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Published Tuesday, March 28, 2017, in Vol. 17, No. 62
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U.S. vet and expat continues treatment from attack
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Richard King, the disabled U.S. veteran who probably was the target of crooks in Liberia, is in California now learning to use a white cane and make the best of his remaining eyesight.

King, now 66, suffered eye, face and skull injuries when a man threw a rock into his windshield in November 2015 near the Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia.

King, who has a home in Ojochal, was in good spirits Monday night as he recounted the crime and told of his treatments at the Western Blind Rehabilitation Center in Menlo Park, California.

King, who was considered 100 percent disabled, lost most of the sight in his right eye in Vietnam in 1969. The attack with a rock severely damaged his left eye. He said he also suffered a hole in his head about a quarter inch in diameter. The head injury cost him his sense of taste and smell, he said.

What happens bears all the marks of either an attempted robbery or an extortion. King was picking up a friend at the Liberia airport and stopped at a grocery. When he was leaving, a man ran up and said King’s car had hit his. He demanded that King come with him.

King refused, and his friend, now a passenger, also doubted there had been a mishap.

After King drove away, the unidentified man chased him in his own vehicle and eventually got ahead. The man stopped and tried to heave a large rock at King.

He was not strong enough.

Several miles later on the man found a smaller rock, and it was this that smashed through the windshield, said King. He also suffered broken bones in a finger.

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Richard King remains committed to Costa Rica despite attack

King, of course, made a report to the Judicial Investigating Organization, but he expressed disappointment Monday night at the agency’s lack of a followup. King said at one point he spent three hours in a judicial office at the request of investigators, but no one showed up to talk with him.

He said he figures the window smasher has not been found, although he suspects local police know who the man is. Part of the encounter was caught on surveillance cameras.

Coping with near blindness has not been easy. King reports he fell down twice and broke some ribs. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs rehabilitation center has put him in a program where he learns to use what sight he still has, he said.

Despite his problems, King is not fed up with Costa Rica where he has lived for 12 years. He said he will be returning in about six weeks. He has a Costa Rican wife. He will be the south Pacific coast resident walking with two canes. One will be white and the other will be for stability.

Legislature approves exchanges with Palestine
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers approved Monday an agreement for technical, cultural, scientific and economic exchanges with Palestine.

The agreement does not really specify if the exchanges will be with Gaza, now controlled by Hamas, or the West Bank, now controlled mostly by Fatah, or the Islamic definition of Palestine, which includes the State of Israel.

This is bill No. 19.482, which has been in the legislature since February 2015.

The agreement comes at a time when Gaza is in mourning for Mazen Fuqaha, a senior Hamas leader of its armed wing, who was gunned down at his home in Gaza City Friday.

Hamas officials are blaming Israel, but there has been no evidence of that country’s involvement.

The government of Palestine has support in Costa Rica. There is a pro-Palestine organization that has a Facebook page and the council of the Universidad de Costa Rica  has urged passage of the accord. 

There have been protests in favor of Palestine outside the Israeli Embassy in San José.

The legislative action Monday was the second and final approval. Now the bill goes to President Luis Guillermo Solís.

The Palestine agreement is important also
Costa Rica apoya a Palestina Facebook photo
August "Palestina no morirá" march on Israeli Embassy televised on Channel 7.

because Costa Rica seeks funding from other Arab states. The original agreement was signed in September 2013 at United Nations headquarters.

Gaza has been invaded three times by Israel, which reports the use of many tunnels to allow terrorists to enter the Jewish state as well as barrages of rockets directed at it.

Hamas prevailed in a recent election at the expense of the Palestine Authority.

Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and other western countries. Hamas says it is committed to Israel's destruction.

Costa Rica also has an organization that supports Israel, and some of the lawmakers who voted against the Palestine measure Monday belong to this group.

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Bill to reduce bank secrecy proposed

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A new bill to broaden the transparency of bank secrecy laws is on its way to be discussed in congress. The initiative seeks to allow fiscal authorities to request information about bank accounts without the approval of a judge, which is the way it is done now.

The bill is No. 19639, and is currently being discussed in the Comisión de Asuntos Hacendarios, the congress chamber in charge of preparing the final draft that will be discussed before the whole 57 lawmakers if the president calls for its discussion.

In the Costa Rican legislative system, the executive branch may dictate what bills may be called for discussion between Aug.1 to 31, and from Dec. 1 to Apr. 30. These periods are known as sesiones extraordinarias.

“It is absurd that other countries may request this information without going through a judiciary process while the national authorities are forced to do so,” said Edgardo Araya, lawmaker from the Frente Amplio party.

The congressman refers to the Law 9296, which was approved on July 2015 and allows international fiscal offices to request information directly to the Ministerio de Hacienda and the banks. According to Araya, this happened out of international pressure to improve the country's transparency.

He also said that these kinds of reforms are mandatory for the country to become part of international organizations like the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

“When the Ministerio de Hacienda started its investigation on the release of the Panamá papers they hit a big wall of sociedades anónimas hidden inside sociedades anónimas.” said Araya.

A sociedad anónima is a limited liability legal structure under which many private companies operate. 

Last week A.M. Costa Rica reported that a preliminary investigation on the Panamá Papers by Dirección General de Tributación spotted 79 business entities and 41 are individuals as suspects of tax evasions.

Out of those, 69 have been identified while 51 identities still need to be discovered, according to Fernando Rodríguez, who is the representative of a special committee investigating the case.

The ministry pointed out that the 69 identified entities had established more than 410 companies in Panamá. The insistence from the Administración Tributaria is that “behind the creation of these societies, there is a clear intention to evade tax responsibilities,” Rodríguez said.

Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo        
Police officer looks at some of the marijuana captured.

Police get more than two tons of marijuana

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police seized around 2.7 tons of marijuana following a shootout that led to the arrest of four suspects Monday.

According to a report from the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública, officers found 602 kilograms, or around 1,327 pounds, of marijuana in a minibus hidden in gunny sacks and another 601 kilograms in a truck.

During the incident, police said that several persons approached the patrol cars and fired on them. The skirmish resulted in one of the men arrested being wounded in the right leg. No police officer was injured, according to officials. The incident happened at Siquirres in Limón province.

Four suspects were arrested and taken into custody, police said. Two of the arrested have prior records related to drug dealing, according to police. Officials said that the other two have a background in drug possession. One of the vehicles contained an apparently stolen pistol dating back to a theft from a private security company back in 2008.

If the suspects are found guilty of drug trafficking, they could face up to 20 years in prison for the charges.

Our reader’s opinion
Give Medicare consumers choice abroad

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

The Medicare article is on target considering the current healthcare wrangle in DC.  Apparently neither party was aware that by allowing Americans to use their Medicare coverage in a foreign country patients and federal budget alike could save money and go a long way in correcting America's health woes. 

It is no secret that many doctors, especially specialists, in the U.S. no longer accept Medicare patients due to the reimbursement rate.  So be it. Just give the consumer who has paid into the system the option to get care in a neighboring country if they so desire. 

Many countries have hospitals that are Joint Commission International (JCI) certified and these would be the logical first facilities for Medicare to partner with.  Costa Rica has two, at least, and Thailand has over a dozen.  Countless Americans in the southwest have been going to México for dental needs, eye glasses, hearing aids, cosmetic surgery and other procedures and currently they pay with their own money most of the time. 

The Youtube video where the “60 Minutes” news team interviews the man who received a quintuple bypass at Bumrungrad hospital in Thailand is illustrative of what the American public has been missing out on.  The Medicare reimbursement rate your local hospital might refuse could well be enough to get you better care in a foreign hospital. 

In any event the public should have a choice since, after all, it is their tax money sitting inside the social security administration and Medicare.
Jim Harrison  
El Paso, Texas  

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 28, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 62
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2017 Robotifest competition draws high-tech, high-aspiring students
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

About 800 college and high-school students will turn into robotics and compete to win the Robotifest UCR 2017 Festival. 

This is touted as a high-tech contest that will take place from Aug. 21 to 27, at the Universidad de Costa Rica.

To be part of it, those interested should go through a very competitive selection process, followed by workshops and special training that will provide them with further knowledge and tools to seek the first places.

On a second stage, 40 teams of three students will choose one out of five categories in which they want to participate. One of these is called Reto y Manufactura Logística en la Cuarta Revolución Indusrial, where students come up with robotic solutions for factories and logistic related enterprises.

Another example is the category named Vida Cotidiana en la Cuarta Revolución Industrial. Here, the contestants will develop robots that may directly impact the quality of life of people.

“We want the projects to be oriented on how to solve the needs of interconnection and collaborative solutions of problems.” said Eldon Caldwell, coordinator of the contest and director of the Escuela de Ingeniería Industrial of the university.

“We are facing the fourth industrial revolution, one that is based on technological automation and interconnectivity. This is happening not only between people, but also between people and machines and machines and other machines,” he said.

Winners of this year contest will have the chance to travel and
Robotifest UCR photo
Eldon Caldwell, contest coordinator, poses with robot.

be part of the rocket launch for International Students Satellites, which takes place in the U.S. state of Nevada. Among the jury, will be Eric Rohmer, a robotics professor and investigator at Universidad Estatal de Campinas in Brazil. Rohmer has been the winner of a world wide robotics championship in Japan.

The finals of the competition will include, theater, arts exhibitions and an international concert. The winners will also receive tech devices and a full robotics construction system.

Defensorías Sociales establishes legal aid for low-income persons
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Justice for the poor and justice in the street could be the motto of Defensorías Sociales, a social responsibility program created by Colegio de Abogados y Abogadas de Costa Rica.

Similar to U.S. legal aid societies, the organization was recently created in order to provide legal assistance for the most vulnerable citizens and residents in Costa Rica.

Last year, this program provided legal assistance to more than 10,443 people from low-income backgrounds with the help of 78 public defendors who donated their time and knowledge in the areas of family and labor law.

Out of those cases, 1,223 advanced investigations were opened and 844 hearings took place to settle most of the conflicts, according to Violenta Conejo, director of quality assurance and training at the Colegio de Abogados y Abogadas.

“This initiative seeks to bring together lawyers and people who normally could not afford to pay the standard legal fees. The attorneys provide their time and expertise and we provide free training and seminars as a way to compensate for their willingness to help,” she said.

To get help from the Defensorías Sociales, there are some requirements to meet.
For one, the beneficiaries should not have property under their name. They should not have an income over 350,000 colones which is roughly $700. They cannot be employers of any kind. Lastly, they also should address their cases to the local Defensoría closest to their place of residence.

“A great percentage of our cases have to do with women seeking protection from domestic abusers, followed by people who claimed they've been fired by employers while pregnant or being member of a union. We also see a significant amount of cases related to child support requests,” said Ms. Conejo.

Aside from the Defensorías Sociales, the Colegio de Abogados y Abogadas also takes its services to communities through the program Derecho en la Calle, which targets mostly students and local associations.

During these activities, the lawyers talk to students about bullying and what are their rights and their duties in such a situation.

“We look to provide information for women about how to deal with violence or help someone who is in that situation,” explained Ms. Conejo, “We also go to retirement homes and some town fairs in areas that we consider vulnerable."

There are currently 13 Defensorías Sociales with the newest one opening in Puntarenas back in 2016.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 28, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 62
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Electric-charged particles cover surface of Saturn moon, study says
By the Georgia Institute of Technology press staff

Experiments led by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology suggest the particles that cover the surface of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, are electrically charged.

When the wind blows hard enough, at approximately 15 miles-per-hour, Titan’s non-silicate granules get kicked up and start to hop in a motion referred to as saltation.

As they collide, they become frictionally charged, like a balloon rubbing against your hair, and clump together in a way not observed for sand dune grains on Earth.

In short, they become resistant to further motion. They maintain that charge for days or months at a time and attach to other hydrocarbon substances, much like packing peanuts used in shipping boxes here on Earth.

The findings have just been published in the journal “Nature Geoscience.”

“If you grabbed piles of grains and built a sand castle on Titan, it would perhaps stay together for weeks due to their electrostatic properties,” said Josef Dufek, the Georgia Tech professor who co-led the study. “Any spacecraft that lands in regions of granular material on Titan is going to have a tough time staying clean. Think of putting a cat in a box of packing peanuts.”

The electrification findings may help explain an odd phenomenon. Prevailing winds on Titan blow from east to west across the moon’s surface, but sandy dunes nearly 300 feet tall seem to form in the opposite direction.

“These electrostatic forces increase frictional thresholds,” said Josh Méndez Harper, a Georgia Tech geophysics and electrical engineering doctoral student who is the paper’s lead author. “This makes the grains so sticky and cohesive that only heavy winds can move them. The prevailing winds aren’t strong enough to shape the dunes.”

To test particle flow under Titan-like conditions, the researchers built a small experiment in a modified pressure vessel in their Georgia Tech lab. They inserted grains of naphthalene and biphenyl, which are two toxic, carbon and hydrogen bearing compounds believed to exist on Titan’s surface, into a small cylinder.

Then they rotated the tube for 20 minutes in a dry, pure nitrogen environment to mimic Titan’s atmosphere that is 98 percent nitrogen. Afterwards, they measured the electric properties of each grain as it tumbled out of the tube.

“All of the particles charged well, and about 2 to 5 percent didn’t come out of the tumbler,” said Méndez Harper. “They clung to the inside and stuck together. When we did the same experiment with sand and volcanic ash using Earth-like conditions, all of it came out. Nothing stuck.”
NASA satellite image
Infrared view of Titan from the Cassini spacecraft on 2015

Earth sand does pick up electrical charge when it’s moved, but the charges are smaller and dissipate quickly. That’s one reason why you need water to keep sand together when building a sand castle. Not so with Titan.

“These non-silicate, granular materials can hold their electrostatic charges for days, weeks or months at a time under low-gravity conditions,” said George McDonald, a graduate student in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences who also co-authored the paper.

Visually, Titan is the object in the solar system most like Earth. Data gathered from multiple flybys by Cassini since 2005 have revealed large liquid lakes at the poles, as well as mountains, rivers and potentially volcanoes.

However, instead of water-filled oceans and seas, they are composed of methane and ethane and are replenished by precipitation from hydrocarbon-filled clouds. Titan’s surface pressure is a bit higher than our planet.

For example, standing on the moon would feel similar to standing 15 feet underwater here on Earth.

“Titan’s extreme physical environment requires scientists to think differently about what we’ve learned of Earth’s granular dynamics,” said Dufek. “Landforms are influenced by forces that aren’t intuitive to us because those forces aren’t so important on Earth. Titan is a strange, electrostatically sticky world.”

Researchers from the Jet Propulsion Lab, University of Tennessee-Knoxville and Cornell University also co-authored the paper, which is titled “Electrification of Sand on Titan and its Influence on Sediment Transport.”

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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:  Costa Rica phone: (506) 2771-4339

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 for photos, pricing and contract details.

Tropical Homes
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 or contact us at or call at (506) 2654-5442

Spectacular rentals are available for low weekly prices on at resorts such as Bahia Turquesa Residences and Villas Sol Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste. We have 
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:

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The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2016 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 28, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 62
Real Estate
About us
Calls for justice escalating
from Mexican teacher union

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Representatives of victims of a deadly clash between Mexican police and a teachers union last summer have escalated their calls for justice, briefly seizing a tollbooth on a Mexican highway, demanding a meeting with México’s top law enforcement official and seeking help from the U.S.-based Organization of American States.

Last week’s moves stem from a June 19 conflict in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. Eight people were killed and 100 others wounded when members of the Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación blocked state roads to protest mandatory teacher evaluations, which are part of a package of education reforms, and some union members’ arrests. Protesters at one site threw Molotov cocktails and rocks, and, as the Associated Press reported witnessing, at least one riot police officer responded with gunfire.

Since then, we haven’t seen any significant progress on an investigation, Ambrosio Hernández Santiago said Thursday, according to El Informador, an independent news organization in Guadalajara Jalisco. The teacher, union member and president of the Committee of Victims of Asunción Nochixtlán, named for the community where the confrontation occurred, also said there had been no significant advances such as medical care for people injured during the fracas.

Hernández offered that as explanation for the committee taking control of a tollbooth on the Oaxaca-Cuacnopalan highway for hours Thursday. He said members would intensify our demonstrations until they could meet with Mexico’s attorney general, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, and get an assurance of justice. He expressed dissatisfaction with several meetings with lower-level authorities.

Government and union officials have traded accusations about the June incident. A Oaxaca state prosecutor said the dead were all civilians but not teachers; a federal police chief said the protest involved radical groups.

The teachers union disagreed with that label, blaming the violence on police infiltrators and saying that 20 people had gone missing. More broadly, federal prosecutors contend union leaders have run an illegal network to finance protests and profit personally. Mexican unions often control teacher hiring and firing.

Last week’s tollbooth takeover follows what Hernández and others allege have been efforts to intimidate the June 19 victims and their supporters.

On March 6, the committee issued a statement asserting that the previous night, Hernández and another union member had been ambushed and shot at by unknown assailants while driving on a state road.

The committee accused the state of direct responsibility for attempted murder and also claimed that, in separate incidents, police in civilian clothing had harassed and persecuted June 19 victims and supporters. It called for an investigation, punishment for those responsible, and freedom and security for the colleagues and relatives of the victims.

An official with the Mexican attorney general’s office, speaking about a related matter last week at a Washington meeting of the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, said his office was working on legislation to break the chains of impunity.

Robert Campa, undersecretary for human rights, said the measure would hold culprits accountable for forced disappearances. He was discussing the 2014 case of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College who went missing in Guerrero state, Oaxaca’s western neighbor. An independent group of investigators last spring accused Mexico’s government of blocking its probe.

Oaxaca’s elected ombudsman for human rights, Arturo Peimbert Calvo, also addressed the commission in Washington. He complained that a series of attacks, persecutions and harassment have forced them to seek protective measures in the United States.

In an interview Tuesday, Peimbert said that, unlike with the Ayotzinapa students, in the teachers union case the aggression of the police forces against civil society has been fully documented. He also said that, though more than 6,000 pages of testimony and 180 hours of video evidence had been collected, he worried that authorities wanted to keep the case out of the spotlight.

Peimbert made the trip to Washington to create alliances that allow us to make the subject visible and give voice to those who have no voice and who are victims of this serious aggression, he said, adding it was very dangerous for victims in Oaxaca.

Trump signs four bills set
to roll back Obama policies

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Donald Trump signed four bills Monday that roll back what the White House calls job-killing rules and Washington power grabs instituted by former president Barack Obama.

They include regulations barring companies from getting federal contracts if they have a history of wage, labor or safety violations.

Trump called this a blacklisting rule that threatens American businesses and workers. "This rule made it too easy for trial lawyers to get rich by going after American companies and American workers who contract with the federal government."

He signed the bill in the White House in front of a group of female business owners.

Trump also signed three other measures, two of which the White House says put limits on how states assess school and teacher performance, and another that puts more land-management decisions in state hands.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer says Trump has so far signed six bills getting rid of what he calls unnecessary and burdensome rules, but alarming many Democrats who fear regulations protecting consumers, children and the environment will take big steps backward.

The president plans to sign an executive order Tuesday that would scrap Obama cuts in power plant emissions blamed for global warming.

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt says the president's actions are part of a pro-growth and pro-environment approach.

Spinach used to grow
heart cells, study says

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Spinach is known as a super food for its nutritional value, but a new experiment reveals another power of the green leaf.

Researchers say they’ve grown beating human heart cells on spinach leaves, using the vascular network of the plant to transport fluids. The finding could eventually lead to being able to grow working human cardiac tissue that could one day be used to replace heart cells damaged by heart attacks.

“Plants and animals exploit fundamentally different approaches to transporting fluids, chemicals, and macromolecules, yet there are surprising similarities in their vascular network structures,” said researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Arkansas State University-Jonesboro.

The breakthrough is important because so far, bioengineering such as 3-D printing, can’t replicate the complex system of blood vessels in the human body that deliver the oxygen, nutrients, and essential molecules required for proper tissue growth.

For the experiment, researchers first stripped plant cells from spinach leaves and passed beads the size of human blood cells through the leftover vascular system and seeded the spinach veins with human cells that line our blood vessels.

Researchers added that other plants have been shown to offer the same kind of promise, including parsley, Artemesia annua (sweet wormwood), and peanut hairy roots.

“The spinach leaf might be better suited for a highly vascularized tissue, like cardiac tissue, whereas the cylindrical hollow structure of the stem of Impatiens capensis, or jewelweed, might better suit an arterial graft. Conversely, the vascular columns of wood might be useful in bone engineering due to their relative strength and geometries,” the authors wrote.

Using plants could also be economical.

“By exploiting the benign chemistry of plant tissue scaffolds, we could address the many limitations and high costs of synthetic, complex composite materials. Plants can be easily grown using good agricultural practices and under controlled environments,” researchers said.

The paper, “Crossing kingdoms: Using decelluralized plants as perfusable tissue engineering scaffolds” is published online in advance of the May 2017 issue of the journal Biomaterials.

Senate Committee delays
action on court nominee

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Senate Judiciary Committee delayed action on President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, as Democrats continued to fume over Republicans' refusal to consider former president Barack Obama's pick for the same vacancy, created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia more than a year ago.

Democrats exercised their right Monday to put off committee debate and a vote on Gorsuch for one week as partisan divides deepened on the appellate judge and the possibility appeared to grow of a showdown that could trigger a historic change in Senate rules.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the committee's top Democrat, said Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, was highly qualified but couldn't get a hearing when Republicans insisted that no high court nominee be considered during the heat of a presidential election campaign. She then read a long list of justices stretching back to George Washington's presidency who were confirmed in the final year of a presidential term.

The committee's chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican of Iowa, sat next to Sen. Feinstein but did not respond. At the start of the meeting, he praised Gorsuch as a worthy addition to the Supreme Court.

In refusing to consider Garland, Republicans have repeatedly quoted former Vice President Joe Biden who, as a Democratic senator in 1992, argued against filling any Supreme Court vacancy that might arise in the final year of the George H. W. Bush presidency.

No such vacancy arose and Biden's words were never acted upon, but Republicans have since argued that Biden's admonition created a precedent for the Senate to follow.

A steady stream of Democrats has announced opposition to Gorsuch since last week's confirmation hearings, most notably Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who announced his caucus' intention to require three-fifth's backing for a final vote on the nomination in the full chamber, likely next month.

Should Democrats follow through, Republicans, who control 52 seats in the 100-member Senate, would need eight Democrats to join them to advance Gorsuch. Or, as the majority, Republicans could change Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, allowing Gorsuch and all who follow to be confirmed by simple majority votes.

A rules change has been called the nuclear option, as it would alter the very nature of the Senate, a body that historically has afforded the minority party the ability to thwart or delay the will of the majority.

Democrats themselves changed the rules in 2013 when they controlled the chamber, eliminating the filibuster for all presidential nominees other than Supreme Court picks. In doing so, they facilitated the confirmation of Obama's nominees, which Republicans continually filibustered at the time.

That change in rules has made it easier for Republicans to confirm Trump's cabinet picks to date.

House Intel chairman refuses
request to recuse himself

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said Monday he had no intention of recusing himself from the committee's investigation into Russian surveillance.

Congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence panel, released a statement calling for Nunes to step down.

Nunes met a source on White House grounds before making his disclosure last week that President Donald Trump was caught up in incidental surveillance, according to his spokesman Jack Langer. Langer told reporters Monday that Nunes wanted to have proximity to a secure location where he could view the information provided by the source.

Previously, Nunes would not say where he met his source, and has still not revealed the identity of the source.

"He did the exact right thing from beginning to end and there really is a concerted effort out to undermine him," Rep. Peter King, a Republican from New York, said of Nunes' actions. "He's really on to something, that's why."

King said members of the committee stand by Nunes despite calls from Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, for Nunes to step down.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters Monday he does not know where Nunes got his information, but said Nunes has said he did not meet with anyone from the White House staff. He said Nunes also has made clear that he had multiple sources for his allegations.

When asked if the meeting creates a perception problem between Nunes and the White House, Spicer said Nunes was doing his job to investigate allegations of surveillance and was being upfront with journalists about his activities.

Last week, Nunes announced that he received information from an undisclosed source that conversations by Trump and his staff had been swept up in incidental collection activities by U.S. spy agencies targeting foreign agents.

Nunes spoke with reporters and the president about the material without informing any of the other 21 members of the House Intelligence Committee, angering Democrats on the committee who questioned Nunes' credibility.

Nunes later apologized to the committee for not first telling them about the information.

Trump, who earlier this month tweeted unsubstantiated allegations that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped his campaign while he ran for office, has said he was somewhat vindicated by Nunes' statement about the surveillance.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey has said there is no information to support Trump's allegation that Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower in New York. Trump has asked Congress to investigate.

More news of the Americas
From the Voice of America

Real estate services
Real estate for sale
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Real estate for sale (paid category)

Plantation Acres
This exiting new project offers spectacular home sites with breathtaking ocean and forest views stated on 100 acres of tropical forest.

* On-site Welcome Center
* Located between Punta Leona and Playa Agujas
* At just an hour from San José, the capital city.
* 5 minutes from Los Sueños Marina and 18 Hole Ted Robinson Golf Course
* 10 minutes from Jacó Beach, Costa Rica’s lives beach town

Johnny Lopez
Phone: (506) 8945-5820 / (506) 2643-3356

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:
Community Web Site:
Photos: HERE!
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:

                                    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 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 

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

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:

Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

                                      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

                                        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!

Playa Panama Click Here!

Playa Hermosa Click Here!
Peninsula Papagayo Click Here!

Playa Matapalo Click Here!
Toll Free 1-877-293-1456


Real estate-related services (paid category)

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
     For more info also see our sites: 
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 

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!

NOW is the time to install our new super-efficient solar hot water! New model for condos
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.
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Office: 506-2446-0543
Andre 506-8314-8090
Paul 506-8898-9398

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news page

San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 28, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 62
Real estate
About us

News from the BBC up to the minute

BBC news feeds are disabled on archived pages.
Latin news from the BBC up to the minute

Platina almost done, public works says

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Alfredo González Flores bridge over the Río Virilla is finishing its crawl to completion as 80 percent of the work is done, according to the public works ministry.

The bridge, colloquially known as the platina, has opened up some lanes since last week for regular traffic. From midnight to noon, it is the two lanes going toward San José that are open for transit, while only one is open going toward Alajuela. From noon to midnight, it flips and two lanes going back to Alajuela are open while one lane is open toward those going into the capital.

All that is left, according to the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes, is laying down the concrete, change the rivets and do some paint on the steel. The lanes being worked on now will be the ones going toward Alajuela when the bridge is opened. The ministry said that the added reinforcement work on the bridge will increase the load capacity by 70 percent.

The ministry did not estimate when the platina would be reopened again. It was closed back in January for the major construction project in expanding the lanes available for traffic. The bridge represents one of the major arteries between San José and Juan Santamaría international airport in Alajuela.

U.S. Embassy offers $1.5 million in grants

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Embassy announced that it is prepared to give $1.5 million to organizations that want to strengthen institutions to counter the effects of organized crime, up hold the rule of law, and protect human rights.

Application is not for amateurs. The grant requirements on the embassy webpage run to nearly 8,000 words.

This is another project using money from the Central America Regional Security Initiative, the program that has lavished millions in police and military equipment on Costa Rica as well as armored vehicles, patrol boats, coast guard stations and similar.

The embassy said the plan calls for issuing five grants not to exceed $1.5 million at the start of next U.S. fiscal year. That means the entire plan is subject to the budget cuts that the Donald Trump administration has presented to Congress for next year. However, the White House has appeared friendly to continuing the war on drugs.

The embassy announcement said that institution building is coupled with both prevention projects that dissuade at-risk youth from turning to crime and gangs and community policing projects that engage local communities on citizen security issues.

More specifically, the embassy announcement said: “Proposals should be oriented toward activities by civil society organizations working to improve, expand or complement the delivery of government services, particularly to vulnerable and/or marginalized communities and in areas outside of the Central Valley in an effort to help create strong, capable, and accountable governments.  Examples of potential activities include, but are not limited to, projects intended to improve the provision of government services, and projects that will improve the capacity of government transparency and e-government initiatives.”

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From Page 7:

International crime worth trillions, group says

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Transnational crime, or crimes committed across international borders, is growing at a faster pace than many realize, partly because the international community is not paying a lot of attention to it. That's the conclusion from Global Financial Integrity, a non-profit Washington think tank that tracks illicit financial flows across borders.

The group's latest findings estimate that transnational crime is worth between $1.6 to $2.2 trillion per year. The think tank says the lion's share of illicitly generated funds around the globe comes from counterfeiting, worth between $923 billion to $1.13 trillion per year, followed by drug trafficking which generates between $426 to $652 billion in illegal funds annually.

“Transnational crime is a business, and business is very good,” said Channing May, author of “Transnational Crime and the Developing World.” Less understood are the lasting and negative consequences for governments and the economies of developing countries, Ms. May said.

“Very rarely do the revenues from transnational crime have any long-term benefit to citizens, communities or economies of developing countries. Instead, the crimes undermine local and national economies, destroy the environment and jeopardize the health and well-being of the public,” said Ms. May.

Of the top 10 illegal revenue generators around the globe, human trafficking is ranked in fourth place, generating roughly $150 billion per year, followed by illegal mining, worth upwards of $48 billion. In eighth place, crude oil theft is valued between $5 to $12 billion, and in 10th place, the trafficking of human organs may be worth as much as $1.7 billion per year.

The report says shutting down the global shadow financial system that facilitates the movement and transfer of illicitly generated funds is technically not a difficult undertaking, but rather a matter of political will.

The organization’s program manager Christine Clough said recommendations include greater financial transparency and regulations requiring all corporations to declare the nature and the ultimate beneficiaries of doing business within countries.

“Networks involved in these illicit markets are akin to major global corporations: they need access to finance and banking to be profitable to continue operating,” said Ms. Clough.

The complete report will be released Wednesday in Washington and is based on a compilation of statistics from various government and non-governmental bodies and law enforcement sources.