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Publsihed Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 206
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Nation scores in top 10 for being compassionate
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Michigan State University says that Costa Rica ranks in the top 10 of countries whose citizens show empathy. Costa Rica is No. 8 out of 63 countries, the university researchers said.

Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

The researchers analyzed the data from an online survey on empathy completed by more than 104,000 people from around the world, said the university, adding that the survey measured people’s compassion for others and their tendency to imagine others’ point of view.

The researchers acknowledged some of the obvious flaws in the study. They said the study did not distinguish between feeling empathy toward people in other countries vs. people in one’s own country.  Online surveys also are not random.

Ecuador was the most empathetic country, followed in order by Saudi Arabia, Perú, Denmark, United Arab Emirates, Korea, the United States, Taiwan, Costa Rica and Kuwait, according to the report.

The study is the first to look at empathy on a country-by-country level, said the university. And while it “only grabbed a snapshot of what empathy looks like at this very moment,” William Chopik noted that cultures are constantly changing. He is an assistant professor of psychology who was quoted by the university in a report on the study he and others conducted.

The least empathetic country was Lithuania, according to the report. In fact, seven of the 10 least empathetic countries were in Eastern Europe, it said.

The study was published online in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology.

An A.M. Costa Rica presidential endorsement
Neither major candidate is worthy of your vote
A.M. Costa Rica cannot endorse either of the leading candidates for the U.S. presidency. Both appear to be inept, irresponsible and dangerous.

Hillary Clinton has demonstrated she is a schemer who uses government positions for personal gain. She also is a liar on important issues.

Donald Trump is an egotist who happened to touch key areas of public unhappiness in his rise to the nomination. But he has shown a lack of focus and an extraordinary lack of good manners and respect for others. He is at least a liar.

This newspaper urges Trump to step aside and allow the vice presidential nominee, Mike Pence, to assume the nomination and win office. But that will never happen.

There is a third option, and this newspaper endorses Gary Johnson, the nominee of the Libertarian Party. He is unlikely to win, but if the party receives enough votes, it will be recognized in the future.

“Achieving just 5 percent of the popular vote nationwide will achieve ‘major party’ status for a third party for the first time ever,” his campaign notes.

The Johnson campaign also notes that if he manages to win the electoral votes in just one key state, both Trump and Mrs. Clinton

Acceptable candidates:
             Pence       and           Johnson

will be denied election and the House of Representatives will select the president from the top three electoral vote getters. 

That means Johnson will become president because the Republican-dominated House is unlikely to pick Trump.

Johnson would make a better president than either Mrs. Clinton or Trump. So would any number of individuals picked randomly off the street.

Consider a vote for Johnson an investment in the future and not an empty action. And please cast your vote for the Republican candidates for U.S. House and Senate to protect us from more Obamacares and probably Mrs. Clinton.

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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.


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Officials to map plans to end poverty

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The executive branch is having a ceremony today to mark the United Nation’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

This year also marks the 52nd anniversary of Lyndon Johnson’s so-called war on poverty, which had the same goal. Johnson’s efforts have resulted in high levels of dependency in the United States. Welfare and its application also has been credited with breaking up poverty-level families.

It was the U.S. war on poverty that gave the country food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, expanded Social Security benefits, Head Start, Job Corps, VISTA, the Job Corps and federal subsidies to schools.

Costa Rica has mimicked many of these social programs.

Opinions of the success of the war on poverty breaks down along political lines. The conservative Heritage Foundation says the result is a catastrophe. The liberal Washington Post said the  programs really did reduce poverty.

Forbes magazine, the capitalist’s tool, says that the way poverty is measured is so messed up, the actual conditions are hard to figure out.

But most observers agree that the United States has invested about $22 trillion in fighting poverty since Johnson announced his plans. There also is no doubt that the government handouts and social programs will have an effect on the Nov. 8 federal elections. Nearly half the population lives in a home where at least one person receives some kind of financial help from the government, according to recent estimates.

Costa Rica’s budget is much smaller, but there is no doubt that the country’s current financial crisis stems, in part, for funding for programs for the poor and disadvantaged.

Costa Rican officials may announce some new programs for the poor today, but major plans are restricted by the country’s financial situation.

Dixon family has not given up search

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The family of British journalist Michael Dixon, who vanished seven years 
ago in Costa Rica, still are seeking answers on what happened to their loved one, his brother said Monday on behalf of the family.

Today marks the seventh anniversary of Michael Dixon’s disappearance in the seaside holiday town of Tamarindo. Evidence indicates he was the victim of violent crime.

But Costa Rican authorities and British police did little to investigate, the family has said. They've now given up on the case, despite the family’s long-standing appeals for assistance.

“The Costa Rican authorities can still help us to get to the truth of the matter. People in Tamarindo know what happened to Michael and with the right kind of support, also from the British foreign

Michael Dixon
Michael Dixon
office, we could find out what happened,” Michael’s brother, David, said in an email.

Michael Dixon, who worked as editor of a U.S. business magazine, walked out of his hotel one evening in Tamarindo and never came back.

Some 45,000 British people a year go to Costa Rica, considered a safe destination, David Dixon noted, adding that at least 20 foreign nationals disappeared or were murdered in the country in past seven years, prompting official United Kingdom and U.S. travel warnings. 

“I will not rest until I know what happened to my son. I trust that some Costa Rican police and British diplomats also have a sense of duty,” Lynn Dixon, Michael’s mother said, in the same email.

The Dixon family maintains a Facebook page.

Protest planned to protect rivers

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Environmentalists said Monday they will protest Wednesday for more protection for rivers.

The protest is by the Alianza de Comunidades por la Defensa del Agua, and the 10 a.m. assembly site is at the Secretaría Técnica Nacional Ambiental in Barrio Escalante. The organization said participants would march to the offices of the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía in Barrio González Lahman.

The organization, which is made up of several environmental groups, issued a list of complaints. Mostly they oppose designating water for commercial use by means of concessions and are seeking to defend specific watercourses and rivers.

Updated app keeps an eye on the oceans

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Universidad de Costa Rica staffers will present an upgraded version of a smartphone app that helps residents keep an eye on the oceans.

This is version 2.0 of the MOI app, which stands for Módulo de Información Oceanográfica. The app allows fishermen, the coast guard, tourists and the coastal population to be ready for alerts and general information about tides and other ocean conditions.

The presentation will be today at the Edificio de Educación Continua in the Ciudad de la Investigación.  The app is a product of the university’s Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología.

Ocean study staffers will demonstrate the app today, too. They said that during this time of year, the oceans are the highest, and the citizenry should be aware of the conditions.

Our reader’s opinion
Negative letter was an insult to him

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

For 15 years I have called Costa Rica home. When I returned to the U.S. to build a television station, I still called Costa Rica home. I could not wait to come home.

As an expat, I am insulted by the letter by Alan Seaman published Monday. Costa Rica is not and never will be perfect, but I chose to live here because of all the good things Ticos and living here bring to life. Widely traveled, I have shared some of Seaman’s experiences but understood that this is part of living in any country. Seaman’s attitude and anger actually make it worse. Maybe México is a better choice or return to the U.S. Perhaps, Nicaragua (it is a lovely country) is better. 
Ken Beedle
Playa Blanca/Cartago

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 206
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A visit to Costa Rica's unique tundra is just a few hours away
By Dennis Rogers
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A day trip from San José brings the visitor to a zone at the Cerro de la Muerte that is very much temperate in a tropical country. It’s called Death Pass for those who succumbed to the cold walking over before there was a road. The highest point is slightly over 3,400 meters, just edging out the top of Volcán Irazú as the highest elevation readily reached by car in the country.

The habitat here is referred to as páramo a shrubby zone in Costa Rica restricted mostly to the Cordillera de Talamanca. Similar biomes are found in the northern Andes. Dominant plants are Hypericum shrubs up to a meter high and various flowering plants and giant thistles. Animal and insect diversity is low by tropical standards but highly restricted with the endemic species volcano and fiery-throated hummingbirds especially common. In a cold habitat with limited insect pollinators, hummingbirds are especially important. Only one northern migrant species, the Wilson’s warbler, commonly uses the páramo for wintering habitat.

The high point with the communications towers is not visible in foggy conditions which are not rare. It is reached by a gravel road between km 88 and km 89 off to the south (right coming from San José). Several of the old yellow concrete kilometer markers miraculously survive in this stretch.  The last part likely requires high clearance. Expect chilly wind and beware of overexertion in the thin air.

This point can be reached in two to three hours from San José at a leisurely pace. The highway from Cartago to Pérez Zeledón is generally in good condition without the heavy traffic it had in previous years before the completion of the coastal highway when every truck from Panamá to points north had to use it.

The páramo life zone is on the back of the 20,000-colon bill, with its most common bird the volcano hummingbird portrayed. Ironically, this species and even more so the volcano junco are found mostly on the Cordillera de

The páramo zone from the back of the 20,000-colon bill features the volcano hummingbird.

Talamanca which is not volcanic with just Volcán Irazú and Volcán Chiriquí in Panamá at each end of their range.

Below treeline with a brief transition zone the higher part of the Talamanca massif is largely covered by an attractive oak/alder forest recognizable from its counterparts in the United States, though the oak is the endemic Quercus costarricense and the understory is dominated by a native bamboo Swallenochloa.  

Birdlife here is heavily endemic to Costa Rica and western Panamá as well though some North American species like hairy woodpecker reach their southern limits here. The resplendent quetzal is characteristic of the zone but not often seen here, more likely at San Gerardo.

This forest is readily viewed from the good gravel road to Providencia de Dota, about 10 kilometers back towards San José from the Cerro. There is much more tourist infrastructure in nearby San Gerardo but the entrance to that valley is through mostly pasture.

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You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 206
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A commentary on the state of politics
The social conservative has gone to war against everybody
By Pedro J. Solís*
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Being a conservative can’t be easy these days. That’s the price to pay for having strong convictions based on a simplistic vision of the social world. This vision makes the world look to him as a terrifying landscape painted in black and white, torn by a cultural dichotomy that assumes the shape of a war.  
It’s the cultural war that he is fighting against the Other, against everybody who doesn’t fit the model of what he considers being a good Christian.

Obviously this model has little to do with being a true Christian, but it’s his way of conceptualizing what he judges threatening to the preservation of his cultural identity.

Lost in the exuberant ocean of divergent visions, the social conservative tries to keep floating in a boat that already has too many fissures. Holding what he considers the very foundations that bring together society becomes a though and heroic task. Saving others from their moral ruin is the highest expression of his good will.    
In front of a world that keeps making progress in the openness and comprehension of the plurality of human expressions, he still reminds us the risk of succumbing to cultural relativism. Something quite noble of him if behind this wasn’t hidden a blatant egocentrism that justifies what cannot be justified, in the vain certainty that his nation, skin color, religion and sexual orientation entitles him to impose himself to others without bear any pain in considering the collateral damages that his redeeming vocation may cause.  

This vocation doesn’t satisfy itself controlling all aspects of the private life, that’s why he pursues to be in charge of the public life as a whole. It’s unacceptable for him that his strict father model isn’t transferred to the structure of the State whose main purpose becomes to discipline the individuals and protect them from real and imaginary enemies, another proof of what a jealous father is able to do in order to protect his sons from the moral pollution that might affect them if they interact with the Other.

The social conservative’s moral psychology is highly motivated by the feeling of disgust and its correlative obsession with purity. The disgust that he experiences over his body and the body of others conveys him to formulate impractical sexual norms for the rest of the world.   

social conservatism
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'. . . a terrifying landscape painted in black and white . . . .'

That feeling of disgust, together with his obsession with purity, is expressed in his judgments against cultural practices different from his own too. The alien, what comes from outside, is something disgusting so that’s why we have to purify it keeping it isolated. From there is the euphemism in which he falls when trying to make us believe that the beauty of every culture lies in its purity.

What haunts him is that his precious values fall down a slippery slope into a nasty pond where he can’t find a priori foundations that calm his spirit, since those foundations are rather the outcome of an open dialogue in which it is pursued for everyone the acknowledgement of the same rights that we claim for ourselves.  
This kind of situation must be very hard to digest by the social conservative, especially if he supposes that there should be first, second and third class citizens and, if that natural structure is not respected, all of us must pay for its consequences although those consequences remain merely symbolic.  

The portrait I have painted is of someone who has problems to deal with others as adults, maybe because deep down he remains a child. A child trapped into a war against pluralism, freedom and reason. A child whose main motivation to do good is fear of punishment. A child that belittles moral progress because his primary goal is to revive values and ways of life from the past. A child that, by any means, doesn’t want to grow. 
*Pedro Solís is a philosophy professor at the Universidad Autónoma de Centro América. He lives near Tres Rios, Cartago, and social conservatism is one of his research areas.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

HIdden Garden graphic
Put Costa Rica on your walls
The Hidden Garden Art Gallery near the Liberia airport is the perfect place to find quality Costa Rican and international art for your home or office.  With over 60 artists and 15 rooms full of paintings, prints, sculptures, and diverse artistic expressions, we have been your source for fine art since 2010.  We also offer commissioned pieces so you can create your own unique masterpiece to cherish forever. Located just 5 kms west of the Daniel Oduber International Airport (towards the beaches).

Visit our Web site at:
Contact us by email:  
Find us on Trip Advisor, Facebook, Twitter,
Moon Travel Guides & Frommer's

Gallery hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tel.  8386-6872 / 2667-0592; U.S. telephone 702-953-7073
International shipping available.

Click photo for another video

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

 (as reported by the moving companies)
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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Contact us: 
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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 206
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New Clinton email generates
claim of corruption confirmed

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. government officials deny that any deal was proposed between the State Department and the FBI to change the classification of a Hillary Clinton email in exchange for allowing more of the bureau’s agents to be posted overseas.

“We dispute the assertion that there was any kind of quid pro quo involving the case of upgrading an email in exchange for additional slots for FBI officials in Baghdad,” said deputy spokesman Mark Toner.

During intense questioning by reporters at the department’s daily briefing Monday, Toner called any insinuation of a proposed deal insulting.

According to summaries of interviews with FBI officials released earlier in the day, a bureau official told investigators that Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy pressured the FBI to declassify information in one of the emails from the private server of Clinton from the time she served as secretary of State.

Downgrading the email’s classification level for archiving would have allowed it, as Kennedy is quoted as saying, “never to be seen again.”

The particular email is related to the 2012 attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans died in the siege, including then-ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Since the incident, conservative critics of Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, have fiercely attacked her for allegedly ignoring security warnings and engaging in a cover-up.

The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from the state of Utah, and Devin Nunes, a California Republican and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Monday called for the president and secretary of State to immediately remove Kennedy from his post, calling the career diplomat’s actions extremely disturbing.

“Pat Kennedy is going to remain at his job, and he has the full confidence of the secretary of State,” Toner said when asked about the congressmen’s request.

The revelation is the latest chapter in the email controversy that has vexed Mrs. Clinton.

Her main opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, on the social media platform Twitter, Monday characterized the newly released documents as unbelievable and evidence of corruption confirmed.

The notes released are a total of 100 pages and are the FBI’s fourth release of materials related to its now-closed investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server.

The FBI, in a statement, said no deal was proposed in a discussion between Kennedy and one of its officials, whose name was redacted from the released documents and has since retired.

“Having been previously unsuccessful in attempts to speak with the senior State official, during the same conversation, the FBI official asked the State Department official if they would address a pending, unaddressed FBI request for space for additional FBI employees assigned abroad. Following the call, the FBI official consulted with a senior FBI executive responsible for determining the classification of the material and determined the email was in fact appropriately classified at the secret level,” according to the statement, which added that “although there was never a quid pro quo, these allegations were nonetheless referred to the appropriate officials for review.”

A spokesman for the Clinton presidential campaign, Robby Mook, characterized the FBI-State Department conversations about the Benghazi email as one of numerous, routine disputes regarding classification.

“It’s not uncommon for officials within a department to fight over classification,” Mook told reporters.

Melania Trump defends hubby
as apologetic, kind gentleman

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The wife of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is defending her husband from condemnation generated by his bragging to a television host about forcing himself on women without their consent.

In an interview broadcast Monday night on CNN, Melania Trump alleged that her husband was egged on by the TV personality, then “Access Hollywood” anchorman Bill Bush, to say “dirty and bad stuff” on tape recorded in 2005. She added about her husband, “This is not the man that I know. He’s a gentleman. He’s kind. And I know he respects women.”

In the recording, Donald Trump brags in lewd terms about grabbing and kissing women and trying to seduce a married woman. He has apologized publicly for the comments, while referring to them simply as locker room talk.

Melania Trump told CNN her husband apologized to her for his remarks on the tape, and that she accepted his apology. She also accused the left wing media of making an issue of the tape to damage her husband’s reputation. She said she supports her husband’s claims that the November presidential election is being rigged in Hillary Clinton’s favor, arguing that the media is biased and dishonest.

For his part, Donald Trump Monday ramped up his contention that the election is rigged against him.

“Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before Election Day,” Trump said in one of a flurry of Twitter comments. “Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!”

Trump continues to trail in the polls, three weeks ahead of the Nov. 8 election. He has produced no evidence of voter fraud or other claims he has made, such as alleging that Hillary Clinton was on drugs during their last presidential debate or that she got the debate questions ahead of time.

Still, a new survey by the political Web site Politico and the polling company Morning Consult shows many Americans are skeptical about the integrity of the national election, with 41 percent of voters believing that the election could be stolen from Trump. There was a wide partisan split in the poll results, with 73 percent of Republicans, but only 17 percent of Democrats, agreeing that there could be massive vote fraud.

In another Trump claim Monday, he said hacked emails from Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chief John Podesta being released by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks proves even the Clinton campaign knew that she mishandled classified info on the private, unsecured email server she used while serving as U.S. secretary of State from 2009 to 2013.

“But no one gets charged? RIGGED!” he said.

U.S. investigators have concluded that Mrs. Clinton’s handling of the national security material was extremely careless, but that criminal charges were not warranted.

The latest national polls Monday showed Mrs. Clinton with a growing lead over Trump. Several polls released Monday show her with leads of between 2 and 12 percentage points over Trump.

Billy Bush fired for his role
in controversial Trump tape

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. television host Billy Bush has been fired from his job on NBC's "Today" show, following the release of a tape in which he could be heard having a lewd conversation about women with real estate tycoon Donald Trump, now the Republican U.S. presidential nominee.

Bush was suspended from the NBC morning show after the tape emerged earlier this month.

NBC announced the departure of Bush in a note to employees Monday, saying he is "a valued colleague and longtime member of the broader NBC family. We wish him success as he goes forward."

On the 2005 tape, Bush, who at the time worked for the TV show "Access Hollywood," is heard laughing as Trump talks about grabbing, fondling and kissing women. Trump has since denied ever abusing women.

After the tape came out, Bush said he was embarrassed and ashamed by his behavior. In a statement Monday, Bush said he is "deeply grateful for the conversations I've had with my daughters, and for all of the support from family, friends and colleagues. I look forward to what lies ahead."

The 45-year-old television host is the nephew of former President George H. W. Bush and cousin of former President George W. Bush.

Marine general pleads guilty
in lying to U.S. investigators

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A retired U.S. Marine general who at one time was the nation’s second highest-ranking military officer, pleaded guilty Monday to charges that he lied to investigators about leaking classified information.

Gen. James Cartwright, a retired 4-star general, is a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Investigators wanted to know if he was the source of the leak to journalists about a computer virus the U.S. and Israel used to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program.

A computer virus called Stuxnet caused Iranian centrifuges enriching uranium to spin out of control in 2010, possibly setting back Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear bomb.

The information was spelled out in the book “Confront and Conceal” by New York Times reporter David Sanger.

Cartwright could face up to five years in prison, but reports say his lawyer and government prosecutors have agreed on a six-month sentence.

Guantanamo author released
to return to his Mauritania

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The prisoner who wrote “Guantanamo Diary,” a memoir recounting his daily life as a detainee in a controversial U.S. military prison, has been released from captivity after 14 years.

The man, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, 45, has gone home to his native Mauritania after spending more than a decade at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Mauritanian had been held without charges since 2002. On July 14, Ould Slahi was approved for release from the detention center at the U.S. base in Cuba.

The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed his transfer Monday.

Ould Slahi became one of Guantanamo’s most prominent inmates with the 2015 publication of a prison memoir in which he described years of detention and interrogation, including being subjected to harsh techniques widely considered torture.

Ould Slahi was originally suspected of being a senior recruiter for al-Qaida. But his lawyers contended that his links to militants were limited to the early 1990s when he fought in Afghanistan with mujahideen anti-Communist insurgents.

“I feel grateful and indebted to the people who have stood by me,” Ould Slahi said in a statement released by the American Civil Liberties Union. “I have come to learn that goodness is transnational, transcultural, and trans-ethnic. I’m thrilled to reunite with my family.”

With his release, there are now 60 detainees at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. That includes 19 who have been approved for release and are expected to leave in the coming months before President Barack Obama leaves office.

Obama had sought to close the detention center but was blocked by Congress, which enacted legislation forbidding the transfer of detainees to the U.S.

Virginia man admits urging
lone-wolf attacks by terrorists

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A Virginia man has pleaded guilty to trying to help Islamic State militants, and he faces up to 20 years in prison.

The U.S. Justice Department said Haris Qamar, 26, tried to help Islamic State militants encourage lone-wolf attacks in Washington, D.C.

Qamar told a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, Monday that he used social media to connect with people to promote Islamic State.

Prosecutors say Qamar worked with a government informant to photograph and film landmarks in the Washington region, including the Pentagon.

"This case demonstrates the reach terrorist organizations have through social media and the threat that they pose to our national security," said Assistant Director in Charge Paul Abbate. "When Qamar could not travel overseas, he attempted to assist ISIL's propaganda campaign for the purpose of inspiring lone wolf attacks in the Washington, D.C., area." ISIL is one of several acronyms for Islamic State.

The Justice Department said Qamar wanted to travel overseas to join Islamic State, but his parents prevented him by taking away his passport. It said Qamar told the informant that if his parents gave him back his passport, "I'm done, I leave."

Also Monday, a federal grand jury charged a Bangladeshi man living in the state of Maryland with trying to provide support to Islamic State.

According to court documents, Nelash Mohamed Das, 24, allegedly planned to kill a U.S. military member in support of Islamic State militants. The documents say that Islamic State members and supporters have posted identifying information about U.S. military personnel in the hopes that those inspired by the group would carry out attacks.

If convicted, Das faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Nearly 200 nations will cut
use of hydrofluorocarbons

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Nearly 200 of the world's nations reached a historic agreement Saturday to reduce greenhouse gases used in refrigerators and air conditioners; a major step in the fight against climate change.

The agreement to reduce hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, was announced at a climate meeting in Kigali, Rwanda. HFCs can have an effect that is thousands of times greater than that of an equal volume of carbon dioxide when released into the atmosphere, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

In a statement, President Barack Obama called the pact among 197 nations and governments an ambitious and far reaching solution to this looming crisis.

"It shows that we can take action to protect our planet in a way that helps all countries improve the lives and livelihoods of their citizens," the president said.

"It's a monumental step forward," said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was in Kigali for the conference.

The accord divides countries into three groups with different time frames for starting their reduction of HFCs. The U.S. and most of Europe have committed to reducing their use of the gases incrementally, starting with a 10 percent cut by 2019 and reducing 85 percent by 2036.

Two groups of developing countries will freeze their use of the gases by either 2024 or 2028, and then gradually reduce their use. India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and the Gulf countries will meet the later deadline.

The hydrofluorocarbon phasedown proposal targets an 85 percent reduction by 2035, through research and development and testing of low-to zero-global warming potential technologies.

​Some wealthy nations have already begun reducing their use of HFCs.
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 206
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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
Government ready to push for more taxes

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government is promoting an agenda containing its 13 new laws designed to tackle the national deficit.

The Presidency and the Ministerio de Hacienda noted Monday that six laws already have been passed on first reading by the current legislature and one is being reviewed by the Sala IV constitutional court.

The bills that already have gotten first approval are not the main ways the government seeks to generate more money. The approved bills relate to pensions and to ways to find out more about taxpayers.

The six still pending are the most controversial. One would renew the tax on corporations. Another would impose a value-added tax that would replace the current 13 percent sales tax. Yet another would increase the tax rate.

The central government is expected to make a strong push in the next two months to win approval of these bills so they can go into effect early in the coming year.

Meanwhile, the government is coming under pressure from international agencies and financial rating organizations over the growing deficit. Half the current budget is borrowed  money.

Widow sues Twitters for helping militants

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The widow of an American killed in Jordan is suing Twitter, Inc., accusing the social media company of giving a voice to the Islamic State group.

Tamara Fields, a Florida woman whose husband, Lloyd, died in the Nov. 9 attack on a police training center in Amman, said Twitter knowingly let the militant Islamist group use its network to spread propaganda, raise money and attract recruits.

She said the San Francisco company had until recently given Islamic State, also known as ISIS or IS, an unfettered ability to maintain official Twitter accounts.

"Without Twitter, the explosive growth of ISIS over the last few years into the most-feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible," according to the complaint filed Wednesday in federal court in Oakland, California.

Mrs. Fields accused Twitter of violating the Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows triple damages for providing material support to terrorists. Her attorney said he thought the case was the first in which a social media company was accused of violating that federal law.

The lawsuit may add to pressure that social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook Inc. face to take down posts associated with terrorist groups.

"While we believe the lawsuit is without merit, we are deeply saddened to hear of this family's terrible loss," Twitter said in a statement about the civil lawsuit. "Violent threats and the promotion of terrorism deserve no place on Twitter and, like other social networks, our rules make that clear."

Friday, the Obama administration set up a task force to crack down on extremist groups using the Internet to advance their goals, find recruits and plan attacks such as recent killings in Paris and San Bernardino, California.

Lloyd Fields was among five people killed in the lone-wolf attack at the police training center by Jordanian Police Officer Anwar Abu Zeid.

The government contractor, who had been a police officer for a decade, was in Jordan to train police from that country, Iraq and the Palestinian territories.
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From Page 7:

Campaign's economic impact reported growing

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Concern and uncertainty about elections affect the economy, and a researcher says their effect on business has been increasing. Data show stock markets more volatile during election season, while other research shows both consumers and corporate leaders delay purchases, decisions and investments when the path ahead is unclear. But there is some debate about how to gauge the impact that political uncertainty has on the overall economy.

What happens on the campaign trail, with conflicting promises on taxes, trade, and other issues, has a real impact on markets, according to the research firm, Macroeconomic Advisers.

The S&P 500 has changed throughout the campaign as the fortunes of the candidates changed. Joel Prakken said via Skype that markets seemed to prefer a Hillary Clinton victory.

"As the odds of a Clinton victory rose, at least as recorded in the polls, we saw the market rally, and if the odds of a Clinton victory receded, we saw the market retreat," said Prakken.

The market and economic impact of politics and political uncertainty has grown, according to a University of Iowa finance professor, Art Durnev.

"Politics affects financial markets much, much more now than, let’s say, 10, 20 or 30 years ago," said Durnev.

That's because uncertainty about taxes and rules has an impact on the factory floor.

Research shows worried managers delay important corporate actions like the timing of stock offerings.

"They hold up on investment, they start hoarding cash, they don't want to spend. Major corporations delay their hiring, their firing decisions. Everything is on hold for them,” said Durnev.

Uncertainty also affects consumers who power a lot of economic activity, according to Macroeconomic Advisers' Joel Prakken.

"Buying a car, buying a house, starting a business, managing a business, making investment decisions, when they are uncertain about the environment in which they will be making those decisions, there is a natural tendency to take a pause, take a break, sit on your hands, and wait until the uncertainty clears," said Prakken.

But experts wonder if political uncertainty has a larger or smaller impact than energy costs, interest rates, or corporate guesses about future demand for products, according to Brookings scholar Bill Galston.

"There is a lot of professional disagreement among economists as to how weighty uncertainty is in relationship to more fundamental market evaluations," said Galston.

Political uncertainty won't end with the election. For example, if Democrat Hillary Clinton wins, she will have to get her program past Congress, where one or perhaps both houses may be controlled by skeptical Republicans.