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Tropical Storm Jeanne Pounds Island…$54m Recommended For Urban Train…Puerto Rican Soldier Killed In Iraq…1st Hispanic NJ Justice Sworn In…Domestic Violence Claims Lives Of 340 Women…Voter Registration Down…Top Outside Hitter Gone… NPP Criticizes Acevedo For Shunning D.C. During Campaign… 100 Year Old ‘Temporary’ Tax…Naming Hurricanes…2 PRIIF Funded Firms Didn’t Pay Taxes

Two Die As Jeanne Hits Island


September 16, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE MIAMI HERALD. All rights reserved. 

Tropical Storm Jeanne killed two people and caused significant flooding in Puerto Rico on Wednesday as it swept over the island on its way to probably becoming the season's sixth hurricane.

[``The biggest concern for Puerto Rico is flashflooding and mudslides,'' said Hector Guerrero, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.]

A flying sheet of zinc roofing killed a woman who ran outside as winds tore up her roof, and a man trying to install storm shutters fell to his death, according to local media reports.

Floods and downed power lines were reported in the U.S. commonwealth of four million people, schools and airports were closed and many residents were leaving the coast for safer ground inland.

Gov. Sila Calderon ordered the electrical grid shut down to avert deaths, ordered public employees to stay away from their jobs until Jeanne passed and urged Puerto Ricans to stay indoors and remain calm.

[Lashing rains and wind blew plants off terraces and felled trees as the storm's eye made landfall on the southeastern tip of the island Wednesday near the town of Yabucoa just after noon.]

How To Help Storm Victims

Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration: The PRFAA Hurricane Hotline is 866-280-4357 for Puerto Ricans needing assistance because of Tropical Storm Jeanne, expected to become a Category 1 hurricane.

$54 Million Recommended For Urban Train

By Istra Pacheco

September 16, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE MIAMI HERALD. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – A federal House subcommittee recommended that $54 million be assigned to the Urban Train project, Chief of Staff Cesar Miranda announced on Tuesday.

The Transportation subcommittee’s recommendation has to pass before the entire House, and to be approved, the money has to be available for the next federal fiscal year, which begins in October 2005.

"With this it is demonstrated that clean government and honesty gets paid back, this is a recognition," of the work of this administration, Miranda said at a press conference at La Fortaleza.

The report that contains the recommendation says that despite problems that the Urban Train has had since it began, the construction costs doubling and the constant delays in the final trials, in November 2001 a plan was put in place to improve the "management and quality of construction," and due to that it is 98 percent finished.

In the document is says, however, the date for the project to open continues to be uncertain due to the finding of 194 deficiencies, of which 74 are classified as "issues critical to security," that should be resolved before it begins operation.

According to Miranda, these flaws are being fixed and he said that construction firms have guaranteed the government that they will completed the small repairs.

The chief of staff could not specify the types of "critical flaws" found or say decisively if the train will be open before the Nov. 2 elections.

"It will open when security elements permit …when the security of the people is guaranteed to the fullest … this can occur in two weeks or two months," he said.

The report, reviewed by the press, also criticized the Federal Transit Administration, and says the agency allegedly was not capable of "distinguishing the difficulties that the project has faced in crucial times during construction."

"The committee hopes that the FTA has learned a critical lesson from this project, to recognize the characteristics of critical problems during the beginning of the project," the report said.

Currently the federal authorities are investigating issues related to the administration and construction of the train, according to Transportation and Public Works Secretary Fernando Fagundo. He has had to go several times to the United States and bring documents to explain the contracts between the government and private firms.

The chief of staff said that the investigation also has caused the opening of the train to be uncertain.

Puerto Rican Soldier Killed In Iraq

September 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 By The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

As of Tuesday, Sept. 14, 1,018 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of military operations in Iraq in March 2003, according to the Defense Department. Of those, 768 died as a result of hostile action and 250 died of non-hostile causes. The figures include three military civilians.

Since May 1, 2003, when President Bush declared that major combat operations in Iraq had ended, 877 U.S. military members have died -- 656 as a result of hostile action and 221 of non-hostile causes, according to the military's numbers Tuesday.

Since the start of U.S. military operations in Iraq, 7,245 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department's weekly tally.

The latest deaths reported by the military:

* Army Spc. Michael A. Martinez, 29, Juan Diaz, Puerto Rico; died Sept. 8 in a vehicle accident in Baqubah, Iraq; assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery, Bamberg, Germany.

First Hispanic Supreme Court Justice Sworn In


September 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 By The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - A longtime trial lawyer who grew up in Puerto Rico, Roberto A. Rivera-Soto realized a professional dream Tuesday when he was sworn in as the first Hispanic justice on the New Jersey Supreme Court.

"It represents something fervently wished but always believed unattainable," Rivera-Soto, 50, said during a ceremony at the War Memorial at which he took the oath of office.

Praised as a skilled and knowledgeable attorney, colleagues and friends said Rivera-Soto would bring his dedication to the state's top court and help maintain its sense of fairness.

Domestic Violence Claims Lives Of 340 Women Over 12 Years

September 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – Approximately 340 women have been killed on the island since 1993 in domestic violence incidents, according to statistics from the Oficina de la Procuradora de las Mujeres.

The most recent victim was Militza Soto Cruz, killed Monday by her ex-husband, and Marisol Maldonado, killed Sunday by her former partner. Both women had restraining orders.

Between 1993 and May of this year 222,915 incidents of dometic violence have been registered and as of July 200,933 restraining orders had been issued.

But seeking a restraining order should not be the only step that women can take to avoid mistreatment, according to Olga Lopez Baez, director of the legal division of the Oficina de la Procuradora de las Mujeres, who was quoted in press reports.

Fewer Voters Are Registered For The Elections

September 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – This year approximately 13,000 fewer voters have registered than in 2000, said the executive secretary of the State Election Commission, Ramon Jimenez.

According to Jimenez, the total number of registered voters is 2,433,318. In 2000, there were 2,419,604 registered voters.

The figure was given after the period for registering new voters or reactivating inactive voters ended on Monday.

Top Outside Hitter Gone, Will Miss Rest Of Season


September 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.

The University of Tampa volleyball team will be without its best outside hitter for the remainder of the season.

Senior Stephanie Rivera, the Spartans' top returning offensive player, left the team last week to return home to Puerto Rico, citing a family emergency.

Rivera was fourth on the team last year in kills with 297 and was second in aces (42). She led the team this season in both categories and was named the Sunshine State Conference's top player the first week of the season. She led the Spartans to a 2-1 record in the University of North Florida's Pre-Labor Day Classic that week, averaging 4.6 kills per game and a .360 attack percentage.

NPP General Secretary Criticizes Acevedo Vila

September 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – The secretary general of the New Progressive Party, Maria Milagros Charbonier, on Monday criticized the Popular Democratic Party candidate for governor, Anibal Acevedo Vila, for delegating his responsibilities as resident commissioner to his subordinates in Washington.

"It is a regrettable for Puerto Rico that the statements of the resident commissiner show he has given over his responsibility in Washington to his subordinates, leaving it adrift any situation related to Puerto Rico in the federal capital," Charbonier said.

She was reacting to statements made by Acevedo Vila, who said that he does not plan to return to Washington soon in order to dedicate himself to his campaign for governor of the island.

"This confirms to all Puerto Ricans that Acevedo Vila never worked or lobbied for projects to help the people of Puerto Rico," Charbonier added.

Acevedo Vila has said that the director of his Washington office is in charge of operations.

Acevedo Vila Not Headed To Washington During Campaign

September 13, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – With less than two months until the November elections, resident commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila does not plan to return soon to Washington, D.C., in order to dedicate himself to his campaign for governor of the island.

"I am maintaining complete control of operations in Washington. There is a session in September, however, they are not discussing anything important because Congress members also are campaigning," Acevedo Vila said, according to newspaper reports.

"If there is some issue regarding Puerto Rico I am going to be there when necessary, but my office director, Paul Weiss, is following all of the Puerto Rico issues," he added.

The Federal Telephone Excise Tax Still Appears On American Phone Bills

Deroy Murdock, Guest Columnist

September 13, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

Augusta Chronicle

Congress imposed this 3 percent levy as a temporary tax on the rich, incredibly, to fund the Spanish-American War. With the help of Rough Rider Teddy Roosevelt, America defeated Spain in 1898, thereby acquiring Guam, the Philippines and Puerto Rico.

It's high time Americans enjoyed the peace dividend from a war that ended more than a century ago. Ditching the federal "talk tax" finally will let citizens forget this 19th-century conflict and instead focus on the future. Surely, Democrats agree with Republicans on this. If not, let them tell American taxpayers why they should keep financing a war that ended 10 years before Henry Ford produced his first Model T.

If Republicans cannot enact this modest measure - or similarly dramatize key domestic differences with Democrats - voters might as well flip coins to choose which party to support for Congress on Nov. 2.

How Hurricanes Are Named

by Jane Denny

September 13, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Telegraph Group Limited, London. All rights reserved.

The Daily Telegraph

FOR many years hurricanes were named after the saint's day on which they fell - hence San Felipe (the first) and San Felipe (the second) which struck Puerto Rico on Sept 13 in 1876 and 1928.

Today hurricane names alternate between male and female and are chosen from lists selected by the World Meteorological Organisation. The Atlantic has six lists of alphabetically-ordered names with one list used each year. The first hurricane - defined as being when a tropical storm reaches wind speed of 39mph - usually takes the name beginning with A, the second B and so on. From 1953, hurricanes bore only female names - the practice having become popular in discussions between forecasters following the 1941 publication of George R Stewert's novel Storm, in which a female hurricane featured. President Harry S Truman's wife had one named after her and during the Second World War American army and navy meteorologists named tropical cyclones after their wives and girlfriends.

When a hurricane hits, the country most devastated can request that name is never used again. Killer hurricanes Floyd, Allison and Betsy are among a score of names which will never be used again.

2 PRIIF Funded Companies Didn’t Pay Taxes

September 13, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – An audit of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co. (PRIDCO) revealed that two financial firms did not pay taxes and billed without presenting evidence they received $4.8 million from the Puerto Rico Industrial Incentives Fund.

According to newspaper reports, the audit said that Popular Securities and Grupo Consultores Financieros, became intermediaries between PRIIF and 936 firms from 1997 to 2000, charging a commission based on the total of the substantial transactions which fluctuated between .05 percent and .225 percent.

The report by PRIDCO’s Internal Audit Office said that both firms did not withhold the 7 percent tax of the $4.8 million paid with PRIIF. For this, the treasury should have received $336,000 in taxes.

Another alleged irregularity is that PRIIF paid these firms a total of $752,836.58 in two different periods, without having a contract.

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