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Published Thursday, March 16, 2017, in Vol. 17, No. 54
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solis visit
Casa Presidencial photo



President Luis Guillermo Solís is flanked by Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, and Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat.

Solís visit to U.S. comes as Fed raises interest rate
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There was good news and bad news Wednesday in Washington D.C. for Costa Rica.

The U.S. Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee voted to raise the benchmark interest rate a quarter of a percent to 1 percent. The board, headed by Janet L. Yellen, said that the labor market has continued to strengthen and that economic activity has continued to expand at a moderate pace.

This is the third time since the financial crisis that the U.S. Fed raised the rate and the second time in three months. The decision is likely to result in a stronger U.S. dollar with respect to the Costa Rican colon and also force the central government to pay slightly higher interest rates on its extensive international debts.

The good news is that an improving U.S. economy might result in a boost in tourists from that country.

Meanwhile, President Luis Guillermo Solís was in Washington Wednesday and met with members of the U.S. Senate’s powerful Foreign Relations Committee and representatives from the House Appropriations Committee.

Solís, of course, is looking for more money for Costa Rica.

But his visit comes at a time when the White House has introduced a budget that contains many cuts.

Solís has been successful in obtaining significant donations from the United States to maintain Costa Rica’s war on drugs.

The president is scheduled to meet today with John Kelly, U.S. secretary of Homeland Security. Certainly the issue of illegal migrants will come up. Many Cubans, Haitians and Africans have used Costa Rica as a springboard to their efforts to sneak into the United States.

Friday Solís is scheduled to meet with Michael Pence, the vice president.

The new U.S. policy on drug interdiction has yet to be outlined, although President Donald Trump is going ahead with his promise to build a wall at the Mexican border.

Meanwhile the United States is engaged in an expensive operation with the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels on drug patrol in both the Pacific and the Caribbean.

The United States has or is paying for the construction of new stations for the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas and has provided just in a year an estimated $30 million in materiel for the security ministry.


Finance ministry loses over 7,000 tax record files
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican government could lose up to $89 million in uncollected taxes due to the massive loss and misplacement of over 7,000 files from the finance ministry.  The news was confirmed to A.M. Costa Rica by the Viceministro de Ingresos, Fernando Rodríguez.

The missing files were classified as Cobros Judiciales, meaning open cases of people and corporations who owed taxes to the states and were about to be sent to court because of it.

“We are investigating where the files are, the exact number of those who are missing and who are the people responsible for their safekeeping. It is an investigation we will accelerate as much as we can but it can take months.” said Rodríguez.

The news spread across the whole political arena and several congressmen assured they will have the finance minister Helio Fallas subpoenaed before the legislative assembly’s Comisión de Ingreso y Gasto Público.

“There is no digital back up of the files. I'm almost sure there isn't since that department relies on printed documents,” Rodríguez added.

According to Diario La Extra, the newspaper’s reporter María Siu and the daily's photographer Jesús Ramírez were aggressively expelled from the building when they tried to take pictures of the room where the rest of the files were stored.

Wednesday, the Sindicato de Trabajadores del Ministerio de Hacienda y del Sistema Aduanero Nacional, sent a letter to Jorge Chavarría, the Costa Rican comparative to the United States solicitor general to start an investigation immediately.

In the letter the union questioned the management and assures the country can't not afford to lose money in the middle of a fiscal crisis.

Rodríguez assured it is a matter of days to determine whether this investigation will continue at the administrative level or will also be sent to the judiciary system.


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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, March 16, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 54
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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.
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News ethics challenged with recent bribes

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Many Costa Rican newspeople were upset Wednesday when a lawmaker asked if  reporters had been in the pay of the Dirección de Inteligencia y Seguridad.

The issue came up at a meeting of the Comisión de Derechos Humanos. Lawmaker Sandra Pisk asked the head of the agency about the allegation. He is Mariano Figueres Olsen.

His agency quickly issued a statement saying that the names of confidential informants are secret and that the agency’s budget for such payments has been zero for three years.

Still, some Spanish-language newspapers were reporting that unnamed newspeople had been in the secret employ of the intelligence agency.

Over the years, agents for the Dirección de Inteligencia y Seguridad have approached A.M. Costa Rica writers with questions about news stories. But all contacts have been on the record and mostly involved the whereabouts of Luis Enrique Villalobos, the money borrower who was a fugitive at the time.

The allegation now seems to be that some reporters were providing the intelligence agency with information about organized crime and drug trafficking.

Sharing information with investigators is not unusual for some reporters, but to accept money for information or to accept a monthly retainer violates traditional work rules.

Carl Bernstein, one of the Watergate reporters, reports that Central Intelligence Agency files show that more than 400 American journalists have secretly carried out assignments for the agency. Bernstein says that the most productive sources for the agency have been with The New York Times, CBS and Time Inc.

The C.I.A. also routinely interviews reporters and business travelers who return from international hot spots.



toucan
Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo      
This bird got a lift from some good Samaritan policemen.

Police officers rescue wounded toucan

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A wounded toucan who could not fly and was making strange noises on the ground saw its life saved by Fuerza Pública officers in Monteverde de Puntarenas.

The officers were originally responding to a call on domestic violence, but while looking for the place of the call and not finding it, they were told by neighbors about a creature moaning in the forest. They walked some extra 500 meters and saw the toucan injured. One of them picked it up with great care and called for help.

Finally, the bird was taken to a nearby shelter called Centro de Sostenibilidad, located in Guácimo de Puntarenas, where the animal received medical assistance.

“Fuerza Pública officers also make an effort to protect wildlife such as turtles, monkeys, sloths, dogs and horses that are injured.” said Ministerio de Seguridad in a statement.


Platina lanes opening early next week

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three of the lanes for the Río Virilla bridge on the General Cañas highway will be ready for traffic to pass through once again by early next week.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes made the announcement Wednesday, but the open lanes come with some caveats. From midnight to noon, two lanes going toward San José will be open for transit, while only one will remain open going toward Alajuela. From noon to midnight, two lanes going to Alajuela will be open and only one will go towards San José, the ministry said.

The public works ministry said that all vehicles will be allowed to use the bridge during that time excluding heavy trucks which have limited hours of use between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. going to the capital and then from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. going to Alajuela.

The ministry said that the installation of five expansion joints is all that remains of the major work necessary to complete this project. Expansion joints are pieces that link each individual section of the bridge. The asphalt paving has already been completed this past weekend in preparation for the lane openings, the ministry said.

The Alfredo González Flores bridge, colloquially called the platina, was closed back in January for the major construction project in expanding the lanes available for traffic. The platina represents one of the major arteries between San José and Juan Santamaría international airport in Alajuela.


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Costa Rica

Third News Page
U.S. Tax
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, March 16, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 54
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2017 Transitarte festival to take over San José Centro this weekend
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

One of the capital’s biggest arts and cultural events takes over the center of the city starting Friday at 5 p.m.

This is the Festival de Verano Transitarte 2017 that features events ranging from the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional to professional boxing.

The 11 locations include the major parks: Morazán, España and Nacional. On Saturday and Sunday Paseo de las Damas, also known as Avenida 3, will be closed and become the scene of activities, too.

The official opening is 5 p.m. Friday when, what organizers call, the Mercado de la Expresión opens in Parque España.

The sponsor is the Municipalidad de San José, which organized a competition late last year to evaluate performers who wished to compete. There are at least 200 individuals and groups scheduled to perform.

The famous Costa Rica group Malpaís will present the opening concert Friday at 7 p.m.

The orchestra performs in Parque Nacional at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, and the well-known group Sonámbulo performs at  Parque Morazán at 7 p.m.

transarte
A.M. Costa Rica photo/Jay Brodell
Workmen are installing a framework for a tent to host musical groups starting Friday at Parque Morazán.

Between the performances are tents full of just about everything.
That includes: art and displays, stand-up comedy, hours of music, poetry, food, workshops, reggae, various styles of dance, yoga, tae-kwon-do, cheerleading, zumba, puppets, board games and the professional boxing matches, scheduled for Saturday from 6 to 9:30 p.m.

An added attraction is that some events are being held in the Escuela Buenaventura Corrales, the so-called Escuela Metalica, built in Europe and constructed here in 1889.


Costa Rica honors three leading women with their own stamp
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In a nod to International Women’s Day, Costa Rica honored the careers of three women for their contributions to science, the environment and sports. The award: a new postage stamp series; over 60,000 of them.

The circulation of those stamps began back in March 8 by Correos de Costa Rica. The three faces on the stamps are those of: Christina Figueres, Sandra Cauffman and Shirley Cruz.

Ms. Figueres is a well-known Costa Rican diplomat and daughter of former Costa Rican president José Figueres Ferrer. For six years, she was the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which eventually led to her involvement in the Paris Agreement of 2015.

According to the U.N.’s profile of Ms. Figueres, she has been involved in climate change negotiations since 1995 when she founded the Centre for Sustainable Development of the Americas, a non-profit think tank for climate change policy and capacity-building, which she directed until 2003.

new stamp
Gobierno de Costa Rica photo
Pictured is the new series of stamps. From left to right: Sandra Cauffman, Christina Figueres, and Shirley Cruz.

Ms. Cauffman is a project manager at the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. According to NASA, she was born to a poor family in Costa Rica and now works on the organization’s MAVEN mission to Mars.

Lastly, Shirley Cruz is a prominent soccer star who plays for the division one French team Paris Saint-Germain. She is also a member of the Costa Rican national women’s soccer team.

The stamp issue is priced at 550, 600 and 800 colons from right to left in the photo above, according to Correos de Costa Rica.

Ana Helena Chacón, the Costa Rican second vice-president and principal promoter of the stamp initiative, commented that she hopes this becomes a regular honor to be given for International Women’s Day.


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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, March 16, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 54
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Biomedical engineers develop robot to install hearing-aid implants
By the Bern University press staff

A team of surgeons and engineers of Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, and the biomedical engineering research center at the University of Bern Switzerland, have developed a high-precision surgical robot for cochlear implantation.

In the same way that avionics allow a pilot to fly a plane by instrument solely based on read-outs from the cockpit, the surgical robot developed by the researchers for robotic cochlear implant have the capabilities to perform surgery that a surgeon cannot carry out manually without a robot.

To embed an electronic cochlear implant device into the ear of a deaf patient, the surgeon has to create a precise access from behind the ear, through the skull bone all the way into the inner ear.

The implant electrode that bridges the damaged part of the inner ear to allow the patient to hear again is then carefully inserted into the cochlea through the access in the bone. Currently this procedure is carried out manually and the ear, nose and throat surgeon directly views the access into the cochlea through the opening in the skull bone.

The aim of the research project was to investigate robotic cochlear implantation technology that could lead to a novel implantation procedure with improved hearing outcomes for cochlear implant patients.

The researchers found that the use of surgical planning software and a robotic drill process could allow access to the cochlea through a tunnel of approximately 2.5 mm in diameter in a straight line from behind the ear.

However, the size and scale of such a robotic procedure mean that the robot carries out the drilling procedure without the need for direct, manual operation by the surgeon.

The challenge was to design and develop a failsafe safety system that could track and control the robotic drilling activity beyond the capabilities of the human surgeon, meaning without direct visual control.

robotic
                    implant
University of Bern photo
The robot that would perform the surgery inside the ear.

The critical developments that have led to the breakthrough first procedure on a patient are the reliable, computer-controlled safety mechanisms applied to the actions of the robot when drilling the tunnel into the side of the patient’s head.

Safe navigation and drilling inside the human ear that avoids damage to the nerves and the microscopic structures of the inner ear is accomplished through a combination of three interlocking safety components that act as the eyes, ears and touch of the surgeon. The procedure itself is designed to be minimally invasive.

Outlining the safety elements, Prof Weber of the University of Bern, explains: “The robot relies on a number of sensors which are a high-accuracy, optical tracking system, a sensor for resistance that can feel the texture of the bone while drilling, and a radar-like nerve stimulation probe that sends small electric pulses into the bone from which the robot can compute whether or not it is on the pre-planned track”.

All of this instrument information tells the surgeon, where the robot is at any given moment and controls safe drilling. The technology underwent rigorous technical and laboratory testing stages to ensure patient safety that would allow the translation of such complex technology from the lab into the operating room.  Follow-up developments including drug delivery to the inner ear are being planned.


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rental home
Beautiful Home for Rent
San Isidro Del General, Perez Zeledon. The beautiful southern zone. By week or month.  Only 10 minutes to town. Fabulous, artistic, one Bedroom, elegantly furnished home, overlooking river,  and near to attractions at the beach or mountain. Comes completely furnished with custom queen bed, orthopaedic mattress, all linens, large kitchen, all pans, dishes, silverware, blender new refrigerator, stove with oven, washing machine, glove leather couches, breakfast nook, patio with hammock.  Has also large bodega, with extra full sized bed, can sleep 4. Comes with satellite TV & WIFI. Located next to small river, with access to river pools, and over 60 varieties of rare, tropical birds. Only 45 minutes to beach, Playa Dominical and 40 minutes to National Park Chirripo. Perfect weather. Not hot like the beach. No car needed, bus take 15 minutes to town, costs 30 cents. Gated private and secure, near bus, mini markets. This is a complete home, artistic, beautiful surroundings, with convenience and privacy, yet near to it all. Nice folks.  For more photos and information: james43michael@gmail.com  Costa Rica phone: (506) 2771-4339
9178-4/7/17

Poas chalet
What a chalet!
We offer for rent a boutique quality 2-bedroom (BR)/1-bath mountain chalet, and a 2-BR/2-bath mountain home located on the slopes of the Barva Volcano, Heredia Province. The homes are situated at 7,300 feet altitude within the limits of a small horse ranch.  Located just three kilometers from the Braulio Carrillo National Park entrance, our homes sit on the strategic high ground of Costa Rica’s Central Valley, and are contiguous with the park’s 47,000 hectares of primary cloud rainforest. The chalet and mountain home include a spacious living room, kitchen, fireplace, and covered parking.  All utilities and wifi internet included. Please contact Allan or Cristina at barvavolcano@gmail.com for photos, pricing and contract details.
9163-3/10/17


Tropical Homes logo
Tropical Homes of Costa Rica is offering the best selection of vacation homes, condos and long-term rental homes in Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito on  the Pacific Gold Coast of Guanacaste. A wide selection of private residencies is providing an excellent choice for  your stay in this beautiful part of Costa Rica.We are offering homes for every budget and every need. Please visit our Web page at www.tropicalhomesofcostarica.com or contact us at rentals@tropicalhomesofcostarica.com or call at (506) 2654-5442
9055-2/23/17

Spectacular rentals are available for low weekly prices on SellMyTimeshareNow.com at resorts such as Bahia Turquesa Residences and Villas Sol Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste. We have 
Timeshare
1- to 3-bedroom ocean and garden view timeshares available and most offer air conditioning, cable TV, fully equipped kitchens, and relaxing hammocks on private balconies. Enjoy the unique combination of seclusion and convenience as all resorts listed on our site are close to popular Costa Rican attractions and downtown 
centers, but are surrounded in lush, tropical forest. Villas are also available for sale in our inventory, so you can enjoy yearly vacations to this mesmerizing rainforest paradise. Please visit our rental inventory HERE!  or call us toll free at 877-815-4227, International: 603-516-0200.  Email: info@sellmytimesharenow.com
9049-7/31/17





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A.M. Costa Rica's
  
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, March 16, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 54
Calendar
Opinion
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Real Estate
Lifestyle
Food
About us
 
OSA leader calls to suspend Venezuela from organization

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Critics of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro applauded the Organization of American States leader's call to suspend Venezuela from the group unless the country holds full general elections as soon as possible, while the nation's socialist government condemned the prospect of foreign intervention.

The organization’s secretary general Luis Almagro on Tuesday released a 75-page report accusing Venezuela of violating the rights of its people, including by ignoring the results of 2015 legislative elections and by incarcerating political opponents. Such actions conflict with the standards of the Inter-American Democratic Charter that Venezuela has signed.

But Venezuela's foreign minister, Delcy Rodriguez, scolded the organization leader as a sad evildoer.

"Almagro, a known enemy of the people of Venezuela, has forged false assumptions against the republic with the sole objective of encouraging international intervention heightening the economic war," she said.

In a letter accompanying the report to the organization’s governing body, the Permanent Council, Almagro said his findings updated a report submitted last May. Since then, Venezuela has spiraled further and further into its acute economic, social, political and humanitarian crisis, he wrote while urging intervention.

The Organization of American States could suspend Venezuela if at least 22 of the group's 34 active member states agree. A vote has not been scheduled.

Oil-rich Venezuela for years doled out petroleum to some of its neighbors at minimal cost, engendering goodwill. But some of that may have ebbed as the country's fortunes plunged along with oil prices in 2014.

"We are not yet sure how the countries' representatives will behave at the time of the vote," said Jaime Aparicio, who served as Bolivian ambassador to the United States from 2002 to 2006. While "Brazil, Argentina and Peru have already expressed criticism of the system in Venezuela and their support to the Venezuelan people," he said some poor Caribbean nations were less predictable.

The rise of some right-leaning governments in the region also has diminished support for Maduro. Since becoming president in 2013 after the death of Hugo Chavez, he has charged that Venezuela has been the target of an imperialist, capitalist United States. He has steadily amassed power, taking control of the judiciary and trying to block the national assembly, as well as stymying efforts for a recall referendum.

Today, "corruption is rampant and the economy is in a free fall," the report says. "There is not enough food, health services are extremely scarce and the humanitarian crisis is at a scale unheard of in the Western Hemisphere. Civil and political rights are ignored, all for the sake of preserving the wealth, privilege and impunity of those holding onto power."

A vote to suspend Venezuela from the Organization of American States would force accountability, bringing in other observers and other actors from around the region to help the country work toward democratic reforms, said Ben Raderstorf, an analyst with Inter-American Dialogue, a U.S.-based center.

Venezuelan elections for state governors were set for late 2016 but postponed and not yet rescheduled, while the country's presidential election is to take place in December 2018.


Intense treatment reverses
Type 2 diabetes, study says


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Scientists have reversed Type 2 diabetes in a study of patients who underwent intensive medical treatment to control their blood sugar levels.

By following a regimen of strict diet, exercise and medications, up to 40 percent of the participants managed to stay in remission for three months after stopping their medication.

The research was conducted by investigators at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

Researchers divided 83 individuals with Type 2 diabetes into three groups. Two of the groups received intensive metabolic intervention that included a personalized meal plan that cut their daily caloric intake by 500 to 750 calories per day. They were also given an individualized exercise plan, met with a dietitian regularly and took medication and insulin at bedtime to help control blood glucose.

The only difference is one group was intensively treated for 16 weeks while the other group received the same intervention for just eight weeks. They were compared to a third group of participants that was given standard diabetic management information from a health care provider, including lifestyle advice.

All of the participants had their blood glucose measured at 20, 28 and 52 weeks to see how well their blood sugar was controlled. After eight and 16 weeks of the intensive intervention, medication was stopped in both groups.

In the 16-week group, 11 of 27 participants met the criteria for complete or partial remission of their diabetes for a period of three months after the trial.

In the eight-week intensive therapy group, six out of 28 individuals were in remission for three months after the intervention was completed. Only four out of 28 patients in the control group showed remission.

The results of the study were published in the “Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.”

Lead researcher Natalia McInness thinks the finding may shift the way adults with diabetes are treated from simply managing their blood sugar levels to a program of intensive therapy to put the disease into remission. Under that strategy, patients would be watched for signs of relapse and treated accordingly.

In Type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn’t make enough of the hormone insulin, in severe cases, to ferry nutrients into cells or the cells become resistant to insulin.

Either way, Ms. McInness believes the intensive therapy intervention gives the pancreas a rest, decreasing fat stores in the body that in turn improve insulin production and sensitivity. The pancreas is the organ that produces insulin.

She said the findings support the notion that Type 2 diabetes can be reversed, at least in the short term, through strict medical management. The idea of putting diabetic patients into remission, said Ms. McInness, could be very appealing, motivating them to make significant lifestyle changes.

Diabetes is a growing epidemic worldwide and patients struggle to maintain blood sugar levels in the normal range to avoid severe complications like heart disease, blindness and kidney failure.


Messaging apps vulnerable
 to hacking, company says


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Those encrypted messaging apps you may have been using to avoid prying eyes had a major flaw that could have allowed access to hackers, according to a cybersecurity firm.

According to Check Point Software Technologies, both Telegram and WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, were vulnerable.

The company said it withheld the information until the security holes were patched, saying hundreds of millions of users could have been compromised.

The vulnerability involved infecting digital images with malicious code that would have been activated upon clicking the pic. That, according to Check Point, could have made accounts susceptible to hijacking.

"This new vulnerability put hundreds of millions of WhatsApp Web and Telegram Web users at risk of complete account take over," Check Point head of product vulnerability Oded Vanunu said in a news release. "By simply sending an innocent looking photo, an attacker could gain control over the account, access message history, all photos that were ever shared, and send messages on behalf of the user."

Both apps tout so-called end-to-end encryption to ensure privacy, but according to Check Point, that made it hard to spot malicious code.

Patching the vulnerability involved blocking the code before the messages were encrypted.

WhatsApp claims to have more than one billion users, while Telegram has more than 100 million.


Judge halts new travel ban;
Trump promises a fight


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

An angry President Donald Trump promised to fight all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary, after a federal judge in Hawaii put his revised travel ban on hold Wednesday, hours before it was to take effect.

Judge Derrick Watson wrote that lawyers representing the U.S. Pacific state showed irreparable injury is likely if the requested relief is not issued.

Trump told supporters in Nashville, Tennessee, hours after the judge’s ruling, that the danger is clear, the law is clear, the need for my executive order is clear, adding that he has the authority to control who is allowed into the country to keep the American people safe.

Trump accused the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, of which Hawaii is a part, of unprecedented judicial overreach, and said he would take our case as far as it needs to go.

​Hawaii argued that Trump’s temporary ban on travelers and migrants from six Muslim majority countries would harm tourism, on which the Hawaiian economy heavily depends. The state also contended that its Muslim residents would suffer because their relatives from the six affected countries including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen would not be able to visit.

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said lawyers demonstrated that the Trump ban showed a hostility toward religion, which he called unconstitutional. Chin said the winners in this decision are children and the next generation.

At least six other states are suing to stop the travel ban.

The ruling came as opponents renewed their legal challenges Wednesday across the country, asking judges in Hawaii, Maryland and Washington state to block the executive order that targets people from six predominantly Muslim countries.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson argued that the new order harms residents, universities and businesses, especially tech companies such as Washington state-based Microsoft and Amazon, which rely on foreign workers. California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon have joined the claim.

Washington and Hawaii also say the order also violates the First Amendment, which bars the government from favoring or disfavoring any religion. On that point, they say, the new ban is no different than the old. The states’ First Amendment claim has not been resolved.

In Maryland, lawyers argued that the ban discriminates against Muslims. It also argues it is illegal for the Trump administration to reduce by half, from 110,000 to 50,000, the number of refugees allowed into the U.S.

Attorneys from the U.S. Justice Department countered that the revised travel ban doesn’t say anything about religion. It doesn’t draw any religious distinctions.

This is the second time a federal judge has put a hold on the Trump travel ban. U.S. District Judge James Robart was the first.

An appeals court in San Francisco questioned the constitutionality of the first version when it upheld Robart’s decision to put it on hold.

That court is also part of the Ninth Circuit, and Trump said his revised travel ban was a watered down version of the first order that never should have been blocked to start with.

The original travel ban created chaos in airports around the world as immigration officers struggled to figure out who was covered. U.S. attorneys say the president of the United States has the authority to control who is allowed into the country in the name of national security.

The most recent travel related executive order, issued by the president March 6, barred visas to nationals of the six countries for 90 days and all refugee admissions for 120 days beginning Thursday, with the government citing national security concerns.

Opponents of the executive orders maintain that the second order is as religiously discriminatory and unconstitutional as the first.


House Committee rejects
Trump's claim of wiretap


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Donald Trump's claim that his predecessor, former president Barack Obama, wiretapped him in the weeks before last November's election is unfounded, the top leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee said Wednesday.

"We don't have any evidence that took place," Republican Congressman Devin Nunes, the panel's chairman, said. "I don't think there was a tapping of Trump Tower," the president's skyscraper headquarters in New York.

Congressman Adam Schiff, the committee's top Democrat, agreed. "To date, I see no evidence, no basis for that whatsoever," he said.

Nunes and Schiff said they are waiting for information from the country's Department of Justice by next Monday about whether the agency knows of any court-ordered wiretaps of Trump, but said they had learned of no such bugging so far in their investigation.

The congressional probe was requested by the White House after Trump made the explosive wiretapping allegation in a March 4 Twitter comment.

The House Intelligence Committee is also looking at links between Trump campaign aides and Russian officials during the billionaire real estate mogul's long run for the White House and in the weeks after he won the election before assuming power Jan. 20.

Nunes said that James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the country's top law enforcement agency, would testify next Monday before the intelligence committee about the wiretapping allegation.

He said the panel expects to learn by Friday from U.S. investigators of any names of Trump aides who talked with Russian officials beyond the one known such contact, conversations between Trump's ousted national security adviser, retired Army general Michael Flynn, and the Russian ambassador to Washington.

Trump dismissed Flynn after he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.

But the president since then has provided no evidence for his claim and dodged reporters' repeated questions about the allegation.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer has sought this week to walk back Trump's contention, saying that the wire tapping allegation was meant to refer to a broader allegation of surveillance of the Trump campaign at its skyscraper headquarters in New York and not wiretapping specifically, even though that is what the president alleged.

More news of the Americas
From the Voice of America

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Real estate for sale (paid category)

Puriscal home
GORGEOUS MOUNTAIN & OCEAN VIEW HOME
REDUCED $40K - $355,000
HEALTH CONDITIONS REQUIRES QUICK SALE
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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUEAmahIU9A
Community Web Site: http://www.altigua.com
Photos: HERE!
Costa Rica # 506-8985-6705 or from the States call # 561-740-0651 or email gary_one@msn.com
9173-9/1/17

colinasdelsol
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

Contact:
In Costa Rica, Jeffrey Sandi Murray:  jsandimurray@colinasdelsolcr.com
In the USA and Canada contact Jim Day: jimday50@aol.com or call 517-484-3675

For more information Click Here: www.colinasdelsolcr.com
9056-2/28/17

Etlinger
                                      Farm rollover
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 www.etlingerafarms.com and photo album can be found at www.ticorico.com
9170-3/24/17

horse
                                      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 www.ranchforsalecostarica.com  Call Darin Ricco, phone +619-846-8249 or email:  darin_ricco@hotmail.com

Kkpit
                                      rollover

FURNISHED  APARTMENT for SALE.
CONDOMINIO SATURNO, LA URUCA, OUTSKIRTS
of SAN JOSÉ, COSTA RICA
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: boriskopit@yahoo.com
9143-4/17/17

rollover
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  www.whynotcostarica.com. 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 tim@whynotcostarica.com 
9143-2/3/17

San Rmon
                                      rollover
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: mmpeace@hotmail.com 
Check out slide show HERE!
9129-3/6/17

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 www.ThePenthouseCostaRica.com  Owners U.S. cell phone: 813 310-7402  Email crstratton@ymail.com
9132-6/1/17

Business for sale or lease (paid category)

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: manager@crbusiness.biz.

Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

Remax
                                        Tamarindo
www.remax-oceansurf-cr.com 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:  info@remax-oceansurf-cr.com  or click here www.remax-oceansurf-cr.com
9145-1/2918

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
CONTACT US TODAY with NO OBLIGATION whatsoever.

Playas del Coco Click Here!

Playa Panama Click Here!

Playa Hermosa Click Here!
Peninsula Papagayo Click Here!

Playa Matapalo Click Here!
Toll Free 1-877-293-1456
Email: michael@costarica-realestate.com

9174-2/7/18

Real estate-related services (paid category)

A-1
                                        graphic
A1 MASTER BUILDERS COSTA RICA
SMALL and LARGER jobs welcome !!!. We can build from any plan you bring us all work done by USA codes master electric and plumbing Better quality and lower prices than USA. We do it all Right  + Reasonable.
Call us: Toll Free 877-778-8515   
     Text from US: 804-313-6382 
     CR phone: 506-8307-0164
     Email: hotelescazu@aol.com
     For more info also see our sites:
    www.a1masterbuildercostarica.webs.com
    www.hotelsescazu.com
    www.hotel4salecostarica.com
    www.wind-solar.webs.com 
9142-7/27/17

SellATimeshare.com
Browse timeshares for sale and rent by owner in Costa Rica at bargain prices. We connect existing timeshare owners with those looking to buy or rent a timeshare on the resale market. Timeshares on the resale market are up to 50% cheaper than those sold through the resort. Buy, sell or rent a timeshare at SellATimeshare.com. 
9004-4/26/17

COSTA RICA SOLAR
solar one

solar two
NOW with the New Power Company Regulations, we're installing photo voltaic systems for solar electricity.
PV systems: we use Enphase micro-inverters. More flexible. Add panels whenever you like. More reliable than any other system and fully guaranteed!

Solar device
NOW is the time to install our new super-efficient solar hot water! New model for condos
Solar collector
BUY NOW! Your solar hot water system, so in three months, we can calculate a lower install price for your PV system.  Perfect for homes and hotels. Save up to 40% of your electric bill.
More Watts per Panel, Smarter and more Capable Enphase Micro Inverters mean Less Cost and more Flexibility for You.

    We aren't Cheap...Neither are our Products. Call to Compare.
    More Flexible, Reliable-and Fully Guaranteed!

    Push this BIG RED BUTTON:  (O) and Learn ​details about your deal with ICE     
    SEE our new PACKAGE DEALS.
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CALL TODAY!
Office: 506-2446-0543
Andre 506-8314-8090
Paul 506-8898-9398
OUR EMAIL:
 andrefurlong@gmail.com
Paul.Furlong@CR-Solar.com
VISIT OUR WEB:
www.crsolar.net 
9177-6/19/16



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A.M.
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Rica
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news page


San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, March 16, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 54
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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
French community is having a soirée

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The French-speaking community is inviting everyone to come out for a two-day series of events in celebration of International Francophone Day beginning next week.

The events will be free and an expat need not get a crash course in French in order to attend. Next Monday, the Festival de Cine Francófono will kick off at the Cine Magaly in addition to the “Quincena francófona” at Teatro Nacional. The latter event is said to include a concert with Canadian singer Marie-Jo Thério, organizers said.

The next Tuesday March 21 is for foodies. 12 Costa Rican restaurants will be participating in this taste of France event called Goût de/Good France. Expats can expect French cusine to come out in tour de force. Other events will be devoted to the celebration of French literature and will include the participation of French writer Sylvain Prudhomme.

These activities are sponsored by the French, Canadian, and Swiss embassies in addition to the Allianza Francesa and the Instituto Francés de América Central. International Francophone Day was created in 1988 by the Organization Internationale de la Francophonie to celebrate the French language and the cultural pluralism developed within the international French-speaking community.

Costa Rica has been an observer member of that organization since 2014.

French is the second-most studied language behind English in the world, according to event organizers. It is spoken on five continents and is used as a lingua franca for many international conferences or events, notably the Olympic Games.

Irazú telecom equipment being removed

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

All telecommunications equipment and towers will be removed from Parque Nacional Volcán Irazú, following the recommendations of the Comisión Nacional de Emergencias, government officials said Wednesday.

Since 2014, landslides have become bigger and more frequent on the west side of the volcano, which is under close surveillance by the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismólogico de Costa Rica.

“We want to avoid any interruption with the telecommunications services”, said Edwin Estrada, Viceministro de Telecomunicaciones.

Telecom providers will also be requested to be part of the removal, by providing the safety for their workers and the respect for the surrounding nature.

Drug monopoly broken up in Aserrí

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Authorities announced Wednesday that seven suspects, alleged to be part of a drug monopoly that controlled the canton of Aserrí, were arrested in six separate police raids.

The investigation began back in November 2016 after police received an anonymous tip on one of the hotlines. It is alleged that a gang of drug dealers, operating near the local schools, controlled a monopoly of the illegal drug trade in Aserrí, according to a report.

Seven individuals were arrested, mostly in their 20s and 30s. The raids were conducted at six properties around San Gabriel de Aserrí. Police said that during the raids, officers of the Policía de Control de Drogas discovered around 380 doses of mostly marijuana as well as ammunition for firearms.

Four of the suspects are related to each other, according to police. Only one of the seven has a prior criminal history, officials said.
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From Page 7:

Contest wants to encourage innovation work

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican government is opening a contest for certain types of innovative projects by small businesses to get some funding.

500 million colons, or around $878,000, is being made available for a complementary aid contest sponsored by the Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Telecommunicaciones. A statement by the ministry said this contest is being used as a way to support small business growth and innovation within the country.

The money originates from the Fondo de Incentivos with 150 million colons devoted to projects related to innovation or technological development. The other 350 million colons is going to what the ministry defines as projects related to the transfer of knowledge.

So what are the types of projects that will be financed? The specific guidelines are defined in the Plan Nacional de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación and according to the law on strengthening small business, the ministry said. Generally, for innovation and technological development, the projects could include patents or industrial designs and utility models. For transfer of knowledge, these projects would be training exercises and internships in specialized areas.

The purpose of this aid contest is to increase the management capacity of small businesses and contribute to the economic development particularly in areas related to: education, environment, water, energy, agriculture, health, digital services, and engineering among others. The competition’s funds are non-refundable, the ministry said.