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Published Monday, Nov. 28, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 235
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Cruz Roja photo
Cruz Roja volunteers moved packages of the basics for hurricane victims.

Country opens its hearts and wallets for storm victims
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

No one can fault Costa Ricans on their fabled generosity. The country’s residents always come up with unexpected donations after disaster strikes.

An example was Sunday when Repretel, Central de Radios and the Banco de Costa Rica put on a 10-hour marathon in La Uruca. Performers and an enthusiastic crowd created the atmosphere for 478 million colons in donations. That is about $890,000, which was quickly given to the Ministerio de Hacienda for the benefit of the emergency commission. Money still is being collected.

Other events have set their admission on packages of foodstuffs for the still-stricken areas. Organizers include clubs, churches and even athletic events. Some are giving time. The Cruz Roja said it has fielded 400 volunteers, including university students, corporate employees and youngsters from the community of Cañas, not counting the many volunteers already associated with the aid agency.

The Cruz Roja said it is running caravans from the rest of the country to the hurricane disaster zones. Among the cargo are some 8,475 packs of individual necessities for the victims.

The national emergency commission said it airlifted 34 tons of supplies over 34 hours.  Fire fighters also are on the scene using their equipment to wash mud from homes.

Much of the aid is going to Upala that was one of the communities hit the hardest by Hurricane Otto Thursday. There are 17 shelters in that community where hundreds of homes were destroyed. And there is one shelter in Bagaces, another location hit hard.

But there also are four shelters in Corredores and seven in Golfito in southwest Costa Rica and one in Matina in Limón province on the Caribbean coast. In all, there were more than 3,400 persons in shelters as of 4 p.m. Sunday.

Security ministry personnel also took to the air over the weekend to bring supplies to villages in the high Talamancas in southeastern Costa Rica.

Costa Ricans outside the country are pitching in, too. The Costa Rica Association in Washington put out a call for donations there.

The donations are needed because damage is extensive. The government said an initial estimate found 2,778 kilometers of roads destroyed, seven bridges destroyed, dikes in Matina, Sarapiquí, Corredores and Upala

streamc cleaning
Emergency commission photo  
Getting trash out of this waterway to reduce flooding was a priority.

breached and 1,598 homes destroyed or damaged.

The death toll now is 10 with 10,831 persons affected directly, according to government figures.

In Rome, Pope Francis prayed for storm victims and gave his blessings during his regular Sunday greeting to the pilgrims in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican, wire services reported.

Not everyone came to help. Security ministry officials issued a strong warning against disaster tourism and said that those who came to the stricken cantons to take photos of destroyed houses and victims would be jailed.

More than 40 communities still are cut off by floods or slides.

There was some good news. Electrical power was back on in most of the stricken areas. Barra de Colorado residents were able to return home Sunday where power was restored in the afternoon. They were among the first evacuated. The road to Puerto Lindo, a key transportation point in the northern zone, was open again. It had been blocked by many fallen trees.

Only seven cantons remained under high alert due to damage or continuing rains. They are La Cruz, Upala, Bagaces, Guatuso, Los Chiles, Golfito and Corredores. The cantons of Osa and Coto Brus were under lesser alerts.

Meanwhile the Instituto Meteorólogo Nacional said Sunday afternoon that rains were diminishing in Limón and the mountains of  Guanacaste and Tilarán. Those areas saw up to three inches of rain Sunday, and that contributed to rising rivers elsewhere.

There was less rain on the Pacific coast. But there will be more rain. The weather institute noted that a cold front is over the country, and this creates atmospheric instability.

Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
Line of volunteers move jugs of water for residents of communities with broken pipes

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Trimmed budget passes with a vote

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation’s 8.9 trillion colon budget for next year received initial passage automatically Sunday despite a special legislative session held to vote on the measure.

The big controversy was a 40 billion-colon cut in the budget of the Patronato Nacional de Infancia, the child protection agency, and the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes. That is about $73 million that was assigned to the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública and the Judicial Investigating Organization. Some money also was cut from the budget of the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional.

Supporters of the Patronato staged a major public relations campaign against the budget cuts and even filed a Sala IV appeal.

In addition to redistributing funds, the final budget cuts 22 billion colons for the total, about $40 million.

Lawmakers have been fighting about the cuts for weeks.

The dispute came to a head when leaders of several parties walked out Sunday afternoon and left the legislative body without a quorum. That meant the reduce budget will go into effect because the Costa Rican Constitution demands passage by Nov. 29. But there may be an effort to reinstate the funds when the budget comes up for a second and final vote Tuesday.

The total budget is about $16.2 billion. The cuts originated in the legislative committee that studied the budget. The cut seems modest in light of the fact that about half the budget is borrowed money.

Lawmakers from Frente Amplio opposed the cut as did some lawmakers from the Partido Acción Ciudadana.  Frente Amplio said it was calling for a public protest.

President Luis Guillermo surprised lawmakers by submitting a proposed budget about 12 percent higher than the last year despite the financial situation of the country. That was one reason some lawmakers do not support his efforts to raise taxes.

The Patronato conducts a variety of activity for youngsters including investigations of child abuse.

Four found dead after Tibás blaze

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fire late Saturday forced more than 200 persons from their homes and left four dead in Leon XII, Tibás.

The Judicial Investigating Organization confirmed that four burned bodies had been found and that they were sent to the judicial morgue for identification and to determine the cause of death.

Nearly 100 of those without a home are juveniles from about 80 families.

The low-income neighborhood contains homes that are highly flammable. The cause of the blaze has not been determined.  Electrical wiring there is non-standard.

Money exchanger gunned down

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Bandits caught up with a 68-year-old Peñas Blanca man while he motored home from his business of exchanging money at the Nicaraguan border.

The man failed to return home Saturday evening, and police found his motorcycle alongside the road in Las Vueltas de Peñas Blanca in La Cruz, Guanacaste. His body was nearby. He was identified by the last name of  Morales.

The Judicial Investigating Organization attributed the murder to a robbery because the man’s wallet, cell telephone and the money he used for his business was gone.

He was shot five times, police said.

Wikipedia photo
This Trappist beer from the Belgian city of Chimay costs $9 here.

Belgium beer seeks U.N. designation

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Belgium wants beer drinking and brewing to be considered a cultural activity worth protecting.

The tiny country is home to a massive beer industry, with almost 200 breweries and thousands of beers, according to a Belgian brewing association that is petitioning U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The U.N. organization already lists Spanish flamenco, Indian yoga and even Costa Rica’s oxcarts as cultural activities worthy of protection.

"I think what is special to the Belgian beer culture is the combination of variety, innovation and tradition,” said Jean-Louis Van de Perre, the president of the Belgian Brewers’ Federation in an interview. “We have more than 3,000 beers in Belgium, more than 200 breweries and also these breweries have created around them a beer culture. We have our pubs, we have our museums, we have feasts, we have the ritual of how to serve beer."

Those pushing for beer culture to be recognized by the U.N. also say beer has given the country with three official languages a sense of national identity. They added beer helps the economy.

The U.N. agency will meet next week in Addis Ababa to determine if beer culture will be among the 36 other practices the body recognizes.

Ordinary Belgians appear behind the push to recognize beer and brewing.

"I think it's a nice recognition for the country," said Gregoire Lepoudre, a Belgian lawyer, as he enjoyed a beer at a local cafe. "Every Belgian knows that Belgian beer is recognized around the world."

Beer would not be the first Belgian cultural activity recognized by the U.N. agency, which also recognizes the country’s horse-drawn shrimp fishing and the Carnival celebration in the town of Aalst.

The list of cultural heritage was started in 2008. To be considered, the activity must have been passed down over generations and provide those involved with a unique identity.

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Broad legislative discrimination proposal also forbids hate speech
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Influential lawmakers have introduced a 14,226-word proposed law against discrimination.

The measure, if adopted, would criminalize hate speech, forbid organizations practicing discrimination, possibly legalize abortion and gay marriage and throw out the higher prices charged to tourism and expats.

The measure is based heavily on international treaties, but goes further to provide criminal penalties. Because the law is so broad and sometimes contradictory its impact is hard to evaluate. For example, the law forbids discrimination on the basis of political opinions, yet it quickly forbids organizations that discriminate or promote discrimination and says their charters would be revoked.

Specifically forbidden is promotion of racial superiority.

The proposed law also contains an affirmative action clause that says efforts to make special rules for certain protected classes are not discrimination.

Specifically forbidden is discrimination based on nationality, age, sex, language, religion, cultural identity, civil state, union affiliation, political opinions, social origin, socioeconomic

position, geography, education level, migratory condition,
refugee status, handicap, genetic characteristics, mental or physical health conditions, psychological incapacity, existing diseases and an open category called whatever other.

The measure, No. 20.174, had been promised, but the text is now available. The 14,225 words include a lengthy explanatory summary.

The Defensoría de los Habitantes and the legislative Comisión Permanente Especial de Derechos Humanos had a role in drafting the bill. Listed as sponsors are Sandra Piszk Feinzilber, Maureen Clarke Clarke, Epsy Campbell Barr,  Oscar López Arias, Rosibel Ramos Madrigal and Patricia Mora Castellanos.

The measure is subject to revision before it goes to a committee for study.

The bill also creates a bureaucracy that is set up to monitor observance of the law and to suggest updates. It is the Consejo Nacional contra la Discriminación, el Racismo y la Intolerancia, which would be part of the Ministerio de Justicia y Paz,

Lawmaker Clarke was quoted in a summary that one purpose of the bill is to make up for the historic debts of the country. Several sections of the criminal code would be updated to include references to discrimination and hate speech.

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Renewed effort seeks to protect the top jungle predator in the Amazon
By the Wildlife Conservation Society news staff

A coordinated effort by conservationists is expected to be a major step in protecting the jaguar (Panthera onca) in the Amazon basin.

A region known to conservationists as the central Amazon Jaguar Conservation Unit is the largest jaguar stronghold in the world.  It encompasses parts of Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, French Guiana, and Suriname.  However, even in this vast area, changes in biological diversity and jaguar populations can come quickly.

Huge extents of formerly unbroken forest, experts say, have already been lost to conversion to monoculture crops, cattle ranching, and hydro-electric, mining, and transportation projects.  Development is inevitable in the Amazon, so the question becomes how to best ensure both sustainable development for local communities along with a secure future that includes the area’s icon of functional ecosystems: the jaguar.

Recognizing the need to address that challenge, several leading Latin American conservation organizations working in the Amazon basin recently met in Quito, Ecuador, to review regional jaguar conservation efforts and outline priorities to maintain healthy jaguar populations in the Amazon.

The unique group included experts from the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Instituto de Desenvolvimento Sustentável Mamirauá, Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt, Fundación Omacha, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Ministerio del Ambiente de Ecuador, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Universidad San Francisco de Quito,, TRAFFIC, WWF, Panthera and the Wildlife conservation Society.

The participants drew on their experience to develop a plan around five central themes to help secure the long-term future of jaguars: landscape and corridor scale conservation; research and monitoring; conflict management; legislation, policy and administration; and education, training and communication. 

“The main recommendations to come out of the meeting were related to the importance of working at large landscape scales to conserve meaningful populations of jaguars,” said Rob Wallace, Amazon Landscape Conservation expert at the Wildlife Conservation Society.  “This landscape approach

Wildlife Conservation Society photo
The iconic jungle cat, the jaguar (Panthera onca)

requires an integrated threats-based strategy involving a series of long-term partnerships with territorial stakeholders such as protected areas, indigenous territories, municipal governments and others.”

Emiliano Esterci Ramalho, monitoring coordinator at the Mamiraua Sustainable Development Institute and a groundbreaking jaguar researcher in the flooded forests of central Amazonian Brazil underlined the importance of collective conservation efforts.  “This meeting encouraged us to create the Jaguar Conservation Alliance in Brazil, a multi-institutional initiative that aims to coordinate jaguar research and conservation efforts in the Amazon, and to ensure that our collective efforts amount to more than just the sum of their parts,” Ramalho said.

The document also includes a post-workshop addition highlighting the emerging threat of hunting and illegal trade of jaguars in the Amazon and beyond.  Forty years ago, jaguars benefited from international trade policy decisions such as the inclusion in 1975 of the jaguar in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora that prohibited all commercial trade in spotted cat skins for the international fur trade. 

Since then, in areas with effective conservation measures, jaguar populations have stabilized and in a number of cases, bounced back.  However, conservation is an ongoing process of vigilance and actions to counter new threats.  Jaguar hunting for trade has re-emerged, this time for teeth and other body parts for markets in Asia.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Nov. 28, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 235
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Trump assails Mrs. Clinton
for seeking three recounts

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. president-elect Donald Trump assailed Democrat Hillary Clinton Sunday for joining an effort to recount votes in three closely contested states that Trump won, recalling that she said during one of their debates that election losers should accept the outcome even when they don't like it.

In his long campaign, the Republican Trump said the election was rigged against him, but he is calling Green Party nominee Jill Stein's bid to start recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Wisconsin a scam and derided Mrs. Clinton's decision to join the effort. Out of millions of votes cast, Trump won all three states over Mrs. Clinton by about 27,000 votes in Wisconsin, 12,000 in Michigan and 68,000 in Pennsylvania. Ms. Stein got about 1 percent of the vote in each of them.

"Hillary Clinton conceded the election when she called me just prior to the victory speech and after the results were in," Trump said on Twitter. "Nothing will change."

In another tweet, Trump, at his Atlantic oceanfront mansion in Florida, said, "The Democrats, when they incorrectly thought they were going to win, asked that the election night tabulation be accepted. Not so anymore!"

During their third debate, at a point Trump was trailing Clinton in national surveys, he said he would keep everyone in suspense whether he would accept the election outcome unless he won.

Sunday, in a string of tweets, he recalled that Mrs. Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of State, responded that his equivocation on accepting the outcome was horrifying and that "we've accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them, and that is what must expected of anyone . . . ."

Mrs. Clinton's campaign had not initiated recount efforts, believing that a recalculation would not reverse the result. But hundreds of her supporters urged her to join Ms. Stein's effort in Wisconsin, which it is now doing.

Mrs. Clinton's election campaign lawyer Marc Elias acknowledged Saturday that the requests by Clinton supporters prompted the campaign to quietly start investigating whether there was any outside interference in the Nov. 8 election results and would also take part in recounts in Michigan and Pennsylvania if they are also started there.

Elias said no actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology has been found. But with Trump's slim victory margins in the three states, coupled with alleged Russian hacking of computer files of a key Clinton campaign official, the Clinton campaign decided to take another look at possible foreign interference in the outcome.

There were concerns that Russian hackers may try to influence the election, particularly after U.S. officials alleged that they successfully hacked the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and tried to hack voter registration databases. Government researchers who investigated the cyber-attacks concluded that Russians created and disseminated fake news about the election, apparently to try to help Trump win.

Ms. Stein filed a petition Friday to request the Wisconsin vote recount.

A post on Stein's campaign Web site called the voting machines used in Wisconsin highly vulnerable to hacking and malicious programming and said the machines lacked any security features.

The state must meet a federal deadline of Dec. 13 to complete the recount.

Earlier Friday, Ms. Stein said on her Web site that supporters had raised $5 million for the recount effort and other associated costs, in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. She said the total cost for all three recounts could reach $7 million.

Ms. Stein stands to gain little from a recount, since she won just about 1 percent of the popular vote.

The statement on Ms. Stein's website said the recount effort wasn't meant to help Hillary Clinton. Rather, the Web site said the move "is about protecting our democracy."

Election experts say there is almost no chance the election results would be overturned. But with Mrs. Clinton's national lead in the popular vote now more than two million, any changes to the vote count in her favor could heighten the debate over the legitimacy of Trump's stunning upset win.

U.S. presidential elections are not decided by a national popular vote. Instead, they are decided by individual races in the 50 states and the national capital city, Washington, with each state's importance in the overall outcome weighted by its population. Winning presidential candidates have to amass a majority of 270 votes in the 538-member Electoral College based on the state-by-state results, with the vote winner in each state winning all of that state's electoral votes.

By winning numerous states by relatively narrow margins, Trump won in the Electoral College, 306-232. Mrs. Clinton would need to prevail in all three of the recount states to reverse the outcome.

With Castro’s death, policy
in U.S. may go into turmoil

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The death of former Cuban president Fidel Castro has put U.S. policy toward Cuba back in the spotlight, and is highlighting stark differences in the world view of President Barack Obama and president-elect Donald Trump.

Obama considers opening up U.S. ties to Cuba after more than 50 years of bitter estrangement one of his signature foreign policy achievements. He visited the Caribbean island nation in March, the first sitting U.S. president to do so since 1928.

“I have come here to bury the last remnants of the Cold War in the Americas,” he told the Cuban people.

Over the past two years, the two countries have re-opened their embassies after more than 50 years. U.S. cruise ships are now docking in Cuba, and there are regular flights by U.S. airlines to the island.

Reacting to Fidel Castro’s death, Obama issued a diplomatically worded written statement, offering condolences to the Castro family. It said: “History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and the world around him.”

Trump issued a toughly worded statement calling Fidel Castro “a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades.” Trump pledged that his incoming administration will “do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty.”

Fidel Castro’s 85-year-old brother Raúl is Cuba’s current president. He helped to draw up the opening to the U.S. but has not introduced any major political or economic reforms to the Communist system. Raúl Castro appears to be in good health and firmly in control. He has pledged to step down in 2018.

The death of the iconic revolutionary figure, 90-year-old Fidel Castro, and Trump’s election are raising questions about what will happen to the warming of U.S.-Cuban ties. A senior Trump adviser, Kellyanne Conway, told ABC News “This Week” Sunday that Trump is open to any number of possibilities on resetting U.S. relations with Cuba, but he would demand concessions in return.

“But we remain very firm that when you open up diplomatic relations, as President Obama has, with Cuba and Fidel Castro in the last several years, that to get nothing in return, including political prisoners and assurances that people on the island of Cuba will be free politically and economically, I mean, I've personally met, and I'm sure you have, victims of Fidel Castro's oppression and his torture and his imprisonment.”

Ms. Conway said the release of political prisoners held in Cuba would be a key factor in future relations.

Obama’s Cuban policies also have been criticized by a number of lawmakers from both major parties. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, called Obama’s statement on Fidel Castro’s death pathetic and said there is no mention of the thousands he killed and imprisoned.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, another Republican whose father is from Cuba, told ABC News “This Week” that the coming days will be a test of resolve.

“I very much hope that we don’t see any U.S. government officials going to Fidel Castro’s funeral. I hope we don’t see Barack Obama and Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton and Democrats lining up to lionize a murderous tyrant and thug.”

The White House has not announced who will be traveling to Fidel Castro’s funeral on Sunday.

Some lawmakers are hoping that the passing of Fidel Castro may usher in a new chapter in U.S.-Cuban ties. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat of Minnesota, has introduced bipartisan legislation to lift the 50-year-old U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, saying it is based on the ghosts of the past. Only Congress can lift the embargo.

Canada’s Trudeau ridiculed
for his comments on Castro

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The reactions of world leaders to the death of Fidel Castro included sorrow and sometimes criticism for the former Cuban leader. But Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's praise for the revolutionary and what he said was the dictator's dedication and love for the Cuban people was swiftly rebuked by some Canadian and U.S. politicians.

"I know my father was very proud to call him a friend, and I had the opportunity to meet Fidel when my father passed away," the prime minister said.

Trudeau, who visited Cuba earlier this month, said, "While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro's supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for El Comandante."

Kellie Leitch, a Canadian Conservative Party lawmaker, said Trudeau's remarks about Castro sounded "as if the prime minister were reading from a story book."

Dr. Leitch said on Facebook, "When given the opportunity to recognize the Castro regime for what it was, brutal, oppressive, and murderous, our prime minister instead chose to lionize the man who denied his people basic freedoms for decades."

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who is of Cuban descent, was startled by Trudeau's praise of Castro, saying "Is this a real statement or parody? Because if this is a real statement from the PM of Canada, it is shameful and embarrassing."

Trudeau's tribute to Castro was also mocked on social media, as #trudeaueulogies became a trending hashtag on Twitter, with users tweeting satiric praise for historic and fictional villains.

U.S. House speaker Paul Ryan said, "Now that Fidel Castro is dead, the cruelty and oppression of his regime should die with him."

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said he and his wife, Rosalynn, "fondly remember our visits with him in Cuba and his love of his country." In a statement, Carter said he wishes the Cuban citizens peace and prosperity in the years ahead.

Luiz Inacio Lula, Brazil's former president, said Castro was the greatest of all Latin Americans.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered the support of the U.N. to the people of Cuba during spoken remarks at a sustainable transportation conference in Turkmenistan.

"Under the former president Castro, Cuba made advances in the fields of education, literacy and health. I hope that Cuba will continue to advance on a path of reform and greater prosperity,” Ban said.

Ruben Berrios Martinez, the longtime leader of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, said Castro was the "largest and most influential Latin American of the 20th century, whose verticality, vision and passion has always served as an inspiration for those who aspired to a more just, free and dignified Latin America."

Nicolas Maduro, president of Venezuela, said he spoke to Raúl Castro, Fidel's brother, to convey solidarity with the Cubans.

Spanish President Mariano Rajoy Brey gave his condolences to Cuba and called Castro a figure of historical significance.

Similarly, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Castro one of the most iconic personalities of the 20th century. "India mourns the loss of a great friend," Modi said on Twitter.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said "the world has lost a man who was a hero for many . . . . His legacy will be judged by history."

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said on Twitter, "I lament the death of Fidel Castro Ruz, leader of the Cuban revolution and emblematic reference of the 20th century."

Russian President Vladimir Putin also praised Castro as a symbol of an era.

"Free and independent Cuba, which he and his allies built, became an influential member of the international community and became an inspiring example for many countries and nations. Fidel Castro was a sincere and reliable friend of Russia.''

More cabinet selections due
from Donald Trump this week

 By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Americans are awaiting more Cabinet picks from President-elect Donald Trump. The pace of announcements slowed over the Thanksgiving holiday, but is expected to pick up again this week.

No Trump selection is generating more intrigue than secretary of State. In the running to be nominated as America’s top diplomat is a stalwart Trump loyalist, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.

“I would never discuss politics and what he selects and doesn’t select on Thanksgiving, and I’d probably never discuss it at all,” Giuliani told reporters late last week.

But Trump also is considering one of his fiercest critics from during the campaign, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

“Think of Donald Trump’s personal qualities: the bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd 3rd grade theatrics,” Romney said in a scathing speech denouncing Trump during the Republican primary season.

Some closest to Trump are loudly and publicly making clear their discomfort with Romney.

“This is Donald Trump’s party now, and he won states that Mitt Romney lost. I mean, he won Michigan. Mitt Romney lost it by 10,” Trump spokesperson Kellyanne Conway said on ABC’s “This Week” program. “I only wish Governor Romney were as critical of Hillary Clinton.”

One of Trump's former rivals said he is reassured by the team the president-elect is assembling so far.

“I’m encouraged by the team that is coming together, by where their focus is,” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said on “This Week.” “I’m encouraged by their plan for the first 100 days to act aggressively, lifting the burden on small businesses and job creators. That’s what the president should be doing.”

Cruz added that Republicans must not be timid in pushing their agenda after Inauguration Day.

“We have a mandate for change. Republicans have been given the opportunity – we’ve been given control of the White House, every executive branch, and both houses of Congress. We can’t blow it. We have got to deliver,” he said.

Progressives, meanwhile, are urging Trump to stand firm in areas in which, during the campaign, he said he disagrees with Republican Party orthodoxy, such as preserving America’s safety net for the elderly and the poor.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Nov. 28, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 235
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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
On the path of danger and fallen orchids

The day was damp and chilly and drizzly. Not too bad except for a heavy wind. After an hour or so, it was pretty much time to call it quits. I was finishing up with a little bit of light weeding when I heard a CRACK and a loud swoosh.

Every gardener knows what that means: somewhere nearby a tree has
Victoria Torley
 come down. For the ordinary gardener this is nothing special, but for the orchid gardener a crack and swoosh represents an opportunity. There I was wet, chilled, and hungry for my lunch, but I could not resist a crack and swoosh.

I knew basically where the tree had to be, but sadly, between me and 
the tree was a 10-foot embankment. This meant a detour of 100 meters up the road through a cattle field and up the hill until I could finally see the possible treasure.

It was wonderful. In fact it wasn’t just one tree that came down. The first tree had been so large that it smashed two other trees as it toppled to the ground. It was an orchid gatherers paradise, and I wasted no time getting to work. It wasn’t easy, I had to scramble over what had been the tallest branches to reach pieces of the downed trunk. Nor was I standing on solid ground, I was scrambling over the smaller branches and it was slippery.

At times like this, climbing and scrambling and slipping, I occasionally wonder what would happen if I ran into something untoward. A snake, perhaps, or a large spider, or perhaps my leg would simply slip through a couple of branches and snap like the proverbial twig.

Did I have my phone? A walkie-talkie? Of course not. I was on an orchid quest and had not had such things when I left the house. I did have my small dog with me but she was no Lassie to run barking to the house. Believe me, I was very careful.

Was it worth it? You bet it was. The orchids were there, large and small, clinging to the trunk buried in moss or with free roots. Naturally I had had the good sense to bring a large bag which I stuffed full of my treasures. When it could hold no more, I headed back home, fortunately downhill.

Did I go in the house get out of my wet things and have a cup of tea? Not on your life, not when I had orchids to tend to. It was only after they were all properly secured that it was time to hit the shower and have something to eat.

It was a good day.

Plant for the Week

Okay, don’t blame me for the picture, Metric Man insisted on taking it and adding it here. Yes, that is me, all scruffy looking and hiding behind an orchid that must have been reaching for the sky – it is over 6 feet tall (1.8m?). See all the insect damage? (on the orchid, not me). Don’t worry, it has a new bug-free home. What kind is it? Let’s wait and see what the bloom looks like.
A.M. Costa Rica/Victoria Torley

If you would like to suggest a topic for this column, simply send a letter to the editor.  And, for more garden tips, visit HERE!

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From Page 7:

First income tax form is due this Wednesday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Wednesday is the deadline for the annual ritual of telling the taxman about income and expenses.

The D-151 form is due that day. This is the form that lists income from a single source of 2.5 million colons or more in the 2015-2016 fiscal year. And those who pay taxes are supposed to report expenses of 2.5 million colons to a single source or more than 50,000 colons, less than $100, to professionals like lawyers, physicians and accountants.

The Direccion General de Tributación, the tax agency in the Ministerio de Hacienda, runs all the forms through a computer to match them up to see if everyone who received money reported it. If not, the tax inspector will come acalling.

The tax form lists gross income and gross expenses, the D-101, is due Dec. 15.