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Published Thursday, July 21, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 143
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axiom new d
Casa Canada

new highway
Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes photo
This is part of the widened stretch of the Interamericana Norte from Cañas to Liberia that went into service officially Wednesday. The redone section is 50.5 kilometers, a bit more than 31 miles. 
The job included 26 new bridges, 10 remodeled bridges, and intersections at  Cañas, Bagaces and Liberia, all for $200 million. Two more widening jobs are in design.

Chamber head cites other sources of tax evasion
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A chamber president put a different spin on the problem of tax fraud when he spoke to lawmakers Wednesday.

The man, Enrique Egloff, said that the bulk of the fraud comes from smuggling and companies that pay employees off the books or the self-employed who duck taxes. This is called informalidad in Spanish.  Egloff is president of the  Cámara  de Industrias. He was speaking about a proposed tax fraud bill, No. 19.245.

Among other requirements, the bill opens up company records to the tax man and creates a list of shareholders, which otherwise would be confidential. The Banco Central is supposed to guard the list.

As if to underline the chamber president’s statements, the Ministerio de Hacienda said this week that its Servicio Nacional de Aduanas, the customs agency, reported that 335 importers had underestimated the value of their goods enough to avoid paying 53 billion colons in import duties. That is about $97 million. That was just for this current tax period, the ministry said.

The ministry said that tax investigators had compared import declarations against eventual listings in the Registro Nacional that reflected the value of goods.

The ministry also said that the importers did not declare payments that had to make to acquire rights to sell branded products.

Also Wednesday, tax police confiscated
Policia de Control Fiscal photo 
 A tax policeman inspects some of the 10,000
 bottles of alcohol confiscated in Heredia.

10,000 bottles of alcohol that had been purchased at the  Depósito Libre de Golfito. The ministry said that the owner of two Heredia bars purchased the alcohol for resale, which is prohibited for products that come for the tax-friendly Deposito.

At the checkpoint in Guaycará de Golfito on the Interamericana Sur,  Policía de Fronteras confiscated a pickup load of alcohol being trucked in from Panamá, they reported..

Egloff also told lawmakers on the  Comisión Permanente de Asuntos Hacendarios that 90 percent of the members of his chamber of commerce are small businesses and that the more money they pay actually is strengthening the off-the-books firms in Costa Rica.

He rejected generalizations that blamed business operators for the fiscal problem of the country, according to a summary by the legislative staff.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, July 21, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 143
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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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More detained in Limón marijuana case

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Anti-drug agents conducted 13 raids Wednesday and detained eight persons, including a police officer. Agents said they were rolling up the remains of a marijuana smuggling operation.

Two men identified as leaders of the ring were arrested again in their cells in prison.

Agents said that the ring brought in marijuana from Jamaica.

Investigators got a good lead on the ring April 9 when three men were detained by the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas and 815 kilos of marijuana were confiscated. There also was a parallel money laundering investigation launched in March 2015, agents said.

The Ministerio de  Seguridad Pública said that the police officer provided information to the members of the smuggling operation.

One of the men arrested was being held before trial in San Sebastián on a murder allegation. The other leader, identified as a brother, already was serving a three--and-a-half-year sentence at the La Reforma prison complex in Alajuela, said the Poder Judicial.

The Fiscalía Adjunta contra la Delincuencia Organizada is handling the case.

Although there are vast tracts of marijuana growing wild in the province of Limón, the Jamaican imports are of a much higher quality, readers report.

Three quake are felt by residents

By the A.M. Cost Rica staff

Three moderate earthquakes that were felt here took place late Wednesday and early today.

The first was near Ciudad Colón and was felt as far away as in some places in San José. The Red Sismológica Nacional said the magnitude was 3.5 and the time was 10:29 p.m.

Early today at 34 minutes past midnight, another 3.5 quake took place an estimated 96 kilometers northwest of  Peñas Blancas in the Pacific Ocean. However, there were reports that the jolt was felt in some sections of northern and western Costa Rica.

Finally 15 minutes later at 12:49 a.m. a 4.4 magnitude quake took place about 60 kilometers south of Quepos.

Bill gives state ownership to earth’s heat

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A lawmaker has presented a proposal to include the potential thermal energy of the earth as property of the state.

The lawmaker,  Laura Garro Sánchez of the Partido Acción Ciudadana, suggested a change in the Costa Rica constitution to do this. She said that coal and petroleum which maybe underground already are state property.

The lawmaker also praised geothermal production of electricity as an environmental benefit. The measure is No. 20.041.

The  Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad already has constructed some geothermal power plants, but there has been some controversy because the best areas for such facilities are in national parks. Others use the earth’s heat for thermal pools at tourism locations.

Our reader’s opinion
Police need access to overwhelming force

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Regarding the Beedle and Zavadil letters of Wednesday, Sgt. Gary Zavadil is a friend of mine and has been a guest in my home a number of times. His service to his community and to his country are exemplary, and I am sure he would agree, fairly typical of those who choose to put themselves in harm's way in order to help preserve the peace and safety of our society.

If the police in general, anywhere, must confront violence and other sociopathic behaviors perpetrated by members of that society, the police must be able to use overwhelming force to halt that behavior and see to the safety of everyone, not just the victim, but the perpetrator as well should circumstances permit. It must be remembered that our police mostly respond and react rather than interdict simply because of the nature of the freedoms that most of us enjoy. If the men and women who respond to our call for help are not equipped to deal with the threat, shame on us.

I spent the last four of my 12 years in Costa Rica teaching marksmanship and gun handling to Fuerza Publica officers and others. Perhaps Mr. Beedle will be comforted to know that the overwhelming majority of those officers had had practically no live fire training in the last 10 years, and the bravery and willingness to carry the fight to the bad guy that they display daily in Pura Vida Land may lend themselves to saving his bacon some day in spite of the lack of real support they receive, and the paucity of their numbers.

We trust our police with our lives. Should we not trust them to use, responsibly and professionally whatever tools are required to get the job done? If bigger, stronger more forceful means are necessary to keep the peace, is that not more of a reflection of society's failure than law enforcement's? There's a reason they call it "law enforcement" and not "law, pretty please".
Harv Brinson
West Yellowstone, Montana

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, July 21, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 143
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The ultimate pura vida stems from a diet of just leaves, scientists report
By the University of Wisconsin news staff

Although most of the terrestrial world is covered in trees, there are precious few vertebrates that make the canopy their home and subsist solely on a diet of leaves.

Tree sloths are among the most emblematic tree-dwelling mammals. However, they are best known for their pokey demeanor rather than the fact that they spend the majority of their lives in trees munching leaves. But the slow motion lifestyle of tree sloths, according to a new study, is the direct result of the animal’s adaption to its arboreal niche.

“Among vertebrates, this is the rarest of lifestyles,” says Jonathan Pauli, a University of Wisconsin—Madison professor of forest and wildlife ecology. He is  the senior author of a report to appear in the August 2016 edition of the American Naturalist. “When you picture animals that live off plant leaves, they are almost all big, things like moose, elk and deer. What’s super interesting about arboreal folivores is that they can’t be big.”

Pauli and Wisconsin colleagues M. Zachariah Peery, Emily Fountain and William Karasov set out to measure the energetics of wild two- and three-toed sloths at a field site in in northeastern Costa Rica. The purpose of the study, Pauli said, was to help explain why such animals are indeed so rare and why more animals have not evolved to take advantage of a widespread ecological niche.

“Most of the world is forested, but the energetic constraints of a leafy diet seem to prevent adaptive radiation,” Pauli noted, referencing the canon of evolutionary biology that helps explain the diversity of life on the planet: As organisms evolve and radiate from an ancestral group, they take on a variety of specialized forms that enable them to live a certain lifestyle or occupy a particular niche.

The evolutionary logic of living in trees on a diet solely of leaves, it seems, is less than robust.

“Think about it,” says Pauli. “The food sucks. It’s only plant leaves. You have to exploit a very constrained niche.”

To do so, tree sloths require specialized limb adaption, reduced body mass, a slow metabolic rate and claws that act like fulcrums, hooks to accommodate the animals’ need to hang in and traverse the treetops.

“This study explains why eating leaves in the canopies of trees leads to life in the slow lane, why fast-moving animals like birds tend not to eat leaves, and why animals like deer that eat a lot of leaves tend to be big and live on the ground,” says Doug Levey, program director in the National Science Foundation, which funded the research.

The Wisconsin group, which began the study in 2009, used isotopically labeled water to measure the daily energy expenditure of both two- and three-toed sloths, animals that

Baby sloth
University of Wisconsin/M. Zachariah Peery
A baby sloth is destine for a plain diet of leaves with not even a single Big Mac or shake.

coexist in the tropical forest canopies of Central and South America.

Astonishingly, three-toed sloths, which are more specialized to their environment, expend as little as 460 kilojoules of energy a day, the equivalent of burning a mere 110 calories, roughly the same number of calories found in a baked potato. It is the lowest measured energetic output for any mammal.

“The measurement was intended to find out what it cost the sloth to live over a day,” says Pauli, who explains that a diet of plant leaves has little nutritional value and the animal’s gut size limits it to small amounts per day, so the animals need to find ways to make the most of their skimpy diet.

For sloths, that means expending minimal amounts of energy through a reduced metabolic rate, dramatic regulation of body temperature and navigating the world in slow motion.

The group then compared its results with similar studies of wild tree creatures from other corners of the globe. The take-home message, says Pauli, is that the more specialized the tree-dwelling animal, the lower the daily energy expenditure.

“The findings reinforce the concept that arboreal folivores are tightly constrained by nutritional energetics,” Pauli notes. “It takes a suite of extraordinary adaptations to survive in forest canopies, and this may help explain the lack of species diversification among arboreal folivores.”

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, July 21, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 143
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U.N. hopefuls mounting modern campaigns to win the position
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

There are two daughters of former presidents and one of a farmer; a history buff, a former president, an honorary citizen of Timbuktu and an assortment of foreign ministers, all of them want to be the next chief of the United Nations.
In all, a dozen declared candidates are in the race to become the ninth secretary-general, and for the first time, half of them are women.
Eastern Europe is hoping one of its eight candidates will prevail, as its region has never had a U.N. chief. There is also a push by more than 50 member states to see a woman selected.
Thursday, the search for the person to fill what the first U.N chief, Norway’s Trygve Lie, described as the most impossible job in the world will move to the next level. After weeks of unprecedented public interviews and even a debate of sorts, the decision-making will start.
The 15-member U.N. Security Council will begin secret, closed-door straw polls, an unofficial vote to gauge enthusiasm for each candidate.

Council members will check off encourage, discourage or no opinion for each nominee. If a candidate performs poorly, they might consider withdrawing their candidacy.

The five permanent members, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States,  get to use their veto in the final rounds of the straw polls, meaning they can knock out candidates they don’t like. So while they can’t make a candidate, their veto can break one.

By October, diplomats say, they hope there will be a council decision about Ban Ki-moon’s successor.
Once council members decide, they will send their recommended candidate’s name to the General Assembly, which formally appoints the new secretary-general.
In the past, candidates’ names were not made public. Some nominees did not even know they were under consideration, as was the case in 1953 with Sweden’s Dag Hammarskjöld. He said he did not know he was in the race until he received a late-night telegram notifying him that the council had selected him and hoped he would accept. He did.
The current president of the U.N. General Assembly decided to shake things up and invite governments to formally nominate their candidates, only one per government.
As a result, for the first time, the contenders have gone through a public interview process, exposing them for better or worse and creating favorites among the general membership, with a consensus that the United Nations needs a strong, competent leader for challenging times. Whether the Security Council and its five veto-wielding members share that view and those preferences is not yet known.
With an unending supply of armed conflicts, natural disasters, terror and a global refugee crisis, why would anyone want to be the U.N. Chief.

“It’s one of the most wonderful jobs in the world,” Danilo Turk, 64, a former Slovenian president and candidate said in an interview. He compared the U.N. to a big mirror. “It reflects all the problems of the world. It reflects all the hopes of the world.” What could be better, he asks, than serving those hopes?
Former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Guterres, 67, says he is running because he wants to create the conditions for solutions to global challenges. As the U.N. high commissioner for refugees for a decade until December 2015, he had a front row seat to the consequences of conflict.
“We see things that are going to happen and we fail to organize ourselves, the international community, to be able to act and prevent those conflicts that are then soon going to appear.” Guterres said prevention should be a “global attitude.

Irina Bokova, 64, of Bulgaria supports the idea of an eastern European woman leader. She said her region has been through profound transformation and its “experience is extremely important and valuable in this particular moment.” She heads the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and has visited Costa Rica.
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto photo
Ms. Figueres discusses her plans with a Chinese official.

French radio
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto photo
Ms. Figueres carries her campaign to French radio.

  Ms. Bokova is considered a favorite, but her friendship with Russia’s Vladimir Putin might weigh against her.
The U.N. top job is the “ultimate way to make a contribution to the global public good,” New Zealand’s Helen Clark, 66, said in an interview.
The daughter of a farmer who rose to be her country’s prime minister and is currently head of the U.N. Development Programme, added, “You can throw your efforts, your energy, your determination and skills into trying to advance peace and security, which is so badly needed in so many parts of the world today.”
With the right leadership, the U.N. has the capacity to bring people together in a unique fashion to put solutions on the table, Costa Rican candidate Christiana Figueres, 59, said this month.

The daughter of a three-time president of Costa Rica, she was the U.N. climate change chief for six years and helped achieve the first legally binding international deal to limit global warning.

Ms. Figueres has been campaigning actively along with members of the Costa Rican foreign ministry. She was in France Wednesday and in China earlier in the week.
In the previous race for secretary-general in 2006, it was not until the fourth round of straw polls, two months into the voting that candidates without broad support started withdrawing. But with the race much more public this time nominees might drop their bids sooner if they have weak support, rather than endure the potential embarrassment of repeated poor showings.
Straw poll results are supposed to be confidential, known only to the 15 council ambassadors and the envoys of the candidate countries, so they can inform their nominee, but the results are likely to leak out.
Other candidates are also possibly waiting in the wings, watching how the others do and considering jumping into the race. Among them, former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd, who said this week he has asked the new government in Canberra to nominate him, and Kristalina Georgieva, a European Commission vice president.

She is from Bulgaria, which already has an entrant in the race, so she will have to secure the backing of another government if she hopes to be considered.
The successful candidate will take over Jan. 1 for an initial five-year term. Most secretaries-general have served two terms.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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A.M. Costa Rica's
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Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, July 21, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 143
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Obama aides wants repeat
of hearing on immigration

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Legal experts are casting doubt on the Obama administration’s ability to revive an executive order that would shield millions of undocumented foreign nationals from deportation.

“It is a long shot,” said a New York Law School professor, Ari Waldman.

Monday, while Republicans railed against illegal immigration at their party’s national convention, the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to rehear arguments on whether the administration may defer deportation and grant work permits to roughly one-third of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

The High Court, operating with eight justices since the death of Antonin Scalia in February, deadlocked four-to-four on the case last month. As a result, a lower court’s injunction blocking President Barack Obama’s unilateral attempt to address illegal immigration remains in effect.

In a petition, acting Solicitor General Ian Gershengorn requested a rehearing before a full nine-member court.

The administration’s top lawyer acknowledged that high court do-overs are exceedingly rare, but he argued they are not unprecedented when a vacancy on the bench yields a split decision.

Obama nominated a federal appellate judge, Merrick Garland, to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. The Republican-led Senate has refused to vote on any high court nominee until after the November election.

The president’s executive order would cover undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors, as well as the undocumented parents of U.S.-born children. Advocacy groups cheered and jeered the administration’s refusal to give up on the initiative.

“Last month’s four-to-four tie in the Supreme Court was tremendous blow to millions of immigrant families,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigrant rights group America’s Voice. “Given the lives at stake, we join the Department of Justice in calling for a rehearing of the case before a fully staffed bench. This issue is just too important to leave to the tied decision of a hamstrung court.”

“Rehearing this case is the right thing to do, so that millions of American families will finally know where they stand, and whether America stands with them,” said the American Immigration Lawyers Association in a statement. “The position we find ourselves in, with a Congress unable to lead on immigration reform, and a Supreme Court unable to reach a decision, is an unusual and untenable situation that warrants a rehearing.”

Those favoring restrictive immigration policies argued that Obama overstepped his authority by seeking to grant de facto amnesty to millions of law breakers, and that the Supreme Court acted properly by keeping the injunction in place.

“If these kinds of executive orders were allowed to continue, then the president decides how many and who get to come into the country, not Congress,” said Roy Beck, director of NumbersUSA. “This is a constitutional crisis in that the Congress itself has not stood up for its own rights.”

Beck sees election year politics at work with a petition that, successful or not, resonates with core Democratic constituencies.

“It’s a last-ditch attempt. It’s for show, to show their open-border supporters that they tried to do everything they could,” Beck said. “It was the only way they could try to get these work permits out before the president leaves office.”

Granting a rehearing would require the backing of five Supreme Court justices.

On an eight-member court, it would mean that one of the four who voted against the administration on the injunction would have to side with the four who voted to allow the executive order to proceed, something court-watchers deem highly unlikely.

“I assume the administration is hoping that the court will hold off on making a rehearing decision until a ninth justice is in place,” Waldman said. “All in all, I would file this one under ‘It doesn’t hurt to ask.’”

The White House says it remains confident in the legality of the president’s executive order.

“The Supreme Court was unable to reach a decision about the administration’s executive actions,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “The filing from the Department of Justice is merely an effort to pursue every available legal avenue, because we believe in the power of the legal argument in support of the president’s actions. We continue to have confidence in the power of our legal arguments, and we are going to make them in every available venue.”

Vice presidential choice
expected from Mrs. Clinton

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is widely expected to announce her vice presidential running mate shortly after the end of this week's Republican National Convention.

People with knowledge of the situation said Wednesday that Mrs. Clinton has a short list of nine people she is considering.

“That’s not the real list,” Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, said. “The reason you issue a list of that length is to please various party constituencies and even powerful individuals.”

The Clinton campaign has held focus groups recently to help identify potential candidates. Mrs. Clinton has met with several of them recently at her Washington home. 

“I also think they are . . . sending out some weather balloons” for potential cabinet appointees, Pennsylvania State University political scientist Mark Major said in an interview.

The running mate announcement from Mrs. Clinton is expected to come Friday or Saturday. “This is already determined. We just don’t know who it is. That’s a very, very tight operation. It’s close to leak-free,” Sabato said of the Clinton campaign organization.

Mrs. Clinton is scheduled to attend campaign organizing events Friday and Saturday in Florida, the nation’s largest battleground state with 29 electoral votes at stake.

“If you’re looking around the country for swing states with a lot of electoral votes, you start with Florida,” Sabato said.

Clinton campaign aides say she is considering a vice presidential running mate with national security experience, a factor that has sharpened the focus on James Stavridis, who now is dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, a graduate school for international affairs. He is the former former  supreme allied commander at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

David Lublin, professor at American University’s School of Public Affairs, said that national security “often gets underplayed as a factor in presidential elections,” but is becoming a higher priority after recent high-profile terrorist attacks.

Many political observers consider Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia as Mrs. Clinton’s top choice for the vice presidency. Kaine is among a field of prospects who include Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, Housing Secretary Julian Castro and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Major said Mrs. Clinton would most likely select a white male.

“We’ve seen a huge gender gap in this election.” He added that whoever is chosen, the impact on public opinion will be negligible, as is usually the case with vice presidential nominees. “It’s one way to sort of balance out your portfolio,” he said.

A strong vice presidential running mate, Sabato said, should be able to help the presidential nominee do two things: win the election and govern.

“It would also be nice if a vice president brought some electoral votes,” Sabato said, adding that Kaine could potentially do so as a senator from the swing state of Virginia.

U.S. president wants successor
to continues key initiatives

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Barack Obama is pressing for the next president to continue key global development initiatives in order to keep the momentum going following dramatic gains.

“I’m here to say that whoever the next president is, development has to remain a fundamental pillar of American foreign policy,” he said Wednesday during the White House Summit on Global Development in Washington.

Shortly after speaking, the White House announced that the president had signed into law the bipartisan Global Food Security Act. 

The law directs authorities to promote global food security, to help communities become more resilient to the impact of events such as drought and to improve nutrition. It codifies much of a signature Obama initiative known as Feed the Future.

The Republican-led Congress also adopted the Electrify Africa Act, which is linked to Obama’s signature Power Africa initiative.

The Electrify Africa Act provides a framework for a public-private partnership between the United States and sub-Saharan African countries to help millions of people gain access to reliable electricity.

Obama called development one of the smartest investments a nation can make. 

In 2010, he issued his U.S. Global Development Policy, declaring global development a core pillar of engagement, one equal to diplomacy and the military.

“We know there is a correlation between no education, no jobs, no hope, the violation of basic human dignity, and conflict and instability,” he told the group, which included development leaders, private and public sector officials, members of civil society, religious groups and entrepreneurs.

The White House said the Feed the Future program, which was implemented after a spike in world food prices in 2009, had significantly reduced poverty and malnutrition.

In 2015, it provided nutrition interventions to nearly 18 million children, according to the administration.

Obama’s Power Africa initiative has set the stage for a steady flow of private sector investments in an expanding energy sector, and global health programs have led to lower maternal and child mortality rates around the world, according to the administration.

When Obama took office in 2009, he continued initiatives begun under President George W. Bush because they were delivering results and saving lives, the White House said.

The initiatives that started under Bush include the Millennium Challenge Corp., which promotes economic development and the fight against global poverty; the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the President’s Malaria Initiative.

Voice of America photo  
Andrew Symington check a batch of his whisky

Whisky maker is worried
by British exit from the EU

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Nestled deep in a picturesque highland valley beside a clear, cool stream or a burn as they’re known locally, the tiny hamlet of Edradour has all the ingredients for the perfect whisky: water filtered through peaty hills, plump grain from Scottish fields, and generations of know-how.

Distillery owner Andrew Symington enjoys nothing more than taking in the heady aromas in his six-and-a-half-thousand cask whisky warehouse and occasionally sampling the product.

“You’ve got like sugared almonds here, little bit of nutty maltiness, and then you’ve got all the dried fruits you find, so it’s Christmas cake. Orange peel, raisins. Mmm, very warming,” he said with a satisfied smile.

Symington watched the Brexit vote unfold with alarm. Sixty percent of his whisky goes to Europe.

“Europe currently is a network of 28 countries. All the tax warehouses are linked so it’s very much about ease of shipment and very little paperwork. If we’re not in that European club then of course things may change. They could impose tariffs on us,” he said.

For Edradour, the vote to leave the EU has come a critical time. Symington is investing $6.6 million to expand the distillery and meet increasing demand. The number of tourists visiting the distillery is growing by the week. His concerns over Brexit uncertainty are tempered by an unexpected boost in sales.

“Since then of course the pound has fallen 13 or 14 percent, so this is making a big impact too because our products are now much cheaper, and of course they’re more affordable in Europe,” he said.

Whisky is Scotland’s third biggest industry, bringing in  more than $6 billion to the British economy, larger than shipbuilding or steel. Europe is one of its best customers and losing access to the single market would be painful for the industry and for the Scottish economy.

Such concerns are driving renewed calls from Scotland’s first minister for her country to break away from the rest of the United Kingdom.

“I, for one, am not interested in it,” said Symington. “She will only cause untold problems if she splits from England. I would like to stay in the EU for sure, but I think if we’re not in the EU we must be united as a United Kingdom.”

In centuries past, the ancient hills around Edradour have witnessed bloody battles over Scotland’s independence.

England’s armies may be long gone but the matter is, perhaps, not yet settled. The fight over Scotland’s future is igniting once more, and the artisans producing the country’s most famous export are on the frontline.

NASA photo 
 This is a self-portrait of the Curiosity Mars rover
 that shows the vehicle at Namib Dune.

Earth craft visited Mars
for the first time 40 years ago

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Forty years ago, NASA landed a spacecraft on the surface of Mars, giving the first close-up view of the so-called Red Planet. And, in what seems to be standard protocol for NASA missions, the 90-day operation stretched into a six-year mission, paving the way for later Mars rovers like Opportunity and Curiosity.

The Viking 1 spacecraft touched down on the Martian surface on July 20, 1976, seven years after Apollo 11 astronauts stepped out onto the moon. The landing was originally scheduled for America’s Independence Day, July 4. But once in orbit around Mars, the satellite carrying Viking revealed that the landing site was incredibly rocky, notes Bill Barry, NASA’s chief historian. So mission controllers adjusted the date so the spacecraft could find a smoother place to land.

The Viking mission was a huge success from an engineering perspective, an 11-month journey through space to a perfect landing on another planet. The heat shield and parachute design were updated and used in subsequent missions to Mars. And Viking’s measurements of the Martian atmosphere and surface are being used and analyzed to this day.

But scientists were really anticipating the results from the life sciences payload carried by the lander. This apparatus housed four different tests in a space the size of a soccer ball, according to Glenn Bugos, historian for the NASA Ames Research Center.

A week after landing, soil samples were put through this barrage of tests to look for evidence of life: mainly carbon molecules and gases released by organisms metabolizing a variety of nutrients that had been added to the soil. Three tests came up negative.

But the fourth one had a promising result at least initially. In this test, water, nutrients and a radioactive form of carbon were added to the Martian soil. If any organisms ate the radioactive nutrients, they would emit a specific gas. The lander detected this gas spewing out of the soil during the first time it ran the test. But during the next two trials, there was nothing.

This has puzzled scientists for decades. Some researchers have tried to recreate the tests here on Earth and their results have led some scientists to say the tests were inconclusive instead of negative.

At a panel discussion on the history of the Viking 1 mission, Bugos said that the lack of definitive results killed the desire to search for life on Mars.

Erik Conway, a historian for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, added that a change in political focus towards NASA’s shuttle program and the failed 1984 Mars Observer mission also contributed to the 17-year gap before another lander was sent to Mars.

Opportunity and Curiosity, two of the new rovers, focused more on studying the ancient conditions of Mars to see if it was once suitable for life. They each found evidence of water on Mars in the past. Curiosity also noticed that methane periodically increases, which is most likely because of chemical reactions between the Martian rocks and water. But there is a small chance it could be released by living organisms.

So, 40 years after we reached it, humanity is still holding onto hope that life exists  or once existed on the Red Planet.

Student’s repeat gang rape
raises questions in India

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

An Indian student has been gang raped by the same group of men who raped her three years ago, an officer said.

The Dalit girl is currently recovering in a hospital in the northern state of Haryana after being raped by five men last week.

Police have accused the five of abducting the 21-year-old student from outside her university, drugging her, and raping her in a car before leaving her unconscious in the bushes where she was found by a passerby.

The victim identified all five attackers, two of whom were involved in her rape case in 2013. Her family said the group had been threatening her, demanding she drop charges against the two men who currently await trial.

Multiple Dalit groups have staged protests over the inaction of police as no arrests have yet been made since the latest rape.

The 2012 rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical student on a bus in New Delhi led to an overhaul of the country's rape laws, doubling prison sentences, as well as criminalizing stalking and trafficking of women.

But India continues to grapple with the problem of sexual abuse. Thirty-seven thousand cases of rape were reported in 2014, though activists claim the true number is higher as many rapes go unreported in India due to social stigma.
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Real estate for sale (paid category)

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

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!

Jacó Beach - Super Views - Priced Right
This is a 3-bedroom, 1-bath home located at about 100-foot elevation one mile from the beach.  Remodeled 2 years ago. Everything is new including total new kitchen, windows, floors, AC units, electric, plumbing, etc.  Super fenced yard for dogs.  Very low electric bill even with the AC.  This is a zero lot line property but with room to expand up and out.  Very secure & private.  Police chief next door. $149,900.  Call Glenn at 506 6214-0056.

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

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:

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!


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

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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Business for sale or lease (paid category)

Great opportunity for investor
Amount  $250,000, 100% ROI. Trucking company parts manufacturing and sales in Florida, proof of funds required. Call Jack Budd at La Habra, Calif., U.S.A. Phones 714-871-5821, 714-930-5265. Email:

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, Thursday, July 21, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 143
Real Estate
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News from the BBC up to the minute

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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Trump's daughter
Voice of America/A. Shaker
Ivanka Trump, the daughter of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, cheers as Mike Pence accepts the vice presidential nomination in Cleveland Wednesday night.

Trump is the featured speaker tonight

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Thursday is Donald Trump's day at the Republican National Convention.

After three days of praise from some of the party's biggest names and his formal nomination as the Republican presidential nominee, Trump will give his address in Cleveland, Ohio.  The Republicans have branded the final day of the convention under the theme "Make America One Again."

Unity has been a key focus for Republicans after their contentious primary season battle that ended with Trump as their pick to go up against Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election.

One-time rivals Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Ben Carson put aside their previous opposition and used their convention speeches to back Trump.  But on Wednesday one of the last Republicans to drop out of the race, Ted Cruz, drew boos for refusing to endorse Trump.

"To those listening, please, don't stay home in November," Cruz said.  "Stand, and speak and vote your conscience.  Vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution."

A short time later, those representing the state of New York chanted over Cruz as he spoke, demanding he announce his backing of their nominee.

"I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegation," Cruz responded.  The rest of his speech was difficult to hear over the noise of the crowd.  Boos turned to cheers again as Cruz walked off stage just as Trump appeared elsewhere in the arena.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich cast Cruz's comments as a call to vote for Trump. "Ted Cruz said you can vote your conscience for anyone who will uphold the Constitution.  In this election, there is only one candidate who will uphold the Constitution," Gingrich said.

Gingrich, as well as Rubio in a video played at the convention, used their remarks to also sharply criticize Mrs. Clinton.

"We cannot keep in place the people and the systems that have brought us to this point and that lie to us every single day about the threat," Gingrich said.  "That is why every American should be terrified at the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency."

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump's pick for vice president, had the main speaking slot Wednesday and cast himself as a personality who balances the ticket with Trump.

"He is a man known for a large personality, a colorful style and lots of charisma, and so I guess he was just looking for some balance on the ticket," he said.

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From Page 7:

U.S. takes action on raided Malaysian fund

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A U.S. federal civil action alleging theft from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund is nearly certain to prompt immediate calls by the Southeast Asian country’s political opposition for Prime Minister Najib Razak’s resignation.

While the legal case most likely will boost the weakened opposition bloc in Kuala Lumpur, it is not expected to quickly force out the entrenched leader.

Malaysia’s ruling UNMO party will rally behind Najib and blame foreign powers, including the Jews, for trying to topple a democratically elected government, opposition politician Charles Santiago predicted Wednesday.

“The opposition parties and NGOs will ask for the attorney general to investigate the accusations made in the U.S.,” Santiago, a member of parliament from the Democratic Action Party, said. “This will not go far, as the attorney general’s office closed its case many months ago.”

In the largest initiative of its kind by the U.S. Justice Department's Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, authorities seek to seize more than $1 billion worth of luxury real estate, artworks, jewelry and even rights to a Hollywood movie that authorities allege were obtained with assets stolen from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MBD fund, which Najib founded in 2009 and now is owned by the finance ministry that the prime minister controls.

“Unfortunately and tragically, a number of corrupt officials treated this public trust as a personal bank account,” U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch told reporters Wednesday.

"The Department of Justice will not allow the American financial system to be used as a conduit for corruption,” Ms. Lynch added. “Corrupt officials around the world should make no mistake that we will be relentless in our efforts to deny them the proceeds of their crimes.”

The U.S. Justice Department lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles, claims officials close to Najib diverted more than $3.5 billion from the fund from 2009 to 2013, using money intended for economic development projects in Malaysia to buy the U.S. properties and pay for lavish lifestyles.

The United States alleges that Aziz used some of the misappropriated money to finance production of a popular 2013 U.S. movie, "The Wolf of Wall Street," a fictionalized account of a real-life financial swindler.