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Published Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, in Vol. 17, No. 35
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These are the 291 new police recruits who just started training. They were picked from about 1,000 who applied. recruits
Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo

Security ministry accumulating plenty of firepower
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Despite its reputation of not having a military, Costa Rica is quickly increasing its law enforcement personnel and the equipment they 
use. The security minister was at the legislature Thursday asking for more.

The minister, Gustavo Mata Vega, told the Comisión de Seguridad y Narcotráfico that he needed more equipment and resources to strengthen the work of  
Gustavo Mata
the police in the face of the realities of world and regional security.

As he was speaking, his ministry, Seguridad Pública, was announcing that the first 291 recruits have begun their basic police course. They are the first of some 1,500 police the ministry is recruiting.

The ministry already has about 10,000 officers.

The ministry officers include the street patrolmen in blue, frontier police, members of the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas and the Servicio de Vigilancia Áerea. There are other police agencies, such as prison guards, traffic police, tax police and municipal police officers who are under the jurisdiction of other entities. The Judicial Investigating Organization is part of the judiciary.

Mata in his visit to the legislature listed the hardware his ministry recently acquired. This includes two airplanes and two boats. The arrival of three helicopters is awaited. In addition, the ministry has at least one King Air, a top-of-the-line turboprop luxury plane, that

was confiscated on the Caribbean coast, as well as a handful of other aircraft.

The previous administration of the United States is providing $25 to $30 million more in equipment, according to the U.S. Embassy.

The donations, some still to be delivered, include two 110-foot patrol ships based for the Pacific,  two C-145 cargo planes,  a 45-foot vessel, two 38-foot interceptor crafts, 19.5-foot river boats, construction of a hangar and operations center for air operations in Coto 47 at Ciudad Neily, three armored vehicles and more construction at the Kilometer 35 security checkpoint of the Interamericana Sur highway. There were many more lesser donations including a maintenance package for the King Air.

Previously the U.S. government invested in coast guard stations in Flamingo and Golfito as well as financing for a $5 million radar station on Isla del Coco.

The expense of U.S. taxpayer money is not altruistic. Nearly all the donations are directed in one way or another to stopping the shipments of drugs north to the States. Fuerza Pública officers also are known for stopping and frisking mostly young males in searches for drugs, mostly marijuana or crack.

In his appearance before the committee, Mata asked for approval of pending legislation, including a tougher confiscation law to take over drug-connected property. He also asked for approval of a cybercrimes treaty.

He said the police academy would offer bachelor through postgraduate degrees in conjunction with international universities. He said his ministry would coordinate the municipal police forces.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 35
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Weekend features orchestra and dancers

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Symphony orchestra performances and free movies are mixing with some dancing in the streets for this upcoming weekend.

The Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional will start its outdoor performances in Alajuela and Cartago. The program is expected to include Costa Rican music as well as rock n’roll and orchestral works of Johannes Brahms and Alexander Borodin, according to the Centro Nacional de la Música.

The Suite Doble duo is partnering with the orchestra for these performances along with musician Carlos Guzmán and singer Ivette Ortiz. The shows will begin tonight at 7 p.m. at the Polideportivo de Cartago and on Sunday at 5 p.m. in the City Mall of Alajuela. The concerts are free and open to the public.

“The aim is to unite the Costa Rican family by means of a musical show,” said Alejandro Gutiérrez, Guest Director, “They will offer the color of Spanish music, the virtuosity of Russian music, the passion of arias Operas, and of course the best of the big national groups Suite Doble, in addition to the traditional music in the style of Carlos Guzmán.”

Meanwhile, the Chepe Danza hits the streets of San José today with their own unique creation that may include participation from the audience.

The series of performances will be at eight locations such as Parque Central and the Paseo de los Estudiantes in Barrio Chino. The performers are members of the Compañía Nacional de Danza and have been preparing their performances at their home base in the Teatro de la Danza.

Each show will last around 45 minutes, organizers said. The dance styles will include interpretative dances in which the performers expect their audience to contemplate the story.

Some will be more abstract in character, but all will offer the opportunity for spectators to interact with the cast, organizers said.

The first performance titled “UNO” will start today at 5 p.m. on Avenida 4 on the south end of the Parque Central in San José. More performances will also be held at noon on Paseo Colón during the Domingos familiares sin humo, or the smoke-free Sundays hosted by the municipality.

That event will also continue this Sunday promoting smoke-free spaces in the capital with recreational and physical activities geared towards families to improve their health and encourage a tobacco-free lifestyle.

For those that prefer an indoor event, the Preámbulo is continuing its free showing of international films this weekend at the Centro Costarricense de Producción Cinematográfica in front of the north side of the Instituto Nacional de Seguros building in Barrio Amón.

Capacity is limited so organizers suggest arriving at least a half hour before the film starts. The first movie will be shown tonight at 7. On Saturday and Sunday, there will be shows at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Information on the film titles and country of origin can be found on the website of the Costa Rican film institute.

Lastly, the Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo will be open on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with its exhibition of “El que no enseña no vende.” The exhibition is examining the design of storefronts in relation to the history of downtown San José, the museum said. 

Action expected to expedite taking land

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A bill to speed up the completion for public works was unanimously approved in committee and is ready to be voted on the floor of the Costa Rican legislature.

This particular piece of legislation seeks to reform some of the articles within the expropriation law to cut through bureaucratic red tape and avoid the interruption of progress on public work projects in the country. This bill will also modify the notification law so that persons can be notified directly and avoid the possible problems or delays associated with trying to locate the people. In short, it seeks to expedite the process by which public works are constructed in Costa Rica.

In this way, proponents of the legislation hope that the state would be able to more quickly obtain the land necessary for road infrastructure projects. The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes readily voiced its support for the bill and the legal affairs committee that has been examining it since August 2016 unanimously passed it Wednesday. It will now go to the legislative assembly for vote.

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New bill would prohibit creating any more zoos in Costa Rica
By Conor Golden
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The legislature now has a new bill calling for a prohibition of all new public or private zoos. 

The reforms to the existing conservation law calls for no new zoos, public or private, to be created along with no new extension of existing zoos in the country. This bill would tell existing zoo operators not to replace any animals or other specimens in its facilities. Importation of wild or other exotic animals for the purpose of a zoo would also be prohibited. The hunting of wild animals for these establishments would be prohibited.

The only extensions allowed existing zoos would be only that which would improve the safety and health conditions of the animals already there, the legislation reads. A zoo would also be eliminated as a subcategory as a wildlife management site, it said.

The proposed penalty for anyone who would try to establish a new zoo or breaks the proposed regulations for an existing zoo would be a minimum fine 10 times that of the base salary. The maximum penalty would be the closing of the zoo and a fine 30 times that of the base salary.

Currently, the bill defines the base salary as 257,650 colons, or

Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía file photo
Kivú, as seen in better days.
around $460. The minimum fine proposed in this bill would put the penalty between 2,576,500 and 7,729,500 colons. That puts it between $4,600 to $13,802.
The last element in this proposed reform is the authorization to give existing zoos five years to close or request authorization from the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía to change the management model and convert the zoo to a wildlife management site.

This bill comes in response to the controversial nature of zoos in Costa Rica and some facilities’ alleged mistreatment of the animals.

Officials from the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía together with the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería transferred Kivú, the lion, to Zoo Ave in La Garita in what appeared to be a made-for-television event back in December.

The lion had previously been living at the Simón Bolivar Parque Zoológico y Jardín Botánico Nacional in north San José.

Zoo officials had wanted to move the lion to its Centro de Conservación Santa Ana and a new enclosure for Kivú. But the lion became a pawn for a power struggle between government officials and the foundation that operates the zoo, Fundación Pro Zoológicos. There also had been public protests by animal rights activists.

That zoo is nearly 100 years old but, like others, has become the target of the animal rights groups who protest the idea of caged animals. The lion was one of two confiscated by a traveling circus 18 years ago.

The fuss over the aged lion is the latest in an effort by the environmental ministry to close down the place.

The new home for the lion is an area with vegetation, logs, a cave, platforms, and a water pit, based on the international standards in place for maintaining wild animals, said officials as they moved the lion. Still the lion is reported near death.

The government owns the land on which the zoo is located, and the environmental ministry has hopes of turning what is now the zoo into a botanical garden. There have been continual court fights.

Like all legislation pieces, this bill needs to undergo a potentially long journey through the legislative system. The bill could take years and could be extensively modified before it becomes a law.

Puzzle of dead fish casts a cloud over entire Gulf of Nicoya
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There has been no breakthrough in the mystery of why perhaps millions of small fish have died in the Gulf of Nicoya.

Several groups of scientists were at work Thursday trying to determine what happened. If the cause is pollution in the deaths of these anchovies, the source may be far from where the dead fish washed up.

Most of the fish are littering the beaches and are in the surf at the northeastern part of the gulf. But that is the direction to which the winds and currents would push them.

Consequently the entire gulf is suspect now until the solution is found.

Curiously, the 7 to 8 kilometers of dead fish do not seem to have attracted birds or other scavengers.

Residents of the area are concerned about the growing stench.

Health officials have issued the obvious warning not to eat, buy or angle for fish from the area.

However, the warning was restricted to just that part of the gulf where the carpet of dead fish appeared. Expats also should refrain from eating shellfish until there is an answer from scientists.

If the cause is pollution, the amount of substance injected into the gulf must have been massive because there are estimates that the dead fish might be as much as 30 tons. The fish must have died throughout the gulf. In addition to poisoning, the scientists are looking at the oxygen content of the water and the possibility that a blossoming of algae may have generated toxins.

The use of the fish as fertilizer also is being delayed until scientists conclude that no harmful chemicals are present.

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Defensoría seeks free pre-natal care for uninsured and illegal women
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Defensoría de los Habitantes has called upon the nation's health service to give free pre-natal care to pregnant women even if they are uninsured, owe money or are illegal.

Costa Rica frequently is promoted as a country where there is free health care. In fact, the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social receive substantial amounts of  money each month from employees and employers to cover health services. In addition, there is a system of individual health insurance with the Caja.

The Defensoría de los Habitantes said that there have been complaints of Caja workers denying pre-natal care to women who were behind on their insurance payments.

The agency, which serves as a sort of ombudsman or people's champion, said that pre-natal care should be provided free even if those needing it are uninsured.

The Defensoría said sometimes Caja workers bill women who come for care uninsured. Some women decline to seek such care because they know they have accounts outstanding with the Caja, the Defensoría said.

The statement Thursday also said that women who are illegal immigrants and probably working off the books also have been denied such services. The complaint said that such women frequently were questioned about their assets and property ownership before being awarded insurance paid by the state.

Caja workers have demanded that foreign women who seek pre-natal care have been asked for their residency cėdula or passport showing a valid visa in order to weed out illegal aliens, said the Defensoría, adding that care should be offered as well as free insurance even to persons who are in the country illegally.

Pregnant women from Nicaragua have been known to enter the country illegally so their child would be born a citizen here. That would give the mother residency, too.

The Defensoría complaint does not include childbirth. Women in labor routinely are admitted to Caja hospitals regardless of insurance status, although they may get a small bill later.

In a separate topic, the Defensoría said that an agreement with the Ministerio de Justicia y Paz requires free medical care for families of prisoners. The ministry runs the prisons.

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Centers for Disease Control Photo
  Aedes aegypti mosquito is  pictured here.

Malaria vaccine effective
100 percent, scientists say

By the German Center for Infection Research
press staff

Researchers of the University of Tübingen and the German Center for Infection Research with the biotech company Sanaria have demonstrated in a clinical trial that a new vaccine for malaria has been up to 100 percent effective.

For the trial, Peter Kremsner and Benjamin Mordmüller of the Institute of Tropical Medicine and the German Center for Infection Research used malaria parasites provided by Sanaria. The vaccine incorporated non-weakened malaria pathogens together with the medication to combat them.

The World Health Organization reports that some 214 million people became infected with malaria in the year 2015 alone.

Malaria parasites are transmitted by the bite of mosquitoes. The Plasmodium falciparum parasite is responsible for most malaria infections and almost all deaths caused by the disease worldwide. Most of the previous vaccines which have been tried involved the use of individual molecules found in the pathogen. However, they were unable to provide sufficient immunity to the disease.

The Tübingen study involved 67 healthy adult test persons, none of whom had previously had malaria. The best immune response was shown in a group of nine test persons who received the highest dose of the vaccine three times at four-week intervals. At the end of the trial, all nine of these individuals had 100 percent protection from the disease.

“That protection was probably caused by specific T-lymphocytes and antibody responses to the parasites in the liver,” Peter Kremsner explained.

The researchers analyzed the bodies’ immune reactions and identified protein patterns which will make it possible to further improve malaria vaccines, Kremsner added.

The researchers injected live malaria parasites into the test subjects, at the same time preventing the development of the disease by adding chloroquine, which has been used to treat malaria for many years. This enabled the researchers to exploit the behavior of the parasites and the properties of chloroquine.

Once the person is infected, the Plasmodium falciparum parasite migrates to the liver to reproduce. During its incubation period there, the human immune system could respond; but at this stage, the pathogen does not make the person sick. On top of that, chloroquine does not take effect in the liver so it is unable to prevent the parasite from reproducing.

Malaria only breaks out when the pathogen leaves the liver, entering the bloodstream and going into the red corpuscles, where it continues to reproduce and spread. As soon as the pathogen enters the bloodstream, however, it can be killed by chloroquine and the disease cannot break out.

In the group of test persons who demonstrated 100 percent protection after receiving a high dose three times, said study leader Benjamin Mordmüller said, the protection was reliably still in place after ten weeks and remained measurable for even longer.

He added that the new vaccine showed no adverse effects on the test persons. The next step is to further test the vaccine’s effectiveness over several years in a clinical study in the African nation of Gabon. Malaria is one of the biggest health threats there.

Malaria is one of the deadliest infectious diseases worldwide. The World Health Organization reports that some 214 million people became infected with malaria in the year 2015 alone. Approximately 438,000 died of the disease. Around 90 percent of those malaria deaths were in Africa.

Nearly three-quarters of those who succumb to the disease are children under five. The search for a vaccine has been going on for more than a century.

Microsoft mosquito trap
to track spread of zika virus

By the Microsoft Corporation press staff

As the hot, humid weather descended on Houston’s Harris County this spring, the county’s mosquito surveillance team geared up for the busiest season in its fight to get ahead of dangerous mosquito-borne illnesses such as zika.

This year, however, the team had a new weapon in its toolkit: A sleek-looking mosquito trap that experts say marks the biggest innovation in trap technology in decades.

The prototype trap, part of Microsoft’s broader Project Premonition research project, is designed to automatically do things entomologists previously had to do manually or not at all.

This new trap, which is being deployed in the Houston area for the first time this month as part of a pilot project, is designed to only collect the type of mosquito an entomologist wants to track, instead of a hodgepodge of mosquitoes, flies, moths and other critters that scientists then need to manually sort through.

The trap also can tell researchers what time each mosquito was trapped, as well as what the temperature, wind and humidity was when the mosquito flew in. It is designed to withstand the rain, wind and other elements that can batter traditional traps and take them out of commission.

Mustapha Debboun, the director of Harris County Public Health’s mosquito control division, expect the traps to provide faster, more accurate information about where they can find the mosquitoes that pose the biggest health risk because they could be spreading diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya, West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis and zika. That, in turn, will allow the team to target the areas of the vast county that need it most, saving time and money.

To gather all this information, the traps are using two small, battery-powered microprocessors, which gather data that can then be wirelessly downloaded and sent to the cloud. They’re also relying on the latest advances in a branch of artificial intelligence called machine learning for insights including the ability to differentiate between the mosquitoes they want to trap and the bugs they don’t.

For researchers who have been relying on decades-old traps to track 21st-century disease outbreaks, the trap is a huge leap forward.

When Ethan Jackson, a Microsoft researcher who is leading Project Premonition, and the rest of the research team launched the project last year, they weren’t planning to immediately start tracking a public health issue like zika.

Instead, they expected to embark on a five-year research effort aimed at helping officials spot the next big public health concern before it hit major population centers.

To do that, the researchers plan to first trap mosquitoes in remote areas outside of big cites. Then, they’ll use the latest advances in molecular biology and machine learning to analyze the contents of those mosquitoes for signs that a new and potentially dangerous disease is starting to appear.

The ability to proactively get a jump on fighting an outbreak like zika before it becomes a major health threat is a huge advantage over the current system. Right now, public health officials are usually reacting to a disease outbreak only once it is so widespread that doctors are already spotting the harmful effects, such as the devastating birth defects currently linked to zika.

The project isn’t aimed at curing these types of diseases. Instead, the goal is to stop people from ever getting them by mitigating their spread in the first place.

The development of that early warning system is still on track. But when the zika virus started spreading, the researchers realized that even at this early stage of the project, their research could help with the more immediate public health threat as well.

The early versions of the mosquito traps that they are deploying in the Houston area will serve two purposes. They will help entomologists there track mosquitoes that could carry zika or other harmful diseases right now, while also giving researchers the data they need to start bringing the promise of Project Premonition to life.

The first step is to train the new mosquito traps to do their job better.

The system is designed to recognize which mosquito it is supposed to catch based on the flap of the mosquito’s wing. But to do that it needs what experts call training data: Lots and lots of examples of mosquitoes and other bugs flying into the traps. That’s what they are hoping to collect in Houston.

That data can then be used to build an algorithm that uses machine learning to help the trap learn to correctly identify the mosquito it should be capturing, and to not react when other types of mosquitoes, or completely unrelated insects, try to fly into the trap.

Since each mosquito flies into its own individual box, the new traps also can record what time it flew in and environmental factors such as wind, temperature and humidity that were present at the time.

That could help scientists understand the specifics of how a virus is spreading, such as what type of mosquito is infecting people and whether those mosquitoes are more likely to feed at night or when temperatures reach a certain point.

Back in the lab, the researchers also can look more closely at each mosquito to figure out what animal it was feeding on and what viruses it is carrying. The researchers are using the mosquitoes they’ll capture in Houston this summer as training data for the system designed to spot potential disease outbreaks.

But instead of figuring out which web pages are about baseball versus football, this system is trying to figure out what viruses these mosquitoes are carrying and whether new or worrisome ones are emerging.

The latest advances in both computer science and molecular biology are making it more practical for researchers to cull through the “soup” of mosquitoes and the blood they fed on to figure out what viruses and microbes might be lurking there.

Study connects air pollution
to premature births in millions

By the University of York press staff

Scientists have published a major study which links outdoor air pollution with 2.7 million preterm births per year.

The study, which was led by a team from The Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York, found that in 2010, about 2.7 million preterm births globally or 18 percent of all pre-term births  were associated with outdoor exposure to fine particulate matter.

There are many risk factors for preterm birth from the mother’s age, to illness, to poverty and other social factors. Recent research has suggested that exposure to air pollution could also be a risk factor.

For the first time, scientists are able to quantify the global impact by combining data about air pollution in different countries with knowledge about how exposure to different levels of air pollution is associated with preterm birth rates.

The study, published in the journal “Environment International,” suggest that addressing major sources of fine particulate matter from diesel vehicles, to agricultural waste-burning could save babies’ lives and improve health outcomes.

The runoff from that pollution is especially harmful to human health, as it can penetrate and lodge deep inside the lungs.

When a baby is born preterm, at less than 37 weeks of gestation, there is an increased risk of death or long-term physical and neurological disabilities.

In 2010, an estimated 14.9 million births were preterm or about four or five percent of the total in some European countries, but up to 15 to 18 percent in some African and South Asian countries.

Chris Malley, a researcher at the institute in York and lead author, said: “This study highlights that air pollution may not just harm people who are breathing the air directly. It may also seriously affect a baby in its mother’s womb.

The study revealed that while many other health impacts of air pollution have been documented, most notably through the “Global Burden of Disease” studies, the focus has been mainly on premature deaths from heart disease and respiratory problems.

A pregnant woman’s exposure can vary greatly depending on where she lives. For instance, in a city in China or India she might inhale more than ten times as much pollution as she would in rural England or France.

The study did not quantify the risk in specific locations, but rather used the average ambient PM2.5 level in each country, and analyzed the results by region.

India alone accounted for about a million of the total 2.7 million global estimate, and China for about another 500,000. Western sub-Saharan Africa and the North Africa or the Middle East regions also had particularly high numbers, with exposures in these regions having a large contribution from desert dust.

The institute is working to support more than 20 developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to develop plans to reduce emissions leading to particulate air pollution.

Trump solo press conference
was a broad defense of job

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Donald Trump used his first solo press conference as president Thursday to deliver a broad defense of his turbulent first month in office, denying reports of chaos within the White House and insisting his administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.

The press conference, which lasted over 75 minutes, was at turns combative and comical, with Trump alternately joking with and then lecturing the media gathered in the White House East Room.

Trump touted a long list of what he said were accomplishments, including withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, implementing a federal government hiring freeze and eliminating government regulations.

"We have made incredible progress," Trump said. "I don't think there's ever been a president elected who in this short period of time has done what we've done."

But Trump insisted he could have accomplished more were it not for what he termed the mess left by his predecessor, former president Barack Obama. "I inherited a mess. It's a mess.

In what has become a standard part of the president's public appearances, Trump also took aim at the news media, which he accused of downplaying his accomplishments and making up "fake news" in order to damage his administration.

"The press honestly is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control," he said.

At one point, Trump played media critic praising Fox & Friends as the most honest morning show. He also downgraded CNN from fake news, his usual label for the news channel, to very fake news.

Not all of Trump's statements during the press conference were factual. At one point, Trump incorrectly claimed his November election victory was the biggest Electoral College win since former President Ronald Reagan, a claim he has made repeatedly in recent days.

When a reporter pointed out that the assertion was inaccurate, Trump replied: "Well, I don't know. I was given that information. I've seen that information around. But it was a very substantial victory, do you agree with that?"

Trump's first month as president has been rocky and unpredictable. On a near-daily basis, reports emerge of sharp internal divisions within the White House, with senior officials leaking information to the media, apparently to gain an advantage.

This week, national security adviser Michael Flynn was ousted after it was revealed that he had misled White House officials about the nature of his conversations with Russian officials during the presidential transition period.

Trump has also suffered a steady stream of legal setbacks related to his executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries and shutting down the refugee program.

But on Thursday, Trump downplayed those setbacks. Trump also vowed to investigate the criminal leaks that led to the ouster of Flynn, even while acknowledging that it was he who requested that Flynn resign.

Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. may have violated a federal statute that prohibits private citizens from conducting foreign policy without the permission of the U.S. government.

But Trump said that he didn't see anything wrong with Flynn's communications.

"What was wrong was the way that other people, including yourselves in this room, were given that information, because that was classified information. That's the real problem," he said.

Trump also dismissed news reports suggesting members of his campaign were in touch with Russian officials during the presidential election.

"I just want to tell you, the false reporting by the media, by you people, the false, horrible, fake reporting makes it much harder to make a deal with Russia," he said.

Congressmen told all illegals are fair game for deportation

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Members of Congress said a government immigration official told them that almost all illegal immigrants are fair game for arrest and deportation.

Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan met with ten Democratic representatives Thursday on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from Texas, said it was hard to leave the meeting and believe the Trump administration is not going to target as many immigrants as possible.

Castro said the only exception was Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients. These are immigrants who came to the United States at a young age and have been protected under a program established by former president Barack Obama.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order in his first week in office that set the stage for broader immigration enforcement.

“Many aliens who illegally enter the United States and those who overstay or otherwise violate the terms of their visas present a significant threat to national security and public safety,” the order says.

Members of Congress from Thursday's meeting said out of the 686 undocumented immigrants arrested during last week's round-up, 120 did not have criminal records.

The immigration authority said during targeted enforcement operations officers frequently encounter additional suspects who may be in violation of federal immigration laws.

Ten Democrats were allowed to attend the meeting with the immigration authority’s acting director, while several others were asked to leave.
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 35
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Another closing of a Virilla bridge lane

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Only one lane will be available to use on the General Cañas autopista over the Río Virilla for at least a day.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes made the announcement Thursday that beginning this Sunday at 6 a.m. until the following Monday morning at 4 a.m., all passage on the lane currently in service will be shut down.

Officials said that a few seismic blocks along with cables needs to be placed on the road to absorb the impact of the traffic movement on the bridge. The cables absorb some of the tension to relieve the structure of the platina, as the bridge is commonly referred to.

In total, six of these blocks will be placed deep underground to create a concrete structure to take the hits of the construction work and vehicles using the bridge. The other lane going towards Alajuela will remain open but only for that direction, officials said.

The public works ministry does not anticipate too many problems with this closing as it is on a Sunday when traffic is normally light. The ministry suggested that users have the option of the two lanes available at a bridge further east.

This one, between the Pozuelo cookie factory in La Uruca and the Jardines del Recuerdo, has been undergoing a four-lane extension and the installation of sidewalks, pedestrian railing and a central curb separating traffic. According to officials, this bridge is expected to be completed by March 7.

The public works ministry closed the eastbound bridge lanes of the platina for six weeks for construction back in January. The normally four-lane bridge has been restricted to two lanes for either direction.

Circunvalación is being closed, too

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Get ready for more road construction as the public works ministry announced that the Ruta Nacional 39 and the roundabout at Guacamaya will be shut down beginning tonight at 10.

The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad contracted work to be completed on the Circunvalación and the accesses to the roundabout from 10 p.m. Friday until 7 a.m. Saturday. This construction work will be repeated again at 10 p.m. Saturday and go until Sunday at 9 a.m., according to officials.

The Circunvalación is the multi-lane bypass that now runs from La Uruca south of the metro area to San Pedro. It has undergone extensive construction work in the past couple years to clear out the bottleneck that sometimes is a usable metaphor for the traffic situation there.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes said that the closure is necessary for putting signs up along the overpass alerting vehicles the maximum height allowed.

The ministry said that traffic will be diverted at the WalMart in San Sebastián for those going east and at the Mega-Super market near Parque de la Paz for those going west. Detours for roundabout users will be at the junctions of Ruta 213 and Calle 5, officials said.

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From Page 7:

The circus looks for some new performers

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The circus is in town, except this time, not only is it putting on a show for people, but it is also offering some training in the job as well.

The Parque La Libertad has been organizing the Encuentro Centroamericano de Circo y Arte Social that has recruited participants from all over Costa Rica and even some from Puerto Rico and Germany. The Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud believes that the performances’ popularity is evident in the positive impact it has for certain at-risk people, many of whom live around the park.

“It is important to get down from the stage, to go to the communities, to bring the performing arts closer to the people and to use them to generate talent in young people,” Dora Sequeira, the executive director for the park, said.

To that end, the park organizers certified trainers of the Cirque du Monde, which is a program of the famous Cirque du Soleil, to give three days of training so that the skills and prep work required for a good performance could be done locally. According to the ministry, 15 artists and social workers participated in the sessions these past weeks.

A flurry of conferences, workshops, and artistic presentations have been and will continue to take place until Sunday at the Auditorio La Libertad. All activities are free and open to the public, organizers said, but space is limited. To make reservations, one needs to contact the members of the Parque La Libertad.

The park is located in Desamparados.