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Published Monday, Sept. 5, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 175
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Candidates asked for their positions on expat issues
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An expat advocacy organization wants the leading U.S. presidential candidates to outline their positions on a number of issues affecting overseas Americans.

The issues range from being short-changed on U.S. Social Security pensions to aspects of the Foreign Bank Account Reporting Act.

The organization is American Citizens Abroad, and the letters to both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump highlight some of the complex issues facing U.S. expats.

Among other issues, the letters seek the opinion of candidates on H.R. 3078, the Presidential Commission on Americans Overseas Act, which would ask for a comprehensive study to investigate how the federal government and its regulations serve United States citizens who live outside of the country.

Other positions of candidates sought by the letters include:

* on a proposed reform of the U.S. tax system to a residence-based system, like every one of the 50 states, and like virtually every other country in the world. Such a change would mean overseas U.S. taxpayers would not have to report income earned outside the country. The system now is citizenship based.

* on an effort to provide a same-country exception to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act so that U.S. expats would not have to report bank accounts they use to pay bills and receive payments if the account is in

the same country in which they live.  Current law treats Americans living abroad like
criminal tax evaders, even though the vast majority of these Americans are simply maintaining bank accounts overseas for their work, personal and retirement needs, American Citizens Abroad said.

* on legislation to remove the foreign bank account reporting requirement for U.S. citizens who have signatory authority for corporate and business accounts. Many overseas Americans are being refused positions as chief financial officers, treasurers and similar jobs due to this requirement that effectively opens up private foreign corporations and business accounts to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service for no legitimate reason, the organization said.

* on a legal change to insure that Americans overseas are not refused, denied or have their passport revoked from errors resulting from the newly instituted passport revocation provision for back-taxes owed. The measure passed as part of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act.

* on the extent of  support for the National Taxpayer Advocate Report's recommendation for Americans living and working overseas which requires the IRS commissioner to reply to its specific points.

American Citizens Abroad also noted that it is working for changes in a proposed U.S. law that would stop foreign donations that affect U.S. elections. The measure requires donations to come from credit card accounts that have a U.S. billing address, something some expats do not have, said the organization.

U.S. will bankroll another anti-drug checkpoint
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The United States government will be investing more money for Costa Rica to fight drugs and illegal immigration.

This time Washington will subsidize the construction of a bigger and more elaborate checkpoint building at Tuba Creek on the southern Caribbean coast.

The building is reported to be similar to the elaborate structure built at Kilometer 35 on the Interamericana Sur.

That job cost about $2.5 million.

The project came as an announcement by the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública after officials met with the U.S. ambassador, S. Fitzgerald Haney, in Talamanca. Washington has made a series of announcements of money being given to Costa Rica for projects mainly to interdict drug shipments.

Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo 
Police officer is on guard at Tuba Creek

The existing structure there is not elaborate. It is on Ruta 36, the main highway to and from the Panamá border.

Gustavo Mata, the security minister, said the new building would house immigration agents, tax police, anti-drug police and frontier police. Fuerza Pública officers already are stationed there. Another official said that 100 members of the Policía de Fronteras would be housed there.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 5, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 175
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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


Dr. Gray
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President defends 12 percent higher budget

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The president went on television over the weekend defending the 2017 national budget that is 12 percent higher than this year’s.

The president, Luis Guillermo Solís, said that the central government has tightened its belt and that officials have done everything possible to keep the budget from increasing. Tax collections are up, he said.

Although some people ask that the budget be reduced, Solís asked where such reduction should take place.

The government cannot decline to pay its debts or cut the money for education or police or decline to put into effect new laws approved by the Asamblea Legislativa, he said.

“We have made a big effort to defend the social investment and the construction of new infrastructure,” he added.

He said the government was not going to sacrifice the resources necessary for educating the young.

Still, he said, slowing the growth of the national debt was urgent, he added, even while the government is keeping its promise to be austere and increase the collection of taxes.

He said he was relying on the patriotism of the lawmakers to authorize new income for the government to slow the increase in debt and avoid a major economic crisis.

Researchers develop arsenic filter for water

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Researchers and students at Tecnológico de Costa Rica have crated a filter that takes arsenic out of water. Some sections of Guanacaste have water that has high levels of arsenic, which can cause serious health problems.

The state water company, the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, has invested in specialized treatment plants to remove the arsenic as well as smaller containers that do much the same work.

The researchers at Cartago university created a porous filter that is imbedded with iron oxide nanoparticles that purifies the water. Researchers elsewhere have studied many types of chemicals with the goal of the efficient removal of arsenic.

The work in Cartago was supervised by Virginia Montero and Allen Puente, both teachers in the chemistry faculty. They used water from the affected Guanacaste areas, they said.

The university said that funding for the commercial application of the process was being sought.

Time to register to vote

The U.S. Federal government’s overseas voting agency has issued a reminder that there are less than 75 days remaining until the Nov. 8 presidential election.

“It is time for Americans living, working or traveling abroad to take steps to vote,” said the agency,” the Federal Overseas Voting Program.

Helping overseas Americans is difficult because each state has its own rule, and expats are supposed to vote in the U.S. state where they last were a resident.

Many overseas voters will receive absentee ballots from their registered county of residency. Others may elect to file a federal absentee ballot just for federal offices.

In addition to the federal program, the Overseas Voting Foundation can assist voters. The Web site gives deadlines for each state, plus other information.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 5, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 175
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Security ministry wants guard firms to get expert reports on their jobs
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The security ministry is tightening up controls on private security firms, in part because they have been losing firearms.

In addition, the ministry has restated its opinion, backed by a 2013 Sala VI ruling, that individuals do not have the right to carry firearms except under the strict oversight of the state. That is in contrast with the U.S. Supreme Court that has found an individual right to have a firearm for self protection.

The information was contained in a decree published Friday in the La Gaceta official newspaper. An unusual aspect is that the security firms that want to continuing offering the service must hire what is described as a criminologist or similar to justify in technical terms after a study each specific place or service authorized by the company.

This could be expensive, and the cost could be passed on to those who hire security firms. The Colegio de Profesionales en Criminologia charges from 22,000 to 36,000 colons an hour for professional services, according to its Web site.

The decree is silent on the details of such a technical report, but it appears that such a document must be prepared for every location where a security firm places a guard. The goal, it

appears, is to reduce the number of security guards who carry firearms.

The requirement does not apply to bodyguards, those transporting money or those providing security for the transport of merchandise. But the decree does seem to apply to private investigators who choose to carry a weapon.

The ministry said that private security firms have lost 1,664 firearms of the 30,292 they had registered since 2010 and that there were 77 reports of missing or stolen firearms this year.

Security firms have to comply with the decree within three months, it says.

This is not the first time that possession of firearms hinged on a report from an outside professional. A 10-year-old rule requires those who seek a permit to have or carry a weapon obtain clearance from a psychologist or psychiatrist. That rule was passed during the administration of Abel Pacheco, himself a psychiatrist, even though most professionals agree that an interview is not sufficient to understand the state of the mind of an applicant.

The new rule for a technical study by a security expert would seem to provide work for former ministry officials.

Government works told they do not need to make copies of cédulas
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Government workers have been instructed that they no longer need to keep copies of identification documents submitted by those seeking services.

There has been a long tradition in Costa Rica that public employees make copies of  cédulas de identidad or cédulas jurídica for nearly every government activity.

That no longer is necessary, according to a decree published last week. The government worker must see the identity document, but a copy is not needed, said the decree.

To some extent making a copy was a protective move by public employees. The law requires them to verify that a member of the public seeking some form of action has a cédula.

So it was natural for them to make a copy to prove in the future that they conformed to the law.

The cédulas de identidad is for individuals, and it is emitted by the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones. Expats have a similar plastic card issued by the Dirección General de Migración y Extrangería. The Registro Nacional issues cédulas jurídica for corporations.  These are available online and list the responsible parties for the firm.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 5, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 175
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Brain studies underscore beneficial impact of language learning
By the Higher School of Economics news staff

Russian scientists and colleagues from the University of Helsinki have discovered that learning foreign languages enhances the brain's elasticity and its ability to code information.

The more foreign languages learned, the more effectively the brain reacts and processes the data accumulated in the course of learning. The academic article is by Yury Shtyrov of the Higher School of Economics and Lilli Kimppa and Teija Kujala of the University of Helsinki, Finland.

The article summarizing the new findings has been published in Scientific Reports.

According to the study, the neurophysiological mechanics of language and speech acquisition are under explored when compared to the brain's other functions. The reason for such scarce attention is the inability to study verbal function on test animals.

Researchers carried out experiments where the brain's electrical activity was measured with electroencephalography. Twenty-two students in total, 10 male and 12 female, participated in the investigation, with the average age being 24. The subjects had electrodes placed on their heads and then listened to recordings of different words in their native language as well as in foreign languages, both known and completely unknown by the subjects.

When the known or unknown words popped up, changes in the brain's activity were tracked. Researchers especially focused on the speed at which the brain readjusted its activity to treat unknown words. Afterwards, the accrued neurophysiological data was compared to the subjects' linguistic background: how many languages they knew, at which age they started to learn it, and so on. Apparently, the ability of the brain to quickly process information depends on one's language history.

The experiment has shown that the brain's electrical activity was higher for those participants who had already known some foreign languages. Author Shtyrov commented that the more languages someone mastered, the faster the neuron network coding the information on the new words was formed. Consequently, this new data stimulates the brain's physiology.

He concluded that loading the mind with more knowledge boosts its elasticity.

Scientists believe that understanding how the brain functions in acquiring language is of crucial importance in diagnosing speech impediments after accidents, strokes, and other related conditions, and finding ways to treat them.

Moreover, better insight into the principles of creating and strengthening neuron networks will allow researchers to harness these mechanisms, speed them up and improve the learning process.

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Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 5, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 175
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Obama appears to be snubbed
on arrival at Chinese summit

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

As China’s Group of 20 Nations Leaders Summit kicked off Sunday, President Barack Obama appears to have been snubbed on arrival.

When Obama arrived in Hangzhou Saturday, the airport did not have airplane stairs ready for him to leave Air Force One, and when he did step off the aircraft, the red carpet provided for other arriving leaders was missing.

Tensions were also high on the tarmac where a Chinese official screamed at White House press photographers as they tried to get into position to take pictures of the president. A White House official tried to intervene stating that the U.S. would set the rules for where the photographers positioned themselves. But the Chinese official yelled back: “This is our country! This is our airport!”

And that was just the beginning.

The same official tried to keep National Security Adviser Susan Rice from walking to the president’s motorcade, at which point the U.S. Secret Service intervened.

Later in the evening, after holding a ceremony to announce China and the United States joining the Paris Agreement on climate change, and holding wide-ranging talks for more than three-and-a-half hours, tensions rose again.

This time, disputes arose over how many journalists could witness a late night stroll Presidents Obama and Xi Jinping took. Chinese officials suddenly cut the number of journalists from six to three, and then to one.

“That is our arrangement,” a Chinese official told a White House press official.

“But your arrangement keeps changing,” the White House press official responded.

In the end, the two settled on two journalists from the White House press corps.

When asked about the string of apparent snubs at a press conference Sunday with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Obama said he would not “over-crank the significance” of the incidents, noting that it was not the first time issues around security and press access have become an issue during a visit to China or other countries.

And part of that is a difference in values, he said.

“We think it's important that the press have access to the work that we're doing. That they have the ability to answer questions. And we don't leave our values and ideals behind when we take these trips. It can cause some friction,” Obama said.

High level diplomatic visits almost always involve weeks or months of negotiations to set the terms for issues such as arrival ceremonies, press access, seating arrangements and more.

A Chinese foreign ministry official told the South China Morning Post that it was the U.S. decision to have President Obama disembark his plane using a small bare metal stairway.

“China provides a rolling staircase for every arriving state leader, but the U.S. side complained that the driver doesn’t speak English and can’t understand security instructions from the United States,” the official told the Post. “China proposed that we could assign a translator to sit beside the driver, but the U.S. side turned down the proposal and insisted that they don’t need the staircase provided by the airport.”

Incidents have not been limited to President Obama and his traveling press entourage. Last week, when reporters traveling with Secretary of State John Kerry tried to apply for visas to come to China and attend the G-20, their applications were denied.

Several other reporters have also had their applications rejected. Chinese officials have not said why the applications were rejected.

Texas university weapons rule
about to get its first real test

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Classes are now underway on state university campuses in Texas, where a new law went into effect last month allowing anyone with a concealed weapon license to bring a handgun on to campus, as long as it remains concealed.

At the University of Houston, many students, like Ali Rajwani, express little concern.

“I am pretty indifferent about it,” Rajwani said. “It is not like I think ‘Oh, God, I am going to be shot on campus!’ I don’t feel that in any way. I don’t really feel any change at all.”

Since January, the same law has allowed open carry of handguns, that is, not concealed, but properly holstered, in most other public places, with little noticeable impact.

State officials report only around 4 percent of the more than 27 million residents of Texas have obtained a concealed weapon permit.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office has responded diligently to complaints from around the state involving public buildings that have restricted firearms. This week the state sued Waller County for not allowing citizens with a concealed weapon license to bring guns into the courthouse.

University presidents and professors argued that campuses should be given special status as no-gun zones, but the Texas Legislature did not agree.

The law does allow schools to establish limited no-gun areas on campuses.

Some students worry about the potential problem of having guns on campus, while others think properly licensed, armed students could prevent crimes.

The University of Houston Police Department has posted information on policy and procedures online, but otherwise the university is remaining low key on the issue.

At the University of Houston-Downtown, a political science professor, David Branham, said that his colleagues for the most part oppose campus carry, partly because conflicts between young people can sometimes become heated and someone having a gun could make a tragic decision in the heat of a moment.

Branham and his colleagues also worry that they could be vulnerable.

“What they are worried about is the student who is on academic probation, who is getting an F in your class and they want you to change the grade, and you are refusing to change the grade because it would not be fair to the rest of the students, and all of a sudden a gun becomes part of that equation," he said. "I think that is what professors are worried about.”

The strongest opposition to the campus-carry policy is at the University of Texas in Austin, where a group of students last week handed out sex toys, which are banned on campus, to make the point that dangerous guns are allowed, while items that would be of little use for someone contemplating violence are forbidden.

At least one professor left the university last year citing the new law as the reason and a group of other faculty members unsuccessfully sued the state to stop the implementation of the law on campus.

The issue is especially sensitive at the University of Texas in Austin because 50 years ago it was the scene of the first mass shooting on a U.S. campus, when sniper Charles Whitman killed 16 people, mostly from his perch atop the tower that looms over the center of the campus.

Private citizens, including many students, fired hunting rifles to keep Whitman from taking careful aim and were credited with saving lives. However, those bullets also endangered the police officers who went to the tower platform to shoot Whitman.

Unlike state schools, private universities in Texas are not obligated to allow armed students on campus and all but one of them have chosen to opt out.

FBI notes on Mrs. Clinton show her memory was faulty

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Clinton and Trump campaigns traded barbs over which presidential candidate Americans can trust, two days after the FBI released notes from its July interview with Hillary Clinton concerning her handling of emails as secretary of State.

“Seventeen thousand 448 emails were not turned over to the inspector general. That’s in addition to the 33,000 emails that had been deleted,” said Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Kelleyanne Conway, on ABC’s “This Week” program. “Hillary Clinton is having a hard time being accepted as a truthful and honest candidate.”

“These notes, which Hillary urged to make public, demonstrate clearly why the FBI saw no need for additional criminal proceedings,” said Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine, also on “This Week.” “On the other hand, we have a candidate in Donald Trump who won’t release his tax returns to the public after he promised to do so.”

The FBI already announced it uncovered no criminal wrongdoing, but the notes underscore conclusions that have dogged Mrs. Clinton for months.

More than two dozen times, Mrs. Clinton said she could not remember details about her electronic correspondence as secretary of State. During her tenure, she used a private email account to conduct official business. The FBI was only partially successful recovering data from a private server that had been wiped clean.

According to the FBI’s notes, Mrs. Clinton said she was unaware some emails she received contained classified information because she did not know that a “C” marking denoted “classified,”

“A former U.S. senator, former first lady, and, certainly, the sitting secretary of State should know what the C means,” Conway said.

The FBI said it cannot be sure foreign entities did not gain access to classified material Mrs. Clinton sent or received while serving as President Barack Obama’s first secretary of State.

But if the focus is on sensitive data falling into the wrong hands, Kaine argued the most egregious act by far was Trump publicly stating that Russia should try to find Mrs. Clinton’s missing emails.

The FBI released 58 pages of notes on Friday, two days after Donald Trump’s trip to Mexico and subsequent immigration speech ignited a media firestorm and drew sharp criticism from Democrats.

Although most polls show Mrs. Clinton leading Trump nationally, the margin has narrowed and majorities of Americans view both Clinton and Trump unfavorably.

Presidential debates expected
to be more influential now

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Debates are always a big part of any U.S. presidential campaign, but with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both having unusually low favorability ratings, this year's debates could be more influential than usual.

"Because the electorate is so volatile this year, it doesn't take nearly as much to get a loosely aligned voter to switch his allegiance," Dan Schnur, director of the University of Southern California's political institute, said.

In a Washington Post-ABC News poll released this week, 41 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of Mrs. Clinton, while 56 percent have an unfavorable one.

It is the lowest rating Mrs. Clinton has had in her quarter-century in national public life, the Post reported.

Trump fares worse in the new poll. Thirty-five percent of Americans have a favorable impression of him, compared with 63 percent unfavorable, the Post reported.

The first of three presidential debates will be held September 26 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. NBC News anchor Lester Holt will moderate the event.

The second debate will be held Oct. 9 at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. The event will be a town hall-style meeting, with questions coming from audience members and from people following the debate via social media.

The third debate will be held Oct. 19 at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.

The lone vice presidential debate between Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence will be Oct. 4 at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.

Steve Scully of the cable news network C-SPAN will be a backup moderator for all four debates, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonpartisan group that organizes the events.

Mrs. Clinton has said she will take part in all three debates.

Trump also has agreed to participate, but says he wants to negotiate the debate conditions. His campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

With Trump in the mix, there's also plenty of potential for shock value.

"Mass audiences are going to be tuning in to look for a smackdown," Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant, said.

In the primaries, Trump grabbed the spotlight in the opening minutes of the first of a dozen GOP debates, when he was the only candidate to refuse to rule out a third-party run for president. The Republican primary debates were often raucous affairs, with name-calling and candidates talking over each other. Moderators often had trouble keeping the debate on track.

Over the past half-century, general election debates have offered plenty of moments of televised high drama, but knockouts are rare.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan shone in his debate against then-President Jimmy Carter, scolding him with a gentle "there you go again," and posing a pointed closing question: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" Pollsters reported a resulting sharp shift in public opinion, said Alan Schroeder, author of  “Presidential Debates: Forty Years of High-Risk TV.”

Hermine may again become
a hurricane off the East Coast

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Tropical storm Hermine is once again gaining strength, the U.S. National Weather Service said Sunday, posing a danger of life-threatening inundation from New Jersey to Connecticut.

"The event is far from over," said National Hurricane Center meteorologist Dennis Feltgen.

As of midday Sunday, Hermine was about 520 kilometers east-southeast of Ocean City, Maryland in the mid-Atlantic region far out to sea, but close enough to be pummeling coastal areas with heavy rain, riptides and storm surges of up to 1.5 meters.

The storm, now heading north by northeast, is expected to take a northern or northwestern turn. Residents in states as far north as Connecticut are expected to feel its impact.

Hermine was the first hurricane to strike Florida in more than a decade, and is responsible for two deaths, one in Florida and one in North Carolina.

In New Jersey, tropical storm force winds could whip up on today's Labor Day holiday. Gov. Chris Christie warned that minor to moderate flooding is still likely in coastal areas, and said the storm will cause major problems, even as it tracks eastward into the Atlantic.

"Don't be lulled by the nice weather,'' Christie said, referring to the bright sunny skies along the Jersey shore Sunday afternoon. "Don't think that nothing is going to happen, because something is going to happen . . . The eastern track means a less severe impact, but you're still going to see beach erosion, storm surges and dangerous rip currents. There will be impact from this storm.''

Forecasters say Hermine could regain hurricane force  as it travels up the coast before weakening again to a tropical storm by Tuesday.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 5, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 175
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Time to wax eloquently on waxy leaves

The rainy season is upon us, the gutters are clogged, and Metric Man does not do heights. That has usually meant that I get to climb up on the roof,

Victoria Torley
but since I am (mumble, mumble) years old, hubby has put his foot down. “Someone else has to clean the gutters.”

Leaves in the gutters are a problem everywhere, but a special problem here in the tropics. Up north, leaves rot out quickly in the changing seasons, and they don’t have to
cope with a lot of leaf eaters like howler monkeys, sloths, and leaf cutter ants, to name a few. So what does that have to do with gutters? Good question.

A lot of our trees have developed protection from sun and predators by developing a waxy cuticle of varying thicknesses. The shiny leaves make a barrier against the destructive elements of the environment. The sun is reflected from them, lowering their temperature and evaporation rate and conserving water during the dry season.  The wax may prevent infection by bacteria and fungi. But most important – that wax may keep them from getting eaten!

After all, if you are out for a snack, who wants a mouthful of wax? That’s probably why howler monkeys range from tree to tree looking for tender young leaves without a thick coating of wax. Leaf cutter ants? They don’t seem to mind the waxy leaves of our citrus trees. Sigh.

Other than citrus, which trees have waxy leaves? Well, mostly the ones in my gutters.

Since tropical tree identification is not my strongest point, I decided to check the Web. It wasn’t a lot of help. Still, it did suggest that the taller trees would have a better chance of having waxy leaves, so I just checked around the house. If  shiny is a sign of a waxy leaf, there are so many tall trees with waxy leaves near the house that it’s no wonder my gutters are clogged.

Ah yes, back to gutters. Waxy leaves do not rot well. They do not break apart like the leaves of the maples and oaks we had to contend with up north. They just lie in heaps there in the gutters piling higher and higher until the rain slides right over them and cascades down the exterior gutter wall. And they certainly don’t go out the downspouts as individuals because they are too darn big!

So here we are, watching torrents of rain obscure the view (not that much can be seen through the storm) and wondering if we can find someone who isn’t afraid of heights to clean the gutters. Just another problem waiting for a solution.
A.M. Costa Rica/Victoria Torley

Plants of the week

Not just one but many! Sometimes you just have to stock up, and I did that at the La Garita vivero on the way home from San José. Truth? Metric Man hates it when we stop because I can’t stop. This pile doesn’t even include the orchids and four shade plants. They are already in the ground, and I spent less than $60! Make sure the car is empty when you go. Don’t forget to tip your helper, and have fun shopping!

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From Page 7:

FDA bans ingredients in antibacterial soaps

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Americans use a lot of antibacterial soaps, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned 19 chemicals commonly found in them.

“Companies will no longer be able to market antibacterial washes with these ingredients because manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections,” the FDA wrote in a news release.

In its ruling, the FDA said this would apply to soaps containing any of the 19 chemicals, including triclosan, found in liquid soaps, and triclocarbon, found in soap bars.

The FDA said some soap manufacturers had already removed these ingredients.

“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”

Antibacterial hand wipes, liquid hand sanitizers and other products used in a healthcare setting are not covered by the ruling.

In 2013, the FDA proposed the ban, saying that using antibacterial soaps containing these chemicals could pose health risks, such as bacterial resistance or hormonal effects.

The agency sought further data from manufacturers that showed the soaps were effective but said such data was not provided.

Manufacturers have one year to comply to the FDA’s ruling.

While the FDA maintains that simple soap and water is the best way to prevent spreading germs, if they are not available, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.