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Daily News - Monday, 27 April 2009

Fernandez calls for unity
"Government can't do this by itself, the private sector can't do this by itself, communities can't do this on their own. Instead, it's all of us, working together as Dominicans to overcome this crisis in the Dominican Republic." These were the words of President Leonel Fernandez during a meeting with residents in San Cristobal, to the west of Santo Domingo.
This is Fernandez's second meeting with local groups. Fernandez listened for two hours as representatives from municipalities in San Cristobal province expressed their concerns about the future of their towns and the country. The talks took place at the newly opened subsidized community cafeteria. Requests made included roads and streets, bridges, river drainage systems and water treatment plants.
Fernandez said that he would listen to all the suggestions for public works projects, saying that these could take three years, not three months, to implement. But he did promise that the construction of the industrial district would be finished within the next few months, creating thousands of jobs.
Fernandez was positive in his demeanor, commenting, "the eye of the financial hurricane has passed but it is leaving a few rains, which we will be feeling for a long time." But not all was flowery during the meeting as the Solidarity Network president Manuel Antonio Nia (Pacholi) took the opportunity to complain about the inefficiencies of municipal politicians and representatives. He spoke of the impoverished conditions that people live in and mentioned plans by some politicians to take control of state-owned lands, as well as the decaying state of local sports venues. He complained these places were being used by criminals and as drug sales points.

Looking for swine flu
Any hospital or medical center that has treated a case of the flu must report it to the Epidemiology Monitoring System, a Ministry of Public Health department. The goal is to prevent a swine flu outbreak, and if it does happen, to stop its spread in the DR before it gets out of control.
There have yet to be any reported cases of swine flu in the DR. Public Health Minister Bautista Rojas Gomez says that instructions have been issued to all hospitals and medical centers and that all port and airport personnel have been instructed to evaluate all passengers arriving from countries where cases of swine flu have been reported. Rojas added that any flu sample found in the DR would be sent to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the US, to determine if it is in fact swine flu.
Minster Rojas is asking all Dominicans to be extremely vigilant when it comes to hygiene. This means washing hands frequently, and using disposable napkins in the case of a cold. One cannot catch the flu by eating pork. The CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with swine influenza viruses.
The spread of swine flu was first reported in Mexico with 18 confirmed cases, 1,614 possible cases and 103 possible deaths. Cases have also been reported in the US and Europe.
Dominican Ambassador to Mexico Pablo Arturo Martinez Alvarez says that none of the deaths in Mexico have affected Dominicans. The Pan-American Health Organization is increasing its warning that the DR, because of its status as a tourist destination, could be at risk of getting the disease. PAHO representative in the DR Cristina Nogueira has asked the Dominican public not to become alarmed at the spread of the disease.
Dr. Jesus Feris Iglesias, director of Infectology at Santo Domingo's Dr. Robert Reid Cabral Children's Hospital says that there has always been a risk of a global flu pandemic, and that is why the US health authorities recommend annual flu shots for vulnerable sectors of the population in order to reduce the severity of the illness. Dr. Feris, who is taking part as a speaker in the XIV Pan-American Infectology Congress in Brazil from 25-28 April, said that a flu outbreak happens every 35-40 years.

Another public hospital strike coming
The Dominican Medical Association (CMD) has announced that it will begin a four-day strike on Tuesday. The announcement is receiving more criticism than usual in the light of the increased awareness in Dominican hospitals in response to fears about the potential outbreak of swine flu. However, the CMD has vowed to keep protesting and fighting for a wage increase.

Fire the electricity team
Hoy is reporting that a group of business leaders is asking for State-run Electricity Companies (CDEEE) president Radhames Segura together with the energy cabinet members, to be fired for their inability to solve the nation's energy problems. Manuel Cabrera, president of the Herrera Association of Industries and Ignacio Mendez, president of Federation of Industrialist Associations say that rampant political patronage has impeded stability and competitive pricing in the sector, adding that the CDEEE has trampled on the other companies within the energy sector. A press release stated, "The CDEEE has spent the last eight years maintaining a clientelistic structure."
The increasing calls to fire energy executives come as part of an attempt to bring change in the sector. According to Listin Diario, the only change is the rising number of employees in the CDEEE and its payroll, which spends an estimated RD$296.7 million on payroll. According to the newspaper, the CDEEE spent RD$39 million in payroll in 2004. The inefficiencies also reach Edenorte and Edesur, which were bought back by the government. When private in 2005, they only spent RD$45 million per month on payroll, but now are currently spending RD$126.9 million per month on staff salaries.

Many can't leave
An estimated 20,000 Dominicans are not allowed to leave the DR. Director of Migration Major General Jose Anibal Sanz Jiminian now says that many of those cases should be reviewed since they have already expired. He added that many of these people have not been allowed to travel for 10 years. Sanz recommended that citizens should go to the Prosecutor General's office to ascertain whether their travel ban is still in effect.

Dominican invention intrigues
An invention by a Dominican has caught the attention of General Motors, Ford and other major companies. The invention consists of a low-cost energy generator that runs without fuel and could be used by hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and free trade zones. Fernando Adames created the generator that has a capacity of between 330KW and 500KW. An estimated 60 clients are on the waiting list.
The invention is funded by Reenergy in cooperation with Inversionistas Angeles Enlace and Emprende, with offices at the Santo Domingo Cyber Park.
Company officials say that the idea of a generator that doesn't use fuel has been in the works for 20 years. Listin Diario reports that Reenergy has worked with four inventions created by Adames, one of which is a generator that runs on renewable energy. The second is a charger that can charge large batteries in less than eight minutes. A third is a device that increases fuel efficiency in vehicles and the fourth is a "carbon collector."

Trade with Cuba increases
Dominican trade with Cuba is on the up. Diario Libre reports that trade in 2008 was US$119.4 million, with Dominican exports at US$60.01 million and imports totaling US$59.44 million. The DR exports fertilizers (US$31.1 million), pig feed (US$8.5 million), tropical seasoning (US$1.4 million), evaporated milk (US$1.2 million), cooking oils, construction materials and detergents. From Cuba, the DR imported iron bars (US$39.08 million), light bulbs (US$9.28 million), frozen fish, toilet paper, vaccines and chlorine.

Engineering dean for Columbia U
Columbia University president Lee C. Bollinger has announced the appointment of Feniosky Pena-Mora as the next dean of the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), effective July 15. Pena-Mora is a graduate of Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Urena in Santo Domingo. He earned his masters and doctorate in civil engineering from MIT.
Pena-Mora earned an international reputation for his scholarship, teaching, research and engineering innovations, as well as hands-on leadership in managing major university engineering programs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Illinois, where he has served as where he served as the Edward William and Jane Marr Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the civil and environmental engineering department, a center affiliate at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and a faculty affiliate at the Beckman Institute for six years. "Columbia is fortunate to welcome such a remarkable new engineering dean at a time when the school is becoming ever more central to the university's mission-from its interdisciplinary work with our medical center in the life sciences and our Earth Institute in climate science to its pioneering service-learning curriculum that is a national model for civic engagement between university and community," said Bollinger. "He will be an outstanding leader for our School of Engineering and Applied Science."
See: http://news.columbia.edu/oncampus/1513

Arrests in deputy son's killing
The Police have announced the arrest of the suspected murderers of Wellington Rafael Molina Iturrino, the son of PRSC deputy Rafael Molina Lluberes. Molina Iturrino died on Wednesday, 26 April after several days in a coma. The Police said that Natanael Diaz Garcia, 27, and Colais Antonio Espinal Jimenez, 31, were arrested in Los Alcarrizos after being pursued by the Police. The Police reported that the assailants had rear-ended Molina's vehicle, and then agreed to accompany him to a repair shop to establish the cost of the repairs. Instead, once in his car they told him it was a robbery and when he tried to resist they shot him, causing the fatal injuries. The Police say they are on the trail of two other suspects in the case. According to Police, Diaz Garcia has admitted his involvement, but Espinal Jimenez is protesting his innocence.

Rains to continue
The National Meteorological Office is forecasting continued rains this afternoon, as a low-pressure system passes over the DR. Forecasters expect the skies to remain cloudy throughout the day with rains affecting Santo Domingo after midday today. Rains are also expected in the north, east and southeast regions of the DR. Light rains have been affecting Santo Domingo and parts of the DR since Saturday.

Bocelli & the long weekend
Last days to get tickets to the Andrea Bocelli concert at Altos de Chavon, La Romana. Tickets prices start at RD$6,000, available from Casa de Campo and Moviemax. The performance is scheduled for Thursday, 30 April. The performance precedes the long Labor Day weekend. This year the Labor Day holiday falls on Monday, 4 May, and many will also take Friday 1 May off, making for an extra-long weekend. Expect more than usual occupancy by Dominicans at resorts nationwide.
For more on upcoming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar
 
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