Don't Worry, Be Happy… Bill To Sweep HI Of Coqui’s Okd, Feds KO $9m Request To Fight Frogs… Gov Wants Legislature To Work On Issues Besides Status… Ceremony For Pope John Paul II Saturday… Jobless Rate Jumps… McClintock: New PDP Status Bill "Unreal"… PDP Won’t Override AAV’s Veto… GI Killed In Afghan Crash

Don't Worry, Be Happy


April 12, 2005
Copyright © 2005 The Hartford Courant. All rights reserved. 

For clues that money doesn't necessarily buy happiness, turn to a poll by the World Values Survey. Some of the poorest societies have the happiest people in the world.

Puerto Rico is home to the folks with the most satisfaction in spite of low income and high crime, according to a global consortium of social scientists measuring well-being. The mainland United States, with its many riches, is 15th on the list. It ranks above Britain, Germany and France but behind Mexico, Ireland and Canada. Countries in the former Soviet bloc, which have experienced a drop in their standards of living, have relatively low satisfaction rates. Indonesia, despite its physical resemblance to paradise, came in dead last.

So what makes a happy camper? Puerto Ricans cite close extended families and a penchant for celebrating. It probably helps to have beautiful beaches and sunshine, too. Nor does it hurt that people who coexist on a small island feel a sense of community that is increasingly elusive in a busy and fragmented world.

Granted, a survey that purports to measure happiness, especially as it involves citizens of 82 countries on six continents, must be taken with skepticism. Language barriers, cultural differences, political realities and varying values surely affect answers given to the interviewers. But general findings, reported by Courant staff writer Matthew Hay Brown, are worth mulling.

As societies grow wealthier, people focus on well-being rather than on riches. They tend to choose jobs based on satisfaction rather than income. They are more inclined to demand outlets for self-expression and live more democratically.

Still, it's noteworthy that Puerto Rico, a culture with an emphasis on optimism, an aptitude for making the best of things and a drive to have fun came out on top.

Lawmakers Approve Bill To Sweep Islands Of Coqui Frogs

April 12, 2005
Copyright © 2005 Associated Press Newswires. All rights reserved. 

HONOLULU (AP) - Senate lawmakers voted to Tuesday fund a plan to do away with the invasive, noisy coqui frog in Hawaii.

The measure has already moved through the House. The next stop for the bill will be conference committee where lawmakers will work out their differences on the details of the plan -- including the amount of money to be provided to each county.

The quarter-sized frogs eat the same insects as native birds and are seen by many in the state -- including the Department of Land and Natural Resources -- as a threat to local species.

The sound of the frogs' "ko-KEE, ko-KEE" is welcome in their native Puerto Rico, but the coquis' loud chirping is seen as a nuisance in Hawaii -- particularly on Maui and on the Big Island, where the tiny frogs have flourished.


On the Net:

Hawaii State Legislature:

Feds Reject Hawaii's Request For $9 Million To Fight Coqui Frogs

April 13, 2005
Copyright © 2005 Associated Press Newswires. All rights reserved. 

HONOLULU (AP) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has rejected Hawaii's application for nearly $9 million in federal money to fight invasive coqui frogs, mainly on Maui and the Big Island, officials said.

The state had applied for a grant to fund most of the efforts to eradicate the annoying, noisy coin-sized coqui frogs.

"It is a disappointment," said Mindy Wilkinson, state invasive species coordinator. "We are definitely stuck with the frogs unless new tools and strategies emerge."

Coqui frogs eat the same insects as native birds and are seen by many in the state as a threat to local species.

The frogs have thrived around Maui's lush coastal resorts, but the worst infestation is in the steep, dense vegetation in Maliko Gulch, where the frogs are found in an area of several square miles, Wilkinson.

The frogs continue to spread on the Big Island.

A population of frogs in Wahiawa on Oahu is under control, he said, but the frogs have been spreading throughout a handful of plant nurseries on the North Shore.

Governor Wants Legislature To Work On Issues Besides Status

April 12, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) — Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila on Tuesday asked members of the Legislature to get to work on other issues that are as important, or more important, than the island’s political status, with the same energy that they have been using to try to override his veto of the status bill.

Acevedo Vila said the rejection by Senate President Kenneth McClintock and Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez of the new status bill the Popular Democratic Party will present, confirms that he was right to veto the substitute bill.

He said that if he had rejected the new proposal it would have shown that there is real commitment to allow the people to vote for the constituent assembly on status.

"What we did was put the moral commitment in a legal commitment … they have given me the reason that the veto I issued was the right thing to do," the governor said at a press conference after an event in Caguas.

He also said, "the shared government is a style, an attitude, a commitment every day, not just for one bill. The shared government never expected that we would be in agreement on everything. We have many issues such as crime, economic development, health, education … on these issues we have to work together for Puerto Rico."

PR Catholics Will Hold Ceremony For Pope John Paul II Saturday

April 12, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) — Puerto Rican Catholics will bid a final goodbye to Pope John Paul II on Saturday.

The event will start after 6 p.m. in the parking lot of Hiram Bithorn Stadium, said Father Saturnino Juan, priest at the La Monserrate parish in Santurce.

Juan said San Juan Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez Nieves will lead the celebration.

Pope John Paul II died April 2 and was buried Friday at the Vatican.

The event is expected to draw thousands of people.

It is recommended that participants bring water, lawn chairs, snacks and any medicines necessary.

Jobless Rate Jumps In March

April 12, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) — The secretary of Labor and Human Resources, Roman Velasco Gonzalez, on Tuesday announced that in March the unemployment rate rose to 11.4 percent, an increase of 1.4 percent from February.

Nevertheless, he said it is a reduction from March of last year.

The figures are in agreement with those in a survey by the Labor Statistics Office, which said during March there were 1.231 million people employed, an increase of 13,000 jobs over the same month in 2004, when there were 1.218 million Puerto Ricans employed.

Velasco Gonzalez said in a statement that in March 2005, 158,000 people were registered as unemployed, which is 4,000 fewer than March 2004, and 21,000 more than February 2005.

The jump in the jobless rate is due to the closing of several factories, said Luis Daniel Colon, communications director for the Labor Department.

McClintock: New Bill Would Be An "Unreal Proposal"

April 12, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) — Senate President Kenneth McClintock on Tuesday called the proposal of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) to present a new status bill "unreal."

"It is such an unreal proposal because … they want it all and in a process of dialogue and seeking consensus, what they are proposing seems to be a trap of bad faith," McClintock said during a press conference at the Capitol.

The senator said that if the new bill goes through, it "guarantees (the PDP) a prize for Congressional inaction, so they will lobby for Congressional inaction, and this is a trap."

According to McClintock, the difference between the vetoed bill and the one proposed by the PDP is that it "creates a powerful incentive for lobbyists, so Congress can not act."

PDP Will Not Override Governor’s Veto

April 12, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) — The Popular Democratic Party in the Legislature on Monday decided that none of its members would vote to override Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila’s veto of the status bill.

After a meeting of the PDP caucus at La Fortaleza, Acevedo Vila said the decision to resolve the political status of Puerto Rico "has to be in the hands of the people," it has to transcend political party lines and the constituent assembly "has to be one of the alternatives the people have guaranteed in the legislation."

U.S. Troops In Afghan Copter Crash

April 11, 2005
Copyright © 2005 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Pentagon on Monday released the names of most of the U.S. service members killed or missing from the crash of a military helicopter in Afghanistan last week.

Eighteen people died -- 15 military members and three civilian contractors -- when the CH-47 Chinook crashed Wednesday near Ghazni, 80 miles south of the Afghan capital, Kabul. It was the deadliest crash for Americans since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

The names of 14 of the 15 service members were released.

Among those killed was:

Army Master Sgt. Edwin A. Matoscolon, 42, Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico

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