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Daily News - Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Re-election in the Constitution
Political interests have always led constitutional reforms in the Dominican Republic, with the issue of Presidential re-election at the center of these changes. While the Constitution of 1963, under which then President Juan Bosch governed eliminated it, re-election was brought back in after President Joaquin Balaguer took office in 1966. In the 1994 and 2002 constitutional reform process, re-election was again the focus. In the 2002 reform, presidential re-election was prohibited after a second term.
The Presidential proposal that will be studied by senators and deputies in Congress beginning today sets out two consecutive Constitutional terms and the option to run again after a four-year recess. In total, the reform project adds 132 articles to the current document.
In all, 210 legislators, 32 senators and 178 deputies have the right to vote. Voting to approve each point of the reform will be based on two thirds of those present. If the 210 are present, it will take 140 votes to pass.
The minimum quorum needed for the Assembly to be able to session is107 - 17 senators and 90 deputies - and the number needed to pass a motion would be 71 votes or two thirds of those present.
The PLD has 121 legislators, the PRD 68 and the PRSC has 21.
Each legislator will have a numbered identification plaque and will occupy the same seat at each session.

Don't eat lobster April to August
The Ministry of Environment says that from 1 April to 31 July there is a ban on the catching and sale of rock lobsters in the DR. Restaurants are allowed to sell imported lobsters or their inventories by calling 809 732-3303/5. The ban is aimed at protecting lobsters during their reproductive season. It is a time when to consider whether you want to order that lobster or can choose another type of seafood.
"During the closed season the capture, fishing, selling or storing of live species, in mass or tied up is prohibited. This is to guarantee the permanent existence of lobster populations, which in turn guarantees a reliable supply for the market".

Jose Antonio Molina to Symphony
Maestro Jose Antonio Molina, one of Latin America's leading orchestral and operatic conductors, has just been appointed Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra of the Dominican Republic. He replaces Alvaro Manzano, who told Diario Libre he had resigned due to differences with the Ministry of Culture.
Molina was itinerant director of the orchestra and in 2008 he was appointed principal guest conductor of the National Symphony. In August he conducted the National Theater's 35th anniversary concert, featuring Beethoven symphonies No. 5 and 9. He also conducted the inaugural concert for the remodeled Palace of Fine Arts with a program dedicated to Dominican composers.
Maestro Molina is presently music director and principal conductor of the Florida Symphony and the Miami Pops Orchestra. During that time he has always kept close contact with the DR and its music.
He produced and arranged "Caribbean Treasures," sponsored by the Dominican government, which included Paquito de Rivera as guest with the London Symphony Orchestra. He also produced and arranged "Caribbean Gems" with the participation of Arturo Sandoval, Gonzalo Rubacaba and Ed Calle.
His "Yaya" overture was performed by the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin for the first Latin Caribbean Festival held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Molina is a professor emeritus of the UASD state university, and has been awarded the "Soberano", the highest recognition granted by show business writers at the Casandra Awards. He has also received the Order of Duarte, Sanchez y Mella (2001) and an Honoris Causa Doctorate conferred by the Pedro Urena National University (2008).
Maestro Molina has also worked as conductor and principal arranger for the Pavarotti and Friends concerts in Italy. He is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music and in conducting at the Julliard School.

Indotel on trail of 'maco' cellphones
The National Police and Indotel are actively looking for criminals who are selling untraceable cell phones, known here as "macos" or frogs.
The Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel) warned that organized crime groups are using these mobiles in their operations and that it is on their trail. Nevertheless, until now, only three people are in jail. One of them William Feliz, was caught selling these devices at Police Headquarters. Despite the fact that these phones are sold openly across the country, so far Indotel has only confiscated some 50 units in the capital and Santiago. Indotel said it has closed more than 60 stores all over the country belonging to dealers and re-sellers that activate stolen cell phones, wash serial numbers or buy stolen cell phones as part of their criminal activities. Meanwhile, it was reported that a major cell phone provider had cancelled its contracts with over 200 dealers around the country, on the suspicion that they were involved in this illicit activity.

Urgent need for better hygiene
The papers are reporting that more than 78,000 people, mostly children under the age of three, have been diagnosed with gastroenteritis over the last 45 days. Deputy Minister of Public Health Nelson Rodriguez Monegro urged parents to improve hygiene practices to curtail the bout. The most affected areas are the provinces of Santo Domingo, the National District, Santiago, La Vega, Duarte, Monsignor Nouel, Monte Plata, San Cristobal and Azua. Dr Rodriguez Monegro reported that in the National District the frequency of cases registered reached 12,000; in the province of Santo Domingo, 11,187; and in Santiago some 7,000 cases of vomiting and diarrhea had been reported. Cases in La Vega totaled 5,496; in Monsignor Nouel 3,441; Duarte, 2,288; Monte Plata, 2,700, and San Cristobal, 6,000 cases were reported. This strain of gastroenteritis, features symptoms of fever, vomiting and diarrhea, and lasts from four to nine days, can become much more serious, leading to dehydration and even death if the rotavirus is not treated in time with sufficient liquids. Over the weekend at the Robert Reid Cabral Children's Hospital, 310 children were admitted to the emergency room, 65 of whom were treated for dehydration. Due to the fact that the rotavirus that is causing the gastroenteritis is associated with a virus that causes respiratory infections, pediatrician Jorge Chahin Herrera advises parents not to expose their children to cool temperatures, since the virus is transmitted via the nose and mouth.
In order to prevent the illness and a possible epidemic, the director of Robert Reid Cabral Children's Hospital, Emilio Mena Castro, advises people to wash their hands with soap and water before preparing food for children, and to add a few drops of chlorine to water being consumed or used in food preparation.
Vegetables, fruits and other foods should be rinsed in chlorinated water and left for two minutes before preparation and consumption. Water should be boiled and disposable diapers should be changed frequently. In case children have any symptoms such as those described above, the specialist recommends taking the children to a health center immediately in order to begin re-hydration and prevent complications.

Bad landing closes AILA
Yesterday's on-line version of Hoy reported an accident involving a private jet belonging to Servicios Aereos Professionales that closed the Las Americas International Airport (AILA) almost immediately. The early report said that a Jetstream 31 coming from La Isabela Airport (AILI) had to make a forced landing, and this caused the airport to be shut down. A later report in El Caribe said that the airport was closed for nearly four hours because the plane had left the runway. Eight flights were rerouted to other airports, including Punta Cana, La Romana and Santiago. The problem was that only the aircraft's mechanics were able to unlock the brakes and allow the plane to be towed away. Two people were on board. The plane made a stop to refuel for a flight to La Romana. As it landed, two of the three tires exploded causing the aircraft to skid off of the runway. Aerodom spokespersonYolanda Manan said that the aircraft support crew was eventually able to unblock the brakes and move the plane. AILA reopened for operations at 4:25pm. The aircraft involved in the incident was piloted by Raudi Echavarria and his companion Dominguez, who was evaluating the pilot for his license.

Chamber Ethics Commission wants names
The Chamber of Deputies Ethics Commission has given PRD prosecutor Aridio Santos two weeks to identify legislators who, according to him, have made fortunes through drug trafficking. The information was given to the press by the commission's chairperson, Elso Segura Martinez, who pointed out that if Garcia did not present proof of his accusations he would face prosecution. Martinez said that the institutions responsible for investigating accusations of this type should be pressurizing Santos to withdraw his statements. "It is time for the Attorney General and the National Drug Control Department to launch an in-depth investigation into this complaint," said the legislator. The complaint by the internal PRD prosecutor has caused a stir in the National Congress. Some days ago, the president of the Senate, Reinaldo Pared Perez, called on Santos to name the legislators with ties to drug trafficking.

Chief stalls strike in the east
Police Chief Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin headed a small commission that successfully defused a threatened strike in the eastern provinces of the Dominican Republic. The chief and the commission met with community and transport group leaders that were sponsoring the protest strike. The groups gave the government 48 hours, starting today, to begin work that has been long promised and long delayed. La Altagracia province governor Luis Rafael Cedeno and assistant Attorney General Jose Madera, together with representatives of the Justice Department of the city of Higuey took part in the meeting. Manolo Ramirez (Pupilo) represented the tourist, freight and passenger transport unions, which are demanding the construction of better roads to cities such as Higuey, La Romana, El Seibo, Hato Mayor, San Pedro de Macoris, Sabana de la Mar, Miches, El Valle, Guaymate, Quisqueya, Ramon Santana and others. As a result of the meeting that took place in Higuey, it was agreed that on Friday the authorities would submit a proposal to the strike organizers, who promised to study it and give an answer next Monday.

Onamet warns of possible flooding
The National Meteorological Office (Onamet) is forecasting continued light to moderate rains for the next 48 hours over a large part of the country. Onamet is maintaining a flood warning, especially for the provinces of Maria Trinidad Sanchez and Duarte, and they are also putting the southwest on alert for flash flooding. The forecasters say that the rains are the result of a northeastern flow of humidity, accompanied by some sudden bursts of strong winds. Temperatures will also be noticeably lower. For residents of the southwest, the office is recommending that people living near creeks, rivers or streams or on hillsides that are prone to landslides should take precautions. Onamet reported that the frontal system to the north of the Lesser Antilles continues to move away. Finally, Onamet is maintaining its small craft warning for the north coast. Samana Bay is considered safe but small craft are warned not to go out into the open seas. Rains are set to continue on Tuesday, with occasional wind gusts and pleasant temperatures.

Stand for cigar aficionados
The Dominican Republic Tobacco Institute has a stand at the Cattle Farmers' Fair 2009, showing off the products of more than 50 cigar factories. The stand features both machine-made and hand-rolled cigars. Consumers can see all the leaves that go into the making of cigars and a cigar roller shows how cigars are made. The companies that are taking part in the activity at the Ciudad Ganadera are doing so in order to maintain their presence in the market where sales were off by 4% in 2008 compared to 2007.
Institute director Adalberto Rosa said that Dominican cigar exports grew to 720 million units in 2008, a 12% increase over 2007. But the credit crisis has affected smokers with higher purchasing power, and the sale of hand-made cigars is down while the sale of cigarettes and machine-made cigars increased. While a machine-made cigar sells for between US$0.80 and US$2, a hand-made premium cigar sells for US$15.
Rosa said that Dominican cigar makers do not fear the entry of Cuba into the United States market, since they already have their merchandizing and logistics in place and they can compete there and in other areas such as Russia and China.
For more on upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
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