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Published Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, in Vol. 17, No. 17
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Casa Canada

Big blocks

These two concrete blocks have been placed already on the beams that will be new lanes for the Río Virilla bridge. This is the work that turned the metro area into a motorist hell Monday.

Our story is HERE!

Consejo Nacional de Vialidad photo

Ancient and very modern celebrations this weekend
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This weekend will merge together the sounds of centuries-old tradition with modern, mechanized electronic music.

Those who use the modern calendar may have thought that the New Year’s festivities are over. Those who follow the Chinese calendar must wait until Saturday for the festival that rings in that New Year.

The Chinese New Year always starts with the new moon and ends with a lantern festival 15 days later. For this calendar, Saturday marks the beginning of the year of the rooster, and Barrio Chino is going to play host to this year’s celebration along the Paseo de los Estudiantes.

Model dragons will slither through the streets on poles conducted by participants in the pasacalles, or street parades. They will most

likely be dressed in traditional Chinese fashion in celebration of one of the world’s most ancient cultures. There will be Chinese food in abundance and shows and concerts of traditional Chinese origins. The festival will last from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Although not quite as ancient in its origins, the Municipalidad de San José along with the Costa Rican-based event promoter Promosonica is hosting Sunday’s Chepe Joven. The event along Paseo Colón will blast electronic music from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Headliners for the event will include Uruguayan-based DJ Solarc and New York-based DJ Roger Sanchez.

According to the municipality, around 20 DJ’s from both inside and out of Costa Rica are expected. Club Vertigo in San José will play host to the event’s official after-party running until 2 a.m. the next day. There is a cover charge of 4,000 colons.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 17
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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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Emirates will donate $10 million for Otto

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica will receive a grant of $10 million from the United Arab Emirates for the repair of water storage tanks in communities that were affected by Hurricane Otto.

The grant is considered a triumph on the part of Casa Presidencial after the three-day visit of Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís to the wealthy Arab country. Solís also found interest from some investment groups there for some national projects that want to be completed, such as the San José-San Ramón highway proposal, Casa Presidencial said.

A mission from the United Arab Emirates is being planned to Costa Rica regarding potential interest in paying for these projects. Casa Presidencial praised the mission as a continuation of developing relations with the absolute monarchy based in Abu Dhabi. This included the mutual suppression of the visa mechanism between the two countries.

In 2016, Costa Rica exported around $2.1 million to the UAE mainly in the electronic and food sectors. The United Arab Emirates has a population of around 10 million people and a per capita income of $68,000, according to estimates from the International Monetary Fund. It is visited by more than 15 million tourists annually, according to data from Casa Presidencial.

Our readers’ opinions
Republicans are getting what they gave

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

President Donald Trump has continued his campaign theme of just saying what he feels like whether it is a lie or not.  I use the term lie as most try to down play all of the lies during the campaign as untruths.  Let's be honest. There were many out-and-out lies.

I agree that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Nacional Committee are the reason for Bernie Sander's demise in the campaign.  I understand that there is a good chance that the Democrats lost the electoral college vote because of their manipulation of the campaign against Sanders. 

Do remember that the liberal left won the popular vote by over three million votes.  I don't think the liberals are looking to impeach Trump at any point in the future.  A President can't be impeached because the majority opposes his policies.  It takes more then that.  Impeaching him would be cutting off the liberal nose to spite their face.  We surely wouldn't want an ultra conservative president with the name of Mike Pence leading our country. 

Having said that, I think he will be behind the scenes running the show with his cronies.  It may be a repeat of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney all over again, heaven forbid.  Those proved to be eight disastrous years for our economy and unnecessary destruction and loss of life because of the wars they got us into.

As far as coming together and giving Trump a chance, why wasn't that philosophy practiced when Obama was elected? The Republicans on the day of the inauguration had a meeting of their top brass to disrupt whatever agendas Obama had after being elected.  It is hilarious that the conservative right, is now asking the liberal left, to do what they didn't do the entire time Obama was President. 

Yes, give Trump a chance, but the liberals have the right to object to his conservative approach regarding his agenda.  There was never as much gridlock, ever seen, during the Obama administration, and now the other side is asking not to do what they did for eight years.  What's good for the goose is good for the gander, and that was what the enormous marches were all about this past weekend.  Many people are tired of the ganders running the show.

I would like to see the proof that Mr. Day says that people were paid to participate in the marches.  It must be hard to organize a paid march that includes over 600 marches throughout cities in the U.S., along with marches all over major cities of the world.
Henry Kantrowitz
Punta Leona

Democrats are like school children

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I thought I'd would add a word regarding the last U.S. presidential election. I normally avoid expressing opinions regarding politics, but this one proved to good to pass up. It really proved to be the first entertaining election in years.

The U.S. has been mired in the same old stuff since Ronald Reagan left office. The same run-of-the-mill, professional politicians, who considered expressing an actual opinion on an issue as the road to defeat in their next election. It is nearly impossible to pin these people down as to an actual decision. Someone must run a clandestine politicians school somewhere, and all of these people must have graduated after learning their lesson of professional obfuscation of fact very well.

Trump didn't do that, and, as a result, was elected. Something like this shows that there are millions of people, who are not very vocal, who share the same opinion. The Democrats cannot appeal to these people because this type of constituency recognizes the difference between the usual pap and fact.

Now, as to protests. I can't remember a Republican protest because their candidate lost. The election is covered by laws that one can trace back to the Constitution of the U.S., and are affirmed by the further body of law existent in the U.S.

Supposedly, all who participate in an election subscribe to these laws. All those who participated in the election participated in the same election. There wasn't a separate election for Democrats and Republicans. By participating in this election comes the implied consent to abide by its results.

What we are seeing here is similar to a small child who has decided to bet his week’s allowance on a coin flip contest in the schoolyard. If he loses, he realizes that he's going to be without pocket money for a week, so he might complain "Ah, c'mon Jimmy, that wasn't fair. Can't we do it again?" If Jimmy won't bite on that one, he can always run to the teacher to complain.

If the teacher is wise enough, he should counsel the kid that he shouldn't risk all his money in a coin flip, and then wonder what he's going to do about stamping out gambling on campus.

All this says is "Grow up, children."
Joe Sullivan

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 17
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Park rangers and environmental ministry finally reach accord on salaries
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Park rangers and the union representing them are optimistic after coming to an agreement Monday with the environmental ministry regarding a raise in their wages.

The battle to increase the salaries of the park rangers has been going back and forth for around six years. The Sindicato de Trabajadores del Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía claims park rangers seek a raise because of their activities against drug trafficking and illegal hunting in protected parks and wildlife areas. They are also on call, and the workers are required to be available 24 hours a day if needed, according to union representatives.

The raise is wanted, in part, for their work as a quasi-police force in which duties carry with it a police-level risk and

availability, representatives said. This past December, grumblings had spread among union members and park rangers who threatened to strike and effectively shut down the parks if no progress was made in the salary negotiations.

It appears now at least that ministry officials and union delegates have reached an agreement and a decree approving the pay raise will be sent to the Ministerio de Hacienda after its formal publication required of all contracts, both public and private, is notarized.

The goal of these two groups is that the finance ministry will include it in the budget so that the raises can be paid out this year, according to representatives from the Frente Amplio. The prominent left-leaning political party has been actively paying attention to this issue and has previously made statements in support of the pay raise and the demands of the park rangers.

Some of the poets among us are the clever, insightful headline writers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
The last day of this month is the Día Nacional de la Poesía, and there are poetry events in five provinces, according to the culture ministry.

Newspaper editors have a kinship with poets because headline writers do much the same job:  Arrange words to create a new and impactful way of looking at the world.

In some cases, this means a one-  or two-line truncated haiku, instead of the traditional three lines of 17 syllables.

Of course, headline writers do not immerse themselves into cherry blossoms, fragrant meadows and snow-capped mountains.

What is considered the greatest headline ever written is more on the poetic grim side:


That was the product of  Vincent Musetto, and the headline appears on the front page of the New York Post April 16, 1983. “As witty as it was horrific, it expressed with unflinching precision the city’s accelerating tailspin into an abyss of atrocious crime and chaos,” said the Post in recounting the story in Musetto’s obituary.

Just as the Japanese poets have strict form, so do headine writers. Space is fixed, and so are the grammar rules.

Some headlines write themselves:

HITLER           NIXON
DEAD       or    QUITS

What more is there to say?

Like poetry, headline writing is not exactly a highly remunerative occupation, and there are dangers.

A major U.S. metro once gathered its best headline writers to one desk for the sole purpose of writing headlines each day. Text editing and newspaper layout was done elsewhere.

hedless body
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Executives abandoned the plan a few months later after some of the editors considered throwing themselves out a nearby window. Being creative on demand is stressful.

Headline writers can be sued, too, if they inadvertently engage in defamation. In Costa Rica that is a crime. Some Costa Rican prosecutors and the newspapers that follow them closely are unfamiliar with the concept of innocence until proven guilty. So those who are arrested are called the Spanish words for crooks, rapists and similar even though this may not be true.

The wonder is that they seem to get away with this.

In light of the last election headline writers can reflect on what happened at the Chicago Tribune Nov. 2, 1948. That was when this headline dominated the front page:


The next day president Harry Truman posed with the premature headline. Still, such errors happen even today, despite the lessons of history.

Newsweek just had to recall 125,000 copies of a souvenier issue with the face of Hillary Clinton and the headline “Madam President” on the cover. The copies that magazine firm did not recapture are selling on eBay.

The poetry celebrations here at the end of the month are universally in Spanish, as would be expected The locations are the local libraries in Puntarennas, Limón, San José, Alajuela and Cartago. Some of the events are for children, and each library has its own schedule.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 17
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First work day with bridge restrictions proves to be the expected disaster
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Traffic Monday was as bad as had been suspected with vehicles tied up for hours in jams from the westside of the capital to nearly Alajuela. In addition, the inability of train service and buses to handle the demand became obvious.

This is likely to be the situation for the next six weeks with enormous loss of time by drivers and travelers.

The reason, of course, is the reduction in traffic lanes on the Rio Virilla bridge on the Interamericana, the general Cañas autopista west of San José.

Some progress is being made for the construction of new eastbound lanes on the bridge, but this progress is overwhelmed by wave upon wave of detoured traffic.

The platina, as it is commonly known, has had a whirlwind of closings with the most recent one beginning Saturday for six weeks. According to the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes, workmen have to tear up the concrete on two existing lands and lay concrete blocks on bridge girders that will form the new third lane.

The ministry added that fair weather and a 24-hour work cycle is helping to complete the project on time.

Despite government optimism, the evening rush hour saw vehicles backed up on the General Cañas autopista in La Uruca to several miles east of the Heredia turnoff. The exit ramp at the Juan Pablo II bridge was jammed as was the alternate route through Heredia.

Traffic was at a standstill for hours. Ironically, there was a steady flow of vehicles on the two lanes of the Río Virilla bridge where passage was limited to buses, taxis and mini-buses. In fact, traffic could be described as light.

On the west side of the bridge, most traffic was being detoured, and traffic police were using the opportunity to ticket vehicles
whose owners had not paid the road tax or failed to obtain a Riteve safety check on time.

Train passengers complained of waiting up to two hours to board, and bus stations also sported long lines and long waits. Traffic was light all day in downtown San José, however, because many motorists stayed home or tried to take public transport.

Before closing, the bridge constituted one of the more direct routes between San José and Alajuela. Since early January, the bridge has been nothing but a headache for commuters and drivers as one shutdown for a couple days or 24-hours led to this most recent closing of six weeks just days later. Officials have opened up two lanes for each direction under certain restrictions.

Officials said last week that only authorized public transportation vehicles and emergency vehicles could pass through the two open bridge lanes during the morning and afternoon rush hours.The restricted hours are from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

So far the government response has been self-congratulatory. From its point of view, the traffic situation will improve as people adjust to the closing schedule. Casa Presidencial said that it would be coming out with a smartphone app for people to use regarding the bridge closure. It will include trade schedules, suggestions for alternative routes, news updates, and live alerts on the current status of the routes involved.

The public works ministry said that around 150 workers are involved in the construction process. The crews are working 12-hour shifts for the 24-hour work cycle.

Meanwhile, a reconstruction of a 2015 traffic accident will close a stretch of the Naranjo-Fortuna route from the Liceo de San Carlos to the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería building. This reconstruction will occur this Thursday from 7:30 a.m. for an undetermined time. The prosecutor’s office at San Carlos warns drivers to use alternate routes while the road is closed.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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Put Costa Rica on your walls
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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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Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 17
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Trump kills Pacific trade deal
but promises new agreements

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 12-nation Pacific Rim trade deal Monday as he started his first full week in office.

At the White House, Trump called it a great thing for the American worker. The new president, as past Republican chief executives have done, also signed an order reinstating a ban on providing government funds to international groups that perform abortions or provide information about the procedure.

The trade deal, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, had been negotiated since 2009 during former president Barack Obama's White House tenure, but the U.S. Congress never ratified it, with numerous lawmakers opposed to or skeptical of the deal. It would have covered trade with Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Chile, Canada, Mexico and four other countries.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters that as Trump "has said many times, this type of multinational agreement is not in our best interest, and he’s moving quickly to advance trade policies that increase the competitiveness of the American worker and manufacturer."

Spicer said the new president would pursue bilateral trade agreements with individual countries throughout the world.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, would have been the biggest regional trade deal in history, covering nearly 40 percent of the world's economy and about a third of world trade. China didn't take part in the talks, but appears ready to step into the vacuum and create its own deals with Southeast Asian countries that would have been part of the 12-nation agreement.

In advocating for the deal, Obama said last year, "We can't let countries like China write the rules of the global economy. We should write those rules."

Trump, who took office last Friday, assailed globalization of the world's economy throughout his long run to the White House, said U.S. multinational trade deals cost American workers their jobs as their employers moved operations abroad in search of cheaper labor.

Even before announcing his run for the presidency a year-and-a-half ago, Trump said, "The Trans-Pacific Partnership is an attack on America's business. It does not stop China's currency manipulation. This is a bad deal."

The agreement would have cut more than 18,000 tariffs, including on all U.S. manufactured goods and almost all American farm products. The deal sought to end exploitative child labor and set acceptable work conditions on minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health.

The new president said that his first week would be busy, planned with a heavy focus on jobs and national security. He met Monday morning with top executives from U.S. manufacturers and later in the day had a White House meeting set with union leaders and a contingent of workers.

At the start of the meeting with the business leaders, Trump assured them of his intent to streamline government.

Trump warned the business executives to not move their operations to other countries, saying they would face a hefty tariff if they manufacture products elsewhere and then attempt to bring them back across the border to sell in the U.S.

Among those meeting with him were the leaders of Dow Chemical, SpaceX, the Dell computing firm, the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical company and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin.

The president called on the business leaders to come up with a list in the next 30 days of ways to boost U.S. manufacturing, an important sector of the world's largest economy, but one that has lagged in the recovery since the country's steep recession in 2008 and 2009.

Trump says he is not against trade deals, but wants more favorable terms for the United States that benefit its workers. The American leader says he also wants to redraft the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada.

At a swearing-in ceremony for top White House advisers Sunday, Trump said he will discuss the North American Free Trade Agreement, immigration and border security as he meets next Tuesday with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. The White House said he also plans to meet soon with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Trump vowed during the campaign to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to thwart illegal immigration that he said would be paid for by Mexico. Peña Nieto has dismissed the idea that his government would provide the funding, calling it ridiculous.

Trump's busy schedule Monday includes a meeting with congressional leaders and one-on-one discussions with House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan as the new administration and Republicans in Congress embark on attempts to overturn many of Obama's actions. It is the first time in more than a decade that Republicans have controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House.

Just hours after his inauguration, Trump signed an order setting in motion his intent to try to promptly repeal Obama's signature health care reforms.

Before his meetings with the leaders of Mexico and Canada, Trump will host talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May Friday in the Oval Office. Ms. May has said she wants to focus on post-Brexit trade talks, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and fighting terrorism.

U.S. Senate moves forward
with Trump cabinet choices

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Senate continued Monday to fill President Donald Trump’s national security team by confirming his pick for CIA director, Republican congressman Mike Pompeo, and advancing his nominee for secretary of State, oil executive Rex Tillerson.

Confirmed by an overwhelming vote of 66-32, Pompeo joins Defense Secretary John Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly in the fledgling Trump administration.

Vice President Mike Pence administered the oath of office to Pompeo after the Senate confirmation vote. Senators of both parties cited Pompeo’s service on the House Intelligence Committee as a reason to back his nomination.

“I can’t think of a member of Congress that has traveled more around the world, spent more time at the CIA, understanding the ins and outs of what they do, of how they do it, of why it’s important to the American people and to the security of this country than Mike Pompeo,” said Republican Richard Burr of North Carolina, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “He’s well versed on intelligence community operations, capabilities and authorities.”

“While congressman Pompeo and I disagree on many issues, I believe he can be an effective leader at the CIA,” said Sen. Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia. “He has convinced me that he will follow the law banning torture.”

Pompeo had criticized the Obama administration for ending so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. But at his confirmation hearing last week, he promised to follow U.S. law on the treatment of detainees.

Tillerson, meanwhile, received the backing of all Republicans and no Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where Republicans have a one-seat majority. His nomination now goes to the full Senate for a final confirmation vote, likely later this week.

Tillerson’s tenure as CEO of ExxonMobil proved to be a partisan point of disagreement as to whether he is a good choice to be America’s top diplomat.

“He’s managed the world’s eighth largest company by revenue with over 75,000 employees,” said the committee’s chairman, Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican. “Diplomacy has been a critical component of his positions in the past, and he has shown himself to be an exceptionally able and successful negotiator who has maintained deep relationships around the world.”

Democrats, by contrast, found Tillerson’s CEO mindset troubling.

“He sounded like a business person rather than a person who wanted to be secretary of State,” said Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the committee’s top Democrat. “I did not see that commitment to be the advocate, globally, for human rights and good governance that I would like to see in the secretary of State.”

Suspense about the committee vote evaporated earlier in the day when Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, the lone Republican who had expressed significant doubts about Tillerson, announced he would back the nominee.

“My concern was that Mr. Tillerson would pursue a foreign policy of deal making at the expense of traditional alliances and at the expense of human rights and of democracy,” Rubio said. “I believe that all presidents, especially a new one, are entitled to a significant amount of deference on their Cabinet appointments.”

Democrats expressed consternation about Tillerson’s responses to questions about Russia’s activities on the world stage during his confirmation hearing earlier this month.

“At a time when Russia’s continuing aggression around the world and interference in our election must be at the top of America’s diplomatic agenda and a chief concern to our secretary of State, it is incredibly troublesome that Mr. Tillerson and President Trump had not even discussed the specifics of their Russia policy,” said Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

Republicans wanted to confirm Pompeo last Friday after Trump was sworn in as president. But Democrats demanded floor time to debate the nomination, causing the vote to be postponed.

Republicans are cautioning against delays in allowing Trump to complete his national security team.

Trump not following through
with immigration promises

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Donald Trump campaigned heavily on immigration issues, making at least 13 promises throughout the election about immigration actions he would take on the first day and, in some cases, in the first hour of his tenure. As of late Monday afternoon, Trump had not carried out any of them.

When asked during a news conference Monday afternoon about those issues, White House spokesman Sean Spicer skirted specifics, saying only that a border wall will be built as soon as possible, and declining to offer details on when the executive order that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy would be revoked. The policy protects illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

Answering a reporter about the status of the refugee resettlement program, which Trump had vowed to immediately change, Spicer responded that he didn't know, and instead deflected the question to the U.S. State Department, which oversees the program.

Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an organization that, like Trump, advocates for more restrictive immigration policies, said he expects a steady stream of announcements from the new administration.

"For example unwinding certain elements of these policies on criminal alien priorities, enforcing priorities, state and local enforcement agreements can take some time," he said. "But things like the wall and the vetting order, for example, should come very quickly."

Between Trump's missed initial deadlines and scant details from the White House spokesman Monday, there is little clarity about when any of the immigration policy changes may come.

Two GOP senators proposing
Obamacare as a state's choice

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Two Republican U.S. senators are proposing a bill that would allow states that like the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, to keep it instead of taking whatever replacement President Donald Trump and the Republicans come up with.

"Republicans think that if you like your insurance, you should keep it. And we mean it," Louisiana's Bill Cassidy said Monday. "So California and New York, you love Obamacare? You can keep it."

Cassidy is co-sponsoring the bill with Maine's Susan Collins, who insists Obamacare must not be tossed out until a clearly spelled out replacement is ready.

Collins said Monday that Trump's executive order aimed at minimizing the economic burden of Obamacare is very confusing. She says it is difficult to understand what it means or what impact it will have on the health insurance plan.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer has dismissed the Cassidy-Collins plan as an empty facade.

"It is nearly impossible to keep the benefits of the Affordable Care Act without keeping the whole thing," he said.

The Affordable Care Act was former president Barack Obama's signature achievement of his eight years in office. It assures coverage for every American so they will not face financial ruin in case of a serious illness.

Trump campaigned on repealing and replacing it, calling it a disaster. He said it is too expensive and puts too big of a burden on small businesses.

56 sets of human remains
found in northern Mexico

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Fifty-six sets of human remains have been identified one year after a mass grave was discovered in Mexico’s northern border state of Nuevo León, prosecutors said in a statement Sunday.

Twenty-four sets of remains were identified through DNA testing and matched existing profiles belonging to people who had been reported missing since 2010, the statement said.

The DNA profiles of 32 other people were found in the bones, but they could not immediately be matched to anyone.

Authorities are in the process of delivering the remains to families and are still working on identifying the rest of the people from dental and bone fragments in the grave.

State prosecutors said the grave pit was discovered last February on a rural hillside in Garcia, near the northern city of Monterrey.

In 2010, the area was dominated by the extremely violent Zetas cartel, which often burned or dissolved its victims, reducing their bodies to bone fragments.

Family deaths twice as likely
for young blacks, study says

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A new study shows black Americans age 30 and younger are twice as likely as whites to experience the deaths of at least two family members, leading to such problems as stress, financial disaster and unstable families.

The experts from the University of Texas at Austin and Michigan State University wrote about their findings in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

They call it a largely overlooked area of racial disadvantage.

The study found that by the time an African-American in the United States reaches age 65, he is 90 percent more likely than his white counterpart to experience four or more family deaths.

"The death of a relative with such frequency is a unique source of adversity for black Americans and contributes to lifelong racial inequality," the study says.

Previous studies have shown that such factors as poverty, crime and a lack of quality health care take a bigger toll on the lives of African-Americas than whites.

Voice of America graphic  

Study says blinking steadies
image sent to the brain too

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

On average, people blink tens of thousands of times a day, and while it was thought the involuntary motion served mainly to lubricate the eyeballs, a new study suggests blinking has a more important role.

Writing in the journal “Current Biology,” an international team of researchers led by the University of California at Berkeley say blinking re-positions our eyeballs so we can stay focused on what we’re viewing.

According to researchers, when we blink, our eyes roll back in their sockets, but they do not always return to the exact same position after the blink. This causes the brain to spur eye muscles to realign our vision.

“Our eye muscles are quite sluggish and imprecise, so the brain needs to constantly adapt its motor signals to make sure our eyes are pointing where they’re supposed to,” said study lead author Gerrit Maus, an assistant professor of psychology at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. “Our findings suggest that the brain gauges the difference in what we see before and after a blink, and commands the eye muscles to make the needed corrections.”

Without these corrections, researchers say our surroundings would appear shadowy, erratic and jittery, adding that the mechanism acts like a steadicam of the mind.

To reach their conclusions, researchers say they conducted the most boring experiment ever, in which participants sat in a dark room while staring at a dot on a screen. Using infrared cameras, they tracked blinks and eye movements.

After each blink, the dot was moved one centimeter to the right, something that was not noticed by the participants. However, the brain registered the dot’s movement and triggered eye muscles to refocus on the dot.

After 30 times participants’ eyes adjusted during each blink and shifted automatically to the spot where they predicted the dot to be.”

“Even though participants did not consciously register that the dot had moved, their brains did, and adjusted with the corrective eye movement,” Maus said. “These findings add to our understanding of how the brain constantly adapts to changes, commanding our muscles to correct for errors in our bodies’ own hardware.”
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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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 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, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 17
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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Back-to-school prices vary wildly

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A government study comparing prices of school supplies found some identical products had price differences of up to 157 percent. That same study also looked at school uniforms and found price variations of up to 588 percent.

The Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio carried out the comparative study of the items and included verifying the labeling on certain school uniforms. The study was conducted between Jan. 9 through the 12 in Alajuela, Heredia, Cartago, and San José at 38 locations. Of those locations, 16 were places that sold uniforms and 22 were places where they sold school supplies.

The ministry sought to emphasize to parents purchasing school supplies that the cost for a basic package of a school uniform from 13 different establishments ranged from 15,950 to 42,850 colons for boys. For girls the range expanded between 13,300 and 46,400 colons. These amounts take the lowest price from each establishment visited, the study said.

The study’s benchmark price for a basic package of school uniforms that included five pairs of socks, three shirts or blouses, and two pairs of pants was defined at an average cost of 28,127 colons for boys. It was 27,303 colons for girls.

With school supplies, the study noted an example of the ballpoint pen. The price of a ballpoint pen ranged from 50 colons to 695 colons, which is a difference of about 1,290 percent. A basic package of eight products for school supplies could set back buyers from 9,870 colons to 20,405 colons, according to the ministry’s study. Consider that the study was not comparing items of the same brand, but rather items sharing similar characteristics.

Around 85 percent of the clothing articles analyzed complied with current regulations, the report said. The main violations detected included: product composition and no identification present as to the name of the manufacturer, the importer or the country of origin.

Man on patrol gets 13 years for robberies

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man accused in recent cases of armed robbery of four cars was sentenced to 13 years after investigators found a string of similar incidences between 2003 and 2014 on his record.

According to the report, his most recent crimes occurred between late December and mid-January at Ipís de Guadelupe in Goicoechea. All the victims are piratas, the common nickname for informal taxi drivers, and all shared a similar story as to how the crime was carried out.

The robber approached them at a stop or at a red light where he threatened them with a knife or firearm. Once inside the car, the victims said that the crook demanded that they drive to a certain area where he then stole the vehicle and left his victims.

Two vehicles were stolen in the early hours of the morning. Two were stolen in the evening, according to the report. Officials said that only two of the four stolen vehicles have been recovered.

The man was charged with aggravated robbery and kidnapping as well as attempted homicide by judicial authorities. The attempted homicide charge is being placed against the accused because the robber almost ran over one of the victims with the stolen vehicle after throwing him out. He then fired his gun out the window as he fled, according to officials.

This man committed these crimes at a time when he obtained a parole-like sentence for prior charges against him. Since Dec. 5, the accused was referred to the Centro de Atención Semi-institucional San Luis, which is a kind of Costa Rican comparative to a halfway home.

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Juan Santamaría airport wins certification

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica is the third country in the world to have its main international airport, Juan Santamaría, certified according to standards laid out by the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization.

The Dirección General de Aviación Civil, which is the government agency that regulates the country’s airports, received the certification following an inspection of the international airport based in Alajuela. The agency also quickly noted that, although the airport already operated with high standards for safety, this certification puts it on par with the international standard.

The five stages laid out by the U.N. agency on air safety included: a pre-examination of any deficiencies that could be present within the airport or its safety guidelines, a request for revision of aeronautical manuals, an actual study conducted on what improvements can be made, on-site verification that changes were applied, and then certification.

Aviación Civil concluded that the accreditation validated that the standards and methods of Juan Santamaría International Airport are in accordance with the international norms. It also believes this certification process has aided in reducing operational deficiencies while continuing to improve the airport’s daily business.