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Published Tuesday, June 7, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 111
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Initial salary proposals range from 2 to 3.5 percent
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In less than a month a new list of minimum wages goes into effect, and worker representatives have proposed increases of from 2.13 to 3.5 percent.

The proposals were made before the Consejo Nacional de Salarios, which will make the decision.

The minimum wages cover workers in the private sector. A large percentage of Costa Ricans work for the minimum wages and will benefit from any increases.

The Ministerio de Trabajo maintains a list of minimum salaries by job classification.

Representatives of employers are expected to have their say next Monday, and the government will present its proposals two days later.

Sometimes a decision is not reached by the start of the first pay period, and employers have to make up the difference later.

The presentations Monday included the  Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Empresa Pública y Privada, which sought the 3.5 percent increase.

The Bloque Unitario Sindical y Social Costarricense suggested an increase of 2.76 percent but also sought 2 percent additional for domestic workers.

Rape victim is now focus of prisoner release dispute
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 25-year-old mother in Guácimo has become the unwilling central figure in a dispute over the government’s decision to release criminals to reduce prison overcrowding.

The woman was the victim of a robber who broke into the family’s impoverished home  early May 28, tied up the husband and raped the young woman at knifepoint.

That the woman had given birth just seven days previous is a factor in the account because now she has to take anti-viral medication to protect against any sexual diseases and she cannot breastfeed her child. She has two other children.

The rape suspect had been convicted of aggravated robbery 15 months earlier but  quickly been assigned to what is called a semi-institutional setting. This is like a halfway house, but in the case of the rape suspect there was no room for him there, so he basically was freed.

He is not the only person in that area to have been involved in new crimes after getting out of prison early.

Local prosecutors are keeping count and there are similar crimes elsewhere in the country.

The Ministerio de Justicia y Paz runs the prisons and is involved in freeing up to 6,000 criminals before the termination of their sentences. This has generated a lot of controversy.

However, the ministry has embarked on a public relations campaign. Monday it issued a press release outlining the life of a convicted embezzler who succeeded in creating his own business after being placed in a semi-institution setting. He was required to sleep at the facility once every 15 nights, a period that quickly became 30 nights and then once every two months.

The ministry also is bringing convicted felons around to schools to address students. There was a visit last week by 10 convicts to the Liceo Experimental Bilingüe de Grecia.

The quick release of convicted criminals has generated opposition in the private sector, the judiciary and at the legislature. But the

two children
Poder Judicial photo
Two children at the Guácimo home inspect items donated by judicial workers.

ministry is working under judicial mandates to reduce the estimated 36 percent overcrowding in the prisons. A suit by the Asociación Nacional de Investigadores en Criminalística has been rejected by a court.

udicial workers in Pococí responded to the news reports of the abject poverty of the rape victim and her family. They said Monday that prosecutors in Pococí had collected 245,000 colons, about $460, and purchased food and diapers for the woman and her family. Some persons donated clothing.

The news story said that the woman did not have funds to buy milk for her new baby and that the anti-viral medication prevented breast feeding.
The prison situation is compounded by the tradition of keeping individual there for long periods while a supposed investigation takes place. Lawmakers have dodged for more than a decade the need to build more prison facilities. The Sala IV constitutional court rejected a plan proposed by a U.S. firm to build and run a maximum security prison as a concession.

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Judiciary considers budget for next year

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This is budget time in the various government agencies and institutions. The judiciary is considering a budget proposal of  424 billion colons for the 2017 fiscal year.

That number is 2.14 percent higher than this year’s budget, and the judiciary said that it continues to call for 11,869 employees. The budget was drawn up by the judicial planning agency.

The proposal comes at a time when the central government is under international pressure to reduce staff and expenses as well as increase taxes.

When the proposal is approved by the Corte Suprema de Justicia, the budget will be submitted to the Ministerio de Hacienda, which draws up the budget for all the government branches. The judicial budget includes the courts, prosecutors, the Judicial Investigating Organization, the Defensa Pública and other associated agencies.

The central government will submit the budget to the legislature, which might make cuts.

Among the proposals in the judicial budget is the purchase of a building in Heredia to house the Oficina de Defensa Civil de las Víctimas in that province.

Swap considered for killer in Cuba

By the A.M. Cuba staff

U.S. sources say that negotiations are under way to swap a convicted Cuban spy for an escaped cop killer.

The killer is Assata Shakur, who was better known as JoAnne Chesimard when she was a member of what was called the Black Liberation Army in the early 1970s. The revolutionary group was best known for lobbing hand grenades under pursuing New York City police cars.

State police critically wounded the woman in a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike early May 2, 1973. Troopers responded after two of their own were gunned down by bullets that came from the car containing Ms. Chesimard.

Trooper Werner Forester died but not before he emptied his service revolver into the vehicle as it pulled south on the highway. A second trooper suffered wounds but survived.

Law officers intercepted the car several miles down the highway, and captured the woman after a brief firefight. Two of her three companions died.

The women is a hero for many black activists and their supporters. She was portrayed as a victim of racial persecution and not a cop killer.

Opinions of Ms. Shakur seem to follow racial lines. She is seen as a hero along with the likes of Harriet Tubman. A documentary has been done on her life. She wrote two books. Various human rights groups call her a political prisoner.

Undergraduates at the City University of New York named a student center for her.

After her conviction she managed to break out of the Clinton Reformatory for
Women and fled to Cuba.

Both NBC and the New York Post say that U.S. diplomats are willing to arrange the swap for Cuban spy Ana Montes, who was an analyst for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency until she was detained in 2001.

Cigarette tax asked for renewable energy

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A lawmaker is proposing an additional tax on cigarettes in order to pay for research into renewable energies.

The lawmaker, Edgardo Araya Sibaja of Frente Amplio, also proposes that renewable energy should be promoted for homeowners, In a release he said that seeks to develop efforts from every person to contribute to society and change the national energy system.

The bill he is submitting is designed to stimulate the self-generation of energy and the use of non-conventional renewable energy and to promote research into these possibilities.

He said he seeks a 50 centimo tax on each cigarette to pay for a fund to do the research. That would be about 10 colons on a typical pack of cigarettes. He also proposes custom duty breaks for importing, distributing and installing renewable energy generating systems.

There also are tax breaks for efficient buildings and for electric vehicles in the bill.

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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Government launches plan for subsidized internet for 140,000 homes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The telecommunications agency is about to give a portable computer and subsidized internet access to 14,000 low-income families. This is the first step in a project that will result in providing computers and internet hookups for 140,000 families next year.

That was the announcement Monday by the Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones, which is administering a fund to connect Costa Rican homes. The money comes from the various internet providers and mobile telephone companies.

The initial group of families are those who have been identified as low-income by the Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social. The heads of these families will get a computer and obtain a subsidy of from 40 to 80 percent to hook up the home with fixed internet service by the existing providers, including the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, Tigo, Coopeguanacaste, Cable Tica, Telecable, Coopesantos or Coopelesca, said the agency.

The family will have to pay from 3,363 to 10,088 colons for the

monthly service, said the Superintendencia.  Cable Tica and Radiográfica Costarricense S.A. charge about 20,000 colons for a home hookup.

The government said it has $128 million to spend to hook up low-income families to the internet. Families that are not initially included in the first round can petition to be so, said the agency.

The initial 14,000 families were selected from other existing anti-poverty programs, said the Superintendencia.

For expats, the program means a large number of new internet users that will strain an already overcrowded system. The families also will be vulnerable to theft because they will have a portable computer in the home.

The government program is based on the theory that by using the internet low-income families can work their way out of poverty by online education and other opportunities. There does not seem to be any plan to monitor the use to which the subsidized computer systems are put.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, June 7, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 111
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Researcher verifies that shark meat can contain excessive mercury
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A doctoral researcher has determined that shark meat sold in San José and Heredia can contain high levels of mercury.

The researcher is Jason R. O'Bryhim who studied the shark trade for his doctoral dissertation at Geroge Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He defended his work last November.

Among the goals, he said in the dissertation abstract, was that knowledge about contaminants might reduce the demand for shark meat and aid in the conservation of threatened species.

His work was distributed Monday by the environmental organization the Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas.

Fish consume methyl mercury when they eat algae because the substance is found in small quantities in sea water. Fish much higher in the food chain, like shark, tuna, swordfish and other predators accumulate the substance.

O'Bryhim reported that he and a colleague collected 170 shark, ray, and fish muscle tissue samples from Costa Rican markets in San José and Heredia over a five-day period in September 2014.

They analyzed the amount of total mercury in each sample using standard U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved procedures.

"It is very concerning to find that samples for three shark species tested exceeded U.S. health guidelines," said O'Bryhim in a release issued by the local environmental organization. "Silky sharks are a special concern since they account for 70 percent of all the shark sold to the public in those markets and a number of the samples tested exceeded the U.S. health threshold."
"This is yet another reason why Costa Ricans should reduce their annual consumption of 2,000 tons of shark meat, most of which consists of silky shark chops," said Randall Arauz of the Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas and the Turtle Island Restoration Network. "Don't eat shark. Mercury contamination is a known risk to women and children," he said in the release.

Total mercury concentrations in the shark products being sold were highest in smooth hammerheads and blacktip sharks, which exceeded U.S. Food and Drug Administration mercury limits of 1.0 part per million for wet weight. Individual samples of silky sharks and scalloped hammerhead sharks also exceeded the FDA threshold, the release said.

Mercury in fish is not new. U.S. residents have been discouraged for years from eating swordfish because it accumulates mercury. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency urges pregnant women to eat fish like tilapia that are lower in mercury.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, June 7, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 111
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State ID laws may reduce
U.S. minority voter turnout

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

As U.S. voters go to cast ballots for their next president in November, some will be turned away from polling places because of state laws that require showing identification.

Those laws, especially the most restrictive measures requiring a government-issued photo ID, are a relatively new phenomenon in the United States that have risen sharply during the past decade.

Voter ID laws are now active in 33 of the 50 U.S. states, covering about 60 percent of the population.  Since President Barack Obama was elected in 2008, 11 states have enacted identification requirements for voting.  The rules in those states range from strictly asking for photo IDs such as a driver's license to simpler documents such as a paycheck.

Proponents say the laws prevent voter fraud and give the public more confidence in the process.

"Voter ID can prevent and deter impersonation fraud, voting under fictitious voter registrations, double voting by individuals registered in more than one state, and voting by illegal aliens," Don Palmer, a former election official in Virginia and Florida, wrote in a Heritage Foundation report.

Palmer argued that those who oppose the laws exaggerate the number of people who are affected, and that those assertions inhibit the national debate.

According to the Federal Election Commission, 129 million people voted in the 2012 presidential election.  That was about 55 percent of the voting age population, down from about 58 percent in 2008.

Many factors can account for lower election turnout, but a University of California, San Diego, report released in February found no apparent relationship between the strict photo ID laws and overall voter turnout.

What the authors did find, however, was that while the laws had little impact on white voters, they reduced turnout among Hispanics, African-Americans and mixed-race voters.

"The key test is not whether turnout is lower in strict voter ID states but instead whether the turnout gap between whites and non-whites is greater in strict voter ID states."

The report said a lack of identification is particularly found among minorities, the poor and younger people.

A U.S. Government Accountability Office report cited a few of the reasons people struggle to obtain government identification.  Some people lack transportation to get to the appropriate government office, while others do not have the necessary documents like a birth certificate to get the card.  The GAO also cited the cost of state driver's licenses, though many of the states that require voters to have ID provide a free form of identification.

Still others who are employed, especially those in part-time work or jobs that do not provide any form of leave, cannot afford to skip work in order to get to a government office during the hours it is open.

Attorney General Eric Holder stressed in a 2012 speech the need to be vigilant in preventing voting fraud, but that political pretexts will not be allowed to keep Americans from exercising their most precious right.

"The arc of American history has always moved toward expanding the electorate.  It is what has made this nation exceptional.  We will simply not allow this era to be the beginning of the reversal of that historic progress."

Opponents of the laws have also argued there is a huge imbalance between the cost voters and states incur to follow the rules and the small number of reported incidents of fraud the laws could prevent.

Ahead of the 2012 election, Justin Levitt wrote in a report for the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy that evidence of such fraud is extraordinarily rare.

"Though it does occur, there are only a handful of recent accounts.  During this same period, hundreds of millions of ballots have been cast."

Levitt said there is a reason many states offer voters alternatives to photo IDs to prove their identity and have their votes count.

"They recognize that there are some legitimate, eligible American citizens who do not possess government-issued photo identification cards.  And they do not wish to make it unduly difficult for these citizens to exercise the most fundamental right in our constitutional order."

Papal edict from 15th century
blamed for many injustices

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

On May 4, 1493, then-pope Alexander VI issued what was known as a papal bull, the Inter caetera, which set off the European conquest of the New World at the expense of tribal people.  On May 4 of this year, Steven Newcomb, co-founder of the California-based Indigenous Law Institute, met with Pope Francis and called on him to formally revoke the bull.

“We are also calling on them to formally acknowledge that it was issued and that the system of thought and behavior that was unleashed on the planet,” he said. Newcomb's Shawnee and Lenape ancestors were among the hundreds of tribal groups that lost land and other rights to European settlers.

Throughout the Middle Ages, the pope was believed to be not only the head of the Christian Church, but God’s representative on Earth. Kings and popes often competed for authority, but if a papal bull worked in a king’s favor, he was likely to follow it.

A series of mid-15th century bulls gave the church’s blessing for Portugal to “invade, conquer, fight, subjugate the Saracens and pagans and other infidels and other enemies of Christ,” to take their property and enslave them. 

“Basically, the pope was granting Portugal the right to do anything it wanted to do,” said Robert J. Miller, professor of law at Arizona State University and a member of the Eastern Shawnee tribe. 

Portugal had been focused on exploring and plundering Africa’s west coast, but when Christopher Columbus claimed the West Indies for Spain, Lisbon was outraged, believing its rights to discovery and colonization extended globally. 

That’s when Pope Alexander IV issued the infamous Inter caetera.  He drew a line midway across the Atlantic Ocean, giving Spain discovery rights to the west of the line and Portugal all lands to the east.

Not to be outdone, King Henry VII in 1497 authorized explorer Henry Cabot to sail west and claim new lands for England.

“Cabot stepped ashore in Newfoundland and went through the same charade of claiming the land for England that Columbus had for Spain,” said Miller. “They didn’t care that there were indigenous people there because since they weren’t Christian, they weren’t considered to be humans.”

Taken together, the Inter caetera and related bulls established the Doctrine of Discovery, a legal and ideological concept Christian Europe used to justify its actions.  Miller believes doctrine was incorporated into American colonial, state and federal laws, he said, and is part of a U.S. policy in place today.

He said the language of the doctrine can be found in modern case law.  In 1954, the Tee-Hit-Ton Indians sued the U.S. for lumber taken from their ancestral lands in Alaska.  The court dismissed the suit, arguing that because the Tee-Hit-Tons were in a hunting and fishing stage of civilization, they had only a limited right of occupancy, and therefore the U.S. was not required to reimburse them.

“American Indian tribes in the United States own 56 million acres of land today in trust with the United States,” Miller said. “But the tribes do not really own the fee simple absolute title to these lands the way you or I do when we buy homes,” said Miller. 

“Tribes cannot sell reservation land. Tribes cannot lease reservation lands.  Tribes cannot develop reservation trust lands without the permission of the United States,” he said.

Robert T. Coulter, director of the non-profit Indian Law Resource Center and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, says the Doctrine of Discovery has never been part of United States law, in spite of what courts and government officials may claim.

“Statements of the pope are not law. Nor are the statements of a particular king,” he said. “International law isn’t created that way, and it never was.  Professor Miller is making a legal argument that hundreds of tribes don’t own the land that they own. And this makes it even more difficult for Indians to hang on to their lands.”

The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs defines a federal Indian reservation as “an area of land reserved for a tribe or tribes under treaty or other agreement with the United States…where the federal government holds title to the land in trust on behalf of the tribe."

Coulter responds by saying, “The United States imposes all kinds of unjustifiable restrictions on what tribes can do with their land. That’s true, but it doesn’t have anything to do with discovery.  I think the government’s legal basis for that is near zero.”

As for the Vatican, in 2010 its ambassador to the United Nations told the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues that the papal bull Inter caetera was rescinded by subsequent bulls and treaties over the centuries and is today merely a historic remnant with no juridical, moral or doctrinal value.

Furthermore, he said, if nations set the Doctrine of Discovery as a legal precedent, refuting it is a matter for their lawmakers.

In a landmark speech in July 2015, Pope Francis acknowledged the grave sins on the part of the church in colonial times.

“I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offense of the church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America,” he said.

Decision on Pacific dispute
highlights U.S. treaty delay

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Sometime in the next several weeks, an international tribunal in The Hague will announce its long-awaited ruling on a territorial dispute in the South China Sea between China and the Philippines. The court is expected to rule at least partially in favor of Manila.

China already has said it will ignore the ruling of the tribunal, which it claims is biased.

If China does disregard the decision, the United States almost certainly will portray the case as yet another instance in which Beijing flouts international law. But any U.S. attempt to pressure China over its rejection of the ruling will be complicated by the fact that Washington itself has not ratified the treaty on which the Philippine complaint is based, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The vast majority of the world's nations have signed onto the treaty, which is known as the constitution for the oceans. The treaty provides guidelines for how nations use the world's seas and their natural resources. It also contains mechanisms for addressing disputes, such as the current one between the Philippines and China.

The U.S. has not accepted the treaty because of opposition from Republicans in the Senate, where treaties must be approved by a two-thirds' vote. Failure to act on the treaty has drawn regular critiques from U.S. President Barack Obama.

Last week, Obama specifically linked the issue to China.

"If we're truly concerned about China's actions in the South China Sea . . . the Senate should help strengthen our case by approving the Law of the Sea convention, as our military leaders have urged," Obama said in a commencement speech to the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Steven Groves, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation who has written extensively on the Law of the Sea treaty, says that argument is completely ridiculous.

"There's no evidence to support it," Groves said. "China is going to disregard any negative outcome from the arbitration whether or not the U.S. is party to the treaty or not."

Groves is among the camp of conservatives who are generally skeptical about U.S. participation in international treaties and systems, viewing them as undermining U.S. sovereignty. He also is concerned that Law of the Sea Treaty will subject the U.S. to stricter and, in his view, unnecessary environmental standards.

"All indications are that if we joined the Law of the Sea treaty, that all kinds of meritless environmental lawsuits would be brought against us," Groves said.

Other analysts argue that ratifying the treaty would give the U.S. more leverage on the international scene, especially in relation to China.

The U.S. "could say a lot more, and probably much more convincingly" if it were a party to the treaty, says Andrew Chubb, a China expert at the University of Western Australia. "As it stands, they have to talk about more abstract terms like accepted rules of international law and 'rules-based order,'" he said.

Any diplomatic damage is limited to some extent because almost all the provisions in the treaty reflect customary international law, which is binding on all states.

"In fact, the irony is that the United States already scrupulously follows the rules in the convention," said James Kraska, an international law expert at the U.S. Naval War College.

But Kraska says the U.S. has more to gain by formally joining the treaty, including a more stable legal framework for accessing resources on the extended continental shelf of the U.S. He also says joining the treaty would give the U.S. more credibility on the world stage.

Republicans and Democrats
rap Trump on flap with judge

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

In a rare display of bipartisan unity during an election year, Republicans and Democrats alike have condemned presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for his comments about the ethnicity of a judge overseeing a class-action suit against Trump University.

Members of both parties lambasted the real estate billionaire for his racist remarks on how U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel wouldn't be fair in the case because of his Mexican heritage. Curiel is an American who was born and raised in the Midwestern U.S. state of Indiana.

Leading the charge Monday were two former rivals for the Republican nomination. Ohio Gov. John Kasich tweeted that Trump's offensive "is flat out wrong.'' Trump, Kasich wrote, should "apologize to Judge Curiel & try to unite this country.''

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio agreed. "It's wrong and I hope he stops.''

But no mea culpa was forthcoming from the candidate. Trump insisted earlier Monday that Curiel can't be impartial in the lawsuits because the jurist's parents were born in Mexico and Trump wants to build a wall along the Mexican border.

Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, called Trump's comments "absolutely unacceptable."

Rep. Filemon Vela, a Democrat, said in an open letter published Monday that Trump's ignorant anti-immigrant opinions, border wall rhetoric and continued attacks on a sitting federal judge are just plain despicable.

Vela, who represents a district along the U.S.-Mexico border, says his great-great grandfather came to the U.S. In 1857, well before Trump's ancestors.

Vela wrote, "Mr. Trump you are a racist and you can take your border wall and shove it."

Kasich, Rubio and Collins joined other top Republicans, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who all condemned Trump's remarks Sunday.

"Public Service Announcement: Saying someone can't do a specific job because of his or her race is the literal definition of 'racism,''' tweeted Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican who is a longtime Trump critic.

But while Trump has called repeatedly for the judge to recuse himself, his lawyers have not made any such request. Judges generally are thought to have conflicts of interest only in more specific situations, such as a financial interest in the outcome of the case.

Curiel was appointed to the California State Superior Court in 2006 by then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican. He was appointed to the federal bench by President Barack Obama.

In 1997, he was believed to be the target of an assassination attempt from a Mexican drug cartel and was put under 24-hour watch by the U.S. Marshals Service for a year, then was moved to a military base and eventually to Justice Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. He went on to serve as the lead attorney for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force between 1999 and 2002.

Trump's attacks on the jurist began when Curiel, at the request of news organizations, ordered the unsealing of documents in the case that have proved embarrassing for the presumptive nominee, making a case for those who say the brash billionaire would attack anyone he considers a threat.

Mother in zoo tragedy
will not face any charges

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. prosecutors say no criminal charges will be brought against the mother of the little boy who fell into a gorilla habitat at a zoo in Cincinnati, Ohio, forcing sharpshooters to kill an endangered gorilla that had seized control of the toddler.

The May 28 killing of the 180-kilogram western lowland silverback gorilla named Harambe sparked a firestorm of public outrage with hundreds of thousands of critics taking to social media to condemn the death and vilify the mother for what they insisted was negligent child care.

But Monday, Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters said an investigation showed the case did not come close to warranting charges of child endangerment against the mother. Deters described her as an attentive parent who had turned away for a few seconds to attend to three other children when the boy scampered over a 1-meter-tall barrier and fell 4.5 meters into the gorilla enclosure.

Tropical storm is heading
toward Atlantic Ocean

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Tropical Storm Colin made landfall Monday in Florida, bringing heavy rains and prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency.

The storm formed in the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to pass through Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas before moving out over the Atlantic Ocean.

Colin, with sustained winds of 85 kilometers per hour, is expected to bring large amounts of rain, riptides, and the possibility of hail and tornadoes.

Weather forecasters say the storm could slowly strengthen over the next two days.

Many schools closed early Monday and the Tampa International Airport reported dozens of delayed or canceled flights. In addition, the storm threatened crops in Florida, the country's biggest citrus producer.

Colin is the third tropical storm of the season, the earliest that a third named storm has formed in the Atlantic region, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts the Atlantic to get between 10 and 16 storms this season, which began in June and lasts through the end of November.

Arabic is fastest growing
of all languages in U.S.

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Arabic is the fastest growing language in the U.S., according to the Pew Research Center.

According to a post on the group’s Web site about the challenges Arabic presents to the U.S. census, Arabic speaking at home has surged by 29 percent between 2010 and 2014 among those 5 years-old and older. That means there are roughly 1.1 million Arabic speakers, which ranks the language as the seventh most spoken in the U.S.

For comparison, the number of people who speak Spanish at home grew by 6 percent.

Pew said the increase comes from continued immigration from the Middle East and North Africa and the growing U.S. Muslim population.

Of those who speak Arabic at home, Pew said 38 percent are not proficient in English. Forty-two percent of Spanish speakers reported not being proficient in English.

The growth among Arabic speakers may lead the U.S. Census Bureau, which provides data on economic and demographic trends in the U.S. by surveying households across the country, to add a Middle East/North Africa category to the 2020 census.

In the 2010 census, Arabic speakers filled out an English-language questionnaire, but were given a chance to use a Census Bureau provided language assistance guide.

The growth in Arabic speakers is causing the Census Bureau to look at how it can respond, but Arabic presents some unique challenges for translators.

For example the questionnaire now contains blocks for individual letters, but Arabic is written in connected script. Arabic is also a right-to-left language.

Arabic names are also problematic to transliterate because the letters in the Arabic alphabet don’t always directly correspond to English letters.

For example the common Arabic name Hussein could be spelled many different ways, including Hussain, Husein, Husain, Houssain and Houssein.

Real estate-related services (paid category)
Container homes
New shipping containers for sale:
20 ft. (model year 2015) Containers:  $3,500
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We also have a 40-ft. HQ Shipping Container Home
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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,
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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
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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!
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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.

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Real estate for sale (paid category)

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 $895K U.S.  Go to  Owners U.S. cell phone: 813 310-7402  Email

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

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

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

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, June 7, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 111
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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
robot librarian
Agency for Science, Technology and Research photo
An automatic shelf scanning robot can locate missing or out-of-sequence books, even along curved shelves.

Robot librarian uses radio tags on books

By The Agency for Science, Technology and Research news staff

Being able to access and download information in an instant is a hallmark of the digital age. But much of the world’s knowledge remains between the pages of printed books. Tracking these volumes in libraries is a tedious, labor-intensive process, but improved access to these invaluable resources is now possible thanks to robot technology developed at The Agency for Science, Technology and Research.

Some libraries are adapting to automation by placing radio frequency identification tags into their collections. These computerized barcodes contain unique identifying labels that can be quickly scanned using wireless, handheld readers. Alternatively, smart shelves containing multiple antennas can automatically register when books enter or are removed from their stacks. Such approaches are expensive, however, and still rely on manual labor.

Researchers Renjun Li, Zhiyong Huang, Ernest Kurniawan, and Chin Keong Ho are designing robots that can relieve librarians of many menial tasks while enhancing searching and sorting of books. Their latest project is an autonomous robotic shelf scanning platform that can self-navigate through libraries at night, scanning radio frequency tags to produce reports on missing and out-of-sequence books.

Li notes that this function required a way to steer a tall, wheeled robot through complex mazes of library stacks, while keeping a critical distance from shelves at all times. “Too far and we lose the RFID signals, but too close and the antenna hits the shelf,” he said

Kill switch urged for AI devices

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

In view of the recent warnings from researchers and entrepreneurs that artificial intelligence, or AI, may become too smart, major players in the technology field are thinking about the methods for preserving human control.

Famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and entrepreneurs Elon Musk of Tesla Motors and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates all say that AI is rapidly approaching the point of self-awareness. As Hawking said in a 2014 interview, the slow biological evolution of humans cannot compete with the speed of artificial intelligence development.

In a scientific paper titled "Safely Interruptible Agents," Laurent Orseau, director of Google's DeepMind, and Stuart Armstrong, a University of Oxford professor, say humans should have what they call a big red button available if the artificial intelligence attempts to escape control.

Scientists say that, in the real world, it is hard to expect artificial intelligence to make optimal decisions all the time, so humans should be able to prevent actions that could lead to harmful consequences.

Researchers also say it is equally important to prevent artificial intelligence from learning how to disable the so-called kill switch.

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From Page 7:

Essential trademark to be promoted internally

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government is taking its Esencial Costa Rica trademark to the people.

The effort comes from the Promotora del Comercio Exterior, the Coalición de Iniciativas para el Desarrollo and the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo along with the ministries of  Comercio Exterior and Relaciones Exteriores.

Originally the trademark, which is Essential Costa Rica in English, was designed to promote the country’s products internationally. The success of that campaign has not really been established.

But now the campaign becomes one that flatters residents. The essence of Costa Rica is its people, says the translation of one slogan.

The campaign said that it hopes to cultivate the country’s essence in the current and future generations. Those values are hard-working, talented, innovative and proud inhabitants who live in a privileged land, a summary said.

The campaign will be presented in the social media, sports events and among students, the summary said.

The various organizations have been promoting the original trademark since 2013. The campaign comes at a time when there is a loss of faith in public officials and the public is becoming aware of the critical financial situation.