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Published Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 256
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A string of antique vehicles, led by Willys Jeeps, begins the carnival parade in San José. The resumption of the event after an 11-year lapse brought thousands of spectators to the sidewalks at Avenida Segunda and Paseo Colón. There was a heavy police presence, and there were no serious crimes reported. Our story is
old car
Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo

For expats, this is a very taxing time of the year
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

For many expats the end of the year means the annual encounter with the government as they seek to pay a variety of taxes.

The most pressing for vehicle owners is the annual tax and insurance known collectively as the marchamo. The official due date for payment is Saturday, but there may only be limited places to do so on that day.

The Instituto Nacional de Seguros collects the money and issues the vehicle window sticker and accompanying document. The state insurance company also includes the basic liability policy. Although about a third of vehicle owners have not yet paid the marchamo, a check of the main Instituto de Seguros office Tuesday found a room containing just helpful employees. The offices close at 4 p.m. Friday.

Payments also can be made at financial counters at supermarkets and at many banks and private insurance firms.

Those who fail to pay by Saturday will  face a penalty and perhaps a traffic fine if they drive their vehicles Sunday.

Expats with so-called luxury homes also have to pay a special tax by Jan. 16. The tax applies to homes and condos whose construction and immediate property values total 128 million colons or more. That's $228,571 based on the current 560 colon-to-the-dollar exchange rate.

The lowest percentage for homes up to 360 million colons is a quarter of a percentage point. The tax ranges up to 0.55 percent for the homes with the highest value. Homeowners also have to make periodic declarations of value, although there has been no change this year due to limited inflation.

Detailed information is available on the website of the Ministerio de Hacienda. The tax declaration has to be filed electronically.

A.M. Costa Rica photo
These documents show marchamo payment.

The legislature has not yet renewed the tax on corporations despite strong pressure from the central government. Approval of a pending bill is likely when lawmakers convene again in January. So expats who own corporations will be on the hook for this tax, too. In  addition, the Ministerio de Hacienda inspectors are seeking owners of corporations who did not pay the tax for 2015. The tax was declared unconstitutional in January 2015 by the Sala IV constitutional court, but the magistrates said inexplicably that the tax for that year still had to be paid. Many owners of corporations decided to wait and see.

Property owners also are facing a year-end deadline for municipal taxes. And owners of businesses also face taxes for a license or patente for the last quarter of the year. Normally these can be paid online at the municipal website or through a bank.

Expats in business should have filed their annual income tax return by Dec. 15. Another tax on a business is that pesky one called the educational and cultural stamp. This is due in February and March each year, and it ranges from 750 colons to 9,000 colons, depending on the net value of the operation. Most expats pay the 9,000 colons to be done with it.

Of course everyone pays taxes on every shopping trip, at the restaurant, when using a telephone or electric lights and even when purchasing motor fuel.

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Warning issued on Pacific coast seas

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The north Pacific coast is getting hit by strong winds from México, and ocean experts say that this is generating dangerous conditions for boating. And tourists should be cautious, too.

The report comes from the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología at the Universidad de Costa Rica. The seas are much higher than normal and are being driven by winds from the Gulf of  Tehuantepec in southwest México, the center said. The estimate of the wave heights range up to four meters or about 13 feet. In addition, the sea is reported to be choppy.

The Caribbean coast also is getting higher seas through Friday because of waves coming from Colombia, the center said. The ocean there is expected to return to normal conditions Friday.

The dangerous conditions on the Pacific are confined to the north and north central coast, said the center. The southern part of the northern coast through the rest of the Pacific coast was reported to be favorable for boating.

The higher seas also present dangers for swimmers. Costa Rica is known for its strong rip tides that take lives every year. And few popular beaches have protection from lifeguards.

Pot plants
Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
Some plants were set up to look like a nursery.

Mangroves hid plantations of marijuana

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Drug agents said Tuesday that they had discovered 26 marijuana plantations within mangrove swamps in the southern part of the country.

The 206,698 marijuana plants within 19,538 square meters were chopped down, according to officials. The drug producers were trying to plant in the mangroves in an effort to make it look like their marijuana plantation was really a nursery, according to officials. In addition to the destroyed plants, drug agents seized five kilos of compressed marijuana in baggies containing 15 grams each. 

These plantations were in mangroves at Dominicalito, Cerro Danta, Fila Coquito, Finca Puntarenas, Hatillo, San Jerónimo and Jalaca. Within one zone, police realized that the marijuana was planted in pots, wrapped in saran wrap and put in saddlebags so horses could move them without authorities detecting them. The work was carried out over the span of 10 days by members of the air surveillance unit, the border police, and the drug enforcement agents, all from the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública.

Hands off legislature, Venezuelans told

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Organization of American States has defined as unacceptable and outrageous the continuous violation of the independence and balance of power through speeches and announcements by representatives of both the executive branch and the governing  party in Venezuela who say they will not recognize the national assembly's future officials. This generates political and social uncertainty, reinforcing the vicious circle of democratic crisis, institutional rupture, shortages, hunger, insecurity, lack of rights and poverty, said the hemispheric organization.

No system of government in which the separation of powers is consecrated can admit under any circumstances actions by the executive or the judiciary aimed at paralyzing indefinitely the works of the legislature, where the nation’s political and sovereign representation lie, the statement added.

In Venezuela’s case, admitting to the contrary would carry the diagnosis beyond the current scenario of alteration of the constitutional order and institutional rupture to finalize a coup d’etat through the de facto dissolution through indefinite paralysis of one of the state’s powers, it said, adding that
any intervention in this regard would represent the disappearance of the popular sovereignty attributed to the national assembly, and this would merit the strongest condemnation from the international community.

The board of directors of the national assembly, according to its internal regulations, is composed of a chairman, a first vice chairman, and a second vice chairman, as well as a secretary and a deputy secretary.

Likewise, it is mandatory that at the beginning of every constitutional term, as well as at the beginning of every annual regular session period, the assembly must elect its board of directors, which shall be elected by all members of parliament present at the moment of voting. The new term begins Jan. 5.

‪The correct election and working of the board of directors is essential for the appropriate functioning of the legislative power, said the Organization of American States.

Any interference on the election of the national assembly's officials by the executive or the judicial powers would imply absolutely ignoring the essential principles of democracy, separation and independence of powers, said the organization. Furthermore, such actions would sideline the legitimacy given by the people of Venezuela to the national assembly, which would consecrate one more step towards the consolidation of an authoritarian regime, it added.

What the people of Venezuela needs are solutions to overcome an already shocking humanitarian crisis, due to shortages of food, medicines and other basic needs, said the organization.

Older man was this woman's target

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Fuerza Pública has arrested a woman suspected in a string of robberies targeting older people.

The woman in Quepos where the crime occurred, is accused of attempting to take some possessions and money of an old man who had just withdrawn some cash from his bank, officials said. The man apparently cried out for help, and officers making rounds near the bank responded to the calls.

They came at the moment when the woman was attempting to take the old man’s belongings, they said. In addition, this woman has also been arrested in the past for drug violations, they added.

Frozen tilapia being recalled over antibiotic

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Pricesmart says it is recalling frozen raw tilapia filets because they have high levels of the antibiotic Sulfadiazine. The antibiotic is used in fish farms to fight bacteria. Pricesmart said on its website that the frozen fish were sold from Nov. 7 to 24. It promises a full refund.  The company said it was informed of the problem by the Ministerio de Agricultura y Gandería's Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal. The agency operates a lab.

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Comparsa Las Estrellas del Sabor adds color to the carnival while the street band Murga los Distinguidos, adds music
The return of the Christmas carnival proves to be a tame affair
By Conor Golden
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tuesday’s carnival saw Avenida Segunda and Paseo Colón packed with spectators despite underwhelming advertising from the Municipalidad de San José and a tame carnival.

The parade began at 1 p.m. and quickly finished around 3 p.m. The fewer participants meant a shorter time compared to the huge convoys and hours of standing around seen at Festival de la Luz or even the Tope Nacional the day before.

There were antique cars, feathered dancers, more bands, but not much else for the parade. It was all tame. No nudity. Outfits were less skimpy, and the participants were on their best behavior. This lack of a proper standard of decorum was part of the reason why the municipality had canceled carnival for 11 years.

The bands included the Comparsa las Estrellas del Sabor, a Guacimo-based performing group founded in 2011. Dancers in blazing costumes of purple, green, blues, and yellows followed by similarly colored musicians.

Another was the street band, Murga los Distinguidos, from the Las Tablas section of Alajuelita. Out of all the participants, they were the plainest. Towed along on a simple, red platform, the Murga players wore equally ordinary blue shirts in place of the flamboyant outfits of other groups.

The Comparsa Banda Latino had the look that could most resemble the carnival in Brazil. Bright, neon greens and yellows and oranges were the choices of the day among their dancers and band.

Despite the overwhelming crowds that came out, the municipality had done little to advertise for the event. There were few details about the carnival released before it. A date, 

the location, and an old photo were all that was mentioned on Facebook.

Avenida Segunda on the north side was packed. People were being shoved against brick and store doors by the crowds. They were caught between the buildings on one side and those fortunate enough to find a good spot along the sidewalk on the other.

The 600-strong police force that constituted the 3-kilometer route were under a lot of pressure with crowd control. This was because they had cordoned off parts of Avenida Segunda and
Paseo Colón on the south side. Officers working the rope lines said they needed the room for the parade participants and emergency vehicles.

The police remained confident, however, that they had everything under control during the course of the event. The audience was not too rowdy during the course of the parade. Drinking seemed not as prevalent among the spectators in comparison to this year’s tope.

According to police officials, seven people were arrested. Three of these seven were for charges of irregular immigration status. One was the subject of a warrant. One arrest was for a drug-related offense and two were for disobeying a police order.

The police said officers seized three small baggies of marijuana for a total of 68 grams. Despite this, marijuana still could be smelled at certain points along Paseo Colón and particularly at the end of the parade route or in side-streets.

The close proximity of individuals in a crowd was encouraging to thieves as well. A reporter noticed that a pocket on his backpack was zipped open and an unknown hand tried to dip into its contents.

Unfortunately for the thief, there was nothing worth stealing.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 256
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Scientists report the discovery of 133 new plant and animal species
By the California Academy of Sciences news staff

In 2016, researchers at the California Academy of Sciences added 133 new plant and animal species to the scientific record. The new species include one bee fly, 43 ants, 36 beetles, one sand wasp, four spiders, six plants, 23 fishes, one eel, one shark, seven nudibranchs, five fossil urchins, one fossil sand dollar, one coral, one skate, one African lizard, and an alarming new bird virus. More than a dozen Academy scientists, along with several dozen international collaborators, described the discoveries.

Proving that our planet contains unexplored places with never-before-recorded plants and animals with their own set of evolving viruses, the scientists made their finds over five continents and three oceans, ventured into vast deserts, plunged beneath the sea, and scoured thick rainforests and towering mountain ranges.

“Biodiversity scientists estimate that we have discovered less than 10 percent of the species on our planet,” says Shannon Bennett, academy chief of science. “Academy scientists tirelessly explore the lesser-known regions of Earth, not only to discover new species, but also to uncover the importance of these species to the health of our natural systems. Each of these species, known and as-yet-unknown is a wonder unto itself, but may also hold the key to ground-breaking innovations in science, technology, or society. Species live together in rich networks that thrive on complexity whether we can see it or not.

"Even the tiniest organism,” she adds, “can be beautiful and important.”

Here are a few of the 133 species described by the academy in 2016:

One pink-and-yellow fish has earned its spot in deep reef history. Grammatonotus brianne, an eye-popping species of groppo, is the deepest new fish discovery ever made by human hands. The discovery was captured on film at 487 feet beneath the ocean’s surface.

G. brianne joins 24 new species of fishes from camouflaging gobies to lanternsharks of the Indian Ocean described by Academy scientists in 2016 alone.

The bee flies (Bombyliidae sp.) may cause passersby to look twice. The nearly 5,000 species that make up this fly group imitate a wide range of relatives, from delicate honey bees to menacing wasps and spiders. “Don’t be deceived by stripes or fuzzy adornments,” says fly-expert Michelle Trautwein, academy curator of entomology, "insects from this group are all flies." A new species from Madagascar named Thevenetimyia spinosavus was discovered and found to be completely isolated from any other species within the same relative group. Similar species of bee fly are found in Northern Africa and North America, both a long way from Madagascar, meaning this fly is part of a group with an incredibly wide distribution.

The new bird virus is linked to beak-bending disorder. Scientists uncovered a clue in the global mystery surrounding wild birds with grossly deformed beaks.  Jack Dumbacher,

Mexican flower
California Academy of Sciences photo
A newly discovered flowering plant from Mexico.

academy curator of ornithology and mammalogy, alongside a team of researchers identified a new virus that has been linked to avian keratin disorder, a disease responsible for debilitating beak overgrowth and whose cause has remained elusive despite more than a decade of research. This new virus, identified from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, is being investigated as a potential cause of the disease and represents a critical step in understanding the emergence of this disease in wild bird populations around the world.

A fleet of beetles from Africa and China are included in the discoveries. After more than a dozen combined expeditions to the damp rainforests of Madagascar and the mountains of southwestern China, Dave Kavanaugh, academy emeritus curator of entomology, is listing 36 exciting new species of ground beetles. These are a wildly diverse group of winged and wingless predators that feast on other insects, and some are known to survive in extreme environments around the world.

Amid outcroppings of granite in the arid, sloping lowlands of southern Angola, a newly discovered species of armored  lizard wedges itself into particularly tight crevices, head-first. Only threatening spines are left exposed along its body and tail to deter approaching predators. Despite this clever maneuver, there was no escaping discovery by Edward Stanley, academy herpetology research associate, who suspected this particular lizard might differ from known species in the area. Scans revealed that the tiny, bony spikes of Cordylus namakuiyus are actually embedded in the lizard’s skin rather than attached to the skeleton itself.

Just north of San Francisco off California’s coastline, countless coral species thrive in the deep, chilly waters that make up the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, one of the most biologically productive regions on the planet. Here, scientists use remotely operated vehicles to explore life beneath the surface. On a 2012 expedition the academy curator of invertebrate zoology, Gary Williams set off  to investigate vibrant offshore life down to 1,400 feet. Among the sea stars, sea worms, snails, sponges, and crabs, Williams saw a single, whip-like stalk only 15 inches in length. It was of a snow-white coral (Swiftia farallonesica) gently swaying in the ocean currents. Unlike the hard coral relatives that compose the famous tropical reefs closer to the ocean’s surface, this soft-bodied coral species stands alone at depth and feeds on microscopic plankton floating through the water column.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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PV systems: we use Enphase micro-inverters. More flexible. Add panels whenever you like. More reliable than any other system and fully guaranteed!

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

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

    Push this BIG RED BUTTON:  (O) and Learn ​details about your deal with ICE     
    SEE our new PACKAGE DEALS.
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Office: 506-2446-0543
Andre 506-8314-8090
Paul 506-8898-9398

Real estate rentals (paid category)

Tropical Homes

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

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

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 256
Real Estate
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Axiom new ad

Trump could shape judiciary
with 104 possible selections

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. president-elect Donald Trump can begin to significantly reshape the federal judiciary when he takes office due to a large number of vacancies in the federal courts.

There are currently 104 vacancies, including a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court that was vacated by the February death of Justice Antonin Scalia, according to the federal judiciary. There are also 38 judicial emergencies, courtrooms where there are not enough judges to hear cases that are increasing in number.

By contrast, there were 54 federal judicial vacancies when President Barack Obama entered the White House eight years ago.

The large number of vacancies can be attributed to two years of a divided government, when Republicans assumed control of the Senate in 2015 and the pace of the confirmation of Obama's judicial nominees slowed dramatically.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the Republican Senate confirmed 20 lifetime judicial appointments to district and appeals courts over the past two years, the lowest number by far since 1988.

Numerous openings throughout the federal circuit and district courts will give Trump an opportunity to quickly make a number of lifetime appointments. They will hear weighty matters such as abortion restrictions, immigration issues and gun control.

In addition to the vacancy on the Supreme Court, there are 13 on the federal appeals courts, 82 in U.S. district courts, and eight others in special jurisdiction courts such as the U.S. Court of International Trade.

Due to the advanced ages of several Supreme Court justices, Trump could also significantly alter the composition of the nation's highest court. Stephen Breyer is 78, Anthony Kennedy is 80 and Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 83.

While Trump has been relatively mute about the numerous vacancies on the lower courts, the president-elect has said he intends to nominate a conservative to replace the late Justice Scalia.

"The replacement of our beloved Justice Scalia will be a person of similar views, principles and judicial philosophies," Trump said in his speech at the Republican National Convention in July.

Study says taking sauna baths
can reduce risk of dementia

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A new study by Finnish researchers, and published in the journal Age and Aging, suggests taking frequent sauna baths can reduce the risk of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Scientists from the University of Eastern Finland followed 2,000 middle-age men for twenty years as part of its ongoing Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study.

They found that participants who took sauna baths between 4 to 7 times per week were 66 percent less likely of being diagnosed with dementia than those doing so once a week.

An earlier report from the continuing study indicated that frequent sauna bathing also considerably decreases the risk of sudden cardiac death, the risk of death due to coronary artery disease and other cardiac events, as well as overall mortality.

According to the paper’s authors the association between sauna bathing and the risk of dementia had not been studied until recently.

Senate prepares for voting
on cabinet confirmations

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Even before Donald Trump is inaugurated as president on Jan. 20, the U.S. Senate will begin considering his nominees for top administration posts.

"I think it's going to be one of the great cabinets ever, ever, ever," the president-elect said at a recent rally.

In choosing his presidential inner circle, Trump drew from corporate boardrooms, the military and the ranks of conservative, pro-business public servants. Perhaps no Trump nominee has gotten more attention than ExxonMobil head Rex Tillerson, tapped to be secretary of State. Tillerson's reported ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin have raised concerns.

"My relationship with Vladimir Putin, which dates back almost 15 years now, he understands that I'm a businessman," Tillerson said earlier this year at a public forum for business leaders. "And I've invested a lot of money, our company has invested a lot of money, in Russia."

Democrats are signaling grave misgivings over Trump's Cabinet picks, but know they will be unable to block them on their own.

"We're going to ask a lot of questions, and we'll see what sorts of answers Mr. Tillerson has," Sen. Chris Coons said. The Delaware Democrat serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that will consider Tillerson's nomination.

"There are both Republicans and Democrats asking questions about Mr. Tillerson's potential conflicts of interest, about his long and close relationship with Vladimir Putin and Russia, and about his ability to balance the demands of being a diplomat and fighting for America's interests with his long experience leading an oil and gas company," Coons added.

"The confirmation hearings, at least some of them, will be very contentious," said political analyst John Hudak of the Washington-based Brookings Institution. "This is going to be, in some ways, Trump's first test of congressional relations."

Most Senate Republicans are rallying around Trump's picks.

"I've been very impressed with the nominations so far," said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. "Of the nominees we're aware of, I'm optimistic they will be confirmed."

Republicans have a slight Senate majority and, if they remain unified, they can ensure Trump's Cabinet selections are confirmed.

"There is not much that Democrats in the Senate can do without having two or three Republicans join with them," Hudak said.

"These senators realize they are going to have to work with this president over the coming years," he added. "And one of the easiest ways to sully the relationship between you and the president of your party is to really run his nominees through the ringer."

Democrats, meanwhile, will use confirmation hearings to illuminate and probe questions surrounding the nominees, hoping to sway public opinion and a few Republicans. The Constitution tasks senators with providing advice and consent on nominees, a duty Democrats say they take seriously.

"One of the signature features of American democracy is the separation of powers between the executive branch and the legislative branch," Coons said.

For now, Trump is talking up his nominees, describing Tillerson as a fierce advocate for America's interests around the world.

Zika, polio and HIV viruses
were the concerns for 2016

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Health news in 2016 was dominated by talk of zika, polio and HIV, and the fear, devastation and death that followed. However, scientific advances offer hope for treatment and protection in the years ahead.

While many people with zika exhibit such mild symptoms that they don’t know they are infected, a surge of babies born with microcephaly proved that the virus is anything but harmless. Pregnant women with zika are at risk of giving birth to babies with microcephaly, meaning they have abnormally small heads, which often signifies arrested brain development.

The zika virus originated in Uganda more than 60 years ago, and is transmitted by mosquitoes and through sex with an infected person. The virus recently emerged in Brazil, then surged north. There were confirmed cases in Florida, and health officials in Texas worry the virus might be spreading there.

Dr. Anthony Costello, with the World Health Organization, said even one affected child has a big impact on community resources and a family's ability to cope.

"It is a public health problem of huge concern for the world,” he said. “Sixty-nine countries have seen the zika virus emerge in the last two years. We are talking about a virus that causes brain damage and potentially lifelong disability, which is a huge blow to families."

Currently, prevention is key. Women are advised to avoid travel to areas where the virus is spreading, to guard against mosquito bites and to delay pregnancy. There is no vaccine against zika, but one could be available in 2018.

In Nigeria, the polio virus re-emerged in the violence-wracked northern part of the country, where it's hard to ensure that every child is vaccinated. Three children were diagnosed with polio just as Nigeria was thought to be approaching polio-free status.

The virus also exists in another conflict zone: along the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Those behind the vaccination effort say they are determined to eliminate the disease. Polio infections have decreased by 99 percent since 1988, from about 350,000 cases then to less than three dozen in 2016.

In the beginning of December, Anthony Fauci at the National Institutes of Health announced the start of a major trial of an experimental vaccine against the AIDS virus.

"An HIV vaccine is not going to be easy,” he said. “We may not even know if we're going to get a vaccine."

However, Fauci described the advances in AIDS treatment as nothing short of spectacular.

"Today, the combinations of therapies we have for individuals, for someone who is in their 20s and gets infected and comes in and gets on a combination of drugs, you could predict that they could live an additional 50 years,” he said. “That is one of the most extraordinary advances in the transition from basic research to an applicable intervention in any field of medicine."

If an effective vaccine is found, it could mean the end for a virus that has infected more than 70 million people and killed 35 million over the last half-century.


A mate by any other name
would still be a loving soul

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Will a wedding bring a name change?

For most American brides, such as Michelle Bakken, the answer is yes.

"I knew I wanted to change my name," said the former Michelle Osten, who married Cody Bakken in July in Minnesota. She grew up as an only child in nearby Fargo, North Dakota. Her father died when she was 13 and her mother remarried, causing her to believe she has no ties to her maiden name.

Nine out of 10 brides report changing their names, according to an annual survey conducted by The Knot, a wedding resource website. That number has held steady over the three years since the survey introduced the naming question. The most recent Knot survey covers 2015 and reflects responses from nearly 18,000 women who registered on the site and married that year.

"We do see more brides keeping their professional names," said Ivy Jacobson, The Knot’s associate editor. She noted that some newlyweds, including gay couples, adopt a partner’s surname as their middle name, and "some people do hyphenated surnames or some people blend the last names."

The New York Times’ Upshot column came up with a lower rate of bridal name changing: about four out of five. It used a Google Consumer Survey to determine, in 2015, that "roughly 20 percent of women married in recent years have kept their names."

It found name retention was on the rise again after dipping sometime in the 1980s or 1990s. In the 1970s, roughly 17 percent of women marrying for the first time kept their maiden name.

At least 2.1 million marriages were reported to the National Center for Health Statistics in 2014, the most recent year for which it has provisional data. That same year, 1,562,606 individuals changed their surnames because of marriage, according to the Social Security Administration. Over 99 percent were women.

It is customary for women in Spanish-speaking cultures, as well as Malaysia and Korea, to retain their family names.

In some countries, newlyweds have no choice in legal names.

Japan’s Supreme Court ruled last year that, because of the family registry system called koseki, married couples must share the same surname. It’s almost always the husband’s.

Conversely, women in Belgium, France, Italy and the Canadian province of Quebec must keep their maiden names, Time magazine reported in a roundup of naming customs.

Only nine U.S. states let men change their names using just a marriage license, though women can do so in all 50 states.

Researchers link depression
to social media accounts

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Heavy usage of social media can lead to depression, according to a new study.

Writing in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health, say use of multiple platforms is more strongly associated with depression and anxiety among young adults.

Specifically, researchers found that people who report using between seven and 11 social media platforms are three times more likely to develop depression and anxiety than those who use between zero and two platforms.

These findings were the same even when adjusted for the total time users spent on social media.

“This association is strong enough that clinicians could consider asking their patients with depression and anxiety about multiple platform use and counseling them that this use may be related to their symptoms,” said lead author and physician Brian A. Primack. “While we can’t tell from this study whether depressed and anxious people seek out multiple platforms or whether something about using multiple platforms can lead to depression and anxiety, in either case the results are potentially valuable.”

For the study, researchers sampled 1,787 American adults between 19 and 32 to determine social media use and depression. The surveys asked about 11 social media sites including: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn and others.

While those who used seven to 11 of these platforms reported three times more depression, Primack says more study needs to be done.

Researchers are not sure why heavy use of social media drives depression and anxiety, but they do have some theories. For one, multitasking is known to be related to poor cognitive and mental health outcomes, researchers said.

Also the distinct set of unwritten rules, cultural assumptions and idiosyncrasies of each platform are increasingly difficult to navigate when the number of platforms used rises, which could lead to negative mood and emotions, researchers said.

Lastly, being on more platforms leads to a greater chance to commit a social media faux pas, which can cause repeated embarrassment.

Real estate-related services (paid category)

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

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

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

    Push this BIG RED BUTTON:  (O) and Learn ​details about your deal with ICE     
    SEE our new PACKAGE DEALS.
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Office: 506-2446-0543
Andre 506-8314-8090
Paul 506-8898-9398

Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

Sotheby logo

Costa Rica Sotheby's International Realty is a boutique residential property brokerage firm in San Jose Costa Rica dedicated to creating long-term value for its customers and assist you to reach your property goals in Costa Rica. Whether purchasing or selling, our guarantee is an amazing experience for you and your family. You can rely on bespoke advertising and discretion, independent guidance interchangeable with the brand of the Sotheby since 1744. To those who value the exceptional, Sotheby's International Realty® is identifying properties throughout Costa Rica and local Real Estate service providers that offer unrivaled access to qualified individuals. We encourage you to meet with our representatives and preview our on-line portfolio of outstanding properties in Costa Rica.
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Near Parque Nacional Marino Ballena,
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The Terraces at San Martin.  Discover the essence of Costa Rica on our Luxury Ocean View Villas . Near Dominicalito Beach and Parque Nacional Marino Ballena.
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Real estate for sale (paid category)

Sámara titled land for sale by owner
5.7 acres. Only 150 meters to beach: $275,000
Less than $12 a meter

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

Owner Financing in San Ramon
New Construction, and Ocean View
Brand new home with 4-plus bedrooms and 3 baths all overlooking an incredible 180-degree view of the Pacific Ocean
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and mountains. Locatedonly 45 minutes from the San Jose airport and about the same to the Pacific Ocean.  The lower level could be used as a separate apartment or mother-in-law setup. Home includes HUGE master  suite, CLOSETS, custom cabinets, granite counter tops, high wood ceilings, and all in an area that is 70-80 degrees year round. Priced at $199,000.
Completion date is January.  See the Virtual Tour:    or click here If you would like to take a look at this amazing house, please give me a call at  Costa Rica # 506-8755-6743 or if from the States call 509-570-1928 or email tim@whynotcostarica.com9

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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: 
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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. Up to 40% financing / get residency through investor status / includes a corporation that is 27 years old and offshore banking account with  Banco National / possible 50/50 partnership. Super location in front of the Bosques de Escazú  Condos  / Monthly rentals available
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Free US phone 877-778-8515  or 410-975-6703
In Costa Rica 506- 8307-0164
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horse ranch
Spectacular Horse Ranch and Spiritual/Yoga
Retreat Center For Sale

We invite you to a horseback tour of 187 acres of pristine farm land with breathtaking vistas, including the islands of the Gulf of Nicoya. There are multiple springs and streams, wooded areas, hard-wood and fruit trees, rolling hills with a geat variety of birds and wildlife. This property boasts the privilege of being bordered by thousands of acres of forest preserve down a steep canyon, offering its own spectacular views, which will never be developed. The many hills provide a builder an endless array of possibilities for nestling buildings in where they will have both views and privacy. The elevation of the property at 1,200 to1600 feet above sea level ensures fresh breezes and ideal year-round temperatures with a day-time average in the low 80's for open-air living. There is a ranch-style house with guest house with 8 total bedrooms, 5 modern baths, huge eat-in kitchen, landmark palm-thatched giant rancho, stable, and storage buildings. The home will come partially furnished, including beds, ample dishware for large groups, housewares, linens, washer/dryer, and fine hard-wood hand-built cabinetry. The remaining horses, 4 to 6 of them, will also convey if one wishes. We are also including a LARGE BEACH LOT in nearby Playa Bejuco. San Rafael de Nandayure is a tiny rural village nestled into the mountainside above Carmona with all the charms of the simple good life of a BLUE ZONE. Carmona is a thriving town with a clinic, restaurfants, shopping, and everything else one may need.  More information
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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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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 256
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News from the BBC up to the minute

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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
whale tag
University of Oregon photo
The new type of tag can be seen clearly on this whale.

New tag expands knowledge of whales

By the University of Oregon news staff

A sophisticated new type of tag on whales can record data every second for hours, days and weeks at a time. Researchers say the device provides a view of whale behavior, biology and travels never before possible.

This “Advanced Dive Behavior  tag, has allowed University of Oregon researchers to expand their knowledge of whale ecology to areas deep beneath the sea, over thousands of miles of travel, and outline their interaction with the prey they depend upon for food, they said.

The findings, published in the journal Ecology and Evolution, showed sperm whales diving all the way to the sea floor, more than 1,000 meters, and being submerged for up to 75 minutes. It reported baleen whales lunging after their food, provided a basis to better understand whale reactions to undersea noises such as sonar or seismic exploration and is helping scientists observe how whales react to changes in water temperature.

“The ADB tag is a pretty revolutionary breakthrough,” said Bruce Mate, professor and director of university's Marine Mammal Institute. “This provides us a broad picture of whale behavior and ecology that we’ve never had before.

“This technology has even made whales our partners in acquiring data to better understand ocean conditions and climate change,” Mate said. “It gives us vast amounts of new data about water temperatures through space and time, over large distances and in remote locations. We’re learning more about whales, and the whales are helping us to learn more about our own planet.”

The new tag, the researchers say, expands by several orders of magnitude the observations that can be made of whale feeding and behavior. Researchers say it’s showing what whales do while underwater; when, how and where they feed, how they might be affected by passing ships or other noises and what types of water temperatures they prefer.

In the new study, researchers outlined the continued evolution and improvements made in the technology from 2007 to 2015, in which it was used on sperm, blue and fin whales.

Unlike earlier technology that could not return data from the deep sea for much longer than a day, the new tags are designed to acquire data constantly for up to seven weeks at a time before they detach from the whale, float to the surface and are retrieved in the open sea to download data. The retrieval itself is a little tricky. Scientists compare it to searching for a hamburger floating in thousands of square miles of open ocean. The tags transmit GPS locations and have flashing LED lights once they have released.

The tag can sense water depth, whale movement and body orientation, water temperature and light levels.

“With this system we can acquire much more data at a lower cost, with far less commitment of time by ships and personnel,” said Ladd Irvine, the corresponding author on the study. “This tag type yields amazing results. It’s going to significantly expand what we can accomplish, learning both about whale ecology and the ocean itself.”
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From Page 7:

Labor inspectors working to get aguinaldos

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Labor officials said they received 203 complaints that employers had not paid the required Christmas bonus, or aguinaldo up until noon Tuesday.

The Dirección Nacional de Inspección del Trabajo said it processed 169 of these complaints, and 915 employees received the money that they had been owed. That was about 50 percent of the employees who received the money, the labor ministry agency said.

Some 69 employers are reported to have been able to comply with the obligatory payment, according to officials. The labor board said inspectors will handle the remaining 34 cases throughout the remainder of this week and the next.

Sectors with most infractions came from commerce and services, officials said.