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Published Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 208
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bus crash
Crus Roja photo/Rodolfo Matiew
Rescue workers attend the bus wreck on a side road where the vehicle fell.
National mourning declared over bus crash killing 12
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
posted at 3:15 p.m.

The government has declared three days of national mourning in the wake of a bus disaster this morning that killed 12 and injured 19 persons, 16 critically.

The mishap took place in Cinchona about 10:30 a.m. when the bus plunged off the highway. about a mile south of Cariblanco.
The bulk of the passengers were retirees from Universidad Nacional in Heredia.

The injured were in the Hospital de San Carlos.

A university spokesperson said the retirees were headed to the Maleku native reserve near Guatuso.

President Luis Guillermo Solís ordered that the nation’s flags be flown at half staff for three days, starting today.

Cinchona is north of Heredia and is mountainous with steep valleys. The area was last the scene of a major news story Jan. 9, 2009, when an earthquake  took place there.  At least 34 persons died, including some motorists who fell when the roadway gave way and plunged their vehicles into the valleys.

Plan to put surcharge on Poás park entries advances
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A legislative committee has approved a proposal to apply a 10 percent tax on admission fees for Parque Nacional Volcán Poás.

The additional money would go to the Municipalidad de Poás where officials would have wide latitude on how to use it.

The admission for the popular national park 16 kilometers north of  Alajuela Central is $15 for adult tourists. So the new levy would be an additional $1.50.

Costa Ricans and residents pay 1,000 colons, so they would face an increase of 100 colons, about 18 U.S. Cents.

A legislative summary said that in 2015 some 365,244 persons visited the park, which is known for the overlook into the volcano caldera. The Sistema Nacional de Áreas de

Conservación took in 1.5 billion colons, about $2.9 million based on the exchange rate for the year.

The major entry to the park and volcano is in the Municipalidad de Poás even though only 9 percent of the park area is in that canton. Alajuela Centro has 41 percent.  Valverde Vega has 30 percent of the park area, and Grecia has 20 percent. Legislative staffers have suggested that these political subdivisions also will want a surcharge on park admissions.

The summary by the legislative technical staff said that an additional $1.50 probably would not affect attendance. Many tourists come on tours and they do not know how their payments are distributed.

The Comisión Permanente Especial de Asuntos Municipales y Desarrollo Local Participativo approved the bill. No. 19.556, and sent it to the full legislature for consideration.

State lottery dangles a big prize for a hefty price
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is a pretty good chance that neither you nor anyone you know will win the big prizes in the Gordo Navideño, the official Christmas lottery.

The top prize is 1.6 billion colons, about $2.9 million. For Costa Ricans and non-U.S. expats, there is no tax.

The downside is that each 40-fraction ticket costs 80,000 colons, about $146.

Of course, someone could buy just one fraction for 2,000 colons or about $3.66. But then the winnings would just be a mere $72,500, a good reason to go all in.

The price of a full 40-ticket entero this year is up 10,000 colons over last year, but the prizes have increased, too.

Some would consider investing in a lottery ticket just a voluntary tax on stupidity. After all, the chance of winning the top prize is one in 100,000.  But someone has to, as the promoters say.

And the nay-sayers have not sat with a ticket clutched in their hands while lottery workers spin the baskets on Sunday night television. The heart races, and for a time, there are dreams of shiny cars, a villa in the south of France and maybe even a Guanacaste horse ranch.

A.M. Costa Rica graphic

In fact this year, for some struggling tourism operations, winning the lottery is a major component of the annual business plan.

The drawing this year is Dec. 19, and the lottery agency, the Junta de Protección Social plans consolation drawings into the new year for the losing tickets.

The Gordo tickets went on sale Wednesday.

The big winner is the lottery agency because it expects to net more than 3 billion colons after paying 12,246 prizes and sales agent commissions. The 151-year-old state lottery distributes its winnings to a host of social agencies and non-profits.

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Judicial Investigating Organization photo
A man with the last name of  Cole is detained

Major arrest made in Limón shootings

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents rearrested Wednesday a man who had been set free Saturday due to lack of evidence. The man has been linked to bloodshed that has terrified residents of Limón Centro.

He was identified as Keylor Jacob Cole Kelly, 25. He faces charges of attempted murder and money laundering, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. He was detained briefly at a mall in Moravia Saturday, but police did not have enough evidence to hold him. Some of his associates were detained then.

Wednesday the judicial tactical squad went to the man’s home in Guápiles.

Investigators say he is specifically linked to a shooting in the center of Limón Oct. 3 where a passenger car was sprayed with bullets. The two persons inside survived. Still unclear is if the victims were involved in illegal activity or if gunmen made a mistake.

Investigators say that at least three major gangs are struggling for dominance in Limón where quality marijuana is smuggled in from Jamaica and cocaine is moved from Colombia.

Walter Espinoza, the director of the judicial agency, said that investigators have linked Cole to three separate drug smuggling cases this year.

Two persons with Cole when he was detained were released because they face no charges, said police.

Fatal shootings in Limón galvanized police response to along-festering problem. The Fuerza Pública sent in 200 more officers, nearly doubling the number on patrol there.

Wednesday President Luis Guillermo Solís and the president of the Corte Suprema de Justicia, Zarela Villanueva Monge, announced more investments in police agencies. The Judicial Investigating Organization is under the supervision of the courts. It has received 15 vehicles, said Casa Presidencial.

Also making the announcement were Antonio Álvarez Desanti, president of the Asamblea Legislativa, and Luis Antonio Sobrado, president of the  Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones.

The Ministerio Público, the Dirección de Inteligencia and Policía de Control de Drogas also will share in vehicles purchased through an upcoming bidding process, the officials said.

Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
A man wearing a protective vest keeps his hands high as Fuerza Pública officers detain him. He was one of four men in a car that also contained firearms and ski masks. The stop Tuesday night was made near Parrita.

Our reader’s opinion
The social contract has unraveled

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

It's a challenge to find an educated and rational perspective on the current state of political affairs in the States during these polarized times. Pedro J. Solis's article, "The Social Conservative Has Gone to War Against Everybody," is eloquent and illuminating in its portrayal of the bigger picture.

While the public at large is focused, if not obsessed, with one incendiary issue after another, the issue that should demand our attention is the behavior of those whose views are so rigid that they can no longer distinguish between right and wrong or feel compassion or any moral obligation towards members of society that aren't members of their tribes.

The social contract that maintains civility has unraveled. It is indeed a "terrifying landscape" and one that will be as challenging if not more so to overcome than many of the issues that would not be issues if social conservatives as a political movement had consulted their moral compass.

Pamela Ellsworth

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 208
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Pilot and four tourists survive a crash into the Gulf of Nicoya
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Four British tourists went for a chilly dip in the Gulf of Nicoya Wednesday afternoon when their pilot failed to land at the Tambor airport and crashed into the sea.

The four tourists and the pilot were rescued by the crew of a Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas patrol boat. They were not injured seriously, although one woman was reported to have suffered a gash in the leg.

They were examined at the Hospital Monseñor Sanabria in
Puntarenas Centro after they were brought to shore Wednesday evening.  There were two men and two women as well as the male pilot.

Enrique Alvarado, the Guardacostas officer in charge, attributed the crash to bad weather. The area has been hit with heavy rains.  The aircraft was a Cessna that had departed Juan Santamaría airport. The craft had a single engine.

There was no indication that divers would try to recover the aircraft. It was about five miles off the east coast of the peninsula.

Lawmaker seeks to restructure the woman's advocacy agency, INAMU
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An Evangelical lawmaker wants to transform the Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres into the Instituto para la Familia y la Equidad de Género. The proposal is more than a name change, and his idea has become controversial.

The lawmaker, Gerardo Fabricio Alvarado Muñoz, represents the Partido Renovación Costarricense in the legislature. In the preface to his bill, No. 20.126, he cites a negative review of the

institute by the Contraloría General de la República. He said that the government agency has lost its way.

The women’s institute, known as INAMU, has long been considered a source of advocacy for women, but it has many other services, including legal help for battered women.

The lawmaker’s proposal faces a lot of resistance in the legislature where some of the members have been closely associated with the women’s institute.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 208
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New technology raises academic cheating to a new level
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Cheating on exams is not new. What is new is how students are doing it. They’re not writing answers on their hand anymore. Smart technology has transformed cheating, and stopping it requires smart, comprehensive solutions.

High-tech devices are everywhere. Technology and social media expert Nile Nickel says that’s one of the major reasons teenagers are cheating with portable technology.

“When you look at a recent Pew survey, you find that 98 percent of the teenagers have mobile phones. That’s up from 33 percent just in 2011. So it’s available and easy to use. If I don’t get caught, and everyone else is doing it, guess what? They do it as well.”

The problem can seem overwhelming.

“Just take the cellphone or even the programmable calculators, there is so much information that can be stored on these devices,” he said. “We also have things like Google Glass as well as smart contact lenses that have the ability to capture video and transmit it to a remote site and with things like smartwatches where they could now look at their wristwatch basically for answers to a question.”

Earlier this year, he said, several Thai students were caught using that technique to cheat on entrance exams to a top medical school.

“So what they were doing was they were looking at the test with their glasses on,” he said. “It was capturing the exam questions, transmitting them to some associates they have outside the classroom. And they were getting the answers to the questions on their smartwatch. That obviously created a big problem especially when you think about medical students and what they’re tested for.”

Other high-tech devices that facilitate cheating include a watch that appears to display nothing, but when you wear special glasses sold with the watch, the screen becomes visible and you can see any uploaded content.

“You’ve also had Bluetooth devices,” Nickel said. “They’re using some super high-frequency ring tones on their phones that only young people could hear. In fact, if you’re much over the age of 30, or 35, you can’t hear it. So they are able to answer their phone where nobody knows they are answering a phone. And they’re not talking, they are just getting the answers in their ear.”

Cheating is a symptom of a bigger problem in education, said Denise Pope, a senior lecturer at Stanford University and co-founder of Challenge Success, an organization that works with schools and families to improve student well-being and engagement with learning.

“It’s not the kids you would think will normally cheat,” she explained. “These are kids who are doing well in school, and they’re still cheating because they need to keep up their

cheating old style
A.M. Costa Rica graphic
Cheating old style

grades. They feel the pressure to maintain a really high grade point average. So a lot of the kids would say there is too much work to be done and there is not enough time to do it. Some of the kids would say they have to do that because everybody is cheating and if they don’t cheat, it’s actually like you’re being punished for not cheating!”

To combat cheating in the age of smart technology, educational institutions are coming up with innovative strategies, from banning devices from testing rooms to screening for radio signals. But Ms. Pope says improving the learning and testing process can be more effective.

“Instead of trying to chase the problem, to get in front of it,” Ms. Pope said. “What I mean by that is to create assignments where it’s almost impossible to cheat. I’ll give you some examples: asking kids to turn in the multiple drafts of their essays or their projects. So that you can know that this is their own homework and you can give them feedback.”

This is not just a way to stop cheating, Ms. Pope said, it’s a better way to teach.

Teachers also can stop cheating if they change the way they test their students.

“When it comes to tests and assessment, it’s much more difficult to cheat on what we call constructed response assessment where you actually writing the response as oppose to circling or filling in, which is much, much easier to cheat and you have no idea if the kids did it on their own or guessed or copied from a neighbor.”

Inviting teachers, students and their parents to openly talk about the problem can be part of the solution. Ms. Pope said engaging students and emphasizing a high standard for honesty also can help prevent cheating.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 208
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This is Pepe.

Green frog cartoon called
a favorite of some racists

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A cartoon depiction of a sad frog that has become a popular Internet humorous image is now considered a hate symbol.

The Anti-Defamation League said Pepe the Frog has been appropriated to express racist views on the Internet.

Pepe, who was created by Matt Furie, first appeared online around 2005, the Anti-Defamation League said, and was associated with the phrase "feels good man." The character was the subject of countless variations, most of which were innocuous.

But the Anti-Defamation League says the frog has become a favorite among racists associated with the so-called alt-right. The alt-right has been described as an alternative to mainstream conservatism, but others say it is a collection of white supremacists and racists.

Some of the racist memes include Pepe depicted with a Hitler mustache or dressed in the white robes of the Ku Klux Klan.

Pepe still appears in many non-political versions

"The mere fact of posting a Pepe meme does not mean that someone is racist or white supremacist," the Anti-Defamation League said. "However, if the meme itself is racist or anti-Semitic in nature, or if it appears in a context containing bigoted or offensive language or symbols, then it may have been used for hateful purposes." Meme is a trendy word for an image that is spread on the internet.

Pepe’s popularity has increased during the 2016 presidential campaign, with many supporters of Republican nominee Donald Trump using it for political memes, some of which are bigoted or anti-Semitic. The Anti-Defamation League said the number of racist Pepe memes has been exacerbated by the contentious 2016 presidential election.

One prominent example of a Pepe meme was posted by Donald Trump Jr. and showed a photoshopped version of the movie poster for “The Expendables” showing instead Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, alt-right icon Milo Yiannopoulos and Pepe the Frog branded as “The Deplorables,” in reference to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s claim that many Trump supporters were deplorable.

"Although Pepe memes have many defenders, not least the character's creator, Matt Furie, who has called the alt-right appropriation of the meme merely a phase, the use of racist and bigoted versions of Pepe memes seems to be increasing, not decreasing," the Anti-Defamation League wrote.

Destructive hacks on the way,
cybersecurity experts predict

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The world should brace itself for more physically destructive hacks, two senior cybersecurity officials said Wednesday, warning that a more dangerous era of hacking was already upon us.

Paul Chichester, the director of operations at Britain's new National Cyber Security Center, told attendees at an event hosted by British defense think tank RUSI that electronic intrusions were on their way to becoming more destructive, disruptive and coercive.

“That will be our future,'' he told a crowd of officers, academics and industry experts gathered for a two-day symposium in central London.

Chichester was seconded by Air Force Lt. Gen. James K. McLaughlin, deputy commander at U.S. Cyber Command, who told attendees that infrastructure-wrecking attacks were being seen right now in the environment.

Neither official went into specifics about what they'd seen or why they felt the threat was intensifying, although McLaughlin invoked a cyberattack in Ukraine which knocked out three separate power distribution companies last year. The Dec. 23 incident, believed to have been pulled off by a team of hackers using stolen passwords, left 225,000 people without electricity, according to a U.S. Department of Homeland Security bulletin published two months later.

Cybersecurity experts long worried that hackers can hijack the vulnerable industrial control systems to wreak havoc in power plants, traffic systems, factories, dams or reservoirs. Still, publicly confirmed examples of real-world damage from hacking have so far been few and far between. The Ukrainian incident provided a rare and dramatic demonstration of the physical consequences of a well-organized cyberattack.

McLaughlin said there was now no doubt such hacks were possible.

“Three years ago these were just theoretical,” he said. “Now we see them. They're practically here in front of us.”

Russian hacking suspect
detained in Czech Republic

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, working with Czech police, arrested a Russian citizen in Prague Wednesday in connection with attempted cyber-attacks against the United States.

Last week, the Obama administration formally accused the Russian government of hacking U.S. institutions in an attempt to influence the upcoming presidential election, though police gave no indication the arrested man was connected with the election hacking claims.

Without going into further detail, Czech police spokesman David Schon said the aim of the operation was a Russian citizen and that it was carried out successfully.

A statement posted on the police Web site said the suspect was detained at a hotel in Prague. Police said he collapsed during the arrest and was given first aid before being transported to a hospital.

The statement said a Czech court will decide whether the suspect is extradited to the United States, though no timetable was given.

Russia has been accused of trying to aid Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump over rival Hillary Clinton after embarrassing emails from the Democratic National Committee released earlier this year led to the resignation of leader Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied any involvement in the hacks.

Ecuador gives sign of cooling
in support for Julian Assange

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Ecuador's decision to temporarily cut Julian Assange's internet access is a sign that the WikiLeaks founder could be overstaying his welcome at the country's London embassy or so some in Britain hope.

British officials have long expressed frustration at Ecuador's decision four years ago to let Assange take refuge in the embassy to escape arrest on sexual assault charges he faces in Sweden.

"I do hope that this is the precursor to them coming to their senses and finally forcing this man to face justice in the way that he should," said Davis Lewin, a political analyst at London's Henry Jackson Society think tank.

The Quito government confirmed it cut Assange's internet access Tuesday to prevent him from meddling in the U.S. election, after WikiLeaks published documents and messages hacked from the presidential campaign of former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"The government of Ecuador respects the principle of nonintervention in the affairs of other countries, does not interfere in current elections, nor does it support any candidate in particular," said a statement by the Ecuadoran Foreign Ministry.

The emails that WikiLeaks disclosed suggest that Clinton's campaign worked to discredit a woman who accused her husband, former President Bill Clinton, of rape.

WikiLeaks accused Clinton's successor at the State Department, John Kerry, of personally petitioning Ecuador to cut Assange's internet access. Officials in Washington have rejected the charge and strenuously denied that Kerry was involved in any way.

How Ecuador reached its decision to sever Assange's internet connections is unclear, nor has there been any indication of how long the change in his status will remain in effect. However, analysts say it is a sign that Ecuadoran officials do not regard their longtime guest as positively as they did in 2012, when he first arrived at their embassy in London's upscale Knightsbridge district.

At the time, Ecuador's left-leaning president, Rafael Correa, treated Assange as an honored guest. Correa joined with the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez in lambasting the U.S. and Western policies and presenting Assange as a champion of democracy and free speech.

Recently, however, Correa told an interviewer that if he were American, he would vote for Mrs. Clinton. "I know her personally, and I have great appreciation for her," he said. "For the good of the United States and the good of the world, I'd want Hillary to win."

WikiLeaks' supporters, including some high-profile figures, are occasionally seen outside the embassy. Canadian-American actress and model Pamela Anderson expressed concern for Assange's health and was seen this week delivering a vegan meal to him.

But analysts say Assange's fortunes appear to be changing as the political climate in Latin America and much of the rest of the world shifts.

Correa's term is about to end and Venezuela's economic failures have disillusioned many Latin American leftists.

Low levels of some chemicals
found to disrupt hormones

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Daily exposure to low levels of chemicals found in everyday objects costs the United States billions of dollars in health care and disability. That is the conclusion of a new study on the effects of so-called endocrine-disruptors.

These small amounts of harmful chemicals are found in items such as plastic water bottles, metal food cans, toys, cosmetics and flame-retardants.

The new study conducted by researchers at New York University, published online in the journal The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, reports annual health-care costs associated with exposure to these chemicals is more than $340 billion. That is 2.3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Experts say the endocrine-disrupting chemicals disrupt hormones in the body, and their accumulation can result in neurological and behavioral disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism in children, infertility, birth defects, and some cancers.

E-Ds, as they are known, can also disrupt how the body handles calories, leading to obesity and diabetes, according to Leonardo Trasande, a professor of environmental medicine at university’s School of Medicine.

Trasande co-authored the study projecting the health-care costs of E-Ds by using a computer model to make the economic calculations. He and his colleagues used data from the results of urine and blood samples of participants in a large study that looked for the presence of E-Ds.

Trasande says the $340 billion figure is probably conservative because researchers only calculated the cost of 5 percent of known endocrine-disrupters.

“And we only added up costs that were published in peer-reviewed literature documenting the effects of these diseases on health care and other related costs,” he said. “Often we were not able to include some of the emotional welfare loss that’s typically associated with these diseases like human suffering, which has a value to society.”

But there is some good news. Trasande says there are a number of things people can do to limit their exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

“Families can eat organic. They can avoid the use of pesticides in their homes to prevent unwanted creatures. They can avoid microwaving plastic, limit the use of aluminum canned food. They can avoid dishwashing plastic, plastic water bottles with the numbers 3, 6 and 7.”

The authors got the idea for the study from a similar one conducted in Europe.

Trasande says the health-care costs of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in Europe are less because of stronger regulations of the chemicals, something he says is needed in the United States.

Autoimmune drugs considered
for use against depression

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Drugs that are used to treat a number of autoimmune diseases appear to treat symptoms of depression as well. The finding of a new study suggests that anti-inflammatories, as they are known, may take their place alongside conventional treatments to help people with depression.

An analysis of a number of drug studies involving people with autoimmune diseases, including psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and crohn’s disease, found that participants with symptoms of depression were improved after the research ended.

In autoimmune diseases, white blood cells become overactive, and instead of attacking bacteria and viruses, the immune system assaults various tissues in the body.

Anti-inflammatory drugs quiet the immune system by disarming cytokines, a protein that is a major player in the body’s inflammatory response.

A small amount of inflammation is necessary to activate the immune system to fight microbes. But Golam Khandaker, professor of psychiatry at the University of Cambridge in England, says too much inflammation is harmful.

“Slow burning inflammation that’s burning in our body can cause a number of physical and psychiatric conditions,” he explained, pointing to a couple of examples. “In the brain, it could lead to increased risks of depression. Similarly, in the body, it could lead to increased risk of heart disease, coronary heart disease such as stroke … or Type 1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes.”

Frequently, people with autoimmune diseases, which include Type 1 diabetes, suffer from depression. It’s thought that they are depressed because of their chronic illnesses. But the new study suggests that inflammation alters brain chemistry, causing the psychiatric disorder.

Unlike anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants work by restoring the proper function of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. However, a significant number of people with depression do not respond to psychiatric medicine.

For the meta-analysis, published in the Nature journal Molecular Psychiatry, Khandaker and colleagues looked at the results of 20 studies of people treated with anti-cytokine  or anti-inflammatory drugs for their arthritis, psoriasis and crohn’s disease.

They found that individuals who reported symptoms of hard-to-treat depression before the study had a mild to moderate reduction in those symptoms afterward, similar to the effectiveness of antidepressants.

“And what they showed is that patients who were inflamed — in other words, they had elevated levels of inflammatory markers at the beginning of the trial — so these patients showed benefits from the anti-cytokine drug,” Khandaker said. “And the higher the level of inflammation, the greater the improvement in the severity of depressive symptoms.”
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 208
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The candidates square off in the final debate.

Trump cautious on accepting vote result

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump further extended his campaign narrative that the election process is rigged against him by refusing at Wednesday's final debate to say that he will accept the results of the Nov. 8 vote.

"I will look at it at the time," Trump said.

He added that he believes the media has poisoned the minds of voters against him and that his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, should never have been allowed to run.

Current lawmakers, including some Republicans, strongly criticized Trump's comments.

After the debate, Mrs. Clinton called Trump's refusal an effort to "blame someone else for where he is in the campaign."

One of the most contentious sections of the debate featured Trump and Mrs. Clinton sparring over Russia's espionage activities and accusations they are working to help Trump's campaign.

"They have hacked American Web sites, American accounts of private people, of institutions, then they have given the information to WikiLeaks for the purpose of putting on the internet," Mrs. Clinton said. "This has come from the highest levels of the Russian government, clearly from himself, in an effort, as 17 of our intelligence agencies have confirmed, to influence our election." She referred to President Vladimir Putin.

Trump said he does not know Putin and reiterated his stance that better U.S.-Russian relations would be good. He added that Putin has no respect for Mrs. Clinton or President Barack Obama.

Trump called Mrs. Clinton's tax plan a disaster that would potentially double people's taxes, while she said he would add to the national debt by advocating for the largest tax cuts the country has ever seen. On the Supreme Court, Mrs. Clinton said she would appoint judges who protect marriage equality and a woman's right to an abortion, while Trump said he wants judges who would overturn abortion rights and protect those involving guns.

The candidates also sparred about Mrs. Clinton's record as a senator and secretary of State, something she says gives her the experience to be president while he has criticized her as contributing to failing policies and helping spawn the Islamic State militant group.

"On the day when I was in the Situation Room, monitoring the raid that brought Osama bin Laden to justice, he was hosting the Celebrity Apprentice," Mrs. Clinton said.

"I say the one thing you have over me is experience, but it's bad experience because what you've done has turned out badly," Trump said.

Trump’s claim that the media is against him gains some substance this week when the Center for Public Integrity reported that federal records show that television and print reporters have donated nearly $400,000 to the campaign of Mrs. Clinton.
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From Page 7:

More decline predicted for British pound

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

It ranks as one of the most disingenuous claims ever made by a modern British politician.

Buffeted by a balance of payments crisis, Britain was forced in 1967 to devalue the pound by nearly 15 percent against the dollar, prompting the then-prime minister, Harold Wilson, to try to reassure a skeptical public that it "does not mean that the pound here in Britain, in your pocket or purse, or in your bank, has been devalued."

Britons soon found otherwise, as living standards were hit and prices skyrocketed because much of what consumers bought, including a bulk of their food, was imported. Prices for many British-made goods also rose, because manufacturers' costs jumped as a result of wage inflation and because the raw materials and supplies producers needed from abroad became more expensive.

Now, another British leader is seeking to make light of a plunging pound, which briefly traded at $1.13 at one point this month, its lowest level in 31 years. The pound has recovered slightly and on Monday was trading at $1.22, still an eye-catching low.

But there are signs of further drops to come, with investors, businesses and currency traders fearful of the economic consequences of Britain's Brexit vote in June and indications the government is inexorably heading for a hard break with Europe, one that will see Britain outside the free-trading single market.

Hedge funds, investors and currency speculators are now shorting sterling in volumes not seen, even during the 2008 financial crash.

Prime Minister Theresa May and her ministers dismiss fears about the sharp slide in the pound's value, arguing it is normal for currencies to go up and down.

But most analysts, seeing only a downward trend with little prospect of a sustainable upswing over the next two years, question whether the pound will be viewed in the future as one of the world's major convertible currencies.

Major banks have cut their forecasts for the pound's value. Rabobank is forecasting the pound trading consistently at around $1.18 by mid-2017. HSBC predicts the pound will be down at $1.10 by the end of next year.

Some investors are even gloomier. Jim Rogers, who co-founded Quantum Fund with George Soros, thinks the pound will likely hit parity with the dollar and could trade even lower in three or four years’ time, if Scotland breaks away from Britain.

Speaking to the BBC on Saturday, Rogers said, "If Scotland leaves, they are going to take their oil with them and the pound could go down a great deal. It would certainly go down under one U.S. dollar."

Government ministers scorn the claim. They say a weaker pound is a godsend and will boost British exports by making them cheaper.

That position is held by the authors of a new book, “The Real Sterling Crisis,” by economist Roger Bootle and entrepreneur John Mills. Both have long chafed at what they consider an over-valued pound and would prefer the government control of exchange rates.

They welcome the Brexit-inspired bout of sterling weakness.

"Far from panicking about the lower pound, the UK authorities should be concerning themselves with the question of how they can ensure that the pound continues to trade at a competitive level in the future," they argue in their book.

"An exchange rate that is too high for extended periods will tend to lead to an unbalanced economy with too small a manufacturing sector. It is our contention that this is exactly what has happened in the UK," they add.

But other economists dismiss the argument.

John Ashcroft, an economist, businessman and visiting professor at Manchester Metropolitan University's Business School, said he fears the great devaluation myth.

He maintains there was no major improvement in trade after previous currency depreciations, including Wilson's 1967 devaluation, and the plunge in the value of the pound after Britain's 1992 exit from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. Nor after the last financial crash.

"The depreciation of sterling in 2008 did not lead to a significant improvement in the balance of payments,” according to Ashcroft. “There was no ‘re-balancing effect.’”

The Economist magazine argued this week that Ms. May and her ministers are being too complacent about the plunging value of the pound, editorializing that "recent experience suggests that British exports do not respond quickly or strongly to a cheaper currency."

The magazine stressed that British manufacturers are facing higher production costs because of more expensive supplies and other materials they need to import.

Despite the falling pound, "The volume of exported goods is actually lower than it was before the Brexit vote," it noted.