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Published Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, in Vol. 17, No. 42
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Montes de Oca unhappy with unwanted ad displays
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A conflict is brewing between the Municipalidad de Montes de Oca and the central government. The dispute illustrated the lack of power that local governments have in some cases.

Municipal officials are unhappy that the transport ministry gave permission to a private firm to place seven free-standing advertising displays on local sidewalks. The routes are those major roadways that are maintained by the central government.

The complaint came from Marcel Soler Rubio, the mayor of the municipality that includes San Pedro just east of San José Centro. He wrote to managers at the Ministerio de Obras Pública y Transportes. He said that the municipality never was consulted about the request for permits or any decision to place the displays.

The mayor said in a letter that the displays obstruct half the sidewalk. He criticized the central government agency for putting the interests of a private firm, the owner of the advertising displays, ahead of the interests of pedestrians. He identified the private firm involved as Vallas y Gigantografías de Costa Rica S.A.

street dispaly
Municipalidad de Montes de Oca photo  
 This is one of the new street display stands,
 which colloquially are called mupis.

The displays are the same as those found on the Avenida Central pedestrian walkway in the capital.

The mayor also requested a list of similar permits issued for the Montes de Oca municipality.

Canadian teen held for dealing synthetic drugs
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police arrested at least four minors these past two days for varying offenses including theft and drug dealing.

Police arrested a 15-year old Canadian minor for possession of illegal drugs and reported that the minor was dealing in an area frequented by tourists at Playa Hermosa de Uvita in Bahía Ballena de Osa.

Police said that the Canadian national carried pouches of marijuana and cocaine as well as crystals of a synthetic drug colloquially known as molly. The Fuerza Pública maintained patrols at various points in that part of the south Pacific coast this past weekend. Police said there was a meeting of young people from different countries.

Police reported that the minor was transferred to the juvenile criminal system.

In another case, police officers in Desamparados responded to a call Monday morning of three minors and two adults accused of stealing from a bakery located in San Rafael Arriba.

The suspects were spotted a few blocks away from the bakery riding in a vehicle.

The Fuerza Pública said officers tailed the car until it stopped at a house in the San Miguel section of Desamparados, and the individuals entered, according to a report. After several minutes of standoff, the police said that the subjects voluntarily surrendered to authorities.
The detained persons were three minors, a woman, and a male, 18.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 42
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Electronic monitoring of prisoners begins

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The project is just the beginning, but for now 16 police officers and seven professionals are monitoring eight persons who have been ordered to house detention. The professionals include lawyers, social workers and psychologists.

The eight individuals, seven men and a woman, are the first to be monitored electronically. Five were fitted with ankle monitors last week and three more Monday.

This is the start of the program that finally was authorized by law and regulations. Judges have the option of ordering house detention for individuals before and after conviction.

The Ministerio de Justicia y Paz has an agreement with the Empresa de Servicios Públicos de Heredia for the monitoring. The ministry plans to use 270 electronic devices and an initial investment of 860 million colons, about $1.55 million.

The ankle device transmits a signal to a satellite that is then monitored here by the Policía Penitenciaria.

Those who are permitted to be detained at home are those with a criminal sentence of six years or less for a non-violent crime. The devices also are expected to be used for pretrial detention in some cases due to the crowded condition of the nation's prisons.

Our reader's opinion
Sugar cane industry promotes pollution

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Every morning as I look out into the valley that runs past my house, I think of all the propaganda that has been around for years, ie. how environmentally friendly and clean Costa Rica is.  My wife and I live in Rincón de Salas de Grecia, sugarcane country.  Two major problems exist here: 1.) the burning of cane fields during harvest season which makes the air we breath absolutely filthy and 2.) the pollution from the primitive cane producing plant which we live relatively close to.

This pollution is not imaginary.  And, it exists both outside and inside the house.  We can clean our kitchen counters and tables in the evening and the following morning wipe them again, and the cloth will be black with a fine soot.   We breath this pollution 24 hours per day.  We have to keep doors and windows closed most of the time in an attempt to make the air we breath more tolerable.  I stepped outside one evening this past week while a huge cane fire was burning and started coughing and gagging which continued for 15 minutes after I re-entered the house.   Both my wife and I also deal with burning, watering eyes daily during the harvest season.

I mentioned the valley earlier and why it makes me think of the propaganda.   Most mornings the smoke is so dense in the valley that it is difficult to see the trees lining the valley.   The massive amount of smoke that pours from the smoke stacks of the processing plant is doubtful to be conducive to good health.

For those of you who read this and say "Go back to your own country if you don't like this," let me mention that my wife IS in her own country (she's a Tica) and these absolutely filthy, dirty processes bother her even more than me.

Ministerio de Salud: Do you listen? Are you listening? Do you care?

Thomas J Rupprecht
and Amelia Gardela
Rincón de Salas de Grecia

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 42
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Raising clowning to the level of an art form requires being wacky
By Conor Golden
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is more to being a clown than just wearing the makeup and putting a smile on one’s face. The art of being a clown is an expression of self-made relaxation, at least that is the goal for the clown seminars sponsored by the Asociación Cultural Arte y Circo.

“Being a clown is all about the present and being in the moment of time during the performance,” said Fernando
Fernando D’Amico
D’Amico, the Argentine instructor for the seminars.

D’Amico has been performing as a clown for six years. He attended the Instituto Nacional de las Artes in Argentina with a focus on stage direction. Prior to that, he had studied film and photography before focusing on clown performance.

Within a warmly lit, hardwood floor room dedicated to the use for performing arts activities, the seminars offer an eclectic mix of breathing and

stretching exercises to loosen participants up. Brightly-colored curtains ring the center column of the building in perhaps a feigned imitation of a circus pole. An acrobatic swing is attached from the roof beams. All of this is to get the participants ready for the warm-ups often used in theater and the actual performing art itself.

However, it cannot be truly comedic or in the style of the clown if these are not fun. D’Amico encourages the troupe-in-training to find one’s inner child and to bring one’s body into a pure state, he said. In fact, that is what being a clown is all about. It is not the stiff and haughty acting as seen in some stage productions of the theater. The clown makes direct eye contact with the audience and the public, he said while instructing his students.

A.M. Costa Rica/Conor Golden
Clown candidates learn to act in a wacky but purposeful way.

The art of clown is fun and meant to be humorous. The participants are encouraged to feel comfortable with each other
as the exercises include walking in circles and doing wacky things such as introducing oneself in a dramatic, comical manner. One exercise includes a group imitation where one member leading the pack moves and motions around as the others imitate exactly what they do.

D’Amico even instructs right down to the motions of walking around. In a way, it can be said that he is teaching someone how to walk with a gangly, even clumsy gait. Meanwhile, participants are encouraged to smile or make dramatic facial expressions in the hopes of giving a few laughs to the would-be audience.

The clown lessons are held at the backroom of the Casa del Arcoiris close to Hospital Calderon Guardia in San José. Each seminar lasts from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and goes until March 2. The week-long seminar costs 20,000 colons.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 42
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Spectacular carved jade pendant raises more questions than answers
By the University of California-San Diego news staff

To say that archaeologist Geoffrey Braswell was surprised to discover a precious jewel in Nim Li Punit in southern Belize is something of an understatement.

“It was like finding the Hope Diamond in Peoria instead of New York,” said Braswell, who led the dig that uncovered a large piece of carved jade once belonging to an ancient Maya king. “We would expect something like it in one of the big cities of the Maya world. Instead, here it was, far from the center,” he said.

The jewel, a jade pendant worn on a king’s chest during key religious ceremonies, was first unearthed in 2015. It is now housed at the Central Bank of Belize, along with other national treasures. Braswell recently published a paper in the Cambridge University journal Ancient Mesoamerica detailing the jewel’s significance. A second paper, in the Journal of Field Archaeology, describes the excavations.

The pendant is remarkable for being the second largest Maya jade found in Belize to date, said Braswell, a professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California-San Diego. The pendant measures 7.4 inches wide, 4.1 inches high and just 0.3 inches thick. Sawing it into this thin, flat form with string, fat and jade dust would have been a technical feat. But what makes the pendant even more remarkable, Braswell said, is that it’s the only one known to be inscribed with a historical text. Carved into the pendant’s back are 30 hieroglyphs about its first owner.

“It literally speaks to us,” Braswell said. “The story it tells is a short but important one.” He believes it may even change what we know about the Maya.

The pendant was not torn out of history by looters, said Braswell. “To find it on a legal expedition, in context, gives us information about the site and the jewel that we couldn’t have otherwise had or maybe even imagined.”

Nim Li Punit, where the jade was found, is a small site in the Toledo District of Belize. It sits on a ridge in the Maya Mountains, near the contemporary village of Indian Creek. Eight different types of parrot fly overhead.

It rains nine months of the year.

On the southeastern edge of the ancient Maya zone (more than 250 miles south of Chichen Itza in Mexico, where similar but smaller breast pieces have been found), Nim Li Punit is estimated to have been inhabited between A.D. 150 and 850. The site’s name means big hat. It was dubbed that, after its rediscovery in 1976, for the elaborate headdress sported by one of its stone figures. Its ancient name might be Wakam or Kawam, but this is not certain.

Braswell, graduate students Maya Azarova and Mario Borrero, along with a crew of locals, were excavating a palace built around the year 400 when they found a collapsed, but intact, tomb. Inside the tomb, which dates to about A.D. 800, were 25 pottery vessels, a large stone that had been flaked into the shape of a deity and the precious jade pectoral.

Except for a couple of teeth, there were no human remains.

The pendant is in the shape of a T. Its front is carved with a T also. This is the Mayan glyph “ik’,” which stands for “wind and breath.” It was buried, Braswell said, in a curious,

University of California-San Diego photo
Geoffrey Braswell, holding a replica of the jade pendant, points to the site of  Nim Li Punit in Belize.

T-shaped platform. And one of the pots discovered with it, a vessel with a beaked face, probably depicts a Maya god of wind.

The most important aspect of the jewel, Braswell says, is a historical text of 30 hieroglyphs on its back, a private message seen mostly by the king who wore it.

Wind was seen as vital by the Maya. It brought annual monsoon rains that made the crops grow. And Maya kings, as divine rulers responsible for the weather, performed rituals according to their sacred calendar, burning and scattering incense to bring on the wind and life-giving rains. According to the inscription on its back, Braswell said, the pendant was first used in A.D. 672 in just such a ritual.

Two relief sculptures on large rock slabs at Nim Li Punit also corroborate that use. In both sculptures, a king is shown wearing the T-shaped pendant while scattering incense, in A.D. 721 and 731, some 50 and 60 years after the pendant was first worn.

By the year A.D. 800, the pendant was buried, not with its human owner, it seems, but just with other objects. Why? The pendant wasn’t a bauble, Braswell said, “it had immense power and magic.” Could it have been buried as a dedication to the wind god? That’s Braswell’s educated hunch.

Maya kingdoms were collapsing throughout Belize and Guatemala around A.D. 800, Braswell said. Population levels plummeted. Within a generation of the construction of the tomb, Nim Li Punit itself was abandoned.

“A recent theory is that climate change caused droughts that led to the widespread failure of agriculture and the collapse of Maya civilization,” Braswell said.

The inscription on the back of the pendant is perhaps the most intriguing thing about it, Braswell said. The text is still being analyzed by Braswell’s coauthor on the Ancient Mesoamerica paper, Christian Prager of the University of Bonn. And Mayan script itself is not yet fully deciphered or agreed upon.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 42
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Axiom new ad
Common bacteria raises hopes
of fighting dengue and zika

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

By using a common bacteria, scientists have figured out a way to potentially sterilize disease-carrying mosquitoes. That could make it possible to control the mosquito that spreads zika and dengue.

Wolbachia is a common bacteria that has the ability to infect up to 70 percent of the world's insect species.

It has evolved in different ways. Some insects even rely on it for their existence, but in others, it plays a parasitic role and can interfere with the viability of eggs.

Unfortunately, say experts, it doesn't infect many disease-carrying mosquitoes.

But researchers may have found a way to use Wolbachia's sterilizing power on mosquitos that carry dengue, and zika.

"It's kind of been the issue with the Wolbachia field is that all of the insects that are really, really medically relevant don't have their own Wolbachia infection,” said John Bechmann, an entomologist at Yale University in Connecticut.

“So that's one reason why this is such an important discovery . . .  One thing that limited the field is people have always tried to make these fake or non-natural infections that can infect these mosquitoes," said Bechmann. "Now we don't have to do that. We can just put the genes in."

Researchers at Yale and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee have discovered two genes in Wolbachia that might make Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that carries zika and dengue, sterile.

Experiments so far have been successfully performed in fruit flies, and researchers are optimistic that it will work in mosquitoes.

The scientists reported success in two strategies to stop the spread of zika and dengue.

One method was to flood the environment with male mosquitoes carrying Wolbachia. When infected males and uninfected females mate, Wolbachia kills any eggs the female is carrying.

The other approach that worked was introduce male and female mosquitoes, both infected with Wolbachia, into a mosquito population. Over time, the Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes replaced the zika- and dengue-infected mosquitoes by making them sterile.

Two companion articles on the Wolbachia gene discovery were published in the journals Nature and Nature Microbiology.

Bechmann says controlling these diseases may one day be as simple as breeding Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes in captivity then releasing into the wild.

"The problem has always been figuring out systems that work well in mosquitoes and this is one that's going to be great for that,” said Bechmann, who added that the technology also has the potential to work with Anopheles gambiae, the mosquito that carries malaria.

Bechmann and colleagues are in the process of trying to get funding to conduct the research in mosquitoes.

Because the mosquitoes are genetically modified, Bechmann says his biggest concern is overcoming regulatory hurdles to permit the release of altered, sterilized mosquitoes.

House committee chairman
declined going on witch hunt

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee said Monday he has seen no evidence of improper contacts between officials working on President Donald Trump's campaign for the White House and Russian agents and has no plans to expand an investigation already underway.

"We just cannot go on a witch hunt," Rep. Devin Nunes told reporters.

The Republican is leading one of three congressional probes into possible links between Trump and Russians, but has balked at calls for a wider investigation.

However, the top Democrat on the intelligence panel, Rep. Adam Schiff, later said no conclusions have been reached yet on whether Trump aides had contact with Russian officials during last year's presidential campaign.

Lawmakers in both the Senate and House of Representatives are looking at details of findings by the U.S. intelligence community that Russia meddled in the U.S. presidential election in an effort to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of State.

American intelligence officials concluded that Russia hacked into the computer of Mrs. Clinton's campaign chief with the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks later releasing thousands of emails showing embarrassing behind-the-scenes efforts by Democratic operatives to help Clinton win the Democratic presidential nomination. Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, denied that the information came from the Russian government.

Before he was inaugurated as the country's 45th president, Trump reluctantly accepted the finding that Russian President Vladimir Putin interfered with the election, but says he knows of no contacts between his campaign aides and Russian intelligence officials.

Billionaire Ross easily wins
confirmation for Commerce

 By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross easily won confirmation as U.S. Commerce secretary Monday, clearing President Donald Trump's top trade official to start work on renegotiating trade relationships with China and Mexico.

The U.S. Senate voted 72-27 to confirm the 79-year-old corporate turnaround expert's nomination, with strong support from Democrats.

Ross is set to become an influential voice in Trump's economic team after helping shape the president's opposition to multilateral free trade deals such as the now-scrapped Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Ross drew votes from 19 Democrats and one independent, partly because of an endorsement from the United Steelworkers union for his efforts in restructuring bankrupt steel companies in the early 2000s, which saved numerous plants and thousands of jobs.

Ross was criticized by some Democrats as another billionaire in a Trump cabinet that says it is focused on the working class, and for being a vulture investor who has eliminated some jobs.

Reuters reported last month that Ross's companies had shipped some 2,700 jobs overseas since 2004.

The investor will oversee a sprawling agency with nearly 44,000 employees responsible for combating the dumping of imports below cost into U.S. markets, collecting census and critical economic data, weather forecasting, fisheries management, promoting the United States to foreign investors and regulating the export of sensitive technologies.

While commerce secretaries rarely take the spotlight in Washington, Ross is expected to play an outsize role in pursuing Trump's campaign pledge to slash U.S. trade deficits and bring manufacturing jobs back to America.

Trump has designated Ross to lead the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada, a job that in past administrations would have been left to the U.S. Trade Representative's office.

Ross will join other major players on the economic team, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, director of the White House National Economic Council.

Some experts said Ross could serve as a counterweight to advisers such as Peter Navarro, the University of California-Irvine economics professor who heads Trump's newly created White House National Trade Council. Navarro has advocated a controversial 45 percent across-the-board tariff on imports from China that Trump threatened during his campaign.

"I expect that Ross will quickly become the administration's chief trade spokesman, and that Navarro's influence will be felt indirectly, rather than through public statements or testimony," said Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow and trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

At his confirmation hearing, Ross downplayed chances of a trade war with China, while calling it the most protectionist large economy. He vowed to level the playing field for U.S. companies competing with Chinese imports and those trying to do business in China's highly restricted economy.

Ross, estimated by Forbes to be worth $2.9 billion, built his fortune in the late 1990s and early 2000s by investing in distressed companies in steel, coal, textiles and auto parts, restructuring them and often benefiting from tariff protections put in place by the Commerce Department.

Another flood ravages Chile
with dead and seven missing

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Three people are reported dead and at least seven others missing after heavy rains in Chile.

The rains during the country’s usually dry summer caused rivers to overflow their banks in areas near the capital, Santiago, isolating about 3,400 people, authorities said late Sunday. Cases of mudslides and water outages were also reported in the South American nation.

The drinking water supply for more than a million households in Santiago has been affected, the water supply company for the capital said as rains were making repairs difficult.

In the O'Higgins region south of Santiago, a 12-year-old girl died when a landslide swept away the car in which she was traveling.

Emergency crews had to clear roads of debris in the San José de Maipo valley, directly above the city, before residents could evacuate.

It was the second major flooding event to hit central Chile in the past year.

World Health issues request
for antibiotics against threats

 By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The World Health Organization is calling for the urgent development of new antibiotics to fight growing bacterial resistance. For the first time, the U.N. agency has drawn up a list of 12 families of bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health.

The list is divided into three categories according to the urgency of need for new antibiotics. However, one of the scariest so-called super bugs is not on that list, according to Marie-Paule Kieny, assistant director-general for health systems and innovation.

"The bacteria responsible for tuberculosis was not included in this exercise, as there is already consensus that tuberculosis is the most important priority for new antibiotics," she said.

The three categories are tagged as critical, high and medium priority. The critical group includes multidrug-resistant bacteria. These are widespread in hospitals, nursing homes and among patients on ventilators and blood catheters. World Health says the bacteria can cause severe and often deadly infections.

The high- and medium-priority categories contain drug-resistant bacteria that cause more common diseases such as gonorrhea and food poisoning triggered by salmonella, Ms. Kieny says.

"Today, just when resistance to antibiotics is reaching alarming proportions, the pipeline is practically dry," she said. "The problem is clearly one of scientific nature, as new antibiotics are becoming more difficult to discover. But low market incentive is also an issue. Antibiotics are generally used for the short term, unlike therapies for chronic diseases, which bring in much higher returns on investment."

Ms. Kieny says a proposal has been made to establish a $2 billion innovation fund. This would act as an incentive for pharmaceutical companies to kick-start research and development into new antibiotics.

Wendy's will put in kiosks
to take customer's orders

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

In an effort to save on labor costs and increase efficiency, fast-food chain Wendy’s will install self-ordering kiosks in about 1,000 of its locations in the United States.

According to David Trimm, a spokesman for the Ohio-based company, franchises that want the kiosks will, on average, install three of them, the Columbus Dispatch newspaper reported.

"They are looking to improve their automation and their labor costs, and this is a good way to do it," said Darren Tristano, vice president with Technomic, a food-service research and consulting firm in an interview with the Columbus Dispatch. "They are also trying to enhance the customer experience. Younger customers prefer to use a kiosk."

The company says it will see a return on the investment in kiosks within two years.

The company said the kiosks could help ease crowding during peak demand. For those who prefer ordering from a human, there will still be staff available to take orders.

The kiosks have already been tested at Wendy’s stores in central Ohio.

Wendy’s is not the first retailer to explore self-ordering kiosks, as convenience store Wawa rolled them out in 2012.

The longevity of the kiosks, however, is unclear. Tristano says they may find themselves out of a job as ordering and payment move to smartphones.

The prospect of machines putting humans out of work is a controversial topic. The French presidential candidate from the Socialist Party has suggested a tax on machines that put humans out of work.

That idea has found support from Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft.

Ex-teacher is given 190 years
for overseas child sex crimes

 By the U.S. Department of Justice news staff

A one-time school teacher who traveled to The Philippines to engage in sex with two girls and produced videos of the abuse was ordered Monday to serve 190 years in federal prison.

The man, Robert Ruben Ornelas, 66, of Santa Ana, who has a long history of abusing children, received the 2,280-month sentence from U. S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney.

During Monday’s hearing, Judge Carney said Ornelas molested children in a cruel manner and the defendant demonstrated a complete disregard for his victims’ humanity.

Ornelas was found guilty in November by a federal jury of seven counts, two counts of engaging in sexual conduct in a foreign place, three counts of producing child pornography, and two counts of possessing child pornography.

The evidence presented during a six-day trial showed that Ornelas traveled to the Philippines on multiple occasions. He was convicted in relation to three specific trips, in 2006, 2008 and 2012, where he sexually assaulted two girls who were as young as approximately 8. During all three trips, Ornelas took videos of the molestation and brought the images with him when he returned to the U.S.

The two victims traveled to the United States to testify during the trial about the sexual assaults, and made statements at Monday’s hearing. One of the victims said: “Why did I meet this person? He destroyed my dreams.”

“Today’s sentence ensures life imprisonment for this predator whose history of abusing minors began a half-century ago,” said U. S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “For seven years, this defendant repeatedly traveled to the Philippines, where he paid family members for sexual access to little girls who were living in poverty. The defendant claimed to be an attorney and promised to help the victims by funding their educations, but he brought trauma and anguish to their lives for which no amount of money could compensate.”

The investigation into Ornelas began in 2013 when federal authorities received a tip that he possessed a large quantity of child pornography. During the execution of a search warrant, investigators found images, videos and information on Ornelas’ computer and digital media.

In sentencing papers filed with the court, prosecutors pointed out that Ornelas’ history of sexually abusing minors extended back to the 1960s.

“This sentence should serve as a powerful deterrent to child predators who mistakenly believe the internet and a plane ticket will enable them to indulge their perverse desires with impunity,” said Joseph Macias, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Los Angeles. “HSI will continue to work closely with its law enforcement partners here in the U.S. and around the world to hold these dangerous sexual predators accountable for their actions. There can be no place for the abuse of foreign children by our citizens.”

“Defendant Ornelas took advantage of impoverished children in a foreign country, away from the scrutiny of the United States, where his past involved abusing children,” said Deirdre Fike, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office. “His young victims demonstrated tremendous bravery by traveling to a foreign country to testify about the crimes perpetrated against them, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for assisting the government in putting Ornelas away for the rest of his life.”

Drone strike kills top terrorist
involved with 9/11 attacks

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A drone attack in northern Syria, part of a series of recent strikes by the United States in and around the province of Idlib, killed a top al-Qaida leader who had participated in the planning for the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.

Several hours after the drone strike Sunday, jihadists confirmed on several websites the death of Abu al-Khayr al-Masri, who was appointed a deputy leader of the terror group last year.

A close confidante of al-Qaida's emir Ayman al-Zawahiri, a fellow Egyptian, as well as the husband of one of Osama bin Laden's daughters, the 59-year-old al-Masri was killed by a missile that struck a small car in which he was traveling. U.S. officials have confirmed the strike, but won't say who was being targeted.

Video posted online by jihadists showed a four-door Kia sedan destroyed by the roadside. There was a large hole in its roof.

The news of his death was first reported by analyst Charles Lister, author of the book "The Syrian Jihad." He described the death as big news, pointing out that the dead jihadist was a member of the terror group's secretive Shura Council since its formation in the late 1980s.

"Abu al-Khayr al-Masri was jihadi royalty of the highest pedigree," Lister said. "Abu al-Khayr personally hosted the meeting in which al-Qaida planned the 9/11 attacks.

"His arrival in Syria in mid-2015 heralded al-Qaida central leadership's pivot to Syria as its key global safe haven," Lister said.

Real estate-related services (paid category)

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                                      Tamarindo 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 Costa Rica properties, including condos, homes, lots and & commercial real estate. Twelve (12) agents to serve you, from Playa Marbella to Playa Dante in the Guanacaste, through our Tamarindo and Flamingo offices. For more information, please contact our local phones: 506-2653-0073 Tamarindo / 506-2201-9056 Flamingo ~ Toll Free: 1-866-976-8898 or email:  or click here

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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!
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Beautiful farm in excellent location
At only an hour's drive from San José, minutes from Guápiles, and boardering Braulio Carrillo National Park, Etlingera Farms is one heck of an amazing farm. We purchased this 77-acre farm 10 years ago after many trips, and an exhaustive search. It has a little bit of everything we were looking for and a whole lot of beauty. Our average elevation of 600 meters helps to keep Bella Vista cool year round. This farm is nearly level with a semi-modern 2-bedroom house. A fairly rustic 2-bedroom caretaker's home. And, a comfortable, 1-bedroom cabin where we stay. We have 2 large barns, a chicken coop, and a 3-stall pig pen. There are two tilapia ponds and 2 hectarias, (approximately 5 acres) of different species of bananas. The property boarders Rio Blanco in the rear and has 300 meters of public road frontage. Water, electricity, and telephone are all serviced by public utility. Etlingera Farms was reforested with several thousand wood trees of different tropical varieties. We truly believe this farm is spectacular. Our neighbors are selling for as much as $20 per meter. We are negotiable, motivated and open to offers. Our location can be found by searching Etlingera Farms on Google Maps. Our webpage is and photo album can be found at

                                      ranch rollover
Spectacular Horse Ranch and Spiritual/Yoga
Retreat Center For Sale

We invite you to a horseback tour of 187 acres of pristine farm land with breathtaking vistas, including the islands of the Gulf of Nicoya. There are multiple springs and streams, wooded areas, hard-wood and fruit trees, rolling hills with a geat variety of birds and wildlife. This property boasts the privilege of being bordered by thousands of acres of forest preserve down a steep canyon, offering its own spectacular views, which will never be developed. The many hills provide a builder an endless array of possibilities for nestling buildings in where they will have both views and privacy. The elevation of the property at 1,200 to1600 feet above sea level ensures fresh breezes and ideal year-round temperatures with a day-time average in the low 80's for open-air living. There is a ranch-style house with guest house with 8 total bedrooms, 5 modern baths, huge eat-in kitchen, landmark palm-thatched giant rancho, stable, and storage buildings. The home will come partially furnished, including beds, ample dishware for large groups, housewares, linens, washer/dryer, and fine hard-wood hand-built cabinetry. The remaining horses, 4 to 6 of them, will also convey if one wishes. We are also including a LARGE BEACH LOT in nearby Playa Bejuco. San Rafael de Nandayure is a tiny rural village nestled into the mountainside above Carmona with all the charms of the simple good life of a BLUE ZONE. Carmona is a thriving town with a clinic, restaurfants, shopping, and everything else one may need.  More information
go to  Call Darin Ricco, phone +619-846-8249 or email:


Situated 3 miles west of the capital, 8 miles from the airport. Quiet, secluded area within walking distance to a commercial center including a hotel, 6 restaurants,  next to 2 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, 2 bedrooms, maid's room, 2 bathrooms, 4 closets  (including walk in), fully equipped kitchen (refrigerator, washing machine,small appliances, all necessary utensils, work tools). Close covered parking space in guarded area.  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.
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 Available for viewing:   CONTACT:  USA :  (585) 969-3413 or (585) 266-7418 or in COSTA RICA : (506) 2231-0410.   email:

Owner Financing in San Ramon
New Construction, and Ocean View 
Brand new home with 4-plus bedrooms and 3 baths all overlooking an incredible 180-degree view of the Pacific Ocean and mountains. Located only 45 minutes from the San Jose airport and about the same to the Pacific Ocean.  The lower level could be used as a separate apartment or mother-in-law setup. Home includes HUGE master  suite, CLOSETS, custom cabinets, granite counter tops, high wood ceilings, and all in an area that is 70-80 degrees year round. Priced at $199,000. Completion date is January.  See the Virtual Tour CLICK HERE or see our site here If you would like to take a look at this amazing house, please give me a call at  Costa Rica # 506-8755-6743 or if from the States call # 509-570-1928 or email 

San Rmon
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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Penthouse rollover
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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Several profitable businesses, including a regional radio station, are for sale in Costa Rica. Certain purchases can provide the new owner with residency as well as a great lifestyle. So live your dream while making a profit. Contact:

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 42
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road work
Consejo Nacional de Vialidad photo
Crews are at work widening the western approach to the bridge.

Fragile road network promotes jams

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The downtown traffic network is so fragile that a slight tap between a bus and a sports utility vehicle can cause chaos. That is what happened Monday when the minor mishap took place on Avenida 7 at Calle 23 opposite the Antigua Aduana.

The slight impact bent about 18 inches of metal on the door of the bus. That was enough for both vehicles to remain for hours awaiting the arrival of traffic police. The two-lane, one-way street was blocked.

Although new rules allow motorists involved in a minor mishap with no injuries to exchange information, most still prefer to await the arrival of traffic police.

What was unusual about this accident is that Avenida 7 is the main route to the emergency room of Hospital Calderón Guardia. Absent any police presence, hospital workers were at key corners directing traffic to other streets to keep the emergency route open.

Naturally the ensuing jam covered blocks of downtown streets.

Motorists are getting use to being stalled in traffic for hours. The restrictions on the General Cañas Río Virilla bridge has been an economic disaster for those who need to use it. During rush hours, only buses, motorcycles and emergency vehicles are allowed to use the two lanes that remain open. That means other motorists have to take the Heredia or Caldera highway detours.

The Heredia route resembles a parking lot at these times. Traffic sometimes takes a half hour to move 1,000 yards.

Work continues on the bridge. The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad said Monday that the western approach to the bridge would be closed that night until 4 a.m. today. The reason is not work on the bridge but widening the highway approach to what soon will be three eastbound lanes. Crews were to be widening the 200 meters before the bridge entrance.

Grupo ICE is taking the traffic situation in stride. The state telecom company said Monday that hours for 2,490 workers have been changed to reduce congestion and that 419 workers in Heredia and Alajuela are telecommuting from their homes until the bridge is back into full service. In addition, vacations are being encouraged.

Once the eastbound lanes of the bridge are finished, the westbound lanes will be closed for a repeat of the current situation.

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From Page 7:

Trucker protests brings police actions and tickets

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A protest by tractor-trailer drivers lingered on Monday night with trucks still parked on the Cicunvalación in Zapote.

The Zapote site was one of two that the drivers chose to vent their unhappiness over what they say is their economic uncertainty due to unfair competition by drivers from other Central American countries.

Basically, the drivers want the government to take action to keep foreign drivers from hauling local loads. Many do after they deliver international shipments here, and current rules say they can do so for six months.

The protesting drivers are members of the Sindicato de Traileros, which is associated with the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados.

The protest began with 15 truckers using their rigs to block the facilities at the Paso Canoas southern border crossing around 6 a.m. The Ministerio de Seguridad Pública said that after eight hours police officers began to move the trucks out of the way because in some cases they were unable to locate the owners. Prosecutors were initiating criminal charges, the government reported.

In Zapote, the central government said that truckers who were improperly parked were given traffic tickets.

The government contends that the bulk of the trucking industry does not agree with the demands of this organization.