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Published Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, in Vol. 17, No. 28
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Art City Tour will kick off eighth season Thursday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Art City Tour returns for the 2017 season, its eighth, Thursday.

This is the event when museums and other cultural locations are open to the public for free, and even transportation is provided.

The museums include the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, the Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo, the Museo del Arte Costarricense, the Museo Calderón Guardia and the Centro Nacional de la Cultura, all operated by the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud. The Museo de Jade, operated by the Instituto Nacional de Seguros, also will be open from 5 until 9 p.m.

In addition, private galleries, cultural centers, store and heritage buildings in San José, including barrios Amón, Otoya, Escalante, Los Yoses and La Sabana, will welcome visitors.

Art City Tour is a product of  GAM Cultural, an organization that provides buses among 17 cultural locations. Visitors also are encouraged to ride bikes or walk.

The historic buildings that will be featured were identified as Librería Lehmann, Tienda Regis, Feoli Hnos. Ltda., Distribuidora y Fábrica de Ropa Íntima Ana, Sastrería Scaglietti, Tienda La Gloria, Almacén San Gil, Almacén La Ópera, Almacén Barguil, Antonio Gazel La Favorita S.A., Bazar San José and Paragüería Rego.  These are stores that have remained in the same family for years, said the ministry.

art design
Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud photo 
 This is among the pieces that will greet
 visitors to the Museo de Arte y Diseño

The stores fit in with a new exhibition at the
Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo that feature the successes of immigrant families.

The ministry notes that the long-time businesses were founded by families that came from Germany, Cuba, Spain, Italy, Lebanon, Poland and Syria. The Museo Nacional is featuring its exhibition of San José from 1880 to 1930.

The evening kicks off with a 5 p.m. dramatic performance in Parque España on Avenida 7 with actors portraying historical figures.

More information and a place to register for the bus trips are HERE!

Rice agency continues push for official protection
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The world economy has not been kind to Costa Rican rice growers.

In 2010 there were 81,116 hectares being cultivated for rice.  Today there are about 46,000 hectares, a reduction of about 40 percent.

In 2010 and 2011 there were 1,490 growers of which 1,194 were considered smaller producers. Now there are 522 small producers.

The statistics are what Minor Cruz, an executive with the Corporación Arrocera Nacional, presented to a legislative committee Tuesday. He was urging consideration for Costa Rican rice producers in the face of imports.

When the Central American Free Trade Treaty was being studied, rice growers were among the most vocal opponents.

They feared the lower-priced competition for the vast fields of the country to the north.

But now it seems that the bulk of the imports are comings from southern South America. Last year the country imported 55,283 tons of rice, about equal to production in Guanacaste, said Cruz. He was speaking to the Comisión Permanente de Asuntos Agropecuarios.

The Corporación Arrocera Nacional is a

government agency that buys the rice from producers and maintains a market price.

Imports have to be approved. And there is a 32 percent import duty.  Although this is good for rice producers, consumers fail to benefit from the free market.

Many of the country’s leaders are invested in the rice production business as well as sugar cane.

Cruz told lawmakers that the industry was in crisis, although it was unclear what kind of relief he was seeking. There was no indication what the former rice farmers were doing now with their land, although many certainly have suffered from the prolonged drought that just ended.

Lawmakers seem to be more aware of economic implications as they consider protective measures. And there are consumer lobbies to help them remember.

The Ministerio de Economia, Industría y Comercio last week rejected an appeal by the legislative committee to block rice imports. The committee most likely will try again.

The minister involved, Wélmer Ramos, just left that post because he is planning to run for the presidency on the Partido Acción Ciudadana ticket next year, and election rules prohibit sitting officials from running.

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Deal reached on electronic fare planning

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The central government is praising an agreement for electronic payments for public transportation, but expats should not be ready to flash their credit cards yet.

The agreement for now is just for planning how the electronic payment system will work.

In addition to convenience, officials want to reduce the amount of money handled by bus drivers, who are constant robbery targets.

The agreement is among the Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos, the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes, the Banco Central de Costa Rica and the Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles.

The start of the electronic pay system still is some time in the future, and exactly how this will take place needs to be worked out also with transport operators.

Orchestra goes on road with free concerts

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
The Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional goes on the road this week with five free concerts. The first will be Friday at 7 p.m. in the Iglesia La Soledad in San José Centro.

Sunday the concert will be at 5 p.m. in City Mall in Alajuela, Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Iglesia de Cañas, Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the gymnasium in Bijagua de Upala and Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. in the Iglesia de Tilarán.

Also performing will be the Costa Rican pop-rock duo Suite Doble, made up of  Bernal Villegas and Marta Fonseca, musician Carlos Guzmán and singer Ivette Ortiz, all under the direction of Alejandro Gutiérrez.

Toledo probe involves activities here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Alejandro Toledo, the former president, is under investigation in his home country of Perú because he is suspected of taking millions in bribes from Odebrecht, a Brazilian company that has been under investigation there.

Also involved in the case is Mossack Fonseca & Co. That is the law firm that became notorious as a result of the Panamá Papers disclosures. This time prosecutors say that the law firm did much more than just draw up the paperwork for offshore accounts for Toledo’s associates. The company was reported to have worked to move around millions.

Costa Rica is involved because of financial activities by the Ecoteva Consulting Group, that is incorporated here and seems to be linked to Toledo.

Odebrecht is accused of distributing hundreds of millions in bribes in as many as 12 countries to develop various construction projects.  The information was developed by Brazilian prosecutors in a massive investigation there.

Costa Rican prosecutors froze Ecoteva bank accounts in 2013 when Toledo’s mother-in-law, Eva Fernenbug, used funds from there to buy a home in Lima. At the time, Toledo told the press in Lima that his mother-in-law borrowed $3 million from Scotiabank here to make the purchase.  Questions have been raised about the role of Luis Liberman, a former vice president who also was the manager of the bank.

News from the Spanish-language press
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Lawmakers consider penalties for abusing the many tax-free deals
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministerio de Hacienda has been vocal in criticism about tax evaders and cheats, but an official of that ministry said Tuesday that there are 260 types of exonerations from taxes in the current law.

And no one is checking on them, he said.

The witness at a legislative hearing was Juan Carlos Brenes, director of the División de Incentivos Fiscales of the Ministerio de Hacienda.

The government offers tax freedom in some cases to encourage companies to locate here. Another case are taxi drivers who are spared much of the import tax on new vehicles.

Lawmakers in the Comisión Permanente de Asuntos Hacendarios are considering bill No. 19.531 that would tighten the rules.

Brenes did not oppose exonerations or situations where no taxes are paid, but he did urge lawmakers to stipulate sanctions for those who abuse the legal loophole.

The committee has prepared a new draft of the bill that would provide for punishment for those who misuse goods purchased with tax-free money or those who fail to file the required documents on time. Also punished would be those who fail to report when the purchased item goes out of service.

The committee may eventually consider the elimination of some of these tax-free categories.

Coast Guard gives a hand
to a very hairy neighbor

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Sloths in Costa Rica can live happily with humans as long as there are leaves to munch. Sometimes the modern world gets in the way.

That happened in Quepos where members of the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas found a sloth entangled in a metal fence surrounding the coast guard station.

In addition, the animal was far from the trees where it would be safe from predators.

Sloths are vulnerable when they are on the ground, and the types of predators are many, including domestic dogs.

The Ministerio de Seguridad Pública reported that the coast guard crew members removed the animal from the predicament and placed it in a wooded area where it would be safe.

The ministry also suggested that the sloth was a female that might be in the later stages of pregnancy.

Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
The animal is back home in the trees.

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Palermo 900

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Hundreds of earthworks show Amazon was heavily populated in past
By the University of Exeter news staff

The Amazonian rainforest was transformed over 2,000 years ago by people who built hundreds of large, mysterious earthworks.

Findings by Brazilian and United Kingdom experts provide new evidence for how people lived in the Amazon before Europeans arrived.

The ditched enclosures, in Acre state in the western Brazilian Amazon, were concealed for centuries by trees. Modern deforestation has allowed the discovery of more than 450.

The function of these mysterious sites is still little understood. They are unlikely to be villages, since archaeologists recover very few artifacts during excavation. The layout doesn’t suggest they were built for defensive reasons. It is thought they were used only sporadically, perhaps as ritual gathering places.

The structures are ditched enclosures that occupy roughly 13,000 square kilometers. Their discovery challenges assumptions that the rainforest ecosystem has been untouched by humans.

The research was carried out by Jennifer Watling, post-doctoral researcher at the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography, University of São Paulo, when she was studying for a doctorate at the University of Exeter.

Ms. Watling said: “The fact that these sites lay hidden for centuries beneath mature rainforest really challenges the idea that Amazonian forests are pristine ecosystems.

“We immediately wanted to know whether the region was already forested when the geoglyphs were built and to what extent people impacted the landscape to build these earthworks.”

Using state-of-the-art methods, the team members were able to reconstruct 6,000 years of vegetation and fire history around two sites. They found that humans heavily altered bamboo forests for millennia and small, temporary clearings were made to build the geoglyphs.

Instead of burning large tracts of forest, either for geoglyph

University of Exeter photo
Two of the many Amazon earthworks.

construction or agricultural practices, people transformed their environment by concentrating on economically valuable tree species such as palms, creating a kind of prehistoric supermarket of useful forest products. The team found tantalizing evidence to suggest that the biodiversity of some of Acre’s remaining forests may have a strong legacy of these ancient practices.

“Despite the huge number and density of geoglyph sites in the region, we can be certain that Acre’s forests were never cleared as extensively, or for as long, as they have been in recent years,” said Ms. Watling.

The full article will be released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.

To conduct the study, the team extracted soil samples from a series of pits dug within and outside of the geoglyphs. From these soils, they analyzed phytoliths, a type of microscopic plant fossil made of silica to reconstruct ancient vegetation, charcoal quantities to assess the amount of ancient forest burning and carbon isotopes to see how open the vegetation was in the past.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

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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”

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Appeals panel promises speed
in making its decision on ban

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A U.S. appeals court in San Francisco says it will rule as soon as possible on whether a federal judge had the legal grounds to suspend President Donald Trump's ban last month on immigration from seven Muslim majority countries.

A lawyer for the U.S. Justice Department and an attorney representing the states of Washington and Minnesota, which are suing to stop the ban, presented their arguments by telephone before a three-judge appellate panel Tuesday.

U.S. attorney August Flentje said Trump's executive order was well within his power granted by Congress and the Constitution, letting him set adequate standards in screening would-be travelers to the U.S. who need visas.

He pointed out that Congress and the former Obama administration determined that the seven countries named in the order, Somalia, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, were of concern to authorities because they pose a risk of terrorism or give terrorists a safe haven.

Flentje said a number of Somalis arrested in the U.S. have ties to al-Shabab terrorists.

The U.S. attorney acknowledged that the case has moved too fast to give the government enough time to provide all the evidence to support Trump's order. But he said the Washington state federal district judge's order last week putting it on hold was over-broad and overrode presidential authority.

Washington State Solicitor General Noah Purcell told the appeals court the Trump administration wants to reinstate the travel ban without a full judicial review, throwing the country back into chaos.

When questioned what harm the travel ban has done to Washington state residents, Purcell said it separated families, stranded students overseas, and left people in doubt about whether they should travel because of the uncertainty of whether they could come back.

When challenged about whether the travel ban discriminated against Muslims because the vast majority are unaffected, Purcell argued that not every Muslim has to be hurt for it to be unconstitutional. He told the judges the president's order was designed in part to harm Muslims, noting that Trump called for a total ban on Muslim immigration during his campaign.

Attorneys general in 15 other states have filed briefs in support of Washington and Minnesota. The American Civil Liberties Union, nearly 100 corporations, and a group of Democrats that includes former secretaries of State John Kerry and Madeleine Albright, also filed briefs.

All sides expect the issue to wind up before the Supreme Court.

U.S. District Court Judge James Robart's decision Friday suspending Trump's executive order has the president fuming.

"I actually can't believe that we're having to fight to protect the security, in a court system, to protect the security of our nation," Trump said Tuesday.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly defended the ban. He took responsibility for its unwieldy rollout and mass confusion over who was covered by the ban and who should be allowed to enter the U.S.  He told the House Homeland Security Committee there was a lack of communication with Congress and that the travel ban should have been delayed just a bit.

But he defended it against Democratic critics who call it a ban on Muslims, saying the terror risk, not religion, was the key factor in the president's order.

"It's not being done because they're Muslim countries," Kelly testified. "It's being done because we don't trust their vetting or their information."

If the case eventually goes to the Supreme Court, the nation's highest judicial body, one analyst said there are rulings from the past that could support Trump's policy.

New York-based attorney Dan McLaughlin, told a voice of America show "The Supreme Court has held for a long time that Congress has nearly unlimited authority in deciding who can enter the country, an authority that includes excluding people from particular countries, as it did with Chinese immigration in the 1880s.”

McLaughlin said, “Because the president is relying on an authority delegated to him by Congress, he has a broad authority to act on immigration within the law, whether you think his policy is wise or not."

But he added that Trump’s prominent advocacy of a U.S. ban on all immigration by Muslims could come back to weaken his case before the Supreme Court.

students protest
Voice of America photo/R. Taylor 
 New York City high school students staged this
 walkout Tuesday afternoon.

Vice president breaks the tie
to name education secretary

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence swore in Betsy DeVos as U.S. secretary of Education on Tuesday after casting the tie-breaking Senate vote to confirm President Donald Trump's controversial nominee.

It was the first time in American history that a vice president had been needed to get a cabinet pick approved.

The ceremony took place quickly and without fanfare, except for the whirring and clicking of cameras and other media equipment. After the short ceremony was over, a small audience of family and friends burst into polite applause.

Earlier in the day, two Republicans voted with a united Democratic caucus in opposition to Ms. DeVos, a champion of allowing families to use public school funds to send their children to private schools. The result was a 50-50 split before Pence cast the deciding vote, as the Constitution mandates when the chamber is evenly divided.

"She will be an excellent education secretary," said Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, a Republican who served as President George H.W. Bush's education secretary in the early 1990s. He argued that the school choice initiative Ms. DeVos supports would bring competition to public education and put lower-income students on a more equal footing with those from well-to-do families.

"She is committed to improving our education system so that every child, every child has a brighter future," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican.

Democrats held the Senate floor for 24 consecutive hours ahead of the vote to argue against the education nominee and plead for at least one more Republican to join them in opposing her.

"Public education, from the very beginning of this country, has been at the root of that American idea that you can succeed despite any barriers of circumstance or birth," said Sen. Chris Murphy,  a Connecticut Democrat, who noted that Ms. DeVos had described public schools as a dead end for many students. "When you say that public schools are a dead end and then, as Ms. DeVos has, spend your entire career trying to empty out public schools and put kids into private schools, it hurts."

New York City high school students staged a midday walkout Tuesday in downtown Manhattan to protest the new secretary and Trump's executive actions, chanting "Dump DeVos."

"As somebody who is inexperienced with education, I think Betsy DeVos poses a special threat for vulnerable students," said Andre Mozeak, one of the protest organizers representing the New York Immigration Coalition. "I don't think the outlook is any better for immigrants and new American students, for students who come here as refugees, especially since she seems to follow the president's policies so tightly."

A wealthy businesswoman, Ms. DeVos has never been a teacher or a school administrator. During her Senate confirmation hearing, she said that guns might be needed at some remote schools to ward off grizzly bears, prompting expressions of disbelief and scorn from Democrats.

Ms. DeVos joins just four other Trump cabinet nominees confirmed to their posts.

Infrared is now being used
by drones to monitor wilds

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

One of the most valuable weapons in the fight to protect endangered species in the wild is the drone, which allows conservationists to monitor the distribution and density of herds, especially in areas hard to reach by car or foot. But these airborne cameras are useful only during daylight hours, so it can't document animals that are active at night or poachers trying to avoid detection.

Now, technology used to analyze astronomical images, infrared imaging, is being redirected to focus on the earth.

Astrophysicist Steven Longmore notes that space scientists have been using thermal cameras for many decades.

"Crucially, it turns out the techniques we've developed to find and characterize the faintest objects in the universe are exactly those needed to find and identify objects in thermal images taken with drones," he said.

In a video demonstration of drone and thermal camera research, the software has identified humans in the field from their heat signatures.

Longmore led a team from Liverpool John Moores University to refine that process, which until now required researchers to review the videos carefully.

The United Kingdom team used free software of astronomical source detection and applied it to the detection of humans and different species of animals in infrared images from drones. Each species has a different heat profile that acts as what Longmore calls a thermal fingerprint. He said he hopes to build a library of those fingerprints to help future conservation efforts.

The study, done in cooperation with the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, is published in the International Journal of Remote Sensing.

Startup creates system to link
web surfer and distant buddy

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Digitally savvy broadcasters are reaching their audiences now via smartphones and, increasingly, via live video.

In San Francisco, one startup is giving livestream videos a twist: Kamcord allows individuals to broadcast their personal phone screen to viewers, who can then tune in and comment.

"It's really just a new form of entertainment, and it's a form of entertainment that's very personal," said Kamcord co-founder Aditya Rathnam. "Rather than just listening to what the TV stations have to say . . . you can now look at what someone, an influencer that you look up to, what they're doing."

Kamcord began four years ago as a livestream platform for broadcasting mobile game play. Viewers could follow along as creators navigated through iOS and Android games like Siegecraft and Hyper Breaker Turbo.

Since then, the livestreams, or appcasts, have branched out to include streams of a user's phone screen as he or she navigates online content and reacts to web articles, YouTube videos, even online dating profiles. Viewers simultaneously watch the appcast creator and the mobile interactions, while creators can respond to viewer comments.

"You can discuss politics, you can discuss more frivolous topics like what's the funniest cat video on YouTube," Rathnam said.

For spectators, the experience is very much like being a fly on the digital wall of an ordinary person's phone. And much like our everyday interactions with our smartphones, the resulting appcasts center around fairly routine and mundane activities.

The inherent approachability of Kamcord's appcasts places less pressure on creators to be entertaining and witty.

"One of the things that people underestimate is just how hard it is to stare into a camera and have interesting things to say," Rathnam said. "Rather than thinking about what to say, you're just reacting to what's on your phone screen. There's tons of entertainment on your phone screen, and it now provides a prompt for you to react to that."

Instant messaging provides real-time dialogue with the creator, as well as the option to send him/her virtual gifts like a gold star in varying sizes. Virtual gifts like these cost viewers anywhere from 40 cents to $80.

Like YouTube, Kamcord has afforded more popular creators the chance to profit significantly from their appcasts.

"We have a couple teenage brothers in Australia, and they're actually going to make six figures in earnings this year off of viewers giving them virtual goods," Rathnam said.

For Rathnam, the live video component is the most compelling aspect of Kamcord.

"You don't know what's going to happen on their phone next. What's the next article on their feed or what's going to happen to the person they messaged on Tinder.  . . . I think that type of entertainment is just not available anywhere else," he said.

Twitter to try to prevent abuse
by targeting repeat offenders

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Twitter says it is stepping up efforts to prevent abuse and harassment on its microblogging platform. Tuesday, the company announced several steps it is taking.

First, Twitter says it will identify people who have been banned for online abuse and prevent them from creating new accounts.

Additionally, the company says it will create a safe search feature so that tweets that contain potentially sensitive content and tweets from blocked and muted accounts will be removed from search results. Those tweets will still exist, but Twitter says they will not clutter search results any longer.

The company also says it will begin identifying and collapsing potentially abusive and low-quality replies so the most relevant conversations are brought forward.

Twitter has been failing to keep up with other social media platforms such as Facebook. Twitter recently reduced staff and an attempt to sell the company failed.

The 10-year-old Twitter has never made a profit, and despite tweaks to the format, has continued to see its user base shrink.

Russian opposition activist
said to be poisoning victim

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The wife of Russian journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza, a prominent opposition activist and Kremlin critic, says acute poisoning has left her husband gravely ill in a Moscow hospital.

The wife, Yevgenia Kara-Murza, said Tuesday that doctors told her an unidentified substance caused massive organ failure in her husband last week. The rapid and sudden deterioration in his health, which reportedly occurred just hours before he was to leave Moscow for a trip to the United States, prompted hospital staff to place the 35-year-old activist in a medically-induced coma.

Since then, Kara-Murza is said to have been in critical but stable condition. However, there have been no official medical statements about his condition or illness.

Kara-Murza's lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov, said in a Facebook post later Tuesday that police told him doctors confirmed the diagnosis of poisoning, but again there was no official statement to corroborate the attorney's account.

Mrs. Kara-Murza said her husband's collapse last week resembled a near-fatal bout of kidney failure that he suffered two years ago. At the time, Vladimir Kara-Murza contended he had been poisoned, allegedly for political reasons. French scientists found elevated levels of heavy metals in his blood but were unable to identify any specific toxin.

Samples of Kara-Murza's blood as well as other potential physical evidence of poisoning, such as hair samples and nail clippings, have been sent for analysis abroad, including at an independent laboratory in Israel, the victim's wife said.

Before he fell ill, Kara-Murza had been traveling in Russia to promote an upcoming documentary film about Boris Nemtsov, a liberal opposition leader and fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin. Nemtsov was assassinated outside the Kremlin in February 2015,  gunned down on a bridge spanning the Moscow River near the Kremlin.

In Washington, U.S. Sen. John McCain, a longtime critic of Putin, lamented Kara-Murza's medical crisis and hinted that the Kremlin was involved in the activist's sudden illness.

Standing on the Senate floor near a large picture of Kara-Murza, McCain hailed him as a great fighter for freedom and a Russian patriot.

The Republican senator from Arizona told his colleagues Kara-Murza was the victim of another shadowy strike against a brilliant voice who has defied the tyranny of Putin's Russia.

Kara-Murza was aligned with Russian opposition groups that contend Nemtsov was killed by Kremlin operatives directed by Putin, in order to suppress evidence the activist was about to reveal showing Russia's direct military role in the conflict in Ukraine. Putin, who said Nemtsov's killing was a disgrace for Russia, has repeatedly denied he was involved in the case in any way.

The Kremlin also has denied any role in Kara-Murza's medical crisis.

Authorities in Moscow eventually named five Chechens as the suspected killers of Nemtsov. The suspected triggerman had been an officer in the security forces of the Kremlin-backed Chechen regional leader, Ramzan Kadyrov. The defendants have been on trial for their alleged role in the killing for several months.

Kara-Murza's grave, mysterious illness has revived stories about several other Russian opposition figures who died unexpectedly in recent years, including former Russian Cold War spy Alexander Litvenenko, who died in London in 2006 of radiation poisoning.

A formal British inquiry found that Litvinenko was assassinated in an operation that Putin probably approved. The Russian exile was fatally poisoned by polonium-210, a colorless, odorless and deadly radioactive substance that was slipped into his tea during a meeting at a London hotel.

Two prime suspects in Litvenenko's death, both Russians, were named, but Moscow has refused to extradite the men to Britain.

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Spectacular Horse Ranch and Spiritual/Yoga
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San Rmon
Mountain home w/million dollar view near San Ramón
Beautiful home in the mountains near San Ramón with 180-degree view of the gulf of Nicoya. 7 miles from San Ramón, 1 mile from Interamericana highway. 3,200 foot elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, appliances included. High-speed internet installed,  Price for sale $179,000    Contact Mike: 
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Costa Rica penthouse for sale
 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, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 28
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News from the BBC up to the minute

BBC news feed are disabled on archived pages.

Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Guess what is making a comeback

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Expats in Costa Rica might be surprised to learn that Latin is coming back. Latin like in Romans and not Latin like in salsa.

That ancient language, of course, is the base for Spanish that most expats confront on a daily basis. And there is a good chance that expats of a certain age studied Latin and even Greek in high school or prep school. Then there are the Roman numbers for the annual Super Bowl game.

Cornell University reports that Latin is getting more popular because there now is an emphasis on speaking the language. The usual approach has been dry grammar education and translating.

Cornell just hired a man who spent eight years working as a translator at the Vatican where spoken Latin still lives.  He is Daniel Gallagher, who is joining the classics department at the Ivy League University.

Of course, Latin was not restricted to the Romans. The Catholic Church still considers it the official language, and at least until Restoration England, the king’s secretary of state was called the Latin secretary because much of the foreign correspondence was in the language.

There is a big difference between 17th century Latin and that spoken by Caesar, Ovid and Virgil, and classical academics have to know the difference. That also is true of modern Greek and its classical Greek roots.

Expats interested in languages can find a handful of videos with spoken Latin and English subtitles on YouTube. Those who wish to go further probably have an advantage if they now speak Spanish.

U.S. trade deficit lower for December

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. trade deficit improved slightly in December, but the deficit for the whole year was still the worst since 2012.

The gap between what the U.S. buys from overseas and what Americans sell to foreign markets was just over $44 billion for December. That was a little better than the previous month but the total for 2016 was just over $502 billion.

During his presidential campaign, President Donald Trump blamed bad trade deals for millions of lost jobs in U.S. manufacturing. Experts say trade plays a role in declining factory jobs, but they also say the strong U.S. dollar means American-made goods are more expensive on global markets. That makes them harder to sell, and also makes imported goods cheaper for U.S. buyers.

Trump pulled the United States out of a major Pacific trade pact and wants to re-negotiate a free trade deal with Mexico and Canada.

Next week the head of the U.S. central bank will give an updated assessment of the economy to key committees of the U.S. Congress. Other experts will publish fresh data on inflation, retail sales, and the housing market.

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From Page 7:

Trusts OK'd for infrastructure and maintenance

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The legislature Tuesday approved for the second and final time a plan to create  fideicomisos or trusts to generate funds to build, operate and maintain transportation infrastructure.

The trusts also will have the authority to borrow money both locally and internationally to acquire the needed funds.

The money will be used by the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes and the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad.

The measure was No. 19.497.

The measure also gives the Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles, the state railway company, the right to establish trusts with state banks to generate funds for maintenance, according to Casa Presidencial.