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Published Friday, Sept. 23, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 189
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The weekend is shaping up to be a musical one
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The weekend is definitely a musical one with another performance by the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional tonight and even a free band concert Sunday at the Museo Nacional.

The orchestra performance features two works by Ludwig van Beethoven, the “The Creatures of Prometheus,” Opus 47, and “Piano Concerto No. 2.” Opus 37. On the piano will be Alon Goldstein of Israel.

The Coro Sinfónico Nacional will join with the orchestra in a performance of “The Planets” suit by English composer Gustav Holst.

The invited conductor is the Israeli, Yaov Talmi. The 8 p.m. performance this evening will be repeated at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, both in the Teatro Nacional.

The Banda de San José will be featured Sunday at the Música en el Museo program.

The 11 a.m. program is supposed to be 100 percent Costa Rican in honor of  September, which is called the patriotic month because it includes the Día de la Independencia.

The director is Juan Bautista Loaiza.

The selections are diverse, including “Paso doble Costa Rica” by Otto Vargas, “Mambo
'Hombre crucificado en el basurero,' by
Tomás Sánchez

de la big band” by Víctor Hugo Berrocal,  boleros and even a foxtrot.

Saturday there is warm up to the Festival Internacional de Poesía with a book sale sponsored by the Municipalidad de San José in Barrio Chino from 11 a.m. The festival, itself, begins in two weeks.

The Museo de Arte Costarricense opened an exhibition called “Paisaje” Thursday night. It will run through Nov. 28. On display are the works of Cuban artist Tomás Sánchez at the museum in Parque La Sabana. Admission is free.

Perhaps one of the best-known of his works is “Hombre crucificado en el basurero,” perhaps best translated as a man crucified in a garbage dump.

Tax officials say they will pore over Bahamas data
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A new batch of corporate information has been released by a journalism organization, and officials at the Ministerio de Hacienda are quick to say that the new data reinforces the need to continue ahead with the international fight against tax evasion via exchanges of information among countries.  But the ministry said its Dirección General de Tributación had not yet analyzed the new data.

The release of information about offshore companies in The Bahamas is not as complete as was the information contained in the  Panamá Papers files. The information comes from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and news organizations from Europe, South America, Asia and Africa.

This creates, for the first time, a free, online and publicly-searchable registry of offshore

companies set up in the island nation that has sometimes been called The Switzerland of the West, said the consortium.

The data base, which also includes information from earlier releases, is HERE! The material is searchable by name and country.

The cache of documents from the island nation’s corporate registry provides names of directors and some owners of more than 175,000 Bahamian companies, trusts and foundations registered between 1990 and early 2016, said the consortium.

Corporate data is available in The Bahamas but the information must be inspected in person, and there is a fee, said the organization.

Both Costa Rican tax officials and lawmakers have been investigating information from the Panamá Papers and other material released initially by hackers, but there have been no startling revelations.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Sept. 23, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 189
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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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More alerts declared due to volcano

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national emergency commission has extended its alerts to the cantons of Vázquez de Coronado and Goicoechea, which have been hit hard by the fall of ash.

The two cantons join Cartago Centro, Jiménez, Turrialba, Oreamuno and Alvarado that already were the subject of emergency alerts.

The winds carrying the volcanic ash usually take it north of the capital and into the nearby cantons as happened Thursday, according to the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional.

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias noted that conditions are worse nearer the volcano where two schools have been closed.

However, residents of  Coronado and Goicoechea have complained of excessive ash, and some youngsters are wearing masks at school. The low-level alerts are mostly administrative.

The volcano erupted starting at 3:20 a.m. Thursday, and then continued to emit a series of pulses until about 9:30 a.m., said the Red Sismológica Nacional.

The column of ash reached as high as 2,000 meters above the crater, according to the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica.

The lengthy activity squelched any thoughts that the mountain was settling back to an inactive phase.

Although the Turrialba volcano spewed out ash in four significant eruptions Wednesday, the bigger problem seems to be the gas. Plenty of metro area residents are complaining of headaches and burning eyes, and they attribute this to the volcano.

The volcano erupted Wednesday at  7:36 a.m., 8:14 a.m., 9:48 a.m. and 3:43 p.m., according to the Red Sismológica Nacional.

In the Central Valley Wednesday afternoon rains cleaned up much of the lingering ash from Monday. However there was plenty of sulfur to smell in the Central Valley and perhaps cause the eyes to burn. Heavy rains Thursday had the same cleansing effect.

Man burned in Osa dies in hospital

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators say that someone poured a flammable liquid on a 69-year-old intoxicated man and set him on fire. That happened Aug. 26, but the victim, identified by the last name of Peña, just died of complications from burns in Hospital San Juan de Dios.

The crime happened in the public street in Piedras Blancas de Osa, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. Agents said that a suspect in the crime was detained Sept. 1.

Sessions seek to eliminate poverty

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Officials are meeting for the second day today to develop a national strategy to eliminate poverty.

This is part of a program called “No dejar a nadie atrás,” meaning not leaving anyone behind.

Casa Presidencial said that Ana Helena Chacón, the second vice president, was involved in the discussions. The country is trying to reach the goal of eliminating poverty that the United Nations has set for 2030.

Citing a household survey, the government said that 21.8 percent of the households in the country were in poverty. That means 318,421 homes and 1.26 million persons, it added.

Obama to veto 9/11 survivor bill

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Barack Obama will veto legislation Friday that would allow survivors and relatives of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States to sue Saudi Arabia's government for damages, the White House said.

Obama has said the legislation would expose Americans overseas to legal risks.

"We believe this is a bad bill," Josh Earnest, White House spokesman said.

Congress is expected to try to override the president's veto, which would require votes by two-thirds of lawmakers to complete.

Riyadh has denied any involvement in the attacks, the worst terrorism ever in the U.S. However, 15 of the 19 airline hijackers who commandeered four passenger jets to carry out assaults in New York and Washington were identified as Saudis.

Time to register to vote

The U.S. Federal government’s overseas voting agency has issued a reminder that Nov. 8 is the presidential election.

“It is time for Americans living, working or traveling abroad to take steps to vote,” said the agency,” the Federal Overseas Voting Program.

Helping overseas Americans is difficult because each state has its own rule, and expats are supposed to vote in the U.S. state where they last were a resident.

Many overseas voters will receive absentee ballots from their registered county of residency. Others may elect to file a federal absentee ballot just for federal offices.

In addition to the federal program, the Overseas Voting Foundation can assist voters. The Web site gives deadlines for each state, plus other information.

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Sept. 23, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 189
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Uncle Sam turns over $724,000 in tents to emergency officials
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. government Thursday formalized the donation of $724,000 in tents to Costa Rican emergency officials.

The national emergency commission said that the tents would be used in case of any kind of national emergency. 

There are just 141 tents included in the donation, so each tent is valued at more than $5,000. They are supposed to be able to house 2,600 persons.

There are no current emergencies requiring that number of tents, and Costa Rica usually gets by by putting up emergency shelters

at schools and other public buildings in the case of flooding or earthquakes.

However, there are a large number of refugees who are filtering into Costa Rica on the heels of some 8,000 Cubans who already arrived and had to be airlifted out of the country. The Cubans arrived at a time when school was out, so they were housed in public buildings. Now many Haitians and persons from other countries are gathering at the nation’s borders where they are living in unsanitary conditions.

The donation is reported to be part of an estimated $30 million in planes, boats and material that the Obama administration decided to give Costa Rica.

Security ministry holding session with guard firms on standards
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Security officials have been meeting with operators of guard firms to brief them on new rules, and the government also is seeking the help of international agencies.

The Ministerio de Seguridad Pública just issued a set of regulations that seem designed to reduce the number of guard firms. The ministry said this was done because too many weapons assigned to the firms have ended up in the hands of crooks.

Guard firms have been a problem for the government. In addition to concerns about guns, some employees have used their weapon to commit crimes, and such firms are among companies that have debts with the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social for health and pension payments.

Among the rules adopted by the ministry is that each firm must hire an outside consultant to evaluate each location where armed

guards would be stationed. That seemed rather complex even when the rule was announced.
The meeting with the guard firms suggest that the ministry is backing off its original plan. Officials said they were trying to enforce international standards.

The problem with the weapons developed when firms went out of business and the operators or even the employees sold their firearms privately.

Guard firms are important in Costa Rica because criminality is on the rise, and police efforts are not sufficient to prevent crime.

The ministry said help has been sought from the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean and the The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces.

Guard firms already are heavily regulated, although some may not follow the rules.

Those who carry firearms must obtain permits from the ministry, and the company has to keep close track of the training and competency of the individual guard employees.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Sept. 23, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 189
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Technology gives scientists an up-close and personal view of whales
By the Stanford University news service

Whales are the biggest animals to ever have existed on Earth, and yet some subsist on creatures the size of a paper clip. It’s a relatively common factoid, but, in truth, how they do this is only just being uncovered, thanks to new technologies.

What scientists do know is that a 160-ton blue whale’s method for scooping krill is a tremendous endeavor. Swimming around 4 meters per second, it opens its triple-hinged jaws and takes in a gulp equal to about 140 percent of its mass, slowing back down to filter its snack and prepare for the next one. Blue whales feed nearly continuously when prey conditions are good during the feeding season, but for biologists, the exact mechanism remains a confounding feat of gigantic proportions.

By attaching new sensor technology to whales just before they dive, researchers from Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station have captured this energetically expensive activity in more detail than ever before, which they report now in Current Biology.

This type of feeding, called lunge feeding, is unique to rorquals, a family of baleen whales that includes blue whales, humpbacks and minke whales. Having a precise understanding of this process gives some clues as to how these massive animals survive on such tiny prey, which in turn will help biologists develop more effective conservation efforts.

“This feeding process is facilitated by a complex suite of biomechanical and anatomical adaptations that together allow the whales to engulf a volume of water and prey that is larger than their own body,” said co-author Jeremy Goldbogen, assistant professor of biology at Stanford.

“For a large blue whale, this represents a volume of water and prey that is approximately the size of a large swimming pool or a school bus, and this is engulfed in a matter of seconds.”

To gulp down a mouthful of krill or fish, rorquals have to time their lunge just right. The enormous intake slows them down rapidly due to the drag caused by opening their mouths and the added burden of the water they take in.

Performing this behavior at deep depths can make it even more energetically costly.

“When these animals dive down to 300 meters, holding their breath for 12 minutes or more, they had better be sure it’s worth the cost,” said David Cade, lead author and doctoral student in biology at Stanford. “To regain the energy lost, the prediction is that they are foraging on a pretty dense, rich resource.”

Sensors that record multiple facets of whale life have been around for about 15 years. Goldbogen has used them to study the reactions of blue whales to cargo ships and the lunge frequency of minke whales.

These suction cup sensors can include a combination of accelerometers, magnetometers, and pressure and sound recorders.

Stanford University/ Jeremy Goldbogen
Researcher attaches a device that enables colleagues to watch a whale’s behavior as though they were riding on the animal’s back.

With this equipment, researchers can tell how the whales move in three dimensions but finer details are lost. For example, in 2006 research, Goldbogen hypothesized that whales open their mouths at peak speed when lunge feeding. A competing theory later said their mouths open several seconds before the peak in speed, yet neither theory could be tested with the sensors available at the time.

To figure out which model of feeding was more accurate, Stanford researchers worked with other whale researchers and engineers to develop a sensor package that housed miniaturized versions of typical movement technology plus new video recording capabilities. They attached these tags to whales in South Africa, Patagonia, and off the west and east coasts of the United States. The resulting video is what would be seen by someone riding on the whale’s back.

“Combining these two modalities is really eye-opening,” said Cade. “Every time we do a deployment, we get something back that’s new and interesting.”

The researchers found that whales that fed on krill followed a distinct pattern of activity. As Goldbogen hypothesized, they opened their mouth at peak speed and closed it around the time they were back to normal speed. Humpbacks that fed on fish, however, varied their timing. This is likely in response to the more advanced escape abilities of fish compared to krill. The whales may be performing lunge feeding that is less energetically ideal when the trade-off is eating prey that can supply them with more energy.

Effective Oct. 11, most populations of humpback whales will be removed from the endangered species list. Even accounting for that change, three of the eight species of rorquals are endangered. There is insufficient data to determine the status for three other species in this family. Any attempt to ensure the survival of these giants will require scientists to know much more about them, including the particulars of their mealtime activities.

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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.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Sept. 23, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 189
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Voice of America/Arash Arabasadi
Demonstrator with a bullhorn promises that the protests would continue and escalate every night until the police video is made public.

Curfew imposed in Charlotte
as police keep video secret

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Large crowds of demonstrators marched through the heart of North Carolina's largest city Thursday in the third night of protests against the Charlotte police department's handling of a controversial shooting of a black man.

The city's mayor declared a curfew would go into effect after midnight local time, and National Guard members were deployed with rifles outside nearby office buildings.

A young protester who was shot a day earlier died Thursday. He was Justin Carr, 26, who had been struck by a bullet as he stood outside a hotel in the neighborhood where the disorders took place, and police said they did not fire the fatal shot.

Carr's death was the first fatality recorded since the incident at the heart of this week's demonstration, the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott as he got out of his car Tuesday. More than 30 people have been injured when protests turned violent.

Police said Scott was holding a gun when they shot him. His family said Scott was unarmed, and that he may have been simply carrying a book that he was reading.

Police have refused to release to the public any video recordings of the shooting, but they screened the images Thursday for family members, who said it was unclear what, if anything, was in Scott's hands when police fired at him. Comments by Charlotte's police chief also indicated it was difficult to establish exactly what happened from the video police recorded, since it came from a camera in a police cruiser some distance from the confrontation between Scott and the officers who stopped him.

The police have said they recovered a pistol at the scene of the shooting, but Scott's relatives have insisted that he had no weapon. The police also said they found no book at the scene.

Protests in Charlotte this week have centered on demands for the public release of the police video, along with calls for an end to police violence against African-Americans.

Attorney Justin Bamber, representing the Scott family, told reporters Thursday evening that the family wants the video released to the public immediately. The city's police chief, Kerr Putney, said earlier that he would not release the recording unless he believes there is a compelling reason to do so.

Late Thursday, hundreds of protesters were marching through the heart of  Charlotte, a hub for the banking industry and related firms. Police said they would not enforce the curfew unless violence erupted.

Some protesters wore masks over their noses and mouths in case police deployed tear gas, as they had on the previous two evenings. They carried signs saying, "Know Justice, Know Peace," "The People Versus the State" and "Stop Killing Us."

The crowd was a mix of races, African-American, white and Hispanic people, some of whom carried signs saying "Latinos say black lives matter."

People from all around the state of North Carolina came to join the protests in Charlotte. Cherrell Brown, a Black Lives Matter activist and community organizer who goes by "Carolina Bama" on Twitter, drove from nearby Greensboro in solidarity with Charlotte and the African-American community.

"This isn't new," she said, referring to the protests in Charlotte and the Black Lives Matter movement in general. "This is an iteration of a movement that's been going on for 500 years, since the slaves got off the boat."

Many clergy were present at the rallies, urging calm and peace for all present. But other protesters were seen arguing with preachers, claiming they didn't understand the pain Charlotte residents had suffered and that they could not be expected to stay calm.

Before protesters began marching around 8 p.m., volunteers in Romare Bearden park handed out masks and milk to protect from tear gas, as well as water bottles and granola bars.

The curfew order broadcast to the protesters late Thursday night said all people should be off the streets until 6 a.m. Friday. One of the demonstrators, holding a bullhorn, said the protests would continue and escalate every night until the police video is made public.

North Carolina's governor, Pat McCrory, a former mayor of Charlotte, already has declared a state of emergency, and he said police would arrest lawbreakers.

"We cannot tolerate any type of violence . . . or destruction of property," McCrory said.

Police said officers were looking for someone else when they saw Scott get out of a car with a gun, and that the officer fired after Scott ignored warnings to drop the weapon.

The shooting of Carr Wednesday apparently occurred after protesters clashed with police in riot gear, and the demonstration turned violent. Officers fired tear gas to disperse the crowds. Some people smashed store windows and set small fires in the streets.

Three of Charlotte's largest employers, Duke Energy, Bank of America, and the Wells Fargo bank, had told their staff to stay at home Thursday, so the city's streets were quiet until protesters massed in the late evening.

The North Carolina branch of the American Civil Liberties Union also has called for the swift release of any and all footage related to Tuesday's shooting.

In a statement, executive director Karen Anderson said, “In the interest of transparency and accountability, and particularly in light of conflicting accounts about the shooting, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department should quickly release any and all footage it has of the events leading up to the shooting, as well as the shooting itself."

Corine Mack, president of the union’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg branch, said the release of the video would bring transparency to the investigation of Scott’s killing.

“It really doesn’t matter if he had a gun,” Mack said. “Showing he had a gun doesn’t prove he was guilty of anything.”

Both major candidates urge
end to street confrontations

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are calling for a quick end to deadly street confrontations in the nation's cities in the aftermath of the latest police killings of African-American men.

Trump, the Republican contender in the Nov. 8 election, told a political rally in the eastern city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Thursday, "The violence against our citizens and our law enforcement must be brought to a very rapid end."

He said the deadly encounters between police and residents in the country's often-impoverished inner cities are a never-ending problem.

A subdued Trump, a real estate tycoon seeking his first elected office, said, "America desperately needs unity and it needs the spirit of togetherness . . . which has lifted us up to our greatest achievements as a nation. We need to bring that spirit to every part of our country and become one American nation, united by shared values and principles as American citizens."

He added, "Our country looks bad to the world, especially when we are supposed to be the world's leader. How can we lead when we can't even control our own cities?"

Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, referred in a Twitter message to two black men shot by police in disputed circumstances in recent days in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

"Keith Lamont Scott. Terence Crutcher. Too many others. This has got to end. -H," she said, signing the post herself, even as she stayed off the campaign trail Thursday as she prepared for Monday's first presidential debate with Trump.

Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of State looking to become the country's first female president, said the killings are unbearable and need to become intolerable.

She said the country needs strength, love and kindness and that "we are safer when communities respect police and police respect communities."

The number of crimes has fallen for years in the United States, but more recently murders and shootings have spiked in some cities, like Chicago, Illinois, the third biggest city in the country.

Trump suggested Wednesday that big city police departments throughout the country need to adopt a controversial stop-and-frisk policy in which police confront people on the street in communities plagued by high crime to see if they are carrying illegal weapons or drugs. New York had such a policy in years past, but abandoned it when it became apparent that police most often indiscriminately stopped and frisked blacks and other minorities.

Thursday, however, Trump said he only meant that Chicago adopt the stop-and-frisk policy.

"Chicago is out of control," he said.

The New York billionaire suggested. Falsely. that violence in Chicago is worse than that in Afghanistan

"I think Chicago needs stop and frisk," Trump said. "When you have 3,000 people shot and so many people dying, I mean it's worse than some of the places we're hearing about like Afghanistan, you know, the war-torn nations."

Police officer to face charge
in death of black motorist

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Prosecutors in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Thursday charged a police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man.

Officer Betty Shelby was charged with first-degree manslaughter in the death of Terence Crutcher, 40, Sept. 16.

Video recorded by a dashboard camera and a police helicopter shows Crutcher with his hands up, appearing to comply with police officers and leaning against his car. He is then shot once by Officer Shelby and falls to the ground.

The footage does not offer a clear view of when Officer Shelby fired the single shot that killed Crutcher.

Her attorney has said Crutcher was not following police commands and that Officer Shelby feared for her life and opened fire when the man began to reach into a window in his car.

But the victim's family has discounted that claim, saying the father of four posed no threat to the officers. They also pointed to an enlarged photo from police footage that appears to show Crutcher's window was closed. And police said Crutcher did not have a gun on him or in his vehicle.

Among the definitions in Oklahoma of first-degree manslaughter is a killing "perpetrated unnecessarily either while resisting an attempt by the person killed to commit a crime, or after such attempt shall have failed.'' If convicted, Officer Shelby could face a minimum of four years in prison.

Yahoo admits hacker stole
data on 500 million users

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Yahoo, Inc., said on Thursday information for at least 500 million user accounts was stolen from its network in 2014 by what it believed was a state-sponsored actor, a theft that appeared to the biggest cyber breach ever.

Yahoo said data stolen may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth and encrypted passwords but that unprotected passwords, payment card data and bank account information did not appear to have been compromised, the company said.

"This is the biggest data breach ever,” said well-known cryptologist Bruce Schneier.

He said it was too early to say what impact the breach might have on Yahoo and its users because many questions remain, including the identity of the state-sponsored hackers behind it.

Three U.S. intelligence officials, who declined to be identified by name, said they believed the attack was state-sponsored because of its resemblance to previous hacks traced to Russian intelligence agencies or hackers acting at their direction.

Yahoo said it was working with law enforcement on the matter. The FBI said it was aware of the matter, and the U.S. Secret Service was not immediately available for comment.

"The investigation has found no evidence that the state-sponsored actor is currently in Yahoo's network," the company said.

Shares of Yahoo stock were barely changed for the day after the news, while shares of Verizon Communications, which has agreed to buy the company's Internet business, were up about 1 percent.

It was not clear how this disclosure might affect Yahoo's deal with Verizon.

Verizon, which announced in July an agreement to buy Yahoo's core internet properties for $4.83 billion, said in a statement it was made aware of the breach within the last two days and had limited information about the matter.

Hacker obtains passport shot
of  first lady Michelle Obama

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

An image described as a scanned copy of U.S. first lady Michelle Obama's passport has been posted on a hacker Web site, DC Leaks.

The posts also include personal emails said to belong to a low-level White House staffer who worked with Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

The leaked files have not been verified, but Obama administration officials said Thursday they were aware of the claims and were looking into the matter.

The information was part of a batch of emails from February 2015 through July 2016 and purportedly hacked from the Gmail account of a White House staffer, responsible for logistics for official trips. The breach included the photo-and-information page of her passport.

The same Web site recently disclosed former secretary of State Colin Powell's private emails showing his distaste for Mrs. Clinton and her Republican rival, Donald Trump. Powell has confirmed the hacked messages were authentic.
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news page

San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Sept. 23, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 189
Real Estate
About us

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
Zika virus cases show a slow increase

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

Zika cases continue to increase in Costa Rica but not at a rapid rate. In fact, new cases seem to be declining.

The Ministerio de Salud reported 1,076 cases this week compared to the 1,018 the previous week. That means there were just 58 new cases reported.

Puntarenas Centro with 160 total cases has nearly tied with what has been the leading canton for weeks, Garabito now with 161.

Other cantons with high total totals are Orotina (96), Esparza (92), Santa Cruz (79) and Limón (42). Still the majority of the cantons in the country have no reported cases.

There most certainly are many more persons with zika, but the health ministry totals only include those receiving treatment.

In another development, researchers report they are getting closer to a vaccine against zika.

The experimental zika vaccine being worked on by researchers at the National Institutes of Health is a newer generation of vaccine, which uses DNA technology to trigger the body's immune response.

That is a different approach than traditional vaccines take. They use weakened or killed viruses to stimulate an immune response against the targeted disease.

DNA vaccines use copies of genetic material from a pathogen's outer coat. This DNA is introduced into cells in the lab, which then replicate proteins from the virus but don't cause the disease. Injected into a patient, the synthetic DNA fragments mimic the disease-causing pathogen.

Because of the urgency of the zika epidemic, early clinical trials of DNA vaccines are underway. So far, none have been approved for human use in the United States.

In a study published in the journal Science involving rhesus macaques, investigators report that 17 of the 18 monkeys that got two doses of the vaccine were completely protected. All six monkeys that got a single, weaker dose became infected with zika, but still had less of the virus in their system than the control group of animals that received no treatment.

Democrats seeking to register voters

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Democrats Abroad is having an absentee voting registration and party Saturday at a downtown restaurant.

An announcement said that Social Security, Medicare, disability, veterans benefits and other federal programs are seriously being threatened.  The organization also said that if voters are not happy with their presidential choices and don’t want to vote, they should still register so they can vote for congressional representatives and senators.

“It's crucial that we get out and vote for Congress as we've seen how a heavy one-sided Congress can block a president's agenda,” the organization said, referring to the Republican-controlled houses of the Congress that have opposed Barack Obama in the last two years of his term.

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From Page 7:

Ash fall sets back plant export effort

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An effort by the country to clear its name with European plant disease specialists suffered a setback this week when a delegation headed to Brussels could not take off Monday due to volcano ash at Juan Santamaría airport.

The Ministerio de Comercio Exterior has been deeply engaged with the Servicio Fitosanitario del Estado with research to show that ornamental plants coming from Costa Rica are not infected with the Xylella fastidiosa which can be highly damaging to plants like grape vines.

The country exports about $7 million in ornamental plants to the European Union each year and the industry employes about 500 persons, said the ministry.

The European Union closed the market to Costa Rica’s phoenix palm more than a year ago, and officials have conducted extensive research into the plant pest problem. The ministry said that the type of bacteria here is different from that in Europe and that there have been extensive efforts to make sure plant production operations are free of the disease.