Category: GENERAL

Dominican Sentenced to 3.5 Years in Prison for Puerto Rican Identity Fraud Scheme

A Domini­can nation­al was sen­tenced Fri­day to serve 42 months in prison for her role in traf­fick­ing the iden­ti­ties of Puer­to Rican U.S. cit­i­zens and cor­re­spond­ing iden­ti­ty doc­u­ments, announced the Jus­tice Department’s Crim­i­nal Divi­sion; U.S. Attor­ney of the Dis­trict of Puer­to Rico; U.S. Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment (ICE); U.S. Postal Inspec­tion Ser­vice (USPIS); the U.S. State Department’s Diplo­mat­ic Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice (DSS); and Inter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice-Crim­i­nal Inves­ti­ga­tion (IRS-CI). Arelis Abreu-Ramos, for­mer­ly of Philadel­phia, was sen­tenced by U.S. Dis­trict Judge Gus­ta­vo A. Gelpí in the Dis­trict of Puer­to Rico. In addi­tion to Abreu-Ramos’s prison term, Judge Gelpí ordered her removal from the Unit­ed States to the Domini­can Repub­lic after the com­ple­tion of her sen­tence.   On June 13, 2013, Abreu-Ramos plead­ed guilty in Puer­to Rico to one count of con­spir­a­cy to com­mit iden­ti­fi­ca­tion fraud and one count of con­spir­a­cy to com­mit human smug­gling for finan­cial gain. Abreu-Ramos was charged in a super­sed­ing indict­ment returned by a fed­er­al grand jury in Puer­to Rico on March 22, 2012. To date, a total of 53 indi­vid­u­als have been charged for their roles in the iden­ti­ty traf­fick­ing scheme, and 42 defen­dants have plead­ed guilty. Court doc­u­ments allege that indi­vid­u­als locat­ed in the Savarona area of Caguas, Puer­to Rico (Savarona sup­pli­ers), obtained Puer­to Rican iden­ti­ties and cor­re­spond­ing iden­ti­ty doc­u­ments. Oth­er con­spir­a­tors locat­ed in var­i­ous cities through­out the Unit­ed States (iden­ti­ty bro­kers) alleged­ly solicit­ed cus­tomers and sold Social...

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The Top 12 Habitable Exoplanets

By Dirk Schulze-Makuch Accord­ing to the Exo­plan­et Cat­a­log main­tained by the Plan­e­tary Hab­it­abil­i­ty Lab­o­ra­to­ry (PHL) of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Puer­to Rico at Areci­bo, the num­ber of con­firmed plan­ets out­side our own solar sys­tem is approach­ing 1,000, while anoth­er 3,500 exoplanets—most of them detect­ed by NASA’s Kepler mission—are yet to be con­firmed. We’re not talk­ing only about Jupiter- or Nep­tune-like gas giants, but also Super-Earths (ter­res­tri­al plan­ets sev­er­al times the mass of Earth) and Earth-size plan­ets. From this grow­ing list, the PHL, direct­ed by Abel Mén­dez, has iden­ti­fied the top 12 poten­tial­ly hab­it­able exo­plan­ets based on an Earth Sim­i­lar­i­ty Index (ESI). Their top choice is Kepler 62e, with an ESI val­ue of 0.83 (an ESI of 1.0 would be a 100 % match with Earth in terms of astro­nom­i­cal para­me­ters). Kepler 62e is a Super-Earth in the Con­stel­la­tion Lyra, with an esti­mat­ed mass of 3.6 Earth mass­es and an esti­mat­ed radius 1.6 times that of Earth. Its sur­face tem­per­a­ture is esti­mat­ed at 31oC (88oF) and it is 7 bil­lion years old, sig­nif­i­cant­ly old­er than Earth. It’s also very far away—1,200 light years, mean­ing that we won’t be vis­it­ing it any time soon. How much like our own world is Kepler 62e, real­ly? We should be care­ful to dis­tin­guish Earth sim­i­lar­i­ty from plan­e­tary hab­it­abil­i­ty. In many respects the Moon has very sim­i­lar astro­nom­i­cal val­ues to Earth, yet we know it’s a...

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Puerto Rico’s new budget

By Cate Long April 29, 2013 Puer­to Rico Gov. Ale­jan­dro Gar­cía Padil­la unveiled a $9.83 bil­lion oper­at­ing bud­get Thurs­day night dur­ing a state of the com­mon­wealth address in which he pledged to reduce crime, cre­ate jobs, boost school atten­dance and expand the U.S. territory’s tourism sec­tor.   The pro­posed spend­ing pack­age is $783 mil­lion more than the cur­rent bud­get, which will be cov­ered by new rev­enue and $200 mil­lion in deficit financ­ing, he said.   Gar­cía Padil­la said that begin­ning in Decem­ber, the sales & use tax (IVU by its Span­ish ini­tials) will be low­ered to 6.5 per­cent from the cur­rent 7 per­cent lev­el, with­out impact­ing bil­lions of dol­lars in out­stand­ing bonds backed by the tax.   The pro­pos­al was being under­tak­en in tan­dem with mea­sures to widen the base of the IVU, elim­i­nat­ing some exemp­tions, which would end up rais­ing addi­tion­al rev­enue. The plan would con­tin­ue to exempt items includ­ing pre­scrip­tion med­i­cine, books and non-processed foods. Thom­son Reuters Munic­i­pal Mar­ket Data ana­lyst Dan Berg­er wrote this after the bud­get pre­sen­ta­tion: In 2012, the commonwealth’s econ­o­my expand­ed for the first time since 2005, but Puer­to Rico’s tepid eco­nom­ic recov­ery now shows sub­stan­tial signs of sput­ter­ing – a turn that wor­ries own­ers of $53 bln of Puer­to Rico munic­i­pal debt.   As Puer­to Rico’s under­ly­ing eco­nom­ic fun­da­men­tals erode, bond investors want to get paid more for the risk of own­ing...

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The 2013 World Baseball Classic

The 2013 World Base­ball Clas­sic is an inter­na­tion­al base­ball com­pe­ti­tion. The main tour­na­ment is sched­uled to be held from March 2 to 19, 2013. For the first time, a qual­i­fy­ing round was played dur­ing the sec­ond half of 2012 that expands tour­na­ment par­tic­i­pa­tion from 16 to 28 teams. The Puer­to Rican Nation­al Team has expe­ri­enced suc­cess in inter­na­tion­al com­pe­ti­tions, includ­ing the World Base­ball Clas­sic where they have fin­ished fifth over­all in both the 2006 and 2009 tour­na­ments. In the 2009 World Base­ball Clas­sic, Puer­to Rico was unde­feat­ed through­out Round One. In Round Two, Puer­to Rico defeat­ed the Unit­ed States...

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Puerto Rico voters signal desire for statehood

  SAN JUAN, Puer­to Rico — Puer­to Ricans showed sup­port in a non-bind­ing ref­er­en­dum to change the island’s sta­tus as a U.S. ter­ri­to­ry, pre­fer­ring to become the 51st U.S. state even as they oust­ed their pro-state­hood gov­er­nor from office, accord­ing to offi­cial results on Wednes­day. READ MORE    ...

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