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Published Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 244
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For the weekend: Oxen, music and even more music
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is a parade, a protest, some concerts, movies being played and other performances happening this weekend to give something for anyone from activist to lover of the arts.

Sunday hundreds of boyeros with their oxen will parade through San José in an internationally recognized celebration of Costa Rican rural heritage.

After being cancelled due to Hurricane Otto, organizers rescheduled the parade for Sunday at 9 a.m. beginning at the statue of León Cortés in La Sabana. From there, the boyeros and their bueyes will go up Paseo Colón and take Avenida Segunda to pass by Parque La Merced and Parque Central.

The parade will end at the Plaza de la Democracia around 3 p.m., officials said.

A public protest is scheduled on Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. in the San Pedro district of Pérez Zeledón to protest against the building of a private hydroelectric dam in the Río San Rafael.

The Caminata en defensa del Río San Rafael de Pérez Zeledón is intended to show solidarity with the people affected by Hurricane Otto as well as those affected by the potential construction of the dam. The march will begin in front of the Ferretería La Fortuna and will end at the river, protest leaders said.

This protest stems from the protesters’ belief that the Solís Group, the firm seeking permission for the dam, does not value all the uses people make of the rivers or the potential damage to the population located downriver of the Zapotal slide. The slide became more threatening as the Hidroeléctrico Pirrís reservoir filled near Zapotal Abajo.

In addition to the walk or march, there will be a public meeting Tuesday at 5 p.m. by the Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos at the Salón Comunal in San Pedro where protesters will request cancellation of the project.


The International Film Festival happening in various theaters of San José continues into the weekend with around 72 films being shown this year, organizers said.

The festival is an introduction to Central American film with seven feature films being native to Costa Rica itself, organizers said. There will be screenings of the various movies at the Cine Magaly, the Teatro La Aduana, the Teatro 1887, the Teatro de la Danza, and the auditorium of the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. there is no entry fee. However organizers said that after 6 p.m. there would be a 2000-colon admission for the public.

The film festival organizers are also inviting people to a virtual reality experience beginning Saturday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. The event called “Notes on Blindness: Into Darkness” will be running until Dec. 17 at the Tanque of the Museo Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo. The guaranteed time in the virtual reality show is 15 minutes with a maximum of four people participating at a time.  A complete schedule of the films and their show times can be found HERE!


The Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional and the Coro Sinfónico Nacional are teaming up to open as Christmas-themed series of concerts tonight at 7 o’clock at the Iglesia San Juan

There even is a protest march Saturday

Bautista de Tibás before other performances Sunday and next week.

Admission is free and the entire family is encouraged to attend the series where attendees can expect to hear renditions of 
“The Nutcracker” and  “The Messiah,” organizers said. There will also be the traditional Christmas carols sung and played by the two performing groups consisting of 150 orchestra and choir members.

Sunday at 11 a.m., the concert will continue to the gymnasium of the Colegio Técnico Profesional de San Pablo de León Cortés. It will then move on to various locations and times until the final performance a week from today at 7 p.m., in the Basilica of Santo Domingo de Heredia


The Teatro Nacional, in conjunction with the Danza y Sistema Integral de Formación Artística, will continue to host the contemporary rendition of “Alicia en el país de las maravillas,” or “Alice in Wonderland.”

The two-act ballet utilizes elements of classical ballet and contemporary dance in addition to theater and video animation. There is a show this evening at 8 p.m. as well as two others at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday and a Sunday performance at 11 a.m. Depending on the seating location, tickets can be purchased at the Teatro Nacional for between 8,000-30,000 colones. They can also be bought at the theater’s website.


There is music, food, and handicraft purchasing happening at the Museo Nacional between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today. The Banda de Conciertos de San José as well as students from the Colegio Saint Francis will be performing, while artisans sell their wares and food.


For those interested in more music, there are performances happening this weekend. A special concert called “Navidad gospel” featuring the group Master Key will be tonight at 7 o’clock at the Parque Los Baños in Limón Centro. Saturday, the Banda de Guanacaste is holding a concert in honor of the Virgen de Guadalupe at 7 p.m. at the Iglesia de Nicoya. Lastly, there will be a Christmas concert Sunday at 6 p.m. at the esplanade of the cathedral of Limón.


The Mercado Tropical organization is hosting a Fería de Navidad today beginning at 11 a.m. at the Combai Mercado Urbano shopping mall opposite the Multiplaza at Escazú.

The event will run from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. this weekend through Sunday. It will feature Costa Rican-made products such as natural cosmetics and artisan-quality food in support of local entrepreneurs participating in the event, organizers said. Attendance to the fair is free and open to the public.  The Mercado Tropical describes itself as a creative space that encourages the consumption of local products and promotes the diversity and culture of San José.

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Judicial Investigating Organization photo
A judicial agent is pictured with boxes of 181 hair curlers and 103 driers that were confiscated Wednesday from a distributor on Calle 14 between avenidas 1 and 3 in San José. The Judicial Investigating Organization said the devices were counterfeits carrying established trademarks.

Contributing factors cited in flu deaths

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The health ministry reported Thursday that just one of the nine flu patients who died during the last six weeks did not have an obvious contributing factor. The nine all suffered from one of two types of upper respiratory viruses, said the Ministerio de Salud.

The ministry went public with the deaths to counter growing concerns over reports of five deaths in San Carlos.

The ministry noted that the annual flu season has begun. And it also said that none of the individuals who died had had flu shots.

Getting a flu shot may be more costly this year because the ministry ordered a week ago that shots may only be given with a physician’s prescription. Usually shots are available for walk-in customers at pharmacies.

All those who died in the last six weeks were infected with AH3N2 or AH1N1 viruses, but one had cancer and a 4-month old baby who was born with multiple problems had been on oxygen since birth, the ministry said.

Contributing factors included smoking, obesity, long-term lung problems, diabetes and high blood pressure, according to the ministry summary.

Video puts state bank in hot water

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Politicians and government bureaucrats are all in a flurry over a television ad by Banco de Costa Rica.

The bank was trying to advertise its new Tucán program that allows many routine transactions to take place at 15,000 local groceries.

The commercial shows a man who might be a professional soccer player surprised to see a woman carrying a baby arrive in the company of two police officers.

The man prevails on his teammates to hide him in an equipment bag and smuggle him from the stadium. He ends up at a small grocery store, a pulpería where he is saved from jail as he makes a deposit just as the woman with the baby and the police arrive.

The man is paying child support, which is
deteremined woman
Banco de Costa Rica clip
She wants her money.
called pension alimenticia here. If he fails to pay, he can be jailed. That happens so frequently that there is a special section of a local prison just for these delinquent fathers.

Javier Cambronero Arguedas, a lawmaker with the Partido Acción Ciudadana fired off a press release demanding that the state bank take down the commercial. He said the video damages the image of collecting child support. In his opinion the commercial also depicts the man as an innocent.

He said that if the commercial is not stopped, he will file a complaint with the obscure office that is supposed to regulate advertising here.

The Instituto Nacional de Mujeres and some other government agencies also have criticized the commercial.

Security minister says he is cleaning house

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This year 115 police officers are being fired from their jobs due to their links to serious crimes, the security minister said Thursday.

“If we want a strong, honest and transparent institution, we will continue to clean house,” said Gustavo Mata, the head of the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública.

Among the crimes leading to dismissal are: eight cases of sexual abuse of a minor, seven for sexual abuse of an adult, four for associating with criminals, four for association with organized crime, eight facing murder allegations, seven for violating the drug laws and two facing extortion allegations.

According to officials, 51 officers were notified on Monday, 31 will receive immediate notification and 33 are still being processed.

The termination of police employees is guaranteed under Article 140 of the Costa Rican constitution allowing for their removal without a formal dismissal action being taken or to give any reason why.

The administrative actions are separate from any criminal prosecutions. Typically police officers are suspended if they are suspects in a crime. The firing comes after a hearing, if requested.

Mata is pushing strongly for passage of a bill to reinstate a tax on corporations. The bill is ready for a vote in the legislature. His action to fire the officers and announce it publicly appears to be a way to blunt any criticism from lawmakers who oppose the tax.

Prison guard to screen visitors

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Anyone who is a wanted criminal will have to think twice before visiting the prison in San Sebastián. The Ministerio de Justicia y Paz plans to announce today that visitors will be screened for outstanding warrants.

The ministry said that its own staff had developed the software that runs the identification of visitors through a data base that may show if they are wanted.

Similar software is now in use in Puntarenas, Pérez Zeledón and Cartago prisons, the ministry said.

San Sebastián is used as a reception center for those newly arrested and for those awaiting trial.

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 244
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International Baptist

Real news seems to be in the eye of the beholder
By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

The flood of fake news has reached the real news headlines.

Hillary Clinton, a frequent target of untruthful news-type stories, called such articles a danger that must be addressed quickly because the malicious fake news and false propaganda endanger democracy. She spoke in a rare public appearance Thursday. She lost the presidential election in a campaign marked by a flood of such social media postings.

But even Mrs. Clinton will find drawing a sharp line between fake news and real news is difficult. In many cases, the reader is the one who defines the impact of any news. Mrs. Clinton was a target because so many people wanted to believe the fabricated smears.

Everyone knows that even the act of writing a truthful news story relies on the biases of the writer. But the distortion of the news begins long before that.

Even in Costa Rica there are armies of public and private tale spinners who produce comunicados and news releases favoring their sponsors. The Patronato Nacional de la Infancia is churning out news releases now because the legislature chopped the budget. The security ministry generates a dozen or more news releases each day complete with video feeds and photos that reflect the positive aspects of the work of their law officers. There are hardly any press releases about the crooks who got away.

For years supermarket tabloids like National Enquirer produced a flood of tales about space aliens, supernatural powers and magic. In 1979, in order to change its image more towards celebrities, the newspaper created The Weekly World News, which made no apologies for running fake news.

That was one of the newspapers that were called the most accurate in the movie “Men in Black,” presumably because of the overwhelming interest in aliens.

In fact, one of the better Weekly World News stories told about the capture of a space alien. The front page and subsequent photos showed a human like figure clad in a white body stocking with gigantic sparkling eyes.

Of course, the capture and jailing of a spaceman probably would make the conventional newspapers, the television and wires, too. So Weekly World News editors briefly faced a problem.

They solved the dilemma with the top story in the next edition: Spaceman escapes.

A legal problem by the Sun, a rival supermarket tabloid, shows that pitfalls exist even with fake news.

Following the usual fake news procedures, the Sun writers first obtained a photograph. The idea is to construct a believable

Weekly World News

This is the edition of Sept. 25, 2001.

fake story that is illustrated by the photo. In this case, the photo was of a woman in her 80s from Mountain Home, Arkansas, that had run with a true story 10 years previously. She was the owner of a stand that sold newspapers in her town.

The fake story emerged as a 101-year-old newspaper delivery woman admitting that she became pregnant by one of her customers.

The Sun writers probably thought the woman in the photo had died over the last 10 years. But the now-96-year-old Nellie Mitchell quickly found a good lawyer, and a court hit the tabloid with a $1.5 million judgment.

The decision said that “. . . Nellie Mitchell's experience could be likened to that of a person who had been dragged slowly through a pile of untreated sewage. . . .” Mrs. Clinton probably feels the same way.

Most readers do not realize that writing a fake news story that draws readers takes lot of work and talent. Conventional reporters at least have the advantage of recounting what actually happened. Writing fake news is akin to authoring fiction. And the writers who worked for the supermarket tabloids were among the best-paid in the business.

The economic motive today is that sensationalistic, Photoshopped fake news draws readers to websites, so-called clickbait.

The Weekly World News has been reborn as a website to compete with titles like the famous Onion, which produces satire as fake news.

Mrs. Clinton remains a favorite. She graced the pages of the print addition frequently, and now shows up in the electronic version. And so does Bat Boy, gigantically fat cats and people, Elvis (He’s still alive) and now Donald Trump.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 244
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Children who suffer burns are once again object of  holiday concern
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

With the holiday season beginning, doctors and Fuerza Pública officers are again expressing alarm at the number of children receiving severe burns. 

“As usual, the month of December increases the number of cases of burns due to fireworks, liquids, and hot surfaces, but we are concerned about the number of minors being treated within eight days of the beginning of the month,” said Olga Arguedas, the director of the Hospital Nacional de Niños. 

Dr. Arguedas noted an increase in the number of cases between 2014 and 2016. According to Carlos Siri, the director of the hospital’s burn unit, 90 percent of children are burned at home with 70 percent of the children affected being under the age of 4 and 80 percent being in the company of an adult.

While the most common cause of burns are due to hot liquids, the organization said, there is an increasing amount of instances of burns originating from pots, furnace doors, and even mufflers on vehicles. Moreover, as the holidays continue, they expect more cases to come in related to fireworks.

To raise awareness on this issue and to reduce the number of cases related to firework burns, the campaign #ZeroQuemadurasConPólvora has begun. With cooperation from the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública and the Cuerpo de Bomberos, officials are spreading the word and particularly addressing parents regarding measures to be taken in order to prevent these types of injuries.

“Prevention is the most important medicine we can apply,” Siri said.

Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
A police officer is determining that the fireworks on display are illegal.

The sale of fireworks to minors is a crime in Costa Rica with penalties including imprisonment to the person selling the items. Officials noted, however, that the selling of fireworks to underage children is not the only problem since many cases prove that the children have access to them at home.

The year with the highest incidence of children with burn injuries was 2013 with 446 children treated, according to officials. There are 378 cases this year so far.

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The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

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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!

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

Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
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Tropical Homes

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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Fully Furnished American Style Apartment for Rent

San Jose Central 2-1/2-bedroom 2-bathroom apartment on the 2nd floor. Fully furnished American-style apartments with elevator in a secure building in Barrio Amón. Large balcony. Adult Building. Free cable television with two television both in the living room and in the main bedroom. High speed internet cable, WiFi, fully equipped large kitchen with microwave, toaster oven, coffee maker, water cooler, total utensils. King-sized bed in the principal bedroom, all bedding, sheets, towels, etc. It has an over-sized soaking tub off of the second bathroom. Water included. Free laundry rooms on all floors. Convenient to Parque Morazán, 100 meters north of downtown Holiday Inn, other hotels, restaurants, casinos, city government, National Registry. For a single individual it is $650 per month plus your electric usage just inside your apartment. $300 security deposit promptly refunded except your final electric bill. For personal inspection and more information contact: Hilda or Frank at 506-2221-7161.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 244
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John Glenn
NASA photo  
John Glenn

Last of the first astronauts
eulogized as a great pioneer

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

John Glenn, 95, the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the earth, died Thursday, more than a week after being admitted to the Ohio State University's James Cancer Hospital. The John Glenn College of Public Affairs at the university made the announcement.

Glenn was the last surviving member of a group known as "the Mercury 7" - seven military test pilots selected in 1959 to become America's first astronauts.

Ellen Ochoa, the director of the Johnson Space Center in Texas, said: "Our nation has lost a pioneer who contributed immensely to human space flight and inspired so many around the world. . . . . While we have lost an American hero, we know Senator Glenn's legacy and pioneering spirit will live on through the work we carry out each day as we continue to advance human space exploration for the benefit of humanity."

After serving as a military pilot in World War II and the Korean conflict, Glenn was a test pilot on U.S. Navy and Marine Corps jet fighters and won a place in the first class of U.S. astronauts assembled by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, in 1958.

Glenn became the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth, flying a ship called the Friendship 7 around the world three times in a nearly five-hour flight Feb. 20, 1962.

During that flight, Glenn told flight engineers back on Earth a phrase for which he became known: "Zero G, and I feel fine." Glenn meant that he had achieved weightlessness in space, or zero gravity.

Glenn also had political aspirations. A lifelong Democrat, he ran for a U.S. Senate seat for Ohio in 1964. He was unsuccessful, but won a seat 10 years later, defending attacks on his military record in comments that came to be known as the Gold Star Mothers speech.

During the 1974 primaries, opponent Howard Metzenbaum accused Glenn, a career military man, of never holding a real job. Glenn retorted, "You go with me to any Gold Star mother and you look her in the eye and tell her that her son did not hold a job." A Gold Star mother is one whose child has died in active U.S. military service.

Glenn went on to win that election and remained a member of the U.S. Senate until 1999. In the months before his death, he was the oldest living former member of the Senate.

Glenn made his final trip into space in 1998, at age 77. His participation in the 9-day mission of the space shuttle Discovery was criticized by some as folly. But supporters noted that data on Glenn's physical state during flight could be compared with his records from more than three decades earlier, providing valuable data on how space flight affects the body at different ages.

After leaving the Senate in 1999, Glenn helped to found a public service school at The Ohio State University, which later became the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. He served as an adjunct professor at that school.

Glenn went on to win numerous accolades, including honorary degrees at a number of universities, the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service, a U.S. Senate public service award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Green energy critic headed
for environmental agency

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday picked a global warming skeptic and staunch ally of the fossil fuel industry to head the country's Environmental Protection Agency.

The individual, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, has been a key critic of President Barack Obama's plan to address climate change by slashing carbon emissions from the nation's power plants.

In a statement, Trump said, "For too long, the Environmental Protection Agency has spent taxpayer dollars on an out-of-control anti-energy agenda that has destroyed millions of jobs, while also undermining our incredible farmers and many other businesses and industries at every turn."

Pruitt was one of the officials from 27 states who filed a lawsuit in January seeking to block the Clean Power Plan, under which the EPA called for states to create ways to reduce overall emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. At the same time, the amount of energy produced using renewable sources would increase.

The Republican Trump said he "will reverse this trend and restore the EPA's essential mission of keeping our air and our water clean and safe."

Pruitt's nomination drew immediate opposition from Sen. Bernie Sanders, who lost the race for the Democratic presidential nomination to Hillary Clinton, the former U.S. secretary of State Trump defeated in last month's election.

"If you are interested in the profits of the oil industry, I suppose it's a good thing," Sanders said. "If you are interested in preserving the planet for future generations, it's a disastrous pick and has to be opposed."

The president-elect also named former wrestling executive Linda McMahon to lead the government's Small Business Administration. She and her husband, Vince McMahon, founded and built the popular World Wrestling Entertainment company and were major Trump campaign donors.

U.S. news media reports said that Trump also has picked Andrew Puzder, a vocal critic of a big increase in the country's $7.25 an hour minimum wage and other worker protections, to head the Labor Department. He is the chief executive of a chain of fast-food restaurants, including Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, with more than 3,600 outlets in the U.S. and throughout the world.

Trump continued to weigh his choices for secretary of State, often the face of the country in contentious foreign affairs negotiations. He met in New York with retired Navy Admiral James Stavridis, now a dean at Tufts University in Boston, who is being considered along with 2012 presidential contender Mitt Romney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Central Intelligence Agency chief David Petraeus and others.

Late Thursday, Trump visited Des Moines, Iowa, for another rally with his supporters as part of his thank you tour of states he won in the election. He formally introduced former Iowa governor Terry Branstad as the next U.S. ambassador to China to the cheering crowds, and promised to cut taxes, create jobs, build a wall at the border with Mexico and strengthen the military.

Meanwhile, the president-elect also plans to continue making hit television. A spokesman for “Celebrity Apprentice” creator Mark Burnett said that while Trump will no longer appear on the reality show, he will continue on as executive producer.

Lawmakers push for details
of claims of Russian hacking

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. lawmakers of both political parties said the American people are owed a thorough accounting of Russia’s meddling in last month’s presidential election, with one prominent Republican urging sanctions on Russian hackers.

“It’s pretty clear that Russia was involved in this past election, and collected data from both sides but released data for one side only in an effort to skew the election,” the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, said.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican, concurred.

“There’s a lot of evidence they interfered in our election by hacking into systems and joining forces with others to release information that was favorable to one side versus the other,” Graham said. “And that’s a precedent you cannot allow to go unchecked.”

“I want to find out what they did, fact versus fiction, and come up with sanctions that really will bite on Russia, on individuals in Russia,” Graham added.

Such intentions set up a potential confrontation with president-elect Donald Trump, who has asserted that the election was free of Russian involvement.

In a rare public statement in October, U.S. government officials said cyber attacks on Democratic political organizations and the emails of former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's staff were directed by Russia's senior-most officials.

Several Democrats from both houses of Congress have written the White House urging the release of more information on the subject.

Sen. Feinstein did not add her name to the letter, and said patience is needed for now.

“Certain investigations are still going on. And I think they ought to be completed prior to any release of information,” Sen. Feinstein said. “One day it will all come out.”

Even more probes are possible. Democratic reps. Eric Swalwell and Elijah Cummings Wednesday introduced legislation that would create a bipartisan panel to investigate Russian meddling.

Republican Graham said the issue is not partisan. While Democrats were targeted this past year, he said Republicans could be in another nation’s crosshairs in the next election.

“What if the Iranians do this?” Graham said. “If Trump is tough on the Iranians as he says he’s going to be, you could see a nation hacking into the Republican side. And that leads to chaos.”

Questions remain as to how hackers obtained emails from Clinton's campaign and published them via WikiLeaks in the closing stretch of the presidential campaign.

Royal Saskatchewan Museum/Ryan McKellar
Tail's bones, soft tissues, and feathers

Feathered dino tail turns up
in ancient chunk of amber

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Researchers have discovered a perfectly preserved dinosaur tail in a piece of amber in Myanmar.

The find could help researchers better figure out how the creatures actually looked before they became extinct some 65 million years ago. This particular dinosaur was feathered and about the size of a small bird.

The tail, which is about 99 million years old, appears to be brown on the top and white underneath.

The amber piece already was slated to become jewelry, as it also contains well preserved plant material. However, on closer inspection, the tail was apparent.

"We can be sure of the source because the vertebrae are not fused into a rod or pygostyle as in modern birds and their closest relatives," said co-author Ryan McKellar, of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Canada in an interview. "Instead, the tail is long and flexible, with keels of feathers running down each side."

On one portion of the amber, the tail is exposed, allowing chemists to analyze it. They found traces of ferrous iron, a leftover of blood. He added that the dinosaur likely was still filled with fluid when it was trapped in the resin that eventually became amber. That suggests the creature may have been alive when trapped.

The discovery is expected to shed light on how the feathers of dinosaurs formed and evolved. The feathers on this sample lack a central shaft found in today’s feathers.

The tail was described in depth in the journal Current Biology.

Resistant syphilis is traced
to a post-1950s outbreak

By the  University of Zurich news staff

Over the last few decades, syphilis, an age-old infectious disease, has been re-emerging globally.

Using techniques to analyze low levels of DNA, an international research team headed by the University of Zurich has now shown that all syphilis strains from modern patient samples share a common ancestor from the 1700s. Furthermore, their research demonstrates that strains dominating infections today originate from a cluster that emerged after 1950, and these strains share a worrying trait: Resistance to the second-line antibiotic azithromycin.

Syphilis has plagued humankind for over 500 years. After the first reported outbreaks struck Europe in 1495, the disease spread rapidly to other continents and swelled to a global pandemic. When treatment with the antibiotic penicillin became available in the mid-20th century, infection rates started to decrease dramatically. Strikingly, however, infection with the bacteria Treponema pallidum has been re-emerging globally in the last few decades; more than 10 million cases are reported annually. Yet the reason for the resurgence of this sexually transmitted infection remains poorly understood.

According to the authors of the the academic paper, little is known about the patterns of genetic diversity in current infections or the evolutionary origins of the disease. Because clinical samples from syphilis patients only contain low quantities of treponemal DNA and the pathogen is difficult to culture in the laboratory, researchers from the University of Zurich decided in 2013 to apply DNA capture and whole-genome sequencing techniques, as used by colleagues at the University of Tübingen, to ancient DNA samples.

The team collected 70 clinical and laboratory samples of syphilis, yaws, and bejel infections from 13 countries spread across the globe. Like syphilis of the subspecies pallidum, the closely related bacteria, pertenue and endemicum, which cause yaws and bejel, are transmitted through skin contact and show similar clinical manifestations.

“There have been many questions regarding the origin of syphilis since its appearance on the world stage 500 years ago. By combining an evolutionary and an epidemiological approach, we were able to decipher the genetic relation between strains infecting individuals today, and also trace the emergence of a pandemic cluster with high frequency of antibiotic resistance,” said Homayoun C. Bagheri, former professor at the university’s Institute for Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies.
Current syphilis infections predominantly due to resistant strains from a pandemic cluster

A finding of epidemiological relevance is that the cluster originated from a strain ancestor in the mid-20th century after the discovery of antibiotics. The worrying aspect of this pandemic cluster is its high resistance to azithromycin, a second-line drug that is widely used to treat sexually transmitted infections. Researcher Natasha Arora adds: “The good news is that, so far, no Treponema strains have been detected that are resistant to penicillin, the first-line antibiotic for syphilis treatment.”

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Sámara titled land for sale by owner
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Brand new home with 4-plus bedrooms and 3 baths all overlooking an incredible 180-degree view of the Pacific Ocean
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horse ranch
Spectacular Horse Ranch and Spiritual/Yoga
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We invite you to a horseback tour of 187 acres of pristine farm land with breathtaking vistas, including the islands of the Gulf of Nicoya. There are multiple springs and streams, wooded areas, hard-wood and fruit trees, rolling hills with a geat variety of birds and wildlife. This property boasts the privilege of being bordered by thousands of acres of forest preserve down a steep canyon, offering its own spectacular views, which will never be developed. The many hills provide a builder an endless array of possibilities for nestling buildings in where they will have both views and privacy. The elevation of the property at 1,200 to1600 feet above sea level ensures fresh breezes and ideal year-round temperatures with a day-time average in the low 80's for open-air living. There is a ranch-style house with guest house with 8 total bedrooms, 5 modern baths, huge eat-in kitchen, landmark palm-thatched giant rancho, stable, and storage buildings. The home will come partially furnished, including beds, ample dishware for large groups, housewares, linens, washer/dryer, and fine hard-wood hand-built cabinetry. The remaining horses, 4 to 6 of them, will also convey if one wishes. We are also including a LARGE BEACH LOT in nearby Playa Bejuco. San Rafael de Nandayure is a tiny rural village nestled into the mountainside above Carmona with all the charms of the simple good life of a BLUE ZONE. Carmona is a thriving town with a clinic, restaurfants, shopping, and everything else one may need.  More information
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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, Dec. 9, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 244
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Reef fish
Scripps Institution of Oceanography/Don McLeish
Emily Kelly dives to study reef fish.

Not all algae eaters have the same taste

By the Scripps Institution of Oceanography news staff

Grazing on algae is a full-time job for a highly specialized group of coral reef fish.

In a new study, a research team examined the unique grazing roles of algae-eating herbivores on coral reefs to learn more about how they help keep corals from being overgrown by seaweeds.

To find out, marine ecologist Emily Kelly and her research team recorded the feeding behaviors of 15 of the most common species of algae-eating fish, such as parrotfish and surgeonfish on a coral reef in Maui, Hawaii.

The study, conducted over a four-year period, compared these observations to the stomach contents of several of the fish species as well as the habitat in which different fish were grazing.

Ms. Kelly’s team discovered that despite large-scale similarities across all species in the consumption of turf algae, a group of algae comprised of a number of different species, a finer scale analysis revealed that individual species are actually selectively grazing on different types of algae and in different ways.

“These lawnmowers on the reef are selective in the types of algae they consume and the impact of each bite,” said Ms. Kelly, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral scholar in the Coral Reef Ecology Lab at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. “These fish are in fact each a different type of gardening tool with a slightly different function in grazing.”

A diverse community of herbivores is necessary to promote healthy reefs, and by understanding their algae-eating behaviors, this study can help better manage and protect coral reefs worldwide, according to the researchers.

“Understanding the role of individual fish species is important for knowing how the herbivore community as a whole can influence reef composition and reef health,” said Ms. Kelly.

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From Page 7:

Implant firm plans to add more workers

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

What started out in a garage in Pavas has now become a global company making multi-million dollar investments and innovative headway in the manufacture of breast implants.

Establishment Labs, begun in 2009 with a grand total of six employees, has now invested around $16.5 million in the construction of its new manufacturing plant located in the Zona Franca Coyal in Alajuela. The plant is intended to assist in the designing, manufacturing and exporting of breast implants to more than 60 countries. Another $18.5 million is going towards the expansion of its rising, global presence.

These new facilities will allow the company to produce up to 500,000 implants annually and consolidate the firm’s operations in new markets like Brazil, Russia, South Korea and Australia, the firm representatives said. The company also noted that there has been an expansion in over 200 new jobs created in 2016 with 100 more people expected to be hired in the next 18 months. That adds to the 295 employees in Costa Rica currently working, they said.

Establishment Labs also conducts innovative work in their manufacturing including the development of the Divine device, which uses technology developed by Intel Corp. to create a three-dimensional digital model of the human body. This enables the patient to visualize the possible post-surgery results, company representatives said.

The inauguration of the plant this week drew government officials including Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís, who praised the organization for outstanding work in the development of medical devices.