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(506) 2223-1327                          Published Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 18                             Email us
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Axiom

Tax agency eases the bite so poor can see television
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The central government is under the impression that the poor have non-digital television sets.

Consequently, the Ministerio de Hacienda acted Tuesday to eliminate a 15-percent tax on television converters in advance of the country's stations changing to an all-digital signal in December 2017.

The decree called the levy a selective consumption tax. The ministry noted that the converter boxes already are free of a 14 percent customs charge that would have been levied on their importation.

The decree also points out accidentally the hidden charges consumers face when they purchase regular electronic gear. There also is the current 13 percent sales tax. The telecommunications agency said that the reduction in price of the converters would help bridge the poverty gap for families in the state of vulnerability.

converter
 Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Telecomunicaciones photo
This is one of the converters.


Costa Rica has agreed to adopt the Japanese-Brazilian television standard,  ISDB-Tb. The converter boxes will change the incoming digital signal to one that can be displayed by the older non-digital televisions.

There was no indication that the ministry actually did a survey to see the type of televisions that are in use in poor neighborhoods.



Giant onion shipment confiscated at southern border
onions
Servicio Fitosanitario del Estado photo
Confiscated onions are unloaded.
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Smugglers usually deal in small items: Diamonds hidden in cigars, a few kilos of cocaine in the false bottom of a suitcase.

How about 16,780 kilos of onions being transported into Costa Rica from Panamá. That is what the Servicio Fitosanitario del Estado said it confiscated. There were two shipments of the crop that did not have the correct agricultural permits, the agency said.

The agency said that the shippers tried to trick their way through customs controls.

The Servicio Fitosanitario del Estado is an agency of the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería and has the duty to protect Costa Rica from the importation of plant and animal diseases.

The agency runs fumigating stations at the border crossings.

The agency said that the onions would be destroyed.


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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 18
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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.


Dentistry

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: marcomunozcavallini.com
8365-5/12/15

Psychotherapy

Dr. Gray
Dr. Lucinda Gray
California Licensed
Psychologist
International Practice

• Anxiety
 • Depression
 • Relationship Problems
 
CR (506) 2228-2041
US (310) 827-4241
www.LucindaGray.com
New World Meditation
8610-8/23/15

Insurance professionals

The Garrett Insurance Group
Garrett
-Brokerage fully licensed by the
      government.
-Experience since 1980.
-Bilingual English/Spanish.
-Represent all the best insurance
       companies in Costa Rica,
       BMI, Blue Cross, Blue
       Shield, ASSA, INS, etc.
-Correspondents of WILLIS.
-Connections in all of Central
       America.
-Superb communications.
-Prize-winning Web site.
-English policy extracts.
-Helps you settle your claims.
Centro Comercial El Pueblo, Local #125, San José, Costa Rica.    Phone:  ( 506 ) 2233-9520
E-mail : info@garrettbrokers.com
More information HERE!
8845-2/18/16

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. —

We know how to do it. Experienced with many nationalities. Up-to-date on
Costa Rica's evolving immigration law.

Pensionado and rentista. Your first stop for smooth, professional service and a positive experience. Javier Zavaleta javier@residencyincostarica.com
www.residencyincostarica.com
Tel: (323) 255-6116
8881-3/16/15

 Accountants

U.S. Income Tax Services
Marlene B. Summers, Tax Accountant
Licensed by the I.R.S.
 
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. 

File current or past due FBARs with no penalties to meet IRS requirements.
File your current or amended returns.


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Phone (506) 2289-6590 or (506) 8750-2316
Email: marlene.summers@gmail.com
8808-12/21/15

U.S. Tax International
Plus Costa Rican taxes, accounting, and legal
 services. Over 15 years in Costa Rica

U.S. Tax
                                                  rollover
(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.
Contact Us:
 U.S 786-206-9473         CR 506-2288-2201
FAX: 506 2231-3300
E-mail: ustax@lawyer.com
Web page: www.ustaxinternational.com
8796-3/14/16

James Brohl, C.P.A. & M.B.A.
US Income Tax,  U.S. GAAP Accounting
& Business Consulting
S
pecializing in all matters of concern to U.S. taxpayers residing abroad including:
Uncle Sam's
IRS filing requirements of foreign income tax exclusion (up to $100,800 for 2015).
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:
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eFile returns: secure with faster refunds.
Business consulting to facilitate working in Costa Rica.

Telephone 8305-3149 or 2256-8620
E-mail jrtb_1999@yahoo.com
9654-4/6/16


Fine art restoration and conservation

Gilbert Carmichael
Master Art Restorer
European and U.S. standards. USPAP.
Carmichael
  Paintings
  Sculptures
  Murals
  Porcelain and ceramic
      restoration
  Works on paper restoration
  Conservation Curatorial
      services
  Art expert services
  Other restoration services
  Condition evaluation
  Authenticity evaluation
  Art related insurance and 
       damage evaluations
  Art collection consultation
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!
8908-2/11/16

Legal services

Valdivieco header
Lic. Eduardo Valdivieso
your legal adviser for criminal, civil,
commercial, and family law.  
Phone: ( 506 ) 8839-5010 
Email: legalservival@gmail.com
Web: www.legalservival.com
Address:  150 meters southwest from
the Goicoechea court, San José.
8888-3/10/15

Real estate agents and services

CENTURY 21 JACÓ BEACH REALTY
Century
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Residential sales
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Property management
Vacation rentals and long-term rentals
Tour desk

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Playa Jacó, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
U. S. A. phone numbers:  (213) 283-5168 
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Costa Rica phone number: (506) 2643-3356
Email: info@c21jaco.com
Web: www.c21jaco.com
8918-1/15/17

Costa Rica's first Realtor specialized
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Eco logo
                                                      two
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cell: +506 8825-6556  

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In front of Subway at Plaza Herradura, Jacó
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8836-4/15/16

Jim Day, representing Colinas del Sol
del Pacifico, S.A.

colinadelsol022515c.gif
* Colinas del Sol is a fenced and gated project  in a quiet area.
* There are 88 clear titled lots.
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* 20 minutes to the Liberia International Airport
* 15 minutes to the Pacific Beaches
* 10 minutes to Medical Facilities
* 25 minutes to the Liberia Hospital
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Contact Jim Day
Email:  JimDay50@aol.com 
or Phone:  001 517 484-3675.
Click Here: www.colinasdelsolcr.com
8596-8/27/15
Election prompts warning of slide danger

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Residents of  Tres Ríos in the canton of La Unión, Cartago, are living under threat of a major landslide, according to a release issued Tuesday.

The release quoted a geologist, who said that for five years the municipality has been aware of the danger but has not taken action. He is Julio Eduardo Madrigal.

The announcement of the danger comes at a time when the vice mayor, Alex Emilio Montoya Richmond, is seeking election as mayor Feb. 7 under the banner of the Partido Rescate Cantonal. The announcement said that  Montoya, as vice mayor, was head of the local emergency commission.

The announcement that was issued by a local public relations firm said that a cliff above the Río Chiquito is just 800 meters from the population center. The release warned that millions of cubic meters of rocks, trees and soils could be propelled at high velocity toward the community.

English teachers will hear U.S. professor

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

English teachers are gathering for their annual conference today, and they will be hearing from a U.S. professor who is an authority on teaching the language to non-native speakers.

The conferences sponsored by the Ministerio de Educación Pública, the Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano and the U.S. Embassy. The location is at the centro in Los Yoses. The speaker is Neil Anderson, a professor at Brigham Young University. This is the 31st such conference.

Conquistadors' writings featured in book

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A new two-volume edition uses the writings of the conquistadors themselves to explain the invasion and settlement of Latin America.

The set is "Conquistador Voices," issued by Spruce Tree Press.  Says the publisher:

"In this two-volume set written for the general reader, author Kevin H. Siepel takes you on the expeditions of five European explorers or conquistadors, using — to a greater extent than usual in historical works — the writings of the expedition participants themselves, allowing them to tell their own version of events, and supplying connecting narrative in the manner of a film documentary.  The book therefore reads not as a dry, standard history book, but rather as a series of cohesive, lively stories told by the men who were there."

Volume I includes the four voyages of Christopher Columbus and an account by his teenage son Fernando on the landing in Limón. The son published a popular book when he returned to Spain. The Limón visit in 1502 included an encounter with a local monkey.

The book also includes the exploits of  Hernán Cortés,  Francisco Pizarro,  Pánfilo de Narváez, Álvar Núñez Cabeza and Hernando de Soto, according to the publisher.


mora
Centro Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología de Alimentos
Blackberries and the final product.

  University develops organic berry juice

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Universidad de Costa Rica has gone into the fruit drink business.

The university said Tuesday that its researchers have developed an organic blackberry drink that holds its flavor and beneficial properties because the fluid is microfiltered and not heated.

The project was developed by the Centro Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología de Alimentos of the university in conjunction with the French Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement.

Blackberries are known as mora in Spanish, and the drink is a popular one. The university product will be marketed under the brand name of  Siwa, a release said. Researchers under the direction of  Ana Mercedes Pérez Carvajal are working with other fruits and vegetables to create more products
.

News for the Spanish-language press
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First case of zika here shows that virus was imported from Colombia
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The zika virus has come to Costa Rica in the person of a 25-year-old Desamparados resident who picked up the disease while visiting Colombia, according to the Ministerio de Salud. Health experts assume that with the virus prevalent in adjacent countries, there is little to stop the virus from entering Costa Rica.

The health ministry said that the Desamparados man
Zika virus
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Cynthia Goldsmith
Zika virus
returned to the country Saturday and visited a public health clinic the next day. The presence of the virus was confirmed Tuesday, said the ministry.

The ministry said that already this year some 31,782 homes have been visited and more than 53,000 have been fumigated. In addition, health
workers removed nearly 136,000 places where mosquitoes could develop.

The zika virus is carried by the Aedes aegypti, the same insect that carries dengue, chikungunya and malaria, which is why it has been the continual target of health workers.

Workers were busy Tuesday fumigating in a 100-meter radius of the home of the Desamparados man. They also reported that they visited the homes of relatives to see if the virus has spread.

Meanwhile, University of Notre Dame researchers reported that they have found populations of the Aedes aegypti mosquito in a Capitol Hill neighborhood in Washington, D.C.

More troubling is their report that genetic evidence shows that the insects overwintered for the last four years, meaning that they are adapting to the northern climate well out of their normal range.

Infections with zika usually are mild, but the virus can have devastating effects on the unborn.

In October 2015, a team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin and Universidad de Sucre in Colombia ran the
first tests confirming the presence of zika virus transmission in the South American country.
mosquito
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/James Gathany
The Aedes aegypti mosquito.


In a study published Tuesday researchers document a disease trajectory that started with nine positive patients and has now spread to more than 13,000 infected individuals in Colombia.

“Colombia is now only second to Brazil in the number of known zika infections,” said lead author Matthew Aliota, a research scientist in the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.

Pregnant women in Brazil and Hawaii infected with zika have given birth to babies with small heads and underdeveloped brains, a condition called microcephaly.

“If you’re pregnant or planning on being pregnant, absolutely, cancel your vacation,” says Aliota, echoing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning that pregnant women not travel to the more than 20 countries now known to have active zika transmission, like Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and in the Caribbean. In these countries, mosquitoes are spreading the virus to people.

The symptoms of zika virus are “really nonspecific and it overlaps with a lot of things, especially with dengue virus and chikungunya,” says Aliota. “It’s hard when someone comes in with a fever and a rash to narrow it down.”



Lawmaker promoted bill to put more women at head of political tickets
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would require political parties to establish what proponents say is vertical and horizontal parity for woman.

Emilia Molina, a legislator with the Partido Acción Ciudadana, supported the measure in a speech Tuesday in which she decried what she termed political discrimination against women.

She noted that not even a quarter of the 605 mayoral-level
candidates in the Feb. 7 municipal elections are woman. There are 116 woman on the ballot.
She supported bill No. 19.010 that would require political parties to adjust their internal rules to provide equality for woman.

Now the law requires women on political tickets, but typically the head of the ticket is a man while the woman occupies second place.

That is the case now with the current presidential administration.

And in the Feb. 7 election, Lawmaker Molina noted that 81 percent of the female candidates were for vice mayor.

Vertical parity would mean more women in the top spot.


Hotel header

Guanacaste Lodge

Palermo Hotel

Croc's

Vista Ballena

La Parcela

Hacienda Baru

Recreo Verde

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 18
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Polls that are supposed to illuminate sometimes sow confusion instead
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The political season brings out the best and worst in polling techniques, and there is no wonder that many are confused.

Recent news stories have shown Donald Trump way ahead of Sen. Ted Cruz in Iowa and also tied with him. Bernie Sanders may be ahead of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, and, then again, he may not be.

The very nature of the polls introduces error because the pollsters seek to learn the opinion of the public by obtaining information from very few. This type of inferential survey assumes the limited number of responses are typical of the larger group.

Such surveys are highly accurate when the group is uniform. The Gallup Organization can pretty well assess the public mood on an important issue by contacting a bit more than 1,000 persons. The simpler the question, the better the results.

Complicating the landscape are polls designed to produce a desired result.

Question: 1.) Should Americans act to stop global warming or 2.) should we all die in our beds.

Advocacy organizations produce these polls all the time to further their agendas.

The Iowa caucuses and Costa Rica's municipal elections next month present another problem, limited participation. Minimal participation can confound polling results because surveyors do not really know which people actually will show up to vote.

voting
Estado de Nación graphic
Graphic shows turnout in last three municipal elections.


Then there is lying. People have a tendency to stretch the truth when a surveyor asks them about a socially acceptable activity. And voting is socially acceptable.

A well-drafted survey will include some trap questions:

Question: Did you vote for 1.) Lincoln or 2.) Hoover in the last presidential election.

More and more the U.S. election scene is being clouded by the the extremes of the candidates. The primary process itself generates extremes, which encourage unrepresentative turnouts at the voting booths.  Pollsters have trouble compensating for this.

Hot-button issues like gay marriage, abortion, immigration, corporate income and nuclear war are some of the reasons candidates pander and why voters cast ballots.

The media encourages polling so commentators have something to fill air time or newspages.

As the candidates know, the important result is in the votes and not the polls.


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:
HiddenGarden@TheVanStoneGroup.com.   
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.
8840-2/2/16

diligence
Click photo for another video

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the
 *HIGHEST SUCCESS RATE
OF RELOCATION*

 (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!
HERE!

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. lundquistgeorge@gmail.com

8729-12/30/15

experience Costa Rica
Costa Rica Travel In Paradise Group Tours

Looking for easy booking process for a smooth Costa Rica trip?   We customize wonderful trips to Costa Rica.  We offer you our wealth of knowledge for a great experience . . . a trip of a lifetime!!!

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CR Local Phone: 011-506 -2274-3231
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Web: www.mycostaricatravel.com

Anywhere
  Get Help Planning Your Adventure Vacation in Costa Rica.
  100% Personalized Vacation Planning Service.
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Want to live in Costa Rica?
Read this book!


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8577-2/15/15

Howard
                        rollover
Will Costa Rica Retirement Work For You?
Find out for yourself on Live In Costa Rica Tours

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
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Here's reasonable medical care
Costa Rica's world class medical specialists are at your command. Get the top care for much less than U.S. prices. It is really a great way to spend a vacation. See our list of recommended professionals HERE!amcr-prom



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Real estate-related services (paid category)
COSTA RICA SOLAR
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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VISIT OUR WEB:
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Real estate rental services (paid category)

Spectacular rentals are available for low weekly prices on SellMyTimeshareNow.com at resorts such as Bahia Turquesa Residences and Villas Sol Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste. We have 
Timeshare
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: info@sellmytimesharenow.com
8766-7/30/16

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 www.tropicalhomesofcostarica.com or contact us at rentals@tropicalhomesofcostarica.com or call at (506) 2654-5442
8784-2/19/16

Escazú rental
Escazú.
Fully furnished and equipped three-bedroom townhouse. Small, quiet, owner-administered complex. Terrace, balconies, and green area. Adults only. 6-month to one-year lease. $1,300 monthly. condorents44@gmail.com. 011 506 2228-0915.
8915-2/15/16

Real estate for rent (paid category)
Central Valley view

Boutique quality mountain homes for rent located on a small horse ranch on the slopes of the Barva Volcano, Heredia Province. The homes have stunning views of Costa Rica's Central Valley. Located at 7,300-foot altitude, our ranch borders the Braulio Carrillo National Park and the homes are hiking distance to the Barva Volcano crater lake. We offer various rental options for our 1- and 2-bedroom homes. Contact us at Ajsanch783@AOL.COM for more details.
8921-3/25/16

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. $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: edificiomorazan@gmail.com  or call Hilda at 2221-7161.
8909-4/17/15




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A.M. Costa Rica's  
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 18
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Axiom 890 pixels

Denmark approves new laws
taking asylum-seekers' goods


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Denmark's parliament has passed new laws aimed at deterring people from seeking asylum there. The move has sparked widespread condemnation.

After more than three hours of debate Tuesday, lawmakers overwhelming passed the so-called jewelry bill that allows authorities to seize asylum-seekers' property valued at more than $1,450.  Items of special emotional value such as wedding rings will be exempt.  Some critics likened the decision to the Nazis' confiscation of valuables from Jews during the Holocaust.  Another provision calls for the asylum seekers to wait three years, instead of one, before they can apply to be reunited with their families.

The bill is the latest attempt by Denmark's seven-month-old, minority center-right government to discourage the migration of people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.  The Scandinavian country took in a record 20,000 asylum-seekers last year.

In reacting to the Danish parliament's decision, United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric issued a statement that read, in part, "Our reaction would be that people who have suffered tremendously, who have escaped war and conflict, who have literally walked hundreds, if not thousands, hundreds of kilometers if not more, who put their lives at risk crossing the Mediterranean, should be treated with compassion and respect and within their full rights as refugees as called by the 1951 convention."

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees also described the bill as inconsistent with European Union policies.
 
Speaking to reporters in Geneva, High Commissioner spokesman Adrian Edwards said the bill comes at a time “when the need for solidarity and responsibility-sharing at the EU level really is the first priority."

"The decision to give Danish police the authority to search and confiscate valuables from asylum seekers sends damaging messages in our view. It runs the risk of fueling sentiments of fear and discrimination rather than promoting solidarity with people in need of protection.  On the limited access to family reunification, we just remind people of the point that family unity is a fundamental principle in international law," said Edwards.

Last week, human rights group Amnesty International urged the Danish parliament to reject what Amnesty called "cruel and regressive changes to refugee law."  Amnesty's deputy director for Europe and Central Asia, Gauri van Gulik, said, "It’s simply cruel to force people who are running from conflicts to make an impossible choice: either bring children and other loved ones on dangerous, even lethal journeys, or leave them behind and face a prolonged separation while family members continue to suffer the horrors of war."

Denmark is not the only place targeting refugee possessions. Switzerland has started taking valuables worth more than $985, while the German state of Baden-Württemberg secures valuables above $380.  Other areas in southern Europe have been reported to follow a similar practice.


EU Commission opens door
to reintroducing border checks

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, said Tuesday that it was not ruling out allowing member states of the Schengen zone to reintroduce border controls for up to two years.

To cope with the migration crisis, the European Union interior ministers asked the commission to consider the extension of border checks at a meeting Monday in Amsterdam.

Member states of the Schengen zone, comprising more than 20 countries and over 400 million people that currently do not require passports or other border controls, would be called upon to inform the commission about their security concerns. The commission would then review their reports before approving the reintroduction of controls.

The commission said Thursday that it did not think that the situation was serious enough to warrant the extension, but it was considering options available to it under Article 26 of Schengen code.

Presently, Article 26 entitles member states, which includes most European Union countries, to reintroduce internal border controls for a maximum of up to two years under exceptional circumstances.

Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and non-EU member Norway have introduced temporary controls in response to the migrant crisis, but they are limited to six months. Poland is considering similar measures.

The introduction of the temporary border checks has raised fears that the passport-free Schengen zone, a symbol of European unity, freedom and prosperity, could collapse.


German polls show the impact
of refugee molestation sprees


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

In Germany, polls show support for anti-immigrant political parties have risen since the hundreds of attacks on women in Cologne, apparently by groups of migrants.

Sitting in a Cologne café, former English teacher Basheer Alzaalan scrolls through photos on his phone of his escape from Syria. He says Germany has offered sanctuary, and the attacks on New Year’s Eve filled him with anger.
 
“Germany for the Syrians was some kind of mother, and at the head of that, Angela Merkel. I had fears after the incidents in Cologne," he admitted. "But after then I felt that the people just understand, they do not have that kind of strategy that depends on action and reaction.”
 
Alzaalan wrote newspaper articles apologizing for the attacks on behalf of migrants, and imploring locals not to blame all refugees.

But the attacks have had political consequences. One poll showed support for the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany Party has risen to an all-time high of 11.5 percent,  putting it in third place.
 
Hendrik Rottman, head of the party’s Cologne branch, says that Chancellor Merkel’s "open door" philosophy has ensured that Germany has an unbelievable amount of migration and asylum seekers, of which some are refugees. But he says a large portion are unregistered, so no one knows what they are doing here.
 
Of the 1.1 million migrants who came to Germany in 2015, 10,000 have settled in Cologne. The attacks have prompted some to question if so many newcomers can be integrated. Others claim the differing cultures cannot be mixed.

Cologne authorities insist it can be done.

Gregor Timmer, spokesman for the mayor says the vast majority of the refugees want to start a new life and integrate peacefully. That is a lot of work for Germans, he says, such as language courses, integration courses, and finding jobs. This is all relatively new, he adds.
 
Early next month, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to line Cologne’s streets for the annual carnival. Groups of people are already out in costume.
 
One woman dressed in a pirate outfit says people in Cologne know more migrants are coming and are approaching it positively. But she says Germans are not going to let them "take away our fun, this is our culture," she adds.
 
Security is being heavily stepped up for the carnival. Cologne’s authorities are aware any further attacks like those on New Year’s Eve would have an impact far beyond the city’s streets.

 
Aborted fetus case reactions
split along political lines

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Abortion rights proponents are cheering and abortion foes are fuming over a grand jury’s decision in Houston, Texas, Monday to indict two videographers who conducted a covert investigation of a Planned Parenthood clinic that was meant to show such clinics sell body parts from aborted fetuses.

The grand jury began its work two months ago after calls for an investigation of Planned Parenthood’s Houston clinic, which the video producers claimed was illegally selling fetal tissue for profit.

But the grand jury found no fault with Planned Parenthood and instead brought indictments against the two people who did the surreptitious video recording, David Dalieden and Sandra Merritt.

Each was charged with a felony for tampering with a government record, in this case, allegedly using fake California driver's licenses. The grand jury also indicted Dalieden for the solicitation or sale of human organs, a misdemeanor. Grand juries rarely indict people on misdemeanor charges, and the felony charge is based on a relatively obscure statute of the Texas Penal Code.

Dalieden, who heads the California-based nonprofit Center for Medical Progress, said he and Ms. Merritt used well-established investigative journalism techniques and should be shielded by the First Amendment, which protects freedom of speech and press.

But in an interview, legal expert Melissa Hamilton, a visiting scholar at the University of Houston, said prosecutors were likely to reject that argument.

“If you are purporting to use a driver’s license, which is a public record, that is beyond the pale, because there are reasons for society to want to protect the legitimacy of purported government records,” she said.

Planned Parenthood spokesman Eric Ferrero hailed the indictments, accusing the videographers of having an extreme anti-abortion political agenda.

“As the dust settles,” he said, “and the truth comes out, it’s become totally clear that the only people who engaged in wrongdoing are the criminals behind this fraud, and we’re glad they’re being held accountable.”

Conservative religious leaders and politicians, however, condemned what they described as the unfair indictment of the anti-abortion video makers. A statement from the Texas Right to Life organization said, “When a grand jury indicts the very people who report a crime, rather than indicting the criminals, something goes clearly wrong.”

Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott said the Houston grand jury decision would have no effect on a state investigation into Planned Parenthood’s practices, which he described as ongoing.

Ms. Hamilton said the law used to indict the two anti-abortion activists is rarely used, but she said prosecutors most likely would go forward with the case, which she said would continue to draw news media attention.

She said, “In the public eye, this case will continue to remain an issue, not because of these particular odd charges, but because the underlying issue is abortion rights.”

The political divide between anti-abortion groups and reproductive rights groups has existed for many years. A woman’s right to an abortion was affirmed in the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade in 1973, but debates about what states can do to regulate and control abortion have continued.

In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled that states could not put undue restrictions on abortion clinics to effectively curtail their operations. But some states have continued to use regulations to limit the availability of abortion facilities.

Texas, for example, drew nationwide attention in 2013 with a law that requires abortion clinics to meet standards that would result in the closing of all but 10 abortion facilities in the second most populated state in the country.

The Supreme Court has blocked implementation of some parts of that law and is scheduled to rule on a challenge to the law in June, just before the two major political parties hold their national conventions and the last phase of the presidential election season begins.

The abortion issue entered the presidential campaign debates last July when the videos shot in Houston and at other clinics around the country were first shown.

Republican candidates condemned what they saw as horrible practices carried out at abortion clinics and the alleged illegal sale of fetal organs and tissue, while Democrats attacked the videos for using graphic images to incite audiences and for editing tricks that provided a fraudulent view of Planned Parenthood’s practices.

Abortion has not dominated recent debates, but that could change, depending partly on the Supreme Court decision in June, and on news generated by the indictments in Houston, lawsuits filed against the video producers by Planned Parenthood in San Francisco, California, and results from the abortion clinic investigations in Texas and other states.


Study confirms suspicion
that Internet divides users


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Internet is helping to raise the rancor level in American political discourse, as many have suspected.

In a new study, political science researchers say that access to broadband Internet has increased people’s hostility to those in the opposing party.

It’s a small effect. But according to the authors, it’s contributing to an angry election season.

The study, published in the American Journal of Political Science, used public opinion surveys from 2004 and 2008, as access to broadband Internet was growing. The surveys asked people to rate how much they liked and trusted presidential candidates from their own party and the opposite party. They compared those figures with measures of Internet access.

Those with broadband were slightly more polarized. They disliked their opponents a little more than those without broadband.

“The effect is only about a 1- or 2-point increase in polarization, and polarization in that time period increased about 15 points or so,” said study co-author Yph Lelkes, a political communication professor at the University of Amsterdam. “So, it’s not a huge effect. But it is part of the story.”

The World Wide Web offers a nearly limitless variety of news and opinions. But research shows that people mostly seek out information they agree with.

What people can end up with are endless opportunities “to hear only voices that are similar to themselves,” Lelkes said. “If you only hear your own side, you become more polarized.”

Lelkes acknowledged that the study uses an imprecise measure. However, he added, “I think the fact that we found anything despite the bluntness of the instrument and the potential countervailing forces speaks to the strength of this effect.”

While there’s always a risk in this kind of analysis that something else is causing the correlation, a Temple University political science professor, Kevin Arceneaux, said the results fit with what his research is finding. “The influence of partisan news media is not one of necessarily persuading people to support their side,” he said. “It’s preaching to the choir and pushing people on the other side even further into their corner.”

It’s important not to overstate the impact, Arceneaux said. People who seek out political news “are probably already sort of ideological. There’s only so much further you can move them.”

And most people actually avoid political news, he added.

When you add it all up, though, “we do believe that it has some effect. Likely a small effect.”

Social media may be increasing the effect. That’s an area Arceneaux and his colleagues are studying now.


Prescription pain relievers
fuel Appalachian addictions


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

There’s a disturbing trend in Appalachian country, a distinctive region in the eastern United States, perhaps best known for its mountain people and struggling coal mining industry. The seven Appalachian states account for more than a fifth of the country’s opiate-related deaths since 1999.

Opioids are prescription pain relievers such as OxyContin, methadone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine and also heroin.

The Appalachian states include Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. While these states have thriving urban and suburban communities, an Appalachian culture associated with people living close to the land, often associated with coal-mining communities, continues to persist along the Appalachian mountains.

Drug overdose deaths are a nationwide problem. The death rate from drug overdoses has increased 137 percent since 2000. In 2014, more people died from drug overdoses in the United States than any other year on record, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Drug overdoses killed 47,055 people in 2014, and 61 percent of those deaths were opiate-related. The Appalachian region was especially hard hit. The seven states accounted for 22 percent of all opiate-related deaths.

The authors of a new report on the rising epidemic in Appalachia say poverty and a lack of higher education could be a factor.

According to the report, “the hardest-hit counties, where death rates have soared … have about half the national median household income while twice as many people live below the poverty level. College educations are dramatically lower than the national average in the most affected counties, and in a room full of 100 people about 40 won’t possess even a high school level education.”

“It’s pretty obvious that when you have a higher education level throughout a lot of these areas, that there’s more access to resources like places to go if you need help, drug resistance education, and things along those lines,” said Tristan Harris, project manager for the report from Heroin.net.

State attempts to crack down on prescription drug abuse over the past few years seem to be driving the move from prescription drugs to heroin.

North Carolina has managed to stem the tide. The state initiated a plan to combat opiated-related deaths in one of its hardest hit counties in 2008. By changing the way clinical professionals and residents were educated about and treated for opioid addiction, North Carolina was eventually able to reduce overall drug overdose deaths statewide.

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8609-2/20/16

Real estate for sale (paid category)


Lee Lot
Panoramic Home Site.
Panoramic, rural mountain lot in Rosario, outside of Grecia in Central Valley. 25 minutes from San José and international airport. One hour from coast. Includes paved roads, electrical and water. In a development of 28 hectares, most planted in coffee. Lot is 7,300 square meters. Located adjacent to High Dreams Club, Hotel & Spa (Adults/couples www.highdreamscr.com). Excellent climate. Lot size large enough for home, garage & guesthouse/casita. Home site cleared & includes 10 maturing palm trees, with coffee trees at the base of the lot. Views to San José and include canyons. $24,900 USD. Contact: brooke@godutchrealty.com. 506 8311-5336 or U.S. 719-821-2210.
8923-2/26/16

La Uruca condo
FURNISHED  APARTMENT for SALE.
CONDOMINIO SATURNO, LA URUCA,
OUTSKIRTS of SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA,
Situated three miles west of the capital, eight miles from the airport. Quiet, secluded area within walking distance to a commercial center including a hotel, six restaurants,  next to two bus line stops. Car ownership is not needed. January-March air temperatures are 72 to 80 degrees F. Apartment 1,200 sq. ft (100 sq. meters), on ground floor, indoor  patio. Large windows without bars, parquet floors. Spacious living room-dining area, two bedrooms, maid's room, two bathrooms, four closets  (including walk-in), fully equipped kitchen (refrigerator, washing machine, small appliances, all necessary utensils, work tools).  Many amenities, (pictures, indoor plants, sewing machine, books, keyboard, dishes, glassware, silverware). Annual cost of maintenance about $1,350 includes water, landscaping service, garbage disposal, 24-7 security and property taxes. Price $120,000. Available for viewing:  Mid-January to beginning of April. Contact:  USA :  585 544-4296. Costa Rica : 506 2231-0410
Email:  BORISKOPIT@YAHOO.COM
8914-2/13/16

ocean-view home
GREAT DEAL $250,000. NICE OCEAN VIEW
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: quadtours@yahoo.ca
8910-1/28/15

Cohen
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.
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Toll free US phone 877-778-8515
410-975-6703
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8916-7/22/16

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
charming small hotel has a fully equipped kitchen, bar and restaurant and is exceptionnally well maintained. Located on a very private beach of the central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica 35 minutes north of Quepos-Manuel Antonio and 45 minutes south of  Playa Jacó. The main building is a two-storey house with 12 bedrooms. The lot measures 3,054 M2. Beautiful gardens around the large pool and exceptional flora and fauna. Well mentioned in tourist guides like Lonely Planet and Guide Ulysse. Offered at $999,000. USD
e-mail:  marietta234@yahoo.es 
or call (506) 8707-1037  (506) 2778-8408
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8902-3/4/16

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:  osaroger@gmail.com. Watch this video for full details.
8898-xxxx

San
                          Ramon
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: mmpeace@hotmail.com 
Check out slide show HERE!
8897-3/2/15

Lantz
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:  8725-8176.  Email:  angelsdad@me.com
8883-2/26/16

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:   djake888@yahoo.com
8846-4/10/16

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
       door.
- 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
     planted.

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 indyj5vw@yahoo.com or call 506 2416-9324.  Additional photos are available on Flickr album
8844-5/11/16

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Live the dream!
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: manager@crbusiness.biz.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 18
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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
U.S. lowers more Cuban trade barriers

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United States is clearing the path for more travel and commerce with Cuba as it seeks to further engage the Cuban people and normalize relations with the island nation.

The Obama administration Tuesday announced a series of actions it says will promote ties between U.S. and Cuban citizens and urged the Communist government to do its part to remove impediments that have been holding Cubans back.

Steps taken by the U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments include removing financing restrictions for most types of authorized exports, amending regulations to make it easier for some individuals and entities to get export licenses, and further easing regulations on authorized travel.

The White House said the new actions to ease sanctions continue a policy to empower the Cuban people by creating economic opportunities between Cubans and Americans.

“By expanding people-to-people ties, business opportunities, and greater access to information, we are promoting the transformation of our relationship in ways that advance U.S. interests and improve the lives of the Cuban people,” the White House said.

The U.S. urged the Cuban government to take steps to make it easier for Cuban citizens to start businesses, engage in trade and access information online.

During a speech in Havana, U.S. Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda urged Havana to expand Internet and communications connectivity.

While the government has taken some positive steps in the last year, Sepulveda urged Cuba to upgrade its wireless technology, establish more Wi-Fi hotspots and lower the cost of Internet access, which is $2 an hour.  That effectively means that it costs the average Cuban about 10 percent of his or her salary to get online, Sepulveda said.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said Tuesday the U.S. will continue to take steps to help the Cuban people achieve the political and economic freedom that they deserve.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said the regulatory changes will help strengthen civil society in Cuba and enhance communications to, from and among the Cuban people.

In December 2014, President Barack Obama announced the United States would re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba and begin the process of normalizing relations more than 50 years after they severed ties.

The policy change is sharply opposed by many in the Republican-led Congress and by some Republican presidential hopefuls, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who has threatened to reverse the change in U.S.-Cuba relations.

Critics argue Obama gave Havana too many concessions without insisting the Communist government bring an end to its oppressive policies and human rights abuses.

Teen who fled to México says he'll go home

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. teen who claimed his family's wealth made him unable to understand the consequences of his actions in a deadly drunken-driving crash will soon return to the United States after fleeing to México.

Lawyers for Ethan Couch told Mexican authorities Tuesday that they wanted to drop their fight against his deportation.

Couch and his mother, Tonya Couch, fled the country in December as Texas prosecutors investigated whether he had violated his probation in the case of a 2013 wreck that killed four people. Couch pleaded guilty of driving while intoxicated and received just 10 years' probation because of the novel affluenza defense.

Mother and son were taken into custody later that month in Puerto Vallarta, after a call for pizza delivery tipped off authorities to their whereabouts.

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U.S. Fed to announce rate decision later today

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. central bank is not likely to raise interest rates at this time and may delay expected rate hikes for a while.

That is the finding of a survey of economists by the financial news network CNBC.  The rate-setting committee of the U.S. Federal Reserve gathered in Washington for their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, and will report a decision this afternoon.

Many economists told the network that global economic weakness as well as recent drops and wild swings in stock and oil prices mean Fed officials may delay their next rate hike till May.

The Fed raised rates slightly from record-lows late last year and was expected to continue raising rates, very gradually over the next year.

Low interest rates tend to stimulate economic growth, but can also spark damaging inflation and other serious problems if they stay too low for too long.

The key U.S. benchmark rates had been cut to near-zero during the financial crisis in a bid to boost economic growth and jobs.  Since then, economic growth resumed, and the unemployment rate has fallen by half.

The improving job market and low gasoline prices are encouraging consumers, according to consumer confidence studies by the Conference Board and the Consumer Technology Association.  Analysts at Wells Fargo Bank said improving business conditions mean consumers shook off recent stock market chaos.

Economists watch consumer attitudes closely because consumer demand drives two-thirds of all U.S. economic activity.

Both market volatility and rising consumer confidence are related to lower oil prices.  A World Bank study published Tuesday lowered its predicted oil price for this year from $51 a barrel to $37, which is higher than the current price.

World Bank experts say oil prices are likely to remain at relatively low levels for some time, but will probably increase at least a little from recent market lows.

The bank’s experts say low prices are forcing some high cost producers to stop pumping oil.  At the same time, they expect recovering economic growth to increase demand for energy.  Together, those two factors will bring oil supply more in line with demand, which should bring prices up a bit.