A.M. Costa Rica
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Published  Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 240
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Ruta 32 widening job gets environmental OK
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The environmental agency has given a go-ahead to the reconstruction of 107 kilometers of Ruta 32 from Matina to Río Frio.

The approval came from the Secretaría Técnica Nacional Ambiental, according to Casa Presidencial.  The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes delivered the data for the environmental approval last July 20, even though there are no firm plans for construction.

The job is to be done by China Harbour Engineering Co. Group and China Road and Bridge Corp., which is a condition of a massive $465.6 million loan from the Chinese. There will be no competitive bidding.

The job consists of making the two-lane highway four lanes and putting in overpasses.
The Export–Import Bank of China would make two loans, one for $100 million and one for $296 million.

Costa Rica is putting up $90 million, including an extra $20 million for expropriating property and relocating public services.

The project has been controversial, but it has strong support from the Caribbean coast because Ruta 32 is the main road from there to the center of the country.

President Luis Guillermo Solís also supports the project and announced the environmental clearance on his social media account.

The deal originated in the Laura Chinchilla administration, and the Chinese have been pressuring for a final agreement. Construction is due to begin in the second half of  2017.

F Proyecto CR photo
Migrants near the Nicaraguan border have an open food tent and open fires.
Thousands of migrants face an uncertain future here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Overlooked in most of the press reports of Hurricane Otto problems are the thousands of migrants who already were living in U.S.-supplied tents along the northern border.

These are mostly Haitians who have hopes of reaching the United States as illegal immigrants.

An organization that brings clothes, food and entertainment to the migrant camps estimates that there are now about 3,000 persons there. That means that at least 1,000 have continued on their journey north, perhaps by paying sums to traffickers.

Nicaragua closed its border to migrants more than a year ago, causing the human accumulation on the Costa Rican side of the border.

The hopes the migrants might have had for a resolution to their problem were dashed by the election of Donald Trump in the United States. While President Barack Obama and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton have welcoming attitudes towards illegal immigrants, Trump does not.

Consequently there is no way to estimate how long these migrants will be stuck in the tent camps.

An organization mostly of young people, called F Proyecto CR, has been collecting money for the migrants. The group will be making their third visit to the camps Friday and Saturday with donations and entertainment plans.

The tent camps were created by the Comisión
Nacional de Emergencias and the Dirección Nacional de Migración y Extranjería to replace a squalid settlement that was set up without government controls. The United States government provided the tents, which appear to be war surplus.

The tents seem to have stood up well even as Hurricane Otto ravaged locations nearby Nov. 24.

The F Proyecto CR complained in a press statement that the migrants lacked resources and there was little recreational attention. The group held a sale of donated items Sunday in Curridabat to finance part of the effort.

Government attitudes towards migrants seem to have changed.

The Policía de Fronteras reported Friday that its officers had picked up 13 Cubans and two illegal Nicaraguans in Guaycará de Golfito at a checkpoint on the Interamericana Sur. The Cubans were returned to Panamá, and the Nicaraguans face deportation, said a  Ministerio de Seguridad Pública summary. In the past, the Costa Rican government has helped Cubans on their journey north. Island residents have a legal right to enter the United States.

Meanwhile, Australia has said it is willing to take some of the young people that are being moved to a camp in Costa Rica. The young people come mostly from El Salvador where there is extensive violence. The Luis Guillermo Solís administration agreed to house some 100 young people temporarily in anticipation of their transportation to the United States.

Now that program is in jeopardy due to the U.S. elections.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 240
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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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Insurance professionals

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Residency experts


A full service immigration agency
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Phone in Costa Rica: ( 506 ) 2226=0755  (En español )



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Renewable energy called a big opportunity

By the World Wildlife Fund news staff

The various sources of renewable energy represent an opportunity for Latin America to have its development shared by the entire population, and would particularly favor the more than 20 million people living in regions without electricity, according to World Wildlife Fund expert Tabare Arroyo.

Arroyo, the organization's adviser on the economy and energy, visited Asuncion this week for a series of meetings with officials of the Paraguayan administration.

In an interview, the expert noted that “renewable energy promotes a decentralized energy production model that permits the existence of prosumers: people who produce the energy they consume.”

The Wildlife Fund representative said that, in line with the sustainable development goals proposed by the United Nations, many developing economies are looking to use 100 percent renewable energy by the year 2050.

The region’s leading renewable-energy-producing countries, according to the fund, are led by Costa Rica, which in 2013 generated 87 percent of its energy from renewable sources, and by Uruguay, which in 2012 became the country in the region with the highest percentage of its GDP invested in this sector. Costa Rica makes extensive use of hydro power.

According to Arroyo, Latin America and the Caribbean boast a great potential for producing renewable energy, which could allow some countries to forget about an economic model based on fossil fuels like oil and coal.

Arroyo added, however, that these countries still have a high dependency on those greenhouse-gas-producing fuels, above all in the transportation sector, 80 percent of which depends on oil, and in homes without electricity, where residents use wood or coal for cooking and heating their dwellings.

In spite of that, the The World Wildlife fund said it believes the transition to an energy matrix based on renewables is already becoming evident, for example, in the declining cost of solar energy and the growing investment and the creation of new jobs in the sector.

The region of Latin America and the Caribbean has the potential to provide 20 times the demand for electricity projected for 2050 using renewable energy, without any further dependence on fossil fuels, which could make it the leader in the sector, according to fund data.

The region currently generates 7 percent of the world’s electricity, and almost 65 percent of this electricity comes from renewable sources, mainly from hydroelectric plants.

Electric charging station opens today

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The state power company will put into service today its first filling station for electric cars.

The location is the company’s main offices in Sabana Norte. The company, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, said that a typical charging would take about 20 minutes.

Of the 1.4 million autos in the country, only 200 are electric, said the state company. But its subsidiary, the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz, has 27 vehicles that run on electricity, and the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad estimates that it will purchase 100 for its own crews and set up two more charging stations, in Jacó and Alajuela.

Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal photo
 Some of the hungry beneficiaries of donated pet food

Four-legged victims are getting aid, too

 By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Thousands of the hungry hurricane victims have large, floppy ears and big, brown eyes.

So the government has distributed 250,000 kilos of food for animals in the wake of Hurricane Otto. In addition, 254 pets have been treated at temporary clinics, said the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal.

The food can be rice, hay, salt and food concentrates for cows, pigs, chickens and even fish. A lot of the food has been donated, the agency said. 29,000 kilos were for household pets, it added.

Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal photo
Some of the hay comes in plastic wraps, called silopacks that prevent decay.

Pizzagate fakery leads to shooting

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Police in the U.S. capital said a man arrested Sunday for firing a gun inside a popular pizza restaurant told them he was there to self-investigate a conspiracy theory, which spread through fake news stories during the presidential campaign.

Fake stories were prevalent throughout the race between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping to obscure facts about their positions and history and gaining wide exposure thanks to people sharing the false information on social media.

Sunday's incident happened at Comet Ping Pong, where a fake narrative alleges there is a pedophilia ring linked to the Clintons. Restaurant owner James Alefantis reported getting repeated death threats before the election.

Police said 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch walked into Comet Ping Pong Sunday afternoon, pointed a gun at an employee and later fired it. Employees and customers fled the restaurant and other businesses in the area went into lockdown. No one was injured.

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 240
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Overseas telecom services may be affected by a problem in México
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The internet, international calls and data transfers from Costa Rica to the rest of the world might have been a little shaky overnight.

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad said that the Maya-1 undersea cable might show degraded service after 10 p.m. Sunday because of emergency repair work taking place in Cancún, México. This is the cable that carries a lot of the country’s electronic information. The state telecom company did
not say so, but service also would presume to be degraded with the rest of the firms that use the same cable service.
The Maya-1 is one of two major cables that connects Costa Rica to the rest of the world. It is run by the Consorcio Cable Submarino Maya. The cable runs from Colombia to Florida with intermediate stops, including one in Limón.

The work was supposed to be done by 4 a.m. today. Despite the warning by the state telecom company, internet service did not seem to be affected early today.

The company said it was seeking alternate routes.

The Mexicans were said to have to reconfigure the electrical supply of the cable landing station there.

Contract to be signed this week for Costa Rica-Panamá bridge
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A consortium of three firms, two from México and one from Costa Rica, will build the new bridge over the Río Sixaola to Panamá.

The United Nations Office for Project Services is managing the bridge job, and said that the participating companies are  Constructora MECO of Costa Rica and Cal y Mayor y Asociados and MEXPRESA. A contract is expected to be signed this week with the firms doing business as the Consorcio Binacional de Sixaola. The job is worth $17.5 million. Costa Rica will pay just $3.75 million.

The new bridge will replace a temporary bailey bridge that was installed because the old railway bridge that had been used was unsafe for vehicle traffic. That bridge still is used by pedestrians. Officials of both countries said they hope to have the new bridge in service by the end of February 2018.

Work is due to start in the first four months of next year.

Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes photo
This is the current situation with the temporary bridge parallel to the railway span.

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Vista Ballena
Palermo Hotel

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2016 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 240
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Sick or injured dolphin gets help

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Members of the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas rescued a dolphin last week in the Pacific and transported it to a recovery center.

The Ministerio de Seguridad Pública said that the dolphin was seen struggling off  Playa Coyotera, La Cruz, Guanacaste.

Th coast guard staffers managed to get the dolphin ashore and then transported it to the Parque Marino in Puntarenas where it was reported to have shown signs of improvement. The  Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal also was involved.

Government workers speculated on what caused the dolphin's condition, and they said they suspect that the mammal was exhausted after a long trip.

Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
A member of the Guardacostas keeps the young dolphin wet.

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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Cells:  +506-8380-5919  and +506-8302-5877

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Tropical Homes

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)

Fully Furnished American Style Apartment for Rent

San Jose Central 2-1/2-bedroom 2-bathroom apartment on the 2nd floor. Fully furnished American-style apartments with elevator in a secure building in Barrio Amón. Large balcony. Adult Building. Free cable television with two television both in the living room and in the main bedroom. High speed internet cable, WiFi, fully equipped large kitchen with microwave, toaster oven, coffee maker, water cooler, total utensils. King-sized bed in the principal bedroom, all bedding, sheets, towels, etc. It has an over-sized soaking tub off of the second bathroom. Water included. Free laundry rooms on all floors. Convenient to Parque Morazán, 100 meters north of downtown Holiday Inn, other hotels, restaurants, casinos, city government, National Registry. For a single individual it is $650 per month plus your electric usage just inside your apartment. $300 security deposit promptly refunded except your final electric bill. For personal inspection and more information contact: Hilda or Frank at 506-2221-7161.

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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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Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 240
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Trump broadens his search
for nation’s top diplomat

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President-elect Donald Trump has widened his search for a secretary of State after high-profile meetings with four top candidates failed to yield a decision last week.

"It is true that he's broadened the search, and the secretary of State is an incredibly important position for any president," Trump aide Kellyanne Conway told reporters at Trump Tower in New York Sunday. She said a very full slate of meetings was set to begin Monday to fill the remaining Cabinet positions.

Last week, the Trump team mentioned four men as the top contenders: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, retired Army general and former CIA Director David Petraeus and 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton also met with Trump on Friday, and vice president-elect Mike Pence included Bolton's name in a list of possible secretaries of State Sunday.

Former Utah governor and ex-ambassador to Beijing Jon Huntsman is in the mix, according to CNN, while other news reports said Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson is also being considered.

As the list expands, one of the top candidates, Petraeus, appeared on ABC's “This Week” to express his interest in the job.

Petraeus, who resigned in disgrace as head of the CIA in 2012, said Sunday he's paid for his mistakes and was ready to become Trump's chief diplomat.

"I have acknowledged for a number for years that five years ago I made a serious mistake. I acknowledged it, I apologized for it, I have paid a heavy price for it, and I have learned from it," he said.

Petraeus pleaded guilty last year to a misdemeanor charge of giving journals containing state secrets to his biographer and mistress, Paula Broadwell.

Vice president-elect Mike Pence praised Petraeus as an American hero on NBC's “Meet the Press."

Trump will factor the totality of Petraeus' career in making this decision, Pence said.

Business told to stay put
or face import tax on goods

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. president-elect Donald Trump sternly warned American businesses again Sunday that if they move their operations overseas they would face a 35-percent tax if they then try to sell their products back in the United States.

In a series of Twitter comments, Trump said he plans to substantially reduce taxes and regulations on businesses. But he said that any company that fires its employees, builds a new factory or plant in another country "and then thinks it will sell its product back into the U.S. without retribution or consequence, is wrong!"

The billionaire real estate mogul said the border tax on products manufactured in other countries "will make leaving financially difficult . . . Please be forewarned prior to making a very expensive mistake!"

The U.S. has lost five million manufacturing jobs since 2000, many to automation and some to overseas locations where company owners are paying workers substantially less than they have been in the United States. But in his lengthy campaign for the White House, Trump vowed to curb the corporate departures and to bring back jobs that have already been moved overseas.

He claimed an early success, along with vice president-elect Mike Pence, by offering $7 million in tax incentives last week to the Carrier., the air conditioning company that is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. Building & Industrial Systems, to keep 1,069 jobs in the Midwestern state of Indiana that Carrier had earlier said it was moving to Mexico. But Trump did not mention that the company still plans to move 1,100 more Indiana jobs to Mexico.

Trump touted the Carrier deal while touring its Indianapolis operation even though he had attacked such tax incentive pacts during his campaign. After announcing the Carrier deal, the president-elect assailed the nearby Rexnord bearings manufacturing company, which he said is firing all of its 300 workers and sending the jobs to Mexico.

Critics of the Carrier deal say that it will invite other companies to demand the same tax incentives to remain in the United States.

But one Trump economic adviser, Anthony Scaramucci, said, “Companies should expect a tax break. We have the highest corp tax rates in the industrialized world, we have to get those corporate tax rates down to a competitive position. I’m hoping that every CEO in America is getting that beacon signal from the new Trump administration.”

The U.S. corporate tax rate is at 35 percent.

"It doesn't worry us, because ultimately, at the end of the day, we keep improving and maintaining the conditions that make business look to come here,” said Hector Castillo-Olivares, the mayor of Santa Catarina, México, where the jobs from Indiana were supposed to go.

Voice of America photo  
 Wesley Clark, Jr., speaks to assembled veterans.
 He is the son of the retired Army general and
 former political candidate.

Pipeline firm denied permit
in Standing Rock dispute

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has denied an easement for the highly controversial $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline project, the subject of months of protest by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which contends the project would affect its drinking water supply and destroy its sacred sites.

In a statement Sunday, the Corps of Engineers said it would be undertaking an environmental impact study to look at possible alternative routes for the project.

The pipeline, owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP, is mostly complete, except for a segment planned to run under Lake Oahe, a reservoir in North Dakota formed by a dam on the Missouri River. It is designed to transport up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil a day from North Dakota to Illinois.

The company had no immediate comment on the decision.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has been protesting the pipeline for months. During the protest, the tribe has been joined by multiple groups and activists, and at times violence has erupted.

In September, the Obama administration temporarily blocked construction in hopes of conducting a review of the project, but a federal court later ruled the project could continue.

The Corps of Engineers originally had set a Monday deadline for the activists to vacate the site, but later said it would not enforce the order. Demonstrators had said they were prepared to stay, and federal, state and local authorities all said they would not forcibly remove them.

Earlier Sunday, dozens of members of the group Veterans Stand for Standing Rock, organized by activist and veteran Wesley Clark Jr., were arriving at the protest site.

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard spoke to the veterans, thanking them for their support of water protectors.

“You are showing how you are continuing your service as veterans. While many of you may have laid down your uniform you have served in our country’s past, you are continuing this great service for the protection and wellbeing of people,” she said.

A GoFundMe page set up to support veterans coming to Standing Rock had raised more than $1 million.

“Some who are talking about this issue are trying to pit two sides of our community and our country against each other, those who are choosing to support so-called economic development and jobs pitted against those who are standing for protecting water,” Rep. Gabbard said. “It’s a false narrative; it’s a false question. Unless we protect our water, there is no economy. There are no jobs. There is no life.”

Jill Stein to seek U.S. help
for Pennsylvania recount

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Former U.S. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is turning to a federal court in her effort to recount the state of Pennsylvania's ballots from the recent presidential election that former secretary of State Hillary Clinton was widely expected to win, but lost to billionaire businessman Donald Trump.

Stein dropped her attempt to have Pennsylvania recount the votes after a state judge ordered her to post a $1 million bond.

Jonathan Abady, lead counsel to Ms. Stein's recount efforts, said in a statement, "the state court system is so ill-equipped to address this problem," that "we must seek federal court intervention."

One of Ms. Stein's lawyers informed a Pennsylvania court in a filing about her decision to withdraw her recount attempt that "Petitioners are regular citizens of ordinary means. They cannot afford to post the $1,000,000 bond required by the court."

Ms. Stein is expected to ask a federal court Monday to aid her in recounting the Pennsylvania ballots.

She has also mounted campaigns to recount the votes in Michigan and Wisconsin.

President-elect Trump has called Ms. Stein's recount push a scam and has engaged lawyers in all three states to thwart her efforts.

Ms. Stein stands to gain little from a recount, since she won only one percent of the popular vote.

She has raised about $7 million for the recount effort and other associated costs.

Austrian right-wing candidate
admits his election defeat

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Austria’s anti-immigrant candidate, Norbert Hofer, has failed in his bid to become the country’s first far right leader since World War II, in an election seen as a test for the strength of populist movements in Europe.

The former aeronautical engineer, who campaigned on an anti-establishment, anti-immigrant, anti-EU platform, conceded defeat to his environmentalist opponent, Alexander Van Der Bellen, who ran as an independent.

Media projections said Van der Bellen won with 53.3 percent of the vote, compared to Hofer’s 46.7 percent, a victory that Van der Bellen said is a signal of hope and change to all the capitals of the European Union.

Hofer had been poised to become the EU’s first far-right leader, as unease became evident in the country in the wake of a migrant crisis that has seen tens of thousands of Muslims seek asylum in Austria.

In Vienna Sunday night, Hofer went before reporters at the city’s Hofburg Palace and pledged to keep up his efforts to ensure that the more than 46 percent of Austrians who voted for him were not ignored.

The poll’s outcome was despite a campaign dominated by anger over issues of Muslim immigration, the financial burden of refugees and migrants who are collecting benefits from Austria's welfare system and Europe's wave of terrorist attacks over the last year, following the start of the migrant crisis.

Some voters on Sunday lamented the bitter divisions that the race exposed.

“This election in general is tragic,” said Ms. Eva, a voter who cast her ballot in Vienna’s first district. “It’s very tragic because we were having another person, Hofer, who speaks more for the old way of thinking, of pushing people against each other and is more in a rightist direction, in a fascist direction, like Hitler.”

Sunday's poll was held after the results of an earlier vote on May 22 had Van Der Bellen ahead of Hofer by 31,000 votes. Austria’s constitutional court annulled the results due to vote counting irregularities.

The campaign, one of Austria’s longest, was marked by anger.

A newspaper headline described it as an “Election of Hate,” reflecting pent-up frustrations among Hofer’s rightist supporters, and fear and bitterness among his leftist detractors who have labeled him a Nazi for his anti-immigration stance in the face of Europe’s migrant crisis that saw more than 1 million refugees and migrants enter Europe last year, many of them through Austria.

Analysts say Hofer sought to benefit from the anti-establishment mood sweeping across the U.S. and Europe that has been partly inspired by Britain’s decision to leave the European Union and the victory of Donald Trump in the United States.

Study links bacteria in gut
to activating parkinson’s

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Parkinson’s disease may be linked to certain gut bacteria, according to a new study.

Writing in the journal Cell, researchers at the California Institute of Technology say: “Changes in the composition of gut bacterial populations, or possibly gut bacteria themselves, are actively contributing to and may even cause the deterioration of motor skills that is the hallmark of this disease.”

Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease that affects some 10 million people around the world and one million Americans. Symptoms include tremors and difficulty walking. It has no known cure.

Researchers say 75 percent of parkinson’s sufferers have gastrointestinal abnormalities, usually constipation.

The new findings about the connection of gut bacteria to the disease could lead to new treatments that could, for example, help good bacteria develop or kill unwanted microbes.

"The gut is a permanent home to a diverse community of beneficial and sometimes harmful bacteria, known as the microbiome, that is important for the development and function of the immune and nervous systems," said researcher Sarkis Mazmanian. "Remarkably, 70 percent of all neurons in the peripheral nervous system, that is, not the brain or spinal cord, are in the intestines, and the gut's nervous system is directly connected to the central nervous system through the vagus nerve. Because GI problems often precede the motor symptoms by many years, and because most cases are caused by environmental factors, we hypothesized that bacteria in the gut may contribute . . . .”

Researchers reached their conclusion after testing mice that were programmed to produce high levels of a protein called alpha-synuclein, which is associated with damage in the brain in Parkinson’s patients.

The mice were divided into two groups. One group had a consortium of gut bacteria in their systems, while the other were “germ-free” and had no gut bacteria.

Researchers then compared the motor skills of each group and found that the germ-free mice performed better.

"This was the eureka moment," says Timothy Sampson, a postdoctoral scholar in biology and biological engineering. "The mice were genetically identical; both groups were making too much alpha-synuclein. The only difference was the presence or absence of gut microbiota. Once you remove the microbiome, the mice have normal motor skills even with the overproduction of alpha-synuclein.

Researchers think when gut bacteria break down dietary fiber, they produce molecules called short-chain fatty acids, which prior research has shown can activate immune responses in the brain, potentially causing damage to neurons.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 240
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News from the BBC up to the minute

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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
A garden should smell like a garden

Everyone wants a garden that smells good. When you step outside in the morning or open your windows to let in the cool evening breeze, you want that breeze to be scented with flowers. What to plant? The first thing I
Victoria Torley
would like to suggest is butterfly white ginger, Hedychium coronarium.

Now, why is that the first thing that comes to mind? Butterfly white ginger has a lot of things to recommend it. The plant blooms multiple times during the year, and since the flowers unfold a few at a time, the blooming season can last
for weeks. The plant is very prolific, so prolific, in fact, you should take care to contain it as it can become invasive. But my favorite reason, other than scent, is that the leaf cutter ants left it completely alone. For me, that is a real plus factor.

Want something larger? May I suggest the ylang-ylang tree as its blooms are an ingredient in Chanel #5 perfume. The tree can get quite large, so plant where it has plenty of space to grow. After four years, my tree already tops 7 meters. Sadly, the ylang-ylang will be attacked by leaf cutter ants so take precautions.

Roses are always a good bet for fragrance (even though those pesky ants love them), so there is no reason to give up your love of roses simply because you live in the tropics. A trellis of roses near a door may be easier to protect simply because you see it every day and will notice that the ants are attacking. Find the nest and deal with them quickly.

The jasmines and the gardenias make a wonderful addition to any garden and will perfume the air day and night. Grow the jasmines as vines or shrubs, remembering that not everything called a jasmine is a jasmine. Arabian jasmine, for example, is from the family Jasminum, while Confederate jasmine, or star jasmine, is from the family Trachelospermum. Either way, the fragrance is wonderful. Gardenias are all from the family, Gardenia, and all have a wonderful fragrance. The biggest problem with both the gardenia and the jasmine is the leaf cutter ants, so again, plant them near the door so you can inspect them daily.

The last of my suggestions for fragrance would be the angel trumpet from the family Brugmansia. Easy to propagate, this shrub/small tree will reach a height of 6 meters (about 20 feet) but is easily pruned. Sadly it is also a favorite of leaf cutter ants when young although mature shrub tends to collect less damage.  Angel trumpets are most fragrant at night to attract pollinators, so leave the windows open to be engulfed in scent.

There are many more fragrant plants here in the tropics, so, if you have a favorite I haven’t mentioned here, please
let me know.

Plant of the Week

It’s a wonderful thing on one of the plants I talk about in the column produces the perfect flower. Here is one of my roses, dappled by raindrops and blushed with color. The picture speaks for itself.
A.M. Costa Rica/Victoria Torley

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From Page 7:

Telethon exceeds expectations with 1.2 billion

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Teletón Costa Rica raised 1.2 billion colons and exceeded its goal this weekend, in part due to a donation of 500 million from Banco Nacional, the organizers said. In dollars, the amount raised is about $2.2 million.

About 50 percent of the money will go to the Nacional de Niños, the Maternidad Carit, both San José, and the Hospital de Quepos. The other 50 percent has been designated for hurricane relief.

The televised event featured participation by a number of entertainers. It was held in Hatillo and organized by the Club Activo 20-30.