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Feds & Legislature To Fight Crime… Urban Safety Summit Seen Improving SJ’s Police Services… Memorial Honors Worker Killed…U.S. Hoops Crush P.R. 96-71… Velazquez Wins Day, 3,000th Race… Puerto Ricans Who Visited Cuba Detained… Cats Of Old San Juan Threatened With Euthanasia… Shark Repellent Deemed A Breakthrough… Governor Certifies Police School Protection Corps

Federal Authorities And Legislature To Work Against Crime

August 2, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Representative, Jorge Colberg Toro, announced that several federal agencies would work with Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives on a work plan for anticrime legislation.

According to Colberg Toro, the local Federal Attorney’s Office, the High Intensity Drug Traffic Area (HIDTA) work group, U.S. Customs, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the Coast Guard would be joining the House’s Integrity Committee to work on bills aimed at fighting crime and drug trafficking.

"For the first time the House of Representatives and the United States Government will work together to form plans and develop strategies for fighting crime in Puerto Rico," said Colberg Toro.

Colberg Toro said that the partnership would focus on developing strategies while evaluating technologies to better deal with crime on the island.

He added that in upcoming weeks the heads of participating agencies would meet in a series of sessions to evaluate strategies.

Effort To Improve San Juan’s Police Force

August 2, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — San Juan’s Security Commissioner, Adalberto Mercado, announced on Monday that he is confident the Municipal Summit on Urban Safety, which began in the city on Monday, will improve the services provided by municipal police.

The summit, which will feature public safety officials from Spain and the Dominican Republic, will be held until Tuesday in a San Juan hotel.

"This very important event forms part of a greater effort to focus on exploring other ways of providing law enforcement services, which have been successful in Madrid, Barcelona, and Santo Domingo," said Mercado in a prepared statement.

According to Mercado, the summit will feature panel discussions on the role of municipal police, citizen participation, response to terrorist attacks, and citizen peace models, among others.

The event is costing $17,000, which includes lodging and transportation for representatives from Barcelona, Madrid, and Santo Domingo.

Memorial Honors Worker Killed At Richmond-San Rafael Bridge

By Tom Lochner

August 2, 2004
Copyright © 2004
CONTRA COSTA TIMES . All rights reserved. 

On a bluff overlooking San Francisco Bay and the eastern approach to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, a large American flag flew at half-staff Sunday. Below it was a small flag of Puerto Rico, Miguel Angel Rodriguez's ancestral home.

A photo of Rodriguez was affixed to the flagpole with duct tape. Next to Rodriguez stood a young boy. Under the photo, bouquets of red roses and yellow and white carnations were taped to the staff.

Rodriguez, 36, an ironworker doing retrofit work for Caltrans, died Friday after he was hit by a beam and fell into the Bay

Family and friends who came in a procession of several vehicles to the base of the bridge for a brief vigil Sunday declined to speak to a reporter.

Dick Zampa, president of District Council of Iron Workers District Council, State of California & Vicinity, said the accident that claimed Rodriguez's life is a sobering reminder of how hazardous a profession he chose.

U.S. Hoops Crush P.R. 96-71

July 30, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The American team defeated Puerto Rico 96-71 despite missing Allen Iverson, LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire because of suspensions for missing a team meeting earlier in the day.

Carmelo Anthony and Carlos Boozer led the Americans with 16 points each. Dwayne Wade had eight assists, more than half of which were alley-oops, or sweet, no-look feeds. Tim Duncan finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

If Puerto Rico was the 51st state, Larry Ayuso might have a chance at making the U.S. roster. Ayuso hit five 3-pointers to keep Puerto Rico close in the second quarter, and when his backcourt mate, Carlos Arroyo made a steal and layup, Puerto Rico trailed by just five before halftime.

The United States left Jacksonville later Saturday for Germany, where it will continue with workouts and exhibitions until the Olympics, where the Americans will open against Puerto Rico on Aug. 15.

Velazquez Wins Day, And 3,000th Jockey Races To Mark


July 30, 2004
Copyright © 2004
Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved. 

New York Daily News

SARATOGA SPRINGS - John Velazquez, 32, made the most of his moment yesterday - of which he has had 3,000.

On a day Saratoga Race Course elected to honor his meet-riding title of last year with a bobblehead giveaway, Velazquez reached his milestone 3,000th win on his first attempt of the day.

"Never in my dreams would I have thought I would get 3,000, being as young as I am," Velazquez said.

Velazquez grew up loving horses in Puerto Rico, and moved to New York in 1990.

Velazquez has won two titles, and smashed Jerry Bailey's meet record of 55 wins by winning 61 last summer. He also won a record six races on one day here in 2001, and has posted some of his biggest stakes victories in the Whitney Handicap, Jim Dandy, and Alabama. "He'll have good memories."

Velazquez, always focused on his next assignment, wasted little time marching toward 4,000. He won on his next mount, Miss Crafty Pal, in the third race, to give him four winners in the first two days of racing.

Authorities Detain Puerto Ricans Who Visited Cuba

July 30, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

MAYAGUEZ (AP) — At least 75 Puerto Ricans, who returned from a trip to Cuba, were detained for five hours on Friday in the U.S. Customs receiving area at Mayaguez because they had traveled to Cuba without permission from the U.S. Government.

After their release, some of the detainees alleged they had been assaulted by authorities when they confiscated their belongings, which were later returned.

"We were mistreated while in custody. Some of our companions were assaulted and pushed while their belongings were confiscated, said 22-year-old college student Coral Martinez.

However, U.S. Customs and Immigration Bureau spokesman Ivan Ortiz rejected the claims saying Customs agents do not behave in that fashion.

He maintained that the group was detained because they lacked permits from the U.S. Treasury Department, required for U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba.

Spokesman for the detained travelers, Jorge Farinacci, said the group did not plan legal action against the federal authorities that detained them.

"We are exercising the right of the Puerto Rican People to have relations with Cuba. The relationship between the two countries is hundreds of years old. We are not going to take legal action; but we want assurances that our right to travel to Cuba or any other country will be protected," said Farinacci.

Farinacci, who did not go on the trip, said that the group from Juan Rius Rivera Brigade arrived in Mayaguez Port by Ferry from the Dominican Republic at about 7:30 Friday morning and were held until 12:45 in the afternoon.

The brigade, organized by the Cuban Solidarity Committee, travels annually to Cuba to help in building projects and other public works.

On this occasion, they were helping rebuild a sports complex in the province of Holguin.

Cats Of Old San Juan Threatened With Euthanasia

July 30, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN(AP) - The U.S. National Park Service in Puerto Rico has announced plans to trap the estimated 200 street cats and deliver them to animal shelters, provoking outrage among animal activists who say most would be put down.

The National Park Service, responsible for maintaining the walkway below the walls of San Felipe del Morro fortress, says the cats have created a mess and present a health hazard.

Activists want to trap, sterilize and release the cats according to a plan they say is proven to control stray populations. They say it would cost about $25 for each cat and they have collected more than $1,700 in donations. It normally costs about $50.

Shark Repellent Deemed a Breakthrough

July 30, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Excited by the scent of blood, a dozen sharks dart about in a frenzy as a researcher dips a pole in the sea and squirts out a clear, yellowish substance. Within seconds, the sharks jerk their snouts away and vanish.

Researchers say they finally have found a potent repellent to drive away sharks, after testing off Bimini island in the Bahamas. It's a goal that's eluded scientists for decades.

If proven effective, the repellent one day might protect divers, surfers and swimmers. But researchers say that would require much more study. First they hope it can protect sharks -- in decline worldwide due to overfishing -- by reducing the numbers caught needlessly by long-line commercial fishermen.

``You introduce this chemical, and they all leave,'' said lead researcher Eric Stroud, a 30-year-old chemical engineer from Oak Ridge, N.J. ``It works very, very well.''

The repellent, called A-2 because it was the second recipe tried, is derived from extracts of dead sharks that Stroud gathered at New Jersey fish markets and piers. Fishermen and scientists have long noted sharks stay away if they smell a dead shark.

``We have something that really works, but research remains,'' said Samuel Gruber, a University of Miami marine biologist and shark expert who is helping conduct tests at the Bimini Biological Field Station.

Tests have found the repellent effective on three species: the Caribbean reef, blacknose and lemon sharks. Studies are needed on other species such as the great white, mako and oceanic whitetip.

Gruber said the repellent seems to carry a chemical messenger that triggers a flight reaction. He said more studies are needed to pinpoint the active molecule among a dozen or so.

A dose of 4 fluid ounces is enough to scare away feeding sharks, Stroud said, keeping them away from a fish head for two hours with just a few drops per minute. In contrast, sharks didn't respond to a red dye in control tests.

The researchers presented their work in May during a meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in Norman, Okla. Films of their tests captured images of sharks splashing the surface as they turn to flee.

They hope to make a slow-dissolving repellent for use in baits and fishing nets, and to guard equipment on submarines and oil exploration vessels that sharks have damaged in the past.

The repellent, though nontoxic, is apparently so disagreeable to sharks it can revive them from semiconsciousness. Some species slip into a hypnotic state if turned belly-up, and tests found the repellent brought captive sharks out of that trance.

Repellent research began in World War II, when the U.S. Navy created ``Shark Chaser'' for sailors and downed pilots. Mixed with black dye, it was made of copper acetate, which scientists thought would smell like a rotting shark. Studies later showed it wasn't that effective.

A promising find came in 1972, when University of Maryland shark expert Eugenie Clark discovered that a Red Sea fish, the Moses sole, secreted a milky substance that repelled sharks.

The finding caused a stir, and soon the makers of Coppertone suntan lotion contacted Clark, hoping to market it. She said she discouraged them, saying initial research couldn't back up such a use.

Years of study followed by Gruber and others. In the end, though, the repellent derived from the sole wasn't practical because it had to be squirted into a shark's mouth to be effective.

Clark -- who at 82 still works at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Fla. -- said the latest findings could be a welcome way to reduce accidental killing of sharks, though she is skeptical of human use, saying few would be carrying the repellent at the rare moment it's needed.

``I'd be happy to see somebody work it out, but I don't see it as a practical solution,'' she said.

Anti-shark items on the market now include cages, steel mesh suits and a device called the Shark Shield, which when worn by divers or surfers emits an electric field. The device's Australian maker acknowledges it can't guarantee total effectiveness.

In most cases, the danger of attack is extremely slight. The International Shark Attack File, at the Florida Museum of Natural History, recorded 55 unprovoked attacks worldwide last year, including four deaths.

Stroud got the idea to pursue a repellent after several 2001 shark attacks drew widespread attention, including one that nearly killed an 8-year-old boy near Pensacola, Fla.

Stroud and engineer Mike Herrmann do lab work in a New Jersey warehouse, relying on donations of less than $500,000 from two private benefactors.

They have a patent pending and are starting a company, Shark Defense Inc., to eventually market the repellent.


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Governor Certifies Police School Protection Corps

July 30, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Gov. Sila Calderon announced on Friday the certification of 1,268 police officers to be integrated into the new Police School Protection Corps that will begin operating in Puerto Rico’s public schools on August 4.

1,000 of the officers were taken from the ranks of the state police, while 260 are school security guards from the Department of Education and eight municipal police officers from Juncos and Lares.

"We are happy to certify these school protection officers today…Those certified today have fully and satisfactorily completed the Police School Protection Corps’ seminar," said Calderon during a recognition ceremony at the former Ballaja Precinct in Old San Juan.

The Governor promised that the removal of 1,000 officers from the State Police Force would not have a negative effect, because she had planned their deployment in schools before the deployment of the National Guard.

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