A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 243
for posts in administration
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
U.S. president-elect Donald Trump has chosen former professional wrestling executive Linda McMahon to head the Small Business Administration and lawyer Scott Pruitt, ally of the fossil fuels industry, to head the Environmental Protection Agency.
Ms. McMahon, a failed contender for the U.S. Senate and an early supporter of Trump's presidential campaign, is expected to play a key role in Trump's efforts to generate more U.S. jobs.
Ms. McMahon is a co-founder and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., a prominent sports entertainment company. She said in a statement Wednesday that she plans to promote the country's small businesses and help them grow and thrive.
Also Wednesday, a transition official told The New York Times that Trump plans to name Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.
Pruitt has been a vocal critic of what he called the EPA's activist agenda and has said he does not believe climate change is caused by man-made carbon emissions, saying the debate over climate change is far from settled.
As Oklahoma's top law enforcement officer, Pruitt is currently involved in a lawsuit with 23 other states against the EPA over environmental regulations. He has also filed briefs in support of the Keystone XL Pipeline project, a proposed oil pipeline opposed by the Obama administration.
Earlier Wednesday, transition officials said Trump has chosen retired Marine Gen. John Kelly to lead the Department of Homeland Security, a massive and troubled agency tasked with combating terrorism. Trump has promised to crack down on illegal immigration.
Officials said Kelly was nominated because of his expertise regarding the southwest border the United States shares with Mexico and his stated desire to address illegal drugs, terrorism and other threats he believes originate in Central and South America.
In 2010, Kelly's son, Lt. Robert Kelly, was killed in a land-mine explosion in Afghanistan, making the general the highest-ranking U.S. military officer to lose a child in the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Kelly, who is expected to win Senate confirmation, is the latest in a string of former military figures to be nominated for positions in the incoming Trump administration. Trump has also nominated retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security advisor and retired Marine Gen. James Mattis as Defense secretary. The Retired Army general and former Central Intelligence Agency chief, David Petraeus, is said to be among those under consideration for secretary of State.
Trump said earlier Wednesday that former critic and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is still being considered for secretary of State, reinforcing reports that Romney remains the leading contender for the position.
Trump said he will likely announce his choice for the nation's top diplomatic post next week.
Trump appeared last week to have narrowed his list to four names: Romney, Gen. Petraeus, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker.
Earlier Wednesday, Trump selected Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad as the next U.S. ambassador to China, a country Trump rattled recently with tough trade talk and a telephone call with Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan, a rival of China.
Gov. Branstad has a relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping that goes back more than 30 years.
The president-elect met Tuesday with the CEO of ExxonMobil Corp., Rex Tillerson, who has also been mentioned as a candidate for secretary of State. The 64-year-old Texas oilman has no government experience, but has close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders.
Mattis nomination causing
controversy due to old law
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire service
The incoming Trump administration faced its first test on Capitol Hill Wednesday, as House Republicans, trying to speed up the nomination of the president-elect’s pick for secretary of Defense, called a government funding bill into question just hours before it was to expire.
The debate strikes at the heart of a long-held principle of American government that separates the military from the civilian authority.
It began when House Republicans added a waiver to the short-term continuing resolution. The waiver would expedite the process of allowing the Defense nominee, retired Gen. James Mattis, to bypass a nearly 70-year-old law requiring former members of the military to wait seven years after their military service before serving in a civilian post.
Mattis is ineligible to serve as secretary of Defense because he retired from the military in 2013.
The waiver limits debate on the issue in the Senate for 10 hours and would forestall delaying tactics in the chamber thereby speeding up the process.
“Civilian leadership of the military has been a cornerstone of our democracy since the founders, and for good reason,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement released Tuesday.
“Decisions about war and peace have to have a civilian input,” Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said. Korb was also an assistant secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration.
“We are also very concerned about a separation of powers,” he added. “Only Congress can declare war, and they raise an Army and Navy, so we are very, very concerned that we would have an over-militarization of our foreign policy.”
Some Democrats objected to the insertion of the waiver into the short-term spending bill that funds the government past a Dec. 9 deadline, arguing it does not give lawmakers sufficient time to consider the key appointment.
Other Democrats, however, welcomed the appointment of Mattis.
Those who came as a child
worry about deportations
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
Giovanni Guerreo was 7 years old when he arrived in the U.S. Since then, his family has overstayed a visa, meaning Guerreo and his siblings are illegal.
"I'm a proud Mexican-American, but I've been here since the first grade and being raised here, you get adapted," Guerreo said.
The 20-year-old is also a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program that could end if president-elect Donald Trump fulfills his promise to cancel all executive actions, memoranda and orders issued by President Barack Obama affecting the protection of immigrants who were brought to the country as children. Trump has labeled them unconstitutional.
Guerreo is now a third-year aerospace engineering student concentrating in astronautics at California Poly San Luis Obispo.
"All my efforts and dreams will be destroyed by not being allowed to enter industry, especially if I am deported," Guerreo said. "Once you're deported, it's kind of over for you."
Stories like Guerreo's prompted a group of 60 Democratic House members to write a letter, urging Obama to pardon deferred action recipients who are in the U.S. illegally with the idea being to shield them from prosecution. More than 740,000 people have been approved for deportation relief under the program.
"After decades in this country, young people were educated in our schools, children who have grown up with our children, who know no other country, who have pledged allegiance to our flag. And now we know there are Republicans who want them deported, and their skills and talents taken to some other country," Illinois Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez said Wednesday at a news conference.
In the letter, the legislators said that deferred action recipients, also known as dreamers, had trusted the government to protect them. But many dreamers now fear that addresses and other identifying information they provided to register can be used by the new administration to target them for deportation.
Democratic members said they know the president's clemency power would not give legal status to any undocumented individual, as only Congress can create legal status.
Never before has an incoming president threatened such a large segment of our population with deportation, but President Obama has the ability to act legally and irreversibly in their defense, said Democratic Rep. Judy Chu of California.
Rep. Chu was referring to Trump's promises to reverse current administration immigration executive orders signed in 2012.
It would be one of the easiest promises for Trump to fulfill, as he can undo all executive orders signed by the previous president.
The president-elect transition team has not disclosed how or if he will implement his immigration promises.
Also Wednesday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke to reporters after meeting with Trump in New York.
The mayor, who was former White House chief of staff to Obama, said they discussed a variety of topics, among them deferred action students.
"I delivered to the president-elect, his senior adviser and his chief-of-staff a letter signed by 14 mayors put together from across the country about DACA students, that they were working hard toward the American dream," Emanuel said.
But embracing Dreamers may not include pardoning them.
Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House's Domestic Policy Council, said she knows people are hoping that a pardon authority is a way to protect people, but it is not an answer here.
"Pardon authority is generally designed for criminal violations, not civil. Ultimately, it wouldn't protect a single soul from deportation. It is not an answer here for this population. I know people are hoping for an answer," Ms. Munoz said during a podcast interview released by the Center for Migration Studies.
GOP may be facing division
over Trump's hands-off policy
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
Donald Trump’s stated non-interventionism irks hawks on Capitol Hill and could split Republican lawmakers when the president-elect becomes America’s commander in chief next month.
The United States is going to be involved in foreign conflicts whether it wants to be or not, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican of South Carolina said.
“You can’t defeat radical Islam from our shores. You have to be on the ground over there. And you can’t maintain victory without a follow-on presence,” added Sen. Graham, a long-serving member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Speaking in North Carolina Tuesday, Trump said he does not want to have American forces fighting in areas that we shouldn't be fighting in and that a destructive cycle of intervention and chaos must end.
"We will stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about, that we shouldn't be involved with," Trump told supporters at a post-election rally.
The president-elect also formally announced he has chosen retired Marine Gen. James Mattis as his nominee for secretary of defense.
Mattis, who earned the nickname Mad Dog during his service, is no stranger to U.S. military interventions. He commanded a Marine division during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and later oversaw U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq as head of U.S. Central Command.
“Obviously he knows what he’s getting with General Mattis,” said Sen. John McCain, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, “I know him very well. General Mattis and I share the same view about the importance of American leadership.”
While not directly criticizing Trump’s non-interventionism, McCain said a more assertive U.S. role on the world stage is needed.
Some Republicans are taking a wait-and-see approach on how Trump will perform as commander in chief.
Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri said Trump’s non-interventionist message “is not inconsistent with anything the president-elect said during the campaign. If the president-elect’s position is that we shouldn’t intervene just because we can, of course that’s right.”
Other Republicans warmed to the president-elect’s message.
“Common sense and smart” is how Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby described Trump’s statements on U.S. military might.
Drug used for diabetes
could help fight Parkinson’s
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
A new drug designed to treat diabetes is poised to enter human clinical trials as a treatment for Parkinson's disease.
An estimated 7 million to 10 million people around the world are living with Parkinson's disease, for which there is no cure. Experts expect the numbers to increase as the global population ages.
Currently, a drug called levodopa is used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson's, which include severe tremors, rigid muscles and slowed movement.
The new medication, MSDC-0160, potentially slows progression of the disease, which gradually destroys neurons that produce the brain chemical dopamine.
The experimental agent appears to regulate the function of mitochondria, which are considered the power generators within cells. It restores the ability of brain cells to convert nutrients into energy, managing potentially harmful proteins. Normalizing those proteins leads to reduced inflammation and a lessening of neuronal death.
Writing in Science Translational Medicine, the authors report the agent reduced brain cell inflammation and preserved motor function in a progressive mouse model of Parkinson's. Researchers hope to begin clinical trials of MSDC-0160 next year.
Twitter releases top trends,
despite shrinking, setbacks
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
Give the Rio Olympics a gold medal. The Summer Games hosted in Brazil generated the year’s most tweets for a single topic, according to Twitter.
The microblogging site shared its list of 2016’s top five trending topics on Tuesday.
Next on the list was the hotly contested U.S. presidential election, which saw Republican Donald Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The third most popular topic was the virtual reality game Pokemon Go, Twitter said.
At number four on the list was the Euro2016 soccer tournament, which saw Portugal take the title.
Rounding out the top five was the Oscars, which saw the movie "Spotlight" named best picture.
Twitter also released the most popular tweets from around the world, including the simple "Limonada: tweet from a Spanish gamer known as elrubius. A post election tweet from Hillary Clinton was third on that list. In the tweet, she called on little girls to pursue their dreams.
While popular among some, Twitter has been facing headwinds, forcing layoffs and seeing the stock price tumble.
In response, the company has rolled out some changes to its service, including tweaking the 140-character limit.
Still, the company has seen its user base shrink as it struggles against social media giants Facebook and Snapchat.
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