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Published Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 255
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Tope Nacional puts a commercial spin on tradition
By Conor Golden
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Through smatterings of rain, the Tope Nacional parade continued through Paseo Colón Monday with enough booze to sink a ship and a lot of decorated horses with their costumed riders.

Crime was down, according to a report by the Fuerza Pública. Around 600 officers covered the parade route, along with reservists at other points in the capital. Two knives were confiscated from individuals who were searched prior to and during the event, officials said.  The Cruz Roja said it treated 34 persons.

Police said they made three arrests. One came after the attempted theft of a cell phone. The other two were for disturbing the peace. Despite a prevalent
Tope fuel
amount of alcohol consumption at the tope, officers said they confiscated just 128 beers. These security operations are expected to continue in today’s carnival parade.

With events such as Fiestas de Zapote and the oxcart parade, Costa Rican culture seems to
place a heavy emphasis on the rural side while simultaneously commercializing the events into
spectacles of alcohol, loud music and corporate branding.

From the Pilsen girls partying on the raised platforms on the sides to brand names etched on the costumes of the horsemen riding in the parade, there is a mix of rural meets corporate worlds.

It can be seen in the pedestrians and attendees wearing designer jeans with polished cowboy boots that have never been used for riding.

Mariachi music came from a flamboyantly dressed band. Stereos blasted reggaeton from a car trunk nearby. Pickup trucks with raised suspension line the lawns and parking lots and sidewalks, and people there smoked cigarettes and drank Bohemia lagers.

At the same time, this is distinctly Tico. There is unique commercialization of these traditions and parades. Corporations make investments to display their brands to a crowd.

The Tope Nacional originally had estimates of 4,000 horses and their riders, known as jinetes, that participated in the parade. There has been no official account released yet on the exact number of participants this year.
A.M. Costa Rica/Conor Golden  
Crowd gets a display of a trotting steed.

Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo 
Two confiscated knives.

The three major TV stations in Costa Rica provided more evidence of commercialism. They covered the tope in depth between ads, but the commentary seemed lacking in content. Both commentators and street correspondents struggled, in certain instances, to fill in air time. Interviews ranged from talking to spectators to the riders until some commentators ended up interviewing each other.

One channel made a series of segments previously recorded at various ranches where the participating horses were bred. Even the rain that came down a few times over the course of the parade became the topic of discussion.

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Two long-term fake marriages rejected

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two cases of marriages contracted in order to provide foreigners residency have been annulled.

The rulings came from the Sala Segunda of the Corte Suprema de Justicia. In both cases, the state was a party.

Such fake marriages usually involve paying money to a Costa Rican to pretend to contract marriage. Then the foreigner can seek residency based on the marriage.

Typically the foreigner is a male, but there have been cases where the foreigner was a woman. In the past, fake marriages have been disclosed when the Costa Rican party was unaware of the union. Some lawyer simply inserted the convenient name of a Costa Rican as a fake marriage partner. At times, the marriage only is disclosed when the innocent party seeks to contract a valid marriage. Then the Registro Civil records show the previous marriage.

Fake marriages are called matrimonios por simulación in Spanish.

The Sala Segunda noted that a 2009 law forbids fake marriages. The panel was asked to rule on the validity of fake marriages contracted before that time. In both cases, it said the union was invalid. In one case the court ordered that the Costa Rican citizenship awarded a foreign man based on the fake marriage be revoked. In the second case, the court ordered official documents be adjusted to show that the marriage was a sham.

President to seek aid in Abu Dhabi

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Luis Guillermo Solís had an invitation to attend an energy summit in Abu Dhabi in the middle of next month. Now the president says he will use the visit to seek hurricane relief from the United Arab Emirates.

The World Future Energy Summit is part of  Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and marks its 10th anniversary from Jan. 16 to 19. The published speaker list is a who's who of green energy and includes Patricia Espinosa, the new executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Manuel González, the foreign minster, and Alexander Mora, the minister of  Comercio Exterior, are scheduled to accompany the president, said Casa Presidencial.

The president is reported to have constructed a proposal for aid to help the hurricane regions rebuild. Hurricane Otto ravaged the northern part of the country Nov. 24. Much of the province of Limón and southwestern Costa Rica also were affected.

Internet use for detentions increases

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

More women found out this year that they could send their ex to jail with an online request.

The Poder Judicial said that requests for detention orders increased this year to 20,612 compared to 7,230 last year.

The internet requests say that the payment for pensiones alimentarias, basically child support, has not been made. The request eventually instructs the Fuerza Pública to detain the individual owing the money, usually the former husband.

The Poder Judicial said that about 105,000 requests for such orders were made through judges.

The Poder Judicial noted that it even has an app for this purpose, and 7,974 persons sought the arrest of a former spouse that way this year as of Dec, 21.

Individuals, usually wives, who are involved in the judicial process are assigned a user name so they can access the site, the Observatorio de Violencia de Género contra las Mujeres y Acceso a la Justicia, said the Poder Judicial. That site is HERE!

Those who owe support payments have three days of grace to make the deposit. After that they are subject to confinement until they pay, said the Poder Judicial.

New pastor for congregation in  Escazú

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Escazú Christian Fellowship is getting a new pastor for its English-speaking congregation at the beginning of March.

Until the selection of the Rev. Donald Ridder, the community had been seeking a permanent pastor for their congregation to replace Andrew Halbert. Ridder is currently the pastor at the Grace Fellowship Church in Pella, Iowa, where he has been serving there since 2014. According to a letter sent to his future congregation, he welcomed the prospect of relocating permanently to Costa Rica. He also said he plans to stay busy in the upcoming months before taking over in March with a missionary trip scheduled to Haiti in February and a house that still needs to be sold.

The congregation has been guests of the International Baptist Church in Escazú. It describes itself as an interdenominational, international congregation for the English-speaking community in Costa Rica. Escazú Christian Fellowship offers an array of Bible studies, fellowships, and other activities to any person interested in participating with the congregation whether that be permanently or temporarily. It began around 30 years ago, according to its website.

Carnival today will be the first in years

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The carnival today is in San José, the first time in 11 years.

The event today might be a scaled-down version of what took place in the past. The Municipalidad de San José promises a parade of old cars, but there may not be any floats.

The municipality suspended the carnival because officials said that the quality of participation was declining. There also was a suggestion that some of the clothing worn by participants was too skimpy and exotic.

When San José suspended the Christmastime event, Desamparados instituted one that endured for eight years. But this year, the San José carnival will be the only one.

The carnival parade is expected to form today on Avenida Segunda with the line of march being west to Paseo Colón toward La Sabana.

The carnival has been overshadowed by the Festival de la Luz and the Tope Nacional horse parade Monday. So there are few details. Even the municipal Facebook page just features a photo from a former carnival and the date of the parade.

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Not all the humans are able to walk away after encounters with bulls
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The bulls are being baited again at two locations in the metro area, and the events are drawing paying spectators every day.

Participation in the arena with the bulls seems to have declined, at least based on those who showed up Sunday, the first day. Spiderman was there, as were other superhero types seeking money and fame by displaying bravery in the face of 1,400 pounds of muscle.

The Toros a la Tica will run until New Year's at both the Zapote fairgrounds and at Pedregal west of San José. There are innovations this year, including men on motorcycles leaping over the confused bulls. The bulls are one of the principal draws for the annual Christmas fiestas.

This sport, if it can be called that, is a standard attraction at fiestas all year. But at Christmas the daily encounters of bull vs. human make it to the television. Three channels are carrying the shows in the capital, and the feed is being sent internationally.

Some opposition seems to be growing to the long-running tradition, particularly among the younger university students. Spectators will pay from 10,000 to 15,000 colons to see an afternoon or evening show. The script is pretty standard. Anywhere from 100 to 150 individuals wander around an arena until handlers release a bull into their midst. That gets their attention.

Fortunately, bulls have short attention spans. A slap on the rump can change the animal's direction. Still, these so-called toreros improvisados sometimes find themselves on the wrong end of the horns.

The Cruz Roja said that 16 of the bull baiters required medical help at Zapote on the first day. The rescue agency maintains a clinic that is built into the wall of the arena.

Among those injured was a man who challenged a bull by kneeling and waving his hands. The bull appeared confused by this display, and he watched for a few minutes. The man inched closer on his knees. The bull stared. Then the bull lunged and caught the man off guard. He had no chance to run,

Cruz Roja
Cruz Roja photo
Aid workers at the arena attend to an injured bull baiter.

so he doubled up on the ground in the fetal position.

The bull was not fooled. With a toss of the muscular neck, the man was airborne with the bull in pursuit. Once again the man went for a ride. Then other participants distracted the bull.

The man was carried from the arena to the nearby clinic. He had at least very sore if not broken ribs.

Another torero sustained a bruise to the chest from the horn of another bull. The injury was an inch away from the horn penetrating the chest. Others have died in such diversions.

Bull handlers cut the pointed tip from the horns before bringing them to the fiesta. The blunted horn usually produces bruises instead of punctures. There have been deaths.

Toreros improvisados have been required to obtain medical insurance from the state firm, the Instituto Nacional de Seguros. Private companies do not seem anxious to write these policies.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 255
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This is a really big week for unimpeded home improvements
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This is a big week for home improvement. Municipal inspectors are with their families at the beach, and no one official will drop in unexpectedly on a homeowner doing some fixup.

Christmas week and Semana Santa before Easter are traditional times for bootlegged construction. With the correct timing, the work will be done before life resumes normally Jan. 2. The tradition adopts the Costa Rican motto that seeking forgiveness is better than seeking permission.

Even for work inside the home, the week provides a time for material delivery that might otherwise raise official suspicions. There also is plenty of time to hack down that tree blocking the view, chop up the branches and eliminate the evidence.

Getting permission to cut a tree is another of those bureaucratic nightmares, so a few chainsaws might break the Christmas solitude.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 255
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Old doggies are getting dope
from their concerned owners

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Largely overlooked in the aftermath of the November elections was the fact that more than half of U.S. states have now legalized medical marijuana. Another eight also allow the use of recreational marijuana. But if pot is okay for people, does it follow that it's also good for pets?

In Washington State, where pot is legal for medical and recreational use, a number of veterinarians are being asked about treating pets with cannabis.

But marijuana is still illegal under federal law, so expanding its use beyond states, and beyond humans is risky, both medicinally and legally.

However, Michelle Batten was worried less about the law and more about her dog Willy, a caramel-colored, 16-year-old Lhasa shih tzu. Willy has a variety of age-related problems, including arthritis and anxiety from vision loss, and conventional painkillers were making him sluggish.

So she started giving him cannabinoid capsules. The active ingredient in these pills, cannabidiol, comes from hemp, a variety of the cannabis plant that's not mind-altering.

How did it work? "I was pleased with what I saw," Ms. Batten said, "He's so much more content. He sleeps better. He's not in pain and he doesn't have the anxiety."

Another Portland dog owner, Diane Benjamin, uses an eyedropper to put small amounts of hemp oil on the food of her 11-year-old greyhound-Rhodesian ridgeback named Pronto. She said the formulation provides relief from back trouble and arthritis.

The dog doesn’t appear to notice the culinary addition, but Benjamin said her friends take notice. “When I meet other dog owners and we start talking, especially if they have old dogs, and I mention that he’s on cannabinoid oil, they kind of raise their eyebrows like ‘Really?’ and maybe laugh a little bit,” Ms. Benjamin said.

She chose the product for the medicinal properties and claimed it does not have side-effects, she said.

Ms. Batten takes Willy and his 14-year-old sister to the Hawthorne Veterinary Clinic, which advertises holistic pet care. Clinic owner Cornelia Wagner says pet owners turn to hemp or medical marijuana for many of the same things humans take it for these days, including cancer symptoms, pain, inflammation, seizures, nausea, chronic skin allergies and loss of appetite.

And it's no surprise that with more and more people turning to pot for help, they'd ask after their pets as well. "Five years ago when I started here, hemp never came up, or cannabis hardly ever came up," Dr. Wagner said "Now we talk about it a lot."

Dr. Wagner tells dog owners that their animals are much more sensitive than humans to the effects of marijuana. It doesn't take much to cause a bad trip. Her clinic only stocks a few over-the-counter, non-psychoactive hemp-based supplements, like the pills Willy the dog swallows twice a day.

Because it doesn't have the mind-altering effects of pot, hemp for pets remains largely unrestricted. Marijuana, of course, is different.

"Legally, we have to be careful about it," Dr. Wagner said, "Even though recreational marijuana use is legal in Oregon now... as veterinarians we are not allowed to prescribe it. So we have to be careful about giving recommendations."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, cautions against giving marijuana products to pets. The FDA says their safety and effectiveness have not been established and need further study.

U.S. asking foreign visitors
for their social media info

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. government has started asking some foreign visitors to provide their social media account information as part of the effort to identify potential terrorists.

Since last week, foreigners arriving in the U.S. on the visa waiver program are asked to identify the social media platforms they use and their account names.

Even though the request is optional and U.S. officials have said they would not deny entry to anyone who declines to disclose the information, the move has generated a backlash from civil rights groups and the tech industry.

Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Democracy and Technology have warned that the move could potentially offer the government "gateways into an enormous amount of online expression and associations, which can reflect highly sensitive information about that person's opinions, beliefs, identity and community."

Critics also warn that the program could be used to target Arabs and Muslims and expose them to intense scrutiny.

The Internet Association, a group that represents companies including Facebook, Twitter and Google, argues the new policy threatens free expression.

Currently, visitors from 38 countries are able to use the visa waiver program that allows them to travel and stay in the United States for up to 90 days without a visa.

Chile lifts tsunami warning
following a 7.6 earthquake

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Officials have lifted a tsunami warning issued earlier Sunday after a powerful earthquake struck southern Chile. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the temblor had a magnitude of 7.6 and was centered 40 kilometers southwest of Puerto Quellon on Chile's sparsely populated southern coast. It struck at 11:22 am local time.

Chile’s National Emergency Services chief Ricardo Toro still urged residents at Los Lagos region to evacuate and go to higher ground.

It was the third earthquake this month of 7.6 magnitude or higher along the quake-prone Pacific Rim, sometimes referred to as the ring of fire.

A 7.8 magnitude-earthquake was recorded off the coast of the Solomon Islands on Dec. 8, and a 7.9-magnitude temblor was reported Dec. 17 in Papua New Guinea.

Obama says he would win
an election against Trump

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Barack Obama says he has utmost confidence in his vision for the country and that had he run again, he would have defeated Donald Trump in the presidential election.

In an interview with former adviser David Axelrod, released Monday, the president said, “I am confident in this vision because I am confident that, if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could have mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it.”

But president-elect Trump disagreed later Monday. In a Tweet, Trump fired back, "President Obama said that he thinks he would have won against me. He should say that but I say NO WAY! - jobs leaving, ISIS, OCare, etc."

While Obama praised the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, he also criticized her campaign for being too cautious. “If you think you are winning, then you have the tendency, just like in sports, maybe to play it safer,” he said in Axelrod's podcast “The Axe Files.”

The president expressed admiration for Mrs. Clinton, saying she performed wonderfully under really tough circumstances, but did not hesitate to criticize her campaign for not pushing hard enough.

“We're not there on the ground communication not only the dry policy aspects of this, but that we care about these communities, that we're bleeding for these communities,” he said. "It means caring about local races, state boards or school boards and city councils and state legislative races and not thinking that somehow, just a great set of progressive policies that we present to The New York Times editorial board will win the day.”

Obama also defended his legacy, saying Trump's victory does not mean his vision for the country had failed. “Obviously, in the wake of the election and Trump winning, a lot of people have suggested that somehow, it really was a fantasy. What I argue is, is that the culture actually did shift, that the majority does buy into the notion of one America that is tolerant and diverse and open and full of energy and dynamism.”

Obama, who leaves office in less than a month, made clear his future plans. He said he aims to build that next generation of leadership, organizers, journalists, politicians.

China seeks more investment
in search of economic boost

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A year after losing its status as the world's top destination for foreign investment, China is taking market-opening steps to make the country more appealing to investors; but, with a hostile new administration preparing to take office in Washington, analysts question whether the steps are too little and too late.

China's National Development and Reform Commission announced earlier this month it has removed one-third of the items from a negative list that bars or restricts foreign investment in certain industries. The number of regulations restricting foreign investment was also slashed, from 93 to 62.

Among the industries that were opened to foreign investors for the first time were passenger transport, railway equipment, electric vehicle batteries and lithium mining.

Many analysts say the rule changes fail to address the main concerns of foreign investors and are unlikely to provide the economic boost that Beijing wants.

“China has only superficially opened up more sectors to foreign investment. The broader environment is still highly restrictive, with wide swaths of the economy either off limits to foreign investors or with ownership caps that require foreign investors to engage in joint ventures with Chinese partners,” said Scott Kennedy, director of the Project on Chinese Business and Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Industry lobbies such as the American Chamber of Commerce in China and the European Chamber of Commerce report that their member companies are losing interest in new investments and business expansion during China's economic slowdown. Few foreign businesses are likely to act on the market-opening measures, analysts said.

“Though some of the limited revisions are welcomed by some of our members, the number of openings falls far short of what would be necessary to reinvigorate diminishing foreign industry confidence in the China market,” said Jake Parker, vice president of the U.S.-China Business Council, in remarks to local media.

The Chinese commission said the opening had two goals: to improve transparency of policymaking and to let foreign capital play a positive role in China's economic development, industry transformation, and reform and innovation.

Analysts discern a third objective: to persuade the World Trade Organization to declare China a market economy. That would help the country to offset declining foreign investment and prepare for any aggressive trade moves by the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in Washington.

The United States, and to a lesser extent the European Union, have been resisting China's efforts to earn the market economy label from the WTO. Opening up the investment market is a good way for China to make a case that it subscribes to free-market principles.

The Ministry of Commerce recently forecast that foreign-direct-investment, or FDI, will be down in 2016, the second consecutive year of decline.

The country lost its position as the top investment destination to India in 2015, when FDI slowed 23 percent to $56.6 billion. The number of foreign-financed projects dropped by 16 percent that year.

“The big FDI story of the past year is India. After a long period of trailing behind China, the South Asian country is now racing past its formidable rival. India was the highest ranked country by capital investment in 2015, with $63 billion worth of FDI projects announced,” said Courtney Fingar, head of content with London-based fDi Intelligence, while releasing the group's 2016 report.

U.S. President Barack Obama recently blocked a Chinese company's purchase of German chip equipment manufacturer Aixtron SE on national security grounds. Separately, the U.S. Trade Representative blacklisted Taobao, the online shopping site of China's Alibaba Group, as a notorious marketplace for counterfeit goods.

Much tougher U.S. action is possible once Trump takes charge. Beijing-based analysts see the latest opening to investment as a move to counter Trump's arguments that China is an unfair trading partner. Some Chinese experts have publicly urged their government to retaliate against any trade action from Washington.

“U.S.-China commercial relations are in for a rough ride in the coming months, as the Trump administration aggressively pushes China to open its markets further to American imports and investment and applies a more critical eye to Chinese investment in the United States," Kennedy said. "This is likely to induce countermeasures from China, and as a result, two-way trade and investment flows could very well fall substantially.”

Midwest is taking a beating
from frigid blizzard conditions

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A vicious winter storm pounded the U.S. upper Midwest and northern plains Monday, frustrating travelers but delighting children enjoying a holiday from school.

Heavy snow, freezing rain and bitterly cold winds created blizzard conditions in North and South Dakota and parts of Minnesota, making any kind of travel on the roads or in the sky impossible.

It was minus 12 degrees Celsius in Bismark, North Dakota, Monday. The state capitol was buried in 32 centimeters of snow. Thousands remain without power. A 400-kilometer stretch of Interstate 90 in South Dakota, a major east-west highway, was shut down along with several other highways.

No deaths have been reported so far from the storm, which forecasters predict will move into the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario overnight and into Tuesday.

Chicago toll for Christmas:
40 are shot and 12 are killed

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Police in the Midwestern U.S. city of Chicago say more than 40 people were shot over the Christmas weekend, with 12 of the victims dying.

The news comes as Chicago, the nation's third-largest city, faces a wave of violence, with homicides increasing 40 percent since last year.

The holiday violence includes a family Christmas party where two people were killed and several others wounded.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters Monday that 90 percent of those killed this weekend had gang affiliations, criminal histories, or were pre-identified by officials as being a potential offender or victim of gun violence.

Johnson argued that politicians need to strengthen gun sentencing laws.

"This unacceptable level of violence demonstrates the clear and present need for policymakers to convene in January and give Chicago the gun sentencing tools against repeat gun offenders so that we can begin to change this narrative,” he said, “If you pick up a gun and shoot somebody you should go to prison, period, that's the end of that story. Some people want to give them a pass for it. I don't."

Johnson said officers also seized 45 guns from city streets this holiday weekend, which he said is higher than a typical weekend.

More than 700 homicides have been reported in Chicago this year. That is up from less than 500 homicides last year.

Police say most of the killings have occurred in Chicago's southern and western neighborhoods. Although crime rates in Chicago and the rest of the United States remain well below those between 1990 and 1995, homicides began to surge in numerous large cities last year.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 255
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Television certification
This is the logo that will identify compatible television sets in stores.

Digital-ready TV sets get an official seal

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff   

Slowly but surely, Costa Rican television and broadcasting continues its march to the digital age with the implementation of a new identification being issued proving a receiver is digitally compatible.

Telecommunications officials have created a verification seal. This certification and seal will allow consumers to know which products comply with the Japanese-Brazilian standard of ISDB-Tb, which the Costa Rican government selected to use for digital and open television broadcasts.

More and more viewers are watching signals transmitted over the Internet. Some of the local stations already are available via Internet, while there are a host of movie, sports and other entertainment channels to choose from as well. The technology is moving so fast that local television stations may decide to halt often expensive, non-digital transmissions.

Temperature reported driving diversity

By the University of Würzburg news staff

Why is the diversity of animals and plants so unevenly distributed on the planet? New data on this core issue show biodiversity to be driven by temperature.

The diversity of plants and animals in Earth's arctic regions is moderate. Tropical latitudes in contrast are teeming with different species where new organisms are being discovered all the time.

What is the cause of this uneven distribution? This core question has been subject to controversy. One hypothesis, for instance, is that the primary productivity of a habitat is ultimately decisive for the number of species living there. Another hypothesis assumes that the rate of evolution and speciation depend on temperature.

So far, these hypotheses have been examined usually by focusing on selected groups of species.

In the journal "Nature Communications" Marcell Peters of the University of Würzburg and his team present a study which is unique so far and is the synthesis of four years of working: "On Mount Kilimanjaro, one of Earth's largest climatic gradients, we observed so many animal and plant groups in parallel as never before," the researcher says.

Overall, the team examined eight groups of plants and 17 groups of animals, from bees to bats. 38 scientists from Germany, Tanzania and other countries participated in the large-scale study.

The area of study stretched from the savannas at the foot of the mountain to the habitats at an altitude of 4,550 meters that barely sustain plants.

The study revealed that biodiversity in communities is mainly determined by temperature. The warmer it is, the greater the diversity. "The more groups of animals and plants you investigate in parallel, the greater the significance of temperature for explaining biodiversity, whereas the importance of all other variables decreases accordingly."

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From Page 7:

Price differences for toys are spotlighted

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A new report illustrates that the same type of toy may bring a different price depending on the store.

The Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio showcased price differences between different toy products sorted by the age ranges to which they are marketed.

The presentation Friday based on minimum and maximum prices between similar items collected at different locations around the greater San José area. The ministry's consumer division was trying to emphasize that consumers should shop carefully.