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Daily News - Monday, 11 May 2009

Samana gets attention
Continuing his series of "popular meetings with the people," President Leonel Fernandez was in Samana over the weekend. He told his audience that the province is becoming a priority for development in the DR, especially for tourism. He added that between now and 2011 there will be "a wind of change" in Samana and that he would be visiting the province every three months in order to monitor progress in a number of communities. Nevertheless, Fernandez said he was aware that Samana would not able to develop as a tourist destination until small details like cleanliness, environmental pollution and the drug problem were resolved. Fernandez instructed the National Drug Control Department (DNCD) to increase their drug fighting efforts in Samana as well as increasing prevention and anti-crime initiatives, as a way of ensuring the safety of tourists in the region. And he gave orders to Supervisor of Public Works of the Presidency, Felix Bautista to work with the city government to repair the streets of the barrios. During his talk, Fernandez engaged in a certain amount of political posturing by highlighting some of the work the government has done in developing the region, including the US$300 million investment in a new highway to Las Terrenas that should be completed in 18 months and US$165 million for the aqueduct.

New ambassadors
President Leonel Fernandez has sworn in Federico Alberto Cuello Camilo as new Dominican ambassador to the United Nations. His appointment had been announced in February. He previously served as Dominican ambassador in Brussels. On Friday, President Fernandez also received credentials from the new Venezuelan ambassador Aura Mahuampi Rodriguez de Ortiz, and Meurice Frederic, the new Belgian ambassador. Vice President Rafael Alburquerque and Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso were present at the event.
The government also announced that the Senate had confirmed the nominations of Luis Homero Hernandez as new ambassador to several United Nations bodies in Geneva, Rafael Calventi as ambassador in Germany, Anibal de Castro as ambassador in Ireland in addition to his current responsibilities in the UK, Pedro Verges, ambassador in Japan and Luis Arias Nunez as ambassador in the Netherlands.

Prison progress highlighted
Progress made by the Dominican penitentiary system has been commended as a "notable case" in Latin America and the Caribbean. The presentation was made by Elias Carranza, director of the United Nations Latin American Institute for Crime Prevention and Treatment of Offenders (ILANUD) during the "Penal Reform and Penitentiary Overpopulation" workshop, held in the Austrian capital Vienna. Carranza said that progress achieved in the DR was due primarily to political will among the highest ranks of the Dominican government. He added that small changes in the Dominican penitentiary system are being incorporated gradually and the process reflects a sensible use of public funds. According to Carranza, the penitentiary systems in Costa Rica and the DR should be used as models for other countries in the region.

April inflation: 0.14%
Inflation in April, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was registered at 0.14%, according to the Central Bank. The Central Bank announced that the accumulated inflation rate during the first few months of the year was 0.89%, considerably lower than the 4.72% registered during the same period in 2008. The Central Bank also announced that the inflation rate between April 2008 and April 2009 was 0.69%, which reflects the deceleration of prices in the local market. Reduction in inflation during the first trimester of the year is partly due to the decrease in the prices of alcohol and tobacco, fresh meats, vegetables and edible oils.

Cell phone nation
The DR is a very well communicated nation. According to the annual report on the Telecommunications and Telecom Industry from the National Commission for the Society of Information and Knowledge (CNSIC), 7.2 million cell phone numbers are in use in the DR. In 2008, 1.7 million new cell phone numbers were added. An estimated 10 million people live in the DR. The report indicates that 14 companies are providing these services in the DR. It makes the point that the largest growth is in pre-paid plans, for 87% of all cell phone holders. 100% of the cell phone network is digital. The report says that as of 31 December 2008, there were 340,322 Internet lines in the DR, for 3.5 accounts per 100 inhabitants and a growth rate of 28.8% compared to 2007.

Panitchpakdi on economic model
According to Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), liberalization policies implemented by the Dominican government since 1990, as well as modernization and quality of the work force are reasons why direct foreign investment have increased and why the Dominican economic has diversified. Panitchpakdi made his comments during a conference in Geneva, where he presented a report on investment in the DR. "The experience of the Dominican Republic clearly shows that, within the right framework, FDI (foreign direct investment) can foster development, integration into the world economy and poverty reduction."
www.unctad.org/Templates/Page.asp?intItemID=4836&lang=1

Energy generators want money
The energy generators AES Dominicana and EGE-Haina have announced an embargo on the accounts of EdeEste, EdeSur and EdeNorte and are asking the energy distributors to pay their debt of US$300 million. Listin Diario reports that the government has no money to pay these debts. AES and EGE are now urging government officials to travel to Washington in order to ask the World Bank for a US$300 million loan. Energy Superintendent Francisco Mendez said he would meet with State Run Electric Companies (CDEEE) president Radhames Segura today to discuss possible options. An inability to resolve this latest stumbling block could lead to a new series of prolonged blackouts in the DR.

Miguel Cocco on the mend
Customs Department Director, Miguel Cocco, is making good progress and his respirator was removed on Sunday. Cocco, who has suffered from kidney problems for the last 11 years, is receiving dialysis every 24 hours. Last week Cocco was taken to the CEDIMAT hospital where he received emergency treatment for kidney failure. His doctors found a hematoma on one of his kidneys and decided to operate.

Colombian cartels add concerns
The Colombian cartels that used former military captain Ernesto Quirino Paulino Castillo as their intermediary in the Dominican link of the drug smuggling chain are now working directly with the DR military forces and with civilians, says former National District DA Jose Manuel Hernandez Peguero. Hernandez Peguero said that a large number of Colombians, at least 4,000 by his estimates, are in the country working within the drug trade. Hernandez mentioned that the institutional deficiencies in neighboring Haiti have also facilitated the spread of the drug trade in the DR. "After Quirino, who they used as an intermediary, was arrested and extradited, the Colombians decided to handle their business in the country directly and contact civilians and military personnel in order to follow through with their activities."

Sports roundup
It was an exciting weekend in sports for Dominican athletes with slugger Alex Rodriguez providing the biggest spark. Rodriguez made his much anticipated return to the plate on Friday and did not disappoint, banging out a towering three-run homerun against the Orioles in his first at bat of the season. Rodriguez's return was a welcome sign for a struggling offense and could be the spark that turns the Yankees around.
Yankee infielder Robinson Cano also got into the action on Sunday night, as he hit a homerun and a double in the Yankee victory over the Orioles.
Albert Pujols is continuing his epic year continually adding to his Hall of Fame credentials. Over the weekend Pujols hit his 12th homerun of the season and batted in his 33rd RBI. He is currently batting .330 and has scored a total of 32 runs.
News and shock in reaction to Manny Ramirez's positive test for an illegal substance are floating around MLB, but Ramirez seems to have taking the positive the hardest. According to LA Dodgers manager Joe Torre, Ramirez is embarrassed by the test results and has yet to address his team about the issue. Reports indicate that team owner Frank McCourt is furious about the test and wants Manny to speak to his teammates. Ramirez has met with McCourt and apologized and reports reveal that an initial meeting between the two was positive.
In other sports news, there seems there is nothing Al Horford can do to get his team over the wall known as Lebron "King" James. Horford, playing with a sprained ankle has watched as James, a virtual one-man team, has personally dismantled the Atlanta Hawks defense. In their Game 3 match-up against the Hawks James scored 47 points, which was 8 points lower than the Hawks' starting lineup combined. The Hawks are now down 3-0 and no NBA has come back from a three-game deficit to win an NBA playoff series.

Star Trek #1
Ever heard of a Dominican Trekkie? Well, Dominican actress Zoe Saldana might be the prettiest Trekkie you've ever seen and her performance as USS Enterprise Chief Communications Officer Nyota Uhura helped the film rake in US$72.5 million in its first weekend at the box office. Star Trek moved into first place and Saldana's role has once again catapulted her to into the spotlight as one of Hollywood's main up-and-coming young actresses.

Guerra honored at Berklee
Dominican singer/songwriter superstar Juan Luis Guerra performed his song "Bilirrubina" during the annual commencement concert held for more than 850 graduating class members at Berklee College of Music in Boston last Friday. At the event, Berklee president Roger H. Brown presented Guerra with an honorary music doctorate.
Also honored were legendary Motown singer/songwriter Smokey Robinson, and multimillion-selling singer Linda Ronstadt. Robinson delivered the commencement address to the graduating class and more than 4,000 guests.
Upon receiving his honorary degree, Guerra, a Berklee graduate himself, thanked president Brown and Berklee faculty members and students and dedicated the moment to his wife, his children and his Dominican friends who were there to cheer him on.
This year's honorary doctorate recipients were chosen for their achievements in contemporary music, for their enduring contributions to popular culture, and for the influence their careers and music have had over Berklee's international student body. Robinson, Ronstadt and Guerra join the ranks of such esteemed recipients as Duke Ellington, David Bowie, Count Basie, B.B. King, Sting, James Taylor, Aretha Franklin, Pat Metheny, Loretta Lynn, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Joel, Bonnie Raitt, Quincy Jones, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Patti Labelle.

Miss Universe coming
The current Miss Universe, Venezuelan Dayana Mendoza is expected in Santo Domingo for the crowning of the new Miss Dominican Republic. The contest will be held at the Sans Souci Convention Hall on 17 May. The winner will represent the DR at the Miss Universe contest, which will be held at the Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island in the Bahamas on Sunday, 30 August. Twenty-four candidates are competing in the Dominican pageant that will be transmitted on Antena Latina, Channel 7.
For more on upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
 
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