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Published Thursday, March 9, 2017, in Vol. 17, No. 49
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Over 300 marched for International Women's Day
protester marcher
A.M. Costa Rica photo/Lucia Carro      
Andrea Hidalgo holds up her sign in solidarity with Wednesday's International Women's Day march in San José.
A.M. Costa Rica photo/Rommel Téllez
Vanessa Villafranca uses her back for an anti-machismo message close
to Parque Central, where the march began.

Sexual harassment bill calls for harsher penalties
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A proposed law to ban sexual harassment on the streets also would prohibit taking photos or videos of someone without their consent.

Another story HERE!

That stipulation seems to have come from the case of a man ridiculed in the social media for making videos with his cellphone of the rear of a woman walking on the pedestrian walkway in downtown San José. He was himself caught on video.

What the proposal says appears to be much broader and might even prohibit news photos and videos. The text of the proposed bill, No. 20.299, is not yet available.

Some 20 lawmakers sponsored the bill when it was presented Tuesday on the eve of International Women’s Day.

The bill also establishes prison terms of from
six to 10 years for those who whistle, make
vulgar gestures or catcalls or make negative or positive comments about a passerby.

The bill seems to include prohibitions that have been listed in previous bills that have not passed yet. But the penalties are stronger.
Specifically prohibited, too, is for someone to shove their groin against another person.

A main sponsor, lawmaker Karla Prendas Matarrita, said that both sexes face sexual harassment but that women are the more common victims.

She also said that those under 15 are the most vulnerable. She is head of the legislative Comisión Permanente Especial de la Mujer

The bill covers actions in the public streets, including exhibitionism and what is called insinuations. The victim could make a written or oral complaint. 

The brief summary of the bill provided by the legislative staff does not say which actions would draw which penalties.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, March 9, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 49
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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.

Dental Services
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Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo       
This furry critter is an unusual sight to wash up on Costa Rica.

Sea lion makes surprise visit to Garabito

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The unexpected visit of a sea lion surprised local authorities in the district of Garabito, Puntarenas. The chubby tourist arrived to Playa Agujas Wednesday afternoon. Once he was placed into safety, the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal didn't allow bystanders to touch the animal, since it could harm it or make it sick. Afterwards, it was returned to the sea to let him continue his journey.

Officers from Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas believe that he could have ended up here as a result of being dragged by cold tides.

It is unusual for this species to show up in tropical places like Costa Rica and even stranger is the fact that it arrived by itself. According to the World Wildlife Fund website, sea lions hang out in large colonies around rocky shores in colder waters. 

Guatemalans detained for cash-carrying

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two Guatemalan women have been sent to a preventive detention center for three month after being caught carrying around $19,400 at Juan Santamaría International Airport.

The women stashed their cash in the pockets of several pairs of shorts and blouses. However each of them carried less than $10,000, which is the maximum amount a person may enter the country without declaring it.  This is part of what authorities call dinero hormiga, or ant money in English, according to Randall Gonzáles, the prosecutor in charge of the case.

“These are criminal networks who use mostly Mexican and Guatemalan people to move money across countries. They send them with reasonable amounts of money hoping that they will pass any check up.” he said.

Though each of them had a legal amount of cash, both were interrogated by the Policía de Control de Drogas due to alleged signs of nervousness and contradictory explanations about their reasons to enter the country.

“They were together and then claimed they didn't know each other. Their plane tickets were bought at the same travel agency the same day and they were supposed to stay only two days in the country. Finally, one of them said that she had been threatened to come to the country,” Gonzáles explained.

According to Gonzáles, trained dogs also detected traces of drugs both on the women's clothing and the money itself. “The amount of money each one carried was not as important as other elements that made them suspicious. This is happening constantly. Just last week two other Guatemalan girls were incarcerated for the same reason. They had about $15,000 combined,” he said.

Our reader's opinion
Russia had nothing to do with 2016 election

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

While we don’t agree on many things, I must agree with Mr. Jay Brodell on Wednesday's piece.  I’ve been a “Drumf” hater forever.  And I would certainly love to see him dethroned, and even jailed for that matter. He is a despicable individual and an even worse President of the United States. He is destroying the country, clean water, clean air, schools and ultimately humankind at the rate he is going.

But, I don’t believe for a SECOND that Russia had anything to do with the election of “Drumf.”  For all the reasons he stated and then some.  If Guccifer was working for the Russians, this might be debated. He is Rumanian, not Russian. And his reasons for hacking  will remain unexposed, and unimportant. Even I could hack the Podesta emails with the lack of security he had installed.

But Assange got all the Democratic National Committee data from an irate insider.  Probably Seth Rich who was murdered for what he did.  Not even probably, but most certainly.   I have no proof beyond gut instinct, so this, too, can be debated--but not with me.

Assange and Wikileaks have never had to retract a publication for false information since the inception of Wikileaks some 10 years ago. He says it wasn’t the Russians, and I, along with thousands of other people who possess critical reasoning skills, believe him.

His detractors use the rape case to discredit him. Pahleeze! And have convicted him of the charges even without a trial.  He denies the charges, I believe him, but even if he is guilty, what he does or doesn’t do with his penis has absolutely no bearing on the validity of Wikileaks’ publications. 

I find Feinstein’s assertions ridiculous. The whole “investigation” thing is flawed, weak and ridiculous, for the reasons you have stated. Totally agree with Mr. Brodell on this.
Darlene Mokrycki 

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, March 9, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 49
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Surf and Turf Charity Challenge to provide aid to low-income kids
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Hit the waves or head onto the golf course, say the organizers for this year’s Robert August Surf and Turf Charity Challenge.

The three-day event will be held at Guanacaste’s Tamarindo, Playa Avellana and Hacienda Pinilla beginning on Friday, April 21, at 5 p.m.

The activities will include a scramble golf tournament, surf competition, Brazilian carnival party and awards ceremony, organizers said. In addition, there will be silent auctions and a dinner as well. The event ends April 23 with the awards ceremony and silent auction at 5 p.m.

The Asociación Cultura, Educación y Psicología de la Infancia y la Adolescencia is the organizer for the event. According to its website, the group is a non-profit that promotes health, culture, sports and education for local low-income families. 

Participation in one event or both is encouraged with the first night being registration with a live performance at El Vaquero in Tamarindo.

Registration for the four-man golf scramble beginning Saturday morning is $160.

The association said that would include: golf cart, play fee,
CEPIA photo                       
The Surf and Turf Charity Challenge benefits low-income kids.   

 lunch and a golf goodie bag. Those interested in surfing will pay $50 which includes breakfast and the registration fee.

For both contests, the fee is $250 with all the amenities of both events, a VIP goodie bag and entrance for the dinner party Saturday at the Hotel Cala Luna in Tamarindo.

Organizers said the money raised for the Surf and Turf event will go towards an after-school program, community center, workforce training and summer camps for more than 900 kids among other.

Chants of empowerment mark San José women's day march
By Rommel Téllez
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Among chants of empowerment and respect for the female body, nearly three hundred people gathered Wednesday at San José’s Parque Central to commemorate the International Women's Day.

Several feminists and human rights organizations took part in the event and so did several left wing parties, including the Frente Amplio. The march did not take the usual route at Avenida Segunda. Instead, participants decided to walk down the west side of the city, which is commonly filled with street vendors and homeless people.

“We want to deliver our message of respect to those who normally don't have access to our message. Working class women who usually don't realize they have rights and power,” said Vanessa Villafranca, one of the leaders.
Most of the signs called for action against street harassment and the free will of women. “Rosarios fuera de mis ovarios”, “Mi cuerpo, mi decisión”, “Quiero salir y sentirme segura” read some of the signs.

The activities also attracted all sorts of street vendors who, at times, mocked the participants and their cause. Leftist political parties also profited by exhibiting their support. Such is the case of Partido Nuevo Socialismo and Frente Amplio.

One of the most well known participants was Mairena, the first transgender person who was ever granted the custody of a child in the country.  The case hit the headlines back in 2004.

“This march proves that the Costa Rican society has changed a lot and yet, there's still a long way to go in terms of equality, respect and tolerance.” she said.

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Plan Colombia quietly coming to Central American countries
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Quietly and without any direct announcements, the United States seems to be orchestrating a Plan Colombia for Central America. Plan Colombia is the $10 billion effort by the United States to fight drug trafficking and Marxists rebels in that country.

Recent donations and promises of additional military equipment have generated speculation and concern about the militarization of the Costa Rican police forces and coast guard. Nearly all the donations are for anti-drug efforts. Included are patrol boats, aircraft and several armored vehicles that have not been delivered yet. The value has been set at $30 million.

The program is not called Plan Central America. It is the Central America Regional Security Initiative. Disclosures this week by Wikileaks shows that those close to the Barack Obama administration were discussing the massive effort in Central America.

Amitabh Desai, foreign policy director of the Clinton Foundation, sent an email on the topic in August 2012. The message was to Hannah Richert, a director at the Clinton Presidential Center, and was copied to others including John Podesta of the Hillary Clinton campaign.The email was included in the Wikileaks release of Podesta emails.

The email said that “WJC has mentioned a few times his concerns that Plan Colombia has been so effective that it pushed narco-trafficking into Central America.” The initials stand for former president William Jefferson Clinton.

The email cites an America’s Quarterly article by Michael Shifter, who says such an approach might work in Central America as well.

The article said: “Central America is sliding into ungovernability, just as Colombia was in 2000, and Washington has a similarly high stake in preventing that catastrophe. Moreover, like Colombia, Central America is open to closer collaboration with the U.S. in a way that would have been unimaginable during earlier periods of tension.”

The year 2000 was when the United States started pumping money, material and trainers into Colombia.

There are some similarities in Central America now. For example, some police officers recently returned from training in Colombia. Washington sources note that the Colombia military, with the blessings of the United States, have been providing anti-narcotics training in countries as far away as Africa.

There also has been close contact between the Colombian military leaders and those in Costa Rica.

The reviews of the original Plan Colombia are mixed. Some say the investment eventually drove the rebels to the peace table.

Others say the loss of human life, human rights violations and unintended consequences were too costly.

The flow of cocaine from Colombia has not diminished, and now the Mexican cartels are bringing more sophisticated smuggling techniques to Central America.

The Central America Regional Security Initiative has existed since 2008, but it appears to have become more active recently.

The U.S. State Department said in January that the initiative has distributed $979 million in aid since 2008 in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panamá.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, March 9, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 49
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Axiom new ad
Tech firms go on offensive
to fix hacking defense holes

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Major technology firms say they are moving to fix any vulnerabilities in their operating systems, a day after WikiLeaks released documents pertaining to an alleged Central Intelligence Agency hacking arsenal capable of spying on people through microphones in mobile phones and other electronic devices, such as smart televisions.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Apple said it already had addressed many of the issues identified in the WikiLeaks documents, but said it would continue work to rapidly address any identified vulnerabilities.

"We always urge customers to download the latest iOS to make sure they have the most recent security updates," Apple said.

Samsung made a similar comment, saying it was aware of the report and urgently looking into the matter.

"Protecting consumers' privacy and the security of our devices is a top priority at Samsung," the South Korean electronics company said.

According to the WikiLeaks documents, the CIA identified weaknesses within the software used by Apple, Google, Microsoft and other U.S.-based manufacturers; but, instead of informing the companies of the vulnerabilities, the CIA “hoarded” the exploits, leaving people open to potential hacking.

“By hiding these security flaws from manufacturers like Apple and Google the CIA ensures that it can hack everyone; at the expense of leaving everyone hackable,” WikiLeaks said in a statement accompanying the release of the documents.

The CIA would neither confirm nor deny the legitimacy of the documents, although WikiLeaks boasts a nearly perfect record on the authenticity of the documents it publishes.

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, White House Spokesman Sean Spicer likened the WikiLeaks release to recent information leaks from within the White House, and said it should serve as a cause for concern for all Americans.

“I think the idea that we are having these ongoing disclosures of national security and classified information should be something that everybody is outraged about in this country,” he said. “This is the kind of disclosure that undermines our country, our security and our well-being."

Trafficking from Costa Rica
leads to scam indictments

By the press staff of New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor

Bridget Brennan, New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor, and other law enforcement officers announced the arrest and indictment of three individuals in connection with three overlapping patterns of criminal activity.

Today, alleged ringleader 35-year old Ricardo Castang, of Brooklyn, is scheduled to be arraigned before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Neil Ross along with two co-defendants. An indictment filed by the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor charges Castang with multiple counts of conspiracy, attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance, money laundering and a scheme to defraud.

What began as an investigation into the trafficking of cocaine from Costa Rica ultimately led agents to uncover a $300,000 fraud scheme that victimized elderly people under the guise of the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes.

This morning, agents and officers with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force arrested Castang’s wife Linda Altidor and a third defendant, Tiffany Wattley of the Bronx. Castang has been in custody on drug charges since Sept. 21, 2016 with bail set at $250,000. He was rearrested on charges in the new indictment today.

The arrests are the result of a long-term investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force. The Strike Force is partially funded by the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which is a federally funded crime-fighting initiative.

During this long-term investigation, agents and officers learned that Castang was allegedly receiving U.S. Mail packages containing narcotics. In a conspiracy that ran since at least December 31, 2015, packages were shipped from Costa Rica to locations in New York City and elsewhere, where they were received by Castang and another individual.

Castang allegedly communicated about these packages via text messages and through an internet-based messaging application. On August 16, 2016, Castang sent a message to another individual that read, “The Costa Rica bag I gave u can u stitch it up and let me know how it turns out?” Later that day, he wrote, “U think we can make some money?” The other individual replied, “Maybe lol.”

In September 2016, Castang sent the U.S. Postal Service text messages requesting information about two tracking numbers. On September 21, 2016, Castang was arrested after he arrived at a shoe repair business on Utica Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where the U.S. Postal Service had delivered packages bearing these two tracking numbers. Inside the packages were two souvenir bags bearing the lettering “Costa Rica” and concealing a total of one kilogram of cocaine inside the lining.

After his arrest, an examination of phone and banking records showed that Castang’s criminal activity was not limited to cocaine trafficking. Castang and Altidor are charged with a scheme to defraud in the first degree for allegedly acting in concert to defraud victims through false pretenses between March 2015 and March 2016.

During the scheme, Castang and Altidor allegedly received checks totaling over $300,000 from more than two dozen victims from 17 states across the country, including a resident of Manhattan and Connecticut. The investigation revealed that victims were contacted by a caller who claimed to represent Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes. The caller informed the victims that they were sweepstakes winners, but before they could collect their prize they were required to submit payment for fees and taxes owed.

Victims mailed checks to Castang’s home address, at 1490 Lincoln Place, Brownsville, Brooklyn, as well as to a P.O. Box located at a nearby U.S. Post Office. The victims ranged in age from 51 to 91, with the average age being 78. In some of the larger payments, victims paid $50,000 and $60,000. A Manhattan victim over 80 years of age sent multiple checks totaling nearly $30,000.

Castang and his co-defendants arranged for nearly $480,000 cash to be transferred to Costa Rica over the course of two and a half years, including proceeds from narcotics trafficking and the fake sweepstakes scheme. The indictment charges Castang and Wattley with money laundering in the second degree, Castang and Altidor with money laundering in the third degree and Castang with money laundering in the fourth degree.

The defendants allegedly made 60 bank wire transfers to Costa Rica between December 10, 2014 and September 14, 2016 totaling nearly $446,500, as well as 38 MoneyGram and Western Union transfers to Costa Rica between April 20, 2015 and September 14, 2016 totaling nearly $33,000.

The charges and allegations are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Regrowing bone could have
huge impact, study says

By the Northwestern University press staff

A team of researchers repaired a hole in a mouse’s skull by regrowing quality bone, a breakthrough that could drastically improve the care of people who suffer severe trauma to the skull or face.

The work by a joint team of Northwestern Engineering and University of Chicago researchers was a resounding success, showing that a potent combination of technologies was able to regenerate the skull bone with supporting blood vessels in just the discrete area needed without developing scar tissue and more rapidly than with previous methods.

Supported by the China Scholarship Council, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, Chicago Community Trust, and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, the research was published last week in the journal “PLOS One.”

Russell Reid, associate professor of surgery at the University of Chicago Medical Center, is the article’s corresponding author. Reid, his long-time collaborator Dr. Tong-Chuan He, and colleagues in Hyde Park brought the surgical and biological knowledge and skills. Zari P. Dumanian, affiliated with the medical center’s surgery department, was the paper’s first author.

Injuries or defects in the skull or facial bones are very challenging to treat, often requiring the surgeon to graft bone from the patient’s pelvis, ribs, or elsewhere, a painful procedure in itself. Difficulties increase if the injury area is large or if the graft needs to be contoured to the angle of the jaw or the cranial curve.

But if all goes well with this new approach, it may make painful bone grafting obsolete.

In the experiment, the researchers harvested skull cells from the mouse and engineered them to produce a potent protein to promote bone growth. They then used Guillermo Ameer’s hydrogel, which acted like a temporary scaffolding, to deliver and contain these cells to the affected area.

Ameer is a professor of biomedical engineering at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and professor of surgery at Feinberg School of Medicine.

Using calvaria or skull cells from the subject meant the body didn’t reject those cells.

The protein, BMP9, has been shown to promote bone cell growth more rapidly than other types of BMPs. Importantly, BMP9 also appeared to improve the creation of blood vessels in the area. Being able to safely deliver skull cells that are capable of rapidly regrowing bone in the affected site, in vivo as opposed to using them to grow bone in the laboratory promises a therapy that might be more surgeon friendly and not too complicated to scale up for the patients, Ameer said.

The scaffolding developed in Ameer's laboratory, which is a material based on citric acid and called PPCN-g, is a liquid that when warmed to body temperature becomes a gel-like elastic material.

“When applied, the liquid, which contains cells capable of producing bone, will conform to the shape of the bone defect to make a perfect fit,” Ameer said. “It then stays in place as a gel, localizing the cells to the site for the duration of the repair.” As the bone regrows, the PPCN-g is reabsorbed by the body.

In fact, the three-part method was successful on a number of fronts: The regenerated bone was better quality, the bone growth was contained to the area defined by the scaffolding, the area healed much more quickly, and the new and old bone were continuous with no scar tissue.

The potential, if the procedure can be adapted to treat people that suffered trauma from car accidents or aggressive cancers that have affected the skull or face, would be huge, and give surgeons a much-sought-after option.

“The reconstruction procedure is a lot easier when you can harvest a few cells, make them produce the BMP9 protein, mix them in the PPCN-g solution, and apply it to the bone defect site to jump-start the new bone growth process where you want it.” Ameer said.

Hungarians pass new law
detaining all asylum seekers

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Hungary’s parliament has passed a law allowing the detention of all asylum seekers in border camps and the summary return of any illegal migrants back to the country from which they entered.

The United Nations’ refugee agency, along with several human rights groups, say the policy breaks international and European Union laws. The new policy will be enforced by special personnel. A graduation ceremony was held Tuesday for 3,000 new recruits, which the government calls border hunters. Armed with pistols and pepper spray, they will patrol Hungary’s frontiers alongside the police and army.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban attended the ceremony, where he said Hungary was under siege.

Orban said, “Migration is the Trojan wooden horse of terrorism. The people that come to us don't want to live according to our culture and customs, but according to their own at European standards of living.”

Under the legislation, Hungary will detain all asylum seekers in what it terms shelters, pending the outcome of their applications. The U.N. says that means all refugees, including children, will be held in containers surrounded by razor wire fences.

In addition, police will be allowed to detain migrants anywhere in the country who have crossed illegally, and summarily send them back across the border. Previously, this only applied to migrants detained close to the frontier. Gardos says it is a flagrant abuse of European Union and international law.

Hundreds of stranded migrants in Serbia live in abandoned buildings or even forest camps. Many say they have suffered violence at the hands of Hungarian police, a charge authorities deny.

It’s time for Brussels to take action, says Christopher Stokes, director of the aid group Doctors Without Borders.

"We want that the European leaders put this issue of abuse that is happening inside of European borders by the Hungarian border police high up on the agenda."

Hungary says it is simply securing the external border of the European Union. The government claims to have the support of the Hungarian people and says there is a change of mood in Europe over migration following the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President.

North Korea must back off,
U.S. Ambassador Haley says

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley says the United States must see some sort of positive action from North Korea before any discussions to lower tensions on the Korean peninsula can begin.

After an emergency closed-door briefing among members of the U.N. Security Council, Haley said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is not a rational person and the council is not ruling anything out in its reevaluation of North Korea.

The council held a special closed-door briefing on North Korea's latest ballistic missile launches, which prompted calls earlier from China for North Korea, South Korea and the United States to take steps to avoid a head-on collision.

Before Wednesday's meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed North Korea suspend its nuclear and missile activities, and in exchange the United States and South Korea halt their joint military drills.

Each action has drawn condemnation from the other side, with Wang describing them as accelerating trains, coming toward each other with neither side willing to give way.

Tuesday, the Security Council strongly condemned the North Korean tests and gave its own warning for the potential of a regional arms race.

The council statement further expressed regret the government is diverting resources to the pursuit of ballistic missiles while Democratic People's Republic of Korea citizens have great unmet needs.

North Korea fired four ballistic missiles into the sea off Japan's northwest coast on Monday, which coincided with the start of joint U.S. and South Korean annual defense exercises in South Korean territory.

Turkey wants safe zones, sees opportunity with Trump

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Turkey is pushing the idea once again of establishing safe zones in northern Syria and wants the issue on the agenda at the next round of U.N.-led peace talks in Geneva, which are scheduled for later this month.

According to Turkish officials, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will advocate for the establishment of the zones in his talks with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, during a visit to Moscow this week.

Ankara long lobbied for a safe zone in northern Syria but was repeatedly rebuffed by the Obama administration, notably in 2013 and 2015, amid concerns in Washington that protecting it would entail putting a significant American force on the ground, drawing the U.S. deeper into the conflict in Syria.

Turkish officials say they are more hopeful now than on their previous efforts to get Western backing for the zones because of U.S. President Donald Trump’s apparent support for the idea. On January 25, he said the U.S. will absolutely do safe zones in Syria for people displaced by the six-year conflict.

Moscow and Damascus have not been enthusiastic about the idea of safe zones.

With Russia’s military intervention in the Syrian war, Assad apparently secure, U.S. special forces on the ground in the Kurdish-controlled northeast of Syria and fragile and tentative cooperation under way in the fight against the Islamic State terror group, the time has come for safe zones to be taken seriously, Turkish officials say.

Under the Turkish plan, a formal buffer zone would be established between Afrin, northwest of Aleppo, Syria, and Ayn al-Arab, northeast of Aleppo. A large part of the proposed Turkish zone already corresponds with a swath of land in northern Syria cleared by the Turks and Syrian rebels they back in Operation Euphrates, a military intervention launched last August and aimed at pushing back Kurdish militias and jihadists as much as possible from the Turkish border.

Turkey’s advocacy of a large safe zone in northern Syria isn't as innocent as presented, say Syrian Kurds. They see the proposal as mainly aimed at them and largely an effort by the Turks to prevent Kurdish-controlled territory from becoming a safe zone, one that could be turned into a Kurdish mini-state.

And the Kurds and other critics say Ankara’s safe zone proposal is a Turkish bid to carve out its own de facto mini-state in northern Syria, one in effect endorsed by Washington and Moscow, whose protection would be guaranteed by U.S. military power.

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Puriscal home
REDUCED $40K - $355,000
This is a gorgeous, new, 3-bedroom luxury home on 2.2 flat acres in a secure, gated community, high in the hills of Puriscal, with stunning, 180-degree views of the ocean, city and mountains of the Central Valley in Costa Rica. Centrally located in the heart of Costa Rica, you are never more than an hour from the Pacific beaches while being much less than that to the culture, shopping, services and night life of the San José, Escazú, Santa Ana and the whole Central Valley. The Altos de Antigua gated community sits at an altitude of 2,800 feet with mild temperatures year round. Features wide paved roads and cement culverts throughout, a large community pool & spa with changing rooms & showers. The community association fees are $42 a month ($500 annually).
This property is currently being offered for $355,000.00 U.S.
Purchase adjoining 2.2 acre investment lot with the home sale for $35,000.00 U.S. or separately for $55,000.00 U.S.
    Summary of House Features:

       * Completed 2012 to North American standards
       * 3 large bedrooms, 2 full baths
       * Custom designed kitchen w/granite countertops
       * Frigidaire Professional appliance package
       * State-of-the-art solar hot water
       * Eco-friendly Toshiba LED lighting
       * LG Multi-Split air conditioning system
       * House & perimeter security alarm system
       * 2-car closed garage w/large paved driveway
Video Tour:
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Costa Rica # 506-8985-6705 or from the States call # 561-740-0651 or email

COLINAS DEL SOL Fenced Gated Lots for Sale

* Colinas del Sol is a fenced and gated project  in a quiet area.
* There are 88 clear titled lots.
* Mountain areas with great views.
* Gently sloping level areas ideal for hobby farms, gardening, fruit trees.
* Quiet place to get away from the busy city and beach crowds.
* All lots have gravel roads to them, water and electricity at each.
* Lots are 5,000 sq. meters or larger, starting at only $40,000 USD
* Located in Libertad, Guanacaste, northwest Pacific area of Costa Rica.
* 20 minutes to the Liberia International Airport
* 15 minutes to the Pacific Beaches
* 10 minutes to Medical Facilities
* 25 minutes to the Liberia Hospital
* 5 minutes to Vista Ridge Golf Club

In Costa Rica, Jeffrey Sandi Murray:
In the USA and Canada contact Jim Day: or call 517-484-3675

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. The price of our listing Rancho Ricco is $799,000. 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.
PRICE $120,000
 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: 
Check out slide show HERE!

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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Live the dream!
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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                                        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

ReMax Playas del Coco
We are an award-winning Team of Professional Agents working with Costa Rica’s #1 Selling Real Estate Agency RE/MAX Prestige Ocean Properties. Get to KNOW, LIKE & TRUST us and let us help you find YOUR Pura Vida! We have over 30 years of experience to educate our buyers and sellers in all aspects of Real Estate.  For Information on condos, homes, lots, farms, ranches, commercial or development property

Playas del Coco Click Here!

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Sierra Collection. Meridian House or Chateau Montage.
Near Parque Nacional Marino Ballena,
Pacific Coast. 
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Axiom two
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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Axiom three
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
REDUCED by $30k! Three-bedroom furnished house in gated beach community, walk to the beach, $235k.
Ocean View Property, can be subdivided into four view lots, 10 minutes from the beach. Only $40,000!!
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Three-bedroom house and pool near the beach in Herradura, $199k.
Contact us with any questions you have about buying property in Costa Rica, Residency, etc. 12 years’ experience in Costa Rica real estate.
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USA Toll Free 1 866 833-4005
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, March 9, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 49
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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
Ecosystem damage blamed on growers

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Thousands of hectares of virgin ecosystems may have been irreversibly damaged due to pineapple production, according to the Frente Ecologista organization.

According to Mauricio Álvarez, its president, from 2000 to 2015 more than 725,000 trees were illegally chopped down by this industry, destroying the habitat of several animal and vegetable species. The pineapple fruit industry represents one of the country’s fastest-growing and highly lucrative agricultural exports.

“Most of the time, irresponsible producers expand the productions beyond the limits of their property and by the time authorities are informed, there is no more evidence of the destruction because all you can see is more pineapple.”said Mauricio.

The Frente Ecologista assures that 5,565 hectares of forest were destroyed and replaced with never ending rows of pineapple crops. They support these figures with data from the Infraestructura Nacional de Datos Especiales website, which contains aerial data from the Registro Nacional.

“This is a crime and the Ley Forestal should be applied. It is time for Ministerio Público to do its duty.” Álvarez added. He also says his organization will try to find justice and bring the alleged perpetrators to court.

According to its Facebook page, the organization claims itself an open space for all those interested in improving the environment and society. It was founded in 1989 and has an affiliation with the Universidad de Costa Rica in San Pedro.

U.N. wants ethics code to be treaty

By the United Nations World Tourism Organization press staff

The World Tourism Organization is working to convert its Global Code of Ethics for Tourism into an international convention in order to increase the commitment of those in the field to its principles. The process is being led by an intergovernmental working group composed of representatives of 36 member states.

While extremely relevant for the tourism sector, the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, adopted in 1999, represents a voluntary instrument whereas, the future convention on tourism ethics would constitute a binding instrument, according to the U.N. agency. In Costa Rica, it would have the strength of law.

The working group on the convention on tourism ethics discussed the text of the Draft Convention during two intense working sessions in its second meeting, held on 30-31 January 2017.

The draft text will now be presented to the 105th session of the executive council, to be held in May at Madrid, Spain. The executive council will then be followed by a third meeting of the working group to which all members are invited to participate.

Following the roadmap agreed by the working group, the convention will be presented for consideration and possible adoption to the 22nd General Assembly, to take place in Chengdu, China, this September, the agency said.

If approved, the convention would represent an important step for the tourism organization as a specialized agency of the United Nations, as it would be the first international treaty of the organization, it said. The adoption of the draft convention on tourism ethics this year would be particularly timely since 2017 has been declared by the United Nations as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

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U.S. House may eliminate income surtax

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The House Republican rewrite of Obamacare eliminates a special 3.8 percent surtax on net investment income that high-earning expats have to pay.

The surtax kicks in for single taxpayers at $125,000 in passive income and for other taxpayers at various amounts up to $250,000.

The limits may seem high for most expats, but gain on the sale of a second residence could make a taxpayer eligible for the special surcharge that went into effect Jan. 1, 2013.

American Citizens Abroad, Inc., announced the proposed change Wednesday, and said that proposed legislation would eliminate the tax beginning next year.

The expat advocacy group said that it urged the Treasury Department, the congressional Americans Abroad Caucus and members of Congress to change to the regulations and exclude the imposition of this tax or allow foreign tax credits against this tax for Americans legally resident overseas.

The House Republicans outlined changes to the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, Monday.

The expat advocacy organization said that it continues its effort to get Congress to adopt residency-based taxation instead of the citizenship-based system in effect now. That would mean that expats living abroad would not be subject to U.S. taxation on income even if it exceeded the current exemption limits.

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service summary of the investment tax surcharge is HERE!