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(506) 2223-1327                              Published Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 35                             Email us
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Kelly Mason photo
School children in Santa Teresa express their opinion about the roadway nearby.
Plastic may provide the solution for the Nicoya dust
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

After Kelly Mason and her two children moved to the southern tip of the Nicoya peninsula four years ago, they discovered there was a downside.

The gravel roads are so dusty that they began to get sick.

“We realized that 95 percent of the children in the area, more then 1,500, had been diagnosed with chronic asthma, allergies, lung infections, skin infections, and eye infections,” she said.

So Ms. Mason, a Canadian, decided to do something. She founded Pave the Road, an organization set up to pave roads in front of schools so children would have clean air.

She said she spent a lot of her own money on the effort, and now she has set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise $60,000.

A unique twist is that the organization is stockpiling and continues to collect recycled plastic to build what she says will be the first recycled plastic road in Central America.

dust road
Kelly Mason photo
That is a substantial amount of dust.

Ms. Mason has extensive technical studies on the use of plastic and rubber waste and has had engineers design the road at the Santa Teresa school.

She said that there are more then 4,000 vehicles that pass in front of the school daily making big clouds of dust and that the white-out effect from the dust has been a factor in fatal accidents.

The GoFundMe Web page is HERE!

Deadline set for expressing views on U.S. elections
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Readers are invited to express their preferences for party nominations and the elections for U.S. president, national level lawmakers and other officials.

This newspaper will publish these preferences as letters through Friday, Oct. 14. The U.S. general elections are held on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Each letter should be of reasonable length and
free standings in that it should not dispute the comments of a previously published letter. The
letter should make and support its own arguments. Letters will be published with the name of the writer and the community in which the writer lives.

Sometime in the third week of October, A.M. Costa Rica will publish its election endorsement and have the last word. There will be no further campaign letters published.

Those supporting a candidate are reminded that U.S. voters in Costa Rica need some lead time to cast their ballots and send them in to be counted.

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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 35
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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!
Opinion is HERE!   Classifieds are HERE!    Plus useful links

Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


Marco Cavallini & Associates
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Dr. Marco A. Muñoz Cavallini has placed and
DR. Cavallini
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Insurance professionals

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U.S. Income Tax Services
Marlene B. Summers, Tax Accountant
Licensed by the I.R.S.
Ms. Summers
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U.S. citizens, plan now for your tax year. Let me help you pay only the tax  you must!
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Reporting foreign financial assets: FBAR and foreign corporations.
Up-to-date FACTA news.
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Business consulting to facilitate working in Costa Rica.

Telephone 8305-3149 or 2256-8620

Fine art restoration and conservation

Gilbert Carmichael
Master Art Restorer
European and U.S. standards. USPAP.
  Porcelain and ceramic
  Works on paper restoration
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  Art expert services
  Other restoration services
  Condition evaluation
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Experts in fine art restoration and conservation for the tropics. We clean mildew, mold, etc., repair, restore and offer art expert and curatorial services.

For more information please contact Weronika Nossowicz at 8388-5328  or email HERE!

Legal services

Valdivieco header
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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Another windy weekend predicted

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Go fly a kite would be a perfect suggestion for the weekend. The winds are picking up again thanks to another cold front.

And the kite will have to be a sturdy one because winds are expected in the neighborhood of  70 to 80 kph, about 44 to 50 mph.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional suggested that there might be gusts of higher velocity in the mountainous regions.

February is no stranger to winds, and Costa Ricans seem to complain more about the chilly weather than the winds. But the winds do have way of stacking up trash in unwanted locations.

The weather institute also predicted rain in the northern zone and on the Caribbean coast, again a product of the cold front. There was a mist Thursday night in the Central Valley. Some rain might also fall in the higher elevations of the Central Valley, said the weather institute.

The wind in the last three weeks has downed utility poles and trees. There has been one death due to a falling tree.

funny money
Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
This is the assortment of the confiscated bills.

Funny money turns up in southern zone

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
The Fuerza Pública said that its officers intercepted 15 million colons of counterfeit banknotes when they stopped a motorist in southern Costa Rica. That is about $28,000.

The interception was at the Kilometer 35 checkpoint on the Interamericana Sur. There was $6,900 in U.S. $100 bills, said officers. The rest of the bills were colon notes.

The 38-year-old driver will face a charge.

Making good fake bills is a business in some South American countries. Both the United States and Costa Rica have put security features on banknotes to reduce counterfeiting.

Ecotourism study tracks threatened species

By the Griffith University news staff

Ecotourism can provide the critical difference between survival and extinction for endangered animals, according to new research from Australia's Griffith University.

Using population viability modeling, the Griffith team of  Ralf Buckley, Guy Castley and Clare Morrison have developed a method that for the first time quantifies the impact of ecotourism on threatened species. Their findings are published in the journal PLOS ONE.

"We know that ecotourism is increasing on a global scale, with visitor numbers to many protected areas expanding each year. We also know that such activities can have negative as well as positive impacts," said Buckley.

"Until now, however, there has been no way to evaluate the net effect of ecotourism in increasing or decreasing the risk of extinction for endangered species, which is the key parameter for conservation efforts."

Population viability models are widely used in practical wildlife management. They estimate cumulative population changes by simulating births and deaths interactively, one generation at a time. Final predictions are based on thousands of repeated simulations.

The Griffith scientists used the models to calculate future population changes for nine threatened species for which data exists, the orangutan, hoolock gibbon, golden lion tamarin, cheetah, African wild dog, New Zealand sea lion, African penguin, great green macaw and Egyptian vulture.

"We converted all ecotourism effects, positive and negative, to ecological parameters and found that for seven of the species involved, ecotourism provides net conservation gains through factors such as private reserves, habitat restoration, reduction in habitat damage, removal of feral predators, anti-poaching measures or captive breeding and food supplementation," said Buckley.

Castley said the research demonstrates how the net effects of tourism differ among species and subpopulations and that these effects are influenced by local circumstances.

"For example, they depend on the scale and intensity of ecotourism, the size of initial populations, rates of predation and on the impacts of other industries such as fishing and logging," he said. "Other factors, including poaching, are also important."

Professor Morrison said the research confirms that ecotourism is not always successful. "In a few cases, this can have a net negative effect on threatened species," she said.

"However, for most of the rare and endangered bird and mammal species analyzed, ecotourism makes the critical difference between survival and extinction."

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 35
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Big band cultural icon will present a free concert next week
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica has had its own swing orchestra since 1940. This the Orquesta Internacional Lubín Barahona y sus Caballeros del Ritmo, now directed by the founder's son, Mario Barahona.

The orchestra is so popular and so well know that it is considered an integral part of Costa Rican culture.

The group will perform Saturday, Feb. 27, at the  Centro Nacional de la Cultura just east of Parque España from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The concert is free.

The group has come a long way from its founding in Grecia. The musicians, some of whom who now are the third generation, have cut 18 records and have traveled extensively.,

The program next week includes, of course, swing with “Pennsylvania 6-5000,” the Glenn Miller standard that immortalizes the telephone number of New York's Hotel Pennsylvania where the U.S. orchestra used to perform in the Cafe Rouge.

But there also will be bolero, paso doble and merengue, and the audience is invited to dance, said the  Centro de Producción Artística y Cultural of the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud.

Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud photo
Orquesta Internacional Lubín Barahona at work.

The ministry affiliate set up the concert as a way to pay homage to the long-time musical group. The ministry said that the orchestra is one of the three oldest in Latin America.

There also are the Orquesta Aragón in Cuba and la Billo’s Caracas Boys in Venezuela. Each is 75 years old having been founded when Glenn Miller was popularizing swing.

Mayor highway will be closed today as part of crash investigation
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Poder Judicial is closing down the  Zurquí tunnel in both directions today starting at 8 a.m. In order to  reconstruct an accident that took place there Oct. 15, 2012.

The closing is at the request of a prosecutor handling a case in the  II Circuito Judicial of San José. The Poder Judicial could
not say how long the tunnel on Ruta 32 would be closed.
This is the major road from San Jose´to the northern zone and to the Caribbean coast.  Prosecutors also said that they would question at the scene during the recreation eight persons who either witnessed or were involved in the accident.

The accident took place when a vehicle with three persons crossed into the opposite land and collided with a vehicle containing two persons, said the Poder Judicial. The case is a criminal one.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 35
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White House expresses a lot of hope over President Obama's Cuba visit
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Communist nation has awaited this visit for nearly a century.

Just 14 months after ordering the restoration of diplomatic ties with Cuba, Barack Obama will become the first sitting American president to travel to Havana in nearly 90 years.

“We see it as a means of pushing forward this normalization process, trying to achieve a greater opening between the United States and Cuba commercially, but also supporting and advancing the values that we care about,”  White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters Thursday.

The president will highlight those universal values during his March 21 to 22 trip, Rhodes said, while meeting with Cuban dissidents, civil society members and the Cuban government.

In particular, the White House official said Obama would raise with Cuban officials the detention and harassment of those wanting to express their basic rights.

Why is the president making the historic visit now, amid continuing concerns about human rights, the spokesman was asked.

“Not going and isolating Cuba doesn’t serve to advance those issues," Rhodes said. The United States "will be in a better position to support human rights and to support a better life for the Cuban people by engaging them and raising these issues directly.”

Obama, who will be joined by his wife, Michelle, will hold talks with Cuban President Raúl Castro but has no plans to meet with his brother, Fidel Castro, the revolutionary leader who took power in Cuba more than half a century ago but has retired for health reasons.

The American president met his Cuban counterpart twice before, first on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas last April and again at the U.N. General Assembly in September.

In a tweet Thursday, Obama noted his trip would seek to advance ties and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people.

Cuban officials welcomed the upcoming visit and expressed a willingness to discuss any issue.

Peter Kornbluh, an analyst and co-author of “Back Channel to Cuba,” said the timing of Obama’s historic trip would be key in solidifying U.S. engagement with Havana.

“Make it irreversible, so that even if a Marco Rubio, a Ted Cruz or a Jeb Bush is elected the next president of the United States, the investment by U.S. companies, U.S. society in better relations with Cuba is permanent,” Kornbluh said.

Since the historic thaw in ties was announced in December

2014, Obama has made steady progress in breaking down diplomatic barriers with the former Cold War enemy. The successes include restoring diplomatic relations and reopening embassies in each country's capital.

The U.S. also has removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Using his executive authority, Obama has persistently chipped away at the long-standing U.S. restrictions on business, investment and travel in Cuba. The latest step came last week when the two countries reached an arrangement to restore direct, regularly scheduled commercial flights between the countries, the first in more than 50 years.

But while Obama has loosened restrictions on Cuba, progress on the Cuban end has stalled, according to John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council.

"The Cubans haven't really done anything other than allowing more individuals into Cuba and making more money from them," Kavulich said.

But Havana could be motivated to make some major concessions over the next year, Kavulich said, in part to forestall any future U.S. president who might want to reverse Obama's policies.

"Everything can be reversed," he said. "And if the only activities are some airlines traveling to Cuba, that's not going to be much of an impediment for a new president. So the Cubans now know they're going to have make some things happen."

Obama can also continue to loosen restrictions on his own. The biggest change would be to allow Cuba to use U.S. dollars in its international transactions, a move that could dramatically and rapidly stimulate the Cuban economy.

That is the last of the big regulations that Obama controls, Kavulich said. "He may be saving that for this trip."

But there are limits to what Obama can accomplish unilaterally. The U.S. economic embargo on Cuba, which has been in place for decades, can be removed only by Congress. Rhodes said Thursday that the administration was reaching out to lawmakers and that bipartisan support for greater engagement with Cuba was growing.

Other issues that complicate U.S.-Cuban relations include the American-run military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Raúl Castro has said the only way for ties to be completely restored is if Washington returns the base to Cuban control.

Rhodes said that while Cuban officials would most likely raise the issue during talks, giving Guantanamo back to Havana was not on the table.

Obama is working to meet the promise he made upon taking office in 2009: closing down the controversial prison at Guantanamo, which holds dozens of suspected terrorists.

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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Real estate-related services (paid category)
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Real estate rental services (paid category)

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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
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                                              Valley view

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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,
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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, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 35
Real Estate
About us

Axiom 890 pixels

Pope suggests Donald Trump
is not Christian due to wall

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Pope Francis injected himself into the U.S. presidential race Thursday, suggesting Republican front-runner Donald Trump is not Christian because of his proposal to build a massive wall on the southern U.S. border with Mexico to keep out migrants headed to the United States.

The pontiff offered his comments on his flight back to Rome after a visit this week to Mexico, where he celebrated Mass in an outdoor plaza Wednesday just a few hundred meters across the border from the U.S. state of Texas, the destination of many migrants coming from Mexico and Central America.

"A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian," Francis said. "This is not in the Gospel."

The pope said he would give Trump the benefit of the doubt because he had not heard independently of Trump's wall-building plans, a staple in the Republican candidate's campaign speeches.

But Francis added, "I'd just say that this man is not Christian if he said it this way."

Trump, a Presbyterian, said at a campaign rally in the Atlantic coastal state of South Carolina that the pontiff's comments were not a nice thing to say. He said the pope questioning his faith is disgraceful.

Trump, a real estate billionaire, said that if Islamic State terrorists ever attack the Vatican, the seat of the papacy can only hope that Donald Trump is the U.S. president to respond to them, instead of what he claimed are Washington's current "no action" leaders.

President Barack Obama, in the last year and a half, has led a coalition of more than 60 countries in launching more than 10,000 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria, with the U.S. conducting most of the attacks.  But Trump and other Republican presidential contenders have said they would, if elected, conduct a more robust campaign against the insurgents in the Mideast.
The pope's comments came two days ahead of a crucial party nominating contest in South Carolina, where political surveys show Trump with a commanding lead over five Republican challengers.

In the latest survey, Fox News said Thursday that Trump is favored by 32 percent of Republicans in the state, leading Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas with 19 percent and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 15 percent. Other polls show Trump with an even bigger lead. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, the son and brother of two U.S. presidents, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson were further back in the Fox poll.

The Republican candidates are continuing to trade pointed barbs with each other with some attacking Trump and others aiming their verbal attacks at their opponents closer to them in the polls, in hopes of winning enough support in South Carolina to have a credible standing as the contest heads to numerous other states in the next month.

Rubio accused the Cruz campaign of creating a fake photo of him shaking hands with Obama, with both of them smiling and both using their left hands, which would be opposite the normal right hand greeting in the U.S. The ad, produced by a Cruz Web site, said that "Rubio is the Republican Obama."

South Carolina's Republican governor, Nikki Haley, Wednesday endorsed Rubio for the party's presidential nomination, an endorsement Bush had also actively sought. Gov. Haley, with wide support in the state, campaigned with Rubio on Thursday.

Artificial contraception OK'd
in case of zika proximity

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Pope Francis has suggested it is acceptable to use artificial contraception methods in countries affected by the zika virus.

"Avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil," he told reporters en route to Rome following his five-day trip to Mexico.

He cited Pope Paul VI's decree in the 1960s that allowed nuns serving in Africa to use contraception due to the threat of rape.

He said, "In certain cases, as in this one, such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear."

But he maintained the church's stance against abortion calling it an absolute evil.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised men who have been to an area with zika virus to abstain from sex or use condoms. It added that men with pregnant partners should abstain or use condoms for the duration of her pregnancy.

Experts suspect zika could cause microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with unusually small heads because the brain has not developed properly or has stopped growing.

The zika virus is becoming a major problem in Latin America, particularly in Brazil, which reports more than 4,300 suspected cases of microcephaly.

Obama working on nominee
for the U.S. Supreme Court

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Barack Obama has started the process to replace the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, the White House said Thursday.

Spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama is talking to senior members of his team and intends to nominate someone quickly.

"In recent history, we have not had a Supreme Court vacancy that has spanned two Supreme Court terms," Earnest said. "So the president certainly wants to move promptly so that the United States Senate can do the same in giving his nominee a fair hearing and a timely yes or no vote."

Some Senate Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, say the next president who takes office in January 2017 should name someone to fill Scalia's seat, not Obama.

McConnell is responsible for scheduling the Senate's business and has already said there will be no confirmation hearings for an Obama nominee.

Earnest, repeating the words of the president, said the Senate is obligated to consider a new justice.

"The real question that the American people have ... is whether or not the United States Senate is going to fulfill their basic constitutional responsibility. And I think the American people, including those who are going to cast a vote in 2016, will be watching," he said.

The president and first lady Michelle Obama will be among the thousands of mourners who will pay their respects to Scalia when his body lies in repose Friday inside the Supreme Court.

The public will be allowed to pass by the casket after Friday's private ceremony.

Vice President Joe Biden will represent the White House at Saturday's funeral.

Scalia died in his sleep Feb. 13. He was 79 years old and the longest-serving justice on the high court.

Court appointment to mean
political brawl in Washington

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A bruising partisan brawl over a U.S. Supreme Court vacancy could affect pending legal cases this year, but it is unlikely to tarnish the court’s image, no matter how the confirmation battle plays out, according to legal scholars.

The Senate will be ground zero for a ferocious election year fracas over whether President Barack Obama gets to choose a replacement for justice Antonin Scalia, who died Saturday. The Senate has been in a weeklong adjournment that ends Monday, but virtually every member has staked out a position on whether Obama’s successor should fill the court vacancy, as Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asserted.

Already, an extreme level of partisanship has been injected into the confirmation process for a position in an institution that seeks to operate above the political fray and sustain an air of decorum and reason.

“Although neither the court nor its reputation will be irreparably damaged, the political posturing exposes the reality that the court is just another branch of government, influenced by politics,” said a New York Law School professor, Ari Ezra Waldman.

“Vacancies on the Supreme Court have been contentious at many points in American history,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of University of California-Irvine’s School of Law. “Because the court is evenly divided and the country is deeply polarized, it is not surprising that replacing justice Scalia will be very contentious. But I do not believe that will hurt the court in any way.”

Vacancies on the nine-member Supreme Court always generate intense national interest, but some far more than others.

In 1987, a political firestorm engulfed ultra-conservative jurist Robert Bork, who was nominated to the high court by then-president Ronald Reagan. Bork’s skepticism about an expansive right to privacy, from which numerous landmark Supreme Court decisions flow, sparked fierce opposition from women’s rights groups and other liberal advocates, as well as their mostly Democratic Senate allies.

Bork was rejected 9-5 by the Senate Judiciary Committee and 58-42 by the full Senate, with all but two Democrats opposing him and all but six Republicans voting to confirm.

Some legal observers argue the Bork nomination was the starting point of bare-knuckle partisanship in the judicial confirmation process and that Obama is reaping today what Democrats sowed in 1987. Others see no comparison between Bork’s full consideration by the Senate and the preemptive Republican rejection of Obama’s right to put forth a nominee.

“Republicans in the Senate have said that they are opposed to the president nominating anyone,” Waldman said. “The Democrats never denied President Reagan the opportunity to nominate someone. Mitch McConnell and the Republican majority are doing just that to President Obama.”

“I think it's too early to say whether it's comparable, because we don't yet have the nominee,” said a George Mason University law professor, Ilya Somin. “We don't even yet know whether the GOP will simply refuse to consider the nominee.”

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republican Chuck Grassley, has backed McConnell in saying the court vacancy should be filled by the next president, but has not ruled out confirmation hearings for an Obama nominee.

Even if hearings are held and the nomination reaches the Senate floor, 14 Republicans would have to join with Democrats to advance to a final vote, a steep hurdle made even steeper by election year politics.

“This is not the first time a Supreme Court nomination might be hotly contested in the Senate. Such battles are understandable, given deep disagreements over judicial philosophy, especially at a time when the balance on the court is so closely divided,” Somin said.

And that balance has had a huge impact on the nation, according to Waldman.

“And Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush appointed conservatives that tilted the court right on a host of issues,” Waldman added.

FBI-Apple showdown seen
as perfect privacy test case

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

If the FBI and the tech industry had been looking for a near-perfect test case to establish the limits, if any, of encryption, it now appears they’ve found what they’re looking for.

This week, U.S. District Judge Sheri Pym ruled that engineers at Apple must help the FBI gain access to a locked iPhone by creating a custom bit of code that would break Apple’s proprietary auto-destruct security system. In response, Apple CEO Tim Cook called the ruling chilling and said his engineers would not comply. The company is expected to appeal the ruling.

The FBI believes it has the legal upper hand for two reasons. First, the phone was allegedly used by Syed Farook, one of the two killers who carried out last year’s terror attack in San Bernardino. That makes it at least possible the iPhone could contain contacts, images or other data that might help the ongoing federal investigation of the attack.

And second, Judge Pym’s ruling is limited and specific, addressing only one phone already in the FBI’s possession, which is also owned by San Bernardino County, where officials have granted consent for the phone to be searched.

On the other side, Apple and a coalition of tech companies and privacy advocates call the ruling unprecedented both for its scope and its potential applications. They say that for the first time, the U.S. government is ordering a corporation to intentionally destroy proprietary security features that will open a massive hole on all its products that hackers will exploit.

Worse yet, they argue a victory for the FBI will establish precedent for governments around the world who want to spy on their citizens to simply order companies to help, potentially putting millions at risk for punishment, prison or worse.

Whatever the outcome, this much is clear: The standoff between Apple and the FBI is unlikely to be resolved soon. In the meantime, the debate over encryption and national security in the U.S. may now move from the back burners to the center of national dialogue.

“It’s clear that it’s desirable for the FBI to always try to find out information for investigations,” said Ed Black, CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association. “Our industry has a huge history, in many, many ways, of cooperating extensively with legitimate law enforcement undertakings."

The problem, Black said, is that what the FBI is asking for in this case would create a model that could very well weaken the overall privacy and security of the global Internet and the digital world.

“We understand what they want and why they want it,” Black said. “Law enforcement always wants as much information as it can get. But what they want here has the precedent of being used in many ways in the future that we think would cause overall harm to the security of the Internet.”

Black credited industry innovation with giving police a more powerful array of investigative tools than at any other time in history. However, he said that governments should not always get 100 percent of what they want, and they definitely should not be ordering a company to write what he called malware that would intentionally make its own products less secure.

Alan Berman agreed that a final ruling in the case, at whatever court level, might set a huge precedent, but for reasons opposite of Black.

“FBI wins, no big deal,” Berman said. “Apple wins, big deal.”

Berman is president and CEO of the Disaster Recovery Institute, an organization that assists in disaster recovery, cyber or otherwise. He argued that the court ruling was tightly constructed and focused.

“It’s highly technical and specifically focused on this one phone, and a one-time modification that doesn’t even touch Apple’s encryption,” he said.

Berman pointed out that Judge Pym’s order does not force Apple to break its own encryption technologies. The court, he said, is merely requesting Apple’s help in deactivating an iPhone security feature known as auto-erase, namely, if someone tries to use the wrong passcode to unlock the phone more than 10 times, all data on the phone are destroyed, and the action is irreversible.

“They’ve been very big into security; this is very consistent with their approach to security and privacy,” Berman said. “Auto-erase? Invented by Apple. The ability to erase your phone remotely? Apple. I’m actually surprised that anybody thought that Tim Cook would have said anything other than what he did.”

“The real chilling effect,” Berman said, "is you may set a precedent where law enforcement will never be able to get to these locked devices. A win means no one would ever be able to do this again, and these things could go dark forever."

FBI Director James Comey has made access to encrypted devices a high priority. Since Apple and Google announced they were making encryption a standard option on their devices, Comey has publicly warned that encryption is creating “millions of unbreakable safes” that threatened “to take us to a very dark place.”

His office has been working with tech companies to craft some sort of emergency access protocol, whereby law enforcement officials conducting a legitimate investigation could ask a court for a subpoena to decrypt the device. Those efforts have largely failed.

While Apple is not a member of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, many tech giants such as Google are, and increasingly they’re lining up in support behind Apple.

Shortly after Cook announced that his company would not comply with Judge Pym’s order, Google CEO Sundar Pichai took to Twitter to announce his firm’s support for Cook.

“We build secure products to keep your information safe and we give law enforcement access to data based on valid legal orders,” he wrote. “But that’s wholly different than requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices and data. Could be a troubling precedent.”

Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Council, is a leading national advocate for digital privacy. He said the court order was unusual in several respects, in part because Judge Pym based her ruling on a 227-year-old measure called the All Writs Act, which is almost never invoked today.

"It’s not a simple request, and it’s not a limited request," Rotenberg said. "It’s not just that one phone that becomes broken, it’s every single Apple 5c iPhone that the government could open, because the patch becomes like a master key for all iPhones."

While decrypting devices used by suspected terrorists may sound like a good idea, Rotenberg said it’s probably a false promise of data access.

"What if you have a secure communications app overlaying on top of the Apple operating system?” he said. “That will also be encrypted. Apple won’t have control over those keys, so the FBI will still be facing a locked door. This is why it’s so very important to understand the very significant downside when the government makes these kinds of requests. There’s no guarantee of success.”

An even larger downside for both Rotenberg and the CCIA’s Black is the precedent a successful FBI ruling might mean around the world.

"The precedent of asking a tech company to break a privacy feature on behalf of the government. It very difficult for the U.S. government to argue that any other government shouldn’t do the exact same thing,” Rotenberg said. “The Chinese, the Russians, all of them would love to be able to say to service providers, ‘We have a serious investigation. We need your help. Please break the device.’ "

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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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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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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 35
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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Impact of El Niño called serious threat

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Global weather conditions associated with El Niño are posing a serious threat to millions of vulnerable people, particularly in rural communities, with scarce rainfall devastating crops and causing water shortages in some regions, while other parts of the world are seeing flooding caused by above-average precipitation.

Now evident is the fact that this current El Niño equals or exceeds the intensity of the previous occurrence in 1997, according to Lutheran World Relief.

The organization says it has executed short-term drought response projects in Honduras and Guatemala to help alleviate conditions for vulnerable women, children and men in rural communities suffering from extreme food shortages due to significant crop losses. A  response to El Niño has also been proposed for El Salvador, the organization said.  Lutheran World Relief also is preparing a response to drought-related food security needs in the north-west of Haiti, it added.

Lutheran World Relief  gave this assessment:

Conditions along Central America's Dry Corridor have reached crisis levels, with more than 3.5 million people facing food insecurity in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Significant loss of staple grain crops and the deaths of thousands of cattle are drastically affecting families whose livelihoods are heavily dependent on subsistence farming.

In Haiti, the government has reported that 1.5 million people are in urgent need of assistance due to dry conditions that have led to low agricultural yields, a number that has doubled in just the last six months.

In some areas of Haiti, up to 70 percent of the population is facing hunger, and a recent study conducted by the United Nations and the Haitian government found that hunger is exceeding emergency levels in several communes.

In South America, wetter conditions are contributing to extreme cold temperatures and widespread flooding in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil. This has also contributed to the loss of cattle and crops.

American football games are Saturday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is more American football Saturday when the Bulldogs F.A. Take on the Toros F.C. at 6 p.m. in Cuty Monge, which is in the Desamparados Villa Olímpica.

The Cartago Leones F.C. is scheduled to meet the San José Titans at 2 p.m. at the same stadium. And at the Polideportivo de Pérez Zeledón, also Saturday at 2 p.m., the Falcons F.A. meets the PZ Predators.

National sports games are in July

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national sports competition for youngsters will be July 2 to 16, the  Consejo Nacional del Deporte y la Recreación has announced. This is the 35th Juegos Deportivos Nacionales.

Youngsters will compete in 23 sports, mostly in San José, but there also will be some events in Cartago and Desamparados. The events range from soccer to chess and include baseball, judo, triathalon, skating, swimming, volleyball, table tennis and biking and mountain biking.

Student athletes will be involved in elimination contests at the canton level starting next month, said the Consejo.

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From Page 7:

Forest operators got $1.7 million in 2015

 By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government paid small and medium owners of forest land 900 million colons or about $1.7 million in 2015 under an environmental payment program.

The money was disbursed by the Fondo Nacional de Financiamiento Forestal under its pago por servicios ambientales program.

The fund pays forest owners for the greenhouse gases the trees may capture as well as the water sources the forest may protect. The natural beauty of the area also is a consideration, according to an announcement.

The fund said that its payments covered 300,000 hectares (a bit more than 740,000 acres) of forest and benefited 3,500 persons.

The fund is affiliated with the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía.