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(506) 2223-1327                   Published Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013,  in Vol. 13, No. 32                Email us
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Expat advocate groups take the battles to Washington
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Overseas American week ends Friday, but that does not mean there is an obligation to take an overseas American to lunch.

This is the time of year when advocate for overseas Americans meet with U.S. lawmakers and staffers to discuss problems confronting expats.

One group will be meeting with U.S. House Ways and Means Committee staffers to deal with banking and taxes. Others will be discussing passport services with the U.S. State Department, according to American Citizens Abroad.

That group is joined by Association of Americans Resident Overseas and the Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas.

There are many issues, but the overriding one is current U.S. tax policy that seems to suspect every expat of being a tax criminal.

A.M. Costa Rica's tax columnists addressed this issue Wednesday. The  Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act creates additional reporting requirements for U.S. taxpayers and another form to do it. Those expats who own corporations, either for businesses or to protect assets like a car or house, face additional reporting.

The law known as FATCA is the U.S. policy that has caused foreign banks to cancel the accounts of U.S. citizens because of U.S. government requirements. Even in Costa Rica foreigners are having trouble opening bank accounts if they do not have residency.

Ostensibly the policy is to reduce money laundering, but like many U.S. security measures they impose hardship indiscriminately on expats.
There are expats in Costa Rica living in fear that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service will bring criminal charges against them because of the confusing and difficult ways to comply with FATCA.

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act was enacted in 2010 and requires foreign banks to report U.S. account holders to the IRS. Plus, the institutions must impose a 30 percent tax on payments or transfers to account holders who refuse to identify themselves. To avoid withholding, an institution must enter into an agreement with the IRS to: identify U.S. accounts, report certain information to the IRS, and withhold 30 percent on certain payments to those unwilling to provide the required information.

Banks that will not do this face penalties.

The three organizations also are pushing for a residency-based tax system. The United States is one of a few countries that taxes income that its citizens earn overseas.  A major impediment for Americans living and working around the globe is their present double tax liability under the current citizenship-based taxation, the organizations said on an Overseas Americans Week Web site.

The organizations say that by taxing Americans just on money earned in the United States actually would mean more tax income. The system also would make Americans more competitive in the international labor force, they said.

There are other issues that cause headaches for expats. Among these are certain rules regarding citizenship of offspring. Then there is Social Security and Medicare, which is not available for overseas Americans.

The issues, many of them complex, are discusssd HERE!


two types
                        of stoves
 BUN-CA Fundación Red de Energía                                        A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson 
Modern stove in use in Nicaragua and the traditional open firebox type used here
Modern stove proposed for urban and rural cooking
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

When forced to live a life of frugality due to a need to survive with a low income, small tasks like cooking dinner on a stove becomes a problem.

In rural regions of the country, many cooks solve the dilemma by preparing meals over a blaze created from firewood. Over the years the act has become a cultural tradition.

BUN-CA Fundación Red de Energía, a Central American organization that educates on efficient energy choices, is taking this concept and promoting a modern wood stove that both rural and urban citizens can use.  It will be an alternative to electric or liquefied petroleum stoves, and a more eco-friendly choice to the old fashioned wood stoves.

"BUN-CA is promoting access to more clean forms for the cooking of food by the poorest users and creating micro-financing channels," said José María Blanco, regional director.

The gathering of wood would not be a problem in this case.  According to data collected by BUN-CA, 50 percent of primary energy sources in some Central American countries come from the intensive use of wood.
One brand, called Móviles, is manufactured with iron, and the combustion chamber is made with elements of clay.  It is much lighter than clay-cement stoves normally seen.  It also has a sheet to cook tortillas, and burners of different diameters on which to place the pots.

"An important application for Central Americans is the wood-burning stove to cook the dough for tortillas, pupusas, as well as other corn products that are sold in the streets and markets of major cities," said Blanco.

Depending on the model, the stove may cost between $30 and $150 dollars, he said.

Another positive to the stove is that it is an energy source that is safer and reduces smoke pollution. The design reduces the problem of combustion of typical wooden stoves, which Blanco said are a waste of wood and emit large amounts of smoke in the areas where they were located. The result is respiratory problems, especially in women and infants, he said.

This initiative is just one part of the organization's Programa Regional de Energía y Pobreza en Centro América to improve the quality of life of the most vulnerable Central American populations. The other half is to create small hydroelectric plants.

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Dry season continues to see
many respiratory problems


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire service reports

The dry season continues to see viral and bacterial infections that result in respiratory problems, vomiting and  diarrhea.

The Minsterio de Salud said there are about 70 cases a week, although the count only includes those cases that resulted in clinic or hospital treatment.

The young appear to suffer the most with the return to school Feb. 6 exposing many more children to rotoviruses and various respiratory infections.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization continues to count those sickened by a new virus.  A third patient in Britain has contracted a new SARS-like virus, becoming the second confirmed British case in a week and showing the deadly infection is being spread from person to person, health officials said on Wednesday.

The latest case, in a man from the same family as another patient, brings the worldwide number of confirmed infections with the new virus, known as novel coronavirus, or NCoV, to 11. Of those, five have died. Most of the infected lived or had recently been in the Middle East. Three have been diagnosed in Britain.

NCoV was identified when the World Health Organization issued an international alert in September 2012 saying a virus previously unknown in humans had infected a Qatari man who had recently been in Saudi Arabia.

The virus belongs to the same family as SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, a coronavirus that emerged in China in 2002 and killed about a tenth of the 8,000 people it infected worldwide. Symptoms common to both viruses include severe respiratory illness, fever, coughing and breathing difficulties.

Costa Rican health officials reported that a teen in Pérez Zeledón died of a respiratory infection last month, but he was in poor general health.

Hand washing is the recommended protection against rotoviruses and other pathogens like E. coli, salmonella, shigella and clostridium, according to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, which runs the hospitals.

In fact, the Caja reported that in 2011 diarrhea in youngsters under 10 was cut by 80 percent in Coto Brus with a hand-washing campaign.


Rock festival date changed
to ensure top quality

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The seventh edition of the rock festival in the Templo de la Música of Parque Morazán has changed its date to Feb. 23 at 11 a.m. and Feb. 24 from noon.

The festival is an extended measure of the monthly program ““Rock en el Farolito,” hosted by Darren Mora of the Centro Cultural de España en Costa Rica.

According to a release, the date was changed so organizers could make sure the festival would be of the best quality. Some genres of music on the schedule are pop, rock, punk, metal, indie, funk and electronic music.

"Over the six years the festival has congregated on one stage, already established artists and others emerging,” said Mora.  “This event allows you to see all the variety of styles of rock in a single concert scene, and it is totally free."

More than 15 bands are scheduled to perform.


Bill would create new way
to secure business loans


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The central government has presented lawmakers with a bill that is designed to expand the credit possibilities of mall- and medium-size businesses.

The bill would create what is known as garantías mobiliarias to secure loans. This would be an option in addition to traditional mortgages. Companies would be able to offer inventory, cash flow or other assets. The goal is to expand the credit available for firms. The concept is similar to that of a chattel mortgage that is used to secure moveable goods under English and U.S. law.

The bill was put forward by President Laura Chinchilla and Mayi Antillón, minister of Economía, Industrias y Comercio.  The measure is taken from a model law proposed by the Organization of American States. The model bill calls for the creation of a registry where the goods or asset that is embargoed will be made known to the public.


 
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.
Click a story for the summary






























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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 32
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Casa Presidencial puts positive spin on search by prosecutors
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Casa Presidencial is putting a positive spin on a raid there conducted by judicial investigators and prosecutors Wednesday.

The target of the raid was Carlos Ricardo Benavides, the minister of the Presidencia, basically the president's chief of staff.

Wednesday night Casa Presidencial issued a statement that quoted Benavides as saying that "The fiscal general contacted me to look over some documents and I agreed immediately." Agents took away his office computer.

The investigation is about influence peddling.

According to Casa Presidencial, Benavides is helping prosecutors with an investigation of a sitting member of the
Asamblea Legislativa. This is another one of those disclosures by the Spanish Language La Nación that resulted in quick action by prosecutors.

The lawmaker, Wálter Céspedes of the opposition Partido Unidad Socialcristiano, appears to have sought government jobs for family members by contacting Benavides via email.

What makes matters worse is that Céspedes has been an interrogator of Benavides at legislative committee sessions on the subject of the suspicious contracts issued to build a roadway along the Río San Juan, the country's northern border.

The Casa Presidencial statement said that prosecutors only wanted to look at Benevides' computer, but he told them to take it away. He said they did not have a judicial order to remove it. And anyway it was his secretary's computer and not his, the statement said.


Small increase proposed for the nation's fleet of taxis
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's regulatory agency is proposing to increase the price for taxis by a small amount. For normal travel, taxi drivers would be able to charge 5 colons, about 1 U.S. cent, more for the first kilometer and 10 colons more for additional kilometers. Increases for taxis that carry the disabled would be slightly higher.

The proposed rate for taxis would have been more except that the formula used by the Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicas included the fact that a liter of super gasoline has decreased 100 colons, the agency said.

The agency used the exchange rate, the minimum salary for a
 taxi driver and fuel prices to fix the rate.

Now passengers pay 590 colons for the first kilometer, about $1.18, and 585 colons for additional kilometers.

The distance is measured on a meter in the taxi. Rates for additional kilometers for rural taxis are higher.

There is a similar increase proposed for taxis from Juan Santamaría international airport. The agency seeks a 15 colon increase for both the first kilometer and additional ones. The agency estimated overall the increase would be about 2 per cent.

The public has until Wednesday to make comments on the proposals.


Youth singers
Youth Singers of Calgary photo
Young singers are pictured in a previous performance
Young singers from Calgary will perform next week in Jacó
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Youth Singers of Calgary, a group from Alberta, Canada, will perform for the first time on a Costa Rican stage Tuesday at Teatro Jacó. 

At this venue the theater will present a talent night where individual and small groups of the ensemble will show the audience their talents, a release said.

Shirley Penner formed Youth Singers of Calgary in 1985.  Darlene Dusevic and Tricia Penner joined her team, and together they developed a program that allowed youth to communicate through music, dance and theater.
The Youth Singers of Calgary have won numerous awards and competitions and have performed with such stars as Roch Voisine, Reba McEntire, Sarah Brightman, Kenny Rogers and Paul Brandt to name a few, spokespersons said, adding: 

“Their international tours have taken their productions across Canada, the United States, Europe, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, Bahamas and South America.”

Talent night begins at 8 p.m. and is free to the public.  After the performance, the group will tour the country.

For more information about The Youth Singers of Calgary visit www.youthsingers.org.

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 32
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jaguar
Conservation Internaitonal/tropical Ecology
Assessment and Monitoring Network photo

This jaguar in the Manu national park in Perú seemed to be fascinated by the camera. The animal stayed around for 90 photos and became the 1 millionth taken by the network.

Camera trap researchers
snag their 1 millionth shot

For more than five years, the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring Network has been collecting camera-trap images of animals in tropical forests. The network started in Brazil and has now collected data on trees, terrestrial vertebrates and climate in 16 tropical forests in 14 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America. This year, the network announced it has taken its millionth camera-trap image.

Among the sites monitored by the network is the area around the Barva volcano in the Costa Rican central mountains.

A gigantic African elephant, a family of chimpanzees and an elusive jaguar all make for beautiful photographs.

But more than just pretty pictures, these images house important biodiversity data, said the network. By analyzing these data, scientists can learn how biodiversity is affected by climate and land-use change over time. Because the data are collected repeatedly at each site using standardized methods, researchers can more easily compare sites and examine changes over time. This information is invaluable to protected area managers aiming to conserve species biodiversity, which provides the building blocks of healthy ecosystems and the provisioning of ecosystem services critical to human well-being, said the network.

Although the images are “captured” by automated camera traps responding to both movement and temperature, the protocol for setting up and collecting the cameras, processing the images and identifying the animals is an intensive process. Site managers — local scientists with university degrees in ecology and biology — lead teams of technicians who set up and collect the camera traps. This often involves spending days in the field, enduring fluctuating temperatures, rough terrain and threats from dangers like falling trees and venomous snakes, said the network.

After collecting the camera traps, the site managers review each image to identify the animals. In some locations, like the Republic of Congo, there can be upwards of 60,000 images per collection season. All of this information is then uploaded to the a web portal, where it is made freely available to anyone who wishes to examine the data.

The Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring Network is a partnership between Conservation International, the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Smithsonian Institution and the Wildlife Conservation Society. Many of the photos are HERE!


Genetic study seeks to count
long vanished humpbacks


By the Wildlife Conservation Society news staff

Scientists from Stanford University, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the American Museum of Natural History, and other organizations are closing in on the answer to an important conservation question: how many humpback whales once existed in the North Atlantic?

Building on previous genetic analyses to estimate the pre-whaling population of North Atlantic humpback whales, the research team has found that humpbacks used to exist in numbers of more than 100,000 individuals. The new, more accurate estimate is lower than previously calculated but still two to three times higher than pre-whaling estimates based on catch data from whaling records.

Known for its distinctively long pectoral fins, acrobatics, and haunting songs, the humpback whale occurs in all the world’s oceans. Current estimates for humpback whale numbers are widely debated, but some have called for the level of their international protection to be dropped.

“We’re certain that humpback whales in the North Atlantic have significantly recovered from commercial whaling over the past several decades of protection, but without an accurate size estimate of the pre-whaling population, the threshold of recovery remains unknown,” said Kristen Ruegg of Stanford University and the lead author of the study. “We now have a solid, genetically generated estimate upon which future work on this important issue can be based.”

“Our current challenge is to explain the remaining discrepancy between the historical catch data and the population estimate generated by genetic analyses,” said Howard Rosenbaum, study co-author and director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Ocean Giants Program. “The gap highlights the need for continued evaluations of whale populations, and presents new information informing the debate and challenges associated with recovery goals.”

“We have spent a great deal of effort refining the techniques and approaches that give us this pre-whaling number,” said Steve Palumbi of Stanford. “It’s worth the trouble because genetic tools give one of the only glimpses into the past we have for whales.”

Reaching some 50 feet in length, the humpback whale was hunted for centuries by commercial whaling fleets in all the world’s oceans. Humpbacks had predictable migration routes and were reduced to several hundred whales in the North Atlantic. The global population was reduced by possibly 90 percent of its original size. The species received protection from the International Whaling Commission in North Atlantic waters in 1955 due to the severity of its decline.

Since that time, the humpback whales of the North Atlantic have made a remarkable comeback. Experts estimate the current size of the North Atlantic’s humpback whale population to be more than 17,000 animals. North Atlantic humpback whales are now one of the best-studied populations of great whales in the world and the mainstay of a multi-million dollar whale-watching industry.

But estimating the number of whales that existed prior to commercial whaling is a far more difficult problem, critical in determining when the total population has recovered. Historical catch data from the logs of whaling vessels suggest a population size between 20,000 to 46,000 whales, but the current genetic analysis indicates a much larger pre-whaling population. The results of the genetic analysis indicate that the North Atlantic once held between 45,000 to 235,000 humpback whales (with an average estimate of 112,000 animals).

A previous study using the mitochondrial DNA of humpbacks in the North Atlantic suggested a higher pre-whaling population size; an average of 240,000 individuals. To increase the accuracy of the current analysis, the team measured nine segments in the DNA sequences throughout the genome as opposed to just one DNA segment used in the previous study.

Palumbi, who participated in the first humpback genetic analysis, added: “The International Whaling Commission reviewed the results of the first study and recommended we improve the method in six specific ways. We’ve done that now and have the best-ever estimate of ancient humpback populations.”

Scott Baker, Associate Director of Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute and a co-author said: “These genetic estimates greatly improve our understanding of the genetic diversity of humpback whales, something we need to understand the impact of past hunting and to manage whales in the uncertain future.”
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7695-1/19/14

Lovely cottage on private coffee farm
One spacious bedroom, one bath, office room/spare room with high speed DSL internet, fully equipped kitchen, phone line,
Sarchi cottage
balcony with beautiful view, especially at night with the far off lights of San José. Farm is gated and guarded, private and peaceful, owner on-site. Sarchi is a quiet small town about 30-40 min from the airport, a perfect base to explore from and also get a
feel for normal, day-to-day Tico life. Rental is $575 per month, 3 months minimum. All utilities included. Shorter stays at $45 per night, 2 nights minimum. $225 per week, and $30 per additional night. Sorry, no pets.  Contact jogya345@yahoo.com or 8308-7732.
7840-3/11/13

Palmares
                                    rental properties
Homes for rent
in Palmares, Alajuela

Visit our Web page for more information.
www.palmarescostarica.us
7819-4/29/13

COMPLETELY and nicely furnished large 2-bedroom
apartment view
apartment. Fast Internet, cable TV, hot water. Large American appliances including washer and dryer. Convenient location in downtown, San José. All bills paid except electric. $600 per month. Contact: rentnowcr@gmail.com or call 8555-9819.
7843-3/12/13

prime
                                    properties
ATTENTION EXPATS:
 
We have many prime properties available for long-term rentals.
Rohrmoser
Escazú
Santa Ana
 

  rentals.sanjose@gmail.com
7837-3/12/13

Beautiful Golfito house for rent
in Costa Rica: $300/month

Available now and please see the video!
New construction includes some wooden stairs to the main gate and a small pavilion above the house overlooking the village. The distance to Golfito harbor/downtown is 7 kms and you can get there by car, taxi or bus. The rent is $300/month, which is very reasonable for those who want to live near sea and Panamá in an inexpensive lifestyle. It was so nice to live near Panamá where people can shop for much lower prices including for groceries. Please contact me at berosyyourlife@hotmail.com for more details. Thank you.
7800-2/22/13

Palacio condo
Beautiful 2-bedroom, 2-bath modern condo for rent.
(Only 6 years old).
Great Secure Area, Next to 5-Star Hotel Palacio (La Uruca). Gated community, 24-hour security, 5 minutes to San José. Swimming Pool, washer/dryer, covered parking, high-speed Internet, cable TV, home phone! $900 per month, fully furnished, 6-Month minimum! Please Call: 001-954-782-0200 or email jas21358@comcast.net
7780-2/21/13

Volcano View!
Santo Domingo de Heredia, gated community
Fully furnished, 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, cable, internet, hot water tank. 300 meters from Mas x Menos supermarket. 700 meters from farmers' market. Bus stop at gate. $600 all utilities paid. Available Jan. 1. cinclus@ice.co.cr
7680-12/28/12

ALAJUELA – SERENE LIVING – MONTHLY $800 TO $1,200
Villas Casa Loma has everything you are looking for.  Best vistas, climate, value.  Four unique homes in a secure private compound on a ridge near Alajuela overlooking the entire Central Valley.  Two are available fully furnished and equipped, each a complete home accommodating 4 persons in two bedrooms with ensuite baths.  Pool, rancho, mirador, other features.  Ask about part-month rates.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at gerrybuilt2000@yahoo.com.  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.

7551-10/25/12


Business wanted (free category)

Also see business opportunity section on main classified page.

Accommodations offered (free category)
I am a 39-year-old Gringo who has lived in Costa Rica for 4 years (in my current condo for 2 years).  I am looking to share my fully furnished (washer and dryer, Color TV, 2 refrigerators, microwave, beds, appliances, utensils, everything), 850 square feet, 2 bedroom condo in  San Rafael de Escazu with someone of either gender, Gringo or Tico/Tica. My condo is located 800 meters north of KFC (Florencia Condominio). Pictures of the condo are available upon request. If you are honest, responsible (i.e. pay the rent on time), and have no criminal record, feel free to call me (8618-5657) or e-mail me. Rent is $300 per month plus 1/2 utilities (average - $75/month total - electric/power, water, maid, high speed internet, Cable TV with 90 channels). No pets allowed (owners' rule, not mine). Rent is paid from the 8th to the 8th!
1/3/13


Accommodations, property wanted (free category)

Established Costa Rican company is looking for office space of about 8000 sq. ft. (750 sq. meters) to lease on a long term basis in the Pavas-Rohmoser area.  Must have ample parking available.  Prefer one level but will consider two. Please call Bobby at 8534-8122.
2/8/13


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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 32
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U.S. cyber protection bill
generates flap over privacy


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. privacy and technology activists are preparing for a new round of fighting against an information-sharing bill they say will let private companies help the government spy on the American public.
 
They’re troubled by the Cyber Intelligence Security Protection Act, which passed the House of Representatives last year but failed to get through the Senate. House members Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberg are hoping to have more success passing it this year. They re-introduced the legislation at a cyber security talk in Washington Wednesday.
 
Supporters say the bill will help the government defend private companies and federal agencies from cyber attacks from countries like Iran and China, as well as hacker groups like Anonymous.
 
"American industry is under attack, costing our country and our economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs,” Ruppersberger said in a statement. “ We need to do everything we can to enable American companies to defend themselves against these devastating cyber attacks. Our bill does just that by permitting the voluntary sharing of critical threat intelligence while preserving important civil liberties."
 
Not everyone is convinced.
 
The American Civil Liberties Union says the bill allows companies to turn over sensitive Internet records to the National Security Agency and the Defense Department without making a reasonable effort to protect the public’s privacy.
 
Sharon Bradford Franklin of The Constitution Project told The Washington Post the bill is flawed. She expressed concern about what information companies can hand over to government, saying “Congress must also address the very real threat this legislation poses to Americans' privacy rights and civil liberties.”
.
The ACLU is urging U.S. citizens to fight for their right to online privacy.
 
“If the House wants smart cyber legislation that also protects privacy, it needs to ensure that the programs are civilian-led, minimize the sharing of sensitive personal information between government and corporations, and protect collected information from non-cyber uses,” the group said.
 
Criticism of the bill swelled on Twitter Wednesday.


Homeland Security chief
addresses immigration


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony about immigration reform Wednesday, hours after President Barack Obama called for immigration reform in his State of the Union address to Congress.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told senators many changes need to be made and sustained for comprehensive reform.  She said the U.S. immigration system is broken and hurting our country.

"Our immigration system is not working," she said.  "Our communities, workers and employers are all frustrated by a system that treats a drug smuggler the same as a high-achieving student."

Ms. Napolitano's testimony was interrupted by screaming protesters who entered the chamber with signs that said "No more deportation."  Police quickly restored order in the room.

Others testifying include Jose Antonio Vargas, the founder of Define American, and Chris Crane, the president of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council.

Latino activists have criticized Obama for failing to make immigration reform a priority of his first term.

Last month, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a plan under which illegal immigrants would register with the government, pass a background check, pay fines and back taxes, and complete other steps to earn a probationary status to legally live and work in the United States.  They would then be placed at the back of the line for those seeking a so-called green card as a permanent legal resident.

The plan includes exceptions for those who entered the country as children, as well as for agricultural workers who play a role in maintaining the nation's food supply.


Proposal for U.S.-EU treaty
drawing mixed reviews

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Barack Obama’s push for a trans-Atlantic free-trade agreement in his annual State of the Union address is being welcomed by European leaders, but it could be years before an agreement is in place.

Though it was only a 15-second snippet in President Obama's hour-long address Tuesday, the trade proposal could mean a new chapter in U.S. relations with the European Union.

"Tonight I'm announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive trans-Atlantic trade and investment partnership with the European Union because trade that is fair and free across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs," Obama said.

The E.U. and the U.S. aim to begin formal talks on a wide-ranging trade partnership in June.

In Brussels Wednesday, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said the agreement has the potential to generate tens of thousands of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

"A future deal between the world's two most important economic powers will be a game changer," Barroso said. "Together, we will form the largest free-trade zone in the world."

European Commission trade negotiator Karel de Gucht hopes a deal can be reached in the next two years. Negotiators are expected to first deal with reducing tariffs, then will try to align regulatory systems around common safety and product standards.

"If we are in a position to set standards together with the United States, they have a good chance to become the global standards," Gucht says. "And that's of the foremost importance for our industry."
​​
The deal has been greeted warmly by some members of Congress and the international business community.

European officials have wanted a free trade pact for 30 years, according to Fred Irwin of the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany.

"The business relationship between the U.S. and the E.U. is very positive at the moment," he said. "But the free trade zone outlined in President Obama's State of the Union Address would reduce expenses because it would eliminate tariffs and encourage trade between the two regions, the E.U. and the United States."

However, there are some doubts in the United States. On Wednesday, the two senior U.S. senators on the committee that oversees trade wrote to the U.S. Trade Representative that any deal would have to grant U.S. farmers access to Europe's markets. In addition, they said a deal could not weaken U.S. regulatory standards and must protect intellectual property rights.

European farmers have traditionally been very influential in keeping tight trade restrictions on agricultural products. Disagreements on genetically modified foods and environmental standards between the two sides will also have to be hammered out before any deal can go into effect.

Even if talks start in June, it could be years before a deal goes into force. It took more than six years to enact the U.S. free trade agreement with South Korea, and four years to complete a deal with Canada and Mexico.

But E.U. officials say they're optimistic that the political will exists in Washington to made the deal happen.


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 32
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Latin America news
French ambassador
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto photo
Fabrice Delloye is leaving his post here as the French ambassador, so as is traditional, he was honored with a decoration by Costa Rica, here being awarded by Enrique Castillo, foreign minister.


Dead passenger in auto
discovered after a chase


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents are investigating a strange death in Heredia.

Police received a call about 11 p.m. Tuesday of a man being beaten up in the center of Heredia. When Fuerza Pública officers approached, a car containing three men took off and led police on a chase that ended in Barreal de Heredia.

That is when officers found the man in the front passenger seat to be dead. He was later identified by the last name of Murillo. He was 34 years old.

The other two men in the car were held for investigation, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Death appears to be an accident in another incident that took place Wednesday afternoon in Curridabat.

Agents said that security guards were changing shifts at a condominium about 1 p.m. As they exchanged a weapon, it went off, killing a man identified later by the last name of Mora, agents said.


European leader speaks
to Asamblea Legislativa


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Martín Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, spoke to lawmakers Wednesday. He is visiting along with other European delegates. He praised the country as one of peace and one rich in natural and human resources.














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A.M. Costa Rica
Seventh Newspage


San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 32
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World Radio Days
Logo of World Radio Day

Many voices cite unifying role of radio

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Wednesday was World Radio Day. The United Nations describes it as a day to celebrate the medium and encourage major networks and community radio to promote freedom of expression.

The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization says radio continues to evolve during the digital age. But it says radio is still the medium that reaches the widest audience worldwide. It can save lives during disasters and allow journalists to report the facts.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said that following the Korean War, it was radio that served as a lifeline to the outside world.

“We had radio. And radio helped open my eyes and ears to the world. Since its invention more than a hundred years ago, radio has sparked the imagination, opened the doors for change and served as a channel for life-saving information. Radio entertains, educates and informs. It promotes democratic expression and influences ideas,” he said.

Radio is a big part of U.N. operations.

“From shortwave to FM to satellite transmission, radio connects people wherever they are. In conflict situations and times of crisis, radio is a lifeline for vulnerable communities. Radio is both valuable and cost effective. From day one, the United Nations has been using radio to reach the peoples of the world,” he said.

Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu said that radio can give a voice to the world’s youth.

“On World Radio Day, I encourage radio stations across the world to open up new opportunities for youth to get involved to be a part of the conversation and for communities to start listening to what youth have to say. Give them the space they deserve and help them to grow so they can in turn help themselves,” he said.

Lori Taylor is founder and CEO of Native Public Media, which serves the Native American. She said that she first heard radio when she was 10 years old on the Hopi Indian reservation in northeast Arizona. A tourist had given her grandfather a battery operated radio.

“My village is a place where there is no electricity, running water or broadband to this day. This is not uncommon across Indian country. Over 90 percent of Native Americans are not connected to broadband. Only one in three families on some tribal homelands have access to analog telephone. Against this stark reality radio is the medium that is able to reach some of the most rural and isolated native communities in the United States,” she said.

The idea of World Radio Day was first proposed by Spain.


Online love scams can do damage

By the Economic and Social Research Council news service

As international criminal gangs increasingly target online dating and social networking sites, as a means of extorting money from unwary victims, research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council suggests that new strategies are needed for tackling the crime and supporting its victims.

The research, which was carried out by Monica Whitty of University of Leicester and Tom Buchanan of the University of Westminster, argues that the police, policy makers, doctors and dating companies need to take into account the emotional state of those who have been conned in order to prevent the crime, bring criminals to justice and support victims effectively.

"Professionals need to understand the awful details of this crime," said Ms. Whitty. "In romance scams, people have to deal not just with losing thousands of pounds. They have to deal with the psychological trauma of being both robbed and jilted by a lover."

Almost 230,000 people in the UK have been conned by online romance fraudsters since 2007, according to the study. The criminals pretend to be seeking a relationship, using a fake profile and traditional grooming techniques in order eventually to extort money from their would-be lover.

The study suggests that dating companies need to issue clear warnings on their sites so that users are aware of potential dangers before they fall in love. Although some people interviewed by Ms. Whitty became suspicious when they were asked for money, they were so infatuated with their fictional sweetheart by that time that they chose to ignore the warning signs.

"Daters need to be told, from the moment they sign up, that if a person is not willing to meet them in the first month they should move on. They also need to be told never to respond to requests for money. Dating companies could target advice at particularly vulnerable individuals especially those with high romantic ideals, previous mental health problems or a history of abuse" said Ms. Whitty.

The study shows that victims are often in denial when they are told that their lover is a fiction invented by criminal gangs to extort money. This has important implications for police work since it means that they are vulnerable to a second wave of attack. Furthermore, victims can feel suicidal when the scam is exposed. The study recommends that the police call in health professionals as soon as the crime is reported. Doctors should also be made aware of these suicidal tendencies.

If courts don't recognize the psychological trauma of the witnesses, there is a potential for cases to be jeopardized and criminals to remain unprosecuted, Ms. Whitty said she believes. "Imagine having to confront a criminal in court when you had believed them to be the love of your life," says Ms. Whitty. Standing in the witness box could be extremely intimidating. She suggests that new policies are needed, which identify victims of romance scams as vulnerable witnesses with the right to give their evidence via a video-link.

Ms. Whitty has been working closely with courts in several romance scam cases. Much of her advice has already been taken on board. She is also working with the Serious Organised Crime Agency in the UK as well as with international crime prevention organizations.


American, US Airways agree to merge

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

American Airlines, the biggest passenger airline in the United States, has reached an agreement to merge with smaller competitor US Airways, creating the world's largest airline.

The boards of the two airlines agreed to the merger late Wednesday night. A formal announcement will be made today.

The combined company, which will retain the American Airlines name, will have about 94,000 employees and a fleet of more than 900 planes servicing thousands of flights every day.

The American Airlines-US Airways merger is the latest of its kind in the U.S. aviation industry in the past decade, leaving just four major U.S. airlines: American, Delta, United and Southwest.

US Airlines pursued a merger since the larger American Airlines began operating under bankruptcy protection in late 2011. US Airways overcame American's initial refusal to the idea by winning support from its competitor's three major unions, who were unhappy with American Airlines management about contract concessions.

The move convinced American's creditors that a merger would allow the airline to remain in business.

The merger will still have to be approved by U.S. federal regulators and the judge handling the bankruptcy.
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

U.S. embassy logo
Click for Web
British logo
Click for Web
Apartado 815-1007
Edificio Centro Colón
(Piso/floor 11)
San José
506 2258 2025

Oficentro La Sabana
Building 5, Third floor
Box: 351-1007,  San José
506 2242-4400
Canadian flag
Click for Web
Dutch flag
Click for Web
Oficentro la Sabana,
P.O.Box 10285-1000
San José
506 2296-1490

Torre Sabana, 8° floor,
Sabana Norte.
Box 4017-1000,  San José
506  2290-9091
After hours 506 8381-7968

German flag
Click for Web
Other foreign embassies in Costa Rica
Click HERE!

Costa Rican embassies in the world
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Teatro Nacional
Drama, dance, theater
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HERE!
Jacó Beach Cinema
2643-2100
HERE!
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Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia
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Current weather


Instituto Meteorological Nacional
Instituto Meteorological
HERE!


U.S. National
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Information Service

HERE!


NOAA
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Turrialba volcano
Live camera
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Arenal volcano is HERE!
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U.S.G.A.
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Seismeographics
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Live reports of quakes
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recorder display
Vehicles
INS
Instituto Nacional
de Seguros
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Vehicle inspection
appointments
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Riteve link
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Policía de Tránsito
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Immigration
Dirección General
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Appointment to renew
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900-00-DIMEX (900-00-34639)
Or click HERE!

Banco de Costa Rica
Community groups
Association of Residents of Costa Rica
HERE!
Community alliance
Apdo 384-4250
San Ramón de Alajuela, Costa Rica
www.actionalliancecr.com
Phone: 8333-8750
e-mail: info@actionalliancecr.com


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