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Daily News - Friday, 13 March 2009

Danny Rivera to Bahoruco Park
Legendary Puerto Rican balladeer Danny Rivera, who became a Dominican citizen in 2008, has been appointed director of the Sierra de Bahoruco National Park and godfather of the Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve (that includes Bahia de las Aguilas), declared by the UNESCO in 2002. He was sworn in yesterday by Enrivonment Minister Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal. Rivera promised to work to promote the DR's ecological attractions in Puerto Rico and among Dominicans. "We are going to use the arts, such as poetry, painting, photography, drama and song to help the people of the world know what we are all about," he said. He thanked the Ministry for this opportunity and described himself as a soldier ready for the mission he has been entrusted with. "I will start by placing the arts at the service of the region. There is extraordinary human and environmental wealth in the South", he stressed.

Fernandez opens center
Yesterday, President Leonel Fernandez inaugurated the Dominican Aeronautical Complex, which was built at a cost of RD$676.4 million. The complex will house the offices of the Aeronautical Sciences Academy (ASCA) and the Air Navigation Department. The complex is located at Las Americas International Airport and was built with the cooperation of the Civil Aviation Institute, the US Federal Aviation Institute, the International Civil Aviation Organization and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

6,262,000 voters for 2010
The Administrative Chamber of the Central Electoral Board reveals that 6,262,000 Dominican citizens are on the voter list for the municipal and legislative election in May 2010. He says that 131,191 new voters will be registered.

Day strike at public hospitals
Public hospital doctors went on strike again yesterday as part of their campaign to pressure the government to increase their wages and to express displeasure at the Congressional rejection of a pay proposal earlier this week. Although doctors and nurses were absent from hospitals, emergency patients were able to receive treatment. This is just a continuation of tactics in the doctors' ongoing campaign that has yet to yield any tangible results. Hospitals belonging to the Ministry of Public Health and the Dominican Social Security Institute, took part in the work stoppage. A Ministry of Public Health source provided unwelcome news for doctors, when quoted in Hoy as saying there was no way the doctors and nurses would get a pay rise. Dominican Medical Association (CMD) president Waldo Ariel Suero said that the pay increase proposed by Congress was "stingy".

Starting sex life too soon
Dr. Luis Ernesto Feliz Baez, director of the National Department for the Control of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (DIGECITTS), is concerned that young Dominicans are becoming sexually active too early. He quotes a Program for the Education of Sexual Effects (PEAS) survey that reveals that 20% of 7th and 8th graders had already engaged in sexual activity before entering that grade. Of that 20%, 7% of students admitted to engaging in sexual intercourse with adults. The study included 40 schools and 1,800 students in 9 regions.
Of those who engaged in sexual activity, 82% said it was heterosexual while 12% admitted to same-sex activity. Four percent of those questioned said that sex had been forced while 31% said the forced sex was with an adult.
What's most troubling about the survey is that 42% believe that HIV is transmitted through mosquito bites, 20% believe it could be transmitted by using public bathrooms and 22% didn't know the answer. The survey found that 28% of 7th and 8th graders have been solicited for sex while 23% of these reported that an adult had asked them for sex.

Pharmaceutical shutdowns continue
Customs (DGA) and Public Health officials continued their seizures of illegal medicines in Moca yesterday. During the operation, 67 pharmacies that operated illegally were searched . Around 500 sacks of medicines were removed with little or no confrontations reported with locals. During previous raids, storeowners and residents caused commotions in reaction to the news that local pharmacies would no longer sell cheap meds. Officials, accompanied by Army intelligence J2 and military personnel, said they would continue the raids until illegal medicine sales ceased. Moca has been at the center of the fight against the trade in fake pharmaceuticals. Last month, three people died after being injected with fake tetanus vaccines and officials launched raids in Moca and other towns. However, Hoy reports that many of the establishments raided yesterday were the same ones that had been raided last month.

AMET cops become real cops
Yesterday, 1,990 transport police officers (PMT) who up till now weren't members of any of the DR's public institutions were officially assigned to the National Police Department. The officers will now receive full medical benefits, pensions, funeral services, life insurance, financing for vehicles, access to scholarships and will have the ability to obtain loans, if needed. The announcement was made by Police Chief Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin and AMET Chief Rafael Bencosme Candelier.

Law will be enforced
The National District Attorney General's office is warning businesses that Law 48-00, which prohibits smoking in enclosed spaces, will be enforced by officials and bars caught allowing smoking will be closed. Owners will also pay a fine for every infraction cited. As with many laws, this one has been on the books for several years, but so far has never been enforced.

"You're mentally retarded!"
The war of words took an ugly turn yesterday after PRD president Ramon Alburquerque called Interior and Police Minister Franklin Almeyda "mentally retarded." Alburquerque's words were in response to Almeyda's accusations on Wednesday that the PRD "is looking for trouble," repeating his accusation that the party is behind the disturbances that so far have led to several injuries in the Santiago barrio of La Yaguita. Alburquerque says the PRD supports protests as long as they are civil and calm, and challenged Almeyda to specify when angry protestors have gotten together. "Whoever said that is mentally retarded. Who would think of saying the PRD is behind the protests?"

Take it back
Mario Fernandez Savinon, president of the Chamber of Deputies Environmental Commission, is warning Environment Minister Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal to take back his statement that Fernandez Savinon is a "liar." If Fernandez Mirabal doesn't apologize, Savinon will file defamation charges against the Minister. Savinon says he has proof to substantiate his claims. The deputies had voted to amend the limits of the National Park of the East. Environmental sectors rejected the bill, claiming it was passed to justify the sale of land to Italian investors. Fernandez Mirabal accused PRSC deputies Fernandez Savinon and Sergio Cedeno of lying and of trying to cover up for individual interests in the controversial case of the National Park of the East, as reported in Listin Diario.

Parmalat suspect surrenders
Domingo Antonio Ortega, one of the men accused in connection with the Parmalat robbery, has turned himself in to the authorities. Diario Libre reports that Ortega handed himself over to the public relations department of the National Police. Ortega says that he is innocent but realized he was a suspect after watching TV and reading the press.

7 locals die in POP bus crash
The City of Puerto Plata has declared a day of mourning for today in memory of seven people who were killed in a traffic accident yesterday. A bus belonging to the Transporte Acosta company, used for transporting hotel employees, crashed into market vendors on Calle General Antonio Imbert Barrera in Puerto Plata yesterday. The Hyundai bus, driven by Cesar Saul Villegas, went out of control and killed Ricardo Antonio Vasquez Guzman, 48, Ramon Pantaleon Santos Alejo, 46, Felix Rosario, 45, Petrolia Santana Garcia, 45, Herminia Mejia, 57, Filomena Doce, 31, and another person only identified as El Men by the Puerto Plata Police spokesman. Eight others were injured and hospitalized. According to reports, the bus experienced brake failure while traveling downhill. As the vehicle approached the market it hit several cars before coming to a halt at the market stalls, with tragic consequences.

Police purge ranks
The National Police have officially removed 51 officers from their ranks for crimes committed on the job. Hoy reports that 31 officers were from the police unit in Puerto Plata and 20 worked in Bonao. Both cities have been plagued by accusations of collusion with drug trafficking networks. During yesterday's proceedings protestors and victims' family members caused a commotion outside the jail at Puerto Plata's Palacio de Justicia, preventing officials from pressing charges. The situation got to the point where traffic had to be re-routed around the courthouse. The charges being brought against some of the 51 accused include murder charges against First Lt. Jose Danile Cepeda Rubio, Sergeant Rafael Lora Rosario and Officer Addier Miguel Mustafa for the death of Ruddy Cabrera and Julio Cesar Garcia Almonte. Colonel Frank Felix Almonte, Sergeant Major Joaquin Antonio Roque, Sergeant Jeremias Morales and Second Lt. Pedro Pablo Toribio are also implicated in the murders. Listin Diario reports that the Public Ministry is investigating three other officers said to be involved in illegal activities. It is being reported that many of the officers charged traffickers "tolls" in return for the police turning a blind eye to their operations.

Mannygate Part V
At the very least all the talk surrounding slugger Manny Ramirez makes for great water-cooler chat. This week's episode includes harsh commentary by current Red Sox pitcher Jonathan Papelbon about Ramirez's tenure in Beantown. In an interview published in Esquire Magazine, Papelbon called Ramirez a "cancer." It just takes one guy to bring an entire team down, and that's exactly what was happening," Papelbon said. "Once we saw that, we weren't afraid to get rid of him. It's like cancer. That's what he was. Cancer. He had to go." The comments have caused a media frenzy but Ramirez has yet to react.

Presidente regatta begins
Today is the first day of the 2009 Presidente Regatta at the Casa de Campo Marina. The event will include both local and international sailors with the final day of competition scheduled for 15 March. The event is being sponsored in part by the Dominican Sailing Federation with an expected 200 competitors.

Andrea Bocelli to Chavon
One of the singers most popular with Dominican audiences, Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli is booked for Altos de Chavon on Thursday, 30 April. Show-business entrepreneur Saymon Diaz is bringing the popular performer who sings comfortably in Spanish as well as in his native Italian. This is a sort-of long weekend, as Monday, 4 May is celebrated as Labor Day in the DR.
For more on upcoming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar
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