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Bithorn Stadium Ready For Expos…Island Gets $9M U.S. Drug Prevention Grant…Rossello Opposes Increased Public Funding For Campaigns…Miranda Marin Criticizes Investigations… Carmona To Promote Healthy Choices In Schools...VA Hospital Can’t Handle Influx Of Troops From Gulf… Parga Asks For PBPR Televised Hearings…Water Rationing Postponed

Bithorn Stadium Ready To Receive Major League Baseball

April 9, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini presented Wednesday the Hiram Bithorn Stadium as new to Montreal Expos President Tony Tavares for the 22 games that will be played in San Juan.

Only days away from the first game, Santini highlighted the "Major League" conditions of the facility.

"Today we are reinaugurating the Hiram Bithorn because this is like new. The players and the fans who will visit us these next few months will be impressed with the conditions of the best baseball stadium in Puerto Rico," the mayor said.

Tavares said he was pleased with the work by the San Juan municipality and extolled the effort of the capital’s officials.

"We are very grateful for the efforts of these workers, under the direction of the mayor. These past weeks they have been here with the sole purpose of getting the stadium ready so that the Expos feel at home, and I assure you that will hold true because this is a Major League park," Tavares said.

Among the repairs to the stadium are a new warming track, new foul posts, new preferential seating, renovated gondolas, new and bright locker rooms that include jogging machines and a whirlpool, batting tunnels, VIP area extension, grandstand installations, cleaning of the playing field, and relocating the bullpen.

Government Wins $9 Million Grant For Drug Prevention

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

April 9, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Gov. Sila Calderon on Tuesday announced the local government would receive $9 million in federal funds over the next three years to promote community programs aimed at drug prevention for children 12 to 17 years of age.

The funds come from a State Incentive Grant. This is the first time the island has submitted a proposal and won.

"For the first time, we were able to obtain funds of up to $9 million for drug prevention services, which will be equally distributed during the next three years," Calderon said.

The funds would be granted to the 18 community projects selected by the Mental Health and Anti-drug Addiction Service Administration to prevent drug addiction among local youths.

Many of these projects will be based in schools, communities, and public housing projects. The money will be supervised by Anti-drug Administration Office who will help manage the funds together with the Drug Control Office in Puerto Rico.

The 18 projects to benefit from the federal grant were submitted by, Community Development Foundation (Fundesco by its Spanish acronym) of Caguas, the Metropolitan University in San Juan and Learning Family Center in Humacao among others.

Rossello Opposes Increase Of Public Funds For Campaigns

By LUIS R. VARELA of The Associated Press

April 8, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

Former Gov Pedro Rossello expressed his opposition to increasing the use of public funds to finance electoral campaigns as proposed by Gov. Sila Calderon’s special committee for electoral reform.

"I’m against increasing public funds for political parties," Rossello said in a radio interview on Monday night.

Rossello criticized that after raising excise taxes the Calderon administration is now proposing to increase the public funds used by the political parties.

"When many people are facing a tight economic situation and have lost their jobs and the government is projecting a deficit is not the time to say that we will use more public funds to subsidize political campaigns," Rossello said.

The former governor added that if the government’s intention is to supervise political donations then it has to concentrate on identifying and overseeing contributors instead of increasing public funds.

Rossello alleged the governor has been consistent in the past two years in increasing excise taxes that affect the middle class, which in his opinion is an erroneous action. He said an increase in excise taxes should affect those who can contribute more.

Meanwhile he described as an error in judgment the decision by a group of Popular Democratic Party and New Progressive Party legislators to accept tickets to attend a dinner for former United States President Bill Clinton from a company that is the subject of seven legislative investigations.

"I believe that at the very least that should be described as an error in judgment, an error to put yourself in the position of accepting something from someone who might have very particular interests in influencing a legislative action," Rossello said.

Miranda Marin Criticizes Legislative Investigations

By LUIS R. VARELA of The Associated Press

April 8, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

CAGUAS (AP) – Caguas mayor William Miranda Marin described the ongoing legislative investigations of Banco Popular de Puerto Rico and health insurance provider Triple S as "wrong and abusive."

Miranda Marin said both corporations are an example of Puerto Rican success in the business world.

The mayor added that it is a "legislative shame" to investigate Triple S .

In addition he described as "inconceivable, abusive and wrong," the investigation initiated by the Senate against Banco Popular, which paid a $21.6 million fine to federal authorities for failing to report suspicious activity reports after it was discovered that drug money had been laundered through the bank.

According to Miranda Marin, while the majority of the countries protect their local businesses in Puerto Rico the legislature is doing just the opposite.

In defending Banco Popular, the mayor noted legislators are not focusing on constructive process but are rather destroying and doing harm to the efforts and sacrifice "of so many good Puerto Ricans."

The mayor the asked voters not to elect those legislators in the next general elections.

"I appeal to the thousands of employees at local businesses and to their families, the thousands of stock holders, clients, and providers so that we can take to the Legislature people who don’t respond to personal vendettas," Miranda Marin said.

Surgeon General Carmona To Promote Healthy Choices In Schools Across U.S., Launches '50 Schools In 50 States' Tomorrow In Md.

April 8, 2003
Copyright © 2003
US NEWSWIRE. All rights reserved. 

WASHINGTON, April 8 /U.S. Newswire/ -- U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona announced today that he will visit a school in all 50 states to discuss healthy choices and risk avoidance and how making the right decisions can benefit a student now and later in life. Dr. Carmona will begin this initiative by visiting Patterson High School in Baltimore, Md., on Wednesday, April 9.

"Students face a lot of tough choices," Dr. Carmona said. "That's why I'm committed to talking to students across the country about making smart and healthy life decisions. Everyone makes mistakes, but the key is to minimize wrong choices, focus on positive behavior, and move forward in life with goals and direction."

50 Schools in 50 States articulates a goal of Surgeon General Carmona to talk with diverse groups of elementary and secondary students all across the country, by visiting at least one school in each of the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico and other territories sometime during his tenure.

Puerto Rico's Veterans Hospital Cannot Handle Major Influx Of Troops From Persian Gulf: Veteran Groups

April 7, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Puerto Rico's Veterans Hospital cannot handle a major influx of troops eventually returning to the island from the Persian Gulf region, veteran groups said Monday.

The hospital in the capital, San Juan, is not prepared for seismic activity and does not have adequate installations for women and enough access for patients in wheelchairs, said Korean War veterans James Torres of the "Paralyzed Veterans of Puerto Rico" organization and German Bravo of the "Disabled Americans" group.

Politicians and veterans officials have said the existing hospital, built three decades ago, has a leaky roof, is too small and has other infrastructure problems.

The hospital has 340 beds and 100 of those must be available in the event of a state of emergency in the U.S. Caribbean territory, veteran leaders said.

There are more than 53,000 Puerto Ricans in the U.S. armed forces, including 22,680 on active duty and 30,940 reservists, according to the Pentagon. The military has deployed about 5,400 Puerto Ricans in its campaigns abroad, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last month, Puerto Rico officials lobbied in Washington for millions in funding for a new veterans hospital, whose estimated cost would be $400 million.

U.S. Congress has designated $50 million for repairs to the current hospital.

Puerto Ricans have served in the U.S. military since islanders were granted citizenship in 1917, right before World War I started. Puerto Rico became a U.S. commonwealth in 1952.

Parga Asks For Hearings On PBPR Be Televised

April 7, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – New Progressive Party Sen. Orlando Parga urged Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora to televise the hearings investigating irregularities at Banco Popular of Puerto Rico.

In a Monday afternoon press conference at his office Parga argued that the people should have complete access to the investigation, and recommended it be a serious one.

The hearings in which the lead investigator will be the same one in charge of the second round of hearings for the Cerro Maravilla killings Edgardo Perez Viera, come after Banco Popular of Puerto Rico paid a $21.6 million fine to federal authorities acknowledging that it had failed to properly report deposits from a drug money laundering scheme.

"If the bank admitted its guilt I see no reason why we can investigate to possibly come up with new mechanisms of control to avoid corruption and possible influence of drug trafficking in the bank," Parga said.

He added that the Senate should act above personal interest and pressures trying to prevent additional irregularities from being revealed.

Water Rationing Postponed

April 7, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The weekend rain was substantial enough to delay for one week the water rationing plan for residents of the metropolitan area who get their water from Carraizo reservoir, Ondeo Institutional Relations Director Gerardo Gonzalez said.

"The Saturday rain in Carraizo was enough to increase reservoir levels by a meter, which for us is a better position," Gonzalez said.

Last week Ondeo representatives said water rationing was to start for servers of the Carrraizo reservoir during the last week of April, but since the rain it will now take effect in the first week of May.

As of Sunday the Carraizo levels were at 39.72 meters, the normal being 41 meters. The levels at La Plata were at 42.52 meters, normal being 51 meters.

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