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Power Almost 100% Restored…Island’s Warmer… Campaigns Get Hotter… $2m Storm Aid OK’d… Lopez Wins By TKO… Coqui Recuperation Plan Ready… Justice: PRIIF Statute Of Limitations Has Run Out… Insults Fly At Debate…Feds Interested In UT Contract Auctions… Conservation Trust Will Replant Trees… Acevedo: Presidential Vote "Impossible"

Power Is Restored To Almost 100% Of Prepa Clients

September 27, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – A week and a half after tropical storm Jeanne hit the island, some 2,285 clients of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) still do not have electric service, while 99.84 percent of the population has power, Prepa’s Executive Director, Hector Rosario, said on Sunday.

Rosario said that the areas of San Juan, Carolina and Arecibo (three of the seven Prepa zones across the island) have complete service reestablished and the region of Caguas is the most affected.

In the Prepa zone that includes Caguas, Aguas Buenas, Gurabo, Juncos, San Lorenzo, Humacao and Yabucoa, approximately 2,176 clients do not have power, newspapers reported on Monday.

The zone also was the area of the island most affected when tropical storm Jeanne passed on Sept. 15.

Average Temperature On Island Has Risen Since 1960

September 27, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – A study by the Recinto Universitario de Mayagüez on climatological data from 1960 to 2003 has revealed that the average temperature on the island has increased by one degree Fahrenheit, a change that scientists say could gradually cause significant effects.

The change is in line with the phenomenon of global warming that has caused parts of the polar ice caps to melt, increasing the level of the ocean.

"We see an upward movement in the temperature. If we observe the distribution of the probability of temperature, we can see that in 1995, there was a very obvious movement that did not correspond to the old probability distribution," Professor Nazario Ramirez told a newspaper.

The study, financed by NASA and done in collaboration with the University of New Mexico, also showed a change in rain patterns on the island.

With 36 Days Till Election, Campaigns Gain Strength

September 27, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The sounds of tumbacocos beating to the rhythm of reggae and every type of contagious melody, together with the slow-moving caravans on public roads, will increase in the last four weeks before the Nov. 2 elections, coordinators of the political campaigns anticipated.

Tito Vilanova, of the campaign for Popular Democratic candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila, said that as of Saturday, when less than one month will remain until the vote, they will increase activities in the metropolitan areas during work days, while they will carry out closings of district campaigns on the weekends.

We will begin with some impact in the metropolitan areas (like San Juan, Ponce, Caguas, Bayamón, Guaynabo and Carolina) to strengthen these areas that are important for the PDP," Vilanova told a newspaper.

The director of field operations for the New Progressive Party, John Blakeman, said the group will have caravans every day throughout the entire island.

$2 Million Approved In Storm Aid Grants


September 27, 2004
Copyright © 2004. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN -- The U.S. government has approved some $2 million so far in disaster assistance grants for Puerto Rican victims of Tropical Storm Jeanne, which struck the island nearly two weeks ago, authorities said Sunday.

Seven storm-related deaths have been reported in Puerto Rico. In addition to damaged homes and businesses, the storm caused at least $16.5 million in damage to public infrastructure, federal officials have estimated.

Lopez Wins By TKO


September 26, 2004
Copyright © 2004. All rights reserved. 

Puerto Rico's Alfredo Lopez remained in contention for another world-title fight as he scored an 11th-round technical knockout of Mexico's Juan Keb Bas in the main event of Friday night's boxing show at Miccosukee Indian Gaming.

Lopez improved to 30-7-2 with 27 KOs.

Coqui Recuperation Plan Will Go Into Effect

September 24, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The Federal Fish & Wildlife Service announced Friday that it is ready and available for the distribution plan to recuperate the coqui, known as "guajon" or "demonio" of Puerto Rico.

The regional director of the agency, Sam Hamilton, said in a statement that the plan is meant to protect and stabilize the existing population and habitat of the guajon, in order to remove it from the list of endangered species.

"The guajon was included on the list of endangered species as of June 11, 1997," Hamilton said

He said the plan describes the actions necessary for conservation of the coqui, establishes the criteria for reclassifying it on the species list, and estimates the time and cost that will be required to execute the recuperation measures.

Justice Dept. Says PRIIF Statute Of Limitations Has Run Out

September 24, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Justice Secretary William Vazquez said Friday that the statute of limitations of possible crimes related to alleged irregularities in the Puerto Rico Industrial Incentives Fund already has run out and the agency is investigating angles "related to the partial manner" in which PRIIF disbursements were made.

Vazquez supported the administrative decisions of former Treasury Secretary Manuel Diaz Saldaña and the former commissioner of Financial Institutions Joseph O’Neill that made the creation of PRIIF possible, the only crimes that they could apply were omission and negligence in the course of duty.

"I am certain that, without awarding the correction of one or the other different opinions, the irrefutable conclusion has been made that the type of crime that has allegedly been carried out has a statute of limitations of five years," Vazquez said. The crimes have been prescribed since 2002, one year before the first report of the Blue Ribbon Committee, published in February 2003.

He said the House of Representatives is keeping the investigation open to determine if the creation and management of PRIIF, and the conduct of those who participated in the process, was "in the best interest of the public."

Insults Fly At Gubernatorial Debate

September 24, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The three candidates for governor of the island spoke on a wide range of topics in their first debate, using everything from colloquial expressions like "lechones asados" and "papagayos azules y rojos" to words invented on the spot, like "circunversar" and "completación".

The major exchange of insults was between Popular Democratic candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila and New Progressive candidate Pedro Rossello, although Independent candidate Ruben Berrios can be credited with provoking the two with his comments.

On three occasions, Acevedo Vila, looking into Rossello’s eyes, called him "inept" and the former governor characterized his opponent as a "scorpion" twice.

Berrios posed questions for both candidates that were never answered, such as " what are you going to do about the criminal environment and what are you going to do to attack corruption in both parties?"

Rossello said that as a veteran of political leadership, he is accustomed to insults and said, "Frankly, it doesn’t bother me that they call me a windbag, they’ve called me worse things in the past."

Federal Agents Interested In Urban Train Contract Auctions

September 24, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Urban Train chief Gabriel Alcaraz said that during a meeting with federal agents about the public transportation project, investigators showed particular interest in the auctions of contracts, the selected companies and their qualifications.

According to newspaper reports, the meeting with Alcaraz took place at a time that the Transportation and Public Works Department delivered less than 25 boxes of documents for the investigation to the special agent in charge of the office of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Patrick J. Daly, and supervising agent Terry L. Rahl.

The documents, obtained at the request of the FBI, include contracts signed with the different companies that built the train tracks, and documents about the submission process, Alcaraz said.

The Transportation and Public Works Department also delivered an organizational chart of the project and the different companies that worked on the construction, according to the newspaper report.

Conservation Group Will Replant Trees Due To Storm Damage

September 23, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - To mitigate the impact on plant life of tropical storm Jeanne, the Conservation Trust announced Thursday that it will expand its efforts to propagate and reforest native trees.

The fund’s executive director, Fernando Lloveras San Miguel, said the reforestation plan also is a preventive measure against similar events in the future.

"Due to the loss of trees, particularly exotic species, that were downed by the storm in many areas of the island, the Conservation Trust has made the decision to collaborate to replant the highest number possible of native species trees," he said in a statement.

"Already we finished inspecting some of the areas and have evaluated the effect of the storm on the trees, and we are next going to begin activities to rescue and plant native trees," he added.

Lloveras San Miguel said the first of the reforestation activities will be held Saturday on Vieques, at 10 a.m.

At this event, he said, personnel from the Conservation Trust will plant ceibas and palms in the core of the protected zone in western Vieques.

Presidential Vote "Impossible," Acevedo Vila Says

September 24, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

PONCE (AP) – Popular Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for governor, Anibal Acevedo Vila, said on Friday that it is "impossible" for Puerto Ricans to get the right to vote in the U.S. presidential election, because it is a challenge to the country’s Constitution.

Because of this, Acevedo Vila says the PDP should concentrate its efforts on things that they can realistically achieve, instead of going after issues that can’t be changed.

"I think that we should dedicate our energies to realistic and possible things; all the experts and the entire world knows that getting the presidential vote is impossible," he said at a press conference after participating in a convention of the Chamber of Commerce of the South.

According to Acevedo Vila, the group that proposed statehood has used the subject of the presidential vote since the 1960s, but only in election periods, to try to consolidate its forces.

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