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Published Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 227
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Frenzy building for alleged deals on Black Friday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

They call it Black Friday because merchants are expected to be well in the black that day as shoppers, lured by advertising and in-store promotions, develop a herd mentality.

Costa Ricans accept Black Friday as the day after U.S. Thanksgiving, which is Nov. 25 this year. Many workers will have received their annual aguinaldo payment by then. The money usually represents about an extra month’s pay. That fuels the frenzy.

Media report have said that discounts range between 10 and 75 percent at Costa Rican stores. And in many outlets the sales go on all weekend and merge with Cyber Monday, the beginning of the following week, when electronics are featured.

The Ministerio de Energía Industria y Comercio’s consumer office will be keeping track of sales during this period to make sure advertising complies with the law.

There also is an independent organization affiliated with private banksalled the Oficina del Consumidor Financiero. The director is lawyer Willy Carvajal, who says that the organization’s goal is to help settle disputes between customers and banks. But the organization put out a Black Friday summary this year.

The office told consumers that products have at least a 30-day guarantee and that merchants who do not provide it can be the object of a complaint at the economics ministry. In addition, it said, discounted items should show the original price.

The office also warned about predatory credit card schemes. The economics ministry routinely surveys available credit cards and reports that some private banks levy interests as high as 50 percent a year on card purchases.

A lot of Costa Ricans will avoid crowds and shop from their computers, perhaps overseas.

The Ministerio de Hacienda and its Dirección General de Aduanas said that it is uniting with consumer import companies to reduce fraud.

black Friday
A.M. Costa Rica graphic

The customs agency said that members of the
Asociación de Empresas de Entrega Rápida de Costa Rica provide a service that allows for correct import duty and payment of taxes owed.

The agency said last week that it had accumulated about 5,000 packages from what it called illegal import companies. If a
package arrives and does not comply with the laws, it is remanded to storage, the customers agency said.
The ministry has a list of registered companies on its Web site. All the well-known firms are on the list.

Having expensive parcels confiscated by customs inspectors is one of the top nightmares facing expats.  And the agency seems to become more vigorous in the runup to Christmas.

In Costa Rica, the Deposito Libre in Golfito is making a big pitch for Christmas shoppers. The government set up the commercial center to aid economically the southwest part of the country that was hard hit when a major banana company pulled out.

To shop there and receive the benefit of certain tax exemptions, residents, including expats, must agree to spend the night in the community. Central Valley firms arrange tours, and there are trucks available to bring big purchases home.

Meanwhile, there is a steady stream of smugglers bringing all sorts of goods for resale from Panamá and Nicaragua. The goods include clothing, electronics and even fireworks to bring in the New Year. All of this is illegal, of course, but those participating have ways of avoiding police patrols.

National soccer team pounds U.S. visitors 4-0
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is a lot of joy in the country today because the Costa Rican national soccer team humiliated the U.S. team four goals to zip.

That puts Costa Rica in the lead for the regional selections for the World Cup in Russia in 2018.

The game Tuesday night was at the Estadio

Nacional before about 30,000 cheering Costa Ricans.  But there still is a long way to go with multiple matches into next year to pick the conference teams for Russia.

Kaylor Navas of the professional Real Madrid team was the goaltender for the match.

But there were few threats from the U.S. team, which seemed to have trouble with the ball.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 227
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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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Consejo Nacional de Vialidad photo
This is part of the 15 kilometers of barriers the government installed on the autopista Florencio del Castillo between San José and Cartago to the tune of $2.8 million. The barriers were ordered by the constitutional court to reduce head-on crashes even though there is an island in the middle of the highway.

An analysis of the elections
Trump's wall is just part of the solution

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

By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

A reader said in an email Tuesday that the wall on the Mexican border proposed by Donald Trump has been reduced to a fence and probably will become a hedge.

The truth is that no wall of whatever dimensions will keep illegal migrants from the United States. Trump must build the wall because millions voted for him on the strength of that promise. But a wall is but part of the answer.

A wall must be accompanied by trained patrols, and the kid-glove treatment given migrants will have to end.

Trump made much during the campaign of Mexican immigrants with a record of multiple incursions into the United States. Obviously just sending someone to the other side of the border is not sufficient. Trump is going to have to enforce penalties against border jumpers.

Many are coming to the United States to earn money, perhaps to send back home. At least in the case of most Costa Rican illegal immigrants the stay in the United States is not permanent and simply a time to earn money.

Trump's challenges HERE!

So a prison term for border jumpers would create an economic barrier and perhaps make many think twice about making an illegal entry.

Trump also is expected to take a good look at the money that is sent by illegal immigrants in the United States back to their homes.

The Bank of México has estimated that the country received about $2 billon a month from the United States, nearly all in electronic form, according to the Washington Post in April. The Post also doubted that Trump, as president, could stop the flow south. But the United States already has cracked down on electronic transfers for overseas gambling sites, so some kind of brake is possible.

Money flowing to other countries should be looked at, too, because, as Pew estimates, just 52 percent of the illegal immigrants are Mexican.

Trump has made mixed statements on drugs. He has said enforcement is a joke, and he probably supports legalizing medical marijuana. He says he does not drink or smoke. 

Still illegal drugs are a big part of the border problem that his administration must confront.

There have been concerns raised that a hard line on illegal immigration would be expensive and damage the U.S. economy. Certainly this is a complex issue, but the cost must be balanced with savings on welfare afforded some migrants as well as the money spent on their behalf for medical care and education for the youngsters.

Iowa minister candidate for post here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The search committee of the Escazú Christian Fellowship has invited a minister from Pella, Iowa, to visit with the possibility of the congregation selecting him to be the pastor here.

He is Don Ridder, identified as an ordained minister of the Christian Reformed Church of North America.

The 53-year-old minister wrote a candid letter to the congregation that outlined his career and even some unhappiness, including a broken marriage and his Florida church that had to close its doors.

The search committee said it received 100 inquires about the position and spent 15 months seeking the right candidate.

Ridder said he has spent time in Costa Rica on mission trips. He will visit starting Nov. 30, and the congregation will vote on the selection Dec. 11, according to an email from the church.

Antibiotic seen as a fix for alzheimer's

By the University of British Columbia

An antibiotic restores cell communication in brain areas damaged by alzheimer's disease, according to new research.

The findings, published this week in Nature Communications, demonstrate a  potential drug treatment to reduce damage to the brain that occurs in the early stages of alzheimer’s disease. Using Ceftriaxone, a Food and Drug Administration-approved antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections, researchers at the University of British Columbia were able to reduce synaptic disruption and clear the lines of neuronal communication in mice.

Amyloid plaques deposits develop in brain regions of patients with alzheimer’s disease.  These plaques are linked to the damage found in alzheimer’s disease because they prevent cell communication and are toxic to nerve cells.

The researchers found that the brain areas around these plaques show high levels of glutamate, a signaling molecule essential to communication between brain cells, accompanying high levels of hyperactivity in glia, the brain’s support cells. It’s in this glutamate-rich environment that communication between neurons is changed or disrupted, causing neurons to die in the later stages of the disease.

“By imaging the glial cells and glutamate itself around the plaques, we were able to see that the cells were not able to remove the glutamate accumulating in these brain areas. By using Ceftriaxone, we were able to up-regulate glutamate transport,” explained Brian MacVicar, the lead researcher “By restoring glutamate levels, we were able to mostly restore neuronal activity.”

The team’s findings have implications for treatment of early symptoms of alzheimer’s disease.

“This dysfunction in cell communication occurs at a very early stage in the disease, before memory impairment is detectable,” said Jasmin Hefendehl, lead author on the paper. “This makes our discovery particularly interesting, as it opens a window for an early intervention strategy to possibly prevent or delay neuron and memory loss.”

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 227
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Costa Rican professors study earth-shaking eruptions from pre-history
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Universidad de Costa Rica professor and a colleague from Costa Rica are researching massive worldwide volcanic eruptions that created high volumes of lava and triggered environmental catastrophes and mass extinctions from 170 to 90 million years ago.

The report comes from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University where Pilar Madrigal, the professor here, received her doctorate this year.

Her colleague in the research was Esteban Gazel, an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences who also is a Costa Rican. A lot of the field work took place in Costa Rica, according to the Virginia university.

Many people are not aware that giant volcano eruptions have radically changed the course of Earth’s history and some came close to wiping out all life.

Although the theory is controversial, the Toba eruption in Sumatra 74,000 years ago has been credited with causing modern humans to flee Africa and populate the rest of the world.

The university said that the two researchers are credited with confirming a major feature in the formation of what are called large igneous provinces. 

These regions are scattered around the world in ocean basins bordering Siberia, Africa, India, and on the east coasts of North and South America. In this study, Gazel and Professor Madrigal focused their attention on the Pacific Ocean locations, it said.

“We confirmed an ongoing working hypothesis that in order to form these massive eruptions there has to be an input from deep

mantle upwellings, as well as interaction with a shallow structure, like a mid-ocean ridge, to allow the outpouring of large volumes of lava,” said Professor Madrigal. She was quoted by the university.

“The generation of these igneous provinces correlates with some of the most devastating events in our planet’s history,” said Gazel, who spearheaded the study. “The geological record of these events contain crucial information to understand the inner dynamics of the Earth’s mantle. But also, every time they happened, they completely changed life on the planet.” He also was quoted by the university.

The two studied the geochemical composition and timing of the large igneous regions that occurred in the Pacific Plate during the Mesozoic Period, in a span between 170 to 90 million years ago. They collected samples of underwater lava flows now exposed along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. These lavas were formed in the Pacific and were brought to the surface by tectonic processes, the university said, adding:

“The field work was very exciting because one can see these underwater formations that are now exposed on the surface” said Gazel, adding that their collection efforts included boat trips, swimming to outcrops, and hiking along the coast.

And Gazel knew the area well. He spent summers in the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica. “These rocks and I go back a long way," he said. "I used to spend the summers playing and getting in trouble on these pillow basalts during my childhood.”

Gazel said there were many other extinction-level events throughout history, such as one nearly 300 million years ago that almost wiped out all life on the planet, from the eruption of the Siberian Traps, another large-igneous province, according to the university.

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You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 227
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Hardy zika virus reported to be able to survive for hours on hard surfaces
By the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientist news staff

The zika virus is most commonly transmitted in humans as the result of a bite from an infected mosquito or from an infected human to another human. What is not well known is that the virus also can be transmitted via the environment if an individual is pricked with an infected needle or has an open cut and comes in contact with the live virus.

While there are no known cases to date of the general public being infected with the zika virus through the environment, there has been at least one documented case of laboratory acquired zika virus infection.

Research being presented at the 2016 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientist Annual Meeting and Exposition, in Denver, Colorado, found that under certain conditions, the zika virus can live for several hours on hard non-porous surfaces and still be highly contagious, but that some commonly used disinfectants are extremely effective in killing the virus.

The research may have important infection control implications for both consumers and those who work in healthcare or lab settings.

The study looked at isopropyl alcohol, diluted bleach, quaternary ammonium/alcohol, peracetic acid, and pH 4 or pH 10 solutions, which are commonly used in clinical, laboratory and industrial settings.

Findings showed that when the virus was in an environment 

without blood, these methods of inactivating zika, except pH 4 and pH 10, were largely effective, but in environments where virus was associated with blood, the results were dramatically different.

"Zika can survive on hard, non-porous surfaces for as long as eight hours, possibly longer when the environment contains blood, which is more likely to occur in the real world," said the study's lead researcher S. Steve Zhou. "The good news is that we found that disinfectants such as isopropyl alcohol and quaternary ammonium/alcohol are generally effective in killing the virus in this type of environment and can do so in a little as 15 seconds."

Zhou, who is the director of virology and molecular biology for Microbac Laboratories, headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said the study did not yet look at the survivability of zika on hard non-porous surfaces beyond eight hours.

Microbac's research also found that bleach and peracetic acid were not as effective in killing zika virus when the virus is associated with blood.

"The data were important to know especially for healthcare providers and researchers," said Zhou. "One must bear the organic load of the environment such as blood, in mind, before reaching a conclusion about the zika virus inactivation efficacy by a particular product."

The next stage of the research will be to take a more in-depth look at how long zika survives on hard non-porous surfaces in the heat and how best to inactivate the virus.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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Put Costa Rica on your walls
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Visit our Web site at:
Contact us by email:  
Find us on Trip Advisor, Facebook, Twitter,
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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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Cells:  +506-8380-5919  and +506-8302-5877

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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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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 227
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Axiom new ad

Trump faces job now to keep
promises made in campaign

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

In a little more than two months, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. One of Trump's key challenges will be balancing the demands from his supporters that he deliver on his numerous campaign promises, while at the same time taking steps to heal the nation in the wake of the divisive and, at times, nasty presidential campaign.

Trump is now immersed in forming a new government, ticking off the various boxes of putting together a cabinet and making thousands of appointments to the senior ranks of the federal government.

Following his victory in the early morning hours of Nov. 9, Trump did sound a note of conciliation in his first remarks as president-elect. "I say it is time for us to come together as one united people."

One of Trump's first objectives is to push economic measures through Congress that address what his supporters call the forgotten man and woman, working-class Americans trying to deal with the effects of globalization. White working-class voters turned out for Trump in big numbers in key states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, most of which have voted Democratic in recent years.

Those voters will be expecting change, said Daniel Hamilton, executive director for the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.

"You see still lingering effects of the great recession, the financial crisis in the United States where the numbers show the United States growth is back, but it hasn't affected lots of people. And those people have basically staged a revolution to upend the system," Hamilton said.

In the days that followed Trump's election, protests in many cities around the country have marred the euphoria experienced by many Trump supporters. Protesters have turned out in cities across the country from New York and Massachusetts in the east to Oregon and California in the west.

Trump has said the protests were partly the work of professional organizers. Many of the demonstrators say they are driven by fear and worries about what Trump will do as president on immigration and refugee issues, among others.

A protest leader in Massachusetts said their concerns go beyond the usual feelings of loss after a bitter election campaign.

"I get disappointed, but this one scares me," she said as protesters marched behind her.

The dual desire to heed the election results and try to bind the wounds of a divisive election campaign was also on President Barack Obama's mind when he met with reporters at the White House Monday before heading to Greece.

"It's really important to try to send some signals of unity and to reach out to minority groups or women or others that were concerned about the tenor of the campaign," he said.

The political unrest comes as Trump begins to name his incoming government, including Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus as his chief of staff and highly controversial journalist Stephen Bannon as his top political adviser. Bannon was an executive with Breitbart News, a site favored by right-wing ultra-nationalists that has drawn fire from organizations tracking hate groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, which said Trump should withdraw the appointment.

Trump's first major test in the weeks ahead is staffing the government, and his status as a political outsider looking to do what he said was to drain the swamp of Washington insiders and establishment figures makes that a special challenge.

"The process of staffing a government is a big one in America, and as an outsider candidate, he does not have the traditional connections, the traditional people that an administration would have," said John Fortier, with the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.

Trump's ability to both deliver on his campaign promises and encourage a process of national healing could depend on how much he is willing to moderate his rhetoric, which often became a flashpoint during the campaign.

"We have the sense of Trump that we've seen on the campaign trail, and then we have a slightly more muted version of Trump that we have seen come out from time to time," said Molly Reynolds, a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. "And the question of whether that latter form, that pivot that we often anticipated, but never quite saw during the presidential campaign, will that come out when he gets to the White House? We just don't know."

Trump is expected to announce members of his cabinet in the weeks ahead, and those appointments will send a message about the tone and direction of the incoming administration and where it wants to take the country.

Climate conference darkened
by election results in U.S.

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The election of Republican businessman Donald Trump as the next U.S. president is casting a cloud over the conference of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and also will overshadow the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting later in the week.

"I know the American people support this overwhelmingly," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said of the Paris Agreement on climate change that president-elect Donald Trump during the campaign vowed to rip up.

"The president-elect is going to have to make his decision," Kerry said during a brief interview at Abu Dhabi airport before his departure for Marrakech. "What I will do is speak to the assembly about our efforts and what we're engaged in and why we're engaged in it, and our deep commitment as the American people to this effort."

Kerry this week flew to the Arabian peninsula after a sojourn in Antarctica meant to underscore the Obama administration's serious concern about environmental change.

The conference was intended to be a celebration, including for Kerry, and a discussion about implementation following the conclusion of negotiations at earlier conferences.

What Kerry says in Marrakech will now be more closely parsed than it would have been if his like-minded predecessor, Hillary Clinton, had prevailed in the presidential election.

There is anticipation that the new president will shift the U.S. government's official stance to skepticism about climate change, putting it at odds with other leading nations and jeopardizing the global pact that just entered into force on Nov. 4.

"I hope he will really hear and understand the severity and urgency of addressing climate change," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday. "As president of the United States, I hope he understands this, listens and evaluates his campaign remarks."

Possible actions by the Trump administration include withdrawing under Article 28 of the Paris Agreement (which has been ratified by 110 member states), ignoring America's voluntary commitments under the pact and halting international funding for the reduction of greenhouse gases.

Following the climate conference, Kerry crosses the Atlantic to attend the annual ministerial meeting of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Lima, Peru.

There, too, the American statesman will confront anxious counterparts, especially those who signed on to the U.S.-led Trans Pacific Partnership. But Congress will not approve the agreement before the start of the next administration. Some critics have declared it doomed.

A so-called "lame duck" session of Congress, which occurs after an election but before members of a new administration or new Congress are sworn in, "always presents complications," Kerry said. "I think the TPP is going to be thoroughly and well debated. It deserves its full hearing before the United States Senate."

Trump strongly opposed the trade pact on the campaign trail, and Mrs. Clinton also said she was against it.

President Barack Obama and his top envoy have been enthusiastic proponents.

"I think the business community overwhelmingly will see its passage as critical to their own prospects in the region, the fastest-growing region in the world," Kerry added.

Leaders of the 12 Trans Pacific nations are to meet on the forum sidelines to ponder their next move in the wake of Trump's election.

The trade agreement enters into force only after it has been ratified by six countries, but the list must include Japan and the United States.

A failure at this juncture by the United States to ratify the trade treaty would clear the way for a bolder push by China for regional trade pacts that it leads.

Voice of America photo 
Students march against Trump in Washington.

Students march in Washington
amid fear for their own futures

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Nearly one thousand high school students from Washington, D.C., and surrounding areas walked out of their schools and marched across the city Tuesday in protest of President-elect Donald Trump.

A human rights club at Woodrow Wilson High School in D.C. informed students through social media and emailed parents with their intent to organize a walkout and a march through the city on Tuesday, students said.

Though hundreds of these students could not vote, they wanted to make their opinions on the president-elect and their concerns for their own futures, clear.

One student held a sign in front of the Supreme Court which read, "Please do not cut my education funding!" Other students wore shirts which read "Nasty Woman," a reference to a comment Donald Trump made on his former competitor Hillary Clinton.

"I think it's important that Donald Trump and everybody know that . . . the youth of D.C. are against Donald Trump," a sophomore at Woodrow Wilson high school, said. "We are just as important as people who can vote, and in four years, we'll be able to vote. And when we do, our voices will be heard."

But she made it clear that her classmates would not wait four years to be heard, expressing her intent to write to her congressmen about what the youth of D.C. need.

Activist groups are looking ahead to a march on day after inauguration day, with many people on Facebook indicating their intent to fly to Washington to take part.

One of the largest protests planned for Jan. 21 is the Women's March on Washington, which has over 80,000 people on Facebook marked as attending.

In an interview that aired Sunday night, Trump said Americans have nothing to fear about his presidency.

Dakota pipeline firm seeking
court action to finish the job

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline asked a U.S. court to intervene in the fight over its completion as demonstrators fanned out across North America Tuesday to protest the controversial project.

In what were expected to be the largest demonstrations to date against the pipeline, people across North America rallied outside Army Corps of Engineers offices, banks and energy companies, a day after the U.S. government delayed granting an easement for the pipeline's construction in North Dakota.

Fumi Tosu, 38, said he saw police use mace and arrest several other protesters in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, near the path of the pipeline, and the site of ongoing protests since the summer.

"Their job is to protect us, but instead they're protecting corporate interests and profits and money," said Tosu of San Jose, California.

Energy Transfer Partners, the main company behind the pipeline, and its subsidiary, Sunoco Logistics Partners, filed papers Monday night in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., seeking declaratory relief to "end the administration's political interference in the Dakota Access Pipeline review process." They noted that the delays have already cost them more than $100 million.

The $3.7 billion Dakota Access project has drawn steady opposition from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe as well as environmental activists who say it could pollute nearby water supplies and destroy sacred historic tribal sites.

More than 200 protests were called by indigenous leaders in support of the tribe and to get the U.S. government to stop the pipeline, according to Dallas Goldtooth, a spokesman for Indigenous Environmental Network, one of the organizers.

"There's a lot of bad things happening in the world and people feel like they have no control, but this is a very direct example of how people can fight injustice," said Austin Patrie, 20, who rode a motorcycle over 1,000 miles from his home in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to take part in the Cannon Ball protest.

The companies are seeking an easement to tunnel under Lake Oahe, the water source at the heart of the protests. Monday, the Army Corps delayed that approval, which was seen as a partial victory for the protesters.

The Army Corps said it plans to get more input from the Standing Rock Sioux in light of the tribe repeatedly being dispossessed from its lands in the past. Government officials have not said how long the process would take, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Construction of the 1,172-mile (1,885-km) pipeline is nearly done. The only work left in North Dakota is the segment to run under the lake, Energy Transfer said last week. The company has been moving drilling equipment to the site in anticipation of being able to start tunneling later this month.

Energy Transfer has said the pipeline would be a more efficient and safer way to transport oil from the Bakken shale of North Dakota to the Midwest and onto the U.S. Gulf Coast.

"To propose, as the Corps now does, to further delay this pipeline and to engage in what can only be described as a sham process sends a frightening message about the rule of law," said Kelcy Warren, Energy Transfer's chief executive officer.

Analysts said they still expected the pipeline to be completed. "What is less clear is the startup date, and the exact routes," said Afolabi Ogunnaike, senior analyst at Wood MacKensie, a commodities consultancy.

The protests come as Dakota Access is expected to win the support of President-elect Donald Trump. He has expressed strong support for development of energy infrastructure projects.

Warren donated more than $100,000 to the Trump presidential campaign.

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news page

San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 227
Real Estate
About us

News from the BBC up to the minute

BBC news feeds are disabled on archived pages.

Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Despite gains, Cuba restricts internet 

By the A.M. Cuba staff

In a survey of 65 countries, Cuba ranked as the sixth greatest abuser of internet freedoms rating only slightly better than China, Iran, Syria and Ethiopia.

The "Freedom on the Net" report was 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 Cuban government launched its first-ever paid public Wi-Fi hotspots in June and July 2015, promising to further expand access points in 2016. While these hotspots have become a popular way to access the internet, limited and expensive connections still constitute a major barrier, according to the report, which says:

"Despite modest steps to increase internet access, Cuba remains one of the world’s most repressive environments for information and communication technologies. High prices, old infrastructure, prohibition of home connections, and extensive government regulation have resulted in a pronounced lack of access."

Following the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, new regulations have eased restrictions on U.S. telecom companies to start offering services on the island. But so far, this hasn't converted to greater internet availability for the Cuban people. Larger scale telecommunications initiatives such as a reported proposal by Google to further expand access on the island also remains unanswered by the Cuban government.

México’s murder toll over 1,000 a month

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Murder by firearms in México have hit record levels under the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto as the death toll from gang violence worsens, a study showed on Tuesday.

The months of July to September have seen the highest murder tolls since Peña Nieto took office in December 2012 pledging to curb gang violence that rose sharply under his predecessor.

August and September, the latest months for which data are available, were also the worst two months for deaths by firearm ever registered, according to the National Citizen Observatory, a civil group monitoring justice and security in México.

All told, there were 1,238 murders by firearm in August and 1,228 in September, the Observatory noted, basing its findings on official data. Detailed statistics published by Mexican authorities on security stretch back to 1997.

"The main thing we want to underline is that 10 years after starting a so-called war on drugs, there's still no strategy," Obervatory Director Francisco Rivas told a news conference.

Mexico has been convulsed by violence since former President Felipe Calderón sent in the armed forces to take on the drug cartels after he took office in December 2006. Well over 100,000 people have died in cartel-related violence since then.

The most violent year on record in México was 2011, and this year is on track to be the worst since at least 2012.

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From Page 7:

Police officers get more flexible shifts

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministerio de Seguridad Pública has eliminated a work rule so that the allocation of officers will be more flexible at the various police stations.

Until Tuesday, police officers worked two days in the daytime and two days at night. They then had two days off.

The decision by the minister, Gustavo Mata Vega, was based on an occupational study by Gabriel Carmona Rojas, an expert within the ministry.