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Published Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, in Vol. 17, No. 6
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Wet and windy weather expected through Tuesday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Meteorologists are expecting the cold front hitting Costa Rica with heavy winds and rainy weather to continue through today and into Tuesday.

Sunday afternoon the cold front continued its trek over the Caribbean Sea as it moved into an area between northern Jamaica and the Caribbean coastline of Honduras and Nicaragua, according to the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional.

The situation has created strong wind gusts in the Central Valley and North Pacific areas with a force upwards of 60 to 110 kilometers per hour. These high-powered winds are expected to continue through today.

Temperatures dropped in the face of this approaching cold front. Sunday evening’s temperature hovered at the low 60s F within the Central Valley. In the high-altitude areas around Turrialba and Irazú temperatures were in the low 40s. The Turrialba summit was at 6.5 degrees C or about 44 F. The temperature at Zapote was 18 C or about 66 F  at 11 p.m. Sunday. The winds, of course, made the temperature feel colder.

The weather stations reported Sunday evening that the wind direction was coming from the east or northeast.

The Comisión Nacional de Emergencias also announced the extension of the low-level warning related to Turrialba volcanic activity until Tuesday for the northern areas across both coasts and the Central Valley.

The ash continues to dust the Central Valley and points west.

A.M. Costa Rica graphic

The Turrialba summit received a lot of rainfall Sunday morning. The meteorological institute’s station reported upwards of 33 milliliters within 10 hours on Sunday.  In other areas the rainfall ranged from 40 to 90 milliliters during the same period

Rainfall has also been present with the strongest occurring in the northeastern areas of Siquirres, Guácimo, Guápiles, Río Frío, Sarapiquí and San Carlos. The meteorological institute recommends that, due to these conditions, the risk of flooding and landslides in the northern regions and along the Caribbean coast is increasing.

Officials also noted that strong winds can also break tree branches, down power lines and damage roofs. There was at least one brief power outage in the metro area Sunday night, and it was believed caused by the wind shorting out electrical lines.

The cold front has temporarily caused the closing of the Parque Volcán Poás, according to officials from the emergency commission. The strong winds forced the closing to avoid accidents related to reported tree falls.

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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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Defensoría urges action at Alajuela hospital

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The citizen advocate made a surprise visit to the Hospital de Alajuela early Sunday and found emergency room patients who had been in a chair for three to five days, the agency reported.

The Defensoría de los Habitantes made an unusual Sunday announcement of the situation and said that the conditions at the new hospital were unacceptable for patients or for health workers to provide the best service.

There had been a complaint.

The emergency area has 19 beds, but there were 25 persons in chairs, said the Defensoría statement.

The agency also said that there were insufficient personnel for the orthopedics section and that there were patients with fractures awaiting surgery.

The hospital is one of those operated by the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social.

The Defensoría called for a permanent solution and called upon the Caja to take immediate action.

Field fire reaches dwelling and kills man

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents found a man dead in his bathroom Sunday after a fire reached his living quarters.

The call came in to firefighters early Sunday at 3:35 a.m., according to the official report. Firemen arrived around 10 minutes later and had the fire controlled by 4 a.m., the report said. The affected area consisted of only 100 square meters, but the incident also represented the first recorded death by fire for 2017.

Officials are still investigating the cause for the outbreak of the fire itself, but members of the judicial morgue performed an autopsy to confirm that the 37-year old died of causes related to fire that broke out in a vacant lot adjacent to his room. The deceased lived in a small structure located behind his parents’ house, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Officials also said the structure was made from a mix of materials from wood to concrete to panels of zinc, which were totally enveloped in flames. The fire occurred in the San Antonio sector of El Roble in Alajuela province.

UK government maintains cautions

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office includes Costa Rica on a list of countries where British citizens traveling this summer should exercise a high degree of caution.

The office, which is the comparative to the U.S. State Department, classifies its level of risk based on factors of safety and security, terrorism, health, and natural disasters. Although the British government lists the travel advisories and warnings as still current as of Sunday, it appears that the page devoted to Costa Rica was last updated on Nov. 25.

This was during the time that the country was reeling in the wake of Hurricane Otto and the northern part of the country was experiencing trouble in terms of travel and basic services. At the same time, the British foreign office still classifies Costa Rica as having a high risk in zika virus transmission and advised all pregnant women to postpone any non-essential travel.

While danger of terrorism ranked low in Costa Rica, earthquake and volcanic activity generated a note of caution. The office listed that several of the 16 volcanoes, particularly Turrialba, are active.

“Increased activity of the Turrialba volcano has recently caused airport closures and this could happen again at any time,” the report said.

It also mentioned that the country experiences regular seismic activity. Lastly, there was the usual warning as to incidents of violent crime against tourists recently increasing. The foreign office did not provide statistics for that claim.

Around 69,000 British nationals visited Costa Rica in 2015, according to the British government.

Investigators report wave of shootings

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country endured a wave of murders attempted murders and arrests over the last three days.

In Puriscal, a member of the frontier police with the last name of Araya, is accused of shooting a nephew with his service revolver. He was detained Friday involving an incident last November, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Also Friday a man with the last name of  López died in what appeared to be either a firefight or an execution by someone on a motorcycle. The 32 year old suffered a gunshot wound to the head, and some nearby said they heard a motorcycle. The location was Finca San Juan in Pavas.

A motorcycle is the vehicle of choice for carrying out a contract killing.

Friday at 4:30 p.m. gunmen in a vehicle cut off the car in which were riding their victims. Two men, identified by the last names of Araya and Fonseca, died. The killings took place in San Josecito de Alajuelita. The killings appeared to be on purpose and not the result of rage over the collision. Police found the killers’ car a short distance away. It had been stolen.

Friday afternoon in Golfito a man identified by the last names of  Martín Abarca killed his mother-in-law, shot his estranged companion and killed himself. The younger woman died later in a hospital. A 12-year-old child suffered a minor wound. The man apparently arrived at the home in hopes of a reconciliation.

In Pueblo Nuevo de Oliva in Bribri judicial agents said they were called Saturday to the body of a 44 -year-old man with the last name of Chaves. The body was in the public right of way, and a traffic accident was possible. An autopsy is to determine the cause of death.

The body of a 17 year old turned up early Saturday on a roadway in Playas de Doña Ana, Puntarenas. The victim lived in the area and was last seen Friday night at 8 p.m. He had three bullets in the head.

A 32 year old with the last name of  Ramírez suffered a bullet wound Saturday in the center of Pavas. He and a friend were walking toward a tattoo parlor where they work when two men on a motorcycle pulled up and began firing.

A man on a motorcycle is being blamed for the Saturday shooting in Las Catalinas in Rohrmoser that injured a male and female victim. The shooting took place in the parking lot of the woman’s apartment building while the two victims still were in a vehicle, said judicial investigators. She suffered a superficial wound, and the man, who was shot in the face, required surgery.

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 6
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Latest studies are not good news for country's coastal communities
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A researcher in a new study in Antarctica warns that conditions may mark the beginning of another swift and long-lasting period of sea-level rise that would affect coastal areas and countries such as Costa Rica severely.

Although there are plenty of low areas on both coasts, the Costa Rican government generally has ignored sea-level rise in its efforts to be carbon neutral by 2021. In addition, the tiny increases in sea level are not obvious.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration now says that the oceans are rising on average by some 3.4 millimeters a year. That is about 1.4 inches every decade.

There is evidence that sea-level rise is not constant. The latest study from the University of Bonn, Germany, said that the ocean around Antarctica has seen an abrupt sea level rise of several meters and that it could happen again.

One of the authors, Michael Weber at the university’s Steinmann Institut, correctly notes that the oceans have risen about 130 meters or about 425 feet since the climate began its transition from the last Ice Age.  Most of that came from glaciers in the Northern Hemisphere, he said in an email interview. An additional 65 meters or so is tied up in the  Antarctic ice sheet, he said.

The study in which he is involved suggests there may be a spurt in melting ice and sea-level increase similar to what  happened 14,700 years ago.

Weber said the oceans rose 16 meters in just 400 years and that at least three meters came from Antarctica. “There are already mounting reports of the West Antarctic ice sheet being in a state of continued collapse,” he noted.

The British Antarctic Survey issued a separate report on a crack in the Larsen C ice shelf. The ice shelf is 50,000 square kilometers, which is two and a half times the size of Wales and slightly smaller than Scotland. Satellite observations from December show a growing crack in the ice shelf which suggests that an iceberg with an area of up to 5,000 square kilometers is likely to calve soon, said the survey.

The survey report says that most of the ice that will break off already is floating in the ocean, so there will not be much effect on sea-level rise. But they said they think the collapse of the ice shelf itself will hasten the flow of fresh water glaciers into the sea. That happened when other ice shelves collapsed.

Glaciologist David Vaughan, director of science at British Antarctic Survey, said in a report “The calving of this large iceberg could be the first step of the collapse of Larsen C ice shelf, which would result in the disintegration of a huge area of ice into a number of icebergs and smaller fragments.”

The report by Weber’s team relied on the study of ice core layers. This frozen climate archive reveals a continuous record. In previous studies, the scientists had found evidence

British Antarctic Survey photo
Monitoring station near the Larsen C ice shelf crack.

of eight massive melting events in deep sea sediments around Antarctica, which occurred at the transition from the last Ice Age to the present warm period, according to a published summary.

Weber said in a report that "The changes that are currently taking place in a disturbing manner resemble those 14,700 years ago." At that time, changes in atmospheric-oceanic circulation led to a stratification in the ocean with a cold layer at the surface and a warm layer below. Under such conditions, ice sheets melt more strongly than when the surrounding ocean is thoroughly mixed. This is exactly what is presently happening around the Antarctic, the summary noted.

The main author of the study is the Australian climate researcher Chris Fogwill from the Climate Change Research Center in Sydney.

Some coastal communities are swamped by the sea periodically in Costa Rica, but that is due to higher than normal tides based on the position of the moon and sun. But this newspaper has said in the past that what today is the Gulf of Nicoya was once plains and hills that hosted all sorts of beasts and even humans during the end of the Pleistocene.

There has been an estimate of the future of Puntarenas Centro with higher seas, and it shows much of the current land area will be under water at least during some parts of the day.

The country’s maritime zone is based on mean high tide, so if the level of the tide increases, the area where construction is prohibited will move further inland, according to the law as it is now written.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 6
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Cancer death rate reported to have declined dramatically in U.S.
By the American Cancer Society news staff

The death rate from cancer in the U.S. has declined steadily over the past two decades, according to annual statistics reporting from the American Cancer Society. The cancer death rate for men and women combined fell 25 percent from its peak in 1991 to 2014, the most recent year for which data are available.

This decline translates to more than 2.1 million deaths averted during this time period.

“Cancer Statistics, 2017,” published in the American Cancer Society’s journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, estimates the numbers of new cancer cases and deaths expected in the U.S. this year. The estimates are some of the most widely quoted cancer statistics in the world.

A total of 1,688,780 new cancer cases and 600,920 deaths from cancer are projected to occur in the U.S. in 2017.

During the most recent decade of available data, the rate of new cancer diagnoses decreased by about 2 percent per year in men and stayed about the same in women. The cancer death rate declined by about 1.5 percent annually in both men and women.

“The continuing drops in the cancer death rate are a powerful sign of the potential we have to reduce cancer’s deadly toll,” said Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer of the cancer society. “Continuing that success will require more clinical and basic research to improve early detection and treatment, as well as creative new strategies to increase healthy behaviors nationwide. Finally, we need to consistently apply existing knowledge in cancer control across all segments of the population, particularly to disadvantaged groups.”

Lung, colorectal, prostate, and breast cancers continue to be among the most common causes of cancer death, accounting for about 46 percent of the total cancer deaths among men and women. More than one out of every four cancer deaths is due to lung cancer.

Among men, prostate, lung, and colorectal cancer will

account for 42 percent of all newly diagnosed cancers in 2017, with prostate cancer alone accounting for about one in five cases. Among women, the three most common cancers in 2017 will be breast, lung, and colorectal, which together will account for about half of all cases. Breast cancer alone is expected to account for 30 percent of all new cancer cases among women.

Much of the overall decline in new cancer rates for men is because of the recent drop in prostate cancer diagnoses. Routine screening with the PSA blood test is no longer recommended because of concerns about high rates of over-diagnosis, that is finding cancers that would never need to be treated. Therefore, fewer cases of prostate cancer are now being detected.

The rate of new lung cancer cases has also continued to decline as fewer people smoke. These rates are declining about twice as fast in men as in women. The differences reflect historical patterns in tobacco use, where women began smoking in large numbers many years later than men, and were slower to quit.

Recent rapid declines in new colorectal cancer cases have been attributed in part to more people getting screened with tests such as colonoscopies, which can prevent cancer through the removal of pre-cancerous growths called polyps. Among adults ages 50 years and older, colonoscopy use has tripled, increasing from 21 percent in 2000 to 60 percent in 2015. Colorectal cancer incidence rates declined by about 3 percent per year in both men and women from 2004 through 2013. However, in people younger than 50 years, colorectal cancer incidence rates increased by about 2 percent per year from 1993 to 2013.

The rates of new cancer cases and cancer deaths vary quite a bit among racial and ethnic groups, with rates generally highest among African Americans and lowest in Asian Americans. However, racial disparities continue to decline. The excess risk of cancer death in black men as compared to white men has dropped from 47 percent in 1990 to 21 percent in 2014. The racial disparity has also declined in black women, from a peak of 20 percent in 1998 to 13 percent in 2014.

Cancer is the second most common cause of death among children ages 1 to 14 years in the U.S., after accidents. In 2017, an estimated 10,270 children in this age group will be diagnosed with cancer and 1,190 will die from it.

Leukemia accounts for almost a third of all childhood cancers, followed by brain and other nervous system tumors.

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:
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Gallery hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tel.  8386-6872 / 2667-0592; U.S. telephone 702-953-7073
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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: 
Dial toll FREE from USA or Canada:  1.800.901.0114
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Cells:  +506-8380-5919  and +506-8302-5877

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Tropical Homes of Costa Rica is offering the best selection of vacation homes, condos and long-term rental homes in Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito on  the Pacific Gold Coast of Guanacaste. A wide selection of private residencies is providing an excellent choice for  your stay in this beautiful part of Costa Rica.We are offering homes for every budget and every need. Please visit our Web page at or contact us at or call at (506) 2654-5442

Spectacular rentals are available for low weekly prices on at resorts such as Bahia Turquesa Residences and Villas Sol Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste. We have 
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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 6
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A.M. Costa Rica/Paul Kostyu  
  Passenger runs for an exit during a shooting in
  Terminal 1 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood
  Airport Friday.

Authorities seeking a motive
for Fort Lauderdale shooting

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. authorities are continuing to look for a motive behind Friday's deadly shooting at a Florida airport amid reports from relatives of suspected gunman Esteban Santiago that he was mentally traumatized by his 11 months of fighting in the U.S. war in Iraq.

Santiago was charged Saturday with an act of violence at an international airport resulting in death. If convicted of the charge, Santiago could face the death penalty or possibly life in prison for the attack that killed five people. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance in Florida today.

"Not everyone has the same reaction when they return from war," his brother, Bryan Santiago, told CNN, "Some are better, and some, not so much."

According to their mother, 26-year old Esteban Santiago said that he was significantly affected when he saw a bomb explode next to two of his friends while he served in Iraq during most of 2010 and early 2011.

Bryan Santiago also said his brother requested psychological help but received little assistance late last year after walking into a local Federal Bureau of Investigation office in Anchorage, Alaska, in an agitated state. He made incoherent statements and told agents he had been hearing voices directing him to join the terrorist group Islamic State.

Santiago was carrying a pistol magazine loaded with bullets at the time, but said he had left his gun in his vehicle. As is their practice, the FBI agents took his weapon.

Santiago was taken for a mental health evaluation and investigated. They returned his gun to him in December, but it is not clear if that pistol was used in the airport shootings where five people died and six were wounded.

"How is it possible that the federal government knows, they hospitalize him for only four days, and then give him his weapon back?" Bryan Santiago said.

His uncle, Hernan Rivera, said, "Only thing I could tell you was when he came out of Iraq, he wasn't feeling too good."

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter told NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that the country has not done enough to help veterans traumatized by war when they return home.

"We keep learning more about how to deal with this kind of illness," Carter said. "We're gonna learn more and we have to do more absolutely." He described post-traumatic stress disorder as the so-called invisible wounds of war.

But FBI officials have not ruled out a terrorism connection and said they do not know what motivated the shooter's barrage of gunfire in a baggage claim area at the Fort Lauderdale international airport. The gunman retrieved his weapon from checked luggage after a flight from Alaska.

Lead FBI investigator George Piro said Saturday, "We have not identified any triggers that would have caused this attack. We're pursuing all angles on what prompted him to carry out this horrific attack." Piro was the FBI agent who also interrogated Saddam Hussein in the aftermath of the former Iraqi leader’s capture.

Saturday, officials said at a news conference that Santiago traveled specifically to Fort Lauderdale to carry out the attack but do not know why he targeted the Florida city, a prime tourist destination. Authorities questioned him for several hours until early Saturday and said he was cooperating with investigators.

Obama says he misjudged
impact of election hacking

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Barack Obama, in the wake of a U.S. intelligence conclusion that Russia meddled in the presidential election, said he underestimated the impact of the misinformation campaign and computer hacking on a democracy.

Obama, told ABC News “This Week” that he doesn't think that he underestimated Russian President Vladimir Putin, alleged by the U.S. intelligence community to have ordered the effort to undermine the American system of democratic elections and the candidacy of president-elect Donald Trump's unsuccessful opponent Democrat Hillary Clinton.

But Obama said, "I think that I underestimated the degree to which, in this new information age, it is possible for misinformation for cyber hacking and so forth to have an impact on our open societies, our open systems, to insinuate themselves into our democratic practices in ways that I think are accelerating."

He said he released an abbreviated version of the U.S. intelligence report on the Russian hacking to have others also understand this is something that Putin has been doing for quite some time in Europe, initially in the former satellite states where there are a lot of Russian speakers, but increasingly in Western democracies.

The U.S. intelligence community concluded that Russia hacked thousands of emails of Clinton campaign chief John Podesta and released them through transparency advocate WikiLeaks in the month leading up to the Nov. 8 election. Many of the emails revealed embarrassing details of Democratic operatives seeking to help Mrs. Clinton defeat her challenger for the party's presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

The report made no assessment that the leaks changed the outcome of the election, a point Trump has noted in a string of Twitter comments since receiving the intelligence briefing Friday.

"Intelligence stated very strongly there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results," Trump said, "Voting machines not touched!"

He said, "Gross negligence by the Democratic National Committee allowed hacking to take place. The Republican National Committee had strong defense! Only reason the hacking of the poorly defended DNC is discussed is that the loss by the Dems was so big that they are totally embarrassed!"

Obama warned against too close relations with Moscow.

Ethics head says cabinet picks
have not filed needed papers

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Many of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet choices are scheduled to appear at Senate confirmation hearings in the coming week, even though some have not yet completed a required ethics review intended to ensure they face no conflicts of interest after becoming part of the government.

Walter Shaub, director of the nonpartisan Office of Government Ethics, has written to Senate leaders complaining that several of the very wealthy nominees have not filed documents, including financial disclosure reports, that are required for anyone being considered for a cabinet post.

"I am not aware of any occasion in the four decades since OGE was established when the Senate held a confirmation hearing before the nominee had completed the ethics review process," Shaub wrote.

He said the hearings schedule has created undue pressure on his staff to rush through these reviews, leaving some nominees with unknown or unresolved ethics issues. The law requires cabinet nominees to get OGE certification of their financial disclosure reports before a hearing can be held.

"As long as I remain director, OGE's staff and agency ethics officials will not succumb to pressure to cut corners and ignore conflicts of interest," Shaub said.

Trump chief of staff Rance Priebus told “Fox News Sunday” the transition team has no thought of delaying confirmation hearings. He said the Democrats and the office have all the details they need and that the process has to move faster.

The Senate must vote to confirm a president’s nominees for cabinet-level jobs, and a key task is identifying whether a conflict of interest may arise if a candidate must choose between the requirements of government service and personal activities and business.

Prospective cabinet secretaries are expected to explain how they would avoid such conflicts, often by selling off personal assets or stepping down from executive duties in a business.

In normal practice, the Senate committees that review an incoming president’s cabinet nomination would delay voting on a candidate’s fitness for office until the ethics documentation and review is complete.

Shaub did not indicate which of Trump’s nominees have unfinished paperwork, but said the lack of disclosure on those matters has left some nominees with potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues in the days leading up to their hearings.

Trump’s nominees for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and for secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, are among six proposed Cabinet secretaries whose qualifications will be reviewed Wednesday. Sessions’ hearing begins Tuesday but will continue into Wednesday.

Also appearing before Senate committees on the same day are Trump’s choices to serve as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, secretary of Transportation, secretary of Homeland Security and secretary of Defense.

Shaub’s letter to Senate leaders, obtained by news agencies Saturday, noted that Trump announced his nominees before their conflict-of-interest status was reviewed by his office, breaking a tradition in which a newly elected president waits for approval by the ethics office before identifying his nominees.

Mexicans arrest one suspect
for shooting of U.S. diplomat

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The alleged suspect who shot and wounded an official with the U.S. consulate in Guadalajara, Mexico, Friday has been arrested. He has not been identified yet.

The wounded American official, identified as foreign service officer Christopher Ashcraft, is said to be in stable condition, according to a statement from the Mexican attorney general's office.

Sunday U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry thanked Mexican officials for their swift decisive arrest of the suspect. A surveillance video posted to Facebook by the U.S. consulate shows the shooter waiting outside a parking garage before opening fire on Ashcraft's car Friday evening.

Tobacco-free areas extended
to colleges, public housing

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

New efforts are underway to extinguish cigarette smoking on American college campuses and in public housing.

Twenty colleges in the United States recently received grants to help make their campuses tobacco free. In November, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro announced that smoking will become illegal at all public housing over the next 18 months. The federal housing department has over one million homes.

“Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, healthy home free from harmful second-hand cigarette smoke,” Castro said.

The move to ban smoking at public housing units and college campuses follows approval of state laws banning smoking at most workplaces.

The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids reports that 27 American states ban smoking in all indoor workplaces, including restaurants. California became the first state to ban smoking at most workplaces in 1995.

Thirty-two countries had banned smoking at most workplaces as of 2012, the Tobacco Atlas reports. Those supporting smoke-free workplaces, public housing and college campuses give one major reason: the negative health effects of smoking.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States. Smoking accounts for 480,000 deaths every year.

A New York City smokers’ rights group opposes the new ban on smoking at public housing units. Audrey Silk, founder of Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment, wrote president-elect Donald Trump, asking him to stop the ban after he becomes president on Jan. 20.

Ms. Silk says officials are going too far in trying to stop people from using a legal product.

She told Trump the new federal housing rule would force old or sick people to walk outside their homes to smoke, even when the weather is bad.

“At stake is the right of U.S. citizens to be left alone to engage in a legal activity in the privacy of one’s own home,” Ms. Silk said.

But supporters of smoking bans and smoke-free areas say the bad effects of second-hand smoke make it a public health issue. Some also say that college campuses are a good place to limit or ban smoking.

Gary Reedy, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society, which recently announced anti-smoking grants to 20 U.S. colleges, spoke of the importance to stop college students from smoking in order to be successful in creating a tobacco-free generation.

The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 13 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 24 smoke cigarettes. Reedy said that reducing the number of college students who smoke can lead to reduced smoking rates among older adults.

His reasoning? Once a person starts smoking, it is hard to stop, Reedy says.

The CVS Health Foundation is providing $3.6 million for the anti-smoking grants. The foundation was started by the American drug store company CVS. CVS stopped selling cigarettes in 2014.

The American Cancer Society says about one third of America’s 4,700 college campuses are already smoke-free.

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Several profitable businesses, including a regional radio station, are for sale in Costa Rica. Certain purchases can provide the new owner with residency as well as a great lifestyle. So live your dream while making a profit. Contact:

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 5
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News from the BBC up to the minute

BBC  news feeds are disabled on archived pages.

Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
And how do your questions grow?

A friend introduced me to someone new the other day, and the introduction was followed by, ”Hey, aren’t you the garden lady?” The minute I heard it

Victoria Torley
I knew it was going to be followed by “What do I do about…” or “Where can I find…” or “Can you help me with?”

Those can be very hard questions, the kind I prefer to get in writing. In the past five years, I have learned a lot about gardening in Costa Rica, and in the last
(mumble, mumble) years I have learned a lot about gardening in general, but those three questions can catch you off guard.

Sometimes, I get the easy ones like “What do I do about leaf cutter ants?” I have a lot of answers to that one, most of which don’t work, but I can hand them out freely and say “Let me know if it works for you.” The latest? White Bimbo breadcrumbs scattered around the main and secondary holes which when taken into the nest will kill the fungus the ants feed on. No pesky chemicals just white bread, but you have to scatter new breadcrumbs on a daily basis for about a month.

Then there are the questions I prefer to get in writing, like “Where can I find cristobol trees?” Thank heaven I got that one in writing because it took a little searching. Cristobol is Platymiscium pleiostachyum, and like suro and mano, it has been devastated for lumber. I managed to find a single source for all three,  Cocobolo Tree Farm, and reported back to the questioner.

Sometimes, though, it’s not that simple. There have been times when a single question prompted hours of research on the web. This is particularly true when someone sends me the picture of a branch or some leaves and asks me what it is. Quite often I have absolutely no idea, so I plunge into my plant books and my favorite websites looking for an answer.

My favorite question so far? It has to be, “Have you ever spanked your radishes to get them to grow?” It seems that the writer had planted radishes several times and gotten, as a reward, only long thin roots. Being a radish lover, he tried again. He planted two rows of radishes and every morning he went out and ran his hand over one row, spanking the radishes. The row with the serious reprimand produced beautiful radish roots, strong, round, and firm, while the other row produced just thin roots. Nope, I’m sorry, but I have never spanked my radishes.

If you decide to spank yours, let me know how it turns out?

A.M. Costa Rica/Victoria Torley

Plant for the Week

There are a lot of orchids out there, so I hope you won’t mind another one. The Elleanthus arpophyllostachys is a terrestrial orchid with an inverted ice cream cone of orange and yellow flowers on a long stalk. Plant in full to partial sun and rich soil. As a bonus, it is a great orchid for humming birds.

If you would like to suggest a topic for this column, simply send a letter to the editor.  And, for more garden tips, visit HERE!
Costa Rican News
Retire NOW in Costa Rica
Fine Dining in Costa Rica
The CAFTA Report
Fish fabulous Costa Rica

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From Page 7:

Blues Festival will be in Playa Potrero Feb. 18

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The sixth edition of the Costa Rica Blues Festival will be at the Sailing Center in Playa Potrero Feb. 18 from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m.

Tickets are 25 dollars and can be purchased at various locations at Portero, Tamarindo, Playa del Coco, and San José. The festival is a charitable event that will benefit Abriendo Mentes, a non-government organization founded in 2009 to help youngsters.

According to the organization’s website, the purpose of the group is to offer English classes as well as promote education and cultural exchange in Guanacaste. All proceeds will benefit this group, event organizers said.

The headliner for the event will be Texas-based Diunna Greenleaf and Blue Mercy. Also featured will be four local Costa Rican blues bands. The festival will include more than music. Scheduled with the outdoor shows will be barbecue, silent auctions, and raffles along the beachfront view at Portero. More information can be found at the festival’s website.