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Published Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, in Vol. 17, No. 13
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Marchers, many of them from Guápiles, pass by the Museo Nacional with the goal of focusing attention on law enforcement and the murder of a community member.
A.M. Costa Rica/Conor Golden

Latest killing ignites protest through the downtown
By Conor Golden
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Chinese-Costa Ricans took to the streets of the capital Tuesday after what some called the last straw in lawlessness. The murder of a Chinese store clerk in La Teresa de Guápiles de Pococí ignited the protest.

But, the anger among the crowd went beyond the latest killing. The target also was other crimes perpetrated particularly against their fellow community members.

The protest came on the same day judicial investigators rolled up what it said was a 12-person murder and drug gang, the latest string of arrests in the current murder epidemic.

The protest by as many as 300 Chinese residents was unusual. Some complained that law enforcement does not vigorously investigate crimes against Chinese-Costa Ricans. They said that happened after the Monday morning murder of Oscar Liang, the grocery clerk. A suspect in that case was detained Tuesday.

Judicial agents arrested the 12 persons Tuesday morning in raids across the country. They are suspected of both killing people or at least trying to kill them, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. Agents said that this group of 12 formed a criminal gang back in 2015 when the creator of the gang was attacked and sought revenge.

The investigation alleges that members of the group were involved in a hit on an alleged drug trafficker nicknamed Tupac. On Oct. 9, 2015, in San Francisco de Dos Ríos four men in a black vehicle intercepted the taxi containing the man.

They pulled up and shot him multiple times. Tupac died, and the group of four gunmen also injured his girlfriend and the taxi driver who were caught in the crossfire.

The group is suspected in the murder of a traveling salesman at San Sebastián last Sept. 15, according to investigators. Judicial agents believe that the purpose of this murder was to break into the man's house and steal.

Among the detainees is an ex-member of the police force alleged to be one of the group’s collaborators. This former officer may have been the one who originally collected the group of four accused in the murder at San Francisco de Dos Ríos.

The latest arrests have come in the wake of the two other murders that occurred Sunday and Monday. The 23-year-old cashier Liang was shot and killed Monday by men attempting to steal money from his register around 8 in the morning. A security camera recorded the incident and the faces of the killers. The location was incorrectly reported 

A.M. Costa Rica/Conor Golden  
Marcher carried a photo of murder suspect.

in Monday's newspaper as Guácimo.

The protest Tuesday afternoon was organized by the Enping association in San José that says it is an organized voice for issues and actions important to the large Chinese community in Costa Rica. Most of these protesters said they were Chinese who arrived from the Guápiles area in Limón province.

Henry Fong, a member of Enping, said a meeting was held Monday night in which around 40 persons decided to form a peaceful protest following the latest in many killings of people of Asian descent and the lack of action being taken by members of the Fuerza Pública and the Judicial Investigating Organization in the case.

Many protesters, including Fong and other marchers like José Feng and a young man named Sai, said that law enforcement officials are not doing enough to seek justice for this latest killing. This comes despite the fact that the killer of this latest victim was caught on camera committing the murder, Fong said.

In spite of the ethnic background of the majority of marchers, all expressed the belief that this march was not simply for the Chinese-Costa Rican community. Protest organizers like Feng and Fong insisted that this was against all violence perpetrated against anyone as shouts of “Against the violence! Give me peace!” rang down the line of hundreds of other marchers.

The U.S. Department of State’s Overseas Advisory Council noted in its 2016 Crime and Safety Report for Costa Rica that, overall, crime has steadily increased over the past few years. According to their statistics, the homicide rate passed the threshold for what the World Health Organization considers to be an endemic level of homicide by the end of 2015. In that instance, the murder rate was 11.5 per every 100,000 people passing the requirement of 10 per 100,000 people.

While Costa Rica is not yet in the same ranking as Honduras or El Salvador, 577 murders occurred in 2016, a record high, according to previous statements from the Poder Judicial.

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Nosara residents to march against Trump

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A march to protest the inauguration of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump is planned for 7:30 a.m. Saturday in Playa Guiones, near Nosara.

Members of the expat community are the organizers for the march beginning in front of Casa Romántica. While this event is being conducted in solidarity with many other protests happening around the world, the march at Playa Guiones is the brainchild of members who double as participants in the local book club and the non-profit organization Friends of Nosara.

One of the people who will be marching Saturday will be Pamela Lancaster. Following the defeat of Democratic party candidate Hillary Clinton, Ms. Lancaster and other residents of the community were up calling each other expressing shock as to the election results, she said. The comments that Trump has made against women and other minorities were catalysts towards organizing their own march, Ms. Lancaster said.

For some, the march will be protesting the legitimacy of Trump assuming the presidency while for others the march is simply to protest against those comments made by Trump during the campaign. The comments could turn into the foundation of the public policy of the new administration, protesters fear.

The march is scheduled early to avoid the heat and all are encouraged to attend, Ms. Lancaster said.

Water tank planned for Londres

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Continuous access to clean water received a boost from the Embassy of Japan Tuesday with its new grant devoted to fixing the water storage for a rural community near Quepos.

The embassy signed a contract with the Asociación Acueducto Rural de Londres in Quepos granting them $82,978 for the construction of a storage tank. This falls under an umbrella of development programs sponsored by the government of Japan that give grants to different projects.

The idea of the Quepos project is that the grant will be used to provide continuous and safer access to water for the residents of Londres. During his speech, the Japanese ambassador to Costa Rica, Mamoru Shinohara, noted the project was selected because improvement in water provision is essential to improving the quality of life.

According to 2015 statistics provided by the World Health Organization, 663 million people do not have access to a safe water source. At least 1.8 billion people use a drinking-water source that has been contaminated with fecal matter and by 2025, the organization predicted that half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.

The World Economic Forum stated in January 2015 that the water crisis is the number one global risk based on its impact to society in terms of devastation potential. Unlike some countries in Latin America, the water that comes out of most faucets in Costa Rica is safe to drink.

This country, unlike places such as Sub-Saharan Africa, has only 2.2 percent of its population with an unimproved drinking water source, according to 2015 estimates.  Of that 2.2 percent, the majority of those cases occur in rural areas.

Bank freeze planned for Sunday morning

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country's banking system will take the first step toward using unique international numbers early Sunday.

The Banco Central said that at that time technical steps will be taken to set up the new system. As a result, bank customers will be unable to make money transfers to accounts in other banks until noon.

The second step comes in the second half of 2018 when all bank accounts will begin to be identified by the 22-digit IBAN number, said the central bank.

IBAN is short for International Bank Account Number. It is very common in Europe. An IBAN uniquely identifies an account held at a bank. Their use is optional now in Costa Rica for international transfers.

More information is available HERE!

A.M. Costa Rica graphic
Some ingredient in chili peppers might be very healthy.

Hot peppers associated with longer life

By the University of Vermont news staff

Those who like spicy food might live longer, say medical researchers at the University of Vermont. They found that consumption of hot red chili peppers is associated with a 13 percent reduction in total mortality, primarily in deaths due to heart disease or stroke, in a large prospective study.

Going back for centuries, peppers and spices have been thought to be beneficial in the treatment of diseases, but only one other study, conducted in China and published in 2015, has previously examined chili pepper consumption and its association with mortality. This new study corroborates the earlier study’s findings. The study was published in PLoS ONE.

Using National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey data collected from more than 16,000 Americans who were followed for up to 23 years, medical student Mustafa Chopan and Professor Benjamin Littenberg examined the baseline characteristics of the participants according to hot red chili pepper consumption. They found that consumers of hot red chili peppers tended to be “younger, male, white, Mexican-American, married, and to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and consume more vegetables and meats . . . had lower HDL-cholesterol, lower income, and less education,” in comparison to participants who did not consume red chili peppers. They examined data from a median follow-up of 18.9 years and observed the number of deaths and then analyzed specific causes of death.

There are some possible explanations for red chili peppers’ health benefits, said Chopan and Littenberg in the study. Among them are the fact that the ingredient capsaicin is believed to play a role in cellular and molecular mechanisms that prevent obesity and modulate coronary blood flow, and also possesses antimicrobial properties that may indirectly affect the host by altering the gut microbiota.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 13
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In tiny steps the retail world is undergoing massive changes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The postal service is hosting a gathering Wednesday at a local retailer with the clear intent to gain some business from online deliveries. The Correos de Costa Rica invitation for Arenas Skate & Surf is another tiny step into the future of retailing.

No one can predict the future, even Walmart CEO Doug McMillon who concludes this month that the only certainty is that shopping will be very different in 10 years than it is today.

"Ten years ago most customers were reading about the original iPhone, and wondering whether it would be useful," he said on the firm's website. "Now they expect to order something on their mobiles, have it delivered or pick it up in store – often on the same day, in a few hours, or even in a few minutes."

He also called upon retailers to adapt to these changes and in some areas even lead the way. Otherwise, he warned, they’ll fall behind and disappear.

The World Economic Forum, in a new report, says that over the next decade, the line between online and offline
will continue to blur.

This can be seen in Costa Rica. One clue is the growth of imports. The Dirección General de Aduanas  reported Monday that it collected nearly 2 billion colons, some $3.5 million, on imported goods after audits. The Ministerio de Hacienda agency is on the front lines of imports and has said that thousands of packages have been frozen due to disputes over import duties. That shows the scope of the current online market for foreign products, the bulk from China.

The downtown of the capital of San José seems to have survived until now the pressure from a ring of shopping malls that have been constructed around it. In some First World countries, the malls and even Walmart stores spell doom to the downtown retailers. Costa Ricans are more traditional and perhaps not as mobile as shoppers in other countries, and the municipality takes steps to promote downtown events.

Tourists, too, are more interested in a location like the Mercado Central than a mall, which probably is no different than the ones back home.

But change is inevitable, and it may be those glitzy shopping malls that suffer the most when customers increase their internet purchases. Local supermarkets already will shop for e-commerce customers and make home deliveries of groceries.

Even Walmart will accept internet purchases and hold them for pickup.

World Economic forum
World Economic Forum
This is the cover photo of the World Economic forum report

Amazon, of course, is experimenting with drone delivery elsewhere.

The World Economic Forum report is called "Shaping the Future of Retail for Consumer Industries."  It sees what it calls eight disruptive technologies that will shape the future. Included are drones, but also other types of robots, 3D printing, virtual reality and artificial intelligence. The forum said it expected the physical store to survive but:

"In the future, e-commerce penetration is projected to grow from approximately 10 percent today to greater than 40 percent in 2026. Averages, however, can be deceiving, and some product categories are likely to register penetration rates of 50 percent or more, while others may not grow beyond 20 percent."

Examples might be seen in the travel industry, music and book businesses where online outlets have captured the market to the detriment of the local travel agency, book and record stores.

Walmart's McMillon seems to agree. He says: "The historic trade-off between price and service has been altered by technology and customers expect to save time and enjoy the experience while saving money. They’ll fulfill their everyday needs – items like laundry detergent, paper, light bulbs, grocery staples and shampoo – in the easiest way possible through a combination of stores, e-commerce, pick-up, delivery and supported by artificial intelligence. Customer desires – think emerging fashion, fresh produce, and items they’ve never seen before – will still be fun to explore in stores as well as with technology (think virtual reality)."

The World Economics Forum report warns: "Industry participants will only succeed if they have a relentless focus on using technology to increase the value added to consumers."

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 13
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Research collaboration confirms benefit of restricted diets to longer life
By the University of Wisconsin-Madison news staff

Settling a persistent scientific controversy, a long-awaited report shows that restricting calories does indeed help rhesus monkeys live longer, healthier lives.

A remarkable collaboration between two competing research teams, one from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and one from the National Institute on Aging, is the first time the groups worked together to resolve one of the most controversial stories in aging research.

The findings by the collaboration were published in the journal Nature Communications.

In 2009, the University of Wisconsin-Madison study team reported significant benefits in survival and reductions in cancer, cardiovascular disease, and insulin resistance for monkeys that ate less than their peers. In 2012, however, the Institute on Aging study team reported no significant improvement in survival, but did find a trend toward improved health.

“These conflicting outcomes had cast a shadow of doubt on the translatability of the caloric-restriction paradigm as a means to understand aging and what creates age-related disease vulnerability,” said Rozalyn Anderson, one of the report’s corresponding authors at Wisconsin. Working together, the competing laboratories analyzed data gathered over many years and including data from almost 200 monkeys from both studies. Now, scientists think they know why the studies showed different results.

First, the animals in the two studies had their diets restricted at different ages. Comparative analysis reveals that eating less is beneficial in adult and older primates but is not beneficial for younger animals. This is a major departure from prior studies in rodents, where starting at an earlier age is better in achieving the benefits of a low-calorie diet.

Second, in the old-onset group of monkeys at National Institute on Aging, the control monkeys ate less than the Wisconsin control group. This lower food intake was associated with improved survival compared to the Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin-Madison/Jeff Miller
The monkey on the left had a restricted diet. The one on the right could eat what it wanted.

controls. The previously reported lack of difference in survival between control and restricted groups for older-onset monkeys emerges as beneficial differences when compared to the UW-Madison data. In this way, it seems that small differences in food intake in primates could meaningfully affect aging and health.

Third, diet composition was substantially different between studies. The Institute on Aging monkeys ate naturally sourced foods and the Wisconsin monkeys, part of the colony at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, ate processed food with higher sugar content. The Wisconsin control animals were fatter than the control monkeys at the Institute on Aging, indicating that at nonrestricted levels of food intake, what is eaten can make a big difference for fat mass and body composition.

Finally, the team identified key sex differences in the relationship between diet, fat, and insulin sensitivity, where females seem to be less vulnerable to adverse effects of being fat than males. This new insight appears to be particularly important in primates and likely is translatable to humans.

The upshot of the report is that caloric restriction does indeed seem to be a means to affect aging. However, for primates, age, diet and sex must all be factored in to realize the full benefits of lower caloric intake.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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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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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 13
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Obama commutes Chelsea
Manning's prison sentence

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Barack Obama has commuted the prison sentence of former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who leaked hundreds of thousands of military documents to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013. She now will be freed in May. She is among 209 prison commutations and 64 pardons Obama issued Tuesday as his presidency draws to a close. Most of the others were serving sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.

Chelsea Manning was formerly Bradley Manning when he handed over more than 700,000 classified U.S. military documents to WikiLeaks. They included battlefield reports from Afghanistan and Iraq, and State Department cables.

Government prosecutors argued that Manning's actions could have endangered the lives of U.S. servicemen and women. The defense argued that Manning wanted to expose what they called the truth about U.S. military involvement, and that most of the information was worthless to anyone wanting to harm U.S. interests.

Manning admitted leaking the documents and said it was done, in part, because of his gender identity confusion. He declared himself to be a woman after his sentencing, changed his named from Bradley to Chelsea, and said he plans to undergo a sex change surgery.

Manning's lawyers say she has tried to commit suicide twice, and said commuting her sentence could literally save Chelsea's life.

A White House official says Obama's decision was based on the fact that Manning's 35-year sentence was a lot longer than what was handed out to those who committed similar crimes.

WikiLeaks called the Manning commutation a victory. Founder Julian Assange said the courage and determination of everyone who campaigned on Manning's behalf made the impossible possible.

But some Republican lawmakers are furious that Manning will soon be free.

House Speaker Paul Ryan called it just outrageous, tweeting that Chelsea Manning's treachery put American lives at risk and exposed some of our nation's most sensitive secrets.

He accused Obama of setting a dangerous precedent. Alabama Sen. Tom Cotton said Manning should be treated like a traitor, not a martyr.

Among those President Obama pardoned are a retired  Marine General and former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, James Cartwright.

He pleaded guilty in October to charges of lying to federal investigators about leaking classified information about a U.S. cyberattack on Iran's nuclear facilities. The details appeared in a book by New York Times reporter David Sanger. Cartwright was awaiting sentencing. Federal prosecutors were asking for a 2-year prison term.

U.S. pays U.N. $500 million
for Green Climate Fund

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United States made a $500 million payment Tuesday to the U.N. Green Climate Fund, three days before handing over power to a new president who has called global warming a hoax.

President Barack Obama made a $3 billion pledge to the fund in 2014. Tuesday's $500 million was the second payment in fulfilling that pledge.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said there was no nefarious desire to provoke a reaction from the new administration by announcing the payment three days before Donald Trump takes over. It is possible that the Trump administration could decide to withhold the rest of the U.S. pledge to the fund.

Trump has threatened to tear up the Paris climate change agreement. His nominee for secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said at his confirmation hearing last week that it is important for the U.S. to have a seat at the table in tackling global warming.

Church groups providing
sanctuary doubles to 800

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A record 800 congregations have opened their doors to serve as sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants and other vulnerable populations, doubling from about 400 before president-elect Donald Trump's election, according to a coalition of faith communities called the PICO National Network.

"We are seeing more and more congregations joining the sanctuary movement, opening their doors to undocumented people, as well as to their Muslim neighbors, and as well to those who might be attacked," said Bishop Dwayne Royster during a press call Tuesday.

The bishop added that the growth of the movement is a powerful tool to resist the harsh, xenophobic and the discriminatory policies proposed by the Trump administration.

Trump has not yet proposed any policies, although he has said he would deport 2 to 3 million people who are alleged to have criminal records. In the past eight years, a record 2.5 million people have been deported under President Barack Obama.

Sanctuaries serve as safe spaces to stay for people with pending deportation orders. Currently, five people are staying in sanctuary in coalition churches as they fight to stop Obama administration deportation orders in Denver, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Chicago, which has two cases.

Ingrid Encalade Latorre came to the U.S. from Perú in 2000 and for seven weeks has been staying with a sanctuary congregation in Denver, Colorado. She is undocumented and since 2010, she has been facing deportation after pleading guilty to working with someone else's papers.

"I feel grateful and thankful to be able to be here and to continue to be here with my family while I fight my deportation order," Latorre said in Spanish.

Not knowing what Trump is going to do may have led some churches to fear the worst.

"United Methodists have been involved in sanctuary for several decades but never 60 congregations," said Bishop Minerva Carcano, spokesperson for United Methodist Church Bishops. "It's been a congregation here and there across the country, but 60 is significant; it's an exponential increase."

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency that executes deportation orders, has an unofficial practice of not going into churches or hospitals, making churches a safe space.

Millions are facing the loss
of health care, report says

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A nonpartisan U.S. congressional report said Tuesday that 18 million Americans could lose their health care insurance in the first year if the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress repeals President Barack Obama's signature health care reforms without a replacement.

The Congressional Budget Office said that with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, the number of people without insurance would grow to 32 million within a decade and the cost of insurance premiums would jump sharply.

President-elect Donald Trump, who assumes power in Washington on Friday, says he wants insurance for everybody and that he is nearing completion of a plan to replace the nearly seven-year-old policies of Obama.

Republican lawmakers have taken the first legislative steps in recent days to repeal the law. This has been a goal ever since Democrats approved it without the support of a single Republican vote in 2010. But Republicans have yet to agree on a plan to replace it.

With Trump in the White House, the overhaul of the health care law is expected to be one of his and Republican lawmakers' key efforts in the first 100 days of his four-year term. Republicans have long objected to the law as an example of government overreach, especially the requirement that all Americans buy health insurance or pay a fine if they do not.

But minority Democratic lawmakers have vowed to block the effort to overturn the law, under which 20 million people now have health insurance coverage who previously did not.

The vast majority of American workers have health insurance coverage through their employers, but the health law has helped millions of others, some self-employed workers and others impoverished, get health insurance for the first time or after years without coverage. But premiums have risen sharply, leading to more calls to replace the law.

Trump and many Republicans, however, have vowed to keep two of the most popular Obamacare features: requiring insurers to cover patients' pre-existing health care medical needs and allowing young people to stay on their parents' health care insurance plan until they turn 26 years old.

The question for some Republicans, however, is how much of the law they can keep without the requirement that everyone pay for insurance, which could make new policy changes exorbitantly expensive for the government and health care consumers.

Education designate DeVos
will set a different course

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Elizabeth DeVos is a wealthy philanthropist, political donor, and advocate of private and charter schools. She is also the president-elect's nominee for U.S. secretary of Education.

If confirmed, Ms. DeVos would oversee about 50.4 million students who attend about 100,000 public schools and 34,000 private schools. About 35 million students are in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. About 15 million are in high school, or ninth through 12th grades.

Another 5 million students attend private elementary and secondary schools, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

In her home state of Michigan, Ms. DeVos has advocated school choice and charter schools. That approach does not rely on children attending school in or near the neighborhoods where they live, which has traditionally been the model for U.S. public education. Instead, it advocates that children attend schools where the educational philosophy is compatible with the student's and parent's beliefs, such as same-gender or religious schools.

Ms. DeVos is a member of the Reformed Christian movement that has roots in Dutch religion and immigration. Michigan is home to the United States' largest number of Dutch-Americans, including the DeVos family.

The DeVos family built the Amway Corp., ranked as the 29th-largest American private business. Amway started as a cleaning supplies company in 1959 built on a direct-sales model. The company organizes a network of independent sellers and offers them sales incentives.

The Education secretary oversees one of Washington's smaller agencies that establishes policy for, administers and coordinates most federal assistance to education, according to the agency's website.

The cabinet position also assists the president with education policy and legislation. The department's mission "is to serve America's students — to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access."

The U.S. Dept. of Education is relatively small in comparison to giants such as Defense or the Justice Dept. The department began in the mid-1800s as a way to collect statistics about American education.

But in the 1950s, in the midst of the post-World War II baby boom, it expanded. The department's description points to the 1957 launch of the Soviet Union's Sputnik satellite as a driving force behind increased aid for U.S. science programs.

President Lyndon Johnson stepped up efforts in the 1960s by improving education for poor students. Those programs benefited racial minorities, women, the disabled and non-English speakers in gaining equal access to education.

In 1980, the department was formally assembled into an agency and now has nearly 4,300 employees and a budget of about $60 billion, according to its website.

The U.S. Constitution mandates that states are responsible for primary and secondary education, or kindergarten through high school. Most of the funding for local public schools comes from state and local public taxes. The federal government adds about 8.3 percent more to the pot. The remainder of the funding for local education, about 8.9 percent, comes from private sources, primarily for private schools.

Ms. DeVos and her organization, the American Federation for Children, advocate for school choice, or more federal funding to be channeled to private and charter schools.

Opinions about the department typically run along traditional political party lines: Democrats call for increased funding. Republicans call for decreased funding. Some politicians have suggested that the Department of Education be abolished, allowing the states to have more freedom to govern their schools.

Falling test scores in U.S. schools that show the country lagging behind other industrialized nations have caused consternation in recent years.

Some critics, educators and families have blamed programs such as the No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law by former President George W. Bush, and Common Core, an educational initiative promoted by software billionaires Bill and Melinda Gates.

Some educators take issue with Ms. DeVos, who lacks experience in the public school system, either as a student, parent, teacher or volunteer. Ms. DeVos is from a wealthy Christian family that wants to provide families with more flexibility in choosing a private education.

The next Education secretary will also need to address the issue of for-profit colleges and universities. Several agencies within the Obama administration investigated the efficacy and cost of for-profit schools.

Study shows ultraviolet light
kills drug-resistant bacteria

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A new study shows that bathing hospital rooms in ultraviolet light kills drug-resistant superbugs that put the health of patients at serious risk.

The UV light is emitted by a robot wheeled into a room before a patient checks in. A study by Duke University researchers in North Carolina found that ultraviolet C light, or UVC, switched on for a half-hour after the previous patient checked out can reduce the presence of drug-resistant bacteria by 30 percent.

The UVC light poses no risk to humans, unlike other types of ultraviolet light emitted by the sun that can cause skin cancer.

The 1.5-meter-tall, cylindrical UVC robots are used in what's called a terminal cleaning process. That's when hospital personnel scrub a room from floor to ceiling with chemical agents to try to eliminate all traces of bacteria that a sick patient may have left behind.

Drug-resistant superbugs, which can live on flat surfaces, are the most serious worry. Often-lethal microbes like MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aeurus, do not respond to standard antibiotics, making it very hard to treat patients who become infected with them.

But Deverick Anderson, director of Duke's Center for Antimicrobial Stewardship and Infection Prevention, said UV light reflects off flat surfaces and can really get into all the nooks and crannies of a hospital room.

The Duke study, published in the journal “The Lancet,” was conducted at nine hospitals. Researchers compared the effectiveness of using UVC along with different chemical agents or only a cleaning agent.

Fifteen to 20 percent of hospital rooms were cleaned using the UV robots. Anderson said the devices were used in rooms where it was suspected that superbugs lurked. These rooms included intensive care units and rooms where patients had been treated for drug-resistant bacterial infections.

The researchers found that the cleaning strategy of using the robot with a cleaning agent called quaternary ammonium worked best against MRSA.

The cleaning protocol was most successful with actively growing bacteria, including MRSA and vancomycin-resistant enterococci or VRE, and less so with those microbes that form dormant, protective spores, like the intestinal pathogen C. difficile.

The protocol literally gets to the DNA, disrupts the DNA, and kills the bacteria, said Anderson.

Anderson said hospitals involved in the study are continuing to use the UVC robots, which cost about $90,000 each.

The next step, according to Anderson, is to see whether incorporating the devices into daily room cleaning, during a patient's hospital stay, does a better job of eliminating superbugs than using the robots after patients have checked out.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 13
Real Estate
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News from the BBC up to the minute

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Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo/A.M. Costa Rica archives
Environmental investigators worried about silt from the Ruta 1856 damaging this wetland

Just 26 being accused in Río San Juan job

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

At least 22 persons are off the hook because anti-corruption prosecutors, racing against a Jan 27 deadline, say they will accuse just 26 persons in the bribery, theft, corruption and money laundering case that has been called the Troche.

This is the 5-year-old case that developed from irregularities in the construction of a 160-kilometer roadway along the Río San Juan after Nicaraguan troops invaded the country in 2010. Prosecutors are to present the case to the Juzgado Penal de Hacienda. However years may pass before the case actually goes to trial.

Not named in the allegations was former president Laura Chinchilla, who authorized the construction of the roadway where none had existed in the remote northern zone. This was Ruta 1856, a number that reminded Nicaraguans of the war against filibusters William Walker in that year. Ms. Chinchilla had gone public in 2012 to demand an investigation of the project.

Jorge Chavarría Guzmán, the chief prosecutor, said last September that 48 persons would be accused and that the case would be presented before the end of 2016.

Carlos Acosta Monge, who was head of the road agency, the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad, at the time, and two of his subordinates in charge of the project are being accused of crimes that included illegal enrichment, the Poder Judicial said Tuesday. Three persons are accused of pretending to be construction inspectors, and they also are being accused. Also listed were 18 persons who operated construction companies that did work on the roadway. The allegations also named two of their wives, the Poder Judicial said.

The highway was a hurry-up job done without bidding. The allegations say that the contractors and public officials colluded to present fake bills and claim that work was done when it was not. The sarcastic Spanish word troche means that the job was done at least haphazardly.

The highway itself was a disaster. Large numbers of trees were cut for the right of way, and the timber vanished. In some cases metal shipping containers were used as bridges over creeks and other waterways. Nicaragua complained of soil slipping into the river.

Judicial investigators interviewed 250 witnesses, prosecutors said. The  Procuraduría General de la República is presenting a separate case for civil damages.

Some of those named Monday already have been brought to court after being detained.

The criminal code established the deadline of Jan. 27.
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From Page 7:

Expat to market new water processing system

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Minnesota inventor and water advocate has set up shop in Playa Negra as La Compania del Agua.

He is Clint Elston, who has a water and wastewater polyethylene manufacturing operation. He said he also is moving to create economic development and improve water and sanitation throughout Costa Rica.

Playa Negra is in Guanacaste, a province that has a continual shortage of water. Elston, formerly of Afton, Minnesota, said he spent the last year getting a system set  up for demonstration.

The system he uses separates sewage or blackwater from graywater discharges such as from laundry machines, dishwashers, sinks and showers as well as harvested rainwater. The sewage is processed for agricultural use. The greywater is treated  aerobically and subjected to a reverse osmosis filtering that produces drinking quality water. The goal is to use much less total water, perhaps as little as three gallons a person per day.

Elston said he once vacationed in Tamarindo, which is why he chose to return to Costa Rica.