A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 16
It’s Falcons and Patriots
for Super Bowl 51 Feb. 5
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
The National Football League's Atlanta Falcons have reached the Super Bowl championship game for only the second time in team history.
The Falcons won the National Football Conference title Sunday by overpowering the visiting Green Bay Packers, 44-21. That earns them the right to play in Super Bowl 51 Feb. 5 in Houston against the New England Patriots.
Atlanta dominated from the start, took a 24-0 lead by half-time and was never threatened. Falcons' quarterback Matt Ryan led the way, completely 27 of 38 passes for 392 yards and four touchdowns.
"It feels good, but we have some unfinished business," said Ryan, adding, "We've got to take care of business in Houston in two weeks."
Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy gave no excuses, saying the Falcons were outstanding. "Their good performance speaks for itself. They got away from us. It's really a credit to the Falcons."
In the Falcons' only other Super Bowl appearance, they lost in 1999 (in Miami) to the Denver Broncos, winners of last year's Super Bowl in San Francisco.
New England last won the Super Bowl two years ago, and has won four titles since 2002.
They are led by quarterback Tom Brady who threw three touchdown passes Sunday in New England's 36-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the American Football Conference championship game.
Brady was suspended for the first four games of the season over allegations dating back to the 2015 season that he was linked to deflating footballs used in a game. He ended the year trailing only Ryan among the league's top-rated quarterbacks.
"We won a lot of different ways under a lot of different circumstances," Brady said after Sunday's game."We'll see if we can write the perfect ending in a few weeks."
Trump vows new deal
in meeting with Mexico
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
The White House says President Donald Trump will meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña-Nieto next week for talks on immigration and renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.
"Mexico has been terrific...the president has been really very amazing, and I think we're going to have a very good result for Mexico, for the United States, and for everyone involved," Trump said.
The meeting is set for Jan. 31. Trump said he also plans to meet soon with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada. Trump campaigned on renegotiating the trade agreement known as NAFTA. His insistence that Mexico will pay for a wall along the U.S. border to help curb illegal immigration has become one of Trump's trademarks.
Nieto Pena has dismissed the idea that his government will fund a wall as ridiculous. Trump mocked the more than 1 million people who turned out Saturday in cities across the country to protest his new administration.
"Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election!" Trump said in a Twitter message from the White House, his home for the next four years. "Why didn't these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly."
Those celebrities included feminist icon Gloria Steinem, pop star Madonna and actress Scarlett Johansson. They were among those who attended Saturday's Women's March on Washington as a rebuke to Trump's inauguration as the country's 45th president on Friday.
But two hours later, Trump said in another tweet, "Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don't always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views."
Trump also boasted about the number of people who watched his inaugural on television, saying, "Wow, television ratings just out: 31 million people watched the Inauguration, 11 million more than the very good ratings from 4 years ago!"
The Nielsen television rating service said the 30.6 million who watched Trump's ascent to power topped the 20.6 million figure for former President Barack Obama's inauguration to a second term in 2013, but fell 19 percent short of the 37.8 million who watched Obama's first inauguration in 2009. More Americans typically watch inaugurations when a new president takes office, with the biggest number at 41.8 million recorded in 1981 when Ronald Reagan was inaugurated for the first of his two terms.
Trump said on a visit Saturday to the Central Intelligence Agency that the news media lied about the size of the crowd that watched him assume power. Numerous media outlets in the U.S. showed vast swaths of the National Mall vacant as he was sworn into office, compared to pictures of shoulder-to-shoulder crowds at the two Obama inaugurations.
U.S. officials do not make official crowd estimates for security reasons. The new president falsely claimed that Friday's crowd stretched down the mall from the Capitol, where he was sworn in, to the Washington Monument.
Trump, apparently worried about attempts to delegitimize his presidency, said one television network showed an empty field and reported that he drew just 250,000 people to his inauguration.
“We had a massive field of people, you saw that. Packed,” Trump said at the CIA. “I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks and they show ... an empty field. I said wait a minute. I made a speech! I looked out, the field was ... it looked like a million, a million-and-a-half people. They showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there. And they said, 'Donald Trump did not draw well!'"
Later, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said, "This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe," moments after declaring that no one had numbers because the government years ago stopped making crowd estimates for large gatherings on the mall.
Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway told NBC's “Meet the Press” on Sunday that Spicer was offering journalists alternative facts about the size of the inauguration crowd.
Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus told another news show, “Fox News Sunday”, "The point is not the crowd size. The point is the attacks and the attempt to delegitimize this president in one day, and we're not going to sit around and take it. I'm saying there's an obsession by the media to delegitimize this president and we are not going to sit around let it happen. We are going to fight back tooth and nail every day and twice on Sunday."
Throughout his unlikely run to the White House, Trump has regularly disparaged media accounts about him.
U.S. marks Roe v. Wade ruling
at beginning of Trump era
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
The 44th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade was marked Sunday with a new U.S. president in office who has said he wants the decision overturned. The 1973 decision legalized abortion.
As a candidate, President Donald Trump promised to appoint an anti-abortion justice to fill a vacancy at the nation’s highest court.
He also said he wants to remove government funding from Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of women’s health care, including abortions.
Trump met earlier this week with one of the judges on his short list for potential Supreme Court nominees and has said he wants to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia within his first two weeks in office.
The new president has promised to seek someone with similar views to the late conservative justice and said he is working from a list of 21 people, mainly conservative state and federal judges.
Trump’s positions against abortion are supported by many Republican lawmakers, which control both houses of Congress. Many of those Republicans ran on a platform of opposing abortion.
Abortion continues to be a dividing issue in the United States where it has been legal since the Roe v Wade decision in 1973. Rival demonstrations in Washington often mark the anniversary of the ruling.
A new survey published this month by the Pew Research Center said more than two-thirds of Americans believe Roe v Wade should not be completely overturned.
“Public opinion about the 1973 case has held relatively steady in recent decades, though the share saying the decision should not be overturned is up slightly from four years ago,” the group said.
It noted that the partisan gap over abortion views is strong with 79 percent of Democrats saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and 34 percent of Republicans saying the same.
On Thursday, the Century Foundation, a progressive U.S.-based research group, said restrictions against abortions are increasing across the United States. The group said 50 abortion restrictions were passed last year in 18 of the 50 U.S. states.
The anti-abortion group, National Right to Life, maintains an effort to pass restrictive state laws.
“The place you change America isn’t in Washington. It’s in the states,” said Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, quoted on the organization’s website.
Also this week, another research group, the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights, released a survey that found the annual number of abortions in the United States has dropped to less than 1 million, the lowest level since 1974. The report counted 926,200 abortions in 2014, the latest year for which it had complete data, a drop of 12.5 percent from Guttmacher’s previous survey, which tallied 1.06 million abortions in 2011.
Following Roe v Wade in 1973, the number of abortions in the United States rose steadily, reaching a peak of 1.6 million in 1990, before starting to decline.
The authors of the new report attributed the latest decline to two main factors: the increased availability of contraceptives, which have led to less unintended pregnancies, and the increase in abortion restrictions in some U.S. states.
“Abortion restrictions and clinic closures mean that patients may need to travel greater distances to access services,” says Rachel Jones, lead author of the study.
Next week, the anti-abortion movement March for Life holds its annual rally in Washington. Trump’s campaign manager and one of his top advisors, Kellyanne Conway, is scheduled to speak at the march.
Trump appears conciliatory
in Saturday speech to CIA
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
President Donald Trump, who has sharply criticized the U.S. intelligence community, told workers at the Central Intelligence Agency, or the CIA, on Saturday, "I am so behind you."
Trump delivered remarks at the agency's headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on Saturday, his first full day as U.S. president. "I know maybe sometimes you haven't gotten the backing that you wanted and you're going to get so much backing. Maybe you're going to say, ‘please don't give us so much backing,'" said the newly sworn-in leader, prompting laughter.
CIA officials said about 400 CIA staff members were present for the president's remarks.
Trump made clear the fight against Islamic State will be a top priority and that his administration will ramp up America's approach.
"We've been fighting these wars for longer than any wars we've ever fought,” he said. “We have not used the real abilities that we have, we've been restrained. We have to get rid of ISIS, have to get rid of ISIS. We have no choice."
ISIS is an acronym for Islamic State.
The president’s visit was an apparent bid to mend fences and meet with top security officials, according to analysts.
"It's kind of an olive branch for the intelligence community," said Aki Peritz, a former CIA counterterrorism analyst and coauthor of “Find, Fix, Finish: Inside the Counterterrorism Campaigns That Killed bin Laden and Devastated Al Qaeda.”
Intelligence officials have argued that Trump's disparaging remarks about spy agencies and their work has hurt staff morale.
"The CIA employees are all pretty smart people, they're professionals, they're well-educated," said Peritz. "One kumbaya speech is not going to really change their grave concerns that they're having with the current president."
Trump also used the occasion to berate the media for what he said was unfair reporting about the size of the crowd at his inauguration, and claimed he saw a million or a million-and-a-half people, far more than anyone has reported.
Former CIA Director John Brennan was scathing in his assessment of Trump's CIA appearance. Nick Shapiro, Brennan's former aide, released a statement that said "Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump's despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA's Memorial Wall of Agency heroes. Brennan says Trump should be ashamed of himself."
For months, Trump refused to side with CIA and Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, conclusions that Russia hacked the Democratic National Convention in a bid to meddle in U.S. elections, in part to boost his chance of winning.
It was not until a Jan. 11 press conference that Trump conceded it was Russia who carried out the hacking, but later added it may have also been someone else, including China.
The new U.S. president has continued to reject claims Moscow carried out the attacks to undermine his former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and to help propel him in the White House.
He has also repeatedly noted the agencies' previous errors and suggested the U.S. intelligence community may have leaked an unsubstantiated report that Russia has compromising information about him.
During his remarks Saturday, Trump said the reason for his stop is his long-running war with the media, whom he said made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community.
Trump's CIA visit comes after congressional Democrats succeeded in stalling until Monday Senate consideration of Trump's choice for CIA director, Representative Mike Pompeo. Republican lawmakers denounced the delay and noted that it leaves the spy agency leaderless over the weekend.
Trump hailed Pompeo, telling CIA staff his nominee is the clear choice for the job.
"You will be getting a total star. You're going to be getting a total gem," he said.
Another former CIA official questioned why the president visited the agency on a weekend. Typically, such visits are made during the week when the greatest number of workers are present. Often, a receiving line is also formed to greet staff members.
"There's a real effort orchestrated so that it is a morale-boosting visit," said Carmen Medina, former CIA deputy director of intelligence.
"It's conceivable that it could be about some sort of national security and intelligence issue, that either the president has requested a briefing or the intelligence community has suggested he receive a briefing," she said.
Judgment day begins
for El Chapo in N.Y.
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán has pleaded not guilty to charges of running a massive drug-trafficking operation in North America and overseeing killings and kidnappings.
Through his court-appointed lawyers, Guzmán entered a not-guilty plea Friday in a New York City federal court. No bail was sought.
Guzmán answered questions through an interpreter standing next to him. Guzmán arrived in New York from Mexico late Thursday following his surprise extradition. He was arraigned in a 17-count indictment that carries a mandatory life prison term upon conviction of running a criminal enterprise, and additional maximum sentences of life in prison stemming from other drug charges, according to Robert Capers, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
"Today marks a milestone in our pursuit of Chapo Guzmán," Capers told reporters Friday.
Prosecutors say Guzmán's Sinaloa cartel operated for decades in much of North America and reaped billions of dollars by dispersing cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine throughout the United States.
Guzmán is accused of money laundering and drug trafficking, kidnapping and murder in cities throughout the United States, including Chicago, Miami and New York.
The convicted cartel boss has spent the past year fighting extradition. He has twice escaped from maximum-security prisons in Mexico. Guzmán last escaped from Altiplano prison in 2015 after maneuvering through a kilometer-long tunnel that had been dug by his associates. He was recaptured a year ago.
U.S. prosecutors agreed to not seek the death penalty as a condition of the extradition of Guzmán. His attorney said his extradition was politically motivated. Capers said the U.S. government was also seeking a $14 billion forfeiture order as part of its prosecution.
Severe U.S. weather kills 16
with more storms coming
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
Severe weather has killed at least 16 people in the southern United States, and forecasters warn of more deadly storms to come.
The National Weather Service said Sunday that southern Georgia, northern Florida and the corner of southeastern Alabama could face forceful tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail. Long track tornadoes, which plow on for kilometers, also are a real risk.
Twelve people were killed and more than 20 injured as violent storms and tornadoes rolled through parts of Georgia over the weekend. Another four people were killed in Mississippi by a tornado on Saturday.
Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia declared a state of emergency in seven counties that suffered deaths, injuries and severe damage from the storms. Deal said that state agencies are making all resources available to affected counties, and that our thoughts and prayers are with Georgians suffering from the storm's impact.
President Donald Trump spoke with Governor Deal Sunday to express his condolences about those killed by the powerful tornadoes that ripped through the state.
Trump described the tornadoes as vicious and powerful. He made remarks in the East Room of the White House during his second full day in office, adding that he would talk later to Gov. Rick Scott of Florida.
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