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Daily News - Friday, 07 November 2008

DR1 takes a break on Monday
This is a reminder that there will be no news update on Monday, 10 November. The national holiday that celebrates Constitution Day (6 November) fell on a Thursday this year. The DR1 daily news digest will be compiled for the Tuesday, 11 November issue.
For breaking news and discussions, please see the dr1.com/forums that are updated 24/7.

65-member official mission to UAE
On the first day of his four-day visit to the United Arab Emirates, President Leonel Fernandez and First Lady Margarita Cedeno met with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. At the meeting President Fernandez addressed the possibility of UAE investments in power generation in the DR, including hydroelectric projects. The Presidency reports there was an interest expressed by the UAE heads, as reported by the Presidency.
Fernandez also met with Foreign Affairs Minister Abdala bin Zayed Al Nahyan. During the meetings, he was accompanied by Foreign Relations Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso, Secretary of the Presidency Cesar Pina Toribio and administrative secretary of the Presidency Luis Manuel Bonetti.
The Presidency also reported that Sheikh Zayed al Nahyan agreed to formalize diplomatic relations with the opening of an embassy in the DR.
As reported in Dubai, President Fernandez led a 65-member delegation of ministers, government officials and business leaders that toured some of the landmark Dubai World developments on Thursday, including Nakheel's iconic project The Palm Jumeirah, DP World's flagship Jebel Ali Port and Economic Zones World's Jebel Free Zone. On Thursday, Jamal Majid Bin Thaniah hosted the Dominican leader and his team at Nakheel's headquarters for a briefing on the company's projects.

At Dubai World
At the start of his visit to Dubai, President Fernandez also held meetings with top management and senior officials of Dubai World, a division of the UAE government. At the Dubai World headquarters, President Fernandez was received by Jamal Majid Bin Thaniah, vice chairman. He also met Mohammed Sharaf, CEO of DP World, and Salma Hareb, CEO of Economic Zones World, at the Jebel Ali Free Zone. Dubai World has strong ties with the Dominican Republic where its global marine terminal operator, DP World manages and operates the Port of Caucedo, the country's leading trade gateway.
Bin Thaniah commented that the meeting was an ideal occasion to reiterate Dubai World's commitment to enhance co-operation with the Dominican Republic. He said: "It was a fruitful meeting and we are pleased with the support H.E. Dr. Fernandez offered to DP World's efforts to maximize Port Caucedo's operational efficiency. The DR delegation's visit highlights the importance the country attaches to DP World's presence there. Caucedo is a leading contributor to the Dominican Republic's economic development and DP World has a major part in enabling the port to achieve its goal.
DP World commenced the operations at Caucedo container terminal facility in 2003. The Port of Caucedo forms an important part of DP World's operations in the Americas, which also include terminals in Argentina's Buenos Aires, Canada's Vancouver, and Venezuela's Cabello and a new development in Peru's Callao.
Dubai World considers that the Dominican Republic's central location in the Caribbean provides Caucedo with great potential to become a strategic shipping hub in the region. According to the Dubai company, Dubai World, through its subsidiary companies, has been strategically expanding its investment bases in the Americas. Port and Free Zone operations are among the core areas of this expansion. Jafza International, the global arm of Economic Zones World, has launched a major logistics-cum-business park project in South Carolina in the US. Istithmar World, the group's investment arm, recently opened its international office in New York to focus on the opportunities in the US and the region.
The company says that the delegation's visit comes at a time when trade ties between Dubai and the Dominican Republic show a steady rise. Total direct trade between the two economies increased by 47%, amounting to Dhs6.104 million in the first six months of 2008, compared with the corresponding period in 2007. According to Dubai World's Statistics Department studies, total trade between the two countries in 2007 was valued at Dhs7.984 million.

Communities get broadband
Codetel and the Dominican Telecommunications Institute (INDOTEL) have announced that 71 rural communities in the remote border province of Elias Pina now have broadband Internet access as part of the Broadband Rural Connectivity Project. The project aims to install broadband in 508 communities throughout the DR. According to Jose Rafael Vargas, director of INDOTEL, one million Dominicans still don't have Internet access.

$$ for Haitises families
Environment Minister Jaime David Fernandez says that the government will pay RD$11 million to families that were moved out of the Los Haitises National Park in 1992. However, Fernandez reiterated that Los Haitises is an issue of national security and will not allow people to go back and settle there. Fernandez says the park is an area of biodiversity that must be protected and that burning in the park would not be allowed to happen again. He explained that every time the biodiversity is affected it takes 50 to 100 years to recover.

Segura announces some relief
State-run Electricity Companies vice president Radhames Segura says the government will give the Dominican Petroleum Refinery (REFIDOMSA) US$38 million to purchase fuel to relieve the financial difficulties that have caused the recent prolonged blackouts. Segura also said that an estimated 250MW of power will enter the system within the next few days, hopefully alleviating the latest power crisis to affect the DR. Segura also announced that a fuel tanker with 180,000 barrels of fuel that arrived in the DR yesterday will be used by the EGE-Haina, San Felipe and Falconbridge generators. Segura says that Itabo II, out of service due to technical difficulties, will provide 125MW, while Haina I and Haina IV will supply 40MW and 60W, and Mitsubishi will add 30MW to the grid. Segura says that an extra 330MW of energy have entered the grid since Monday.
Long blackouts are affecting business, schools and home life. Hoy reports that residents in the capital have taken to the streets demanding an end to the blackouts. As reported in Hoy, the Avenida Padre Castellanos Business Association says that 100 small businesses have had to close down because they can't afford to run back-up power sources. Hoy writes that isolated incidents of violence and tire burning have been reported throughout the city and that residents in the Cibao region have been enduring blackouts lasting up to 15 hours. However the Energy Superintendent says that there was only a 22% deficit in the system yesterday, with generation of 1,355MW compared with 1,734MW of demand.

Protecting women
Dr. Maria Quevedo Cortejon says that young women as young as 11 should be vaccinated against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) that can lead to cervical cancer in women. According to statistics, three women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the DR each day, making the vaccine a top priority for women. Quevedo says that 86 new cases are reported each month in the DR, for a total of 1,032 per year and according to her it is the second leading cause of death among Dominican women.

National exams reveal deficiencies
A total of 32,827 high school students, or 16%, failed the national exams in 2007, which forced them to repeat eighth grade. This is compounded by the fact that 15,000 students failed to finish the eighth grade because they dropped out or were unable to reach the minimum 65% score needed in order to take the national exams. Of the 205,173 students who took the national exams in 2007, 183,976, or 89.6%, performed dismally and were forced to retake the exams later in the year.

Bomb scare was a prank
Police have arrested a 47-year old Carlos Espinal who allegedly called Las Americas International Airport (AILA) earlier this week saying there was a bomb on board one of the planes. Security officials searched the airport and all planes. Several flights were cancelled or postponed, but officials found no sign of any bomb. Espinal said he had heard of people making that type of prank call and had used a friend's phone to make the call. No word on Espinal's mental state was released or why he followed through with the prank. It is estimated that 800 people were affected by flight delays.

Suspect Bani killer apprehended
Navy captain Edward Mayobanex Rodriguez Montero, who is accused of taking part in the 4 August drug-related massacre in Bani, was arrested at Puerto Plata airport yesterday morning by troops led by Major Juan Ramon Aquino Rodriguez shortly before trying to board a private Caribair flight to the Bahamas. According to Police, Rodriguez Montero admitted receiving RD$3 million for the murder of seven Colombian suspected drug smugglers in Paya, Bani, as reported in Listin Diario. Diario Libre reports that according to Police Colonel Nelson Rosario, the suspect is believed to have been the person who shot the Colombians. The dead men had 2,000 kilos of cocaine and cash at the house that was raided by the assailants. Listin Diario reports that Rodriguez Montero's passport had been stamped by an unnamed immigration officer who had been fired some time ago. Furthermore, the newspaper reports that the pilot who was meant to transport the fugitive also ran once he had news of the arrest. Rodriguez Montero had been on the run since August, with few leads. Press reports indicate that he tried to bribe an airport employee to let him on the plane without confirming his status and reportedly had a passport issued under the name of Marcos de Leon. Rodriguez had dyed his hair, wore an earring and was dressed like a tourist.
The National Drug Control Department (DNCD) and Police explained they had been following Rodriguez and had also arrested the people who took him to the airport. After initial questioning Rodriguez said that a man identified as 'Santos' gave him the passport on Tuesday when he was in Santo Domingo and that his trip to the Bahamas had been coordinated by his imprisoned 'colleagues.' He said he was traveling to the Bahamas as a first stop before flying on to Miami. Police also revealed that Rodriguez was to be met in the Bahamas by a Cuban and Peruvian colleague who would take him to Florida to hide out. Rodriguez told the Police he was willing to turn himself in many times, but a man named Aneuris, imprisoned for his role in the murders, threatened to harm Rodriguez's family if he did so. Listin makes the point that more than a dozen Navy officers have been arrested for their involvement in the Bani massacre. Peravia Senator Wilton Guerrero has warned that high-ranking Dominican government officials were involved in drug trafficking in the province.

HD is here
Telecable from Tricom has announced that they will offer a 24-hour high definition movie channel, Movie City HD. It will be the first and only HD channel in the DR. Company spokesperson Aura Caraballo said that Telecable subscribers will receive the service free of charge until March 2009 and said Telecable is planning on introducing more HD channels in the future. Caraballo explained that CNN news would be the next channel offered in HD.

Tunnel will be closed
The Ministry of Public Works is announcing that the tunnel on 27 de Febrero Avenue will be closed as of 10 November. The tunnel will only be closed between 11pm and 5am for one month as technicians renovate the extraction system within the tunnel. Public Works says the same will be done in other tunnels located in Santo Domingo throughout the remainder of the year.

Post MLB season awards
Carlos Pena finished off his tremendous season with a post-season award: his first Gold Glove, for his performance at first base. Pena was a key piece in the Tampa Bay Rays run to the World Series and is considered a marquee player for years to come. Dominican Adrian Beltre was also honored with the prestigious defensive award for his incredible play at third base. It's his second consecutive award. Since 1957 baseball sporting good company Rawlings has handed out the golden glove award for good defensive play.

Pujols MVP!
Dominican slugger Albert Pujols is continuing to collect the post-season hardware. This time he has been named the National league MVP by USA Today. Pujols, who also won the award in 2005, received 133 first place votes, and surpassed Phillies slugger Ryan Howard for the award. This year Pujols batted .357 with 37 homeruns and 116 runs batted in.
In other baseball news, Listin Diario is reporting that Tony Pena will almost certainly be appointed New York Yankees bench coach. Pena had interviewed for the clubs managerial spot, which was given to former player Joe Girardi, but many feel this is a way for Pena to position himself to eventually get the Yankee job if things don't work out with Girardi.

Horford has stellar start
Second year NBA player Al Horford is starting this year as he finished last year. The young Horford is leading the league among centers in assists, four per game, an added dimension to his arsenal for the 2008-2009 season. He is also averaging 10 points, 8 rebounds, and 1 block per game. Horford is shooting 62% from the field and looks to have not been affected by what is know as the "sophomore slump."
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