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Published Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 243
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Expats have their own lists of human rights violations
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Defensoría de los Habitantes is launching a campaign in defense of human rights in Costa Rica. The campaign celebrates the U.N.-sponsored Human Rights Day, which is Saturday this year.

The Defensoría, the nation's ombudsman, has put out a call for various sectors of the population to promote the importance of human rights and defend them.

Here are some gripes that expats have that border on violations of their rights:

1. Even though Costa Rica has agreed to treaties with developed countries providing equal treatment for licensed motor vehicle drivers, current rules prevent a foreigner from obtaining a valid license until some form of residency is granted. Consequently, even with paperwork in process, expats have to leave the country every 90 days to keep their foreign licenses valid.

2. A proposed law seeks to eliminate the higher prices charged foreigners in admissions and even restaurant menus. The so-called Gringo pricing, the object of many complaints, may be outlawed. Or maybe not.

3. Those few expats who become involved in a court process quickly find out that the criminal system is a mess. That includes cases for property fraud and even child support. And civil cases take even longer.

4. Any expat unlucky enough to be sent to prison quickly learns that crime is rampant even inside the bars and that the facilities are overcrowded and deteriorated. One expat from Jacó complained that his cell was open to infestations of mosquitoes. International organizations, including the U.S. State Department, have noted the sorry state of the prisons here. The government's response was to try to release thousands of criminals.

5. The Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social is a mess, too. Long waits to get  numbers in order to wait even longer are the norm. Expats generally find that routine medical treatments are good once they get to them. But getting care from a specialist might take years. Under current law, expats with residency have to contribute to the Caja even though many hold other medical insurance policies for use at private hospitals. One suggestion has been to allow expats to

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purchase equivalent medical policies from the Instituto Nacional de Seguros.

6. Potholes should be a matter of human rights. They cause injury and even death. An expat swerved on a bridge in Guanacaste and provoked an explosion and deaths. At the very least potholes and other road problems cost expats uncounted amounts of money in repairs each year.

7. And then there are the killer beaches. Only a few have lifeguards, and the treacherous rip tides are notorious. Some efforts are being made to formalize lifeguard training, but the tides still take the lives of tourists and locals each year.

8. Special attention should be given to the family courts. All that is needed is the word of a woman to cause police to evict a man from his home. Sometimes the woman lies. But even after waiting as much as a year for a court hearing, many expats find that the judges are heavily biased in favor of the woman. For some judges, evidence means little. An expat from the Pacific coast is in jail now. He was snagged while sitting on an international flight awaiting takeoff even though he had posted $9,000 for future child support. He argues that he does not know the child and has legal papers stating that the child is not his. The evidence bears little weight in court, if he ever gets there.

9. Special mention should be made of David Strecker, a/k/a/ Cuba Dave. He is the sex addict who has been placing tales of his exploits on the internet for years. He has been jailed here for more than a year for doing that although he probably was not the person who did so. And if he did, he did so outside Costa Rica. Yet he was sentenced to five years on the charge of saying truthful things about Costa Rica.

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Arrest made in murder of hotel owner

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators have detained a 21-year old man as a suspect in the murder of a 50-year old French woman in October. The arrest Wednesday morning was
by officials from the investigators from Bribri.  More are being sought.

The woman, Estelle Jeanne, was found dead Oct. 27 at her Caribbean coast hotel in Punta Uva by an employee . She had been suffocated, agents said. The investigation determined that at least three people were involved in breaking into the hotel, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

 When she tried to intervene, the crooks attacked and strangled her, said agents.

The man was arrested at his house in Hone

hotel owner
LinkedIn photo
Estelle Jeanne
Creek where agents said they also seized an amount of drugs that were being potentially prepared for sale.

Investigators are still trying to find the other intruders in the case.

Ms. Jeanne owned and operated the Pachamama Jungle River Lodge, a self-described adventure hotel in the Punta Uva region of Limón where people could stay at several houses of varying sizes described as being eco-friendly bungalows. The houses were provided with hotel-style accommodations to the guests. According to her LinkedIn profile, Ms. Jeanne had owned the lodge since March 2013.

Expats get more sites to file for residency

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Correos de Costa Rica said Wednesday it was opening up 13 more locations where expats can apply for residency documents or renewal of their residency status.

Correos already has 25 locations in local post offices where these transactions can be completed. Workers there also do the paperwork for Costa Rican passports and firearms permits.

Radiográfica Costarricense S.A., which provides the electronic hookups, also is involved.  The Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería eventually gets the electronic documentation plus a photo of the applicant to issue the documento de identificación migratorio para extranjeros, called the Dimex, or create a new passport for a Costa Rican. Correos also earns money by carrying the documents from the immigration headquarters in la Uruca to a convenient post office.  Banco de Costa Rica also takes photos and replays information for documents sought by foreigners.

Correos has picked up a number of jobs unrelated to mail delivery as a result of changes in the market brought by internet use. The government agency described the expansion of the available locations Wednesday.

To obtain an appointment, foreigners have to call 1311 and select where they wish to appear.

Half of test group believe fake events

By the University of Warwick news staff

Many people are prone to remembering events that never happened, according to new research by the University of Warwick.

In a study on false memories, Kimberley Wade in the Department of Psychology demonstrated that if people are told about a completely fictitious event from their lives, and repeatedly imagine that event occurring, almost half would accept that it did.

Over 400 participants in memory implantation studies had fictitious autobiographical events suggested to them, and it was found that around 50 percent of the participants believed, to some degree, that they had experienced those events.

Participants in these studies came to remember a range of false events, such as taking a childhood hot air balloon ride, playing a prank on a teacher or creating havoc at a family wedding.

Some 30 percent of participants appeared to remember the event.  They accepted the suggested event, elaborated on how the event occurred, and even described images of what the event was like. Another 23 percent showed signs that they accepted the suggested event to some degree and believed it really happened.

Dr. Wade and colleagues conclude that it can be very difficult to determine when a person is recollecting actual past events as opposed to false memories, even in a controlled research environment and, more so, in real life situations.

These findings have significance in many areas, raising questions around the authenticity of memories used in forensic investigations, court rooms, and therapy treatments.

Moreover, the collective memories of a large group of people or society could be incorrect, due to misinformation in the news, for example, having a striking effect on people’s perceptions and behavior.

“We know that many factors affect the creation of false beliefs and memories, such as asking a person to repeatedly imagine a fake event or to view photos to jog their memory," said Dr. Wade. "But we don’t fully understand how all these factors interact. Large-scale studies like our mega-analysis move us a little bit closer."

International scam scheme brings prison

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A Toronto couple who were extradited earlier this year to the United States have been sentenced for their roles in a mass marketing scheme that targeted hundreds of victims across the United States with counterfeit checks that accompanied bogus claims they had been selected to become secret shoppers at MoneyGram counters inside Walmart stores.

The husband, Idris Nuradin 35, was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison. His wife, Habone Gayad, 34, received a time served sentence, which is approximately eight months in custody.

The pair were indicted in 2010, and it took until April for the U.S. Department of Justice to extradite them from Canada. The case has relevance to Costa Rica where scammers have targeted U.S. consumers in the past.

This couple sent fake checks to victims and asked them to deposit them in their own bank accounts. Then they were supposed to send immediately most of the proceed via MoneyGram to the scammers. The checks, of course, were fake, but banks took time in finding that out. Some 500 victims were targeted, and those who did as instructed lost a collective $110,000.

Costa Rica has hosted companies that sold non-existent computers, fraudulent coffee franchises and other scam goods via the internet and telephone. Some but not all of the scammers here were brought to the United States for trial. Costa Ricans, of course, cannot be extradited.

“This case demonstrates that criminals cannot hide in foreign countries and take advantage of Americans without repercussions,” said U. S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker in Los Angeles. “This cruel scheme had a devastating financial impact on many victims who never intended to participate in a crime.”

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 243
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Fastboat case illuminates the Caribbean cocaine smuggling route
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation said that a tip to an agent in New Orleans, Louisiana, led to the arrest of four Honduran gangsters who were smuggling cocaine north from Costa Rica.

The report cites the arrest of Honduran traffickers, which seems to be an unusual nationality. Usually those captured on the high seas of Costa Rica are Colombian, Nicaraguan or Costa Rican. Pilots of drug planes usually are Mexican.

In addition, the report confirms the use of the province of Limón as shelter and a transfer point for cocaine smugglers. Most of the interdictions there on the high seas are marijuana smugglers coming from Jamaica.

The tip that the FBI agent got said that a large cocaine shipment was about to leave Costa Rica, the agency reported. The destination was the United States.

The FBI credited a joint interagency task force in Key West, Florida, with tracking the fastboat used by the smugglers.

Task force workers brought a U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft into the case. The plane began tracking the small boat along the east coast of Nicaragua.

Because there were no U.S. surface craft nearby, the case was turned over to the Honduran navy which scrambled aircraft and brought in patrol boats, the FBI said. The patrol boats forced the crew to beach the small boat, fire at pursuers and flee into the jungle where they were eventually caught, the FBI said.

The Honduran navy reported finding 300 kilos of

gofast boat
FBI photo
A U.S. Navy video of the fast boat is on display in Key West.

cocaine and military weaponry, including grenade launchers.

In the past, U.S. officials said that cocaine smugglers kept well out in the Caribbean as they worked their way up the Costa Rican coast. The FBI report, which has not been mentioned in media here until now, shows that there has been a change in smuggling strategy. Smugglers frequently are in need of fuel about the time they reach the latitudes of Costa Rica, and there is a steady trade from the Coast Rican coast of boat crews that fulfill this need.

But now it appears the smugglers are bold enough to actually tie up in Costa Rica.

The FBI said the arrest of the boat crew provided information vital for an investigation in the United States.

Lawmaker seeks special protection for creole that developed in Limón
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A lawmaker wants to add Criollo Limonense to the languages that the Costa Rican government is pledged to support.

Already the Costa Rican Constitution requires special protection for non-Spanish native languages such as those spoken by the native groups Bribri, Cabécar, Guaymí, Buglere and Guatuso.

The lawmaker is
Gerardo Vargas Varela of Frente Amplio. He is from Limón. He proposes a simple addition to Article 76 of the Constitution.

Academics estimate that there are about 70,000 speakers of  Criollo Limonense in Costa Rica. The language is a mixture of English and Spanish developed by the residents of Limón who
came from Jamaica. A creole is a true language, although there
probably are very few persons in Limón who can only speak this tongue.

One person who is fluent in creole from Limón is former president Abel Pacheco, who grew up in that area.

Today the language is, to some extent, the secret tongue of the residents, used among family members. There has been extensive research done on this and many other creoles that are based on English, French, Spanish and other languages generated by cultural invasions.

Vargas says he has the support of 49 other lawmakers.

Many of the native languages have monolingual speakers who do not know Spanish. Many residents of Limón are fluent from childhood in Spanish, English and Creole.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 243
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Mosquito viruses have not spiked, and spraying is called into question
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
with wire service reports

Health officials are expecting a spike in the number of cases of mosquito-born diseases in the wake of Hurricane Otto. But so far such diseases have dipped.

In the case of zika, only about 30 new cases a week are being reported. There have been 1,553 confirmed cases in the country this year with the bulk being on the Pacific coasts.

Dengue produces many more cases, but the illness does not have the dangers associated with zika. There have been 21,439 reported dengue cases this year.

The total of chikungunya infections is 3,298. In all cases, the numbers are just those who sought hospitalization. Many have zika but with out strong symptoms, researchers have noted.

With standing water left after the passage of the hurricane in the northern zone and similar water problems in the southwest part of the county, officials are stepping up spraying.

That may or may not be a good idea.

An analysis of ways to control the mosquito diseases concludes existing methods are not ideal and may even be counterproductive. Costa Rica's Ministerio de Salud reported it has sprayed nearly 700,000 homes.

But there is a lack of clear evidence as to what works best,

according to the review of studies looking at mosquito control interventions, a summary said. In the report published in PLoS Neglected Diseases, author Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia in Britain and colleagues looked at a variety of control strategies that have been used over the years and reviewed their effectiveness.

While some studies showed that chemical spraying was up to 76 percent effective in reducing mosquito populations, others suggested that spraying had little effect, according to wire service reports.

Biological controls, such as introducing larvae-eating fish to water where mosquitoes are breeding, appeared to be better at reducing their numbers.

Hunter said chemical spraying might create a false sense of security among people in areas infested with disease-carrying mosquitoes, who are then less likely to try to remove areas around their homes where mosquitoes might breed.

The World Health Organization recommends a variety of measures to control mosquito populations, including educating local populations on how to eliminate those breeding sites.

Hunter concurred that community education is key in helping to break the disease transmission cycle, but he called for more attention to be paid to the availability of resources for mosquito elimination strategies. He noted public health funding tends to be lowest in low- and middle-income countries where mosquito-transmitted diseases are endemic.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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Click photo for another video

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

 (as reported by the moving companies)
Visit many rental options to actually experience the price/amenity options available in more of the areas chosen by Expats for security, comfort, and quality of life.

Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!

Ask the others what you get for your money, and then compare the quality of accommodations, quality, quantity and variety of food and drink to measure the best value for your money. 

Learn how others “talk the talk” and learn who really can “walk the walk”

Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
George Lundquist, retirement, relocation columnist, Guide & Developer/Builder.

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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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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 243
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Trump makes more picks
for posts in administration

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. president-elect Donald Trump has chosen former professional wrestling executive Linda McMahon to head the Small Business Administration and lawyer Scott Pruitt, ally of the fossil fuels industry, to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

Ms. McMahon, a failed contender for the U.S. Senate and an early supporter of Trump's presidential campaign, is expected to play a key role in Trump's efforts to generate more U.S. jobs.

Ms. McMahon is a co-founder and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., a prominent sports entertainment company. She said in a statement Wednesday that she plans to promote the country's small businesses and help them grow and thrive.

Also Wednesday, a transition official told The New York Times that Trump plans to name Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

Pruitt has been a vocal critic of what he called the EPA's activist agenda and has said he does not believe climate change is caused by man-made carbon emissions, saying the debate over climate change is far from settled.

As Oklahoma's top law enforcement officer, Pruitt is currently involved in a lawsuit with 23 other states against the EPA over environmental regulations. He has also filed briefs in support of the Keystone XL Pipeline project, a proposed oil pipeline opposed by the Obama administration.

Earlier Wednesday, transition officials said Trump has chosen retired Marine Gen. John Kelly to lead the Department of Homeland Security, a massive and troubled agency tasked with combating terrorism.  Trump has promised to crack down on illegal immigration.

Officials said Kelly was nominated because of his expertise regarding the southwest border the United States shares with Mexico and his stated desire to address illegal drugs, terrorism and other threats he believes originate in Central and South America.

In 2010, Kelly's son, Lt. Robert Kelly, was killed in a land-mine explosion in Afghanistan, making the general the highest-ranking U.S. military officer to lose a child in the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Kelly, who is expected to win Senate confirmation, is the latest in a string of former military figures to be nominated for positions in the incoming Trump administration. Trump has also nominated retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security advisor and retired Marine Gen. James Mattis as Defense secretary. The Retired Army general and former Central Intelligence Agency chief, David Petraeus, is said to be among those under consideration for secretary of State.

Trump said earlier Wednesday that former critic and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is still being considered for secretary of State, reinforcing reports that Romney remains the leading contender for the position.

Trump said he will likely announce his choice for the nation's top diplomatic post next week.

Trump appeared last week to have narrowed his list to four names: Romney, Gen. Petraeus, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump selected Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad as the next U.S. ambassador to China, a country Trump rattled recently with tough trade talk and a telephone call with Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan, a rival of China.

Gov. Branstad has a relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping that goes back more than 30 years.

The president-elect met Tuesday with the CEO of ExxonMobil Corp., Rex Tillerson, who has also been mentioned as a candidate for secretary of State. The 64-year-old Texas oilman has no government experience, but has close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders.

Mattis nomination causing
controversy due to old law

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire service

The incoming Trump administration faced its first test on Capitol Hill Wednesday, as House Republicans, trying to speed up the nomination of the president-elect’s pick for secretary of Defense, called a government funding bill into question just hours before it was to expire.

The debate strikes at the heart of a long-held principle of American government that separates the military from the civilian authority.

It began when House Republicans added a waiver to the short-term continuing resolution. The waiver would expedite the process of allowing the Defense nominee, retired Gen. James Mattis, to bypass a nearly 70-year-old law requiring former members of the military to wait seven years after their military service before serving in a civilian post.

Mattis is ineligible to serve as secretary of Defense because he retired from the military in 2013.

The waiver limits debate on the issue in the Senate for 10 hours and would forestall delaying tactics in the chamber thereby speeding up the process.

“Civilian leadership of the military has been a cornerstone of our democracy since the founders, and for good reason,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement released Tuesday.

“Decisions about war and peace have to have a civilian input,” Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said. Korb was also an assistant secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration.

“We are also very concerned about a separation of powers,” he added. “Only Congress can declare war, and they raise an Army and Navy, so we are very, very concerned that we would have an over-militarization of our foreign policy.”

Some Democrats objected to the insertion of the waiver into the short-term spending bill that funds the government past a Dec. 9 deadline, arguing it does not give lawmakers sufficient time to consider the key appointment.

Other Democrats, however, welcomed the appointment of Mattis.

Those who came as a child
worry about deportations

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Giovanni Guerreo was 7 years old when he arrived in the U.S. Since then, his family has overstayed a visa, meaning Guerreo and his siblings are illegal.

"I'm a proud Mexican-American, but I've been here since the first grade and being raised here, you get adapted," Guerreo said.

The 20-year-old is also a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program that could end if president-elect Donald Trump fulfills his promise to cancel all executive actions, memoranda and orders issued by President Barack Obama affecting the protection of immigrants who were brought to the country as children. Trump has labeled them unconstitutional.

Guerreo is now a third-year aerospace engineering student concentrating in astronautics at California Poly San Luis Obispo.

"All my efforts and dreams will be destroyed by not being allowed to enter industry, especially if I am deported," Guerreo said. "Once you're deported, it's kind of over for you."

Stories like Guerreo's prompted a group of 60 Democratic House members to write a letter, urging Obama to pardon deferred action recipients who are in the U.S. illegally with the idea being to shield them from prosecution. More than 740,000 people have been approved for deportation relief under the program.

"After decades in this country, young people were educated in our schools, children who have grown up with our children, who know no other country, who have pledged allegiance to our flag. And now we know there are Republicans who want them deported, and their skills and talents taken to some other country," Illinois Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez said Wednesday at a news conference.

In the letter, the legislators said that deferred action recipients, also known as dreamers, had trusted the government to protect them. But many dreamers now fear that addresses and other identifying information they provided to register can be used by the new administration to target them for deportation.

Democratic members said they know the president's clemency power would not give legal status to any undocumented individual, as only Congress can create legal status.

Never before has an incoming president threatened such a large segment of our population with deportation, but President Obama has the ability to act legally and irreversibly in their defense, said Democratic Rep. Judy Chu of California.

Rep. Chu was referring to Trump's promises to reverse current administration immigration executive orders signed in 2012.

It would be one of the easiest promises for Trump to fulfill, as he can undo all executive orders signed by the previous president.

The president-elect transition team has not disclosed how or if he will implement his immigration promises.

Also Wednesday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke to reporters after meeting with Trump in New York.

The mayor, who was former White House chief of staff to Obama, said they discussed a variety of topics, among them deferred action students.

"I delivered to the president-elect, his senior adviser and his chief-of-staff a letter signed by 14 mayors put together from across the country about DACA students, that they were working hard toward the American dream," Emanuel said.

But embracing Dreamers may not include pardoning them.

Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House's Domestic Policy Council, said she knows people are hoping that a pardon authority is a way to protect people, but it is not an answer here.

"Pardon authority is generally designed for criminal violations, not civil. Ultimately, it wouldn't protect a single soul from deportation. It is not an answer here for this population. I know people are hoping for an answer," Ms. Munoz said during a podcast interview released by the Center for Migration Studies.

GOP may be facing division
over Trump's hands-off policy

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Donald Trump’s stated non-interventionism irks hawks on Capitol Hill and could split Republican lawmakers when the president-elect becomes America’s commander in chief next month.

The United States is going to be involved in foreign conflicts whether it wants to be or not, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican of South Carolina said.

“You can’t defeat radical Islam from our shores. You have to be on the ground over there. And you can’t maintain victory without a follow-on presence,” added Sen. Graham, a long-serving member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Speaking in North Carolina Tuesday, Trump said he does not want to have American forces fighting in areas that we shouldn't be fighting in and that a destructive cycle of intervention and chaos must end.

"We will stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about, that we shouldn't be involved with," Trump told supporters at a post-election rally.

The president-elect also formally announced he has chosen retired Marine Gen. James Mattis as his nominee for secretary of defense.

Mattis, who earned the nickname Mad Dog during his service, is no stranger to U.S. military interventions. He commanded a Marine division during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and later oversaw U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq as head of U.S. Central Command.

“Obviously he knows what he’s getting with General Mattis,” said Sen. John McCain, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, “I know him very well. General Mattis and I share the same view about the importance of American leadership.”

While not directly criticizing Trump’s non-interventionism, McCain said a more assertive U.S. role on the world stage is needed.

Some Republicans are taking a wait-and-see approach on how Trump will perform as commander in chief.

Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri said Trump’s non-interventionist message “is not inconsistent with anything the president-elect said during the campaign. If the president-elect’s position is that we shouldn’t intervene just because we can, of course that’s right.”

Other Republicans warmed to the president-elect’s message.

“Common sense and smart” is how Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby described Trump’s statements on U.S. military might.

Drug used for diabetes
could help fight Parkinson’s

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A new drug designed to treat diabetes is poised to enter human clinical trials as a treatment for Parkinson's disease.

An estimated 7 million to 10 million people around the world are living with Parkinson's disease, for which there is no cure. Experts expect the numbers to increase as the global population ages.

Currently, a drug called levodopa is used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson's, which include severe tremors, rigid muscles and slowed movement.

The new medication, MSDC-0160, potentially slows progression of the disease, which gradually destroys neurons that produce the brain chemical dopamine.

The experimental agent appears to regulate the function of mitochondria, which are considered the power generators within cells. It restores the ability of brain cells to convert nutrients into energy, managing potentially harmful proteins. Normalizing those proteins leads to reduced inflammation and a lessening of neuronal death.

Writing in Science Translational Medicine, the authors report the agent reduced brain cell inflammation and preserved motor function in a progressive mouse model of Parkinson's. Researchers hope to begin clinical trials of MSDC-0160 next year.

Twitter releases top trends,
despite shrinking, setbacks

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Give the Rio Olympics a gold medal. The Summer Games hosted in Brazil generated the year’s most tweets for a single topic, according to Twitter.

The microblogging site shared its list of 2016’s top five trending topics on Tuesday.

Next on the list was the hotly contested U.S. presidential election, which saw Republican Donald Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The third most popular topic was the virtual reality game Pokemon Go, Twitter said.

At number four on the list was the Euro2016 soccer tournament, which saw Portugal take the title.

Rounding out the top five was the Oscars, which saw the movie "Spotlight" named best picture.

Twitter also released the most popular tweets from around the world, including the simple "Limonada:  tweet from a Spanish gamer known as elrubius. A post election tweet from Hillary Clinton was third on that list. In the tweet, she called on little girls to pursue their dreams.

While popular among some, Twitter has been facing headwinds, forcing layoffs and seeing the stock price tumble.

In response, the company has rolled out some changes to its service, including tweaking the 140-character limit.

Still, the company has seen its user base shrink as it struggles against social media giants Facebook and Snapchat.

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Several profitable businesses, including a regional radio station, are for sale in Costa Rica. Certain purchases can provide the new owner with residency as well as a great lifestyle. So live your dream while making a profit. Contact:

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 243
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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
Two held in laundering and drugs case

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two men suspected of having ties to a money laundering operation run by a Panamanian drug trafficker were arrested Wednesday morning at their homes at the Hacienda Los Reyes, La Guácima, the Judicial Investigating Organization said.

The investigation began in 2013 where the group has been linked to several instances of crime including the smuggling of 900 kilos of drugs in Quepos. The drugs were being transported by several men in a vehicle. Agents also confiscated around $14,000 in funds of dubious origins earlier this year. The money was supposed to go to a relative of the Panamanian in Jacó, officials said.

One of the men arrested is presumed to be a lawyer in charge of the legal face of the operation who had managed to hide, through various sales and other accounts, proceeds collected from drug trafficking, officials said.  A second man arrested was in charge of maintaining the property of the alleged head of the operation named Welch Sevillano, who is currently incarcerated in a maximum security cell at La Reforma for charges of drug trafficking and two counts of homicide in his country. This second person is apparently the step-father to the inmate's girlfriend.

Sevillano escaped from the La Joya Prison Panama in 2004 after he and six other inmates cut bars in their cells and cut through a fence, according to the Panamanian press group Día a Día. He was found in Costa Rica in December of last year where he currently awaits extradition back to Panama.

During the arrests, police seized four cars, including one armored vehicle,  and they also raided the attorney’s office in Sabana Sur. The total value of everything seized amounted to over $2 million dollars, officials said.

Two police officers face robbery case

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators have arrested two police officers who are being accused of robbing a woman in La Aurora, Alajuelita.

The security ministry said that the case was dealt with immediately after it was reported Tuesday afternoon. Two officers with the last names of Calderón and Venegas are the accuseds. According to the ministry, Calderón joined the force in 2011 and Venegas joined in 2007.

Gustavo Mata, the minister of Seguridad Pública, said the agency plans to open a formal case against the two policemen in full compliance with the standards the law requires. The Judicial Investigating Organization was involved, and the men also face criminal allegations.

The women who has been identified as a victim showed up at the La Aurora station Tuesday to report that she had been robbed after she left a bank.

Saturday snack tour planned in capital

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The ChepeCletas organization will be gathering at Parque España opposite to the Instituto Nacional Seguros building around 9:15 a.m. Saturday for a walking tour and a sampling of the city’s snacks and drinks complete with a pass through the Mercado Central and various historic buildings, organizers said. The tour, called GastroNocturbano, is supposed to end around noon.

To participate in the event, organizers require a reservation at the organization website. There is a participation fee of 5,000 colons. This includes all the tasting samples throughout the tour.

ChepeCletas is an organization founded in 2010 with the original purpose of seeking sustainable ways environmentally and socially to mobilize, the website said. They are known for their bike hikes through town.
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From Page 7:

Upgrades planned at tourism airports

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's aviation authority said Wednesday that investments will be made next year for technology and infrastructure in airports at Jiménez, Golfito, Drake and Quepos. The agency, the Dirección General de Aviación Civil, said these locations were of major interest to tourists.

Some of the airports will get new terminals and all will be brought up to international standards, said Ennio Cubillo, director general.

The cost will be about $20 million, said the agency.

Cubillo also said that the agency has spent 90 percent of its allocation this year to install upgraded radar systems at Juan Santamaría airport in Alajuela, at Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia and at Tobías Bolaños in Pavas. This was a $13 million investment. The new radar will be in operation by the second half of next year, he said.