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Daily News - Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Hurricane Gustav report
The Center for Emergency Operations (COE) reports that 5,425 persons were evacuated due to heavy rains Hurricane Gustav brought with it as it brushed the Southwest yesterday becoming a category 1 hurricane on its way to Haiti. Eight (mother and six children and a neighbor) died on Wednesday, a day after the storm had passed due to a 2 am landslide caused by earth and rubbish dislodged by heavy rain in the Jarro Sucio slum (near Guachupita) of Santo Domingo. The father of the family, a navy man, did not spend the night there because he was on duty. Several communities were isolated due to the flooding. The storm primarily affected Barahona, Pedernales, Independencia, Elias Pina, Baoruco, Dajabon, Peravia, Azua, San Cristobal, Santo Domingo, Distrito Nacional, San Jose de Ocoa, San Juan de la Maguana, San Pedro de Macoris, Duarte, Monte Plata, Sanchez Ramirez, Monsenor Nouel and La Vega.
The Ministry of Education suspended classes in areas affected by the rains until tomorrow. The Ministry of Public Health issued a health warning for extra precautions, especially in the cases of flooding and sewage overflow, that may cause illness and spread of disease. Listin Diario carries the sad story of a 17-year old girl who died in Santo Domingo when her case of dengue was misdiagnosed for falcemia, a disease she suffered, and she was not treated for dengue in time.
On the positive side, the storm brought welcome waters for the several of the nation's hydroelectric dams that also produce electricity. According to a CDEEE report, the hydroelectric plants produced 220 megawatts, up from 150 megawatts in previous weeks. But Hamlet Otanez, director of the Santiago Water Authority (Coraasan) complained that the dam authorities had been too conservative and had released too much water to fast, thus affecting potable water supply in Santiago.
With the exception of Barahona and Pedernales, mostly destinations for a trickle of adventure tourists, the rains did not affect vacation destinations in the country that are located primarily on the eastern and northern coasts.
The weather forecast is for the rains to continue into the weekend.
For DR weather reports, see http://www.dr1.com/forums/weather-beyond/

Brand new bridge deteriorates
A bridge over Nigua River at Madre Vieja Sur in San Cristobal that was built at a cost of RD$100 million after the old bridge collapsed during the passing of Tropical Storm Noel in October 2007, is showing signs of serious deterioration. Listin Diario reports that President Leonel Fernandez inaugurated the bridge on 17 April, shortly before the 16 May election. The news report says that it now shows considerable cracks and crevices. Those who use the bridge are concerned it could collapse.

Government appointments
The son of former PRD strongman, Jose Francisco Pena Gomez, Jose Francisco Pena Guaba was appointed general manager of the governmental National Lottery. Previously he was in charge of INESPRE, a practically defunct government department. Frank Rodriguez was sent to the Dominican Agrarian Institute, and Hector Rodriguez Pimentel was appointed director of the Hydraulic Resources Institute (INDRHI). Maritza Ortiz, was appointed director of the Instituto Nacional de Auxilios y Vivienda (INAVI). Franklin Labourt is the new director of the Council of Urban Affairs (CONAU). Ramon Rivas was named director of the Santo Domingo Water Corporation (CAASD) and Mariano German was sent to the National Institute of Potable Water and Sewage (INAPA).

Concerns of Santiago industries
The new president of the Association of Industries of the Northern Region (AIREN), Lina Garcia called for government actions to resolve the lack of reliability and high cost of power in the DR. "The energy crisis is a problem that threatens the competitiveness of our industries. We pay seven times more than industries in China and more than our competitors in Central America," she told the Listin Diario. "In fact, the solutions the government is presenting are the same that were promised four years ago and not implemented," she said, urging that the time has come to be creative and definitely solve the problem. "Today strong conflicts of interest affect the sector and we do not see the political will to conciliate these; the main evidence is that they have not resolved the renegotiation of the contracts with the generators."
She also outlined that the region would like to see the completion of the Circunvalacion Norte, the Autopista Electrica, and that industries be able to freely choose who will transport their cargo. She says enhanced citizen security is another priority for the northern region.

US donates to Cathedral
The United States Embassy donated RD$1.4 million to restore an altar within the Santo Domingo Cathedral, first in the Americas -- Retablo de la Santa Reliquia de la Basilica. Ambassador Robert Fannin personally delivered the resources to Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez. The donation comes from the US Embassy's cultural funds chapter.

Vehicle imports up, sales down
The National Association of Vehicle Distributors (Anadive) is complaining that sales are down 80% this year. Nevertheless, as reported in Diario Libre, the group that represents vehicle resale importers, admits that so far this year they have imported 45,000 vehicles (including previously owned vehicles), or 13,000 more than last year. The decline is sales is attributed to rising bank interest rates.

Immigration out of control
An editorial in Hoy newspaper today concludes that immigration is out of control in the DR, primarily illegal migration from neighboring Haiti. "Many immigrants from Haiti are indigents that come to beg on our streets. Others are informal vendors. "The problem is not that immigrants enter the country, but rather that we do not have the minimum controls on their entry or stay. There are points in the country that are full of Haitians, virtually occupied, but there is the impression is that no authority or government department has control of the situation," says the editorialist. "We are no longer exercising our sovereignty as a state in a very sensible and delicate aspect, and that is getting worse with time. We need to rule on contracting foreign workers and effectively control migration."
Hoy newspaper has carried complaints that the Haitian migration population in the East is now more than the Dominican population. Most of the Haitians have come to work on vacation developments in the Bavaro-Punta Cana area, and many have stayed living precariously.

Junot Diaz book in Spanish
Junot Diaz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, will be back in SAnto Domingo for the launching of the Spanish version of his The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao." Alfaguara has published the Spanish version. The author will be present at the launching of the book on Thursday, 28 August, at 8pm at the Gran Salon of the Hotel Melia. Free admission.

Second Life & ITLA
The Las Americas Institute of Technology (ITLA) becomes the first Dominican university to have a Second Life virtual campus. The Dominican Global Foundation (Funglode) has backed local efforts to enter Second Life schemes. Jose Armando Tavarez, rector of ITLA made the announcement at an event that took place at Funglode.
See http://www.itla.edu.do/

Olympics medal winners are home
Felix Manuel Diaz Guzman, gold medallist in Beijing Olympics boxing, and Gabriel Mercedes, silver medal in taekwondo, returned yesterday to the salutes of family and thousands of Dominicans proud of their achievement. Minister of Tourism Felipe Payano, and the president of the Dominican Federation of Boxing, Bienvenido Solano received the heroes. They rode a caravan into the city and were greeted by thousands despite the constant drizzle falling yesterday in Santo Domingo. Diaz's coach, Cuban Pedro Luis Diaz said that the task now is to prepare with time for the London Olympics, as reported in the Listin Diario. He says that if he receives a good offer, he would stay in the DR. President Leonel Fernandez will receive the medal winners on Thursday at 4pm at the Presidential Palace to decorate them as national heroes.

Dominicans in Centrobasket
Two Dominican players in the National Basketball Association league, Atlanta Hawks guard Al Horford and Sacramento Kings forward Francisco Garcia are on the Dominican team that seeks to win the Centrobasket taking place in Cheturnal and Cancun, Mexico. The DR competes in Group A against Mexico, El Salvador, and the US Virgin Islands. The winner of Group A will match the winner of Group B, with Cuba, Panama, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica. The DR's first commitment is on 27 August against the US Virgin Islands. The event is a qualifier to the Tournament of the Americas 2009 and four spots are available. Puerto Rico is said to be the team to beat. US coach Scott Roth has worked for months to accomplish the feat of the rebirth of Dominican basketball.
To follow the games, see http://www.fibaamericas.com/noticiasread_us.asp?r=EEQLAEGUID

NBA Star donates Crocs
Crocs, Inc. announced the first-of-its-kind recycled footwear donation program, SolesUnitedSM, will be teaming with Dominican-American NBA Star Charlie Villanueva of the Milwaukee Bucks to bring 10,000 pairs of Crocs shoes to children in impoverished regions of the Dominican Republic. This marks the second SolesUnitedSM donation in the Dominican Republic and commences the first major effort of the newly formed Tenis Para Ninos (which translates to "Sneakers for Kids") program developed by The Charlie Villanueva Foundation.
Tenis Para Ninos, launching August 29-31, 2008 with the delivery of SolesUnitedSM shoes, will reach hundreds of Dominican children particularly in schools and orphanages in Puerto Plata, Cabrera, and Santiago. Charlie, along with SolesUnitedSM, Feed the Children, and UNICEF will be on hand for the donation.
"I have witnessed first hand the widespread desolate conditions in the Dominican Republic. Few Americans realize many Dominican people have never owned shoes before, so the simple act of providing them with quality Crocs footwear is invaluable," said Villanueva. "It is my hope that this benevolent partnership with SolesUnited will only continue to grow with the support of my fellow NBA players moving forward."

Wednesday sales
La Nacional has 50-70% discounts on appliances, furniture and mattresses at their Av. Duarte No. 172 and Hermanos Pinzon 57 stores in Santo Domingo.
Rattan & Decoraciones at Av. Luperon corner Calle Ana Cecilia (in front of the old Herrera airport) is advertising sales on its rattan and wicker furniture.
La Isla is advertising 60% off select items for household use.
Katia has a sale on underwear at their Abraham Lincoln store.
Pola Supermarket has 35% off fruits and vegetables at their stores.
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