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Published Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 158
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Action plan for migrants expected ready in September
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Casa Presidencial reported that one illegal migrant, a Haitian, has been deported. But the solution to Costa Rica’s growing migrant problem may be a long way off. A vice minister said Wednesday that a plan to handle the migrants might not be ready until September.

The man who was deported had been held for using false documents, said the Presidencia. He was identified by the last name of Thello.  He had been held in a prison, but a judge dismissed the case clearing the way for his deportation Tuesday, said Casa Presidencial.

Many migrants have claimed to be African in order to create the impression that to deport them would be expensive. However, Costa Rican officials have concluded that the bulk of the latest wave of migrants really are from Haiti.

A reader in the southern zone has reported on migrants there speaking Haitian Creole.

The migrant situation may be worse because the government of Panamá appears to be allowing the migrants to pass through that country and to the border with Costa Rica.

The flow of migrants appears to have 

originated in Brazil. The reader said that there
seems to be a flow of migrants over the southern border.

Costa Rica officials seem willing to allow the migrants to leave and head north even though they would have to violate the U.S. borders to enter that country. The migrant situation is even more confusing because Costa Rica just agreed to allow some 300 young people from El Salvador to stay in the country for a short time while the Obama administration arranges their travels to the United States. Republicans have called this a misuse of authority.

The youngsters are supposed to be those in vulnerable situations in their home country.

The vice minister who spoke to lawmakers Wednesday is Carmen Muñoz Quesada of  Gobernación y Policía. She told the Comisión Permanente Especial de Derechos Humanos that President Luis Guillermo Solís has set up a committee of ministries involved in the problem.

This committee is supposed to draw up what she called a plan of action that should be ready by September, she said.

Representatives of the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería are on the committee.

Super sky show predicted for tonight and Friday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nice thing about being a Greek hero is that upon death the gods may place you in the sky as a constellation. That is what happened to the mythical Perseus, the slayer of Medusa, and  this is why residents will be able to see the Perseids meteor shower as it peaks tonight and tomorrow night. The meteor flashes seem to originate in the constellation.

Astronomers predict that this year the Earth

will pass through a stream of cometary material shifted towards the Earth by Jupiter's gravitational field, according to the Royal Astronomical Society.

That means the number of meteors will peak tonight and tomorrow, the society said. As many as 100 meteors or more may be seen each hour, it added. 

Normally during late July and most of August there are only a few meteors an hour.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 158
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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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Federación de Surf/Alfredo Barquero
Noe Mar McGonagle shows why he was a standout Wednesday.

Two Costa Rican men advance to round 4

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
with the International Surfing Association

Costa Rica's Carlos Muñoz and Noe Mar McGonagle were the standout performers, advancing through to round 4 and posting the two highest heat totals (15.00 and 14.84) of the round in their respective heats Wednesday.

They now are among the best 20 surfers who survived from a field of  96.

Costa Rican Tómas King was consigned to a repechage round Wednesday, and teammate Anthony Fillingim ended up out of the competition.

In the women’s competition, Leilani McGonagle advanced from a repechage round to round 3 of the main event.

The fourth day of competition of the World Surfing Games featured 18 crucial repechage heats, narrowing the field of open men and open women surfers at the midpoint of the contest period.
Perú gained an early advantage over their competition, maintaining four competitors in the main event and two in the repechage rounds. Perú has no easy task ahead as the two male and female surfers left in the main event will face off against each other in their upcoming heats.
Japan's Takumi Nakamura managed to squeeze through his nail-biting main event round 3 heat. Nakamura, the last Japanese athlete in the main event open men category, earned a heat total of 12.60 that placed him in second place, narrowly edging out U.S. competitor Brett Simpson's score of 12.50.
Nakamura expressed his emotions following his heat.
"I feel really confident right now and I feel like I can win it all. I just need to keep building on my strong performances and stay stoked in the water."
Day 4 continued with Open Women Repechage heats, where the women posted some of the day's highest scores.
Chile's Jessica Anderson (16.00) and South Africa's Tanika Hoffman (15.66) posted the highest heat totals, gaining momentum for the repechage heats they will face in the coming days.

Rail job goes to ex-highway official

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A civil engineer who actually has academic experience in running a railroad has been named to do the job here. He is Cristian Vargas, who formerly was involved with highway and bridge maintenance in the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad.

The 60-year-old Vargas was quoted as saying that he would continue projects vital to the agency, the Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles. These include improvement of the equipment and increasing the frequency of the trains.

The valley line had another mishap Tuesday on a day when a taxi strike made many persons ride the rails. There was a minor derailment that did not seem to have a clear cause.

Casa Presidencial said that the man has had post graduate courses in railway engineering in Argentina. His title is executive president. The rail agency just got approval from the legislature to borrow up to $400 million for improvements.

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 158
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Growers unite to give a push to the business of growing strawberries
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Better berries is the goal of an organization that has been formed by strawberry producers.

This is a crop that is easily overlooked, but in Costa Rica, a census of agriculture showed that there are 335 farms that produce strawberries on 232 hectares, about 575 acres. They are mainly in the higher elevations of Cartago, Alajuela, San José and Heredia.

Under the guidance of the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería, growers have gotten together with the goals of sponsoring research, locating new technology and finding innovations. The new committee includes growers from Poás de Alajuela, Varablanca de Heredia, Llano Grande de Cartago and La Cima de Dota de San José, said the ministry.

Also sponsoring the continuing collaboration is the Fundación para el Fomento y Promoción de la Investigación y Transferencia de Tecnología Agropecuaria de Costa Rica and the Instituto Interamericano de Cooperación para la Agricultura.

Strawberries are a labor intensive crop. Between 15,000 and 20,000 strawberry plants are planted per acre in a commercial

A.M. Costa Rica file photo
Now just add a bit of chocolate . . . .

operation, according to a U.S. industry source, which adds that many growers go bust every year because they overlooked the basics.

In addition ripe strawberries have to be picked every day, and that adds to the labor needs.

Anti-drug efforts result in arrests on the high seas and in the countryside
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There must be a large financial incentive to brave the high seas, U.S. eyes in the sky and the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas in order to bring drugs into Costa Rica.

Once again, the Guardacostas intercepted what appears to be a shipment of marijuana from Jamaica. The agency said its crews fished 650 kilos of marijuana from the Caribbean off Limón.

The agency said it had help from the United States, whose crews most likely tracked a drug boat on the high seas. The Guardacostas said one crew chased a boat and captured three persons aboard. A second boat whose crew was believed to be involved, was beached and the occupants fled, said the Guardacostas.

Meanwhile, the Judicial Investigating Organization said its agents raided a property in Santiago de San Ramón where they found a man and a woman who are suspected of growing marijuana there. Agents said they confiscated 37 plants from what appeared to be a hydroponics operation.

Ministerio de Seguridad Publica photo
A law officers snags another bag of marijuana.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 158
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Buildup in Crimea raises fears of another full-scale war with Russia
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The sound of battle has long gone. But the ghosts remain in Ukraine's Independence Square, where more than two years ago police and protesters clashed for weeks amid acrid black fumes billowing from burning tires.

In Ukraine's Maidan where sniper rounds once cracked, there are now foreign tourists. Where 53 people were slain either with clean shots by expert marksmen or gunned down at closer range by less skillful assassins, there are now snaking lines of school kids visiting from other Ukrainian cities.

The kids listen in various states of indifference or interest to the guides explaining the events that led to the ouster of President Vladimir Putin's puppet Viktor Yanukovych.

That ouster triggered the Russian land-grab of Crimea and what Ukrainian and Western officials say is Moscow-fomented separatism in the country's mainly Russian-speaking eastern region of Donbas.

For all of the calm now in Maidan, Ukrainian officials fear the Kremlin is limbering up for another destabilizing offensive in the east. They say it is part of Moscow's hybrid war involving dirty tricks and misinformation to snap Ukraine back into the Russian orbit and prolong a state of uncertainty to hinder the government in Kyiv from accomplishing the political reforms Maidan protesters demanded.

And tensions are increasing, not only in the Donbas but on the Ukraine-Crimea frontier following the off-and-on closure over the weekend of all three border crossings by Russia. Kyiv accused Moscow on Tuesday of stepping up military activity on the Crimean peninsula that Russia annexed in 2014 within weeks of Yanukovych's fall. More helicopter gunship sorties reportedly are being flown along the border, as well as surveillance drone flights.

Ukraine's general staff is reinforcing units in Kherson, the Ukrainian region bordering Crimea, and residents say they have spotted anti-tank rocket launchers being transported by Ukrainian forces.

The Russians also are building up in Crimea. The deputy chairman of the outlawed Crimean Tatars' Mejlis, or council, Nariman Dzhelalov, wrote on his Facebook page Aug. 7: "Witnesses report that large groups of Russian military hardware have been massed near Armyansk and Dzhankoy."

Wednesday Russia's federal security service claimed it had thwarted an armed Ukrainian incursion into Crimea that aimed to sabotage critical infrastructure. The service said a Russian soldier and an intelligence employee had been killed in clashes, and a group of Ukrainian saboteurs had been arrested.

That drew a curt denial from Yuriy Tandit, an adviser to Ukraine's security service. "Ukraine is not trying to regain Crimea by force," he said.

The mounting tensions along Ukraine's border with Crimea coincide with a weeks-long uptick in fighting in the Donbas, where a Ukrainian soldier was killed Monday and five others wounded.

To the outside world, the confrontation in the Donbas is another one of Moscow's frozen conflicts subverting former Soviet countries on Russia's periphery, such as Georgia and Moldova, and blocking them from moving on from their Communist pasts, and, in Ukraine's case, from joining Western institutions.

Frozen isn't how it feels for Ukrainians living or fighting in the

Voice of America/L. Ramirez
Memorials mark the spots where demonstrators were massacred during the 2014 Maidan Revolution in Kyiv.

east more than two years after pro-Moscow separatists seized government buildings in Donetsk and Luhansk, and 18 months since Ukraine and Russia concluded an armistice, known as Minsk 2.

U.N. officials worry at the rising civilian casualty toll: in June, 57 people were wounded and a dozen killed. Last month, eight civilians were killed and 65 injured.

Monitoring groups suspect the numbers of civilian casualties are higher. July was an especially deadly month for Ukraine's military, with 42 soldiers killed and 181 wounded.

Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, a spokesman for Ukraine's presidential administration, says that from Sunday to Monday, pro-Moscow separatists launched 47 attacks on Ukrainian positions; more than 50 attacks were recorded Monday to Tuesday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blamed Ukraine for the jump in fighting, claiming he is seriously concerned about the escalating violence.

Some Ukrainian officials worry the increased violence is a prelude to full-scale fighting and the world may be witnessing the start of another land-grab launched by Russia during an Olympics. They point out it was during the Winter Olympics in the southern Russia city of Sochi in 2014 that Putin and his generals planned the annexation of Crimea.

Other analysts and Ukrainian officials suspect what is happening in Donbas is part of a two-year destabilizing pattern that has seen a rise in provocation, only to be followed by a period of quiet.  Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe accuse both sides of violating the cease-fire.

Motuzyanyk said that Kyiv is only responding to Moscow-directed provocation. He says the separatist and Russian forces number 45,000 on Ukrainian territory, a mixture of local recruits, former Russian servicemen and current Russian military.

And he argues the separatists' political leaders are "just puppets and have no say about what happens."  He adds, "The military forces are commanded directly by Moscow."

The Ukraine spokesman says, "It is disappointing to see the Russians using heavy artillery again. It is summer now, and it is easier to move vehicles and to launch military actions. And there is a huge possibility we might see something bigger, but we have large forces along the contact line. And in order to breach it, they would have to amass even more forces."

Both sides appear readying for that something bigger by redeploying forces.

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The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2016 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 158
Real Estate
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Customs inspector is facing
California mail theft charges

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A longtime U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer has been arrested on federal charges that allege that he stole mail from an international mail processing facility in Torrance, California, and arranged to have an accomplice deposit checks obtained from the stolen mail.

The officer, Carlos Canjura, 54, of Van Nuys, was arrested Tuesday without incident by special agents with the FBI. The arrest came after Canjura, who has been a Customs and Border Protection officer since 2008, was named in an eight-count indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury on Aug. 4.

At an arraignment U. S. District Court, Canjura pleaded not guilty to the charges in the indictment and was released on his own recognizance.

According to the indictment, Canjura was assigned to the mail processing facility, where his duties included examining mail and parcels coming into the United States for contraband, counterfeit goods, and possible fraudulent financial checks or credit cards.  The facility is operated by the U. S. Postal Service and is a location where international mail is processed to ensure compliance with federal law before being delivered to addresses in the United States.

According to the indictment, Canjura stole mail that contained traveler’s checks and third-party checks. Canjura allegedly provided the stolen checks to other people, who altered the checks and deposited them into bank accounts at Bank of America.

The indictment specifically alleges that Canjura stole four checks with a cumulative value of more than $15,000.

Trump and Mrs. Clinton trade
barbs over emails and firearms

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump attacked each other Wednesday over dueling controversies dogging both candidates: new Trump comments on gun control that even have shaken up some supporters and the old Clinton email controversy that her backers wish would go away already.

A conservative group called Judicial Watch released a new batch of emails sent and received when she was secretary of State. The messages were between Clinton aides at the State Department and the Clinton Foundation, a charity she started with her husband, former president Bill Clinton.

Conservatives allege the emails prove contributors to the foundation had special access to the State Department, something the Clinton campaign has always denied.

Speaking to an audience of coal miners in the eastern state of Virginia, Trump called the latest Clinton emails pay for play, meaning you could buy influence with the world's leading diplomat.

"It's really really bad" and illegal, Trump said, before ripping into the media, whom he accused of failing to report the facts.

At the same time Trump spoke to the miners, Mrs. Clinton was talking to supporters in Iowa. She excoriated Trump for comments Tuesday that critics say was a call to gun rights supporters to assassinate her and Supreme Court judges who want more gun control.

Mrs. Clinton said Trump's comments crossed the line.

"Words matter, my friends. And if you are running to be president or you are president of the United States, words can have tremendous consequences."

She tweeted that she is "humbled and moved by the Republicans who are willing to stand up and say that Donald Trump does not represent their values.

The U.S. Secret Service, which is in charge of protecting the president and major candidates, says it is aware of Trump's comments. It is unclear what action it has taken, if any.

Trump denies any intent of violence behind his remarks. He said he clearly meant that those who want to protect the constitutional right to own a gun must unite and vote against Clinton.

As miners waved signs reading "Trump Digs Coal," Trump promised to revive the waning U.S. coal industry and put miners back to work. He said mines are an important energy source that has been destroyed by government regulations against pollution from burning coal.

Mrs. Clinton in Iowa highlighted what she said is the importance of clean renewable energy. She said such technology as solar and wind will create thousands of jobs and turn the U.S. into a 21st century clean energy superpower.

Mrs. Clinton also made an open plea Wednesday for support from Republicans and independents, hoping to capitalize on what her campaign contends was a suggestion from Republican Donald Trump calling for violence against her.

Guantanamo report lists
details of  detainees there

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A report giving a brief synopsis of each of the more than 100 detainees still being held at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was released Wednesday by a critic of the Obama administration's plan to close the detention center.

The Pentagon gave the report to Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a Republican, who posted it online.

The information in the unclassified report details each of the 107 detainees being held in Guantanamo as of Nov. 25, 2015. The detainees vary from former al-Qaida bomb makers and bodyguards to low-level militant cooks and medics.

Many of the detainees have been held without charge for more than 14 years. About 30 have been released since November, and the prison currently holds 76 detainees. Of those, more than 30 have been cleared for transfer out of the prison.

Sen. Ayotte said the report highlights the detainees' past terrorist activity and their continuing extremist views, and is an indication of why they must remain in prison.

"Most of the detainees who remain at Guantanamo are the worst of the worst, as demonstrated by the fact that 93 percent of the detainees who remained there as of late last year had been assessed as a high risk for a return to terrorism," she said in a statement.

She has said closing the detention center is a security risk and has pushed the Pentagon to release more information on those being held at the naval base.

"By clearly detailing some of the disturbing terrorist activities and affiliations of detainees at Guantanamo, the report demonstrates why these terrorists should not be released -- they pose a serious risk to our national security," the New Hampshire senator said in an email statement.

Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Valerie Henderson said Wednesday the information in the report has been publicly available for some time, for several years, in some cases.

David Remes, a human-rights lawyer who represents several detainees, said dangerous men are not being released.

"Holding the men at all was a deep injustice and a lasting stain on the U.S. These men shouldn't have been in Guantanamo in the first place," Remes said. "It's one thing to prosecute detainees for attacks on the U.S. . . .  It is quite another thing and contrary to the values the U.S. says it is committed to to hold men for many years who are accused of no crime."

On his second day in office in January 2009, President Barack Obama issued an executive order directing the U.S. prison in Cuba to be closed. However, the Republican-led Congress has stymied his efforts to do so.

In addition to transferring some inmates to other countries, Obama would also like to send some of the inmates to the United States for incarceration, but Congress also has opposed that proposal.

The prison was opened in January 2002, four months after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington and shortly after the ensuing U.S. offensive began against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Guantanamo once held nearly 800 men, but then President George W. Bush transferred more than 500 of the detainees to other countries for prosecution or imprisonment. So far, Obama has transferred 162 detainees to other countries.

Sea-level estimates said
distorted by volcano gas

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The 1991 Eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines was the second largest of the 20th century. The eruption, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, ejected more than five cubic kilometers of material into the atmosphere, some of it nearly 35 kilometers into the atmosphere. "Fine ash fell as far away as the Indian Ocean," according to the Survey, "and satellites tracked the ash cloud several times around the globe."

Around Mount Pinatubo, a blanket of ash, in some cases over 200 meters thick filled deep valleys, and the violence of the eruption reduced the mount to a volcanic caldera  250 meters shorter than it had been before the eruption.

New research released Wednesday says that the volcano not only covered up a huge area of the Philippines. It has also been covering up evidence of sea level rise. 

The new study was led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research and is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

It notes there has been general agreement that sea levels over a little more than two decades have been fairly consistent, rising about 3 millimeters per year.

But the paper notes that scientists first began measuring the rate of rising sea levels in 1993, just two years after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo when the effects of that eruption were still having a significant impact on the environment.

According to the Survey Web page, "Nearly 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide were injected into the stratosphere in Pinatubo's 1991 eruptions, and dispersal of this gas cloud around the world caused global temperatures to drop temporarily (1991 through 1993) by about 1°F (0.5°C)."

Those colder temperatures literally slowed the rate of sea level rise, skewing statistics from the get-go. One of the authors of the research, John Fasullo, said "The main point of the paper is that the eruption changed the timing of sea level rise since 1991 and thus prevented an estimate of acceleration . . ."

Three millimeters a year admittedly isn't much, but Fasullo says it's likely going to get worse. "In the absence of a major volcanic eruption," he says, "we can expect progressively increasing rates of rise in the coming decades." He says it's hard to predict exactly how much faster sea levels will rise in the coming years, and natural variability in the weather will impact the rate.

But he adds the important thing to take away from his new work is "acceleration is real and ongoing and that the timing of the eruption of Mt Pinatubo has limited our ability to quantify acceleration directly from the altimeter record."

Fasullo said that climate scientists all over the world are working on getting new numbers that are "the focus of significant field work in Greenland and Antarctica, and major modeling efforts."

The world’s sea levels have risen dramatically since the end of the Ice Age. The estimate is that the sea rose 120 meters or 394 feet as the glaciers melted. This has caused vast changes in geography and inundated early civilizations that existed along the coasts.

Some nations disrespecting
concept of religious freedom

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United States is painting a bleak portrait of religious freedom around the world, particularly condemning some Islamic societies that have adopted laws that harshly penalize blasphemy and apostasy.

“One quarter of all the countries in the world have some form of anti-blasphemy law, one out of 10 punishes people for apostasy,” David Saperstein said Wednesday in an interview, “so this is a serious problem because often this has death penalties that are attached in them or very severe punishments. And we see this in countries all across the globe.” He is the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.
Saperstein underscored that the very nature of all these laws “punishes people for expressing their core beliefs, when those core beliefs turn out to be offensive to whoever has the political power in the country. No one should be punished for expressing their religious views if they do so in a peaceful manner.”

The report said that "false accusations, often lodged in pursuit of personal vendettas or for the personal gain of the accuser, are not uncommon. Mob violence as a result of such accusations is disturbingly common."

"Around the world," the State Department said, "governments continued to tighten their regulatory grip on religious groups, and particularly on minority religious groups and religions which are viewed as not traditional to that specific country."

The report singled out numerous countries, alleging that governments targeted people for a variety of offenses, including online articles or public statements that allegedly defamed the Prophet Mohammed or desecrated Islam's holy book, the Quran, in some way.

The report said that in Pakistan, 40 people remain on death row for blasphemy, many of them religious minorities.

It said Sudan detained 27 Muslims last November, all "adherents of a school of Islam that maintains that the Quran is the sole source of religious authority, and that rejects the sanctity of the hadiths, contrary to the government’s official view of Islam."

The State Department said Mauritania imprisoned Mohammad Cheikh Ould Mohammad, better known as MKheytir, after he allegedly criticized the Prophet Mohammad and "implicitly blamed the country’s religious establishment for the plight of the country’s forgeron caste, which historically has suffered discrimination." Protesters in the country called for the death of a human rights activist who defended him

The report said that last year two non-state actors, the Islamic State and Boko Haram, "continued to rank amongst the most egregious abusers of religious freedom in the world."

It said Islamic State jihadists have committed what U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry believes to be "genocide against Yazidis, Christians, Shia, and other vulnerable groups in the territory it controlled." The report said it was "responsible for barbarous acts, including killings, torture, enslavement and trafficking, rape and other sexual abuse against religious and ethnic minorities and Sunnis in areas under its control."

“Daesh kills Yazidis because they are Yazidi, Christians because they are Christian, Shia Muslim because they are Shia,” said Antony Blinken, and deputy secretary of State, using another name for Islamic State group, “Daesh is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups, and in some cases also against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, other minorities.”

Blinken emphasized “they’ve not only killed, they’ve sought to erase the memory of those they’ve killed, destroying centuries-old religious cultural sites. ”

The State Department said Boko Haram in Africa "continued to launch indiscriminate, violent attacks targeting both Christians and Muslims who spoke out against or opposed their violent ideology."

It noted that "Boko Haram claimed responsibility for scores of attacks on churches and mosques, often killing worshipers during religious services or immediately afterward."

The report denounced Iran, where it said government officials executed 20 individuals "on charges of moharebeh, translatable as enmity towards god, among them a number of Sunni Kurds." It said a number of other prisoners, including several Sunni preachers, are still being held while awaiting a government decision whether to implement their death sentences.

The State Department also disparaged religious freedom in China, saying that Beijing "ordered the demolition of several state-sanctioned Protestant and Catholic churches and the removal of over 1,500 crosses as part of a government campaign targeting so-called illegal structures."

Meanwhile, it said Russia "continued to grant privileges to the Russian Orthodox Church that it did not accord to others," limiting the activities of Muslims and other minority religious groups, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pentecostals and Scientologists.

The State Department said religious freedom is gradually improving in Vietnam and praised the European Union for appointing two officials to monitor anti-Semitism and combat anti-Muslim hatred. The report lauded Kenyan Muslims for shielding Christians when al-Shabab militants attacked a bus they were riding on.

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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

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 158
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La Niña expected, U.N. agency reports

By the World Meteorological Organization news staff

A La Niña event may develop in the third quarter of this year, but it is likely to be weak. It is not expected to match up to the moderate to strong La Niña of 2010-2011 and will not compare to the intensity of the El Niño event which just ended and which was one of the strongest on record, according to a new update from the World Meteorological Organization.

El Niño and La Niña are opposite phases of atmosphere-ocean interplay over the tropical Pacific, collectively referred to as the El Niño/Southern Oscillation. They have opposite effects on weather and climate in different parts of the world. Areas which receive below average rainfall during an El Niño tend to receive above average rainfall during a La Niña and vice versa.

The strong 2015-16 El Niño ended in May. Since then, indicators have remained at neutral levels. There is a 50-65 percent probability that La Niña will develop in this third quarter and last through the remainder of 2016. Historically, La Niña has followed several but not all El Niño events.

There is virtually no chance of El Niño re-development in 2016, according to the World Meteorological update, which is based on expert opinion and models from all around the world.

The 2015-2016 El Niño was one of the strongest on record and, with its warming effect, contributed a prolonged spell of record global temperatures.

The first six months of 2016 were the hottest such period on record, shattering the 2015 records by considerable margins.

It is important to note that El Niño and La Niña are not the only factors that drive global climate patterns.  For example, the sea surface temperatures of the Indian Ocean, the southeastern Pacific Ocean and the Tropical Atlantic Ocean are also known to influence the climate in the adjacent land areas.

La Niña refers to the large-scale cooling of the ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, coupled with changes in the tropical atmospheric circulation.

The outcomes of La Niña are generally opposite to those of El Niño, but depend on the intensity of the event, the time of year it develops and the interaction with other climate patterns.

La Niña is often associated with wet conditions in eastern Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and South Asia.

It usually leads to increased rainfall in North Eastern Brazil, Colombia and other northern parts of South America, and drier than normal conditions in Uruguay, parts of Argentina, coastal Ecuador and northwestern Peru.

La Niña tends to suppress tropical cyclone activity in the central and eastern Pacific basins, and enhances it across the Atlantic basin

Zika virus toll increases by 90 cases

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country’s zika virus toll is now 441, up 90 cases since a health ministry report last week. The canton of Garabito and its community of Jacó continue to lead the statistics with 124 cases. Orotina is second with 50 cases, according to the Ministerio de Salud.

Other cantons with significant numbers of cases are Quepos (37), Santa Cruz (36), Puntarenas Centro (31), Esparza (23) Carrillo (19), Nicoya (14), Parrita (12) and Desamparados, Liberia and San José, all with 11.

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Scientists ID genes that may cause autism

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The causes of autism are murky, varied and complex. But researchers have taken a step forward, identifying hundreds of new genes that may play a role in the development of autism, a neurodevelopment disorder that affects children's ability to communicate, learn and socialize.

Investigators say the genes are not necessarily a direct cause of autism but could contribute to the condition, meaning the genes that could lead scientists toward finding a cause and, possibly, a treatment.

Children with autism have trouble communicating and socializing. The condition runs the spectrum from mild awkwardness to complete social isolation, which is why it is called autism spectrum disorder.

There is no cure for what has become one of the most common developmental disorders to strike young children. But early intervention, in the form of physical and behavioral therapies, has proven to be beneficial.

So far, 65 autism-risk genes have been identified, but their exact role is unknown. Investigators think there could be anywhere from 400 to 1,000 autism genes altogether.

Using what they call a machine-learning computer program, researchers at Princeton University in the United States discovered 2,500 genes they believe could contribute to the disorder. The new leads were published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

There are some 25,000 genes in the human body. To narrow down the genes within the vast brain circuitry that may contribute to the development of autism, investigators looked at the huge array of connections among genes responsible for brain function.

Arjun Krishnan, a researcher at Princeton's Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, likened it to finding friends on Facebook.

"And if Facebook wanted to find out who your friends are and wanted to suggest a friend for you, what they would do is find out who your friends are and then find out other people who are friends with those same people,” Krishnan said. “So that's how they give you suggestions of new friends you might know. We used a very, very similar strategy."

Krishnan says the machine-learning program identified similarities between brain-related genes and the 65 autism-risk genes, finding still other genes that are friends of both. In this case, 2,500 genes that may increase a person's risk for autism.

It is the specific combinations of those genes that may explain why one child on the spectrum is mildly affected while another child is severely disabled, says Olga Troyanskaya, a professor of computer science and genomics at Princeton University.

Discovery of a distinct pattern of gene interactions that contribute to autism might someday lead to a test diagnosing children, so they can begin therapy as early as possible.