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Published Tuesday May 24, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 101
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Tax official claims avoidance violates spirit of  law
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A ranking official of the finance ministry said Monday that legitimate tax avoidance is a fallacy. That was the title of a press statement she released that maintained that taxpayers should not put themselves above the state.

The official, Priscila Piedra Campos, director general of Hacienda, asserted that “Legitimate avoidance does not exist. If we interpret avoidance correctly it consists in going against the will of the law without expressly breaking it but taking advantage that it is impossible that the legal rules contemplate the complexities that economic life presents.”

She was among those who attended a seminar on the Panamá Papers last week.

Avoidance generally is considered a way for an income earner to pay less taxes by arranging economic affairs in a favorable way. The U.S. Supreme Court recognized the legality of avoidance nearly 100 years ago.

The statement is important because it reflects the thinking within the Ministerio de Hacienda, which collects and spends tax money. The statement also is important for expats who probably have substantial earnings, such as passive income and pensions elsewhere, and pay no Costa Rican taxes.

Ms. Piedra said that the obligation to pay taxes does not depend on the will of the payer because taxes are an obligation that by living under the rules of the state the payer has opted for a special protection for education, the environment, health and citizen security.

Avoidance puts at risk the advances that the country desires by putting the private interest over the public one, she said.

She also branded as unfair competition the actions of someone who would pay less taxes than someone else similarly situated.

Even the journalistic organizations that released the Panamá Papers note that there are legitimate business reasons for offshore accounts and subsidiaries.

The Panamá Papers were hacked from the
A.M. Costa Rica graphic 
Tax official wants it all.

Mossack Fonseca & Co. law firm in that country. They show extensive work by the lawyers there to set up corporations and other legal entities for clients in countries that have favorable tax laws. So if an individual receives payments to an offshore account, he or she would pay less taxes.

The Costa Rican legislature has considered proposals to tax the money once it is brought into the country, but the bill has not advanced.

Ms. Piedra's comments might signal a pending
effort by the tax ministry to make more proposals covering foreign accounts to the legislature.

The revelations from Panamá were not new to Costa Rican officials. Many residents here have accounts in Panamá itself that were not set up by the law firm that was hacked. 

Some gambling operations, so called sportsbooks, receive payment in other countries even though the betting is handled in Costa Rica.

And some pay their staffers with automatic teller withdrawals from foreign bank accounts.

Such activities are well known to the Ministerio de Hacienda but any action would lead to long court battles and perhaps loss of jobs for Costa Rica.

Other businesses here operate in a gray area. Some tourist organizations accept payments in foreign accounts for accommodations and tours here and never report the money. Again, the ministry is slow to uncover these cases.

Lawmakers plan to hold hearings on Panamá Papers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Posted at 2:10 p.m.

The Asamblea Legislative has decided to create a committee to review the current tax laws for loopholes that encourage evasion. The full assembly took the action Monday based on revelations of the Panamá Papers.

The committee will consists of nine legislators who will have 90 days to present a report. The Partido Acción Ciudadana said that the principal objective was to identify mechanisms or practices used to evade or avoid taxes. That characterization was at odds with an assembly summary that just addressed evasion, which is illegal. Avoidance is generally considered to be legal methods to reduce taxation.

The commission is expected to receive testimony from experts from the  Ministerio de Hacienda, the Procuraduría de la República,

and the Fiscalía Adjunta de Delitos Económicos, Tributarios, Aduaneros y de
Legitimación de Capitales. In addition, testimony is expected from national and international organizations.

Few Costa Ricans were named in the hacked Panamá Papers, in part because individuals here do not have to rely on the  Mossack & Fonseca Co. law firm to create an offshore entity. That was the firm whose computers were hacked. Residents here can easily open a bank account or set up a company in Panamá or a low-tax jurisdiction.

The Partido Acción Ciudadana is expected to have two members on the committee.

Costa Rica officials are quick to respond to news articles although the general situation of using offshore corporations or other entities to reduce national taxes have been well known.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday May 24, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 101
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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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Lawmakers act to support Venezuelans

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
with wire service reports

As one legislator put it, Costa Rica can no longer keep silent on Venezuela without being accomplices to the drama in which citizens there live.

So with the approval of 24 lawmakers, the legislature passed resolution of solidarity with the Venezuelan people and their efforts to achieve peace and seek solutions to the crises in government through peaceful and legal means with respect to human and political rights, democracy and the constitutional order.

The resolution will be sent to the Venezuelan legislature, which is dominated by opponents of President Nicolás Maduro. The president is trying to shut down the legislature and sidestep a recall petition.

Meanwhile, the economy is so bad that the Mexican firm of Fomento Económico Mexicano, S.A.B. de C.V., doing business as FEMSA, said it would stop producing.

Lawmaker Gerardo Vargas Rojas said that he and colleagues were in Venezuela Dec. 6 and saw the suffering of the people there. He cited lack of goods and hunger.

In part due to the low price of petroleum but also due to decades of mismanagement, the Venezuelan economy is in deep distress.

Citizen have been marching in the street in an effort to advance the call for a recall referendum. 

The Mexican soft drink firm said Monday that its Venezuelan subsidiary will stop producing Coca Cola due to a lack of sugar.

"Sugar suppliers in Venezuela have informed us that they will temporarily cease operations due to a lack of raw materials," Coca-Cola Co. spokeswoman Kerry Tressler said.

Production of Diet Coke, Coke Zero, and other sugarless beverages will continue in Venezuela, the company added.

Rising production costs, price controls, and limited access to necessary fertilizers has lead to a recent decline in sugar cane production in Venezuela. The effects of food shortages are being felt across the country amid its recession. A barley shortage has already forced the country's biggest brewer, Empresas Polar, to close its plants.

The economic crisis culminated last week, with Maduro announcing a 60-day state of emergency.

The International Monetary Fund predicts that inflation in Venezuela, which is already the world’s highest, could more than double in 2016, topping out at more than 720 percent.

Jacó meeting to map out zika campaign

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Concerned residents of Jacó are meeting this afternoon at Crocs Casino & Hotel to discuss the potential health and commercial impacts of the zika virus, according to Robert Sinclair, an expat who has become involved in the campaign.

“We will present a full plan of action aimed at keeping Jaco zika safe,” he said in an email.

Attending will be Ministerio de Salud officials and Randall Chaves, president of the Surf Federación de Surf de Costa Rica, who is expected to speak.

One of the goals of the anti-zika campaign is to make the community safe for those who will visit to watch and participate in the World Surfing Games in August. The surfing event is supposed to bring some $36 million into the local economy.

Sinclair has been mobilizing other expats in the Pacific coast community to fight the disease. At last report there were 31 active cases of zika there, mostly in some low-income residential areas of the town.

The health ministry has been fumigating and going house to house to eliminate places where the zika-carrying mosquito can breed.

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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Legal Notice
The State of Utah To:  Richard Lydenberg you are summoned and required to file an answer in writing to the Petition of Divorce filed in the case number: 164900117 within 30 days after the last day of publication, which is May 26, 2016, you must file your answer with the clerk of the court at: Third Judicial District Court of Salt Lake County, State of Utah, 450 South State Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84114 and serve a copy of your answer to the Petitioner, if you fail to file and serve your answer on time, judgment by default will be taken against you for the relief demanded in the Petition. The Petition is on file with the clerk of the court. You can obtain a copy of the Petition by requesting one from the clerk of the court.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday May 24, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 101
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Eruptions can be much more powerful than most people expect
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

History shows that volcanoes should not be underestimated.

Mount Vesuvius killed an estimated 16,000 persons when it exploded in 79 A.D. The mountain sent up plumes of ash and smoke 33 kilometers into the air, some 20.5 miles.

The pyroclastic flows entombed the Roman communities of  Pompeii and Herculaneum, which now are museums. Ash fell as far away as what is today Istanbul.

Mount St. Helens exploded in the U.S. State of Washington in 1980. The column rose up an estimated 80,000 feet and rained ash on 11 U.S. states. Some 15 persons died and the economic loss approached $3 billion.

The Irazú volcano staged a series of eruptions in 1963, and although there was no serious damage, ash rained on San José and other areas of the Central Valley for two years.

Mount Arenal in Costa Rica erupted in 1968 and wiped out  Tabacón, Pueblo Nuevo and San Luís. The explosion sent rocks the size of Volkswagens miles in all directions and destroyed much of the area livestock, agricultural land and several communities. Refugees flocked to Ciudad Quesada. The death toll was 87.

Mount St. Helens and Mount Vesuvius gave ample signs of activity with local earth tremors. The Arenal explosion was a surprise.

By these eruption standards, the current activity at the Turrialba volcano is minor. The 3,340-meter, 10,958-foot mountain had multiple eruptions Monday, at 10:30 a.m., 1:35 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 2:45 p.m., 3:09 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 4:01 p.m., according to the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica at Universidad Nacional. The ash column rose up to 500 meters to 1,000, nearly 1,700 to 3,400 feet.

Ash was reported falling in San Isidro del Guarco, Turrialba, Paraiso, Cartago, Alajuela, Curridabat and Tibás. The ash dispersal depends on the wind direction.

So far officials have taken steps to close the mountain and the Parque Nacional Volcán Turrialba that surrounds it.
Farmers continue to work their land on the flanks of the
Pompeii forum
Brooklyn Museum/William Henry Goodyear
Pompeii residents may have thought that the distance from  Vesuvius was enough to protect them. This is what is left of the city’s forum.

mountain despite the ash fall while others tend and milk their cows.

Most scientific observers expect the mountain to go back to sleep. The alternative would be an unpleasant surprise because pyroclastic flows can move at great speeds for miles.

Many who died in Pompeii were at the sea coast awaiting evacuation. Many died in their sleep because they did not take the activity in the mountain seriously and waited too long to leave.

The national emergency commission tries not to be alarmist when it suggests basic preparations, like three days of food, plenty of water on hand, flashlights, extra batteries and a battery-powered radio. These precautions could apply to persons well away from any volcano. After all, the Central Valley has active volcanoes to the west and to the east, including Poas, Barva, Irazú and Turrialba.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday May 24, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 101
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U.S. study fails to link amphibian decline to any single cause
By the U.S. Geological Survey news staff

New U.S. Geological Survey-led research suggests that even though amphibians are severely declining worldwide, there is no smoking gun and thus no simple solution to halting or reversing these declines.

“Implementing conservation plans at a local level will be key in stopping amphibian population losses, since global efforts to reduce or lessen threats have been elusive,” said Evan Grant, a Survey research wildlife biologist who led the study published in Scientific Reports. “This research changes the way we need to think about amphibian conservation by showing that local action needs to be part of the global response to amphibian declines, despite remaining questions in what is causing local extinctions.”

The evidence threats differ and include disease, pesticides, climate change and human influences. The chytrid fungus is known to have a major impact on frogs in Costa Rica.

Amphibian declines are a global phenomenon that this new research demonstrates has continued unabated in the United States since at least the 1960s, and which are occurring even in protected national parks and refuges. Scientists have broadly linked declines to environmental factors like climate, human influence such as land-use change, and contaminants and disease, but have not been able to use actual scientific data on a large scale to discern causes of the ongoing disappearance of amphibian populations.

The new study is the first to test this linkage at a continental scale, and finds that the presence and intensity of the four main threats, human influence, disease, pesticide application, and climate change, varies substantially across the U.S. The causes of the declines are more variable and more locally driven  across the United States than had been assumed.

For example, the research provides evidence that the average decline in overall amphibian populations is 3.79 percent per 
U.S. Geological Survey/Alan Cressler
American bullfrogs at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

year, which supports previous survey-led research findings from 2013 that showed a similar rate of loss, though the new research finds that the decline rate is more severe in some regions, such as the West Coast and the Rocky Mountains. If this rate remains unchanged, these species would disappear from half of the habitats they occupy in about 20 years.

"Losing 3 or 4 percent of amphibian populations might not sound like a big deal but small losses year in and year out quickly lead to dramatic and consequential declines,” said Survey ecologist Michael Adams, a study coauthor.

David Miller, a professor at Penn State University and the lead biometrician in the study, summarized the extent of the effort. "This study involved a truly comprehensive and collaborative effort to bring together data from researchers across the United States,” Miller said. “We combined nearly half a million actual observations of 84 species across 61 study areas to answer questions about the causes of wide-scale amphibian declines.”

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The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

 (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!

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.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday May 24, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 101
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Axiom new ad

Vietnam memories
Voice of America photo   
The memories run deep for some

Memories of Vietnam still
generates sharp differences

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

“And it’s one, two, three; what are we fighting for? Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn. Next stop is Vietnam!”

Those words seemed to echo out of a distant past ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Vietnam, a country with which the United States now maintains good relations as well as important trade ties.

When Country Joe McDonald sang his anti-Vietnam war protest song, "I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag," at the Woodstock Festival in upstate New York in August 1969, it drew loud cheers and soon became one of the main anthems of the anti-war movement.

McDonald sang it again in April before an audience at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, that included many people who had fought in Vietnam as well as many who had opposed the war.

The singer, who served in the U.S. Navy in the early 1960's but never went to Vietnam, said he was pleased when he found out that many U.S. soldiers fighting in that war used to listen to the song.

“The unique thing about the song is that it does not blame soldiers for war,” he said. “I always say that blaming soldiers for war is like blaming firefighters for fire.”

More than 40 years after it ended, the war in Vietnam, and America’s role in it, continue to provoke bitter debate, especially among those who fought in it.

Among Vietnam veterans there are mixed feelings about whether the war was justified and winnable along with a lot of hurt and confusion over an event that drastically changed their lives.

Among them is Kerry Orr, who was wounded in 1969, went home to recover and then several years later saw news reports of the North Vietnamese victory.

“That is hard,” Orr said, “to think that we lost it because we just didn’t want to win it, and I still don’t understand why we didn’t want to win it.”

That sentiment is even more bitter among former South Vietnamese soldiers such Captain Michael Do.

“President Nixon promised that he would help with any means, any way, to save Vietnam if the Communists attacked again,” Do said. “But they did nothing.”

Under the peace agreement signed in Paris in January 1973, the United States agreed to pull out its troops as long as the North Vietnamese did not invade the south.

Do, who later spent time in a concentration camp, said the Communists were supported by China and Russia, while U.S. aid to South Vietnam was drastically reduced. "We didn't have ammunition," he remembers.

One of the men responsible for U.S. policy at that time was former secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who won a Nobel Prize for his part in negotiating an end to U.S. involvement in the war.

Many critics say Kissinger committed war crimes by advising President Richard Nixon to bomb Vietnam’s neutral neighbor, Cambodia.

In his appearance, Kissinger said that policy was justified by the four divisions the North Vietnamese army sent into Cambodia.

“In the third week of the Nixon presidency, they started an offensive in which every week up to 500 Americans were killed,” he said. “Many of these attacks, more than half of these attacks, came from the areas that were occupied by those four divisions inside Cambodian territory.”

As one of the soldiers put at risk by those enemy troops, veteran Orr does not understand why Kissinger’s policy is even questioned.

“You are allowing North Vietnam to move troops through Laos and Cambodia in full open, knowing that they are doing it, to get closer to me, to kill me, because it is a neutral area? Why not stop them?”

Many other veterans of the war attending the conference, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry,  take a different view. He and many others who fought in the conflict came to believe U.S. war efforts were counterproductive.

Government documents from the 1960s and 1970s show that policymakers knew that Vietnam was a morass even as they escalated U.S. involvement, author Robert Schenkkan said.

“The historical record is pretty substantial by this point that the idea of a military victory, given the circumstances, the political and social circumstances of the time, was not in the cards," Schenkkan said.

He and other critics of the U.S. war effort say U.S. soldiers were told they were fighting communism, but Vietnamese nationalists saw them as foreign invaders.

“We were not fighting the war we thought we were fighting,” Schenkkan said.

The conflict became more complicated after it turned into a Cold War proxy fight.

Bryan Chu, who fled Vietnam with his family after the Communist takeover of Saigon in 1975, believes U.S. involvement made the war bigger.

“When the U.S. started sending troops to Vietnam, it escalated the war into the war between China and the United States, between the Soviet Union and the United States," Chu said.

The Vietnam War Summit was held in the presidential library of the man mostly responsible for escalating U.S. involvement in the conflict, Lyndon Baines Johnson.

His younger daughter, Luci Baines Johnson, was then married to Patrick Nugent, a soldier serving in Vietnam. Nugent's brother was also serving in Vietnam.

The president's older daughter, Lynda Bird Johnson, married Charles Robb, a Marine serving in combat.

The sisters took the protests outside the White House personally.

“When we heard those chants of ‘Hey, hey, LBJ, how many boys did you kill today?' we knew that one of those boys could be my husband or my brothers-in-law and so the men and women who were in Vietnam were family to us,” Luci Baines Johnson said.

She said her father tried to find an honorable way out of the war after announcing he would not run for re-election in March 1968.

“Nothing did he want more than to bring those brave and honorable and good men and women safely home,” she said.

Luci Baines Johnson believes bringing opponents of the war together with former soldiers and policymakers at the summit in April contributed to healing and understanding.

“Maybe all of us, all of us,” she said, “were really trying, with all that was in us, to do the right thing for our country.”

Americans born since 1975 have no such visceral connection to the war that divided the United States, but they do view it in terms of more recent overseas military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Republicans seen uniting
behind the likely nominee

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Republican voters appear to have largely cast aside their reservations about presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump, a key factor in boosting him into a dead heat with the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.

For months Mrs. Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of State, has held a double-digit percentage lead over Trump, a brash real estate billionaire seeking his first elective office. But a spate of national polls in recent days shows the contest virtually even five and a half months ahead of November's national election.

"The Republican base has coalesced around Trump," said political scientist Stephen Wayne at Georgetown University.

Meanwhile, he said Democratic voters have yet to consolidate behind Mrs. Clinton, who faces a remaining challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders, before likely clinching the Democratic nomination June 7, when the last key state nominating contests are held.

William Galston, a senior fellow at Washington's Brookings Institution, said Trump "has succeeded in consolidating his support with the Republican Party a lot faster than a lot of people thought he would be able to."

Conversely, he said, Clinton has had difficulty winning support from Sanders' most ardent backers.

In the months-long state-by-state contests against 16 other Republican contenders, Trump won 41 percent of the vote. But The Washington Post-ABC News poll showed Trump is now winning 85 percent support from Republicans in a matchup against Mrs. Clinton, even as some key Republican figures, including 2012 party nominee Mitt Romney, have refused to endorse him.

The U.S. polling shows both Trump and Clinton are viewed negatively by a majority of voters.

But Republicans, even if they supported one of Trump's Republican opponents, certainly view him as the lesser of two evils compared to Mrs. Clinton, said Wayne.

Galston said he expects Mrs. Clinton, the country's top diplomat from 2009 to 2013, to get a similar upswing in the polls when she clinches the Democratic presidential nomination, while Wayne says that if July's Democratic national nominating convention is fairly cooperative between Clinton and Sanders supporters, "I expect she'll get a bounce and go back in front" of Trump.

"There's an overarching issue here," Galston said. "People are clearly in the mood for change and the question I think that is most likely to decide this election is whether the American people feel safe and comfortable with the kind of change that Donald Trump is recommending.”

Galston added that he suspects that Trump will attack Mrs. Clinton as the candidate of the status quo and she will attack him as a loose cannon, reckless, someone who's too risky to take a chance on. “And the people are going to have to make their judgment about their preference for the relative security that Secretary Clinton offers as opposed to the change, but risk, that Mr. Trump represents," he said.

Wayne said the campaign to replace President Barack Obama when he leaves office next January could remain close all the way to November because "the country has near parity" between Republicans and Democrats.

U.S. elections, however, are not decided by the popular vote, but rather by the electoral college with each state's electoral votes determined by its population and the number of senators and representatives it has in Congress. Numerous U.S. analysts, including Wayne, say Mrs. Clinton holds the edge there, with the U.S. states with the biggest number of electoral votes mostly voting for Democratic presidential candidates over the last six elections.

Galston and Wayne said a variety of factors will play into the outcome.

"Let's look at history here," Galston said. "The stronger the incumbent two-term president is, the more likely the voters are to support the candidate of his own party to succeed him. And President Obama has improved his standing very considerably over the past six months, so that's one factor to keep in mind.

"At the same time, people are clearly discontented with the slow pace of the economic recovery," he said. "Jobs have come back a lot faster than wages. It is possible that we're at the beginning of a period of acceleration in wages. If that's the case, then people may be a little bit happier about the economy and their personal circumstances in six months than they are today. That would also be good news for Secretary Clinton."

However, said Wayne, "There's a lot we don't know yet" about the election, such as who either candidate will select as a vice-presidential running mate, the outcome of an investigation into Mrs. Clinton's use of a private email server to handle her messages while she was secretary of State, and voters' reaction to Trump's business bankruptcies and lawsuits against his corporations.

For his part, Sanders says Mrs. Clinton is jumping the gun a little bit in considering herself the Democratic nominee. He has acknowledged that he has only a narrow path to overtaking her, but says he expects to do very well in the nine remaining nominating contests.

"If we win the nomination, I assure you Donald Trump will not become president," Sanders told one rally over the weekend. Sanders called attention to the latest polls that show him defeating Trump by a bigger margin than Mrs. Clinton with some even showing her trailing Trump.

Trump may be engineering
political image makeover

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appears to be in the midst of a bit of an image makeover, trying to make the pivot from outraged political outsider to a general election candidate acceptable to mainstream America.

“We are going to make America great again, greater than ever before,” Trump told supporters at a recent event in New Jersey. “And we are going to have a lot of fun and we are going to be respected as a country again!”

At times, Trump has adopted a softer tone where formerly he would be combative. He was nearly deferential in his recent interview with Megyn Kelly of Fox News when she recalled past Twitter exchanges in which he called her a “bimbo.” “Well that was a retweet, yes. Did I say that? Ooh, okay. Excuse me,” Trump said with just a hint of a sheepish smile on his face.

One of Trump’s earliest supporters in Congress, Rep. Chris Collins of New York said recent exchanges with Republican lawmakers are paying off. “He’s collaborative, listening back and forth. That is who Donald Trump is and America is going to get very comfortable with that as we move on,” he said.

Trump has defied conservatives who warned his nomination would tear the party apart and Democrats who had hoped for the same thing. “I will have to say, to my surprise, the Republican Party seems to be mustering behind Trump in a way that sure didn’t look likely even a few weeks ago,” said noted conservative pundit Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard. He was a guest on Voice of America’s “Issues in the News.”

But despite the signs of unity and his surge in the polls, some experts suggest Trump still has a long way to go to ease fears about his candidacy between now and November.

“Trump’s biggest problems, when you say what is negative about Trump to the American people, is his personality,” said Frank Newport of the Gallup polling organization. “He’s arrogant. He’s a wild man. He’s not controlled. He’s racist. He says things that he shouldn’t and regrets it later. That is what the public tells us.”

Even as he seeks to moderate his image, Trump has already focused his fire on likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. “Can you imagine another four years of the Clinton’s, seriously? Can you imagine, seriously?,” he said.

Whether Trump succeeds in transforming himself from a blustering, undisciplined primary contender who scares and repels voters into a plausible presidential candidate who can appeal to moderates could determine the outcome of the November election.

A big part of Trump’s challenge is keeping his base happy while moderating and trying to broaden his appeal.

“If he’s able to keep the impolitic character of his comments, which a lot of people on the right love, and yet at the same time to seem presidential, and I think that is the trick he is going to start to try to pull off,” predicted Michael O’Hanlon, a foreign policy analyst with Brookings.

Baltimore cop acquitted
in death of Freddie Gray

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A Baltimore police officer was found not guilty on charges related to the death of Freddie Gray, a young African-American man who died last year after suffering severe injuries in the back of a police van.

Officer Edward Nero faced charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.

He was acquitted Monday of the charges following a bench trial, which he had requested.  Nero faced up to 10 years in prison if he had been convicted.

Prosecutors say the 30-year-old officer unlawfully arrested Gray, 25, on April 12, 2015, without probable cause and failed to secure him in the police van with a seatbelt.

Attorneys for Nero argued he did not make the arrest and that it was the driver's responsibility to ensure that Gray was secure.

Gray was handcuffed and shackled by his feet, but not buckled in to the seat after being arrested.  It has been alleged this caused his body to slam against the side of the van, severing his spinal cord and leaving him in a coma.

Gray died on April 19, 2015.  His death led to riots in black neighborhoods in Baltimore with protesters marching against police treatment of young African-Americans.

The city agreed in September to pay Gray's family $6.4 million to settle civil litigation in the case.

Five other officers are facing charges. Three of them are black.  The other two are white.  Nero is white.

Nero was the second officer to go to trial in the case.  Officer William Porter, who is black, awaits a second trial after his first ended in a hung jury in December.

The van's driver, Caesar Goodson, faces the most serious charge of second-degree depraved-heart murder for refusing to take Gray to the hospital and instead stopping to pick up another prisoner.  Goodson is also black.

Asian-American advocates
take on Ivy League schools

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A coalition of more than 100 Asian-American groups has asked two federal agencies to investigate three Ivy League universities for allegedly discriminating against Asian-Americans during their admissions processes.

The Asian-American Coalition for Education sent a letter of complaint Monday to the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights and the U.S. Justice Department, asking them to investigate Brown University, Dartmouth College and Yale University.

The complaint alleges the percentage of Asian-Americans at Brown and Yale has not changed in the last 20 years, and at Dartmouth over the last 10 years because of racial quotas and caps that severely burden Asian-American applicants.

The percentages remain flat, the coalition says, although the number of qualified Asian-American students has increased dramatically over the past two decades.

The coalition wants the federal agencies to require the schools to halt or limit the use of race-based and subjective admission criteria and publish the qualifications of applicants.

In response to the complaint, Yale says academic metrics are not the sole determinants for admission, while Dartmouth explains it considers the whole person when screening applicants.

This is the latest in a series of complaints that Asian-American interests have lodged against selective schools. The Education Department has never found evidence that the schools engaged in deliberate discriminatory practices.

Obama outlaws some terms
for designating minorities

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Barack Obama has signed a bill outlawing the federal government from using what many say are offensive and outdated terms used to describe minority groups.

The House and Senate passed the bill last week with no opposition.

The White House says the new law modernizes the way the federal government refers to some minorities.

Federal laws can no longer refer to African-Americans as Negroes, Asian-Americans as Orientals, and Native Americans as Indians.

New York Democrat Grace Meng was chief sponsor of the bill in the House after discovering the word Oriental while researching government documents.

"Many Americans may not be aware that the word Oriental is derogatory. But it is an insulting term that needed to be removed from the books," Rep. Meng said. "I am extremely pleased that my legislation to do that is now the law of the land."

Other new terms to be used in federal paperwork include Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, and Alaska Native in place of Eskimo and Aleut.

Right winger concedes
defeat in Austrian voting

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The far-right candidate in Austria's presidential election has conceded defeat.

Norbert Hofer, nominee of the euro-skeptic, anti-immigration Freedom Party, said Monday that he was sad he had not won, but called the work of his supporters an investment for the future.

While the results from Sunday's vote have not yet been officially announced, Alexander Van der Bellen, a former Green Party chief running as an independent, appears to have won a significant chunk of the 90,000 absentee ballots that remained to be counted.

The two candidates were in a dead heat as of late Sunday.

Sunday's faceoff came just weeks after Hofer and Van der Bellen swept aside challenges from ruling Social Democrat coalition candidates Rudolph Hundstorfer and Andreas Khol.  Both Hundstorfer and Khol were routed April 24 in first round voting, with each winning about 11 percent of the vote. 

A huge influx of migrants from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia into western Europe has spawned a backlash against official EU policy that initially welcomed migrants to the relative safety and prosperity of western Europe.

Sentiment began shifting as Austria took in 90,000 asylum seekers last year, while neighboring Germany opened its borders to more than one million migrants, many of them fleeing Syria's long and deadly civil war.

EU officials have since negotiated a deal with Turkey under which migrants fleeing its shores by boat for Greece will be returned in exchange for nearly $7 billion in European aid.
Real estate-related services (paid category)
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 

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or 506-8314-8090


Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

If you are looking for information on condos, homes, lots, commercial real estate or development properties our award-winning team of professional agents are ready to help you buying property in Costa Rica. We have over 18 years of experience to educate our buyers in all aspects of purchasing property. Call us or email us today for more information on how to purchase that perfect piece of Costa Rica Real Estate.

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Re/Max Ocean Surf and Sun:

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 sCosta Rica properties, including condos, homes, lots and commercial real estate.  Call us: Ocean Surf and Sun Int. Realty Ldta at 011 (506) 2653-0073 or send us an email at:

Axiom one

Sierra Collection. Meridian House or Chateau Montage.
Near Parque Nacional Marino Ballena,
Pacific Coast. 
For more i

Axiom two
The Terraces at San Martin.  Discover the essence of Costa Rica on our Luxury Ocean View Villas . Near Dominicalito Beach and Parque Nacional Marino Ballena.
For more information
Click HERE!

Axiom three
Ellan At Ballena Beach.  Welcome to a world of endless adventure on our beachside condominiums at Ballena Beach, Pacific Coast.  For more information click  HERE!
We will be happy to give all the information you need. Contact:

Costa Rica Office: +506.4001-2343
Mobile: +506.8367-2466
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Rich Coast
Costa Rica Real Estate
    2.47 acre ocean view property w/ 2 houses & 2 unfinished apartments $249k!!!
    2 houses and pool furnished, great rental potential walk to the beach $327k w/ owner financing
    2-bedroom furnished condo 400 feet from Jacó beach $179,000

and lots of other great properties! Property listings in Escazú, Herradura, Jacó, Manuel Antonio, Dominical and beyond. We offer efficient, personalized service always protecting our client’s interests. Contact us today with your questions about buying property in Costa Rica. With 11 years experience in Costa Rica real estate.

Have a Property For Sale? Contact Us!
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Real estate for sale (paid category)

House for Sale in Escazu Downtown
Condo near downtown Escazú Centro, Country Day School and Paco Shopping Center. 2 floors, 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. Maid's quarters, patio, 24-hour guard,   clubhouse and pool  Price $170,000 or best offer Call Lewis at 506 2288-2250 or 506 8828-6749.
Email: or

horse ranch
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.  More information
go to  Call Darin Ricco, phone +619-846-8249 or email:


Luxury condominium apartments for sale in Escazú
The property located in Trejos Montealegre, has three apartments for sale. Excellent location, 400 meters east of Avenida Escazú, next to Village (new commercial and office project), Plaza Tempo, Wal-Mart, CIMA Hospital. To enter and exit Trejos Montealegre no need to pay toll. The condominium is few minutes from San José

♦ Apartment No. 1: 180 square meters, 3 bedrooms, cement walls, two floors, 1 utility room, 3 bathrooms, TV room, living room, kitchen with breakfast bar and island kitchen furniture, garage, electric gate.
♦ Apartment No. 2: 180. square meters,  3 bedrooms, cement walls, two floors, 1 utility room, 3 bathrooms, TV room, living room, kitchen with breakfast bar and island kitchen furniture, garage, electric gate.
♦ Apartment No. 3: This is the largest one. 250. square meters,  3 bedrooms, cement walls, two floors, 1 utility room, 3 bathrooms, living room, kitchen with breakfast bar  island kitchen furniture, 2 garages, electric gate. Total property measures 529 square meters.  Unique opportunity to buy it for $ 750,000 (Seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars).  For more information contact Adrian, cell phone  506-8598-9898  Email:

Pavo onr
FOR SALE - $270,000
Exceptional 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom, fully furnished luxury apartment for sale at the exclusive Terrazas de Escazú highrise complex in Escazú near La Paco Commerical Center.  Situated on the third floor, this apartment has an exceptional layout with stunning views of the Central Valley. 140 m2 bright and spacious floor plan with open sky terrace with 180-degree unobstructed view of the Escazú mountains and Central Valley.  One covered parking spot with additional guest parking available. HOA fee:  $250/month. Held in Costa Rica corporation for easy property transfer. Building features: 12-meter atrium with controlled access entrance to the building, surrounding landscaping, lower level pool, communal rooftop terrace and small rooftop gym. 24-hour security. Contact: José Granados in Costa Rica, phone 506- 6051-5249  email:
paco two

first image
B&B for sale in Costa Rica $650,000

I believe this is the finest area of Costa Rica in which to live and, with a lock on 80percent of all tourists visiting Costa Rica, to invest. There are birds and flowers of every description, terrific neighbors, incredible views, wonderful weather with a healthy climate, visits by sloth, deer, monkeys, a very good business that can expand and grow, if desired, or simply a beautiful place to live. Please look at my Web site and the guest reviews, the people's reaction to the property, and you'll see just what a wonderful opportunity this is

There is about 7,000 square meters of land included (over 1 3/4 acres) as well as another smaller home and an apartment above the carport, designed as maid's quarters but usually rented out to tourists. The rear of the property is bordered by a small and very clean spring-fed creek/river. Across the river there is jungle, which makes for a great deal of all around privacy and which will never be developed. Restaurants, a supermarket, services, and many natural attractions are just a short distance away. The property was appraised at over $1.7 million (US) a few years ago, which might indicate what an incredible bargain this is.

It can also include a franchise for Best Western Hotel, if interested in growing with the tourism business, and a small hobby farm bordering Arenal National Park with spectacular views of Lake Arenal, is also available. All is available at an excellent price for the right person (people) and a package price can certainly be arranged. Email me at: For more photos and info click HERE!


Negotiable price. Thirty thousand seventy square meters. The house is seven hundred fifty squared meters, built three years ago. Five bedrooms plus servant's room with bathroom. Each bedroom includes private bathroom. Master's room includes Jacuzzi and hidromassage. Two main living rooms plus visitor's parlor and hall, two furnished kitchens, all ceramic. Nineteen rooms total counting three offices, eight-car garage. Has 220-volt current with three distribution panels. First-quality water plus well, decorated stone walls, recreational area, second house eighty squared meters, hot water systems, cable, telephone, light system throughout property, river, part forest..

For health situation, the owner make a INCREDIBLE DISCOUNT!!!!

ORIGINAL PRICE: $1.800.000    OFFER PRICE: $1.200.000
 For more information click HERE!
To see more photos click HERE!  To see house video click HERE!

English language contact:
Christian Arce
Phone: (506) 2494-0016
Cell phone: (506) 8309-0173

Spanish language contact:
Luis Gustavo Jiménez
Phone: (506) 2494-0016
Cell phone: (506) 8707-4016

A beautiful American style suburban home just reduced.

A beautiful American style suburban home, 2,700 sq. ft. of living space with 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, front and rear living rooms, laundry area, kitchen and small attached library nook, arched windows and doors and connected hallways, exotic wood interior ceilings and trim, tile floors thru-out. The lot is 835 m2 with mature landscape and orchid nurseries surrounding the house. There is an enclosed workshop and BBQ area in the backyard with lots of storage under roof, plus a nursery for an herb/vegetable garden. This is a very well-kept property with many upgrades, a private feel but yet only 5 minutes from the center of town. Pérez Zeledón is the commercial hub of the southern zone and considered to be one of the best places to live in all of Costa Rica, the perfect size town, not too big and not too small. The beach is 45 minutes to the west and a short drive to the cool mountains is to the east. In between, this large valley has a moderate climate. Pérez has plenty of modern goods and services, an excellent farmers market, private schools, private doctors and clinics, all you need without having to go to the crazy madness of San José. Just reduced to $199,000. Call Jeff: 8725-8176. Email:


San Rmon
Mountain home w/million dollar view near San Ramón
Beautiful home in the mountains near San Ramón with 180-degree view of the gulf of Nicoya. 7 miles from San Ramón, 1 mile from Interamericana highway. 3,200 foot elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, appliances included. High-speed internet installed,  Price for sale $179,000    Contact Mike: 
Check out slide show HERE!

Ocean View Property for Sale in San Ramón
1.5-acre lot with spectacular ocean views. Ready to build. Mild climate year round with an average temperature a cool 74 degrees. Spectacular panoramic views of
                                for sale
the ocean and port of Puntarenas during the day, breathtaking views of Esparza at night. Fully titled and owned under a Costa Rican corporation. Price reduced to $45,000. Short-term owner financing available. For more info: Contact: Frank

Jacó beach unique home. First time offered
This house has never been listed.  It is a 3-bedroom, 1-bath home approx. 100 feet above sea level on the only hill in Jacó one mile to the beach.  Totally remodeled to a Gringo house.Has great fenced yard for dogs and a huge screened porch with  great views all around, including a small ocean view.  New in the last two years includes: new kitchen with granite counter, cedar cabinets, all new windows, tile, water system, updated electric & plumbing, superb new AC units (low electric bill), This is half of a duplex with a platted yard.  Other side is the chief of police.  Secure & private.  $169.900. Call Glenn at 506-6214-0056 or

For sale 5,200 m2 Escazú
Fantastic location for condo, hotel, restaurant.
Large lower lot, incredible views. Flexible zoning.
Easy to get liquor license. Low interest financing.
Toll free US phone 877-778-8515
In Costa Rica 8307-0164

San Ramon
Mountain home w/million dollar view near San Ramón
Beautiful home in the mountains near San Ramón with 180-degree view of the gulf of Nicoya. 7 miles from San Ramón, 1 mile from Interamericana highway. 3,200 foot elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, appliances included. High-speed internet installed,  Price for sale $179,000    Contact Mike: 
Check out slide show HERE!

Grecia casa
Mountain home for sale
in Grecia.
Less than a year old. Owners are motivated.  All information regarding the home as well as many photos can be found at Mountain view home for sale Grecia, Costa Rica.   Contact email:

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Live the dream!
Several profitable businesses, including a regional radio station, are for sale in Costa Rica. Certain purchases can provide the new owner with residency as well as a great lifestyle. So live your dream while making a profit. Contact:

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday May 24, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 101
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News from the BBC up to the minute

BBC news feeds are disabled on archived pages.

Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Brazilian minister denies plotting coup

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A Brazilian government minister, shown in a leaked recording to allegedly be plotting the impeachment of suspended president Dilma Rousseff to stop a corruption probe, said Monday that he would temporarily step down.

The man, Planning Minister Romero Jucá, denied the allegations and said a partial transcript of the tape, published Monday in the Folha newspaper, was taken out of context.

The recording, made in March, allegedly showed Jucá and a former oil company executive, Sergio Machado, discussing a government probe of corruption at the state-run oil company Petrobas, in which both men are implicated.

According to the transcript, Jucá said, "We have to change the government so the bleeding is stopped."

Machado allegedly responded with "the easiest solution is to put Michel in," a reference to Vice President Michel Temer, a Rousseff foe who is acting president.

Jucá reportedly said he was working with the country's justices, who have the final word on impeachment.

Ms. Rousseff's supporters said the leaked tape bore out their contention that the president was the victim of a coup.

The Brazilian Senate voted to impeach Ms. Rousseff on charges that she used accounting tricks to hide the Brazilian budget deficit when she ran for re-election in 2014. She has been suspended from office for the duration of  her impeachment trial.

Mercury pollution reported in Amazonia
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Peru's President Ollanta Humala has declared a 60-day state of emergency in a large remote area of the Amazon jungle because of extremely high levels of mercury poisoning from illegal gold mining.

The country's environment minister said 41 percent of the population of Madre de Dios is being exposed. The mercury is not only in people but also polluting rivers and fish.

The government plans to send hospital ships and loads of untainted fish to the area near the border with Brazil.

Peruvian officials blame the mercury contamination on illegal gold mining, saying the miners use mercury to separate the gold from rock and dump the chemical into the rivers. The government is trying to clamp down on illegal mining.

Spanish reporter missing in Colombia

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The military has joined the search for  Salud Hernández-Mora, a Spanish newswoman who works as the Colombian correspondent for El Mundo, a leading daily in Madrid.

Ms. Hernández-Mora has not been seen since Saturday when she tweeted from a mountain community near the Venezuelan border. The area is controlled by the rebel group, the Ejercito de Liberación Nacional.

Ironically, Ms. Hernández-Mora was in the community of  El Tarra to cover a strike by the residents in support of two missing children. The youngsters have since reappeared, said El Mundo.

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Real Estate
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From Page 7:

Appeals panel voids Bank of America fine

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A U.S. federal appeals court threw out a mortgage fraud conviction Monday against Bank of America and dismissed a $1.2 billion fine against the country's second-biggest bank.

The three-judge panel in New York ruled there was not enough evidence for a jury to find the bank liable at a 2013 trial.

The judges said U.S. prosecutors failed to prove that Bank of America's Countrywide Financial division purposely set out to sell fraudulent mortgages.

A Bank of America spokesman says the bank is pleased by the appeals court ruling. The U.S. Attorney's Office in New York, which prosecuted the case, had no comment.

The Justice Department charged Countrywide of purposely selling the government-backed mortgage providers thousands of bad loans that could never be paid back.

Such bad loans helped bring on the global financial collapse and worldwide recession in 2008.