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Published Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 252
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Casa Canada

Bring on
the bulls
Workmen say they are on schedule for the Christmas Day opening of the Fiestas de Zapote, known for the bull baiting that takes place in this arena. Once or twice a day, more than a hundred young men and women will test their luck against an unhappy bull. See our story
bull ring
A.M. Costa Rica/Conor Golden

Government buys land for Chánguena squatters
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government is coming up with $2.1 million to buy land for squatters who were evicted or who face eviction from the Finca Chánguena.

The Instituto de Desarrollo Rural said it invested 1.2 billion colons to buy 252 hectares in Palma Sur. The property is being broken up into sites for the estimated 80 families.

The private owners of  Finka Chánguena endured a lengthy legal battle to cause the eviction of squatters, many of whom had worked at the farm.  After police forced them from the properties, the squatters blocked repeatedly a bridge of the Interamericana Sur over the Río Térraba. This was a way to apply pressure on the government.

The 80 families will be able to grow food for 

their own use at first, the government agency
said in announcing the land purchase. The  Universidad Nacional has agreed to supervise the production.

Eventually, the government said it hopes the families can grow produce for sale. Many of the families are living in temporary quarters. The location is in the Canton de Osa in southwest Costa Rica.

Of course, some of the individuals involved are not interested in agriculture.

Even President Luis Guillermo Solís said in February when the evictions took place that some from the metro area had become involved in the violence and the blockade at the bridge.

The Instituto de Desarrollo Rural said it plans to begin relocating some families next month.

Well, at least they know the judicial procedure
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

When the Fuerza Pública said last week that its officers had made more than 50,000 drug arrests already this year, a reader joked that the police probably were arresting the same people multiple times.

That certainly is the case with three men detained in Calle Blancos de Goicoechea Monday. The trio have been involved with the courts 52 times. This time they face drug charges.

The Ministerio de Seguridad Pública said anti-drug agents detained a man 56, who had been arrested 14 times.

They also detained a man 53, who has been detained 33 time.

A younger man, 34, has been detained just five times, the ministry said.

Not all the crimes have been linked to drugs. Two of the men have aggravated robbery on their records.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 252
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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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This is one of the banners promoting tourists to areas hit by Otto.

Tourism and credit are hurricane antidote

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican government is trying to jump-start the economy in areas of the country affected by Hurricane Otto. Officials also want to boost tourism.

The Ministerio de Economía Industria y Comercio along with the Sistema de Banca para el Desarolla are focusing on three specific groups to receive aids. The first group consists of those who already had credit established with the Banco Nacional, Banco de Costa Rica, or Banco Popular. Depending on the level of damage due to the hurricane, the banks will work with this group.

The next group consists of those without credit yet who still require financial support and need service from the banks for any manner of financial aid. The last group, according to officials, consists of those who have a financially viable project but are not subject to the credit in the banks.

Through exemption, the Sistema de Banca para el Desarolla will provide financial help with a national development trust of the Banco de Costa Rica. The development bank also noted that it would increase the credit guarantee ceiling up to 90 percent in support of those who lost or suffered a decline in assets being provided as collateral.

The social assistance institute has already allocated 3000 million colons to 2,900 families in order for people to get basic household necessities again, according to officials. The Estrategia Nacional para la Reducción de la Pobreza also added more than 1,000 people who could receive help.

On the government side, a new initiative called Vamos a Turistear is beginning in January 2017 by the Costa Rican tourism institute. The effort is being done to attract more visitors to the area along with a grant by the state banks to micro-entrepreneurs of 600 million colons to support the enterprises of people in poverty. 52 million more colons have already been delivered to 19 affected enterprises, according to officials.

Three found guilty of kidnapping visitor

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three men were found guilty and each sentenced to a prison term of 16 years for their role in committing the crimes of extortion and kidnapping of a Mexican national in April 2015.

The special prosecutor for organized crime proved the allegations against Vernon Garita Smith, Conrad Reynolds Wallace and Álvaro Pérez Calderón in the criminal court at Alajuela, said the Poder Judicial. That concluded a trial that began in late October.

The three defendants apparently proposed to the Mexican national, an architect with the last name of Orta, a credit opportunity in Costa Rica, officials said. Orta was interested in the offer for the potential benefits it could give some of his business projects in Mexico.

When the victim arrived by air to Costa Rica April 10, 2015, the three defendants were there to pick him up and took him to a place in Tres Ríos, according to the officials. Orta apparently caught wind of the scam, but his kidnappers already had him in their clutches and demanded his family pay a ransom of $50,000 for his release, according to the report.

Following the abduction, the family made a payment to the defendants of $6,000 to secure his release. For eight days, the victim remained in the hands of his kidnappers until judicial authorities arrested one of the defendants, according to officials. Days later the other two men were arrested.

Lawmaker cites Interamericana complaint

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A legislative deputy said that the Cañas-Liberia highway is suffering from serious malfunctions in its design as a result of poorly conducted work.

Gerardo Vargas of Frente Amplio noted that the construction company responsible for creating the highway has not been formally faulted with breach of contract and delivery of unfinished or poorly completed works.  A July complaint stems from a report by the Contraloría General de la República revealing several defects in the completed construction attributed to the contractor.

The investigating officials also verified that several sections of the highway remain flooded particularly along several sections at the interchanges of Cañas, Bagaces, and Liberia. The official report also said there is room for more research into the reason behind the changing in the original design of an intersection marked to become a roundabout, but instead was installed with normal traffic signals at Liberia.

Vargas also warned of the necessity in requiring the supervising infrastructure committee, Consejo Nacional de Vialidad, to properly supervise and conduct quality control tests for these types of construction projects.

The stretch of road is part of the Interamericana Norte.

Quepos gets a new bridge

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Quepos has a new bridge over the Boca Vieja estuary, according to the government.

Around 1.56 million colons were invested by the government towards the bridge’s construction, which officials claim will help raise the potential for tourism in the area. This bridge will allow for an improved passage for vehicular traffic, but will also have sidewalks for pedestrians, officials said.

Train kills pedestrian in Heredia

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A male pedestrian slipped or fell into the path of a train Tuesday evening and died from injuries he sustained, the Cruz Roja said.

There was no identification, but judicial agents will have a report later today. The accident was in Santa Rosa de Santo Domingo de Heredia.

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 252
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Getting the fairgrounds ready for thousands of visitors requires a lot of muscle. Here workers unload display cases that will hold publicity. Merchants bid each year to win a concession from the Muncipalidad de San José, and health officials inspect the locations every day and evening.  Food handlers who do not meet standards can be shut down.
A.M. Costa Rica/Conor Golden

Workers in Zapote say they will make the Christmas Day deadline
By Conor Golden
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

After some brief weather delays, preparation for this year’s Fiestas de Zapote is on schedule and with little problems, workers said.

Jorge Kuzmicic, the head of the construction company contracted for the preparation of the arena, said that the operation to get the facility ready for tens of thousands of attendees will be on time. This comes in spite of delays due to the heavy rainy season that delayed work at times since October, workers said.  The fiestas begin Christmas Day.

According to organizers, the last event drew 55,000 people into the arena over the course of 16 days. The crowds were much bigger for the many activities outside the bull arena.
There will be food and beer tents and the usual carnival rides that also were going up Tuesday.

This is a holiday tradition in Costa Rica spanning decades. The fiestas continues until Jan. 3 and will include a lot of food, a lot of drinking, and a lot of people being chased around by an aggravated bull inside the arena. The two daily bull baiting events will be broadcasted live on television.

The bull baiting part of the event itself is exclusive to Costa Rica as the Mexican and Spanish versions of bullfighting involve a professional group of picadors and matadors who work to slaughter the bull in front of thousands of screaming fans. In Costa Rica, it is a free-for-all with the only requirements being that participants are not intoxicated and have purchased the obligatory accident policy.

A.M. Costa Rica/Conor Golden
The fiesta fairgrounds have to be rewired every year to accommodate the many food and beer tents that are big power users, not to mention the carnival rides.

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You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 252
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Scientists are blaming the zika epidemic on El Niño climate conditions
By the University of Liverpool news staff

Scientists have shown that a change in weather patterns, brought on by the El Niño of 2015, fueled the zika outbreak in South America.

The findings were revealed using a new epidemiological model that looked at how climate affects the spread of zika virus by both of its major vectors, the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus).

The model can also be used to predict the risk of future outbreaks, and help public health officials tailor mosquito control measures and travel advice.

The model used the worldwide distribution of both vectors as well as temperature-dependent factors, such as mosquito biting rates, mortality rates and viral development rates within mosquitoes, to predict the effect of climate on virus transmission. It found that in 2015, when the zika outbreak occurred, the risk of transmission was greatest in South America.

The researchers believe that this was likely due to a combination of El Niño, a naturally occurring phenomenon that sees above-normal temperatures in the Pacific Ocean and causes extreme weather around the world, and climate creating conducive conditions for the mosquito vectors.

El Niños occur every three to seven years in varying intensity, with the 2015 El Niño, nicknamed the “Godzilla,” one of the strongest on record. Effects can include severe drought, heavy rains and temperature rises at global scale.

Cyril Caminade, a population and epidemiology researcher who

led the work, said: “It’s thought that the zika virus probably arrived in Brazil from Southeast Asia or the Pacific islands in 2013.

“However, our model suggests that it was temperature conditions related to the 2015 El Niño that played a key role in igniting the outbreak almost two years after the virus was believed to be introduced on the continent.”

“In addition to El Niño, other critical factors might have played a role in the amplification of the outbreak, such as the non-exposed South American population, the risk posed by travel and trade, the virulence of the zika virus strain and co-infections with other viruses such as dengue.”

The World Health Organization recently declared that zika, which has been linked to birth defects and neurological complications, will no longer be treated as an international emergency, but as a significant enduring public health challenge.

Matthew Baylis, from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Infection and Global Health, added: “Zika is not going away, and so the development of tools that could help predict potential future outbreaks and spread are extremely important.

“Our model predicts a potential seasonal transmission risk for zika virus, in the south eastern United States, southern China, and to a lesser extent over southern Europe during summer.”

The researchers now plan to adapt the model to other important flaviviruses, such as chikungunya and dengue fever, with the aim of developing disease early warning systems that could help public health officials prepare for, or even prevent, future outbreaks.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

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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.

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Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 252
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Axiom new ad

Blast rips fireworks market
and kills at least 29 in México

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A massive explosion at a huge fireworks market near Mexico City killed at least 29 people Tuesday and injured 70.

The market in Tultepec was packed with shoppers buying fireworks for traditional Christmas and New Year parties.

Emergency crews needed to wait several hours until the explosions died down, so they could approach the site to look for victims.

Officials say every stall in the market was destroyed and a number of nearby cars and buildings were damaged.

A thick cloud of smoke hovered over Mexico City.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto tweeted his condolences to the families of those killed and hopes for a speedy recovery for those who were hurt.

Television images showed a flurry of pyrotechnics exploding into the early afternoon sky as a giant plume of smoke rose above the market. Fireworks detonated in a peal of clattering bursts reminiscent of a war zone.

The technicolor blast was the third such explosion in just over a decade to hit the popular San Pablito marketplace in Tultepec, about 20 miles (32 km) north of Mexico City. The detonations struck in the run-up to the busy Christmas holiday when many Mexicans stock up on fireworks.

"People were crying everywhere and desperately running in all directions," said 20-year-old witness Cesar Carmona.

Some 13 children suffered burns to over 90 percent of their bodies and were being sent to the U.S. city of Galveston in Texas for treatment, said Eruviel Avila, the governor of the State of Mexico where Tultepec is located. He put the death toll at 29.

Avila also vowed to find and punish those responsible for the blast and provide economic assistance to those who had lost their livelihoods.

Isidro Sanchez, the head of Tultepec emergency services, said a lack of sufficient safety measures was the likely cause of the blast.

The federal police said it had sent a forensic team to investigate the incident, adding that at least 70 people had been injured. Videos from the scene showed people frantically fleeing, while aerial footage revealed blackened stalls and a flattened tangle of metal and wood.

Over 80 percent of the 300 stalls at the market were destroyed by the explosion, said state official José Manzur.

Local media reported there were 300 tons of fireworks at the market at the time of the explosion.

Federico Juárez was present when the first explosion rocked the market.

"Everyone started running to escape as bricks and pieces of concrete fell everywhere," said Juárez.

Trump seems to be modifying
some of his immigration views

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President-elect Donald Trump is pulling back from some of the immigration policies he proposed as a candidate.

Trump is still promising stronger enforcement of immigration laws. He also continues to call for a new wall along the United States southern border with México.

But he no longer calls for the removal of 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States. His campaign proposal to block all Muslim immigrants was modified before the Nov. 8 presidential election. The new proposal calls for more careful vetting of people seeking to enter the United States.

Trump says he will cancel some of President Barack Obama’s executive orders, but he is suggesting a willingness to compromise.

During the campaign, Trump often talked about ending one immigration order by Obama. It permits about 700,000 immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children to remain in the United States and to apply for work permits. They are sometimes called, dreamers.

Trump softened his position in a recent discussion with Time magazine.

“We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud,” Trump said. “They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs.”

Trump also said that he will not try, as he once said during his campaign, to remove all illegal immigrants. Instead, Trump said he will order the removal of illegal immigrants who have committed crimes.

But that will not be easy.

The Obama administration faced opposition from some countries that refused to accept the return of their citizens.

Trump said he is keeping his campaign proposal to build a big wall along the United States southern border.

He spoke about the wall during a recent speech in Wisconsin.

“We’re going to build the wall,” Trump said. “We have to. We have got to stop the drugs from coming in and the wall is going to be a big, big factor.”

During the campaign, he said México would pay for the wall although Mexican officials have said they have no plans to do so.

Trump has said he also plans to move ahead with his proposal to cut federal funding for cities that refuse to hold illegal immigrants.

He has pointed to serious crimes, including murder, committed by some illegals who were released after serving sentences for earlier crimes.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement sometimes requests to be told when a non-citizen is released from a state or local prison. This would permit the agency to take that person into custody and decide if the person should be deported.

But some local and state governments do not do this for several different reasons. One reason they give is that immigration enforcement is not their responsibility. Another reason given is that if they help to deport people it might lead to distrust between immigrant communities and local police agencies.

Cities that do not inform the federal government about the release of illegal immigrants are sometimes known as sanctuary cities.

Rahm Emanuel, mayor of the American city of Chicago, is one of a number of mayors who say his city will continue its sanctuary city policy, even if it results in loss of federal funds.

But Trump does not appear likely to soften his position on this issue. He nominated Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama for attorney general, the federal government’s top law enforcement position. Sessions proposed a bill as a senator to cut federal funding to cities that do not hold and turn over illegal immigrants to federal immigration officers.

Canadian and American seek
help to end Taliban captivity

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Canadian government is calling for the release of a couple who has been held in captivity in northern Afghanistan for four years, after captors released a video of the pair.

The video shows Canadian Joshua Boyle and American Caitlan Coleman and their two children, who were born in captivity.

"We have waited since 2012 for somebody to understand our problems," Coleman was shown saying in the video as she appealed to both U.S. President Barack Obama and president-elect Donald Trump to rescue her family. She described "the Kafkaesque nightmare in which we find ourselves," while pleading with their governments to negotiate with the captors.

The couple has been held by the Haqqani network, a Taliban faction, which seized them in late 2012 as they were backpacking in Wardak Province, an insurgent stronghold near Kabul. Coleman was pregnant at the time with their first child.

The video is the first time the couple has been seen since a video released in August, in which they warned their captors would kill them unless the Afghan government ended its execution of Taliban prisoners.

Since the abduction, the United States government has tried to win their release but there have been repeated setbacks. The Haqqani network has demanded the release of Anas Haqqani, one of its commanders, who was captured by the Afghan intelligence service in 2014. The Afghan government has sentenced him to death.

There was no immediate reaction from the U.S. State Department or the Afghan government.

Light and a bacterium used
to destroy prostate cancer

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

New research shows that light and a bacterium from the bottom of the ocean may provide success in treating men with early-stage prostate cancer.

The standard of care for most early, localized prostate cancers is to take a watch-and-wait approach, forgoing treatment unless the disease worsens.

But there may soon be another option. Researchers in Britain are experimenting with a form of light therapy, using a laser beam that targets cancer cells and destroys them.

In a study of so-called vascular-targeted photodynamic therapy, or VTP, investigators found that nearly 50 percent of patients went into complete remission, compared to 13.5 percent in the surveillance group.

Mark Emberton, a professor of interventional oncology at University College London, led the study, published in The Lancet Oncology.

Treatment involves giving patients an infused drug that sensitizes human tissue to light. Doctors then illuminate the prostate, where the cancer is located. The light activates the creation of oxygen molecules, called free radicals, that cut off the blood supply to the cancer, killing the harmful cells.

"This is the effect of light on the photosensitizer, and that releases noxious compounds which are damaging to the cancer cell, but particularly to the blood supply to the cancer cells," Emberton said.

The treatment relies on photosynthesis, which is how plants make energy from sunlight. Some bacteria use a similar process. The drug the patients were given, WST11, is made from a bacterium found at the bottom of the ocean. Since there's little light in the murky waters, the microbes are able to very efficiently convert the scant amount of light they do get into energy.

Once the drug is injected into patients, the laser light activates the bacterium's photosynthesis, which in turn releases the harmful oxygen molecules, targeting cancer cells for destruction where the laser is pointed.

The work was carried out at 47 European treatment sites involving 413 men. The chances of the prostate cancer progressing to a more serious stage were three times lower in the light therapy group, compared to patients without that treatment.

“We're going after the tumor to preserve as much of the prostate as we can,” Emberton said, adding that existing therapies target the entire prostate, not just the tumor.

Current therapies to treat prostate cancer, including radiation and removal of the entire gland, can lead to lifelong problems, including erectile dysfunction and incontinence. By comparison, urinary and erectile problems following light therapy resolved within three months, with no significant side effects remaining after two years, according to Emberton.

The therapy is currently under review by regulators, who are weighing whether to approve it as a new treatment for early prostate cancer.

Orlando victims' families sue
media firms for aiding killer

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The families of three victims killed this year during the shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub are suing three social media companies for allegedly providing material support to the gunman.

The lawsuit, filed by the families of Tevin Crosby, Javier Jorge-Reyes and Juan Ramon Guerrero, alleges that Facebook, Google and Twitter made it too easy for Islamic State jihadists to create social media accounts used to spread their message and raise funds.

According to the suit, material support provided by the social media companies has been instrumental to the rise of ISIS and has enabled it to carry out or cause to be carried out, numerous terrorist attacks.

The gunman in the Pulse nightclub shooting, Oman Mateen, pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State group multiple times before and after he killed 49 people and wounded 53 more in the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history.

Facebook, in a statement released Tuesday, denied that it provides a space for terrorism related content, and said it removes the content as quickly as possible when it is identified.

“We are committed to providing a service where people feel safe when using Facebook,” the statement read. “We sympathize with the victims and their families.”

New website lists professors
seen as airing extremist views

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

College professors are no strangers to politics. Political science professors teach at almost every university in the United States.

Professors of each and every specialty have their own political opinions. Some keep their opinions to themselves. Others express them both in and outside the classroom.

Now a new American website is seeking to identify and list professors it claims support extremist ideas. The website, called Professor Watchlist, launched in November. It is a project of Turning Point USA, a non-profit group that supports values such as limited government and free market economies. These values are often connected to American conservatives.

How does Turning Point decide which professors hold extremist beliefs? Matt Lamb, director of constitutional enforcement and transparency at the organization, says he and others search for news stories about professors expressing beliefs he says are outside the American mainstream.

Most of the professors on the list are reported as having talked, written or taught about subjects related to the progressive movement. This includes support of gun control laws, the idea that human activities are to blame for climate change, and criticism of the free market system.

The Higher Education Research Institute operates through the University of California, Los Angeles. The group studies issues related to higher education. In 2014, it found that 60 percent of U.S. college professors identified themselves as liberal or politically left-leaning.

Lamb says conservative-thinking students often feel like they have to hide their political opinions from their professors and other students. He says many of the professors on the list try to silence conservative students in their classrooms. The aim of the website is to let students know which professors hold opposing beliefs.

Then students can either avoid taking classes with those professors or better prepare their own arguments against them, Lamb says.

"For example, if you’re a pro-life student, you probably don’t want to take a class with the professor at University of California Santa Barbara who punched a pro-life student and got three years’ probation for it," he said. "It’s probably something you’re going to want to know going into a class. But for the most part, too, we also encourage other students, if they feel comfortable doing so, to push back and debate these ideas in classrooms."

Some critics have compared the website’s list to the activities of former U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy. During the 1950s, McCarthy tried to publicly identify American citizens who supported Communist teachings. Many of the people he identified suffered damage to their public reputations and careers.

But Lamb rejects this comparison. He says Professor Watchlist does not investigate the private lives of professors. And, the information used to identify people named on the list is all publicly available.

The website lists some professors because of opinion pieces they wrote for newspapers or comments left on social media. If they did not want their beliefs made public, they should not speak about them publicly, Lamb says. Also, one-sided political arguments do not belong in the classroom, he adds.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 252
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Another data base scandal emerges

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Celso Gamboa Sánchez, a magistrate in the Sala III high criminal court created a firestorm Tuesday with a complaint that he has been spied upon by five judicial agents, three prosecutors and another judicial employee.

The president of the Corte Suprema de Justicia, Zarela Villanueva Monge, quickly issued a statement and said that Inspección Judicial would look into the complaint.

Gamboa only recently has been named a magistrate. During most of the period from 2013 to 2016 that he says he has been spied upon, he was in the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública or as the second in command of the prosecutorial staff, a position he assumed February 2015.

The allegation is that individuals looked at his data in the Plataforma de Información Policial, a secret law enforcement data base.

Two years ago some police officers got in trouble because they were checking out the data of soccer standout Keylor Navas. That was when the Poder Judicial said it had tightened up access to the system.

The complaint has implications outside of the Poder Judicial. Monday President Luis Guillermo Solís signed into law what has been called a measure to reduce tax fraud. But the bill contains much more. One section in the bill requires operators of corporations to report the names of shareholders and others benefiting from the company’s income. The finance ministry said that this information would be held by the Banco Central and kept confidential.

However, business leaders express fears that crooks would get access to the data to determine who was wealthy.

Yet to be made public is why investigators would seek information on Gamboa.  Lawmakers named him a magistrate last February.  The details of the case may never become public now that the investigation is being kept inside the Poder Judicial.

Ministerio de Obras Pùblicas y Transportes photo
The bridge work requires unloading long girders.

More road closings are announced

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Highway officials are closing the General Cañas autopista starting at 6 a.m. today and lasting until 6 a.m. Thursday. The lanes affected are the eastbound ones, and the reason is construction on the Río Virilla bridge.

There have been periodic closings in the past so that workers could unload material including lengthy metal girders.

Other closings are scheduled for Monday from 10 a.m. into Tuesday at 5 a.m. The highway also is supposed to be closed Tuesday for a second time from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

One of the alternate routes goes through Heredia and uses the stretch from Jardines del Recuerdo to Pozuela in La Uruca. A bridge is being rebuilt there, too. The road was supposed to be closed overnight until 4 a.m. today and from 11 p.m. Thursday to 4 a.m. Friday.

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From Page 7:

Trump is challenged to keep economic pledges

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

If president-elect Donald Trump tries to keep some of his signature campaign promises, such as restoring U.S. manufacturing jobs and repairing the country's deteriorating infrastructure, he is likely to encounter a variety of conflicting forces and political priorities that will weigh heavily on his management of the economy, the world's largest.

Trump faces a daunting task to fulfill his campaign vow to restore U.S. industrial jobs lost to automation and overseas sites, where corporations pay workers far less than they do in the United States. At the same time, his promise to initiate a trillion-dollar plan to repair the country's deteriorating roads, bridges and other infrastructure already is running into headwinds in the Republican-controlled Congress.

While he is seeking to boost the economic fortunes of the blue-collar workers with limited formal education whose votes helped send him to a four-year term in the White House, Janet Yellen, the chairwoman of the country's independent central bank, said this week that the cornerstone of success for many Americans was getting a college education.

"Economists are not certain about many things," the Federal Reserve leader said. "But we are quite certain that a college diploma or an advanced degree is a key to economic success."

"Those with a college degree are more likely to find a job, keep a job, have higher job satisfaction and earn a higher salary," Ms. Yellen said. "The advantage in earnings is large. College grads' annual earnings last year were, on average, 70 percent higher than those with only a high school diploma. Back in 1980, the difference was only 20 percent.”

The gap in earnings is significant only a few years after graduation at almost $18,000 a year, according to some recent data.

"Beyond these advantages, research also shows that a college or graduate degree typically leads to a happier, healthier and longer life," she said.

Trump, with $7 million in tax incentives, successfully kept a heating and air conditioning company from moving 800 factory jobs to Mexico, but the U.S. has lost 5 million manufacturing jobs since 2000. In an effort to reverse that trend, Trump said he would try to get Congress to impose a 35 percent tax on products made in other countries by companies that have left the U.S. and then try to send them back across the border. That, however, could ignite an international trade war.

The president-elect has continued to boast about his infrastructure plans, telling supporters that "We will build new roads, tunnels, bridges, railroads, airports, schools and hospitals."

That is stimulative spending normally undertaken when a failing national economy needs a boost, not when its economic fortunes are improving, as is the case with the United States and its 4.6 percent jobless rate.

Such a massive spending proposal is at odds with the Republican Party's professed aim of shrinking U.S. government spending. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told reporters earlier this month, "What I hope we will clearly avoid, and I'm confident we will, is a trillion-dollar stimulus." Conservative Republican lawmakers also have voiced their opposition to the Trump plan.

Ken Simonson, the chief economist for a key construction trade group, the Associated General Contractors of America, said that Trump will have quite a selling job to win approval for an infrastructure spending plan. Simonson said Trump's Republican colleagues in Congress would be opposed to higher taxes, while Democratic lawmakers are opposed to tax credits that would benefit wealthy investors and not lead to sufficient job creation.

He said his trade group worried that Trump's plan would be "a one-time event and not sufficient over a longer period of time" to rebuild the country's infrastructure.

Even if Congress were to approve an infrastructure-spending plan, Simonson said, the construction trades face another problem: finding enough skilled workers. There now are 6.7 million U.S. construction workers, down 1 million from the peak in mid-2006, with many of the departed workers moving to jobs in other fields or retiring.

Mark Vitner, the senior economist at Wells Fargo Bank, said, "I think the best way to think about Donald Trump is about the direction he wants to go, rather than the absolute words."

Vitner said the U.S. will spend more money on infrastructure regardless of whether Congress specifically allocates more funding for new construction.

He said Trump could overturn President Barack Obama's rejection of a key oil pipeline running from Canada through the central U.S. to refineries on its southern border, approve construction of more natural gas pipelines and streamline environmental reviews to speed construction of other projects.

He said Trump would not be able to bring back the specific jobs lost from the country's industrial heartland, where he won the votes of disgruntled workers.