What Are the Best & Worst Municipalities in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica News – The ratings are done and we know the best and worst municipalities in Costa Rica. San Carlos comes out on top, with 87.84 points out of 100 whereas Turrubares got only a 26.72, making it the worst of 81 municipalities.

San Carlos is known for the mega-aqueduct that now brings clean water to the area. It stores 3,500 cubic meters. Those in Pital are no longer drinking contaminated well water. San Carlos has also made huge improvements in parks, sewer systems, garbage collection and roads, such as asphalting of 4 kilometers of roads in Boca Arenal. While the credit is given to a great mayor, he attributes the success to a great team of citizens and both public and private entities working together to overcome the “can’t do” attitude. San Carlos is the largest canton in the country. It has 3,373 square kilometers, mostly dedicated to livestock. 65% of the milk and over half of the meat consumed in the country comes from San Carlos.

The many faults in Turrubares are attributed to how politics seems to get in the way of everything. Even simple proposals take a year to be seen. There is a lot of disorder and inability to execute plans completely. It’s also one of the poorest areas of San Jose with a large percentage of the population in need of aid.

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Where Do The Leaves For Christmas Tamales Come From In Costa Rica?

Costa Rica News – As you are enjoying your tamales this holiday season, do you wonder where exactly the leaves come from?

A little known fact is that they mostly come from indigenous Cabécar families from Limón.

These families, men, women, children and even pets, work tirelessly this season to cut and prepare the product which they sell for about ¢140 per kilo. It is later sold in San Jose for up to ¢1,500.

They work from sunrise to late in the afternoon, wearing long sleeved clothes to protect from mosquitoes. They speak very little, careful not to waste time. This activity can earn them ¢60.000 a day, an amount that will greatly help them through the first few months of the year. The rest of the year, the demand is much lower.

They use the jute plant because banana leaves are less flexible due to chemicals used in fumigations. Jute is smaller with no fruit.

About 500 people are dedicated to this work. The lucky ones sell their crop to Grace Alvarez, who resells them to most national supermarkets and even exports them. She pays up to ¢250 a kilo whereas those who come with 4x4s to collect the product from others offer only ¢80 a kilo, at times, insisting the product is not selling well in San Jose.

If Sports Betting is Legalized in the USA; What Does it Mean for Costa Rica Sportsbooks?

Costa Rica News – Will sport betting become legal in more USA states? And what does this mean for the sportsbook industry in Costa Rica?

Nevada’s decades-long monopoly on legal sports betting could be broken by the U.S. Supreme Court, depending on the outcome of a case to be argued Monday.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is asking the justices to strike down a federal law that prevents the state from allowing gambling on sports. He’s backed by 18 other states.

Some see it as an important test of states’ rights, while others are simply eager to reap the tax revenue that would come from legal sports wagering.

They are challenging a 1992 law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which prevents states from allowing any sports gambling schemes. It’s unusual because it does not ban sports gambling nationwide as a matter of federal law. Instead the act says states cannot permit it.

Professional sports leagues and amateur associations say the law prevents the corrupting influence of organized crime in athletics — they’re urging the court to uphold it.

Christie argues that the law violates the 10th Amendment, which the Supreme Court has said prohibits federal laws that would compel states to carry out federal dictates. The gambling law, Christie says, commandeers the states by forcing them to prohibit sports wagering.

And if the law was intended to stop the growth of sports betting, Christie says, it has failed spectacularly, because illegal sports wagering has exploded. He cites estimates of nearly $149 billion gambled on sporting events every year.

But the NCAA and the major professional sports leagues argue the law is not unconstitutional, because it doesn’t compel states to do anything. Under the act, states “must simply refrain from operating sports-gambling schemes or from authorizing third parties to do so,” they note.

“Congress does not commandeer the states just because it limits their policy options,” their legal brief reads.

New Jersey wants to allow only certain types of sports betting, at casinos and racetracks, by bettors who are at least 21. Other states would be sure to follow if New Jersey prevails in court.

The justices will decide the case by late June.

Jeff Ifrah, a Washington lawyer who’s an expert in gambling laws, says roughly a dozen states are preparing legislation that would authorize sports betting if the federal law is struck down.

“I’ve never seen a legislature actually pass gambling legislation in advance of a court decision,” he said. “So that’s pretty remarkable.”

Connecticut, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania have now passed their versions of the legislation, and that number could easily grow to 20 if New Jersey prevails, Ifrah said.

Shawn Fluharty, a West Virginia lawmaker who has sponsored sports gambling legislation, says he believes his state would be one of the first to offer sports betting if the Supreme Court permits it. The Democrat says sports gambling is “a way to raise new revenue without raising taxes.”

New Jersey resident Vito Paolantonio, who was at Monmouth Park Racetrack’s bar last week, said he’d wager on sports if he could in the state.

“I’m a 52-year-old male who loves sports,” he said. “If we were here and I was watching a game, I would absolutely throw in a few dollars to make it more interesting. I think as a middle-class American, a lot of others would do the same.”

By PETE WILLIAMS, NBCNews.com

Two Tourists Killed When Tree Falls Into Hotel in Costa Rica

Costa Rica News – At least two tourists have been killed after 100km/h winds and heavy rain sent a tree falling onto their hotel in Costa Rica.

Two foreign tourists, reportedly a Swiss couple in their 70s, have been killed after a tree fell on their hotel while they were sleeping in Costa Rica.

A cold front is sweeping the Central American country knocking down dozens of trees, causing widespread power outages and ripping roofs from houses.

Costa Rica’s National Emergency Commission spokesman Sigifredo Perez says two foreign tourists died when a tree struck their hotel, in Cahuita, in the Caribbean coastal province of Limon, while they were sleeping.

Local media have identified the tourists as a Swiss couple, aged in their 70s.

Two other people were also seriously injured when a tree fell on their car in Guacimo, also in Limon province, Perez said.

Costa Rica’s National Weather Service says the front is now located right over the country packing wind gusts of between 60 to 106km/h.

From News.com.au

Costa Rica’s Franklin Chang 100 Hour Plasma Engine Goal

Costa Rica News – Franklin Chang’s company intends to operate its plasma engine for 100 continuous hours.

It is in its third year of a contract with NASA, which granted it $9 million to achieve the goal by next year.

The Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Motor (VASIMR) will ideally be operated at a power of 100 Kilowatts for the 100 hours by 2018.

It is so far been operating at that power for periods of ten minutes.

The US space agency is interested in advancing human exploration in space as well as spacecraft operations.

The VASIMR is an alternative kind of engine that could be able to conduct a probe or ship to the desired direction in space.

This engine is essential in order for humans to explore deep space which can not be achieved with the chemical engines of today. There is an extraordinary team executing the development.

The Costa Rica Medical Marketplace

Costa Rica News By Galya Gerstman – I often joke to outsiders that in Costa Rica, it would appear that traffic regulations are not obligatory, but merely suggestions, judging by what I see on the roads. I have since found that this flexible attitude toward what would normally be considered serious matters seems to extend to other areas as well. I will give you a case in point.

I have a friend, let’s call her Maria, who is a lawyer. Her specialty is contract negotiations, and so I must assume that she is a pretty deft negotiator. Why am I telling you this? Be patient.

Well, Maria went for her yearly mammogram and the doctor discovered a mass. That’s not a very funny intro, but what is funny is all that transpired after. She then went to an oncologist who sent her off to do an MRI and a biopsy. There’s something else you should know about Maria: she’s one of those tree-hugger types. You know, vegetarian (except when it comes to The Cheesecake Factory’s Shrimp Scampi), makes herself a tea when she has a headache instead of taking aspirin, didn’t let her kids watch TV till they were, like, in high school, etc. So she wasn’t overly thrilled at the idea of putting her body through these tests. Moreover, she told the oncologist, she had had the same mass 2 years ago and a biopsy at the time had shown a negative result. He was not convinced.

“That was a fine needle aspiration,” he explained, “and those are at best 60% accurate.” This was news to my friend, as well as to the doctor who had sent her for the first biopsy and the one who had performed it, she surmised. But the present doctor’s convincing demeanor forestalled her protests. “The core biopsy, on the other hand, gives us a bigger sample, and thus more accuracy.” Bigger sample meaning bigger needle? She gulped.

So first she endured the MRI, in which she was encapsulated in a big metal tube and told not to move an inch—for thirty whole minutes—while the machine banged out noise like your sixteen-year-old’s garage band. Even with the noise-obstructing headphones, she still heard the clanking and whirring, as if the Wizard of Oz’s tin man were doing a Zumba class. But the worst was not being able to move for thirty whole minutes. She was sure she would suddenly sneeze or have one of those spaz attacks where your whole body shudders, and have to repeat the process again.  And did I mention the price? Eight hundred dollars. Private medicine, of course. Otherwise she’d probably have had to wait two years for the Costa Rican Social Security to fit her in. But anyway, she was in luck. They were having a sale! I didn’t know medical procedures could be marked down (was it a slow season?) but indeed, for all that month, there was a sale on MRIs, so she only had to fork over five hundred.

After that she had the core biopsy, wherein the doctor and nurse had to give her five mammograms until they found the spot to gouge. “Isn’t all that radiation from the mammograms dangerous?” she worried. The nurse assured her it was less than the radiation one is exposed to on a transatlantic flight. Maria hadn’t known about radiation on planes. Now she had yet another thing to worry about next time she flew to Madrid. Finally, they inserted a little titanium coil there after they were done, so that for her next mammogram they wouldn’t have so much trouble finding that damned spot again.

The diagnosis: Lobular Carcinoma In Situ. Well, like any self-respecting internet surfer, my friend quickly discovered that this is the most inoffensive type of tumor you can have. “In Situ” means it’s “in place”, in other words, not spreading. The Cancer.org site began thusly: “[Blah blah blah] but it differs from DCIS in that it’s not a pre-cancer. The main difference is that LCIS cannot become an invasive cancer, even if it isn’t treated.” And furthermore: “Since LCIS is not a true cancer or pre-cancer, often no treatment is recommended.” My friend was, as one might expect, overjoyed.

Until she went back to her friendly neighborhood oncologist. “That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to come out,” he corrected her. In fact, the MRI seemed to show some very small but nonetheless suspicious masses that it would be best to remove, he advised. Moreover, he suggested removing the original mass as well as ten centimeters around it, and also injecting a substance the day before to see if it had spread to the lymph nodes or was capable of spreading to them and if so, he would take out part of the underarm as well. The man was nothing if not thorough!

Maria left his office shrunken with fright. If she had been traumatized by the MRI which was not even invasive, and the core biopsy which was only a very thick needle, she was positively quaking at the thought of surgery and its aftermath. For though the doctor had told her it was a simple procedure (for him) (she hoped to God), and that she wouldn’t even have to spend the night in the hospital, he also mentioned in passing radiation and possible chemotherapy treatments afterwards. Having seen the effects of chemo on various people before they died anyway, my friend was understandably frightened.

She decided to get a second opinion. The second oncologist she consulted was equally lauded for being a specialist. Nonetheless, after hearing stories of acquaintances’ radical double mastectomies, my friend was in a bad state. By the time Maria sat down in front of the new doctor, she was like the cowardly lion (again from the Wizard of Oz! My childhood exposure to culture was limited)—shaking and stuttering. And, doing the lion one better, hyperventilating to boot.

But this doctor gave her good news. MRIs are very detailed, true, she said. But with so many little dots and spots, it’s easy to mistake something benign for a tumor. As for the main tumor, the LCIS, however, she was of much the same opinion as the first doctor: surgery, radiation and possibly chemo. She even agreed with the armpit removal.

By now Maria had calmed down a bit, and regained some of her lawyerly wherewithal.  “Look,” she complained. “I’m hardly a B-cup as it is. You take out 10 centimeters [4 inches!], and I’ll look like an empty hot water bottle!”

“Well, I don’t think we have to take out 10 centimeters,” the doctor agreed. “I’m sure we can get away with 1 centimeter.”

“Now that’s more like it,” my friend began. “That, I can live with, no pun intended. But what’s this about removing my armpit?”

“I wouldn’t necessarily have to remove it. You get a substance injected into the area which will cling to the parts that are susceptible to be invaded by the tumor.”

“But you said the tumor was non-infiltrated. Not spreading.”

“Yes.”

“So why test for seeing if it would move toward the lymph nodes?”

“Well, that’s the usual treatment.”

“But—“

“But okay. Never mind. There’s very little probability of it spreading, you’re right.”

“Good.”

“We’ll just perform the surgery and then you’ll either do the post-operative treatments—“

“You’re talking about chemotherapy, aren’t you?”

“Well, that’s sometimes warranted…” My friend made a face. “…but as your tumor is really not a cancer, I guess we can skip that.”

Maria’s face brightened. “Great! Whew! I was really scared of that!”

“OK, then, fine. No chemo. Just radiation.”

“Uh, radiation?”

“Yes, either you do something like ten post-operative treatments for about an hour each time over the course of several weeks, or I give you one strong and concentrated blast right over the area after I’ve opened you up and removed the tumor. Your choice, but I would recommend the concentrated blast, since it’s a one-time thing.”

“Well, doctor, I really don’t like the sound of either. I mean, doesn’t radiation itself cause cancer?”

“Well, yes, but sometimes it’s necessary to remove any remaining cancer.”

“But you said it’s not invasive cancer. You said it’s not even considered cancer.”

“True, but in the future it could develop…”

“I really, really don’t want to have radiation.”

“Well, okay, then. I guess you have a point. Since it’s not spreading, I suppose we can forego the radiation. I guess you can get away with just taking an estrogen-blocker.”

“Um, you’re referring to Tamoxifen, right?”

“Yes, that’s one type.”

“Well, doctor, I read that that drug can cause endometrial cancer.”

“In very rare cases.”

“I’m not a betting woman.”

“Well, there is a new type of estrogen-blocker…”

“Look, doctor. Now, I know you might think I’m one of those crazy all-natural types, but I’ve been doing a lot of research into alternative medicine. I’ve read about all kinds of different treatments that, although not approved by the FDA (and everyone knows those guys are in the pockets of the medical and pharmaceutical lobbies),” my friend said to her doctor, straight-faced, “have cured lots of people!”

“Such as?”

“Oh, there’s just loads. Intravenous vitamin C treatments, vitamin B-17 which is extracted from apricot kernels, selenium pills, the Budwig protocol which is a mixture of cottage cheese and flaxseed oil…” Seeing the doctor’s face, she found it prudent to leave out the coffee enemas.

“I have never heard of most of what you just mentioned,” the doctor responded, stone-faced, “except for the intravenous vitamin C which is a beauty treatment.” A beauty treatment? Who’d be crazy enough to spend a half hour with a throbbing needle in his or her vein? Wait, what? If people are willing to go through surgery or have needles stuck between their eyes for purely aesthetic reasons, then why not intravenous vitamin C?

“Okay, look, doctor,” my friend made her pitch. “If, as you say, what I have is a non-cancer, and if, as you yourself said, it hasn’t changed since the first biopsy two years ago, let’s do this: give me six months to do some of the treatments I’m telling you about, and if in six months it hasn’t changed, then I’ll do what you say and go under the knife.”

The doctor sighed. “Fine. If that’s what you want. But not six months. Three.”

“Three, fine. Three is okay.”

“All right then. After three months from now, you’ll get a mammogram… Now what?”

“How about just an ultrasound? You know there’s new research saying that mammograms might actually cause cancer—“

“All right! Ultrasound instead of mammogram!”

In fact, my friend was already scheming to postpone the surgery indefinitely if the tumor didn’t change, at the price of an ultrasound every three months, if need be.

It would seem that in Costa Rica, you can bargain over anything.

From QCostaRica

Gas Price Reduction Coming in January for Costa Rica

Costa Rica News – We will likely ring in the new year with a reduction in the price of super and regular gas.

The liter of super will go from ¢628 to ¢601 and regular from ¢605 to ¢593. This is due to a reduction request by the Costa Rican Petroleum Refinery (Recope).

The reduction is due to a decrease in the international price of imported fuels, corresponding to the average period of 30 days between when Recope acquires fuels abroad and the time when price adjustments are made to consumers for those purchases.

The request was made to the Public Services Regulatory Authority (Aresep). Aresep has 15 days to make a decision on the matter. It is expected to be approved without any problems.

The adjustment would then be made the day after it is published in La Gaceta. However, the newspaper will be closed the last week of December, so it will be delayed until the first week of January.