Rossello: NPP Will Overcome Dispute, Pleased With Radio Marathon Gays Welcome Mat? Found In Translation AAV Inaugurates SAME, Distances Himself From Paredes Auction Upsets Clementes Majors Last Farewell Fortuño Pleases Mftrs Guard, Reserve Death Toll At High Diaz: Exec Orders Limited PIP: Messages Are Illegal AAV Justifies Loan To Cover Deficit
Rossello: NPP Will Overcome Senate Dispute
By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin
June 6, 2005
Former Gov. Pedro Rossello doesnt believe in giving up. Two things he is not giving up are his bid for the Senate presidency and his faith in the ability of New Progressive Party (NPP) members to rise above their differences and grow stronger.
In a TV interview on Sunday night, Rossello said he was convinced that the party he presides would eventually heal its wounds from the dispute between him and current Senate President Kenneth McClintock.
"Ive seen controversies like this one in my party as well as in other parties, but we forget about them. We only remember those which are most recent in our memories," Rossello said.
He downplayed the political bickering that went on at the Senate floor last week, saying it was nothing that hasnt happened before.
"Thats part of the process", he said.
Rossello said similar power struggles have taken place between former Senate President Miguel Hernandez Agosto and former Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon, of the Popular Democratic Party.
He also noted the NPPs ability to unite after the split that cost them the general elections of 1984, only to win the gubernatorial race later in 1992 and 1996.
However, he said he wont yield in his intention of becoming the new Senate president.
In a separate TV interview on Sunday, McClintock said he wont give up his seat, despite the fact that Rossello has managed to obtain the support of most of the NPP delegation at the Senate.
NPP Leaders Pleased With Radio Marathon
By PRWOW News
June 6, 2005
Leaders of the New Progressive Party (NPP) on Sunday held an islandwide radiomarathon that NPP Secretary General Thomas Rivera Schatz said exceeded the partys expectations of reaching the $150,000 mark.
According to published reports, the party was able to collect more than $180,000.
Rivera Schatz said the money would help pay for the partys operational costs, utilities, and headquarters rental expenses.
Most NPP leaders participated in the event, including former Gov. Carlos Romero Barcelo, San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini, Sen. Norma Burgos, and House Speaker Jose Aponte.
Aponte said that during the radio marathon, they were also able to collect signatures to request a solution to the islands status issue. The petition will be sent to Congress.
A Welcome Mat For Gays?
June 6, 2005
Gay and lesbian tourists accounted for more than 10% of the $88 billion Americans spent abroad last year. Yet they feel most unwelcome closest to home-in the Caribbean, which, despite its relaxed image in TV ads, has been rife with homophobic acts, like the stabbing last year of a gay activist in Jamaica. The Cayman Islands has turned away gay cruises in recent years, and travel agents often remind gay couples to avoid public affection or face fines and harassment on islands like Barbados, where homosexuality is outlawed. In March passengers on a gay cruise from Miami were barred from disembarking on Nevis, part of St. Kitts-Nevis, where a port official, according to the ship's captain, told them gays were a threat to "national security."
Partly in response to those incidents, the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has started a campaign to "buy-cott" certain spots-encouraging gay tourists to direct their dollars only to gay-friendly destinations. And with Caribbean tourism lagging since 9/11, a more welcoming attitude is starting to become apparent in some places. St. Thomas now openly advertises gay bed-and-breakfasts and gay weddings. In Puerto Rico, both major candidates in last year's gubernatorial race pledged to respect gay rights. And after the March cruise-ship incident, Nevis Tourism Minister Malcolm Guishard took pains to try to defuse anger over the flap, calling it an "unfortunate but isolated" event and stressing that his island "welcomes any sexual orientation."
Found In Translation: Small Talk With Big Benefits
Caryn Eve Murray
June 5, 2005
Vicenta Rivera and Carlos Herrera share a hope for better things ahead that speaks for itself.
Just not in the language of their childhoods.
The Puerto Rico native and her Guatemala-born classmate share that hope once a week - in English - with native speakers of French, Chinese or Japanese.
The immigrants' struggle is their common ground, as is the place where they meet: the History Room of the Brentwood Public Library.
In their weekly group session, called "Friendly English Conversation," they take on sports, politics, food - and personal hopes for the future - with their guide, librarian Geraldine Kopczynski.
Rivera, 38, came to New York 20 years ago. She hopes to finish a degree in social work now that her two children are getting older - 17 and 13.
"Maybe I can go back to the university," she said. "That's why I came to the library for English conversation."
Herrera, 44, is a landscaper who lives in Bay Shore. He came to the United States 10 years ago knowing some English but still, he said, it takes practice.
"All my classmates are making a big effort. English is very hard for them. I know it was hard for me," he said. "So let us give them all credit."
The payoff for him: greater opportunities and fewer barriers.
"People think sometimes Americans are not friendly, but that's not true," he said.
"It is just that with language barriers, people can't get to know you.
"But I have got a lot of American friends. They're great. It all depends on communication."
Automated Emergency System Inaugurated
June 5, 2005
SAN JUAN (EFE) Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila on Sunday signed an executive order to create the National Incidents Management System to take care of emergency situations in the same way as stateside and other jurisdictions do.
He also inaugurated the Automated Emergency Management System (SAME by its Spanish acronym).
SAME required an investment of $1.5 million and consists of two integrated projects.
"The first one is a computer net that will keep an instant database of daily incidents, as well as of available resources and equipment across the island," the governor said.
"The second project consists of a digital radio console for transmitting messages to the agencys 78 municipal offices and 11 regional offices. This will allow the agency to respond to several emergencies simultaneously," he added.
Acevedo Vila said his administration is currently working on connecting the 9-1-1 emergency system to the State Emergency Management Agency.
AAV Distances Himself From Paredes Issue
June 5, 2005
SAN JUAN (EFE) Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila chose not to give a final answer to U.S. Navy soldier Pablo Paredes parents, who have requested his support to declare their son a conscientious objector of the war in Iraq.
"I dont know the details and wouldnt like to answer without knowing what they are. Remember that we living in a different system than the one during the Vietnam War era, when military service was mandatory. Now joining the military is voluntary and there are rules that apply to people who change their minds after joining in," said Acevedo Vila.
"This is a matter regulated by the law, the military, and the federal government," he added.
Paredes, 23, was court-martialed and sentenced to two months to two months of confinement and three months of hard labor at a military base for refusing to go to Iraq.
Paredes said he believes the war in Iraq is illegal.
Auction Items Upset Clementes
June 5, 2005
NEW YORK · There are 48 Roberto Clemente-related memorabilia items in an auction being conducted by Leland's, among them signed baseballs and photos, a handwritten letter, a game-worn cap, a business card and a coin set.
But two items stand out for their historic, if gruesome, significance: Pieces of the prop plane that Clemente died in when it crashed into the Caribbean after takeoff from San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Dec. 31, 1972. The DC-7 was loaded with supplies to help the survivors of an earthquake in Nicaragua.
One is a light metal piece of the airplane, measuring 19 inches by 14 inches at its largest point, with a minimum auction price of $1,500. The second is the gray steel propeller, 14 inches across and 79 inches long, with a minimum price of $1,000. The former has been bid up to $1,650, the latter to $1,210. The auction is scheduled to conclude June 24.
Clemente's son, Roberto Jr., wants them removed from the sale. "It's disgusting," Clemente said Saturday. "It's a shame that something so sacred to my family would go on the market like this. It's ridiculous. It has nothing to do with baseball. He's a human being. He lost his life. There's nothing funny about that."
He said he would discuss the possibility of taking legal action with his mother, Vera, and brother, Luis.
Joshua Leland Evans, the chairman and founder of the auction house, did not return messages seeking comment.
Last Farewell To Major Killed In Iraq
June 4, 2005
SAN JUAN (EFE) Combat friends of 39-year-old Major Ricardo Antonio Crocker Garcia, who was killed in Iraq on May 26, formed a ceremonial honor guard at Porta Coeli Funeral Home in Bayamon on Saturday.
Crocker Garcias remains would be buried at the Hato Tejas National Cemetery at 2:30 p.m.
The soldiers waited for family members to arrive from California, where Crocker Garcia used to live with his mother Jeannette Garcia.
Crocker Garcia, who was a member of the Santa Monica Police Department, died when his helicopter was shot down during a combat operation in Hadithah.
The major, whose mother is Puerto Rican, had left instructions saying he wanted to be buried in Puerto Rico.
Manufacturers Pleased With Fortuños Message
June 4, 2005
SAN JUAN (EFE) Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association President Reynaldo Encarnacion welcomed Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuños message, which urged the private sector to assume a leading role in the current situation of the island.
Fortuño was a speaker at the associations annual convention, which began this week at El Conquistador Hotel in Fajardo.
In a prepared statement, Encarnacion said Fortuño acknowledged what the association has been stating during the past few months regarding the economic development of the island, which is being governed by a shared administration between a Popular Democratic Party governor and a New Progressive Party (NPP) Legislative Assembly.
"We have received a very positive and encouraging message from the resident commissioner," Encarnacion said about Fortuño, also of the NPP.
"He also acknowledged that, in order to compete, incentives are an important aspect, and the manufacturing sector would be a key player in reducing of the governments pay roll,"
Encarnacion said he is up to the challenge and added that he would collaborate in the drafting of a plan to help reduce the governments size within the next 10 years.
Guard, Reserve Monthly Death Toll At High
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
June 4, 2005
WASHINGTON (AP) -- May was the deadliest month of the Iraq war for part-time American servicemen.
Thirty-one of them died: 14 members of the Army National Guard, 12 from the Marine Corps Reserve, four from the Army Reserve and one Navy Reserve hospital corpsman attached to a Marine combat unit.
The overall U.S. death toll in Iraq last month -- counting active-duty as well as mobilized reserve forces -- was 80. That is the highest for any month since January, when 107 died as insurgent attacks rose sharply prior to the Iraqi election. Fifty-two died in April and 36 in March, when it appeared the insurgency was waning.
Iraqis bore the brunt of insurgent violence in May, but it also took a heavy toll on the approximately 140,000 U.S. troops there. The 80 deaths compares with a monthly average of 70 over the previous 12 months.
The death toll among the Guard and Reserve underscores an important aspect of their recruiting problems: More potential recruits, citing concern about being sent to the war zone, are opting for other careers. The Army Guard missed its recruiting target last year and has fallen even farther behind this year.
The previous worst months for Guard and Reserve deaths in Iraq were January, when 30 died, and last November, with 28. Those also happened to be among the deadliest months overall for American forces in Iraq.
The 12 deaths among Marine reservists in May was the most for any month of the war.
The National Guard and Reserve, which make up nearly half the force in Iraq, have generally had fewer than 20 deaths per month during the war, and it's not clear why their losses spiked to 31 in May.
The May total reached 31 when the Pentagon announced Friday that Sgt. Miguel A. Ramos, 39, of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, died May 31 in Baghdad when a rocket struck near his position. He was assigned to the Army Reserve's 807th Signal Company, 35th Signal Battalion, based at Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico.
May also was a costly month for the regular Army's 3rd Infantry Division, which had 10 reported fatalities.
On the Net:
Defense Department at http://www.defenselink.mil
Diaz: Executive Orders Have Limits
June 3, 2005
SAN JUAN (EFE) Commonwealth Comptroller Manuel Diaz Saldaña on Friday said Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila can issue executive orders to cover the operational costs of the current budget by using money from the Budgetary Fund.
However, Diaz Saldaña said executive orders may be limited by other legal dispositions.
"We would have to evaluate each case individually," the comptroller said in a prepared statement.
Diaz Saldaña said he would assign several auditors to examine transactions having to do with the government Budgetary Fund.
The comptrollers statements followed Wednesdays controversial speech in which Acevedo Vila said he would bypass the Legislative Assembly by issuing a series of executive orders to release funds for health, education, and public security programs.
Acevedo Vila added that if the proposed budget isnt approved by June 30, he would use everything in his power to make sure the government complies with its mission to provide the funds that people need.
However, the comptroller said the legislature has been working at a normal pace, and noted that six of the past eight government budgets have been approved by the end of June and two were approved on the first day of the new fiscal year, which starts July 1.
PIP: Governor, Aponte's Messages Are Illegal
June 3, 2005
SAN JUAN (EFE) Puerto Rico Independence Party (PIP) Electoral Commissioner Juan Dalmau filed complaints with the State Elections Commission (SEC) against Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila and House Speaker Jose Aponte on Friday for broadcasting political messages without the permission of the SECs Examining Board.
"They should have submitted those messages to the SECs Examining Board for evaluation. They didnt do it because they knew the ads wouldnt be approved due to their political contents," Dalmau said.
Dalmau pointed out that the Electoral Law requires all messages and ads from government agencies and officials to be evaluated by the SEC during a campaign season.
He said both messages are in violation of the Electoral Law because they had been broadcast close to an electoral event, which will be held July 10. On that date, island residents will vote on whether the current legislative system should become a unicameral legislature.
During a televised message on Wednesday, Acevedo Vila said he would issue a series of executive orders for which the Legislative Assemblys intervention wouldnt be necessary.
On Thursday, Aponte also aired a televised message to respond to the governors allegations that the legislature had been impeding the approval of the proposed budget for next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Acevedo Justifies Loan To Cover Current Deficit
June 3, 2005
SAN JUAN (EFE) Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila on Friday said that, if he hadnt requested a $300 million loan from the Government Development Bank (GDB), the government of Puerto Rico wouldnt have been able to cover its payroll at the end of the month.
Acevedo Vila justified the loan during a press conference in which he signed an executive order to have government agencies acquire 15% of their goods and services from small and medium-size businesses.
"Several weeks ago, I said there was a risk that we might not have enough money to cover the payroll by the end of this fiscal year. I asked the GDB to analyze several options, but a few weeks ago the GDB informed me that we only had two options: we either dont pay government employees or we make these transactions," Acevedo Vila said.
"I authorized the bank to go ahead with the transaction. Thanks to that transaction we will be able to cover our payroll at the end of the month," the governor said.
He also said he would have to make other decisions if the Legislative Assembly doesnt assume its responsibility to solve the government deficit.
Acevedo Vila has been pressuring the legislature, which is controlled by the New Progressive Party, to approve the proposed budget without cuts or changes, but NPP legislators have insisted on finding ways to reduce government expenditures.