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NPP Will Try To Consolidate Leadership… Bad Day For Olympians… Meningitis Cases Underreported… Juana Diaz Wise Men To Visit Pope…25 Soldiers Under Criminal Investigation… RR Land Transfer Process Examined… Atkins To Invade Land Of Carbs…Aerostat Backed For Maritime Monitoring… PDP Legislative Campaign Announced… Statehooders Criticizes Urban Train Delay…

NPP Will Try To Consolidate Leadership At Convention

August 17, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The New Progressive Party (NPP), who claims that is constituency is large enough to assure its victory in November’s elections, announced on Tuesday that they are waiting for Carlos Pesquera to confirm his attendance at the party’s convention this weekend in Fajardo.

"The invitation has been forwarded. The doors are open to him, for reconciliation. We hope to know by Friday," said NPP spokes person Javier Maymi.

He added that the year’s NPP convention, to be held at El Conquistador Hotel and Casino, will be dedicated to the party’s past presidents, including Pesquera,.

After a heated gubernatorial primary campaign that resulted in fall out between the candidates, the NPP’s gubernatorial candidate, Pedro Rossello, met last week with Pesquera who he defeated.

"We want all statehood supporters to be at the convention," said Maymi.

Pesquera said he would cast his vote for the NPP and Rossello, but members of the Dignified Statehood Movement have pledged to vote for him as a write in candidate.

Maymi said that security measures have been taken to keep Pesquera supporters from handing propaganda or otherwise disrupting the convention.

He added that 95% of those who voted for Pesquera now support Rossello’s bid for the governor’s seat.

The convention will integrate women, youth, public servants, and lawyer caucuses.

Bad Day For Puerto Rican Athletes In Greece

August 17, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – None of the Puerto Rican athletes who competed in the Olympic games in Greece on Tuesday were victorious nor managed to provide quality performances.

The defeat of the Puerto Rican National Basketball team by Lithuania 98-90 was perhaps the most painful.

The Lithuania squad, which had 16 successful three-point shots, dominated the Puerto Rican team and handed them their first defeat.

Puerto Rico will return on Thursday to face Angola, in what has been classified as an easy victory, after which it will advance to the second round.

Carlos Arroyo and Larry Ayuso, scored 25 points each, and Daniel Santiago with 12, were Puerto Rico’s best players in the defeat against Lithuania.

Both boxers who were competing failed to advance to the next round.

Caguas native Joseph Serrano lost by decision 42-28, in a four round bout against Mirzhan Rakhimzhanov of Kazakhstan.

Juan Manuel Lopez, also from Caguas lost against Khavaszhi Khatsigov from Belarus.

Lucas Bennazar was eliminated on Tuesday from the skeet-shooting event after finishing 23, shooting only 123 from 150 discs.

Tennis player Kristina Brandi was defeated in her second match at the hands of Russia’s Anastasia Myskina, ranked number three in the tournament.

Sailing competitor Karla Barrera finished 25, among 26 competitors, but will compete again on Thursday in the fifth and sixth regattas.

Rullan To Fine Hospitals Filing Meningitis Reports Late

August 17, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Following inconsistencies in the number of aseptic meningitis cases reported last week, Health Secretary Johnny Rullan said Tuesday that all hospitals who fail to report a case within 24 hours of detecting it will be issued a fine.

According to Rullan the number of cases reported by the agency last week was 31 but after they received late reports from several hospitals across the island that number increased to 71.

"Hospitals are not being effective. Last week we thought all cases had been reported and later realized they had not," Rullan said during a press conference at Health Department Headquarters.

From Tuesday on, hospitals who fail to report the cases within 24 hours of their detention will be issued fines ranging from $500 to $5,000.

Rullan said 320 cases have been reported since June, most of them in between the ages of five or less.

Juana Diaz Wise Men To Visit The Pope

By Jose Fernandez Colon of Associated Press

August 17, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

JUANA DIAZ (AP) – Juana Diaz’s famous Wise Men will travel to Rome on December 22 for a private audience with Pope John Paul II as part of the celebration of the 121 anniversary of the procession held in the municipality every January 2.

Juana Diaz Wise Men Celebration Council President William John Santiago said the audience with the Pope was requested and granted through the Vatican representaive in the Dominican Republic, Monsignor Timothy Broglio.

"We are announcing today the visit of the Juana Diaz Wise Men to the Vatican in Rome during Christmas when we will have an audience with John Paul II on December 22," said Santiago.

According to Santiago, the trip will include a visit to the city of Asisi in Italy, the birthplace of Saint Francis of Asisi, considered the "saint of the conservation."

Santiago said the trip’s greatest goal is to bring to the Holy Father the best of Puerto Rico and tell him that this Catholic tradition has existed in Puerto Rico for over 120 years.

Santiago added that the visit to the Pope had long been a desire of the group that could be integrated by some 40 to 50 people.

The group is scheduled to leave the island on December 19 and will return on the 30th, just in time to begin their procession on January 2.

Monsignor Felix Lazaro, of the Ponce diocese, will be part of the delegation.

Twenty-Five Puerto Rican Soldiers To Be Criminally Investigated

August 17, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – A military officer confirmed that 25 soldiers member of the Puerto Rico National Guard are being criminally investigated for allegedly destroying property at North Carolina’s Fort Bragg valued at $50,000.

Col Al Aycock said in a letter issued to a local newspaper that the group is being investigated by the Criminal Investigations Command, which is the main investigative body of the United States Army.

Aycock issued his statement in reaction to Sgt. Jose Valentin accusation that the group was detained for over a month without being allowed to return to Puerto Rico.

The colonel said that most of the soldiers under investigation were released within days of their detention, only a small number of the agents were detained until the investigation was concluded.

Valentin confirmed that all 25 soldiers are already in Puerto Rico.

Aycock said no charges have been filed against the soldiers pending the completion of the investigation.

Valentin said the alleged destruction of property occurred on July 7, the Puerto Rican soldiers were told by other soldiers at Fort Bragg, who were also involved in the incident, to tear down equipment inside a building that was to be destroyed.

He noted however that the American soldiers who gave the orders and played an active role in the alleged destruction are not being investigated.

Valentin added that the Puerto Rican soldiers have photos that prove the destruction of the property at the hands of the mainland soldiers.

The Puerto Rico National Guard has not issued an official statement on the matter.

Roosevelt Roads Land Transfer Process Examined

August 17, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The Authority for Local Development of the Roosevelt Roads Naval Base said on Monday that it is currently in negotiations with United States Navy to determine how the land in the former military base will be utilize.

According to Authority president, Milton Segarra, current laws provide for environmentally sensitive land and areas of ecological importance to be ceded free of charge to local authorities.

"The transfer can be achieved through the development of lands for public use or through the protection of lands through conservation efforts. Presently we are in negations to determined the best way to gain the rights to all the land in the former base," said Segarra.

Segarra said that the Authority is finalizing the final development report which it will submit in September.

Atkins Ready To Invade The Land Of Carbs


August 17, 2004
Copyright © 2004
Miami Herald. All rights reserved. 

Atkins Nutritionals is taking its no-carb craze to the land of starch -- Latin America.

Atkins is opening a small office in Aventura to head the expansion south of the border, where foods such as tortillas, arepas, rice, beans, yucca and potato can make up a robust portion of almost every meal.

''It's definitely challenging,'' said Jeffrey Sharlach, president and chief executive of The Jeffrey Group, a Miami Beach marketing agency that's been hired for the effort. ``It's not exactly a diet-conscious society.''

Sharlach is lining up doctors and dietitians in Mexico, Brazil and Puerto Rico who can appear on television and in other media.

''The idea is to explain the science behind the diet,'' he said.

The diet's success in Latin America is likely to be limited to the elite, who tend to be more health conscious, said Marisel Presilla, a New Jersey restaurateur and Atkins follower who writes a column on Latin American food for The Herald.

That's not true for every country, she said: ``If they go to Argentina, fabulous -- they live on beef and salad.''

Zambrana Backs Use Of Aerostat For Maritime Monitoring

August 16, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) –Drug Control Office director, Luis Guillermo Zambrana, on Monday backed a Senate investigation into the possibility of using the U.S. Air force’s Aerostat Radar to monitor small sea fearing vessels, including those responsible for bringing illegal immigrants into the island.

Zambrana said that presently the radar does not have maritime monitoring capabilities but that his office has called on the Defense Department and the U.S. Air Force to explore the possibility.

Zambrana also said that Anibal Acevedo Vila has requested funding from the House of Representatives National Crime, Terrorism, and Security subcommittee to modify the Aerostat for maritime surveillance.

"Right now talks are underway to equip the Aerostat so it may detect sea going traffic, just as it did when came into operation in 1990," said Zambrana.

Zambrana said the radar could detect vessels as small as two meters in length within a 200 miles radius from the island.

There is also a proposal to acquire a mobile dirigible that may deployed to different areas as situations arise.

The present Aerostat is a stationary model held in place by a high tension wire, which maintains its altitude at 15,000 feet.

PDP Legislative Campaign Announced

August 16, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) –The Popular Democratic Party legislative majority (PDP) announced on Monday that it would begin a campaign to promote that party’s legislative candidates to ensure through endorsement of all hopefuls.

House Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo hopes to reduce the percentage of mixed votes, which have a tendency to negatively affect the PDP and favor the New Progressive Party.

"Historically, the PDP has been hardest hit by the mixed vote when it comes to candidates at large. In the past elections we’ve lost two candidates…this campaign means to ensure that all our candidates are elected across the board," said Vizcarrondo.

Using the slogan "Move with Us," the campaign will use over $100,000 for advertising and will embark on 1,000 walking tours thought the island in the three months prior to the November 2 elections.

Vizcarrondo assured that the campaign has been endorsed by PDP electoral commissioner, Gerardo Cruz, and is well within the legal limits of Public Campaign Financing Laws.

Statehood Movement Criticizes Urban Train Delay

August 16, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The New Statehood Movement on Monday criticized the current administration because of delays in the inauguration of the Urban Train citing that they are doing in so to prevent any negative effects on Popular Democratic Party’s (PDP) and to prevent the New Progressive Party (NPP) from capitalizing on the opening of the mass transportation project.

Organization spokes person, Jose Julio Diaz, said the administration will inaugurate the train after the November 2 elections, when there "will be no positive or negative effects for the PDP."

"It took the last administration two years to complete 70% of the project while it has taken nearly four years for this administration to complete 30% of the project," criticized Diaz in a press conference held in front of La Fortaleza.

The Department of Transportation and Public Works claims the project has been delayed due to serious structural flaws in the rail system construction.

"This administration goes to great lengths, including the spending of mass amounts of public funds, to impede the oppositions from gaining any positive exposure, whether that be real or imagine," said Diaz.

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