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(506) 2223-1327                              Published Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, in Vol. 16, No. 258                             Email us
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Happy New Year
Earthlings get a bit more in the 2016 leap year
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Next year, 2016, is another leap year. That means the calendar has a Feb. 29, a Monday this year

So earthlings are getting bit more for their money in 2016. The reason, of course, is the orbit of earth around the sun is not exactly 365 days. It is 365 days and about six hours. So the extra day is added every four years to keep the calendar on track.

Leap Day, as Feb. 29 is called, also is a time
when tradition says a woman can propose to
 her boyfriend, although in the modern world women generally are not shy.

Keeping track of solar movements is not new. Leap year is thousands of years old.

The Chinese had it, and even Julius Ceasar included it in his calendar computations. That raises the question of why the Inquisition picked on Galileo more than 1600 years later.

There are a number of traditions that say Leap Day is unlucky. And there are others that say it is lucky. Parents manage to fit in a birthday each year for offspring born on that day.

Getting a marchamo sticker today might be a chore
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Today is the day to scramble to pay the marchamo road tax before interest and a penalty kick in at midnight.

Expats who have not paid really have to scramble because many of the locations where the annual road tax can be accepted are closed or employees are working just half a day today.

Failing to pay means the owner of a motor vehicle will not have a sticker to put on the windshield. Traffic police are alert to this during January, and the fine is about $100.

Then there is the immediate 10 percent monthly penalty and various interest charges for the obligatory motor vehicle insurance and property tax.

The main office of the Instituto Nacional de Seguros, which handles the payments, is closed today, but individual insurance brokerage offices may be open. State banks are closed, but private banks may be open half a day.

Those with electronic bank accounts probably can pay that way, and some banks even are offering promotions and credit plans for marchamo payments.

Some may need credit because the marchamo for a
15-year-old junker still can 

In a pinch, expats can save this graphic, blow it up a bit and paste it on the car windshield!

marchamo sticker

be 70,000 colons, and owners of newer
vehicles might be paying a thousand dollars or more. The big bite is the property tax that is based on the estimated value of the vehicle.

The way the Ministerio de Hacienda computed the values this year is the subject of a Sala IV constitutional court appeal, but a decision is unlikely soon. Some motorists have faced enormous increases in their vehicle value.

If late-paying expats find out there are unjustified amounts for traffic tickets included in the marchamo fee, they will jut have to wait until next week to resolve the issue.

The Instituto Nacionall de Seguros has a detailed description and answers to common questions on its Web site in Spanish HERE.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 258
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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.


Marco Cavallini & Associates
Dental Implants and Crowns

Dr. Marco A. Muñoz Cavallini has placed and
DR. Cavallini
Dr. Marco A. MuÏoz Cavallini
restored over 17,000 dental implants since 1980. The Dr. Marco Muñoz Cavallini Dental Clinic, is recognized as one of the best practices in Dental Reconstruction, Dental Implant placement and Cosmetic Dentistry in Costa Rica and the World. For more information, visit us today at:


Dr. Gray
Dr. Lucinda Gray
California Licensed
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Insurance professionals

The Garrett Insurance Group
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E-mail :
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Residency experts

Residency in Costa Rica
A full service immigration agency
U.S. and San José offices
Getting and authenticating documents can be a chore. —

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Tel: (323) 255-6116


U.S. Income Tax Services
Marlene B. Summers, Tax Accountant
Ms. Summers
Marlene B. Summers
U.S. citizens, plan now for your tax year. Let me help you pay only the tax  you must!
Take advantage of the foreign earned income exclusion.
If your filing is not up-to-date, the Streamlined Filing Procedure can be used to mitigate penalties.   Including  disclosure of foreign corporations to avoid future problems. 

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U.S. Tax
(English spoken). Tamarindo office hours now available.  If you or anyone you know would like an appointment in Tamarindo, please call our San José office at 2288-2201 to make an appointment.
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 U.S 786-206-9473         CR 506-2288-2201
FAX: 506 2231-3300
Web page:

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US Income Tax,  U.S. GAAP Accounting
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pecializing in all matters of concern to U.S. taxpayers residing abroad including:
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Past-due tax returns: Taxpayers filing before an IRS notice do not face criminal sanctions.
Reporting foreign financial assets: FBAR and foreign corporations.
Up-to-date FACTA news.
All US Tax return preparation:
individual, business, estate and trust.
eFile returns: secure with faster refunds.
Business consulting to facilitate working in Costa Rica.

Telephone 8305-3149 or 2256-8620

Fine art restoration and conservation

Gilbert Carmichael
Master Art Restorer
European and U.S. standards. USPAP.
  Porcelain and ceramic
  Works on paper restoration
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  Art expert services
  Other restoration services
  Condition evaluation
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Experts in fine art restoration and conservation for the tropics. We clean mildew, mold, etc., repair, restore and offer art expert and curatorial services.

For more information please contact Weronika Nossowicz at 8388-5328  or email HERE!

Legal services

Valdivieco header
Lic. Eduardo Valdivieso
your legal adviser for criminal, civil,
commercial, and family law.  
Phone: ( 506 ) 8839-5010 
Address:  150 meters southwest from
the Goicoechea court, San José.

Land surveying services

René Sánchez Quirós
30+ years of experience in:

Mr. Sanchez
Survey (cadastral) maps
Boundary markers
Calculations of terrain

Call me:
CR phone number:   +506-2290-4573
CR Cell phone number: +506-8383-0083

Real estate agents and services


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Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
These items came from a truck stopped in Talamanca.

Fireworks effort put to the test tonight

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tonight will show the success or lack of success in the efforts by law enforcement to crack down on fireworks.

So far this year, the Fuerza Pública has made four major confiscations of fireworks. Those that explode are illegal, and officials always express concern about the danger to children.

Two of the confiscations were this week. Officers stopped a truck in  Cataratas de Bratsi, Talamanca, and said that they found 143,663 individual items.

Officers also said that they stopped a street sale of fireworks in Zapote, also this week.

The Talamanca case involved a shipment from Panamá. Earlier this year officers intercepted a shipment from Panamá but near Paso Canoas on the other side of the country.

There also was a case of a woman smuggling fireworks originating in Nicaragua while she was a passenger on a bus.

The Hospital Nacional de Niños had only reported a handful of injuries to children from fireworks this year. Officials there said more were injured by hot water and oil in their family's kitchen

Bull baiters keep the Cruz Roja busy

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

One organization that is not on vacation is the Cruz Roja. Its workers have treated or transported 80 informal bull fighters from the ring at Zapote and 93 from the ring at the Centro de Eventos Pedregal.

The Cruz Roja keeps a running list, and injuries to those who get into the ring with bulls are more numerous than those elsewhere at the fiestas with medical problems. The agency said 84 persons were treated at both locations for medical conditions.

Meanwhile, the uniquely Tico bull fights are dominating the television screens at 2:30 p.m. and at 8 p.m.

The bulls seem to be more intelligent this year. In years past, participants who were run down would lie without motion on the ground, and bulls generally overlooked them. Not so this year. The bulls seem not to be satisfied until they can propel a prone antagonist into the air.

Consequently many of the injuries are to the ribs and stomach where the bull places a horn. Then there is the trauma of landing after being hurled 25 feet by a mature bull.

The bull baiting continues through Sunday.

Microsoft to alert users to hacker attacks

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Microsoft will begin alerting users of its online services, including, when it suspects their accounts are being hacked by government entities.

The world's largest software company announced the new policy in a blog post late Wednesday.

"We will now notify you if we believe your account has been targeted or compromised by an individual or group working on behalf of a nation state," the post said.

Microsoft is taking the additional security step because state-sponsored attacks are often "more sophisticated or more sustained than attacks from cybercriminals and others," it said.

"If you receive one of these notifications it doesn’t necessarily mean that your account has been compromised, but it does mean we have evidence your account has been targeted, and it’s very important you take additional measures to keep your account secure," the post added.

The statement did not mention any specific countries believed to have been targeting Microsoft users.

But the Reuters news agency said the policy change came nine days after it asked the company why it had declined to inform victims of a 2011 hacking campaign targeting exiled members of China's Tibetan and Uighur communities.

The news agency spoke with two former Microsoft employees who said company experts "had concluded several years ago that Chinese authorities had been behind the campaign but the company did not pass on that information."

Earlier this year, Facebook and Twitter announced they would also warn users when they believe state-sponsored hackers may be trying to access user accounts.

In its statement, Microsoft on Wednesday stressed that a notification does "not mean that Microsoft’s own systems have in any way been compromised."

It also said it will not be able to detail why it believes a specific attack was state-sponsored.

News for the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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To the left is a new  satellite image taken two days ago that shows the current El Niño pattern closely mirroring the one at right from 1997-1998,  one of the strongest on record.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration-Jet PropulsionLaboaratory-Caltech graphic

Photos from space show that El Niño is among strongest ever
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

U.S. photos from space demonstrate that the current El Niño conditions in the Pacific are very much like the one that took place in 1997 and 1998. And that one was a whopper.

The photos validate what weather experts have been saying for months, that the current El Niño is poised to be one of the strongest on record and perhaps the strongest.

"The images show nearly identical, unusually high sea surface heights along the equator in the central and eastern Pacific: the signature of a big and powerful El Niño," the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said in a statement.

The latest satellite image of Pacific sea surface heights from the Jason-2 satellite, released Wednesday, differs slightly from one 18 years ago from Topex/Poseidon. In December 1997, sea surface height was more intense and peaked in November. This year the area of high sea levels is less intense but considerably broader, said NASA.

El Niño is a natural phenomenon that occurs every few years, when tropical waters off the Pacific coast of South America turn warmer than normal, the space agency explained. Warm air rises off those
 waters and changes the path of the major wind currents that blow around the planet.

NASA says the current El Niño, which has already created weather problems worldwide, shows no sign of waning, which is no surprise to central Pacific and Guanacaste farmers and ranchers who are struggling through a prolonged drought.

The United States could feel El Niño's biggest effects during the first few months of 2016, NASA added.  This could include several months of relatively cool and wet conditions across the southern United States, and relatively warm and dry conditions over the northern United States.

However, NASA says El Niño could bring some relief in the form of rain for the western United States, much of which has suffered through several years of drought.

The World Meteorological Organization said in November that El Niño is expected to continue to strengthen and go down in the history books as one of the strongest ever.

The U.N. agency said then that a mature and strong El Niño event is contributing to extreme weather patterns, and it is expected to strengthen further.

Hotel header

Guanacaste Lodge

Palermo Hotel

Croc's holiday

Tarpon lodge

Vista Ballena

La Parcela

Hacienda Baru

Recreo Verde

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
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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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 258
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Poll shows Americans would protect Christians over those of other faiths
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A new opinion poll suggests that Americans place a higher priority on protecting the rights of Christians than that of other religious groups.

Some 82 percent of respondents said it was extremely or very important that Christians be allowed to practice their religion freely, according to the survey published by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

When asked the same question about Jews, the figure dropped to 72 percent. Asked about Mormons, it was 67 percent. And about Muslims, the figure plunged to 61 percent.

The survey found 54 percent of Americans believe it is sometimes necessary for the government to sacrifice freedoms to fight terrorism. Forty-five percent disagreed with that statement.

More specifically, 56 percent of respondents said they favor warrantless government monitoring of Internet activities and communications, even if it means spying on U.S. citizens. Only 28 percent said they oppose such spying.

In recent years, the United States has seen a significant domestic backlash against government surveillance efforts, following the revelations of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

But according to the poll, public concern seems to now be
survey results
Graphics  show Americans put a higher priority on preserving religious freedom of Christians than of others and views on government monitoring.

 shifting toward security, following the rise of the Islamic State group and the recent high-profile Islamist-linked attacks in France and California.

Some 20 percent of Americans now say they are a great deal or somewhat concerned they or their family members could become a victim of a terror attack, according to the poll. That is twice as many as when the same question was asked three years ago.

But Republicans appear to be more concerned specifically about the threat of Islamic extremists than are Democrats. Sixty-seven percent of Republicans are at least somewhat concerned about Islamic terrorism, compared to just 47 percent of Democrats.

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

   * Discover how to make the right choices about moving here
   * Find out how to live affordably
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Here's reasonable medical care
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Need a book about Costa Rica?

Check out our special selections available at Amazon logo


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Real estate rentals
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Real estate-related services (paid category)
Solr array
SOON with the coming of new power company regulations, we'll be installing PV (photo voltaic) for solar electricity. Yes, at last!
* PV systems: we use Enphase micro-inverters. More flexible. Add panels whenever you like. More reliable than any other system and fully guaranteed!
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Office phone: 506-2446-0543
Cell phone: 506-8898-9398
or 506-8314-8090


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 
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:

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

Real estate for rent (paid category)
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.

Real Estate
About us
What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2015 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica's  
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 258
Real Estate
About us

Mayor in Brussels cancels
New Years celebration there

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Brussels' mayor has canceled the Belgian capital's annual New Year's Eve celebration tonight because of a terror threat.

"Unfortunately, we have been forced to cancel the fireworks and all that was planned . . .  evening and that would have brought a lot of people together in the center of Brussels," Mayor Yvan Mayeur told Belgian broadcasters.

The mayor said that according to a crisis center analysis, it would not be possible to screen the tens of thousands of people who were expected to turn out.

Belgian police arrested two people earlier this week who were suspected of plotting a New Year's Eve terror attack on what officials called emblematic targets. Prosecutors said the threat was serious.

Four of the Islamic extremists who killed 130 people in multiple terrorist attacks in Paris in November were from Belgium.

Meanwhile, thousands of police officers, some armed with long guns, radiation detectors and bomb-sniffing dogs, will be guarding the massive New Year's celebration in New York City's Times Square.

Police, the FBI, and Homeland Security officials say there are no specific credible threats to New York or any other U.S. parties.

But they will be vigilant and proactive with celebrations coming just weeks after terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.

Authorities are also monitoring overseas communications for any threats.

More than 1 million people plan to crowd into Times Square to welcome in 2016 tonight.

New York police chief James Waters says he is very confident that "New Year's Eve in New York City will be the safest place in the world."

Even more varied cocktail
of TB drugs said to be better

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 10 million people became sick and 1.5 million died in 2014 as a result of multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis. Without an effective and aggressive treatment strategy, the number of cases could rise to 75 million worldwide by 2050.

A new study concludes that a combination of at least six drugs may be needed to combat the growing health menace.

"If we don't act promptly, if we don't act now, then the problem of drug-resistant TB will just get worse," said Peter Cegielski, team leader for Drug-Resistant TB and Infection Control in the global TB branch at the Centers

Cegielski says that when a person is infected with multi-drug-resistant  TB, the bacterium that causes the disease does not respond to two gold-standard drugs for treating the illness: isoniazid and rifampicin.

So doctors turn to a cocktail of many more-expensive but less-effective drugs.

How many drugs should be in that cocktail was the focus of a study led by Cegielski.

Currently, the World Health Organization recommends that five drugs be administered simultaneously.

But the study, conducted at 26 sites in nine countries, found that using six drugs could provide a necessary boost in efforts to defeat resistant TB.

Participating countries included Russia, South Africa, Taiwan and Estonia.

Among the 1,100 adult patients in the study with resistant TB, those who received six potentially effective drugs saw a 36 percent greater likelihood of responding to treatment compared with those who received five or fewer drugs. The findings were published in the journal PLoS Medicine.

Conducting pre-treatment testing also helped to determine which drugs were most likely to be effective against resistant TB infections, according to Cegielski.

"So, it was clear from this work that more testing for drug resistance, and especially testing for the full range of drug resistance, would be important so that physicians can choose the most effective drugs based on those laboratory results," he said.

World Health is now encouraging doctors around the world to do drug-sensitivity testing prior to treating their TB patients, Cegielski said.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration unveiled an action plan to bring resources to bear in the prompt identification and treatment of patients infected with multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis.

Americans seem addicted
to smartphones, poll shows

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Americans are very attached to their electronic devices, especially their mobile phones.

So much so that nearly half , 48 percent, check smartphones up to 25 times per day. Collectively, Americans look at their phones 8 billion times a day, according to Deloitte’s 5th Global Mobile Consumer Survey.

Some (17 percent) check phones as soon as they wake up, while 43 percent look at their phone within five minutes.

Unsurprisingly, the heaviest mobile usage is among people between the ages of 18 and 24, who look at their phone 74 times a day. For 97 percent of those young people, phone usage starts within three hours of waking up in the morning.

But America’s mobile phone obsession isn’t just limited to the youngest generations. Among people of all ages, half report checking their phones one last time about 15 minutes before going to sleep at night.

Overall enthusiasm for electronic devices seems to be growing.

Smartphone ownership is up 9 percent while the number of people who own tablets increased 10 percent in 2015.

Some 70 percent of Americans now own smartphones while more than half (51 percent) own tablets. Some 14 percent of people surveyed said they own wearable electronic devices.

Almost 1 in 10 Americans (9 percent) own all three devices.

Americans are also using their electronic devices while engaging in a number of other activities. They say they use their phone simultaneously at some point while out shopping (92 percent),  talking to family and friends (87 percent), watching TV (87 percent) and while dining out (81 percent).

Using mobile devices to make in-store payments almost quadrupled, going from 5 percent in 2014 to 18 percent in 2015. However, more than one-third of Americans (36 percent) don’t see the point of using their mobile phones to make in-store payments.

While they aren’t excited about in-store payments, Americans do remain interested in the next big thing, such as self-driving smart cars.

They’re drawn by the possibility self-driving cars will eliminate the stress of driving, relieve the worry induced by getting directions and worrying about getting lost, and because smart cars would enable them to multitask while driving.

While Americans love their electronic devices, almost one in three  worry about privacy issues. Thirty-one percent of people surveyed say they are concerned about their mobile activity being recorded or tracked.

Asthma linked to shingles
by Mayo Clinic researchers

By the Mayo Clinic news staff

Nearly 1 million incidences of herpes zoster, which is also known as shingles, occur every year in the U.S., with an estimated one-third of all adults affected by age 80. Despite its prevalence, particularly between ages 50 and 59, it is still unclear why some individuals will develop shingles, and others will not.

In a population-based study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Mayo Clinic researchers build on their previous research from 2013, which linked asthma in childhood with an increased risk of shingles.

“Asthma represents one of the five most burdensome chronic diseases in the U.S., affecting up to 17 percent of the population,” says lead author Young Juhn, who is a general academic pediatrician and asthma epidemiologist at the Mayo Clinic Children’s Research Center. “The effect of asthma on the risk of infection or immune dysfunction might very well go beyond the airways.”

Medical records for potential patients with shingles were reviewed in Olmsted County, Minnesota, where 371 cases with shingles, age 67 on average, were identified during the study period and compared against 742 control subjects. Of the 371 shingles cases, 23 percent (87 individuals) had asthma, compared with 15 percent (114 of 742) from the control group. The authors found that adults with asthma were at about a 70 percent greater risk of developing shingles, compared to those without asthma.

The researchers also noted that, with asthma and other conditions accounted for, both asthma and dermatitis were found to be independently associated with a higher risk of shingles. Shingles occurred at a rate of 12 percent in patients with dermatitis (45 of 371 shingles cases) versus 8 percent (58 of 742) of the control subjects.

The underlying mechanisms are not clear. However, impairment in innate immune functions in the skin and airways is well-documented in patients with asthma or dermatitis. Researchers believe that, because asthma helps suppress adaptive immunity, it may increase the risk of varicella zoster virus reactivation.

“As asthma is an unrecognized risk factor for zoster in adults, consideration should be given to immunizing adults aged 50 years and older with asthma or atopic dermatitis as a target group for zoster vaccination,” Dr. Juhn concludes.

The researchers note that neither inhaled corticosteroids nor vaccinations were associated with a higher risk of shingles. Rather, zoster vaccination was associated with a lower risk of shingles.

Water pipes found crawling
with millions of bacteria

By the Lund University news staff

Researchers from Lund University in Sweden have discovered that  drinking water is to a large extent purified by millions of good bacteria found in water pipes and purification plants. So far, the knowledge about them has been practically non-existent.

A glass of clean drinking water actually contains ten million bacteria. But that is as it should be. Clean tap water always contains harmless bacteria, the researchers noted. These bacteria and other microbes grow in the drinking water treatment plant and on the inside of water pipes, which can be seen in the form of a thin, sticky coating – a so-called biofilm. All surfaces from the raw water intake to the tap are covered in this biofilm.

Findings by researchers in Applied microbiology and water resources engineering show that the diversity of species of bacteria in water pipes is huge, and that bacteria may play a larger role than previously thought. Among other things, the researchers suspect that a large part of water purification takes place in the pipes and not only in water purification plants.

“A previously completely unknown ecosystem has revealed itself to us. Formerly, you could hardly see any bacteria at all and now, thanks to techniques such as massive DNA sequencing and flow cytometry, we suddenly see eighty thousand bacteria per millilitre in drinking water,” says researcher Catherine Paul.

“From having been in the dark with a flashlight, we are now in a brightly lit room, but it is only one room. How many different rooms are in the house is also an interesting question!” she continued.

The work  has been published in Microbes and Environments. The results have led to lively discussions within the industry about the role of biofilms in drinking water.

At least a couple of thousand different species live in the water pipes. According to the researchers there is a connection between the composition of bacteria and water quality.

“We suspect there are good bacteria that help purify the water and keep it safe, similar to what happens in our bodies. Our intestines are full of bacteria, and most the time when we are healthy, they help us digest our food and fight illness, says Researcher Paul.

They have for instance discovered that one type of bacteria, Sphingomonas, can be found in high quality water. “This bacteria can consume non-desirable organic material, and even toxic chemicals and types of plastic. It also withstands chlorine,” she says

The desirable bacteria do not only like dirt. Some may also release substances that make the water taste and smell good.

Conversely, there are bacteria which, although they do not cause disease, might be a signal that something is wrong, perhaps through the metal beginning to rust or the chlorine content not being sufficiently high.

Although the research was conducted in southern Sweden, bacteria and biofilms are found all over the world, in plumbing, taps and water pipes.

“The hope is that we eventually may be able to control the composition and quality of water in the water supply to steer the growth of good bacteria that can help purify the water even more efficiently than today”, says Ms. Paul.

Wall Street Journal reports
U.S. spied on Netanyahu

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A U.S. newspaper is reporting that the United States spied on communications of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, although President Barack Obama promised two years ago to curtail eavesdropping on friendly heads of state.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the White House decided to secretly keep certain allies under close watch, with Netanyahu topping the list.

The report said the U.S., while pursuing a landmark nuclear arms deal with Iran, captured communications between Netanyahu and his aides.

Intercepting the conversations "inflamed mistrust between the two countries and planted a political minefield at home when Mr. Netanyahu later took his campaign against the deal to Capitol Hill," the report said.

The Wall Street Journal said the U.S. targeting of Israeli leaders and officials also intercepted their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups. That move raised fears that the White House would be accused of spying on Congress, according to an unnamed senior U.S. official quoted in the report.

The report said White House officials believed the intercepted information could be valuable to countering Netanyahu's campaign of opposing the Iranian nuclear deal. The Israeli leader argued before Congress that the agreement would ease Iran's path to building a nuclear weapon.

The deal, signed in July between Iran and six world powers, is aimed at curbing Iran's atomic program, in exchange for lifting international sanctions on the country's economy.

Bill Cosby is freed on bail
in sexual assault felony case

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. comedian Bill Cosby was charged Wednesday with sexually assaulting a woman in 2004 after allegedly giving her wine and pills that left her unable to fight back.

The 78-year-old Cosby walked into a courthouse outside Philadelphia with a cane and was flanked by his lawyers.

Cosby was charged with aggravated indecent assault, a felony that could result in 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if he is convicted. He did not enter a plea, but Cosby and his lawyers have consistently denied charges of sexual misconduct.

Cosby was freed on $1 million bail and said nothing to reporters shouting questions as he entered and left the courthouse.

More than 50 women say Cosby sexually assaulted them in incidents dating back to the 1960s, when he first emerged as a comedy star.

The case announced Wednesday involves Andrea Constand, a former basketball team manager at Temple University in Philadelphia, Cosby's alma mater.

Constand said she approached the comedian in 2004 for career advice. She said Cosby invited her to his suburban Philadelphia home, gave her wine, and urged her to take three blue pills.

Constand said she soon found herself unable to move or speak while Cosby fondled her. Constand settled a civil lawsuit against Cosby in 2006.

Cosby said during that suit that he and Constand had consensual sex. He admitted obtaining quaalude pills to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex, but insisted the encounters he had with women were consensual.

The allegations have destroyed Cosby's image as the good-natured storyteller and family man he developed over five decades as a major television comedy star.

The 1980's series "The Cosby Show," in which he played a successful doctor, was television's highest-rated program for a number of years, but is scarcely seen in rebroadcasts.
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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
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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.
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Blakesmore one

Blakemoret  two

Costa Rica tropical paradise beach house for sale

Tropical five-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 kms. south of Puerto Jiménez on the way to Matapalo and Corcovado National Park. Great Price $750,000. Contact Roger. Phone number  (506) 6142-7228   Email: Watch this video for full details.

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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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!

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

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
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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, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 258
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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
cattle truck
Ministerio de Seguridad Pública
Police officers said they found 51 illegal immigrants, mostly from Nepal, Bangladesh and Somalia, in this truck when they stopped the driver and three other Costa Rican associates in  Herradura, Garabito, early Wednesday.

Study describes earliest flowering plants

By the Yale University news staff

The discovery of exceptionally well-preserved tiny fossil seeds dating back to the Early Cretaceous corroborates that flowering plants were small opportunistic colonizers at that time, according to a new Yale-led study.
Angiosperms or flowering plants diversified during the Early Cretaceous, about 100 to 130 million years ago. Based on evidence from living and fossil plants, the earliest angiosperms are usually thought to have had small stature. New data from the fossil record presented here strongly support this notion but also indicates key differences from modern flowering plants.
Writing in the journal Nature, a team of researchers reports the discovery of small seed embryos less than 0.3 millimeters in size and their surrounding nutrient storage tissues in well-preserved seeds found in eastern North America and Portugal.

“This is the first time that we have had direct fossil evidence of the embryos of early angiosperms and how they compare with those of living plants,” said Peter Crane, a professor of botany at Yale University.

Researchers used a visualization technique known as synchrotron radiation X-ray tomographic microscopy, which allowed them to examine the internal features of delicate fossils in a non-destructive way. The researchers analyzed more than 250 mature seeds encompassing roughly 75 angiosperm populations, some of which had the seed embryo fully preserved. Their findings show that the embryos are tiny (one-fourth to one-third of a millimeter), with excellent preservation of cell structure.
The minute size of the fossil embryos is consistent with the interpretation that seed dormancy allowed the earliest flowering plants to survive through harsh environmental conditions and colonize disturbance-prone habitats.

“This is the first time that we have had direct fossil evidence of the embryos of early angiosperms and how they compare with those of living plants," said Crane. "These observations have given us critical insights into the early part of the life cycle of early angiosperms, which is important for understanding the ecology of flowering plants during their emergence and dramatic radiation through the Early Cretaceous.”

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From Page 7:

Government emphasizes Doing Business rank

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The central government is highlighting its 2015 achievements by noting that the country placed seventh in the world in the ease of obtaining credit.

That was one of the factors considered by the World Bank in its Doing Business index.

This is the time of year when governmental institutions cherry pick and put their best accomplishments forward.

The government release also pointed out that Costa Rica is among the10 economies that improved their index score the most. Costa Rica went from 79 to 51 in the ranking of 189 economies.

The highest ranking categories besides credit were the ease of obtaining electrical service and the ease of paying taxes.

The government did not mention that the index puts Costa Rica in 181st place among the 189 nations in relation to protection of investors. Lawmakers noticed this, and there is a bill in the legislature to give minority investors more power.