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Published  Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 221
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Children's museum welcomes December with lights
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

What better way to welcome December, the month of Christmas, than with the illumination of the Museo de los Niño.

This is a very big deal directed to families, so much so that major downtown roadways will be closed to provide security for spectators.

The date is Dec. 1, a Thursday. The location, of course, is the old penitentiary, which has been remodeled into a museum of fantasy for children and called the Castillo de los Sueños or castle of dreams. The prison, conveniently, left behind turrets.

This is a free event at the north end of Calle 4. Not only will the museum be illuminated in holiday lights, but there will be fireworks and a series of plays with 26 live actors.

Showtime is 6:30 p.m., but the crowd will

Museo de los Niño file photo
Here is what to expect

begin gathering starting at 2 p.m.

The participants have been rehearsing for nine months, the museum said.

Customs agency will play the Grinch again this year
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministerio de Hacienda admitted Monday that its customs unit had impounded 5,000 packages sent from abroad. This affects more than 1,500 would be recipients, it said.

This is another delivery freeze similar to what happened at Christmas 2011 when the agency, the Dirección General de Aduanas, changed the rules and consigned thousands of shipments to limbo where they may still remain because of unpaid sales tax.

Now the agency says that shipments from abroad must go through registered companies.

The ministry said that the customs agency has been accumulating packages since October 2015. This has not been disclosed to the public.

The ministry also said that one company alone has 162 packages of merchandise that weigh 8,315 kilos, more than eight tons, in the impound category. The ministry also said that it was seeking 41 million colons, about $75,000, for presumed evasion by this firm and that a complaint had been filed with prosecutors.

Among those imports affected, but not mentioned by the ministry, is the HandsOnSports Foundation of North Royalton, Ohio, that ran a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for sports gear for youngsters in the Talamancas.

An expat here involved in the effort to distribute the gear said that 2,000 kilos of equipment and health supplies had been held up because import duties have not been paid.

That was a  surprise to the organization that had been exempted from such payments in the past because of the charitable nature of the shipments.

The organization planned to distribute the items next Friday in the impoverished area of the Talamancas in southeast Costa Rica. The local contact said the ministry wants thousands of dollars in import fees.

The ministry announced last week that it was cracking down on baggage brought into Costa Rica by air travelers who land at Juan Santamaría airport. And Monday an expat from Sarchí said in a letter that monthly shipments to him and friends have been tied up for months even though they used an established import firm. For many of the items that have finally been released, they have had additional duties of 20 to 40 percent assessed, he said.

There are a number of reasons a package might be impounded by customs officials. The concern could involve import fees, taxes or the nature of the package content. A lot of times, such as medicines, require permits. 

Then there are cases where an inspector is arbitrary.

The ministry also said that sometimes the import declarations are falsified and do not really reflect the contents.

The ministry published on its Web site the names of registered import companies. That list is HERE! The list includes many well-known firms, including Correos de Costa Rica, DHL, UPS, Federal Express and the various airlines and lesser known companies.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 221
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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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bridge                                      work
Consejo Nacional de Vialidad photo
Unseen by motorists, this is the work going on under the Río Virilla bridge of the General Cañas autopista.

Virilla bridge lanes closed again today

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Traffic police will be closing the eastbound lanes of the General Cañas highway today from 10 a.m. until noon so that construction workers can move steel girders for a new lane into place. The closing will be repeated Thursday at the same time, said the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad.

The same eastbound lanes were closed Friday with the expected results.

The construction crew are moving girders of from 12 to 20 meters in length. The new lanes will be on either side of the existing bridge.

Detours are through Heredia and also on the Caldera highway, Ruta 27 toll road.

Quepos victims include two teen boys

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two of the victims murdered by assailants in Quepos Sunday night were teens, the Judicial Investigating Organization said.

They were cut down with a 27-year-old adult as they stood in the parking area of a home in Pueblo Real de Quepos, about five kilometers from the center of the community.

Also killed was a 30-year-old pirate taxi driver who died about 150 meters from the scene of the other murders. He is presumed to have tried to flee from the attackers.

The teens were 17 and 12 or 13. Two women inside the home hid and were not shot, agents said.

Judicial investigators are attributing the attack to a dispute related to drugs, but there is no witness to the killings. The women were reported to have said they did not see what took place.

The shootings took place about 8:50 p.m., agents said. The weapons used included a shotgun. Investigators collected a number of spent shells.

Lottery agency presents its proposed law

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Junta de Protección Social came out with the proposed law Monday designed to maintain its monopoly on a national lottery. The bill was expected.

The proposal, introduced at the legislature Monday, provides for fines and jail terms for those running or promoting illegal lotteries. The jail term can be for as much as eight years.

The Junta justifies its monopoly because about a third of what is collected from lottery sales goes to some 400 social programs. Consequently, the state lottery offers poorer odds than some of the illegal ones which do not have a social dimension.

The junta says it is losing millions of dollars to illegal lotteries, a figure that is backed up by academic research.

The bill would not penalize lotteries that are authorized. The Cruz Roja lotteries would seem to be in this category. But there would be penalties for those bringing foreign lotteries into the country.

That would seem to be targeting the lotteries in adjacent countries, but tickets from multi-state megalotteries in the United States have been sold here.

Homemade firearms seen to be plentiful

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

More than a quarter of the firearms destroyed by the security ministry this month were homemade. Some were crude, but there are such weapons in circulation that are sophisticated.

The Ministerio de Seguridad Pública celebrated 10 years of destroying confiscated firearms Monday. The ministry said that of 874 firearms destroyed this month, 228 were homemade.

The ministry invited young guests to cut up 15  firearms with an electric hacksaw as part of the ceremony Monday. Officials said that  59,689 weapons had been destroyed over the 10 years.

U.S. unhappy with Nicaragua voting

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The United States has expressed its deep concern at what a spokesman called  “the flawed presidential and legislative electoral process in Nicaragua, which precluded the possibility of a free and fair election . . . .“

That statement came from Mark C. Toner of the U.S. State Department.

He was speaking after the latest vote totals showed that Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional and President Daniel Ortega received more than 72.5 percent of the votes. That was supposed to be the results from nearly all the polling places.

“In advance of the elections, the Nicaraguan government sidelined opposition candidates for president, limited domestic observation at the polls and access to voting credentials, and took other actions to deny democratic space in the process,” said Toner. “The decision by the Nicaraguan government not to invite independent international electoral observers further degraded the legitimacy of the election.

“We continue to press the Nicaraguan government to uphold democratic practices including press freedom and respect for universal human rights in Nicaragua, consistent with our countries’ shared obligations under the Inter-American Democratic Charter.”

Nicaraguan sources said that the number of voters were about 11 percent less than the last presidential election.

Our reader’s opinion
Unhappy with Jacó walkway freeze

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Walter Brenes of Energy Law Firm should be ashamed of himself for stopping the building of the beautiful pedestrians walkway in Jacó.

Several Jacó residents contributed to it's being built for the betterment of Jacó.
David Stannard

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 221
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How my mother helped swing the vote for Harry Truman in 1948
By Jay Brodell
A.M. Costa Rica editor

My mother got home late than night in 1948 because she was tied up trying to swing the election for Harry Truman.

It was early Nov. 3 when my mother showed up with two taxi cabs, or so I was told because I was sleeping.

But what the taxis carried was obvious the next morning when I saw the canvas bags stuffed under the dining room table and around the living room. They contained the Hudson County voting books from a number of precincts.

Jersey City wrote the book on how to win an election.

Frank Hague had been the the political boss and strongman until he retired the year before and installed his nephew, Frank Hague Eggers, as Jersey City mayor.

Everything was very Irish, very Catholic, very Democratic and very, perhaps, informal.

Truman came to the city just a month earlier and was welcomed with an excess of Irish Democratic hospitality, doubtlessly with the use of public funds. He was after the state’s 16 electoral votes in an uphill battle against Republican Tom Dewey.

My mother did not like politics very much. But my grandfather on my father’s side was a big wheel, and my mother thought she should support the family. Among other things, my grandfather carried a police lieutenant’s badge even though he was not a cop. It gave him access to the mayor at any time and also free rides on the municipal bus service.

I was in second grade at St. Patrick’s Elementary School with the mayor’s daughter and the offspring of any other politician or bar owner who mattered. I did not know much about

Associated Press file photo by Byron Rollins via Wikipedia
Iconic photo of Harry Truman and the Chicago Tribune.

politics then, but I did stay up and watch Truman ride past our home amid fireworks on the way to his third speech in just a few hours the night of Oct. 7.

Now Truman, as everyone knows, was down in the polls, and Dewey went to sleep  thinking he was president about the same time I did.

Now if you can’t find the election books, you cannot prove how many dead people voted and how many times. So the Republicans were looking for those books that were under our dining room table. I presume there were other stashes elsewhere of those thick books containing the names of all the country’s voters.

Then, two weeks later, the books were gone. And Hudson County Democrats had done their job. Truman got more than 60 percent of the votes there, but not enough to win the state.

State power company tapped to rebuild system at Teatro Nacional
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The culture ministry and the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad have agreed on renovation of the electrical system of the Teatro Nacional.

This appears to be one of those agreements between government agencies that do not require public bidding. No amount was specified for the job.

The Teatro Nacional said that 20 professionals will work for six
months to design the new electrical system and set specification for it and also the fire alarm system. Work is expected to start in June and be finished a year from now.

The Instituto Nacional de Seguros is providing some of the money, said the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud.

The fire alarm system will be the theater’s first, officials said.

Sylvie Durán, the culture minister, said that the work is an urgency of the first order to protect the historic building.

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You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 221
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Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes photo
A backhoe played a key role in removing the wreckage from the surf.
Wrecked shrimp trawler reported cleared from surf at Playa Brasilito
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Salvage operators have managed to clear away the wreck of the  Azoriano from the surf in front of  Playa Brasilito in Guanacaste.

This is the shrimp trawler that struck a reef and settled into the sand more than a week ago. The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes said that the last bit of wreckage had been extracted and that a diver confirmed this.

The ministry also said that there was no leakage of fuel. The ship carried 5,000 gallons, but it had been at sea for 10 days.

The ministry identified the owner of the craft as Gerardo Marín Rojas and said that he paid for the work.

Participating in the work were the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas, the Cuerpo de Bomberos from Filadelfia, the Municipalidad de Santa Cruz, the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo, the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública, the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía and workers from nearby hotels, said the ministry.

Tourism operators in the area were concerned that leakage of fuel would stain the beaches and cause problems with the local sea creatures and vegetation.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
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Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 221
Real Estate
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Axiom new ad

Presidential candidates battle
down to the very last hours

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Democrat Hillary Clinton brought out the big guns Monday night, as the most caustic, exhausting and, at times, surreal U.S. presidential campaign in modern political history headed toward its climax.

Tens of thousands of fans turned out for an all-star rally in Philadelphia that included former president Bill Clinton, President Barack and first lady Michelle Obama, rock superstar Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi.

Mrs. Clinton said Democrats believe in a hopeful big-hearted America, saying the only way to build on the progress made in the last eight years under Barack Obama is to get out and vote.

Obama told the crowd that Mrs. Clinton has the respect of other leaders around the world, and that she is strong, steady and tested.

He said he is betting the American people will reject fear and embrace hope.

Lady Gaga and Bon Jovi were to join Mrs. Clinton at a final midnight campaign rally in North Carolina.

Meanwhile, Republican Donald Trump appeared before his own rousing crowd of followers during a marathon series of campaign stops in five battleground states he must win if he wants to be president, Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

"You have one magnificent chance to beat this corrupt system and to deliver justice for every forgotten man, every forgotten woman, every forgotten child," he said in Pennsylvania.

He said the vote Americans will cast Tuesday will be the greatest one they ever cast in their lifetimes.

"We will make American wealthy again, we will make America strong again, we will make American safe again, and yes, we will make America great again."

Polls heading into Election Day today give Mrs. Clinton a 2- to 3-point lead over Trump, but she has said she is taking nothing for granted.

Tens of millions of Americans already have done that by casting early ballots. For voters who have not, polling places open early in the morning in many places and will close starting at 7 p.m. in several eastern and central states.

Earlier Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute suit by the Ohio Democratic Party seeking an order to prevent Trump supporters from carrying out actions that could be interpreted as voter intimidation.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Ohio already has laws in place to prevent such harassment.

Trump has called on his backers to watch polling places where he has said the voting might be rigged.

Trump has not presented any evidence to back up his suspicions. But some Democratic officials say Trump was thinking about American-American neighborhoods that lean heavily toward the Democrats.

Voter ID laws in some areas
are new and are still untried

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

As millions of Americans take part in early voting across the U.S., many are casting their ballots amid a backdrop of new voting laws in nearly three dozen states that require voters to produce identification before they are allowed to cast their ballots.

The history of such laws are controversial.

More states have been requiring this since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"There were some who had said this would be a way to be able to prevent people from illegally obtaining the right to vote, perhaps having terrorists who have the right to vote. So all of a sudden, there was this discussion of whether identification should be required," Andra Gillespie, a political analyst, said.

But in states like North Carolina which had a strict voter ID law since 2013, a court struck down the requirement earlier this year, saying it discriminated against African-Americans.

Some black voters say the law had racist intentions.

"To suppress, fear and intimidate us . What are they afraid of? Let people exercise their right to vote their choice," said Thomas Fowler, a state resident and voter.

But studies suggest a decade-old voter ID law in Georgia has had little impact on suppressing the vote.

"One of the ironies of the voter identification law here in Georgia is that it has not had an adverse effect on African American voter turnout. So, in fact, African American turnout has actually increased in Georgia since the passage of the voter ID laws," Gillespie said.

Proponents of the strict voter ID requirements say they are designed to eliminate widespread voting fraud. But critics contend there's no evidence of widespread fraud.

North Carolina political science professor Charles Prysby says voter fraud is not a problem.

"There are different kinds of voter fraud. But the one that almost never occurs is people coming down in person and trying to impersonate someone else," Prysby said.

Political analysts say they'll be watching to see if voter ID laws have a negative impact on turnout among other minority groups in this election such as Asian-Americans and Latino voters.

Democratic edge seen slipping
in effort to control Congress

 By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Polling data that weeks ago heavily favored Democrats to win control of the Senate and gave them a fighting chance to capture the House of Representatives now suggest the Senate is a toss-up and Republicans are all but certain to retain their House majority in Tuesday's vote.

The erosion in Democratic legislative prospects coincides with the FBI's review of a new batch of emails linked to Hillary Clinton, announced Oct. 28, and with the unveiling of jaw-dropping increases in premiums for health care plans under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

“Tightening of the presidential race before and after Comey's first letter to Congress likely spilled over to tighten up these competitive Senate races," said political analyst Sarah Binder of the Washington-based Brookings Institution. James Comey is FBI director.

Final pre-election polls give an edge to Democratic candidates vying to unseat incumbent Republican senators in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania and for Democrats to retain the seat of retiring Minority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada.

But Democrats would need a net gain of four seats for a Senate majority if Hillary Clinton is elected president, five if Donald Trump is victorious. In the remaining competitive races, all have seen an uptick in polling numbers for Republican incumbents, with only New Hampshire and North Carolina seen as true toss-ups.

In North Carolina, Republican Sen. Richard Burr has sought to capitalize on double-digit Obamacare premium hikes in his state.

"It's clear that #Obamacare is not working," Burr recently wrote on Twitter. "I will work to replace this disaster with patient-centered reforms."

A Quinnipiac poll released on the eve of the election has Burr tied at 47 percent with Democratic challenger Deborah Ross.

Like many Democrats, Ross has tied her opponent to the Republican presidential nominee, running television ads featuring video in which Burr said he was fully supportive of Donald Trump.

But that strategy may have lost clout as Mrs. Clinton's national lead eroded amid the renewed email probe and Trump appeared to gain momentum last week. It's no surprise that Republican lawmakers have fared better in polls at a time when the top of the ticket appeared to get a bounce, according to Binder.

"The races seem tighter as Republicans became more willing to answer pollsters when Trump's prospects rose," she said.

Sunday, Comey informed lawmakers that, once again, no charges would be brought against Clinton for her handling of electronic communication as secretary of state. The announcement's effect on polling numbers is impossible to know, since pre-election surveys of voters at the national and state level were completed before Comey's letter was sent.

If continued Republican control of the Senate is tenuous, the party's grip on the House of Representatives seems assured. Democrats would need to gain 30 seats in the chamber, where only about 40 are considered competitive.

"Democrats are likely to pick up maybe a dozen seats," Binder said.

The impact of a reduced Republican majority could be significant if the caucus loses its more moderate members, making the ultra-conservative Tea Party faction, or Freedom Caucus, more potent.

"Ryan's ability to be re-elected speaker will depend significantly on how large the majority is and how many of his loyalists lose Tuesday night," said political analyst John Hudak, also at Brookings.

Already, some Tea Party House members have refused to say whether they would support Paul Ryan in the new Congress, leading to speculation that Ryan, who assumed the post reluctantly after the resignation of John Boehner last year, could step down.

"Ryan's failure to be re-elected could pose even more significant challenges for the party at the outset of the new Congress," Hudak said.

In rural Pennsylvania, polls
generate suspicion in voters

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

John Larkin loves his country, but after following the news throughout a tumultuous election season, he’s beginning to wonder if the system is rigged.

Relaxing on his porch after a long day of work purchasing supplies for a golf course, the die-hard Donald Trump supporter says the polls putting Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton several percentage points ahead of the Republican nominee in his home state of Pennsylvania can’t be true.

“Sometimes I think the polls are rigged. Sometimes I think they’re lying about the polls,” the Monroeville resident said. “From talking about politics all day, everyone I talk to is for Trump, so how he’s falling behind, I have no idea.”

A lifelong Democrat swayed by Trump’s takes on immigration and the economy, Larkin spends his days talking about the election, finding common ground with the truck drivers and housekeepers he encounters at his job.

They’re the kind of supporters Trump reached out to at a rally in western Pennsylvania in mid-August when he said his opponent “can’t beat what’s happening here. The only way they can beat it, in my opinion, and I mean this 100 percent, if in certain sections of the state, they cheat.”

Trump followed up that claim by posting a sign-up form on his Web site, asking for volunteers to “Help me stop crooked Hillary from rigging this election!”

Larkin’s view isn’t an unusual one during an election marked by a deep distrust of the political establishment and a perceived status-quo system that seems to sidestep the average voter. Trump’s push to have his own supporters monitoring voting sites on Election Day, however, could be unprecedented.

Voter-intimidation laws prevent campaigning within a certain distance of voting stations, and it remains to be seen exactly what role Trump volunteers could play on Election Day.

Voter fraud in the United States is extremely rare, according to a Carnegie-Knight News21 study of more than 2,000 alleged election fraud cases between 2000 and 2012. The study found the level of fraud was almost immeasurable compared with the number of voters.

But Sondra Dull, a barber for 33 years in the small town of Herminie, Pennsylvania, doesn’t think the presence of Trump supporters could complicate potentially intense situations involving fraud challenges.

“The Trump side?” she said, laughing, “I think maybe the other side. I think those would be the ones who would give us the most trouble.”

When Dull talks to her customers about the election, the issue of poll-taking and how to beat the system inevitably comes up.

“A lot of them, when they feel it’s a polling phone call, they won’t answer because they don’t want to jinx the election, so they’re being quiet, they’re being secretive,” she said. Her tone is similar to the silent majority concept advanced by the Trump campaign, formed around the idea that there is a large group of Americans whose voices and interests are not covered by the news media or recognized by the political establishment.

Barber Dull doesn’t anticipate as many voting irregularities in her small town precinct, where she will serve as an observer, but she does foresee potential issues in larger cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, where large Democratic-leaning minority populations have helped tilt the statewide polls toward Clinton.

“In this state, you don’t have to show your voter ID, your license, so who is to say?” Dull said of the bigger cities. “They don’t know their communities. They don’t know who you are. So it’s very easy to go in and say you’re somebody and sign up.”

“If he doesn’t win Pennsylvania, it’s definitely rigged,” said Tricia Cunningham, a volunteer unofficially affiliated with the Trump campaign, who says she has built an 8,000-person volunteer catalogue in the state. She says the transparency of social media combined with a depth of concern across the country about voting-machine fraud will make for “the most unique general election we’ve ever seen.”

From a small office in Monroeville, Ms. Cunningham has collected the names of area volunteers who filled out the form on the Trump Web site, getting them certified by state officials and trained on what to do on Election Day. She refers to this group as a mass force and a mass army not just in Pennsylvania, but nationwide.

Ms. Cunningham has organized for the Trump campaign without pay for the last year of her life. Wearing a “Hillary for Prison 2016” T-shirt and near tears as she speaks of the importance of this election, she said she expects the Trump volunteers to encounter unprecedented intensity on Election Day.

“We’re allowing anybody that would try to rig it to know that we are going to be watching,” Cunningham said. “If somebody comes out and says, 'Hey, the voting machine didn’t reflect what I voted for,' we’re going to have to shut it down and have people there to take care of the paper ballots and also oversee the election.”

The presence of Trump volunteers could make for an uneasy mix at polling places, since local Republican Party organizations already have observers in place to check for voting-machine malfunctions and voter fraud.

“We always have poll watchers at pretty much the major polling locations, and they’re always watching for issues that are happening,” said D. Raja, chairman of the Allegheny County Republican Party. “If they see issues, they can call the hot line, they can call our legal team and we can deploy right away.”

Raja said the local committees will look to align with the Trump volunteers. With a business background in information technology, Raja says he understands why voters would be concerned by voting irregularities now that the system is more reliant on computers.

“Now you have software, so there’s a way to say there’s an audit trail. They can publish matching information and give it to the local polling places. I think that would go a long way to satisfy the local committees,” he said.

Even if local party organizations are satisfied, though, Trump volunteers still may need to be convinced by the final results. The informal nature of the campaign in Pennsylvania means it’s difficult to measure the reach of Trump’s appeal, and the sense among many supporters who spoke out is that this is an election that will change the status quo.
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 221
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Washington University photo
A researcher works on a microscope in front of a visual display of zika mosquitoes.

Potential zika vaccine reported isolated

By the Washington University news staff

In a potential breakthrough in the fight against zika, researchers have discovered an antibody that could potentially be fashioned into a vaccine to protect pregnant women against the mosquito-borne virus.

Called ZIKV-117, the antibody or immune system protein was isolated from a patient who had been infected with zika virus.

In a study of pregnant mice infected with the mosquito-borne pathogen, ZIKV-117 protected the fetus against infection. The antibody, which stimulates a robust immune system response against the virus, neutralized all zika strains that were tested. The amount of virus in the mother was greatly reduced, decreasing levels of the pathogen found in fetal placental and brain tissue.

Infected male mice given a single dose of ZIKV-117 were more likely to survive than untreated mice, even five days after zika infection, suggesting that the antibody could be used to treat an active infection.

The discovery was made by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in Missouri and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, and reported in the journal Nature.

It is the first time any sort of treatment for zika has been found, according to Michael Diamond, a microbiologist and immunologist at Washington University, and a senior co-author of the study.

"Before this study, there had been no vaccine or any other study that had done anything in pregnant animals to show that anything could abort or prevent disease,” he said. “So one thing this does is suggest that antibodies are able to do it, and this actually bodes well for future vaccine efforts."

Researchers screened 29 anti-zika antibodies from five people who had recovered from zika. ZIKV-117 was identified in one individual with a mild infection.

"That's how this one antibody came to the top of the cream if you will,” Diamond said. “It came to the top of the glass. It turned out to be the best one for inhibiting the virus in cell culture, and then we tested it to see what it could do to zika virus infection using an animal model, in this case, a mouse model of disease.”

ZIKV-117 proved to be effective in the lab at neutralizing five different strains from around the world.

The virus is sweeping through the Americas, from Brazil to Central America, and cases have been reported in the United States. There have also been cases of zika in Africa, Asia and the Pacific region, prompting public health officials to worry that the emerging disease could become a global threat.

Diamond said researchers are now preparing to test the antibody in monkeys, a process that he says could take six to nine months. If those experiments are successful, human trials could begin soon after that.

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From Page 7:

Tax agency investigating more than 248,000

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The tax agency says that it has detected irregularities in the returns of more than 248,000 professionals. The investigation covered five years of returns, the Dirección General de Tributación said.

The agency said it was investigating 47,786 teachers, 45,492 physicians, 40,316 accountants and 18,808 lawyers.

The agency said it has found under reported income, over reported expenses, the purchase of expensive items by people with low income and income that was not reported to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. Some of the expenses included university costs for children, it added.

Tributación is making the announcement a bit more than a month before tax returns are due for Fiscal Year 2015-2016.

The agency credited technology with giving it the tools to find potential frauds. The agency cross checks reports of expenses and income for a variety of sources to see if income was under reported.