A.M. Costa Rica
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(506) 2223-1327                              Published Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 31                             Email us
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Costa Rica well-positioned as spring break destination
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Northeast of the U.S. is gripped by a cold wave, and that means Costa Rica is an even more attractive spring break vacation spot for college students.

The colleges and universities begin the annual spring break next week.The majority of schools have the break on their March calendar.

Despite warnings about the zika virus that might put a damper on some spring break plans, Costa Rica is unique among the Central American states in having few reported cases of the virus and an aggressive campaign to destroy mosquitoes and the places where they breed.

The country has received some benefit from El Niño in that Guanacaste is unusually dry.

That's where a lot of the spring break destinations are, and little water means few mosquitoes.

Plenty of U.S. educational institutions have scheduled spring break classes in Costa Rica.

Indiana University has a 10-day culture and environment program March 10 to 20 in Nicoya. The University of Georgia plans a

creative writing course March 5 to 13 as well as courses with an environmental theme.

Other institutions with spring break programs here include Bucknell University, the University of California, Irvine, Purdue University and various campuses of the state colleges of New York. In addition to the Pacific coast, Monteverde is a major spring break destination for environmental courses.

Semana Santa begins March 18, and there are some tours for the general public that feature the religious activities during the week leading up to Easter Sunday, March 27.

Most communities have a colorful procession Good Friday, but in San José there are a half dozen processions involving the Catedral Metropolitana alone.

There also seems to have been an increase in bird watchers in the Central Valley in the last few weeks.

Internet searches show that promotion for spring break and Semana Santa are by private firms. And there does not seem to be any effort by the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo or its advertising agency in Atlanta to capitalize on the annual spring break.

Jacó is one of three world surfing games candidates
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Jacó is one of three locations being considered as the site for the 2016 World Surfing Games.

The International Surfing Association said Friday that it would make the decision in two weeks.

The association has been in contact with the Federación Nacional de Surf de Costa Rica, the Instituto Costarricense del Deporte y la Recreación and the Comité Olímpico de Costa Rica for six months. In addition, there has been considerable effort by the Municipalidad de Garabito to win the games for Jacó.

The International Surfing Association made the

announcement by means of a press release over the name of its president, Fernando Aguerre of Argentina.

The games were in Nicaragua last year. The California-based surfing association did not say who the other two candidates were for the 2016 games.

The International Surfing Association, founded in 1964, noted that it is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the world governing authority for surfing and similar activities.

Hosting the world games would benefit tourism. Playa Hermosa hosted the games in August 2009.

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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 31
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Page One is HERE!   Go to Page 3 HERE!   Go to Page 4 HERE!    
Go to Page 5 HERE! 
  Go to Page 6 HERE!     Sports is HERE!
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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


Marco Cavallini & Associates
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Fine art restoration and conservation

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

Real estate agents and services


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workman in                                  guanagaste
Consejo Nacional de Viliadad photo
Workmen are constructing a new drainage system under Ruta 931 between Nicoya and Pozas in Santa Cruz.

Guanacaste gravel roads getting work

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Anyone who is in Guanacaste as winds whip the landscape knows the problem with the gravel roads. They spew dust.

The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad reported Friday that it was making an effort to reduce the dust on 22 national routes in the province. Doing so was ordered by a decree that addressed the drought in the western part of the country.

In all there are 180 kilometers (112 miles) of gravel roads that are being treated now. Additional roads are subject to additional bidding and the awarding of contracts, said the Consejo.

The dust presents a health problem, the Consejo noted.

Our readers' opinions
Praise for service from RACSA

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

My house is connected to the internet through the wimax of Radiográfica Costarricense S.A. Sunday, Feb. 7, the service became very slow and intermittent.

Monday I got off to a bad start with RACSA, calling the hot line and electing to talk to the technical section. No reply for 90 minutes, when I had to go out.

The service was a little better on Tuesday. By Thursday it was miserable again, and this time I dialed 2 for general enquiries. An English response after three rings!

The advice was good (to reboot the modem) but the service soon returned to bad.

So I called again. This time, again after three rings, a young lady helped me in English. She told me that the response from my house was poor. The call was dropped. I rang back and the person who answered had all the data in front of him. He said I needed a house visit which he would arrange for that day. He called back to say his team would be with me (on Volcan Barva) in one hour. And they were!

Both spoke English. They tried to get my own 9-year-old receiver working and to point it at a better base station, but, after two hours had no joy. So they fitted a new receiver (hire cost $6 per month), and now I  have that ease of mind which only the well-connected enjoy. Excellent helpful service from RACSA.

Your readers may welcome a hymn of praise for a utility — for a change!

Mark Rhys
Roble de Heredia

Donations sought to help children

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

It’s a little known fact that Costa Rica has thousands of victims of human trafficking. A large majority of them have been sold into prostitution by their own families. This is called commercial sexual exploitation. Many more thousands are at risk of sexual exploitation.

Just in San José alone, we have an estimated 8,000 homeless children. Some I’ve met are only 8 years old. They do a pretty good job of hiding and spend time at night digging through dumpsters looking for food. Many of them prostitute themselves out to earn money to pay $8 or $10 for a night at a hotel. Most I’ve met are addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Our foundation, Casa Milagro, has spent the last year researching the situation and meeting with government agencies and other nonprofits. One of the amazing discoveries we made was that there are no organizations helping these kids.

If you are homeless and 18 or over, there are places to go shower, sleep, eat and find clothes. For those under 18, there is nothing!

The Patronato Nacional de la Infancia is our part of the government responsible for minors. They own and run most of our orphanages here, and they license private orphanages. Sadly, they have a very bad reputation. All of the children I’ve spoken with who have spent time in these orphanages say they are very dangerous and that they feel safer living on the street.

Casa Milagro is in the process of raising funds for a safe house and for a drop-in center. We feel it’s important that someone does something to help these children. While we wait for the funds, we are going out on the streets delivering food and clothes to the children we meet. Those interested in joining us in this effort, in donating clothes or food, or making a charitable donation can contact us through our website ( or on our GoFundMe page.
Scott Pralinsky     
Founder and executive director          
Casa Milagro

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 31
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Confrontations of taxistas and Uber drivers reported to be violent
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The public transportation situation in the country is becoming violent. Vehicles and drivers for the Internet service Uber are facing aggression and attempts at intimidation.

The central government issued an announcement Sunday saying that it repudiated such activities. It also said that the Policía de Tránsito are to enforce the laws about illegal drivers.

Licensed taxi drivers have their jobs to protect. Although there were existing Internet taxi services when Uber entered the market, the services involved licensed drivers.

The licensed drivers threw eggs and other material at their colleagues who did not participate in a recent work stoppage.  Although there were incidents of egg-throwing that made the television news, police did not take any action at that time.

The details of the attacks against Uber drivers are uncertain because there have not been any formal complaints to police. The licensed drivers have been pressing the administration to take action against the U.S. firm, but the Luis Guillermo Solís
administration seems hesitant to do so perhaps because Uber has installed a call center in Costa Rica.

Licensed taxi drivers have been waging a lengthy battle with unlicensed drivers who claim to be contract workers, the portadores. That battle has been going on for years with the licensed drivers and the unlicensed drivers staging blockades and protests.

Now Uber seems to be using the same tactics and bases its service on private contracts between drivers and passengers.

While portadores usually serviced the low-income neighborhoods and places where licensed drivers did not want to go, the Uber drivers seem to be getting customers from the more monied class.

Of course, the licensed drivers have substantial requirements, not limited to inspection twice a year for their vehicles and maintaining liability insurance. Uber drivers have no such oversight or requirements.

The government also now requires licensed drivers to get rid of any vehicles older than the year 2000.

Stash of fuel probably for the drug trade turns up on Caribbean coast
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Law officers came upon a stash of fuel on the bank of the Río Bananito in Westfalia, Limón, Saturday. Officers suppose that the fuel was for drug boats because the location is close to where they encountered a craft with two tons of marijuana Jan. 19.

The Ministerio de Seguridad Pública said that officers from both the Fuerza Pública and the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas were involved in the discovery. Based on the containers, officers estimated that there were 2,700 liters of fuel, more than 700 gallons.

There is a steady business on both coasts of refueling drug boats. Sometimes the refueling is done on the high seas. Other times the transfer of fuel takes place in secluded coves.
Ironically, many times the fuel is that specified as being without tax by the government for the benefit of fishing crews.

fuel dump
Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
The shrubs are able to hide fuel cans.

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Guanacaste Lodge

Palermo Hotel

Croc's Valentine

Vista Ballena




You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2016 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 31
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For Cubans, Internet access is a struggle and certainly not from the home
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

In Cuba, friends must be face-to-face to have a conversation. This is not a matter of courtesy, but because the Internet and other forms of modern communication are still a luxury on the island.

Although almost everyone has a smartphone, ironically, the devices can only be used to receive and make phone calls. There is no accessing social media, no texting, no sending email.

Internet access on mobile devices is limited to a few public parks. Having it in the comfort of one's home is still only a dream. Except for a small elite, mostly senior government officials, no one has Internet at home.

Getting connected with the Internet begins in small shops called Center Agent Telecommunications. There, vendors who have government authorization sell small pieces of paper, the size of a matchbox, containing Internet passwords.

Each piece costs 2.50 CUC convertible pesos, one of the two currencies circulating in Cuba. Each CUC equals about 90 cents.

But that piece of paper is still nothing more than paper if it is not combined with a semi-open Internet connection, located in some parks and a handful of hotels.

In the Park Beach Township 30, for example, about 15 minutes from downtown Havana, hundreds of Cubans come day and night in search of Internet access. Recently, about 50 people were there, each holding a phone, chatting with friends or family abroad or catching up on social networks.

The only application that allows video calls from Cuba is Imo. For some reason, the government of Raúl Castro has not restricted the service, as it has with other similar applications.

Even though the Internet access here pales in comparison to that of many developing countries, New York native Suki John, a dance teacher who has worked occasionally on the island for many years, calls it a breakthrough.

"I was last here a year and a half ago, and to have Internet then was unthinkable,” John said. “There was none of this. Since President Obama and Raul are negotiating, things have changed a lot, have improved. Having Internet in parks has allowed Cubans to take a look at the rest of the world, and know what is happening."

John also visits the park to make use of the Internet. For 50 cents, he bought one of the paper passes from a scalper, giving him access to the government Wi-Fi called ETECSA.

Jaziel Hernandez is among the many older people who use the park to communicate with relatives in the United States. She spoke with her daughter and granddaughter in Miami.

"It is a wonder,” Hernandez said. “Did you see me, how I was talking to my granddaughter? … It would be nice to have Internet in every house ... but this is better than nothing."

At about $3 an hour, the price for Internet access is still too expensive for many middle-class Cubans, who earn about $30 a month.

However, John said that limited access to the Internet has its good side.

"Here, people still gather to talk,” he said. “They go to a friend's house to ask him out. They have not lost that human contact we, particularly young people, have already lost. It has its charm."

But for young people like 17-year-old Yaxon, the charm would be to have Internet on your mobile phone or at home. "That would be a dream," he said.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

                        Garden 2016
Largest art gallery in Guanacaste
Drop in to see some of Costa Rica's finest art
at the largest gallery in Guanacaste.

The Hidden Garden Art Gallery near the Liberia airport is a great place to find quality remembrances of Costa Rica to take home or to decorate your home or office in Costa Rica.  We also offer commissioned pieces so you can create your own unique masterpiece to cherish forever.  With more than 60 artists on exhibit and fine art in 15 rooms full of paintings, prints, sculptures, and diverse artistic expressions, we are easy to locate just 5 kms west of the Daniel Oduber International Airport. Visit our Web site at
or contact us by email:   
Gallery hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tel. 2667-0592 / 8386-6872; U.S. telephone 702-953-7073. International shipping available.

Click photo for another video

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

 (as reported by the moving companies)
Visit many rental options to actually experience the price/amenity options available in more of the areas chosen by Expats for security, comfort, and quality of life.

Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!

Ask the others what you get for your money, and then compare the quality of accommodations, quality, quantity and variety of food and drink to measure the best value for your money. 

Learn how others “talk the talk” and learn who really can “walk the walk”

Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
George Lundquist, retirement, relocation columnist, Guide & Developer/Builder.


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SOON with the coming of new power company regulations, we'll be installing PV (photo voltaic) for solar electricity. Yes, at last!
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or 506-8314-8090


Real estate rental services (paid category)

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Beautiful house for rent
Will be Available March 15, 2-bedroom, 2-bath fully-furnished house inside gated property, Internet, Wifi, cable TV. $700 + utilities. Located in Santa Barbara de Heredia. More information to my email:

Spectacular rentals are available for low weekly prices on at resorts such as Bahia Turquesa Residences and Villas Sol Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste. We have 
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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
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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. 011 506 2228-0915.

Real estate for rent (paid category)
                                              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.

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:  or call Hilda at 2221-7161.

Real Estate
About us
What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2016 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica's  
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 31
Real Estate
About us

Axiom 890 pixels

Scalia's death sets the stage
for another political battle

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia set off a legal and political earthquake in Washington and beyond.

The arch-conservative jurist’s passing guarantees a confrontation between the White House and the Republican-led Senate on confirming a successor and could put ideological control of the high court at stake in this year’s presidential election.

Nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, Scalia authored some of the Supreme Court's most conservative and impactful opinions on voting rights, immigration, and terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

He also authored some of the high court’s most colorful dissents on President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, gay rights, and prayer in public schools.

Although Obama and Scalia rarely saw eye-to-eye on constitutional matters, the president was quick to pay tribute to Scalia and his judicial legacy.

“For almost 30 years, Justice Antonin ‘Nino’ Scalia was a larger-than-life presence on the bench, a brilliant legal mind with an energetic style, incisive wit, and colorful opinions,” Obama said. “He influenced a generation of judges, lawyers, and students, and profoundly shaped the legal landscape.  He will no doubt be remembered as one of the most consequential judges and thinkers to serve on the Supreme Court.  Justice Scalia dedicated his life to the cornerstone of our democracy:  The rule of law.”

No sooner had condolences and tributes been uttered, the nation’s attention shifted to filling the Supreme Court vacancy.

Federal judicial nominees must be confirmed by the Senate, and Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell swiftly issued a statement saying, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

Obama, meanwhile, signaled he will not be deterred.

“I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time,” the president said.

Senators across the ideological spectrum were quick to weigh in. Republicans, two of whom are vying to be their party’s presidential nominee, say no Supreme Court pick will be confirmed until a new president is sworn in next year.

“We’re not going to move forward until there’s an election. And I think that’s the right decision,” said the senator and presidential hopeful Marco Rubio, speaking on ABC’s “This Week” program.

 “The Senate has not confirmed a nominee that was named in the final year, an election year, in 80 years. This is a lame-duck president,” said another presidential contender, Republican Ted Cruz, also on ABC. “This next election needs to be a referendum on the court. The people need to decide.”

“The fact is, when you elect a president, you have to assume a Supreme Court vacancy, he is going to make the nomination,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “And it would be a sheer dereliction of duty for the Senate not to have a hearing, not to have a vote.”

“The constitution is pretty clear. It’s the job of the president of the United States to appoint, nominate members of the Supreme Court, and the Senate confirms,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is running for president as a Democrat, on ABC. “President Obama in my view should make that nomination. I hope he does it as soon as possible.”

Such arguments triggered a blunt response from Cruz.

“If the Democrats want to replace this nominee, they need to win the election,” the senator said.

Supreme Court justices have lifetime appointments, and Scalia’s successor could move the court’s ideological center of gravity on a multitude of polarizing issues including abortion, gun control, corporate power, and environmental regulation.

If Senate Republicans hold true to their pledge, the November election will not only decide the next occupant of the White House for four years, it will impact the makeup of the Supreme Court for a generation or more.

Supreme court may delay
decisions on major issues

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

With the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the U.S. Supreme Court could be facing a divisive ideological split during its current term as it considers key cases involving abortion, immigration policy, religious liberty and affirmative action to assist racial minorities gain admittance to flagship universities.

Scalia, a stalwart conservative, was often one of five justices in the majority in contentious 5-to-4 rulings on the highest court, holding sway over the court's four liberals.

His successor could tip the ideological balance on the court or keep it the same, depending on who ultimately fills the vacancy.

In the meantime, however, with a lengthy delay expected in the Republican-controlled Senate over consideration of any nomination offered by Democratic President Barack Obama, the court is facing internal debate over some of the country's most difficult issues.

If the court ultimately splits on a 4-to-4 vote, lower court rulings affecting only parts of the country would remain in place, without setting a nationwide precedent.

In the next month, the court is set to hear arguments in a case on how far states may go in regulating abortions without violating a woman's constitutional right to ending a pregnancy. The legality of an abortion law in the southwestern state of Texas is at the center of the dispute.

The Texas law requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and mandates that abortion clinics upgrade their facilities to hospital-like standards, a provision critics say is aimed at forcing the closure of the abortion providing centers but supporters say it's necessary to ensure abortion clinics are medically safe.

Abortion rights supporters say the Texas law would force the closure of  32 of the 42 clinics in the state.

In another controversial case involving Texas, the court is set to revisit the extent to which the state's premier university, the University of Texas, can consider the race of its applicants in making admissions decisions. The case was brought by a white woman who was denied admission.

In still another Texas-based dispute, the court is considering whether Obama exceeded his authority in trying to shield more than four million illegal immigrants from deportation.

In the religious liberty case, the justices are considering whether religiously affiliated organizations, such as universities, hospitals and charities, can be free of having to provide their employees with contraceptive coverage if they object because of their religious beliefs to providing women with birth control pills and other forms of contraception.

The Supreme Court also has on its docket other contentious cases involving voting rights, public employee unions and climate change. The court typically issues its major decisions by the end of June each year.

With the vacancy caused by Scalia's death, the court could simply hold off on some rulings until his seat on the court is filled and then hear arguments with all nine members available to make a ruling.

Fact checkers are disputing
Republican candidates' claims

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. political fact checkers are debunking several claims six Republican presidential candidates made at their last debate ahead of next Saturday's key nominating election in the Atlantic coastal state of South Carolina.

Both The Washington Post and Politifact said there is slim evidence for the claim at Saturday's debate made by front-runner and billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump that he stated his opposition loud and clear before the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. The U.S. attack, popular in the U.S. at the time and much less so in the years that followed, was based on intelligence that turned out to be wrong that dictator Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction.

But the fact checkers found that ahead of the March 20, 2003, invasion the flamboyant Trump at most said Iraq was a problem and did not sharply criticize the U.S. involvement until 2004. At that point, he asked, "What was the purpose of this whole thing? Hundreds and hundreds of young people killed. And what about the people coming back with no arms and legs?"

Saturday's death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia led to calls from the Republicans for Democratic President Barack Obama to not nominate a replacement and let the next president elected in November to pick a new justice upon taking office next January.

But the fact checkers quarreled with Sen. Marco Rubio's contention that it has "been over 80 years since a lame-duck president has appointed a Supreme Court justice." They noted that a Republican favorite, President Ronald Reagan, named Justice Anthony Kennedy to the country's highest court in late 1987 and his appointment was confirmed in early 1988, Reagan's last full year in office.

Politifact said that while Reagan's remaining time in office was a bit longer than Obama's at the time of a court appointment, "it's hard for us to see how Obama can be considered a lame duck but not Reagan. Both were second-term presidents who knew they would not serve again but did not yet know who their successor would be."

The Post said the claim by former Florida governor Jeb Bush, the son and brother of two U.S. presidents, that Florida led the nation in job growth during his gubernatorial tenure from 1999 to 2006 is just not supported by national labor data, although the state was among the highest at the time in adding jobs.

Bush chided one-time casino magnate Trump for going "bankrupt four times," which the New York real estate developer quickly disputed, saying "That's another lie. I never went bankrupt."

The Post said that while Trump never personally went bankrupt, his companies did, with him having to give up personal assets and reduce his equity stake in the casinos.

Northeast U.S. is in icy grip
of a deadly cold wave

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Hearts may have been warm Sunday for Valentine's Day, but the weather across the eastern U.S. was ice cold.

Freezing temperatures and strong winds in such major cities as Boston, New York, Baltimore and Washington were making it dangerous to spend long periods outdoors, with the thermometer reading as low as minus 37 degrees C. in some places. That's about minus 34 F.

"It's so important to take this seriously, to stay indoors to the maximum extent possible," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio warned Saturday.

It was cold enough Saturday in New York to cancel the annual Central Park Ice Festival. Trucks in New York and elsewhere have been picking up homeless men and women and taking them to shelters and hospitals.

A strong snow shower was blamed for an accident Saturday on a Pennsylvania highway near Philadelphia that left about 50 cars in a twisted pile. Several deaths are reported.

Forecasters say the bitterly cold weather will last through today when snow will change to rain as temperatures warm up to the high single digits C overnight into Tuesday.

Four U.S. states are leading
major demographic changes

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in California, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas.

In 1970, California, currently the most diverse state in the nation, had a population of about 20 million and the overwhelming majority of its residents, 17.8 million, identified as white.

Forty years later, California has sizable Hispanic, black and Asian populations. In 2010, of the 37 million people living in the Golden State, 14 million identified as Hispanic, more than 5 million were Asian and 2 million were African Americans, while about 15 million were white.

In 2010, Nevada had a population of 2.7 million, 1.5 million were white with 208,000 African Americans and 716,000 Hispanics. Back in 1970, there were 488,738 people living in the Silver State and 449,790 of them were white.

In addition to California, the other most diverse states in the country include Hawaii, New Mexico and Texas. Both New Mexico and Texas border the country of Mexico and boast large Hispanic populations.Texas is home to 25 million people, 9.5 million of whom are Hispanic.

Evidence of this modern-day American melting pot is less apparent in the East Coast states of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and West Virginia, the least diverse in the nation.

In 2010, of Maine’s 1.3 million residents, 1.2 million were white. In Vermont, whites accounted for 590,223 of the state’s total population of 625,741.

Colombia reports zika virus
in 5,000 pregnant women

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Colombia’s National Health Institute said Saturday that more than 5,000 pregnant women in the country are infected with the zika virus.

The total number of people diagnosed in Colombia has reached 31,555, the institute said in its epidemiology bulletin, among them 5,013 pregnant women.

The latest figures of zika cases indicate a 23 percent increase over last week's total, while in pregnant women the number went up 57.8 percent.

There is currently no treatment for zika and much remains unknown about the disease, including whether the virus causes microcephaly, a medical condition in which the head in newborns is smaller than normal because the brain has not developed properly or has stopped growing.

The mosquito-borne virus is most prevalent in Latin America, particularly in Brazil, with more than 4,300 suspected cases of the birth defect.

To ease the concerns ahead of the Summer Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro, President Dilma Rousseff expressed her confidence to reporters Saturday that by the time the Olympics begin, her country will have considerable success exterminating the mosquito believed to cause the disease.

Brazil's zika virus outbreak will not compromise the Olympics the country will be hosting in August, Rousseff said.

Meanwhile, Brazilian troops began a public campaign Saturday aimed at educating the public on ways to eliminate the mosquito carrying the zika virus.

Francis warning Mexicans
of Devil, drugs and violence

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Pope Francis held an open air Mass Sunday for some 300,000 Catholic faithful in Mexico City's gritty suburb of Ecatepec.

The pontiff, in his message, spoke out against the drug trade and associated violence, a central theme of his five-day visit.

"Let's get that in our heads, with the Devil there is no dialogue," he said while urging the faithful to resist vanity, pride and wealth.

In a final prayer at the end of the Mass, Francis urged Mexicans to be on the front lines in forging their country's future.

He urged them to make their country "a land of opportunities, where there will be no need to emigrate in order to dream, no need to be exploited in order to work, no need to make the despair and poverty of many the opportunism of a few, a land that will not have to mourn men and women, young people and children who are destroyed at the hands of the dealers of death.''

The city of Ecatepec lies in the populous state of Mexico, a region plagued by warring drug cartels and infamous for a spate of disappearances of women, whose bodies have turned up in abandoned lots or canals.

According to the National Citizens Observatory on Femicide in 2011 and 2012, nearly 1,300 girls and women, more than half between the ages of 10 and 17,  disappeared in Mexico, while 448 were murdered, many with gruesome violence. Further data shows that only about one-in-four such cases are investigated, with less than 2 percent of those leading to arrests and convictions.

Saturday, the Pope called on Mexican leaders to provide true justice and security in the country after years of endemic drug violence, official corruption and poverty.

Francis told President Enrique Peña Nieto and assembled lawmakers in Mexico City they have a responsibility to help citizens gain access to indispensable material and spiritual goods, including housing, employment and a peaceful environment."

In a separate address to Mexican bishops, Francis urged the clerics to take a more aggressive stand against drug trafficking and corruption.  He challenged church leaders to denounce what he called the insidious threat posed by trafficking.

Today the pope travels to Chiapas, Mexico's poorest state, where he will preside over a Mass conducted in three indigenous languages.  He then visits Morelia, the capital of the western state of Michoacan, where farmers in 2013 took up arms to battle the so-called Knights Templar drug cartel.

Francis caps his visit Wednesday in the U.S.-Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico's former murder capital, where he is expected to address issues of crime, trafficking and migration.

Palestinian teens killed
while attacking Israelis

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Five Palestinians have been killed and another critically wounded by Israeli forces in the West Bank, the Israeli army said.

Late Sunday, two Palestinians were fatally shot after they opened fire with automatic weapons on Israeli security forces near Jerusalem's Damascus Gate.

Earlier in the day, the army said two teenagers were throwing stones at cars in the West Bank city of Jenin. When the military forces arrived, one of the teens opened fire prompting soldiers to respond, killing them both.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said both Palestinians were 15 years old.

Israeli authorities say a Palestinian was shot dead after attempting to stab Israeli border police on the outskirts of Jerusalem. No Israeli officers were injured in the attack. Palestinian officials identified the assailant as a 17-year old from a village near Bethlehem.

Since October, Palestinian stabbings, shootings and assaults have killed 27 Israelis, while at least 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops.

Analysts say Palestinians frustrations with Israeli occupation coupled with the lack of progress over peace efforts and their own fractured leadership have led to the unrest. In addition, Palestinians in Israel have been urged to attack Israelis by Palestinian leaders and categorized as heroes when they are killed.

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If you are looking for information on condos, homes, lots, commercial real estate or development properties our award-winning team of professional agents are ready to help you buying property in Costa Rica. We have over 18 years of experience to educate our buyers in all aspects of purchasing property. Call us or email us today for more information on how to purchase that perfect piece of Costa Rica Real Estate.

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Sierra Collection. Meridian House or Chateau Montage.
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Real estate for sale (paid category)

Jacó beach unique home. First time offered
This house has never been listed.  It is a 3-bedroom, 1-bath home approx. 100 feet above sea level on the only hill in Jacó one mile to the beach.  Totally remodeled to a Gringo house.Has great fenced yard for dogs and a huge screened porch with  great views all around, including a small ocean view.  New in the last two years includes: new kitchen with granite counter, cedar cabinets, all new windows, tile, water system, updated electric & plumbing, superb new AC units (low electric bill), This is half of a duplex with a platted yard.  Other side is the chief of police.  Secure & private.  $169.900. Call Glenn at 506-6214-0056 or

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 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: 506 8311-5336 or U.S. 719-821-2210.

La Uruca condo
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

ocean-view home
Property size: 3,405.14 sq. mts. or 37,000 sq. ft.   Gorgeous house built 5 years ago to U.S. standards on 37,000 sq. ft. titled property. This home (240 sq. mtrs or 2,600 sq. ft) has 360-degree ocean and mountain views and electric gated private road access. The large open style home has soaring teak ceillings, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, custom cabinetry and ceramic tiles throughout and a double-car electric garage door. Their is also a beautiful, large swimming pool surrounded by exotic garden, laundry room and bodega. This is a very special and rare property because of the incredible view and excellent location. This one of a kind home and property is truly a must to see. all custom built furnitures included. Photo gallery:  CLICK HERE!  Please contact Jack, Cell phone number  (506) 8812-1789.  Contact email:

For sale 5,200 m2 Escazú
Fantastic location for condo, hotel, restaurant.
Large lower lot, incredible views. Flexible zoning.
Easy to get liquor license. Low interest financing.
Toll free US phone 877-778-8515
In Costa Rica 8307-0164

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
or call (506) 8707-1037  (506) 2778-8408

Blakesmore one

Blakemoret two

Costa Rica tropical paradise beach house for sale

Tropical five-acre forested beachfront property with custom house and guest casita on the Osa Península, south Pacific Coast. Abundant wildlife, exotic plants and fruits, secluded beach.  Located 8 kms. south of Puerto Jiménez on the way to Matapalo and Corcovado National Park. Great Price $750,000. Contact Roger. Phone number  (506) 6142-7228   Email: Watch this video for full details.

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: 
Check out slide show HERE!

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:

Grecia casa
Mountain home for sale
in Grecia.
Less than a year old. Owners are motivated.  All information regarding the home as well as many photos can be found at Mountain view home for sale Grecia, Costa Rica.   Contact email:

puriscal photo
Costa Rica home for sale $163,500 / 2bedroom - 1,984 ft2

Central Valley view home: 10 minutes from Santiago de Puriscal and shopping, hospital services, and soon Maxi Pali. Only one hour to San José or Pacific beaches.
- On .55-acre lot with river on one boundary
- Area under roof, 1,984 sq. ft., Area inside walls, 925 sq. ft. Steel, recycled
      Styrofoam, and concrete construction.
- 2 ½ years old with central living room and kitchen, 2 bedrooms and 2 baths,
       ceramic tile throughout.
- Central Valley volcano and SJO airport views from every room.
- Vaulted ceilings give bright open feeling.
- Entrance from concrete road to large graveled parking area
- VERY energy efficient with VERY low property taxes.
- Covered attached carport with entrance to front door or laundry-guest bath
- 2 carport storage bodegas.
- 12 foot x 14 foot storage bodega
- Security lights, And Amcrest day & night video recorder system.
- Producing banana trees, and mango, bread fruit, and guanabana trees

Includes: Refrigerator, gas stove & oven with electric grill element, microwave, electric washer-gas dryer stacked style, gas on demand whole house water heater. Other furnishings are negotiable. ICE electric service and land line phone. Bajo Burgos Water district. Metro-wireless WiFi is available. Tigo Star Satellite T.V. House is in a Costa Rican corporation, will transfer shares. Contract or call 506 2416-9324.  Additional photos are available on Flickr album

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Several profitable businesses, including a regional radio station, are for sale in Costa Rica. Certain purchases can provide the new owner with residency as well as a great lifestyle. So live your dream while making a profit. Contact:

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Life at the beach is, well, salty

You always wanted a house on the beach and now, here you are. Hot sun, ocean views, salty breezes, sandy soil. Uh oh, sandy soil. Salty sandy soil. 

Hey, it’s okay. You have a condo, and you can plant anything you want in

Victoria Torley
pots on the balcony. Oh, you have a house and a yard? Well then, let’s talk.

First, how to we meet the challenge of a salty breeze? I am happy to say that there are many, many options. Some involve fencing, so let’s leave those out of the picture for now and concentrate on plantings. What we 
want, of course, is some sort of barrier between the salty breeze and our more delicate plants.

There are tons of options. Malay dwarf bamboo is a lovely densely leaved bamboo of 3 to 5 meters (10 to 17 feet) and is non-running. It makes a fantastic hedge to protect other plantings.  Foliage is variegated which adds to eye appeal. But, if you want something more colorful, bougainvillea is also salt tolerant and makes a fine protective planting. Mix it with the faster growing bamboo and remove the bamboo later if you like or plant the bamboo on the outer edge of the hedge and the bougainvillea inside.

Oh yes, remember that a hedge of anything has to be several rows of plants, not just a single row. Plan for at least two rows (three is definitely better) with about 85 centimeters (3 feet) between the rows.

If you prefer a windscreen of pines, there are many to choose from and they are usually available at local viveros. Constant trimming will keep them a manageable size.

Now that things are screened, what about color? Your bougainvillea is blooming, but you want more. So what will work in that sandy slightly salty soil? Let’s start with lantana, lots of colors to choose from, a nice herbal scent, and an added plus, no leaf cutter ants. Trim it for a low shrub or let it grow up to a meter or more (over 3 feet) depending on location. Rosa rugose, the beach rose, and kalanchoe are both good choices for color in sandy soil. Kalanchoe has the added advantage of being a succulent with good moisture retention during the dry season. Portulaca is another excellent choice for the areas where you want something with low growth and lots of flowers.

How about scent? The jasmine family proves wonderful fragrance to any garden and is tolerant of salty air. Sadly it is a favorite of leaf cutters, but I am told they seem less of a pest in sandy soils.

So that is just a brief “what to do” for beach areas, all sparked by a reader’s question (Thanks to Kimberly Toberman, and happy gardening.)

beach plant
A.M. Costa Rica/Victoria Torley                                  

Plant for the Week

I wish I had one of those beach\side plants to show you, but my portulaca isn’t doing well, and my lantana looks pathetic. Instead, here is a picture of my jasmine after an attack by leaf-cutter ants. Those poor sad twigs. What to do? I have asked friends to find me some chrysanthemum seeds. Mums contain natural pyrethrums and are supposed to chase away the ants (we hope).

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

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From Page 7:

Possible oil production cut may be in works

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Energy market watchers credit an increase in oil prices to rumors of a possible production-cut deal that would include Saudi Arabia, other oil-producing nations and Russia. The average oil price had dipped well below $30 a barrel recently, but is now around $31.

The rumor that has been circulating in oil markets around the world this week involves a possible deal between Saudi Arabia, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in the same region and Russia. The Saudis would be key, though, because of the desert nation’s large reserves and its ability to increase or decrease production to affect the world market acting unilaterally.

In an interview, Jim Krane, geopolitical energy analyst at Rice University, said that the Saudis would need some large oil-producing states outside of OPEC to cooperate, and they would need to see some cutbacks by large private oil companies as well.

“When they see a large enough drop in production and investment and, if indeed, the Russians and a couple of others are willing to go along with it … I could see them cutting production,” Krane said. “If they did, it would probably be a modest reduction, and I would suspect it would be in heavy oil.”

Heavy oil comes out of the ground without natural gas, which the Saudis rely on for much of their domestic energy. Citizens of the kingdom enjoy some of the lowest energy costs in the world.

Krane says one reason Saudi Arabia might like a deal to stabilize international crude oil prices is that the current slump is taking a toll domestically.

“The Saudis are very concerned about oil prices,” he said. “This is on everyone’s mind over there. We have a new king in power and some new administrators, who are launching some interesting new policies. We are seeing an increase in domestic energy prices in Saudi Arabia for the first time in decades. The price increases themselves have been modest, but the government is saying there are more to come.”

Krane, who recently visited Saudi Arabia and plans to return there next week, says Saudi leaders will be cautious about any deal because they are concerned about competition from the United States and Iran, which is expected to start selling more crude now that international sanctions have been lifted.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has said that the United States has even greater proven oil reserves than Saudi Arabia based on estimates of what could be produced from deep shale deposits. U.S. producers have used horizontal drilling and rock fracturing technology to free up both oil and gas trapped in shale rock deep underground.

The slump in oil prices has driven some U.S. companies out of the shale fields, but others, working in lower-cost areas, have continued, adding to the glut of oil on the market.