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Daily News - Wednesday, 02 April 2008

President Fernandez on US tour
President Leonel Fernandez and First Lady Margarita Cedeno left for the US yesterday. Fernandez seeks to motivate more Dominican expatriates to vote for him. Fernandez, who traveled to the US by private plane, will be visiting Miami, New York and New Jersey. President Fernandez arrived in Miami in time to throw the inaugural pitch at the New York Mets and Florida Marlins game. He wore a Florida Marlins cap when throwing the pitch.

The Panama scandal
TV and radio journalist Nuria Piera and colleague Huchi Lora broadcast a report on the Panama press scandal (La Prensa) on their radio talk show yesterday evening, citing alleged links between PRD presidential candidate Miguel Vargas Maldonado and controversial business deals by President Martin Torrijos of Panama. Interviewed on the same show, Miguel Vargas' aide Carlos Gabriel Garcia denied that the PRD candidate had done anything illegal since he had a presidential authorization from then President Hipolito Mejia for signing the multi-million dollar contract for supervisory services with a company linked to President Torrijos. Vargas served as Public Works minister during the Mejia administration. According to Panama's La Prensa newspaper, President Torrijos has acknowledged that he was a shareholder in the company under investigation, but defends the legality of the operation. Nuria Piera pointed out that the contract with the Dominican government clearly establishes that the contracted Panamanian company was hired through a tendering process, when in fact no such tender was held.
Hoy newspaper's Que se Dice page two commentary mentions the scandal today.

Debates are important
Political analyst Rosario Espinal criticizes the ruling PLD party for refusing to take part in a formal political debate. She says that with its refusal, PLD campaign strategists seek to maintain the President's positioning "above other mortals, while their campaign ads stress that the PRD, their main opponent, was responsible for bad government".
She points out that when compared to the magnitude of the corruption and political patronage scandals that have rocked the present election campaign, the absence of a presidential debate would appear to be insignificant, but it is not. She highlights the fact that that when well-orchestrated with good interviewers and clear rules of debate, political debates reveal the contenders' political positions, their strengths and weaknesses and above all they contribute to the political socialization of citizens within the debate framework. "Good debates are privileged spaces for rational discussions," she states in her commentary in today's Hoy newspaper. She says that without presidential debates, campaigns become media confrontation events, merely for screening TV and radio ads, where the opponents criticize each other and solutions are not presented.
In her opinion, the fact that the PLD refused to debate governance issues with the other candidates is an act of unpardonable arrogance for any party or candidate, especially one who promises progress like the PLD and President Fernandez.

Stevens scholarships
Stevens Institute of Technology International (SITI) is offering masters programs with scholarships available for qualified Dominicans. The New Jersey based university is offering a Master of Science in Information System and Master of Engineering in Manufacturing Technologies and Project Management programs in Santo Domingo. The programs are taught in the DR in English by faculty members of Stevens Institute of Technology of Hoboken, New Jersey.
For more information on the scholarships, see www.siti.edu.do

6.5 million telephones
There are 6.5 million telephones in operation in the DR, a country with an estimated 9.5 million inhabitants. Of these, 5.5 million are cell phones, of which 97% are digital, according to the president of the Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel). Jose Rafael Vargas said that there are 962,000 landlines in the DR. He said that at 70.3%, the DR's tele-density is one of the highest in Latin America.
Vargas made these statements during a TV interview with Ramon Nunez and Jacqueline Morel on Channel 11.

It's raining
After weeks of straight sunny days, rain is finally falling across the country. The Meteorological Department is reporting some thunderstorms after weeks of drought. Forecasters are warning of high surf conditions for the northeast and eastern coastline, and recommended against small boating trips. Conditions are expected to continue through Thursday.

Sergio, Villalona and El Torito
Popular bandleader Hector Acosta, a.k.a. "El Torito", has recruited two other merengue greats Sergio Vargas and Fernandito Villalona for 'Tres sentimientos', a single performance featuring all three voices. The event is set for the Jaragua Fiesta Hall on Saturday, 31 May. Acosta says that the closing of the show will be a memorable trio performance by the three merengue stars. They will be performing boleros and bachatas, "and whatever else comes to mind", he told the press.

Wednesday sales
La Cadena supermarket is advertising sweet potato for RD$13.95lb, broccoli for RD$15.95lb, watermelon for RD$5.95lb, bugalu tomatoes for RD$5.95lb, garlic for RD$19.95lb and cantaloupe melons for RD$29.95ea.
Super Pola is advertising 35% off all fruits and vegetables.
Supermercados Nacional has 40% off eggplants and 20% off all other fruits and vegetables.
Super Lama is advertising 30% off in its meat and seafood department.

DR table tennis update
Nieve Xue and Jennifer Lian Qian have won the right to represent the Dominican Republic at the Beijing Olympics. Both qualified during the Latin American Table Tennis Championship held in Santo Domingo last week. The DR women will represent Latin America at the event, together with Brazilian Mariana Nonaka and Venezuelan Bertha Ramos.

Alou to manage DR team to WBC
The Dominican Republic has chosen the legendary Felipe Rojas Alou to manage the Dominican team at the World Baseball Classic set for March 2009. The first round of the tournament will be played in Puerto Rico.
Stanley Javier is general manager of the team. Felipe Alou dreams of adding a WBC championship to his long list of achievements during his half century-long career in baseball. The DR placed third in the 2007 first WBC, behind Japan and Cuba. Alou began his baseball career with the Dominican amateur team that won the Pan American gold in Mexico in 1955. A successful ball player, in recent years he successfully managed the Montreal Expos and San Francisco Giants.
As reported in Listin Diario, Alou said that the DR's third place in 2007 was the result of a lack of preparation by the team members who did not recognize the great responsibility they had undertaken.
The DR is the first team to announce its manager for the WBC. The challenge now is to assemble a dream team for the DR, because it is expected that few of the world's best Dominican players would say no to Alou. At a press conference yesterday, Stanley Javier said that most Dominican MLBs are willing to join the team if invited. He said that the 2009 WBC would not catch the Dominican team unprepared, as happened in 2007 when the players thought that the event would be played as exhibition games. Javier said that this time they would organize training camps in coordination with Junior Noboa so that pitchers could warm up and be ready. He said that David Ortiz has urged his fellow Dominicans to take things seriously this time around.

US$337.5 million in MLB
The 92 Dominican players in Major League Baseball will be earning US$337,499,784 million in salaries in 2008. As reported in Listin Diario, the top paying teams are the Boston Red Sox, which pays Dominicans US$45.4 million, the New York Mets - US$33.2 million, the New York Yankees - US$32.6 million, the Chicago Cubs - US$30 million. The best paid Dominican players are Alex Rodriguez with US$28 million (Yankees), Manny Ramirez with US$18.9 million (Red Sox), Rafael Furcal, US$15.7 million (Dodgers), Vladimir Guerrero US$15.5 (Anaheim Angels), Aramis Ramirez with US$15.2 million (Cubs), Miguel Tejada US$14.8 million (Houston Astros), Alfonso Soriano with US$14 million (Cubs) and Albert Pujols, US$13.8 (St. Louis Cardinals).
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