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Published Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 218
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Bill seeks to eliminate price fixing by colegios
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Although the Costa Rican Constitution forbids monopolies, that prohibition is weakly enforced.

One example, of course, is the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo, which is the only motor fuel importer, and the price of fuel is fixed by a government agency.

The Central American Free Trade Treaty eliminated some national monopolies, including the one held by the state communication giant, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad. Still, the heavy hand of the state continues to intrude into cell telephone rates.

There also are a series of quasi-monopolies generally unseen by the public. The Colegio de Médicos y Cirujanos found itself thrust into the news pages when it published new and higher mandatory rates for its members. In order to practice, a physician must be a member, and members are obligated to charge the mandatory minimum prices.

A legislative committee is considering a bill that would eliminate mandatory pricing by members of colegios, those government created professional organizations. There are many but not all have mandatory pricing.

Some that do are the ones Costa Ricans and expats would be most likely to encounter: The Colegio de Abogados, the Colegio de Cirujano Dentistas and that of the physicians.

Representatives of two consumer organizations showed up to support the bill, No. 20.025, Wednesday at the Comisión de Asuntos Económicos. The organizations are the Asociación de Consumidores Libres de Costa Rica and the Asociación de Consumidores de Costa Rica.

Both are active in promoting the interests of consumers and fair competition. The  Asociación de Consumidores, for example, has a number of cases pending before the consumer section of the economics ministry. Most include allegations of shady practices by merchants.

The Asociación de Consumidores Libres on its Web page has gone so far as to say that

A.M. Costa Rica graphic
Commercial monopolies are not a game.

higher mandatory fees posted by the Colegio de Médicos was a sentence of death because it would price some needing treatment out of the market.

The physician’s colegio has withdrawn its list of higher prices for study after a public outcry.

No one has the right to be free of competition, said the Asociación de Consumidores Libres.

However, the powerful colegios are likely to oppose the bill.

As most expats know, there are many types of government paperwork that require the services of a lawyer. Homeowners cannot even sell their own dwelling without paying what amounts to a commission to a lawyer.

That used to be the case in the United States, too, but the process has evolved so that many legal document are available in blank at stationery stores. And there are low-cost health clinics in poor areas.

Costa Rica does have the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social and its network of clinics and hospitals. A mistaken rumor is that medical services are free here, but employers and employees pay a significant amount each month to the Caja.

Although Caja enrollees would not see, for example, higher medical prices, the Caja itself would have to pay the larger fees. As one consumer group said, higher fees would reduce the number of specialists and the available appointments at Caja facilities.

State guaro producer says it faces a softer market
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Sales of  Cacique guaro to Costa Ricans are on the decline, and the Fábrica Nacional de Licores is looking to the north for new markets.
The state liquor producer said it even put ads in the Miami Herald seeking distributors.

Guaro is cane liquor that is among the cheapest available. It is a traditional Costa Rican beverage closely associated with soccer viewing.

The state liquor manufacturer said that sales from January to September declined 12.2 percent when compared to the previous year. Still, the company sells an estimated 18,000 12-bottle boxes to supermarkets each year, but sales to distributors here have declined.

The company did, however, export $845,885
in alcohol to Canada, the United States and other nations from February to October, it said.

The company also made note of a recent scandal in which supposed exported alcohol was coming back untaxed into the national market.

Álvaro Salas, the company administrator, said that all the paperwork showing exports was in order and had been run through the customs agency system.

The company did not address local competition.

There are several guaro brands on the market now, and these even can be found side-by-side with Cacique on supermarket shelves.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 218
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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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Dental Services Costa Rica

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Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
Food, clothing and medical equipment is offloaded from a U.S. Southern Command helicopter in Piedra Mesa de Telire as visiting military personnel and volunteers get ready for their medical mission there treating the native population in the remote Talamancas. In addition to various medical specialists, there is at least one veterinarian.

Cubs win World Series . . . at last!

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Chicago Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, beating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in 10 innings Wednesday.

The Cubs led 6-3 after the first six innings but Cleveland scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth to tie it up. Neither team scored in the ninth, and after a brief rain delay the game went into extra innings.

Both teams hoped to end long droughts without a world title: the Cubs last won in 1908 while the Indians' last series win was in 1948.

Despite the Cubs being favored to win the series, Cleveland was a game away from claiming the title after winning the first, third and fourth games of the series. But Chicago won three straight, including the final two in Cleveland, to end the longest stretch without a World Series win by any team in baseball.

Air France
Casa Presidencial photo
Government officials turned out in force Wednesday night to welcome the first direct flight from Paris by Air France. This  Boeing 777-300 has a capacity of 468, and officials are hoping the direct flight will give a boost to European tourism. Flights from Paris are planned for Wednesdays. The return flight is Saturdays.

U.S. Fed keeps interest rates at record low

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Top officials of the U.S. central bank voted Wednesday to keep interest rates at the ultra-low level where they have been for nearly a year.

The Federal Reserve said the job market was continuing to improve and that household spending was rising, but that business investment was soft and the rate of inflation remained below target.

In a written statement, the Fed said the case for raising interest rates was continuing to strengthen, but that officials wanted further evidence before boosting rates.

The rate of inflation increased somewhat, but remains below the 2 percent level experts say is best for the economy. Central banks typically raise interest rates to keep inflation under control.

The U.S. central bank slashed the federal funds rate, the rate banks charge to each other on overnight loans, to record lows during the recession in a bid to boost growth. Last December, the Fed raised the rate slightly to a range between .25 percent and .5 percent, but that left the figure still at an unusually low level.

The Fed next meets in December, and many investors and economists expect the central bank to raise rates, slightly, at that time. analyst Mark Hamrick says the Fed was probably reluctant to raise rates until the economic uncertainty from the U.S. election is past.

U.S. economic growth rose to a 2.9 percent annual rate between July and September, and unemployment has fallen from 10 percent at the worst of the recession to 5 percent today.

Bob Dylan, the artist, has a London show

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The timing couldn't be better for Saturday's opening of "The Beaten Path," a major exhibit of Bob Dylan's artworks at the Halcyon Gallery on London's pricey New Bond Street.

Worldwide interest in the veteran American troubadour has soared after his surprising choice as this year's winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, and the show is one of the most extensive displays ever mounted of his drawings, watercolors, acrylics and ironworks.

The 75-year-old singer has said he will accept the Nobel in person in Stockholm if he can fit it into his demanding tour schedule, and the gallery hopes he will stop off in London to visit the show.

“He obviously comes whenever he decides,” said gallery president Paul Green, who knows it would be fruitless to press the elusive Dylan for a certain date. “We don't know whether he will come. We hope he will. He's been deeply involved in every aspect of this exhibition.”

The extensive exhibit reflects growing appreciation for Dylan's art, which has been featured in gallery and museum shows in a number of countries in recent years.

The paintings at the London gallery reflect Dylan's nearly constant travels throughout the United States on the never ending tour that has consumed the last two decades of his life. The choice of subject matter reflects a deep affinity for the American scene, an abiding affection for its curious roadside attractions and respect for its industrial might.

Railways, skyscrapers, and suspension bridges vie with deserted side streets and overgrown motels for his attention. This is an America of fairgrounds and circuses, forgotten crossroads and neglected cityscapes. The streets are filled with the bulky behemoths that were late 1950s automobiles, including a depiction of the Ford Edsel, a famous automotive failure.

Dylan writes in a preface that he chose to ignore corporate America: “The common theme of these works having something to do with the American landscape — how you see it while crisscrossing the land and seeing it for what it's worth. Staying out of the mainstream and traveling the back roads, free born style.”

“Dylan was born in small town America,” said Green. “He's done hundreds of tour dates for many, many years, and often played in the small towns. He takes the hot dog stand, or the motel, whether it's open or closed. It's his view of America."

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 218
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Police detain pair in Tamarindo merchant protection scheme
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tamarindo merchants have been being victimized by local thugs and their protection racket.

This is something right out of Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather.”

But one merchant, an operator of a surf store, declined the thugs’ offer, according to the Fuerza Pública.

One of the shakedown artists attracted police attention by firing into the air in an effort to scare the merchant. Then he and a companion fled in a vehicle.

Police said they managed to collar two suspects. One stepped
out of a car still holding a pistol that later was found to have been stolen off a guard.

Police said that one of the men had a record for drug violations, illegal arms and threats.

Police said the pair were to be remanded to the flagrancy court.

There was no indication how many merchants had been intimidated by the shakedown artists, but those in business are a prime target for all sorts of criminals.

Some in San José report continual overtures by individuals who are seeking assistance in laundering money. Bar owners complain of visiting officials who have their hands out.

Residents and even owners of nearby hotels participated in removing as much of the wrecked shrimp trawler as they could.
sunk boat
Servicio Nacional del Guardacostas photo

Government workers seek to assess impact of Guanacaste boat wreck
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Residents, volunteers and public employees from a host of public institutions are at work trying to evaluate the impact of a shrimp trawler that sunk in front of  Playa Brasilito in Guanacaste.

The 23-meter boat has a capacity of 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel, but the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes said the boat had been at sea for 10 days using up its fuel.

The hull of the boat, Azoriano, was damaged, and there was a leakage of fuel.

Personnel of the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo put up barriers in the surf to reduce dispersion of the fuel. The  Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía and its Sistema Nacional de

Áreas de Conservación are even planning to make underwater inspections to see if there was any impact on the environment.

The Servicio Nacional del Guardacostas said the boat got in trouble Sunday after the captain reported hitting a reef off Playa Conchal. The coast guard crews were unable to keep the boat afloat, and it sunk just offshore.  The owners plan to extract the motor and other machinery as salvage and to lighten the load so the hull can be moved.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes downplayed the escape of diesel fuel and said that a lot of it would be evaporating. The agency did warn against bathing near the wreck.

The beaches near the wreck are some of the country’s finest tourist destinations.

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Vista Ballena
Palermo Hotel

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 218
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Press advocates concerned by potential right-of-reply ruling in México
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Press advocates say that a proposed ruling by the Mexican supreme court could open the door to a flood of requests for space by anyone who has been mentioned in a media article.

Costa Rica has a right-of-reply statute, but just like the one in México, there has to have been some fault by the media.

A draft ruling submitted by Supreme Court Justice Alberto Pérez Dayán proposes support for a claim of unconstitutionality by political parties that would remove from the law on right of reply the requirement of inaccuracy or untruth of information so that an offended person could call for space from the media concerned, according to the The Inter American Press Association.

The right of reply is used sparing in Costa Rica, and the major newspapers tend to stick by their news stories and their reporters. But sometimes a person who feels he or she has been mistreated by the news media goes to the Sala IV constitutional court to seek relief.

Sometimes the court orders the media outlet concerned to print the reply from the individual.

The concept has its roots in the idea that the average person does not have access to large numbers of individuals as a media outlet would. So the right of reply is designed to make things right if the media outlet does not publish a correction on its own initiative.

Of course today with social media outlets and the Internet, someone who thinks he or she has been wronged by the media can reach large numbers of people easily.

The Inter American Press Association warned that this legal precept model, which enables actions to be taken against media and journalists over various matters, truthful or not, has given rise to innumerable abuses in Latin America.  For newspaper print outlets, a right of reply generates a cost because the space would otherwise be used for articles or advertising.

Justice Pérez Dayán's proposed ruling will be put to a vote Monday in a session of the Mexican court, made up of 11 judges.

México is a trend-setter for legal philosophies in Latin America, so what the court does could have an eventual impact here and elsewhere.

Matt Sanders expressed his concern that an action of this nature "would complicate even more the already deteriorated environment in which Mexican journalists and media have to carry out their work, of undoubted social impact." He is a senior director and general manager of Deseret Digital Media, Salt Lake City, Utah, and president of the press association.

"The action accepted by court is of more concern because it originates from the promotion of political parties, which allows it to be assumed that what is sought is to block journalistic investigations or finger-pointing that are essential for members of the public to know the players and candidates and take informed decisions, especially in times of elections," said Roberto Rock. He is chairman of the press association’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information and editor of La Silla Rota of México.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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Tel.  8386-6872 / 2667-0592; U.S. telephone 702-953-7073
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Click photo for another video

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

 (as reported by the moving companies)
Visit many rental options to actually experience the price/amenity options available in more of the areas chosen by Expats for security, comfort, and quality of life.

Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!

Ask the others what you get for your money, and then compare the quality of accommodations, quality, quantity and variety of food and drink to measure the best value for your money. 

Learn how others “talk the talk” and learn who really can “walk the walk”

Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
George Lundquist, retirement, relocation columnist, Guide & Developer/Builder.

George Lundquist

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Or call Hilda at 506-2221-7161.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 218
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Early voting in U.S. reported
to be record in some states

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Americans are voting early in record numbers before the Nov. 8 presidential election.

Less than a week before Election Day, more than 29 million people have cast early ballots, nearly twice as many as those who voted early during the same period four years ago, according to the United States Elections Project.

Despite heavy turnout among early voters, ballots cast so far by African-Americans have not matched 2012 levels, fueling concern among Democratic candidates such as Hillary Clinton who have historically received the broad support of this segment of the electorate.

Lower levels of early voting among African-Americans has prompted a warning from President Barack Obama, America's first black president. In a pre-taped radio interview that was broadcast Wednesday, Obama said on the "Tom Joyner Morning Show" that if his legacy is to be protected, African-American voters must vote in order to pass the baton to a like-minded successor.

Heavy early voting among the overall U.S. population could be due to a variety of factors, according to the Early Voting Information Center at Reed College in the northwestern city of Portland, Oregon.

The convenience of early voting, the intensity of the campaign, sharp contrasts between the presidential candidates and more focus on early voting mobilization may be contributing factors, the Early Voting Information Center's Paul Gronke wrote in a commentary.

"What is clear, however, is that early voting could be a key indicator of who is winning the horse race," Gronke added.

As Mrs. Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump enter the final stretch, their campaigns are concentrating on key battleground states.

Obama campaigned Wednesday in North Carolina, where a federal appeals court blamed Republicans for an almost surgical attack on black voter turnout by approving several voter suppression measures, including a curtailment of early voting opportunities.

Early black voter turnout in North Carolina, where Mrs. Clinton still enjoys a slight edge, has dropped 16 percent from 2012 levels, while white turnout has climbed 15 percent.

While turnout is lower among black voters, Democrats are hoping to offset it by winning significant support from two other key constituent groups: Latinos and college-educated women.

The Trump campaign is spending much of its energy on the must-win battleground state of Florida, where more than 44 percent of early ballots have been cast compared to 2012 levels, according to the Early Voting Information Center.

The center reports that the highest rate of early voter turnout has been in Louisiana, where early voting already has exceeded the total number of early ballots cast in 2012. Florida, Georgia and Tennessee also are showing very high turnout, with levels reaching at least 80 percent of the 2012 totals.

Of the 11 battleground states identified by Politico, the Early Voting Information Center reports that only New Hampshire and Pennsylvania have not experienced early voter turnout that exceeded more than half of the 2012 levels.

Europe, like U.S., finds itself
divided over two candidates

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Polls suggest that if European nations were voting in the U.S. election, Hillary Clinton would win in a landslide. Governments across the region are paying close attention and assessing how they will work with the next administration, including one that would be led by Donald Trump.

The Republican candidate has found sympathy among a significant segment of Europe’s population, both in migrant-wary Eastern Europe and in Western Europe, where anti-immigrant, anti-EU advocates in Germany, France and Britain are hoping a Trump victory will bolster their causes.

But it is the concerns about the new American leadership’s willingness to remain engaged with Europe that is tipping the scales in favor of Mrs. Clinton, in the eyes of the European establishment.

“I admire her strategic thinking and her strong commitment to the trans-Atlantic partnership,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag earlier this year.

Ms. Merkel’s opinion reflects that of many Europeans who see Mrs. Clinton as sharing priorities that are trademarks of European classical liberalism: a commitment to free trade, a strong North Atlantic Treaty Organization, state-funded health care, and opposition to Brexit and other movements that threaten the integrity of the EU and its vision of a region without borders.

“Together, we are facing the challenge to give the name to a new era together,” said Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi during an October visit to the White House. “My personal opinion is that the name of future has to be freedom. The name of the future has to be education not intolerance, sustainability not distraction, trust not hate, bridge not walls,” an apparent reference to Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall on the southern U.S. border with Mexico.

Trump’s stance on the explosive issues of immigration and jobs brings him few friends among Europe’s leadership, but it endears him to followers of grassroots movements across the continent who see their nations as losing their sovereignty and their livelihood under what some perceive as a European super state.

The same bloc of voters shares Trump’s position against free trade, one of the key areas of concern for European leaders following the failure this year of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

A Trump victory would bolster populists on the continent who are keying into the grievances of those who see themselves as not benefiting from the economic growth that was promised to them from trade liberalization, and who blame immigrants and foreign nations.

“If you are an electorate or a voter, you can say it’s a failure of domestic competition in countries like China. You can say trade liberalization is bad and capitalism is bad,” said Shanker Singham, director of economic policy and prosperity studies at the Legatum Institute in London.

Among those in Europe expecting to benefit from a Trump victory is Nigel Farage and his UK Independence Party, which opposes continued immigration. Farage has campaigned on behalf of Trump in the U.S. Hillary Clinton, Farage said recently, “is part of a big business establishment. Simply, people want change.”

Trump’s stance on immigration and terrorism also resonates among some like Hungary’s Viktor Orban, who sees the Republican contender as better for Europe.

The Hungarian leader, an EU critic who built a razor-wire fence to keep out migrants, has praised the Republican’s anti-terrorism proposals that include a temporary ban on Muslims from entering the U.S. Speaking of Trump’s overall plans to stop terrorism, he said, “I myself could not have drawn up better what Europe needs.

Leaders and analysts see Tuesday as a crucial day that will determine what direction the West will take.

“The liberal order is fragile,” said Dana Allin, a political analyst at London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies. With Britain voting to leave the European Union, a Trump victory in the United States and the rise of Marine Le Pen in France, “the Western order could all of a sudden look very different,” he said.

French President Francois Hollande, a socialist, agrees the American election will change history.

“It could lead to a very strong turn to the right in the world, or to a correction,” Hollande said in August.

The movement of anti-immigrant crusader Le Pen gained strength after last summer’s wave of terrorist attacks in France, and Hollande expects the U.S. vote will directly influence the outcome in his country’s elections next year.

“The American campaign shows issues that will be reflected in the French campaign. If the Americans choose Trump, that will have consequences, because an American election is a world election,” Hollande said.

World Health report targets
preventable surgical infections

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The World Health Organization warns millions of people die every year from preventable surgical infections. A report says new global guidelines it is issuing for the prevention of surgical site infections will save many lives.

World Health reports more than 240 million surgical procedures are performed globally every year for a wide range of conditions, including cancer, heart disease, cataracts and traffic crash injuries.

Surgical site infections occur when bacteria enter a patient’s body through incisions. They threaten the lives of millions of patients each year and contribute to the spread of antibiotic resistance.

The U.N. agency says they are the most common hospital-acquired infection in poor countries and the second most common in rich countries.

Ed Kelley is World Health director of service delivery and safety. He says one in every 10 surgical patients in poor countries will get an infection. In some countries he says one third of all patients coming in for surgery are infected.

“In Africa, for instance, 20 percent of Caesarian sections result in surgical site infections, which endanger, of course, the life of the woman and, therefore, the life of her baby. These result in hundreds of thousands of extra hospital days, billions of dollars in extra hospital costs and tens of thousands of deaths,” Kelley said.

The new guidelines cover 29 recommendations in 23 areas. Kelley says evidence shows that antibiotics given as close as possible before surgery can prevent infections for certain surgical procedures. But he says using antibiotics after surgery does not prevent infections. Another recommendation, he says, is not to shave patients before surgery.

“Hair removal can actually increase the risk of causing microscopic cuts or traumas to the skin and evidence tells us that there is clear benefit to not removing the hair. If you had to boil it down globally as to what could have some of the biggest impact, this question of proper site preparation, proper hand hygiene and really, then, the layout of the operating theater in terms of preventing infections,” Kelly said.

Of the 29 recommendations in the guidelines, health officials cite hand-washing as the single most important for preventing surgical site infections.

Bike helmet airbags improve,
but U.S. still lags on approval

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Bicycle helmets that utilize airbag technology instead of conventional hard foam may offer five times more protection against brain injuries, according to Stanford University researchers.

These inflatable helmets cannot be sold in the United States due to current federal regulations.

Two sets of test dummies, one wearing a standard helmet and the other wearing one that is worn around the neck and inflates like an airbag when it senses a collision, were dropped from varying heights in a lab to simulate bicycle accidents.

"It was a big difference," Stanford University bioengineer David Camarillo said.

Bicycle accidents are a leading cause of sports-related head injuries in the world due to the sheer number of bicyclists.

Conventional helmets, according to Camarillo, are designed to prevent skull fractures but do not protect well against injuries such as concussions, which can occur when neurons in the brain stretch due to impact forces sustained during an accident.

Airbag helmets, which are available for sale in parts of Europe, are typically successful in protecting the brain from impact force but pose risks because they can fail to deploy properly.

"You can actually be at more risk of injury compared to a standard helmet," said Mehmet Kurk, another member of the research team that conducted the study.

If the airbag is late to deploy, the amount of pressure may not be sufficient to keep the head from making contact with the ground.

"These helmets are going to have failure modes different than conventional bike helmets, but there could be ways in which they are much safer," said Camarillo. "You have to look at the relative risk."

Swedish company Hovding, which makes the airbag helmet in the Stanford study, said the technology it uses was fully tested and safe.

However, Camarillo said U.S. regulations did not reflect new research on the dangers of concussions and other brain injuries.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission, which regulates bicycle helmets, does not even have a testing method in place for inflatable versions, he added.

As a result, he does not expect U.S. laws governing bicycle helmets to change any time soon.

"It would probably take an act of Congress," he said.

Dust sniffer might find life
by sampling the air on Mars

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

An instrument used to detect bio-hazards on Earth could be used to find signs of current or former life on Mars.

The instrument, developed by technologist Branimir Blagojevic of the National Areonautics and Space Administration, is called BILI, and is a fluorescence-based lidar, which works like radar, but instead of using radio waves, it analyzes light to analyze particles in the atmosphere.

“NASA has never used it before for planetary ground level exploration. If the agency develops it, it will be the first of a kind,” Blagojevic said.

Blagojevic hopes that one day his instrument will be put in a Mars probe where it could analyze dust plumes for bio-signatures.

“If the bio-signatures are there, it could be detected in the dust,” Blagojevic said, adding that BILI could detect small levels of organic materials from a distance of several hundred meters in real time.

This would be advantageous because many of the plumes are given off from the surface on slopes, which are not easily accessible to a rover.

The next steps for BILI are to make it more rugged and smaller in addition to “confirming that it can detect tiny concentrations of a broad range of organic molecules, particularly in aerosols that would be found at the ground level on Mars.”
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 218
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News from the BBC up to the minute

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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
magma dome
University of California, Santa Cruz/Noah Finnegan
The Altiplano-Puna plateau in the central Andes features vast plains punctuated by spectacular volcanoes, such as the Lazufre volcanic complex in Chile seen in this photo.

Survey shows huge magma body in Andes

By the University of California, Santa Cruz, news staff

A new analysis of the topography of the central Andes shows the uplifting of the Earth's second highest continental plateau was driven in part by a huge zone of melted rock in the crust, known as a magma body.

The Altiplano-Puna plateau is a high, dry region in the central Andes that includes parts of Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile, with vast plains punctuated by spectacular volcanoes. In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers used remote sensing data and topographic modeling techniques to reveal an enormous dome in the plateau.

About 3,300 feet (1 kilometer) high and hundreds of miles across, the dome sits right above the largest active magma body on Earth. The uplifting of the dome is the result of the thickening of the crust due to the injection of magma from below, according to Noah Finnegan, associate professor of earth and planetary sciences at University of California, Santa Cruz, and senior author of the paper.

"The dome is the Earth's response to having this huge low-density magma chamber pumped into the crust," Finnegan said. 

The uplifting of the dome accounts for about one-fifth of the height of the central Andes, said first author Jonathan Perkins, who led the study as a graduate student at University of California, Santa Cruz, and is now at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California.

"It's a large part of the evolution of the Andes that hadn't been quantified before," Perkins said.

The other forces uplifting the Andes are tectonic, resulting from the South American continental plate overriding the Nazca oceanic plate. The subduction zone where the Nazca plate dives beneath the western edge of South America is the source of the magma entering the crust and feeding volcanic activity in the region. Water released from the subducting slab of oceanic crust changes the melting temperature of the overlying wedge of mantle rock, causing it to melt and rise into the overriding plate.

Perkins and Finnegan worked with researchers at the University of Arizona who had used seismic imaging to reveal the remarkable size and extent of the Altiplano-Puna magma body in a paper published in 2014. That study detected a huge zone of melted material about 7 miles thick and 125 miles in diameter, much larger than previous estimates.

The Altiplano-Puna Volcanic Complex was one of the most volcanically active places on Earth starting about 10 million years ago, with several super-volcanoes producing massive eruptions and creating a large complex of collapsed calderas in the region. Although no major eruptions have occurred in several thousand years, there are still active volcanoes and geothermal activity in the region. In addition, satellite surveys of surface deformation since the 1990s have shown that uplifting of the surface is continuing to occur at a relatively rapid rate in a few places.

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From Page 7:

National tourism congress is Nov. 23 and 24

By the A.M. Costa Rica news staff

The Congreso Nacional de Turismo will be Nov. 23 and 24 at the Barceló San José Palacio in La Uruca. The sponsor is the Cámara Nacional de Turismo.

The tourism organization said it hopes to show the advances it has made and impart a vision of the industry through 2023.

Of course, subjects important to tourism operators are electrical rates, the international tourism market, the impact of the opening of Cuba to U.S. visitors, and the national tourism plan for 2017 as prepared by the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo.

Other discussions are planned on the status of the country’s airports, the Plan Nacional de Gastronomía and digital technologies as they relate to the tourism market.