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Published Tuesday, April 11, 2017, in Vol. 17, No. 72
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Water bill for some yields staggering jump in cost
By Rommel Téllez
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A sudden rise in the water bill is hitting some of the residents and business owners from Playa Hermosa and Esterillos Oeste hard. Both areas are located in the Pacific province of Puntarenas.

Those affected claim that costs are at least 10 times higher, which make them fear about their accessibility to the natural resource.

The hike in the costs is a consequence of a change in the distribution system that took place about two months ago, when the local Asociación Administradoras de Sistemas de Acueductos y Alcantarillados Comunal, an association in charge of managing water distribution in rural areas, ceased to provide the service.

From there the Instituto National de Acueductos y Alcantarillados took over, according to Gilles Guertin, one of the residents affected.

“I used to pay about 9,000 colons a month and now I have a bill for 96,000 for the period of January and February, I already checked everywhere and I don't have a leak. Of that I am sure. I already filed the complaint before the authorities and they told me to wait after Semana Santa. The problem is that I think I'll have to pay anyways.” he said.

Acueductos y Alcantarillados could not be reached due to its offices being closed for Semana Santa.


Another person affected is Nome Lakin, who
Water
                            price goes up
A.M. Costa Rica graphic
Some places are seeing a higher water bill.

runs Encantada Cabins. According to him, his
bill went from an average of 28,000 colons to 249,000. An amount, he says, he is sure he did not spend.

“And to top it off, we are getting brown, unclean water not for consumption, that costs four times as much as the water a normal resident has to pay,” he explained.

Lakin said that Acueductos is charging him 1,200 colons per cubic meter of water, while people with no business pay 300, a difference he considered too high.

“I've been to three meetings with other neighbors who are gathering to face the situation. We will probably hire a lawyer for this matter,” he said.

According to the Acueductos website, the current fees for residents are 346 colons per cubic meter and 1,366 colons for the same amount in the case of businesses.

These prices increase once the 15 cubic meters are consumed. If a company or a person uses more than 60 cubic meters per month, then the price is 1,657 for both.



Hotline tips drop while crime is said to be rising
By Conor Golden,
News Editor for A.M. Costa Rica

The hotline to submit an anonymous tip to the drug police has apparently been used less and less over the past couple years.

According to data from the Policía de Control de Drogas, the hotline received around 4,908 calls and 7,733 complaints in 2016.

That is an average of 13 calls and 21 complaints each day, police said. By comparison, there were 6,949 calls and 11,136 complaints recorded for 2015 and, in 2014, 7,761 calls were put on record along with 11,088 complaints.

Authorities said that citizens’ calls often lead them to determine who are involved in drug trafficking groups and how to dismantle organized crime in Costa Rica.

The drug police insist that the confidentiality of those who report or make a complaint is guaranteed. So why has there been a decrease in these calls?

It cannot be due to crime going down. By all accounts, from the U.S. State Department to the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública’s own statements, crime and, particularly violent crime, is on the rise in Costa Rica.

A substantial majority of press releases or announcements sent out by the ministry or the Judicial Investigating Organization repeat a common story of a drug bust, finding drugs on a person or in a vehicle, or a raid that yielded the capture or arrest of suspected traffickers.

Back in February, Gustavo Mata Vega, the head of the security ministry, came before the legislative assembly to ask for more money to receive more equipment and add more manpower.

Over 1,500 more police are being added to the ranks of the security ministry, which already has 10,000 officers.

These include: the Fuerza Pública, frontier police, members of the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas and the Servicio de Vigilancia Áerea.

Mata in his visit to the legislature listed the hardware his ministry recently acquired. This includes two airplanes and two boats. The arrival of three helicopters is awaited.

In addition, the ministry has at least one King Air, a top-of-the-line turboprop luxury plane, that was confiscated on the Caribbean coast, as well as a handful of other aircraft. The previous administration of the United States is providing $25 to $30 million more in equipment, according to the U.S. Embassy.

If more money and equipment is necessary, then some expats could interpret that the rise in crime and the threat to regional security and stability by drugs, gangs and other organized crime entities is influencing these decisions.

Foreign governments seem to share the same impression.

police
                            forces
Casa Presidencial photo
Fuerza Pública officers of Limón pose.

In January, the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office included Costa Rica on a list of countries where British citizens traveling this summer should exercise a high degree of caution.

The U.S. Embassy to Costa Rica notes on its website that “crime is increasing in Costa Rica and U.S. citizens are frequent victims."

The embassy quickly assures that most of it is non-violent, they do note that there has been an increase in it. The U.S. Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council said:

“The most widely used indicator of crime is the homicide rate, which reached a record high in 2015. There were 566 murders, marking a 20 percent increase over the 471 murders registered in 2014. The murder rate was approximately 11.5 per 100,000 inhabitants by the end of 2015, surpassing the threshold of 10 per 100,000 that the World Health Organization considers to be an endemic level of homicide.”

The Judicial Investigating Organization reported 577 recorded homicides in 2016, surpassing that record high. In relation to drugs, the Canadian government warns its citizens traveling to Costa Rica that:

“Drug trafficking is increasing in Costa Rica. Local consumption of illicit narcotics, particularly crack cocaine, is a concern in the country, along with the continued rise in drug-related violent crimes, including homicides.”

This information is paralleled with the Costa Rican government’s own announcement of a nationwide crackdown of crime and drug trafficking beginning May 1.

This announcement follows what has been a string of incidents and raids leading to busts of large quantities of substances like marijuana, K2, crack and cocaine.

It also follows operations already ongoing in the wars on drugs and crime. After a Canadian tourist was found brutally murdered in Puerto Viejo, the security ministry quickly announced in March a complete sweep throughout the Caribbean section of the country. The results of this have mostly been minor drug busts and a show of force.

The decrease in calls to the hotline seem to not point toward a decrease in the level of crime. It could be that fewer people are submitting tips due to a feeling of hopelessness that the problem cannot be stemmed no matter how many or who is arrested. And in many communities there is fear of contacting police in the first place.


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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 11, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 72
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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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Juan Santamaría Day is a legal holiday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Today, Tuesday, April 11 marks the victory of Costa Rican forces in the battle of Rivas. Drummer boy Juan Santamaría sacrificed his life to salvage the battle as a victory for the Costa Ricans, who were a part of a wider coalition of Central American nations, and a repelling of the foreign invasion by William Walker and his mercenary band of filibusters. This is a legal holiday in Costa Rica with a major parade in Alajuela, the birthplace of Juan Santamaría.

All government and state-owned entities have the day off and many private companies or organizations recognize it as a day off work as well.


Santa Cruz halts Tamarindo building


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The municipal council of Santa Cruz, which governs Playa Tamarindo, ordered a temporary hold on construction for a cafeteria and restaurant that are proposed to be built near the beach’s Parque Pico Pequeño.

A hearing last Tuesday of the Consejo Municipalidad and the mayor unanimously agreed to suspend the works based on an earlier report by a special committee that investigated the case. The problems began in March, according to the Cámara de Comercio y Turismo de Tamarindo, when residents and the group began to oppose the development of these new businesses on public ground.

The initiative to develop the park began back in 2013 in an area defined by the municipality and declared public by the consejo three years later, according to the cámara. The proposed park would have public parking and varying facilities for the public use. Hernán Imhoff, the president of the group, said that around 400 people went to the site to sign a petition in support of maintaining the park for public use.

The decision to halt the works at Parque Pico Pequeño will continue until April 25.


Canton issues public zone herbicide ban

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Pérez Zeledón has become the first Costa Rica canton to forbid the use of herbicides in public spaces, according to the Federación Conservacionista de Costa Rica.

The measure was approved Thursday night by the municipal council, and it encourages the use of organic alternatives in parks, gardens and any other space designed for public use.

According to Mauricio Àlvarez, president of the Federación, this is a big success for the ecological agenda carried out by different organizations in the country, such as Asociación Montaña Verde, Asociación Vida Auténtica and the Coalición Nacional contra la Fumigación.

“This means we won't have kids playing in sites that have been sprayed with toxic herbicides such as the well known Glyphosate. It also means that there is an interest of the population to move towards more sustainable ways of living,” Álvarez said.

In a statement released on March 20, 2015, the International Agency for the Research of Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, said that glyphosate is classified as probably carcinogenic to humans.  A year later the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization found that the chemical was “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet.”

Glyphosate is the most produced herbicide worldwide for agricultural purposes. The chemical is also used in forestry, urban, and home applications. The general population is exposed primarily through residence near sprayed areas, home use, and in diet.

According to data from Promotora de Comercio Exterior, as of December 2016, Costa Rica had imported $35 million in herbicides. This amount equals to three times that of 2006, said Henry Picado, one of the activists who was present during the event at Municipalidad de Pérez Zeledón.

In the last few years, several ecological organizations have also moved towards the municipalities to achieve their goal of making Costa Rica a country free of genetically modified organisms. As of today, 75 out of 81 municipalities have banned these products, according to data from the Federación's website.



Student project
Tecnológico de Costa Rica photo        
Teachers and students both participated in the designs.

Student projects opens up museum square

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Students from the Tecnológico de Costa Rica’s school of architecture gave a bit of a cosmetic lift to the Museo de Arte Costarricense Monday.

The group of aspiring architects were part of an initiative organized by the school that seeks to develop and combine creative as much as critical skills with practicality. Jorge Sancho, a professor at the architecture school, explained that the students were divided into eight work groups with assignments at different areas of the museum.

Using fabric, rope, wire and paint, the students were challenged with creating and designing their own segment in the square that marks the front entrance to the museum.

One group, according to the institute, said that its project was designed with inspiration from Parque La Sabana, where the museum is located, being the first international airport in Costa Rica. A large hanging structure symbolizing an airplane was accompanied by small airplanes suspended along the sidewalk that passes in front of the museum.

Marcos Valverde, another professor, said that the general idea behind these projects by students was to recover the square in front of the museum for the citizenry. “This square is a physical barrier that prevents someone from approaching this museum that has one of the best collections of art in the country,” he said, “That is why we want to transform it into a space that invites people to enter the museum.”


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A.M.
Costa Rica

Third News Page
U.S. Tax
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 11, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 72
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Authorities advise caution if practicing fasting for Semana Santa
By Rommel Téllez
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Health authorities have issued a warning to all residents who follow the Semana Santa tradition of fasting.

According to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, this ritual should be done in a way that does not compromise the wellbeing of people.

Expats may be wondering as to why this warning was issued. Some may know that the Catholic season of Lent brings with it a lack of meat in the diet of devout Catholics on Fridays, but fasting entirely? It appears to be more common than one may originally think in Costa Rica.

According to Sonia Chaverri, the health director for the agency, fasting should be a decision made in consultation with a doctor or other medical professional.

This is particularly true for people with chronic diseases or illnesses such as diabetes and hypotension, pregnant women, minors and seniors over 60 years old, because of a higher risk of dehydration and metabolic disorders, she said.

She also said patients must continue with their medications as well and stop the ritual if signs of weakness, confusion, restlessness, fainting, perspiration, trembling, tachycardia and fatigue appear.

For Christians, the ritual of fasting come from the tales of the Old Testament and made its way through the New Testament, with Jesus practicing it himself when wandering the desert for 40 days while being tempted by the Devil.

That wandering led to the eventual period in the Christian calendar called Lent, of which Semana Santa, or Holy Week, also represents the final week.

“There are a lot of Catholics who follow this tradition, especially on Good Friday. However our church does not require a strict practice of it, especially if they might have any special problems,” said Francisco Mata, a priest at the Catedral de San José.


He also explained that the spirit of fasting is that of purification and solidarity. It means that a person decides to eat less and have more to share with the poor. 
A similar opinion has Roberto Venegas, pastor of the Iglesia Presbiteriana Reformada de Costa Rica.

He said fasting is welcomed as a practice but his church does
St. Paul
                    the Hermit
Wikipedia photo
Early Christian aesthetics, such as St. Paul the Hermit seen here, were known to sometimes fast.

not  demand it from its followers. Opposite to the Catholics case, he thinks just a few members actually do it.

“ I sometimes do it for very personal reasons but our doctrine is different in that sense. We rather encourage work with poorer persons than fasting,” he added.

For those who choose to practice it, fruit or vegetable shakes are recommended since they contain the fiber needed for a proper level of glucose in the bloodstream, according to Maricruz Ramírez, a nutritionist in Promoción de la Salud department at Caja.

If the person just wants to make one meal a day, it should contain carbohydrates. Some ideas are cereals, grains, cookies, eggs, potatoes, cheese, yogurt, milk, soy, avocado, olives and seeds.



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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 11, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 72
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Tropical logging debris threatens sea turtle hatchlings, study says
By the University of Exeter press staff

Debris from logging in tropical forests is threatening the survival of hatchling leatherback turtles and the success of mothers at one of the world’s most important nesting sites in Colombia.

New research by the University of Exeter and the Doñana Biological Station in Seville, Spain, has found that debris on beaches caused by logging activity is impacting both young turtles and their mothers during the key periods of their life cycles.

Leatherbacks are at particular risk of being caught up in fishing nets and longlines as by-catch, because they are migratory, traveling long distances worldwide.

Many breeding sites are already under pressure from tourism. But now, research published in the journal “Marine Ecology Progress Series” has revealed that the logging is an additional, previously underestimated threat.

To nest and breed successfully, females must be able to cross the sandy beaches to dig their nest to successfully incubate their eggs.

In turn, hatchlings must be able to cross the sand unaccompanied to reach the water. Researchers found that the beach debris hindered this movement.

The team monitored 216 turtles, comparing their activity in areas with high amounts of debris to low amounts, in a globally significant nesting site in Colombia. They also manipulated the amount of debris to see how it changed behavior.

They found that females which nested in areas with higher amounts of debris spent more time building their nest and tended to do so closer to the shoreline.

This meant they were more vulnerable to flooding, which puts their eggs at risk. Some females were even wounded in the process.

turtles
University of Exeter photo
Debris is impacting both young turtles and their mothers.

The debris also meant it took longer for hatchlings to reach the sea, increasing their chance of being eaten by predators and meaning they had to expend more energy, making them more vulnerable.

Brendan Godley, director of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall, is a co-author on the research. He said:

“Leatherback turtles are already under immense pressure, from fisheries by-catch and are also one of the species prone to ingesting marine plastic litter. Our research clearly indicates that logging presents another threat. It is now paramount that beach clean-up operations are built into logging activities to prevent further damage to this species.”

Adolfo Marco Llorente, of the Doñana Biological Station, said:
“Although logging debris does not affect rates of nesting, it has a significant impact on where and how nests are built, which negatively affects both mothers and hatchlings."

"This is on a scale that could lead over time to reduction of the overall population. Simple measures could make a real difference, such as re-positioning organic waste areas, or salvaging the wood debris as an energy source. It’s also essential that logging practices that reduce the impact on the marine environment are implemented.”


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The Relocation/Retirement tour with the
 *HIGHEST SUCCESS RATE
OF RELOCATION*

 (as reported by the moving companies)
Visit many rental options to actually experience the price/amenity options available in more of the areas chosen by Expats for security, comfort, and quality of life.

Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!
HERE!

Ask the others what you get for your money, and then compare the quality of accommodations, quality, quantity and variety of food and drink to measure the best value for your money. 

Learn how others “talk the talk” and learn who really can “walk the walk”

Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
George Lundquist, retirement, relocation columnist, Guide & Developer/Builder. lundquistgeorge@gmail.com

George Lundquist

experience Costa Rica
Costa Rica Travel In Paradise Group Tours

Looking for easy booking process for a smooth Costa Rica trip?   We customize wonderful trips to Costa Rica.  We offer you our wealth of knowledge for a great experience . . . a trip of a lifetime!!!

* FAMILY VACATIONS. Our travels take into account the different ages of your family enjoy the most from your Family vacations. Click HERE!

* GROUP TOURS. Whether for a church group, couple of friends, Scout troop or a family group. We provide excellent quality service in your Group Tours. Click HERE!

* EDUCATIONAL TOURS. Tours for universities to schools to elementary schools. We have professionals to help you discover the secrets of Costa Rica in a fun way. Costa Rica Educational Tours. Click HERE!

* GUIDED TOURS. General holiday planning giving you the best value for your investment Costa Rica vacation Packages. Click HERE!

Contact us: 
Dial toll FREE from USA or Canada:  1.800.901.0114
CR local phone:  +506-2274-3231
Cells:  +506-8380-5919  and +506-8302-5877
Email:  info@travelinparadisecr.com
Web:  www.travelinparadisecr.com
8995-4/17/17

Here's reasonable medical care
Costa Rica's world class medical specialists are at your command. Get the top care for much less than U.S. prices. It is really a great way to spend a vacation. See our list of recommended professionals HERE!amcr-prom



Need a book about Costa Rica?


Check out our special selections available at Amazon
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HERE!

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Real estate rentals
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Real estate-related services (paid category)

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!

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NOW is the time to install our new super-efficient solar hot water! New model for condos
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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.

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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 
9118-6/26/17

Real estate rentals (paid category)


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, Tuesday, April 11, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 72
Calendar
Opinion
Classifieds
Real Estate
Lifestyle
Food
About us
 
Gunman kills teacher-wife
in an elementary school

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. police say a gunman opened fire at a southern California elementary school Monday, killing his estranged wife, in a murder-suicide that also left an 8-year old student dead.

Police said 53-year old Cedric Anderson entered San Bernardino's North Park Elementary School and shot dead special education teacher Karen Elaine Smith, also 53, before shooting himself.

San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan, said two students who were standing behind Smith were also struck by gunfire. Both were airlifted to a nearby hospital where 8-year-old Jonathan Martinez died of his injuries. Another boy, aged 9, was initially listed in critical condition, but police say he is now stable.

Authorities say they do not believe the two students were targeted by the shooter and were believed to have been caught in the gunfire unintentionally.

Burguan said Anderson and Ms. Smith had been married only a few months and were estranged for at least one month. He said Anderson had a criminal history of weapons charges as well as domestic violence.

Authorities said Anderson gained entrance to the school as a visitor and kept his weapon, a large-caliber revolver, concealed until he began firing inside the classroom.

The classroom was for special needs students in the first through fourth grades.

North Park Elementary School, which has around 600 students, was evacuated and the students bused to the nearby campus of California State University at San Bernardino. Television footage showed the students walking hand-in-hand across the campus, escorted by police officers.

San Bernardino is about an hour's drive east of Los Angeles. The city is the site of the December 2015 terror attack in which a newlywed couple inspired by Islamic State opened fire at a county government office party, killing 14 people.


Polls display strike approval
but not more military action


 By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Two new U.S. public opinion polls show Americans support President Donald Trump's missile attacks on Syria for its use of chemical weapons, but have little appetite for further military action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

A CBS News poll showed that by a 57-to-36 percent margin, those surveyed favored Trump's assault last week, when the U.S. launched 59 missiles at an airfield believed to have served as a base for Syria's gas attacks that killed dozens and sickened hundreds more.

A Huffington Post/You Gov survey showed a 51-to-32 percent edge in favor of Trump's decision, the first direct U.S. attack on Syria during its six-year civil war.

But both polls showed only about a fifth of those polled want the U.S. leader to take further military action against the Damascus government.

The CBS poll said seven in 10 Americans think Trump should get congressional approval before taking any further action. The Huffington poll said that only a third of those it polled think that Trump's missile attack will deter Assad from using chemical weapons again.

Trump's approval ratings were in the mid-to-upper 30 percent range before the attacks, historic lows for a new U.S. leader. But CBS said the figure has now risen to 43 percent, while a separate pollster, Gallup, said Trump's approval rating stands at 40 percent.


Status remains unclear
over U.S.-Russia hotline


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United States military says it is still able to deconflict operations with Russia over Syria, but it is unclear whether the two militaries are still using the two countries' established hotline, aimed at preventing midair collisions of their warplanes in Syrian airspace.

U.S. Central Command spokesman Air Force Col. John Thomas told reporters Monday that the U.S. military had used the line of communication last week to notify the Russians about the impending U.S. strike on a Syrian airfield in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack that killed more than 80 Syrian civilians.

"The regularly scheduled call did go off as normal the next day," Thomas said. "After that, we're not going to talk about the status of the deconfliction line because we're just going to let the situation settle and see what happens."

Moscow asserted on Friday that it had suspended those communications in protest against the April 6 Tomahawk cruise missile strike on al-Shayrat airfield.

The communication line is primarily used to ensure that Russian and U.S. planes conducting combat missions in Syria do not get into unintentional confrontations. The U.S. is using the airspace to conduct strikes against Islamic State terrorists.

Thomas said the U.S. has continued to deconflict as necessary with the Russians using all of the available means, but he declined to comment on whether the U.S.-Russia hotline was still available for use.

Also Monday, Secretary of Defense James Mattis issued a statement on the U.S. strike on al-Shayrat, calling it a measured response to the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons.

Mattis said President Donald Trump directed this action to deter future use of chemical weapons and to show the United States will not passively stand by while Assad murders innocent people with chemical weapons, which are prohibited by international law and which were declared destroyed.

The defense secretary noted that the strike on the Syrian airfield resulted in the damage or destruction of fuel and ammunition sites, air defense capabilities, and 20 percent of Syria's operational aircraft.


Malaysian customs seizes
$3 million in rhino horns


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Malaysian customs officials said Monday they have confiscated 18 rhino horns, weighing more than 51 kilograms, and valued at over $3 million.

Customs said they found the horns in a crate Friday at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport cargo terminal after receiving an anonymous tip.

The haul had been shipped from Mozambique via a Qatar Airways flight with false documentation, classifying the horns as “obre de arte” — or work of art.

Rhino horn global trade is banned under a United Nations convention. Malaysian officials say the case is under investigation and no suspects have been arrested.

Rhino horns have been used for centuries in traditional Asian medicine, but they have not been proven to cure any illnesses.

The wild rhino population at the start of the 20th century was 500,000, but has since dwindled to 29,000.


New York lawmakers pass tuition-free college plan

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Lawmakers in the state of New York have approved a plan to provide free tuition for lower- and middle-class students attending the City University of New York and the State University of New York.

The new initiative, called the Excelsior Scholarship Program, comes as part of the 2018 New York State Budget, which was approved Sunday.

Starting in the fall of 2017, students from households making less than $100,000 will be eligible for the free tuition, with the annual household income threshold increasing to $110,000 in 2018 and $125,000 in 2019.

As part of the program, eligible students are required to take 30 academic credits per year and to live in, or work in, the state following graduation for as many years as they received the aid, which is available for up to five years.

State University Chairman Carl McCall and Chancellor Nancy Zimpher praised the plan, calling it truly groundbreaking.

"With investment to bring a SUNY education within reach for all New Yorkers, this year's budget is affirmation from the State that our colleges and universities offer a top-quality higher education that prepares students for career success and is among the most affordable in the world," they said in a statement.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo estimates that some 942,000 students will be eligible for the program, or around 75 percent of the college-age students in the state.

Critics of the program point out that low-income students are likely to benefit from it the least. The scholarship does not remove tuition, but covers the difference between tuition and existing aid. As a result, many low-income students will still need loans to cover expenses such as room and board, textbooks and school fees, which can cost thousands per year.

The state budget includes an $8 million provision to provide open educational resources, including e-books, to students at those colleges to help defray the cost of textbooks.

The State University of New York is composed of some 64 college and university campuses located throughout New York state and has an in-state tuition of $6,470 per year. While City University of New York, which operates some 11 colleges and seven community colleges, costs $6,330 a year.


U.S. quits case against Twitter
to reveal anti-Trump account


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. government on Friday dropped its effort to force Twitter to identify users behind an account critical of President Donald Trump, the social media company said.

In response, Twitter said it was dropping a federal lawsuit against the U.S. government that challenged the request to unmask the users.

Twitter had sued just a day earlier, claiming the government overstepped its authority in issuing a summons to reveal the account owners.

The lawsuit said that the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection had sought the identity of the users of Twitter handle @ALT-USCIS.

The account describes itself as immigration resistance. Its creators told media outlets the account is run by current and former employees of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is overseen by the Department of Homeland Security.

It is one of several alternative handles purportedly created by current federal employees unhappy with the Trump administration.

It was not immediately clear why the government withdrew its effort to identify the Twitter users. It was also not immediately known whether the government had closed an investigation it said it was conducting into the Twitter account.

The American Civil Liberties Union praised the government's decision to withdraw its request, saying in a tweet, "Big victory for free speech and the right to dissent."

Gorsuch sworn in as justice
for U.S. Supreme Court


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

On a gorgeous spring morning in the White House Rose Garden, Neil Gorsuch was sworn in Monday as the 113th Supreme Court justice, filling the seat vacated by the death of Antonin Scalia 14 months ago, bringing the bench to full strength, and restoring its previous ideological balance.

It was the culmination of an ugly political battle that changed the workings of the Senate, damaged its reputation for collegial debate, and removed once and for all the illusion that the selection of Supreme Court justices is non-political.

With President Donald Trump looking on approvingly in the warm sunshine, the 49-year old Gorsuch took the oath of office from Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom he once served as a law clerk. This is the first time a sitting justice will hear cases on the bench alongside a former clerk.

Moments after taking the oath, the new Justice Gorsuch told a packed Rose Garden crowd he is humbled by the trust placed to him.

"I won't ever forget that the seat I inherit today is that of a very, very great man," he said, referring to Justice Scalia. “And I promise you that I will do all my powers permit to be a faithful servant of the Constitution and laws of this great nation.”

Gorsuch’s admiration for the man he replaced suggests he will continue Justice Scalia’s support for the concept known as the unitary executive, which favors stronger presidential power on foreign matters, including the conduct of war.

“There is ongoing litigation to try to challenge the extent of presidential war powers with regard to ISIS,” says Stephen Griffin, professor of constitutional law at Tulane University in New Orleans. “If a challenge were to go up to the court on war powers, I think he would not be in favor of restricting presidential power in this area.”

The elevation of Justice Gorsuch restores the political balance on the Supreme Court that existed before Scalia’s death, with four justices considered reliably conservative, four who vote consistently liberal, and Justice Kennedy, a moderate seen as the most influential justice because he is considered the swing vote on the court.

Stephen Wermiel, professor of constitutional law at American University in Washington, says that while Gorsuch restores the court’s traditional balance, a second Trump appointee could throw the court into uncharted territory. He notes that two of the three oldest justices, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Steven Breyer, are members of the liberal wing. The other is the swing vote, Kennedy.

Conservative activists attending the Gorsuch swearing were excited about a possible shift in the court’s balance.

Legal scholars soon will have a chance to see Justice Gorsuch in action when the Supreme Court meets to take up the final 13 cases of the current term.


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
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

Contact:
Johnny Lopez
Phone: (506) 8945-5820 / (506) 2643-3356
Email: johnny@c21jaco.com
9141-3/23/18
9141-3/23/189173-9/1/17

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
9196-4/25/17

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
9183-6/13/17

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

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
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 11, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 72
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Poas volcano
Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica photo   
Volcán Poás murmured a little bit with activity lately.

Poás showing some signs of activity

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There seems to be an increasing amount of rumbling and grumbling from the Poás volcano, according to reports from the Universidad Nacional’s Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico.

The gases emitted from the volcano appear to be changing towards a more magma-like substance since the end of March, the observatory said. There has also been a substantial increase of seismic activity and a change in the volcano’s shape that suggest the volcano is rising and splitting itself up in simple terms.

The crater lake at Poás has also jumped five degrees in temperature in just one week, the observatory said, from 35 to 40 degrees C. The color of the lake has changed to a more gray tone.

“These changes suggest the occurrence of a small magma intrusion that, considering the activity observed in recent years, could lead to a dome warming and increased fumarolic activity and/or the sudden reactivation of energy phreatic eruptions similar to those observed between the years 2006 to 2014,” a statement from observatory officials said.

The volcano periodically sputters a bit of activity before calming down again. It remains inactive for the moment, but is not considered dormant.


Cruz Roja upping Holy Week actions

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Over 700 members of the Costa Rican Cruz Roja will be intensifying work for this year’s Semana Santa. They are heading to the more prominent vacation spots, the agency said.

These members are going to be scattered about in approximately 109 areas throughout Costa Rica. That includes 60 lifeguards and rescuers from the organization’s Búsqueda y Rescate Acuático unit are expected to be present throughout the main beaches of the country.

The agency said it is activating its Búsqueda y Rescate Terrestre unit, the special first response team and the Unidad KSAR in case those teams are needed for special emergencies. The operation will run until this Sunday.



National parks remain open for visits

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The vast majority of the government offices and ministries have closed down for this week’s Semana Santa holidays, but there is one section still open: the parks.

According to the Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación, all facilities will be open for visitors and tourists for those who seek to enjoy the national parks. This comes in spite of the same announcement saying that the administrative offices for the agency will be closed. Additionally, park rangers have been instructed to activate monitoring and control plans to prevent illegal hunting or extraction of the flora and fauna within.

These contingencies include road patrols throughout the country and at specific control points, according to the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía. "Anyone caught in violation of the law will be punished," said Juan Carlos Villegas, the chief of prevention, protection and control at the system.

In addition, Villegas added that the group wishes for people to enjoy the holidays with an understanding of not altering the habitat and leaving the natural sites as they were.

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From Page 7:

Late payments to the Caja down 11 percent

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican social security fund announced Friday that delinquent payments by businesses were down by 11 percent, according to the institution’s data.

According to the collections office for the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, there was a decrease in the debt owed to the Caja by around 1.8 billion colons, or $3.2 million. That being said, the amount of money in delinquent payments is still around 13.7 billion colons, or $24.7 million.

The collections director, Luis Diego Calderón Villalobos, said that the Caja is currently processing 1,630 procedures to close businesses for failure to make payments on time as well as 7,912 civil suits and 1,784 criminal complaints.

Based on the data from the agency, the 10 most indebted employers owe 13 percent of the total delinquency amount. With these cases, a total of 62 procedures for closing the business based on delay, 186 civil proceedings and 97 criminal complaints are pending, the Caja said.