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Published Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 226
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Plaza de la
Municipalidad de San Jose photo
The party Monday night was at the Plaza de la Cultura in the center of San José to celebrate its reopening after seven months of construction to keep rain from leaking into the museum below. The Banco Central de Costa Rica owns both the plaza
and the museums. And the Municipalidad de San Jose has an interest in the repair of the main city gathering place. The Banda Municipal played, children jumped through ground-level fountains, and officials demonstrated the nighttime illumination.

Value cited in publishing the Panamá Papers leaks
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The release of the Panamá Papers may not have have disclosed extensive wrongdoings, but the director of the Universidad de Costa Rica newspaper that was the lead source in Costa Rica said Monday that there was value in the publication.

He is Ernesto Rivera of Semanario Universidad, and he appeared before lawmakers. He said that the documents revealed a phenomenon of enormous public interest due to the social, economic and political consequences.

The papers were stolen by a hacker from the electronic archives of the Bufete Mossack Fonseca, a Panamá law firm. The left-leaning university newspaper began publishing extensive stories about the contents April 4.

The documents had been released to a German newspaper, and The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists helped distribute them around the world.

Despite plenty of ink and paper, the Semanario

Universidad failed to come up with any evidence of wrongdoing except to show that many Costa Ricans and others put money in foreign companies for a number of reasons. The newspaper tried to link some public figures to the overseas accounts, but in most cases the individuals simply served as notaries years ago verifying signatures of  persons signing documents.They did not appear to have economic interests in the company.

The legislature appointed a special committee to study the documents as they relate to Costa Rica. There has been no report.

On the world scene, the prime minister of Iceland resigned after he was embarrassed by the disclosures. And then-prime minister David Cameron of Britain also lost some political capital.

Rivera in his visit to lawmakers said that the disclosures showed that companies here make a big effort to transfer wealth offshore. But he noted that this was not necessarily a crime or criminal conduct. Costa Rica does not tax offshore earnings, although the country in which an offshore entity is located may.

Police are reported back on duty with their firearms
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A number of metro area Fuerza Pública officers are back on street duty after their permits to carry firearms were hastily renewed Monday.

The permits had lapsed, and this oversight was brought to the attention of supervisors by a

union for the police officers. Obviously, the supervisors did not want to have the officers on the streets unprotected.

The security ministry’s Departamento de Control de Armas y Explosivos is in charge of issuing permits, and the work Monday must have set a record for speed.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 226
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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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Dental Services Costa Rica

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Residency experts


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Phone in Costa Rica: ( 506 ) 2226=0755  (En español )



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An analysis of the elections
Counting illegal immigrants is first step

This is the first of several articles assessing the impact of Donald Trump’s election victory on Latin America.

By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

As the new Trump administration tries to figure out what to do with illegal immigrants, they have to remember that the non-citizens are not a uniform group.

Democratic strategists are surprised that about 29 percent of so-called Latinos voted for Donald Trump, based on CNN exit polls. The pollsters are guilty of profiling.

All so-called Latinos are not the same, and hardly any look like the Frito Bandito. In fact, Latino is a code word for Mexicans.

There hardly is a more diverse group. A former resident of Madrid has little in common with a Mexican Indian. Puerto Ricans speak Spanish but they are not worried about losing their U.S. citizenship.

There are plenty of U.S. residents who came from countries where the majority of the people speak Spanish or Portuguese. And a lot of them arrived by the legal route. They probably are not too happy with the influx of border jumpers.

In addition, not all illegal immigrants are from Latin America or the Middle East. For example, the Irish sent plenty of illegals to the United States during the 30-year Troubles in the north. Even some Canadians are living illegally in Florida far from the northern winters.

And the United States is the dream for plenty of Asians and those foreigners finishing up advanced degrees at U.S. universities.

This is why this newspaper has urged the U.S. administration to take a first step by requiring all illegal immigrants to register. This will require a leap of faith on their part that they will not be put on a bus to Nogales immediately. But this is the only way the new U.S. administration can find out how many illegal residents are eligible for sensitive treatment. Estimates range form 11 to 30 million.

If illegals fail, to register and are caught, they have failed to follow a legitimate order and should be deported.

Those who do register must know that they never will be citizens, even if they are allowed to stay in the United States. And those who have accumulated a criminal record should be history. Trump says he will do this.

The Trump victory upset the efforts by Democrats to import millions of future voters. That was the whole deal and why that political party catered to immigrants during the last election.

Costa Rica has to figure out what to do with the thousands of Haitians now living in temporary shelters, not to mention the 100 or so young Salvadorian and Honduran refugees that President Luis Guillermo Solís promised to warehouse for Barack Obama.

Everyone knows that illegal migration for Central America has been the safety valve that allows current oligarchs to continue to rule. The Trump administration must consider what it means to the future of these countries by allowing their most motivated to migrate to the United States.

There are many other issues involving illegal immigration, including the education of the young, welfare and medical care.

Trump needs to tap the knowledge of Latin Americans and other foreigners who can sensitively sort through the large and small issues that will have such an effect on millions of lives.

Cruz Roja photo
To celebrate World Diabetes Day Monday, the Cruz Roja joined with Hospital Calderón Guardia and the state water company to generate publicity about the ailment. Among the activities was this zumba dance routine which also is a fitness exercise.

U.S. soccer team in town for big match

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. soccer team is in Costa Rica for a game against the national team tonight, and only die-hard soccer fans will want to be anywhere near La Sabana tonight.

The game is a preliminary for the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association and the 2018 World Cup matches in Russia starting June 14 of that year.

The U.S. team is coming off a loss to México, and it has fared badly against Costa Rica at home historically.

In addition, the Costa Rican team has some plans for payback because of the match in the snow in Commerce City, Colorado in March 2013. The Costa Ricans did not do well in the slush.

Naturally this is a big deal in Costa Rica, and the Fuerza Pública plans to field 200 officers. The security ministry promises to prevent violence.

There was a rumble between rival fan organizations Sunday, but international matches do not seem to generate as much violence.

Traffic police will have more than 40 officers on the job, and the area around Parque La Sabana will be closed down starting about 2 p.m. More than 30,000 fans are expected, and police urge them to take public transportation.

New drive-by shooting kills businessman

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Another drive-by killing by men on a motorcycle took the life of a businessman in Desamparados Sunday afternoon.

The 27-year-old man was identified by the last name of Segura. He was confronted while driving near where he lived in Rafael Abajo de Desamparados.

The killing was similar to the one that took the life of an Eastern European expat Friday afternoon in Sabana Oeste.

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 226
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Consejo Nacional de Concesiones map
The route would connect the Caribbean and the Pacific at La Cruz.
Plan formally presented to install a cargo route across country
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A private firm has taken a step forward on the obvious possibility of a dry canal across the northern part of Costa Rica.

A day canal is a rail or superhighway that carries shipping containers from the Caribbean to the Pacific and vice versa.

The idea has been considered for decades if not centuries, and the national rail company has lines that are in service from Limón on the Caribbean coast to Sarapique. However, the central government has not shown any interest.

The idea comes from a group called Canal Seco de Costa Rica that is operated by Costa Ricans.

This is one of two proposals, although the second proposal has not yet been submitted to the Consejo Nacional de Concesiones. The proposal needs government help because land must be taken for some 315 kilometers of right-of-way.

The Consejo estimated the project at $16 billion, far greater than the cost of a rail line.

The proposal envisions a port at Santa Elena on the Pacific. Construction would take three years after 18 months of planning

and study, according to the Consejo.

The project first was mentioned by La Republica in June under the headline question in Spanish: Viable or utopian.

Proposed is a 10-lane highway and two parallel rail lines. The proposal is for a new port at Parismina on the Caribbean instead of using the APM container terminal that already is under construction in Moín.

The firm making the proposal appears to have been founded in the 1980s.

The Consejo said that the project would mean jobs for 80,000 persons and provide other benefits for the country.

The proposed Nicaraguan canal, a true waterway, proposed by a Chinese billionaire and perhaps supported by the People’s Republic, seems to have been shelved.

Panamá just opened a third and wider lane for its canal. And México is believed also studying the idea. In addition, a warmer world is opening up the legendary Northwest Passage through the Arctic Ocean north of Canada for at least half a year.

So the competition is formidable.

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Vista Ballena
Palermo Hotel

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, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 226
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One data breach may give crooks access to other user accounts
By the Lancaster University news staff

Reusing similar passwords across many online accounts may make an internet user more vulnerable to cyber criminals’ guessing than people realize, new research revealed.

Results from research conducted by security experts in the United Kingdom and China shows, for the first time, that an overwhelming number of passwords for online accounts, used for anything from banking, social media, and shopping, are vulnerable to targeted online guessing.

Targeted online guessing is when criminals guess a specific victim’s password for an account. They do this by exploiting knowledge of their victim’s personal information, such as the password the target uses from another service as well as personal identifiable information, like their name and birthday.

Many people tend to reuse passwords across multiple web-based services and also use personal information within their passwords. Recent years have seen a large number of data breaches from businesses, putting more personal information into the hands of criminals. These breaches mean that similar passwords used on other services become particularly vulnerable to targeted guessing.

To check the vulnerability of online passwords to targeted guessing, researchers from Lancaster University,  Peking University and Fujian Normal University, created different guessing frameworks that prioritize the order of guessing based on attackers having access to different types of personal information or multiple pieces of information. These prioritizing models were tested against 10 large real-world datasets from Chinese and English Internet users.

When tested, the researchers’ attack models, particularly those that benefitted from multiple pieces of personal information, including a password from another service, were able to successfully guess the passwords of accounts for more than 73 per cent of normal users, and around a third of security-savvy users with a limit of 100 guesses. In the U.S., the National Institute of Standards and Technology guidelines for internet services require password attempts to be limited to 100 within a 30-day period.

The work, which for the first time systematically evaluates how attackers can gain advantages by exploiting personal information including leaked passwords, features in the paper “Targeted Online Password Guessing: An Underestimated Threat,” which was presented by Jeff Yan, co-author of the paper and senior lecturer at Lancaster University, at a conference in Vienna.

“Our results suggest that the currently used security mechanisms would be largely ineffective against the targeted online guessing threat, and this threat has already become much more damaging than expected,” said Yan.

“This work shows, for the first time, that targeted password guessing is a much underestimated threat and we have demonstrated that a large number of passwords can be guessed

A.M. Costa Rica graphic

if personal information is known to the attacker, especially if
they know passwords from other accounts owned by the potential victim,” said Ding Wang, the leading student author who has been jointly guided by Ping Wang, a professor at Peking University and by Yan at Lancaster on the paper.

“We are finding that targeted online guessing threats are increasingly more damaging and realistic. This is a serious security concern as there are large amounts of personally identifiable information, and leaked passwords readily available to criminals due to lots of million-sized data breaches like Yahoo, Myspace, Linkedin, Dropbox and,” said Wang, the corresponding author of the paper.

“Our results should encourage people to vary the passwords they use on different Web sites much more substantially to make it harder for criminals to guess their passwords. This work should also help inform Internet service providers looking to introduce more robust security measures to detect and resist online guessing,” Yan added.

Although the results from this work imply that a Web site should allow far fewer guesses than 100 for an account to be secure, researchers stress this needs to be balanced against the need for users to have the option to try multiple attempts to access their accounts. In addition, a small limit on password attempts for an account may provide attackers with another malicious option, to lock up selected or lots of accounts with multiple failed password guesses.

As the number 100 is already rather small, striking a good balance between guessing attack and denial of service attack outlines the need for security-concerned Web sites to deploy more robust security measures, the researchers said. A promising approach is to use other implicit user identification signals besides the password, including the user's IP address, geolocation, device fingerprints and user behavior like the time of login and key-stroke dynamics.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

HIdden Garden graphic
Put Costa Rica on your walls
The Hidden Garden Art Gallery near the Liberia airport is the perfect place to find quality Costa Rican and international art for your home or office.  With over 60 artists and 15 rooms full of paintings, prints, sculptures, and diverse artistic expressions, we have been your source for fine art since 2010.  We also offer commissioned pieces so you can create your own unique masterpiece to cherish forever. Located just 5 kms west of the Daniel Oduber International Airport (towards the beaches).

Visit our Web site at:
Contact us by email:  
Find us on Trip Advisor, Facebook, Twitter,
Moon Travel Guides & Frommer's

Gallery hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tel.  8386-6872 / 2667-0592; U.S. telephone 702-953-7073
International shipping available.

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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Contact us: 
Dial toll FREE from USA or Canada:  1.800.901.0114
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When you visit Costa Rica, you'll want to discover what you need to know to  make the right choice about moving to this tropical paradise.  Our familiarization tours have won hard-earned credentials that prove general excellence and the right focus.  These are the only retirement tours that are licensed and approved by the Costa Rican government and tourism institute  (ICT). In 2006 we were featured on the NBC Today Show and World News.  In 2010, we won the  prestigious Latin America-Asia Travel Excellence Award for the Best and Most Unique Tour in Latin America.

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Real estate rentals (paid category)

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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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Real estate for rent (paid category)

Edificio Morazan
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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About us
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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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 226
Real Estate
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Axiom new ad

Harassment, hate crimes said
reported to have risen in week

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Extremism watchers and civil rights groups have welcomed an appeal from Donald Trump for a halt to what they claim is a surge in harassment and hate crimes, but are urging the president-elect to do more.

In an interview with CBS television network's “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday, Trump was asked about reports of threats and racial slurs hurled at minorities by some of his supporters since the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election.

"I am so saddened to hear that," Trump said. "And I say, 'Stop it.' If it — if it helps, I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: 'Stop it.'"

Just how large a spike in hate crime there has been remains uncertain, however. Several reports have been proven false, and some reported incidents did not amount to hate crime.

Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, said Trump's comment was welcome but did not go far enough in forswearing his most virulent campaign rhetoric.

"His statement is welcome and appropriate but the big question is, 'What will be the discourse going forward from candidate Trump, who invoked many harmful stereotypes, versus president-elect Trump, who is in a much different position right now,'" Levin said.

As a candidate, Trump labeled some Mexican immigrants rapists and killers, and called for a temporary ban on all Muslims entering the country.

The Southern Poverty Law Center called on Trump to disavow his campaign rhetoric and the support he's received from the racists and the radical right.

Trump's comments on 60 Minutes followed reports of an unprecedented rise in hate crimes in the wake of his Nov. 8 victory.

Mark Potok, a leading expert in extremism and senior fellow with the Southern Poverty Law Center, said his group had received some 315 reports of racially-charged incidents in the past week, more than were recorded in the wake of the September 2001 terrorist attacks, with the majority aimed at Muslims.

"We've seen a dramatic upsurge in both hate crimes and then lesser hate incidents, things like Muslim kids being bullied, Muslim women having their hijabs torn off their faces, similar kinds of incidents," Potok said.

In one incident in Columbus, Ohio, a hijab-wearing Muslim woman driving with her children and elderly parents was threatened and verbally abused by a man at a traffic stop, according to the Council on American Islamic Relations, a Washington-based advocacy organization.

In another incident in Michigan, a man threatened to set a Muslim woman on fire with a lighter unless she took off her hijab, the council said.

"I think that it is pretty clear that it's Muslims who have borne the brunt of it, although remarkably the animus and hatred seems to be directed at all minorities of virtually any kind," Potok said.

After Muslims, the primary and secondary targets of the recent wave of hate crimes were blacks, Latinos and lesbians and gays, Potok said.

Potok cautioned that most incidents reported to the Southern Poverty Law Center did not amount to hate crime.

Levin of California State University added that there was no independent evidence to sustain the contention that there were more hate crimes in the days after the Trump election than after Sept. 1, 2001.

In response to concerns about rising hate crime, the Southern Poverty Law Center last week launched an online petition calling on Trump to honor his victory speech pledge to be "president for all Americans."

Obama says Trump will find
plenty of challenges in job

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Barack Obama says good sound bites do not always make good policy, and he says president-elect Donald Trump will find that being in the White House will "shake him up pretty quick."

Obama held his first White House news conference Monday since Trump's stunning election upset over Hillary Clinton last week.

The president already had held a White House meeting with Trump and said he believes the incoming president is not as ideological as people think, and that he will be a pragmatic leader as long as he is surrounded by good people.

Obama said he is leaving the country in better shape than it was when he took power in 2009, when the economy was on the verge of a depression and there were a "huge number of fires" to put out. He said Trump will have the time and space to make judicious decisions, and that the infamous Trump temperament will not always serve him well.

The president said those who oppose Trump have to recognize that this is the way democracy works. He appealed to them to let Trump make his decisions, saying the American people will judge if they like what they see.

But Obama said Trump's election in which total voter turnout was only about 55 percent and Trump lost the popular vote but still won the Electoral College is a reminder that elections matter and votes count. He wondered aloud how many times the country has to learn that lesson.

Obama leaves Monday on the final planned foreign trip of his presidency, with stops in Greece, Germany and Perú.

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said the trip is a signal of solidarity with the country's closest allies, and a way to show support for a strong and integrated and united Europe.

First two appointments show
a clash of visions for future

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has presented a clash of visions with his first White House appointments, naming a consummate Washington insider as his chief of staff and a populist, hard-right insurgent as his chief strategist.

Days after his stunning upset victory, the Republican president-elect on Sunday picked Reince Priebus, the party's national chairman and a familiar face in the national capital's political battles, to lead his staff, a reassuring choice for many of the Republican leaders who control Congress. The chief of staff typically controls White House operations, often helping to forge the president's agenda and controlling who gets to see him.

At the same time, Trump named Stephen Bannon, his campaign chief executive, as his top strategist, giving his White House a rabble-rousing edge that Trump's most vocal supporters cheered during the lengthy U.S. presidential race. Before joining the campaign in its final months, Bannon headed the Breitbart News Web site, which he once described as "the platform of the alt-right," an anti-establishment platform that occasionally has been home to white nationalist and anti-Semitic vitriol.

“I am thrilled to have my very successful team continue with me in leading our country,” Trump said in a statement. “Steve and Reince are highly qualified leaders who worked well together on our campaign and led us to a historic victory. Now I will have them both with me in the White House as we work to make America great again.”

Republican lawmakers praised the choice of Priebus, with one Trump critic, South Carolina’s Sen. Lindsey Graham saying, "It shows me he is serious about governing."

But Bannon's appointment drew immediate attacks from some Republicans and those outside the government.

John Weaver, a long-time Republican strategist, said on his Twitter account, “The racist, fascist extreme right is represented footsteps from the Oval Office. Be very vigilant America.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, said his group opposes the Bannon appointment because he and "alt-right are so hostile to core American values."

Both Priebus and Bannon dismissed any suggestion that they would not work well on Trump's behalf in the White House.

"Together, we've been able to manage a lot of the decision-making in regard to the campaign," Priebus told NBC on Monday "It's worked very, very well."

Bannon said, "We will have that same partnership in working to help President-elect Trump achieve his agenda."

In Bannon's defense, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway called him a brilliant tactician and noted that Bannon served as a U.S. naval officer and has a graduate degree from Harvard, one of the country's most prestigious universities.

Ms. Conway said that Priebus and Bannon "complement each other. They both have the most important thing: the ear of the boss.”

Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets in major cities to protest Trump's victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, shocking to many Americans because pre-election polls suggested the former U.S. secretary of State was headed to election as the country's first female president.

Chelsea Manning seeks action
from Obama to commute term

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. soldier Chelsea Manning, who is serving 35 years in prison for leaking classified documents, is asking President Obama to commute her sentence to time served.

The transgender soldier said in her application to the president, released by her attorneys, that there is no historical precedent for such an extreme sentence for leaking documents.

Manning, a former intelligence analyst in Iraq, has served more than six years of a 35-year sentence for leaking more than 700,000 secret military documents as well as battlefield videos to WikiLeaks.

Since being convicted, the soldier, originally called Bradley Manning, has said she identifies as a woman. She tried to commit suicide last month while in solitary confinement, where she was placed after an earlier suicide attempt.

Manning wrote in her application to the president that she is living through "a cycle of anxiety, anger, hopelessness, loss and depression."

"The sole relief I am asking for is to be released from military prison after serving six years of confinement as a person who did not intend to harm the interests of the United States or harm any service members," Manning said.

She is being held at the Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas. Manning is not asking for a pardon, meaning her conviction will stay on her record.

Manning's petition includes letters of support from Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers about the Vietnam war, as well as journalist Glenn Greenwald and former military commissions chief prosecutor Morris Davis.

Davis said in a letter accompanying Manning's petition that much of the information Manning leaked had little value and could be found through open sources on the Internet.

Manning has said she released the information to raise public awareness about the impact of the Iraq war on civilians. Prosecutors say Manning is a traitor who put the United States and U.S. armed forces at risk.

Internet reports to be less free
as governments rein in users

 By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

For the sixth year in a row, the global internet became less free as governments around the world re-doubled efforts to limit free expression, ban encryption technologies, and punish users for posting or sharing material deemed unacceptable by national authorities.

Those are just a few of the findings of the annual "Freedom on the Net" report published by Freedom House, a pro-democracy think tank in Washington D.C.

Freedom House researchers now estimate that just over two-thirds of all internet users in the world live in nations that actively restrict online activity and where users face harsh penalties for their posts, including prison and whippings.

The survey of 65 nations determined that China, Iran, Syria and Ethiopia were the greatest abusers of internet freedoms, followed by Uzbekistan, Cuba, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia. Some nations, including North Korea which has a long record of flagrant human rights abuses, were not included.

Among the nations that saw the biggest declines were Uganda, Bangladesh and Cambodia. Only 14 nations saw marginal improvements. Just three nations, China, India, and the U.S., account for roughly 40 percent of all the world's online users.

“No country is perfect,” said Adrian Shahbaz, research manager for Freedom on the Net. “We're trying to give a very nuanced evaluation of the problems that every country faces for upholding a free and open internet.” Among the factors of the best performing nations, Shahbaz said, were a free and open internet, very high levels of internet penetration, and strong protections for free speech and privacy.

New cybersecurity laws in China were partly responsible for that nation's ranking as the worst abuser. Over the last several years, Beijing has made it a punishable offense to spread rumors or endanger national security online, and has severely cracked down on the use of technology to access thousands of blocked Web sites.

Report authors also say governments are censoring a wider range of diverse content than ever before, depending on the priorities of the government.

For example, Thailand metes out harsh punishments for disrespect of the Thai monarchy based on one of the world's harshest lèse-majesté statutes, while many African and Middle East nations ban online content criticizing authorities or discussing gay and lesbian issues.

Satiric or light-hearted posts have also come under new levels of scrutiny. Images of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi with superimposed Mickey Mouse ears, and side-by-side photos comparing Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the character "Gollum" from the Lord of the Rings movies, landed those who created them, as well as those who shared them, time in jail.

As circumvention and encryption applications have grown in popularity, so has the targeting and banning of those apps by governments both free and otherwise.

Russia, one of the least free countries when it comes to the Web, has ordered all digital communications firms to provide state authorities with back doors to encrypted applications and to hold onto users' data for at least six months.

Some nations have followed Russia's lead, demanding internet firms turn over personal information

Others have moved to block, ban or alter encrypted apps like Telegram, Viber, WhatsApp, Skype and others, as well as encrypted devices such as phones and tablets.

In the U.S. earlier this year, Apple and the FBI were at legal loggerheads over a court order to decrypt an iPhone allegedly used in the San Bernardino, California, terror attacks.

Despite that, the Freedom House report rated the Web in the U.S. as slightly more free, thanks to new legislation that curtailed some of the NSA's data monitoring programs.

Lund University photo 
A 9,000 year-old pickaxe made from an antler.

Ancient settlement discovered
under Sweden’s Baltic Sea

By the Lund University news staff

Seven years ago divers discovered the oldest known stationary fish traps in northern Europe off the coast of southern Sweden. Since then, researchers at Lund University in Sweden have uncovered an exceptionally well-preserved Stone Age site. They now believe the location was a lagoon environment where Mesolithic humans lived during parts of the year.

Other spectacular finds include a 9,000 year-old pick axe made out of an elk antler. The discoveries indicate mass fishing and therefore a semi-permanent settlement.

”As geologists, we want to recreate this area and understand how it looked. Was it warm or cold? How did the environment change over time?” says Anton Hansson, a doctoral student in Quaternary geology at Lund University.

Changes in the sea level have allowed the findings to be preserved deep below the surface of Hanö Bay in the Baltic Sea.

The researchers have drilled into the seabed and radiocarbon dated the core, as well as examined pollen and diatoms. They have also produced a bathymetrical map that reveals depth variations.

”These sites have been known, but only through scattered finds. We now have the technology for more detailed interpretations of the landscape”, says Anton Hansson.

”If you want to fully understand how humans dispersed from Africa, and their way of life, we also have to find all their settlements. Quite a few of these are currently underwater, since the sea level is higher today than during the last glaciation. Humans have always preferred coastal sites”, concludes Hansson.
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 226
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News from the BBC up to the minute

BBC news feeds are disbled on archived pages.

Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Public domain photo from Wikipedia
Milkweed and monarchs can be found all over the Americas.

Scientists are fans of some weeds

By the Cornell University news staff

Farmers looking to reduce reliance on pesticides, herbicides and other pest management tools may want to heed the advice of Cornell agricultural scientists: Let nature be nature to a degree.

“Managing crop pests without fully understanding the impacts of tactics related to resistance and nontarget plants or insects costs producers money,” said Antonio DiTommaso, professor of soil and crop science and lead author of a new study.

“We are taking a renewed look at a holistic, sustainable integrated pest management  approach,” DiTommaso said.

In corn production, for example, maintaining a few villainous milkweed plants in the middle of a cornfield may help minimize crop loss from the destructive European corn borer. The milkweed plants can harbor aphids that produce a nectar food source for beneficial parasitic wasps Trichogramma. The wasps, in turn, lay eggs inside the eggs of the European corn borer, killing the corn borer eggs, reducing damage to the crop.

“Production management rarely considers the benefits of weeds in agricultural ecosystems,” said DiTommaso. “Let’s look at the big picture. If we open our eyes, even if it’s a weed growing in the cornfield, we show it could be beneficial. Integrating weed benefits will become increasingly important, as pest management is likely to move from total reliance on herbicides and transgenic crop traits for control, because of increasing resistance of weeds to these products.”

One additional side benefit for having a few milkweed plants in a field of corn is that it serves as a breeding place and food source for monarch butterflies. As of late, monarch numbers are down, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is evaluating a petition to have them protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Thus, some growers may be willing to tolerate a low milkweed population in favor of providing livable plant space for monarchs.

“Every organism in an agricultural system plays multiple roles,” said John Losey, professor of entomology. “If management decisions are based solely on the negative aspects, yield and profit can be lost in the short term and broader problems can arise in the longer term.”

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From Page 7 

Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y de Arquitectos graphic       
Graph shows the increase  in the last five years.

Year likely to close with big construction hike

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y de Arquitectos said Monday that the year is likely to close with 10 million square meters of new construction on the books.

Since January, the colegio has logged more than 8 million square meters. The professional organization is responsible for reviewing and approving architectural plans before building permits are issued. A release said that this is a 14 percent increase over the previous year.

San José and Alajuela provinces are the leaders in new construction. San José showed permits for 2.5 million square meters, and Alajuela had 1.9 million. They were followed by Heredia with 1.3 million. The total for the country was 8.7 million square meters. The central cantons of the three provinces also led the list for new construction.