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Daily News - Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Agreement confirmed
The freight conflict between Haitian and Dominican truck drivers is over after both sides came to a tentative agreement yesterday, announced Industry and Commerce Minister Jose Ramon Fadul. As part of the agreement, both sides agreed to "open the border" and meet again in 45 days to reach a final agreement. Haitian truckers have been using violence to stop Fenatrado union truckers from carrying cargo to Haiti. They demand 50% of the cargo or a RD$4,000 penalty to allow Dominican truckers the right to travel within Haiti. Fenatrado truckers have a virtual monopoly on trucking in the DR, also using violent methods to stop companies from transporting their own cargo. Ground trade between the two countries is estimated at approximately US$1 billion, taking into account US$600 million worth of formal trade and US$400 million of informal trade.

AH1N1 cases reported
The Ministry of Public Health is calling for a level-headed approach to the AH1N1 virus after the first two cases of the flu were confirmed in the DR.
Public Health Minister Bautista Rojas Gomez is advising people against self-medication if flu-like symptoms are felt, and to increase hygiene measures to prevent contagion.
Rojas says that both infected persons are out of danger, with both cases mild and not requiring medication. One victim is a 58-year old woman living in Santiago who had recently been to Seattle, Washington. The other is a 20-year-old woman in the province of Santo Domingo who recently visited Orlando, Florida.
Public Health Minister Rojas also said that Carol Morgan School would close for seven days after five students from the school are being tested for the H1N1 virus. The tests at the Carol Morgan were carried out after 46 cases of flu were reported at the school. Of the first samples tested abroad, two children were reported to have Influenza A, a severe cold, but not the AH1N1 virus.
The Ministry of Public Health has sent another four samples from undisclosed locations to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia for testing. Bautista Rojas said that the lab equipment the US center donated to carry out the tests locally would be arriving today. Once in place, the results can be known in an hour or two.
Bautista Rojas said that no one has been hospitalized for the flu, and that the measures are being taken to prevent the spread of the virus.

Foreign Ministry asks for explanation
Coordinator of the Technical Institute for Gender Studies Lourdes Contreras is awaiting the results of a Ministry of Foreign Relations probe into the reasons for her deportation from the US two weeks ago. Contreras was in transit at Miami airport on her way to a gender conference in Jamaica when she was detained and deported. She told the press that the Foreign Relations Minister has officially requested an explanation from the US State Department.

Government to help flood victims
Emigidio Sosa, director of the Presidency's Social Plan, has announced that the government has allocated RD$140 million to help the families affected by the recent rains. RD$50 million will be spent on helping families that lost their homes and land while another RD$90 million will be used to purchase appliances for families in celebration of Mother's Day.

New rules on who is Dominican
Gender discrimination in granting Dominican citizenship will be eliminated from the Constitution, according to modifications approved by the Constitutional Revisory Assembly yesterday. In the past, if a foreign woman married a Dominican, she would acquire Dominican nationality, but this was not the case for foreign men who married Dominican women. Now, both would be entitled to Dominican citizenship.
The Assembly also ruled on Art. 16 of the Constitution on nationality on a mix of jus sanguinis (by parents) and jus solis (by birth on the land). The first reading on the nationality issue reads that Dominican nationality will be acquired by:
a) The children of a Dominican father or mother.
b) Those who already have Dominican nationality prior to the modifications in the Constitution.
c) Those born in the Dominican Republic, with the exception of children of foreign diplomatic or consular missions and foreigners who are in transit or reside illegally in the country. A person in transit is any foreigner as defined in Dominican laws.
d) Those born abroad to a Dominican mother or father, despite having acquired a different nationality to their parents through their place of birth. Once the child is 18 years old, he/she may request dual nationality from the competent authorities, or renounce one of these.
e) Anyone who marries a Dominican man or woman, once the request is made to opt for the spouse's nationality and the person is eligible to meet the legal requirements.
f) Those who have taken on Dominican nationality. The law will fix the conditions and formalities required for naturalization.

New Customs director
Superintendent of Banks Rafael Camilo was appointed as director of the Customs Department (DGA) on Wednesday, according to the governmental Antena news service. Former director Miguel Cocco passed away last week after a long battle with kidney problems. Camilo will be replaced at the Superintendency of Banks by Hivanjoe Ng, who is the Superintendent of the Stock Market. Camilo was director of National Planning in the first Fernandez government 1996-2000, and then was appointed to the Superintendence of Banks in 2004. He is a graduate in Sociology from the UASD, with a Masters degree in economy from the University of Mexico and a doctorate in history from the University of Salamanca (Spain).

Underground parking spots
National District Mayor Roberto Salcedo says that the private sector will build 12 new underground parking lots in the city. He says that these will be located in or near the Centro de los Heroes (La Feria), Plaza Espana (Colonial City), Parque Eugenio Maria de Hostos (Malecon) and an area near the Clinica Abreu (Ciudad Nueva). The Ministry of Public Works will be contributing to the funding and a tender to choose the builders will be held shortly.

Unibe signs agreement
Unibe University has signed an agreement with the National Institute of Applied Sciences of Rouen (INSA Rouen). The agreement will allow for engineering exchange programs between both institutions as well as teacher exchanges and joint research programs. Jean Louis Billoet signed on behalf of INSA while Julio Amado Castanos Guzman signed on behalf of Unibe. Unibe University students may now study for a semester in France and have their credits transferred.

Hubieres arrested, released
Fenatrano transport union leader Juan Hubieres was arrested yesterday and jailed for an hour and a half. Hubieres was released after judge Alejandro Vargas ruled that his imprisonment had been illegal. Hubieres was imprisoned after allegations that he had improperly used millions of pesos of funds from the Ground Transport Development Fund, which is funded by dues from Fenatrano members. A ten-hour interrogation yielded no concrete evidence, only circumstantial evidence. Hubieres was jailed on that evidence, but the decision was then reversed. Quoted in Hoy, Hubieres stated that it was ridiculous to accuse Fenatrano of owing the government RD$6 million when the government owed Fenatrano RD$60 million.

Florian cop gets three months
Judge Ambiorix Marichal Martinez from the San Cristobal Permanent Jurisdiction has sentenced Police Captain Lino de Oca and Lt. Colonel Jose Antonio Pulinario Rodriguez to three months preventive custody for their role in the death of former drug kingpin Rolando Florian Feliz. The sentence was a recommendation made by the state prosecutors. Although both men were sentenced to serve time in Najayo, the jail where Florian was killed, the judge sent them to the Special Operation Center for Police in Manoguayabo in Santo Domingo, to ensure their safety.

Warden had no clue
Director of Prisons General Manuel de Jesus Sanchez claims that he had no idea that murdered drug trafficker Rolando Florian Feliz had enjoyed such a lavish lifestyle inside the Najayo prison. He added that the prison's inspector general Henry Garrido had carried out an investigation to determine the status of privileges in Dominican jails. De Jesus said the only jail he knew Florian had inhabited was one in Monte Plata, where he had a plastic chair and table and a bed. According to reports, Florian had an air-conditioned cell, cell phones, a TV and was allowed conjugal visits. It was also said that he was allowed to have alcohol while in prison.

Pujols is favored
St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols is right where he should be, at the top of voting for this year's All Star weekend. Pujols is currently leading all other players with a total of 842,058 votes. He leads the second most voted by a whopping 167,000 votes. This is also double the amount for the next second baseman on the list, Prince Fielder, who has 427,284 votes.
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