A.M. Costa Rica
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Published Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 190
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U.S. income tax avoidance drawing some to live here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is no secret that some mid and-upper range landlords are having a tough time filling their apartments and condos.

The repeated complaint is that Costa Rica is just attracting expats who only want to pay under $400 for an apartment or house rental.

Also true is the growth of telecommuting. In fact, the Costa Rican government is promoting telecommuting for its employees to cut down on traffic and increase employee morale.

However, the government has not promoted Costa Rica as a telecommuting location for foreigners.

Some landlords are doing that now, and several travel and relocation agencies also have promoted the concept to foreigners.

The big benefit is to duck the North American or European winter and conduct business from a Central Valley apartment or a central Pacific condo.

And for U.S. citizens and green card holders, there is an additional economic benefit already well-known to some perpetual tourists here. Uncle Sam exempts citizens and other taxpayers on the first $101,000 of annual foreign earned income. For many that income tax break is enough to pay the rent and make a couple of trips north a year.

The amount exempted keeps going up. And the U.S. Internal Revenue Service says that taxpayers can exclude or deduct certain foreign housing amounts.

The U.S. Congress is being urged by expat advocacy organizations to eliminate the citizenship-based tax in favor of a territorial one, like Canada has. But expats have low priority with Washington politicians. Consequently, the tax break is likely to continue for years.

The U.S. rules, like everything else in Washington, are complex, and professional help is needed in most cases. For example, for some reason the exemption does not  cover pay for services conducted in international waters. The I.R.S. summary is HERE!

Those U.S. expats working here are a mixed bunch. They include those at sportsbooks who probably would not pay U.S. income tax anyway, to writers, bookies, Web site designers sales people and day traders.

Some come here with a clientele.

another day at the office
A.M. Costa Rica file photo
Another day at the office

Fortunately, the local Internet infrastructure can handle most video conferencing and telecommuting needs, although a few day traders have been known to panic when their Internet connection failed as they were trying to buy or sell stock.

U.S. employers sometimes favor the setup because they can outsource and avoid Social Security payments and similar charges at home, and the person doing the job is the same one who had just been a stateside employee.

Of course, expats working here are subject to Costa Rican taxes, but plenty evade this by accepting payment in the United States. In addition, the Costa Rican tax brackets are generous. Expats who have corporations face a stiffer local tax, but many simply do not enroll with the Dirección General de Tributación or even with the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social.

The situation might change in the next few years as Costa Rica and the United States exchange more and more tax information.

Theoretically, tax inspectors here could flag U.S. taxpayers who claim an exemption or credit and are living here. Still, the Costa Rican tax bite is not as big as that in the U.S., and the inspectors are not as competent or tenacious.

Tourists are not supposed to work here, but that rule seldom is enforced.  The informal rule is that tourists can work here until a Costa Rican complains that the foreigner is taking his or her job.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 190
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Professional Directory
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.


Dental                                                      Services rollover
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U.S. Income Tax Services
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La Fortuna murder defendant acquitted

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A criminal tribunal in San Carlos once again has acquitted José Jairo López Carmona in the Hotel Mountain Paradise murder case. Killed in La Fortuna were Geovany Soto, 52, and his sons Mauricio, 29, and Emanuel, 20.

The murders took place early Feb. 9, 2013, in two locations in the La Fortuna countryside.

The decision is likely to be appealed.

Both López and a co-defendant, Moisés Sándigo Fernández, were acquitted by a different tribunal of judges in July 2014. Prosecutors appealed that decision, and the appeals panel reinstituted the case and ordered a new trial.

The co-defendant fled.

Soto used to manage the well-known Hotel Montaña del Fuego and perhaps one other hotel before buying the Hotel Mountain Paradise.

He and his sons were kidnapped and then murdered. The crime was attributed to an effort to collect a debt. Soto, himself, was in the loan business.

Criminal court decisions in Costa Rica are not final, and sometimes a major case will bring suspects into court for two or three trials as prosecutors attempt to get a conviction and defense lawyers seek an acquittal.

Quakes and eruption highlight weekend

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The weekend saw a flurry of Pacific coast earthquakes that were topped off by another eruption Sunday night by the Turrialba volcano.

A 2:14 p.m. tremor some 23 kilometers west southwest of Jacó Saturday had an estimated magnitude of 4.2, said the Laboratorio de Ingenieria Sismica at the Universidad de Costa Rica.

At 5:59 p.m., the Laboratorio said that a 4.0 quake took place at about the same spot, which is in the Gulf of Nicoya.

Then at 4:44 p.m. Sunday a 3.9 magnitude quake was registered 48 kilometers southwest of Dominical, further down the central Pacific coast in Osa.

Then at 8:43 p.m. a 3.3 magnitude quake took place further south some eight kilometers south of Golfito.

At 8:45 p.m. Sunday, Volcán Turrialba produced another eruption after having been quiet during the weekend. Because of the lack of daylight and the impact of ash on the monitoring equipment at the volcano peak the extent of the eruption was not known immediately, said the Red Sismológica Nacional de Costa Rica. Winds were to the northwest.

Arrest made in Playas de Coco killing

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Fuerza Pública said its officers detained a suspect who is wanted for trial in the murder of Alejo Leiva Lachner.

The crime happened March 26 when the 22-year-old Escazú resident was set upon by a gang of thugs in Playas del Coco after a minor vehicle accident.

Detained about midnight Saturday was a 33 year old with the last name of Ortiz. He was captured in Villareal, near Tamarindo, Santa Cruz.

Police said they had an arrest warrant.

Because so many people were involved in the fighting, prosecutors have a big job in trying to pin the fatal stab wound on a single individual even though surveillance cameras taped the crime. One man who was arrested already has been freed to await further judicial procedures. At least five persons have been listed as suspects, and some are or have been in custody.

Fuel prices are going up this week

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The see-saw prices of motor fuels are going up again. The national regulatory agency said that gasoline would increase this week about 2.3 percent and that diesel would go up 5.4 percent.

The Autoridad Reguladora de Sevicios Públicos adjusts the price every month based on economic factors, and the new prices go into effect when published. The new per liter prices will be 579 colons for super gasoline and 554 colons for regular. Diesel will go up 24 colons a liter to 467.

Time to register to vote

The U.S. Federal government’s overseas voting agency has issued a reminder that Nov. 8 is the 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.

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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A.M. Costa Rica

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 190
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Trafficking statistics seem to lack detail or reflect reality of the crimes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Despite the designation of human trafficking as a priority, statistics appear to give an incomplete and murky picture.

That was made clear Friday when a small march took place at the southern border against this form of criminality.

Friday was the Día Internacional Contra la Explotación Sexual Comercial y Trata de Personas, and the march in Paso Canoas was reported to have individuals from both Panamá and Costa Rica participating.

The border town has seen plenty of migration movements.

Statistics released by the organizers said that there have been 143 victims of human trafficking since 2010. Just 19 percent were Costa Ricans, and the rest were mostly Dominicans, Asians, Colombians and Nicaraguans, the organizers said.

Organizers of the march were the Commission Permanente para la Protección y Asistencia a Migrantes en Condición de Vulnerabilidad, the International Immigration Organization and the governments of both countries.

The statistics seem to have overlooked the 8,000 or so Cubans who poured into the country last year or the continuing flow of Haitians, Africans and other foreigners who continue to so. The migrants had the help of many human traffickers.

The category of human trafficking is so broad that it defies assisting the formation of public policy.

According to the Dirección de General de Migración y Extranjería in Costa Rica, human trafficking means transporting a person from outside or inside the country by
means of trickery, force, abuse of power or kidnapping. The reasons could be sexual, labor, slavery, informal adoption or 
trafficking march
Dirección de General de Migración y Extranjería  photo
The banner carried Friday says no to buying or selling boys, girls or adolescents.

even extracting organs, according to Costa Rican law.

The United Nations says that human trafficking is a $3 billion a year business but there seldom are statistics to back up that estimate.

Even the organizers Friday did not break down the numbers in more detail than to say that 47 percent were men and 53 percent were women.

Costa Rican law provides many benefits, including temporary residency for victims of human trafficking. But few have sought that protection. An annual report from the U.S. Department of State that comes out every June seems to be based mostly on reports from Costa Rican agencies, so the details frequently are missing.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 190
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Colombia peace deal to be signed today with hopes for referendum OK
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A final peace agreement between Colombia’s government and a national guerrilla movement is to be signed today, bringing to an end the longest-running insurgency in the Western Hemisphere.

“It’s the end of the last full-blown guerrilla warfare inspired originally by Cuban and Soviet ideology against democratic institutions in this hemisphere,” is how it is characterized by a senior U.S. administration official.

The conflict between the government and the Fuerza Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), whose funding was primarily derived from the country’s illicit cocaine industry, is blamed for leaving more than 250,000 people dead and displacing at least five million.

Sixteen heads of state and two dozen foreign ministers, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, are expected to attend the signing ceremony at the convention center in the Caribbean port city of Cartagena, founded in the 16th century.

“Peace will begin on Monday when I and the president shake hands,” said rebel leader Rodrigo Londoño Saturday as he left the remote southern plains and boarded a helicopter operated by the International Committee of the Red Cross, along with about 40 other rebel commanders.

The rebels also agreed to cooperate with de-mining. Colombia has the second highest number of land mines in the world after Afghanistan.

The United States is taking some of the credit for bringing about the peace pact, which diplomats in Washington describe as a transformational event for Colombia and the region and one that President Barack Obama has described as one of the most important achievements during his presidency.

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, who has staked his reputation on ending the war, had asked the United States to increase its engagement in the four-year negotiating process, which mostly took place in Cuba, and a special envoy, Bernard Aronson, was named who participated in the talks.

“It’s about far more than just giving up weapons of war,” said a senior U.S. Official who declined to be named. “It really includes a major transformation of Colombia itself, it includes a far-reaching commitment to bring government services, security, police, education, health, roads, economic development to the vast stretches of the interior that have been left out of national life.”

Proponents of the deal also note the commitment to work with farmers to get land titles, access to transportation networks for their harvests of legal crops, rather than cocoa leaf production. It also includes transitional justice efforts that will hopefully lead to reconciliation in the countryside.

They also predict it will be the catalyst for Colombia’s GDP to grow at twice its current place and triple foreign directly investment following years of negative growth and capital flight.

But not everyone supports the deal on which Colombians will render a verdict in a nationwide binding referendum on Oct. 2.

Recent public opinion polls in the country show a double digit advantage for the yes camp, despite widespread loathing for the rebels and a robust no campaign spanning the political spectrum.

"The consequences of a loss would be catastrophic," Humberto De la Calle, the government's chief negotiator, said in announcing the agreement.

Former president Alvaro Uribe contends the deal gives total amnesty to drug trafficking by labeling it a political crime and “Colombians have learned over decades of attempted negotiations with other terrorist groups it is that impunity always becomes the seed of new forms of violence.”

The current president argues compromise was necessary to convince the rebels to turn over their weapons after more than a half century of conflict.

The deal is the best his government could achieve, Santos says, to convince thousands of rebels to stop causing bloodshed and havoc through much of the country.

The peace pact also includes a large new security commitment by Colombia’s government to go after the criminal bands, some of which are successors to right-wing paramilitaries engaged in cocaine production and smuggling, killings of right activists and have clashed with rebel fighters and other left-wing guerrillas.

The immediate, biggest threat to the Oct. 2 peace referendum could be low voter turnout. To be valid it must be endorsed by at least 13 percent of all registered voters. A 2003 referendum on political reform backed by Uribe failed to cross the threshold.

It’s unclear what happens if the referendum is defeated.

The smaller Marxist-Leninist rebel Ejercito de Liberación Nacional remains active thus even with the Cartagena signing total peace in Colombia will remain elusive.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

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Visit many rental options to actually experience the price/amenity options available in more of the areas chosen by Expats for security, comfort, and quality of life.

Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!

Ask the others what you get for your money, and then compare the quality of accommodations, quality, quantity and variety of food and drink to measure the best value for your money. 

Learn how others “talk the talk” and learn who really can “walk the walk”

Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
George Lundquist, retirement, relocation columnist, Guide & Developer/Builder.

George Lundquist

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Dial toll FREE from USA or Canada:  1.800.901.0114
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About us
What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2016 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 190
Real Estate
About us

Axiom new ad

Debate tonight is expected
to draw 100 million viewers

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Tonight’s first presidential debate between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump may draw, by some estimates, 100 million viewers, who will be able to take the measure of the candidates for the first time on the same stage together.

The stakes for both contenders are enormous. Viewers will not only be paying attention to what is said, but how it’s said and how the candidates react to one another.

The debate will be a key moment for Trump, who has closed the polling gap in recent weeks against Democrat Hillary Clinton in part because he has presented himself as more disciplined than he has in the past. He has also focused on his central theme:

“We will make America strong again. We will make America safe again, and we will make America great again!” Trump told supporters at a rally in Fort Myers, Florida, one of the critical swing states where he has drawn even with Mrs. Clinton in recent polls.

For her part, Mrs. Clinton looks to the debate to reassure her supporters and to push her message of wanting to build a more inclusive economy, as she did during a recent rally in Orlando, Florida. “We are all of value. In the United States of America, the greatest country in the world, we believe everyone is created equal!”

The first of the three debates, traditionally the most watched, comes at a potentially game-changing moment, said Matthew Dallek of George Washington University. “Right now the election is closer than a lot of people anticipated, and so it matters a great deal for both of them.”

Televised presidential debates began in 1960 with Richard Nixon and John Kennedy. Since then, the debates have had an impact on some but not necessarily all presidential elections. “In a normal year, the debates are one of the only ways to move the needles after the conventions. They are the moment where more people tune in and watch,” said Jeremy Mayer, a George Mason University associate professor of government.

Trump and Clinton appear to be prepping for the debates in different ways. Mrs. Clinton has spent a lot of time in debate practice, including mock face-offs with surrogates portraying Trump.

Trump’s advance work has been reportedly less time-consuming and intense. He also took a swipe at Mrs. Clinton during a rally in Pennsylvania. “Well, they say she has been practicing for the debate. Some people think she’s sleeping.”

Democrats hope a more reckless version of Trump shows up in the first debate, more in keeping with his past performances in some of the Republican primary debates. But Trump's new campaign staff seems to have had some success of late in keeping him focused and less distracted by the temptation of launching personal attacks.

Both Trump and Clinton performed well in their respective party primary debates earlier this year. It is possible to argue that Trump won the Republican nomination by making the most of his debate performances and his slashing attacks on rivals like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

But Trump will be playing to a different audience in the debates with Mrs. Clinton. He will be seeking to improve his image with moderate Republican voters and undecided independents who likely won’t be swayed by the kind of partisan attacks he launched in the primary debates.

Mrs. Clinton will also be able to call on her experience in the primary debates with her main challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders. She generally was able to hold her own in a number of the debates with Sanders and often put him on the defensive by raising questions about the practicality of some of his proposals.

But Mrs. Clinton has her challenges as well. Polls show a majority of voters don't trust her. The controversial way she handled questions about her use of a private email server while secretary of State continues to dog her in the final weeks of this election campaign.

Trump’s unpredictable nature also presents a challenge for Mrs. Clinton as she prepares for the first debate, said Georgetown University’s Stephen Wayne. “The thing about Donald Trump is that he is not as disciplined as Hillary Clinton. If you get under Donald Trump’s skin, he is apt to react in a very personal way.

More immunity deals cited
in FBI probe of Mrs. Clinton

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The former chief of staff of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was granted immunity from prosecution for cooperating with the FBI probe into Mrs. Clinton's use of a private email server for government business while she was secretary of State.

Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Friday that Cheryl Mills was granted immunity after giving investigators access to Mrs. Clinton's laptop computer on the condition that any findings could not be used against her.

Two other Clinton staff members were also given immunity, to the dismay of Congressman Chaffetz, who said he was absolutely stunned the FBI would reach an agreement with someone as close to the investigation as Mills.

"No wonder they couldn't prosecute a case. They were handing out immunity deals like candy," he said.

The FBI closed the year-old case in July after director James Comey said investigators did not uncover evidence to support a criminal charge or evidence that Mrs. Clinton's server had been hacked.

Information about the immunity was disclosed by the FBI Friday to Chaffetz and fellow oversight committee member Jim Jordan.

The Clinton campaign maintains the disclosure was intentionally made three days before the presidential debate between Mrs. Clinton and Donald Trump.

Charlotte videos failing
to show what took place

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Videos released by police in Charlotte, North Carolina, shows a deadly confrontation between police and Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old black man who was shot to death Tuesday, triggering riots in North Carolina's largest city.

The two videos from body cameras and dash cameras from officers confronting Scott were released Saturday after days of calls by protesters to make the footage public.

One of the videos shows Scott getting out of his car and turning to his left, standing in the parking lot for about three seconds before he is shot and seen falling to the ground.

A second video does not show Scott before he is on the ground. The audio on this video has been removed for the first 23 seconds.

A fifth day of protests against the shooting was largely peaceful after the release of the videos. On Sunday, dozens of protesters chanted, "Black lives matter!" outside the Carolina Panthers-Minnesota Vikings professional football game in Charlotte.

The Panthers' star quarterback, Cam Newton, wore a T-shirt in pregame warm-ups quoting civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., saying, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

The major question about the shooting, whether Scott was holding a gun when police ordered him to step out of his car, was not answered, even with the release of the video, which shows Scott exiting his car and backing slowly away as police officers order him to drop his weapon.

Police said Saturday that two plainclothes officers in an unmarked car had been in Scott's neighborhood Tuesday to serve a warrant to someone else when they spotted Scott sitting in his car holding what they believed to be a marijuana joint.

Police Chief Kerr Putnam told reporters Saturday the officers also believed they saw Scott holding a gun, and reasoned that the combination of drugs and a weapon constituted a threat to public safety.

Putnam said the officers retreated, donned protective gear and returned to confront Scott, ordering him loudly to drop his weapon, something that can be heard on the video. Police say Scott did not comply, even after a police officer in a marked SUV drove up and pounded with his fist on Scott's passenger-side window.

Police said Scott then got out of his vehicle, but did not surrender a weapon, and one of the officers fired the fatal shots.

Congress faces a deadline
for federal funding once again

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Time is running out for Congress to keep the U.S. government open and fully functioning. Federal spending authority expires at midnight Friday and, so far, Democrats and Republicans have been unable to agree on a temporary funding extension, much less year long appropriations for the new fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

In what has become an annual Washington ritual, lawmakers are squabbling as a partial government shutdown looms. The immediate goal: a stopgap spending bill, or continuing resolution.

“We are talking about passing a CR here that takes us to Dec. 9,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican. “We will reconvene after the election and decide how to deal, finally, with the funding bills for next year.” A CR is a continuing resolution.

Lawmakers fighting for reelection in November have a clear incentive to conclude Congress’ work promptly and return to the campaign trail. Republicans control both houses of Congress and are defending more seats than Democrats.

“We want to get our work done,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. “We do not want to have high drama around here at this time.”

Democrats maintain, even if a short-term spending bill passes, there is much Congress has left undone.

Closed-door negotiations reportedly have forged an agreement to combat the zika virus. But differences remain on other thorny topics, like funding to fix one city’s contaminated drinking water.

Top Major League pitcher
dies in Miami boating crash

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

One of professional baseball's rising young stars, Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernández, 24, has died along with two companions in a boating accident near the U.S. city of Miami.

Public safety officials say the 10-meter boat was traveling at full speed early Sunday morning when it crashed into a rock jetty off Miami Beach, killing all three occupants.

Authorities who probed the wreckage said there was no evidence of illegal drugs or alcohol at the scene. Toxicology tests are set to be conducted in Miami.

The boat's owner and likely operator, a friend of Fernández, was thought to be familiar with the coastal area, according to a local conservation official. "We just can't say why this happened," the official added early Sunday.

News of the deaths cast a pall over Major League games, with the Marlins immediately canceling their scheduled Sunday home game against Atlanta.

A charismatic rookie in 2013, the Fernández story as a Cuban refugee captivated countless fans in Miami and beyond.

A native of Santa Clara, Cuba, he was unsuccessful in his first three attempts to defect, and spent several months in detention while awaiting his forced return to Cuba. On his fourth try, at age 15, he and his mother reached México, after a perilous voyage in which he saved his mother from drowning in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mother and son were later reunited in Tampa, Florida, with Fernandez' father, who had earlier escaped his Communist homeland.

This season Fernandez was among the Major League's pitching leaders with a record of 16-8, 253 strikeouts and an earned run average of 2.86.

Yahoo blames foreign hacker
for massive breach of data

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The hack of 500 million Yahoo user accounts is far and away the largest corporate breach ever reported, ahead of the 2013 MySpace hack that compromised over 300 million user accounts.

Yahoo blames the breach on a state-sponsored actor, though exactly which state has still to be answered.

The whole affair brings to mind the infamous 2014 quote from FBI director James Comey. "There are two kinds of big companies in the United States," he said. "There are those who've been hacked by the Chinese and those who don't know they've been hacked by the Chinese."

While nobody is linking this hack to the Chinese, Comey's point is that every Internet user should assume their information is compromised, always.

Internet security expert Dan Kamisky says the same thing: "Five hundred of the Fortune 500 have been hacked. If anything has changed, it's that these attacks are getting publicly disclosed."

Armed with that knowledge, it's the size of this attack that makes it such a big deal.

The hack predominantly affects U.S. users, but according to Pingdom, an Internet security firm, Yahoo also has a large presence in Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong, and users there should be particularly vigilant in protecting their information.

Facebook admits its stats
did not reflect the reality

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Facebook has admitted that over a two-year time period, it overestimated the amount of time people spent on the site watching videos.

“We recently discovered an error in the way we calculate one of our video metrics,” the company said in a statement. "This error has been fixed, it did not impact billing, and we have notified our partners both through our product dashboards and via sales and publisher outreach."

One ad buying firm, Publicis Media, told The Wall Street Journal that the social media behemoth overestimated the amount by between 60 and 80 percent, calling the problem unacceptable.

Knowing how popular videos are is critical for advertisers to know what works and what doesn’t. Traffic metrics also drive ad pricings. According to the newspaper, a new metric is being introduced to correct the problem.

The problem stemmed from what Facebook called the average duration of video viewed, which sounds self-explanatory, but the social media giant was not counting views of fewer than three seconds. This drastically inflated the numbers.

Facebook has said it fixed the issue, but Publicis says the problem shows the need for third-party verification of Facebook metrics.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 190
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News from the BBC up to the minute

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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Here's hoping for a quick cold spell

Yesterday was transplanting day for the kiwi fruit. Although they had been quite happy in their pots, they are now of a size to leave home and fend for
Victoria Torley
themselves. No, I don’t really mean it. They are still being tenderly cared for.

I picked a spot where I hope they will be very happy, morning sun and shaded in the afternoon by a very old mango tree. Yes, I know that kiwi is supposed to have a cold snap to produce fruit, but this is a
hybrid that they (the seed dealers) said will fruit without one. We shall see.

Planting things that need a cold snap is tricky. Blueberries, one of our favorites, needs cold in order to set fruit, although there is a new variety somewhere in Florida that is said to produce without one (if only I could get my hands on some seeds or cuttings) and I heard a rumor that a vivero near San José had some plants. I have hope.

Back to my kiwi. For the past three years, I have been using the area under the mango tree as a depository for grass clippings, dead branches large and small, chicken manure, and general detritus all of which has melted down into a few inches of very rich soil. All that was necessary was to rake off the larger twigs and undigested leaves, move them to the side to continue mulching, and scrape up beautiful soil. There were worms everywhere, both earthworms and red wigglers. I set the wigglers into the mulch pile and carted the soil and earthworms to the planting site. A nice big hole, a lot of my good soil, a careful spreading of the roots, and the first kiwi was in the ground.

While I was occupied, my gardener was up a tree, literally. He had climbed up into the old mango in search of fruit for us to share, but he was also doing some cleaning up. Although the old mango had somehow escaped the matapalo problem of my citrus trees, it is being used as a platform for bromeliads and orchids. Armando sent down a shower of mangos and followed it up with other things he cleaned off the tree.

I watched Armando for a minute or two, then went back to my newly planted kiwi. Turned out that my shepherd had decided that freshly turned earth and a fuzzy leafed plant were just what he needed as a spot for a nap! Bad dog!

I spent the next few minutes making a twig and branch fence around the kiwi. Next time, I will pay closer attention to the dog.

A.M. Costa Rica/Victoria Torley

Plant of the Week

The Crossandra infundibuliformis or firecracker flower, is a fantastic low grower for garden borders. I love this one for its coral color, but yellow, red, and even turquoise are available. Plant in full sun but move to partial shade if it fails to thrive. Propagation is from seeds, which explode when ready like a firecracker, or from cuttings.

If you would like to suggest a topic for this column, simply send a letter to the editor.  And, for more garden tips, visit HERE!


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From Page 7:

British officials differ on timing of EU exit

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Britain has to do more work before it triggers the formal procedure to start its exit from the European Union, Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said Sunday, but once it is done the country will not let the process drag on.

Johnson, who led the campaign to leave the European Union in Britain's June referendum, said in an interview with the BBC Television the country should exit before the next European Parliament elections in May 2019.

He was asked three times about the timing, but declined to repeat his last week’s assertion that Britain would invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the official procedure for departing, within months of the New Year.

Johnson was not subsequently backed up by Prime Minister Theresa May, who repeated her position the provision would not be triggered this year.

London is under pressure from EU members and from millions of Britons who voted to leave the bloc to start the formal procedure.

But some lawmakers and government officials have said the government has not had time to hammer a clear negotiating stance, and by triggering proceedings too early Britain may land a poor deal.

May has promised to deliver a unique deal for Britain, getting trade deals on good terms while limiting immigration, a combination ruled out by European leaders. They have said that free trade is only possible with free movement of people.

May’s aides and ministers have told reporters the government will not offer a running commentary on the divorce with the European Union, but they have stated it clearly that any decisions will be taken by the prime minister herself.