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Published Wednesday, March 22, 2017, in Vol. 17, No. 58
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Panama papers places 120 entities under scrutiny
by finance ministry for tax fraud, other violations

By Conor Golden
News Editor of A.M. Costa Rica

The finance ministry is investigating 120 individuals and business entities for possible instances of tax fraud and other violations as a result of an examination of the documents collectively known as the Panama papers.

Out of the 120 under investigation, 79 are business entities and 41 are individual persons, according to the Dirección General de Tributación.

Officials of the Ministerio de Hacienda, including the First Vice President Helio Fallas, broke the news to the press during a Tuesday afternoon conference. Of the 120 under investigation, 69 have been identified while 51 identities still need to be discovered, according to Fernando Rodríguez who is the representative of the special committee investigating the case.

Although it is not illegal to establish an offshore corporation by Costa Rican law, the ministry pointed out that the 69 identified entities had established more than 410 companies in Panamá. The insistence from the Administración Tributaria is that “behind the creation of these societies, there is a clear intention to evade tax responsibilities,” Rodríguez said.

Panamá has a well-known association of being a tax haven for many corporations and entities seeking tax avoidance as much as tax sheltering.

Tax avoidance is separate from activities like tax fraud or tax evasion, however.

Tax avoidance is legal and merely means someone or a group’s attempts to keep the tax bite on their business as minimal as possible using strategies or means within the law.

Expats may seek methods of tax avoidance at times by moving their tax residence to a tax haven such as Panamá or by moving to a country with lower taxes than their own.

There are many other ways to lower the tax bite such as donations to charities which can be deducted on one’s tax return in the United States. In some cases, being a perpetual traveler is also another way although citizens of the United States cannot hope, at this time, to use that method.

One of the means by which a person or entity can achieve tax avoidance is by establishing a company or a subsidiary of the business in an offshore jurisdiction such as an offshore company or trust.

In this instance, the Costa Rican government is examining the offshore companies in question for possible fraudulent or evasive activities.

Panama
                              papers graphic
Wikipedia graphic  
The leak exposed thousands of sensitive material and implicated global leaders.


It should be noted, however, that of those 69 entities already identified by Tributación, 35 have filed income tax returns at least once between 2014 and 2015. 20 failed to file during both years.

Rodríguez presented two examples by which the finance ministry believes these 120 entities have attempted to circumvent the tax code.

To omit the payment of a dividend tax, a person or group may create an offshore company that is real only in name, but officially has the purpose of acquiring a service, the ministry said. The payment coming by the end of that process is received then by shareholders of the very same company that purchased the fake service.


The other maneuver Hacienda discussed in its presentation was the process of transferring money from Costa Rica to a Panamanian offshore company. From there, the offshore moves those resources to what is called a fundación de interés privado in Panamá. This allows the foundation to transfer received income to shareholders of the company that sent it through the Panamanian offshore.

At this time, this is all conjecture at the Ministerio de Hacienda. Fallas himself noted the slow nature of the investigations. No expats or foreigners were directly implicated.

The nearly 2,660 gigabytes worth of detailed financial information and attorney-client privilege known as the Panama papers were first sent to German reporters back in 2015 exploded on to the world stage in April 2016.

The documents implicated the involvement of many world leaders and, in some cases their relatives or business associates, in relation to offshore entities used as shell corporations to funnel money for personal profit.

These papers originally belonged to a Panamanian-based law firm known as Mossack Fonseca. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has the full document published on its website. This was the medium used by the Costa Rican government to begin its investigation related to the case.

Another rainy season about to begin in Costa Rica
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In addition to death and taxes, the rainy season is inevitable in Costa Rica.

Expats should figure that from Easter to the last days of November they should do their errands in the morning to avoid afternoon rains.

Last year, despite the Hurricane Otto surprise, the weather was drier than normal on the Pacific coast. Otto became the first hurricane in history to enter the country as it ravaged much of northern Costa Rica as well as the southern Pacific region.

The Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University counted 15 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes. The university forecast for the 2017 season is expected April 6.

The Atlantic Hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, and the Pacific season starts two weeks earlier.

Costa Ricans are more attentive to hurricanes now after Otto, a Category 3 storm, ran into a high pressure area and turned west to make landfall just north of Costa Rica Nov. 24.

The storm killed 10 and caused at least $40 million in damages in Costa Rica.

The rainy season is far more predictable than hurricanes. The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional plans to issue a formal forecast Thursday, but what is well known is that the rains return in the southern part of the Pacific coast first and then move north.

Easter this year is April 16, and expats can count on at least some preparatory sprinkles by that date in the Central Valley.

Forecasters report that El Niño conditions in the Pacific are neutral. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology, which keeps a close eye on conditions there, said that sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific Ocean have warmed since the start of the year and that six prediction models suggest El Niño conditions may be reached by July.

The weekend flooding that killed at least 75 in Perú and left two dozen missing has been blamed on El Niño, but that characterization may be premature.

It appears that unusually warm water off the Peruvian coast did trigger the storm.


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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 58
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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.
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Frenchman arrested for shooting at a taxi

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police arrested a French citizen who opened fire against a taxi driver yesterday in Garabito, Puntarenas.

According to a police report, the man struck a taxi with his car and tried to run away. The driver started to chase the Frenchman, shouting and demanding him to stop. That's when the French man pulled out his gun and shot several times into the cab, according to officials.

When the cops arrived at the scene, they saw the bullet marks on the taxi and a few meters away the suspect of the shooting.

Inside the car, officers found a pistol with two chargers and 18 bullets. The man was placed into custody.

Garabito is a canton in Puntarenas province that covers the major tourist resort town of Jacó.


Fish
                              seizure
Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo      
Guardacostas captured, among other things, these fish.
Police arrest Spaniards for illegal fishing

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A group of Spaniards were surprised by the Costa Rican coast guard Tuesday in the Gulf of Nicoya following their illegal fishing excursion.

The Guardacostas discovered around 10 arbaletas, a type of harpoon gun that functions similarly to a crossbow and also happens to be illegal for use in fishing. Officials also noted that the boat was overloaded by one person and that, of the five occupants, only one had a license for sport fishing. Even the boat itself was not licensed for sport-style fishing, the coast guard said.

Aside from the equipment and the men on board, the coast guard also seized around 30 kilos of fish. These fish were sent to Incopoesca for the report on any potential damage to the environment. The incident took place close to Jacó at Bahía Caletas. 

According to a report, the Spanish nationals found inside in the boat were detained and the vessel confiscated.


Watchdog agency bill under consideration

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would create an independent consumer watchdog agency. The bill, No. 19.996, would create an entity called the Tribunal Administrativo de Competencia.

The measure is being considered by the Comisión Permanente de Gobierno. The concept would allow the independent agency to investigate uncompetitive practices, including monopolies.

Such duties now fall to the Comision para Promover la Competencia, which is part of the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio. It sometimes assesses fines.

Legislators heard experts this week talk about efforts against consumers that have happened in the past. They cited a merge of two large companies that created a monopoly situation and the prices for the products rose considerably. They also discussed a bank that had control of automatic tellers and took an excessive percentage.



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Costa Rica

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 58
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Museum to inaugurate permanent exhibit of centuries-old ceramics
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Talk about job security. Families around San Vicente and Guatil in Guanacaste have been making ceramics since at least 2000 B.C. And some of the artisans still use the molds that produced pots, other domestic ceramics and symbolic and religious pieces for the Valley of México.

The area is blessed with a special deposit of clay favored by the artisans. There is not much of a market among the Aztecs these days, so the ceramic production is directed at tourists and for high-level exports.

Since 2007, ancient and contemporary ceramics have been on display at the Ecomuseo de la Cerámica Chorotega, which is supported by the Museo Nacional. The location in San Vicente is just two kilometers from Guatil and 20 kilometers northeast of Nicoya.

The museum will inaugurate its first permanent exhibition Friday at 2 p.m. with music, dance and traditional activities. Tourists who visit at other times can easily find themselves hosted by the artisans in their workshop in both communities.

Tuesday the Museo Nacional will have another treat for archaeology buffs. The museum said that a new website will be inaugurated that day to feature the stone balls of the Diquís area.


The museum is promising many photos, animations, air views
Chorotega ceramics
Ecomuseo de la Cerámica Chorotega
Ceramics went from going to the Aztecs to tourists now.


and research reports. The stone balls, Costa Rican icons, are attributed to the culture that lived in the area more than 1,000 years ago, but no one knows for sure.

The museum has opened a satellite facility featuring the enigmatic balls near Palmar Sur.


Play explores the trials of aging and experience in senior citizens
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A fantasy trip by an older couple on their stationary bikes when only memory fills life from day to day is the plot of a new play examining the trials of age.

“Fugitivos de la ausencia” is a story about Mariano and Engrancia, an older couple, pedaling their way through their memory and revisiting their highest moments of their lives together.

The play has the characters traveling between music, memory and time as they try to escape a sad and desolate reality and reach the ultimate hope they build along the journey, according to the Teatro Libre.

This production is a joint effort of the theater group and the Compañia Nacional de Teatro. It was written by the playwright Jorge Díaz.

The manner in which Díaz wrote it was what motivated the Teatro Libre to examine its social context and to highlight the importance of the experience and capacity of seniors “instead of contempt, abandonment or exploitation to which they are frequently subjected,” the group said in a statement.

“We consider it important, in a society where the population of older adults is increasing, and in a few years will be the majority, to expose this topic for reflection; proposing old age also as capacity, freedom and the amplification of thought.”


“Fugitivos de la ausencia” was first presented back in 2014 by
Fugitivos actors
Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud photo
Mariano and Engracia, the two protagonists in the play.


the Universidad de Costa Rica, according to the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud.

This year it will be open this Thursday at 8 p.m. at the Teatro La Aduana. The entrance fee for the general public is 5000 colons, while students and gold card holders get in for 3,000 colons, the cultural ministry said. To reserve a ticket, one can call the Teatro La Aduana.



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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 58
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Dead zones are the new threat against coral reefs, Smithsonian says
By the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
press staff


Dead zones affect dozens of coral reefs around the world and threaten hundreds more, according to a new study by Smithsonian scientists published in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

Watching a massive coral reef die-off on the Caribbean coast of Panamá, they suspected it was caused by a dead zone, a low-oxygen area that snuffs out marine life, rather than by ocean warming or acidification.

“Ocean warming and acidification are recognized global threats to reefs and require large-scale solutions, whereas the newly recognized threats to coral reefs caused by dead zones are more localized, said Andrew Altieri, staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and first author of the study. Fortunately dead zones can be reduced by controlling sewage and agricultural runoff into the ocean.

In September, 2010, coral reefs in Almirante Bay, Bocas del Toro Province, showed severe signs of stress. In addition to corals turning white and dying, which is typical during coral bleaching associated with warming events, there were other clues suggesting that more was involved than high temperatures. Many unusual observations pointed to something else as the culprit.

There were thick mats of bacterial slime, and the dead bodies of crabs, sea urchins and sponges lay scattered on the ocean floor. Even more odd, there was a clear depth line above which the reefs looked OK, and below which, something had gone terribly wrong.

Even single colonies of corals that straddled the line were fine above and dying below.

Scientists went to work, measuring several aspects of water quality. One set of measurements came back as a shock. Extremely low oxygen levels in deeper waters contrasted with high oxygen levels in shallow waters where corals were still healthy. This is the hallmark of a dead zone.

The team thinks that such dead zones may be common in the tropics but have gone largely un-reported, simply because scientists never looked.

“The number of dead zones currently on our map of the world is 10 times higher in temperate areas than it is in the tropics, but many marine biologists work out of universities in Europe and North America and are more likely to find dead zones close to home,” Altieri said.

“We were lucky that there was already a reef monitoring program in place at the institution’s Bocas del Toro Research Station, one of the Smithsonian’s Marine Global Earth Observatory network sites,” said Rachel Collin, station director.


“Based on our analyses, we think dead zones may be
Dead coral
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Photo
Dying sponges off Caribbean coast display dead zones.

under reported by an order of magnitude.” said Nancy Knowlton, coauthor who now holds the Sant Chair for Marine Science at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

“For every one dead zone in the tropics, there are probably 10. Nine of which have yet to be identified.”

The researchers found 20 instances when dead zones were implicated in the mass mortality of coral reefs worldwide. “Hypoxia isn’t even mentioned in several of the most important academic reviews of threats to coral reefs and is rarely discussed at scientific meetings,” Altieri said.

“Even worse, many coral-reef monitoring efforts do not include measurement of oxygen levels, making it nearly impossible to identify low oxygen as the cause of mass coral mortality after the fact.”

For example, the cause of a 2016 mass mortality at the Flower Garden Reefs in the Gulf of México remains unclear, but some of the photographs look strikingly similar to what was observed in Panamá.

The authors argue that building capacity to monitor oxygen on reefs will help people to improve coral reef health and understand how dead zones might interact with other forces such as global warming in a one-two punch, which put reefs in even greater danger.



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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.
    More Flexible, Reliable-and Fully Guaranteed!

    Push this BIG RED BUTTON:  (O) and Learn ​details about your deal with ICE     
    SEE our new PACKAGE DEALS.
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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)

rental home
Beautiful Home for Rent
San Isidro Del General, Perez Zeledon. The beautiful southern zone. By week or month.  Only 10 minutes to town. Fabulous, artistic, one Bedroom, elegantly furnished home, overlooking river,  and near to attractions at the beach or mountain. Comes completely furnished with custom queen bed, orthopaedic mattress, all linens, large kitchen, all pans, dishes, silverware, blender new refrigerator, stove with oven, washing machine, glove leather couches, breakfast nook, patio with hammock.  Has also large bodega, with extra full sized bed, can sleep 4. Comes with satellite TV & WIFI. Located next to small river, with access to river pools, and over 60 varieties of rare, tropical birds. Only 45 minutes to beach, Playa Dominical and 40 minutes to National Park Chirripo. Perfect weather. Not hot like the beach. No car needed, bus take 15 minutes to town, costs 30 cents. Gated private and secure, near bus, mini markets. This is a complete home, artistic, beautiful surroundings, with convenience and privacy, yet near to it all. Nice folks.  For more photos and information: james43michael@gmail.com  Costa Rica phone: (506) 2771-4339
9178-4/7/17

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
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 58
Calendar
Opinion
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Real Estate
Lifestyle
Food
About us
 
Peace deal in Colombia
yields little change for many


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Hundreds of Colombian villagers have been killed or driven from their homes despite the recent peace deal between the government and rebels, according to a new report by Amnesty International.

"Alarmingly, in large parts of Colombia, the armed conflict is as alive as ever," Amnesty's Americas director Erika Guevara-Rosas said Tuesday. "Hundreds of thousands of people across the country have yet to see any difference in their lives since the peace accords were signed."

The new report focuses on the village of San Jose de Apartado, which declared itself a "peace community" 20 years ago by refusing to allow forces from either side in the fighting into the area.

Amnesty International says that villagers report a surge in paramilitary activity over the last several months and that hundreds have been killed, forced out of their homes or threatened.

There has been no comment from the Colombian government on the Amnesty report, but Colombian officials have said paramilitary groups have long been disbanded.

Bogotá signed a peace deal with the FARC rebels, the country's largest rebel group, in November. It ended a 50-year uprising against numerous Colombian governments, leaving more than 200,000 dead. The government is also holding talks with another rebel group.

Despite the peace accords, the International Committee of the Red Cross says fighting still rages between the government and other smaller rebel groups.

It says violence in the cities, unexploded mines and bombs, and restrictions on freedom of movement mean there is still a long way to go in Colombia.


Tillerson faces criticism skipping NATO meeting

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has come under fire for a decision not to attend next month's North Atlantic Treaty Organization foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, and for an announcement that he will travel to Russia later in April.

At Tuesday's State Department briefing, acting spokesman Mark Toner fielded a number of questions from reporters about the NATO meeting.

One reporter said he had been told that NATO had offered several alternative dates to Tillerson to make it possible for him to come, but these were rebuffed. Toner said the problem is a scheduling conflict.

"We are certainly appreciative of the effort to accommodate Secretary Tillerson. I can say that we have offered alternative dates the secretary could attend, and those are now being considered. It is important to remember though that this is not just a decision for NATO headquarters, but it also has to be reached, these dates, by consensus by all 28 allies," Toner said.

Another State Department official said Tillerson would be traveling to Italy in April for a meeting of the G-7, and then to Russia.

During the briefing, Toner said he had no formal announcement to make yet about the Russia trip, and could not say whether Tillerson would meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Rather than have his first meeting with the 28 NATO allies, Tillerson is set to attend President Donald Trump's meeting in April with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Asked about what message Tillerson’s absence at the NATO meeting would send to close U.S. allies, Toner stressed that the United States remains 100 percent committed to NATO.

He said Tom Shannon, acting deputy secretary of state for political affairs and former acting secretary, will represent the U.S. at the NATO meeting. Toner also noted that Tillerson is meeting with most, if not all, of the NATO foreign ministers Wednesday when the Coalition to Defeat Islamic State meets in Washington.

President Trump has repeatedly dismissed NATO as obsolete, though his Vice President Mike Pence voiced staunch U.S. support for the alliance during a news conference in Brussels last month and Tillerson has also expressed his support for NATO.

The White House announced late Tuesday that Trump will attend a summit of NATO heads of state set to be held May 25 in Brussels, and will host NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg for talks on April 12.

Speaking at a House Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said skipping the NATO meeting would send a most unfortunate signal.

The ranking Democratic member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel, released a sharply worded statement after hearing reports of the travel decisions.

"If reporting is accurate, Donald Trump's administration is making a grave error that will shake the confidence of America's most important alliance and feed the concern that this administration is simply too cozy with Vladimir Putin" Engel said.

"I cannot fathom why the administration would pursue this course except to signal a change in American foreign policy that draws our country away from Western democracy's most important institutions and aligns the United States more closely with the autocratic regime in the Kremlin," he said.


Nominee Gorsuch comes
under pressure at Senate


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch told a Senate panel Tuesday that no Trump administration official had pressured him to promise how he would vote on hot-button issues that could come before the high court.

"I don't believe in litmus tests for judges," Gorsuch, a federal appellate judge, told the Senate Judiciary Committee. "No one in that process asked me for any commitments, any kind of promises about how I'd rule in any kind of case.

Gorsuch's comment on the second day of his confirmation hearing preceded intensive questioning by lawmakers, especially Democrats, about some controversial Trump campaign promises. Those included re-instituting torture for terror suspects, banning Muslims from entering the United States and nominating judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a woman's right to an abortion.

"President Trump promised a Muslim ban," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat of Vermont, adding that a Republican congressman recently predicted Gorsuch would vote to uphold such a ban if he were confirmed to the Supreme Court.

"Senator, a lot of people say a lot of silly things," Gorsuch replied. "I'm not going to say anything here that would give anybody any idea how I'd rule in any case like that that could come before the Supreme Court."

Senators of both parties pressed Gorsuch to speak on torture.

"In case President Trump is watching: If you start waterboarding people, you may get impeached," warned Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina before posing a question to Gorsuch. "Is that a fair summary? Would he be subject to prosecution?"

"Senator, I'm not going to speculate," Gorsuch responded.

"But he's not above the law," Graham continued.

"No man is above the law," Gorsuch said.

On abortion, the nominee noted that while Roe v. Wade established a legal precedent that had been reaffirmed repeatedly, he also said courts may overrule precedent.

Democrats have portrayed Gorsuch as a pro-corporate jurist who would tilt the legal playing field against ordinary Americans, and they pressed him on cases in which he sided with large companies over their employees.

Democrats also continued to vent about the Republican majority's refusal to consider former President Barack Obama's nominee for the same seat, Judge Merrick Garland, once held by conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who died early last year.

Judicial nominees, both liberal and conservative, historically have refused to allow themselves to be pinned down on pending legal issues during their confirmation hearings. Gorsuch did the same, including when Feinstein asked whether courts should have the ultimate say in determining the extent of Americans' right to bear arms.

Gorsuch repeatedly returned to the fundamental American concept of an independent judiciary and the separation of powers in three co-equal branches of government, while also stressing his conservative judicial philosophy that judges exist to apply the laws Congress writes, not rule from the bench.

Gorsuch will face at least one more day of questioning by all senators in the committee. Later, the panel will vote on whether to recommend his nomination to the full Senate.

Republicans hold 52 of the Senate's 100 seats and would need eight Democrats to support Gorsuch should a filibuster necessitate a three-fifths vote to advance his nomination in the full chamber.

Democrats are under intense pressure from progressive activists to oppose Gorsuch, but Republicans have the option of changing Senate rules to eliminate the minority party's ability to block Supreme Court nominees should Democrats vote as a bloc against Gorsuch.


Prototypes for border wall
could be constructed soon


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Prototype designs for a proposed wall along the U.S.-México border could be built in June, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol said recently.

While officials would not say how many companies had responded to Friday's formal request for wall designs, published reports said a number of large firms with significant experience in managing large projects had expressed interest. The request for plans covered both a concrete wall and one using other materials, like fencing.

Meanwhile, a small company thousands of kilometers away from the border is working with firms that design and build projects in the hope of landing some business from the multi-billion-dollar proposal.

Riverdale Mills in Northbridge, Massachusetts, already has supplied tall, high-security fencing that guards 43 kilometers of the 3,000-kilometer border.

Riverdale chief Jim Knott said his factory can make steel fencing with small openings that make climbing or cutting the structure very difficult. If the joint proposal is accepted, he said, his company can turn out specialized fencing quickly and could expand production with new machinery and employees if necessary.

Building a wall to keep illegal immigrants out of the United States was a key promise Donald Trump made as a presidential candidate. Approximately one-third of the border already has an assortment of fences or walls. However, many areas, particularly in remote, thinly populated regions, lack such structures.

The new wall is generally supposed to be 9 meters tall, block tunneling efforts nearly 2 meters below ground and be aesthetically pleasing from the U.S. side. The specifications also call for gates that can admit vehicles, and for the structure to be able to withstand at least an hour of efforts to break through it with sledgehammers, welding torches and other common tools. Estimates of the cost to build the wall range from $8 billion to more than $20 billion.

Critics of the wall project express concern about its cost, say it could hurt commerce in the border areas of the United States and cause environmental problems. Critics also say that many people who are in the United States illegally arrived by plane legally and then overstayed their visas, a problem that would not be addressed by a wall.

Trump has said he will get México to pay for the wall, an idea that Mexican officials have rejected.


Trump signs a new law
to increase NASA funding


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Donald Trump has signed into law a bill that increases the budget of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, maintains the agency's earth science program and adds human exploration of Mars as a goal.

The measure increases NASA's budget to $19.5 billion. Trump's initial budget proposal submitted to Congress last week allocated $19.1 billion, a modest decrease from the current spending level.

Trump said the law will reinforce NASA's core mission of human space exploration while continuing to transition activities to private aerospace companies. "I hope they will pay us a lot of money," Trump said in an Oval Office signing ceremony attended by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

The measure also directs the agency to develop programs to get a crewed mission to Mars in the 2030s and explore the potential for human habitation on another celestial body in the 21st century.

A manned mission to Mars had been widely viewed as NASA's next great challenge. The agency is expected to develop new technology to achieve the mission by relying heavily on private aviation companies.

SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, is scheduled to launch an unmanned spaceship to Mars as soon as 2018.

More news of the Americas
From the Voice of America

Real estate services
Real estate for sale
Businesses for sale
Real estate for sale (paid category)

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 
9142-7/27/17

SellATimeshare.com
Browse timeshares for sale and rent by owner in Costa Rica at bargain prices. We connect existing timeshare owners with those looking to buy or rent a timeshare on the resale market. Timeshares on the resale market are up to 50% cheaper than those sold through the resort. Buy, sell or rent a timeshare at SellATimeshare.com. 
9004-4/26/17

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!

Solar device
NOW is the time to install our new super-efficient solar hot water! New model for condos
Solar collector
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.
    More Flexible, Reliable-and Fully Guaranteed!

    Push this BIG RED BUTTON:  (O) and Learn ​details about your deal with ICE     
    SEE our new PACKAGE DEALS.
Solar logo
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 
9177-6/19/16



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A.M.
Costa
Rica
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news page


San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 58
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News from the BBC up to the minute











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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Fraud activity targeting farmers in debt

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fraudsters are targeting low-income farmers who seek a debt relief on their property, according to Instituto de Desarrollo Rural, a government agency that seeks economic growth of underdeveloped areas.

Unknown people are approaching farmers all over the country and asking them to fill out a form claiming that by, filling it out, the persons would be granted an official pardon of their land debts.

“We are providing debt relief to farmers who borrowed money from our organization in order to buy land and land only. That's true. That all the paperwork that should be done in our offices and they are for free,” said José Quirós, the Instituto de Desarrollo Rural spokesperson.

Quirós explained that the institute is receiving phone calls from potential beneficiaries asking if the government agency sent somebody to various properties. He said the amount of calls have increased in the last week.

“We have no representatives out there. Period. If people have any question they should come to us and we'll gladly help them,” Quirós said firmly.

According to the law, low-income farmers who requested money from the Instituto before Dec. 31, 2005, may have their debt forgiven only if the money was used to buy land.

If the current debt is less than 6 million colones, or about $12,000, the debtor doesn't have to do anything and their records will be cleared automatically. Whereas the debt is above that amount, the Instituto may grant a partial pardon from up to 50 or 100 percent.

This benefit applies to Costa Ricans as well as foreigners who comply with the requirements. In case of suspicion, Quirós advised people to call the number 2247-7578.


New holiday bill passes first reading

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers gave the first approval Tuesday to a bill that would designate Oct. 17 Día Nacional de don Florencio del Castillo.

Florencio del Castillo was a representative from the province of Costa Rica to the Cortes de Cádiz, the short-lived entity that tried to govern Spain and its possessions during the French invasion. The body is notable for emitting a liberal constitution for Spain in 1812.

Fernando VII, restored to his throne two years later, refused to recognize the document. Castillo, a Roman Catholic priest, was born at Ujarrás, Cartago, in 1778. The highway from San José to Cartago bears his name.

The major impact of the bill, if it is approved on second reading, would be to insert more about Castillo in the public school curriculum. The day would not be a holiday.

Murdered man sprayed with 15 shots

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two people riding one motorcycle shot and killed a 22-year old man last Monday night in the Toro Amarillo Village, located in Limón province.

The attackers apparently approached the victim while he was having a conversation with a friend and opened fire unexpectedly, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization. The victim received at least 15 gunshots, based on reports from officers sent to the place. The victim was later sent to Hospital Tony Facio, where he passed away.

Authorities believe the murder was caused by a drug dealing vengeance. The corpse remains at the Morgue Judicial and the investigations go on.

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From Page 7:

Pineapple industry to start business in China

By Rommel Téllez
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

It is official. The Costa Rican pineapple industry is ready to start sales in China as soon as producers are ready.

The export permit was granted last week to the Cámara Nacional de Productores y Exportadores de Piña, the national chamber to which most producers and exporters belong.

According to Abel Cháves, the president of the organization, this is a long-awaited result of negotiations that started in 2015 with the support of the Promotora del Comercio Exterior, the agency in charge of supporting businesses willing to access new markets.

“That year we received the visit of a Chinese delegation in charge of inspecting our plants and assures the quality of our products. They were also interested in verifying that we comply with international standards,” said Abel Cháves, president of the chamber.

“China sent another delegation this year in February, this time to confirm what they had already checked, and last week we, at the chamber, got the good news,” Cháves said.

The next step, Cháves explained, is to prepare all the logistics required to actually export the fruit and keep it fresh despite a journey that often takes around 28 days to complete. To achieve that goal the chamber will again require the support of Promotora de Comercio Exterior.

“Once the first shipment has departed, we will then have the opportunity to adjust our processes, calculate costs and see how profitable the market is.” said Cháves. According to him, the whole process  to export to China began without any forecast sales amounts.

However, this expansion worries some ecological organizations. They fear that more sales mean bigger plantations and an inevitable loss of forest and protected areas.

“They're aiming at China because they know that country has almost zero regulations in labor and environmental issues.” said Mauricio Álvarez, president of Federación Conservacionista de Costa Rica.

According to Álvarez, in the last 15 years important forest have been illegally occupied and destroyed to make pineapple fields. He claims that the benefits of these companies do not make up for the environmental damage.

“In terms of water pollution in Limón, the AyA has had to invest seven million dollars in hiring trucks to deliver water to the residents of Siquirres, Luisiana and La Francia in the last 14 years” Alvaréz said in a statement. He was speaking of the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, the state water provider.

The pineapple industry exports 53 percent of its production to the United States and Canada, 44 percent to the European Union and 3 percent to other countries, according to figures provided by the national chamber.