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(506) 2223-1327                            Published Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, in Vol. 14, No. 161                       Email us
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Today's legal holiday is steeped with tradition
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Today is a legal holiday, the Día de la Madre, which coincides with the Roman Catholic Feast of the Assumption of Mary.

The tradition is to buy gifts for Mother, attend Mass and treat her to a fancy lunch or dinner.

The dominance of the mother in the Costa Rican family has much to do with the machismo of the males and the freedom to roam that he enjoys. That has been the tradition since the Spanish arrival. In addition, about 20 percent of the families now have no male parent, so the role of the mother is magnified.

In Costa Rica it is the mother who keeps the family together and functioning, and she is rewarded on this day.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional prepared a special forecast. Rain is expected this morning on the Caribbean coast and in the northern zone. There also is a good chance of continued high winds in the 60 kph range, about 37 to 40 mph.

More clouds than rain is expected in the Central Valley, and on the Pacific coast there may be some clear skies. Winds are expected in the northern Pacific.

Although most of the celebration centers around the family, there are some public events.

In honor of today's Mother's Day celebration, a weekend's worth of orchestras will play concerts throughout Costa Rica. Seven groups from the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud will continue to perform the free shows that began Thursday.

In Limón, the Banda de Conciertos de Limón will play a Saturday show at the Guácimo gymnasium at 6 p.m. and a Sunday show at the Limón cathedral at 7:30 p.m. The group's director, Ana Pamela Goyenaga, said that local singer Fernando Castro from the group Vía Libre would be accompanying the band on stage.

It's the first time we've done a concert with this group, which has hits like 'Flores de papel.'
The 'Assumption of the Virgin' by Peter Paul Rubens. Costa Rican mothers sometimes are considered nearly as heavenly.

“ 'Recuérdame' and 'Serenata,' among others,” she said. Each mother who attends the concert will be given a rose, a ministry release said.

The Banda de Heredia will also be playing a Sunday concert at the central park in the Ciudad de las Flores, as it is called, at 10 a.m. On the same day, the ministry's band in San José will take its talents to Alajuelita to play a show dedicated to mother's at the Catholic church at 1 p.m.

The association with the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, is not a coincidence. The Virgin is the patroness of the country, and she, too, witnesses some difficult motherhood experiences. In Catholic teaching, Mary, like Jesus, was assumed body and soul into Heaven. There is theological uncertainty as to whether she died first.

A.M. Costa Rica marks 13 years of providing news
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Today marks the 13th birthday of A.M. Costa Rica. That's 13 years of providing local and international news targeted to English-speaking expats here and those who would like to be here.

The newspaper has been supported by the many merchants and vendors who want to showcase their products to the readership.

During that time the staff has produced about 3,350 individual daily editions. In the early years, an edition contained about two newspages. Today there are seven.

During the 13 years there were good times and bad times. Probably the worse for the readership was when Luis Enrique Villalobos closed down his high-interest investment operation and left more the 6,000 creditors hanging. Many of them were U.S. expats or frequent visitors. Many have moved on. Some still are hanging and hoping for a legal miracle.

Some mysteries remain from the early years. Still missing are a handful of tourists who vanished while visiting here.

The latest is Roman Dial, an Alaskan outdoorsman who has been sought for four weeks in the jungles of the Osa peninsula and Parque Nacional Corcovado. He, like the others, probably encountered criminality.

A.M. Costa Rica provides what help it can to the families of the missing if they seek aid. And staffers share in their grief and loss.

Reporting on the activities of government has been like reporting on a three-ring circus. Staffers write complex news stories about some proposed bill, then it is passed, and then no one
first edition
The first edition 13 years ago

enforces it. Using a cell telephone while driving still is a violation, right?

Also bittersweet is the way the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo spends the money it collects from the tourism industry. Part of the current problem with the country's economy today can be blamed on ineffective advertising by the institute. Workers there spent $500,000 on television spots for the Winter Olympics and the same amount on the World Cup. Instead they should have bankrolled for years a steady Sunday advertising campaign in major U.S. and Canadian daily newspapers.

A.M. Costa Rica editors have difficulty making these points to officials, who change from one administration to the next.

Today is a legal holiday, the Día de la Madre so the newspaper will not be inviting readers to the usual birthday party. Instead, editors and a few staffers will crack open a bottle of wine this evening to toast the readers who made this all possible.

Also remembered will be Jo Stuart, who died this year after nearly 13 years of producing a weekly column, despite pains, illnesses and hospitalizations.


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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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Also Puerto Viejo sports bar
Police evict tenants and close hotel

By Michael Krumholtz
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Armed officers raided the popular Rocking J's hostel in Puerto Viejo earlier this week, according to its owner.

The owner, Joseph Korchmaros, known as J to backpackers and locals, said about 40 officers from a variety of organizations – Fuerza Pública, Judicial Investigating Organization, and the Talamanca municipality – entered the hotel Monday without warning.

During the raid in which some officers were carrying assault rifles, Korchmaros said, a judicial agent mentioned to him that they were looking for drugs and illegal workers. They later notified him that the Ministerio de Salud had ordered the raid because of a paperwork issue that Korchmaros said was already resolved.

“I had a thing with the Caja where I already had paid it off, but some paper wasn't filed correctly,” he said. “There was no reason for them to bring so many police here.”

Rocking J's is a popular spot in Puerto Viejo for travelers on a budget interested in exploring the laid-back beach town's well-documented nightlife. Amid the setting of the Caribbean town long perceived as Costa Rica's international drug hub, the hostel has gained a reputation.

Korchmaros said, however, there would have been no reason for officers to be looking for drugs on his property. “You can't even smoke a cigarette in here,” he said. Officials ordered all guests to show their passports and later told them to be off the premises by 11 a.m. Tuesday, as the hotel remains closed.

Korchmaros, a U.S. expat originally from Arizona who has owned the hostel for 12 years, said he's never had problems before with police barging into Rocking J's.

Popeye O'Brien, who owns The Point sports bar nearby, said his place was closed down Wednesday by two representatives from the Ministerio de Salud. Now at the mercy of the local health office's timing, O'Brien said the bar's two-year anniversary is scheduled for today but that party may have to be postponed.

Both business owners are waiting for the local director of Salud to sign off on the papers so their establishments can reopen. Repeated calls to the health office in Talamanca were unanswered Thursday afternoon as were calls to the judicial office in Bribri.

“I've got 30 employees and each one of them has kids to feed,” Korchmaros said. “Before this even happened I was already scraping by, but now I'm really scraping.”

Caja rates for expats reported going up

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Members of the Association of Residents of Costa Rica are being told that the cost of health insurance will be increasing in October.

Association members have the option of participating in a group plan with the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. The association has been sending emails to those enrolled in the program.

Foreign legal residents are required to subscribe to the Caja health plan. Using the services of the association is one way.

The Caja appears to base the rates set for the association on the amount of money various categories of residents are expected to spend each month.

The lowest category is that of permanent resident. Those in this group are being asked to pay $135 a month if they are under 55 and $69 a month if they are older than that.

There are similar age breaks for other categories of residencies: Pensionado under 55, $150, and over 55, $81, and rentista under 55 years, $477, and over 55 years $270. Monthly rates can vary widely depending on how much money Caja workers think applicants have.

Those who are in the inversionista category are hit hardest, although the new rates were not available Thursday night. Some investors object because the law says they only have to be in the country one day a year.

Costa Rican employers and their employees pay a combined 26 percent of the monthly salary to the Caja. That amount could easily be in the $200 range even for workers being paid $600 or less a month.

Fire fighters plan big exercise in Nicoya

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Firefighters will conduct a major training exercise and simulation for eight days starting Saturday, said the agency.

The Cuerpo de Bomberos will be involved in a simulation in Nicoya where they are to conduct rescues after a simulated earthquake. A camp has been set up there for 100 persons, said the agency.

Part of the training will involve rescues in collapsed structures, said an announcement.

Firefighters are coming from all over the country, the agency said.

Robotics olympics finals this weekend

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some 300 youngsters will participate Saturday and Sunday in the fifth robotics olympics in the Hotel Crowne Plaza Corobicí. The event is organized by the Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Telecomunicaciones and Tecnológico de Costa Rica, the Cartago-based public university.

There are various categories from age 7 to 23. The top winners will represent the country in Sochi, Russia, in November.

This year the contest relates to rockets, space stations and a colony on Mars. Youngsters are asked to create on the spot robotic elements for these scenarios. The event is open to the public.

Guanacaste Veterans meet Saturday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Guanacaste Veterans Group will meet Satruday at 11 a.m. at the Hostel/Hotel Casa Palmas in Playa del Coco. All veterans from any country and family members and Friends of Veteran's are invited to attend.

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A.M. Costa Rica

Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 161
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Lionfish characterized as a super predator without any sense of mercy
By the Oregon State University news service

New research seems to indicate that the invasive lionfish are not just a predator, but more like the Terminator of movie fame. The lionfish is decimating native fish populations in parts of the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean.

The finding of behavior that was called alarming was presented Thursday by Kurt Ingeman, a researcher from Oregon State University, at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America.

Most native predatory fish are attracted to prey when their numbers are high, when successful attacks are easy and when a minimum of energy is needed to catch and eat other fish, according to previous research done by Michael Webster, a fish ecologist formerly at Oregon State. As the population of prey diminishes, the native predators often move on to other areas where the fishing is better.

The new research concludes that lionfish, by comparison, appear to stay in one area even as the numbers of prey diminish, and in some cases can eat the population to local extinction. They have unique characteristics that make this possible, and like the Terminator, they simply will not stop until the last of their prey is dead.

“Lionfish seem to be the ultimate invader,” said Ingeman, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Integrative Biology at Oregon State. “Almost every new thing we learn about them is some characteristic that makes them a more formidable predator. And it’s now clear they will hunt successfully even when only a few fish are present. This behavior is unusual and alarming.”

The lionfish is found in large numbers off the Costa Rican Caribbean coast.

This research was conducted on replicated natural reefs in the Bahamas, measuring prey mortality of the fairy basslet, a popular aquarium fish and a common prey of lionfish.

Predation rates were compared between reefs with the invasive lionfish and reefs with native predators alone and across a range of population levels of the fairy basslet. Ingeman found that when prey fish were present at a low population density, the rate of mortality with lionfish present was four times higher than that caused by native predators alone, such as medium-sized groupers or trumpet fish.

The findings are of some importance, researchers said, because fairy basslet live in small local populations which are most vulnerable to local extinction. It also shows that the mechanisms that ordinarily regulate population size can be altered.

“Reef fish usually hide in rocks and crevices for protection, and with high populations, there is a scramble for shelter,” Ingeman said. “Native predators take advantage of this situation by mostly eating when and where prey are abundant. As prey population levels decline, it takes a lot more energy to catch fish, so the predators often move on to other areas.”

Because of this process that scientists call density-dependent predation, populations of native prey fish tend to shrink when they get too large, grow when they get too small and are rarely ever wiped out completely.

Lionfish, however, have such advantages as an invasive species that
prey fish
Oregon State University photo
This is the prey fish called the fairy basslet.

they apparently feel no need to move on for better or easier hunting. They may not be recognized as a predator by other fish, leading to high mortality even when shelter is abundant. Lionfish are also very efficient hunters, are well-defended themselves by poisonous spines and can thrive at deep levels in the ocean. They tolerate a wide range of habitats and water conditions, reproduce rapidly most of the year, eat many different species of native fish and may overeat rare species.

Still unclear, Ingeman said, is whether evolutionary pressures may allow native fish in the Atlantic Ocean to adapt new behaviors that provide better defense against lionfish.

“There’s a strong pressure here for natural selection to come into play eventually,” Ingeman said. “We know that fish can learn and change their behavior, sometimes over just a few generations. But we don’t have any studies yet to demonstrate this is taking place with native fish populations in the Atlantic.”

The lionfish invasion in the Atlantic Ocean is believed to have begun in the 1980s and now covers an area larger than the United States. Ingeman’s adviser, Mark Hixon, and fellow graduate students have shown that lionfish can wipe out more than 90 percent of  native fish.

President says he is creating an agency to promote employment
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government plans to create 217,000 jobs to decrease the country's unemployment from its current rate of 8.5 percent to 7 percent by 2018. President Luis Guillermo Solís announced the job creation strategy at a Thursday press conference in the Antigua Aduana alongside the labor and economy ministers.

Titled the Estrategia Nacional de Empleo y Producción, the accompanying 32-page report details how government-appointed groups will find the obstacles that remain in the way of businesses from hiring more employees and offering better quality positions. 

“We live in changing times in which we can convert that human essence of work into a development strategy,” said Solís on his Twitter account Thursday.

The Minister of Trabajo, Victor Morales Mora, and Minister of Economía, Welmer Ramos González, outlined a law that will be presented to the Asamblea Legislativa in hopes of creating a private firm called Proempresa that would be the job creating equivalent of Procomer, which focuses on promoting international business in the country.

In an effort to catalyze the plan, the economy ministry is set to roll out a joint production plan that would promote entrepreneurship and
small business start-ups. This strategy will work with institutes and technical schools to teach nearly 10,000 prospective students on developing businesses, according to a ministry report. A similar job promotion program would oversee thousands of enterprises led by women with the goal of improving the businesses' activities, it said.

According to numbers released by the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio, more than 10 percent of women in Costa Rica are unemployed. It further showed that 18 percent of the country's youth is without jobs and that a staggering 65 percent of those with disabilities are without employment.

Ramos said these employment strategies will compensate for the difficulties faced by women bosses, youth expelled from school, and disabled workers. It will also focus its sights on smaller-sized companies and filtering passionate workers to their doors, he said.

“We want to support small and medium-sized businesses and provide them with a number of conditions that can give them opportunities to develop with quality employees,” Ramos said.

The government will also look into the Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social to see how bureaucratic processes are hampering business owners and their potential employees. The ministry report said teams will search for special alternatives that apply to small businesses to allow them better opportunities in getting started.

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 161
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Experimental vaccine seems to have an effect against chikungunya
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The World Health Organization reports there have been almost two million cases of the mosquito-borne illness, chikungunya, throughout parts of Asia since 2005. Researchers are testing an experimental vaccine to prevent outbreaks, which also occur in Africa and the Americas. 

The virus is transmitted through infected female mosquitoes that bite during the day.  The mosquitos also transmit other viral diseases including dengue fever. 

In fact, the symptoms of chikungunya - including fever, rash, headache and severe joint pain - are often mistaken for dengue, another tropical illness that causes severe aches and pains and a high fever.

Working to develop a vaccine against chikungunya, which World Health says has reached epidemic proportions, researchers used a virus-like particle, rather than the killed or weakened virus used in traditional vaccines. The experimental drug contained outer surface proteins taken from a West African strain of chikungunya, without the genetic material that causes infection. It stimulated a robust antibody response in the majority of the 25 healthy, young American volunteers in the initial trial. The vaccine was reportedly well-tolerated.  Antibody response was seen  even at the lowest doses.

More clinical trials and regulatory approval are needed before the vaccine becomes available.

According to World Health, more than 1.9 million cases of chikungunya were reported in India, Thailand, Indonesia, and Burma
over the past decade.  There have also been outbreaks in Democratic
Republic of Congo and Gabon, in the island countries of the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean. A number of cases have been reported recently in France, Italy and the U.S.

A few cases reported in Costa Rica.

Ann Powers, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says it’s hard to estimate how many people have been infected.

“Because there simply isn’t any treatment available.  So, they learn from their friends, their neighbors, their family that, “Oh, I’ve got chikungunya. It’s going to be a self-limiting disease.  I’ll feel bad for a while, then I’ll recover," said Ms. Powers.

But even after they have recovered from the initial infection, people will sometimes feel bad for months and even years with severely aching joints.

Looking ahead to the possible release of an approved vaccine, Ms. Powers says in the United States, it might be given to overseas travelers. 

“In contrast, in some place like India where they have chikungunya circulating continuously, it might be something they might want to incorporate into their routine, vaccine regimen," she said.

Until then, Powers says the best protection continues to be avoiding mosquito bites by covering up and using an insect repellant.

An article on human trials of an experimental chikungunya vaccine is in the journal The Lancet. 

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

 (as reported by the moving companies)
Visit many rental options to actually experience the price/amenity options available in more of the areas chosen by Expats for security, comfort, and quality of life.

Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!

Ask the others what you get for your money, and then compare the quality of accommodations, quality, quantity and variety of food and drink to measure the best value for your money. 

Learn how others “talk the talk” and learn who really can “walk the walk”

Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
George Lundquist, retirement, relocation columnist, Guide & Developer/Builder.


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Beautiful house for rent in Heredia
On a large property surrounded by fruit trees and garden and on bus line. Fully furnished, complete laundry room, two bedrooms, plus extra room for office.  Security, electric gate,  Internet available.  Located in Monte de la Cruz, San Rafael de Heredia. $500 monthly.  Call Leda (506) 2267-6306   Email

MONTHLY $800 TO $1,200

Villas Casa Loma has everything you are looking for.  Best vistas, climate, value.  Four unique homes in a secure private compound on a ridge near Alajuela overlooking the entire Central Valley.  Two are available fully furnished and equipped, each a complete home accommodating 4 persons in two bedrooms with ensuite baths.  Pool, rancho, mirador, other features.  Ask about part-month rates.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.

HP Cattle rentals
Mountain homes or farm for rent
Barva volcano, Heredia province
We offer for rent a gorgeous two-bedroom mountain chalet and a one-bedroom mountain home located on the slopes of the Barva Volcano, Heredia Province. The homes are situated at 7,300 feet altitude and within a working horse ranch just three kilometers from the Braulio Carrillo National Park entrance. From our homes one can hike to the Barva volcano crater-lake.  Enjoy a spacious living room, kitchen, fireplace and breathtaking views of the Irazú volcano and the Central Valley. Observe dozens of cloud forest bird species to include the resplendent quetzal.  The homes are incomparable in beauty and attention to detail within the Barva highland area.  We are only 35-55 minutes from Costa Rica’s three principal cities (Heredia, Alajuela, and San José), less than two hours from the central Pacific beaches, and three hours from the Caribbean beaches. Enjoy the tranquility of the mountains while maintaining quick access to the conveniences of the city and rapid access to other eco-tourist destinations in Costa Rica. Additionally, we can board your horses at a reasonable fee.  We can also offer our clients rental of a small and fully functional farm complete with stables, pasture, and office space.
Mountain chalet: $750.  Basic mountain home: $400.
Boutique mountain home: One-bedroom $850. Two-bedroom $1,000.
Small Farm that includes a chalet, basic mountain home, stables, and 8,000m2 of pasture/green areas: $1,500.

Apartments Lemur
Apartment Lemur for rent
San Francisco de Dos Rios, El Bosque, furnished, 2-bedroom, 1-bath apartment, quiet area, free cable TV, WiFi. large patio area, swimming pool, parking, security. Close to San José. $440/month. Retired persons preferred. Call 8375-6838.

Beautiful 2-bedroom 2-bathroom American-style apartments with an elevator to your front door in a secure building located in Gringo Gulch the American Section of downtown San José. Costa Rica. Located between the Hotel Del Rey, the Hotel Mona Lisa and the Sportsman's Lodge and The Zona Blue (AKA) Little Habana across the street from Harry's Poas Bar, and next to the Holiday Inn.
apartment view
 There are 15 restaurants and American- style bars on this block and four supermarkets within a few blocks. There are 5 casinos within 2 blocks and dozens of hotels around this apartment. Included in your rental price, fast Internet, the best they have in Costa Rica, cable TV with 80 stations, water, washer
 and dryer. All you pay extra for is electricity. You have your own meter and receive a bill from the electric company every month.  This apartment has a American-style hot water system, hot water in both bathrooms and the kitchen. There is a 25-foot balcony to sit on and watch the people in San José walk by. The neighborhood Barrio Amón is the safest in San José For photos and more information contact:

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A.M. Costa Rica's   Fifth news page

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 161
Real Estate
About us

Ebola outbreak characterized
as vastly underestimated

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The World Health Organization is warning that the magnitude of the ebola outbreak in West Africa has been vastly underestimated.

Already 1,069 people have died of ebola this year in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Nearly 2,000 have been sickened.

In a statement Thursday, the U.N. health agency said it is concerned those numbers do not reflect the true gravity of the situation.

World Health said it expects the outbreak to continue for some time, noting its response plan extends over the next several months.

There is no known cure or vaccine for ebola, though a World Health panel this week backed plans to give some patients unproven drugs to fight the virus. A limited supply of an untested, U.S.-produced drug, known as ZMapp, arrived Wednesday in Liberia, where it will be given to two doctors.

Officials there must now decide who else will receive the remaining doses of the drug, supplies of which could take months to refill.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama stressed the U.S. is committed to working with West African countries to help contain the outbreak.

The White House said Obama underscored his commitment on separate phone calls Thursday to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone.

He also expressed condolences for those who had died from the virus.

Earlier Thursday, the U.S. ordered the departure of eligible family members of staff at the U.S. Embassy in Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the step was taken out of an abundance of caution.

She said medical officials had determined that the ebola outbreak had resulted in a lack of options for routine health care services at major medical facilities.

In another development, another airline has suspended flights to Africa as the ebola outbreak continues to grow.

Korean Air Lines said Thursday it will temporarily stop flights to and from Kenya's capital, Nairobi, in what it called a measure to stop ebola from spreading.

No ebola cases have been reported in Kenya, but World Health has classified the east African country as a high risk area for the disease because of its role as a major transport hub.

Earlier, British Airways and the Middle Eastern airline Emirates suspended service to parts of West Africa in response to the Ebola outbreak.

Thousands rally across U.S.
in wake of Missouri killing

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Thousands of people held protest rallies across the United States in remembrance of an unarmed black teenager fatally shot by a police officer in the state of Missouri.

At solidarity vigils held in nearly 100 cities Thursday, protesters observed a moment of silence for 18-year-old Michael Brown and others who have died at the hands of police.

Earlier Thursday, President Barack Obama urged calm as police shifted their response to violent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, where Brown was killed.

Police and protesters have clashed nearly every day since the Aug. 9 shooting death of Brown in Ferguson, outside the state capital.

Obama said "there is never an excuse for violence against police, or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting.''

He also said there is no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights.

Thursday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the state police to take over security from local law enforcement, who have drawn heavy criticism for their response to the demonstrations. He said the fact that Ferguson looks like a war zone after rioting is unacceptable and said police would shift their approach.

Authorities on Thursday again refused to identify the officer in question nor confirm whether the officer is white. Witnesses say a white police officer shot the black teenager multiple times as the young man tried to surrender with hands in the air.

Justice officials given
petition supporting reporter

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects freedom of the press, but the government and journalists sometimes clash over its meaning. Author and New York Times reporter James Risen refuses to reveal a source about a CIA operation in Iran in his 2006 book "State of War." Risen, who could be jailed or fined, says the First Amendment protects journalists’ sources. The government says that is not the case when national security secrets are involved. Thursday, a petition supporting Risen was delivered to the Department of Justice in Washington.

A stack of papers with about 100,000 names calls on the U.S. government to stop all legal action against James Risen. The online petition from advocacy group RootsAction also urges journalists to safeguard the confidentiality of their sources.

Risen's book details a Central Intelligence Agency effort to undermine Iran’s nuclear program during the administration of President George W. Bush. That administration identified the man it alleges leaked the information and subpoenaed Risen to identify his source, which he refuses to do.

Critics of these leaks say they are illegal and can jeopardize the government’s capacity to protect the public.

RootsAction co-founder Norman Solomon handed the petition to a Justice Department official.

"We want the Justice Department to stop its attempt to force James Risen to betray his sources, and we want an affirmation that the First Amendment must include the freedom of journalists to tell unofficial stories without fear of being, going to jail or hit with very harsh fines," said Solomon.

Courtney Radsch with the Committee to Protect Journalists said Risen’s journalistic integrity is crucial.

"The ability to keep sources confidential is essential to the practice of journalism, and it’s very difficult for journalists to be able to do their job, which is upholding democracy and ensuring that the government is transparent and accountable if they’re not allowed to keep their sources confidential," said Radsch.

At the National Press Club in Washington, Risen blamed the Justice Department and the Obama administration for what he called a fundamental fight over press freedom.

"So they turned this case into a showdown over the First Amendment and the freedom of the press in the United States.  So I am happy to carry on that fight but it wasn’t really me who started it," said Risen.

Risen brought his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to intervene.

Ahmed Ghappour, a lawyer who works with the Freedom of the Press Foundation, said the Justice Department can jail or fine Risen, or resolve the situation so Risen doesn’t have to name his source.

“He broke no law in proliferating the news and publishing his articles and books.  Nor can the Justice Department make such claims. Indeed, there is no law that mandates the press to obtain government approval about lawfully acquired information,” said Ghappour.

The Justice Department has declined to comment publicly on the case.

Islamic militants approach
western edge of Baghdad

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

As the U.S. focuses on curbing Islamic State fighters in northern Iraq, militants from the extremist group continue to fight in several areas, including close to the western edges of Iraq's capital, Baghdad, sources on the ground say.

Iraqi security forces and Kurdish fighters have been battling the Islamic State militants since they began their sweep across northern and western Iraq earlier this year, seizing large swaths of territory and strategic resources.

Taylor Jones, a security adviser to international oil companies who has been in Iraq since 2003, says the militants' battle for territory goes well beyond the north.

“Some days IS is doing well, and most days they are not doing that well. But today I think there were a couple of big battles around Fallujah and Abu Ghraib area, so they are creeping towards the western part of Baghdad, but they haven't gotten through.”

Abu Ghraib is west of central Baghdad, and edges the militant-controlled area of Anbar province. There was no independent confirmation of those battles, but Islamic State fighters have had a presence in the area for several weeks.

Speaking from Iraq, Jones says there is the threat that the Islamic State fighters could breach the western portion of Baghdad.

“I think up there most people are just kind of prepared for them to come in, but they don’t think international forces are going to allow it to happen.”

The Islamic State has gained a lot of support from many Iraqi Sunnis who have felt disenfranchised with recent Shi'ite-led governments. Western Iraq is predominantly Shi'ite.

The extremist group has proven itself a highly organized and brutal fighting force, determined to build a caliphate across land it now controls, stretching from Syria into Iraq.

U.S. forces have conducted air strikes against the group in the north, as the American military delivered emergency aid to religious and ethnic minorities persecuted by the militants.

But retired Army Col. Derek Harvey, a political analyst with extensive knowledge of Iraq, says the Islamic State force has proven itself extremely effective at military strategy and business, and relies heavily on Iraqis linked with the regime of former leader Saddam Hussein.

"The military element is primarily, at the senior level of strategic planing, intelligence, counter intelligence -- and they are very concerned about insider threats to them from al-Qaida to their senior leaders - they are extremely good and they are almost exclusively former Iraqis from the Mukhabarat and special Republican Guard and others."

Thursday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, considered by many as having further polarized the sectarian divide in Iraq, stepped aside for Haider al-Abadi. Mr. Abadi is expected to try to create a unity government that would bring more Sunnis into the political process.

Analysts in Washington say the Islamic State group has set its sights well beyond Iraq to the Islamic center of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and beyond.

Family doctors urged
to spot glaucoma signs

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Glaucoma is one of the world's leading causes of irreversible blindness.

Often undetected until it reaches an advanced stage, Glaucoma-induced blindness first robs side vision, which is part of the reason it can go unnoticed for such long periods of time.

According to the World Health Organization, although 70 million people worldwide suffer from glaucoma, it is treatable if detected early, which means that those suffering from the disease can preserve their vision.

Glaucoma is actually an umbrella term for a group of diseases that affect the optic nerve, causing progressive damage. There are two main types: wide (open angle) and closed (narrow angle).

While these names are used to describe the eye's anatomy, the results are the same. Both cause too much fluid to collect within the eye. If left untreated, the eye is eventually unable to carry visual information to the brain.

Researchers are looking for better ways to detect, treat and prevent vision loss in people with glaucoma. University of California Ophthalmologist Robert Weinreb led a study that reviewed medical literature on detecting and treating the disease.

The San Diego-based researcher describes the eye as a sink that "has a faucet and ... a drain." In open angle, he says, the drain is blocked internally. In closed angle, the drain is covered up and blocked on the outside, he said.

Glaucoma affects certain racial and ethnic groups, and Weinreb's research indicates that people of Latin American descent are more likely to develop open angle glaucoma, as are those of black African descent. People of Asian descent are more at risk for narrow or closed angle glaucoma. 

Other risk factors include age, high blood pressure and family history, but people without these factors can also develop the disease.

Treatment can include eye drops, pills or surgery. Until more comprehensive clinical techniques are developed, the goal of treatment is to preserve the patient's vision.

After reviewing medical literature, Weinreb concluded that "primary care providers could have a major role in detecting, recognizing and referring patients who are at the highest risk for developing glaucoma.”

For example, primary care physicians can ask about a patient's family history of glaucoma, along with checking their patients' optic nerves to see if referral to an eye specialist is needed.

And while treatment is available, Weinreb recommends a yearly eye exam. His study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

México confronting change
with energy sector opening

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed into law Monday a number of changes to his country’s energy sector that are designed to open it to private investment for the first time since it was nationalized on March 18, 1938. That day is celebrated in Mexico as a national holiday and many Mexicans are opposed to reform. Without outside help, though, Mexico’s oil production will continue to fall.

As output from Mexico’s main oil fields has dropped, the country’s future prosperity has become cloudy. That is why Peña Nieto made energy reform a priority and convinced lawmakers to act.

“The vast majority of Mexicans should receive the benefits that this transformative reform will bring,” he said.

Previously, national oil company Pemex controlled all energy exploration and production, with foreign companies sometimes working under contract to provide services. Now, foreign oil companies can participate in some joint ventures and bring their expertise to Mexican fields.

George Baker, who runs the newsletter Mexico Energy Intelligence, said energy companies in Houston and elsewhere are being cautious about the reform.

“Mexico is a very Pemex-centric country, and as such, there is built-in resistance to change. The government has very high expectations. Private industry is more on the side of wait and see,” he said.

The success of the reform is critical for Mexico as its oil production of 3.4 million barrels a day has now slipped to 2.5 million barrels. Mexico, which borders the booming shale gas fields in Texas, imports natural gas because it lacks the technical expertise to fully exploit its own fields. Baker said government officials are determined to change that.

“The government believes it has the fourth largest shale gas endowment in the world and they are saying, ‘why are we paying high prices for gas when we have this great endowment?’” he said.

Much of the oil produced by the United States now comes from offshore operations in the U.S. zone of the Gulf of Mexico, but Baker said there is very little activity in the Mexico zone.

“The Mexican side of the Gulf of Mexico is the largest unexplored petroleum province on the planet, perhaps outside the North Pole,” he said.

Baker said big oil companies like Exxon-Mobil and Shell could transform that zone, which has many advantages over the North Pole in climate, nearby infrastructure and easily accessible services. He said Mexico must compete for investment money with projects in U.S. fields, however, which now are the most competitive energy players in the world. He said if a major oil company develops a project in Mexico, it might encourage others to follow.

Another problem is security. Mexico political expert George Grayson, who teaches at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, said violent drug cartels could threaten the energy industry.

“Los Zetas, which are the most sadistic members of cartels in Mexico, have tapped into oil and gas pipelines, and I wonder if the foreign investors are going to be willing to go into northern Mexico where Los Zetas and other cartels operate,” said Grayson.

Lack of sufficient water in some northern areas also could impede operations there, he said, noting that Mexico’s state and federal government agencies, which have operated for decades in a closed, nationalized system, may not meet international standards.

“There is going to have to be a great deal of beefing up of the regulatory system if the Mexicans hope to deal evenhandedly with foreign investors, who, of course, can afford to purchase the best talent in the world,” said Grayson.

Mexican officials say they are moving quickly to implement changes as they prepare for the first round of private investment bids. Both Texas A&M University and the University of Texas are developing projects with Mexican universities to educate more Mexican petroleum engineers. But experts say Mexico would benefit from hiring experienced people from around the world who could bring new perspectives to the country's currently non-diverse energy work force.
Real estate-related services (paid category)

Best Kitchen
Best Kitchen Depot is the leading kitchen and bath company in the Central American market. We represent the most fast-growing American solid wood cabinet manufacturers. All our products boast the three major industry certifications: Carb2, KCMA environment stewardship and KCMA
construction certifications. We also have state-of-the-art design
capabilities and our delivery lead time is the best in the country.
Please visit our Web site at: and then email or call (506) 2261-0287 or (506) 8383-3104.   

• Interior Design
• Custom Furniture Manufacturing
• Building Completion Services
Interior Design & Custom Furniture Manufacturing
“We regularly exceed client expectations.
We guarantee it.”
Customizing for your vision, lifestyle and budget.
A turnkey home and project completion agency devoted to creative vision and flawless execution. We provide a single, solid and dedicated point of contact for the duration of your real estate project, specializing in:
Our primary goal is to assist our clients with a smooth transition to occupancy while providing highly personalized and distinctive services. We have refined the process to be a hassle free experience, especially valuable for clients who live abroad.
Our custom furniture designs & manufacturing can be contracted independently.
“Serving the Region for 11 years”

Cell phone: (506) - 8707-8008
Office phone: (506) - 2288-5644

Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

Swimming pool at night
A Buyer’s Broker offering the best
of Costa Rica Real Estate.
For those looking for quality properties and service at quality prices. Central Valley Rentals. Offering honesty, experience and knowledge. Your Villa Real Expert. Call us now  Toll Free (877) 845-4533. In Costa Rica 4030-5480 or 8339-2112.

Remax logo
Re/Max, the Pacific coast expert

Re/Max offers comprehensive Costa Rica Real Estate, vacation rental and relocation services. Our award-winning team is the largest in the country, and can show you the best lifestyle and financial investment properties in the most desirable locations including prime real estate in Tamarindo, Langosta, Conchal, Flamingo, Pinilla, Coco, Hermosa and Playa Panama.  Give us a call in Costa Rica at 506-2653-0073, or toll free from the U.S. and Canada 1-800-385-5930. Re/Max, the name you trust for the finest real estate services in Costa Rica.

Moran Arenal
Lake Arenal, Costa Rica
The undiscovered jewel of Central America, 35 square miles of blue, pristine, clear water ideal for fishing, swimming, boating, Real estate values still low.
Great lake front, river front land, farms, homes, condos and commercial property. Some with owner financing
This is far and away the most beautiful place in all Central America — cool climate. Try our two-day, all-inclusive discovery tour for $299.

Check with our Web site at
Contact us at the office: (506) 2694-0088
Cell (506) 8880-8888
Phone number from the U.S. (305) 307-0088
Moran logo

Costa Rica,

Central America
Houses, lots and farms in Grecia,
western Central Valley.
Great climate
and safe communities.

Visit our Web Site:

English calls: (Cristian Arce) Phone: 
(506) 2494-0016  
English calls :  (Luis David) Phone: 
(506) 8331-5228

Español calls: (Luis G. Jiménez)  Phone:   
(506) 8707-4016
house 865
Beautiful chalet in Grecia, with the best fresh natural weather, 1.040 m2 of land, Price $135.000. Click HERE!
House 868
Beautiful house  in Grecia, with the best fresh natural weather, 810 m2 of land, Price $178.000. Click HERE!
House 866
Beautiful large house  in Grecia, with the best fresh natural weather,1.006 m2 of land, Price $290.000.  HERE!
  Send us your request to our email:

Real estate for sale (paid category)

Escazú condo
Spectacular furnished luxury 3-bedroom condo in Escazú
Turnkey unit has 2.5 baths, 2 balconies, 2 parking spaces, 1 bodega. A STEAL @ $250,000. Community Amenities include pool, jacuzzi, gym, sauna, racquetball, 24/7 security, concierge. No car needed: walk to supermarkets, banks, restaurants, shopping. INVESTORS: Possible long-term tenant For photos and how to contact us, go to:

Jaco condo
JACÓ BEACH - House in gated beachfront community
Titled, fully furnished turnkey single home, security 24/7. REDUCED TO $325,000. Casa Mariposa is 2100 SF with 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 1-car garage Private back yard, central A/C, kid friendly, pet friendly community This is the ONLY gated beachfront development of houses on Jacó Beach. For photos & contact information, go to:

Condo montage
Cariari luxury condo for sale
This is not an ordinary condo.
Completed one year ago, a $45,000 renovating made it an exquisite dwelling. As soon as you walk in you know it is a special home. No detail has been overlooked, even minuscule ones. The owner has a need to move on, and someone lucky will be the beneficiary of the fine detailed work. The home itself has three bedrooms, two and half bathrooms plus a maid’s quarters with its own bathroom. Also, it has a living room, dining room and a gorgeous kitchen with a kitchenette. There’s also a small outdoor patio. Being the end unit of this four-home condo complex, there’s parking space for three vehicles.  Approximately 240 sq. meters. All this near the Cariari Golf and Country Club and its renowned Tom Facio golf course. The club also has amenities such as a fitness centre, exercise room, Olympic swimming pool, sauna, 12 tennis courts and many other benefits. Tel:  8384-9608 or 2293-9054  Price $214,500.


Spectacular view property on a ridge near Alajuela.  Large home and 3 rental homes totaling 7,300 square feet (678 square meters) live-in construction.  Property area is 3,376 square meters (0.83 acres) including a vacant lot for expansion options.  In total there are 10 bedrooms, each with an ensuite bath.  Property has pool, rancho, mirador, courtyard and covered parking.  Homes have romantic fireplaces, built-ins, storage, other luxury features.  Turnkey sale includes all appliances, furniture, fixtures, equipment.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See property video here:

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:

A perfect ranch in Cariari, Guápiles
Fertile 42.5 hectares (about 105 acres) with a clean river and a natural spring of good water. Perfect for cattle or horses. Property faces a main road and contains corral and living quarters. Special price: $200,000 for a quick sale.. Call (506) 8383-3104 or write

ARenal property
Location: Near Arenal        Price: $2.7 million
Size: 113 acres
Web site:

The farm is at the highest point on a stunning ridge bordered by pristine Costa Rican primary forest on all sides of the property, with active wildlife all throughout the area. On each of its gently rolling terraced lomas you get a glimpse of Volcán Arenal from a distance. This property has four different lagunas, a working organic farm and nursery, mature fruit trees, sheep corral, ideal for grazing horses with stunning views from all the hillsides. The Northern Zone of Costa Rica is the country's best kept secret, providing a perfect home base location to travel the country's many destinations while still maintaining the best climate at 400 meters above sea level.


Beach Front Home - Central Pacific Coast
Pristine condition, recently renovated. The best surfing and boogie boarding in the country. The most magnificent ocean and sunset view. New 20-year, fully registered concession on one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. Easy access from San José (1 hour 25 minutes) located between Jacó and Manuel Antonio, in Esterillos Oeste.  2 or 3 bedrooms. Center room can be living room. House with 2 1/2 baths. Separated rancho with kitchen and large entertainment patio. Landscaped garden with no water shortage. Has both municipal and well water with automatic watering system. Direct access to the beach as no road is in front of property. Protected land on one side of the property for additional privacy.  Alarm system and complete shutters for security while away. Lot approximately 1,725 square meters, Asking price: $385.000.  Contact to Paul at local phone 506- 2637-8858  Cell phone 506- 8823-8550 .  US Mobile 908-400-9772  Emails:  and

Twice the Security & Prestige for Half the Cost

The only private guarded development in El Castillo
• 50% off for limited time only   • $26/square meter
• Neighbors are $80/square meter  • Incredible view
Clubhouse, pool, equestrian, country club
Only 2 remaining
Secure a spot in a million dollar neighborhood for under $100k
 Free architecture services
•  Full commission paid to brokers   • Financing available
Email or call the 24-hour recorded message for full info   CR: 4000-1983 (English/Español)
USA: 619-800-8550 (English only)

Tiliran property
Turnkey commercial/apartment building for sale in San Luis, Tilaran, Guanacaste. In a corporation. 100 percent occupancy and all permits in place. Great opportunity to gain investor status residency. New construction - 2012. Consists of three studio apartments upstairs with lake view and 4 storefronts on ground level, including laundry service, soda, consignment store. Comes with purchase or start your own business while you live in one of the apartments. $308,000. Please email

Ad three graphics
Tropical lots located walking distance to a beautiful white sandy beach
Only $49,999 with interest-free financing
These lots are located in a gated, private community with low HOA dues and offer amenities including a pool & rancho.  It is located close to Playa Conchal and Pirates beaches.  And only 20 minutes to the resort town of Tamarindo and an hour from Liberia International airport. Reserve your lot with only a $1,500 deposit.  We are offering Interest-free financing for 5 years for a limited time only. Contact: Christian 
U.S. (732) 962-6525 or CR (506) 8349-2025

ad two grpahic
For Sale: Fully Furnished OCEAN VIEW CONDOMINIUM
Reduced $199,999
Gorgeous 2-bedroom, 2-bath condo with private terrace offering spectacular ocean views and built energy green. This condo is located in a gated community with low HOA dues and offers amenities including a pool & rancho.  It is located close to a beautiful white, sandy beach. Only 20 minutes to the resort town Tamarindo and an hour from Liberia airport.  Luxury finishings: Pella double pane windows, AC & ceiling fans, Frigidaire stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, marble bathroom vanities, custom cabinets. Contact or email 
U.S. (732) 962-6525 or CR (506) 8349-2025

Ad one grpahics
For Sale by Owner: Playa Conchal ocean view home reduced $339,999

Casa de Eden is  2,600 square feet with 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath, outdoor shower, private outdoor terrace and pool located only minutes from Playa Conchal.  The home is in a private, secure, gated community surrounded by nature and close to the resort town of Tamarindo, only an hour from Liberia airport.  The home is being offered fully furnished with: AC & ceiling fans, Frigidaire Professional series stainless steel appliances, granite kitchen countertops, marble bathroom vanities, custom wood cabinetry, internet, cable. 
Contact  U.S. (732) 984-7549
or CR (506) 8349-2025.

Lundquist photo
More photos HERE!
Another 'live in the view' home in Puriscal
$179,900 includes:
Lot on river, concrete road, custom kitchen & bath with granite counter tops, PEX plumbing, 2” Styrofoam, sandwiched in steel roof, 4” concrete/recycled Styrofoam & steel walls, laminated, bronzed windows, custom wood doors, appliances and all transfer taxes, and fees.

2, 900 sq feet under roof, 1,250 sq feet inside walls, 2 bedroom, 2 ½ baths, laundry room, three separate patio areas, covered carport, shade trees, in upscale, secure project.  This project has river with protected areas & walkways. It is only 10 minutes on all paved roads to Santiago de Puriscal, 45 minutes to La Plaza Mall/Hospital CIMA and SJO airport, and 1 ½ hours to Pacific Beaches. It has recently upgraded public water supply and dependable ICE electric and high-speed internet.
Please come visit our projects and meet four new homeowners who have recently moved into their new “live in the view” homes to verify how happy they are and that they all came in under budget. CONTACT: George Lundquist  Home phone: 2417-1041 Cell phone: 8888 4543 Skype glundquist.
To see more Photos of this house, click HERE!

Five bedrooms
Puntarenas City, Puntarenas
Beach home central Pacific Ocean
Five bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths plus guest house
Features include out door BBQ, swimming pool, plus on the beach.  The home is completely furnished including all linens, kitchen cook ware, pots, pans, all dishes and much much more. Each room is individually air conditioned.  Office with all connections for WiFi,  Hot water in bathrooms, kitchen and laundry room.  Fully furnished. Includes all linens, TV’s, refrigerator/freezer, dish washer, microwave, electric stove/oven, washer & dryer and many “as seen on TV” appliances   Will consider trade for U.S. Property.  Asking  $250,000. 
Call Gary 8784-2945  English only, or email

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

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Real estate for sale
Businesses for sale

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A.M. Costa Rica's
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 161
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News from the BBC up to the minute

BBC news feeds are disabled on archived pages.

Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Obama reported ready to act immigration

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

In coming weeks, President Barack Obama is expected to take executive action to address the plight of millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States — provoking cheers from immigrant rights groups and condemnation from those who see it as amnesty for law-breakers.

Congress has not passed comprehensive immigration reform or approved funds to deal with a surge of child migrants at America’s southern border.

Immigrant activists have demonstrated outside the White House and engaged in civil disobedience demanding an end to deportations of the undocumented.

Yaritza is a U.S. citizen who fears for her Mexican-born mother living illegally in the United States, and has a message for the president.

“Stop separating families. If he can somehow keep children and their families together, that would be the best,” she said.

Obama has already promised to act.

“I am beginning a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own, without Congress," he said. "If Congress will not do its job, at least we can do ours.”

Such a move will be fiercely opposed by Republicans like Sen. Jeff Sessions who says that “Congress passes law. The president must execute the law. The president is not entitled to make law, to conduct actions contrary to plain law.”

Complicating the picture is the arrival of tens of thousands of underage Central Americans entitled to immigration hearings under current U.S. law. The influx has overwhelmed federal facilities and alarmed officials in some states where the children have been placed.

“Since the health status of these children is unknown, do they pose a risk to other children in North Carolina? If the numbers increase at this rate, it could have a severe impact on the current resources we have available to take care of North Carolina children,” said North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory.

But Congress adjourned for a five-week recess without boosting federal funds to house and process child migrants or reforming U.S. immigration law.

Partisan finger-pointing dominates the immigration debate. Republican Sen. John Cornyn blames the White House.

"The president has effectively encouraged children and their parents to make this treacherous, life-threatening journey by suggesting he will not enforce the law," he said.

Democrats decry the Republican-led House's refusal to vote on a comprehensive reform bill that passed the Senate last year.

"The Republican leadership is so afraid they might actually have to take a position on immigration - they might have to vote yes or no. It is so much easier not to do anything and say, 'Oh, it must be President Obama's fault,'" said Sen. Patrick Leahy.

In such a climate, Obama has little to lose by taking matters into his own hands, according to Thomas Mann, political analyst at the Brookings Institution.

"The politics are very straightforward: nothing President Obama does would assuage the Republican opposition," he said. "If he does this, he will do it because he believes it is the right thing to do now."

An estimated 11-to-12 million foreigners are living illegally in the United States.

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The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by A.M. Costa Ltda. 2014 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details