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Published Monday, Feb. 20, 2017, in Vol. 17, No. 36
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Residents offer wary praise to Corcovado changes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Despite improvements to Parque Nacional Corcovado, some residents on the Osa Peninsula continue to worry as to what this might mean to their businesses.

The Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación, partnered with the Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo, invested almost $2.4 million in the Turismo Sostenible program.

Among the improvements to the infrastructure are a new visitor center in the Leona sector as well as a battery for the bathrooms and wastewater treatment systems. The sector also gained a recreation area with picnic tables and an electrical generator.

In the Sirena section of the preserve, a camping platform was built including a kitchen and dining area. Showers and battery for sanitary services were provided with a sewage treatment system. Sirena also received an electrical generator. For the San Pedrillo section, showers were installed and the wastewater treatment system improved.

These improvements seemed to be genuinely welcome by some community members of the Osa Peninsula. Yens Steller, a resident of the Osa Peninsula where the reserve is located and business owner at Drake Bay, and two other residents signed an open letter to Solís addressing their concerns over what these loans and improvements mean to them.

“We have agreed to address you by this means to convey our most energetic protest and to express our indignation at the systematic way in which the Área de Conservación de Osa (ACOSA), makes us invisible and marginalized,” the letter reads, “making arbitrary decisions that affect what is practically our only productive activity, on which ninety-nine percent of our community's neighbors depend.”

About a week ago, the Dirección del Área de Conservación Osa, the government sub-entity in charge of maintaining Parque Nacional Corcovado, issued clarifications for a December policy towards visitors, tourists, and businesses at the park. Under these rules, food is not permitted inside the boundaries of the park.

That means that it also cannot be cooked or prepared inside the preserve either.

A.M. Costa Rica Graphic
Map showing Parque Nacional Corcovado

The Sistema Nacional de Áreas De Conservación created this statute under reasoning of protecting the plants and animals within from exposure in addition to maintaining the park’s cleanliness, according to officials.

There are exemptions to this rule, however. Park officials will allow people who travel between the trail stations to carry cookies, candies, energy bars, water and non-alcoholic beverages.

Park officials also admit lodging and camping services are extremely high, however they note that the cost of operating within the park is exceptional as well. This cost comes in the form of a permit granted sparingly to a few businesses.

Steller and other residents requested that the number of allowed visitors be increased to 200 each day instead of the current 120.

The food regulation is a drawback due to health concerns regarding what happens to those who have special diets or allergies or if someone gets sick inside the preserve as a result of the cooking within. The solution, he said, would be to allow the hotels and lodging groups to bring food in and those businesses take responsibility for the consequences.

Steller said the new permit needed to use the reserve was granted to an association made up of a few people for private gain, he said. Steller also worries that the terms of the loan agreement to improve Corcovado could solidify what he and others call unfair regulations further.

“The loan is perfect, the infrastructure is great, the new buildings are beautiful, but how this is being conducted is the problem,” he said.

The Parque Nacional Corcovado is considered one of the world’s most biologically diverse regions. It was established as a nature preserve in 1975.

Some expo exhibitors failed to register projects
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Economics ministry inspectors found violations of a consumer law when they surveyed exhibitors at the  ExpoConstrucción y Vivienda 2017 late last week.

The ministry said that the inspectors were mostly interested in real estate projects that offered term sales and sales of projects not yet built.

A 1994 law and a 2013 regulation require developers of such projects to register with the Dirección de Apoyo al Consumidor of the ministry, the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio.

Inspectors reported that they checked 114 projects being offered at the expo and found that 17 had not been registered.

Registration requires developers to provide financial information and other data. The law and regulation are broad. They also cover advance ticket sales of concerts and shows.

The ministry urged shoppers to make sure real estate they might purchase has been registered.

Developers who fail to register can be fined and their sales suspended, the ministry said.

The consumer law is No. 7472. The regulations are in the decree 37899-MEIC. In addition to houses and apartments, the regulations cover travel clubs and other advance purchases of items, including stocks and agricultural products.

The goal is for the developer or sales entity to demonstrate their solvency and capacity to compete the deal.

The regulations came out in 2013 after the collapse of Costa Rican real estate prices. Until 2008 there were many projects that sold ownerships without being built. In some cases, crooks set up an entrance to vacant lands and perhaps a welcome center and then proceeded to sell lots and contracts for houses. Some developers were caught by the economic downturn. Others had no intentions of completing their promises.

The ministry Friday released the names of projects that had not been registered. The names can be obtained from the ministry when they are posted later today

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Our reader's opinion
Eliminate zoos, so-called rescue centers

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Still we have no shame. Displaying our dominance over animals by caging and gawking at them is shameful. Seeing an animal in the wild is a majestic even spiritual event. Merely peering at them jailed in a cage is like watching pornography. You may have seen it, but you didn’t participate.

Zoos, circus and the zoos that mask themselves as animal rescues need to be outlawed. And not in five years, but in five months. We are a country that has finally started to inch toward its reputation of being an ecological paradise. The consciousness has begun to catch up to the sales hype. So, what about the trees and the estuaries and the oceans and the creatures? Are we past destroying them by annihilating their habitats, paving paradise to put up parking lots, then imprisoning what's left over?
And what about the cages animals inhabit through no fault of their own, operated for profit, some disguised as animal rescue where injured animals are “rescued” to live out their lives in a cell. I say nurse them back to health as well as can be expected and then release them. Let the wild deal the hand that was expected of it.
Keeping animals wired-in to gawk at them reminds me of a Twilight Zone episode. For those of a certain generation, you will remember when a human was shown to his apartment, unexpecting of anything sinister. After finding there was no way out, he opens the curtains to a large picture window to see his human-like captors gawking through the window at him as if he was a captured animal. Would you like to live out your days in a cage while curious animals peer in at you, watching you sleep, defecate and reproduce? Shameful.
It’s time to outlaw zoos worldwide, not just in Costa Rica. I pray we have evolved to a point where we recognize what belongs in the past to create a more balanced union of man and nature.
Phil Baker
Incline Village, Nevada

Manuel Antonio to get $1million facelift

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The parks ministry is trying to keep one of the most visited nature preserves in the country open following a brief reprieve from the health ministry.

Friday the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía announced that it was putting about $970,000 in remodeling and refurbishing Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio. This comes in the wake of a three-month deadline from the Ministerio de Salud that will keep the park open to allow improvements to the park to begin.

The action plan submitted by the parks group contains all the proposed deadlines and proposals for improvements to the facilities in Manuel Antonio.

According to park officials, the money for these proposals comes from within the institution’s pool of funds such as the entry fees to access the parks. Among the remodeling ideas are the construction of a pathway designed for the handicapped or disabled to access.

There is also cleaning of ten tanks for potable water storage and the construction of six new bathrooms and a proposal for a new electrical plant, ministry officials said.

For the problem of wastewater, the company Acua Lógica will install a septic tank at the main entrance and change the batteries for the bathrooms at the administrative offices and the entrance to Manuel Antonio.

The complaints against the conditions in Manuel Antonio are long-standing. Closing the park would have been a major economic blow to the central Pacific economy. The park gets thousands of visitors a day.

The Costa Rican government claims that the number reaches half a million visitors every year, making it the most visited nature preserve in the country.

Abuse suspects need to pay utilities, too

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The constitutional court has underlined the fact that a man thrown out of the house for domestic violence still has to pay utilities. The case actually was against the power company, the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz, because the woman in the case complained that the company shut off the electricity.

The summary of the case, released by the Poder Judicial, said that the woman had asked the power company to keep the electricity on and told the employees that a domestic violence judge had ordered her companion out of the house. The man appears to have approached Fuerza y Luz and asked that the power be cut.

The court magistrates said that the power company should have paid more attention to the woman and should not have disconnected the service unless told to do so by a judge with competent authority, the Poder Judicial said.

Expats who are in a relationship may not know that Costa Rican law requires a man accused of domestic violence to leave his house as a protective measure for the woman involved. He then is obligated to pay all the normal utility and maintenance costs of the dwelling.

In many cases men ejected on a domestic violence complaint have to wait months for a court hearing, and this leads to some cases of women fraudulently complaining of domestic violence, even if they have been in the home a short time.
  Women, too, can be ejected from a home for domestic violence, but these cases are few.

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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Teatro al Mediodía offers midday mix of music, dance and theater
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The next season of Teatro al Mediodía opens this Tuesday with renditions of works from a Costa Rican cultural icon.

The Teatro Nacional will host artists to pay homage to the music of Lorenzo “Lencho” Salazar. Salazar was a famous Costa Rican musician who was later appointed as a cultural ambassador in the United States, Colombia, Ecuador, and Panamá. He gained a spot in the Galería de Cultura Popular Costarricense in 1996 in addition to several awards for a life dedicated to music.

Dioniso Cabal and La Cruceta, along with other special guests, will be performing the renditions of Salazar’s works for Tuesday’s concert.

Cabal said he and his colleagues decided to participate in this performance due to Salazar’s reputation as an example for all those devoted to the national music.

This year, his works will open the Teatro al Mediodía that the Teatro Nacional is hosting in the main hall of the theater.

The program will offer 24 shows lasting until Nov. 21 of dance, theater, and music. All of the performances start at noon.

There are no reservations for this event series, however the number of persons who can attend it are still limited. General admittance is 3,000 colons and 1,500 colons for a student and gold card citizens.
  The complete itinerary and program information can be found at the Teatro Nacional’s website. 

Pretrial begins for alleged leaders in drug trafficking network
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican organized crime unit is beginning the trial process for two suspects alleged of forming a drug-running network.

The organized crime prosecutor announced last Friday that it will seek three months’ pre-trial detention for two men suspected of leading a drug trafficking ring. The two suspects were arrested Thursday in San Rafael in Heredia and Río Frío in Sarapiquí, respectively.

According to investigators, these two are accused of forming a criminal entity composed of six men.

Between December 2015 and January 2017, this crime network used vehicles of the TicaBus company to relay money and drugs back and forth between Costa Rica and El Salvador.
Investigators said that these actions were undertaken without any knowledge of bus company managers.  Of those six men, four have been arrested, according to officials.

The investigation reported that the drugs were stashed in hidden compartments within the buses. It is unknown how much drugs were transferred to El Salvador in this manner.

The traffickers then received money in dollars as payment and smuggled that money back into Costa Rica, according to investigators.

The preliminary report alleges that the two leaders arrested were responsible for recruiting the bus drivers so as to allow their operation to run smoothly.

During the raids, investigators confiscated two different stashes of money that totaled $100,000.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 20, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 36
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Occasional fasting diet reduces risk of diseases, scientists say
By the University of Southern California news staff

A fasting diet for just five days every few months appears to reduce the risk of life-threatening disease without any other changes.

That’s what happened for 71 adults who were placed on three cycles of a low-calorie, fasting-mimicking diet. The phase II trial, conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California, demonstrated a host of benefits from the regimen.

The diet reduced cardiovascular risk factors including blood pressure, signs of inflammation (measured by C-reactive protein levels), as well as fasting glucose and reduced levels of a hormone that affects metabolism. It also shrank waistlines and resulted in weight loss, both in total body fat and trunk fat, but not in muscle mass.

In effect, the diet reduced the study participants’ risks for cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other age-related diseases, according to the findings published in Science Translational Medicine.

“This study provides evidence that people can experience significant health benefits through a periodic, fasting-mimicking diet that is designed to act on the aging process,” said Valter Longo, director of the university's Longevity Institute and a professor of biological sciences. “Prior studies have indicated a range of health benefits in mice, but this is the first randomized clinical trial with enough participants to demonstrate that the diet is feasible, effective and safe for humans.”

One hundred people participated in the trial from April 2013 to July 2015. The participants, ages 20 to 70 and all generally healthy, were divided into two groups for the randomized trial.

Participants in the first group, the control group, were asked to continue their normal eating habits for three months. People in the second group were placed on a three-month test of the fasting-mimicking diet.

Those on the special diet were required to eat food products supplied by the nutrition company L-Nutra during the fasting periods of five days each month.

The diet, designed to mimic the results of a water-only fast, allowed for participants to eat between 750 and 1,100 calories per day.

The meals for the fast-mimicking diet contained precise proportions of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

After three months, participants in the control group were moved onto the special diet.

The researchers found that participants on the fasting-mimicking diet lost an average of about 6 pounds.

Their waistlines shrank by 1 to 2 inches. Their blood pressure dropped. Also, their levels of IGF-1 metabolism hormone  dropped, reaching a range associated with lower cancer risk.

“After the first group completed their three months on the fasting diet, we moved over participants in the control group to see if they also would experience similar results,” Longo said.

The researchers saw similar outcomes, which provides further evidence that a fasting-mimicking diet has effects on many metabolic and disease markers. Our mouse studies using a similar fasting-mimicking diet indicate that these beneficial effects are caused by multi-system regeneration and rejuvenation in the body at the cellular and organ levels.

“Our participants retained those effects, even when they returned to their normal daily eating habits,” he added.

The researchers also noted that participants considered at risk made significant progress toward better health.

For example, baseline fasting glucose levels for participants with high blood sugar levels, putting them at risk for diabetes, dropped into the healthy range, but these levels didn’t drop among participants who already had healthy levels at the beginning of the study.

Cholesterol was reduced in those with high cholesterol levels.

“Fasting seems to be the most beneficial for patients who have the great risk factors for disease, such as those who have high blood pressure or pre-diabetes or who are obese,” Longo said.

The researchers had invited participants in the study for one last set of tests three months later, at the end of the diet. The research team found that the beneficial effects, from weight loss, smaller waistlines and lower glucose, blood pressure and hormone levels,were sustained.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 20, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 36
Real Estate
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Illegal aliens are fleeing U.S.
for Canada, images show

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A news photographer has documented the latest fallout from U.S. immigration policy to hit Canada: asylum-seekers crossing illegally from the United States into its northern neighbor, where they are promptly arrested.

The immigrants said they would rather be arrested in Canada then continue seeking a legal way to live in the United States.

A news photographer Friday photographed several people fleeing a U.S. border protection officer in New York State, one of the most popular crossing points into the Canadian province of Quebec.

As U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers questioned a man in the front passenger seat of a taxi that had pulled up to a gully at one of the unofficial crossing points, reporters witnessed four other adults and four children cross the gully. A photograph shows that at least one of the refugees had a passport from Sudan.

Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police waited for them on the other side, helping the children up the hill and offering medical care.

A man detained by U.S. officers made a break for it and managed to get across the gully to join the other asylum-seekers. The Mounties then arrested the asylum-seekers.

People leaving the United States to seek asylum in Canada often cross the border illegally because of a technicality. If they have already applied for asylum in the United States, they cannot legally cross into Canada to apply for asylum there, because of an agreement between the two countries. They will be turned away at the U.S. border.

However, if they sneak across at an unofficial location, they may apply for asylum in Canada even if they are caught. They may spend a night or two in custody, but upon release, they are free to pursue their claims.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they have seen a marked increase in people crossing from the U.S. into Canada illegally since the White House began tightening immigration restrictions earlier this year.

Another Trump ban expected
to cover the same countries

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Donald Trump will soon release a more streamlined version of a presidential order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations, but it will be better implemented and avoid the chaos that resulted from an earlier attempt to restrict foreign travelers arriving in the U.S., Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said.

Speaking at the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany, during a panel discussion on combating terrorism, Kelly said the new version of the travel order will not prevent foreign nationals with either work visas or green card permanent residency permits from re-entering the United States. Nor will it affect foreign travelers already flying to U.S. ports of entry when the order takes effect, he added.

Trump will "make sure that there's no one caught in the system of moving from overseas to our airports" during the travel ban, Kelly said.

The new immigration order could come as early as Tuesday, U.S. news reports suggested, and Trump himself has confirmed it will be issued during the coming week.

The original travel ban, which has now been set aside by U.S. courts, was issued Jan. 27. It was a security measure meant to prevent attacks by Islamist militants, White House officials said. Trump's executive order barred entry to the United States for at least 90 days by people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It also excluded all refugees seeking resettlement in the U.S. for 120 days, except those from Syria, who were banned indefinitely.

The abrupt implementation of the ban, which was enforced just hours after it was signed, caught many officials and travelers unawares, leading to chaos and protests at international airports in the U.S. and abroad. Some people from the targeted countries were detained, and others were sent back to their home countries.

Federal judges who suspended the ban earlier this month ruled it illegally targeted Muslims on the grounds and had been put into effect without due care or preparation.

The president said on Thursday he would announce a new, revised executive order on immigration during the coming week.

Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, said the original order was designed as a temporary pause to allow him to "see where our immigration and vetting system has gaps" that potentially could be exploited by attackers.

The new order will seek to iron out some of the difficulties in the version currently held up by the courts, he added. The homeland security chief is in charge of one of the largest government departments, supervising all customs, immigration and border patrol agencies the government operates, as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Coast Guard, the U.S. Secret Service, which protects the president, and other security agencies that protect federal property and foreign dignitaries.

The new order also aims to speed up deportations by denying asylum claims earlier in the process. The order will instruct immigration officials to only pass those asylum seekers who have a good chance of ultimately being granted haven in the U.S.

The order outlines plans for greatly expanding the categories of people that immigration agents target for deportation, and gives them wide discretion in deciding who to deport.

Previously, recent arrivals and convicted criminals were the prime targets. The new plan would include migrants who have been charged, but not convicted, of crimes, and would also apply to undocumented immigrants who have been in the country for many years.

Kelly is also calling for 10,000 additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and 5,000 new hires at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.

Pence in Europe to reassure
allies of U.S. strong support

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is making his first visit to Europe since taking office, to reassure allies the United States remains a staunch friend amid concerns about the new administration's America First strategy and its overall approach to global affairs.

Today Pence is to meet with High Representative Federica Mogherini, Council President Donald Tusk, and other European Union officials.

The European Union will likely seek clarity on Trump's prediction last month in two European newspapers that other countries would follow Britain and leave the alliance.

EU foreign affairs chief Mogherini said after meeting U.S. officials in Washington last week that maintaining multilateral sanctions on Russia, keeping the Iran nuclear agreement in place and addressing the refugee crisis are issues the European Union would like to collaborate on with the United States.

Pence, his wife, Karen, and daughter Charlotte visited the Dachau concentration camp memorial early Sunday. The camp was established by the Nazi government in 1933 near Munich.

The Pence family paid tribute to the International Memorial at the center of camp, placing a wreath beneath it. They also visited a Jewish memorial and a Catholic memorial on the grounds, toured the barracks, a crematorium, and a gas chamber.

Saturday, at a security conference in Munich, Pence expressed support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and sought to address concerns raised by President Trump, who once said that the military alliance was obsolete.

Heading soccer ball studied
as possible dementia cause

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A career of heading a soccer ball may raise the risk of dementia, according to a small new study.

Six longtime soccer players who died with dementia were found to have brain injuries from repetitive trauma.

The injuries are the same kind found in American football players, boxers and soldiers hit by explosions. They include a condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is linked to declining mental function and mood disorders.

While concussions are relatively rare in soccer, the port the rest of the world knows as football, players regularly hit the ball with their heads. That's on top of the collisions common in any contact sport.

“The key thing is, players are exposed to lower impact but very high number of blows to the head,” says neurology professor Helen Ling at University College, London, lead author of the new study.

Injury happens because the human brain has the consistency of a firm pudding, “but your blood vessels are just a little bit tougher,” says Dr. Ling's colleague in London, a neuroscience professor, John Hardy. “And so, if you do a rapid rotation, they act like little cheese wires and do bits of damage around them.”

But how serious that damage is in soccer players is unclear. Dr. Ling says there have only been a few studies, using brain scans or blood tests, and the results have been contradictory.

Examining a patient's brain under a microscope can provide definitive evidence, but that has to wait until the patient dies.

One of the study authors has been treating retired soccer players with dementia since 1980. Six of them donated their brains for research when they died.

In the new study, in the journal Acta Neuropathologica, all six brains showed signs of damage, and four had chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

baloon photo 
A Project Loon balloon is readied for launch.

Google reports breakthrough
in internet via balloon arrays

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, says the company has made a breakthrough on its plans to offer Internet access to rural areas via connected balloons through an endeavor called Project Loon.

Initially, the idea was to have a steady stream of balloons circling the globe. When one went out of range in a certain area, another would arrive to maintain connectivity to those using the access provided by the balloons.

But now, the company says that through its smart software, it has now figured out a way to make the balloons loiter in one place over an extended period of time.

“Project Loon’s algorithms can now send small teams of balloons to form a cluster over a specific region where people need internet access,” the company wrote in an online post. “This is a shift from our original model for Loon in which we planned to create rings of balloons sailing around the globe, and balloons would take turns moving through a region to provide service.”

The company says the discovery was made during testing of balloons launched from Puerto Rico to hang out in Peruvian airspace. Some of the balloons lingered there for as long as three months, the company said.

The discovery should speed up the project and reduce costs.

“We’ll reduce the number of balloons we need and get greater value out of each one,” the company said in the post. “All of this helps reduce the costs of operating a Loon-powered network, which is good news for the telco partners we’ll work with around the world to make Loon a reality, and critical given that cost has been one key factor keeping reliable internet from people living in rural and remote regions.”

The Project Loon idea was sparked as a way to bring internet connectivity to the billions around the world who do not have access.

Correa's choice is leading
Ecuador's presidential vote

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The choice of the current president of Ecuador took the lead Sunday in elections there.

The candidate, Lenín Moreno, had nearly 39 percent of the popular vote with 75 percent of the polling places reporting, according to the Consejo Nacional Electoral. He is the candidate for the Alliance PAIS party. He is a former vice president to President Rafael Correa.

Banker Guillermo Lasso was in second place with about 29 percent of the vote. To avoid a runoff, Moreno would need 40 percent of the popular vote and a total 10 points higher than the person in second place.

Failing achieving 40 percent, the top two candidates will meet in a runoff.

The election is a test of the policies by the leftist Correa.  

North Korean mystery death
still unresolved in Malaysia

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The apparent assassination of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is drawing the world's attention to the secretive Kim family's inner circle.

Kim Jong Nam, 45, died en route to a hospital Monday after he was reportedly poisoned by two women at Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur International Airport while waiting to take a Macau-bound flight, according to Malaysian and South Korean officials. Malaysian police have detained two women and one man in connection with the death. Authorities are hunting for other suspects.

Selangor Police Chief Abdul Samah Mat said Friday the hospital has not released final results of an autopsy that could determine the cause of the death. Abdul Samah, who is in charge of the investigation, said the police are trying to obtain DNA samples from the victim’s kin to confirm his identify.

According to South Korean lawmakers briefed by the National Intelligence Service, there is reason to believe that Kim was killed on the orders of his younger half-brother Kim Jong Un, who is known to execute or depose anyone who appears to be a threat to the legitimacy of his rule. In late 2013, the North Korean leader executed his uncle Jang Song Thaek, who was widely deemed as the second-most powerful figure in the country.

Jang Jin-sung, who worked as a psychological warfare officer for North Korea's ruling Workers' Party before he defected in 2004, said that given Kim Jong Nam's place as the firstborn child of Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un might have seen his brother's existence as an obstacle to his grip on power.

Kim Jong Nam is the eldest son of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, who ruled the Communist state from 1994 to 2011, and was once regarded as heir apparent to his father. The son was born on May 10, 1971. His mother was a South Korea-born film star, Song Hye Rim, who divorced her husband to become Kim Jong Il's secret mistress.

"Kim Jong Il wanted a family with the woman he loved, and now he had an heir, but he also needed to protect his position as his father's successor," reads an unpublished memoir based on the oral accounts of Li Nam Ok, Song's niece.

Kim Jong Il kept the relationship with Song secret, especially from his father Kim Il Sung.

Kim Jong Il almost completely insulated his son from the outside world. Li Nam Ok was his only playmate in Pyongyang. Kim, besotted with his son, forgave his tantrums and capriciousness, according to French author Imogen O'Neil, who worked with Li on the memoir. Li left North Korea in 1992 and never returned.

"His father refused him nothing; Kim Jong Il used to say there was only his son in his life," according to O'Neil's manuscript.

The memoir offers a rare glimpse into Kim Jong Nam's childhood, adolescence and early manhood. It revealed that he lived in luxury in Pyongyang, surrounded by expensive goods virtually unseen in North Korea. His aunt, Song Hye Rang, who was Li's mother, oversaw Kim's private education, which covered math, science, English and Russian. When Kim was 8 years old, he visited Moscow, where his mother was receiving medical treatments.

According to the memoir, Kim Jong Il decided to send the little general overseas for structured education on his son's 10th birthday. For most of the 1980s, Kim Jong Nam lived in Switzerland, where he studied at the International School of Geneva.

After returning to Pyongyang in 1988, Kim, who was known to be a computer enthusiast, held government posts. At one point, he was head of North Korea's Computer Committee where he was in charge of developing information technology.

Yoji Gomi, a senior staff writer at the newspaper Tokyo Shimbun closely followed Kim Jong Nam and published a book in 2012 that was based on correspondence with him. Gomi said that upon returning from Switzerland, Kim had frequently advised his father to adopt the free market system to boost North Korea's economy.

"Kim told me that he had some friction with the supreme leader Kim Jong Il, and that's when their relationship began to sour," Gomi said. "I believe that because of that friction, Kim was not able to become North Korea's leader and, instead, he led an itinerant life" outside North Korea.

Cheong Seong-chang, an expert on North Korea's leadership and director of unification strategy at the Sejong Institute in Seoul, said Kim Jong Nam was sidelined from succession when Kim Jong Il's third wife, Ko Yong Hui, a dancer born in Japan, gave birth to two sons, one of whom now rules North Korea.

"It appears that after Kim Jong Chul and Kim Jong Un were born, Kim Jong Nam may have come as a burden to Kim Jong Il," the analyst said in an email. Kim Jong Chul was last seen in 2015 in London at an Eric Clapton concert, according to press reports.

Seoul's intelligence agency said Kim Jong Un had a standing order for his half-brother's assassination and that there had been a botched attempt in 2012, according to South Korean lawmakers briefed by the agency.

Following the failed attempt, Kim Jong Nam begged for his life in a letter addressed to Kim Jong Un, said the lawmakers.

Kim Jong Nam's family members are believed to be in Beijing and Macao under China's protection, according to the South Korean intelligence agency.

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Mountain home w/million dollar view near San Ramón
Beautiful home in the mountains near San Ramón with 180-degree view of the gulf of Nicoya. 7 miles from San Ramón, 1 mile from Interamericana highway. 3,200 foot elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, appliances included. High-speed internet installed,  Price for sale $179,000    Contact Mike: 
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Costa Rica penthouse for sale
 5 -story penthouse for sale.  One of a kind penthouse on top of the Corobici Hotel in Sabana overlooking the Central Park and new Soccer Stadium in San José.  Excellent location provides you easy access to everywhere.  Other benefits include 24-hour security, 2 restaurants inside the hotel providing 1st class room service plus shared common areas in the hotel. Commercial license is in place. Seller will consider owner financing.  Asking $795K U.S.  Also available for monthly rent for $3,400 per month on an annual basis. Go to  Owners U.S. cell phone: 813 310-7402  Email

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The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2017 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
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news page

San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 20, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 36
Real Estate
About us

News from the BBC up to the minute

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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Sunshine means it's time to garden!

The sun is shining, the grass isn’t growing as fast, the pool is cool and comfy, and life is good. How good is it? Well, let me explain.

With all the trees that came down in heavy winds, there are plenty of new fence
to replace the ones that have rotted out. There should even also be
Victoria Torley
some straight branches for walking sticks. My favorite added bonus, though, is all the orchids and bromeliads that have to be harvested from those dead trees. Nice additions to the shade garden. 

Usually, I would hire a sierrista (a man with a big chain saw and
special tools) to cut some of the

tree trunks into usable planks for garden benches and a nice wall in the work room. With all the trees down, though, and the price I was quoted by the wood cutter, I decided to go out and find myself what is called a portable saw mill. This is a heavy (and expensive) piece of equipment that hugs the tree. Attach a chain saw to it, and you can cut great flat planks. Sadly, I now need a bigger chain saw.

Moving on, now that the rain won’t wash everything away, we can get out and fertilize the fruit trees. We are looking forward to some plump red grapefruit and delicious oranges this year. Even the lemon and lime trees seem to be smiling on us, and I know that the fertilizer concoction we have made up for them will have them producing freely. And speaking of citrus, we can get out and prune them properly when there is no rain.

The mosquitoes seem be dying back too. They have been very pesky this past season with all the rain. Why I have even had to wear long sleeved shirts out by the arroyo! That is, when rain didn’t keep me inside, which it did, repeatedly.

The steps to the gardens are drying out, which is a relief, since one of our friends slid down and twisted his knee. It’s hard to keep the moss off of the steps when it’s raining. I know the stuff is there and I still have the occasional slip even when I use a walking stick.

Now is also a great time to get out and pull the morning glories and other vines off the shrubs. I have a Sanchezia that is covered with morning glories and some shrubs have almost disappeared under them. I suppose I could have cut them back during the rainy season, but who wants to crawl around in the rain and slippery mud just to trim back vines. Even I draw the line somewhere and wet slippery Sanchezia seems to be just over the line.

Let’s just say that Metric Man is happy to know there is a line

Plant for the Week

With all the bulbs and tubers that won’t grow in a tropical climate, it’s great to find some that thrive. This is a variety of canna lily that brings sunshine down into the garden. They are carried by many viveros so they are easy to find. They are also easy to grow in any sunny location with moist, well-drained soil. Be just a bit patient, and they will reward you with seeds for replanting and sharing. And check out all the colors! Happy gardening.
A.M.Costa Rica/VictoriaTorley

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From Page 7:

Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo photo
Dutch dredger passes by the state refinery's petroleum facility.

Dredger clears the way for tankers at Moín

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Cleanup time at the port terminal in Moín cost $930,000 this year. That is the price for dredging up 110,520 cubic meters of muck and then dumping it out to sea. That's about 145,000 cubic yards.

Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo said that this is a job that has to be done every five years because the Río Moín continually brings sediment to the water near the docks.

Oil tanks cannot dock unless the water is deep enough. Now there is about 13 meters of water, about 42 feet, which is deep enough for tankers.

The state refinery said the work was done by a specialized craft provided by the Dutch firm Van Oord-BAM Ltda.