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Published Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, in Vol. 17, No. 16
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Marchers near Nosara gather to hear a message from organizer Elaine Cohen.
Marches inspired by Donald Trump draw Ticas, too
By Conor Golden
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff
with wire service reports

The shouts of solidarity and the marching along the beaches or in the streets for women’s rights and other issues of social justice took place in Costa Rica Saturday as well as around the world.

A mix of expats and Costa Ricans joined together in San José for their Saturday morning march down Avenida Central to the Plaza de la Cultura. Organizers insisted prior to the commencement of the event that they would not use anti-Trump slogans nor display banners in support of specific political parties.

There was another march with an estimated 100 participants near Nosara on the far Pacific coast. Similar events took place here while other groups that marched elsewhere around the globe.

In Costa Rica, the majority claimed to be non-partisan and welcomed all to participate. The one in the capital saw around 200 people of mostly women participating, according to Kathy Rothschild, one of the organizers for the event. Ms. Rothschild also noted that a substantial majority of attendees were Costa Rican rather than members of the U.S. expat community.

The Amigos de la Paz also participated with attendees being asked to dress in white with the march to the Plaza de la Cultura. The organization said the protest was about world peace, and a statement said the event was not against a misogynist president, meaning one who has contempt for women.

The march originally was not going to happen because both the Universidad de Costa Rica and the United Nations Costa Rica-based University for Peace denying marchers access, according to organizer Anne Marie Saidy.

“We knew it was too late to get city permits, and decided to go ahead and have our get together at the Plaza Mora, in front of the main post office in San José, where no permits are needed,” Ms. Saidy said.

The march was met by some police presence. However Ms. Saidy quickly noted that as soon as officers saw that the intention of the marchers was peaceful and without violence, they left.

“At our rally, everyone wore an item of clothing that was white, in keeping with the suffragettes who marched to get women the right to vote,” she added.

The banners addressed multiple concerns including local issues such as the militarization of the Costa Rican police forces and the promotion of the education of women in the country, according to organizers.

“Young students became very vocal as they carried a huge banner and chanted ‘Hasta la Vista, Sociedad Machista,’ or Goodbye Macho Society, again and again,” Ms. Saidy said.

The march ended at the Plaza de la Cultura where varying people involved in the march had an opportunity to speak into an open mike.

At Playa Guiones, organizer Pamela Lancaster said that around a hundred joined the march along the Guanacaste beach. Several women who planned on marching said Ms. Lancaster that they were intimidated out of participating due to bullying on social media.

A group of women spanning three generations made the almost three-hour drive from Playa San Miguel to join the Guiones protest, according to Ms. Lancaster.

These marches join hundreds of others that occurred both in the United States and throughout the world. The original Women's March on Washington that drew hundreds of thousands of participants alone was echoed in dozens of other American cities.

A crowd of more than 150,000 in Chicago, seven times as large as had been expected, meant that a planned march was turned into a rally. Another crowd gathered in Los Angeles.

Tens of thousands came out for a rally in Oakland, California.

In New York City, tens of thousands of people flooded the upscale shopping district along Fifth Avenue, heading toward Trump Tower. St. Paul, Minnesota, and Boston, Massachusetts, were two other cities where crowds of more than 50,000 people were reported.

Around the world, marches were found in places like Tokyo, Sydney, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, and Cape Town. An estimated 80,000 people rallied at London’s Trafalgar Square to march to the U.S. Embassy.

The agony at Río Virilla begins today for six weeks
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Restrictions on the Río Virilla bridge are a reality, but the real crunch comes today when only public buses and emergency vehicles are allowed during morning and evening rush hour.

Workmen are tearing up the eastbound lanes of bridge in order to put down a new concrete deck. Both east and westbound traffic reach the bridge in three lanes and then have to be guided into one lane in each direction on the previous westbound lanes. The bridge always has been a bottle neck because it has been just two lanes in each direction.

The bridge is on the General Cañas autopista, which also is the Interamericana Ruta 1.

Transport is fragile. A fender bender on the bridge for the next six weeks could paralyze traffic. In addition, a derailment, which is frequent, could halt train service from Belén or Alajuela to the capital.

Crews have been working over the weekend to finish the new train station at the Hospital de Alajuela. Officials hope that train service takes some of the pressure off vehicle traffic. The central government is urging employees who commute from the west to work via the internet.

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Corn Island mishap still frustrates survivor

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

It has been nearly a year and the only thing that has changed is the Nicaraguan government’s story about what went wrong with the Corn Island boat tragedy, according to one of the survivors.

The mishap happened on Jan. 23 of last year as an open boat tried to carry 32 persons from Little Corn Island to Corn Island, where there is an airport. Both are part of Nicaragua and about 70 kilometers off the country’s east coast.

The boat captain, Hilario Blandon, was detained and subsequently sent to prison for his negligence that cost the lives of 13 people and almost killed 18 others. The only reason any were saved was not thanks to the efforts of a coast guard service or naval effort from Nicaragua, but rather a common fishing vessel that just happened to be passing by at the right moment, according to survivor Charlotte Beckett. None of the bodies that came ashore in Nicaragua was wearing a life vest.

Ms. Beckett, a British national who was on honeymoon with her husband and among the survivors, remains frustrated at the lack of improvement in transportation by boat. She is a lawyer by trade, and her attempt to open a case against the Nicaraguan government for not enforcing the law has been effectively stiff-armed.

According to Article 126 of the Nicaraguan Ley de Transporte Acuático, any vessel registered with the maritime authority known as the Dirección General de Transporte Acuático must have some form of valid insurance policy in the use of these vessels. Nicaragua and Ms. Beckett agreed that the boat did not have any insurance, but that is where most of the agreement stops.

She suggests that the Nicaraguan navy originally told the boat’s captain not to cross over to the other island due to bad weather conditions. The captain disobeyed and went anyway while telling his passengers that he had complete permission, according to Ms. Beckett. Moreover, she noted that the director of the maritime authority declared that all of those boats do not have any insurance.

Now that the one-year anniversary of the accident is here, there appears to be no strong effort or any marked change with the situation. It leaves Ms. Beckett frustrated not necessarily for her own case, but because of the risk and danger posed to Nicaragua’s own citizens who operate and need those boats sometimes for their livelihood and survival. And tourists are in danger, too.

“It is completely outrageous and corrupt,” she said with frustration over the lack of insurance. “They need to provide that service because you cannot ignore your own law. It’s immoral and so people lost their lives because of that.”

This incident hit Costa Rica particularly hard. The 13 killed were Costa Rican nationals and President Luis Guillermo Solís declared a national day of mourning last Jan. 25.

The mishap prompted a strong government response at the time as aircraft were dispatched by the government to bring the survivors and victims from Managua.

The Corn Islands are popular vacation spots for Costa Ricans, and the tourists were part of a tour arranged by a Costa Rican firm. Two of the dead were Costa Rican women who were living in the United States, according to the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto.

Our reader’s opinion
Protestors may be surprised by Trump

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
Isn't it amazing that the Republican Party candidates asked Donald Trump to vow that he would support whomever would win the Republican nomination, saying they would do the same, but when Trump won, Chris Christie and Ben Carson upheld their word to support the nominee, and the other unsuccessful candidates failed to do the same.

Then the Democrats asked Trump to vow to recognize the winner of the presidential race, and he refused saying he wanted to be sure it was not rigged before conceding if he lost, and of course the Democrats/liberals, went crazy over his not just blindly agreeing to do so.  And this all happened after it was revealed that the Democratic National Committee conspired against Hillary's opponent, Bernie Sanders, essentially rigging the Democratic race for Hillary to insure she would be the Democratic presidential nominee.   Somehow Bernie supporters, despite knowing how crooked Hillary and her people were, supported her anyway.  Absolutely astounding they would do.

We all know that the liberals and Democrats for the most part have failed to recognize and respect Trump's victory, and at this point in time, 40 Democratic members of Congress have refused to attend the inauguration,  unheard of in the history of the U.S.A. 

Democrats just won't admit that their policies have not helped the poor in inner cities, yet these people keep voting Democratic election after election.  Isn't the definition of insanity repeating the same actions and expecting a different outcome?    

The protests show the liberals to be like spoiled children who have a tantrum if they do not get what they want, and when is the last time anyone heard of conservatives rioting and looting because they didn't get their way. 

Conservatives tolerated eight years under Barack Obama without such behavior.  Grow up liberals and respect the outcome of the election.   The overwhelming majority of the U.S. geographical territory voted him in, so time to respect the voice of the voters whom the majority of, do contribute to society, and produce and pay taxes, and not just wait for more unsustainable free stuff. 

Trump deserves a chance, and no, not many of us love his style or personality, but as the winner of a free election, he deserves the support of the public to at least give him a chance, maybe he will create sustainable higher paying jobs, make a positive difference for our people and prove he is not a racist.

You may be pleasantly surprised, and if not, he can be impeached if the majority oppose his policies, but not just because he is not a liberal or the ludicrous claims of racism and all the other negative thrown at him.

In large part, they are angry that Hillary didn't win, and it has been proven that many of  the protestors during the campaign, and now, are being paid to do so.  How low can the liberals go. 
Jim Day
Playas del Coco
and East Lansing, Michigan

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 16
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Stolen and faked ID documents are evidence in property fraud case
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators say that a trio of individuals accused of property fraud had a great quantity of driver's licenses, passports, identity cédulas, school diplomas and other identification documents.

Prosecutors revealed this as they sought preventative detention against three of the five persons detained Thursday, Two persons who were described as having been held mainly to give statements have been let go.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that property fraudsters used these fake documents to create personalities who then would serve as buyers and sellers of property.

The judicial agency said that the ring identified foreigners and Costa Ricans who were outside the country and who were not keeping constant track of their properties in the Registro Nacional.

The ring would create fake documents so that someone could pretend to be the real owner in order to make a property transfer to a third party.

One of the men detained Thursday was identified as a recruiter who sought out individuals ready to pretend to be someone else.

In this way, notaries, a type of lawyer, were not involved in this fraud. Instead, they were duped by the fake paperwork, too.

The men still being held have been identified by the last names of Rojas, García and Rivas. A decision on the request for preventative detention had not been available when the courts closed Friday afternoon.

A lot in San José and a house and lot in Heredia are at the heart of the judicial case, which began with a complaint in the early part of last year, judicial workers said.

Property fraud has had an impact on the real estate market in Costa Rica because many foreign buyers are reluctant to invest. A.M. Costa Rica has called on the Corte Supreme de Justicia to create a special property court to litigate such cases quickly. Now such cases are tied up for years.

Judicial Investigating Organization photo
Agents found stolen, altered and faked identification documents during Thursday raids.

Spanish-language newspapers have reported correctly that the majority of those who have property stolen are Costa Ricans. In one case, a former United Nations ambassador for the country found out that the title to a Guanacaste ranch he owned had been transferred without his knowledge.

The crooks frequently target the elderly with the hope that they die before finding out about the fraud. That is when the crooks show up with a fake mortgage or other forms of transfer papers to claim possession.

Those who have been successful in fighting such criminals have been able to show they have been out of the country on the day such papers were supposed to have been signed or that the signature of the dead owner took place well after the funeral.

Even then, victims have noted, there is no guarantee of having the property returned because Costa Rica respects the rights of so-called innocent third parties, that is persons who have purchased in good faith the property from crooks. So crooks need accomplices to serve as buyers and sellers to confuse the title.

Some private firms and the Registro Nacional will keep track of changes in property status and make notifications for a small fee.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 16
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Medical experts conclude that war on drugs has had devastating effects
By the BMJ news staff

The war on drugs has had devastating effects on human rights and public health worldwide, argue experts in BMJ, formerly know as the British Medical Journal.

In November, the journal argued that prohibition laws have failed and called on doctors to lead the debate on alternative rational policies that promote health and respect dignity.

Last week, key players in this debate discuss the harms of prohibition and criminalization and outline their reasons for drug policy reform.

In the first article, Dainius Puras, U.N. special rapporteur on the right to health, and Julie Hannah co-director of the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy at the University of Essex, say harsh enforcement of prohibition undermines the right to health and fundamental dignity.

They argue that mass incarceration has overburdened criminal justice systems and left countless people languishing in deplorable facilities in inhumane conditions around the world. While outside the criminal justice system, compulsory detention centers hold people identified as drug users without due process.

Yet they point out that, despite the devastating health and human rights effects, incarceration has failed to deter drug consumption or trafficking.

They believe that drug prohibition and criminalization is a failed policy model and urge health professionals "to lead efforts to combat societal prejudices and enable reforms that rightfully place individuals and communities at the heart of the response."

Because of harsh national policies to fulfill international treaties that insist on prohibition of non-medical drug use, more than

five billion people, 80 percent of the world's population, have little or no access to medicines such as morphine to treat moderate to severe pain, warns Katherine Pettus at the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care, in a second article.

She points out that in 2012 the European Society for Medical Oncology described a pandemic of untreated cancer pain as a global health scandal. Four years later, a narrative to improve availability of medicines to treat pain has gained traction and precision globally, but "the changes on the ground in some countries are too little and too slow," she argues.

Availability of controlled medicines must be commensurate with clinical need, with safe distribution and dispensing systems, to overcome the scandalously low consumption levels that for too long have been distorted by the war on drugs, she concludes.

In a final article, Michel Kazatchkine, U.N. secretary general special envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, argues that the war on drugs leads to denial of evidence-based treatment for drug users.

Comprehensive and compelling evidence shows that providing clean needles, opioid substitutes like methadone and antiretroviral therapy to people who inject drugs reduces HIV transmission and long-term drug dependency, cuts crime and public disorder, and improves quality of life, he writes.

Russia, however, is strongly prohibitionist and rejects all such policies, and, as he points out, is the only region in the world that still has a growing HIV epidemic.

Harm reduction "has become an example of how health is increasingly being politicized and how policy decisions can be disconnected from scientific evidence," he concludes.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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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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Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 16
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Axiom new ad

It’s Falcons and Patriots
for Super Bowl 51 Feb. 5

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The National Football League's Atlanta Falcons have reached the Super Bowl championship game for only the second time in team history.

The Falcons won the National Football Conference title Sunday by overpowering the visiting Green Bay Packers, 44-21. That earns them the right to play in Super Bowl 51 Feb. 5 in Houston against the New England Patriots.

Atlanta dominated from the start, took a 24-0 lead by half-time and was never threatened. Falcons' quarterback Matt Ryan led the way, completely 27 of 38 passes for 392 yards and four touchdowns.

"It feels good, but we have some unfinished business," said Ryan, adding, "We've got to take care of business in Houston in two weeks."

Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy gave no excuses, saying the Falcons were outstanding. "Their good performance speaks for itself. They got away from us. It's really a credit to the Falcons."

In the Falcons' only other Super Bowl appearance, they lost in 1999 (in Miami) to the Denver Broncos, winners of last year's Super Bowl in San Francisco.

New England last won the Super Bowl two years ago, and has won four titles since 2002.

They are led by quarterback Tom Brady who threw three touchdown passes Sunday in New England's 36-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the American Football Conference championship game.

Brady was suspended for the first four games of the season over allegations dating back to the 2015 season that he was linked to deflating footballs used in a game. He ended the year trailing only Ryan among the league's top-rated quarterbacks.

"We won a lot of different ways under a lot of different circumstances," Brady said after Sunday's game."We'll see if we can write the perfect ending in a few weeks."

Trump vows new deal
in meeting with Mexico

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The White House says President Donald Trump will meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña-Nieto next week for talks on immigration and renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"Mexico has been terrific...the president has been really very amazing, and I think we're going to have a very good result for Mexico, for the United States, and for everyone involved," Trump said.

The meeting is set for Jan. 31. Trump said he also plans to meet soon with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada. Trump campaigned on renegotiating the trade agreement known as NAFTA. His insistence that Mexico will pay for a wall along the U.S. border to help curb illegal immigration has become one of Trump's trademarks.

Nieto Pena has dismissed the idea that his government will fund a wall as ridiculous. Trump mocked the more than 1 million people who turned out Saturday in cities across the country to protest his new administration.

​"Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election!" Trump said in a Twitter message from the White House, his home for the next four years. "Why didn't these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly."

Those celebrities included feminist icon Gloria Steinem, pop star Madonna and actress Scarlett Johansson. They were among those who attended Saturday's Women's March on Washington as a rebuke to Trump's inauguration as the country's 45th president on Friday.

But two hours later, Trump said in another tweet, "Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don't always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views."

Trump also boasted about the number of people who watched his inaugural on television, saying, "Wow, television ratings just out: 31 million people watched the Inauguration, 11 million more than the very good ratings from 4 years ago!"

The Nielsen television rating service said the 30.6 million who watched Trump's ascent to power topped the 20.6 million figure for former President Barack Obama's inauguration to a second term in 2013, but fell 19 percent short of the 37.8 million who watched Obama's first inauguration in 2009. More Americans typically watch inaugurations when a new president takes office, with the biggest number at 41.8 million recorded in 1981 when Ronald Reagan was inaugurated for the first of his two terms.

Trump said on a visit Saturday to the Central Intelligence Agency that the news media lied about the size of the crowd that watched him assume power. Numerous media outlets in the U.S. showed vast swaths of the National Mall vacant as he was sworn into office, compared to pictures of shoulder-to-shoulder crowds at the two Obama inaugurations.

U.S. officials do not make official crowd estimates for security reasons. The new president falsely claimed that Friday's crowd stretched down the mall from the Capitol, where he was sworn in, to the Washington Monument.

Trump, apparently worried about attempts to delegitimize his presidency, said one television network showed an empty field and reported that he drew just 250,000 people to his inauguration.

“We had a massive field of people, you saw that. Packed,” Trump said at the CIA. “I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks and they show ... an empty field. I said wait a minute. I made a speech! I looked out, the field was ... it looked like a million, a million-and-a-half people. They showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there. And they said, 'Donald Trump did not draw well!'"

Later, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said, "This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe," moments after declaring that no one had numbers because the government years ago stopped making crowd estimates for large gatherings on the mall.

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway told NBC's “Meet the Press” on Sunday that Spicer was offering journalists alternative facts about the size of the inauguration crowd.

Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus told another news show, “Fox News Sunday”, "The point is not the crowd size. The point is the attacks and the attempt to delegitimize this president in one day, and we're not going to sit around and take it. I'm saying there's an obsession by the media to delegitimize this president and we are not going to sit around let it happen. We are going to fight back tooth and nail every day and twice on Sunday."

Throughout his unlikely run to the White House, Trump has regularly disparaged media accounts about him.

U.S. marks Roe v. Wade ruling
at beginning of Trump era

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The 44th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade was marked Sunday with a new U.S. president in office who has said he wants the decision overturned. The 1973 decision legalized abortion.

As a candidate, President Donald Trump promised to appoint an anti-abortion justice to fill a vacancy at the nation’s highest court.

He also said he wants to remove government funding from Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of women’s health care, including abortions.

Trump met earlier this week with one of the judges on his short list for potential Supreme Court nominees and has said he wants to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia within his first two weeks in office.

The new president has promised to seek someone with similar views to the late conservative justice and said he is working from a list of 21 people, mainly conservative state and federal judges.

Trump’s positions against abortion are supported by many Republican lawmakers, which control both houses of Congress. Many of those Republicans ran on a platform of opposing abortion.

Abortion continues to be a dividing issue in the United States where it has been legal since the Roe v Wade decision in 1973. Rival demonstrations in Washington often mark the anniversary of the ruling.

A new survey published this month by the Pew Research Center said more than two-thirds of Americans believe Roe v Wade should not be completely overturned.

“Public opinion about the 1973 case has held relatively steady in recent decades, though the share saying the decision should not be overturned is up slightly from four years ago,” the group said.

It noted that the partisan gap over abortion views is strong with 79 percent of Democrats saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and 34 percent of Republicans saying the same.

On Thursday, the Century Foundation, a progressive U.S.-based research group, said restrictions against abortions are increasing across the United States. The group said 50 abortion restrictions were passed last year in 18 of the 50 U.S. states.

The anti-abortion group, National Right to Life, maintains an effort to pass restrictive state laws.

“The place you change America isn’t in Washington. It’s in the states,” said Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, quoted on the organization’s website.

Also this week, another research group, the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights, released a survey that found the annual number of abortions in the United States has dropped to less than 1 million, the lowest level since 1974. The report counted 926,200 abortions in 2014, the latest year for which it had complete data, a drop of 12.5 percent from Guttmacher’s previous survey, which tallied 1.06 million abortions in 2011.

Following Roe v Wade in 1973, the number of abortions in the United States rose steadily, reaching a peak of 1.6 million in 1990, before starting to decline.

The authors of the new report attributed the latest decline to two main factors: the increased availability of contraceptives, which have led to less unintended pregnancies, and the increase in abortion restrictions in some U.S. states.

“Abortion restrictions and clinic closures mean that patients may need to travel greater distances to access services,” says Rachel Jones, lead author of the study.

Next week, the anti-abortion movement March for Life holds its annual rally in Washington. Trump’s campaign manager and one of his top advisors, Kellyanne Conway, is scheduled to speak at the march.

Trump appears conciliatory
in Saturday speech to CIA

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Donald Trump, who has sharply criticized the U.S. intelligence community, told workers at the Central Intelligence Agency, or the CIA, on Saturday, "I am so behind you."

Trump delivered remarks at the agency's headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on Saturday, his first full day as U.S. president. "I know maybe sometimes you haven't gotten the backing that you wanted and you're going to get so much backing. Maybe you're going to say, ‘please don't give us so much backing,'" said the newly sworn-in leader, prompting laughter.

CIA officials said about 400 CIA staff members were present for the president's remarks.

Trump made clear the fight against Islamic State will be a top priority and that his administration will ramp up America's approach.

"We've been fighting these wars for longer than any wars we've ever fought,” he said. “We have not used the real abilities that we have, we've been restrained. We have to get rid of ISIS, have to get rid of ISIS. We have no choice."

ISIS is an acronym for Islamic State.

The president’s visit was an apparent bid to mend fences and meet with top security officials, according to analysts.

"It's kind of an olive branch for the intelligence community," said Aki Peritz, a former CIA counterterrorism analyst and coauthor of “Find, Fix, Finish: Inside the Counterterrorism Campaigns That Killed bin Laden and Devastated Al Qaeda.”

Intelligence officials have argued that Trump's disparaging remarks about spy agencies and their work has hurt staff morale.

"The CIA employees are all pretty smart people, they're professionals, they're well-educated," said Peritz. "One kumbaya speech is not going to really change their grave concerns that they're having with the current president."

Trump also used the occasion to berate the media for what he said was unfair reporting about the size of the crowd at his inauguration, and claimed he saw a million or a million-and-a-half people, far more than anyone has reported.

Former CIA Director John Brennan was scathing in his assessment of Trump's CIA appearance. Nick Shapiro, Brennan's former aide, released a statement that said "Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump's despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA's Memorial Wall of Agency heroes. Brennan says Trump should be ashamed of himself."

For months, Trump refused to side with CIA and Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, conclusions that Russia hacked the Democratic National Convention in a bid to meddle in U.S. elections, in part to boost his chance of winning.

It was not until a Jan. 11 press conference that Trump conceded it was Russia who carried out the hacking, but later added it may have also been someone else, including China.

The new U.S. president has continued to reject claims Moscow carried out the attacks to undermine his former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and to help propel him in the White House.

He has also repeatedly noted the agencies' previous errors and suggested the U.S. intelligence community may have leaked an unsubstantiated report that Russia has compromising information about him.

During his remarks Saturday, Trump said the reason for his stop is his long-running war with the media, whom he said made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community.

Trump's CIA visit comes after congressional Democrats succeeded in stalling until Monday Senate consideration of Trump's choice for CIA director, Representative Mike Pompeo. Republican lawmakers denounced the delay and noted that it leaves the spy agency leaderless over the weekend.

Trump hailed Pompeo, telling CIA staff his nominee is the clear choice for the job.

"You will be getting a total star. You're going to be getting a total gem," he said.

Another former CIA official questioned why the president visited the agency on a weekend. Typically, such visits are made during the week when the greatest number of workers are present. Often, a receiving line is also formed to greet staff members.

"There's a real effort orchestrated so that it is a morale-boosting visit," said Carmen Medina, former CIA deputy director of intelligence.

"It's conceivable that it could be about some sort of national security and intelligence issue, that either the president has requested a briefing or the intelligence community has suggested he receive a briefing," she said.

Judgment day begins
for El Chapo in N.Y.

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán has pleaded not guilty to charges of running a massive drug-trafficking operation in North America and overseeing killings and kidnappings.

Through his court-appointed lawyers, Guzmán entered a not-guilty plea Friday in a New York City federal court. No bail was sought.

Guzmán answered questions through an interpreter standing next to him. Guzmán arrived in New York from Mexico late Thursday following his surprise extradition. He was arraigned in a 17-count indictment that carries a mandatory life prison term upon conviction of running a criminal enterprise, and additional maximum sentences of life in prison stemming from other drug charges, according to Robert Capers, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

"Today marks a milestone in our pursuit of Chapo Guzmán," Capers told reporters Friday.

Prosecutors say Guzmán's Sinaloa cartel operated for decades in much of North America and reaped billions of dollars by dispersing cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine throughout the United States.

Guzmán is accused of money laundering and drug trafficking, kidnapping and murder in cities throughout the United States, including Chicago, Miami and New York.

The convicted cartel boss has spent the past year fighting extradition. He has twice escaped from maximum-security prisons in Mexico. Guzmán last escaped from Altiplano prison in 2015 after maneuvering through a kilometer-long tunnel that had been dug by his associates. He was recaptured a year ago.

U.S. prosecutors agreed to not seek the death penalty as a condition of the extradition of Guzmán. His attorney said his extradition was politically motivated. Capers said the U.S. government was also seeking a $14 billion forfeiture order as part of its prosecution.

Severe U.S. weather kills 16
with more storms coming

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Severe weather has killed at least 16 people in the southern United States, and forecasters warn of more deadly storms to come.

The National Weather Service said Sunday that southern Georgia, northern Florida and the corner of southeastern Alabama could face forceful tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail. Long track tornadoes, which plow on for kilometers, also are a real risk.

Twelve people were killed and more than 20 injured as violent storms and tornadoes rolled through parts of Georgia over the weekend. Another four people were killed in Mississippi by a tornado on Saturday.

Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia declared a state of emergency in seven counties that suffered deaths, injuries and severe damage from the storms. Deal said that state agencies are making all resources available to affected counties, and that our thoughts and prayers are with Georgians suffering from the storm's impact.

President Donald Trump spoke with Governor Deal Sunday to express his condolences about those killed by the powerful tornadoes that ripped through the state.

Trump described the tornadoes as vicious and powerful. He made remarks in the East Room of the White House during his second full day in office, adding that he would talk later to Gov. Rick Scott of Florida.
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Spectacular Horse Ranch and Spiritual/Yoga
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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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Sámara titled land for sale by owner
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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.

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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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 5 -story penthouse for sale.  One of a kind penthouse on top of the Corobici Hotel in Sabana overlooking the Central Park and new Soccer Stadium in San José.  Excellent location provides you easy access to everywhere.  Other benefits include 24-hour security, 2 restaurants inside the hotel providing 1st class room service plus shared common areas in the hotel. Commercial license is in place. Seller will consider owner financing.  Asking $795K U.S.  Also available for monthly rent for $3,400 per month on an annual basis. Go to  Owners U.S. cell phone: 813 310-7402  Email

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 16
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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
garden croton
A.M. Costa Rica/Victoria Torley
Copperleaf has wonderful eye-catching color that rivals anything Vermont has to offer and we get it year round!
Local plants can offer fall-like colors

Well, the rainy season seems to be ending and the season of sun beginning. We only have two seasons here in Costa Rica, and that can be a problem

Victoria Torley
for some people, especially those who miss colors of autumn leaves. If you, like Metric Man, miss the fall foliage, here are some good plants for you.

For the most outstanding of fall color, I always go with the garden crotons (Codiaeum variegatum) with its thick shiny leaves. Reds, yellows, oranges, and greens, these
  plants are an autumn spectacular all year long.

A hedge or fence of crotons is spectacular while a lone plant, grown as an accent, is always eye-catching. I leave my crotons with natural upright growth pruning only for height, but they can be pruned to be a small tree or even a bonsai. As a final plus, crotons are tolerant of most conditions. Plant them in full to partial sun and moist soil and they will be happy with some wind and salt, and even continue to thrive in short periods of drought.

Copper leaf  (Acalypha wildesiana) is another great accent plant with great bright to deep red foliage. It is also called Jacob’s coat and beefsteak plant, so don’t get confused by names. It shares many of its environmental needs with the garden croton so the plants can be intermixed. Copper leaf is susceptible to mealy bugs, so keep an eye on your plants as they grow.

If you want more autumn color, add red spurge to your garden. (Euphorbia cotinifolia) grows to about 20 feet and mixes well with croton and copper leaf, especially if the latter are trimmed as smaller shrubs.  Red spurge is almost indestructible. Trimmed branches that we tossed into the shaded trash pile have sent out roots and have sprouted several small trees. You have to love something with that much persistence.

Then there is blood leaf, (Iresine herbstii) aka, beefsteak plant, is a small shrub that grows to about five to six feet. Foliage is described as deep red, crimson, or purple and is, sadly, a favorite of leaf-cutter ants. Unlike the croton, which has upright branches, the branches of the blood leaf are spreading which makes a nice contrast when planted close bye.

And under your taller plants? Wandering jew and purple heart make good ground covers while oyster plant is a nice edge to paths. For truly startling color, try purple shield (Strobilanthes dyerianu) with iridescent leaves of green and purple. It is a tremendous accent plant.

So, if you miss autumn color, try some of these and add your own ideas. Now if we could only put a nip in the air . . . .

A.M/.Costa Rica photo
A.M. Costa Rica photo

Plants of the Week
Here they are, my baby red spurge (right now in the shade and looking more purple than red)  and garden crotons (Codiaeum variegatum).

If you would like to suggest a topic for this column, simply send a letter to the editor.  And, for more garden tips, visit HERE!

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From Page 7:

Job fair in February seeks bilingual participants

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An estimated 49 firms have about 2,700 jobs to fill for bilingual and multilingual residents.  They will be presenting their companies at the 13th edition of the CINDE Job Fair Feb. 17 to 19.

CINDE stands for the Coalición Costarricense de Iniciativas de Desarrollo, a promoter of business here. The event will be at the Antique Aduana on Calle 23 in northeast San José.

The sponsoring organization said that jobseekers need to pre-register in order to participate. There is a special website set up for the job fair. It is HERE!

The sponsor said that the 49 firms are seeking individuals with competence in English, Italian, German or Portuguese. A language test is available at the job fair.

About 18 percent of those who participated in the job fair last year received a formal offer of employment within the following three months, the sponsor said.