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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 217
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Russia's renewed emphasis here worries U.S. military
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

On top of complex criminal networks that may, among other dangers, move terrorists into the United States, U.S. military planners are worried about increased Russian activity in Latin America.

Russia is reinvesting a significant amount in historical relationships it has had in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, Navy Adm. Kurt W. Tidd said.

He was responding to a question about Russian operations in the region at the Center for Strategic and International Studies during a discussion on maritime security.

"I think we can't afford to ignore their presence," he said. "You look at Russia and you look at what are their vital national interests. It's difficult to imagine that they have any vital national interest here in the Western Hemisphere."

He said he finds it troubling Russia has engaged in an aggressive propaganda campaign to spread the narrative that the United States is not a reliable partner in Latin America. Russia is engaged in a "competition for influence," he said.

Tidd, the  commander of U.S. Southern Command, was quoted in U.S. Department of Defense article.

He also expressed concern about sophisticated criminal networks that move money, drugs, arms and other material through and around Central America.

". . .  it’s the amorphous, adaptable and networked threats enabling these illicit flows that keep me up at night," he said. "Transregional and transnational threat networks -- and not the commodities that they move -- are the real threat to our nation’s security and the region’s stability."

He said the Southern Command is changing its focus from drug trafficking to a networking view of the security environment.

Whether extremist, criminal or even state-sponsored, the networked threats are a "significant challenge facing every nation in the Western Hemisphere," he said.

Some networks, for example, smuggle small arms via maritime conveyances or traffic cocaine, while violent extremist networks spread influence, and move money, weapons and people, he was quoted as saying. Human

Russian Ministry of Defense Photo via U.S. Naval Institute 
Russian T-72B main battle tank

trafficking networks smuggle desperate people from all over the world into the United States who are seeking employment or trying to escape conflict, he said, adding: "while other networks specialize at moving individuals with questionable backgrounds, worrisome intentions, and possible ties to terrorism into the United States via a long and circuitous route, sometimes starting in South America, up through Central America and Mexico, and into the United States."

U.S. and Costa Rican officials have expressed their unhappiness that Nicaragua purchased 50 military surplus tanks from Russia for $80 million.

U.S. Defense sources have outlined a steady flow of military equipment going into Nicaragua from Russia, and no one outside of the tight circle around Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega can say why.

Russia also is putting in a satellite tracking station on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast.

Another friend of Russia in the hemisphere, Venezuela, seems preoccupied with internal politics and financial problems to be a continuing market for Russian equipment.

Perhaps an indication of the Southern Command’s change of focus is the plan to build a clinic in the high Talamancas and some $30 million in other types of aid the United States has lavished on Costa Rica this year.

In addition to patrol boats, Washington also is investing in internal checkpoints to control motor traffic. Some medical personnel arrived Monday to provide health services in the Talamancas for a short period.

Despite these efforts, the U.S. government also seems to be a willing partner in using Costa Rica as a staging area for Third World migration into the States.  Observers at the southern border report as many as 12 bus loads of migrants entering Costa Rica in a single day.

Official lottery plans to move against numbers rackets
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As the drawing for the Christmas Gordo lottery draws near, Costa Rican officials are  planning to reduce the competition.

A presentation is planned for Monday where the head of the lottery agency will present a new law to increase the penalties for the informal lotteries. Like many official actions, the development may have been the result of a television expose on the various lotteries that are available to Costa Ricans.

Informal lotteries range from tickets on legitimate lotteries elsewhere to something as simple as a lottery run out of someone’s garage. All type of tickets are available at some commercial outlets and from individuals who might best be characterized as number runners.

Some of the better known underground lotteries are associated with criminal gangs.

Delia Villalobos Alvarez, president of the board of directors of the Junta de Protección Social, is  scheduled to attend Monday. The Junta is the state agency that is the official lottery vendor here. It offers gigantic prizes with gigantic odds. About a third of the Junta’s income goes for lottery prizes.

A third goes to a long list of charities, and a third goes to administrative expenses, including commissions for those who sell lottery tickets.

Most of the informal lotteries have better odds for bettors and pay back a larger percentage of income as prizes. Of course, they do not contribute to charities.

Existing laws that prohibit lotteries and raffles basically have administrative penalties.  An announcement of the Monday meeting suggests that criminal penalties are likely for those who sell illegal lottery tickets or stage raffles or other types of illegal games.

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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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Hijacking cases result in morning raids

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Add to the cost of doing business here the money lost to hijackers.

Ruta 31 from Limón to San José is traveled daily by tractor trailers with high-value merchandise. Sometimes the truckloads do not reach their destination.

Judicial agents rounded up 13 individuals Tuesday in a series of 13 early morning raids. Among those detained were two police officers stationed in Limón. They are accused of providing checkpoint information to the gang so stolen trucks would not be stopped on the highway.

Investigators also concluded that the gang received inside information from customs employees who helped target high-value cargo.

Judicial investigators have attributed nine highjackings to the gang. Although some were on the highway, several were in the metro area.

Among the substances stolen was high-grade coffee headed for export. Agents said that the coffee was filtered into the local market, sometimes mixed with other local grains.

Agents said that the gang leader lived in Alajuela. Another of the individuals detained works for a coffee company.

There has been a long string of hijackings of flat screen televisions and other home appliance items, mostly. But containers of potatoes and other agricultural products also have been stolen, perhaps by mistake.

Investigators have not discounted the complicity with some in the trucking business.

Tourism fair planned for Upala area

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tourism operators in the northern zone plan a fair Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the central park of Upala.

The Feria Turística y Cultural Casa Grande 2016 is sponsored by the Cámara de Turismo de Upala, the Universidad Estatal a Distancia and the Dirección de Cultura of the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud.

Among other achievements, the Upala area is a major producer of cacao from which chocolate is made. The northern zone also has volcanoes and cloud forests, sponsors note. A full program in HERE!

State refinery party decision supported

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

One reason the government’s finances are a mess is because there are many benefits for being a state employee.

At the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo there was the annual Christmas parties for thousands with state funds. That was part of the employee agreement with the state petroleum importer.

A year ago these employee agreements became big news, and the one for the refinery personnel become controversial. So Sara Salazar, the president of the state firm, canceled the expensive festivals as far as state financing was involved.

The employees objected, of course, but a new ruling by the Sala Constitutional court has just backed up the decision to withdraw funding from the annual parties.

The employee agreement, called a convención colectiva, has since been renegotiated.

Still, many consider that there is a long way to go to bring the agency’s budget into line since it does not refine any petroleum. The state firm now just imports petroleum products, such as gasoline, diesel and petroleum gas, and distributes them.

Some want to be up close to Poás volcano

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Telling people not to get too close to a volcano crater does not seem to be a necessary subject for a press release.

But the Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación put out an elaborate statement Tuesday complete with maps.

The parks agency said that members of the public had been approaching the  Poás volcano on prohibited territory and that some had entered the Parque Nacional Volcán Poás after closing hours at 3:30 p.m.

The park is 24 kilometers from Alajuela Centro, and there is a popular volcano crater overlook. The agency said there are signs in the park designating public areas.

Multiple deaths take place in two mishaps

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three persons died early Tuesday in a one-vehicle accident in Llanos de Platanar near La Fortuna. Dead at the scene were the 26-year-old driver and a 4 year old. A young woman died later in the Hospital de San Carlos.

The vehicle appeared to go out of control and rolled over multiple times.

It was the second crash with multiple deaths in just a few days.

In Venecia de San Carlos three men died early Friday when the motorcycle on which all three were riding smashed head-on into an oncoming truck.

Release of Indian activist Peltier sought

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Federal law enforcement calls him a remorseless killer who deserves to serve the rest of his life in prison. His supporters say he was framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Today, after 40 years in prison, Peltier is in failing health. His defenders have heightened calls for President Barack Obama to grant Peltier clemency before leaving the White House.

During the unrest of the 1970s, Peltier, a Native American activist, joined the American Indian Movement, an organization dedicated to protecting, preserving and defending treaty rights of tribal Americans. The movement’s reputation was tarnished by acts of violence, most notably the 1972 six-day takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs building in Washington, D.C.

In 1977, Peltier was convicted for the murders of FBI agents Jack Coler and Ron Williams during a 1975 standoff on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. Since then, he has lost numerous appeals and has twice been denied parole.

Amnesty International USA supports Peltier’s request for executive clemency.

“We believe that the trial was influenced by the political issues of the time, but mainly we’ve been couching our language on this case specifically on the fair trial issue - that he should be released and granted a new trial or just released outright, based on the fact that he’s now spent over 40 years in detention based on these charges,” said Justin Mazzola, Amnesty USA’s deputy director of research.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 217
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Caja stamp
Correos de Costa Rica graphic
Birthday issue

Correos de Costa Rica has issued this stamp to mark the 75th anniversary of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, which provides health services and pensions to Costa Ricans. The double 600-colon stamps feature a closeup of a Francisco Zúñiga sculpture, ‘La maternidad.’

Lawmakers vote to fast track bill to impose the corporation tax again
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers Tuesday voted 42 to 10 to expedite a bill to reinstitute a tax on corporations.

The lawmakers approved a plan that could have the tax in effect by the first of the new year.

The legislature approved a plan that had been devised for passage of the Central American Free trade Treaty. The procedure limits debate and requires lawmakers to discuss the measure to the exclusion of other matters.

The rule, Artículo 208 bis of legislative regulations, also sets deadlines for the final vote.

The bill, No. 19818, is not without foes in the legislature. The bill has been bottled up in a committee nearly the entire year.

The corporate tax was declared unconstitutional in January 2015. That was a real jolt to the central government, which had reduced the security ministry budget in anticipation of income from the tax. The problem was that the final measure for the tax had not been advertised properly.  Strangely, the Sala IV constitutional court also ruled that operators of corporations had to pay the tax for that year anyway. Many did not.

The government expects to collect 45 billion colons from the tax, about $82 million. Some 90 percent goes to the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública and 5 percent each to the Ministerio de Justicia y Paz and the Judicial Investigating Organization. The security ministry expects to hire 1,000 more officers with the money.

The tax on corporation sociedades anónimas and other similar entities, would range from 64,000 to 212,000 colons, about $117 to $388.

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You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 217
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A police anniversary

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Fuerza Pública Tuesday celebrated its 67 years of existence, and, as is customary, honored officers who had died in the line of duty.

The ceremony that included floral offerings was at the ministry headquarters in San José. Officials said that in the last 17 years 34 officers had died while on duty.

This year a statue of a Fuerza Pública officer was unveiled. It is the work of artist Andrey Portuguez Mora.

Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
Officers stand as a color guard over the floral offerings for the fallen comrades.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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Click photo for another video

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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Or call Hilda at 506-2221-7161.

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The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2016 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 217
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Axiom new ad

Candidates increase efforts
in winning votes in key states

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

With less than a week until Election Day and opinion polls showing a tight race, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are shifting their campaigns into high gear and visiting states crucial for a White House win.

Republican Trump was in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Tuesday night, urging Democratic voters who have already cast early-voting ballots for Mrs. Clinton to take advantage of a state election law and change their decision.

He made the same appeal to voters in other states, who he says now have buyer's remorse.

During a stop in Pennsylvania, another important battleground state, Trump told supporters that if he is elected, he will call a special session of Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Trump has called the health-insurance program a disaster and promised to come up with his own plan.

FBI Director James Comey's announcement last week that his agents are reviewing newly discovered emails from Clinton’s time as secretary of State has given Trump new fodder with which to suggest his opponent lacks honesty and trustworthiness.

Comey declared nearly four months ago that the FBI had fully reviewed the Clinton emails and found no basis for charges against her.

Mrs.Clinton, who has said Comey's announcement so close to the Nov. 8 election was outrageous, campaigned in Florida Tuesday, where she said Trump's treatment of and comments about women were demeaning, degrading and insulting.

Mrs. Clinton said that while she spent the last 30 years as a lawyer, first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of State, Trump was using his celebrity status as an excuse to assault women. She called him a bully.

President Barack Obama campaigned for Mrs. Clinton in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday, another state where the polls are close.

He said a person's character does not change once an election is over. If Trump is elected, Obama predicted, he will continue to disrespect women and working people in the White House, just as he has during the campaign.

The president said calling women pigs, dogs and slobs is not normal behavior.

The latest polls of likely voters show the race between Clinton and Trump is too close to call with the two main third-party candidates, Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party's Jill Stein, among the choices given to respondents.

Wednesday, Mrs.Clinton goes to Arizona. The state is traditionally Republican, but a growing Hispanic population there resents Trump's tough anti-immigration stance and his vow to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Clinton supporters rip FBI
for renewing email probe

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is drawing heated criticism for inserting itself into the U.S. presidential campaign after the bureau's director announced he was reviving the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email practices.

Federal agencies historically have tried to stay out of partisan politics to preserve their independence and authority, but this year the FBI has been drawn into examining both of the leading candidates.

The bureau announced Friday it is reviewing a new set of emails that could lead to more information about how Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, handled sensitive information in emails when she was the country's top diplomat from 2009 to 2013.

FBI Director James Comey previously closed an investigation into Mrs. Clinton's handling of the classified material in July, declaring that she was extremely careless in dealing with the documents, but that no criminal charges were warranted.

With its review of the latest batch of Clinton's emails, the FBI is trying to determine whether they contained classified information and if they include evidence that shows whether attempts were made to conceal the emails from investigators.

Mrs. Clinton's Republican rival, Donald Trump, also has caught the eye of FBI investigators.

Agents investigated possible links this summer between Trump advisers and Russian financial figures. When investigating the hacking into Democratic emails, the FBI looked into whether the cyberattacks were attempts by the Russians to influence the presidential election in Trump's favor. The bureau also investigated a possible confidential channel of email communication between the Trump Organization, Trump's private business conglomerate, to a Russian bank.

None of the probes yielded any conclusive evidence that Trump is directly linked to the Russian government. And the FBI now believes the hacking into Democratic emails was a Russian attempt to disrupt the election, instead of an attempt to get Trump elected.

Kenneth Gross, a former head of enforcement at the Federal Election Commission, said that Comey's revival of Clinton's email controversy only days before the presidential election has created a situation that is almost unconscionable.

Gross said the FBI director made a series of mistakes going back to July when he criticized Clinton as being extremely careless for her handling of emails before concluding she did nothing illegal, and then left open the possibility he would report back to Congress if there were new developments.

"I'm not saying he shouldn't look at the additional emails, but certainly the idea that he would raise the specter of any kind of conduct that would raise legal issues within 11 days of the election … is just inexplicable," said Gross, who now heads the political law practice at the law firm Skadden Arps.

It is "hard to even explain what was going on other than him being concerned about covering his own butt," he added.

Gross said he does not believe Comey's actions are part of a political conspiracy, nor does he believe the FBI director violated the federal Hatch Act, which states, in part, that its aim is to "ensure that federal programs are administered in a nonpartisan fashion."

Majority in Muslim nations
say they support Mrs. Clinton

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Arabs from Iraq to Tunisia are closely following the U.S. presidential election, and most want Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to win the race, a new survey indicated.

The survey of eight leading Arab nations conducted by the Arab Center in Washington found 66 percent of Arabs preferred that Mrs. Clinton become the next U.S. president, while just 11 percent preferred Republican Donald Trump. It polled 400 adults each in Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Morocco, the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia from Oct. 21 to Oct. 31 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Khalil Jahshan, executive director of the Arab Center, told a briefing the findings were representative of public opinion in the 22 predominantly Arab countries in the world.

The poll found that about 60 percent of Arabs followed the U.S. presidential race on a regular or occasional basis, with 56 percent holding positive views of Mrs. Clinton and 60 percent holding negative views of Trump.

"The United States gets a lot of attention in the Middle East, and in a presidential  year, people pay much more attention," said Imad Harb, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University in Washington.

There were some sharp though not surprising variations from country to country.

In Tunisia, where Mrs. Clinton is popular for her support of the country's democratic transition during the 2011 Arab Spring, 65 percent of the public held a positive view of the former secretary of State and 76 percent wanted her to win. On the other hand, Palestinians, who view Mrs. Clinton as pro-Israel, held the most negative views of her, at 54 percent. Nevertheless, 59 percent of Palestinians preferred her to Trump.

U.S. study says some drivers
of Uber or Lyft discriminate

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Two popular ride-hailing services appear to be racially profiling passengers, a new study suggests.

According to the study by researchers at Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Washington, which was presented to the National Bureau of Economic Research, African-Americans are more likely to face cancellations and extended wait times when using Uber or Lyft.

“Frankly, that discrimination exists was not surprising after all the evidence of discrimination elsewhere,” said Stephen Zoepf, executive director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford and one of the authors on the paper. “It essentially confirmed our suspicions more than anything else. I think that the magnitude of the discrimination and the cancellation rates was surprising to me.”

Researchers came to their conclusions after conducting more than 1,400 case studies in Seattle and Boston.

They are quick to point out, however, that the results of their study point to individual drivers for the actions, not any sort of policy by Uber or Lyft.

Riders with African-American sounding names experienced wait times up to 28 percent higher in Seattle for both Uber and Lyft. In Boston, African-American riders were more than two times more likely to have a ride cancelled when choosing UberX, a lower cost service from the ride sharing giant.

They also found that cancellations from an Uber driver were three times more likely to happen with black men. Researchers were unable to find any correlation between race and cancellations with Uber competitor, Lyft, because drivers can see names and photos of potential passengers before accepting their patronage.

Both Uber and Lyft defended their business, citing a study saying the ride hailing services are more likely to operate in lower income communities than standard taxis.

A Lyft spokesman said the company was proud of its service to minorities.

"Because of Lyft, people living in under-served areas, which taxis have historically neglected, are now able to access convenient, affordable rides," Lyft spokesman Adrian Durbin said in a statement.

Uber says its app is designed specifically to prevent discrimination.

World Health says technology
is encouraging youth smoking

 By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The World Health Organization warns that tobacco control efforts are being threatened by new smoking products and new online advertising opportunities that can reach young people around the world.

Such threats are to be addressed next week at an international meeting in New Delhi.

The head of World Health’s Tobacco Convention Secretariat, Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, says it is easy for young people to download films and cigarette ads that appear online.

And, she said, the film industry from Hollywood to Bollywood exerts a strong influence on the behavior of young people.

"There are a number of studies showing a clear correlation between the social acceptability and taking up and consuming tobacco through the influence exerted by pop stars, by film actors and actresses, and by the film industry itself," Ms. Costa e Silva said.

A rating system to keep children from watching films advertising tobacco is one of the proposals likely to come up at the New Delhi conference.

In addition, World Health says there is an increasing need to regulate the use of smokeless tobacco and water pipes.

Tibor Szilagyi, an officer in the Tobacco Convention Secretariat, warns of the dangers of water pipes. Their use is common in the Middle East, he says, and growing in other regions.

"In the case of water pipes, we have the evidence … that it is more dangerous than regular cigarette smoking,” Szilagyi said. “They are saying that one session of water pipe tobacco use is equal to 100 cigarettes smoked."

Szilagyi warns that tobacco companies are coming up with harmful new approaches for marketing the product. For instance, he says, the tobacco used in water pipes now comes in a variety of aromatic fruity flavors.

Met stops opera after powder
shows up in its orchestra pit

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The New York Metropolitan Opera stopped a performance Saturday afternoon after someone in the audience sprinkled white powder into the orchestra pit during an intermission before the final act of Rossini's "Guillaume Tell."

As anti-terrorism police investigated the incident, the Met canceled a scheduled evening performance of "L'Italiana in Algeri," also by Rossini. No injuries were reported and no one was taken into custody.

The police said they had not yet identified the substance tossed into the orchestra pit, and no witnesses stepped forward with further information.

Audience members said there was some confusion as Met officials first said a technical issue was delaying the fourth act of the opera. After a further delay, the audience members were told to go home. Some noticed police entering the hall.

Dylan Hayden of Toronto, who was seated near the rear of the ornate hall, described audience members slowly walking out.

"The idea that they said that it was a technical error, when I was maybe 5 meters away from a potential dangerous substance, that kind of irks me a little bit," Hayden said. "But at no point did I feel an actual threat."

Micaela Baranello, a musicologist at Smith College in Massachusetts, said that some in the audience booed the cancellation, with one man chanting, "I want my money back, I want my money back."

Baranello, who spoke to a reporter by telephone from a train headed back to Massachusetts, said the cancellation of the opera was "too bad, because most of the best music in 'Guillaume Tell' is in Act 4, in my opinion."

The monumental opera had received warm reviews when the Met debuted its new, five-hour-long production 10 days ago. It tells the William Tell fable and, until Saturday, had not been staged at the Met for over 80 years.

The overture to "Guillaume Tell" is known to many in the U.S. as the theme music of the 1950s television series "The Lone Ranger."
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 217
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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Dirección Nacional de Desarrollo de la Comunidad photo
La Fortuna was the setting for this celebration marking the Día Nacional del Servidor Comunitario.The weekend celebration saw 1,500 participants involved in local development work, including those in this photo from Guanacaste.

Pope in Sweden urges greater unity

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Pope Francis pressed his call for Christians to forge greater unity, urging Sweden's tiny Catholic community Tuesday to set aside divisions with Lutherans as the two churches commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Francis proposed a new set of Beatitudes for all Christians, saying they are called to be blessed "to confront the troubles and anxieties of our age.''

Francis celebrated Mass under chilly, 8-degree C (46 F) skies in the Malmo sports stadium, packed with Nordic Catholics as well as immigrants from the Philippines and beyond for the final event of his overnight trip to southern Sweden.

Monday, Francis and the heads of the Lutheran World Federation commemorated Martin Luther's revolt against the abuses of the Catholic Church, praying together for forgiveness at Lund's cathedral. They signed a joint declaration pledging to put the errors of the past behind them and pursue theological talks with the goal of letting Lutherans and Catholics share in the Eucharist.

In his homily Tuesday, Francis continued with the theme of unity, urging the faithful to meekly draw close to Christ and one another as they commemorate the Reformation over the next year.

Meekness, he said, "enables us to set aside everything that divides and estranges us, and to find ever new ways to advance along the path of unity.''

"Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians,'' the pope said. It was one of the new Beatitudes, or biblical prayers, that he proposed at Mass.

The Protestant Reformation started in 1517 after Luther nailed 95 theses on the church door in the town of Wittenberg, Germany, denouncing what he saw as the abuses of the Catholic Church, especially the sale of indulgences.

As Protestantism spread, religious wars erupted, dividing western Christianity in a schism that resulted in hundreds of years of violence, persecution and discrimination.

As a result, the pope's visit to Sweden to start the yearlong Protestant anniversary raised eyebrows.

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From Page 7:

Document management firm buys accounts here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Access, the document management services based in Livermore, California, said Tuesday it had purchased the records management accounts of Crown Worldwide in San Jose and expanded its presence here. Access operates under the name Retrievex in the Latin American countries of Costa Rica and Panamá.

Crown manages archiving, retrieval and secure management of information in physical and electronic format worldwide.

Calling itself the largest privately held records and information management provider in the United States, Access said it now serves more than 60 major markets across the nation, as well as Brazil, Latin America and the Caribbean.