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(506) 2223-1327                              Published Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 37                             Email us
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New corporate tax appears to be frozen in committee
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The corporate tax that concerns a lot of expats remains bottled up in a legislative committee.

Lawmakers from two parties criticized Rosibel Ramos, the head of the Comisión de Hacendarios, for not advancing the proposal, No. 19.818. The measure would reinstate a modified version of the corporate tax that was declared unconstitutional a year ago.

Nidia Jiménez Vásquez of the Partido Acción Ciudadana, the president's party, said that Lawmaker Ramos was blocking 40 billion colons earmarked for the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública. The amount is about $75 million.

Ms. Jiménez complained on the legislative floor Monday that the measure has not seen any action in the committee for 11 months. The estimate of the money the measure will bring in might be a little high. The security ministry figured the last annual income to be about $56 million.

Antonio Álvarez Desanti of the Partido Liberación Nacional said also Monday that the lawmaker was blocking the funds that were needed by the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública and the Judicial Investigating Organization which need the money to fight drug trafficking and organized crime.

Actually the Judicial Investigating Organization is not included in the measure. Some 95 percent of the funds collected are supposed to go to the ministry.

Some 5 percent goes to the Ministerio de Justicia y Paz to help support its agency that runs the prisons.

When the tax first was collected, the security ministry used the money to purchase boots for Fuerza Pública officers.

Álvarez said that in the last 10 months that Ms. Ramos has headed the committee no legislation has been approved and passed to the full legislature. She is a member of the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana.

The legislature is due for a reorganization May 1, and Ms. Ramos may not continue in that job. Still, there will be some time before corporation owners have to pay the tax if it is passed.

According to the text of the bill, the law would not go into effect for three months after it is finally passed, signed by the president and published in the official newspaper.

The status of the bill is important for expats who own sociedades anónimas and other forms of corporations Costa Rica.

Frozen tx

The Comisión de Hacendarios also is studying the extensive tax package put forward by President Luis Guillermo Solís

As Costa Rica Report noted Monday, the tax package has been in limbo. The A.M. Costa Rica affiliate noted that CR Hoy reported that opponents say the real problem is overspending on the part of government and point to excessive government salaries and the recent purchase of 64 Harley motorcycles for police when cheaper models would have sufficed.

The Sala IV constitutional court struck down as unconstitutional key parts of the 2011 tax 13 months ago. But the magistrates ruled that operators of corporations still had to pay the tax for 2015.

The revised proposal reduces the amount that smaller corporations have to pay, a situation that was criticized in the original bill.

The draft, which was introduced last Dec. 2 by the Solís administration, sets up a sliding scale in which firms with higher incomes pay 60 percent and smaller companies pay just 30 percent of a judicial base salary. Inactive corporations pay 15 percent.

The base salary of a judicial office worker in 2016 is 424,200 colons, according to the Poder Judicial. That’s about $798. This is an amount that frequently is cited in laws in Costa Rica for taxes and fines. That roughly adjusts the amount based on inflation.

Based on this amount, firms that have gross incomes of 106 million colons, 250 times the base salary and about $200,000, or more will pay 60 percent, which is  254,520 colons or around $479.

Smaller companies that are doing business and are listed as taxpayers would be assessed half that.

Inactive companies that are not listed as taxpayers would pay 63,630 colons or about $120. Many expats have their homes or cars as assets in an inactive corporation.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 37
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Ministerio de Educación Pública photo
This is not exactly R2D2, But what it lacks in sophistication, it makes up in simplicity.

Students will have robotics option

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Schools are turning to robotics to attract the attention of students and keep them away from other temptations.

The robotics program will go to 36 high schools in low-income areas under the project that has extensive institutional support. In addition to the  Ministerio de Educación Pública, the project is backed by the Universidad Nacional, the Instituto Costarricense sobre Drogas and the Ministerio de la Presidencia.

The project was outlined Monday.

Three groups of teachers will be trained to carry back the knowledge to their home schools, which are in Desamparados, Cartago, Grande de Térraba, Guápiles, Puntarenas y San Carlos, Heredia, San José Central, San José Norte, San José Oeste, Liberia, Sarapiquí, Alajuela, Puriscal and Los Santos.

The teachers will introduce students to the Lego Mindstorms products that can be assembled into a variety of robotic devices.

The drug institute will be purchasing some materials.

Canadian firms seeking trade deals

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Representatives of Canadian food marketers will be in Costa Rica Thursday  seeking to expand their activities here, according to the Canadian Embassy.

The country has a 14-year-old free trade treaty, and Costa Rican firms exported $578 million to Canada in 2014. Canada exported goods worth $152 million the same year, said the embassy.

The trade discussions will be in the Hotel Wyndham Garden in Escazú.

Canada is known for its grains, oils and sea food products a well as beef and vegetables, the embassy noted.

Ambassador Michael Gort cited in a release the commercial relations as a key element in the socioeconomic development of Costa Rica.

Our reader's opinion
Crisis opportunities may invite corruption

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Regarding the piece, “The opportunity in commercial crisis is frequently overlooked,” sometimes matters are more complex than they seem.

There are other ways to look at all this. Firstly, the noble art of disrupting wealth creation and citizens going about their normal lives might pay off. It is practiced effectively by taxi blockades and demonstrations in Costa Rica. French truckers, farmers and factory workers excel at such disruption. They often preserve their livelihoods and state subsidies for many years by doing so. Of course, in the long term they cannot do so, but as Mr. Keynes said, “In the long term, we are all dead.”

In the UK, the Luddites slowed the deployment of job by destroying textile machinery during the industrial revolution. They smashed the equipment and blamed the followers of the imaginary King Ludd.  Disrupting new technologies allows continued employment, at least in the short term.

In the case of our taxi drivers, yes they could indeed invest in technology or advertising, or less riskily, simply become Uber drivers. Their case is that they have to meet standards and buy their badges. Uber drivers do not. That is unfair, irrespective of technology.

From a broader perspective, there are many changes in technology and commercial crises that offer opportunities to corrupt officials and the well connected in our societies. We observe that lavish subsidies and concessions are handed out in the U.S., Costa Rica and elsewhere on the basis of crises, such as: national security threats, climate change, energy or water shortages, transportation congestion or unemployment. In most countries, legislators with personal or supporters’ interests seem to win the most benefits and opportunities.

Some of the crises of climate are being used to create opportunities that make no sense. Last weekend, I visited the Nicoya and heard that some local business people want to revive the drought stricken economy by such water-consuming projects as growing organic crops, attracting new immigrants for housing projects and building sustainable tourism. Government and international donations and subsidies are welcomed. Attracting more people to visit or stay in a drought area does not seem likely to improve matters, except for the promoters bank balances.
Aaron Aalborg

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 37
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Two women in Sámara confirmed as suffering from the zika virus
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The health ministry is reporting two home-grown cases of zika infection. One is a pregnant Sámara resident, and the second, is her neighbor.

Zika has been confirmed in the pregnant 24 year old, said the Ministerio de Salud. Confirmation for the neighbor, a 32-year-old women, came Monday via lab tests, and officials said that she displays zika symptoms.

The ministry declared a health emergency for the entire canton of Nicoya and began extensive spraying.

A U.S. tourist who was diagnosed with the disease when he returned to the States is believed to have contracted zika in December in Nosara. Both Sámara and Nosara are on the far
Pacific coast in the canton of Nicoya.

Health officials already heavily sprayed Nosara, one of the country's premier tourism locations. They also took steps to eliminate mosquito breeding locations there.

Health officials made the announcement Monday and said that  lab tests confirmed that the 24 year old had contracted the virus. Officials said that an ultrasound showed normal development of the baby.

The ministry said that 3,000 homes in the Sámara area had been fumigated to kill mosquitoes and that residents in 913 homes had been visited and provided educational information.

During one of these home visits, the ministry said that health workers identified the second women.

Commemoration sought for the Battle of Coto 95 years ago
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This year marks the 95th anniversary of the Batalla de Coto, a military engagement that pitted the Costa Rican army against police and volunteers from Panamá.

The bulk of the activity was in the canton of Corredores and also on the Caribbean coast communities of Sixaola and Bocas de Toro.

Panamá claimed that Costa Rica had invaded its territory, and it took until 1942 when a border treaty was signed.

Olivier Jiménez Rojas brought up the battle when he spoke in the legislature Monday. The lawmaker urged the government to take steps to recognize the battle and the 32 Costa Ricans who

died in the confrontations on both coasts.

The southern towns of Puerto Jiménez, Uvita and Pueblo Nuevo as well and the Canton of Osa figured in the border scuffle. Costa Rica had an advantage because Panamá did not have an army.

Military engagements are at best confusing, and a summary of the Coto engagements show that they were more confusing than normal with troops blundering into ambushes and hardly any commander having sufficient intelligence over enemy activities to construct a battle plan. Troops appeared to be untrained, and there was a shortage of weapons.

A summary of the campaign in Spanish and machine-translated English is HERE!

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 37
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Genetics in Panama's population give the history of colonization
By the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute news staff

The Spanish conquest of the Americas was devastating for native peoples. Many native men died in conflicts with the invaders. Male Spanish colonists often came without their wives and took native women as partners.

A new genetic analysis of Panamanian men by a team including a Smithsonian scientist shows this historical legacy: only 22 percent had Y-chromosomes of native origin even though most Panamanians are of female native ancestry.

Everyone has a pair of sex chromosomes that determine their gender. Females have two X-chromosomes, while males have one X and one Y, the latter inherited from the father. These chromosomes are found in each cell’s nucleus. Another genetic component called mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is found in cells outside the nucleus. Both males and females inherit their mtDNA from their mother alone. Over time, small mutations accumulate in both mtDNA and Y-chromosomes, allowing scientists to trace their history.

A team of geneticists from the University of Pavia including Antonio Torroni found that among the 408 Panamanian men whose genetics were analyzed, 60 percent had Y-chromosomes that originated in West Eurasia and North Africa (probably mostly from Europe). About 22 percent were of Native American origin, 6 percent from sub-Saharan Africa and 2 percent from South Asia (probably China or the Indian sub-continent). In contrast, a large majority of this group, including nearly all those with Native American, African and Asian Y-chromosomes, had mtDNA of native origin. Among
men with Eurasian Y-chromosomes, 13 percent had mtDNA from sub-Saharan Africa and only a very few had European mtDNA.

Although overall a majority of Panamanian men had Eurasian Y-chromosomes, the percentage differed regionally within Panama in accord with the pattern of Spanish colonization. After A.D. 1519, the Spanish settled most densely on the Pacific side of Panamá, where a drier climate made agriculture and cattle raising more feasible. Those indigenous groups that survived the conquest took refuge mostly in the remote mountains and dense tropical forests of the Caribbean side.

In most provinces on Panama’s Pacific side, the prevalence of Eurasian Y-chromosomes varied from 62 to 72 percent. This was entirely different in Caribbean regions, where the proportion of native Y-chromosomes ranged from 66 to almost 88 percent.

The highest level of sub-Saharan Y-chromosomes, 44 percent, was found in Darien Province on the Pacific side, where many escaped slaves found refuge during the colonial period.   

Variation within native Y-chromosomes also illuminated the history of these groups within Panamá. One type, found in western Panamá, probably originated more than 10,000 years ago, indicating some native populations have been living in this region continuously for a very long time. Another much more recently differentiated type was found in eastern Panama and may represent peoples who moved into the area from adjacent areas of what is now Colombian territory after the original population, known to the invading Spanish as the “people of the language of Cueva,” had virtually disappeared.

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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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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 37
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Axiom 890 pixels

Cameron says EU referendum
will be the final exit decision

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

British Prime Minister David Cameron says the results of a referendum on Britain's exit from the European Union will be final.

"This is a vital decision for the future of our country, and I believe we should also be clear that it is a final decision," Cameron said during an address in Parliament Monday.

He dismissed calls for a second referendum by London Mayor Boris Johnson who suggested the vote to leave could help Britain renegotiate its terms with the EU.

"An idea has been put forward that if the country votes to leave we could have a second renegotiation and perhaps another referendum. Mr. Speaker, I will not dwell on the irony that some people who want to vote to leave apparently want to use a leave vote to remain," Cameron said.

Johnson, one of Britain's most popular but unconventional politicians, is the highest profile Conservative to split with fellow Conservative Cameron over staying in the 28-nation European Union.

Officials from the office of the prime minister said if the June 23 referendum initiative passes, Cameron would invoke article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, which sets in motion a two-year negotiation process where the European Union presents Britain with a final package to which they can either accept or reject.

Britain would also lose its seat on the European Council during this period.

Cameron has warned that Britain's exit from the bloc would threaten the country's economic and national security.

Europol chief Rob Wainwright said an EU exit would leave them more vulnerable to attacks by terror groups and organized crime gangs.

No country has ever left the European Union.

Dispute over high court seat
reaches the U.S. Senate floor

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The partisan fight over a U.S. Supreme Court vacancy burst onto the Senate floor Monday, as lawmakers disagreed sharply on whether President Barack Obama should nominate a replacement for justice Antonin Scalia, who died nine days earlier.
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republican Chuck Grassley, argued that presidential election years are inappropriate for considering high court nominations.
“The campaign for our next commander-in-chief is in full swing. Voting has begun,” Grassley said. “And a term-limited Democrat in the twilight of his presidency occupies the White House.”
“We’re seeing an unprecedented attempt to hold hostage an entire branch of government,” said Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid. “This is a foolish gambit to deny President Obama his constitutional right to appoint nominees to the Supreme Court.”
The Senate observed a moment of silence for Scalia, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell paid tribute to the late justice’s life and life’s work, calling him larger than life.
“Justice Scalia was an articulate champion of the Constitution. He was a personality unto himself. And his passing is a significant loss for the court and for our country,” McConnell said.
It was McConnell who helped launch the nomination brawl by issuing a statement within hours of Scalia’s death saying the next president, not Obama, should pick his replacement. On Monday, however, he stayed clear of the fray by limiting his floor remarks to lauding the arch conservative jurist.
No so for those who followed McConnell.

Grassley, whose committee is tasked with holding confirmation hearings for judicial nominees, said he takes guidance from a preceding chairman: Vice President Joe Biden, who as a senator wielded the gavel at the Judiciary Committee from 1987 to 1995.
Grassley noted that, in 1992, also an election year, Biden argued against then-Republican President George H.W. Bush filling any Supreme Court vacancies that might arise. Grassley quoted extensively from Biden’s speech delivered more than two decades ago.
“These are the Biden rules,” Grassley said. “The Biden rules recognize that ‘Once the political season is under way, action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over. That is what is fair to the nominee and is central to the process.’”
“This Senate must do what he said it must do in 1992,” Grassley added, speaking of Biden.
“I find no mention of a three-year presidency in our Constitution,” countered Reid. “The Founding Fathers never intended the Senate to simply run out the clock on its constitutional duties, subverting the president’s authority and leaving the judiciary in absolute limbo.”
The White House says it is vetting potential Supreme Court picks, and that Obama is reaching out to senators to urge full consideration of the eventual nominee.

A few Republicans are backing the president’s call.

Sen. Mark Kirk, who is up for reelection in Democratic leaning Illinois, wrote in an opinion piece for the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper: “I recognize the right of the president, be it Republican or Democrat, to place before the Senate a nominee for the Supreme Court.”

"I also recognize my duty as a senator to either vote in support or opposition to that nominee following a fair and thorough hearing,” Kirk added.

But consideration by no means guarantees confirmation. Sen. Ted Cruz, who is seeking his Republican Party’s presidential nomination, has pledged to block any Obama nominee to the high court.

Overcoming that procedural hurdle would require 14 Republicans to side with Democrats in order to get to a final up-or-down vote.

The outcome of the nomination battle could determine the Supreme Court’s ideological tilt for a generation or more. Until the vacancy is filled, the court will operate with eight justices: four regarded as liberals and four regarded as conservatives.

European terrorism center
called a hopeful first step

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Europe’s latest effort to counter the growing threat from foreign fighters is being hailed as a hopeful first step but there are deep concerns that the new measures will prevent another Paris-style attack.

Officials late last month launched the European Counter Terrorism Center, described by the European Union’s law enforcement agency, Europol, as a unique European information hub.

The focus, Europol Director Rob Wainwright has said, is “improving the level and effectiveness of information exchange between the national authorities in the European Union.”

The timing of the center’s launch is critical as reasons to fear another attack increase. Europol estimates between 3,000 and 5,000 foreign fighters have returned to Europe from Iraq and Syria.

“We have the problem of foreign fighters coming back to Europe either from Syria or Libya,” a Western diplomat said, adding that despite increased security measures, “It’s very easy.”

The head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, Hans-Georg Massen, told ZDF television earlier this month that terrorists disguised as refugees have slipped into the country repeatedly. Massen’s comment came a day after German forces arrested two men with possible links to the Islamic State terror group for plotting an attack on Berlin.

EU officials are hopeful the new counterterror center will soon leverage arrests like those into additional successes.

“The ECTC is building on already some existing capabilities within Europol,” said spokesperson Tine Hollevoet. “By adding new capabilities and putting all of this together in a new center, we believe that this will significantly increase our response to terrorists.”

For now, the center is employing a staff of about 45 counterterror experts.

“The key is on the information sharing by the member states,” Hollevoet added.

Still, some doubt the new counterterror center has the wherewithal to make it happen.

“The creation of the center has not come attached with any new major powers for Europol,” said Javier Argomaniz, with the Handa Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at St. Andrews University.

“The key obstacle remains security agencies' organizational culture and their traditional reluctance to exchange valuable operational data, especially if this could result in leaks,” he added.

Former CIA counterterrorism analyst Aki Peritz is equally skeptical.

“There are 28 member states of the EU,” he said. “The big boys are not going to share with everybody.”

And that is just one of the many obstacles the new EU Counter Terrorism Center will face, according to Peritz, now vice president of the Center for Intelligence Policy.

Nevada is the latest stage
for U.S. political battle

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Republican presidential candidates are campaigning in Nevada, with real estate billionaire Donald Trump looking to win his third straight nominating contest in Tuesday's party caucuses over his main rivals, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Recent political surveys show Trump, the brash New York developer and one-time casino magnate, with a significant lead in Nevada, the Western state that is the U.S. gambling hub.

A CNN/ORC poll conducted earlier this month showed him winning 45 percent support from Republican voters, with Rubio at 19 percent and Cruz at 17 percent.

Trump is coming off last weekend's convincing win in the South Carolina party primary, as Rubio edged Cruz for second place in the Atlantic coastal state.

U.S. political analysts are calling Trump, who has never been elected to public office, the confirmed leader for the Republican presidential nomination.

But surveys show a sizable group of Republican voters remain opposed to his candidacy, either because they do not think he can win the White House in November's national election against the leading Democratic contender, former secretary of State Hillary Clinton, or because they do not believe his proclaimed support for a variety of conservative positions that most U.S. Republicans adhere to.

One prominent conservative pundit, Erick Erickson, said Monday he would never vote for Trump if he is the Republican nominee.

Years ago, Trump said he strongly supported abortion rights in the United States, but now tells voters he is pro-life, favoring a curb on the right of American women to the medical procedure.

But Erickson said he has become convinced that Trump's transformation on the issue is a conversion of convenience.

A one-time local Republican official, Erickson said the party "will not deserve my support and will not get it if it chooses to nominate a pro-abortion liberal masquerading as a conservative."

Cruz, a conservative agitator against both Republican and Democratic leaders in Washington, told a Nevada rally Sunday that he is the one consistent conservative in the race for the Republican nomination.

He attacked Trump for recently saying that he would be neutral in trying to broker Israel's relations with its Arab neighbors.

Cruz, a staunch supporter of the Jewish state, said, "I have no intention . . . of  being neutral."

Rubio told supporters he is the best Republican contender to unify the party's disparate religious, business and social conservative factions.

"I will unite this party. I will grow this party," Rubio said. "The Democrats do not want to run against me. I can't wait to run against them."

The next Democratic presidential nominating contest is in South Carolina on Saturday.

It is a party primary election that Mrs. Clinton, the country's top diplomat from 2009 to 2013, is heavily favored to win over her remaining rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a democratic socialist who has focused his campaign against the growing income inequality in the United States and the power of Wall Street.

Majority in U.S. support
feds in the fight with Apple

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A new survey in the United States shows that a majority of Americans support U.S. law enforcement officials in their effort to force technology giant Apple to find a new way to search the encrypted phone used by one of the killers in last year's massacre in San Bernardino, California.

The Pew Research Center said Monday that its survey of more than 1,000 people in recent days showed that 51 percent of them say Apple should unlock the iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook. Thirty-eight percent sided with the company's position that unlocking his phone could eventually endanger the security of the information iPhone users have on their devices. Eleven percent had no opinion.

Meanwhile, a lawyer representing some of the relatives of the 14 people killed by Farook, an American-born Muslim, and his Pakistani wife, Tashfeen Malik, said he would soon file a statement supporting a judge's order requiring Apple to build a backdoor into Farook's cell phone.

Apple is continuing its fight against the order, with chief executive Tim Cook on Monday telling the firm's customers that the U.S. government's demands are chilling.

In an open letter to millions of its customers, Cook said the technology giant has no sympathy for terrorists. But he said that if Apple complies with the request of U.S. law enforcement authorities to build a path into the iPhone used by Farook, it would also open the door to countless other searches of Apple customers' phones in the future.

Such an intrusion, Cook said, would leave Apple users vulnerable to searches of their financial and health records and monitoring of their location and the pictures they take.

"No reasonable person would find that acceptable," Cook said.

Apple's fight to block the U.S. Justice Department's demand that it create a way into the phone given to Farook by his employer returns to a federal courtroom Monday.

A magistrate judge said last week Apple must provide software to allow the Federal Bureau of Investigation to guess the password on the iPhone given to Farook.

But Apple rejected what it called the unprecedented order to create a backdoor that could allow someone with the software to access any iPhone and put its customers at risk of hacking.

The government responded with a motion to make Apple comply. Ahead of Monday's hearing, FBI Director James Comey insisted the government is not trying to set any precedent for future cases or set a master key loose on the land, which Cook contends is exactly what would happen.

Comey said it is about the victims and justice, and that the tensions between privacy and safety should not be resolved by corporations or the FBI, but rather the American people.

Cook said that if the FBI wins the case and forces Apple to create a backdoor into its iPhones, law enforcement agents from throughout the U.S. "have already said they have hundreds of iPhones they want Apple to unlock."

He said Apple believes "the only way to guarantee that such a powerful tool isn't abused and doesn't fall into the wrong hands is to never create it." Cook also suggested the formation of a "commission or other panel of experts on intelligence, technology and civil liberties to discuss the implications for law enforcement, national security, privacy and personal freedoms,” adding that Apple would take part in such an effort.

The case is the latest to showcase the frustrations of law enforcement officials who complain that newer encryption methods used by companies like Apple make it harder to carry out investigations involving the use of technology by criminal suspects. Apple strengthened encryption of its phones in 2014 amid increased public concern about digital privacy.

In the San Bernardino case, the problem is that authorities do not know the password to unlock the iPhone, and the operating system on the phone is set up to automatically erase its data after 10 incorrect password guesses. The court order calls for new software to bypass that feature, or for Apple to provide another way for the FBI to get in.

The government's motion that led to Monday's hearing says the phone may have critical communications and data they have yet to uncover, may only be found on the phone and cannot be accessed by other means.

Cook says the company has given the FBI any relevant data it possesses, complied with all legal subpoenas and search warrants, and has made its engineers available to give advice to federal investigators.

But he blamed government investigators for hindering their own probe.

"One of the strongest suggestions we offered was that they pair the phone to a previously joined network, which would allow them to back up the phone and get the data they are now asking for," Cook said. "Unfortunately, we learned that while the attacker’s iPhone was in FBI custody, the Apple ID password associated with the phone was changed. Changing this password meant the phone could no longer access iCloud services."

Extensive zika study starts
in Brazil with U.S. support

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A study to determine whether the zika virus is causing babies to be born with the birth defect microcephaly began in Brazil Monday.

A 16-member team of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started work in Joao Pessoa, in northeastern Brazil, that is the center of the country's zika outbreak.

Team members, working with members of Brazil's health ministry and officials from Paraiba state, will fan out though Paraiba on Tuesday to track down babies with microcephaly, a condition marked by an abnormally small head size, and their mothers.

The team will use blood samples to help determine whether the mothers are infected with zika.

The World Health Organization declared the zika outbreak an international health emergency Feb. 1.

World Health cited a strongly suspected relationship between zika infection in pregnancy and microcephaly, although much remains unknown about zika.

Also Monday, Cuba said it plans to deploy more than 9,000 army troops and police officials in an effort to keep the zika virus out of the island nation, President Raúl Castro said in Granma, the state-run newspaper.

"The Revolutionary Armed Forces will assign more than 9,000 troops, among them active duty officers and reserve officers ... to the anti-vector and cleanup efforts, with the additional support of 200 officers of the National Revolutionary Police," Castro said.

He called upon all Cuban residents to assist troops and police in their efforts to spray neighborhoods and eliminate breeding spots for the Aedes genus of mosquitoes, which spreads the zika virus.

"It's necessary for every single Cuban to take up this battle as a personal matter," Castro told Granma.

Real estate-related services (paid category)

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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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The experts in buying property in Costa Rica, with more than 20 years experience and the largest networked team of agents in the country.  We can help you learn if investing in Costa Rica is right for you with our low-key, educational approach to sales. Our professional agents can tell you more about sCosta Rica properties, including condos, homes, lots and commercial real estate.  Call us: Ocean Surf and Sun Int. Realty Ldta at 011 (506) 2653-0073 or send us an email at:

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Sierra Collection. Meridian House or Chateau Montage.
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The Terraces at San Martin.  Discover the essence of Costa Rica on our Luxury Ocean View Villas . Near Dominicalito Beach and Parque Nacional Marino Ballena.
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Ellan At Ballena Beach.  Welcome to a world of endless adventure on our beachside condominiums at Ballena Beach, Pacific Coast.  For more information click  HERE!
We will be happy to give all the information you need. Contact:

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Rich Coast Realty is a full-service real estate company with property listings in Escazú, Santa Ana, Jacó, Esterillos, Bejuco, Palo Seco, Manuel Antonio, and beyond. We offer efficient, personalized service always protecting our client’s interests. We work hard to find you the property of your dreams, and assist with legal advice, residency, starting corporations, opening bank accounts, etc. Contact us today with your questions about buying property in, and relocating to Costa Rica. With 11 years experience in Costa Rica real estate, we look forward to hearing from you.
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If you do not find, what are you looking for, contact us
WE HAVE A NETWORK OF OVER 500 brokers across the country to get what you are looking for.
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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

For sale 5,200 m2 Escazú
Fantastic location for condo, hotel, restaurant.
Large lower lot, incredible views. Flexible zoning.
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Toll free US phone 877-778-8515
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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, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 37
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News from the BBC up to the minute

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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Scientist report 5.5-inch rise in sea level

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Scientists have released new information showing a record rise in sea levels and record high temperatures in the Arctic in January.

The researchers who looked at sea levels were able to collect information going back 28 centuries. They found that sea levels are rising faster today than at any time over the past 3,000 years. The news was released Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"The 20th century rise was extraordinary in the context of the last three millennia," said the paper's lead author, Robert Kopp from Rutgers University, "and the rise over the last two decades has been even faster." The paper said that the seas rose 5.5 inches during the 20th century.

The best estimates show that temperatures around the globe have risen more than a half-degree C since 1880. Scientists attribute most of that rise to human emissions into the atmosphere.

The researchers say the Earth's sea level could rise more than a meter by the year 2100.  The National Aeronautics and Space Administration says global sea level has fluctuated widely in the recent geologic past. It stood 4 to 6 meters above the present during the last interglacial period, 125,000 years ago, but was 120 meters (nearly 400 feet) lower at the peak of the last ice age, around 20,000 years ago.

In separate research, scientists from NASA and from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that global temperatures, which already made 2015 the hottest year ever recorded, were unusually high at the North Pole.

Bolivia's Morales urges patience on vote

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Bolivia's President Evo Morales is asking the country to wait patiently for the final election result of a referendum to allow him to run for a fourth term, despite indications he has lost.

"I have asked all social groups, those that took part in both the yes and no campaigns, to show great serenity and responsibility in waiting for the final result from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal," Morales said Monday.

He added that he will respect the outcome either way.

Partial official results from Sunday's referendum show the no vote at about 60 percent. Vote tallies are still coming in from rural areas where Morales has strong support.

Exit polls published by private media indicate a close vote, but also show the no vote winning.

Morales, Bolivia's first native leader, wants to run for a fourth consecutive term in 2019, and asked voters to amend the constitution to allow him to do so.

Now, however, a growing number of Bolivians are apparently starting to doubt the integrity of their president, following recent revelations that a former girlfriend of Morales works for a company that has won lucrative government contracts.

It was also revealed that in 2007, the girlfriend and Morales had a baby who died under unexplained circumstances.

Morales says the charges are dirty tactics designed to divert attention from his achievements in cutting Bolivia's extreme poverty and empowering the country's native majority during a decade in office.

Supporters of the president say his socialist policies have brought social spending to the poor and his leadership has brought stability to the country.

Last week, supporters of the president were accused of setting fire to a local opposition government office in which six people died.

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From Page 7:

Mainland Chinese moving their money abroad

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Chinese have been moving money abroad at record levels as China’s economy continues to slow, boosting real estate prices around the world while raising concerns.

In places like New York, Miami and London, Chinese investors are dominating the market for land and buildings, especially in the luxury sector.

Sam Chandan, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in the eastern U.S., said, “Chinese investors are the newest players on the scene, but they have very quickly grown to become the dominant player in those gateway markets. We have very clear examples of this. In a market like New York City, the largest hotel sale in U.S. history was a Chinese life insurance company.”

But the flight of money has caused concerns in Beijing, which recently began a clampdown that could impede the overseas investments.

China has said it would launch a system to monitor foreign exchange businesses at banks, and that people trying to purchase more than the maximum $50,000 in foreign currency a year would be placed on a watch list.

Another obstacle may be China’s recent stock market volatility, which has left potential buyers with less cash on hand to buy property.

Terrence Oved, a lawyer with Manhattan real estate and commercial litigation firm Oved & Oved LLP, said, “With respect to many of the Chinese investors, the Chinese stock market fluctuation and the downward pressure has eliminated the paper gains of a lot of these Chinese foreign investors that has allowed them to go shopping in New York, Miami and the United States.”

He said many buyers are adopting a wait and see approach to the Chinese economy.

Some large banks are also becoming more cautious regarding Chinese investors. International banking giant HSBC announced last month it would no longer provide mortgages to some Chinese nationals, who are already dominating real estate markets abroad. HSBC, Europe’s biggest lender, has not clarified which specific clients would be impacted by the new rules.

But while HSBC has introduced new rules that could restrict purchases, other banks are jumping in to fill the void.

The Royal Bank of Canada said it would ease its cap on mortgages to buyers without a local credit history. In the U.S., some Chinese are investing in real estate development projects to qualify for the EB-5 visa program, which gives foreign nationals green cards in exchange for investing in projects that employ 10 or more people. Real estate buyers are also drawn to the economic stability, education and rule of law of U.S. and European markets.

Spencer Levy, head of Americas Research at CBRE, said he expects foreign demand for U.S. real estate to continue. “Once you get past the volatility that we see in the market today, I expect it to increase. I think that the investment opportunities that Chinese are going to see abroad in the U.S. and elsewhere, are very strong.”

Levy says he thinks Chinese buyers will continue to buy in the U.S. because of the continued strength of the U.S. real estate market and economy. Chinese buyers used to focus on gateway markets such as New York and San Francisco, but now increasing numbers are turning to secondary markets like Houston to purchase property.