Medicare Changes Will Benefit P.R. Bush Declares 9 Municipalities Federal Disaster Areas, Calderon Seeks Additional Aid Portraits Of A Culture Freshman Diaz Sparks UM In Basketball Rossello, Acevedo Vila To Debate Over Education Fas Alzamora Asks Govt To Oversee Prasa FTAA Deadline Missed 11th Annual BMI Latin Awards In SJ
U.S. House Approves Changes To Medicare
November 23, 2003
SAN JUAN (AP) The U.S. House of Representatives approved Saturday the reform to the Medicare program, which if ratified by the Senate and the White House, will benefit the patients, doctors, and hospitals in Puerto Rico, Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila said.
As one of the main advantages for Puerto Ricans, the official identified the regulation that will grant some 550,000 elderly people and those with impediments access to a viable plan for the purchase of medicine.
"With the Houses action, only one additional step is needed in the Senate for the legislation to be sent to the White House for the signature of President [George W.] Bush to turn into law the main points of benefit for Puerto Rico," Acevedo Vila said in a press release.
Acevedo Vila said the main benefits for Puerto Rico of the amended program will be "the inclusion in the medicine plan, an increase in the reimbursements for hospitals, and participation in the program to grant a discount card for the purchase of medicines until the main medicine plan is put into effect."
The amended Medicare program will be in effect in 2006, but temporary measures will be implemented such as the discount card for medicines, Acevedo Vila said.
Meanwhile, the hospitals who provide services to Medicare beneficiaries will receive a 75% reimbursement of the costs, which represents an additional $35 million to $50 million a year in funds for medical centers, according to Acevedo Vila.
Under the amended plan, doctors who offer services to Medicare patients will have a 13% increase in their compensation.
Bush Declares 9 Municipalities Disaster Areas
November 22, 2003
SAN JUAN (AP) - President George W. Bush declared Friday a disaster in Puerto Rico following floods and landslides that forced hundreds from their homes and caused millions of dollars in damages.
The declaration, confirmed by the White House, frees up federal aid for recovery efforts on the island.
Those in nine affected municipalities will be able to apply for assistance, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said in a statement.
The agency said Bush "declared a major disaster exists in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and ordered federal aid to supplement Commonwealth and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, flooding, mudslides and landslides" since Nov. 10.
As part of the aid, the federal government will grant money for temporary housing, domestic repairs, and covering damages to property that was not insured, the White House said.
Gov. Sila Calderon had requested the president that a total of 16 municipalities be included as part of the program that offers federal aid for flood victims, but Bushs announcement included only nine: Guanica, Guayama, Juana Diaz, Maunabo, Patillas, Rio Grande, Salinas, Santa Isabel, and Yauco.
However, the White House clarified that FEMA is still evaluating the damages in other municipalities to determine whether it is necessary to recommend to the president to also grant them federal aid.
Storms last week dumped up to two feet of rain in some spots and were blamed for the deaths of two Puerto Rican men who were carried away by floodwaters. At least five others died in the neighboring Dominican Republic.
Hundreds of Puerto Ricans moved into shelters last week, and Gov. Sila Calderon has already activated $7 million in emergency funds to help relief efforts.
According to early estimates by the island's government, the flooding caused some $45 million in damages to homes, roads and crops such as plantains and cassava.
Calderon Without Details On Federal Aid To Municipalities
November 23, 2003
SAN JUAN (AP) Gov. Sila Calderon clarified Saturday that although President George W. Bush decided to grant federal aid to flood victims in nine municipalities, her administration has still not received information on subsidies requested for the infrastructure affected.
"I want to explain that Bushs declaration is aimed at individual assistance. . . As for assistance to infrastructure in the municipalities, we have still not received information," the governor said in a press conference at a San Juan hotel.
However, Calderon reminded that the federal government is still evaluating additional requests for individuals and infrastructure in 16 municipalities, and she said she was optimistic that aid will be granted.
"The signs are positive," the governor said.
The heavy rain, which began Nov. 10, left up to two feet of water in some sectors and caused the deaths of two men and the evacuation of hundreds of people whose residents were flooded or suffered the battering of landslides.
However, on Saturday, only 19 families were still in shelters - 12 in Guanica and seven in Caguas.
Portraits Of A Culture
November 22, 2003
Jennifer Lopez is making a stand in Hell's Kitchen.
Joining her are Sammy Sosa, Carolina Herrera, Frida Kahlo, Speedy Gonzalez, Arturo Schomburg and Ricardo Montalban.
These and other Latino icons are the inspiration for "The L Factor," a show opening today at Exit Art, the innovative gallery now cutting the art world's edge at 36th St. and 10th Ave.
Earlier this year, co-directors Jeannette Ingberman and Papo Colo issued an E-mail call to artists and galleries throughout the country for works that would convey portraits of Latinos looming large in our historical imagination and popular culture. Three hundred proposals came back, 30 were selected.
"It's been exciting," Ingberman says, "to find a whole new group of young artists."
Lopez gets the most thorough going-over, with three different pieces: Linda Izrizarry's "Bounce" (a trampoline screenprinted with a likeness of J.Lo's most prominent feature), Wanda Raimund-
Ortiz and Edwin Gonzalez's "Making J Lo" (above, a larger-than- life cotton-candy sculpture) and Milton Rosa-Ortiz's "La Aparicion de la Fama."
Rosa-Ortiz's piece is made out of broken glass fragments from the Bronx's Castle Hill neighborhood, where Lopez grew up, and the Ponce beaches of Puerto Rico, where her parents came from, suspended from translucent threads to evoke Jenny from the Block's famous green Versace dress.
Freshman Diaz Sparks UM In Basketball Season Opener
By John Eligon
November 22, 2003
CORAL GABLES -- Hurricanes freshman Guillermo Diaz has had just one chance to prove himself on the college level. And boy did he take advantage of it Friday night. Diaz brought life to the team and didn't waste any time proving that he can be a leader for the `Canes.
Scoring 23 points, Diaz came within three points of UM's record for the most points by a freshman in his debut as the Hurricanes (1-0) rolled 86-66 before a crowd of 2,138 at the Convocation Center.
The victory was UM's 11th straight season-opening win and its 21st straight home win against non-conference opponents.
"That's me. If I get the opportunity to score, I do it," said a sick Diaz, who threw up following the game, but appeared to be OK. "I'm not shy with that. If I got to shoot, I shoot the ball."
The 6-foot-2 Diaz, whose parents came from San Juan to watch him play, put on an impressive show during what otherwise was a sloppy, uneventful contest that saw Miami struggle early, but then pull away midway through the first half.
A native of Puerto Rico, Diaz proved he could get the job done from both inside and out. His near-perfect 9 of 12 shooting performance included two scores from long range, fade away jumpers and strong moves to the hole. Most of all, his energy sparked a 13-4 run midway through the first half from a sluggish Miami team that struggled to produce any kind of offense early in the game.
Rossello, Acevedo Vila To Debate Over Education
November 21, 2003
SAN JUAN (AP) New Progressive Party gubernatorial candidate Pedro Rossello challenged Popular Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila to debate over the Education Department under the past and present administration.
Acevedo Vila immediately accepted holding a debate "as soon as possible" and invited Rossello to plan others over several important issues for the island.
Rossello said he was also willing to publicly debate over the acts of corruption committed in the Education Department under his government administration.
"I am willing to present myself directly with Acevedo Vila to discuss all these matters so that he can see where the true responsibility is, so that the people can see who caused the disaster that exists today at the Education Department," he said in a radio interview.
Meanwhile, Acevedo Vila accepted Rossellos challenge because he said "the debate format will allow a deep, serious discussion, without intermediaries, directly talking to the island about what we have done and what we are going to do for the education of Puerto Rico."
In the campaigns, Rossello accuses Acevedo Vila of "throwing mud" at his political adversaries, while Acevedo Vila accuses Rossello of being incapable of attending to the problems of corruption.
Fas Alzamora Asks Government To Oversee Prasa
November 21, 2003
SAN JUAN (AP) Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora said the government should reassume the administration of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Authority (Prasa) as soon as possible.
In a letter sent Thursday to Prasa President Juan Agosto Alicea, Fas Alzamora said, "It is indispensable that the Puerto Rico government recover the administration of the public corporation to guarantee better service to the citizens."
According to the Senate leader, Ondeo, the present administrator of Prasa, "has badly failed in the supply of drinking water and the management of used water.
"I would appreciate it if you would send me as soon as possible your comments on this possibility and a report of compliance of the contract between Ondeo and Prasa," he added.
Fas Alzamoras letter comes as published reports reveal that the Prasa president, who recently traveled to France to try to save the contract with Ondeo, soon will announce the cancellation of the agreement.
The termination of the 10-year, $3.8 billion contract would be based on the fact that the two parties could not reach an agreement about Ondeos demand for an additional $93 million to cover expenses.
Puerto Rico Misses A Big Deadline
November 21, 2003
More than two dozen executives from Puerto Rico attended Free Trade Area of the Americas talks this week, hoping that island Gov. Sila Calderon would sign off on their proposal for San Juan to join the cities vying to be the headquarters site.
But when trade ministers wrapped up their talks a day early on Thursday, the deadline passed without an application letter.
Meanwhile, Galveston, Texas, joined Miami and nine others in the headquarters derby.
BMI To Celebrate 11th Annual Latin Awards In Puerto Rico; Dinner And Ceremony To Be Held March 16, 2004 At The Ritz Carlton, San Juan
November 19, 2003
MIAMI BMI announced today the music performing rights organization's 11th annual Latin Awards will be held March 16th at The Ritz Carlton in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The awards recognize the songwriters and publishers of the most played Latin songs on U.S. radio and television from the company's Latin repertoire for a one year period. The "Song of the Year", "Songwriter of the Year" and "Publisher of the Year" will be announced during the evening. Winners from previous years have included Los Tigres del Norte, Elvis Crespo, Estefano, Shakira, Gloria & Emilio Estefan, Juanes, Luis Miguel, Juan Luis Guerra and Lupillo Rivera, to name a few.
According to Diane J. Almodovar, BMI Assistant VP, Latin Music: "We are very pleased to bring BMI's premiere Latin music event, for the first time, to San Juan. When we created the awards 11 years ago, we intended to bring them to each of the major US Latin markets. San Juan is certainly one of the most important."
The black-tie, invitation-only awards have previously been staged in Los Angeles, Miami and San Antonio.
For Press: BMI, New York Pat Baird, 212-830-2528 email@example.com or For Awards: BMI, Miami Diane J. Almodovar, 305-266-3636 firstname.lastname@example.org