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Published Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, inVol. 17, No. 250
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Flu season lasts all year in the tropics, Caja warns
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Health officials say that in Costa Rica flu season is all year long.

The tropics host a list of respiratory viruses that are active all year, according to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. In temperate areas, the flu season is considered from mid-fall to the end of winter when the population spends more time indoors.

But that is not the case in the tropics, said a Caja summary. At this moment there are six viruses that are making the rounds.

The Caja said that since January 1.4 million persons have been treated for acute respiratory infections. That number is about a quarter of the country’s population, although some persons may have been treated more than once. The numbers only reflect those who approached clinics and hospitals for treatment.

The Ministerio de Salud has confirmed that 15 persons have died of such infections in the last two months. Nearly all suffered from complicating conditions. The primary viruses culprits were AH1N1 and AH3N2. The cases appeared to be from many parts of the country.

The viruses affect disproportionately the very young and the old, and each age group shows a higher percentage of different viruses. Pregnant women also are vulnerable.

The major ways of transmission are by touch with another person or an infected object and also from particles launched into the air by sneezes, said the Caja.

Typically a virus infection lasts up to two weeks, but health workers say the big danger is that the infection opens the way for pneumonia, which can be fatal. Antibiotics do not have an effect on viruses, although sometimes they are administered to fight secondary infections.

The Caja promotes vaccination as prevention, although protection does not develop in the body until about four weeks after someone gets a shot, the Caja said.

The Caja has a vaccination campaign planned in March and April. A summary noted that those vaccinated last year had less severe cases of respiratory illness when infected this year.

Still the viruses always are changing, and each year vaccines have to be tailored for the latest virus versions.

Judicial agents say they seek a missing U.S. citizen
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Rolando Miguel Núñez, a 90-year old U.S. citizen, is missing, the Judicial Investigating Organization said. Núñez, described as a permanent resident living in Cartago, was last seen Wednesday when he left his room around 9 a.m., the judicial agency said.

And individual named Núñez was registered to vote in Florida with the same age as the missing man. The Florida state records also say the man has a Costa Rican mailing address as well as Costa Rican telephone number. His Florida address was listed as being in Doral, Miami-Dade County.
However, there is no official confirmation that this is the same person.

Judicial investigators said any information can be telephoned to 800-8000645 or emailed to

As usually is the case, the U.S. Embassy has made no public mention of the missing man.

miissing man
Rolando Miguel Núñez

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 250
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Professional Directory
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

Dr Oscar Vargas specialist in prosthodontics
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CR local phone:  +506-2274-3231
Cell: +506-8302-5877



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U.S. Phone: (323) 255-6116
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Phone in Costa Rica: ( 506 ) 2226=0755  (En español )



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Click Here:
Canadian politician defends trips here

By Conor Golden
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

During the holiday season, many people travel to Costa Rica. Not as many have caused as much controversy in their traveling as Canadian politician 
Brian Pallister.

Pallister, the premier of the Canadian province of Manitoba, has been responding to controversy surrounding his property ownership in Tamarindo and the amount of time in Costa Rica since this past April. The office of premier in Canadian politics holds similar authority and prestige as that of a state governor in the United States.

Sunday, Pallister’s press team released a statement announcing the premier’s intention to spend six to eight weeks a year in Costa Rica. Pallister defends his actions as purposes of maintaining the property his family owns here as well as to safeguard the privacy of his family. The latter came in response after pressure from the press forced him to acknowledge why he failed to disclose where he was going and for how long.

Brian Pallister.
Brian Pallister.

While running for the office, the Canadian Broadcasting Cooperation conducted an investigation that discovered that, while Pallister was a representative within the province’s legislature, he spent roughly 18 percent of his time en route to or within Costa Rica since being elected in 2012. None of the trips were while the legislature was in session, they said.

"No public dollars were involved in my travel," Pallister said in April, "We saved for over 30 years to have a vacation property that we enjoy as a family, but I also work and I would want to be clear about that."

That property, Pallister said, was bought over a decade ago, and to maintain it he said he opened a bank account that some political opponents attacked him for as trying to hide from the public.

"I never have had a tax haven, never will, and deplore the use of them. I have always reported all my earnings from all sources," he said to the press back in April, “The account in Costa Rica and the property have always been reported on my tax return, which is confidential.”

The premier added during that conference that he only had 620,802 colones in the account itself. He maintains that the reason he holds the account is for property maintenance and to pay the local taxes and utilities.

Pallister remains the second-most popular premier in Canada. According to a poll released by the Angus Reid Institute, a Canadian non-profit and non-partisan public opinion research group, Pallister maintains a 50 percent approval rating among his constituents. The next seven premiers listed have approval percentages between 16 and 35 percent.

Manitoba is a province within the central part of the country that shares its southern border with the United States. Its capital is Winnipeg and is Canada’s fifth-most populous province. Pallister began his political career in the provincial legislative assembly in 1992 before becoming a member of parliament of Canada’s House of Commons in 2000. He assumed the role of premier in May 2016.

Nearly all lottery tickets reported sold

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Despite the 80,000-colon lottery ticket price, government officials said that nearly all 400,000 were sold before the drawing Sunday night.

The winning ticket was series 938 with number 93. This number appears on four separate tickets, and each earns about $2.9 million. These are the top prizes of some 12,000 distributed by the lottery based on the numbers that were drawn.

The big winner, however, was the Junta de Protección Social that has run the lottery since the early 1800s. The junta grossed about $58 million from ticket sales.

The 1 to 100,000 odds offered by the government lottery are not competitive with private lotteries with better odds. So the Junta is in the process of pushing to tighten up the laws that govern its monopoly.

The Junta had a public relations nightmare two years ago when the winning tickets had not been sold. So the Junta kept the top prize despite a public outcry.

Christmas parties can attract bandits

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Christmas and year-end parties can be an invitation to armed robbers.

A man suffered a bullet wound to the leg Sunday when four men invaded a family gathering near Golfito. And gunmen busted up a celebration at a bar in Pocosol de San Carlos early Sunday.

With guests arriving and leaving, expats might be inclined to relax security during parties. Crooks take advantage of these lapses. In Golfito, a gate in disrepair seems to have been what attracted the bandits.

Researchers seek reason for death gap

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Researchers have known for some time that those who can afford better health care are generally healthier than people who can’t afford it.

By studying the death certificates from more than 3,000 U.S. counties from 1980 to 2014, they now know who is most likely to die from drug overdoses, who is most likely to die from diabetes or other chronic diseases, and where they live.

Christopher Murray and others at the University of Washington found a significant variation in death rates among counties for all causes of death, according to their study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“We found that different causes matter more in different parts of the country,” Murray said. “So out West, for example, in the U.S., violent death is more common, whereas heart disease is more common in the Southeast. And deaths from drugs are much more common in West Virginia or Kentucky.”

Heart disease is the leading cause of death overall in the U.S., but Murray says the risk of heart disease and other diseases differ significantly among communities, highlighting stark health disparities across the nation.

“We really need to understand why there’s such variation in how long people live, and what causes children, adults, and older people to die at such different levels in different communities,” Murray said.

Each of the U.S. states is divided into counties with their own local governments. The researchers also found health differences between counties in the same state. What’s more, Murray says, the gaps in life expectancy from one county to another are increasing.

“It’s incredibly important for us to understand why different communities live very different life spans. And the variation across the U.S. is enormous,” he said. “There’s more than 20 years’ difference across communities, and we really need to understand that.”

Murray and other researchers say their work could be used to address causes of death in particular areas and improve Americans’ overall health.

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 250
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Municipalidad de San José photo
‘The Flintsones,’ or as the show is called in Spanish, ‘Los Picapiedra,’ was the theme of the  Municipalidad de San José float in the Festival de la Luz Saturday. Municipal officials said more than 70 persons worked to get the float ready for the Christmas parade.

Few problems or ailments
reported at Festival de la Luz

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country’s largest Christmas parade stepped off Saturday after being announced with a barrage of fireworks.

Marchers and spectators alike had clear skies with a brisk wind.

The Cruz Roja said just 50 persons were treated by their aid workers before, during and after the evening parade. Only nine had to be hospitalized.

The Fuerza Pública said its officers detained 45 persons and handed out 30 tickets. The bulk of the offenses was public disturbance.  The festival parade attracts underage drinkers.

The police agency also said that eight knives and a pistol were confiscated from spectators during the parade. Officers said they also found some crack rocks and a small amount of marijuana. Offices said they searched 162 individuals.

Police also said they found two illegal immigrants.

Municipalidad de San José photo
Cheerleaders show their skills to the festival crowd.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 250
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 Claims of Russian government hacking fail to provide evidence
By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

Reports from Washington and even from the U.S. commander-in-chief that the government of Russia hacked servers of the Democratic presidential campaign are troubling.

Even more troubling is the possibility that Democratic politicians and major newspapers are using unsubstantiated claims to smear the Republican president-election.

The situation has reached expats here, and a few have pointed out that a British diplomat, Craig Murray, said last week that he was involved in getting the controversial documents in Washington from an unhappy Democratic National Committee worker.

An analysis of the news

As search of news files shows that although the story is widely published in Europe, only the right-leaning Washington Times of all the major media outlets has reported on the Murray statement.

In addition, Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, has said that his organization did not get the emails from Russia.

The main problem is that U.S. spy agency leaders, all political appointees, have not offered any evidence of their claims of Russian involvement. A White House source has said only this is the type of trick the Russians would play. There may be more incriminating data that is being kept secret.

Hillary Clinton said Thursday that the Russian hacking was the reason she lost the presidential election. She blamed a personal vendetta by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The New York Times wrote a lengthy news story Friday that said Democratic National Committee technical staffers were told months before the election that a cyber intruder was hacking its computers and said the same group had hacked the White House servers. There was no mention of official Russian government involvement.

The newspaper blamed a hacker that used a Russian version of Microsoft Word.

Another reader said by email over the weekend that even if the Russians did hack the Democratic National Committee computers they should be praised for bringing to light duplicity on the part of campaign leaders.

The emails that Wikileaks released showed the national committee worked against Bernie Sanders for the benefit of Mrs. Clinton so she would win the nomination.  Wikileaks also released emails that insulted Catholics, suggested Mrs. Clinton received advance notice of some presidential debate questions and other unflattering reports. The hacked emails also spawned a litany of conspiracy theories generated in online outlets.

Presidential electors picked by voters Nov. 8 are meeting today in their own states to cast votes that are expected to formally

              Clinton and V. Putin
Mrs. Clinton blames Vladimir Putin for her loss

elect Donald J. Trump. Republican campaign staffers have said they believe the undocumented claims about Russian hacking is a ploy to cause some electors to vote for Mrs. Clinton instead.

Even La Nación, the major Spanish-language outlet in Costa Rica published an editorial Sunday that accepts the claim of Russian hacking as a fact. “The gravity of the acts, despite what had been the intentions, is undeniable,” said the newspaper.

Murray, who is an associate of Assange, gave his interview to the British Daily Mail. He said he flew to Washington and met with the Democratic Committee leaker. He said the emails later published by Wikileaks were legal leaks and not from illegal hacks.

His claim is all over what is being called the alternate media that generally supports Trump. But it appears that not even the Associated Press has picked up on the news story or sought out Murray for additional information.

Said Murray on his own website:

“I have watched incredulous as the CIA’s blatant lie has grown and grown as a media story – blatant because the CIA has made no attempt whatsoever to substantiate it. There is no Russian involvement in the leaks of emails showing Clinton’s corruption. Yes this rubbish has been the lead today in the Washington Post in the U.S. and the Guardian here, and was the lead item on the BBC main news. I suspect it is leading the American broadcasts also.”

Putin, of course, denies his government was involved in the hacking, and Trump has dismissed the idea. But the U.S. Congress has agreed to conduct an investigation.

And congressmen have just passed a bill to counter foreign propaganda that is being considered an unconstitutional intrusion on the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This is the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act that is awaiting the signature of President Barack Obama. Critics claims the bill creates a new bureaucracy empowered to issue pro-U.S. propaganda, pay media outlets that favor the U.S. policies and spy on other journalists.

Alternate media sites said they fear they will be on a U.S. hit list. The bill seems to be in response to claims of Russian hacking.

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

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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 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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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 250
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Morales’ party nominates him
despite constitutional barrier

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Bolivia’s ruling socialist party has defied the results of a February referendum and backed President Evo Morales to run for a fourth term in 2019.

Movimiento al Socialismo approved Morales’ candidacy unanimously in its congress held in the eastern city of Montero.

Later, Morales said “if the people say let’s go with Evo, then let’s continue defeating the right and continue with our process,’’ adding “so many times we have defeated the right.”

Morales, Bolivia’s first president with a native background, was first elected in 2005, then re-elected in 2009 and 2014.

He narrowly lost a referendum earlier this year on whether the constitution should be revised to allow him to run again in 2019. His current term expires Jan. 22.

Bolivia’s constitution only allows two consecutive presidential terms. He had sought to raise it to three straight terms.

While this next election would be for his fourth, the Constitutional Tribunal has ruled that his first term in office did not count since Morales did not complete the full five-year term due to constitutional changes in 2009 making Bolivia a pluri-national state instead of a republic.

Movimiento al Socialismo is considering several ways to circumvent the referendum results to allow Morales to serve another term as president.

The opposition said that any Morales re-election bid would be unconstitutional because of the referendum.

U.S. electors meeting today
to finalize presidential voting

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The next chapter in the tumultuous U.S. presidential election plays today with voting in the Electoral College expected to officially confirm that real estate billionaire Donald Trump will become the country's 45th president.

Americans have known since early November that Trump would take over the White House when he is inaugurated Jan. 20. U.S. presidential elections, however, are not determined by the national popular vote, but rather by the individual outcomes in presidential balloting in all 50 states and the national capital city, Washington.

The popular vote winner in each state normally receives all of that state's Electoral College votes, which are allotted in proportion to the state's population. A total of 538 electors will cast those ballots Monday in their own state capitals.

The Democratic candidate, former U.S. secretary of State Hillary Clinton, defeated Trump by nearly 2.9 million votes in the national popular vote. But the Republican Trump won where it mattered, in enough of the state-by-state contests to claim an apparent 306-232 edge in the Electoral College, well more than the 270 majority he needs.

Mrs. Clinton piled up big vote margins in California and New York to give her a national popular vote edge, while Trump won enough states, sometimes relatively narrowly, to claim the Electoral College advantage and a four-year term as the nation's leader. It would be the fifth time in U.S. history, and the second in the last 16 years, that the popular vote winner did not win the all-important Electoral College vote.

In most election years, voting in the Electoral College is little more than a formality. But that is not the case this year.

Because of the close and bitterly contested race, and continuing opposition to Trump's victory by many Clinton supporters, thousands of Americans have bombarded the 306 Republican electors with emails and phone calls, demanding they reject Trump, either by voting for Mrs. Clinton or another, more acceptable Republican. In the unlikely event that 37 Republican electors defect from Trump and the vote ends in a tie at 269, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives would pick the president.

Most of the electors, however, are bound by state law to vote for the candidate who won their state vote count, or if they are not, say they feel morally compelled to vote in the Electoral College the way their state voted.

Faithless electors, those who cast Electoral College votes for someone other than the presidential candidate who won their state, are not unheard of in American political annals, but they are rare, with just a handful since the Electoral College was first used in 1789.

Several U.S. news media outlets who have interviewed at least some of the 2016 electors say the vast majority are planning to back the winner in their state, with only one known Republican elector, Chris Suprun in the southwestern state of Texas, saying he would not vote for Trump.

Suprun declined to say whom he would vote for on Monday. He said Trump has proved himself to be a demagogue, continuing his attacks on people who criticize him since the election, much the same as he did during the lengthy presidential campaign.

Some analysts have predicted there might be more defectors, but until the electors cast their Electoral College ballots, no one knows for sure.

The country's Founding Fathers debated how to pick the country's presidents, deciding against using the popular vote for fear that mob rule might ensue or that the biggest states would have too much control of the ultimate outcome. It settled on the Electoral College, in part to give even the smallest states at least three electoral votes.

As it currently stands, seven states and the U.S. capital, Washington, D.C., each have three electoral votes. The Pacific coast state of California has the most, at 55.

Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies photo  
 Construction continues on the inaugural platform
 in preparation for the swearing-in ceremonies.

Inauguration likely to draw
large number of protesters

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Preparations and security operations are well underway a month before Donald Trump's inauguration as president of the United States, which is expected to draw an unprecedented number of protesters.

Though many members of the military and the National Guard have been planning this inauguration since 2012, the local armory building in Washington, D.C., opened its doors to display a large map of the city and explain the plan and movements of the president on Inauguration Day.

Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence will start at St. John's Episcopal Church, after which they will head to the White House to meet with outgoing President Barack Obama, who will hand Trump a symbolic, key to the White House. After administrative documents are signed, a motorcade will begin from the White House to the Capitol for the swearing-in ceremony.

"Generally speaking, the inauguration is taking shape as it has in the past, though things are subject to change," Brig. Gen. George Degnon, deputy commanding general for the presidential inauguration, said at a news conference Wednesday at which he addressed questions about how this inauguration would be different than those before it.

The Joint Force Committee, which includes members of the military and some District of Columbia National Guard members, cited the most basic, but also the most real, threats to the inauguration parade: getting all their members properly credentialed and having a contingency plan for hundreds of thousands of people in case of inclement weather.

Thousands of National Guard members will be deputized by the D.C. Police Department, giving them the power to make arrests. Though the deputization has been common practice, arrests are rarely made. At Obama's first inauguration in 2009, which saw one of the largest crowds in history, troops made no arrests, said Maj. Gen. Errol Schwartz, commanding general of the D.C. National Guard.

Because the events of Inauguration Day largely take place outdoors and in January, weather also is a pressing concern. Military personnel have three uniforms for inclement weather. Their commander will decide at 4:30 a.m. Jan. 20 which one they will wear.

In 1985 at Ronald Reagan's second inauguration, the ceremony outside the Capitol was canceled because of snow, wind, and record low temperatures; it took place inside the building instead.

As Trump prepares to take office, though, police, military and security personnel are facing an added challenge.

"Clearly, the biggest concern at this point is the number of potential protesters," said Maj. Gen. Bradley Becker, commanding general of the Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region.

According to a Facebook event page, hundreds of thousands of people plan to participate in the Women's March on Washington the day after the inauguration. The march, the largest of more than a dozen planned in Washington over inauguration weekend, was the first to receive its permit Friday.

"The Women's March on Washington will send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office and to the world that women's rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us," the organization's mission statement reads on its website.

The Facebook event page has about 150,000 people marked as attending and another 240,000 people marked as interested in marching Jan. 21.

The Act Now to Stop War and End Racism coalition is one of many groups seeking permits to protest on Inauguration Day. Nearly 20,000 people have replied on the group's website.

Both organizations cite hateful rhetoric against marginalized groups during Trump's political campaign, saying their mission involves countering this hate and making sure the new government knows that minorities and women are united in numbers too great to ignore.

Many pro-Trump groups also are expected to convene to watch the inauguration in Washington. One of those is Bikers for Trump, made up of motorcyclists who staged rallies throughout the country leading up to the election, and who plan to ride through the city on Inauguration Day.

A GoFundMe campaign for Bikers for Trump has raised over $18,000 to pay for lodging and fuel for those riding to and through Washington.

As many as 1 million protesters, on various sides and from various groups, could make it to the inauguration or gather the day after, according to calculations by Stephen Fuller, professor and faculty chairman at the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University. Fuller's low estimate is that 200,000 people will attend inaugural events.

Hotels throughout the capital are almost fully booked just with those expected attendees, but Fuller said many protesters would either be making day trips or finding alternate lodging.

The National Park Service is in charge of clearing permits for protests, because most of them occur on the National Mall and around monuments. The reason many demonstrations still lack permits is that the sheer number of groups protesting presents new challenges to the park service, not to mention security forces that will have a harder time keeping the large influx of people within designated areas, as well as quelling any potential tension between them and supporters of the new administration.

Trump says China should  keep drone snagged in ocean

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

China says it will hand over an underwater U.S. drone it seized in the international waters of the South China Sea, prompting president-elect Donald Trump to say the United States should tell China to keep the device.

Trump does not assume power for another month, but weighed in on the maritime incident in which Chinese naval forces seized the unmanned submersible while it was collecting data Thursday. U.S. authorities protested that the seizure was unlawful and demanded the drone's immediate return, which Chinese authorities agreed to do.

Trump, in a Twitter comment on the initial seizure, declared, "China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters — rips it out of water and takes it to China in unpresidented act," later correcting the remark to call it "unprecedented." After China promised to return the vehicle, he tweeted that the United States "should tell China that we don't want the drone they stole back. — let them keep it!"

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told CNN Sunday that the seizure of the drone was a gross violation of international law.

Trump earlier this month angered Beijing by accepting a call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen congratulating him on his election, the first time a U.S. president or president-elect had spoken to a Taiwanese leader since 1979. The practice is in keeping with a one-China policy in which the United States recognizes Beijing as the only government of China.

Notwithstanding Trump's comments about the drone, China maintained it was blameless and accused Washington of hyping the seizure in an inappropriate and unhelpful manner.

China's Defense Ministry said a Chinese naval vessel sighted a piece of unidentified equipment in the water and retrieved it for the sake of navigational safety. Only later, the ministry said, was the object discovered to be a U.S. drone.

Chinese defense officials said Saturday the U.S. equipment will be returned in an appropriate manner, but gave no details. The Pentagon confirmed there was an understanding with the Chinese.

Laptops in class are found
to reduce scores on tests

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Having the world at your fingertips through the internet was touted as a revolution in education, but a new study suggests internet in the classroom is linked to poorer test scores.

Writing in the journal Psychological Science, researchers at Michigan State University say the trend of lower test scores was seen even with the most intelligent and motivated students.

For the study, the researchers observed laptop use of 127 students in an introductory psychology class. They found students, on average, spent 37 minutes using their computers for non-related use such as checking email and social media as well as shopping and watching videos.

Researchers were able to measure the time spent on non-class related internet surfing by having them surf using a monitored server.

During the period of the study, they found 83 students surfed the net in more than half of the 15 classes that made up the course.

What they found was internet use was a significant predictor of students’ final exam score.

"The detrimental relationship associated with non-academic Internet use," said Susan Ravizza, associate professor of psychology and lead author of the study, adding that it "raises questions about the policy of encouraging students to bring their laptops to class when they are unnecessary for class use."

Even when the students used their computers for class-related work, it didn’t help their test scores, researchers said.

"There were no internet-based assignments in this course, which means that most of the academic use was downloading lecture slides in order to follow along or take notes," Ms. Ravizza said.

Citing previous studies, Ms. Ravizza said taking notes on a laptop is not as effective as taking notes by hand.

"Once students crack their laptop open, it is probably tempting to do other sorts of internet-based tasks that are not class-relevant," she said.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 250
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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
The orchid hunter just cannot be timid

After one of my columns about climbing over downed limbs looking for orchids, Metric Man asked me if it was alright for him to be retroactively worried. Then he scolded me. So this time I dragged him up the hill and
Victoria Torley
across the fields so that he could be worried on site. It also meant that I had someone to open and close the gates for me which made life a lot easier.

Not that Metric Man was any less worried. At least when I leave him home he has no idea what I’m getting into, but this time he knew. The minute I got out of his sight, 
he began shouting my name. Then he started complaining about the mud, as if I was going to disappear into it somehow. Then it was more be carefuls when I ducked under a piece of barbed wire. Shoot. The only thing that I have ever done on barbed wire is ripped a hole in my shirt. Okay, multiple holes but who’s counting (evidently HE is.)

“What are you doing?” came next as I headed down a hill toward a dead tree. Duh! I just pointed to the dead tree and said, “Orchid.” He groaned but orchid mania has had its way with me and I can’t seem to get enough of orchids. (As for MM, he considers any flowering plant a Johnny-come-lately on the evolutionary ladder and prefers mosses and ferns.)

Next came, “Where are you going?” Well, obviously I was going out of his sight (about time, too) to get away from all the questions. I pointed at a bunch of downed limbs: “Just over there” and went over there. Disapproval rippled in the air.

This season of rain and wind has downed a lot of limbs and even some big trees. There are treasures out there that need to be found and rescued and replanted. There was some lovely hanging moss on one dead branch and a budding tree cactus on another so they went into a collection bag that already contained orchids and small bromeliads.

It all takes time, scrambling over logs, slogging through deep mud, and testing seemingly dead trees to see if they really are dead. Note: green leaves on a trunk can mean a dead tree invaded by vines. Give it a hard push. If the roots are dead, it should fall over. I found a nice orchid that way.

After what seemed a short time to me (and ages to MM), I had the proverbial three bags full and headed back to the car, messy but happy.

Metric Man just sighed.

Plant for the Week

My hanging club moss, a variety of Lycopodium, transplanted very well, probably because there was plenty of regular moss around its roots to keep them moist and safe. As you can see, it is greening up nicely. If you find some hanging club moss on a downed branch, transplant it to shade and it should do nicely.

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!
handing moss
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From Page 7:

Government to put all financial data on one site

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The president’s economic council came up with a new idea: Take all the government information on finance and economy and put it all into a single, online database available to the public.

Helio Fallas, the coordinator of the Consejo Presidencial Económico and first vice president, presented the idea to aggregate all the varying databases located within different institutions and group them in a single space online. The purpose of this is mainly convenience in regards to their other goal of having a single, regular session of monitoring the economic situation of the country.

This set of goals, presented Friday at Casa Presidencial, is intended to update statistical information and formulate policy aimed at boosting the growth of the economy.  Suggestions during the presentation consisted mainly of generalities aimed at promoting growth and the continued cooperation between the public and private sectors in banking, finance, and trade.

The Observatorio, as it is called, would be an online website whereby the public could access information consisting of 14 areas as well as 40 economic indicators considered relevant. These indicators and areas of analysis would then be defined under four categories: growth, competitiveness, stability, and productivity. The Secretaría Técnica of the Consejo currently holds the information within the confines of its own databases, but officials said that the website would be constructed and information accessible in the next few weeks.

The purpose of the Consejo group is two-fold: to provide advice to the president on economic matters and formulate economic policy such as public investment, among others. Its members include trade, economic, technological, and telecommunications ministers. It also includes the executives of the Banco Central and the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo.

According to recent statistics provided by the World Bank, Costa Rica ranks 76th out of 195 countries in terms of economic standing based on gross domestic product. Brazil and Mexico are the economic titans in terms of GDP outranking all other Latin American states at ninth and 15th place. GDP is used as a measurement to determine a country’s economic performance as it takes the market value of all goods and services produced yearly.