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Published Thursday, April 27, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 83
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Money laundering bill won't affect sports betting
By Rommel Téllez
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Accountants, lawyers and real estate agents will be subject to tighter regulations to keep drugs and terrorism money away, the sportsbooks that process bets in the country will continue their activities as usual, without much hassle and little to no buzz.

This is the result of the negotiations carried out last week by the libertarian legislator Otto Guevara, who demanded these companies be removed from a bill that sought stricter measures against money laundering and terrorism financing.

His offer was one that the government apparently couldn't refuse. Either these companies were taken off the bill or he would oppose its approval.

This is a reform that the vast majority of legislators were pushing through the assembly in order to comply with an international deadline given by the The Financial Action Task Force, an international organization that keeps an eye on suspicious financial practices.

The reform broadens the scope of commercial activities and professionals who must register in the Superintentendencia General de Entidades Financieras to keep doing their business. It also means harsher fines and even jail time to those who do not report suspicious financial activities, according to the bill.

“It is incorrect to say money laundering could happen in those kind of companies, because money does not enter the country,” Guevara said to A.M. Costa Rica. “They are just like regular call centers where electronic data is processed. That's all.”

Guevara kept the same arguments when asked about the origins of the funds these companies do need in order to pay the employees and other operational expenses.

“The money does not enter the country. They work as any customer service call center,” he insisted.

Guevara also knew that time was on his side. This change in the legislation is likely to be approved on second vote before April 28.

If it is not, the country could be placed on the grey list of non-compliant countries with the Task Force, which is quite a dangerous situation according to Mario Redondo, legislator of the Partido Acción Ciudadana.

“If we do not comply with the deadline that will be just disastrous,” Redondo said. “It would complicate our capacity to negotiate in the international financial markets, sell or buy bonds, access loans.”

“Sometimes what's perfect is the enemy of what's possible,” he said. “We couldn't risk the approval of the reform and we could not force sportsbooks to be in it because, according to the Task Force, sport betting is not an activity yet considered as of high risk. We couldn't play that card so the government decided to change the bill accordingly.”

Otto
                              Guevara
Facebook photo   
Otto Guevara was the sole opposer.

According to Costa Rican law, from Dec.1 to April 30, the executive branch is in charge of sending to the legislative assembly its own proposals appealing to its interests and goals. This is known as its Período de Sesiones Extraordinarias.

The reform is expected to obtain the second vote today.

Once approved, the government will send several representatives to show Task Force authorities that recommendations made in the past are being taken care of in the political arena. This group will include  legislators, presidential advisors and judicial workers, according to Luis Paulino Mora, the vice president for political and legislative affairs.

“We could eventually propose a bill just to take care of the sportsbooks issue. But right now we won't do it. It could also happen that in the near future if the Task Force will equal sportsbetting to casino activities and we will be already up to date, since the reform already include them as regulated activities.”

The sportsbook industry arrived in Costa Rica at the end of the 1990s and flourished in the middle of the following decade, providing jobs to at least 7,000 Costa Ricans, according to data back then.

On May, 2016, a study called “Protecting the Integrity of Sports Competitions,” from the Sorbonne University in Paris, France, determined that organized crime launders over $140 billion through sportsbetting, 80 percent of which is illegal.

The document said that up to 500 unlicensed companies run these operations from Costa Rica.

On March 3, 2016 the Department of Homeland Security of the United States determined that a Costa Rican-based sportsbook took advantage of Amazon gift cards to provide its services to clients and more than $2 million could have come from dirty money.

In May 2012,  the Federal Bureau of Investigation cracked down on a New Jersey sports betting network with apparent strong ties within Costa Rica.



Trump's plan doesn't drop taxing citizens abroad
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
with wire services reports

U.S. President Donald Trump introduced his tax proposals of which some could dramatically affect millions of U.S. taxpayers. Expats should know, however, that his proposals do not appear to include the trashing the taxing of citizens who live abroad.

Many U.S. expats hope that the change in administration may yield with it some tax reform particularly with allowing residence-based taxation for individuals.

American Citizens Abroad has proposed as much and called on Congress to enact legislation with that goal in mind back in late March.

Perhaps the most ambitious of Trump’s proposals he called for Wednesday was cutting the U.S. corporate tax rate, the highest among the world's industrialized nations, from 35 to 15 percent.

Although the highest it should be noted that many corporations do not pay that total percentage.

Most U.S. corporations rarely pay that much because they are permitted to deduct their business expenses from their revenues before. A number of profitable companies pay no U.S. income taxes.

There is also an idea to force U.S. Companies to provide a one-time repatriation of profits earned from overseas operations, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. What that rate will be has not been determined yet, he said.

“Job creation and economic growth is the top priority,” said chief White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, a one-time Wall Street financier.

“Our basic premise here is to simplify the tax system, lower rates and make it easy. We don't want to penalize people. We want to make the system very fair. We are trying to stimulate business investment.”

Some economic analysts have worries that the Trump plan cannot pay itself as Mnuchin and Cohn are arguing for. Over the next decade, the cuts if passed in its current form could add almost $2 trillion to the $20 trillion in long-term debt., they said.

The whole goal, Mnuchin explained, is for the cuts to boost U.S. Economic growth up to 3 percent. This is a rate not seen since the midst of the housing bubble back in 2005. Last year, the economy grew a timid 1.6 percent by comparison.

These proposals are likely to face opposition from lawmakers on both sides of the spectrum in Congress, constitutionally charged with taxing and spending powers.

U.S. expats may be interested in knowing that the top individual tax rate would be dropped to 35 percent and the seven current tax rate levels be cut to two, at 10 and 25 percent respectively.

Moreover, there is supposed to be a zero tax rate added on the first $24,000 workers earn each year.

It is unclear whether that would include foreign earned income at this time.

The abolishing of an inheritance tax is also on the table and deductions would be confined to donations to charity, retirement savings plans and interest on home purchase loans.

The foreign earned income exclusion and the foreign tax credit are also of interest to expats and those did not receive much fanfare from the Trump administration in its announcement.


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Petroglyph
Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad photos         
The petroglyph discovered at the Las Pailas work site.

Archaeologists discover artifact at job site

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A team of archaeologists from the Costa Rican electricity institute recently moved a petroglyph that they found near the Las Pailas geothermal plant close to Liberia.

The site, known as El Blanco, is an apparent cemetery with at least three known burial sites all located on the banks of the Río Blanco. Estimates from the team, in coordination with the Protección del Patrimonio Cultural del Museo Nacional, claim that the petroglyph dates from the Bagaces period between the fourth and ninth centuries C.E.

A petroglyph is an image usually carved onto a rock surface as a form of rock art. This particular piece had a representation of a hummingbird on it, which the institute’s archaeologists said is a relevant figure in the native Costa Rican mythology for its association with fertility.

The rock also had two parallel spirals in its design. Each spiral was going in the opposite direction, archaeologists said. This would represent the flow of water and is in relation to the four funeral sites near the Río Blanco, the institute said.

The action by the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad is required by law. Accordingly, any major project or construction site must be managed with the Museo Nacional in order to preserve any of the stray findings of the national archaeological heritage.

“The transfer of this heritage has a great significance in the protection of the indigenous legacy,” said Arturo Hernández, archaeologist of the Pailas II project, "It avoids the increasing looting of archaeological pieces by unscrupulous people dedicated to the illicit trade of cultural property."

The petroglyph was placed at the main entrance to the Las Pailas I plant. The institute said that it was wiring off four areas believed to hold more undiscovered national treasures at Rincón de la Vieja, Colorado, Las Pailas and Las Tecas.


Economy doesn't have enough jobs to fill

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican economy does not generate enough jobs to absorb the new workforce entering the market, according to a recent report from Estado de la Nación, an independent social research organization.

According to a press release sent by the organization, since the second semester of 2014, jobs in the service sector have diminished, which resulted in potentially 110,000 people facing unemployment in the next two years. The unemployment rate in the country is close to 9 percent.

The study also say that new employment options are open only to a reduced group of people with the required education levels.

The document also recommends that technical and higher education should be encouraged to improve the working opportunities and salary rates of the population, which would, in turn, increase the innovation rates of domestic companies.



Via PanAm group
Via PanAm website photo        
Here are the four members of the group at Alaska-Canada border

Running to help paraplegics, group says

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two Belgian runners arrived in the greater metropolitan area of San José Tuesday afternoon about halfway through their more than 15,500 mile journey toward the very tip of Argentina.

“Our project, Via PanAm, is an amazing story of hope persistence and a lot of stupidity,” said one of the crewmembers Liesbeth Balemans.

The group comprises of the runners, Weking van Reeth and Seba Vandermolen, and a crew, comprised of Liesbeth Balemans and An Wouters, following their journey that originated at Prudhoe Bay on the northern coast of Alaska.

They are running for the purpose of raising money and awareness for a Belgian organization known as To Walk Again, which supports people with spinal cord injuries and other disabilities rendering someone paraplegic.

The group told A.M. Costa Rica that they are running more than 590 marathons for charity. According to the group’s website documenting their journey, they have run 279 of those 590.

Next stop for the group is Panamá City, Panama based on the map tracking their movements.



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A.M.
Costa Rica

Third News Page
U.S. Tax
Published Thursday, April 27, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 83
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Reporters Without Borders praises Costa Rica on news media rights
By Conor Golden,
News Editor of A.M. Costa Rica

An ever darker world is how the new index of media freedom by Reporters Without Borders characterizes the state of the free press for 2017.

The international non-profit, non-governmental organization primarily focuses on internet censorship and to assist journalists assigned to cover dangerous areas. The group bemoans the state of the press in the era of repression as much as fake news. It has caused an intense public mistrust and authoritarian hijacking of the news media.

There are silver linings to the report’s cloud, however, as the group marks Costa Rica in the sixth ranking of 180 countries examined. Reporters Without Borders said this:

“Costa Rica has the best record of respecting human rights and free expression in Latin America, and is a remarkable exception in a region characterized by violent crime and corruption. The enlightened media legislation and the significant level of freedom enjoyed by journalists have nonetheless been marred by certain negative practices such as the spying on the Diario Extra newspaper by the Judicial Investigation Agency in 2014.”

The glowing remarks from the group are based on a methodology that includes, among others, the number of journalists and media assistants killed as a result of their work. Costa Rica has none of these problems in a region of Latin America that was plagued by such based on this index findings.

Capping out for the top three spots were Norway, Sweden and Finland in that order. The next Latin American country to come after Costa Rica was the South American nation of Uruguay in 25th. Canada made it to 22nd and the United States was put at 43.

Meanwhile, the nation that made it to last place out of 180 countries was the reclusive North Korea and Cuba took last place among Latin America, according to the report.

The report can be freely viewed online at the organization’s website.

There is a caveat to all of this data, however. Reporters Without Borders admits within the confines of the methodology that the degree of the free press is based on a pooling of responses from so-called experts determined by the group.

The saving grace behind this relative analysis is a combination with harder data as to amount of abuses and reported acts of violence against journalists during that period, the report states.

This includes killing and imprisonment.

The responses from these so-called experts are based upon a series of 87 questions translated into 20 languages. Those responses and the data are then compiled into a scale of countries between 0 to 100 with the latter being the lowest possible score, the report says. The target experts are media professionals, lawyers and sociologists.
Reporters Without Borders map
Reporters Without Borders map
Map displays state of the press in Latin America.

Part of the problem with any number of these indexes or studies is assessing the quality as much as quantity of data that can be obtained or has been obtained.

Particularly in cases of North Korea and Eritrea, itself only losing out for the bottom due to its highly-restricted and monitored opening of foreign journalists this year. The same problems remain: information gathering.

Often, the conclusions from those extreme examples are obvious based on the general political landscape. It is countries that fall in the middle, such as the United States or the United Kingdom or Australia, where such categorization get trickier to make conclusions.

It is no secret that misinformation or so-called fake news and false ledes plague the realm of news media. However, the sources of media are changing and the nature of how and where people obtain their news is equally in flux.

There also needs to be an important distinction between what is news and what is news commentary. Cable TV networks often fall in the latter category.

These channels provide information about events and comment on the news. This has a tendency to put a spin or perspective on it as well to support the conclusions of the upper echelons worried about ratings or to cater towards their audience.

The rise of the Internet and social media has caused a consistent and pummeling hit of information upon the user. That information is not always good and now it calls for the user to take more responsibility in funneling out what is real and what is noise.



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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

Published Thursday, April 27, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 83
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Rainy season forecast: may be weaker with sprinkles of summer
By Rommel Téllez
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The rainy season is starting all over again but this year it might be a little weaker than prior years, according to Eladio Solano, a meteorologist from the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional.

Long gone are the days when the Central Valley's rain had not only a more powerful punch but it rained every single afternoon before 1 p.m. This year’s Fenómeno del Niño could impact the country to a higher degree and that could imply less water for the northern parts of the country.

El Niño is the name given to describe the warming of the Pacific and equatorial shores of Latin America, a phenomenon that has caused higher temperatures in Costa Rica and lack of rain in the Guanacaste area. El Niño has irregular cycles that may last from three to eight years.

“According to our forecast, the second semester of 2017, temperatures might be higher than other years because El Niño will be stronger,” Solano said. “This could possibly cause less rain and a hotter sensation for the rest of the country.”

“The truth is that rain cycles have not changed that much in the last 15 years, despite changes people feel,” he said. “The weather variability is higher in some parts of the country than others, but national averages remain very similar. It takes many decades or extraordinary events for climate changes to be evident.”

rain rain
A.M. Costa Rica graphic
The rainy season could be more sporadic this year.

According to the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional’s yearly forecast, the full rainy season will strike the Central Pacific area this week and that will reach the Central Valley as of May 15 and finally arrive in Guanacaste on May 26.

The document also said that the 2017 rainy season will be irregular. There will be a Canícula, a Spanish word used to describe a short dry season, somewhere between July and August.



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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.
9140-5/1/17

George Lundquist header

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the
 *HIGHEST SUCCESS RATE
OF RELOCATION*

 (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!
HERE!

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. lundquistgeorge@gmail.com

George Lundquist

experience Costa Rica
Costa Rica Travel In Paradise Group Tours

Looking for easy booking process for a smooth Costa Rica trip?   We customize wonderful trips to Costa Rica.  We offer you our wealth of knowledge for a great experience . . . a trip of a lifetime!!!

* FAMILY VACATIONS. Our travels take into account the different ages of your family enjoy the most from your Family vacations. Click HERE!

* GROUP TOURS. Whether for a church group, couple of friends, Scout troop or a family group. We provide excellent quality service in your Group Tours. Click HERE!

* EDUCATIONAL TOURS. Tours for universities to schools to elementary schools. We have professionals to help you discover the secrets of Costa Rica in a fun way. Costa Rica Educational Tours. Click HERE!

* GUIDED TOURS. General holiday planning giving you the best value for your investment Costa Rica vacation Packages. Click HERE!

Contact us: 
Dial toll FREE from USA or Canada:  1.800.901.0114
CR local phone:  +506-2274-3231
Cells:  +506-8380-5919  and +506-8302-5877
Email:  info@travelinparadisecr.com
Web:  www.travelinparadisecr.com
8995-4/17/17

Here's reasonable medical care
Costa Rica's world class medical specialists are at your command. Get the top care for much less than U.S. prices. It is really a great way to spend a vacation. See our list of recommended professionals HERE!amcr-prom



Need a book about Costa Rica?


Check out our special selections available at Amazon logo

HERE!

A.M. Costa Rica
Real estate rentals
Real estate rental agents
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Business
wanted
Real estate wanted

Real estate-related services (paid category)

COSTA RICA SOLAR
solar one

solar two
NOW with the New Power Company Regulations, we're installing photo voltaic systems for solar electricity.
PV systems: we use Enphase micro-inverters. More flexible. Add panels whenever you like. More reliable than any other system and fully guaranteed!

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BUY NOW! Your solar hot water system, so in three months, we can calculate a lower install price for your PV system.  Perfect for homes and hotels. Save up to 40% of your electric bill.
More Watts per Panel, Smarter and more Capable Enphase Micro Inverters mean Less Cost and more Flexibility for You.

    We aren't Cheap...Neither are our Products. Call to Compare.
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    Push this BIG RED BUTTON:  (O) and Learn ​details about your deal with ICE     
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CALL TODAY!
Office: 506-2446-0543
Andre 506-8314-8090
Paul 506-8898-9398
OUR EMAIL:
 andrefurlong@gmail.com
Paul.Furlong@CR-Solar.com
VISIT OUR WEB:
www.crsolar.net 
9118-6/26/17

Real estate rentals (paid category)


Poas
chalet
What a chalet!
We offer for rent a boutique quality 2-bedroom (BR)/1-bath mountain chalet, and a 2-BR/2-bath mountain home located on the slopes of the Barva Volcano, Heredia Province. The homes are situated at 7,300 feet altitude within the limits of a small horse ranch.  Located just three kilometers from the Braulio Carrillo National Park entrance, our homes sit on the strategic high ground of Costa Rica’s Central Valley, and are contiguous with the park’s 47,000 hectares of primary cloud rainforest. The chalet and mountain home include a spacious living room, kitchen, fireplace, and covered parking.  All utilities and wifi internet included. Please contact Allan or Cristina at barvavolcano@gmail.com for photos, pricing and contract details.
9163-3/10/17


Tropical Homes logo
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 www.tropicalhomesofcostarica.com or contact us at rentals@tropicalhomesofcostarica.com or call at (506) 2654-5442
9055-2/23/17

Spectacular rentals are available for low weekly prices on SellMyTimeshareNow.com at resorts such as Bahia Turquesa Residences and Villas Sol Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste. We have 
Timeshare
1- to 3-bedroom ocean and garden view timeshares available and most offer air conditioning, cable TV, fully equipped kitchens, and relaxing hammocks on private balconies. Enjoy the unique combination of seclusion and convenience as all resorts listed on our site are close to popular Costa Rican attractions and downtown 
centers, but are surrounded in lush, tropical forest. Villas are also available for sale in our inventory, so you can enjoy yearly vacations to this mesmerizing rainforest paradise. Please visit our rental inventory HERE!  or call us toll free at 877-815-4227, International: 603-516-0200.  Email: info@sellmytimesharenow.com
9049-7/31/17







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A.M. Costa Rica's
  
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
Published Thursday, April 27, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 83
Calendar
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Real Estate
Lifestyle
Food
About us
 
U.S. President’s desire to cut
refugees costing U.S. jobs


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. president's desire to cut refugees is also costing U.S. jobs.

A reduction in refugee resettlement that began after an executive order by President Donald Trump in late January has led to at least 300 layoffs in the U.S. nonprofit sector and nearly 500 positions abroad. In some cases, the jobs slashed were held by resettled refugees.

A review of news releases, media reports, and information obtained from a survey sent to the nine primary resettlement agencies shows that seven of those organizations contracted by the government to coordinate refugees' first months and years of living in the United States have had layoffs at their headquarters and local offices around the country, or at affiliate and partner organizations.

Voice of America documented more than 300 part-time and full-time positions cut in the United States.

Additional organizations reported cutting employees' hours and not filling vacancies to trim budgets.

The tally is not exhaustive: Two of the nine primary resettlement organizations, Episcopal Migration Ministries and International Rescue Committee, did not respond to a request for information or make that figure otherwise public; the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, historically one of the most active resettlement agencies, declined to provide data or comment about layoffs.

After the first executive order in January that would have stopped refugee arrivals for four months and cut the overall number for the fiscal year to 50,000, said Sister Donna Markham, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA. Sister Markham said that the program's suspension would affect about 700 employees of Catholic Charities agencies nationwide, with layoffs expected for nearly all of the workers.

"If we're talking about American jobs, this is laying off people in these public-private partnerships," she told the National Catholic Reporter in February.

Overseas, Church World Service has laid off almost all 600 staff members at its Resettlement Support Center Africa, which coordinates with the State Department under a separate part of the refugee process from U.S.-based affiliates: 484 in Kenya, 27 in South Africa, and 19 in Tanzania.

"The decision to reduce our staff was a direct result of these executive orders, which sabotage our ability to offer vital services, support and counsel to families seeking to rebuild their lives in safety," Church World Service President and CEO Rev. John L. McCullough said.

The contracts between the government and the nonprofit organizations, some of which have resettled refugees for decades, are based per capita on how many refugees are resettled by the agencies. They receive about $900 for each refugee to cover the administrative costs of helping the newcomers in their first 90 days in the country, from picking them up at the airport, setting up their first home and enrolling children in school, to hosting English classes and advising on job searches. Another $1,125 goes directly to each refugee for initial costs of setting up their lives in the United States, such as rent and furniture.

Fewer arrivals mean less funding, and that jeopardizes jobs, including some held by refugees themselves, who often are hired to interpret for members of their community or find other positions in the resettlement field.

In some cases, the nonprofit organizations are planning to receive thousands fewer refugees than anticipated by the end of the fiscal year.

The fiscal year started with a surge ordered by then-President Barack Obama: The United States would take 110,000 refugees, more than it had in decades.

But those plans came to a screeching halt in late January, when one of Trump's initial executive orders trimmed that number to 50,000; a revised order in March upheld the president's call for that 55 percent reduction.

Despite federal lawsuits and injunctions rolling back those orders, the president maintains broad power over the ultimate number of refugees that will be allowed into the country.

Trump has repeatedly expressed interest in significantly lower arrivals, leaning on what he says is a lack of confidence in the screening process for admitted refugees, although refugees are among the most rigorously vetted immigrants to the U.S.

Many resettlement organizations signed amicus briefs in support of lawsuits that challenged the refugee-related executive order, stating in one case that faith-based refugee organizations' ability to maintain operations and services moving forward has been devastated.

The nonprofits have tried to rally financial support from the public in recent months, but several indicated in phone and email interviews that donations would not make up for any reduction in funding from the government.

The government's Office of Refugee Resettlement operated on a budget of $1.67 billion in fiscal year 2016. That includes more than services for refugee resettlement, however. The bureau handles other programs, such as anti-trafficking efforts, and unaccompanied children. The office asked for $2.18 billion for the next fiscal year.

So far this fiscal year, the U.S. has resettled about 42,000 refugees, but there has been no final word from the executive branch about how many more will be allowed in.

The administration could halt the process abruptly at 50,000. At the current rate of arrivals, 800 to 900 individuals a week, that cap would be reached around the end of June or early July.

Trump promised to dramatically change not only the number of refugees admitted but the composition of where they come from and what religions they are, initially pledging to block Syrians and increase the number of Christians. However, the demographics remain nearly identical to those from before Trump took office.


Human rights groups choose
defender from El Salvador


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Ten of the world’s leading human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have chosen three human rights defenders from Cambodia, El Salvador and Egypt as this year’s finalists for the prestigious Martin Ennals Award.

The three finalists were selected from a field of some 50 human rights defenders. Director of the Martin Ennals Foundation, Michael Khambatta, says the city of Geneva, which will host the award ceremony on October 10, provides project funding of $12,000 for each of the finalists.

Khambatta said each finalist is at serious risk from their respective governments and others who oppose the work they do to promote human rights. He says a group of five Human Rights Defenders from Cambodia called Free the 5-KH have been held in pre-trial detention for more than a year.

Khambatta said a second finalist, Karla Avelar, a transgender woman in El Salvador, has been imprisoned, attacked and nearly killed on several occasions for defending and promoting the human rights of LGBTI people.

He says the third finalist, Mohamed Zaree, a legal scholar from Egypt, has been subject to death threats for his work as director for the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. He says Zaree, despite the risks, continues to battle human rights violations, which have become worse following the Egyptian revolution in 2011.


Trump signs order to review
status of national parks


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to review the protected status of national monuments created on the land and in the ocean over the past 20 years.

Trump says the move returns federal lands to the people, while critics say it could open two dozen protected natural areas to potential development.

“Today I'm signing a new executive order to end another egregious abuse of federal power and to give that power back to the states and to the people, where it belongs,” Trump said as he signed the executive order at the Department of the Interior in Washington.

The sites are mostly in the Western United States, and include venues given protected status by former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Each invoked the Antiquities Act of 1906, which was signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Major sites under review include the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bear Ears National Monument in Utah.The 500,000 hectare Bears Ears site is home to Native Americans, who oppose the review.

Carleton Bowekaty, a Zuni tribal official and co-chair the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, said in a statement that five Native American nations oppose any change to the status of this sacred cultural landscape that carries deep meaning for our people.”

“Let's be clear,” said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. “This executive order does not remove any monuments. And this executive order does not weaken any environmental protections on any public lands.”

Some Republicans and land-use activists have chafed at the restrictions on large swaths of federal land that have been shielded from development, including extraction of resources such as minerals, natural gas and oil.

Trump said recent designations under the century-old law have deprived the public of economic benefits, and were done without full review.

“This isn't an issue of economic impacts or lack of public process,” Peter Shelley, senior counsel with the Conservation Law Foundation, said. “This really is part of an agenda to roll back protections on some of our most precious resources for economic development purposes.”

Potential changes sought through the review would likely be controversial and probably would be decided by the courts.

Opinion surveys show national parks and monuments are highly popular with the American public. As he signed the order Wednesday, Trump said some of his actions may not be popular, but he believes he is doing the right thing.


U.S. universities struggle
with free speech on campus


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

American universities have long allowed controversial public figures to speak publicly as part of a philosophy that encourages open debate as a means of education. But a series of recent protests appears to indicate shifting attitudes about free speech among today's students.

Since February, protests on college campuses like the University of California-Berkeley, Middlebury College, the Claremont colleges and California State University, Los Angeles, have erupted ahead of speeches scheduled by conservative political pundits. The protests, several of which turned violent, have drawn intense media coverage and condemnation from those who believe the demonstrations are aimed at shutting down controversial speakers.

Will Creely, senior vice president of legal and public advocacy at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said the incidents have become a growing concern for free speech advocates because he thinks schools could do more to protect invited speakers.

Last month, a student group at Vermont's Middlebury College invited Charles Murray, a political scientist and fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, to speak on campus. Murray's controversial research has linked race and intelligence, leading groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center to label him a white nationalist.

Murray was greeted by hundreds of protesters who shouted over him when he tried to speak. As the crowd refused to let up, college administrators escorted Murray to another building where his talk with Middlebury professor Allison Stanger was broadcast online.

As Ms. Stanger and Murray left the building, they were physically and violently confronted by a group of protesters, college spokesman Bill Burger said in a statement.

Ms. Stanger was treated at a hospital emergency room and left wearing a neck brace following the confrontation with protesters, one of whom grabbed her by the hair and yanked her backward.

Earlier this month, students at Claremont McKenna College in California targeted Heather MacDonald, a Manhattan Institute scholar and prominent critic of the Black Lives Matter movement. Students at Claremont took issue with a book Ms. MacDonald published last year called “The War on Cops,” which puts forth the idea that police officers are afraid to perform their jobs because of increased media scrutiny following the 2014 police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Ms. MacDonald, who was also invited to speak on campus by a student group, saw protesters block the doors to the building where she was scheduled to speak. She was forced to deliver the speech via live-stream to a largely empty room, as the protesters refused to allow anyone to pass.

Police officers then had to sneak Ms. MacDonald out the building's back door so she could safely escape the protesters.

Following her speech, more than two dozen students signed an open letter to one of the school's presidents, David Oxtoby, assailing Ms. MacDonald as a fascist and demanding Claremont take action against an independent student newspaper for its coverage of the protests and its continual perpetuation of hate speech.

Oxtoby had previously condemned the protests and defended Ms. MacDonald's right to speak on campus, citing the college's commitment to the exercise of free speech and academic freedom.

The students argued that Ms. MacDonald is a well-known figure, with her views well-documented, so refusing her a platform to speak didn't violate her rights. Further, the students said, they consider MacDonald's mere presence on campus a form of violence.

Incidents like the ones at Middlebury and Claremont have become increasingly common on American college campuses, according to Creely.

He blamed university administrators for capitulating to student critics who he said show a lack of knowledge about laws protecting free speech in the United States.

In a 2015 YouGov survey, 43 percent of students said making sure that students have an environment free from discrimination, even if that means placing some limits on what students can say should be more of a priority for colleges than protecting the absolute right to free speech.

A similar 2016 survey conducted by Gallup shows that, by a 52 percent to 42 percent margin, students believe their institution should forbid people from speaking on campus who have a history of engaging in hate speech.

But there is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment.


More news of the Americas
From the Voice of America

Real estate services
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Real estate for sale (paid category)


Plantation Acres
PLANTATION ACRES
This exiting new project offers spectacular home sites with breathtaking ocean and forest views stated on 100 acres of tropical forest.

* On-site Welcome Center
* Located between Punta Leona and Playa Agujas
* At just an hour from San José, the capital city.
* 5 minutes from Los Sueños Marina and 18 Hole Ted Robinson Golf Course
* 10 minutes from Jacó Beach, Costa Rica’s lives beach town

Contact:
Johnny Lopez
Phone: (506) 8945-5820 / (506) 2643-3356
Email: johnny@c21jaco.com
9141-3/23/18
9141-3/23/189173-9/1/17

Puriscal home
GORGEOUS MOUNTAIN & OCEAN VIEW HOME
REDUCED $40K - $355,000
HEALTH CONDITIONS REQUIRES QUICK SALE
This is a gorgeous, new, 3-bedroom luxury home on 2.2 flat acres in a secure, gated community, high in the hills of Puriscal, with stunning, 180-degree views of the ocean, city and mountains of the Central Valley in Costa Rica. Centrally located in the heart of Costa Rica, you are never more than an hour from the Pacific beaches while being much less than that to the culture, shopping, services and night life of the San José, Escazú, Santa Ana and the whole Central Valley. The Altos de Antigua gated community sits at an altitude of 2,800 feet with mild temperatures year round. Features wide paved roads and cement culverts throughout, a large community pool & spa with changing rooms & showers. The community association fees are $42 a month ($500 annually).
This property is currently being offered for $355,000.00 U.S.
Purchase adjoining 2.2 acre investment lot with the home sale for $35,000.00 U.S. or separately for $55,000.00 U.S.
 
    Summary of House Features:

       * Completed 2012 to North American standards
       * 3 large bedrooms, 2 full baths
       * Custom designed kitchen w/granite countertops
       * Frigidaire Professional appliance package
       * State-of-the-art solar hot water
       * Eco-friendly Toshiba LED lighting
       * LG Multi-Split air conditioning system
       * House & perimeter security alarm system
       * 2-car closed garage w/large paved driveway
 
Video Tour: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUEAmahIU9A
Community Web Site: http://www.altigua.com
Photos: HERE!
Costa Rica # 506-8985-6705 or from the States call # 561-740-0651 or email gary_one@msn.com
9173-9/1/17

colinasdelsol
COLINAS DEL SOL Fenced Gated Lots for Sale

* Colinas del Sol is a fenced and gated project  in a quiet area.
* There are 88 clear titled lots.
* Mountain areas with great views.
* Gently sloping level areas ideal for hobby farms, gardening, fruit trees.
* Quiet place to get away from the busy city and beach crowds.
* All lots have gravel roads to them, water and electricity at each.
* Lots are 5,000 sq. meters or larger, starting at only $40,000 USD
* Located in Libertad, Guanacaste, northwest Pacific area of Costa Rica.
* 20 minutes to the Liberia International Airport
* 15 minutes to the Pacific Beaches
* 10 minutes to Medical Facilities
* 25 minutes to the Liberia Hospital
* 5 minutes to Vista Ridge Golf Club

Contact:
In Costa Rica, Jeffrey Sandi Murray:  jsandimurray@colinasdelsolcr.com
In the USA and Canada contact Jim Day: jimday50@aol.com or call 517-484-3675

For more information Click Here: www.colinasdelsolcr.com
9056-2/28/17

Etlinger Farm
rollover
Beautiful farm in excellent location
At only an hour's drive from San José, minutes from Guápiles, and boardering Braulio Carrillo National Park, Etlingera Farms is one heck of an amazing farm. We purchased this 77-acre farm 10 years ago after many trips, and an exhaustive search. It has a little bit of everything we were looking for and a whole lot of beauty. Our average elevation of 600 meters helps to keep Bella Vista cool year round. This farm is nearly level with a semi-modern 2-bedroom house. A fairly rustic 2-bedroom caretaker's home. And, a comfortable, 1-bedroom cabin where we stay. We have 2 large barns, a chicken coop, and a 3-stall pig pen. There are two tilapia ponds and 2 hectarias, (approximately 5 acres) of different species of bananas. The property boarders Rio Blanco in the rear and has 300 meters of public road frontage. Water, electricity, and telephone are all serviced by public utility. Etlingera Farms was reforested with several thousand wood trees of different tropical varieties. We truly believe this farm is spectacular. Our neighbors are selling for as much as $20 per meter. We are negotiable, motivated and open to offers. Our location can be found by searching Etlingera Farms on Google Maps. Our webpage is www.etlingerafarms.com and photo album can be found at www.ticorico.com
9196-4/25/17

horse ranch
rollover
Spectacular Horse Ranch and Spiritual/Yoga
Retreat Center For Sale

We invite you to a horseback tour of 187 acres of pristine farm land with breathtaking vistas, including the islands of the Gulf of Nicoya. There are multiple springs and streams, wooded areas, hard-wood and fruit trees, rolling hills with a geat variety of birds and wildlife. This property boasts the privilege of being bordered by thousands of acres of forest preserve down a steep canyon, offering its own spectacular views, which will never be developed. The many hills provide a builder an endless array of possibilities for nestling buildings in where they will have both views and privacy. The elevation of the property at 1,200 to1600 feet above sea level ensures fresh breezes and ideal year-round temperatures with a day-time average in the low 80's for open-air living. There is a ranch-style house with guest house with 8 total bedrooms, 5 modern baths, huge eat-in kitchen, landmark palm-thatched giant rancho, stable, and storage buildings. The home will come partially furnished, including beds, ample dishware for large groups, housewares, linens, washer/dryer, and fine hard-wood hand-built cabinetry. The remaining horses, 4 to 6 of them, will also convey if one wishes. We are also including a LARGE BEACH LOT in nearby Playa Bejuco. San Rafael de Nandayure is a tiny rural village nestled into the mountainside above Carmona with all the charms of the simple good life of a BLUE ZONE. Carmona is a thriving town with a clinic, restaurfants, shopping, and everything else one may need. The price of our listing Rancho Ricco is $799,000. More information
go to www.ranchforsalecostarica.com  Call Darin Ricco, phone +619-846-8249 or email:  darin_ricco@hotmail.com
9183-6/13/17

Kkpit
rollover

FURNISHED  APARTMENT for SALE.
CONDOMINIO SATURNO, LA URUCA, OUTSKIRTS
of SAN JOSÉ, COSTA RICA
Situated 3 miles west of the capital, 8 miles from the airport. Quiet, secluded area within walking distance to a commercial center including a hotel, 6 restaurants,  next to 2 bus line stops. Car ownership is not needed. January-March air temperatures are 72 to 80 degrees F.  Apartment 1,200 sq. ft (100 sq. meters), on ground floor, indoor  patio. Large windows without bars, parquet floors.  Spacious living room-dining area, 2 bedrooms, maid's room, 2 bathrooms, 4 closets  (including walk in), fully equipped kitchen (refrigerator, washing machine,small appliances, all necessary utensils, work tools). Close covered parking space in guarded area.  Many amenities, (pictures, indoor plants, sewing machine, books, keyboard, dishes, glassware,silverware). Annual cost of maintenance about $1,350 includes water, landscaping service, garbage disposal, 24-7 security and property taxes.
PRICE $120,000
 Available for viewing:   CONTACT:  USA :  (585) 969-3413 or (585) 266-7418 or in COSTA RICA : (506) 2231-0410.   email: boriskopit@yahoo.com
9143-4/17/17

rollover
Owner Financing in San Ramon
New Construction, and Ocean View 
Brand new home with 4-plus bedrooms and 3 baths all overlooking an incredible 180-degree view of the Pacific Ocean and mountains. Located only 45 minutes from the San Jose airport and about the same to the Pacific Ocean.  The lower level could be used as a separate apartment or mother-in-law setup. Home includes HUGE master  suite, CLOSETS, custom cabinets, granite counter tops, high wood ceilings, and all in an area that is 70-80 degrees year round. Priced at $199,000. Completion date is January.  See the Virtual Tour CLICK HERE or see our site here  www.whynotcostarica.com. If you would like to take a look at this amazing house, please give me a call at  Costa Rica # 506-8755-6743 or if from the States call # 509-570-1928 or email tim@whynotcostarica.com 
9143-2/3/17

Penthouse
rollover
Costa Rica penthouse for sale
 5 -story penthouse for sale.  One of a kind penthouse on top of the Corobici Hotel in Sabana overlooking the Central Park and new Soccer Stadium in San José.  Excellent location provides you easy access to everywhere.  Other benefits include 24-hour security, 2 restaurants inside the hotel providing 1st class room service plus shared common areas in the hotel. Commercial license is in place. Seller will consider owner financing.  Asking $795K U.S.  Also available for monthly rent for $3,400 per month on an annual basis. Go to www.ThePenthouseCostaRica.com  Owners U.S. cell phone: 813 310-7402  Email crstratton@ymail.com
9132-6/1/17

Business for sale or lease (paid category)

Live the dream!
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: manager@crbusiness.biz.

Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

Remax
Tamarindo
www.remax-oceansurf-cr.com The experts in buying property in Costa Rica, with more than 20 years experience and the largest networked team of agents in the country.  We can help you learn if investing in Costa Rica is right for you with our low-key, educational approach to sales. Our professional agents can tell you more about Costa Rica properties, including condos, homes, lots and & commercial real estate. Twelve (12) agents to serve you, from Playa Marbella to Playa Dante in the Guanacaste, through our Tamarindo and Flamingo offices. For more information, please contact our local phones: 506-2653-0073 Tamarindo / 506-2201-9056 Flamingo ~ Toll Free: 1-866-976-8898 or email:  info@remax-oceansurf-cr.com  or click here www.remax-oceansurf-cr.com
9145-1/2918

ReMax
Playas del Coco
We are an award-winning Team of Professional Agents working with Costa Rica’s #1 Selling Real Estate Agency RE/MAX Prestige Ocean Properties. Get to KNOW, LIKE & TRUST us and let us help you find YOUR Pura Vida! We have over 30 years of experience to educate our buyers and sellers in all aspects of Real Estate.  For Information on condos, homes, lots, farms, ranches, commercial or development property
CONTACT US TODAY with NO OBLIGATION whatsoever.

Playas del Coco Click Here!

Playa Panama Click Here!

Playa Hermosa Click Here!
Peninsula Papagayo Click Here!

Playa Matapalo Click Here!
Toll Free 1-877-293-1456
Email: michael@costarica-realestate.com

9174-2/7/18

Real estate-related services (paid category)

A-1 graphic
A1 MASTER BUILDERS COSTA RICA
SMALL and LARGER jobs welcome !!!. We can build from any plan you bring us all work done by USA codes master electric and plumbing Better quality and lower prices than USA. We do it all Right  + Reasonable.
Call us: Toll Free 877-778-8515   
     Text from US: 804-313-6382 
     CR phone: 506-8307-0164
     Email: hotelescazu@aol.com
     For more info also see our sites:
    www.a1masterbuildercostarica.webs.com
    www.hotelsescazu.com
    www.hotel4salecostarica.com
    www.wind-solar.webs.com 
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230 schools receive new internet access

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Thousands more students studying within 230 schools now have access to broadband Internet with the installation of some fiber optic lines from the Costa Rican electricity institute.

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad reached this agreement with the Ministerio de Educación Pública to assist in getting online access for students and staff and to improve the technological development of the schools, the institute said. For 2017, the institute said in a statement that it wants to include 400 more schools in that category with the next year reaching 1,000 schools having fiber optic cables.

The institute estimated that the total investment so far in this project has reached 560 million colons and includes often difficult areas to access like in the region of Talamanca.

According to Sonia Marta Mora, Minister of Public Education, the fiber optic connection project is being carried out to create a technological platform that will allow the educational community to use the latest generation tools.

"This effort is intrinsically linked to changes in curricula; All in search of finding a more inclusive society,” Sonia Marta Mora, the head of the public education ministry said.


Five women wounded after a shootout

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Five women, two of whom are minors, were wounded in an apparent drive-by shooting near a home in Bajos de los Ledezuma Tuesday night.

According to a preliminary report from the Judicial Investigating Organization, the crime occurred around 8:30 at night when the group of five were outside a home and two persons on a motorcycle came up and shot at them. Investigators said that one of the women received bullets in her neck and face, while another got wounds in the right leg and arm.

A 13-year old girl was also shot three times in the legs and the other two, one of whom is a 9-year-old, just had minor bruises, officials said. No deaths have been reported as a result of this attack so far. Four of the victims were transferred to Hospital México while the youngest victim was taken to Hospital Nacional de los Niños.

The case has prompted the intervention of the judiciary’s Sección de Investigaciones de Turno Extraordinario.


Police catch thief in Parque La Sabana

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police captured a person suspected of varying acts of petty theft in Parque La Sabana this morning.

The suspect, a Nicaraguan national, has allegedly been arrested before for theft and particularly stealing from people using the facilities and park areas within La Saban, according to a report.

Fuerza Pública also confirmed that the suspect is an illegal immigrant and turned him over to immigration where he presumably will be deported back to his country.




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Trump agrees to hold off on trashing NAFTA

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

After reports that President Donald Trump was considering an executive order to withdraw the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement, the White House said Wednesday that Trump agreed not to take such action after phone calls with the leaders of Canada and México.

Since launching his bid for president, Trump has repeatedly criticized the nation’s trade deals, especially NAFTA, saying the agreement signed in 1994 has been a disaster and allowed many U.S. jobs to shift to Mexico.

“President Trump agreed to not terminate NAFTA at this time, and the leaders agreed to proceed swiftly, according to their required internal procedures, to enable renegotiation of the NAFTA deal to the benefit of all three countries,” the White House said.

The statement further said Trump is honored to work with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, and that he believes the renegotiation process will make the three countries stronger.

A Mexican government statement confirmed the phone call between Trump and Peña Nieto, saying the leaders agreed on the convenience of maintaining NAFTA and working with Canada to bring about successful negotiations for the benefit of the three nations.

Earlier Wednesday, a Canadian foreign ministry spokesman said Canada is ready to come to the table at any time.

Trump targeted Canada this week for what he said was unfair trade practices, and ordered a new 20 percent tariff on Canadian lumber exports.

Many Mexican officials have called NAFTA a disappointment, saying it has brought slow economic growth despite increased investment in factories and industry.