A.M. Costa Rica
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Published Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 224
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Casa Canada

Bus stops
In Limón six old shipping containers like this one have been turned into bus stops with the help of  APM Terminals, the Ministerio de Educación and the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes. Youngsters  decorated them.

Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes photo

New bill for business creates a lot of new agencies
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A proposed law would require everyone doing business to register and pay a fee to the economics ministry and also would create an elaborate bureaucratic structure to promote entrepreneurship.

The 64-page bill, sponsored by  Michael Arce Sancho of the Partido Liberación Nacional, is reported to have the backing of six of the nine political parties in the legislature.

The stated purpose of the bill is to foster a culture of  business, reduce unemployment and provide more opportunities to the people. It is No. 20.155.

The bill also would create a special kind of corporation to small business, a sociedad por acciones simplificada or  S.A.S, under the economics ministry instead of the Registro Nacional and entitles these new entities to a lower tax rate and lower social security charges with the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social.

The new entities would be restricted to economic activity less than 260 times the current base salary, which this year is 424,200 colons. So the limit would be about 110 million colons annually or about $200,000.

The bill is modeled after similar measures in Colombia and Spain.

The bill would create a Consejo Nacional de Fomento al Emprendimiento
y Desarrollo Empresarial that would supervise a new Dirección de Fomento al Desarrollo Empresarial.

The bill also would create a registro único emprendedor to which managers of all the productive entities of the business sector would be required to register their firms and pay every two years a fee that has not yet been determined.

The bill also requires radio and televisions stations to donate air time for programs produced by the government agencies.

The  Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio also would have a  Sistema Costarricense para Emprender e Innovar that

would be designed to help individuals and small firms register. This new agency would be assisted by the existing  Centros Regionales de Apoyo a las PYME y Emprendedores to provide guidance for new business operators.

The Sistema de Banca para el Desarrollo would provide funds necessary for these ventures.

The bill also creates in the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje a department called  Subgerencia de Emprendimiento y Desarrollo Empresarial to offer services to help startup firms.

The bill also creates a Red Nacional de Incubación y Aceleración which would have as members the various business incubator firms that exist in the country.

Another new agency within the economics ministry would be the Agencia Nacional de Emprendimiento e Innovación that is supposed to provide non-financial services to new businesses.

The new sociedades por acciones  simplificada would get a special, lower rate on income tax based on income levels, and they would be eligible for a 75 percent reduction in municipal business license or patentes.

The bill does not create new income except for the fees all firm and individuals in business would have to pay to be placed on the economics ministry registry.

However, a lot of money is allocated from the budgets of existing agencies. For example, the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje would have to allocate 15 percent of its budget to the proposed Subgerencia de Emprendimiento y Desarrollo Empresarial.

Objections could be expected from agencies whose budget are being redirected as well as from the Registro Nacional that would not be registering this new form of companies.

There would be close coordination between the various agencies and the Ministerio de Hacienda’s tax collectors.

The new  sociedades por acciones  simplificada would have to disclose their financials each year to the economics ministry.

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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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alajuelit                                      suspect
Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
Suspect is cuffed and prone by his motorcycle.

Fed-up citizens may turn to other methods

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Ricans are turning more to informal resolutions to their crime problems, otherwise known as vigilanteism.

An arrest Wednesday night in Alajuelita shows why. Fuerza Pública officers chased and captured a 31-year-old man who has been processed by judicial authorities 11 times for armed robbery. The man also has been detained for other crimes, according to police.

There was no explanation why the man still was on the streets, but frustrated police frequently draw attention to the catch-and-release policies of the judicial system.

The man was carrying five cell telephones and a firearm when arrested, said police. Although the man was in Alajuelita, police said he lived in La Unión, Cartago.

The chase began when police received word of yet another stickup.

Costa Ricans are well known for delivering unofficial justice when a robber or a thief is caught. This is mob mentality situation done on the spur of the moment.

But over the weekend in Siquirres, neighbors got together and burned down the house where three local robbers lived. There were no arrests, and the rough dwelling was destroyed.

There also was a fatal shooting that investigators attributed to a conflict over drugs, but this may have been a neighbor removing the source of the community’s crack cocaine supply.

Sea, wind and ash are weekend concerns

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Pacific coast is expected to experience high seas, and the rest of the country will see strong winds and more volcanic ashfalls over the weekend.

The seas, of course, are subject to the moon’s gravitational pull and disturbances in the ocean elsewhere.

The winds are heralds for the dry season, Costa Rica’s summer, that is moving into the country.

The volcano is in a state of continual eruption, but with some changes in the winds, places like Ciudad Colón are getting ash falls, and the prediction is that with a change in the weather, other areas will be hit.

Some airlines suspended flights at Juan Santamaría airport due to concerns about ash over the last two days, although the airport remained open.

Data from the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional  shows that the winds are carrying the ash from the Turrialba volcano as far as 50 kilometers, about 30 miles. The weather institute says that the ash may go longer distances, perhaps as far as the Pacific coast, as the season changes.

Today the weather institute said that there may be some morning showers as humidity moves in from the Caribbean into Limón and the northern zone. But some downpours are expected in the afternoon in the central and south Pacific.

U.S. firm opens global service center here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The 3M Co. has opened a new global service center in Costa Rica with 350 employees. The firm said it expects to bring the workforce up to 1,000 in the coming years.

The firm has operations in 90 countries and is famous for its Scotch brand cellophane tape and Post-it notes.

Old methods miss bird threats, study says

By the Duke University news staff

A new study finds that more than 200 bird species in six rapidly developing regions are at risk of extinction despite not being included on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of at-risk species. 

The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, used remote sensing data to map recent land-use changes that are reducing suitable habitat for more than 600 bird species in the Atlantic forest of Brazil, Central America, the western Andes of Colombia, Sumatra, Madagascar and Southeast Asia.

Of the 600 species, only 108 are currently classified by the International Union for Conservation as being at risk of extinction.

The new analysis, however, reveals that 210 of the species face accelerated risks of extinction and 189 of them should now be classified as threatened, based on the extent and pace of habitat loss documented by recent remote sensing.

“Good as it is, the Red List assessment process dates back 25 years and does not make use of advances in geospatial technologies that have placed powerful new tools at our fingertips, including vastly improved digital maps, regular global assessments of land use changes from satellite images, and maps showing which areas of the planet are protected by national parks,” said Stuart L. Pimm, professor of conservation ecology at Duke University.

By not incorporating this type of modern geospatial data directly into its assessments, the Red List may be seriously underestimating the number of species at risk and causing scientists and policymakers to overlook priority areas for conservation, Pimm said. 

“The Red List employs rigorously objective criteria, is transparent, and democratic in soliciting comments on species decisions,” he stressed. “That said, its methods are seriously outdated.”

For instance, while the Red List currently includes estimates of the size of a species’ geographical range in its assessment process, it fails to account for how much preferred habitat remains within that range, said Natalia Ocampo-Peñuela, the new study’s lead author.

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 224
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There are some turkeys available but with Gringo prices on their tags
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Habamus pavam, expats! The birds have been spotted hanging out in the freezer at PriceSmart in Zapote.  The firm said it would bring in a limited amount this year for Thanksgiving.

There are two sizes for 20,000 and 16,000 colons, about $36.50 and $29. The company also is featuring a holiday ham and some extra large chickens that will cook much quicker than the turkey, called pavo in Spanish.

There may be turkeys in other markets that cater to the North American clientele, although the birds might have been in the freezer since last year. Turkey is one of those foods that cost expats much more than in the United States where supermarkets nearly give them away as loss leaders.

Many expats who have been here for more than a few years, find other treats to grace the table to avoid Gringo prices.

A.M. Costa Rica/Garland Baker
These birds tend to fly out of the store.

Twin meetings focus on different aspects of trafficking and exploitation
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

While the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime's Blue Heart program against human trafficking was being unveiled at Casa Presidencial Thursday, officials elsewhere were hearing that only 15 percent of the country’s domestic workers are correctly insured by the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social.

The coincidence illuminated in two ways the problem of labor exploitation.

Usually human trafficking is seen as sex exploitation, but Vice President Ana Helena Chacón Echeverría noted that the term covers forced labor, domestic servitude, forced begging, illegal adoptions and other crimes, including extraction of organs.

Officials noted that in the last five years, there were 147 victims of human trafficking. News files show that some were crew members on a foreign fishing boat, and others were women brought into the country with false promises and forced into prostitution.

“The Blue Heart Campaign against human trafficking works to raise awareness of the plight of victims and to build political support to fight the criminals behind trafficking,” said the U.N. agency. Some public buildings will be bathed in blue light for several days as part of the campaign.

The concern about domestic employees was the topic of a meeting by the Ministerio de Trabajo y Seguridad Social, the Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres and the Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social.

This is a sensitive issue because the homes of many wealthy and powerful Costa Ricans have domestic employees who labor under what could be considered slavery. Many workers are illegal immigrants who receive far less than the legal minimum wage. Others have a physical disability and live in fear of losing the job they have.

Gustavo Picado Chacón, financial manager of the Caja, was the individual who gave the 15 percent figure. Not all the individuals are in domestic slavery. Many simply are not registered correctly with the Caja. But there are many who are being paid an illegal low wage and receive no benefits, including health care.

Also present were representatives of the Asociación de Trabajadoras Domésticas, an organization that is an advocate for domestic workers.

Officials said they hoped to raise the participation of domestic workers in the Caja to 40 to 50 percent by changing the enrollment requirements and lowering the cost in some cases, according to Picado.

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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, Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 224
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Smartphones and tablets can affect sleep quality, two studies say
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Two unrelated studies determined recently that long exposures to light coming from the screens of portable devices affect sleep quality in children and adults.

Smartphones and tablet computers have penetrated everyday life so quickly that scientists haven't had much time to study their effects.

Now researchers from University of California and from King’s College London say use of such devices near bedtime can disrupt sleep patterns. Previous studies proved poor sleeping patterns can lead to obesity, diabetes and depression.

The California study followed 653 adults over a 30-day period, recording the time and length they were looking at a screen, as well as the length and quality of their sleep. Longer use of the

screens, particularly at bedtime, was clearly associated with poorer and shorter sleep.

A review of 20 studies from four continents, done at King’s College London, found the presence of an online device in the children’s bedroom doubles the risk of affecting their sleep.

The King's College study classified bedtime use as any engagement with a device within 90 minutes of going to sleep.
The nature of modern communication through social media makes the children feel that they should always be alert.

Scientists say only the coordinated approach by parents, teachers and health officials has a real chance to discourage use of online devices at bedtime.

Results of the two studies were published in the scientific journals PLoS One and JAMA Pediatrics.

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.

George Lundquist

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Tropical Homes of Costa Rica is offering the best selection of vacation homes, condos and long-term rental homes in Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito on  the Pacific Gold Coast of Guanacaste. A wide selection of private residencies is providing an excellent choice for  your stay in this beautiful part of Costa Rica.We are offering homes for every budget and every need. Please visit our Web page at or contact us at or call at (506) 2654-5442

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Fully furnished, American style apartments for rent
2-bedroom, 2- bathroom, fully furnished American-style apartments with elevator in a secure building in Barrio Amón. Cable, internet, water included. Shared laundry. Convenient to Parque Morazán,  hotels, restaurants, casinos, city government, national registry.   Rate  $650 per month plus electricity. 1/2 month security deposit. No lease.  Larger bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens. It would be the best for the prospective tenants to visit the building to see the apartment.  For more information contact
Or call Hilda at 506-2221-7161.

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What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
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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A.M. Costa Rica's
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Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 224
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Axiom new ad

Trump and Obama
Voice of America photo 
The president-elect with the president

Trump-Obama meeting called
less awkward than expected

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Just two days after his stunning election victory, president-elect Donald Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, visited the White House, invited by President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.

No press was allowed to film their arrival Thursday, but the president and the president-elect gave brief statements to reporters in the Oval Office after the meeting.

Despite a long history of animosity between Obama and Trump, both were gracious.

"I just had the opportunity to have an excellent conversation with president-elect Trump,” Obama said. “It was wide-ranging. We talked about some of the organizational issues in setting up the White House. We talked about foreign policy. We talked about domestic policy, and, as I said last night, my number one priority in the coming two months is to try to facilitate a transition that insures our president-elect is successful."

Trump told reporters the meeting was supposed to last about 10 minutes but lasted 90, and it could have gone on even longer.

"I look forward to dealing with the president in the future, including counsel," he said. "He explained some of the difficulties and the high-flying assets and some of the wonderful things that have been achieved. Mr. President, it was wonderful meeting with you and I look forward to meeting with you many more times in the future."

The White House said Obama officials are making sure that Trump and his yet-to-be-named key officials are prepared from day one to protect national security. U.S. intelligence and defense officials are starting to give Trump daily briefings on threats to the country's security and overseas military operations.

In addition, the Obama administration plans to host two exercises involving several government agencies to help familiarize Trump officials with how the government responds to domestic emergencies, whether terrorist attacks or such natural disasters as violent tornadoes and hurricanes.

After the meeting, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was asked if the meeting was awkward.

"The meeting might have been a little less awkward than some might have expected," he said.

Trump said it was the first time the two men have met personally.

The president campaigned exceptionally hard for his former secretary of State and fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton. Obama often derided Trump, the blunt-spoken real estate mogul who has never held elected office, as unfit to lead the country.

Meanwhile, Trump for years questioned whether Obama was born in the U.S. before recently acknowledging his citizenship. He says he plans to undermine key Obama policies, including the health care reforms, environmental regulations, protection of some immigrants from deportation, and the Iran nuclear deal.

Despite the bitter campaign, Obama pledged Wednesday to cooperate with Trump's takeover.

While in Washington, Trump also met with Paul Ryan, speaker of the House of Representatives and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, heads of the Republican majorities in each chamber, about their legislative plans. Both gave tepid support to Trump during the election, but have vowed to work in concert with him to pass the party's agenda.

The most prominent Republican effort will be to unwind and replace the Affordable Care Act, the outgoing president's health care program, known as Obamacare, that helped 20 million people get health insurance.

Earnest said first lady Michelle Obama showed future first lady Melania Trump the private quarters, and they had tea. He said they talked about the special challenges of raising children in the White House.

The Obamas have raised their two daughters, Sasha and Malia, in the White House. Donald and Melania Trump have a 10-year-old son, Barron, who will likely grow up in the White House, as well.

People unhappy with results
protest in American cities

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Tens of thousands of people from New York to California filled the streets of large U.S. cities for a second day Thursday to demonstrate their dismay at Donald Trump's election to be the United States' 45th president.

Many of the marchers were African-American and Hispanic students. One tearful teenager in San Francisco told CNN television that immigrants in the U.S. are struggling to be successful, so Trump's campaign rhetoric attributing many social problems to them are just plain unfair.

The demonstrators said the tone of Trump's campaign comments about immigration frightened them, and they accused him of racism and xenophobia.

A large group of marchers made themselves heard outside the Trump Tower in New York City. They included pop superstar Lady Gaga, who stood on a truck waving a sign popularized by supporters of Trump's vanquished opponent, Hillary Clinton: "Love Trumps Hate."

One New Yorker said he is afraid that Trump's avowed desire for law and order in American cities will result in police targeting more blacks for unfair and unwarranted searches and harassment.

Hundreds of students stormed out of their classrooms Thursday in San Francisco and marched to the city's famous Fisherman's Wharf.

"In our hearts, we are supporting the students," the city schools superintendent, Myong Leigh, said. "This is technically not a school-sponsored activity. This is students taking their feelings and emotions and channeling them in a way that feels right to them."

Some marchers in Los Angeles burned a large paper bust of Trump, and prepared new attempts to blockade the city's crowded auto freeways. Others in Oakland, near San Francisco, threw gasoline bombs and fireworks at police and blocked highways with garbage fires. At least 30 people were arrested.

Some of Trump's harshest comments during the campaign were aimed at Mexican immigrants, many of whom he singled out as criminals and rapists. In campaign speeches, he has threatened mass deportations of immigrants living in the U.S. without legal residence or work permits.

Trump also has directed tough words at Muslim-Americans, both immigrants and longtime U.S. residents.

Many protesters believe Trump will fill vacancies on the nation's highest court by appointing political conservatives. A Trump presidency, they warn, could overturn laws protecting women's right to abortion and equal treatment for homosexuals, including in marriage.

Trump has promised to be a president for all Americans, but he has not mentioned the protests or discussed his policy positions in detail since becoming president-elect.

Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer told a television interviewer that this is the time for anti-Trump protesters to get it out of their systems and exercise their right to free speech, as long as "they give this man that was just elected very historically and his new vice-president an opportunity to govern."

In conceding the election to her Republican opponents on Wednesday, defeated Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said, "Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead."

Transition team is seeking
to fill a variety of U.S. jobs

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

With a stunning presidential victory behind him, Donald Trump now turns his attention to filling cabinet positions that will be instrumental in shaping America's foreign policy over the next four years.

Among the issues Trump's administration must address are global terrorism, instability in the Middle East, tension in eastern Europe along the Russian border, and China's growing global military and economic influence.

Immigration reform, a centerpiece of Trump's campaign, is expected to be a high priority, as Trump has vowed to build an impenetrable physical wall along the border the United States shares with Mexico.

To effectively execute on the foreign policy front, the president-elect will need to surround himself with extremely knowledgeable people who can make reasonable proposals, according to Charles Stevenson at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

"The president-elect appears to have a short attention span," Stevenson said in an interview. “He's not into the ruminative seminar-type situations like President Obama and former president Clinton were. He wants to be decisive quickly, and that means those presentation skills would be very important."

The pool of experienced candidates from which Trump can draw may be smaller than usual for incoming presidents. In his first major foreign policy address in April, Trump promised to avoid experienced people "who have perfect resumes but very little to brag about except responsibility for a long history of failed policies and continued losses at war."

Elizabeth Saunders said the backlash resulting from Trump's position may force the president-elect to search outside the traditional pools of candidates. She is a Council of Foreign Relations visiting fellow.

"The problem is many of those people have signed pledges never to work for him . . .  and it's partly because they may find him unacceptable, but it's also because he is really at odds on many issues with the Republican foreign policy establishment," she said.

If potential candidates changed their minds and would be willing to accept an administration position, Ms. Sanders questioned whether Trump would accept them.

"If he did have them, would he listen to them?" she asked.

Trump has generally remained mum on who will fill positions that play key roles in foreign policy issues, but here are some names that are being circulated:

The former House speaker and close Trump adviser, Newt Gingrich, is being widely mentioned for the secretary of State position, one that Stevenson says may not be suited to Gingrich's strengths.

"Gingrich as speaker of the House was a very skilled political tactician. I'm not really aware of any distinctive foreign policy views that he's expressed over the years," Stevenson said.

Also being mentioned as candidates are Bob Corker, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman and the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton.

A close Trump adviser and U.S. senator, Jeff Sessions, could join the new administration as secretary of Defense. Other names mentioned are former senator Jim Talent and former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's name is being circulated for Homeland Security secretary. The conservative sheriff of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, David Clarke, has also been mentioned as a candidate.

Trump has publicly said he wants his campaign finance chairman, Goldman Sachs alumnus Steven Mnuchin, to be Treasury secretary.

Trump economic adviser and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross could be Commerce secretary. Other names being mentioned are former Texas governor Perry, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Christie, and former steelmaker executive and Trump trade adviser Dan DiMicco.

The name most prominently mentioned for the nation's top law enforcement officer is former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. The former U.S. attorney and assistant attorney general is apparently not shy about expressing his interest in being attorney general.

"I certainly have the energy and nobody knows the Justice Department better than me," Giuliani said Thursday morning on CNN.

Other possibilities include Christie and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Muslims reported shocked
and concerned by Trump

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Muslim Americans are preparing for life under a new president who last December proposed banning foreign Muslims from entering the United States.

President-elect Donald Trump later walked back such a blanket ban, instead saying people from countries flagged as terrorism concerns would be subject to extreme vetting.

Those comments made many Muslim Americans wary of his candidacy. At a watch party at the Arab-American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, many were shocked at his victory and said they are concerned about what his presidency will mean.

“Trump has run on racism and bigotry,” said Abdullah Hammoud, who won a seat in the Michigan state legislature on Tuesday. “He has monetized it, in fact, in exchange for votes, and we see the results of which on TV. And it is a scary thought.”

Despite winning his race for the Michigan House of Representatives, election night was filled with mixed emotions for the 26-year-old Democrat.

"It is a strange contrast, right? For the first time in Dearborn's history, they have elected an Arab-American Muslim, first generation," he said, "and at the statewide level, we may be supporting Trump, and at the national level, a Trump presidency.”

Hammoud knows some people in his district supported him while also voting for Trump on the same ballot. The possible reasons Michigan voters chose Trump over Hillary Clinton trouble him.

“It is scary that I was with my family earlier today, and I was celebrating," Hammoud said. "Tomorrow, I may wake up and speak to my mother and my sister, who wear the hijab, and tell them to be careful when they leave outside the front door."

Asha Noor works as an advocacy specialist for the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services. For her, the election was a reminder of the racial and religious divides that continue to exist in America.

“It shows, to me, that racism and bigotry have prevailed,” she said. “It shows me that I have never lived in a post-racial society. And it shows me that certain communities are not wanted in this society.”

Arab American News newspaper publisher Osama Siblani says many Muslim Americans voted for Hillary Clinton, but were not enthusiastic about her candidacy.

“They are very disgusted with the election. I do not believe that Muslim Americans and Arab-Americans have a favorite candidate," Siblani said. "They probably are voting for Clinton just because they are against Donald Trump, not because they think Hillary Clinton is the best candidate.”

Former Illinois congressman
indicted in financial scheme

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Former Illinois congressman Aaron Schock, once a rising star in the Republican party, was charged Thursday in a wide-ranging federal indictment that alleges he schemed to profit personally from his government job.

Schock, 35, resigned his seat last year as federal investigators dug into allegations of his questionable spending, including a redecorating of his Capitol Hill office.

Schock’s swift downfall began in February 2015 when The Washington Post chronicled the unusual renovation of his Capitol Hill office, which his staff said was modeled after the PBS television series “Downton Abbey.” Staffers told the Post that the interior designer had done the work for free.

That report prompted a wave of inquiries into the congressman’s spending.

Schock reportedly spent $40,000 in government funds to redecorate his Washington office, including $5,000 on a chandelier, and asked the House to reimburse him for nearly $30,000 worth of camera equipment, prosecutors allege. The indictment says he ran up a $140,000 mileage tab over six years, reimbursements for 150,000 more miles than his vehicles actually traveled.

At a news conference Thursday, Schock said he intends to “not only prove these allegations false, but in the process expose this investigation for what it was.’’

Schock is charged in the 24-count indictment with nine counts of wire fraud, five of falsification of election commission filings, six of filing false federal income tax returns, two of making false statements and one each of mail fraud and theft of government funds.

A conviction on just one count of wire fraud alone carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence. His arraignment is set for Nov. 21.
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 224
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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Suspect held in Nosara home invasion

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Cañas man has been remanded to preventative detention for three months as a suspect in a brutal home invasion Oct. 30 in Nosara on the Guanacaste Pacific coast.

The crime involved several robbers who pulled guns on two woman, one a visitor, who were in the home, threatened them, beat them and took items such as computers, a television, jewelry and cell telephones. The woman were identified as tourists.

The Poder Judicial also disclosed that the robbers managed to arrive in Nosara because they pulled a gun on a taxi driver and made him drive them there. The suspect, identified by the last name of  Oconitrillo Briceño also is charged with the crime against the taxi driver.

Judicial agents said they recovered some of the loot when they raided the suspect’s home

Venezuela soccer figure pleads guilty

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Former Venezuela soccer federation president Rafael Esquivel pleaded guilty Thursday on federal charges resulting from a massive corruption scandal.

He admitted seven counts of racketeering, money laundering conspiracies and wire fraud. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

“Esquivel used his influence as a soccer official to obtain millions of dollars in bribe payments," U.S. officials said in a statement.

Esquivel, who also is a former vice president of the South American football confederation, has been linked to bribes in awarding sports marketing contracts associated with Copa America.

He agreed to forfeit $16 million, raising total forfeitures in the scandal to more than $200 million.

Esquivel was arrested in Zurich in May 2015. He was extradited to the United States in March and was among six defendants scheduled to face trial in 2017.

The other five senior Fédération Internationale de Football Association figures are still under house arrest.

This case, which sparked an unprecedented crisis at the soccer organization, is part of a U.S. investigation into corruption among former senior figures.

At the time of Esquivel's arrest, other federations and former athletes in the sport voiced their dismay.

The Brazilian soccer federation said it fully supports any type of investigation into corruption in soccer and reaffirms its commitment to the truth and transparency.

Argentine football great Diego Maradona applauded the arrest of top FIFA officials.

Esquivel was president of the Venezuelan soccer federation from 1988 to 2015. His lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.

Eduardo Li, a board member of the international federation, pleaded guilty in October to racketeering and corruption charges. The former head of the Costa Rican federation was detained with other association executives in May 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland. Li, who had been under house arrest in New York, has been allowed to move to Miami to work in a family business.

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From Page 7:

Official Christmas vacation will be nine days

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Because Christmas and New Year’s both fall on Sundays this year, the central government had decreed that the weekdays between both holidays will be vacation.

Most government offices will close at the end of business Dec. 23 and reopen Monday, Jan. 2. With the weekends included, the vacation will be for nine days.

Private business is not obligated to follow this pattern, and most employees do not work on Sunday, anyway, so for most there will be no paid vacation days at the end of the year.

However, expats probably will not be able to get any official business done from Dec. 16 on because of office parties, celebrations of nativity scenes, or portales and even sessions of Christmas carols.

Costa Ricans still mix religion with business, so each government office most likely will construct a nativity scene in a public space. The most elaborate will be on the grounds of the Teatro Nacional.