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Published Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, in Vol. 17, No. 41
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Heat and lack of oxygen blamed for dead fish
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government’s animal health service is blaming high water temperatures and a lack of oxygen for the death of millions of sardines. But the report released Friday does not disclose any root cause.

The Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal was reporting on findings by the Centro de Investigación en Estructuras Microscópicas of the Universidad de Costa Rica. Similar studies are by the Universidad Nacional and the Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura.

The animal health agency, part of the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería, seems to be anxious to calm any fears in the public about consumption of fish from the Gulf of Nicoya. Even before the scientific reports came in the agency was on record saying that fish from the gulf could be consumed.

The university report, replayed by the animal health agency, said that temperatures of water in the gulf ranged between 26.5 and 34 C. That is 81.5 to 93.2 F.

The report also said that the oxygen content of the waster was reduced to 0.1 milligrams per liter, insufficient for fish life. Online sources say that fish need an oxygen content of from 4 to 15 milligrams per liter of water.

Ocean water releases oxygen as the temperature increases. In addition, there are reports of anchovy schools so large that the fish themselves deplete the oxygen.

The dead fish appeared at the northeast

Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
A coast guard crew member takes samples from the Gulf of Nicoya.

corner of the Gulf of Nicoya, and the concentration of fish must have been enormous.

The report also said that there was a cyanobacteria, Synechocystis, found in the water. This is a bacteria that generates oxygen, so its impact on the fish is uncertain.

The animal health service said that its  Laboratorio de Servicios Veterinarios and scientists at Universidad Nacional could not find any chemical contaminants or biotoxins in the water samples from the gulf.

Surprise: Motor fuel prices will be going down
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos has approved a decrease in the prices of fuels in response to the excess of petroleum on the international market and a drop in the world price.

The super blend of gasoline will decrease 27 colons to 593 colons for each liter. The plus blend will decline by 24 colons to 567 colons  per  liter. Diesel is only decreasing five colons
 per liter to 484 colons. Liquid petroleum gas will increase by 28 colons for every liter to 312 colons.

In terms of dollar prices, super will be around $1.06 a liter and plus around one dollar and a couple cents. Diesel fuel will drop to 484 colons per liter, or around 86 cents.

The lower prices will be applied the day following its publication in the Diario Oficial La Gaceta, which probably will be this week.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 41
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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.

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Dental Services Costa Rica

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Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo photo
This is the time of year for asphalt, and every motorist knows that plenty is needed.

Playa Langosta-Tamarindo road job at last

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tamarindo will have a new hard surface road to Playa Langosta. The current single-kilometer stretch is punctuated with many potholes.

 The Concejo Municipal de Santa Cruz made the decision and agreed to spend 98 million colons for the job.

The better road will further unite the two Pacific coast communities. The Cámara de Comercio y Turismo de Tamarindo said it estimated that the roadway handles about 1,300 cars on average each day.

The money, about $177,000, for the job will come from the funds collected for concessions in the maritime zone in the canton, according to the decision.

This is a project that the local communities have been waiting for for a long time. Upgrading the road is considered important for tourism and development.

Elsewhere, the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo said it has donated 316 million colons, about  $565,000, of asphalt to 13 communities during 2016. The amount is nearly 50 cubic meters.

Drug dealers are expanding their inventory

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The security ministry confirmed Friday morning the first case of a proven sale of ketamine in Costa Rica.

Although police have confiscated the drug before at the border and in other operations, this case represents the first instance of an illegal sale of this narcotic within the country. According to a report, the group selling the drug operated near a school in Goicoechea.  The drug operations arm of the police agency raided a household and arrested two men and a woman on suspicions of running the drug trafficking operations.

Aside from the usual confiscated drugs of marijuana and cocaine, there was also found ketamine powder. According to the police, ketamine is a hospital and veterinary anesthetic. The drug is commonly referred to as “ K and could be considered a party drug for the hallucinatory effects it has on the user, according to Maryland University’s Center for Substance Abuse Research. The drug distorts the users perception of sight and sound producing a feeling of detachment from the environment and one’s self, the center said.

Police said that one of the three arrested has a prior criminal record involving aggravated robbery, drug possession and illegal possession of a weapon. The other two have no criminal history, police said.

Anti-narcotics agents seized around 30 doses of powdered ketamine along with three glass vials of its liquid version. Also confiscated were over 300 doses of marijuana and 130 doses of cocaine, two firearms, and around $1,800 dollars in colons, they said.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 41
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The Sanatorio Durán is high up in the mountains and in the cooler, crisp climate that defines Cartago apart from the rest of the country,
Duran view
A.M. Costa Rica/Conor Golden

Sanatorio Durán in Cartago stands empty as a remote historic site
By Conor Golden
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

It is the stillness, the quiet and the loneliness that could first strike a visitor to Sanatorio Durán.

Nestled in the highlands overlooking Cartago, the former sanitarium for tuberculosis patients has been quiet for nearly 50 years if one does not choose to believe in ghosts or the supernatural. Durán is called one of the most haunted places in both Costa Rica and Latin America by some. The sanitarium was featured on the U.S.-based paranormal TV series “Ghost Hunters” at one point.

That is the legend surrounding the place, but it is facts that bring context to how that legend was established in the mindset of people. It is also the silent eeriness around the site that could render someone mute and lost in thought.

Costa Rican physician and one-time president Carlos Durán Cartín, the namesake for the place, founded the first sanitarium for treating tuberculosis in Central America within sight of the Volcán Irazú. It may have seemed necessary to the doctor considering his daughter suffered from the disease as well. The location seemed to be a sensible choice.

Higher up in the mountains and in the cooler, crisp climate that defines Cartago apart from the rest of the country, the clean air around the area would be a welcome relief to anyone suffering from the scourge of tuberculosis.

The disease, although still potentially fatal in modern times, now faces the arsenal of modern medicine and antibiotic treatment to stop it. However, at the time of the facility’s founding in 1915, prolonged rest in clean air was the cure. Roman Catholic nuns with training in nursing made up the majority of the on-site staff at the facility. Around 300 beds were made ready for patients until the 1970s, when the sanitarium closed for good.

It is after the closing of the ward that local stories start to creep through the open, glassless windows and doors. One tells a story of the spirit of one of the nuns who still patrols the gloomy third floor of the facility. Then there are also the patients who never left the care center alive and are rumored to still dwell in the now-abandoned, slowly dilapidating buildings.

Although these buildings may not be dilapidated for too long
A.M. Costa Rica/Conor Golden
A tourist walks the solitary corridor marked with graffiti.

Restoration is underway. As a whole, the place remains in relatively good shape.

This could bring comfort to any supporter of historical preservation, while also adding to the eeriness of any would-be ghost hunter or thrill-seeker visiting the site. The sanitarium provides for both types. There were even some people picnicking on the grounds Friday to enjoy the farmland in front and the tall mountains that loom above.

Sanatorio Durán is considered a national heritage site. The Centro de Investigación y Conservación del Patrimonio Cultura of the cultural ministry  maintains responsibility for the property.

To get to the site, one can either drive up through the mountains or take the Tierras Blancas bus route that provides a direct drop-off at the sanitarium and picks back up every hour. The price for the ride is around 545 colons.

The price to enter the facilities is 1,200 colons a person.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 41
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Minibus mishap injures 18, three critically, near Manuel Antonio park
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A minibus carrying more than 30 people ran off Ruta 618 near Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio Sunday morning.

The accident occurred near the Hotel Costa Verde. Workers at the hotel said that the crash happened around 9:30 a.m. The bus apparently rammed itself into the left side of the road towards dense shrubbery.  Workers from the hotel went to aid the injured and pull people from the wreck, according to hotel employees. 

According to the Cruz Roja, more than 30 persons were involved in the accident with three in critical condition and 15 suffering minor injuries. The Cruz Roja said that all the injured persons were taken to the hospital in nearby Quepos.
Mishap in Qquepos
Photo by Allan Templeton

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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.

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See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!

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A.M. Costa Rica's  
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Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 41
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Mistake at Oscar awards
delays win for ‘Moonlight’

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The racial crisis of the last two years was quickly left behind at the 89th Academy Awards celebration Sunday.

The film "Moonlight" won the prestigious best picture Oscar after presenter Warren Beatty mistakenly announced “La La Land” as the winner.

"This is not a joke, I'm afraid they read the wrong thing," the "La La Land" producer Jordan Horwitz told a stunned audience. Beatty then held up the winning envelope as proof while Horwitz signaled to the "Moonlight" producer to take the stage.

Casey Affleck took the Oscar for best actor for his performance in "Manchester By The Sea" while Emma Stone won the best actress award for her role in "La La Land," the most-nominated film of the night. The film's director, Damien Chazelle, won the best directing Oscar.

Ms. Stone last year made a comment to Vogue magazine that the place she would like to visit the most is Costa Rica. That comment was not lost on Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis.

Solis published a video on his Facebook profile personally inviting the actress to visit Costa Rica. The video, all of two minutes long, includes the president giving his own rendition of “City of Stars,” one of the film’s most memorable songs that has also been nominated for best original song. The video is spoken completely in English.

Solis, under a background of a starry-draped sky commenced to play on the piano his version of the song after extending the invitation and promoting Costa Rica’s draws for tourists. There has been no reply from Ms. Stone yet in response to the president’s offer.

African American actor Mahershala Ali won the Oscar for best supporting actor in "Moonlight" in which he plays a Miami drug dealer who mentors a young boy who is being teased and bullied.

And Viola Davis won the Oscar for best supporting actress for her role in "Fences."

The award for best foreign language film went to "The Salesman" from Iran. It is the second win in this category for writer-director Asghar Farhadi, who previously won for 2011's "A Separation.'' In protest of President Donald Trump's travel ban, Farhadi boycotted the Oscars ceremony.

Iranian astronaut Anousheh Ansari accepted the award on behalf of director Farhadi.

The award for best documentary feature went to "O.J. Made in America," a film about the life of former football star O.J. Simpson, who was tried and found not guilty in the murder trial of his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and restaurant waiter Ron Goldman.

Thanks to films like "Moonlight," "Fences" and "Hidden Figures," a record six black actors were nominated this year. For the first time ever, a person of color is nominated in each acting category. And black filmmakers also directed four of the five best documentary nominees.

The ceremony was expected to be one of the most turbulent and politically charged ceremonies in recent memory. Host Jimmy Kimmel fired an opening salvo at U.S. President Donald Trump, saying his policies had made the Oscars seem less racist.

The nominees follow the efforts by Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs to diversify the membership of the largely white, older and male film academy. In June, the academy added 683 new members: 46 percent of them were female, 41 percent were nonwhite, and they represented 59 countries.

U.S. plans to start contracts
for building new border wall

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. government plans to start awarding preliminary contracts by April for construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, to fulfill one of President Donald Trump’s principal campaign promises.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it will accept concept papers for the wall’s design beginning next week and will choose the best ones by March 20. The agency will then ask vendors for construction cost estimates and, after reviewing their bids, begin granting contracts by mid-April. This is a remarkably quick schedule for a government construction project.

Trump told the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday that the border-wall project was way ahead of schedule.

"We’re going to build a wall, don’t worry about it," Trump told a cheering crowd of his supporters. "We’re building a wall. We’re building the wall. In fact, it’s going to start soon."

The Customs and Border Protection agency, a unit of the Department of Homeland Security, did not indicate where the initial phase of construction will begin.

Trump has said the wall will cost $12 billion, while Republican leaders in Congress have pegged its cost 20 percent higher than that. An internal Homeland Security report forecast the total cost could be as much as $21.6 billion.

Since the earliest stages of his presidential campaign in 2015, Trump has vowed to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico as a way to stop illegal immigration and drug trafficking. He has assured Americans that Mexico would pay for the wall, a claim denied repeatedly by Mexico’s elected leaders, and the issue has soured relations between the two countries.

The White House has said Trump has a buffet of options to make Mexico pay for the wall, including imposing a 20 percent tax on all imports from Mexico. Critics have said that scenario would mean American consumers actually would be paying for the wall.

The border barrier primarily would be aimed at stopping illegal immigrants from entering the United States. However, many Mexicans regard the idea of a wall as an insult, and authorities on both sides of the international border have predicted that rough terrain and large stretches of private property straddling the border could make building the wall a long, complicated project.

Deaths by heroin overdose
quadruple, new report says

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Deaths caused by heroin overdoses in the United States quadrupled between 2010 and 2015, according to a new report.

The National Center for Health Statistics said there were 12,989 overdose deaths involving heroin in 2015. In 2010, the number was 3,036. In percentages, heroin caused 8 percent of drug overdose deaths in 2010, and now it accounts for 25 percent.

The center cites dropping prices and increasing potency for the rise in deaths.

Furthermore, experts said they believe the opioid epidemic caused by prescription painkillers may also be driving people to use heroin as the drug is usually much cheaper.

"You are 40 times more likely to use heroin if you started with opioid painkillers," Rich Hamburg, the executive vice president for the non-profit Trust for America’s Health, said. "Heroin is part of America's larger drug abuse problem."

Death from overdosing on prescription painkillers like oxycodone actually fell over the period of the study, dropping from 29 percent of all overdose deaths in 2010 to 24 percent in 2015.

Overdose deaths from cocaine also fell, albeit slightly, the study said.

The states with the highest rates of overdose deaths in 2015 were West Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky and Ohio, the study found.

Overdose deaths increased for all age groups, but rose the most among those 55 to 64, the study said.

Library of Congress chief
wants better access for public

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

As riots convulsed the city of Baltimore, Maryland, in 2015, Carla Hayden kept a library in the heart of the chaos open. She says people in the neighborhood lined up outside the library to get in, even as a drugstore across the street was being looted and burned.

“The people did not touch the library, because it was the resource center in that community,” Ms. Hayden said. “It’s beloved. It is protected. It is the place of hope in a community that needs hope.”

One year later, President Barack Obama elevated Ms. Hayden from her post as head of Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library to take charge of the Library of Congress, which was established more than 200 years ago as the research arm for congressional officials.

Ms. Hayden has made history as the Library’s first woman director as well as the first African-American. And unlike the mostly politicians or academics who came before her, she is a professional librarian.

She took over an institution that has been criticized, in recent years, for mismanagement, a lack of leadership, and falling behind in technological advances.

Ms. Hayden’s focus is on upgrading the library’s technology to make the eclectic mix of 160 million items, from books and photos to sheet music and maps, even baseball cards, available to people everywhere.

“I want the Library of Congress to open its arms to people around the world, to let people know it is available to them,” said Ms. Hayden, who colleagues say is warm and determined.

Considered America’s library, the Library of Congress contains more than 30 million books and print materials from around the world in more than 450 languages. It houses a 1400s Gutenberg Bible, and owns the world’s largest comic book collection.

While the public can view materials in reading rooms, they cannot check them out. Because the materials can’t be checked out, Ms. Hayden wants to make the library materials, especially those online, more accessible and interactive by using the latest technologies.

“We have things on our website that bring the collections to people wherever they are,” she said. “They can download materials, and participate in a 3-D virtual reality tour of the library.”

Ms. Hayden sees herself as getting on the train that had already been started in the 1990s, when the library first began digitizing its items. She is now developing a digital strategy to significantly increase the amount of online content.

She says the volume of items the library receives is enormous, with at least 10,000 items added to the collections every day of the workweek.

During an interview, Ms. Hayden, who is 64-years old, held her favorite book, “Bright April,” which she recalls checking out of a library when she was about 8. It’s about a young African-American girl who is a Brownie, a younger level of a Girl Scout, and experiences racial prejudice.

Ms. Hayden says she identified with the moral of the story: that even though people are different on the outside, they are the same on the inside.

Her love for that book, and many others, propelled Ms. Hayden to become a children’s librarian. She also became chief librarian for Chicago’s public library and the president of the American Library Association. By working in libraries with diverse patrons, she learned that it’s important to “recognize the cultural heritage of the neighborhoods.”

Besides increasing online services, Ms. Hayden wants to make Library of Congress materials available through traveling exhibits, especially beyond city limits.

“The library is working on re-establishing a mobile service, taking an 18-wheeler truck and loading it up with facsimiles, sometimes with electronic information and devices, to help people connect with the Library of Congress directly,” she said.

Ms. Hayden has a proven record of expanding outreach programs and technology in libraries.

More than 20 years ago, she paved the way for Baltimore’s public library system to become the first in Maryland to provide internet access.

Now she wants to ensure that millions of items in the world’s biggest library are accessible to everyone.

NASA considers launching
first manned crew to Mars

By the National Aeronautics and Space Administration press staff

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is assessing the feasibility of adding a crew to the first integrated flight of the agency’s Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket and Orion spacecraft, Exploration Mission-1. NASA is building new deep space capabilities to take humans farther into the solar system than we have ever traveled, and ultimately to Mars.

Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot announced on Feb. 15 that he had asked William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate in Washington, to conduct the study, and it is now underway. NASA expects it to be completed in early spring.

The assessment will review the technical feasibility, risks, benefits, additional work required, resources needed and any associated schedule impacts to add crew to the first mission.

“Our priority is to ensure the safe and effective execution of all our planned exploration missions with the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket,” said Gerstenmaier. “This is an assessment and not a decision as the primary mission for EM-1 remains an un-crewed flight test.”

The assessment is evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of this concept with regards to short and long-term goals of achieving deep space exploration capabilities for the nation. It will assume launching two crew members in mid-2019, and consider adjustments to the current Exploration Mission-1 mission profile.

During the first mission of Space Launch System and Orion, NASA plans to send the spacecraft into a distant lunar retrograde orbit, which will require additional propulsion moves, a flyby of the moon and return trajectory burns. The mission is planned as a challenging trajectory to test maneuvers and the environment of space expected on future missions to deep space.

If the agency decides to put crew on the first flight, the mission profile for Exploration Mission-2 would likely replace it, which is an approximately eight-day mission with a multi-translunar injection with a free return trajectory.

NASA is investigating hardware changes associated with the system that will be needed if crew are to be added to Exploration Mission-1. As a starting condition, NASA would maintain the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion stage for the first flight. The agency will also consider moving up the ascent abort test for Orion before the mission.

Regardless of the outcome for the study, the feasibility assessment does not conflict with NASA’s ongoing work schedules for the first two missions. Hardware for the first flight has already started arriving at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the missions will launch from the agency’s historic Pad 39B.

NASA recently completed the installation of the final topmost level in the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy, completing the 10 levels of work platforms, 20 platform halves altogether, that will surround the rocket and the Orion spacecraft and allow access during processing for missions. In the last month, major construction was completed on the largest new SLS structural test stand, and engineers are now installing equipment needed to test the rocket’s biggest fuel tank.

The stand is critical for ensuring SLS’s liquid hydrogen tank can withstand the extreme forces of launch and ascent on its first flight. In a lab at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, engineers simulated conditions that astronauts in spacesuits would experience when the Orion spacecraft is vibrating during launch on its way to deep space destinations to assess how well the crew can interact with the displays and controls they will use to monitor Orion’s systems and operate the spacecraft when necessary.

NASA is leveraging the very best the country has to offer on its deep space exploration plans, and it’s advancing the national economy. The Space Launch System and Orion missions, coupled with record levels of private investment in space, will help put the agency and America in a position to unlock the mysteries of space and to ensure this nation’s world preeminence in exploring the cosmos.

GOP continues the work
on repeal/replace health plan

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Republicans in the U.S. Congress are working to overhaul the nation's health care laws in their effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, considered by some to be one of former President Barack Obama's most significant legislative achievements.

U.S. media outlets reported details Friday of potential replacements for the health care law, frequently referred to as Obamacare. The details were obtained from draft legislation circulating among lobbyists and congressional staff.

One proposal would cap the amount of money the federal government gives to states for Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor, which was expanded under Obama. The Washington Post reported that another idea gaining traction would allow those who gained access to Medicaid when the program was expanded to keep their benefits, while additional enrollees would be excluded.

The Republicans' draft would end income-based tax subsidies to help individuals purchase health insurance. It also calls for tax credits of up to $4,000 for people 60 years or older, but would allow insurers to increase the rates they charge older people.

Republican governors from seven states want Medicaid to change from an open-ended federal entitlement to a program designed by each state, within a financial limit. Ohio Gov. John Kasich leads the group, which is said to be concerned that a new law could shift high health care costs from Washington to the states.

Public opinion surveys indicate a broad majority of Americans oppose repealing the health care law unless lawmakers can come up with an acceptable substitute plan.

President Donald Trump, along with many Republicans in Congress, campaigned on a pledge to repeal Obamacare, but the party's lawmakers have since faced complaints that simply abandoning Obamacare would leave millions of Americans without any protection against high-cost medical emergencies. Republicans say they expect to decide on a replacement for the present law in the coming weeks.

Vice President Mike Pence, painting the legislative situation in dramatic terms, said Friday that America's Obamacare nightmare is about to end.

"President Trump and I want every American to have access to quality and affordable health insurance," Pence said, "which is why we're designing a better law that lowers the cost of health insurance without growing the size of government." He did not, however, give details of the better law.

Congressional committees are still working on the new bills under consideration, and the proposals will still face a period of debate in the full Congress.

Democratic lawmakers argue the existing law has helped slow the rise in Americans' health care spending and brought coverage to the poor. They also note the current plan guarantees insurance for people with long-standing health problems, to whom insurers often had denied coverage in the past.

Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, when they had majority control of both houses of Congress. Republicans have opposed the law since its passage, and they tried more than 50 times unsuccessfully to repeal it during the Obama administration.

Trump's party argues that prices are too high for Affordable Care Act insurance coverage, and that individual states should have more control than the federal government over the issue.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 41
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A.M. Costa Rica/Victoria Torley
This is the slump just up our road that prompted this column. It’s why you need vetiver and deep rooting trees.

Find those plants to hold the slope

Take a look at that hillside, that slope, that beautiful building lot? Can you say, “Oops”?

“Oops” is what you often get in the rainy season, unless, of course, your land is beautifully flat or only at a 10-degree slope. “Oops” is what you get
Victoria Torley
when you buy a lot to build on later and forget that we have a lot of rain. But, with a little foresight, a little preparation, you can buy a hilly lot with a great view and keep it from washing downhill before you are ready to build. All you need is a plan and some plants.

The first thing to plant is vetiver

grass. It’s widely available, it’s easy to plant, and, if you plant at the start of the rainy season, it will put down 2 or 3 meters of roots by the following year. Plant a lot of it in contours about a meter apart. Yes, it’s a lot of planting, but vetiver is not usually expensive (in fact you can dig some of mine up for free if you are in the neighborhood). Vetiver alone will go a long way to easing the problem of slope slump but there are some other things to plant along with it.

I asked my buddy, Brennan, at Cocobolo Tree Farm what he suggests as trees for hillside lots, and he had some great recommendations depending on where you live. All of the following suggestions are deep rooting and moderate to fast growers (moderate = 0.75 to 1.5 meters a year, fast = over 1.5 meters a year and usually over 2 meters a year).
His first suggestion for those at 600 meters and below on the Pacific slope was the Guanacaste tree (Enterolobium cyclocarpum) a moderately fast growing tree that can reach 35 meters in height – over 110 feet. It makes a huge canopy and is great as a shade tree.

Next comes the raintree or cenízero (Samanea saman) which is also a moderate grower reaching 30 meters. It is also a Pacific slope tree with best growth shown at below 300 meters, but the raintree can be grown at altitudes of 1200 meters. The canopy of the raintree can reach 32 meters, a huge area of shade.

For a fast growing tree, there is nothing like the neem tree (Azadirachta indica), which Brennan calls a very fast grower. The young tree needs some wind protection but once it is secure, it is amazing. Neem begin to fruit in 3-5 years and are fully productive in 10 years. Better yet, neem is not bothered by pH or soil type and will grow in clay. The only thing it dislikes is swampy soil. Neem will grow to 30 meters tall and can be grown at altitudes up to 1,000 meters.

The ficus elastic, or rubber tree, is the tallest of the fast growers and can reach 60 meters (although that takes a while). Because of the nature of its leaves, the ficus is less likely to be attacked by leaf cutter ants, which makes it a good addition to the yard.

Really need something shorter? Tecoma stans, or yellow trumpetbush, can be grown as a shrub (just keep cutting it back) or a small tree to 10 meters. This is a great shrub for attracting hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. It self-seeds so it can be invasive, or you can just share the new bushes with friends.

Honorable mention in the deep rooting category goes to madero negro (Gliricidia sepium), a common fence post source, that grows to 10 meters and the fruit tree jocote (Spondias mombin) which grows to 35 meters. Both are easily started from cuttings.

I hope that helps. We are going to plant a lot more vetiver in the next rainy season, and plan on neem, raintree (planted downhill so it won’t block the view), and trumpetbush. That should keep the slumping away.

If you would like to suggest a topic for this column, simply send a letter to the editor.  And, for more garden tips, visit HERE!
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From Page 7:

Microsoft says it will increase job slots here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Microsoft Corp. says it is adding 280 employees here for customer service and inside sales.

The new staffers will handle contacts with Central America, Ecuador, Perú and the Caribbean, the company said. Casa Presidencial welcomed the announcement.

The new jobs add to the estimated 46,000 spots dedicated to customers service, sales and other telecom call center operations now functioning in the country.