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PREPA’S Not-So-Secret Privatization Deal P5
Jaresko Anticipates Salary Hike Announcement from Governor
And the Oscar Goes to … You’ll Have to Wait Until 2021 P20
Decisive Testimony Minor’s Freedom Was in His Hands. Now Appointed Labor Secretary’s Future Is in Theirs
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June 17, 2020
The San Juan Daily Star, the only paper with News Service in English in Puerto Rico, publishes 7 days a week, with a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday edition, along with a Weekend Edition to cover Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Jaresko: Governor will present a budget that includes a salary hike for public employees
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inancial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico Executive Director Natalie Jaresko said Tuesday that despite the increase in notifications to the commonwealth government and the demands filed by both parties, the oversight board’s relationship with Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced is one of collaboration. “I meet with the governor every two weeks,” Jaresko said at a press conference. “I speak and meet with her representative [Omar Marrero] very often. I ask you to see the demands and the letters only for what they are, each one doing her job.” “The two [of us] do our work and we are in collaboration,” she added. “And the fact that sometimes we have differences of opinion, [it is because] we are both doing our jobs. The fact that we have differences of opinion is natural. As we are providing oversight to the government, [and] there will be differences of opinion. The reason for the letters is our way of making our communications public and transparent. If I don’t send the letters and the board does everything behind closed doors, then the media would be upset with us for not knowing about our conversations.” Jaresko confirmed that the governor will present a larger budget than the one approved by the oversight board. However, she said, the board is not entirely against what Vázquez will present before the Legislative Assembly on Thursday. “The budget that the governor will present is $169 million higher than the budget that we approved,” Jaresko said. “There are several differences in some categories. We do not include the Christmas bonus, which is already typical. As we always tell the government, if they get the funds to pay the Christmas bonus, they can do it. Also, there are funds to pay the WIPR payroll, but we can say that we agreed to grant the $7.5 million in the budget if the Legislature approves the bill to move WIPR to a private entity, before the budget goes into effect.” Jaresko added that there are other items in the governor’s budget that the oversight board has to review. They have to do with the purchase of parametric insurance, which is intended to insure the property of the central government and public corporations. The policy, for which $83 million is proposed, may be in supplemental insurance or in single insurance. The oversight board harbors
doubts that with the purchase there will be savings and not duplication of coverage. The other issue has to do with a proposal from the governor to equalize the salary of public employees, under the concept of the Single Employer Law. In this case, the oversight board believes that not only must the increase be given, but that it should be accompanied by management reform that guarantees the best practices of administration and human resources in the commonwealth government. Additionally, an increase of $15 million was requested for the State Elections Commission. In this regard, the oversight board believes that the approved funds are sufficient for holding the elections and the primaries. Jaresko also reacted to the lawsuit that the island government filed last week over an alleged six violations on the part of the oversight board against the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act. “These allegations are based on false premises,” Jaresko said. “We have already litigated this matter four times. I hope we can end this matter once and for all.” As for the lawsuit the board filed over the alleged lack of information on the contracts the central government awarded during the coronavirus emergency, Jaresko said the information the government has shared so far is not enough. “None of the documents they have sent have to do with the process of requesting proposals,” she said. “We have sent seven letters and what we want to know is not the contract, but how that contract came to be granted -- what was the process, who approved what.”
The San Juan Daily Star
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Alma Yadira’s mother: ‘He had my daughter’s freedom in his hands’ By THE STAR STAFF
he Senate Appointments Committee held a public hearing on Tuesday regarding the appointment of Carlos Rivera Santiago as secretary of Puerto Rico’s Department of Labor and Human Resources (DTRH by its Spanish initials). Present at the hearing was Alma Yadira Cruz Cruz, a special needs student who at the age of 11 was charged by the Puerto Rico Department of Justice for fighting in school. Rivera Santiago was assistant secretary of children and families in the Department of Justice at the time the agency was pursuing criminal charges (of battery, criminal threatening and disturbing the peace) against the girl. Also attending the public hearing was the minor’s mother, Yomaira Cruz, who appeared along with attorney Marcos Rivera. “The gentleman [Rivera Santiago] has a lack of sensitivity,” Yomaira Cruz said. “In my personal case, he held my daughter’s freedom in his hands. He did not think to drop the charges and promote other alternatives. The gentleman had no empathy and if we are talking about such a situation, how are we going to delegate that work that many people need? I don’t
think he has that human sense.” “I would not like another child to go through what [my daughter] experienced,” the girl’s mother added. “She begged me with tears in her eyes not to take her to school. He [Rivera Santiago] acted against her well being. He did not stop the process. He had the opportunity to raise awareness among others. There are real criminals on the street, but that happened [the Justice Department withdrew its case] a year later. For me, the gentleman did nothing. He is an insensitive person. This is about minors.” The attorney accompanying Yomaira Cruz, Marcos Rivera, said he believes Rivera Santiago’s actions in the case were “not correct.” “And prosecutors, prosecutors in Puerto Rico have a ministerial duty to process cases,” he said. “But you cannot go beyond that duty and thus make plain that there were other intentions. It seems to me that this was a very poorly investigated case.” Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz requested the appearance of Enid Vigo, one of the parties in the case of Alma Yadira Cruz Cruz, and attorney Leo Aldrige, who was the minor’s legal representative.
PDP calls for withdrawal of Labor secretary appointment By JOHN McPHAUL email@example.com
ep. Ramón Luis Cruz Burgos, the alternate minority leader for the Popular Democratic Party in the House of Representatives, asked Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced on Tuesday to withdraw the appointment of the designated secretary of the Labor and Human Resources Department, Carlos Rivera Santiago. “Given the revelation of a chat in which Rivera Santiago’s participation in this case is verified, the Governor has no choice but to withdraw the appointment,” Cruz Burgos said in a written statement. “Without a doubt, the designee lied to the country when he tried to minimize his participation and tried to disassociate himself from his responsibility. This shows his lack of honesty, which is why he is unqualified for the position.” Cruz Burgos noted that “[t]oday in the media it is recounted that in August 2017, the attorney Carlos Alonso, who was the one who was leading the case against [accused special needs student] Alma Yadira [Cruz Cruz], shared a news item from El Nuevo Día in which it was revealed that the case had been paralyzed while the
Court of Appeals was examining the appeal filed by the Justice Department without the presence of the press in the courtroom.” “To that message, Rivera Santiago responded with a ‘gif’ of people celebrating and with the symbol of hands celebrating,” the lawmaker said. “Natividad Tomei, who was his second in command, responded with a ‘Yes !!!!’, a ‘boom’ and ‘for him to respect.’ “This information was denied by Rivera Santiago himself, who in previous interviews alleged that he was not linked to the case,” Cruz Burgos said. “However, these messages show that he was aware of everything as an assistant secretary for minors and family [in the Justice Department]. At this time, in which the Labor Department is going through its worst period, we need a person who gives us confidence and credibility so that he can work with the crisis that thousands of Puerto Ricans are experiencing who are not getting their unemployment check.” Furthermore, it cannot be lost from sight that the primary responsibility of the secretary of the Department of Labor is to protect workers, represent them and ensure compliance with the laws that prohibit discrimination in employment,” the legislator continued. “The case of the
minor Alma Yariela, both in its genesis and in its processing, had a very high level of discrimination in various forms. So the participation of the designee disqualifies him for the position.”
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The San Juan Daily Star
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
UTIER warns of secret deal to privatize PREPA By THE STAR STAFF
he Irrigation & Electrical Industry Workers Union (UTIER), the main union of Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) workers, filed a petition Tuesday at the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau opposing attempts by the Public Private Partnership (P3) Authority to keep confidential documents related to a contract that would put the island energy utility’s transmission and distribution system under a private operator. The Energy Bureau on June 9 granted a confidentiality request filed by the P3 Authority on May 18. UTIER President Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo said the P3 request was filed in May, but it was not until June 9 that the union found out about the secrecy request because the P3 Authority’s initial request does not appear on the regulator’s records. “As always and behind the people’s backs, [PREPA Executive Director] José Ortiz was keeping the privatization process secret. … That is why we filed this request at the Energy Bureau to allow us to intervene in the case as an affected party to protect the interests of the Authority’s workers, because we
do not know the terms of the transaction or how it will affect us,” Jaramillo said in a written statement. “We are seeing another secret contract and this is not just any secret contract.” The contract is one of high public interest because of the impact it may have on the power utility’s customers. According to the resolution issued June 9 by the
Energy Bureau, the P3 Authority in May submitted a document titled “Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnerships Authority’s Request for Issuance of Energy Compliance and Request for Confidential Treatment of Documents Submitted to PREB.” The resolution states that the preliminary contract relates to a proposed PREPA transaction that is an “operation and maintenance contract for PREPA’s Transmission and Distribution System, among other things.” As part of the filing, the P3 Authority requested confidential treatment of certain exhibits in the May 18 motion because they “are part of an ongoing procurement process and, therefore, the information should not be disclosed.” The Energy Bureau agreed to the request. Ortiz said recently that the firm that will manage the utility’s transmission and distribution system has already been chosen. While neither the P3 Authority nor Ortiz have revealed the name of the proposed private operator, Jaramillo said Texas-based Quanta Services Inc. won the contract because the other proponents had dropped out of the bidding process.
Pro-statehood lawyer asks OAS human rights panel to stop delaying ruling on PR residents’ inability to vote in US By THE STAR STAFF
ro-statehood lawyer Gregorio Igartúa asked the Interamerican Commission for Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS) to stop delaying a ruling on the issue of Puerto Rico residents’ inability to vote for the U.S. president or in congressional elections, which has been pending for 14 years. In a letter to OAS Secretary General Luis Leonardo Almagro, Igartúa noted that the OAS held a hearing on the issue in 2018 in Boulder, Colo., 12 years after he filed a complaint in 2006 about the lack of voting rights. “The Petition involves a demand to achieve equality in voting rights in federal elections for over 3.4 million 4th, 5th and 6th generation American citizens by birth, who are denied their right to have government by consent, [and] who are not allowed to vote in Federal Elections since 1898 (120 years),” Igartúa wrote. “I respectfully request from the Commission (ICHR) to dispose finally of the case this year without further delays (14 years), as legally required in protection of our due process.” The United States is objecting to the request, stating that while it is true Puerto Rico residents do not vote in U.S. elections, it does not constitute a violation of the American Declaration
of the Rights and Duties of Man, an international human rights declaration adopted in 1948. Previously, in 2003, the Commission ruled that the United States violated the Declaration by denying Washington, D.C. the opportunity to participate fully in Congress. Why has it taken so long for the Commission to hold a hearing on the [Puerto Rico] petition? Igartúa asked, noting that there are different groups opposing a ruling from the OAS. Why did it take so long for the OAS to hold a hearing? Igartúa said one of the requirements for a hearing before the Commission is that all remedies have to be exhausted in the adequate forums before they hear a petition. Since 1992, Igartúa has sought, unsuccessfully, to obtain the presidential vote for Puerto Rico residents on three different occasions. All the cases were appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has declined to hear the case each time. The third attempt, however, was rejected by the Supreme Court in 2006, the same year the petition was filed before the OAS. Igartúa also had a separate case in U.S. courts that sought the right of Puerto Rico to have representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives. The fact that Igartúa exhausted his petitions allowed former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares to get a hearing before the Commission, also in 2018, on a similar complaint about lack of voting rights, Igartúa said.
In the case before the Commission, Rosselló and Igartúa are claiming violations to Article XX of the Declaration that entails the right to vote and participate in government. They claim that the inaction of Congress and the executive branch of the U.S. government with respect to the voting rights of Puerto Rico residents, coupled with the restrictive interpretation of the courts, is confining Puerto Rico residents to a state of servitude by disenfranchisement, according to a file in the case. The petition contends that the right to vote for president should be determined by citizenship and not statehood. Moreover, the petition notes federal courts have issued contradictory opinions, applying the U.S. Constitution without the requirement that Puerto Rico become a state but then granting different treatment in other cases, “including fundamental rights.” The United States has acknowledged that Puerto Rico residents cannot vote in U.S. presidential elections since the U.S. Constitution only affords this right to citizens residing in states and in the District of Columbia. “It claims, however, that this does not constitute a violation of the American Declaration since the facts alleged by the petitioners do not establish any discrimination against specific individuals or any inappropriate denial of the rights to vote or participate in government,” a file on the petition says.
The San Juan Daily Star
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Vieques mayor to tourists: We love you, but don’t visit yet By JOHN McPHAUL email@example.com
ieques Mayor Víctor Emeric said Tuesday that the island municipality, where not a single case of COVID-19 has been reported, is not yet ready to receive tourists due to a lack of capacity for social distancing on the ferries. “We love them very much, but please, I do not think it is time to come to the municipal islands, at least to Vieques,” Emeric said in a radio interview. The Vieques mayor questioned the statements of Transportation and Public Works (DTOP by its Spanish acronym) Secretary Carlos Contreras Aponte that the central government will allow the entry of passengers in general on ferries. “How are they going to get to Vieques, when right now there are no ferries for Viequenses and maximum capacity restrictions due to the issue of [social] distancing?” Emeric said. “Now Cayo Blanco, which is the main ferry, has been damaged. Yesterday [Monday] was chaos in the morning because Cayo Blanco could not leave. They [DTOP] are allowing 200 passengers [to board] when there are 600 waiting.” The mayor said other boats with less passenger capacity are offering trips, which left several dozen Viequenses stranded. “I ask the secretary of DTOP, how are they going to [allow] passengers in general [to ride the ferries] when the residents of the municipal islands, at least those of Vieques, do not fit
in the boat and people are constantly milling around?” Emeric said. “Social distancing is the law. Do not come to tell us that you are going to crowd all of us into the boat.” The mayor urged the public not to go to Ceiba to take the ferry, because there is no capacity. He also said he would be meeting Tuesday with the director of the Maritime Transport Authority (MTA), Mara Pérez. “Due to this concern, I believe that the resumption of tourism must be postponed until the boats are fixed,” Emeric said. “First, because they are going to send us crowded together and the law does not allow it, and in Vieques there are zero cases; [second], is that what can happen -- [and] as happens even with the speedboats, which are at capacity -- is
that the tourists board and leave Viequenses stranded, and that is not the idea because this is a service especially for residents of the island municipalities. First, it is us and our health.” The mayor noted, meanwhile, that Sun Bay beach opens today, according to the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources. He added that Caracas (formerly Red Beach), La Chiva (formerly Blue Beach) and other beaches in the Vieques Wildlife Refuge remain closed. La Esperanza, El Gallito, La Ceiba and El Rompeolas beaches are open. The Bioluminescent Bay is still closed. Emeric proposes creation of solid waste disposal fund Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Núñez, speaker of the House of Representatives, said Tuesday that the Vieques mayor has requested the filing, by means of petition, of a bill that establishes the Permanent Environmental Fund of Vieques in order to create a permanent fund to help finance the work of disposal, transportation and management of solid waste on the island municipality. “Given the complexity and how expensive it is to establish and maintain solid waste management systems in accordance with the mission to protect the environmental health of the island municipality, it requires adequate financial resources that allow its municipal government to implement the programs that [support] conservation and island sustainability,” the mayor noted in the measure’s statement of purpose. Every year, Vieques receives thousands
of visitors, who, in general terms, produce a large amount of solid waste, which forces the municipality to in turn invest large amounts of money from its limited budget to collect the waste and properly dispose of it, Emeric pointed out. “At a time when the Central Government is promoting ambitious socio-economic development programs, but is contributing less and less to defray [their costs], it is urgent to raise funds to finance the operation of waste management, a management that, if not done wisely, will continue to negatively affect the health of the soil and groundwater of Isla Nena, as well as the health of its residents,” the mayor added in a written statement. The fund would be financed by a $5 charge, to be called the “Pro Vieques Environmental Charge,” to all passenger tickets for the round trip that starts from the Ceiba Terminal in MTA vessels or in private vessels that offer this service by agreement with the MTA. The charge would not be applied to the transportation of vehicles or to the residents of Vieques. Every year thousands of people visit the island of Vieques, attracted by its natural resources, particularly its coastal resources. Its beaches, coastal waters and natural reserves, such as the Bioluminescent Bay of Vieques, are valued locations in the Caribbean and even in the entire world, Emeric said. The natural areas are the habitat and food source for hundreds of species of flora and fauna, which also represent a tourist attraction for visitors and an important source of employment for residents, he added.
Mayors seek more funds for flood control along Guanajibo River By JOHN McPHAUL firstname.lastname@example.org
group of mayors joined forces Tuesday to ask Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón to allocate more funds for flood control along the Guanajibo River, one of the main bodies of water in the island’s western region. Water volume in much of the Guanajibo channel, which is fed by countless other rivers and streams, causes severe flooding in at least four municipalities, namely San Germán, Hormigueros, Cabo Rojo and Mayagüez. The severe flooding from the Guanajibo River begins from its journey through San Germán, which does not appear in the list of municipalities that the project will cover, and which caused the mayors -- José Guillermo Rodríguez of Mayagüez, Isidro Negrón of San Germán, Pedro García of Hormigueros and Roberto Ramírez of Cabo Rojo -- to meet to analyze the situation and request the additional
funds needed. The four mayors recognized the efforts of the resident commissioner and officials of the United States Army Corps of Engineers for the million-dollar assignment, but emphasized that it is necessary to include the Municipality of San Germán, where overflow from the river floods both urban and rural areas. “We already have evidence that the funds that have been allocated do not comply with the project as evaluated,” Rodríguez said in a written statement. “We believe that more resources are needed to correct the error, because they left out one of the most important towns in the matter of risks and safety, which is San Germán.” He said the mayors are in the process of drafting a signed communication to González Colón, in which they will lay out the concerns that remain to be resolved in the project, which is so important for the western region, and which will help correct the flooding problem in thousands of homes, as well as businesses,
industries and agriculture in that part of the island. Negrón, the San Germán mayor, expressed confidence that the joint efforts made by the four municipal executives would be welcomed by both the resident commissioner and by officials of the Army Corps of Engineers, who are familiar with the flooding situation in his municipality. “I am concerned that the San Germán section [of the river], which affects agriculture, residential areas, industries, businesses and roads, was not included,” he said. His counterparts from Cabo Rojo, Ramírez, and Hormigueros, García, agreed that the Guanajibo River channeling project must include San Germán so that it is a complete project, from San Germán’s flood-prone urban center of Las Lomas to the river’s mouth at the Mayagüez beach, and requested that additional funds be managed so that the long-awaited (since 1976) project is carried out in compliance with its purpose of flood control in the four municipalities.
The San Juan Daily Star
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Pence misleadingly blames Coronavirus spikes on rise in testing By KATIE ROGERS and JONATHAN MARTIN
ice President Mike Pence encouraged governors on Monday to adopt the administration’s explanation that a rise in testing was a reason behind new coronavirus outbreaks, even though testing data has shown that such a claim is misleading. “I would just encourage you all, as we talk about these things, to make sure and continue to explain to your citizens the magnitude of increase in testing,” Pence said on a call with governors, audio of which was obtained by The New York Times. “And that in most of the cases where we are seeing some marginal rise in number, that’s more a result of the extraordinary work you’re doing.” He added: “But also encourage people with the news that we are safely reopening the country. That, as we speak today, because people are going back to hospitals and elective surgery and getting ordinary care, hospitalization rates may be going up. But according to our most current information, hospitalizations for coronavirus are going down across the country.” It was a misleading message publicly emphasized by President Donald Trump at a meeting earlier in the day. “If we stop testing right now,” Trump said, “we’d have very few cases, if any.” In fact, seven-day averages in several states with coronavirus outbreaks have increased since May 31, and in at least 14 states, positive cases have outstripped the average number of tests that have been administered, according to an analysis of data collected by The New York Times. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that coronavirus hospitalizations have decreased nationally, though positive cases have increased and the number of deaths attributed to the disease caused by the coronavirus, COVID-19, could increase as more data becomes available. As the head of the administration’s virus task force, Pence has frequently used his public appearances to play down the seriousness of the pandemic, even though several members of his staff have tested positive. Last week, he was criticized for taking a picture with dozens of Trump campaign staff members who were standing close together without wearing masks. This Saturday, Pence is scheduled to join the president at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, despite concerns that the enclosed venue could promote the virus’s spread. The Trump campaign has asked attendees to assume the risk should they contract it. And on the private call with governors, Pence again played down the overall size of the new outbreaks, stressing that some states were seeing what he called “intermittent” spikes. Rather than pointing to community spread as a culprit, as officials in several areas — including Washington, D.C. — have, the vice president focused on specific outbreak locations, like nursing homes. He added that CDC employees would be redeployed to states experiencing new outbreaks and encouraged governors to think “on a county level” when dealing with them. The vice president also said that the virus’s spread was now well contained, and he adopted a term that Trump has used for the virus — “embers,” which can be quickly snuffed out.
Vice President Mike Pence makes remarks as President Donald Trump looks, during a roundtable about senior citizens in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Monday. “The president often talks about embers,” Pence added. “As we go through the summer, as we see, overall, as you all know, around the country, that despite a mass increase in testing, we are still averaging roughly 20,000 cases a day, which is significantly down from six weeks ago.” Experts, including some in the Trump administration, have warned that stamping out the coronavirus is not that simple. In fact, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned last week that “we have something that turned out to be my worst nightmare,” a reference to the virus’s ability to spread rapidly. On the call, Pence instructed Alex Azar, the health secretary, to address the problem in a “constructive” way. Azar said that localized outbreaks at meatpacking plants and nursing homes would continue to be a focus for officials. “If any of them light on fire,” Azar said, “we’ve got to get there right away.” Dr. Deborah L. Birx, who is coordinating the administration’s response, reiterated that hospitalization rates for the virus had been declining across the country, though some states had seen an uptick. “You’re finding cases in the community rather than finding them in the clinic and the hospital,” she said, adding that more people had been identified as asymptomatic or presymptomatic in recent weeks. She said protest sites across the country had not yet seen a rise in coronavirus cases, though she said data had begun to show “early upticks” in Minneapolis.
Birx asked governors to “ensure that all the law enforcement that has been engaged in protecting your citizens have been tested,” adding, “I really appreciate having most of you call for the protesters to get tested.” Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican who has publicly criticized the Trump administration’s early response to the virus, told the vice president that there was an “urgent need” to have the administration and members of Congress working together on another coronavirus relief bill. “States are going to be faced with laying off tens of thousands of state workers,” Hogan said, adding that many governors were finalizing state budgets at the end of June. Pence said that any further legislation would most likely happen in the middle of July and that the door would be open for negotiations between the administration and Congress. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the majority leader, has indicated that negotiations would not take place before a two-week recess scheduled for early July. Other governors, including J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, who has been critical of the administration’s handling of the virus, did not speak on Monday’s call. “Illinois was the first state in the nation to meet the federal metrics laid out by the White House for reopening and right now is showing the largest decline in COVID cases,” Pritzker’s office said later in a statement. “The governor will continue to follow the science and data and rely on the public health experts when it comes to reopening the state.”
The San Juan Daily Star
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Coronavirus cases rise sharply in prisons even as they plateau nationwide
Protesters held a rally to bring awareness about the spread of the coronavirus inside the Marion Correctional Institution in Marion, Ohio, in May. By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS, LIBBY SELINE and REBECCA GRIESBACH
ases of the coronavirus in prisons and jails across the United States have soared in recent weeks, even as the overall daily infection rate in the nation has remained relatively flat. The number of prison inmates known to be infected has doubled during the past month to more than 65,000. Prison deaths tied to the coronavirus have also risen, by 73% since mid-May. By now, the five largest known clusters of the virus in the United States are not at nursing homes or meatpacking plants, but inside correction institutions, according to data The New York Times has been collecting about confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic reached U.S. shores. And the risk of more cases appears imminent: The swift growth in virus cases behind bars comes as demonstrators arrested as part of large police brutality protests have often been placed in crowded holding cells in local jails. A muddled, uneven response by corrections officials to testing and care for inmates and workers is complicating the spread of the coronavirus. In interviews, prison and jail officials acknowledged that their approach has largely been based on trial and error, and that an effective, consistent response for U.S. correctional facilities remains elusive. “If there was clearly a right strategy,
we all would have done it,” said Dr. Owen Murray, a University of Texas Medical Branch physician who oversees correctional health care at dozens of Texas prisons. “There is no clear-cut right strategy here. There are a lot of different choices that one could make that are going to be in-the-moment decisions.” Public officials have long warned that the nation’s correctional facilities would likely become vectors in the pandemic because they are often overcrowded, unsanitary places where social distancing is impractical, bathrooms and day rooms are shared by hundreds of inmates, and access to cleaning supplies is tightly controlled. Many inmates are 60 or older, and many suffer from respiratory illnesses or heart conditions. In response, local jails have discharged thousands of inmates since February, many of whom had been awaiting trials to have charges heard or serving time for nonviolent crimes. State prison systems, where people convicted of more serious crimes are housed, have been more reluctant to release inmates. Testing for the virus within the nation’s penal institutions varies widely and has become a matter of significant debate. Republican-led states like Texas, Tennessee and Arkansas — which generally spend less on prisoners than the national average — have found themselves at the forefront of testing inmates. In Texas, the number of prisoners and staff members known to be infected has
more than quadrupled to 7,600 during the past three weeks after the state began to test every inmate. Yet states that typically spend far more on prisons have carried out significantly less testing. California, which spends $12 billion annually on its prison system, has tested fewer than 4% of inmates in several of its largest, most crowded facilities, according to the state’s data. Other Democratic-led states that also spend heavily on prisons, including New York, Oregon and Colorado, have also conducted limited testing despite large outbreaks in their facilities. New York has tested about 3% of its 40,000 prison inmates; more than 40% of those tested were infected. Critics say that the dearth of testing in some facilities has meant that prison and public health officials have only vague notions about the spread of the virus, which has allowed some elected officials to suggest that it is not present at all. “We have really no true idea of how bad the problem is because most places are not yet testing the way they should,” said Dr. Homer Venters, who served as chief medical officer for the New York City jail system and now works for a group called Community Oriented Correctional Health Services, which works to improve health care services in local jails. “I think a lot of times some of the operational challenges of either not having adequate quarantine policies or adequate medical isolation policies are so vexing that places simply decide that they can just throw up their hands.” Most state prison systems have conducted few tests. Systems in Illinois, Mississippi and Alabama have tested fewer than 2.5% of inmates. And in Louisiana, officials had tested several dozen of its 31,000 inmates in March when the warden and medical director at one of the state’s largest prisons died of the coronavirus. The state has since announced plans to test every inmate. Prison officials in states where only a limited number of inmates have been tested say they are following federal guidelines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that only prisoners with symptoms be tested. Prisons that have conducted mass testing have found that about 1 in 7 tests of inmates have come back positive, the Times database shows. The vast majority of
inmates who have tested positive have been asymptomatic. Public health officials say that indicates the virus has been present in prison populations for far longer than had previously been understood. “If you don’t do testing, you’re flying blind,” said Carlos Franco-Paredes, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. But in California, there continues to be reluctance to test each of the state’s 114,000 inmates, despite growing criticism to take a more aggressive approach. One in six inmates in the state’s prisons have been tested, and the state has released some inmates who were later found to have the virus, raising fears that prison systems could seed new infections outside penal institutions. “Nothing significant had been done to protect those most vulnerable to the virus,” said Marie Waldron, the Republican minority leader of the California State Assembly. But J. Clark Kelso, who oversees prison health care in California, said that mass testing would provide only a snapshot of the virus’ spread. “Testing’s not a complete solution,” Kelso said. “It gives you better information, but you don’t want to get a false sense of security.” Instead, California has employed surveillance testing, which involves testing a limited number of inmates at each state prison regardless of the known infection rate. That method, Kelso said, had led officials to conclude that the vast majority of its prisons are free of the virus. “We’re not 100% confident because we’re not testing everyone,” he said. “As we learn every single day from what we’re doing, we may suddenly decide, ‘No, we actually have to test all of them.’ We’re not at that point yet.” In interviews, California prison inmates say prison staff have sometimes refused to test them, even after they complained about symptoms similar to the coronavirus. Several prisoners said they had been too weak to move for weeks at a time but were never permitted to see a nurse and had never been tested. “I had chest pains. I couldn’t breathe,” said Althea Housley, 43, an inmate at Folsom State Prison, where no inmates have tested positive, according to state data. “They told us it was the flu going around, but I ain’t never had a flu like that.”
The San Juan Daily Star
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Most Coronavirus tests cost about $100. Why did one cost $2,315? By SARAH KLIFF
n a one-story brick building in suburban Dallas, between a dentist office and a family medicine clinic, is a medical laboratory that has run some of the most expensive coronavirus tests in America. Insurers have paid Gibson Diagnostic Labs as much as $2,315 for individual coronavirus tests. In a couple of cases, the price rose as high as $6,946 when the lab said it mistakenly charged patients three times the base rate. The company has no special or different technology from, say, major diagnostic labs that charge $100. It is one of a small number of medical labs, hospitals and emergency rooms taking advantage of the way that Congress has designed compensation for coronavirus tests and treatment. “We’ve seen a small number of laboratories that are charging egregious prices for COVID-19 tests,” said Angie Meoli, a senior vice president at Aetna, one of the insurers required to cover testing costs. How can a simple coronavirus test cost $100 in one lab and 2,200% more in another? It comes back to a fundamental fact about the U.S. health care system: The government does not regulate health care prices. This tends to have two major outcomes that health policy experts have seen before and are seeing again with coronavirus testing. The first is high prices overall. Most medical care in the United States costs double or triple what it would in a peer country. An appendectomy, for example, costs $3,050 in Britain and $6,710 in New Zealand, two countries that regulate health prices. In the United States, the average price is $13,020. The second outcome is huge price variation, as each doctor’s office and hospital sets its own charges for care. One 2012 study found that hospitals in California charge between $1,529 and $182,955 for uncomplicated appendectomies. “It’s not unheard-of that one hospital can charge 100 times the price of another for the same thing,” said Dr. Renee Hsia, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and an author of the appendectomy study. “There is no other market I can think of where that happens except health care.” There is little evidence that higher prices correlate with better care. What’s different about the more expensive providers is that they’ve set higher prices for their services.
Patients are, in the short run, somewhat protected from big coronavirus testing bills. The federal government set aside $1 billion to pick up the tab for uninsured Americans who get tested. For the insured, federal laws require that health plans cover the full costs of coronavirus testing without applying a deductible or co-payment. Redacted medical bills and explanation-of-benefit documents provided by health insurers, coupled with bills that New York Times readers have shared, show the huge price variation in coronavirus tests. In Texas alone, the charge for a test can range from $27 to the $2,315 that Gibson Diagnostic has charged. Some patients are billed nothing at all for testing at public sites, where local government agencies pick up the tab. It’s hard to know the true range of what health providers charge and what insurers pay, because both parties typically keep that information secret. Health care providers testing for coronavirus also have additional protections if they want to charge high prices. The recent CARES Act requires that insurers cover the full cost of coronavirus testing, with no co-pays or deductibles applied to the patient. The health plans must also pay an out-of-network doctor or lab its full charge so long as the provider posts that “cash price” online. That latter provision is meant to prevent a practice known as “balance billing”: when an insurer pays an out-of-network doctor something less than the full charge, and the doctor bills the patient for the remainder. Health policy experts worry that the policy unintentionally gives some providers the green light to set exceptionally high charges, knowing that insurers are legally required to pay. “If you are an out-of-network lab, you can name your price,” said Loren Adler, an associate director at the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy. “I could say it’s $50,000, and you are required to pay me that amount.” No health care provider has been quite that bold in its coronavirus testing prices; most have kept their charges relatively modest. Many health care providers have settled on test prices of $50 to $200. Medicare initially paid heath providers $51.31 for coronavirus tests but bumped reimbursements up to $100 in mid-April. LabCorp, one of the country’s largest diagnostic testing firms, bills insurers $100 for its tests.
A few health providers have set their prices significantly higher. A chain of emergency rooms in Texas and Oklahoma, for example, has regularly charged patients $500 to $990 for coronavirus tests. A small hospital in Colorado and a laboratory in New Jersey have also come to insurers’ attention for their especially high bills. Multiple insurers identified Texas as the state where they’ve received the highest proportion of expensive tests. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas has received more than 600 out-of-network bills for coronavirus tests that are over $500, with an average charge of $1,114. Gibson Diagnostic Labs’ website advertises “COVID-19 testing for your patients with results in just 24 to 48 hours.” The website states the “cash price” for a coronavirus test as $150, which is what they bill the government for uninsured patients’ tests. The billed charges for insured patients were many multiples higher. Three large health insurers independently identified Gibson Diagnostic, which is in Irving, Texas, as the source of their highestpriced tests received during the pandemic. One national health plan was surprised to notice testing for sexually transmitted diseases tacked onto some of the coronavirus bills that ran through Gibson Diagnostic. In a statement last week, the company said the $2,315 price was the result of “human error” that occurred when a billing department employee entered the wrong price into an
internal system. It billed 117 tests at that price and had 23 of the claims paid in full. Some insurers paid partial reimbursements or sent back no money at all. The company said one insurance plan flagged the high price in mid-April, which led it to reduce the price to $500. The new charge was still 500% of the Medicare rate and $350 higher than the online cash price. The company declined to comment on how it settled on the new price and why it differed from the one posted on its website. Gibson Diagnostic also said that it had recently reversed a few of its $2,315 charges and, after an inquiry from The Times, would reverse the rest of those bills within 24 hours. Other laboratory owners questioned why even $500 would be necessary to run a relatively simple test. A data set of 29,160 coronavirus test bills provided by Castlight Health, a firm that assists companies with health benefits, found that 87% cost $100 or less. The American Clinical Laboratory Association estimates that its members, which have run a collective 11 million coronavirus tests, charge between $95 and $209. “I don’t believe it’s commercially reasonable,” said Peter Gudaitis, who runs Aculabs in New Jersey, a member of the association. Gibson Diagnostic may have come to a similar conclusion: This week, the company reached out to The Times to say it would once again lower its price. Now, the lab charges $300 per coronavirus test.
Gibson Diagnostic Labs in Irving, Texas, June 12, 2020, has charged remarkably high prices for testing of the coronavirus.
The San Juan Daily Star
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Man is shot at protest over statue of New Mexico’s Conquistador By SIMON ROMERO
unfire broke out during a protest Monday night in Albuquerque to demand the removal of a statue of Juan de Oñate, the despotic conquistador of New Mexico whose image has become the latest target in demonstrations across the country aimed at righting a history of racial injustice. As dozens of people gathered around a statue of Oñate, New Mexico’s 16th-century colonial governor, shouting matches erupted over proposals to take it down and a man was shot, prompting police officers in riot gear to rush in. The man, who was not identified, was taken away in an ambulance, and the police took into custody several members of a right-wing militia who were dressed in camouflage and carrying military-style rifles. It was not clear whether any of them had fired the shot; witnesses said the gunman was a white man in a blue shirt. “We are receiving reports about vigilante groups possibly instigating this violence,” Chief Michael Geier of the Albuquerque Police Department said on Twitter. “If this is true will be holding them accountable to the fullest extent of the law, including federal hate group designation and prosecution.” The victim was in critical but stable
condition, the police said on Twitter late Monday night. The protest turned into pandemonium as protesters screamed and dove for cover and police officers attempted to secure the scene. The police used chemical irritants and stun grenades to “protect officers and detain individuals involved in the shooting,” he said. “The individuals were disarmed and taken into custody for questioning.”
Hours later, Mayor Tim Keller announced that the Oñate statue would be removed until “the appropriate civic institutions” could determine how to proceed. “The shooting tonight was a tragic, outrageous and unacceptable act of violence and it has no place in our city,” the mayor wrote on Twitter. “Our diverse community will not be deterred by acts meant to divide or silence us.” He added: “Our hearts go out the
Members of a militia group called the New Mexico Civil Guard are apprehended after a shooting
Armed members of a right-wing militia attended the protest in Albuquerque, N.M.
victim, his family and witnesses whose lives were needlessly threatened tonight. This sculpture has now become an urgent matter of public safety.” The protest over the statue came on the same day that political leaders in Albuquerque announced a sweeping reorganization of policing in the city, shifting funds away from its scandal-plagued Police Department to create a new community safety department. The initiative will give 911 dispatchers the option of a “community safety response” aimed at de-escalating situations, rather than involving police officers or firefighters. The new department is expected to respond to calls related to homelessness, addiction and mental health. Police officers were not seen during
the early portions of Monday night’s protest over the statue, which marked a new phase in the debate over racial inequities that began with the death of an African American man, George Floyd, in police custody in Minneapolis last month. As protesters across the country have targeted a variety of symbols of racial injustice, including statues of Christopher Columbus, the protests in New Mexico are evolving to target symbols of colonial atrocities. Earlier in the day, authorities in the northern town of Alcalde removed a different statue of Oñate, whose brutal rule as provincial governor put into motion centuries of Spanish rule in the region. The agitation against honoring Oñate reflects a tension that has long festered between Native Americans and Hispanics over Spain’s conquest more than four centuries ago, with protests this year over police violence unleashing a broader questioning of race relations in this part of the West. Oñate’s period as governor was marked by a violent repression considered severe even by the standards of his time. He killed 800 indigenous people in Acoma Pueblo and ordered his men to cut off the foot of at least 24 male captives. Spanish authorities convicted him on charges of excessive violence and cruelty, permanently exiling him from New Mexico. Maurus Chino, 66, an Acoma artist, said he welcomed the efforts to take down the statues. But Chino said that in his view, removing the monuments did not go far enough. “Melt them down and recast them as commemorative pieces,” said Chino, adding that doing so could help draw attention to crucial junctures in New Mexico history, such as the 1680 uprising that figured among the most successful indigenous rebellions against the Spanish empire anywhere in the Americas. The statue in Alcalde that was removed on Monday gained notoriety decades ago when the right foot of the statue was cut off in a secretive act of protest. Since then, that act has resonated widely in New Mexico as a symbol of indigenous resistance.
The San Juan Daily Star
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
As meat plants stayed open to feed Americans, exports to China surged By MICHAEL CORKERY and DAVID YAFFE-BELLANY
mithfield Foods was the first company to warn in April that the coronavirus pandemic was pushing the United States “perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply.” Tyson Foods also sounded the alarm, saying that “millions of pounds of meat will disappear” from the nation’s supply chain as plants were being forced to close because of outbreaks. That same month, Smithfield sent China 9,170 tons of pork, one of its highest monthly export totals to that market in the last three years. Tyson exported 1,289 tons of pork to China, the most since January 2017. In all, a record amount of the pork produced in the United States — 129,000 tons — was exported to China in April. The data compiled by Panjiva, the supply chain research unit of S&P Global Market Intelligence, and the Department of Agriculture is potentially embarrassing for an industry that trumpeted its role in feeding the American public to argue to keep plants operating during the pandemic. Although some meat companies say much of their exported pork was produced before the outbreak, even previously processed meat could have stocked shelves in April and May. After slaughterhouses in several states were closed when thousands of workers tested positive and dozens died, the industry publicly lobbied the Trump administration to intervene with state and local officials or risk major meat shortages across American grocery stores. Indeed, some retailers put limits on the amount of meat customers could buy, and the fast-food chain Wendy’s, at one point, ran low on hamburger. But the meatpackers, including Smithfield, which China’s largest pork producer bought in 2013, did not emphasize, at least not publicly, that keeping the plants open would also protect their long-term investments in exporting to a country that is vital to their growth. Analysts say the meat shortages have subsided, with most plants having reopened, though many are still operating at slower speeds. As some meat companies
About 117,000 metric tons of pork produced in the United States in April was sent to China.] continue to test their workers, they are still discovering positive cases. So far, 25,523 meatpacking workers have tested positive and 89 have died, according to the Food & Environment Reporting Network, which has been tracking the outbreak. After decades of relatively stagnant pork consumption in the United States and a recent thaw in the trade war with China, this was the year that the pork exports were set to take off. “The meat companies were saying the sky was falling, and it really wasn’t,” said Tony Corbo, a senior lobbyist at Food & Water Watch, a consumer and environmental watchdog group. “It wasn’t that there was not enough supply. It was that the supply was being sent abroad.” The industry stands by its warnings about shortages and the need to keep the plants operating. “As long as our nation’s harvest facilities continue to operate, not only do we have enough meat to feed Americans, but also to feed the world,” Smithfield said in a statement. Before the pandemic took hold, the U.S. pork industry had been undergoing a major expansion. Large new slaughterhouses across the Midwest contributed to a 12% increase in pork processing between 2017
and 2019, federal government figures show. Farmers also enlarged their herds and even invested in building giant packing plants to process their pigs. In 2017, a venture involving five large Midwestern pig farmers built a nearly 1-million-square-foot, $335 million pork plant in Sioux City, Iowa, which started processing 3 million pigs a year. A year later, the company, Seaboard Triumph, added a second shift, doubling its annual output to 6 million pigs. To fully staff the plant, Seaboard Triumph recruited workers from as far as Micronesia. All of this expansion was taking place even though pork consumption in the United States has stayed relatively flat since the early 1980s. China, which consumes half the world’s pork, has long loomed as a big opportunity for American meat companies. “We are talking record pork production last year and the year before that,” said Dennis Smith, a livestock analyst at Archer Financial Services. “The producers need exports.” The trade war between the United States and China slowed pork exports. But by this winter, many of the tariffs had been reduced, and the American industry’s big bet on exports “started looking really smart,” Smith said.
The pork that is sent to China is often more profitable. In some cases, Chinese buyers import large portions of the pig carcasses, which require less labor to process and result in a higher margin for the meatpackers. China had also started to shape how American pigs are raised. Recently, large producers like Tyson said they would no longer process pigs that were fed ractopamine, a feed additive that allows them to gain muscle while eating less grain. Most pigs in the United States had been raised on the drug, but China bans it. Pork producers typically send 25-27% of their meat overseas, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. But that number jumped to 32% in the first four months of this year, driven by demand from China. Last week, the Department of Agriculture reported that total pork exports to mainland China in April reached their highest monthly total since the agency began keeping track 20 years ago. Overall pork exports increased 22% from the previous April, to 291,000 tons, though that was down from March. While the companies emphasize that exports to China include feet, tails and other parts most Americans don’t eat, about 40% of the April exports were whole carcasses. Some analysts believe those totals could be even larger. Meatpackers are notoriously secretive, and it’s unclear how many of the nation’s plants are designed to ship carcasses to China. “Some of the plants would be companies that maybe own five or six pork plants, and they said in one of our small plants, we’re just going to do carcasses for China,” said Brett Stuart, the president of the consulting firm Global AgriTrends. “I don’t think any of them have really reported what they’ve done.” Government data on exports is also incomplete. After the meat executives warned of shortages, Corbo of Food & Water Watch filed public-records requests asking the Department of Agriculture for a list of all “exports certificates” detailing meat exports from each company. The federal agency declined to release the amount or type of meat included in each shipment without the companies’ permission, he said.
The San Juan Daily Star
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Wall Street closes higher on signs of economic recovery
all Street advanced on Tuesday as the prospect of additional stimulus and a record jump in retail sales suggested the U.S. economy could bounce back sooner than expected, five months into its pandemicinflicted recession. All three major U.S. stock indexes posted their third consecutive daily gains. The Dow and the S&P remain about 11% and 8% below their respective record closing highs reached in February, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq hovers about 1% below its alltime closing high reached on June 10. Data released by the Commerce Department showed retail sales jumped by a record 17.7% in May, blowing past the 8% increase analysts expected. Investor risk appetite was given a further boost by the Trump administration’s anticipated $1 trillion dollar infrastructure package aimed at jump-starting the economy. “The retail sales numbers is the story that’s driving markets higher,” said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial in Charlotte, North Carolina. “But the smell of stimulus in the air is adding to today’s gains for sure.” Amid a resurgence of new COVID-19 cases in China and the United States, along with unabated progression of the pandemic in Latin America and elsewhere, a UK-led drug trial showed low doses of generic steroid drug dexamethasone reduced COVID-19 death rates among the most severe cases. “We got potentially more positive news in the fight against COVID-19,” Detrick added. “But while COVID is in most peoples’ minds, in the stock market’s view it is all about reopening and the strong data suggest the recovery is happening and faster than most expected.” At the beginning of his two-day testimony before Congress, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said, “Until the public is confident that the disease is contained, a full recovery is unlikely.” The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 526.82 points, or 2.04%, to 26,289.98, the S&P 500 gained 58.15 points, or 1.90%, to 3,124.74 and the Nasdaq Composite added 169.84 points, or 1.75%, to 9,895.87. All 11 major sectors of the S&P 500 ended the session well in the black, with energy and healthcare leading the charge. The upbeat retail sales data helped push S&P 500’s Retail index 2.3% higher, led by Nordstrom Inc and Kohls Corp, which surged by 12.9% and 9.0%, respectively. Much stronger than expected homebuilder sentiment data helped home improvement retailer Home Depot Inc provide among the biggest boosts to the blue-chip Dow. Its shares rose 3.6%.
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The San Juan Daily Star
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Coronavirus breaches Chinese capital, rattling officials By CHRIS BUCKLEY
uthorities in Beijing placed a swath of the city under lockdown Monday and tested tens of thousands of people as they rushed to contain a new coronavirus outbreak that marked an unnerving breach in China’s capital. President Xi Jinping had said from the outset that Beijing, the seat of Communist Party power and a crowded metropolis, should be a fortress against the pandemic, and local officials have imposed strict measures to keep infections low. Until now, the efforts appeared to have protected the capital against the virus after it emerged late last year in Wuhan, a city in central China. While the dozens of new cases in Beijing seem slight compared to the hundreds and even thousands of infections reported daily in other countries, the fresh outbreak has jolted China, prompting the government to fire local officials and reinstate some recently relaxed restrictions. The resurgence of cases points to the challenges that governments around the world face as they reopen economies while the virus persists. “We feel this is dangerous,” Chen Xiaoxi, owner of a shop about 2 miles from a market linked to the new outbreak, said by telephone. He said he was awaiting the results of a nucleic acid test to check if he had the virus. “It is a worry; everyone is worried,” Chen said. “This is no ordinary disease. We’re waiting at home and can’t go out.” The city government said Monday it had tracked down 79 coronavirus infections over the previous four days. Early Tuesday, it said it had confirmed another 27 cases on the previous day, bringing the total from the flare-up to 106. The government said another 10 people had the virus but showed no symptoms. Virtually all of the cases appeared to be ultimately traceable to the vast, bustling Xinfadi food market in the south of Beijing. Xi, who is also the leader of the ruling Communist Party, has not commented publicly on the latest cases, but he previously stressed the importance of controlling outbreaks in Beijing, as well as Wuhan. “The safety and stability of the capital directly concerns the broader outlook for the party and the country,” he said in February when giving orders about the epidemic. Some Chinese disease control experts said Beijing appeared to respond to the outbreak quickly. Even so, this failure in the capital’s defenses appeared to rile Xi’s subordinates. Two local officials and the general manager of the Xinfadi market were dismissed Sunday for what the city leadership said was a failure to move
Paramilitary police officers and security staff members at the closed Xinfadi market in Beijing on Sunday. quickly enough against the infections. A vice premier warned that the outbreak could widen. “The market is densely packed with many moving around, and the risks are high that the outbreak will spread,” Sun Chunlan, a vice premier overseeing health policy, said at a meeting Sunday, according to Xinhua, the official news agency. “Take firm and decisive measures to thoroughly prevent its spread.” Until this outbreak, Beijing had gone 56 days without new locally acquired cases. Officials were mainly concerned that the virus would be carried in by Chinese people returning to the city from abroad. By the end of Sunday, Beijing had recorded a total of 499 cases of officially confirmed coronavirus infections since the epidemic began in late 2019, including nine deaths. A scattering of new infections outside Beijing appeared linked to the upsurge in the city. Sichuan province in southwest China said a woman who recently arrived there was infected, probably through her husband in Beijing who was infected. Hebei province next to Beijing reported four new cases connected to infections in the capital. Liaoning province in the northeast also said two cases there were connected to the Beijing
infections. To stifle the new outbreak, the government has brought out a playbook of policies and restrictions honed during China’s nationwide battle against the epidemic. Authorities shut down and sealed the market over the weekend. City officials were testing 90,000 residents from neighborhoods around the Xinfadi market and another market suspected of a role in the infections, the government said Monday. Residential compounds in those neighborhoods have been sealed, and authorities were racing to track down and isolate anyone who has been infected. The area is home to many migrant workers from elsewhere in China. Beijing city authorities announced Monday that neighborhoods across the rest of the city would also step up checks, requiring round-the-clock manning of entrances, temperature checks and expanded disinfection. The government banned restaurants from holding wedding banquets and other large gatherings. Xu Hejian, a spokesperson for the Beijing government, said at a news conference Monday: “We must fully grasp that epidemic containment in the capital is long-term, complex and arduous.”
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
The San Juan Daily Star
Coronavirus accelerates across Africa By RUTH MACLEAN
hen Daniel Khan Mbuh died in a hospital in northern Cameroon, the hospital declared the cause of death to be COVID-19 — then released the body to the family instead of arranging for a safe burial, his daughter Stella said. Mbuh said she was told the house where she had been caring for her father in the city of Bamenda would be disinfected. Nobody came. When she tried to get tested, the hospital refused, saying there were not enough test kits. And she was never advised to self-isolate, so she simply imposed her own two-week quarantine on herself and her siblings. “They said they are following contacts,” Mbuh said of health officials, “but I am one of the contacts. And I am not being followed.” The spread of the new coronavirus is now accelerating in many countries in Africa, where medical resources are stretched, rumors are rife and efforts to stop the pandemic are sometimes haphazard. Public health experts have warned that Africa could become the next epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Health Organization said last week that confirmed cases in Africa had doubled in 18 days to reach 200,000; the first 100,000 took 98 days. “Even though these cases in Africa account for less than 3% of the global total, it’s clear that this pandemic is accelerating,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, said in a video briefing last week. She said that until there was a vaccine available, the continent would have to live with a steady increase of cases. Most African nations staved off the initial spread of the virus for several months, partly by closing borders early, banning public gatherings and, in some countries, effectively tracing contacts using past experience of infectious diseases. But the time this bought was not enough to bolster weak health care systems and to prepare for the predicted explosion of cases. And now that many African countries, like others across the globe, are lifting their restrictions in order to restart their economies, the virus has new opportunity to spread and potentially, to overwhelm health care systems. Nigerian doctors announced a nationwide strike starting on Monday over the lack of personal protective equipment in government hospitals and hazard pay for treating COVID-19 patients. Dozens of Nigerian health care workers have been infected, partly because they had no protective gear. Epidemiologists at the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned of a “catastrophic shortage” of health care professionals, and a drastic reduction
Health workers disinfecting a market in Toamasina, Madagascar, this month. Public health experts have warned that Africa could become the next epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic. of medical supplies because of border closures, price increases and restrictions on exports imposed during the pandemic. “Africa needs to intensify its efforts to slow the spread of the pandemic,” they said in an article published last week in the journal Nature. They said that the continent needed financial support to stop the pandemic and tackle its economic and humanitarian effects. The early spread of the pandemic in many African countries was driven by foreigners and the economic elite: people from Europe, and those with the means to travel there. It has continued to spread among elites. Ghana’s health minister caught the virus “in the line of duty,” the country’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, said on Sunday. Four people in the Kenyan president’s office tested positive and have been taken to the hospital, according to a statement from the office. However, what has often been perceived in Africa as a foreigners’ disease is increasingly reaching all sections of society. Testing is still extremely limited in most countries, so it is impossible to know how widely the pandemic has taken hold. But a month ago, the WHO predicted that between 29 and 44 million Africans could
become infected in the first year. Truckers are carrying the coronavirus across borders, just as truckers had also spread HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Countries now have set up border controls, which can intensify the points of contact and possible spread of infection. In the border town of Garoua-Boulaï in the Central African Republic, dozens of truck drivers jostled outside a tarpaulin tent waiting to get tested for the coronavirus. Some wore masks, but many did not, or had pulled them down below their chins. They had to wait for many days for results until their samples could be driven 370 miles across the country to the capital, Bangui. But as they waited, other citizens crossed back and forth at the border without being checked. No truck, no problem. Rumors and lack of information have also contributed to the spread. In Tanzania, President John Magufuli said that the country had eradicated coronavirus “by the grace of God.” His government stopped releasing any data on cases after April 29. In Nigeria, most of the public health messages have been released in English, which many Hausa speakers in the north do not understand.
The San Juan Daily Star
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
North Korea blows up liaison office shared with South Korea By CHOE SANG-HUN
orth Korea on Tuesday blew up a building where its officials and their South Korean counterparts had recently worked side by side, dramatically signaling its displeasure with the South after weeks of threats to end the countries’ recent détente. South Korean border guards heard an explosion and then saw smoke rising from Kaesong, the North Korean town where the building was located. The building appeared to be blown completely apart in a blast so powerful that windows in nearby buildings were also shattered, according to video footage from a South Korean surveillance camera on the border. The South’s Unification Ministry confirmed that North Korea had demolished the four-story glass-and-steel building that housed what had been known as the joint liaison office. Hours later, the North’s official news agency said “the liaison office was tragically ruined with a terrific explosion,” adding that the action reflected “the mind-set of the enraged people” of North Korea. No South Koreans had worked at the office since January, when it was closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The office, staffed by personnel from both sides, was opened in 2018, at a time when the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea had held optimistic meetings and were discussing the possibility of broad economic cooperation. It was the first channel for full-time, person-to-person contact between the Koreas, which have technically been at war for decades because an armistice, not a peace treaty, halted the Korean War in 1953. South Korea had considered the office an important step toward ending decades of enmity, hoping it would eventually lead to the establishment of diplomatic missions in each other’s capitals. But relations between the Koreas have soured since then, and this month, North Korea began making the liaison office a rhetorical target. On June 5, it threatened to close it down. Four days later, it cut off all communication lines with the South, including one that went through the liaison office. The North said it was determined to “completely shut down all contact means with South Korea and get rid of unnecessary things.” Three days before the demolition, Kim Yo Jong, a sister and prominent adviser to Kim, had warned that “before long, a tragic scene of the useless North-South joint liaison office completely collapsed would be seen.” For weeks, the North has been threatening to walk away from the more cordial relationship it established with the South in 2018. It reacted with anger this month to propaganda campaigns carried out by activists in South Korea, who have used balloons to send leaflets over the border denouncing Kim and his repressive government. South Korea, hoping to keep the peace, has vowed to stop the balloon launches and is planning legislation that would outlaw them. Last week, the North referred to the South as an “enemy.” And on Tuesday, hours before the demolition in Kaesong, the North’s military had threatened to send back troops that it had previously withdrawn from areas near the
Kim Jong-un, in white, leading a meeting in a photo released by the North Korean state media last week. South Korean border. The North Korean People’s Army said it had been asked to develop “an action plan” to “turn the front line into a fortress and further heighten the military vigilance against the South,” according to a statement published by the state media. It said the plan would involve returning soldiers to areas that had been demilitarized under past agreements with the South. Sending more troops to the border — already the most heavily fortified in the world — would further raise tensions with the South. But in saying that the move was in the planning stages, the North seemed to be leaving room for compromise. The South Korean military warned on Tuesday that it would “respond strongly” to any provocative action by the North along the border. The threatened North Korean troop deployment would involve areas near the border that have been demilitarized since 2000, when the two Koreas’ leaders met for the first time. Monday was the 20th anniversary of that summit meeting. Under those agreements, the North withdrew some of its frontier military units to make way for roads linking South Korea to Diamond Mountain — a resort destination in the North, which became the site of an experiment in inter-Korean tourism — and to Kaesong, where the two Koreas jointly operated an industrial park years before the liaison office opened. Both projects were part of the South’s “Sunshine Policy” of improving ties through economic cooperation, which led to the 2000 meeting between Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, and then-President Kim Dae-jung of the South. But that goodwill soured over the years as North Korea continued to develop
a nuclear arsenal, and the two projects were eventually shut down. The Koreas’ relations warmed again in 2018. Kim Jong Un and Moon agreed to stop cross-border propaganda, and they set a goal of resuming the Kaesong industrial park and the Diamond Mountain project. They also removed more troops from the border area, shutting down some of the guard posts that both Koreas maintain within the so-called Demilitarized Zone that separates them. But acrimony has returned in recent months. Kim’s diplomacy with President Donald Trump collapsed last year, frustrating his hopes of winning relief from tough international sanctions imposed on the North over its nuclear weapons. He has since stepped up pressure on the South to move ahead with the Kaesong and Diamond Mountain ventures, both of which had brought the North much-needed hard currency. Under the 2018 agreements, however, those joint projects were to be resumed only as part of a broader deal to denuclearize the North. The South’s refusal to proceed with them regardless has led to increasingly harsh rhetoric from the North, whose economy, already suffering under the sanctions, has been damaged further by the coronavirus pandemic. On Saturday, Kim Yo Jong, Kim’s sister, said the North should no longer “trust the trite language” coming from Moon’s government. “I feel it is high time to surely break with the South Korean authorities,” she said, adding that the “next step” would be taken by the North Korean military. On Monday, Moon marked the 20th anniversary of the Koreas’ first summit meeting by saying that the road to peace was“slow” and “tortuous.” He urged Kim “not to reverse the promise of peace he and I made before 80 million Koreans.”
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Russian court sentences American to 16 years on spy charges By IVAN NECHEPURENKO and ANDREW HIGGINS
court in Moscow on Monday sentenced an American who claims he was framed by Russian agents to 16 years in a highsecurity prison for espionage, delivering another blow to President Donald Trump’s already faltering efforts to “get along with Russia.” The harsh sentence against Paul N. Whelan, 50, further unravels a relationship that, despite Trump’s often favorable public remarks about President Vladimir Putin, has been spiraling downward since a series of mutual expulsions of diplomats in 2018. Speaking outside the courthouse Monday, John J. Sullivan, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, denounced the case as “mockery of justice” symptomatic of what he described as the “low ebb” of relations between Moscow and Washington. He said that Whelan, held since his arrest in late 2018 at Lefortovo, a bleak czarist-
era prison in Moscow, had been “horribly mistreated.” Whelan, he said, had repeatedly been denied medical treatment for a hernia until having to undergo a rushed operation at the end of May. Whelan’s family has said that his health is deteriorating. Whelan has repeatedly protested his innocence, insisting that he was set up by Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, the post-Soviet version of the KGB, in order to imprison an American who could later be traded for a Russian detained in the United States. The severity of the sentence suggested Russia could be angling for the release of a high-profile prisoner in the United States. Vladimir A. Zherebenkov, Whelan’s lawyer, said after the verdict that the defense team had already received offers to exchange him. “It will be up to the Kremlin to offer an exchange,” Zherebenkov said. “The question will then be sorted on the level of the Foreign Ministry.” He said that Russia would likely want to
Paul N. Whelan, right, an American arrested in Russia in December 2018, at a court in Moscow on Monday.
trade Whelan for someone like Viktor A. Bout, a Russian arms dealer sentenced to 25 years by a New York court in 2012, or Konstantin Yaroshenko, a former Russian pilot convicted in the United States on drug dealing charges. Bout, on whose career the film “Lord of War” is loosely based, is so well known and widely reviled that any move to trade him would create an uproar. Nonetheless, Putin has frequently voiced outrage at the arrests of Russian citizens by the United States and demanded their release. Dmitry S. Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, said after the Monday verdict that the Kremlin does not get involved in prisoner exchanges, despite ample evidence to the contrary. Whelan — who holds British, Irish and Canadian citizenships, in addition to American — had been a frequent visitor to Russia and counted himself as a Russophile before his last trip, in December 2018, to attend a wedding. During those visits he made contact with several low-ranking members of the Russian military, possibly drawing the attention of Russian intelligence agencies. Zherebenkov said his client had been under surveillance in Russia for many years. Whelan served in the Marine Corps until 2008, when he received a bad conduct discharge after a larceny conviction. At the time of his arrest, he was director of global security and investigations for BorgWarner, an international automotive parts manufacturer based in Michigan. He was first seized by FSB agents at a luxury hotel near the Kremlin, shortly after a Russian friend had handed him a thumb drive; Whelan said he thought it contained pictures from their recent trip to a monastery town near Moscow. Russian officials said it contained classified information, prompting the foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, to declare that Whelan had been “caught red handed.” According to Zherebenkov, the lawyer, Russian prosecutors claimed that Whelan was an officer with the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.
“The information on that thumb drive was fake,” Zherebenkov said after the verdict was announced. “This was a provocation.” Whelan’s conviction comes at an awkward moment in relations between Washington and Moscow, with the presidents of both countries battered by domestic crises. Putin, facing widespread grumbling from a population whose already-waning economic fortunes have deteriorated significantly because of the coronavirus, has seen his approval ratings fall to their lowest level since he came to power 20 years ago. Trump’s ratings have also slumped amid widespread criticism over his handling of the pandemic and of racial tensions and protests over the killings of African Americans by the police. On Sunday, Putin took a swipe at Trump over what he said was America’s poor response to the virus compared with Russia’s. He also took aim at Trump’s opponents, who he said had contributed to a “deep internal crisis” in the United States by refusing to accept Hillary Clinton’s defeat in 2016. Whelan, who once described the legal process against him as “the Moscow goat rodeo,” has repeatedly appealed to Trump to secure his release. On Monday he held up a sign in court that, in addition to denouncing his trial as a “sham” and stating that “Paul’s Life Matters,” said: “Decisive Action from Potus and PM’s needed!” a reference to the president of the United States and the prime ministers of Britain, Canada and Ireland. Monday’s verdict against Whalen suggests that the Kremlin has decided it sees no upside in doing the Trump administration any favors. “We had hoped that the court might show some independence but, in the end, Russian judges are political, not legal, entities,” David Whelan, Whelan’s brother, said in a statement after the verdict. His family hopes for a successful appeal, David Whelan said, “but Russians do not expect justice from their legal system, and neither do we.”
The San Juan Daily Star
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Ask not what President Trump can do for you By MICHELLE COTTLE
nce again, President Donald Trump is taking heat for treating the presidency like a branding exercise. This time, instead of brandishing a Bible he doesn’t read next to a church he doesn’t attend, the president is resuming huge, made-for-TV campaign rallies. The first is set for Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It will take place in a 19,000-seat arena that, in deference to the coronavirus pandemic that’s still raging, had canceled all other events through the end of July. For Trump’s triumphal return, his campaign has decided that no social distancing is required. He wants this to be a spectacle, packed with as much noisy adoration as possible. But whatever risks those attending might incur, Team Trump is taking steps to ensure that it bears none. All rally attendees must sign a liability waiver holding the campaign legally blameless in the event that people subsequently fall sick. Or drop dead. Over the weekend, Tulsa’s top health official, noting that coronavirus cases are spiking in the state, implored the campaign to postpone the party. But what is the health of his followers to Trump compared with a mass show of affection — especially after he has endured so many sad weeks without such affirmation? It is important to stress that there is nothing wrong with presidential photo ops per se. Politics is a performative business, especially the presidency. With skillful staging, presidents can signal their priorities, inspire the nation or simply model good behavior. Think about Ronald Reagan at the Berlin Wall; George W. Bush throwing out the first pitch in Game 3 of the World Series in Yankee Stadium not long after the Sept. 11 attacks; Barack Obama sitting alone on the Rosa Parks bus. As tacky as it may sound, using people as props is also a presidential staple. What are the guests at the State of the Union address but a way to convey priorities? And bill signings not infrequently feature regular Americans affected by the legislation. Now and then, the messaging goes sideways. Jimmy Carter donning a cardigan for a fireside chat about the energy crisis depressed Americans more than it roused them to conserve. And George W. Bush most likely had second thoughts about the “Mission Accomplished” fiasco of 2003. But, on the whole, presidential theater is a powerful tool of the trade, one that Trump should understand better than most. He is, after all, a former reality TV star, long obsessed with image and ratings.
isn’t limited to people he considers hostile. On Saturday, he delivered the commencement address in person at West Point to a crowd of cheering cadets. Footage from the event will, no doubt, make for vivid campaign ads. To give the president his moment — complete with a 21-gun salute — some 1,100 young men and women, all of whom had been sent home in March because of the pandemic, were summoned back to campus to quarantine together for two weeks before the ceremony. More than a dozen initially tested positive for the coronavirus. The graduates’ friends and family were not allowed to attend the ceremony, which drew protesters carrying signs with messages such as “Cadets Aren’t Props.” Now Trump is thinking even bigger — and demanding greater risk from his most faithful followers. From a public health standpoint, resuming large, crowded, indoor rallies is madness. But the President Trump during a campaign rally in Las Vegas president is not content simply to endanger the lives in February. of his supporters. He is demanding they sign away their rights for the privilege. Three-plus years into office, however, he rarely As promised, Trump continues to disrupt and (if ever) aims for anything more than making himself redefine presidential norms. Downward. look important. Whether posing in a tractor-trailer, using Air Force One as campaign prop or ordering up a martial pageant for July 4, complete with tanks and fighter jets, no higher purpose is on display. While such performances carried a whiff of Il Duce, most did not put the public at direct risk. PO BOX 6537 Caguas PR 00726 The same cannot be said of Trump’s public relations Telephones: (787) 743-3346 • (787) 743-6537 stunts of late. (787) 743-5606 • Fax (787) 743-5100 The Lafayette Square episode of June 1 was chilling. The White House’s damage-control efforts aside, the basics are clear: Attorney General Bill Barr directed federal law enforcement agencies to clear peaceful protesters from the area directly across the street from the White House. Smoke bombs, pepper Publisher balls and rubber bullets were among the weapons used. This was done as the president and his entouManuel Sierra Sharon Ramírez rage — including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of General Manager Legal Notices Graphics Manager Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, in combat fatigues — were María de L. Márquez Elsa Velázquez preparing to walk across the park so Trump could Business Director Reporter wield a Bible in front of the parish house of a historic church for a photo op so impious it would make R. Mariani José Sánchez Fournier Beelzebub blush. Circulation Director Reporter Current and former members of the military Lisette Martínez María Rivera expressed their dismay. Milley later apologized for Advertising Agency Director Graphic Artist Manager letting himself be used. “I should not have been there,” he said in a video statement. Ray Ruiz None of them should have been there. Legal Notice Director Trump’s disregard for public health and safety
Dr. Ricardo Angulo
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
The San Juan Daily Star
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL
Gay rights are civil rights By THE NYT EDITORIAL BOARD
n an emphatic win for civil rights, equal justice and common sense, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that federal law bars employers from firing workers for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The vote was 6-3. It should have been unanimous. As Justice Neil Gorsuch explained for the court’s majority, the right result could not be clearer. The federal law at issue, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, prohibits employment discrimination “because of sex.” And “an employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex,” Gorsuch wrote. “Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.” In separate cases consolidated for argument, three plaintiffs — two gay men and a transgender woman — had sued their employers for firing them after learning of their sexual orientation or transgender status. It does not matter, the court said, whether the employer might have had additional reasons for the firing. “Intentionally burning down a neighbor’s house is arson, even if the perpetrator’s ultimate intention (or motivation) is only to improve the view,” Gorsuch wrote. Nor can an employer avoid the law’s prohibition by claiming it treats all men the same or all women the same. The bottom line, he wrote, is that Congress wrote a law with intentionally broad language, and “ours is a society of written laws.”
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Protesters gathered outside of the Brooklyn Museum for a rally and silent march on Sunday. Monday’s decision will soon have ripple effects, including the likely invalidation of the Trump administration’s decision last week to eliminate protections against discrimination in health care for transgender patients. In a lengthy dissent that sounded like it was written in 1964, Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, argued that the court’s job is to interpret statutes to “mean what they conveyed to reasonable people at the time they were written.” It’s hard to imagine these justices applying the same logic to the meaning of the Second Amendment, which reasonable people at the time understood to apply to bayonets and muskets. But we digress. Alito’s point was that the lawmakers who passed the Civil Rights Act could not possibly have anticipated “sex” to cover discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s true, of course. They also could not have imagined that it would cover sexual harassment of male employees — and yet in 1998 the Supreme Court found unanimously that it did. “Statutory prohibitions often go beyond the principal evil to cover reasonably comparable evils, and it is ultimately the provisions of our laws rather than the principal concerns of our legislators by which we are governed,” the court said then, in an opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia. Gorsuch, who succeeded Scalia on the bench, reiterated this basic concept Monday: “The limits of the drafters’ imagination supply no reason to ignore the law’s demands. When the express terms of a statute give us one answer and extratextual considerations suggest another, it’s no contest. Only the written word is the law, and all persons are entitled to its benefit.”
While we’re on the subject of legislators’ intentions, it is worth noting the historical irony behind the inclusion of “sex” in the civil rights law — which was, after all, targeted primarily at racial discrimination. The term was added at the last minute by Rep. Howard Smith, a staunch segregationist from Virginia, in the hope that lawmakers would see it as a bridge too far and vote down the entire bill. Smith’s failed gambit continues to pay off in ways that he surely never could have dreamed. Still, there are reasons to be cautious. Gorsuch’s commitment to textualism, a method of interpreting laws by looking solely to their plain words, achieved a just result in this case, but when applied too rigidly it can lead to very unjust results. In his previous job on a federal appeals court, thenJudge Gorsuch wrote an opinion holding that a trucker could legally be fired for abandoning his brokendown truck in subzero temperatures — based on a wooden reading of the word “operate.” In short, this particular victory for gay rights was based not on the fundamental equality or dignity of gay and transgender Americans, as previous Supreme Court decisions have been; it was based on the meaning of a single word. The opinion also hints at a potentially serious obstacle on the horizon: claims by employers that being prohibited from discriminating against gay and transgender workers violates their religious convictions. Such claims are likely to find a sympathetic ear among this Supreme Court’s conservative majority, which has repeatedly voted to protect if not promote religion and religious objectors. For now, however, Monday’s decision is a victory to savor, the next major step in a line of gay rights decisions stretching back nearly a quarter century, and until now written solely by Justice Anthony Kennedy. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who succeeded Kennedy in 2018, graciously admitted as much in his own dissent. Although he disagreed with the majority’s opinion, he wrote: “It is appropriate to acknowledge the important victory achieved today by gay and lesbian Americans. Millions of gay and lesbian Americans have worked hard for many decades to achieve equal treatment in fact and in law. They have exhibited extraordinary vision, tenacity and grit — battling often steep odds in the legislative and judicial arenas, not to mention in their daily lives. They have advanced powerful policy arguments and can take pride in today’s result.” Take pride, indeed.
The San Juan Daily Star
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Citarán so pena de desacato a presidente de empresa 313, LLC Por THE STAR icardo Vázquez, presidente de la empresa 313, LLC R será citado so pena de desacato a comparecer ante la Comisión de Salud de la Cámara de Representantes, que preside Juan Oscar Morales. Según trascendió, Vázquez no compareció a su cita ante la comisión, por lo que se procederá a citar al empresario bajo pena de desacato, confirmó a la agencia de noticiasCyberNews. La Comisión Salud investiga en torno de la Resolución de la Cámara 1741, el manejo y distribución de los recursos en las agencias de Gobierno de Puerto Rico durante la emergencia existente en Puerto Rico a causa de la pandemia del COVID-19. “Luego de haber evaluado todas las gestiones que ha hecho esta Comisión y de haberle ofrecido varias oportunidades a estas personas para que acudieran y pudieran prestar testimonio aquí, ante nuestra Comisión desde el 7 de mayo, entendemos necesario solicitar el auxilio del presidente de la Cámara de Representantes, al amparo de los Artículos 34 y 34a del Código Político para que presente ante el Tribunal de Primera Instancia, Sala de San Juan una petición para la comparecencia a vista pública del licenciado Ricardo Vázquez Hernández, presidente de 313 LLC”, dijo el representante en comunicación escrita. Morales Rodríguez explicó que, mediante un referéndum circulado y avalado de forma unánime por los miembros de la Comisión, se le solicitará al presidente de la Cámara de Representantes, Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Núñez que “pueda autorizarnos acudir ante el Tribunal para solicitar esta comparecencia”. Esta determinación se tomó luego de que por tercera vez Vázquez Hernández no atendiera a la citación, luego de haberse ausentado el 7 y 18 de mayo. Anteriormente, el deponente mediante su asesor legal, el Lcdo. Miguel A. Negrón Matta, había solicitado ofrecer testimonio en vista ejecutiva, pero según
explicó el representante Morales Rodríguez, el testigo debía comparecer ante el pleno de la Comisión de Salud y presentar los argumentos que justificaran esta decisión. “En aquel momento le instruimos al directivo de 313, LLC que compareciera ante la Comisión ya que ellos habían hecho unos planteamientos de que ellos querían que se le otorgara de antemano una vista ejecutiva haciendo alusión de que era importante la confidencialidad de información y el testimonio que iba a ser ofrecido por la compañía. En aquel momento, nosotros le solicitamos que viniesen ante la Comisión de Salud y le presentara ante el pleno cuáles eran los argumentos, las justificaciones para ellos estar solicitando una vista ejecutiva”, explicó el legislador. Sin embargo, tanto el día 7 como el 18 de mayo los citados no comparecieron y la Comisión procedió a hacerle unos requerimientos que no fueron contestados a satisfacción de ésta, por lo que decidieron citarlo para el día de hoy. “A esta compañía se le hicieron más de 30 preguntas y muchas de ellas no fueron contestadas. Otras, su contestación pues no es la que nosotros tenemos la información y es por eso que entendimos pertinente citar nuevamente a esta compañía para hoy martes, 16 de junio”, añadió Morales Rodríguez, quien señaló que durante el fin de semana y en horas de anoche, el asesor legal de Vázquez Hernández justificó su petición en que estaba cooperando con las autoridades federales y estatales. “Yo lamento grandemente que una compañía que se le adjudicaron unas órdenes de compra del Departamento de Salud, órdenes de compra que tenemos que recordar que fueron pagadas con fondos públicos, han tomado el camino de no venir aquí ante la Comisión a la luz del día y aclarar todas las dudas que pueda tener esta Comisión con relación al proceso de compra que se llevó a cabo en el Departamento de Salud”, dijo Morales Rodríguez.
Además, informó que al momento no se ha podido usar ninguna de las más de 100,000 pruebas adquiridas por un monto que sobrepasa los tres millones de dólares y que fueron pagadas en su totalidad, pero no fueron entregadas por completo. Por su parte, el representante José Aponte Hernández, opinó que no hubo de parte de los directivos de 313, LLC “un interés de comparecer ante esta Comisión y tal vez se pudiese decir que estuvieron utilizando solicitudes de posposición para poder acomodarse a lo que sabían que sería una citación de Justicia y ahora están levantando el asunto de confidencialidad y de sumario fiscal”, contrario a los dueños de la compañía APEX, que presentaron los argumentos para que se le concediese una vista ejecutiva, a pesar de que ellos también han cooperado con las autoridades de ley y orden. Mientras, que el representante independentista Denis Márquez Lebrón expresó su molestia ante la incomparecencia del testigo ya que planteó “no existe ningún argumento de los que yo he visto en ninguna de estas comunicaciones para que no estén aquí presente e incluso, esos argumentos que utilizan sobre confidencialidad son inaplicables para este foro y menos aún, en la forma en que están planteados”. Por otro lado, el representante Jesús Ortiz González se unió a las expresiones de los otros legisladores “porque de lo que se trata aquí es de otra transacción altamente cuestionable en donde se desembolsó el 100 por ciento del costo de esta transacción a esta compañía; una compañía que hasta este momento no había entregado el 50 por ciento o más de las pruebas que le vendió al Gobierno de Puerto Rico y que las que le entregó están siendo cuestionadas sobre su utilización, lo que tiene al Gobierno en un caso en los tribunales con esta empresa”. Igualmente, la representante Lydia Méndez Silva criticó la incomparecencia de este testigo al señalar que la salud de un pueblo nunca puede ser tratado como un negocio.
Miembros de la Asociación Profesional de Contadores aplauden firma de Ley 57-2020 Por THE STAR
os miembros de la Asociación Profesional de Contadores expresaron su agradecimiento el martes, al presidente de la Cámara de Representantes, Carlos ‘Johnny’ Méndez, así como a los representantes Antonio ‘Tony’ Soto y Víctor Parés, por viabilizar la Ley 57-2020, la cual ayuda directamente a los pequeños y medianos comercios puertorriqueños a enfrentar la crisis económica y la pérdida de ingresos provocado por la pandemia del COVID-19. “La Asociación agradece a la Cámara de Representantes, particularmente su presidente, Carlos ‘Johnny’ Méndez Núñez, el presidente de la Comisión de Hacienda, Antonio ‘Tony’ Soto y el representante Víctor Parés, por la firma del Proyecto de la Cámara 2468 convertido en la Ley 57-2020, que será conocida como ‘Ley Complementaria para Atender los Efectos de la Economía Puertorriqueña
Provocados por la Emergencia del COVID-19’’, dijo María Maíz, primera vicepresidente de la organización, mediante declaraciones escrita. “Con esta aprobación, se logra obtener alivio económico directo al bolsillo de todos los comerciantes que de alguna forma u otra han estado sufriendo la tragedia económica desde los huracanes Irma y María en el año 2017, los terremotos y la Pandemia COVID-19 en el 2020. Gracias por tan ardua labor legislativa para lograrlo”, agregó. Entre las iniciativas económicas exclusivamente dirigidas a pequeños y medianos comerciantes se encuentran permitir el ‘carry back’ de pérdidas de negocio de años anteriores, elimina por tres meses el tributo de cuatro por ciento por el llamado ‘B2B’, elimina la contribución mínima alternativa de 500 dólares para todo comercio en el año 2019, pospone el informe de Procedimientos Previamente Acordados preparado por un contador público au-
torizado, extiende por seis meses de manera automática las licencias y permisos requeridos en la actividad comercial y excluye del ingreso bruto y de patente municipal las ayudas, subsidios o estímulos concedidos a nivel local o federal, entre otros. También, pospone la radicación de las declaraciones informativas requeridas en las Secciones 1063.01 a las 1063.16 del Código hasta el 31 de mayo de 2020. La Asociación Profesional de Contadores, Inc., es una asociación profesional, compuesta por contadores que ejercen la práctica de la contabilidad, que trabajan para la empresa privada o el gobierno o como estudiantes de contabilidad. Fue fundada en el año 1978 ante la necesidad imperativa de organizar esta profesión para defender los derechos que nos pertenecen. Cuenta con capítulos organizados y activos en los distritos de San Juan, Ponce, Mayagüez, Arecibo y Caguas.
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
The San Juan Daily Star
The 2021 Oscars will be delayed
Steve Martin and Chris Rock during the 92nd annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles. By BROOKS BARNES
he Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said on Monday that it would push back the next Oscars ceremony to April 25 from Feb. 28, citing the coronavirus pandemic. The postponement, the fourth since the Academy Awards were introduced in 1929, could prompt the Golden Globes and other entertainment award shows to recalibrate. The eligibility window for best picture consideration at the coming Academy Awards was extended to Feb. 28 instead of Dec. 31. to make up for the closing of theaters between March and June. The academy did not say whether the April 25 show on ABC would involve the usual red carpet and live audience. “Our hope, in extending the eligibility period and our awards date, is to provide the flexibility filmmakers need to finish and release their films without being penalized for something beyond anyone’s control,” David Rubin, the academy’s president, and Dawn Hudson, the organization’s chief executive, said in a statement. “For over a century, movies have played an important role in comforting, inspiring and entertaining us during the darkest of times. They certainly have this year.” The academy consulted with the Los Angeles
County Department of Public Health in selecting a new date for the Oscars. “We find ourselves in uncharted territory this year and will continue to work with our partners at the academy to ensure next year’s show is a safe and celebratory event,” Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment, said in a statement. The Oscars telecast is a big business, generating 83% of the academy’s roughly $150 million in annual revenue. ABC controls broadcast rights until 2028 at a cost of about $75 million a year. The network seeks nearly $3 million per 30-second commercial. The academy also said Monday that its Governors Awards, which is not televised and where lifetime achievement Oscars are handed out, would not take place this fall as planned. “Additional information about the ceremony and selection of honorees will be provided at a later date,” it said. The academy, which last week unveiled a new plan to promote nominee diversity (starting with the 2022 ceremony), also pushed back the opening for its long-delayed museum in Los Angeles; the nearly $400 million project, originally set to arrive in 2017, will now open on April 30. For its part, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences said Monday that its Creative Arts Emmys, at which the majority of Emmys are awarded annually, would be held virtually in September. The main Em-
mys telecast remains scheduled for Sept. 20 on ABC. The television academy said that discussions were underway “regarding the format.” It is easy to mock the annual Emmy and Oscar contests as frivolous, especially at a time when the United States is heading toward 140,000 COVID-19 deaths and demands for police reform are roiling seemingly every corner of American life. But awards do form a crucial part of the Hollywood economy. The Oscars telecast, at its core, is a colossal marketing tool — one needed more than ever, given the closing of theaters in recent months. While viewership has declined sharply in recent years, the Oscars show still attracts an audience of more than 23 million people. Pay for actors, directors, sound designers, set decorators and other film and TV workers is directly affected by wins and nominations. Publications like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter need for-your-consideration ads to survive. Caterers, limo drivers, florists and stylists reap windfalls from awards-related events. All told, companies like Netflix, Universal, Disney and Warner Bros. spend tens of millions of dollars on award campaigns. The pandemic has thrown a wrench into Hollywood’s awards machinery. Many art films that were scheduled for release by the end of the year are still unfinished. Tastemaker events like the Cannes Film Festival have been disrupted. (The Toronto Film Festival, the biggest of the fall festivals, will announce its plans in the coming days, a spokeswoman said.) With theaters closed, the academy said in April that streaming films, for the first time, could skip a theatrical release entirely and still remain eligible for Oscars. The Academy Awards were last postponed in 1981, after the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. The ceremony was also delayed in 1968 after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and in 1938 because of catastrophic flooding in Los Angeles. Even so, April 25 will mark the latest date that the ceremony has been held since its first iteration in 1929. A delayed Academy Awards could result in similar moves by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which puts on the Golden Globes, currently scheduled for Jan. 11, and the major Hollywood guilds, each of which gives out their own trophies in the lead-up to the Oscars. Later on Monday, the EE British Academy Film Awards, Britain’s equivalent of the Oscars, were postponed to April 11 from Feb. 14. The new timeline also means that January and February — typically cinematic dead zones — will almost certainly be stocked with Oscar-caliber films. Studios usually release their awards contenders all at once at the end of the year to remain top of mind to academy voters.
The San Juan Daily Star
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Museums embrace art therapy techniques for unsettled times By ZACHARY SMALL
hen the instructor asked him to describe his life in two words, Walter Enriquez chose carefully: fear and violence. He had spent decades as a policeman in Peru during the bloodiest days of armed conflict between government forces and guerrilla fighters that killed nearly 70,000 people. But he said that nothing could have prepared him for the extreme isolation and loneliness that come with quarantine. Having lost a handful of his friends and neighbors to the coronavirus pandemic, the 75-yearold retiree has turned toward art therapy programs offered by the Queens Museum in New York to improve his mental health. “We cannot go outside and enjoy our lives like before,” Enriquez said in Spanish, translated by his daughter. “But art helps us capture the past and relive positive experiences to get through pain and sadness.” Every Thursday, he waits patiently at the computer for class to begin. For 30 minutes, he fidgets with the colored pencils, pens and papers at the desk inside his daughter’s apartment in Richmond Hill, Queens. And with those tools he creates scenes from his life based on prompts from his instructor: portraits of his mother and friends; images of Goyaesque, nightmarish demons representing disease that when rendered on paper feel less threatening. Participants share their creations through Zoom, using their drawings and poetry (also part of the classes) to discuss life before and after the pandemic. Like thousands of other older New Yorkers, Enriquez has recently learned to use the internet to connect with the outside world. La Ventanita, one of the museum’s initiatives in response to the coronavirus pandemic, provides him a chance to socialize with other Spanish speakers through guided art lessons about self-expression. “Before the program, I felt very alone; now I can learn to produce art,” he said, adding that the program has revived his childhood aspiration of becoming a poet through the weekly prompts that ask him to create poetry based on his youth. Although psychologists have long recognized the benefits of art therapy, which decades of scientific research suggests can improve moods and reduce pain, few American museums have devoted resources toward creating programs. But the demands of a grief-stricken public are now compelling cultural institutions around the country to create trauma-aware initiatives that put their art collections and educators at the forefront of a mental health crisis created by the pandemic and the worldwide protests over police brutality and racism after George Floyd’s killing. And faced with plummeting revenue projections, industry leaders say they wouldn’t be surprised if mu-
seums turned toward art therapy for a new source of revenue or other funding opportunities. “Art therapy is typically funded by insurers,” said Dina Schapiro, assistant chairperson for the Pratt Institute’s Creative Arts Therapy Department. “You already have patrons coming into museums and paying a fee. It would be especially good for people who are resistant to the traditional venues of therapy like an office.” Although it doesn’t plan to charge for such programs, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is looking to start art-therapy based initiatives. “We are adjusting to a new reality and looking into how we can use art history to reflect on shared experiences of isolation and trauma,” said Rebecca McGinnis, the museum’s senior managing educator for accessibility. The Met plans to reopen as a safe space for New Yorkers in much the same way it did after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Curators are beginning to think about how exhibitions can be designed as trauma-aware to avoid triggering visitors. McGinnis has also prepared a running list of artworks that can help visitors soothe their post-COVID anxieties, including scenes of domestic tranquility like Honoré Daumier’s “The Laundress” (1863), depictions of resilience like Faith Ring-
In an undated image provided by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Honoré Daumier’s “The Laundress” (1863).
gold’s “Street Story Quilt” (1985), and memorials to the dead like a fifth-century B.C. Greek grave stele of a little girl. And in May, the museum revamped a teen event to focus on self-care and communication during the coronavirus crisis. Organized with the Bronx Museum and the Museum of Chinese in America, participants discussed the effects of the pandemic through writing prompts, dance workshops and zine-making. “Art has a therapeutic impact for everybody,” McGinnis said. “People will be coming to us after experiencing loss; some for whom the disease has permanently impacted their bodies. How can we continue to reflect all those human experiences?” At the Rubin Museum of Art, employees have started to ask similar questions of their own collection of Tibetan and Nepalese objects perfectly suited for the art of self-contemplation. For now, the museum plans to restart its meditation podcast and gear some of its learning programs to those affected by COVID-19 with pensive artworks like a 13th-century gilded statue of the Hindu goddess Durga or a 16th-century cloth painting of the Buddha meditating as demonic hordes assail him from below. Taking another approach, the Cincinnati Art Museum in Ohio plans to train more than a hundred volunteer docents on art therapy techniques that will help them greet visitors when it reopens this summer. That museums are taking art therapy more seriously than ever is due in large part to a program at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts that allows physicians to prescribe free access to its galleries. The museum was also one of the first in North America to hire a fulltime art therapist in 2017. Stephen Legari, who took the job, normally sees about 1,200 participants each year, but demands for his services have increased as Montreal — the epicenter of Canada’s coronavirus outbreak — reopens. “In quarantine, you’re looking at the same things in your apartment every day,” he explained. “The repetition is grinding down your capacity to concentrate. By contrast, museums are places for wonderment, beauty and awe.” Katerine Caron joined the art therapy program about three years ago. For much of her life, the 52-yearold writer has dealt with neurological damage and severe trauma after being hit by a speeding car while walking her children across the street. She eagerly awaits Wednesday group sessions. “I hadn’t created art since I was a child,” Caron said, “but art therapy has helped me externalize what I’m feeling and express my gratitude for life.” For her, the therapy has created a space outside the pandemic for her to process difficult emotions. “I’m less anxious and agitated,” she said, adding, “When I see the works of other artists, I know that I’m not alone.”
FASHION The San Juan Daily Star
Wednesday, March June 4, 2020 Wednesday, 17, 2020 20 22
The San Juan Daily Star
What we learned from London Fashion Week
The London Fashion Week homepage. By ELIZABETH PATON
his past weekend was always going to be unlike any London Fashion Week before. There were no live runway shows. No front row, backstage beauty scrum or heaving photographers’ pit; no mouthy security on the door or street-style snaps taken outside gilded venues. With coronavirus travel bans and social distancing measures still in place in Britain, there were no big crowds. And with most brands continuing to struggle with the economic fallout of the global crisis, only a handful of the showcased collections were new designs. The question was: Could a digital equivalent, watched from your sofa, ever be the same? The answer — at least for now — is no. The British Fashion Council always acknowledged this replacement of what would have been the spring 2021 menswear shows would be an experiment as well as a reset. Still, the three-day affair, built on a Netflix-style home page with streamed events and new content created by brands, retailers, cultural institutions, media partners and students alike, was a bold effort given the circumstances. And, perhaps, the beginnings of a road map for where the concept and purpose of fashion week could go next — with or without a live audience. Here is what we learned: — It wasn’t about the clothes. This iteration of London Fashion Week functioned, like its
physical counterpart, as a platform to celebrate fashion talent, and particularly the emerging talent for which the British capital is known. But this season, brands had to look for new ways to tell their stories. Browsing the website, with its mix of mediums like video art and music playlists, photo retrospectives and designer Q&As, felt like turning the pages of an interactive magazine or scrolling through an arty Instagram feed. Though there were pops of originality, the digital formula lacked a sense of urgency or the anticipation that grows while you are sitting and waiting for catwalk theatrics or a hot debut — whether in the audience or watching a livestream anywhere at all. And because of social distancing orders and industrywide manufacturing delays, there wasn’t much actual fashion in sight. — There were few household names. Given the industry turmoil caused by coronavirus, and that the shift to a digital format was only announced in April, the lineup lacked many of the bigger mens and womenswear names of the London fashion scene. With no Burberry, A-Cold-Wall or Victoria Beckham taking part, there was a palpable absence of star power — the charge that usually powers the showcases from the big four cities and gives them major commercial clout. So, new talent took center stage. On the upside, it was a chance for newer names to use some newer mediums to articulate some of the ideas that shape their usual approach to making clothes. Instead of her usual tailoring, the menswear designer Bianca Saunders unveiled a vi-
brant new zine, We Are One of the Same, that explored themes of gender identity, community and blackness, with prints that could be bought on her website. Nicholas Daley, an LVMH Prize finalist this year, presented a nostalgic short film of his fall runway show, held in January, with musical accompaniment by the jazz musicians Kwake Bass, Wu-Lu and Rago Foot. And Priya Ahluwalia held a virtual reality exhibition to celebrate the release of her new photography book, “Jalebi,” that allowed the viewer to roam around a gallery and click on information points to find out more about what it means to be a young mixed-heritage person in modern Britain. — Causes were the biggest trend …. This year has forced fashion to rip up the rule book. So it felt fitting that at the last minute Charles Jeffrey canceled his plans to livestream a drop-in dance party Saturday night and instead hosted a black talent showcase and fundraiser for UK Black Pride. Martine Rose collaborated with the poet and activist KaiIsaiah Jamal to celebrate the release of a capsule collection that used deadstock fabrics from her studio. And Osman Yousefzada presented a moving short film called “Her Dreams Are Bigger,” which took clothes with “Made in Bangladesh” labels that had been bought in Britain back to their country of origin, where garment workers tried them on and envisaged the women who had once worn them. … though who exactly was watching? Because the platform was open to all, not just the industry and media, there was considerable excitement online in the runup to this fashion week. That isn’t something to ignore: Shanghai Fashion Week, which took place online in late March, reportedly drew 11 million viewers and sold $2.75 million worth of clothes and accessories direct to consumers during livestreams. Retail, after all, is the reason that fashion weeks exist. And as stores are reopening in the West, fashion brands of all sizes need that potential support and audience more than ever.
The San Juan Daily Star
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
A single session of exercise alters 9,815 molecules in our blood By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS
hen we exercise, the levels of thousands of substances in our bloodstream rise and drop, according to an eye-opening new study of the immediate, interior effects of working out. The study is the most comprehensive cataloging to date of the molecular changes that occur during and after exercise and underscores how consequential activity — and inactivity — may be for our bodies and health. Already, of course, we have reams of evidence that exercise alters our metabolisms, muscles, genes, immune responses, hearts, stamina and almost every other organ and biological system within us. But only in recent years, with the development of sophisticated new techniques for counting and typing the thousands upon thousands of different molecules within us, have scientists been able to quantify more of the substances and steps involved in those processes. With these techniques, they have zeroed in on various sets of molecules in our bloodstreams associated with different aspects of our biology. This research generally is known as “omics” science. Metabolomics, for instance, enumerates and analyzes molecules in our blood that influence metabolism — everything from appetite hormones to enzymes excreted by gut microbes. Genomics maps the molecules involved in gene expression; proteomics ditto for proteins; lipidomics for fat-related molecules; and so on. Recently, many studies have looked into particular ’omics affected by exercise. Almost all have focused on one arena, such as metabolomics or genomics and usually exclusively in people who are healthy and fit or those who are not. But for the new study, which was published in May in Cell, scientists at Stanford University and other institutions decided to try to complete a full census of almost every molecule that changes when we work out. This undertaking is daunting, but these researchers already had been quantifying the various ’omics of a group of about 100 adult men and women and knew a great deal about their health and fitness. Now, they chose 36 of them, representing an age range between 40 and 75 and a full spectrum of fitness and metabolic health. Some were in good aerobic condition, others out of shape, and some displayed fine blood-sugar control, while others were insulin resistant. The researchers drew blood from each volunteer and then asked them to complete a standard treadmill endurance test, running at an increasing intensity until exhaustion, usually after about nine or 10 minutes of exercise. The researchers drew more blood immediately after this exertion and again 15, 30 and 60 minutes later. Later, they also drew blood from some of the volunteers before and after they had quietly rested, as a control measure. Then they started counting and characterizing a boggling quantity of molecules in each person’s blood. They looked for molecules that were known to change when
people exercise, but also for any that might not have been examined in previous exercise studies but were showing up in people’s blood now. They wound up measuring the levels of 17,662 different molecules. Of these, 9,815 — or more than half — changed after exercise, compared with their levels before the workout. Some increased. Others declined. Some gushed immediately after the exercise, then fell away, while others lingered in heightened or lowered amounts for an hour after the workout. The types of molecules also ranged widely, with some involved in fueling and metabolism, others in immune response, tissue repair or appetite. And within those categories, molecular levels coursed and changed during the hour. Molecules likely to increase inflammation surged early, then dropped, for instance, replaced by others likely to help reduce inflammation. “It was like a symphony,” said Michael Snyder, the chair of the genetics department at Stanford University and senior author of the study. “First you have the brass section coming in, then the strings, then all the sections joining in.” Interestingly, though, different people’s blood followed different orchestrations. Those who showed signs of insulin resistance, a driver of diabetes, for instance, tended to show smaller increases in some of the molecules related to healthy blood sugar control and higher increases in molecules involved in inflammation, suggesting that they were
somewhat resistant to the general, beneficial effects of exercise. The levels of other molecules ranged considerably in people, depending on their current aerobic fitness. Overall, the researchers were taken aback by the magnitude of the changes in people’s molecular profiles after exercise, Snyder said. “I had thought, it’s only about nine minutes of exercise, how much is going to change? A lot, as it turns out.” This study was small, though, and looked at a single session of aerobic exercise, so it cannot tell us anything about the longer-term molecular effects of continued training or of how, precisely, changes in molecular levels subsequently alter health. It also did not include volunteers under 40. Snyder and his colleagues are planning follow-up experiments with more volunteers and sustained exercise programs. They hope to establish whether certain molecular responses to exercise might distinguish people who would benefit from emphasizing resistance exercise over endurance training and whether specific molecular profiles indicate who has higher or lower aerobic endurance. This information could allow physicians and researchers to check fitness with a simple blood draw instead of a treadmill stress test. But for now, the findings emphasize the wide-ranging, pervasive, immediate and individualized effects of exercise, Snyder said. “It’s beautiful music,” he said, “and it’s yours.”
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
The San Juan Daily Star
Oumuamua: Neither comet nor asteroid, but a cosmic iceberg
An artist’s rendering of Oumuamua, a 1,000-foot-long, cigar-shaped object that traveled through our solar system in 2017. By DENNIS OVERBYE
t has been 2 1/2 years since astronomers in Hawaii discovered a strange, cigar-shaped object speeding through the solar system on a trajectory from far away and toward even farther away. Today Oumuamua, the Hawaiian term for “scout,” as the object was named, is now long gone, somewhere between the orbits of Saturn and Neptune and on its way to the Great Out There, but astronomers are still wondering and debating what it was. The cosmic interloper was first thought to be an interstellar asteroid, a chunk of rock shed by another star system. Then astronomers decided it must be a comet, likewise flung loose from some faraway star and planetary system. Briefly they speculated that it could be an alien artifact, a derelict probe like the giant spaceship in Arthur C. Clarke’s novel “Rendezvous With Rama,” or a fragment from a planetesimal that was ripped apart by a gravitational interaction or collision. Now a pair of Yale astronomers have suggested that Oumuamua was neither an asteroid nor a comet. Rather, it was a cosmic iceberg: a chunk of frozen hydrogen. Moreover, it was a primordial leftover, originating not from another planetary or star system at all but from a place and time where stars and planets didn’t exist yet: the deep, dark core of an interstellar cloud, one of the galumphing assemblages of gas and dust that shadow the starry lanes of the Milky Way, and where stars are sometimes born. That might not sound as exciting as an alien spaceship, but
if the assessment is accurate, it would provide astronomers with direct insight into stellar nurseries, a part of the universe that human technology cannot access. These clouds, composed mostly of molecular hydrogen left over from the Big Bang, can contain the mass of tens of thousands of suns and span hundreds of light-years. At their center, where no sun yet shines, protected from radiation, the temperature can plunge to a few degrees above absolute zero, cold enough for hydrogen itself, the lightest, most volatile and most common element in the universe, to freeze. In turn, these frozen particles stick to small grains of interstellar dust, growing in a few thousand years into an ice cube 1,000 feet wide. “Oumuamua is now long gone and is not observable in any way,” Darryl Seligman, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago, said in an email. But, he added, if he and his colleagues are right, more cosmic icebergs will surely come to be detected, and inspected, by facilities like the new Vera Rubin Observatory in Chile. The European Space Agency is mulling a project called the Comet Interceptor, a spacecraft that would be parked in space near Earth and could chase comets and other alien wanderers as they come through the solar system. “If the hydrogen hypothesis is correct, we should be able to prove our theory by detecting future objects,” Seligman said. Also, he added, it would mean “Oumuamua bears no genetic relation to Borisov,” referring to 2I/Borisov, an interstellar
comet that visited our solar system late last year. Seligman, then a graduate student at Yale and now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago, and his adviser, Greg Laughlin, came to this conclusion after studiously recreating Oumuamua’s trajectory and analyzing all the forces and influences on it during its journey. They published their results in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. Karen Meech of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii, whose team discovered Oumuamua, described Seligman as “a very creative and highly competent scientist” with whom she would happily collaborate, although she said she had not yet spent enough time with his paper to venture an opinion on his hypothesis about Oumuamua. “There are lots of creative ideas out there about this object,” she said. She mentioned a suggestion by Sean Raymond, an astrophysicist at the University of Bordeaux, that Oumuamua was a fragment of alien planetesimal that had been sheared off by a close encounter in its home system. Originally Oumuamua showed none of the sizzle and flash typical of comets — dirty snowballs that blow off gas and dust into tails and glowing comas when sunlight warms them. Astronomers concluded that it was inert, like an asteroid. Yet its brightness varied wildly, suggesting that it was irregularly shaped and tumbling. Astronomers eventually concluded that the object was about 1,000 feet long and cigar-shaped, evoking the image of a rocket cylinder. But further analysis revealed that it was speeding up as it exited the solar system, evidence that gas boiling off the surface of the icy body was giving it a boost. That meant it was a comet after all. But when Seligman and Laughlin tried to simulate the comet’s behavior based on calculations of how much energy it would have received from the sun, they found that water ice, the main constituent of ordinary comets, did not provide enough oomph to explain the comet’s acceleration. “Frozen hydrogen does, however, offer a compelling mechanism for acceleration,” Seligman said. Being more volatile, it could easily supply the necessary energy boost. But that version of events would require rewriting Oumuamua’s origin story yet again. Forget about alien planet systems or even aliens. Solid hydrogen can exist only at temperatures below 6 degrees Kelvin, or 6 degrees Celsius above absolute zero. To find temperatures cold enough to freeze hydrogen out of the interstellar gas, you would have to go inside the coldest, densest lumps, called prestellar cores, in big, dark molecular clouds. “In fact, you need to do it in a starless core, because if you formed a star, then the radiation would destroy all of the icebergs,” Seligman said. If this version of events is accurate, telescopes like the Vera Rubin Observatory, which is designed to scan the entire sky every three days, are likely to find more wandering hydrogen icebergs entering the solar system, Seligman said. Astronomers will be able to watch them light up and evolve as the erosive power of sunlight gets to work. For those of us stuck probably forever near our home star, you have to appreciate a universe that delivers takeout.
The San Juan Daily Star LEGAL NOTICE
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
trónico: joseanalfonso@gmail. beldía, concediéndose el remeTORRES LUCIANO com. EXPEDIDO POR ORDEN dio solicitado en la demanda, ESPOSA DE BRYAN DEL TRIBUNAL, en Aguadilla, sin más citarle ni oírle. TORRES LUCIANO Lcda. Mariana Ortiz Colón, Puerto Rico, hoy 9 de junio de Abogada Núm. 15394; Colegiada Y LA SOCIEDAD 2020. SARAHÍ REYES PÉREZ, Número: 16599 Secretarla Regional. LEGAL DE BIENES 221 Ponce de León Ave., Suite 900, GANANCIALES POR San Juan, PR 00917, LEGAL NOT ICE Teléfono: (787) 296-9500, AMBOS COMPUESTA; ESTADO LIBRE ASOCIADO Correo Electrónico: FIGUEROA TELEPHONE DE PUERTO RICO TRIBUNAL firstname.lastname@example.org CONSTRUCTION INC.; DE PRIMERA EXTENDIDO BAJO MI FIRMA SALA SUPERIOR DE CA- y Sello del Tribunal, hoy 15 de ELÍAS D. FIGUEROA A: YESENIA junio de 2020. Carmen Ana PeCORTÉS, ESPOSA DE GUAS. PEÑA MIRANDA reira Ortiz, Secretaria. Teresita FIRSTBANK ELÍAS D. FIGUEROA DIRECCIÓN: Vega Gonzalez, SubSecretaria. 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Usted deberá presentar su aleSERRANO, SU SUCESION BIENES GANANCIALES ramaiudicial.pr, salvo que se gación responsiva a través del JOSE SANTIAGO represente por derecho propio, COMPUESTA POR Sistema Unificado de Manejo y MELENDEZ; SU Administración de Casos (SU- AMBOS Y A TODO AQUEL en cuyo caso deberá presentar su alegación responsiva en la SUCESION COMPUESTA MAC), al cual puede acceder QUE TENGA ALGUN secretaría del tribunal. Este utilizando la siguiente dirección POR ZUTANO DE DERECHO SOBRE SUS caso trata sobre Cobro de Dineelectrónica: https://unired.raTAL Y MENGANO DE BIENES Y ACCIONES. Y ro; Incumplimiento de Contrato, majudicial.pr/sumac/, salvo que TAL; SUCESION DE se presente por derecho pro- A TODA PERSONA QUE en que la parte demandante solicita que se condene a la parte ANDREA SERRANO DESEE OPONERSE. pio. Se le apercibe que de no ORTIZ COMPUESTA hacerlo, el tribunal podrá dictar POR LA PRESENTE se les no- demandada a pagar: (i) PréstaSentencia en rebeldía conce- tifica que deberán comparecer, mo de Auto: la suma principal POR: GLADYS Del diendo el remedio solicitado en si creyeren les conviene, ante de $38,171.03; más la cantidad Valle SERRANO, SU de $1,555.25 en intereses, los la demanda, sin citarle ni oírle. este Honorable Tribunal dentro SUCESION COMPUESTA Expedido bajo mi firma y sello de TREINTA (30) DIAS a partir cuales continúan aumentando del Tribunal, hoy día 5 de junio de la publicación de este edicto, hasta el pago total y completo POR SUS HIJOS ARGIO JOEL OLIVERAS DEL de 2020. Lcda. Marilyn Aponte que se publicará una vez en un de la deuda a razón de $8.29 Rodriguez, Secretaria Regio- periódico de circulación gene- diario; y la suma de $401.21, VALLE Y CHRISTIAN por concepto de cargos por nal. LOURDES DIAZ MEDINA, ral, para exponer lo que a sus MIGUEL OLIVERAS derechos convenga en la pre- mora, los cuales también conSec. Aux. Trib. I. DEL VALLE Y SU VIUDO tinuarán aumentando hasta el sente petición sobre DAÑOS Y LEGAL NOTICE ARGIO OLIVERAS PERJUICIOS, promovido por la pago total de la deuda; más 5% ESTADO LIBRE ASOCIADO Parte Demandante, Mercedes del balance adeudado, equivaCARRILLO; ELBA DE PUERTO RICO TRIBU- Torregros De La Rosa. Debe- lente a $2,006.38, por concep- FERRER SERRANO, SU NAL DE PRIMERA INSTANCIA rán notificar sus alegaciones to de honorarios de abogado; SUCESION ROSA AMALIA responsivas mediante el siste- para un total de $42,133.87, SALA DE AGUADILLA. FERRER SERRANO; más intereses que se acumuma electrónico del Tribunal coMERCEDES MIGUEL ANGEL DEL nocido como SUMAC y copiar len hasta el pago; (ii) Tarjeta TORREGROSA DE a la representación legal de la de Crédito: $6,490.96, más VALLE SERRANO; LA ROSA Demandante, LCDO. JOSÉ los intereses y recargos que se HERIBERTO DEL VALLE DEMANDANTE vs A. ALFONSO ARROYO, P. O. acumulen hasta el pago total de SERRANO & GLORIA COOPERATIVA DE BOX. 838, CABO ROJO PUER- la deuda. Se le apercibe que SEGUROS MÚLTIPLES DE TO RICO, 00623-0838, Tel. si dejare de hacerlo, se dictará DEL VALLE SERRANO; contra usted sentencia en reSUCEISON DE JORGE PUERTO RICO; BRYAN (939) 350-7810 y Correo Elec-
Demandadas Estado Libre Asociado de Puer- CIVIL NÚM: CA2020CV00155. to Rico TRIBUNAL GENERAL SALA: 407. SOBRE: COBRO DE JUSTICIA Tribunal de Pri- DE DINERO (REGLA 60). mera Instancia Sala Superior EDICTO. ESTADOS UNIDOS de RIO GRANDE. DE AMERICA, EL PRESIDENCENTURION INSURANCE TE DE LOS ESTADOS UNIDOS, EL ESTADO LIBRE ASOAGENCY INC CIADO DE PUERTO RICO. Demandante Vs. S.S.
ESTADOS UNIDOS DE AMERICA P/C ADM. DE HOGARES DE AGRICULTOR Y OTROS
Demandado (a) Civil Núm.: RG2019CV00467. SOBRE: CANCELACION DE PAGARE EXTRAVIADO. NOTIFICACIÓN DE SENTENCIA POR EDICTO.
A: JOOHN DOE Y RICHARD DOE TAL DIRECCION DESCONOCIDA
EL SECRETARIO (A) que suscribe le notifica a usted que el 15 de mayo de 2020 este Tribunal ha dictado Sentencia, Sentencia Parcial o Resolución en este caso, que ha sido debidamente registrada y archivada en autos donde podrá usted enterarse detalladamente de los términos de la misma. Esta notificación se publicará una sola vez en un periódico de circulación general en la Isla de Puerto Rico, dentro de los diez (10) días siguientes a su notificación. Y, siendo o representando usted una parte en el procedimiento sujeta a los términos de la Sentencia, Sentencia Parcial o Resolución, de la cual puede establecerse recurso de revisión o apelación dentro del término de 30 días contados a partir de la publicación por edicto de esta notificación, dirijo a usted esta notificación que se considerará hecha en la fecha de la publicación de este edicto. Copia de esta notificación ha sido archivada en los autos de este caso, con fecha de 2 de junio de 2020. En FAJARDO, Puerto Rico, el 2 de junio de 2020. WANDA I SEGUI REYES, Secretario Regional. f/ MERLLY OLMO TORRES, Secretaria Auxiliar.
LEGAL NOTICE ESTADO LIBRE ASOCIADO DE PUERTO RICO TRIBUNAL DE PRIMERA INSTANCIA REGION JUDICIAL DE CAROLINA SALA MUNICIPAL DE CAROLINA.
COOPERATIVA DE AHORRO Y CREDITO EDECOOP Demandante V.
YESENIA PEÑA MIRANDA, ROSE MELENDEZ PIMENTEL, EVELYN CRESPO MENDEZ, en carácter de @
LUIS FERRER SERRANO recurso de revisión o apelación dentro del término de 30 días COMPUESTA POR: contados a partir de la publicaELSA BEATRIZ FERRER ción por edicto de esta notificaPEREZ; VICTOR MANUEL ción, dirijo a usted esta notificaFERRER PEREZ; JORGE ción que se considerará hecha LUIS FERRER PEREZ; en la fecha de la publicación de este edicto. Copia de esta CLARIBEL FERRER notificación ha sido archivada MIRANDA; PERLA IVETTE en los autos de este caso, con FERRER MIRANDA; fecha de 9 de junio de 2020. En JORGE LUIS FERRER BAYAMON, Puerto Rico, el 9 de junio de 2020. LCDA LAURA I CAMACHO & ROSA SANTA SANCHEZ, Secretario MARIA FERRER OTERO; Regional. VERONICA RIVERA VANESSA BABILONIA RODRIGUEZ, Secretaria AuMILLIGAN, su esposo, xiliar. JULIO GUILLERMO LEGAL NOTICE RIVERA RIVERA, Y ESTADO LIBRE ASOCIADO LA SOCIEDAD LEGAL DE PUERTO RICO TRIBUDE GANANCIALES NAL DE PRIMERA INSTANCIA CENTRO JUDICIAL DE CAROCOMPUESTA POR LINA SALA SUPERIOR. ESTOS; JOHN DOE LIME RESIDENTIAL, LTD Y JANE DOE, COMO Parte Demandante Vs. POSIBLES HEREDEROS FIRSTBANK PUERTO DESCONOCIDOS; Y RICO; JONH DOE y FULANO DE TAL Y RICHARD ROE como MENGANO MAS CUAL, posibles tenedores COMO PERSONAS CON desconocidos INTERES.
Demandado (a) Civil Núm.: BY2019CV01396. SALA: 502. SOBRE: ACCION CIVIL; PROTOCOLOS EXTRAVIADOS & CORRECCION DE INSCRIPCION REGISTRAL. NOTIFICACIÓN DE SENTENCIA POR EDICTO.
Parte Demandada CIVIL NUM. CA2020CV00644. SOBRE: CANCELACION DE PAGARE EXTRAVIADO. EMPLAZAMIENTO POR EDICTO. ESTADOS UNIDOS DE AMÉRICA EL PRESIDENTE DE LOS EE. UU. EL ESTADO LIBRE ASOCIADO DE PUERTO RICO. SS.
A: Víctor Manuel Ferrer Pérez; Argio Joel Oliveras A: JOHN DOE Y RICHARD Del Valle; Sucesión de ROE COMO posibles José Santiago Meléndez, tenedores desconocidos compuesta por Zutano POR LA PRESENTE se les de Tal y Mengano de Tal; emplaza y requiere para que Sucesión de Elba Ferrer conteste la demanda dentro de los treinta (30) días siguientes Serrano compuesta a la publicación de este Edicto. por sus hijos Minerva Usted deberá radicar su aley José de apellidos gación responsiva a través del desconocidos; John Doe Sistema Unificado de Manejo y y Jane Doe, herederos Administración de Casos (SUal cual puede acceder desconocidos; y Fulano MAC), utilizando la siguiente dirección de Tal y Mengano Más electrónica: http://unired.ramaCual, personas con judicial.pr/sumac/, salvo que se interés en la propiedad presente por derecho propio,
EL SECRETARIO (A) que suscribe le notifica a usted que el 12 de marzo de 2020 este Tribunal ha dictado Sentencia, Sentencia Parcial o Resolución en este caso, que ha sido debidamente registrada y archivada en autos donde podrá usted enterarse detalladamente de los términos de la misma. Esta notificación se publicará una sola vez en un periódico de circulación general en la Isla de Puerto Rico, dentro de los diez (10) días siguientes a su notificación. Y, siendo o representando usted una parte en el procedimiento sujeta a los términos de la Sentencia, Sentencia Parcial o Resolución, de la cual puede establecerse
en cuyo caso deberá radicar el original de su contestación ante el Tribunal correspondiente y notifique con copia a los abogados de la parte demandante, Lcdo. Orlando Camacho Padilla, al PO BOX 7970, Ponce, P.R. 00732; Teléfono: 787-8434168. Email: lcdocamacho@ yahoo.com. En dicha demanda se tramita un procedimiento de cancelación de pagare extraviado. Se alega en la demanda que el pagare fue suscrito por Francisco Reyes Regalado, a favor de Firstbank de Puerto Rico, o a su orden, por la suma de $231,300.00, con un interés anual de 7.1/4%, vencedero el primero de junio de 2036, según costa de la escritura número 413 otorgada en San Juan,
Puerto Rico el día 20 de mayo de 2006, ante el notario Jorge García Soto, inscrita al folio ciento setenta y dos (172) del tomo quinientos veintitrés (523) de Río Grande, finca número veintinueve mil cuatrocientos setenta y cinco (29,475), inscripción quinta (5ta). Además, se alega que se modificó y amplió la hipoteca de la segunda (2da) inscripción por la suma de $231,300.00 es ampliada a la suma de $265,751.60, con intereses al 5.50% anual empezando y terminando en 4% a vencer el primero de agosto de 2015, según consta de la escritura número 351 otorgada en San Juan, Puerto Rico el 27 de agosto de 2011 ante la notario Teresa Jiménez Meléndez, inscrita al folio ciento setenta y dos (172) del tomo quinientos veintitrés (523) de Río Grande, finca número veintinueve mil cuatrocientos setenta y cinco (29,475),inscripción quinta (5ta). Que grava la propiedad que se describe a continuación: URBANA: Solar número diez (10) del Bloque “D” de la Urbanización Pedregales, radicada en el Barrio Ciénegas baja del término municipal de Río Grande, Puerto rico, con una cabida de cuatrocientos uno punto cero cero (401.00) metros cuadrados, equivalentes aproximadamente cero punto uno cero dos uno (0.1021) cuerdas. Colinda por el NORTE, en un distancia de veintiséis punto cero cero (26.00) metros lineales, con los solares once (11) y doce (12) del bloque “D”; por el SUR, en una distancia de veintiséis punto cero cero (26.00) metros lineales, con el solar número nueve (9) del bloque “D”; por el ESTE, en una distancia de dieciséis punto cero cero (16.00) metros lineales, con el solar número catorce (14) del bloque “D”; y por el OESTE, en una distancia de dieciséis punto cero cero (16.00) metros lineales, con la calle número cinco (5). Enclava una casa. Inscrita al folio ciento setenta y dos (172) del tomo quinientos veintitrés (523) Río Grande. Finca número veintinueve mil cuatrocientos setenta y cinco (29,475). Registro de la Propiedad de Carolina, Sección III. SE LES APERCIBE que, de no hacer sus alegaciones responsivas a la demanda dentro del término aquí dispuesto, se les anotará la rebeldía y se dictará Sentencia, concediéndose el remedio solicitado en la Demanda, sin más citarle ni oírle. Expedido bajo mi firma y sello del Tribunal en Carolina, Puerto Rico. A 30 de abril de 2020. Lcda. Marilyn Aponte Rodriguez, Sec Regional. Maricruz Aponte Villanueva, Sec Auxiliar.
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
The San Juan Daily Star
USTA plans to move forward with US Open amid pandemic By CHRISTOPHER CLAREY
espite major challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) is set to announce this week that it will hold the 2020 U.S. Open with the support of the men’s and women’s tours. The tournament is expected to run as originally scheduled from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13, but without spectators, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Formal government approval still needs to be secured for the Open to take place, Chris Widmaier, a USTA spokesman, said earlier this week. “From the beginning, we’ve built this plan in a very collaborative manner,” he said Monday, adding that the USTA had consulted regularly with medical and security experts. “We also recognize in order to move forward that we need government approval, approval from the state of New York and any other entity.” Even if the tournament is soon confirmed, more than two months will remain before it begins, and outside forces, including the path of the virus and global travel restrictions, may still scuttle the USTA’s plans. The field is also likely to be thinner than usual, with athletes making individual decisions about whether to compete. Still, after lengthy meetings and negotiations with tennis’s other governing bodies, the USTA intends to proceed with the U.S. Open in its traditional late-summer dates with the sup- The United States Tennis Association has the support of the men’s and women’s tours to port of its primary sponsors and ESPN, which is host the U.S. Open as scheduled, but without fans. paying more than $70 million annually in rights fees to the organization mainly to televise the are expected to be placed on their movement to in Belgrade, Serbia’s capital, with fans in the tournament. In a normal year, the U.S. Open would be protect their health. stands, ball kids on the court and players hug“Without having close social contact, we ging and high-fiving. the fourth and final Grand Slam tournament. But Several top women’s players have expresthe men’s and women’s tours have been shut feel if one player gets it, it’s not going to spread,” down since March because of the public health Galbraith said in the conference call. “Our in- sed uncertainty about playing in the Open, incrisis. The start of the French Open, normally fectious disease specialists are confident on cluding top-ranked Ashleigh Barty and secondthe second Grand Slam tournament of the year, that. They are going to be pulled out of the en- ranked Simona Halep. “Not only because we’re in the middle of has been postponed until late September. Wim- vironment, but you have to have close contact bledon, the oldest of the major tournaments, to get this.” a global pandemic,” said Halep, who is from was canceled for the first time since 1945. To reduce the number of people at the Romania. “But also because of the risk of tra“Our team has literally worked around the National Tennis Center, the USTA also plans to vel, potential quarantine and then the changes clock to figure out a way we can have the U.S. reduce the amount of support staff that players around the tournament.” But Karolina Pliskova of the Czech RepuOpen and do it in a safe way,” Patrick Galbraith, may bring to New York, potentially to as few as the president of the USTA, said in a conference one team member. That would represent quite a blic, the women’s No. 3 and a U.S. Open finalist call with more than 400 men’s players and coa- change for the game’s biggest stars, who typica- in 2016, said she was confident the USTA could ches last Wednesday. lly travel with large entourages including family. keep players safe. “At some point it needs to start, the seaThere has been considerable resistance The men’s top-ranked player, Novak from international players to the centralized Djokovic, who is from Serbia and based in Mo- son,” she said by telephone. “Even if it’s next naco, has criticized the restrictions as “extre- year, I’m sure there is still going to be some U.S. Open plan. Players will be subject to frequent corona- me.” As if to underscore the point, he organized sick people, so it’s never going to be like suvirus testing. Many will be lodged together at a a series of exhibition tournaments this month in per, super safe, so I think the earlier we start hotel outside Manhattan, and some restrictions the Balkans that began with an event last week the better it’s going to be.”
Pliskova, like others, lobbied for an increase in the size of her team so she could bring a coach and a physical therapist, which would not force her to rely on a busy tournament-supplied therapist for treatment. “I would appreciate if two people could go at least,” she said. Widmaier said the number of team members could increase. “At its core, the plan is about mitigating risk,” he said. He added, “The absolute number of people who will be on site at any one time is not a fixed number here in midJune.” New York has had a steady decrease in new cases and in deaths. Eric Butorac, the USTA’s director of player relations, said during last Wednesday’s conference call that the USTA did not expect players to have to isolate upon arrival in the U.S. before playing. Last week’s call was often contentious, with one former U.S. Open singles champion, Marin Cilic of Croatia, even clamoring for more prize money given the conditions. But the ATP board of directors, which governs the men’s tour, ultimately supported the decision to go forward, according to an ATP official familiar with the board’s decision who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans had not been announced. The USTA does not require approval from the tours to hold the U.S. Open, but it did want to secure it before proceeding. The plan still includes moving the Western & Southern Open, a combined men’s and women’s tour event, to Queens from Mason, Ohio, to create a tennis doubleheader. It would be held primarily the week before the U.S. Open. The Citi Open, a combined men’s and women’s event in Washington, could still be the comeback event for the tours earlier in the month. The U.S. Open singles qualifying tournaments are not expected to be played. But the USTA, which has committed to roughly $52 million in prize money, is providing more than $2 million apiece to the men’s and women’s tours to compensate lowerranked players affected by the absence of qualifying. The reluctance of some stars to commit and the absence of qualifying have led some players to argue that in the interest of fairness, the Open should offer reduced ranking points this year or even none at all. The USTA has rejected that idea because it could compromise its existing contracts by turning the event into an exhibition.
The San Juan Daily Star
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
As baseball teeters, Rob Manfred’s words ring hollow By TYLER KEPNER
ud Selig presided over a canceled World Series, which would seem to be about as bad as it gets for a baseball commissioner’s legacy. Yet his successor, Rob Manfred, may sink even lower. Manfred just might cancel the entire 2020 season. On the First-Year Player Draft broadcast last week, Manfred said with absolute certainty — “100 percent” — that there would be a Major League Baseball season this year. On Monday, he told ESPN he was “not confident” there would be a season at all, because of the acrimony with the players’ union. “It’s just a disaster for our game, absolutely no question about it,” Manfred added. “It shouldn’t be happening.” He got that right, at least. But Manfred’s blatant contradiction will haunt him, if he indeed refuses to stage a season. Whatever the outcome, he has already given whiplash to the fans — those who still care, anyway — and further provoked the players. He is failing in his responsibility as a steward of the game. Manfred and the hard-line owners are terrified of walking into a trap by offering the players’ union a schedule before agreeing on health and safety protocols. That could potentially bring legal action from the players, so the safest route — to a large-enough segment of owners — is to blow up the season and save a lot of money. If they cancel the 2020 season, rather than implement a minischedule of, say, 48 games instead of the usual 162, the owners would save about $1.2 billion in pro-rated player salaries. They also would save themselves the risk of losing another $1 billion or so if an arbitrator sided with the players in court this winter. Manfred has told the players’ side he will not hold a season unless the union agrees to waive its right to sue, the kind of ultimatum seemingly designed to be rejected. It is the latest attempt by Manfred to jolt the union into action, after weeks of claiming he would simply implement a schedule whether they liked it or not. The union called his bluff on Saturday night, when Tony Clark, the executive director, said in a statement directed at the league: “It’s time to get back to work. Tell us when and where.” Now Manfred seems determined to not give Clark that satisfaction, citing the legal threat and the
potential embarrassment of some stars simply refusing to play. Manfred should have lived up to his words and given the players a schedule, risks be damned. He should know that canceling the season simply cannot be an option, unless he truly learned nothing from Selig’s example. In the short term, only genuine negotiation can save the league — and these sides cannot even settle on the meaning of their March 26 agreement on protocols for restarting the season. MLB is considering filing a grievance for an immediate declaration of just what that March document stipulates — primarily whether players are entitled to their full pro-rated salaries without fans in the stands. That issue is at the heart of the animosity between the two groups: Players have not budged from their stance, while owners’ proposals have all included further pay cuts. All along, the sides have almost willfully refused to hear each other. They have never seemed to consider the enormous goodwill boost that reviving their sport during a pandemic would bring. They have turned this into a collective-bargaining negotiation instead of a mutually beneficial collaboration for the greater good. How did it get this way, especially under Manfred, a lawyer with decades of experience as a canny dealmaker? He is notoriously hesitant to impose rules without negotiation; he held the power to implement the much-discussed pitch clock, but backed off when players made clear that they did not want it. Yet Manfred has been unable to cultivate trust with the union since the death of Michael Weiner, the former executive director who died of brain cancer in 2013 at age 51. The last collective bargaining agreement, signed in 2016, was negotiated with Clark — the former All-Star whom Weiner chose as his successor — but is generally favorable to the owners. With that deal set to expire in December 2021, the union is wary of conceding anything now that may affect the next CBA. Clark’s statement Monday, in response to Manfred’s comments, shows just how severely their relationship has eroded. “Players are disgusted that after Rob Manfred unequivocally told players and fans that there would ‘100 percent’ be a 2020 season, he has decided to go back
Commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday said that he was “not confident” there would be an M.L.B. on his word and is now threatening to cancel the entire season,” Clark said. “Any implication that the Players Association has somehow delayed progress on health and safety protocols is completely false, as Rob has recently acknowledged the parties are ‘very, very close,’” he added. “This latest threat is just one more indication that Major League Baseball has been negotiating in bad faith since the beginning. This has always been about extracting additional pay cuts from players and this is just another day and another bad faith tactic in their ongoing campaign.” Players simply do not believe owners who claim that the sport is not very profitable. They noticed when the Kansas City Royals sold for $1 billion last year after being purchased for $96 million in 2000. They noticed when the league struck a reported $1 billion deal last weekend with Turner Sports for its portion of postseason TV rights. They also noticed when some own-
ers initially refused to pay minor leaguers, or to cut their pay, during the pandemic. Some players, like David Price of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Shin-Soo Choo of the Texas Rangers, have been paying minor leaguers an extra monthly stipend out of their own pockets, a noble gesture that should be humiliating to owners. Alas, the next generation often seems of little concern to the league. MLB will likely shutter dozens of minor league franchises next season, and it slashed last week’s draft to five rounds, from 40. Both are short-sighted moves that will shrink the game’s overall reach, drain its talent pool and drive away people who could help grow the sport, whether they reach the majors or not. Sadly, though, those decisions are consistent with the strategy of a league that has now committed virtual treason against the fans by publicly floating the idea of canceling the season, just days after Manfred promised otherwise. It is a shameful abdication of leadership.
The San Juan Daily Star
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Vicki Wood, who broke car-racing gender barriers, dies at 101 By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE
he was called “the fastest woman in racing” and “the fastest woman on the sand.” Her explosive speed on the hard-packed sands of Daytona Beach, Fla., in 1960, topping 150 mph, earned her a place in the record books. Vicki Wood, a trailblazer in the macho world of auto racing, was among the first women to compete in NASCAR events. She broke the gender barrier in 1957 in Michigan and in 1959 at the Daytona International Speedway, which had just opened that year. In the decade from 1953 to 1963, she set speed records. And when she quit racing in 1963, she had collected 48 trophies. Wood was 101 when she died June 5 at a hospital in Troy, Mich. The cause was heart-related, her niece Beverly Van De Steene said. In the 1950s, female drivers generally competed only against one another, in socalled powder puff races. Wood was soon racing against men, but she was not readily accepted. Bill France, who built the Daytona speedway and founded NASCAR, had given her permission in 1959 to race at Daytona, but word had not filtered down to the gatekeepers. When she showed up ready to drive, she was told that women weren’t allowed in the pit area. When he was told what happened, France was furious. “Vicki Wood is not a woman,” he declared. “She’s a driver, and she’s allowed in the pits.” With her confident bearing and signature scarf knotted at her neck, Wood cut a glamorous figure at the track. Sometimes she wore a skirt and high heels. A reporter once asked her why she dressed up to drive. “I knew I’d probably win and you’d want to interview me, and I wanted to look good,” she replied, according to her grandson Neil Wood. Women were so rare behind the wheel in those days that the application to join NASCAR had a space for “Wife’s Name.” On Wood’s application, in 1954, she crossed that out and wrote “Husband’s Name.” Women are more common in
Vicki Wood at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida in 1959, the year it opened. She was among the first women to compete in NASCAR events. racecar driving today, but it is still largely a male domain. While Wood loved fast cars and broke speed records on the track, she was cautious on the highway: In 80 years of driving she received only one speeding ticket. At the age of 99, when the Florida state police took away her license, prompted by a report from someone that she was still driving, she was crushed. “That was the worst thing they could have done to me,” Wood told Autoweek last year. “I had a nice car, and I had no trouble driving whatsoever.” Victoria Rose Raczak was born March 15, 1919, in Detroit. Her mother, Rose (Krok) Raczak, was a homemaker, and her father, Paul, was a contractor. Growing up in Detroit, Vicki was surrounded by cars. Her six brothers were always tinkering with them, and automobiles were a popular topic of conversation. But she didn’t start racing until her mid-30s. She worked odd jobs after high school and, in 1941, married Tom Fitzpatrick. He was killed in Germany at the end of World War II when he picked up a live hand gre-
nade. In 1947 she married Clarence Wood, known as Skeeter, who died in 2000. He had four children, Bob, Ed, Donna and Wayne, from a previous marriage, and all but Bob, who died in 2015, survive her, along with several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. One summer night in 1953, Clarence Wood, who had been a racecar driver himself, took his wife to watch the powder puff races at the Motor City Speedway in Detroit. She was not impressed. “The women in that race were so bad,” she told Autoweek. “They were all over the track, running into the wall and all that sort of stuff. I said to Skeeter, ‘If I couldn’t drive any better than that, I wouldn’t be out there.’” The next week Clarence Wood took her back to the track. But instead of going with her to the bleachers, he took her to the pit area and pointed to a 1937 Dodge Coupe. “OK, Smarty,” he said. “You think you’re so good, here’s a car. Now go out there.”
Vicki Wood had never been on a track before, but in a race against 24 other drivers, she came in ninth. And she was hooked. The next night they went to the dirt track at Mount Clemens, northeast of Detroit, where she won the powder puff race. The next week, they went to another nearby track, in Flat Rock, where she won five consecutive powder puffs. Wood began giving lessons to other women at Flat Rock while continuing to compete. In one qualifying race, she came in 0.02 seconds faster than the leading male driver. She became the first woman in Michigan to race against men, and she beat many stars of the day. She was inducted into the Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Fame last year. Wood started going to Daytona in 1955 and racked up speed records there. Her crowning achievement came in 1960, when she burned up the sand at Daytona during a speed trial — competing against the clock, not other drivers — at 150.375 mph. That speed remains a record for a one-way run on the sand, mainly because beach racing is no longer allowed. She kept winning competitions against men, but by 1963 she had realized that the men didn’t want her around. “The boys said that if I kept on racing with them, they’d go on strike,” she said in a video interview in 2016. They were sick of being teased when they lost to a woman. She said she understood their attitude, “so that’s when I quit.” It never occurred to her to go back to the powder puffs because, she said, she never thought much of female drivers. “They’re unpredictable,” she told an interviewer in 1960. “You never know what they’re going to do.” She spent the next 15 years working as a saleswoman at the Jordan Marsh department store at the Palm Beach Mall in Florida. But she remained proud of her racing career. Her grandson Neil said that years later, when he would ask her about racing against men, “she would get this glow, her face would shine, and she would say, ‘I raced against a hundred of them, and I beat them all.’”
The San Juan Daily Star
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
How to Play:
Fill in the empty fields with the numbers from 1 through 9. Sudoku Rules: Every row must contain the numbers from 1 through 9 Every column must contain the numbers from 1 through 9 Every 3x3 square must contain the numbers from 1 through 9
Answers on page 30
The San Juan Daily Star
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
(Mar 21-April 20)
If you need to get back into shape, start an exercise programme today. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel once you start moving your body. Being active will help you think more clearly, too. Your heart and mind will be in sync. Don’t be surprised when you start writing stories, playing music and taking an interest in fashion again. If you feel inspired to update your look, go for it. There is more to you than the labour you perform. Never forget it.
(Sep 24-Oct 23)
Are you passionately devoted to your family? Don’t let this loyalty stop you from forming outside relationships. While it’s reassuring to be surrounded by supportive relatives, it’s important to connect with people who live outside this circle. Friends will introduce you to new perspectives. Before telling a romantic interest that their theories are absurd, try them out. You might be delightfully surprised. The more open-minded you are about love, the happier you will be. Your union doesn’t have to perfectly resemble the one your parents enjoyed.
(April 21-May 21)
(May 22-June 21)
(Nov 23-Dec 21)
(June 22-July 23)
(Dec 22-Jan 20)
Getting the advanced education you desire is more difficult than you expected. If you can’t enter a challenging programme now, content yourself with a single advanced course. Instead of working with a world-famous teacher or prominent expert, it may be more enjoyable to learn from a new instructor. Their fresh perspective and experimental approach bring out the best in you. Thanks to their influence, you’ll develop a new theory that generates lots of publicity and excitement. Beware of getting involved in a forbidden relationship. Although it’s hard to resist the allure of a mysterious flirt, you really don’t want to let this troublemaker into your life. The object of your obsession has left a trail of broken hearts behind them. Becoming another victim will make you angry and disillusioned. Part of the problem is you are labouring under the false belief that you must be in love to be happy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Beware of giving away your power to your other half. Although the presence of a romantic or business partner can be joyous and reassuring, it isn’t necessary to your happiness. You can cultivate contentment regardless of your relationship status; never forget it. If your hopes and aspirations upset someone dear to your heart, have an honest discussion. You can’t abandon your dreams to make someone else comfortable. Find a way to pursue your goal without destroying your union.
(July 24-Aug 23)
Instead of reading about mysterious symptoms on the Internet, talk to your health practitioner. Hearing an informed opinion will make it easier to promote the wellness you desire. It’s so easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of fear when you’re concerned about illness. Helping others without expecting a reward will work in your favour. You’ve always had an instinctive need to help those who are less fortunate than you. By following this impulse, you’ll make a good impression on an authority figure.
(Aug 24-Sep 23)
Insisting on commanding the spotlight will drive romance from your door. While you should be proud of your accomplishments, it isn’t necessary to promote them wherever you go. Give others a chance to discuss their achievements, especially in an online setting. A dangerous situation at work must be addressed. Tell your employer about your concerns and propose some safety measures. If they dismiss your fears, it may be necessary to file an official complaint. You can’t risk your health for the sake of your employer’s bottom line.
(Oct 24-Nov 22)
Don’t put too much emphasis on traditional classroom learning when there’s a world of knowledge waiting to be explored online. The best way to absorb knowledge is through personal experience. If you’ve always been fascinated by a foreign country, learn all you can about it now. Instead of reading books about how to write a novel, jot down the opening chapter. When you give yourself permission to be an awkward beginner, you’ll become better and better at your chosen activity. It’s hard to pull away from a pleasurable interlude, but you should do so anyway. The last thing you want is to miss a moneymaking opportunity because you slept late or failed to meet a deadline. Give yourself a reward after reaching a goal. When it comes to love, you’re fickle. A person who captivated you yesterday will make you yawn today. If you’re going to enjoy the benefits of a committed relationship, you must learn the art of appreciation. Make a long list of your amour’s best qualities. Resist the temptation to overindulge in food and drink. It’s important to practice moderation in your diet, especially if you’re bored. Hiking, biking and weight resistance are healthy distractions from mindless snacking. A relative who is always teasing you is secretly unhappy with themselves. The next time this pest makes a joke at your expense or gives you a backhanded compliment, treat them like an awkward toddler who is desperate for attention.
(Jan 21-Feb 19)
If you’re going to realise a goal, you must be disciplined. It isn’t enough to build castles in the air. You must acquire some bricks and cement them into place on solid ground. Reach out to an accomplished friend who has experience realising lofty goals. Don’t let a rude person spoil your day. When you are blindsided by a nasty remark, take a few deep breaths. Then list three things about this abusive person that make you laugh. You have more control over your mood than you think.
(Feb 20-Mar 20)
Your offbeat ideas won’t get popular acclaim. Don’t let that bother you. It will be far more rewarding to connect with people who feel alienated by the status quo. Providing them with something that meets their needs will attract fame and acclaim. Although this project won’t be a moneymaking, it will lead to lucrative options. A visionary friend who appreciates your courage will have some encouraging and exciting news. Earning a regular income will be a relief, offering more freedom to do the things you love.
Answers to the Sudoku and Crossword on page 29
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Frank & Ernest
Wizard of Id
For Better or for Worse
The San Juan Daily Star
The San Juan Daily Star
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
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