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Published Tuesday, May 9, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 91
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Airbnb could prove difficult for government to tax
By Rommel Téllez
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff


The government could be losing at least $80 million a year in uncollected income taxes from guests who rent lodging facilities in the country through the Airbnb platform, said Gustavo Araya, former president of the Cámara Costarricense de Hoteles.

The calculation includes unpaid sales taxes, as well as social security and municipal fees, which could make that figure easily be twice as much, he said.

Airbnb is an online platform with worldwide operations. It connects travelers with hosts who rent their houses, apartments or rooms at a price usually lower than that of traditional hotels.

“We prepared the calculation by taking into consideration the average rental price provided by the company on its website and multiplied it by the amount of accommodations claiming to be in the country,” he explained.

 “Afterwards, we subtracted 35 percent of that total, because a 65 percent occupancy rate is a fair average in the hospitality industry,” explained Araya.

On an interview with A.M. Costa Rica, Shawn Sullivan, director of Public Policies for Central America for Airbnb, confirmed the company is not registered in Costa Rica.

This means Hacienda is also unable to collect any income taxes aside from those collected from sales taxes.

Sullivan also confirmed he met with Hacienda officials back in Aug. 2016 and he offered the chance the company could collect the sales taxes automatically and then transfer the money to the government.

Airbnb
                              logo
Airbnb graphic  
Company's proposal garners no response.

However, none of them followed up on the proposal, Sullivan said. He also explained that if government ever agrees on such collaboration, it is unlikely that the company will let government officials audit the collections or say who refused to pay, so Hacienda should trust the good faith of the company.

“We handle privileged information that data protections laws worldwide forbid us to release,” Sullivan said. “Airbnb has contracts of this nature with 700 hundred jurisdictions worldwide.”

According to data from the Ministerio de Hacienda, as of April, a total of 2,142 people had registered as taxpayers under the fiscal classification of renting properties for accomodation for periods under 30 days.

Every user of the Airbnb platforms and other similars service should be enrolled under that classification, according to Hacienda.

Those who do not comply to do so may face jail time and in the case of foreigners, Hacienda could warn their respective governments of undeclared commercial activities.



Citizenship potentially granted despite felonies
By Rommel Téllez
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones might have granted citizenship to foreigners with criminal records in other countries even though this country’s local laws says that conviction for certain felonies keeps someone from becoming a citizen.

The Registro Civil might have incorrectly, depending on data from the International Police Agency or INTERPOL, cleared multiple citizenship applications of people who really were felons.

Officials at the registry, part of the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones, were unable to say without further study how many felons slipped though the system.

According to Article 15 of the Ley de Naturalizaciones, citizenship cannot be granted to any individual ever sentenced as a social, political or religious agitator. Nor can it be granted to individuals sentenced for fraud, robbery, arson, money falsification or drug dealing.

Until the first half of 2012, the Tribunal had been using INTERPOL alerts as a way to assess the criminal records of foreigners, according to Luis Guillermo Chinchilla, the head of the civil registry.

The Tribunal also used to request a criminal lookup from the applicant’s own country for the same purpose, Chinchilla explained.

However, the Interpol alerts are not the best way to establish the past activities of any foreigner, since its main purpose is just to show if there is an outstanding arrest warrant for an individual, according to Gustavo Chinchilla, a member of the Costa Rican branch of INTERPOL.

“An individual may appear with a red notification,” he said.

“That means that person is required to face justice in one or several countries and an international warrant has been issued. Such notifications are kept in the system for five years or more depending on a government’s request."

Chinchilla then elaborated that once an individual on the list has been arrested, it is taken off the system and no record remains.

According to the INTERPOL member, that is the reason why someone with a criminal record may not show up in the agency’s databases. He also emphasized that INTERPOL alerts are in no way intended to be used as a criminal record check.

A reporter confirmed one case where a foreigner was arrested in Costa Rica and extradited to the United States to serve 30 months in prison on a fraud conviction yet later obtained Costa Rican citizenship.

This was possible because by the time the man moved back to Costa Rica, got married and filed for citizenship, his INTERPOL profile was clean and his local Costa Rican criminal history was non-existent.  Registro Civil officials would have found out about the felon with a simple internet search.

Tribunal officials explained that a citizenship could be revoked if suspicion of fraud or misinformation arises.

Since mid-2012, the Tribunal does requests an official criminal record from every country in which an applicant lived.

The situation will continue to become murky because a new law allows felons convicted here to have their records expunged, sometimes at the time they leave prison.

Officials can no longer rely on the criminal records maintained by the Poder Judicial.

Expats who apply for residency also are supposed to provide a letter from police officials showing that they are law abiding.

However, under the current requirements, someone could obtain a clean record letter from one police agency in the United States while having been convicted multiple times in other jurisdictions. The United States does not maintain a central registry of criminal records.

Costa Rica officials have been known to bar entry even to tourists who are known gang members or who have well-publicized felony convictions.


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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.
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Potential disaster for archeological site

By Rommel Téllez of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Members of Bloque Verde, one of the country’s largest environmental organizations, have denounced the pineapple industry’s move that could be responsible for a potential archeological and environmental disaster.

According to Fabián Pacheco, member of the organization, Del Monte company is allegedly going to establish a 700-hectares pineapple plantation close to the Térraba-Sierpe protected wetlands. These wetlands are also a UNESCO-protected archaeological site. UNESCO is the scientific and cultural arm of the United Nations.

According to the Bloque Verde Facebook page, this expansion is a consequence of China having approved the imports of Costa Rican pineapple.

A.M. Costa Rica attempted to contact Abel Cháves, president of the Cámara Nacional de Productores y Exportadores de Piña to discuss these accusations, however there was no reply.

“This is the hottest topic in the ecological movement,” Pacheco said. “We are calling for a massive march in San José next May 15 to stop these projects and member from all around the country will join us.”

According to a statement sent by the activist, the new plantation would be built on top of four Precolumbian sites and very close to the wetlands which are protected by the Ramsar International Agreement.

It might also generate property conflicts with the neighboring towns, some of which settled down there many years ago when the banana plantations came to an end, the statement reads.

“Government is part of this. Politics are involved. It’s just amazing that this project obtained the Setena permits in just 19 days, same amount of time as if it was a house,” added Pachecho.

SETENA is the environmental government agency in charge of enforcing environmental protection laws and granting constructions permits according to those laws.

The pineapple industry has come under a lot of scrutiny and faced enormous protest from environmental groups, civic associations and some other interested parties. Last week, a protest was planned in Los Chiles over the expansion of another pineapple plantation.

The backstory behind that situation protest is due to the rapid expansion of pineapple plantations to the tune of 4,175 hectares between 2014 and 2015.

A 2012 Estado de la Nación report explored the negative impact of pineapple crops saying that it causes direct problems through the fruit’s decomposition and the application of herbicides on the farms. There is also the stomatal fly, which causes severe problems to livestock and ranching, the group said. This fly proliferates on such pineapple plantations.

Federación Conservacionista, another environmental group, claims that the 2014 census marks pineapple as the main crop for the canton with over 3,000 hectares already devoted to its planting.

Research from the Universidad de Costa Rica noted a lack of licensing and follow-up towards these projects as well. The lack of licensing that the government gives out as its stamp of approval in environmental sustainability is of particular concern to the federation.




Manuel Antonio
Casa Presidencial photo   
Improvements for the park's infrastructure continue.

600 million colons for Manuel Antonio

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national system for conservation is preparing to invest around 600 million colons towards Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio before the year is out, according to a statement from Casa Presidencial.

Part of this investment is going towards solving the aspects needed to comply with the Ministerio de Salud’s order to build new entrances and exits for the park. The Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación will construct a 784 meter trail over one of the areas considered protected wetlands in response to the health ministry order.

The intended trail will begin at the current entrance at the eastern end of the park and will extend to the beaches, which are located at the western end, officials said. More improvements towards the main entrance are also promised by the government.

Casa Presidencial announced in a statement that benches and improvements towards the control booth admitting visitors to the park are also planned. The hope is to reduce waiting times and lines into Manuel Antonio. Then the government also wants to expand cell service throughout the park and the system of storage and reusing of water.

These works have apparently already gained the proper permits and design approvals needed to begin construction, Casa Presidencial said.

Manuel Antonio has faced some problems in the past. The health ministry issued a deadline back in March to fulfill the proper measures needed for septic tank discharges and the overhaul of the wastewater sewage system. The government claims that this deadline was met and improvements since made along with a preventive maintenance plan in case of a sewage disaster presented to Salud.

The government touts Manuel Antonio as being among the most visited nature preserve in al of Costa Rica. Due to its natural beauty and wealth in biological diversity, the park experienced an increase in visitors last year to reach a record 436,466 people, according to government estimates.



LGBT group plans to open new exhibit

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

What is being touted as the first historical exhibition of the LGBTI movement in Costa Rica will begin next Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Lado V de Teorética near Parque Morazán.

The inauguration of “Vamos a Besarnos,” as the exhibit is called, will happen on the national day against discrimination for sexual orientation and gender identity, according to organizers. The exhibit seeks to showcase the struggle facing many in the LGBTI community in Costa Rica since the last century. The legacy for the struggle will be collected as inspiration for the future of the movement, activists said.

The exhibit will apparently not be open to the public until Friday, July 7. "Teorética is effective and politically involved in the struggles to build a more just and egalitarian world where everyone can love freely, without being persecuted, censored and killed for it,” said Miguel López, the group’s curator.

“We hope that the visual representations and the images help us to build new forms of empathy, to regenerate the social ties broken by the violence and to collaborate in the collected struggles to achieve it.”

Likewise, José Daniel Clarke Caamaño, spokesman for Frente por los Derechos Igualitarios, said that “Vamos a Besarnos,” is an effort of more than two years for his activist group.



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Researchers study impact of climate change on Costa Rican forests
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A joint partnership between the University of Greifswald in Germany as well as the Tecnológico de Costa Rica seeks to explain the impact of climate change on the country’s tropical forests.

According to a statement released by the institute, an analysis on the growth of four specific tree types is determining the age of the selected trees in question, the chronological characteristics of the species as a whole and then to draw connections with climate conditions in Costa Rica over the past year.

This is actually complementary to another study being carried out by the institute in cooperation with the University of Göttingen.

That one sought to collect samples of tree branches from different areas of the Pacific extending from Punta Salinas to the Osa peninsula.

The study different sites along the Pacific and began to create experimental plots where a control of climate conditions and the ecology of trees could be carried out. Measurements were then made upon a sample of selected tree types within that zone, researchers said. Branches from the tops of the tree are then picked with most between 30 and 40 meters high with samples of those branches taken at 30 centimeters to about 1.5 meters.

Investigators
Tecnológico de Costa Rica photo
German researchers taking samples of branches at TEC.

Those samples were taken to a special lab in France to display results as to what are called the curves of cavitation.

Dagoberto Arias, the head researcher on the Costa Rican side of the project, hopes that the results will be showcased sometime in 2017. Based on the institute’s statements on the subject, the sampling was expected to conclude this in January this year.

The Tecnológico wants to establish its own lab to continue studies on the hydraulic system in agricultural crops, trees in plantations and Costa Rica’s forests. The University of Göttingen originally became interested in the project back in 2014 to study the hydraulics in tropical-based trees.


Performances planned at Teatro Espressivo beginning May 26
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

From May 26 to July 9, the Teatro Espressivo, in Pinares de Curridabat, will showcase its own festival by staging  five professional plays from professional performers.

All the plays will run Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 6 p.m. Tickets will cost 8,000 colons and 10,000 colons in the VIP area.

According to Natalia Rodríguez, the theater's executive director, each of the plays were chosen for their high quality and success in other places.

The first two weekends "La Casa Limpia" will be performed by Teatro Abya Yala, a story about relationships, power and dreams of a housemaid.

On Jun 16 to 18, a variety show called "Broadway Cabaret Night Gold" will mix music, acting and humeur at a New York style show.

The weekend right after, "Silencio Roto" will put on stage the female voices from authors like Clarice Lispector, Virginia Woolf and Marguerite Duras.

From June 30 to July 2, Hypnos will try to seduce the public with a merger between theater and magic.

The last performance, from July 7 to 9, "El Cartero de Neruda" will tell the story of the Chilean author through the eyes of his mailman.

More information can be found at espressivo.cr.


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Developing countries more committed to conservation, study says
By the Oxford University press staff

Less affluent countries are more committed to conservation of their large animals than richer ones, a new Oxford University research collaboration has found.

Researchers from Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit have assessed how much, or little, individual countries contribute to protecting the world’s wildlife. Working in partnership with Panthera, the only organization dedicated to protecting wild cats, they found that in comparison to the more affluent, developed world, biodiversity is a higher priority in poorer areas such as the African nations, which contribute more to conservation than any other region.

Led by Panthera research associate, Peter Lindsey, the team created a Mega-Fauna Conservation Index of 152 nations, to evaluate their conservation footprint. Since a high proportion of mega-fauna species, such as tigers, leopards and gorillas face extinction, the team focused their research on the protection of large mammals.

The benchmarking system evaluated three key measures: a) the proportion of the country occupied by each mega-fauna species that survives in the country, countries with more species covering a higher proportion of the country scoring higher; b) the proportion of mega-fauna species range that is protected with higher proportions scoring higher; c) and the amount of money spent on conservation, either domestically or internationally, relative to gross domestic product.

The findings show that poorer countries tend to take a more active approach to biodiversity protection than richer nations. 90 percent of countries in North and Central America and 70 percent of countries in Africa were classified as major or above-average in their mega-fauna conservation efforts.

By contrast, the United States ranked nineteenth out of the twenty performing countries. Approximately one-quarter of countries in Asia and Europe were identified as significantly underperforming in their commitment to mega-fauna conservation.

Dr. Lindsey said: “Scores of species across the globe, including tigers, lions and rhinos, are at risk of extinction due to a plethora of threats imposed by mankind. We cannot ignore the possibility that we will lose many of these incredible species unless swift, decisive and collective action is taken by the global community.”

Human impact continues to have a devastating effect on the natural world, with wildlife species across the globe under threat from poaching, hunting and the consequences of climate change.
Recent studies indicate that 59 per cent of the world’s largest carnivores and sixty per cent of the largest herbivores are currently threatened with extinction.

Professor David Macdonald, Director of WildCRU and co-author of the paper, said: “Every country should strive to do more to protect its wildlife. Our index provides a measure of how well each country is doing, and sets a benchmark for nations that are performing below the average level, to understand the kind of contributions they need to make as a minimum."

"There is a strong case for countries where mega-fauna species have been historically persecuted, to assist their recovery.”

The study also goes some way to explaining why the regional disparities occur. Mega-fauna species are associated with strong existence values, where just knowing that large wild animals exist, makes people feel happier.

In some cases, such as the African nations, this link explains why some countries are more concerned with conservation than others. Larger mammal species like wild cats, gorillas and elephants play a key role in ecological processes as well as tourism industries, which are an economic lifeline in poorer regions.


The conservation index is intended as a call to action for the world to acknowledge its responsibility to wildlife protection. By highlighting the disparity in each nations’ contributions to conservation the team hopes to see increased efforts and renewed commitment to biodiversity preservation.

Addressing how countries can improve their MCI scores, Lindsey said: “There are three ways. Firstly, they can re-wild their landscapes by reintroducing mega-fauna and/or by allowing the distribution of such species to increase. They can also set aside more land as strictly protected areas. And they can invest more in conservation, either at home or abroad.”

At the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, developed nations promised to allocate at least $2 billion per annum towards conservation in developing nations. However, current conservation contributions from developed nations sit at just half of the proposed amount, $1.1 billion per year.

Discussing how the scores were tallied, Macdonald added: “These countries have achieved high scores in a variety of ways. Some by setting aside vast protected area networks, others by allowing mega-fauna species to occupy high proportions of their landscape, and others by investing significant funding in conservation either domestically or internationally."


Vacation, travel and hospitality


Live in Costa Rica tours

  • Costa Rica’s #1 source for relocation since 1980
  • Over 10,000 people relocated SUCCESSFULLY with our tours and books
  • ONLY relocation tour legally LICENSED by the Costa Rica government and APPROVED by the Association of Residents (ARCR)
  • Best VALUE, contacts and MORE areas of the country covered
  • ALL tours include a highly INFORMATIVE two-day seminar by the country’s renowned experts
Sample Video of the tour HERE

Toll Free from U.S. 877-884-2502 or 800-365-2342
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Skype: costarisa - E-mail: christopher@costaricabooks.com

All tours led by Christopher Howard
Costa Rica’s most read relocation author
See www.liveincostarica.com for details and itineraries
9168-3/17/17

HIdden Garden graphic
Put Costa Rica on your walls
The Hidden Garden Art Gallery near the Liberia airport is the perfect place to find quality Costa Rican and international art for your home or office.  With over 60 artists and 15 rooms full of paintings, prints, sculptures, and diverse artistic expressions, we have been your source for fine art since 2010.  We also offer commissioned pieces so you can create your own unique masterpiece to cherish forever. Located just 5 kms west of the Daniel Oduber International Airport (towards the beaches).

Visit our Web site at:  www.HiddenGardenArt.com
Contact us by email: info@HiddenGardenArt.com  
Find us on Trip Advisor, Facebook, Twitter,
Moon Travel Guides & Frommer's

Gallery hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tel.  8386-6872 / 2667-0592; U.S. telephone 702-953-7073
International shipping available.
9140-5/1/17

George Lundquist header

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!

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Contact us: 
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CR local phone:  +506-2274-3231
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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



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Real estate-related services (paid category)

COSTA RICA SOLAR
solar one

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NOW with the New Power Company Regulations, we're installing photo voltaic systems for solar electricity.
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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
Published Tuesday, May 9, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 91
Calendar
Opinion
Classifieds
Real Estate
Lifestyle
Food
About us
 
Study says marijuana helps
memory problems in mice


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that produces the high sought by users has been shown to reverse memory problems in aging mice.

Researchers, who've been looking for ways to slow the effects of brain aging, hope it could have the same effect in older humans.

German and Israeli researchers showed that the memories of aging mice became nearly as sharp as those of young, two-month-old rodents when the older animals were given low doses of the marijuana compound known as THC.

"Old animals remembered as well, learned almost as well, recognized almost as well as young ones," said neuroscientist Andras Bilkei-Gorzo of the University of Bonn. He is the lead author of the study of THC's effect on memory, published in the journal “Nature Medicine.”

Mice, which have a life expectancy of two years, have significant difficulty remembering and learning new things by the time they're one year old.

Bilkei-Gorzo and his team administered low doses of THC to mice at two months, 12 months and 18 months of age.

After stopping the drug for periods ranging from seven days to one month, they put the rodents through a series of experiments testing their memories. Researchers wanted to see whether the rodents recognized mice they had been exposed to previously, and if they could find their way out of a small pool of water.

The older mice that received a placebo had trouble remembering previous objects and scenarios despite repeated exposures. The adult mice treated with THC performed nearly as well as young rodents.

THC imitates the effect of cannabinoids produced naturally in the body, which fulfill important functions in the brain. But with age, the cannabinoid system deteriorates, resulting in cognitive declines. The marijuana ingredient, Bilkei-Gorzo said, rejuvenates the system.

Interestingly, he says, THC seemed to worsen the cognitive abilities of young mice because it over-activated their normal brain circuits. The effect is probably similar to marijuana's high in young people.

"The treatment made the young brain old and the old brain young," he said. "So that was something that was above our imagination."

Researchers hope to begin human trials of low doses of THC this year.

If it is shown to help the memories of aging adults, Bilkei-Gorzo says the psychoactive ingredient could be taken in the form of an herbal tea.


Trump travel ban faces
another day in federal court


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A much-challenged temporary travel ban issued by President Donald Trump faced another day in court Monday, with federal appellate judges grilling lawyers on both sides to determine whether a suspension of the executive order will be upheld.

An attorney for the government argued before a panel of 13 judges from the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, that the Trump administration's second attempt to curb travelers and immigrants from some majority-Muslim countries for three months was constitutional and within the president's purview.

“This is not a Muslim ban. Its text doesn't have to anything to do with religion. Its operation doesn't have anything to do with religion,” Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall told the appeals court.

The court, which did not immediately issue a ruling Monday, repeatedly questioned Wall about the relationship between the executive order and comments made by Trump before his inauguration about blocking Muslim travelers and immigrants to the United States.

A statement supporting the total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States that remained on Trump's campaign website from Dec. 7, 2015, was removed Monday, though it is unclear if that followed questions for White House Spokesman Sean Spicer during an afternoon news conference about why the statement remained online, or whether it came during or after the hearing in Richmond. An archived version remains online.

In March, a federal judge in Maryland blocked the travel ban, which itself was a revised version of one initially issued in January that was tweaked after encountering legal roadblocks. Plaintiffs in the case allege in part that the order discriminates against one religion, in violation of the Constitution.

Omar Jadwat, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, argued on behalf of the plaintiffs on Monday that Trump's directive is discriminatory, and that the president's statements before January are evidence of his intent to target Muslims.

“There's no question that the president has authority. He has vast authority but the president also doesn't get a blank check to violate the Constitution,” Jadwat told reporters outside the courthouse, in a news conference streamed online by the organization.

It is unclear when the 4th Circuit judges will make a ruling.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in another challenge to the March travel order, which ordered a temporary stop to refugee arrivals, in Seattle on May 15.


New initiative allows
reporting on wildlife crime


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Rampant poaching across Africa has pushed species of elephants, rhinos and other treasured wildlife to the edge of extinction. However, there is a mostly untapped resource that can help crack down on these crimes: the Wildlife Whistleblower Program.

The program, an initiative of the National Whistleblower Center in Washington, allows witnesses to report wildlife crimes online, anonymously if they so choose. Reportable crimes include illegal poaching and trafficking, destruction of rainforests, and the improper netting of dolphins.

The international program provides confidentiality and monetary rewards to those who report such crimes if a case is successfully prosecuted.

The Washington-based Whistleblower Center describes itself as a legal advocacy organization that protects the right of individuals to report wrongdoing without fear of retaliation.

Chief operating officer Ashley Binetti says the wildlife program was created after the executive director realized U.S. wildlife laws that include rewards have not been fully implemented.

She thinks that will change as people with knowledge of such crimes realize that their identities will be kept confidential.

She says another element of the anti-poaching project is the potential for monetary rewards.

Ms. Binetti says anyone with knowledge of a wildlife crime can contact the center and be eligible for an award, with one caveat.

"The crime can occur anywhere, but it does have to have a tie to the U.S. But under these laws, that can be quite broad," she explained. For example, with the Lacey and Endangered Species acts, if a wildlife product is destined for the United States or is leaving the U.S. or a U.S. person is involved, there is potential liability there.

Another law that can be applied to wildlife crime is the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which criminalizes bribery that would allow illicit goods onto ships and planes.

"So whereas you have the wildlife crime laws that haven't been fully implemented in terms of the whistleblowing provisions, you have the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that is a really great route to start," Ms. Binetti said.


CDC says mystery illness
in Liberia was meningitis


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. federal health officials say the mysterious illness that has killed 13 people in Liberia came from a bacteria that can lead to the fatal brain disease meningitis.

At least 31 cases have been discovered in the last two weeks. Thirteen have died.

Samples from four of the fatalities were sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after Liberian medical officials were stumped.

But the CDC could not say for sure if meningitis caused the deaths.

Meningitis causes swelling in the brain and spinal cord and can kill within hours.

The bacteria is highly contagious and is spread thorough close contact with the victims.

Liberian officials say most of the 31 patients infected attended the April 22 funeral of a religious leader in Sinoe County.


Russian government tries outreach with young people

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

At a night rehearsal for Russia’s annual May 9 World War II Victory Day parade in Red Square, troops practice goose-stepping while tanks, missile launchers, and other armored vehicles roll past a select audience toward St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Russia will show off its latest hardware, new missile defense systems for Russia’s Baltic Fleet and Arctic troops, as well as debut President Vladimir Putin’s Youth Army, or Yunarmiya.

Putin ordered the creation of the military’s patriotic youth organization in 2015. From just 100 members a year ago, the so-called Yunarmiya Patriotic Movement has grown to more than 30,000, aged between 11 and 18. Analysts say Yunarmiya is the Kremlin's latest effort to encourage support from Russia's next generation.

“The truth is that Yunarmiya is a sort of preventive work. Preventive work against involvement of young people of Russia into the protest movement,” said Carnegie Moscow Center’s Andrei Kolesnikov.

Its debut comes just weeks after nationwide anti-corruption protests that had a large turnout of Russian youth. The unauthorized protests on March 26 surprised many with their defiance, scale, and quantity of students.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny called for the demonstrations after his anti-corruption group released an investigation online alleging Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was hiding enormous wealth. Medvedev gave no initial response to the allegations, but later dismissed them as fantasy.

Despite minimal coverage in the dominant state media, tens of thousands took part and hundreds were detained in Moscow, including 20-year-old political science major David-Viktor Ratkin.

“It was rather easy to get the information if you are a user of social networks,” says Ratkin standing outside the gates of the Peoples' Friendship University. “The older generation are not internet users and get most of their information from television that doesn't give protests any coverage.”

The Kremlin has backed numerous efforts to encourage support and loyalty among Russian youth.

Pro-Kremlin groups have been reaching out online to Russian youth with anti-Western propaganda.

But Putin's Youth Army raises concerns that authorities are looking to militarize a generation of nationalists.

“One should certainly be on the alert about that,” says Kolesnikov. “There are nationalist organizations of young people not under the auspices of the Kremlin. But it seems to me the Kremlin, so far, is losing in this field of the direct struggle between the pro-Kremlin youth and anti-Kremlin one.”

Students posted videos in late March of them challenging teachers who warn pupils not to join opposition protests or complain about corruption.

But while some of Russia’s urban youth are stirring, they remain a minority.

“Young people are quite strongly indoctrinated with Putinism,” says Kolesnikov. “Many young people are quite willing to support Putin in the sense that they have lived only a certain amount of years and do not remember anyone but Putin.”

Putin has been in power nearly 17 years and is widely expected to run for president again in 2018 with few real challengers. Navalny announced his campaign for president in late 2016, but a Russian court ruling last week upholding an embezzlement conviction could stop him from standing for election. Navalny wants to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Russian authorities apparently do not want to take any chances.

The Kremlin’s message with these annual shows of military strength is clear, Russia is prepared to defend itself and its interests. But, introducing its so-called Youth Army at this year’s parade underscores a growing concern for the Kremlin: the need to cultivate support among a younger generation of Russians.


Syrian government rejects
foreign monitoring in deal


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Syria's foreign minister Walid al-Moallem says no foreign forces will be allowed to monitor the de-escalation agreement in four zones around Syria in another effort to end the long civil war.

Russia, Turkey and Iran signed the deal last week in Astana, Kazakhstan. It calls on Syrian forces and rebels to reduce their fighting in the special zones.

Final details still need to be worked out, including questions on how the Syrians and rebels plan to tone down the violence. Neither side signed the pact.

"There will be no presence by any international forces supervised by the United Nations," al-Moallem said Monday.

But he added that Russia, as guarantor of the agreement, said there would be military police and observation centers.

The minister gave no details on who would make up that police force. The United States has backed the idea for safe zones in Syria.

Meanwhile Monday, the first wave of rebel fighters and their families evacuated the Barzeh district of Damascus under a surrender agreement reached with the government.

More than 1,000 people are expected to leave the district aboard buses and Red Cross ambulances in the coming days. Similar surrender deals in exchange for safe passage from rebel-held Damascus neighborhoods are expected.


More news of the Americas
From the Voice of America

Real estate services
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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
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Rescue
Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo  
Emergency workers aid man who apparently fell into a pit.

Emergency medical airlifts provided

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Dirección del Servicio de Vigilancia Área conducted two emergency evacuations for two indigenous persons in need of immediate medical attention.

According to the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública, the first case involved the transfer of a 50-year old man who fell in a pit near Alto Pacuare de Chirripo. Officials said that the man was found and taken to Hospital William Allen in Turrialba.

In a separate incident involving a 57-year old woman, the security ministry’s air service performed another emergency evacuation from Cerro Águila de Talamanca in Limón province. The woman apparently had a medical condition that needed urgent attention, a statement from the ministry said.

The patient was airlifted to the Clínica del Valle de la Estrella.

Meanwhile, another plane discovered one of two bodies missing since Saturday night at Manuel Antonio de Quepos in Puntarenas province. Officials said the plane conducted several flyovers that included several search and rescue missions.



young actors
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Some of the proud thespians getting together for a group shot.

Justice ministry seeks youth recreation

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Last weekend, kids who were part of the justice ministry’s Centro Cívico Sin Paredes in San Miguel de Desamparados and Cartago presented the result of their efforts practiced over the past four months.

About 50 young people went on stage to perform their plays, according to the Ministerio de Justicia y Paz. The group were under the overall direction of professional actors and actresses with the ministry’s program attempting to engage the youth of local communities. The idea is to keep kids away from temptations of criminal activity and being out on the streets during their free time.

This project is being jointly developed both by the sub-ministry of peace along with the local UNICEF chapter in Costa Rica. Since the beginning of 2017, the Centros Cívicos por la Paz have been developed under a similar idea as local community centers: to give young people a space of activity free of charge. So far, the program has included skateboarding sessions and staging of performances such as dance or play, the ministry said.



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From page 7:

300 expected to be hired at Heredia call center

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

About 300 people are expected to be hired by the Results Companies this Friday and Saturday, according to a statement from the company released Monday.

The group is an outsourcing firm offering bilingual sales staff with a focus on customer service, according to the group’s website. The group often provides its services towards call centers of varying markets from health, finance, travel and entertainment as well as telecommunications.

According to the company, the business serves six other companies within Costa Rica mainly in customer service and sales representation. The new applicants, if hired, would be working from the Zona Franca América in Heredia province.

“We have a total of 600 employees with a bilingual profile,” said Juan Pablo Guzmán, the company’s director for site operations. “Our goal for the end of the year is to close it with 900 employees.”

The group said that over 90 people have been promoted so far. The events on Friday and Saturdays will be an open house that welcomes all applicants provided they show up with a resume and availability as the company will test the applicants onsite during the interview and potentially be hired that same day.

The group has more than 25,000 employees globally. Aside from Costa Rica, the company said that it has employees in México, the United States and the Philippines.