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican government said it wants to assure tourists visiting around the country that they should not be afraid of the zika virus.

The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo and the Ministerio de Salud said that they are working in close cooperation with the tourism sector in the coastal municipalities, which receive a high influx of travelers, to take protective measures against the virus.

The beginning of the dry season in Costa Rica usually hails a downward trend in the spread of the virus, officials said. The government is calling for action on cleaning and the elimination of mosquito breeding grounds particularly in establishments catering to tourists.

The country has seen more than 1,000 zika cases that required medical care.

The U.S. Department of State has listed zika as a disease found in Costa Rica, but said that the medical care in the capital is adequate with space and availability decreasing the further one travels away from San José. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the World Health Organization describe specific steps needed in order to prevent the infection and spreading of zika as well as recommendations during and after traveling.

Zika virus is spread by infected mosquito bites as well as through unprotected sex with a person already infected. Most people infected with zika do not realize they are sick.  Vaccinations against mosquito-borne viruses such as yellow fever and malaria and preventive protection from mosquitos are equally recommended. The CDC said that mosquitos carrying zika usually do not live in elevations above 6,500 feet, but unfortunately the majority of Costa Rica is below that elevation mark.

Power distributor’s rate hike rejected

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The price regulating agency has rejected a request for a 5.96 percent rate hike by the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz, a major power distributor.

The Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos said that the request was not presented in the correct form and that there were additions and amendments that were not timely.

The Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz is a subsidiaryof the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad that actually generates the power. The power distributor has more than a half million customers in the metro area.

The regulating agency also said it found inconsistencies in the information provided and the audited financial situation.

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 251
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Palm oil producers seek help with new tax and a cut of exiting one
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Palm oil agriculture in southern Costa Rica is in crisis. Properties are being auctioned due to mortgage defaults. Some 383 producers owe banks 24.5 billion colons, about $44.5 million, and 19 percent are behind in payments.

What once was a lucrative agricultural investment, palm oil production is being plagued by two major diseases as well as a sharp decline in the world price of the product.

The financial problems were spelled out in a new bill presented by lawmaker Olivier Jiménez Rojas, who said the original idea came from the Concejo Municipal de Corredores, which sought emergency action.

The bill seeks to divert part of the tax on tobacco to a fund for African palm growers and impose a 1.5 percent tax on local oil sales for the benefit of the municipality.

The bill, No. 20.200, says it is designed to rescue palm oil agriculture.

The monoculture of the palm tree, elaeis guineensis, to produce the fruits that contain oil is controversial. This type of agriculture has a strong impact on the soil and wild creatures.

But southern Costa Rica found palm oil product a viable option in 1964 and later when commercial banana-growing operations were halted in the Golfito area. Since then the large firm of Palma Tica and some cooperatives have evolved to market the product. Production has spread up the coast to Quepos and Parrita.

In 2005 Costa Rica exported 26.6 million tons of palm oil, 79 percent of the entire production, said the bill. The price then was $433 a ton.

The two diseases began to take hold in 2008 at the same time the world price fell.

palm fruit
Wikimedia Commons/Bongoman
A typical palm fruit still is on the tree. About 20 percent is oil.

One is a nematode infection spread by insects and called red ring disease, anillo rojo.  The other is flecha roja or spear rot, a fungus disease that attacks the crown.

The Ministerio de Agricultura y Gandería estimates that there are 1,260 palm oil producers in the country and that 31,600 hectares are in production with 40,000 hectares planted but not producing yet.

The estimate in 2015 by one palm oil cooperative, according to the bill, was that 10,000 persons and 4,000 jobs were affected by the disease flecha seca alone. Meanwhile last year the price of palm oil fell by 50 percent to just 40,000 colons, about $73, a ton said the bill.

The fund used to aid palm oil producers was set up in 2010.  The bill seeks to divert 7 percent of the tax on tobacco into the fund to provide more money to help the growers. The tax is 20 colons a cigarette or equivalent.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 251
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Two papers dispute theory of meteor impact causing ancient cold spell
By the John Wiley & Sons, Inc., news staff

Two new studies in the Journal of Quaternary Science rebut the hypothesis that one or more comets struck North America approximately 12,900 years ago triggering rapid climate change and the start of the Younger Dryas period.

Prior to the Younger Dryas, the climate had gradually warmed from glacial conditions to near modern temperatures, and the massive ice sheets in North America were in full retreat. However, approximately 12,900 years ago, temperatures rapidly plummeted and returned to glacial conditions for about 1,200 years. Also about this time, the mammoths and mastodons became extinct.

The two papers challenge two lines of evidence reported and used by others to support the impact theory. One is the report of elevated concentrations of nanometer-sized diamonds in sediments deposited at the onset of the Younger Dryas. It is claimed that these diamonds were formed during an impact. The other is the interpretation

that fire evidence at a key archaeological site demonstrates massive wildfires at the beginning of the Younger Dryas.  It is claimed that the impact caused wildfires that spanned the continent.

Each paper claims that the evidence and interpretations supporting these two lines of arguments do not stack up. “Impact proponents report the rare form of diamond, lonsdaleite, that is usually associated with shock processing; however, we show that they misidentified polycrystalline aggregates of graphene and graphane as lonsdaleite,” said Tyrone Daulton, lead author of one of the papers. “Further, we show that the nanodiamond concentration measurements reported by impact proponents are critically flawed. There is no evidence for a spike in the nanodiamond concentration at the onset of the Younger Dryas to suggest that an impact event occurred.” He is from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Andrew Scott, lead author of the second paper said, “The idea of a Younger Dryas impact was an interesting one that has drawn much attention; however, increasingly methodological research over the past few years has failed to corroborate that story. Our research has shown that many of the markers for such an event have been misinterpreted or misidentified.” He is from Royal Holloway University of London.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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

Visit our Web site at:
Contact us by email:  
Find us on Trip Advisor, Facebook, Twitter,
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Gallery hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tel.  8386-6872 / 2667-0592; U.S. telephone 702-953-7073
International shipping available.

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The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

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

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

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

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

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

George Lundquist

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Tropical Homes of Costa Rica is offering the best selection of vacation homes, condos and long-term rental homes in Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito on  the Pacific Gold Coast of Guanacaste. A wide selection of private residencies is providing an excellent choice for  your stay in this beautiful part of Costa Rica.We are offering homes for every budget and every need. Please visit our Web page at or contact us at or call at (506) 2654-5442

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Real estate for rent (paid category)

Fully Furnished American Style Apartment for Rent

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

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The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2016 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
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Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 251
Real Estate
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Electoral College officially
picks Trump as president

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Real estate billionaire Donald Trump was officially elected as the 45th U.S. president Monday, his victory confirmed by the required vote in the Electoral College.

Americans have known since early November that Trump, a Republican running for elected office for the first time, would take over the White House when he is inaugurated Jan. 20. U.S. presidential elections, however, are not determined by the actual vote on Election Day but rather by the individual outcomes of presidential balloting in all 50 states and the nation's capital, Washington, then with 538 electors voting in the Electoral College.

Monday, in time-honored fashion, the electors from each of the states and the District of Columbia cast their ballots in their respective state capitals and Trump, as expected, surpassed the 270 majority figure to win a four-year term as the American leader.

​Die-hard supporters of his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, had demanded that Trump-pledged electors drop their support of him, on grounds that Mrs. Clinton defeated him by nearly 2.9 million votes in the popular count. Some protested Monday outside state capitals in a last-ditch effort to thwart Trump.

But as each state reported its Electoral College balloting, Trump's pledged electors based on the state-by-state outcomes held firm, assuring him of victory.

Even with Mrs. Clinton's lead in the national popular vote count, Trump won, sometimes narrowly, where it mattered, in 31 of the 50 state contests, to claim the Electoral College majority.

After the Texas electoral collage put Trump over the 270-vote threshold, the president-elect thanked "the American people for their overwhelming vote to elect me as their next president of the United States." He promised in a statement released late Monday to "work hard to unite our country and be the president of all Americans."

With all states reporting, Trump won 304 votes while Mrs. Clinton received 227. The other seven electors voted for someone other than their party's nominee.

In most election years, voting in the Electoral College is little more than a formality. But that is not the case this year.

Because of the close and bitterly contested race, and continuing opposition to Trump's victory by many Clinton supporters, thousands of Americans bombarded the 306 Republican electors with emails and phone calls, demanding they reject Trump, either by voting for Mrs. Clinton or another, more acceptable Republican.

In the unlikely event that 37 or more Republican electors had defected from Trump and no candidate wound up with 270 or more, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives would have picked the president.

Trump used a Twitter post Sunday to criticize the efforts to oppose him.

"If my many supporters acted and threatened people like those who lost the election are doing, they would be scorned & called terrible names!" he wrote.

Electors in 29 states are bound by state law to vote for the candidate who won their state vote count, and often elsewhere, electors say they feel morally compelled to vote in the Electoral College the way their state voted.

Here’s a brief rundown
of Russian hacking claims

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Here’s what we know about any Russian involvement in the U.S. Election:

June 2016: WikiLeaks, founded by Julian Assange, releases thousands of emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee, resulting in the resignation of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida as committee chairwoman.

September 2016: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to Russian President Vladimir Putin at an event in China about the alleged hacking, telling him to cut it out or face serious consequences.

October 2016: White House spokesperson Josh Earnest says the administration remains confident that the Russians are involved in the Democratic Nacional Committee hack. Earnest does not provide hard evidence of the hack, but says it's there.

Around the same time, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reporting that Moscow has a history of interfering in other countries' elections.

December 2016: The Kremlin denies a report that Putin not only knew about Russia's meddling in the U.S. election, but also personally directed how hacked DNC data was used.

President-elect Donald Trump denies Russia's involvement in the hacking, posting on his Twitter account: "If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?"

What we don't know:

Evidence against Russia: Newspeople have yet to see hard evidence from the White House or U.S. intelligence community confirming accusations that Russian intelligence meddled in the U.S. electoral process.

Evidence against Putin: They have yet to see hard evidence that Vladimir Putin personally directed the way hacked Democratic data was used against Clinton in the election.

U.S. response: We do not yet know what measures the White House plans to take to respond to the Russian meddling.

Trump response: Not yet known is whether President-elect Trump plans to respond firmly to the Russian attacks, in light of his expressions of admiration for Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, Assange has said Wikileaks did not get the emails from the Russians, and a British politician, Craig Murray, said he met the leaker in a wooded area in Washington and said the individual was a disaffected Democratic committee worker.

Obama pardons 78 more
and shortens sentences, too

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Barack Obama has pardoned 78 people and shortened the sentence of 153 others convicted of federal crimes, the greatest number of individual clemencies in a single day by any president, the White House said Monday.

Obama has been granting commutations at rapid-fire pace in his final months in office, but he has focused primarily on shortening sentences of those convicted of drug offenses rather than giving pardons.

A pardon amounts to forgiveness of a crime that removes restrictions on the right to vote, hold state or local office, or sit on a jury. The pardon also lessens the stigma arising from the conviction.

The pardons issued Monday were for a wide range of offenses, such as possession of counterfeit currency, felon in possession of a firearm and involuntary manslaughter. One Tennessee man was pardoned after being dismissed from the military in 1990 for conduct unbecoming an officer, shoplifting.

Neil Eggleston, Obama's White House counsel, said Obama has now pardoned a total of 148 people during his presidency. He has also shortened the sentences of 1,176 people, including 395 serving life sentences.

Eggleston said each clemency recipient's story is unique, but a common thread of rehabilitation underlies all of them. Pardon recipients have shown they have led a productive and law-abiding post-conviction life, including by contributing to the community in a meaningful way, he said.

Commutation recipients have made the most of his or her time in prison by participating in educational courses, vocational training, and drug treatment, he said. Not all of those receiving commutations will be set free right away. Some will see their sentences end in 2017 or 2018, long after Obama leaves office, and in some cases on the condition they participate in drug treatment programs.

"These are the stories that demonstrate the successes that can be achieved by both individuals and society in a nation of second chances,'' Eggleston said.

The commutations were announced as Obama vacations in Hawaii during the holidays. Obama leaves office falling short in efforts to overhaul the nation's criminal justice system. Congress could not reach agreement on legislation that would lead to shorter sentences for some.

Pointing to a prison population that has increased from 500,000 in 1980 to about 2.2 million today, the administration had argued that thousands of people were serving sentences disproportionate to their crimes and that the financial toll of incarcerating them increased financial strains for the government.

Eggleston said he expects Obama to issue more commutations and pardons before he leaves office. He called clemency a tool of last resort and said "only Congress can achieve the broader reforms needed to ensure over the long run that our criminal justice system operates more fairly and effectively.''

The pace of commutations generated criticism on the campaign trail earlier this year with president-elect Donald Trump warning voters that their safety could be at risk because of Obama's move to set prisoners free ahead of schedule.

"Some of these people are bad dudes,'' Trump said in October after another batch of Obama commutations.

The Drug Policy Alliance, which has supported Obama's efforts, said it was worried going into the next administration.

"We need the president to pick up the pace of commutations before he leaves office,'' said Michael Collins, a deputy director at the alliance.

New Orleans settles cases
of citizens killed by police

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

New Orleans offered apologies and reached settlements totaling $13.3 million in civil rights lawsuits brought against the city for the killings of residents by police in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the mayor said Monday.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the city reached deals with 17 plaintiffs to settle all claims in the cases that have prompted local police reforms and federal investigation into suspected misconduct by numerous officers.

The settlements included families of those killed on the city's Danziger Bridge in September 2005, where two unarmed people were fatally shot.

"We are here to proclaim from the highest mountaintop that the City of New Orleans, in all of its agony and in all of its joy, can transform itself from a city of violence into a city of peace," the mayor said.

Landrieu held a prayer service with family members and asked for their forgiveness ahead of announcing the settlements.

The families have been in litigation for years with the city and their lawsuits alleging police misconduct and cover-ups helped to change the narrative of police actions following the hurricane.

The storm led to more than 1,500 deaths in the New Orleans-area.

Those gunned down on the bridge included Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old with the mental development of a 6 year old. He had seven gunshot wounds in his back. On the other side of the bridge, James Brissette Jr., 17, was fatally shot, court documents showed.

Five ex-New Orleans police officers pleaded guilty in April to various charges in connection with the killings on the bridge. Four other people were seriously injured in the incident.

The victims of the bridge incident, all black and unarmed, were trying to survive the hurricane's wake when a group of officers, believing they were racing to the scene of a police shootout, barreled toward them in a commandeered rental truck.

The death of Henry Glover was also part of the settlement. A few days after the storm, he was fatally shot by a police officer, who was eventually acquitted. Another officer was convicted of setting Glover's body on fire.

The settlement also included the case of Raymond Robair, 48, who local media said was beaten to death by police about a month before Katrina.

Drug eases Alzheimer's
in mice, researcher says

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

According to the Alzheimer's Association, an estimated 47 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, a neurodegenerative condition that causes severe dementia.

But researchers, originally at the University of Leicester in England, but now at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, have found a new class of drug that not only slows memory loss, but appears to restore it and to extend life in a mouse model of Alzheimer's.

The drug, called allosteric ligands, targets a protein that is involved with memory.

As patients with Alzheimer's deteriorate, the protein in a brain region called the hippocampus becomes less active.

However, the experimental drug appears to activate the protein, called the M1 muscarinic receptor, which improves memory.

Andrew Tobin, professor of molecular biology at the University of Glasgow, is lead author of the work, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

For reasons that are not entirely clear, Tobin says the drugs also extended the life of the mice.

Current treatments for Alzheimer's disease are designed to ease symptoms, while researchers say their work represents an actual treatment.

The experimental compound was tested in a mouse model of Alzheimer's. The animals were bred to exhibit signs of mad cow disease, which looks similar to Alzheimer's in humans in terms of memory loss, progression and death.

On a memory test, the untreated mice were unable to recall receiving a mild electric shock, while the treated mice did remember the stimulus.

Ku Klux Klan fan gets
30 years for bomb plot

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A U.S. mechanic has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for trying to produce a weapon of mass destruction to kill Muslims.

The U.S. Justice Department described Glendon Crawford of upstate New York as a self-professed member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Crawford was convicted in August 2015 of conspiring with another man to build a weapon that would disperse radiation.

“Crawford planned to kill Muslims on account of their religion and other people whose political and social beliefs he disagreed with, including government officials,” said attorney Richard Hartunian. “This is a classic case of domestic terrorism,” he said.

Crawford is the first person to be convicted under a 2004 law intended to stop terrorists from using radiation dispersing dirty bombs.

Prosecutors said Crawford approached Jewish groups seeking financial support for his plan to acquire a radiation device to be used against people he described as enemies of Israel. They say he also solicited funding for his plan from senior members of the Ku Klux Klan.

The Justice Department alleges that Crawford, along with a co-conspirator, Eric Feight, took steps to design, build and test a remote-controlled unit that could activate a radiation dispersal device from a distance. Prosecutors say Crawford later received a radiation dispersal device from people he believed were businessmen affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan, but were actually FBI special agents working undercover.

Lawyers for Crawford argued at his trial that Crawford was entrapped by the government. They say the radiation device was constructed by federal agents and say Crawford never intended to use it.

Feight pleaded guilty in connection with the case and was sentenced to eight years and one month in prison.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 251
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OAS called for order in Venezuela

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Organization of American States has called for the restoration of order in Venezuela.

The hemispheric organization said it expressed its solidarity and unconditional support for the people of Venezuela in relation to the recent wave of violence, looting, and desperation sparked by the monetary measures adopted by the government that restrict the circulation of cash and prevent the purchase of the most basic needs.

At the same time, the General Secretariat of the organization called for calm. The situation has led to serious incidents of public disorder in at least 12 states, with reports of demonstrations, disturbances, and/or looting in 27 cities, it added.

Added to this is the alarming and ongoing situation of the denial of civil and political rights, institutional rupture and social and humanitarian crisis, the organization said.

The critical panorama has resulted in a wave of unrest that has led to an increase in the already high levels of insecurity in the country and, according to local media, has led to the unfortunate death of a 15-year-old boy during looting on La Limonada boulevard in Callao, it added.

In line with what has been previously expressed on a number of occasions, the Organization of America States urges the Venezuelan government to meet its obligations and use all necessary means to restore the institutional order in the country, and to meet the urgent needs of the people, while restoring citizen security.

As is established in international human rights agreements, it is the responsibility of the State to ensure the right to life, security, social and economic rights, as well as the basic needs of its inhabitants.

In the same way, it is the direct responsibility of the rulers to ensure the restitution of the political rights and the right of the people to elect their leaders and to be elected by the citizens.

In this context of political, economic, and social degradation, the General Secretariat said it called on those responsible and those party to the dialogue taking place in the country to urgently take into account the severe humanitarian situation of the Venezuelan people.

“No people can place their hopes in an attempt at dialogue that does not lead to concrete agreements and their unrestricted fulfillment in good faith, just as citizens cannot believe in a dialogue so far removed and distant from their real interests and so inefficient that it has not been able to solve the basic problems of the Venezuelan people after so many months,” the statement said.

Missing American is located in States

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A missing U.S. citizen has been located, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Rolando Miguel Núñez, 90, is believed to have returned to the United States and moved into a retirement community, according to a judicial spokesperson.

Núñez was reported missing by judicial investigators late last week. He was described as a permanent resident living in Cartago, and was last seen on Dec. 14 when he left his room around 9 a.m., the judicial agency said.
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Tourism growing at 4 percent, U.N. agency says

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Destinations around the world welcomed 956 million international tourists between January and September 2016, according to the latest World Tourism Barometer. This is 34 million more than in the same period of 2015, a 4 percent increase.

Demand for international tourism remained robust in the first nine months of 2016, though growing at a somewhat more moderate pace, said the World Tourism Organization. After a strong start of the year, growth was slower in the second quarter of 2016 to pick up again in the third quarter of the year. While most destinations report encouraging results, others continue to struggle with the impact of negative events, either in their country or in their region.

“Tourism is one of the most resilient and fastest-growing economic sectors but it is also very sensitive to risks, both actual and perceived. As such, the sector must continue to work together with governments and stakeholders to minimize risks, respond effectively and build confidence among travelers,” said Taleb Rifai, secretary general of the U.N. agency.

“No destination is immune to risks. We need to increase cooperation in addressing these global threats, namely those related to safety and security. And we need to make tourism an integral part of emergency planning and response,” said Rifai.

International tourist arrivals in the Americas increased by 4 percent through September, said the agency. South America at 7 percent and Central America with 6 percent led results.

China, the world’s top source market, continues to drive demand, reporting double-digit growth in spending (19 percent).