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(506) 2223-1327                    Published Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013,  in Vol. 13, No. 11                Email us
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The fiscal hill is a challenge for expats in January
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

They call it the cuesta de enero, the financial hill in January. This is the time when many of the Christmas bills come home to roost. And there are other expenses.

The month is the opposite of the U.S. fiscal cliff.  Like the mythological king of Corinth, Sisyphus, Costa Ricans and expats are pushing a giant financial boulder up a hill. And for owners of businesses, the slope is steeper.

The January hill really begins in December.

Dec. 15 was the deadline for paying the monthly amount due to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. Most businesses have to make this payment, but so do expats with employees.

Dec. 15, or actually last year Dec. 16 because of a misbehaving central computer, was the deadline for 2011-2012 income tax, impuestos sobre la renta. That also is the monthly deadline for sales tax payments for the previous month and certain other payments, mostly by businesses.

Optional, of course, are Christmas gifts to service providers: The trash haulers, guards, delivery persons and others figured in daily life. And then there is Christmas itself.

Not optional and due by Dec. 20 were the aguinaldos, the obligatory Christmas bonuses for employees for 2012. Each should have been a month's pay. Employers who did not pay, and that includes expats with part-time help, might find themselves in labor court in the new year.

Dec. 31 was the deadline for paying the first quarterly municipal fee for a business license in the 2012 and 2013 fiscal year. This is supposed to be based on a company's income, but most firms sidestep this rule and pay a little as they can.

Dec. 31 also was the deadline for paying without penalty the national road tax or marchamo. The better the car, the bigger the bite. Traffic cops love expats who forget to pay this.

And the fourth quarter of municipal real estate taxes also was due Dec. 31.

Now in January, the real uphill climb commences.

Jan. 16, today, is the last day to pay without penalty the impuesto solidario or the so-called luxury home tax. This is a special assessment on homes and lots estimated to be worth 117 million colons or more. Expats already paid an expert to make the estimate of value. Now it is time to pay the central government with the hope that officials actually will use the cash to purchase housing for the poor.  The Dirección General de Tributación said Tuesday it once again was adding an extra day to the deadline because its computer was overwhelmed. It said 2,126 persons had paid the luxury home tax. The penalty for late payment is 189,700 or currently $386. The tax itself depends on the value of the home.

Jan. 16 also is the new date for reporting and paying the December sales tax for businesses and any withholdings from employee pay. Tributación said Tuesday that it already had received  49,983 sales tax declarations and 6,000 reports of withholdings. The agency is trying to shift all its payments onto computers. The agency's computer system has been a challenge.

Jan. 31: This is the deadline for paying that special tax on corporations. As A.M. Costa Rica reported the day after Christmas, the tax has gone
La cuesta de enero!

up because the judicial salary on which it is based increased. For active corporations, the tax is 189,700 or currently $386. Owners of inactive corporations pay half that. Many expats have vehicles or homes in corporations, active and inactive. No form is necessary. Tellers at Banco de Costa Rica just need the number of the cédula juridica.

Some expats are confused because the tax was less last year because the amount assessed only covered part of 2012.

Jan. 31 also is the last day for paying the salario escolar a way by which employees of private firms can accumulate money to pay school expenses. The money is deducted from each paycheck, and employers have to pay the full annual amount and social charges by this date. The employee gets a break because income tax is not assessed on the amount.

For public employees, the salario escolar is a bonus, also paid in January. It represents about 8.19 percent of the annual salary and is considered a savings rather than salary. But social charges like Caja payments are assessed. Some 141,000 public employees are getting 94 billion colons from the national treasury during January, said Tributación. The amount is $191 million.

Employees will need it. Public school starts Feb. 6, and anyone with a child in public school knows that the country's free education has a few footnotes. There are uniforms and shoes to purchase and items on a long list provided by the school. Youngsters have to have all these items on the first day. Some poor kids do not go to school because parents cannot afford the extras.

Parents with children in private school, including many expats, have to pay a sometimes stiff tuition or at least part by the beginning of school.

Jan. 31 also is the deadline for paying without penalty the annual rental of a postal box at the local office of Correos de Costa Rica.

According to Costa Rican law, income tax payments and the new corporate tax are not deductible for filing purposes. So when a firm that is subject to income tax payments files a return it is, in effect, paying a 30 percent tax on the taxes they already have paid. The rate is variable for individuals.

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Bull baiting participant
becomes victim of animal

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The bull baiting at the Festeos de Palmares claimed a life Monday night.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that a man with the last name of  Valverde died at a hospital in San Ramón because of damage inflicted by a bull.

The death also generated a statement from the Instituto Nacional de Seguros that said that these amateur bull baiters, called toreros improvisados, are not covered by riesgo de trabajo insurance policies. They need a separate accident policy, said the government agency.

Valverde, who was 29, is not believed to have had coverage.

Judicial agents said that mishap took place about 8 p.m. when Valverde was not able to avoid the bull, which hit him in various parts of his body, head and neck. The man was a security guard who was on his day off.

The Instituto Nacional de Seguros said that the sponsor of the Palmares event, the Asociación Cívica de Palmares, was counting on a riesgo de trabajo policy, a workmen's compensation agreement, to protect the bull fighters. The association is believed to consider the bull baiters as workers.

Not so, said the firm known as INS, citing a list of laws and policy.

At the fiesta in Zapote, where similar activities are carried out with bulls, each person who enters the ring has to have a separate accident policy.

The spectacle involved a number of young men and women sharing the ring with a fighting bull. The animals have short attention spans, and the participants amuse themselves and the spectators by slapping the bull on the rump or otherwise taunting the animal. Once in awhile the bull gets revenge, but the persons being mauled usually suffer minor injuries because other participants distract the animal. Of more than 100 persons injured at the recent Zapote event, only 40 went to hospitals and clinics.

Valverde's fatal encounter was taped by Television channel 42 and a three-panel photo series was the front page graphic in El Diario Extras Tuesday.

Our reader's opinion
There is too much discussion
of the past U.S. elections

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

My wife and I are delighted to know so many U.S. citizens as neighbors, as we lived in the U.S. for 12 years. There were many aspects of U.S. society that we truly appreciated and left many friends behind to retire in Costa Rica.

The U.S. species of Gringo adds to the richness of our international community. However, we would respectfully remind its members that they chose to leave the U.S. to live here. Duking out the U.S. election in the letters to A.M. Costa Rica and elsewhere, seems a little unfair to the rest of us, especially now that it is all over. We hear a little too much of this live and loudly at parties too.

Please remember that there are other nationalities here too. They can get enough of these opinions from reading the mainstream media from the U.S. and elsewhere, online or from the TV. By the way, the level of informed as opposed to bigoted debate is rather low.

The English language media here is guilty of the same overkill. Do you think that President Obama and ex-governor Romney were on tenterhooks awaiting which Costa Rican paper would give them its endorsement?  One suspects that most people read a Costa Rican paper to learn about, er, Costa Rican news. There is an increasing tendency to recycle mainly U.S. news.

We like our U.S. friends, but remember, like sex, political discussions are best conducted between consenting adults in private.
Chris Clarke
San Isidro de Grecia

Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary

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A.M. Costa Rica

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 11
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President moving to reduce inflow of speculative capital
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Casa Presidencial said Tuesday that the president would soon take steps to decrease the flow of dollars into Costa Rica.

A lot of foreign investment is entering the country to take advantage of the higher interest rates here.

A statement from Casa Presidencial after the weekly cabinet meeting said that the inflow of dollars puts at risk the financial stability of the country, jeopardizes exports and hurts employment. This is mainly because, as the Banco Central explained in its year-end report, the interest is being paid eventually to foreign entities without any benefit to Costa Rica.

The statement characterized the flow of money as being prompted by speculation.

President Laura Chinchilla Miranda is considering an executive decree to limit the inflow of dollars, and Casa Presidencial will be presenting proposed legislation to the Asamblea Legislative, said the statement.

There was no summary of how these measures might affect expats who depend on income from other countries. Many U.S. expats here receive monthly payments from the U.S. Social Security System. The proposed legislation might contain a system of assessing a surcharge on money entering the country.

Usually countries welcome foreign investment, but the investment is usually designed to do something productive, such as build a factory or create a tourism location.

President Chinchilla was quoted as calling this inflow of capital arms of mass destruction. She was quoted as favoring some say to reduce the inflow.

The central government has been in contact with the Banco Central to discuss methods to reduce capital inflow, said the statement. The presidential decree would seek to reduce the interest rate, said the statement. The use of state funds was suggested as a way to reduce the current interest rate.

At the end of last year, five-year time deposits in colons were drawing from 10 to 12 percent interest, said the Central Bank.
money forbidden

That is far higher than interest rates in the United States and other First World nations. The inflow of dollars also has
depressed the exchange rate in favor of the colon.

The statement quoted Vice President Luis Liberman as saying that proposed legislation would be sent to lawmakers as a priority Monday. The suggestion was that there would be some type of surcharge imposed on capital arriving in the country.

The statement was lacking in details, but the president has proposed in the past that the government should take a percentage of money involved in bank transactions. Lawmakers did not accept this idea.

U.S. Embassy officials said to be concerned by Caribbean crime
By Kayla Pearson
and the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Diplomats at the U.S. Embassy are aware of the crime problems in Puerto Viejo, said a spokesman Tuesday.

The embassy's American Citizen Services is where U.S. citizens who are crime victims usually go. The spokesman said that representatives from the Citizen Services section as well as Ambassador Anne Slaughter Andrew in October 2011 visited Puerto Viejo to talk to residents.

The level of crime there was characterized as a concern.  The consular section also tries to work closely with the Judicial Investigating Organization and other agencies that respond to victims of crime to ensure that cases are treated with the appropriate level of attention, said the spokesman.

The crime situation in that section of the Caribbean coast was highlighted Monday in a guest editorial by resident Carol Meeds.

She listed several crimes that had not been reported by the news media.

Her comments generated a lot of discussion on a local Internet list. Residents find themselves between the proverbial rock and a hard place. The area depends on tourism, and discussions and reports of crime drive away tourists. But there will be no improvement in enforcement without police reports.

Ms. Meeds noted that crime victims have to travel to Bribri to make a formal report. She also was critical of the inactivity of the local Fuerza Pública.

A.M. Costa Rica is delivering copies of her article to top security officials. Several are on vacation now.

The local Internet discussion lists appear to support Ms. Meeds comments. One resident said that a volunteer working with him was a rape victim. The embassy spokesman said that officials there do not see a rape a day as Ms. Meeds said but that the level of crime does prompt concern.
The embassy on its Web site said that the American Citizen Services provided assistance to victims of sexual assault in areas as varied as Jacó, Heredia, Puerto Viejo, and Montezuma.  Some of these assaults were committed by acquaintances and friends.  In others, the assailants were strangers who used date-rape drugs or kidnapped the victim, it said.

However, the annual State Department report on Costa Rica only listed 11 sexual assaults in the past year in tourist areas. Comments online from Puerto Viejo suggest that rapes involving drugged alcoholic beverages are common.

Although the recent crimes listed by Ms. Meeds had not been reported by central government security officials, the Judicial Investigating Organization and the Fuerza Pública, when contacted, gave these accounts Tuesday:

• An assault at gunpoint in Playa Chiquita while a family of tourists were bike riding.  According to the victims, the robbers placed a gun to the family's young son's head.  Police were reported to be in the vicinity.   The regional office in Bribri could not confirm this account.  There was no report filled with the office or at the Fuerza Pública station in Puerto Viejo, said Gerardo Gutiérrez Carrillo, chief of the office.

• U.S. university students were robbed of expensive electronic items while they were sleeping in their cabina in Manzanillo.   The police said that a report was filled by these students and persons were sent to investigate.  The investigators found that the students did not take the “necessary security measures.”  The night of the crime the students partied on the beach and when they returned, they did not tightly close the doors, the report said. The fact that the place was not thoroughly secure was determined by the fact that there were no signs of tampering, said Gutiérrez.

• Fuerza Publica officers in Cahuita and Puerto Viejo detained a gang that were robbing tourists with knifes.  Jan. 11 the group robbed a German couple at 1 p.m., officers said.  This act led to the detention of the members and one of the persons is being held in preventative detention.  The other two were minors, Gutiérrez said.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 11
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Another study shows benefits of being a bilingual adult
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Older adults who've spoken two languages since childhood have a distinct cognitive edge over their monolingual peers, according to a new study.

Previous studies have shown bilingualism seems to favor the development of heightened mental skills. The new research, published in Neuroscience, provides evidence of that cognitive advantage among older, bilingual adults.

Subjects were divided into three groups: bilingual seniors, monolingual seniors and younger adults and instructed to sort colors and shapes in a series of simple cognitive exercises.

The researchers used a brain imaging technique to compare how well the subjects switched between mental tasks. 

Brian Gold, a neuroscientist at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and lead author of the study, found the results showed different patterns of brain activity in the frontal part of the brain associated with the tasks. 

“We found that seniors who are bilingual are able to activate their brain with a magnitude closer to young subjects," Gold says. "So they do not need to expend as much effort, and yet
they still out-perform their monolingual peers, suggesting that they use their brain more efficiently.”

Knowing a second language made no difference for the young adults in the study, who outperformed both older groups. Gold says the older bilinguals appear to have built up a kind of cognitive reserve from their lifetime of enhanced mental activity. 

Gold's research appears to confirm a previous study on bilingualism among Alzheimer’s patients. That study showed bilinguals developed more atrophy from the brain-wasting disease, but that they were able to function at the same cognitive level as patients with less atrophy. 

That suggested that their bilingualism is helping them to compensate for that more advanced brain atrophy, Gold said. "The finding that we had is consistent with that because it basically says that bilinguals as seniors are able to do more with less.”

Gold says the study confirms bilingualism can play a functional, protective role in the brain. Gold says his next step is to explore whether learning a second language or immigrating to another country as an adult can provide some of the same mental advantages as lifelong bilingualism.

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Report says Natalie Wood
was bruised and scratched

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A newly issued report by the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office says Hollywood actress Natalie Wood had numerous bruises and scratches on her body when it was pulled from the Pacific Ocean in November 1981, suggesting she was injured before she hit the water.

Natalie Wood was one of the most popular actresses of her generation.  Ms. Wood, 43, was on a yacht with her TV-star husband Robert Wagner, actor Christopher Walken and the boat's captain, off the coast of southern California before she somehow ended up in the water. Her death stunned the world and has remained one of Hollywood's most enduring mysteries.

Her death initially was ruled an accidental drowning. But homicide detectives reopened the investigation in 2011.

Last year, authorities changed the official cause of death to "drowning and other undetermined factors.'' They did not explain why.

Officials will not discuss any new evidence that may have been discovered. They have said neither Wagner nor Walken is a suspect in Wood's death.

Natalie Wood co-starred in such films as "West Side Story," "Rebel Without a Cause," and "Splendor in the Grass."

Fitch rating agency warns
U.S. on debt ceiling fight

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A major credit rating agency is warning Washington that delays in resolving a dispute over government borrowing will prompt a review of the nation's credit rating.

The Fitch rating agency said it expects Congress will eventually raise the debt ceiling, making the risk of a default on U.S. debts extremely low.

Back in August 2011, political squabbling in Congress over raising the legal borrowing limit prompted the rival S&P agency to downgrade the U.S. credit rating one notch from its previous top level.

Fitch is making it clear it could consider a downgrade if congressional action is stalled by renewed bickering. Fitch called the debt ceiling an ineffective and potentially dangerous mechanism for controlling government spending. 

Investment advisor Frank Reilly of Reilly Financial Advisors said the political fight is likely to go down to the last minute. He said the political uncertainties means businesses are reluctant to make investments and hire people. 

However, once the political squabbling is over, Reilly thinks the U.S. economy is poised to grow more quickly, an outlook that is in line with economic reports published Tuesday.

The Commerce Department said U.S. retail sales rose half-a-percent in December, which is more than first estimated. Economists watch retail sales closely because consumer demand drives most U.S. economic activity.

A survey by the Gallup organization showed Americans grew a bit less pessimistic about the economy last week, but remain concerned about financial issues.

A separate measure of inflation at the wholesale level shows prices declining slightly for the third month in a row. Relatively tame inflation means the U.S. central bank can continue its efforts to stimulate the economy by keeping interest rates at ultra-low levels.  If inflation were to rise sharply, the Federal Reserve would likely raise interest rates to cool the economy.

Obama to give his plan
on gun violence today

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Barack Obama will announce Wednesday his plans for reducing gun violence in the United States. Some of the proposals will face stiff opposition from Republicans.
About one month after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama will present his plan to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.
The president will announce his proposals in the presence of children who have written to him to express their concern about school violence after the Newtown rampage.
Obama’s plan is based on recommendations from Vice President Joe Biden, whom he appointed to study the issue and meet with numerous groups on all sides.
White House press secretary Jay Carney Tuesday said several of the main components of the plan will require approval from Congress.
“There are specific legislative actions that he will continue to call on Congress to take, including the assault weapons ban, including a measure to ban high capacity magazine clips, including an effort to close the very big loopholes in the background check system," he said.
Some of those actions will be difficult to pass in the Republican-led House of Representatives.  The National Rifle Association has said it will fight any legislation to limit access to guns and ammunition.
Carney said the president does not expect that any plan he implements will eliminate gun violence, but he believes the problem can be sharply curtailed.
“Our goal, obviously, should be, as a country, should be, never to accept even one child’s death as a result of gun violence.  He believes that the things we can do as a nation, together in a bipartisan way when it comes to legislation, together outside of Washington, that, yes, we can reduce gun violence," he said.
The president may use executive orders to enact some other parts of the plan.  Some House Democrats say Biden has identified 19 potential actions Obama could take without legislation.
The vice president is believed to have recommended tougher penalties for people who lie on background checks for gun buyers.  He also is said to have suggested raising gun trafficking to a felony, as well as other steps.
Obama’s proposals are expected to include recommendations to address violence in entertainment and video games.
Despite the expected legislative battle over gun control, many Americans are demanding action from Washington on the issue.
Monday, one month after the attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the mothers of the children killed announced plans to campaign for change.
State lawmakers in New York Tuesday were in the process of passing the nation’s toughest gun control law, which contains some of the same provisions that are expected to be in Obama’s plan.
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A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page

San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 11
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Country put in middle
of Latin education index

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country's school children finished in the middle of those from other Latin nations in the Latin Business Chronicle education index.

The index seeks to measure, among other variables, the preparedness of students based on tests they take.

Uruguay and Argentina were listed as the best prepared of students in 19 countries. The index uses five variables including the percentage of young people who are in school.
Costa Rica was put in 11th position in the Index. At the bottom were, as expected, Guatemala and Haiti.

Latin Business Chronicle, based in Miami, Florida, offers key market intelligence through extensive rankings, indexes and statistics, it said in a release.

Security officials list
71 application reports

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Security officials said that 71 incidents have been reported via the portable telephone application they have posted online.

In all some 17,641 persons have downloaded the software, which runs on Android and iPhones.

The Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública announced the free download after Christmas. The idea is to give residents a direct contact with the Fuerza Pública and to provide lists of police station locations and other security information.

The download is HERE!

Anti-drug police score
first cocaine border bust

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Being first is not always a good thing. Ask a man with the last name of Espinal Ramos.

The 52-year-old Costa Rican has been nabbed as the first trucker to be caught carrying cocaine at the Peñas Blanca border crossing in 2013, said the Policía de Control de Drogas.

The drug was hidden in the refrigeration system of the trailer, said police.

The anti-drug police said that they found 30 cases of cocaine smuggling at the border in 2012. Confiscated was nearly three tons of the drug and 29 person were detained.

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A.M. Costa Rica
Seventh Newspage

Chili cookoff
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 11
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Global warming called unmistakable

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United Nations' chief science body is meeting in Tasmania as climate scientists urge Australia to prepare for rising sea levels that could put about $300 billion worth of commercial property, infrastructure and homes at risk.  The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change summit in Hobart is the latest round of talks before the release of its fifth major paper in September.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change insists its methods are both vigorous and reliable. The United Nations' main climate agency says the global warming trend is unmistakable and it is defending the science behind its assertion.

More than 250 scientists who will contribute to the September report, have promised to deliver scientifically defensible conclusions when the study is released.

The Intergovernmental Panel meets as Australia confronts a record-breaking heat wave that has sparked widespread wild fires across the country’s southeast.
Rajendra Pachauri, the Intergovernmental Panel chairman, has no doubt that the extreme heat is part of a global warming trend.

Pachauri said he hopes that the international community will rally behind the issue of climate change as it did with previous global efforts designed to stop the depletion of the ozone layer.

“Yes, I am concerned no doubt, but I also have a high opinion of human wisdom that I think, at some stage, we will bring about change," Pachauri said. "I mean, the world did act on the Montreal Protocol, the whole problem of depletion of the ozone layer and it happened very fast.

"Now, I expect that perhaps this, as is the case, is going to take a little longer, but hopefully we will get action across the board.”

Australia’s government-appointed climate commission is also warning that global warming is increasing the risk of scorching heat waves becoming more frequent.  There are concerns too that rising sea levels could threaten the country’s famous beachfront lifestyle.

More than 75 percent of Australians live near the ocean.

But Alan Stokes, the head of the National Sea Change Task force, which represents many coastal councils and communities, says severe flooding in the state of Queensland two years ago has shown how vulnerable low-lying areas can be.

“People all around Australia want to live near the coast," explained Stokes. "They’d like to live as close to it as they can but there is a risk involved, and we don’t want to find ourselves in the position in the next 20, 30 or 90 years of facing frequent extreme flooding events such as those that we saw in Queensland, which could destroy those properties and place people in harm’s way.” 

Climate scientists are concerned that the melting of the Greenland ice sheet could pose serious problems to vulnerable areas elsewhere, including low-lying island nations in the South Pacific that rise barely a few meters above sea level.

The leaders of Kiribati have warned that its entire population of 100,000 people could be forced to migrate if their homes are swamped by the ocean.

Climate change is an issue that divides Australia, a nation that relies on cheap supplies of coal.  Although many people think that society’s reliance on fossil fuels is causing temperatures to rise, others believe that a shifting climate is simply part of a natural cycle and is not caused by man’s excesses.

Two Japanese airlines ground 787s

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Japan's two largest airlines have grounded all their Boeing 787 planes after one of the trouble-plagued new jets made a forced landing when smoke appeared in the cabin.

Several passengers suffered minor injuries when the All Nippon Airways flight made an emergency landing in Takamatsu, on Shikoku island in western Japan, during a flight to Tokyo Wednesday.

Japan's largest air carrier, ANA, and Japan Airlines have grounded all their 787 Dreamliner jets for safety checks. The two airlines operate 24 of the wide-bodied aircraft on international and domestic routes.

The U.S.-based Boeing Co. has sold or has commitments to build more than 800 of the twin-jet, long-range planes for airlines around the world.

A series of recent problems with 787 flights has prompted U.S. air safety investigators to launch a top-priority safety review of the 787.

Previous incidents involved brake and battery problems and a fuel leak aboard three separate 787s.

In the latest instance, ANA said a cockpit message showed battery problems. Some of the 129 passengers on board reported a strange burning smell in the cabin.

Osamu Shinobe , ANA senior executive vice president, bowed deeply as he apologized at a news conference in Tokyo following the emergency landing.

“We are extremely sorry for causing grief to the passengers, their families and those involved. We are sorry.”

ANA says its planes could be in the air as soon as Thursday once safety checks are complete.

The 787 is the first major passenger aircraft built mostly from composite materials rather than metal. Boeing says it consumes 20 percent less fuel than other planes of similar size.

U.S. deportations said to have doubled

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A two-decade shift in funding has put more staff, equipment and screening capabilities to work protecting U.S. borders.  And a recent report by the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute says funding last year for immigration enforcement agencies totaled close to $18 billion, more than $3 billion higher than the combined budgets of the country's other principal law enforcement agencies.

With more money being spent on enforcement, deportations have more than doubled over the past decade, according to the Immigration Policy Center, a non-partisan research group.

Groups that help immigrants adjust in the U.S. say there's more fallout.

"The enforcement factor does play a role and what it more plays a role into is migrants using smugglers and going into organized crime to seek assistance to cross the border," said Jaime Farrant, executive director of Ayuda, which provides legal services to immigrants.
Along the border with Mexico, recent violence has sparked renewed concern.

Volunteers from Jim Gilchrist's Minuteman Project used to help patrol the border until it became too dangerous.  Gilchrist says the $18 billion spent last year on enforcement is not nearly enough.

"You're still seeing a rampant intrusion of vehicles bringing drugs or human cargo in or foot traffic bringing drugs and human cargo in," he said.

There's no shortage of emotion when it comes to immigration and previous efforts at reform have stalled.  But there seems to be a growing consensus in Congress that it may be time to try again.

George Mason University Professor David Hart hopes that's the case.

"We also need to talk about the numbers of people who come to the country, what kinds of people we want immigrating to the country, and we haven't really been able to have those discussions because we've been hung up on the border," he said.

Useful links
Foreign Embassies
in Costa Rica
Ave Central at Calle 120
Pavas, San José. 920-1200
San José, Costa Rica
Call 506 2519-2000
after hours call
506 8863-4895

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Apartado 815-1007
Edificio Centro Colón
(Piso/floor 11)
San José
506 2258 2025

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Building 5, Third floor
Box: 351-1007,  San José
506 2242-4400
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P.O.Box 10285-1000
San José
506 2296-1490

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Box 4017-1000,  San José
506  2290-9091
After hours 506 8381-7968

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