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Published Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 247
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This year's drug arrests could fill a soccer stadium
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Fuerza Pública said Tuesday that its officers detained 52,425 persons already this year on drug offenses.

That number does not include figures from the Judicial Investigating Agency whose agents generally concentrate on drug dealers.

The Ministerio de Seguridad Pública's police force said that the 52,425 cases averages out to more than seven persons an hour being arrested. There were 15,175 detainees in San José Centro alone. There were 7,406 in Alajuela Centro and 6,077 in the central canton of Cartago. According to police, this reflects their work in patrolling and maintaining a presence at the various neighborhoods, parks, and bus stops.  Fuerza Publica officers routinely stop pedestrians, mostly younger

individuals, and make them turn out their pockets. 

The totals also do not include arrests by the ministry's anti-drug agents who usually are involved in major cases of production and smuggling of drugs.

The Policía de Tránsito also issued a report Tuesday and said it conducted over 21,000 breathalyzer tests and found that in 2,122 of those cases drivers were past the legal alcohol limit. According to the traffic police agency, this figure could be low, because officers estimate that one of every 10 drivers tested was intoxicated.

This, according to officials, coincides with the number of deaths on the road due to drunk driving, 41 of the 404 total deaths since Nov. 30, 2015.

Music and dance lure shoppers to the downtown
By Conor Golden
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Municipalidad of San José is trying to keep the holiday cheer in the downtown area as more and more malls bring a changing commercial scene to the capital.

To keep the downtown relevant to locals and tourists alike this holiday season, the municipality hosts for three days the Avenidazo centered on the Plaza de la Cultura. This is a series of musical events.

Located next to the Teatro Nacional and close to the commercial area of Avenida Central, the Avenidazo and events like it is attracting shoppers looking for holiday gifts, sellers hawking their wares, and musicians and other performers wanting to show their stuff to the public.

With the official events often being granted a formal stage and advertising, street performers are also looking to move in on the action. One such musician is Charlie Arroyo Gonzaléz who performs under the pseudonym of Charlie, Street Drummer.

A.M. Costa Rica/Conor Golden
Dancers of the group Apu entertain shoppers
A.M. Costa Rica/Conor Golden
Musician Charlie uses recycled material.

As the name implies, Charlie is a musician and more specifically a drummer-of-all-trades so to speak. He performs professionally around the greater San José area and has been doing street performances for about three years, he said. In
addition, Charlie has been a drummer for 13 years and claims to have received formal training in music at various institutions within Costa Rica.

What is unique about this street musician is his use of all manner of percussion material that includes even recycled metals and other materials to create his sound.

At first glance, his drum instruments look fairly standard, but for the varying colors of paint splattered on everywhere.

His bass drum is really a recycled bucket and the other parts of the set are made from reused metal and plastic piping one would find more often installed next to a boiler or a bathroom rather than in a drum set. Even the cymbals are being reused to forge a unique sound.

Shoppers also were treated to a dance performance at the plaza.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 247
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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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Cost of traffic violations being reduced

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Next year motorists can expect their traffic fines to go down.

The consumer price index for June 2016, which was published by the Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas y Censos, ended in the negative at -0.88 percent. Because the cost of fines are linked to the index, they are required to be reduced.

With this new scenario, the highest fine of 309,574.47 colones, that could be received for offenses like making an illegal u-turn or driving under a certain level of drunkenness, will decrease by about 2,700 colons. The lowest fine, currently at 22,187.93 colones, will be reduced by about 195 colons, according to officials.

As mandated by the traffic law, these amounts will be valid for 2017. The money earned from these fines is invested in signage on the roads and bridges as well as equipment for the Policía de Tránsito, according to transit representatives.

Motorcycle is the assassin's vehicle

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The approach of two men on a motorcycle should generate some apprehension. This is the hallmark of hired killers.

The motorcycle seems to be the vehicle of choice for killers on assignment. The person in front drives while the passenger takes aim and riddles his target on the street or in a nearby vehicle.

This technique is not new, but the incidences of such crimes seem to be increasing.

A driver in Pococí died at the hands of such assassins Saturday while he was transporting his two children, 6 and 10, and an adult friend. Witnesses told judicial agents that the killers were riding double on a motorcycle.

The children and the adult friend survived their wounds. The driver who died was identified by the last name of Rodríguez. He was 25.

Also Saturday in Urbanización El Llano in Guácimo, Pococí, a pedestrian identified by the last name of  Méndez died after being shot down by a man riding double on a motorcycle. He was hit four times, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. Agents later found the motorcycle abandoned a kilometer away. It had been reported stolen.

Sunday the situation was reversed in Barrio San Martín, Nicoya. A man 42-years-old identified by the last name of  Zúñiga suffered bullet wounds about 1 a.m. while riding his motorcycle when he was confronted by three men on the roadway.

Investigators generally attribute these crimes to disputes among drug gangs, but the case in Nicoya probably was a robbery because the victim died of a bullet to the back sustained while he fled. The motive probably was robbery.

The proliferation of such crimes also suggest that some killers are engaged in contract work unrelated to drug activities.

Our readers  opinions:

Lynn Gensemer photo
These supplies were headed to Hurricane Otto victims.

The elves are hard at work in Jacó

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

We at Chungo Interior Designs and the elves have been busy gathering gifts and food for Christmas Day deliveries, an event that has been happening for several years. This year is projected to be better than ever thanks to the kind hearts of Jim Gray, Hotel Cocal & Casino, and many additional folks that have been abundantly charitable. 

Not only have we and the elves been gathering for Christmas Day deliveries, but were able to send a substantial donation of food and supplies north to the folks affected by Hurricane Otto and hope to send an additional donation soon (see above).

If readers would like to learn how you can be a part of this amazing smile-making machine please contact me at
Lynn Gensemer

Claims of conspiracy are just opinion

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

The comments by Chuck Dumas on Monday, Dec. 12, indicate that he made reference to your story about fake news only to state his opinion about something that was not even in the category of fake news. However, in reference to Hillary Clinton, he stated “you seemed to have left out that she was the source of most of the fabricated stories,” but he provides no factual evidence to back up his statement. Therefore, it must be just his opinion.

Although he seems to condemn the news media, he mainly focused on the news release about the leaked email that resulted from the Democratic National Committee system being hacked.

He states “The content of the leaked e-mails clearly show that the Democratic National Committee conspired with a complicit press and a presidential candidate to slant the news to her desires,” but again he does not provide any evidence to back up his claim that there was a conspiracy among Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee, and the press.

He also states “You see, this conspiracy, and that is exactly what this is: an ongoing conspiracy, is true.”  This statement implies that he thinks that by him declaring something to be true will make it true.

It would seem to me that the fact that the Democratic National Committee was hacked should be most disturbing. I make this statement in consideration of the intelligence reports, including  the CIA report, that indicate the Russian government was complicit with such hacking to influence a U.S. election. I cannot imagine that any U.S. patriot would not want this possibility to be more thoroughly investigated.
Armond T. Joyce
Llorente de Tibas

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 247
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Banco Nacional joins those changing the customer account numbers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Banco Nacional said it will be using the international banking number, called IBAN, for all its accounts starting at the beginning of the year.

The international number incorporates the current 17-digit account number, but it has a four-digit prefix that identifies the country. The numbers have been used mainly for international transfers.

Now, according to Banco Nacional, the longer number will be used for local banking purposes including transfers through the  Sistema Nacional de Pagos Electrónicos that permits transfers from one bank to another.

The change is being imposed by the Banco Central de Costa

Rica, which also has a website where banking customers can obtain their new number.

Banco Nacional said it would put the new IBN number on all checks and deposit slips, but using the number on credit cards would be delayed because these numbers are linked to automatic payments. But by the beginning of 2019, the bank said it would not accept checks without an IBAN number.

Banco Nacional said that the number would be 22 digits, but some of its customer account numbers convert to 21 digits. Other countries have IBAN numbers that contain as many as 34 digits, the bank said.

Expats can obtain their local IBAN number from Banco Central. Garland Baker gave a detailed report on the changeover in January 2015. That report is HERE!

Elaborate project seeks to redirect buses to cut metro area traffic
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Motorists should not expect any immediate changes in traffic. The central government has setup an elaborate project with the goal of improving public transportation, but putting the ideas into practice is some months off.

Casa Presidencial said Tuesday that President Luis Guillermo Solís has a decree in mind, but that he would see public comment first. Officials have been working on the project, called Costa Rica se Mueve, for at least a year.

The idea is to restructure the bus routes to reduce congestion. But right now the government said it is establishing a ruta de trabajo or a chronology of discussion.

The first phase of this project involved five forums open to the public and operators of bus companies, who have been in opposition to the concept.

Now, in the second phase, the president is preparing to issue a decree, but he is seeking public comments by Dec. 28. The proposed 4,887-word decree is posted on a government website.

The decree does not establish bus routes. It sets up a bureaucracy to do so.

The decree assumes that by improving the public bus service and the number of buses, personal vehicle traffic will decrease 10 percent. That is about the annual increase in vehicles.

The decree would set up two committees of officials and experts who would set up routes in nine areas of the metro area. The

routes would have to be approved by the Consejo de Transporte Público. Then they would be referred to another group within the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes that actually would set up pilot programs for the proposed routes.

Those running the pilot programs would also consider such aspects as automatic payment by credit card for transport services, alternative energy vehicles and modernization of the bus fleet.

The pilot projects are not supposed to interfere with the existing bus routes, the decree said.

The government said that there are 1,856 buses in use in the metro area on 85 routes.

The proposal seeks to integrate the current public system with the valley train service and even with bike paths and their users, the government said.

Bus company operators protested strongly when the project first was announced in June. So the government backed off and came up with the detailed plan that involved public consultation. The companies also are expected to present proposals.  All this is supposed to be finalized in the first half of next year.

Initially the government proposed lanes exclusively for buses and a series of terminals where buses would unload passengers on the edges of the downtown. Then the passengers would take other buses to their destination.

That system would keep a lot of buses out of the downtown. Some of the congestion now is caused by buses taking on passengers in the street and blocking a traffic lane.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 247
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New research suggests that bird species are grossly undercounted
By the American Museum of Natural History news staff

A new study of morphology and genetics suggests previous research may have underestimated bird biodiversity by as much as half, not counting thousands of previously undescribed species that are hiding in plain sight. The research, published this week in the journal PLOS ONE, sheds new light on this group of animals, with major implications for conservation practices around the world.

“We are proposing a major change to how we count diversity,” said Joel Cracraft, an author of the study and a curator in the American Museum of Natural History's Department of Ornithology. “This new number says that we haven’t been counting and conserving species in the ways we want.”

Traditionally, bird species have been counted using the biological species concept, which defines species as animals that can breed together. Using this technique, ornithologists long estimated a count of between 9,000 and 10,000 species of birds worldwide. This model, though, was in dire need of an update, researchers said.

"It’s really an outdated point of view, and it’s a concept that is hardly used in taxonomy outside of birds,” said lead author George Barrowclough, an associate curator in the Museum’s Department of Ornithology.

Cracraft, Barrowclough, and their colleagues at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and the University of Washington examined the morphology, the physical characteristics like plumage pattern and color, of 200 randomly selected bird species. The new reading showed that more than 40 percent of these species could represent two or more evolutionary lines. That means bird biodiversity is likely closer to 18,000 species worldwide.

The research team also conducted genetic studies of 437 traditionally recognized bird species, chosen because there were already suspicions that they could be broken down into more species. The study suggests these concerns were well grounded.

Those 437 species look more like over a thousand under further analysis.

The potential doubling of the number of bird species isn’t just a matter for taxonomists and other scientific record keepers, the authors point out. It also has massive implications for conservation efforts surrounding these animals.

“We have decided societally that the target for conservation is the species,” said Robert Zink, a co-author of the study and a biologist at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. “So it follows then that we really need to be clear about what a species is, how many there are, and where they’re found.”

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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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!

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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Real estate for rent (paid category)

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, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 247
Real Estate
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Axiom new ad

Tillerson choice is drawing
mixed reviews on both sides

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

There is mixed reaction to president-elect Donald Trump's pick for secretary of State, with some current and former officials praising the ExxonMobil chairman and chief executive officer, Rex Tillerson, while others are expressing concern over his ties to Russia.

Tillerson, friendly with Russian President Vladimir Putin, has spent his 41-year career at the same oil company.

Trump said Tuesday Tillerson's knowledge of running a global company is crucial to successfully leading the State Department.

"His tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics make him an excellent choice for secretary of State," Trump said in a statement released by his transition team. "He will promote regional stability and focus on the core national security interests of the United States."

It was thought Trump would be compelled to select someone else, such as former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, because the requisite Republican support in the Senate for Tillerson appears shaky.

Tillerson’s relationship with Putin is a matter of concern, Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said Sunday.

Another Republican senator, Marco Rubio said Tuesday that "While Rex Tillerson is a respected businessman, I have serious concerns about his nomination."

Sen. Bob Corker called Tillerson a very impressive individual and said the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on his nomination in early January. His statement indicated the hearing would be held before Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20.

Speaking earlier this year at the University of Texas, Tillerson acknowledged having a very close relationship with Putin that goes back more than 15 years.

Putin in 2013 awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship to Tillerson, who has guided huge ExxonMobil deals with Russian companies for exploration and production of oil and gas and has opposed U.S. sanctions on Moscow.

The Kremlin has praised Tillerson, calling him highly professional.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated Tillerson on his nomination and said the State Department will continue to provide full support for a smooth transition. Former secretary of State Condoleeza Rice called Tillerson an excellent choice.

Amnesty International said the nomination was deeply concerning.

"We know that Tillerson has been successful in safeguarding the interests of a massive oil company. Will he be as invested in safeguarding human rights abroad?" Eric Ferrero, director of communications for Amnesty International USA said in a statement. "The U.S. must have a secretary of State that will hold all countries accountable for human rights violations, even countries that have profited from his business."

Richard Samuels, professor of political science and director of the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that Tillerson's role as Exxon's CEO has him well-prepared to take on the role of the top U.S. diplomat.

"Any oil major CEO is responsible for a full palette of critical tasks, from strategic planning to investing in developing fields upstream, transport, refining, and retail sales on a global scale. This also involves a heavy dose of diplomatic functions," he said.

But Thomas Wright, a fellow and director of the Project on International Order and Strategy, said: "I worry that Rex Tillerson will be a pragmatist who helps Donald Trump cut a deal with America's adversaries at the expense of its allies. American foreign policy is not about cutting deals. He needs to show he understands and supports America's exceptional role as the leader of a liberal international order."

Democrat Ed Markey, a clean energy advocate, predicts the Trump administration will face a major battle if Tillerson is nominated, asserting that oil cannot replace diplomacy as the currency of the U.S. Department of State.

Rotten peanut butter leads
to largest food poison fine

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. food giant ConAgra pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to charges of sending contaminated peanut butter to stores in 47 states.

The company will pay a record $11.2 million in penalties, including an $8 million fine making it the largest single food poisoning-related fine in U.S. history.

"This case demonstrates companies, both large and small, must be vigilant about food safety," Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Mizer said Tuesday.

A ConAgra subsidiary shipped salmonella-tainted Peter Pan Peanut Butter from a plant in Georgia to stores across the country in 2006 and 2007, even while knowing the product might be contaminated.

About 700 people were sickened.

ConAgra says nothing is more important to the company than assuring the safety and quality of its food. It says it has made significant improvements to its facilities.

Perry reported to be head
of Department of Energy

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Aides to U.S. president-elect Donald Trump say he has decided to name a one-time political foe, former Texas governor Rick Perry, to head the country’s Department of Energy, a sprawling agency Perry once said should be abolished as wasteful.

Perry, a two-time Republican presidential candidate, called Trump a cancer to conservatism in the early stages of the party’s lengthy presidential nominating contest. But after dropping out of the race with scant voter support, the 66-year-old Perry endorsed Trump, saying the New York businessman wasn’t his first or second choice for president, but is the people’s choice.

Trump has yet to formally name Perry, who served a record 14 years as governor of Texas, the southwestern state that is the country’s second largest. But the president-elect’s aides said Tuesday he has decided to name Perry to lead the agency that has 100,000 employees, oversees the country’s nuclear-weapons arsenal and promotes development of green-energy projects.

Perry, a staunch conservative, could shift the Department of Energy away from its recent focus on renewable energy, which President Barack Obama has championed, and back toward oil and fossil fuels, which Perry promoted in oil-rich Texas. Perry has been a vocal skeptic of manmade climate change, but during his tenure as governor turned Texas into a major producer of wind-powered energy.

In 2011, during his first unsuccessful bid for the presidency, Perry committed a political gaffe that diminished his chances in his race against Trump.

During a debate, Perry called for elimination of three federal government agencies: the Departments of Commerce and Education, and then couldn’t remember the third, finally saying, “Oops.” He later said Energy was the third agency he wanted to abolish.

Media reports late Tuesday said Rep. Ryan Zinke of Montana, a former Navy Seal, was believed to be the president-elect’s choice for secretary of the Interior.

Zinke, described by The Washington Post as a lifelong hunter and fisherman, is a proponent of keeping public lands under federal ownership. That position would put him at odds with those in the Republican Party who favor privatization or placing federal lands under the control of states.

Trump also has said he does not think public land should be placed under state control.

The Interior Department has more than 70,000 employees across the United States and oversees more than 20 percent of federal land, including national parks.

Trump also seemed likely to tap Ronna Romney McDaniel, the Michigan Republican Party chairwoman, as head of the Republican National Committee. She is the niece of the former Republican presidential candidate.

Obama signs into law a bill
to give more to health services

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Barack Obama has signed a $6.3 billion bill to fund cancer research, drug addiction recovery and mental health services in what likely will be his final law signed as president.

"Like many of you, I believe the United States of America should be the country that ends cancer once and for all. We are already closer than a lot of folks think," Obama said.

In an emotional ceremony, the president signed the 21st Century Cures Act in a White House auditorium. He made a point of highlighting the work of Vice President Joe Biden.

The section of the bill allocating $1.8 billion in cancer research funding was named for Biden’s son, Beau, whose death from brain cancer in 2015 inspired what the White House called its Cancer Moonshot.

"This bill will literally save lives," said a somber Biden. "Just its mere signing, Mr. President, as you know better than I, gives millions of Americans hope."

Also on stage was David Grubb, a former West Virginia state senator, and his wife, Kate, whose daughter died of an opioid overdose in March.

The bill also authorized seven years of funding for other health-related initiatives: $1.5 billion for a brain research initiative, $1.4 billion for precision medicine and $1 billion for substance abuse treatment targeting heroin and opioid addiction.

"So, this is a good day. It is a bittersweet day. I think it is important to acknowledge that it's not easy for the Grubbs to come up here and talk about Jesse. It is not easy for Joe and Jill, I know, to talk about Beau," Obama said.

"It's not always easy to remember, but being able to honor those we have lost in this way, and to know that we may be able to prevent other families from feeling that same loss, that makes it a good day and I am confident that it will lead to better years and better lives for millions of Americans, the work that you have done," he added.

Another measure of the bill streamlines the approval process for drugs and medical implements by the Food and Drug Administration, which some patient safety groups say is dangerous.

University of Warwick photo  
The planet HAT-P-7b from 1000 light years away.

Rubies, sapphires, and wind
are located on big exoplanet

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Clouds on the massive exoplanet HAT-P-7b could be made of rubies and sapphires, new research suggests.

Writing in the journal Nature Astronomy, researchers from the University of Warwick in England say the discovery was made when observing weather patterns on the planet, which is 1,000 light years away.

It is the first time weather patterns on a gas giant exoplanet have been observed, researchers said. The researchers also said they monitored likely visually stunning clouds that could be made of corundum, a mineral found in rubies and sapphires, as they moved around the planet.

Despite the potential riches of precious stones, HAT-P-7b is not a comfortable place to be. For one, the planet is believed to be 16 times bigger than Earth. It is also rocked by violent weather systems, catastrophic storms and high temperatures reaching 2,500 degree C. One side faces the planet’s star all the time, making one side of the planet hot and the other cold.

Researchers were able to discern an equatorial jet with dramatically variable wind speeds, that push vast amounts of clouds across the planet.

"Using the NASA Kepler satellite, we were able to study light reflected from HAT-P-7b's atmosphere, finding that the atmosphere was changing over time,” said David Armstrong in Warwick's Astrophysics Group. "These results show that strong winds circle the planet, transporting clouds from the night side to the dayside. The winds change speed dramatically, leading to huge cloud formations building up then dying away. This is the first detection of weather on a gas giant planet outside the solar system."

HAT-P-7b was discovered in 2008. It is 500 times more massive than Earth and 40 percent bigger than Jupiter. Its star is about twice the size of our sun.

Teens are using less drugs
and booze, survey shows

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

American teenagers are using fewer illegal drugs and less alcohol, according to a newly released survey.

The results of the survey “show a continued long-term decline in the use of many illicit substances, including marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco, and misuse of some prescription medications, among the nation’s teens,” according to a news release.

The 2016 Monitoring the Future annual survey is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, and surveys students in eighth, 10th and 12th graders.

For eighth graders, the survey found they have the lowest use of illicit drugs in survey history.

With the exception of marijuana, drug use was down for all ages in the survey.

For eighth graders, the survey found that marijuana use dropped significantly in 2016 with 5.4 percent having used it in the past month compared to 6.5 percent in 2015. Daily use was down from 1.1 percent to 0.7 percent.

For 12th graders, 22.5 percent reported monthly marijuana use and 6 percent reported daily use. Those numbers were similar in 2015. Marijuana use among 10th graders also remained stable, the survey found.

"Clearly our public health prevention efforts, as well as policy changes to reduce availability, are working to reduce teen drug use, especially among eighth graders," said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "However, when six percent of high school seniors are using marijuana daily, and new synthetics are continually flooding the illegal marketplace, we cannot be complacent."

With marijuana increasingly legal in the U.S. for both medical and recreational use, the survey found that 38.3 percent of 12th graders in states with medical marijuana laws reported using marijuana in the past year. That was five percent higher than in states with no legal medical marijuana.

Cigarette use saw a large drop in all three grades, furthering a long-term decline. In 1991, 10.7 percent of high schoolers said they smoked a half-pack of cigarettes a day or more. That number is 1.8 percent in the 2016 survey.

Researchers point to anti-smoking campaigns as well as policy changes for the drop.

Alcohol use among teens also dropped, the survey found. But 37.3 percent of 12th graders reported being drunk over the past year. That was down from 53.2 percent in 2001.

Despite the ongoing opioid crisis afflicting millions of Americans, teen use of prescription opioids is declining. For 12th graders, there was a 45 percent drop in the number of users from five years ago, with 2.9 percent of seniors saying they’d used Vicodin over the last year, down from 10 percent 10 years ago.

"It is encouraging to see more young people making healthy choices not to use illicit substances," said National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli, "and now that Congress has acted on the president's request to provide $1 billion in new funding for prevention and treatment, we will have significant new resources to do this.”

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Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

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Real estate for sale (paid category)

Sámara titled land for sale by owner
5.7 acres. Only 150 meters to beach: $275,000
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Fully titled, held by corporation. 150 meters to beach! Paved road frontage. Electric, phone and broadband internet at the road. Year-round water on property for well. 3 -minute drive to Sámara center and a 3-minute walk to Playa Sámara. 23,561 square meters / 5.7 acres. Property was purchased on 2005 with plans to develop 21 villas on the property. Project was halted due to real estate market collapse in 2007.  We are no longer interested in developing due to age, health and motivation!  Priced well below market value for quick sale.  More info click HERE! Email:    Phone: 506-4033-6695.

Owner Financing in San Ramon
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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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San Rmon
Mountain home w/million dollar view near San Ramón
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For sale 5,200 m2 Escazú
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Costa Rica penthouse for sale
 5 -story penthouse for sale.  One of a kind penthouse on top of the Corobici Hotel in Sabana overlooking the Central Park and new Soccer Stadium in San José.  Excellent location provides you easy access to everywhere.  Other benefits include 24-hour security, 2 restaurants inside the hotel providing 1st class room service plus shared common areas in the hotel. Commercial license is in place. Seller will consider owner financing.  Asking $795K U.S.  Also available for monthly rent for $3,400 per month on an annual basis. Go to  Owners U.S. cell phone: 813 310-7402  Email

horse ranch
Spectacular Horse Ranch and Spiritual/Yoga
Retreat Center For Sale

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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Live the dream!
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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news page

San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 247
Real Estate
About us

News from the BBC up to the minute

BBC news feeds are disabled on archived pages.

Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
court gifts
Poder Judicial photo
This pile of gifts has been collected by judicial workers and will go to the Asociación Obras del Espíritu Santo so hundreds of at-risk youngsters can have a joyful Christmas. This is the 10th year toys have been collected by court staffers.

Meat store workers briefed on rules

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

More than 80 butchers were trained on the proper labeling of raw meat, according to the Ministerio de Economía, Industria, y Comercio.

The quality control department of the ministry along with the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal aided these meat store employees in order to give a better understanding and information about the recent reform in the regulation, said the ministry. 

This reform was the publication of a new sanitation inspection guide that detailed the labeling obligations for pre-packaged and other types of raw meat. The ministry said it used this opportunity to explain the proper practices necessary for maintaining safe and hygienic quality meats.

The health service for animals will join efforts to spread these presentations around other parts of the country throughout the coming year. Officials said that the butchers were grateful for the activity as it provided enlightening information and extending that on to their consumers, they told officials.

Country featured at Indian book fair

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica will be what is being called the focal country next year at the Kolkata Book Fair in Calcutta, India. The book fair is among the largest in the world with 2 million visitors during its 12-day run. It begins Jan. 25.

Musical event will be in Jacó

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The seventh annual Jungle Jam music concert will be in Jacó next year and begins March 9. The event is for four days and features a lineup of popular musical groups. Organizers are encouraging members of the audience to participate in local tourism activities during the day.

Costa Rican News
Retire NOW in Costa Rica
Fine Dining in Costa Rica
The CAFTA Report
Fish fabulous Costa Rica

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From Page 7:

Pacific coast home wins international award

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Pacific coast developer's flagship property has been named the winner of a prestigious real estate award.

The property is the $2.9 million Meridian House of Axiom Development Group. The home is in the cloud forests 2,000 feet above Costa Rica’s southwestern Pacific coast.

The award is for best individual property, Central and South America. The International Property Award celebrates the highest levels of achievement by companies operating in all sectors of the property and real estate industry, said the awards organization, adding that an International Property Award is a world-renowned mark of excellence. Judging is by a panel of more than 50 experts.

“We are thrilled to be recognized internationally with this award for the highest levels of achievement in the industry,” says Michael Himes, who with Blake Delatte is a founding partner of Axiom Development Group. “We have successfully created the vision that we set out to build, and this award validates the tireless efforts of our entire team.”

The estate’s subtle architecture blurs the lines between interior and exterior living, inviting light mountain breezes, and even low-lying clouds, into its contemporary living spaces, said Axiom, noting that the firm focuses on mitigating detrimental environmental impacts through the use of state-of-the-art waste management and water treatment systems, alternative energy sources and energy-efficient appliances and lighting.

Meridian House was the first home completed in the company’s Sierra Collection, which encompasses 1,250 acres reserved for single-family estates.