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Published Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, in Vol. 17, No. 12
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Feds reject plan to simplify tax reporting for expats
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Treasury Department has declined to adopt the same country exemption that would free many expats from burdensome reporting requirements.

The announcement of the decision comes at the same time that the National Taxpayer Advocate said the tax-collecting Internal Revenue has in some cases imposed unnecessary burdens and failed to protect the rights of affected taxpayers. That criticism was in reference to enforcing the 2010  Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.

The tax advocate, Nina Olson, in her annual report to Congress characterized these burdens as additional tax preparation fees and the unwillingness of some foreign financial institutions to do business with U.S. expatriates.

The private advocacy organization, the  American Citizens Abroad, was more blunt. The Treasury Department slams the door on same country exemption for Americans abroad, it said. The Internal Revenue Service is affiliated with the Treasury Department.

The exemption would have eliminated IRS reporting requirements for expats who bank in the same country in which they live.

American Citizens Abroad noted it had worked on the exemption proposal for two years but it said the Treasury officials declined to make changes for fear of the risk of tax avoidance involving money in foreign accounts.

American Citizens Abroad said that tax cheats were a relatively small population of U.S. taxpayers residing in a foreign country and
nyet
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banking at their local bank to evade U.S. tax. 

The expat advocacy association and similar groups also are working to change the U.S. Tax Code to use a geographical rule instead of a citizenship rule. Now U.S. citizens must pay taxes on money earned abroad, too, although there are some exemptions. The association prefers the way nearly all other countries tax their citizens on just money earned within the national borders.

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act requires U.S. citizens to report their assets held abroad each year when they file a tax return. The law also requires foreign banks to file reports on their U.S. citizen customers, which is why some of the banks have declined to do business with expats. The rule also applies to green card holders, those with double citizenship and spouses of U.S. citizens.

American Citizens Abroad said that the Treasury Department either missed the point or failed reasonably to balance the considerations when it declined to make changes in the regulations.

It said it hopes to bring up the subject again with the new administration.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 12
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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.

Dentistry


Dental                                                      Services rollover
Dental Services Costa Rica

Dr Oscar Vargas specialist in prosthodontics
Where Science and Art meet!
www.dentalservicescostarica.com


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CR local phone:  +506-2274-3231
Cell: +506-8302-5877
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Psychotherapy

Dr. Gray
Dr. Lucinda Gray
California Licensed
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International Practice

• Anxiety
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US (310) 827-4241
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Insurance professionals

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E-mail : info@garrettbrokers.com
More information HERE!
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Residency experts

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JAVIER ZAVALETA
RESIDENCY IN COSTA RICA
A full service immigration agency
U.S. and San José offices

There are four primary ways to apply for legal residency in Costa Rica:
    Retiree (Pensionado):  For those with a pension or other retirement income.
    Legal Resident (Rentista): For those with guaranteed non-salary income or savings.
    Business/Investor (Inversionista): For those with Costa Rican business or real estate investments.
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P. O. Box 86352, Los Angeles, CA 90086
U.S. Phone: (323) 255-6116
U.S.  Fax (323) 344-1620
Phone in Costa Rica: ( 506 ) 2226=0755  (En español )

Email:  javier@residencyincostarica.com
Web: www.residencyincostarica.com
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 Accountants

U.S. Income Tax Services
Marlene B. Summers, Tax Accountant
Licensed by the I.R.S.
 
Ms. Summers
Marlene B. Summers
U.S. citizens, plan now for your tax year. Let me help you pay only the tax  you must!
 
Take advantage of the foreign earned income exclusion.
 
If your filing is not up-to-date, the Streamlined Filing Procedure can be used to mitigate penalties.   Including  disclosure of foreign corporations to avoid future problems. 

File current or past due FBARs with no penalties to meet IRS requirements.
File your current or amended returns.

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U.S. Tax International
Plus Costa Rican taxes, accounting, and legal
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U.S. Tax
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(English spoken). Tamarindo office hours now available.  If you or anyone you know would like an appointment in Tamarindo, please call our San José office at 2288-2201 to make an appointment.
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E-mail: ustax@lawyer.com
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James Brohl, C.P.A. & M.B.A.
US Income Tax,  U.S. GAAP Accounting
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pecializing in all matters of concern to U.S. taxpayers residing abroad including:
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Business consulting to facilitate working in Costa Rica.

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Fine art restoration and conservation

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Master Art Restorer
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Real estate agents and services

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Calls from USA: (518) 693-7494
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Eco
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Colinas del
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9056-2/28/17
Country second in LatAm innovation

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica is in second place among Latin American and Caribbean countries for innovation.

Published annually since 2007, the Global Innovation Index measures and ranks using a complex system of indicators of around 128 countries’ innovation capabilities. Using around 82 data tables from 30 public and private sources worldwide, the index examines factors such as education expenditures by governments, taxes, regulations for businesses, gross domestic product, environmental performance, protections for investors, and intensity of local market competition.

It also looks at patent law as well as collaboration between different industries or education institutes in business enterprise along with very specific indicators such as the number of women with advanced degrees who are employed. The methodology is a complex computation that is then aggregated and calculated before being reanalyzed again in an examination of year-by-year changes from the previous indexes.

Based on the data, Costa Rica was ranked 45th overall behind Chile that was rated 44th in the world. Chile did however score the top placement for Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the index. Mexico received the third place in the region.

Speaking of Latin America, the report stated: ". . . local economies have not significantly improved relative to other regions in recent years, and no country in the region currently shows a performance higher than its GDP.”

Fifteen of the top 25 total countries examined in the survey come from Europe including the top three ranked: Switzerland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The United States placed fourth in the index overall and first in the region of North America.

The report came from Cornell University, the INSEAD world business school and the U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization.


Ruta 32 being closed for simulation

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The prosecutor’s office in Pococí is closing part of Ruta 32 for two hours Jan. 24.

Attorneys for a man who collided with a motorcycle at that spot in La Marina de Guápiles had their request approved to recreate the accident. The person driving the motorcycle is suing the defendant whose vehicle hit him because injuries sustained during the accident resulted in the amputation of his leg. The closing will be between 1 and 3 p.m.

The victim and witnesses are expected to participate in this reconstruction of the scene. This case occurred in June 13, 2013. According to judicial workers, transit authorities have already been notified of the order to close the road.


Law would benefit private teachers

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A proposed law would allow private school teachers to affiliate with the financial arm of the Asociación Nacional de Educadores.

The Caja de Ahorro y Préstamos de la Asociación Nacional de Educadores is a type of credit union. But now only public school employees are allowed to affiliate.

The proposed measure, presented Monday, would expand the membership. Belonging to the financial entity does not mean being required to join the  Asociación Nacional de Educadores, which is a union, said sponsors of the bill.


Clerk dies in market holdup

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Officials reported a murder and an attack in supermarkets Sunday and Monday.

At La Teresa in Guácimo, a 23-year old cashier was shot in the chest by two men attempting to steal money from his register around 8 in the morning on Monday. The man died a few minutes later at a nearby clinic from the store where he was working.

Agents are still investigating witness accounts that a getaway car may have been present.

In another case, a 38-year old man was stabbed in the chest by two others who had followed him into the supermarket around 9 p.m. on Sunday. The attack occurred at the supermarket near the intersection of Avenida 5 and Calle 8 in San José Centro. His attackers fled and have still not been found, according to agents. The injured man went to Hospital San Juan de Dios.


Drug violations top Palmares arrest list

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Out of 275 arrests made during the Fiestas de Palmares, 244 of those were for drug violations.

The Fuerza Pública confiscated around 98 joints, 168 pouches, and 28 grams of marijuana since Thursday when the fiestas began. In addition, small amounts of cocaine and crack were confiscated. Police only made 12 arrests of people disturbing the peace, according to officials.


Lawmakers OK international sales pact

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers have approved the country's adoption of a United Nations convention on international sales.

The agreement, adopted in 1980 and entered into force elsewhere in 1988 provides  a modern, uniform and fair regime for contracts for the international sale of goods, the United Nations says.

The agreement is known as the The United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods  or the Vienna Convention.

The agreement overrides Costa Rican law in the cases of international sales because the country gives a higher judicial ranking to international treaties than the Costa Rican Constitution.

Small and medium-sized enterprises as well as traders located in developing countries typically have reduced access to legal advice when negotiating a contract, the United Nations noted in a summary of the law. Thus, they are more vulnerable to problems caused by inadequate treatment in the contract of issues relating to applicable law, it added, noting that the same enterprises and traders may also be the weaker contractual parties and could have difficulties in ensuring that the contractual balance is kept. Those merchants would therefore derive particular benefit from the default application of the fair and uniform regime, the U.N. added

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 12
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A simple recipe can give a big lift to passers-by in the downtown
By Conor Golden
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Street vendors are a hit or miss when it comes to their wares, and with food it becomes an even bigger success or failure depending on what you get.

Joaquín Jiménez, lifelong resident of San José, has been selling his street treats for about 40 years. With a smile and a wink, he said it is because he likes to talk to people, whether foreigner or Costa Rican. One can find him out every morning and afternoon from Monday thru Friday selling his snack for 500 colons a square. That snack is a Costa Rican comida típica, or common food, called cajetas de coco.

Cajetas are sold in many different forms, but with the same core ingredients. These treats can be found throughout Central America, but are very common in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The recipe for traditional cajetas de coco is simple.

Other recipes may add butter and other ingredients to turn it into something more closely resembling a brownie or fudge, but Jiménez insisted that his own recipe only calls for the three core ingredients. “Water, sugar, and coconut,” he said. He uses raw, brown sugar, called tapa de dulce.

Jiménez elaborated on those instructions to say that the cajetas should be laid out on the table to cool off and harden before being cut into the square treat he sells on the streets. Jiménez said that his total cooking effort lasts around four hours. 

The basic result is raw coconut with some sugar thrown in to sweeten it. The taste is like the filling for a Mounds or Almond Joy candy bar, but it looks more like some cereal taken out of the breakfast bowl and molded into a square. The texture is a little rougher than the candy bar filling, and one can discern the brown sugar from factory-produced sweeteners.

Jiménez claims to sell out every day to around 80-100 people. He gets regulars because of his location. One can find his set-up across from the bus stop along Avenida 3 above Parque de España between the Registro Civil and Calle 9 in downtown San José.

He has been at the same spot for five years, by his own

candy seller
A.M. Costa Rica/Conor Golden
Joaquín Jiménez expresses his optimism with a friend.

estimate. He does this intentionally, he said, to get a lot of business from pedestrians and commuters walking along the streets. He even gets customers in cars honking their horns as they pull off to the side. Usually when people head home during afternoon rush hour, so is Jiménez albeit with a folded table, a lot more coins and a lot fewer cajetas.


Hotel header
 
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Palermo 900
 
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You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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Bone fragments show humans lived in Canada at least 24,000 years ago
By the Université de Montréal news staff

The timing of the first entry of humans into North America across the Bering Strait has now been set back 10,000 years.

This has been demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt by Ariane Burke, a professor in Université de Montréal’s Department of Anthropology, and her doctoral student, Lauriane Bourgeon, with the contribution of Thomas Higham, deputy director of Oxford University’s Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit.

Their findings were published in the open-access journal PLoS One.

The earliest settlement date of North America, until now estimated at 14,000 years before present according to the earliest dated archaeological sites, is now estimated at 24,000 BP, at the height of the last ice age or Last Glacial Maximum.

The researchers made their discovery using artifacts from the Bluefish Caves, located on the banks of the Bluefish River in northern Yukon near the Alaska border. The site was excavated by archaeologist Jacques Cinq-Mars between 1977 and 1987. Based on radiocarbon dating of animal bones, the researcher made the bold hypothesis that human settlement in the region dated as far back as 30,000 BP.

In the absence of other sites of similar age, Cinq-Mars’ hypothesis remained highly controversial in the scientific community. Moreover, there was no evidence that the presence of horse, mammoth, bison and caribou bones in the Bluefish Caves was due to human activity.

To set the record straight, Ms. Bourgeon examined the approximately 36,000 bone fragments culled from the site and preserved at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, an enormous undertaking that took her two years to complete. Comprehensive analysis of certain pieces at the university's Ecomorphology and Paleoanthropology Laboratory revealed undeniable traces of human activity in 15 bones. Around 20 other fragments also showed probable traces of the same type of activity.

"Series of straight, V-shaped lines on the surface of the bones were made by stone tools used to skin animals," said Professor Burke. “These are indisputable cut-marks created by humans.”

mandible
Université de Montréal montage
This horse mandible shows a number of cut marks. They indicate that the animal’s tongue was cut out with a stone tool.


Ms. Bourgeon submitted the bones to further radiocarbon dating. The oldest fragment, a horse mandible showing the marks of a stone tool apparently used to remove the tongue, was radiocarbon-dated at 19,650 years, which is equivalent to between 23,000 and 24,000 calibrated years before present.

“Our discovery confirms previous analyses and demonstrates that this is the earliest known site of human settlement in Canada," said Professor Burke. It shows that Eastern Beringia was inhabited during the last ice age.”

Beringia is a vast region stretching from the Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territories to the Lena River in Russia. According to Professor Burke, studies in population genetics have shown that a group of a few thousand individuals lived in isolation from the rest of the world in Beringia 15,000 to 24,000 years ago.

“Our discovery confirms the Beringian standstill hypothesis,” she said, “Genetic isolation would have corresponded to geographical isolation. During the Last Glacial Maximum, Beringia was isolated from the rest of North America by glaciers and steppes too inhospitable for human occupation to the West. It was potentially a place of refuge.”

The Beringians of Bluefish Caves were therefore among the ancestors of people who colonized the entire continent along the coast to South America.

Vacation, travel and hospitality


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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:  www.HiddenGardenArt.com
Contact us by email: info@HiddenGardenArt.com  
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.
9140-5/1/17

Georgre Lundquist header

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the
 *HIGHEST SUCCESS RATE
OF RELOCATION*

 (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!
HERE!

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. lundquistgeorge@gmail.com

George Lundquist

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Looking for easy booking process for a smooth Costa Rica trip?   We customize wonderful trips to Costa Rica.  We offer you our wealth of knowledge for a great experience . . . a trip of a lifetime!!!

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Contact us: 
Dial toll FREE from USA or Canada:  1.800.901.0114
CR local phone:  +506-2274-3231
Cells:  +506-8380-5919  and +506-8302-5877
Email:  info@travelinparadisecr.com
Web:  www.travelinparadisecr.com
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Here's reasonable medical care
Costa Rica's world class medical specialists are at your command. Get the top care for much less than U.S. prices. It is really a great way to spend a vacation. See our list of recommended professionals HERE!amcr-prom



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Real estate rentals (paid category)

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Tropical Homes

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9055-2/23/17

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9049-7/31/17





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A.M. Costa Rica's
  
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 12
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Axiom new ad

Trump's economic selections
is drawing mixed predictions

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President-elect Donald Trump's cabinet is filled either with demigods of capitalism who will propel America to a new era of economic greatness or villainous predators who profited enormously from the financial ruin of others, depending on your view.

Both narratives will be heard in Washington this week as the Senate holds confirmation hearings for Treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin and Commerce secretary nominee Wilbur Ross.

Mnuchin, a one-time partner at Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs, led a group of investors who bought out a failing California bank at the height of the 2008-2009 financial crisis. He also started a high-risk, high-reward investment group known as a hedge fund and, more recently, financed some of Hollywood's biggest movies, including “Avatar,” “X-Men,” “Batman v Superman” and “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and served as Trump's chief fundraiser during last year's presidential contest.

Ross is a billionaire who has specialized in buying out failing businesses, from American steel companies to coal mining operations to textile enterprises. In the 1980s, he helped rescue Trump's failing casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Both men say the U.S. economy is underperforming and can do far better.

"Our most important priority is sustained economic growth. I think we can absolutely get to sustained three-to-four percent GDP," Mnuchin said on CNBC late last year. "And to get there, our number one priority is tax reform."

"One of the problems with the recovery is that the newly created jobs are not nearly as remunerative as were the jobs that were lost," Ross said, appearing alongside Mnuchin on CNBC."That is a very big structural problem."

Both nominees will face hours of questioning from senators at confirmation hearings this week. Partisan divides emerged as soon as Trump tapped them after the November election.

Democrats portrayed Mnuchin as a Wall Street insider who first profited from financial products based on risky loans that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis, then profited again by foreclosing on the homes of Americans who defaulted on their mortgages.

"After years peddling the kind of dangerous, mortgage-backed securities that eventually blew up the economy, Mnuchin swooped in after the crash to take a second bite out of families by aggressively, and sometimes illegally, foreclosing on their homes," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts. "This man has engaged in the worst kinds of practices on Wall Street and directly hurt thousands of working families."

In contrast, Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican of Utah, said Mnuchin's wealth of private sector experience will serve him well in this new role. He understands that advancing meaningful policies to reform the tax code, promote investment and spur job creation are essential to growing our economy and ensuring middle-class families get to keep more of their paychecks.

Mnuchin is a believer in so-called supply-side economics that tax cuts generate additional economic activity, thereby boosting prosperity as well as tax revenues to the government.

By cutting corporate taxes, it would create huge economic growth and have huge gains personal income, the Treasury secretary nominee said. “The problem has been for the last eight years, there's been no economic growth. For the average American worker, they've gotten nowhere and our job is to make sure that the average American worker has wage increases and good jobs."

Mnuchin did not dispute that he oversaw the repossession of thousands of distressed properties, the sales of which ultimately netted a profit, but noted that the bank had made those loans before his investment group took over the institution.

He also criticized financial reform under the Obama administration that strengthened lending requirements.

"The number one priority is going to be, make sure that banks lend," Mnuchin said on CNBC.

Several Democrats on the Commerce committee said they are reserving judgment on Ross until his testimony this week. Republicans are not.

"Wilbur Ross's business experience makes him an excellent choice for Secretary of Commerce," said Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas. "I'm confident he'll be a champion for American economic interests at home and abroad.  I look forward to supporting his nomination.


FBI arrests Noor Salman,
wife of gay nightclub killer


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. authorities say the wife of Orlando nightclub gunman Omar Mateen has been arrested on charges of obstructing justice.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday confirmed the arrest of Noor Salman near San Francisco, where she had been residing with her young son. Prosecutors say Salman will make an initial appearance in court Tuesday in nearby Oakland, California.

Salman had been under intense police scrutiny since her late husband opened fire on an Orlando nightclub popular with gays in June 2016, killing 49 people and wounding more than 50 others in an attack said to have been inspired by Islamic State extremists.

Mateen, 29, was shot dead by police after a three-hour standoff at the facility.

Orlando police and the FBI have investigated whether Salman had prior knowledge of her husband's plot.

Law enforcement authorities have said Salman accompanied her husband on at least one trip to Orlando's Pulse nightclub prior to the attack. She has also admitted accompanying him when he went to buy ammunition.

However, she told the New York Times last year that she did not know the purpose of the club visit. She also said she had no reason to suspect that ammunition bought by her husband days before the killings was to be used in the massacre. She said he frequently made such purchases, which she linked to his work as a security guard.

Salman further sought to boost her claim of innocence by noting she had bought her husband a Father's Day greeting card, which she planned to give him when he returned home on the evening of June 12. Her lawyers argue that the card purchase backs her story that she did not know about the attack that occurred that evening.

Salman previously told authorities her husband was physically abusive and said he shrouded his personal activities in secrecy.


Last man to walk on moon
dies at age 82, NASA says


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Former U.S. astronaut Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the surface of the moon, died Monday at age 82.

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA for short, gave no cause of death in announcing the news. Cernan was a Navy captain when NASA chose him and 13 other astronauts for the pioneering Apollo program, created after President John F. Kennedy announced the goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s.

Cernan flew on Apollo 10 in May 1969, the final test flight before the actual moon landing two months later.

He was part of Apollo 17, the last manned moon mission in December 1972.

“We had a lunar rover, we were able to cover more ground than most of the other missions. We stayed there a little bit longer. We went to a more challenging unique area in the mountains, to learn something about the history and the origin of the moon itself,” Cernan later recalled of the mission.

Just before leaving the moon as the last man to walk on it, Cernan said man would return there one day with peace and hope.

He was still waiting at the time of his death. Speaking on the 40th anniversary of the last mission, Cernan said he is not proud to be the last man to walk on the moon because of a fading interest in space travel.

“It is tremendously disappointing that here I am, 40 years later, and still hold that title,” he said.

Cernan retired from the Navy and NASA in 1976 and later did television commentary for early space shuttle flights.


Biden urges Trump team
to continue cancer fight

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is urging the incoming administration of president-elect Donald Trump to continue to support his national fight to eradicate cancer.

Speaking Monday before the official start of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Biden said: “This is the one bipartisan thing that exists, and I pray it will continue to exist in the new administration.”

He said he already has spoken to his successor, Vice president-elect Mike Pence, about maintaining the Obama administration program to speed up research into cancer and to work to ultimately eliminate the disease.

“It is my hope, as I have already spoken to the VP-elect, who is a good man, about to come in to be vice president in four days, or three days, about my willingness to continue to work with him and the incoming administration to be committed and enthusiastic as we are in the goal of ending cancer as we know it, and my prayer is they will do that as well,” he said.

Biden was named by President Barack Obama to lead the government initiative called “Cancer Moonshot,” after Biden lost his son to brain cancer in 2015.

“Like many of you, I decided to become acquainted with this after someone close to me and my family was diagnosed. You try to learn everything you possibly can once that occurs.”

Biden also urged other countries to invest in fighting cancer, saying: “This investment, in my view, should be matched by other nations who agree that now is the time to double down in our fight against cancer.”

Biden has said he will continue to advocate for cancer research after he leaves office Friday.


Instead of hiring a trainer,
there's now an app for that


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The beginning of the new year for many people means a renewed commitment to get in shape and shed weight, and a growing number of devices and applications are providing alternatives to the gym.

Matt Knight lives in Silicon Valley and considers himself a tech-savvy athlete. He loves boxing, but has learned from experience that hiring a trainer is not cheap.

"Coming in for a one-on-one session would have cost a ton of money for the level of caliber of these guys," Knight said.

So he searched around and found a wearable device called Moov that coaches users in cardio-boxing workouts. Unlike passive wearable devices that only count a user's steps, Moov verbally coaches and encourages a user during workouts through an app.

"Moov doesn't necessarily give you the full guidance that you would get from a real live coach, but it does guide you through the cardio aspects of it," Knight said.

Knight used the product so often that Moov hired him to test other devices. Besides cardio boxing, the waterproof device coaches users in four other types of workouts: swimming, cycling, running and bodyweight training.

Moov's co-founder, Beijing native Meng Li, was inspired to develop this wearable coach while working long hours on another Silicon Valley startup.

"I found I was not as healthy and active as before,” Ms. Li said. “I started feeling like I need to work out. I need to charge myself, but I don't have time to go to the gym or money to pay the trainer so that's actually part of the reason we started Moov."

The wearable device is unique compared with others on the market because of how it tracks a user's movements. She said they created both the sensor technology and the artificial intelligence coaching in-house.

“One focuses more on the hardware, the other focuses on the software. The sensor senses your movement in 3D space, for example, it senses your range of motion, it senses your rotation, it senses your orientation,” Ms. Li said.

Fitness-oriented wearable devices are not only gaining popularity in the U.S., Ms. Li said, but also in many Asian countries.

"In China, the trend of fitness is growing so fast and we see very similar behaviors and needs from our consumers in China, and it's growing,” she said. “At the beginning, we didn't expect that. It was basically a surprise.”

While Moov is based in Silicon Valley, Ms. Li does have a team of employees in China, and she expects more trips home as her three-year-old startup grows.


Snake strike
University of California-Riverside photo  
Kangaroo rat barely avoids becoming dinner.

Speed study first to quantify
snake strikes in the wild


By the University of California-Riverside news staff

Feeding is paramount to the survival of almost every animal. Not surprisingly, the animal kingdom shows many examples for capturing prey or escaping predators.

The antagonistic predator-prey relationship is of interest to evolutionary biologists because it often leads to extreme adaptations in both the predator and prey. One such relationship is seen in the rattlesnake-kangaroo rat system, a model system for studying the dynamics of high-power predator-prey interactions that can be observed under completely natural conditions. Curiously, however, very little is known about the strike performance of rattlesnakes under natural conditions.

That is now about to change because technological advances in portable high-speed cameras have made it possible for biologists like Timothy Higham at the University of California-Riverside to capture three-dimensional video in the field of a rattlesnake preying on a kangaroo rat.

Many studies have examined snake strikes, but the new work is the first study to quantify strikes using high-speed video (500 frames per second) in the wild. Study results appear in Scientific Reports.

“Predator-prey interactions are naturally variable, much more so than we would ever observe in a controlled laboratory setting,” said Higham, an associate professor of biology, who led the research project.

A question Higham and his team are exploring in predator-prey relationships is: What factors determine the success/failure of a strike or escape? In the case of the rattlesnake and kangaroo rat, the outcome, they note, appears to depend on both the snake’s accuracy and the ability of the kangaroo rat to detect and evade the viper before being struck.

“We obtained some incredible footage of Mohave rattlesnakes striking in the middle of the night, under infrared lighting, in New Mexico during the summer of 2015,” Higham said. “The results are quite interesting in that strikes are very rapid and highly variable. The snakes also appear to miss quite dramatically either because the snake simply misses or the kangaroo rat moves out of the way in time.”

In the paper, Higham and his coauthors conclude that rattlesnakes in nature can greatly exceed the defensive strike speeds and accelerations observed in the lab. Their results also suggest that kangaroo rats might amplify their power when under attack by rattlesnakes via elastic energy storage.

“Elastic energy storage is when the muscle stretches a tendon and then relaxes, allowing the tendon to recoil like an elastic band being released from the stretched position,” Higham explained.  “It’s equivalent to a sling shot. You can pull the slingshot slowly and it can be released very quickly. The kangaroo rat is likely using the tendons in its lower leg, similar to our Achilles tendon, to store energy and release it quickly, allowing it to jump quickly and evade the strike.”

The team tracked the rattlesnakes by implanting radio transmitters in order to collect data. Once the rattlesnake was in striking position, the team carried the filming equipment to the location of the rattlesnake in the middle of the night and set up the cameras around the snake. They sometimes waited all night for a kangaroo rat to come by for the snake to strike.
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Real estate for sale (paid category)


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Another round planned in Hague court

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican government is going back to the International Court of Justice with more complaints and a new case on the territorial dispute with Nicaragua.

Costa Rica alleges a violation of territorial sovereignty as the reason for this new case against Nicaragua. A Nicaraguan military camp was established on Isla Portillos, according to Costa Rican officials. The court had previously declared that area as Costa Rican territory after a ruling made in December 2015.

With this new military build-up, Costa Rica is calling for the court to delimit a sand bar that separates the Laguna Los Portillos, or Harbor Head Lagoon as it is known in Nicaragua, from Costa Rican territory. The lagoon is located in the north of Isla Portillos and is part of Nicaraguan territory, but the land surrounding it on all three sides is Costa Rican.

Manuel González, the Costa Rican minister for foreign affairs, emphasized that the government will ask the court to expedite both this case and one begun in 2014 over the establishment of a maritime boundary together in one ruling.

Costa Rica is also requesting the court to determine the amount of compensation owed by Nicaragua as a result of the most recent decision made in December 2015. The government of Costa Rica brought this case over a 2011 violation of national sovereignty by Nicaragua that sent troops to substantiate its claim to an area around the mouth of the Río San Juan.

The conflict escalated into a running legal battle as Nicaragua pushed a countersuit that Costa Rica had failed to assess the environmental impact of constructing that road near protected wetlands.

The court ruled that Nicaragua’s countersuit of environmental violations was valid, however the territorial violation of Costa Rican national sovereignty by Nicaragua was the only aspect warranting monetary compensation.

The two governments accepted the ruling of the court and had a deadline of Dec. 16 to set up an agreement to the specifics of the compensation. That deadline passed with neither side reaching an agreement and prompting this most recent request by Costa Rica.

A proposal sent back in June 2016 by Costa Rica to Nicaragua called for $6.7 million to be paid as compensation. Nicaragua rejected this proposal in November and requested more documentation. The Costa Rican government claims that, although the Dec. 16 deadline passed with no response, it gave Nicaragua extra time to reconsider or present a counteroffer as a gesture of good faith.

Daniel Ortega, the longtime president of Nicaragua, made overtures to Costa Rica back in December suggesting he would accept the ruling and pay, but has since done nothing else.

As a result of the December 2015 ruling, the International Court of Justice in The Hague must now determine the compensation Nicaragua should pay for violation of territorial sovereignty. Costa Rica expects the decision on the amount of compensation to be made by the end of 2017.


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From Page 7:


Canada's west coast foods to be analyzed

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The institution which promotes Costa Rican exports is hosting a conference to analyze different food stuffs and marketing strategies from businesses on Canada’s west coast. The event will be on Jan. 26.

Officials from the Promotora de Comercio Exterior de Costa Rica said the event is free, but space is limited. It will run from 1:45 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the organization's offices located at Plaza Tempo in Escazú. This conference is aimed at companies or organizations in the agri-food sector, marketing and sales management, according to organizers.

The purpose is to identify marketing strategies and consumer trends from this area of Canada in order to determine if there are any ideas that could be taken from those businesses.