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(506) 2223-1327                     Published Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013,  in Vol. 13, No. 26                Email us
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Barrio Amon
Courtesy of Alliance Française
Amon's barrio
to be toured

Barrio Amón grew up with ox carts and the capital's population. Once the prime suburb, it now is a mixed neighborhood of fantastic homes, storefronts, shabby structures and even houses of ill repute. There will be an historic tour Saturday.

The story is HERE!


Business chamber gives support to a value-added tax
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country's leading business chamber Tuesday endorsed a value-added tax as a way to reduce interest rates and the central government's deficit.

The organization, the Unión Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones del Sector Empresarial Privado, said that high interest rates were due to the need to finance the national deficit and that a value-added levy would reduce tax evasion.

President Laura Chinchilla has been pushing a value-added tax since the beginning of her presidential term, but a tax package that contained such a measure failed to meet constitutional court muster.

The business chamber said that in addition to the new tax system a way had to be found so that residents would be able to deduct a percentage of what they paid in taxes on their income tax. Frequently lawmakers pass a tax that is not deductible, and the Sala IV constitutional court approves of this practice.

With a value-added levy, the tax is paid at each level of production and sale. The supplier of raw materials collects a tax. The producer collected a tax. The distributor collects a tax. The retailer
collects a tax from the customer. Since each makes a report to tax authorities, there is less evasion.

Lawmakers are considering changes in the taxing system, in part because central government officials are worried by the heavy inflow of foreign money seeking relatively high Costa Rican interest rates. For business operators, the higher interest rates translate into what they must pay to borrow money.
The business chamber also urged that government expenses, including salaries, be cut.

The chamber support the Chinchilla administration proposal to give the Banco Central the right to assess a stiff exit tax on so-called speculative money that appears to have entered the country from non-resident sources just for the high interest rates. It also urged the government to continue to use moral persuasion to keep rates down.

A value-added tax would replace the current 13 percent sales tax. Lawmakers also would likely expand the base on which the tax is levied. One proposal was launched in 2006. Ms. Chinchilla proposed a 14 percent value-added tax in 2011. And the plan was to assess the tax on the services of professionals and contract workers, such as lawyers, accountants, physicians and dentists as well as on private health care.

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detained
Judicial Investigating Organization photos
 Robbery suspect is led to a car. Inset shows a pistol that was
 recovered.


Agents find a stickup suspect
who matches their photo

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The message is clear: Potential bus robbers should either wear a mask or pick a vehicle that does not have a security camera.

The robber who stuck up passengers on a Desamparados bus Friday did not heed that warning. And he ended up shooting a passenger in the face who resisted.

When judicial agents launched an investigation, they quickly obtained a photo of the bandit.

The 26-year-old suspect they detained Tuesday near Centro Comercial del Sur matched the description, they said. He is a former security guard.

Agents searched his dwelling in Capri de Desamparados and later searched a residence in San Miguel de Desamaparados where they recovered a 9-mm. pistol, which will be subjected to lab tests.

The victim, who has the last name of Monge, is 22 and is recovering, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.


Wildlife law lacks regulations,
so no fines will be issued yet


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Residents who keep wild animals in captivity are off the hook for awhile.  The Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación said Tuesday that it would not begin immediately to seek out those who are in violation of a new law.

The new Ley de Vida Silvestre prohibits keeping wild animals without appropriate permission. The law, although approved, has not yet been published, but that should take place shortly.

Even though the law will be on the books quickly, the executive secretariat of the conservation agency said that the regulations to the law are not yet prepared and that no action will be taken until that is done.

Until there are regulations approved and published, the agency will not seek out to fine violators or take away animals.  The regulations will cover all sorts of human contact with wildlife.

Violation can bring a fine of up to 600,000 colons or about $1,200. However, the agency said that it will publish information for persons who may have wild animals as pets or on their property  so that they can take appropriate action. That will be done before issuing fines, the agency said.


Firm selected to transfer
cell numbers for customers


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Changing a cell telephone provider but keeping the same number would seem to be an easy task.

But that does not appear to be the case. The Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones said Tuesday that it has selected the Spanish firm Informática El Corte Inglés as the company that will offer this service of portability.

The agency selected the company after the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad could not agree with the four private firms on who should do the job.

There still will be about six months before the system goes into effect, said the Superintendencia. Portability is provided for in the telecom law, but no procedure was specified.

 
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
 HERE!
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 26
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Barrio Amon home
Courtesy of Alliance Française
One of the Barrio Amón mansions that was home to the elite at the beginning of the 20th century
San Jose's first suburb will be location for historic tour Saturday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Barrio Amón is called the first San José suburb, and it is well known for the many early 20th century homes that are there.

Alliance Française plans another of its walks through history Saturday with a tour of the barrio, which is the north side of Avenida 7. This is a continuation of the tours that have taken participants through Barrio México, the downtown Catholic churches, Los Yoses and even the Mercado Central.

The headquarters of the French cultural organization happens to be in Barrio Amón in a restored period home complete with front porch.

The barrio was where the better-off citizens of the community began making their homes after Frenchman Amon Fasileau Duplantier began subdividing his property at the end of the 19th century. The barrio of Amon quickly became Barrio Amón.

The tour requires reservations, and walkers will leave the Alliance Française building at Avenida 7 and Calle 5 at 9 a.m. Saturday, the organization said. The group will return for
brunch there and a discussion of the barrio.

Fasileau came to Costa Rica in 1885 to be in the coffee business. He would not be the last expat to be lured into the real estate business. He installed sidewalks and other infrastructure and began selling lots before the turn of the century.

The area had and still does have a view of the central mountains and volcanoes. Just like today, the developer had his political problems. There was a long-time public laundry facility at the Río Torres to the north, and the developer wanted to remove it for aesthetic reasons. No way, the municipality said, and it was years before the washing area and the lines full of clothing were eliminated.

Alliance Française also has published a list of such walks that will be offered during the year. They include a visit to Heredia April 20, another tour through Barrio México June 8, a visit to the Protestant churches of San José Aug. 10 and a trip to Barrio Escalante Oct. 19.

The tours are 15,000 colons per person including brunch. Reservations are accepted at 2222-2283.


Love doctor wanted a sacrifice to the spirits of the lottery
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An arrest Tuesday has put some light on the magical underground that is alive and well in Costa Rica.

The judicial case involves a presumed warlock who tricked a woman with the promise of winning the lottery.

Expats whose only flirtation with magic has been with Harry Potter movies might be surprised to know that a supposed warlock was working in Montelimar in Calle Blancos. Still, despite its Catholic traditions, the black arts thrive here and in other Latin cultures.

In fact, the Internet has made the dark arts an international business. Online classifieds in Costa Rica feature brujas and occult practitioners from Perú, Argentina and other points in the Latin World. The same can be found in the United States and Canada.

The 29-year-old woman who is the victim in the latest Judicial Investigating Organization case sought a solution to a relationship problem, agents said.

That seems to be a big area for witches and magicians. The usual heading features the Spanish work amarres, which means to tie someone to another. Those who consult the magician seek the return of a lover or perhaps the attentions of a prospective lover.

Of course, there are local witches and warlocks. One in the center of San José maintains a Web site and advertises heavily.

The promises are many:  Rituals to increase the sex drive and passion. Black magic and voodoo to link someone to a partner. Cures for diseases. Cures for injuries. The breaking of spells and white magic to deliver someone from the mal de ojo, the evil eye. Many of the same practitioners will also put the evil eye on an enemy for a price.

There even are Google ads to break spells and also those promoting seers, as well as offers of courses to teach magic and spiritualism.

Online these classifieds are wedged in among some of the lawyer and real estate ads on Spanish-language Web sites There also is one person who brags at having a pact with the Devil and is ready to do all types of witch work long distance via email and, presumably, with some form of payment system.

One practitioner of the dark arts in San José who advertises in Encuentra24 offers a free initial consultation and promises that the lover will return in just 20 minutes.

The offers for tarot readings and horoscopes are many, too.
tarot cards
Judicial Investigating Organization photo
Tarot cards were part of suspect's tools, agents said

Brujas should be distinguished from curanderas. Many of the  latter are simply in the business of providing medicinal plants. Of course, there is a curandero on the Caribbean coast who purportedly extracts tumors and heals major diseases. He also was said to hit on female patients.

The occult has a wide range from exorcists to even veneration of Santa Muerte, the saint of drug dealers.  The day-to-day business mainly is in taking money from the gullible.

Such dabbling in dark forces is not limited to Latins. Every culture has its versions of witches and warlocks. Costa Rica is interesting because the practice, although frowned upon, draws heavily from organized religion. Catholic religious articles, like crucifixes and rosary beads are mixed with human skulls and strange statues. Somewhere in the spectrum is Santería, too.

The woman who was described as the victim by judicial agents got her lead on a brujo through the written press, and the woman assistant who made the initial contact asked for 600,000 colons, about $1,200, agents said. Later the woman had an appointment with the so-called  maestro or brujo who said that in addition to her romance problems he could solve her financial woes, too.

The brujo sought money from her to purchase a full lottery ticket. He put the full ticket or entero into an envelope and later told the woman that she had won 100 million colons, about $200,000. But now, he said, she had to make sacrifices to the spirits who caused her to win. The spirits wanted 5 percent of the winnings. The sacrifice was in the form of cash, a wide-screen television, a dining set and other items, said investigators.

Of course, there was no lottery prize, and the woman eventually went to investigators. That resulted in a raid of the suspect's home and a storefront where the witchcraft is carried out, agents said.  The suspect is 22, according to the agency.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 26
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Central American climate study gives unexpected data
By the University of Pittsburgh news staff

Historic lake sediment dug up by University of Pittsburgh researchers reveals that oceanic influences on rainfall in Central America have varied over the last 2,000 years, highlighting the fluctuating influence the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans have on precipitation.

The Pitt study, published in the February print edition of the peer-reviewed journal Geology, shows that factors currently producing drier climates in Central America actually resulted in wetter conditions a few hundred years ago, providing a deeper understanding of drought cycles in that region of the Western Hemisphere.

The researchers analyzed lake sediment that had accumulated for 1,400 years in Lago El Gancho in Nicaragua to reconstruct climate patterns in the Central American country during the Medieval Climate Anomaly — a warm period roughly spanning the years 950 to 1250—and a 500-year, global cold spell known as the Little Ice Age that began around 1350.

Because of the extreme disparity in climatic conditions they represent, these two time periods contain clues for scientists looking to better understand climate change, said lead study author Nathan Stansell, who did the work while a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh.

“We have a decent understanding of how those systems affect today’s Central American climate, but we wanted to know if those systems operated in similar ways in the past,” said Stansell, now a research fellow at The Ohio State University. “We found that the long-term trends we inferred from the data are not entirely consistent with our modern-day observations.”

Sandwiched between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Lago El Gancho, which is near the city of Granada, became the research team’s choice for examining the variability and influence of the North Atlantic Oscillation — a phenomenon that is the dominant mode of climate variability in the North Atlantic region. The researchers also examined the El Niño/La Niña Southern Oscillation pattern — a quasi-periodic climate pattern occurring every three to seven years or so in the Pacific Ocean.

Using layered mud found in the sediment cores collected in 2004, the team reconstructed past climatic conditions using the radiocarbon ages of charcoal to date the layers. They examined the calcium-carbonate shells of the ostracod crustaceans, small organisms living in lakes, to measure the oxygen isotope ratios commonly studied to identify wet and dry climate cycles.
Nicarguan lake
University of Pittsburgh photo
Lake Gancho near Granada, Nicaragua

The sediments revealed a dramatic change in climatic conditions brought on by the North Atlantic Oscillation. In the modern age, when the North Atlantic is in its “positive” phase, atmospheric pressure anomalies prevent colder Arctic air from plunging south into the lower latitudes of North America, leading to drier conditions in Nicaragua, while negative phases lead to wetter climates.

However, the Pitt team found that during the positive-phase Medieval Climate Anomaly, wetter conditions prevailed alongside the North Atlantic and La Niña patterns. Then, 150 years later, the Little Ice Age chilled the region off, holding a negative North Atlantic phase, and an abrupt shift toward persistently drier conditions occurred. The impact of the El Niño/La Niña Southern Oscillation pattern did not change between the two periods.

How or why did this happen? “There are any number of possible scenarios,” Stansell says. “Most likely, the Northern Hemisphere temperatures affected the atmospheric pressure across the North Atlantic while in a positive phase. When the Oscillation became negative, it would have pushed precipitation to the south, leaving it drier in Nicaragua.

“The main idea here is that the ability of the Atlantic Ocean to exert its influence on precipitation patterns in Central America varied in the past,” Stansell adds.


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Baby boomers less healthy
than their parents, study says

By the University of West Virginia news staff

Despite having a reputation of being the healthiest and most active generation, baby boomers are actually in worse overall health than their parents, according to a new study by researchers at the West Virginia University School of Medicine.

Dana King, head of the university's Department of Family Medicine and lead author on the study, said he and his team were somewhat surprised to find that boomers weren’t as healthy as previously believed. In fact, baby boomers have higher levels of hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and higher rates of disability than their parents.

To conduct the study, King and his team analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination survey for 1988 to1994 and from 2007 to 2010, focusing on respondents who were 46 to 64 years old during either period. The two cohorts were compared in regard to health status, functional and work disability, healthy lifestyle characteristics, and presence of chronic disease.

In addition, while life expectancy is higher for boomers than it was for the previous generation, more boomers are unhealthy by their own admission. King said only one in 10 baby boomers reported being in excellent health compared to one-third of their parents who reported the same.

According to the National Association of Baby Boomers, the generation includes those born between 1946 and 1964, totaling 75 million people. It is the largest group of consumers in the nation.

King said that as baby boomers move into their 60s and 70s, they will utilize the healthcare system more than ever before. Doctors’ offices will be busier than ever before, and the need for healthcare professionals will sky rocket in the next decade.

The study, “The Status of Baby Boomers’ Health in the United States: The Healthiest Generation?,” will appear in the March issue of JAMA Internal Medicine. It was published online on Feb. 4.


U.S. files fraud suit
against Standard & Poor's

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is accusing the nation's largest credit-rating agency, Standard & Poor's, of lying to investors about the quality of complex investments that played a key role in the financial crisis. He said the fraud cost investors billions of dollars, and has filed a lawsuit against the firm.

The securities were bundles of mortgage loans that turned out to be far riskier than their top-level ratings indicated. A commission investigating the crisis said rating agencies were key enablers of the financial meltdown. 

S&P told investors that it would give them an objective evaluation of the securities. Holder said S&P instead gave top ratings to investments it knew were bad because the rating agency was paid by the companies issuing the securities. 

On its company Web site, S&P says its ratings were issued in good faith and not motivated by commercial considerations.

S&P officials say the suit has no legal merit. 

The lawsuit was filed late Monday, and is the first significant federal action against rating agencies, which made substantial profits issuing evaluations of the risk of securities.


Strong quake in Solomons
fails to produce big tsunami


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A powerful 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck near the Solomon Islands early today, triggering a small tsunami that swept into isolated island communities and sparked tsunami alerts across the South Pacific that were later canceled.

Damage reports were limited, and there were no reports of casualties.

The quake struck 340 km (211 miles) east of Kira Kira in the Solomons, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said.
 
A tsunami measuring 0.9 meters (three feet) hit remote Temotu province in the Solomons following the quake, the center said, but it later cancelled warnings for other South Pacific islands, as well as for Australia and New Zealand, as the danger of a major destructive wave passed.

Luke Taula, a fisheries officer in Lata on Santa Cruz Island, which took the brunt of the tsunami, said it arrived in small tidal surges rather than as one large wave.
 
"We have small waves come in, then go out again, then come back in. The waves have reached the airport terminal,'' he said by telephone.

The worst damage would be to villages on the western side of a point that protects the main township, he said.

"There are no casualties reported so far. But there are reports that some communities have been badly hit, their houses have been damaged by the waves.''

About 5,000 people lived in and around the town, but the area was deserted as people fled to higher ground, Taula said, adding that aftershocks were being felt.

The Solomons, perched on the geologically active `Pacific Ring of Fire', were hit by a devastating tsunami following an 8.1 magnitude quake in 2007. At least 50 people were killed then and dozens left missing and more than 13 villages destroyed.

"It's an area that is very prone to earthquakes,'' said Jonathan Bathgate, seismologist at Geoscience Australia. ``We've had seven 6-plus magnitude earthquakes in this region since Jan. 31, so it has been very active in the past week.''

Initial signs were that the tremor was a thrust quake, in which vertical movement in the continental plates generates higher risk of tsunami, Bathgate added.

Authorities in the Solomons, Fiji, Guam and elsewhere had urged residents to higher ground before the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cancelled its alerts.

"The earthquake would have to be quite a bit bigger to make a much more sizable tsunami,'' said Brian Shiro, geophysicist for the center in Hawaii.

"The good news for the folks in the region is that the tsunami appears to be constrained to the areas we've listed in our bulletins and it's not going to be an oceanwide threat.''
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 26
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These are some of the school supplies judicial workers have donated. The school gear will go to youngsters from poor families throughout the country who might not be able to buy the material on their own. Public school starts today.


Quake hits near Montezuma

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Laboratorio de Ingenieria Sismica at the Universidad de Costa Rica said that a 3.2 earthquake took place a minute before 1 a.m. today some 8.7 kilometers (5.4 miles) southeast of the beach town of Montezuma on the tip of the Nicoya peninsula.

Instruments said that the quake was felt moderately in nearby Cóbano.


Election official detained

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents detained an executive of the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones during an investigation of kickback from suppliers.

The suspect, 33, faces a number of allegations related to his job. Agents searched the man's home in Naranjo. The case involves contracts with technology providers.










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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 26
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Korean video
Video shows a U.S. flag over what appears to be New York

North Korean video suggests bombing

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

With another North Korean nuclear test looming, the country’s official Web site, Uriminzokkiri, has posted an unusual video on its YouTube channel showing what appears to be a U.S. city in flames after some kind of attack from space.

The video was soon pulled from the popular video sharing site, apparently for violating copyright laws, according to a message posted in place of the video. Some footage in the video appears to come from the video game Modern Warfare 3 by gamemaker Activision Games, Inc.

The video was uploaded Saturday, and opens with a young North Korean man comfortably sleeping. The rest of the video, which is scored with the 1985 song “We are the World,” is an apparent depiction of his dream.

Most of the video consists of a montage of footage of North Korean rockets blasting off and fantastical depictions of an imaginary North Korean space shuttle orbiting the Earth. In one image, a crowd rejoices, apparently with the news of a unified Korea. There is no narration in the video, but rather a constant scrolling of text.

At about the two-minute mark, the video takes a dark turn as a burning city resembling New York is shrouded in a scorched U.S. flag.

“Somewhere in the United States, black clouds of smoke are billowing,” read the captions. “It seems that the nest of wickedness is ablaze with the fire started by itself.”

The video concludes by returning to images of the sleeping man, as the captions imply his dream will come true.

“Despite all kinds of attempts by imperialists to isolate and crush us … never will anyone be able to stop the people marching toward a final victory,” the captions read.

North Korea is expected to conduct another nuclear test in response to new United Nations sanctions imposed after a December rocket launch.


Hagel says he'll confront new issues

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Barack Obama begins his second term with new challenges overseas.

In nominating former sen. Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, President Obama acknowledged that his team will deal with a changing world.

“Ending the war in Afghanistan and caring for those who have borne the battle, preparing for the full range of threats, from the unconventional to the conventional, including things like cyber security . . . ,” Obama said.

In his Senate confirmation hearing, Hagel said, if confirmed, he would confront new issues as the U.S. brings its troops home from Afghanistan.

"That does not mean the threats we face and will continue to face, are any less dangerous or complicated.  In fact, it is quite the opposite. Recent events in Mali and Algeria remind us clearly of this reality," Hagel said.

Hagel’s fellow Republican, former sen. Richard Lugar, says the new priorities will have to be accomplished with smaller defense budgets and with a Pentagon that is stressed “. . .  as they take a look at all the changes that have to be made, even at a time that we are still at war in Afghanistan, have great responsibilities, for that matter, all over the world, where we still have troops stationed,” Lugar said.

With the administration shifting away from land wars, CIA operations, including drones and targeted killings, may take on a greater role.

“A much less expensive role, if you got it right, than sending battalions of troops and having all the logistic support, but at the same time, requiring extraordinary intelligence resources," Lugar said.
 
A recently revealed Justice Department memo says it's legal for the government to kill U.S. citizens abroad if it believes they are senior al-Qaida leaders working to kill Americans.

President Obama's pick for CIA director, John Brennan, has said targeted killings against certain terrorists are legal, ethical and necessary.

The diplomatic arm of the team is Former sen. John Kerry. He has been confirmed as secretary of State.

Stopping Iran and North Korea from advancing nuclear weapons programs will be an urgent task.

Kerry told the Senate he will do whatever necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
 
"And I repeat here today: Our policy is not containment, it is prevention, and the clock is ticking on our efforts to secure responsible compliance," Kerry said.


Obama tries to avoid mandatory cuts

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Barack Obama has urged Congress to delay automatic spending cuts set for March 1.

Speaking at the White House Tuesday, the president called on lawmakers to quickly pass a package of limited spending cuts and tax reforms until they can come up with a smarter solution to the nation's debt problems. 

Obama acknowledged that reaching agreement on a full budget may not happen before the March 1 deadline. But he cautioned against sweeping reductions.

"We can't just cut our way to prosperity. Deep, indiscriminate cuts to things like education and training, energy and national security will cost us jobs and it will slow down our recovery. It's not the right thing to do for the economy. It's not the right thing for folks who are out there still looking for work. And the good news is this doesn't have to happen," he said.

The $1.2 trillion in cuts to domestic and defense programs are known as a sequester.

Republicans also are in favor of replacing the sequester, but say they disagree with Obama's proposal for more tax increases. In a statement Tuesday, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called on the president to lay out significant spending reforms now that Congress has acted on the tax issue. He warned that the clock is ticking, saying it is time to get serious.

Lawmakers established the automatic budget cuts in August 2011 as part of an agreement to raise the U.S. debt ceiling. The deal specified that the cuts would go into effect this past January if a special supercommittee failed to trim the deficit by an equal amount over a 10-year period.

The supercommittee failed, forcing Congress to act to delay the cuts, which coupled with automatic tax increases, were dubbed the fiscal cliff. But the lawmakers' Jan. 1 agreement, which raised tax rates on the wealthiest Americans, only postponed the cuts for two months.

Obama said there is no reason for thousands of jobs to be put in jeopardy just because lawmakers could not come together to eliminate tax loopholes or government programs that they agree need reform.

"Our economy right now is headed in the right direction, and it will stay that way as long as there aren't any more self-inflicted wounds coming out of Washington," said Obama.

A White House statement said uncertainty around the sequester is already having a negative impact on the nation's economic growth.

Last week, the government reported the U.S. economy contracted unexpectedly in the final three months of last year, partly because of lower defense spending.
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