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Daily News - Thursday, 02 July 2009

Soon, pay interest on debt only
New Superintendent of Banks Haivanjoe Ng Cortinas has announced that credit card holders should only have to pay interest on the daily average balance owed, and not the totality of the monthly debt as is the common practice now.
He said he would enforce the fulfillment of Superintendence of Banks Resolution 7-2001, as reported in Hoy.

DR and US to fight crime together
US Embassy Charge d'Affaires Roland Bullen and Interior & Police Minister Franklin Almeyda have signed a first agreement between the Dominican Republic and the United States that will apply the Merida Initiative to fight crime. The Merida Initiative is a multi-year effort that is aimed at fighting organized crime, gangs, and drug and arms trafficking in the region.
The agreement, signed on June 26, will pour US$2.1 million in initial funding into the Dominican Republic, plus an additional US$345,000 in funds from the 2008 fiscal year.
The agreement says that the Dominican Republic and the United States will be partners in projects financed partially or totally by the US.
The funds from the Merida Initiative are for use in the project that includes: equipment and technical consultants service for the Financial Analysis Unit (US$200,000), reform projects for the National Police (US$300,000), help against money laundering (US$300,000), projects at the National Department for Drug Control (DNCD) for US$750,000, development of a national database on criminals (US$550,000), equipment for the Naval Intelligence Unit (US$250,000) and a joint Dominican-Haitian program for frontier security (US$150,000).
The governments will meet each quarter to review the progress of these initiatives.

A thousand got the answers
Minister of Education Melanio Paredes has been explaining how over a thousand students were sold the answers to the National Standardized Tests last week. He said the teachers used cell phones and received RD$1,200 for each set of answers. He named seven people, including a ministry employee from School District 15-04 and a teacher from the private sector.
Paredes said that the cheating was discovered during the first of the exams for high school seniors at the Antonio Garabito High School in Cambita, which belongs to School District 4-01 of San Cristobal, when four students were found with cell phones.
Pedro Rodriguez, the ministry's legal advisor, told Listin Diario that the students had handed in their cell phones at the door, while keeping another one hidden.
The discovery at Cambita unleashed a flood of information, because first of all, a young man was arrested with a notebook full of phone numbers and nicknames. "He crossed off the names of the people he managed to get the answers to."
One interesting piece of data revealed by the ministry's investigation showed that of those involved in the cheating, 217 did so on their Spanish test, 191 for the Social Studies test and 618 for the math test.

Moving on the Constitution
The Constitutional Revisory Assembly has approved articles 240, 241 and 242 that cover the Central Electoral Board (JCE), but did not establish the number of members on the board. If the articles are not modified during the second reading, it will be up to the Electoral Law to establish the number of members of the JCE.
The report from the commission once again modified the composition of the new JCE, since in the previous session the proposal was for the JCE to have three members. The assembly members modified a proposal from the Executive Branch and they conferred on the Central Electoral Board the ability to regulate the times and limits, campaign expenses as well as media access. By means of a transitional disposition, the members of the JCE and the Electoral Tribunal will be elected in 2010 and serve until 2016.
The Assembly also approved the creation of a Superior Electoral Tribunal with three members who will serve for six years and eliminated the electoral prosecutor. They placed the designation of the members of the Superior Electoral Tribunal in the hands of the Senate, and not the National Council of magistrates as proposed by the draft sent by the Executive Power and modified by the commission.
The Constitutional Revisory Assembly gave their blessings to the provision that places professional confidentiality and journalists' privilege in the Constitution, as well as the right to reply and reaffirmed the access of the media to news sources, as they approved article 40 of the reform proposal submitted by the President and modified.
The Revisory Assembly for Constitutional reform went into recess until the commissions that are studying 120 articles present their reports to the full body. In one commission chaired by Jose Cabrera, the issues of monetary and financial rules are awaiting study. A commission headed by Francisco Dominguez Brito is studying the 36 articles that deal with judicial reform. The articles that refer to the Armed Forces and the police and those that deal with the Legislative Power are being studied by a commission led by Teodoro Ursino Reyes.

A tunnel to the UASD
The Duarte Corridor project will dig a tunnel from the intersection of Ortega y Gasset street and 27 de Febrero avenue to the Jose Contreras street north of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD). Minister of Public Works Victor Diaz Rua and the director of the Transport Reorganization Office (OPRET), the metro office, Diandino Pena announced the start of works.
Diaz Rua said that the tunnel, which is almost one kilometer long, would not represent any "trauma" for the buildings above the construction site. He said that the project was designed to allow traffic to flow permanently at between 60 kph and 80 kph.
The construction of the tunnel will begin together with the start up of the work on the Duarte Corridor next week.
Diaz Rua told Listin Diario reporters that his ministry initially considered the idea of an elevated roadway as a solution, but the costs in expropriations would have been exorbitant, so they opted for the tunnel.
The equipment and machinery used in the project will be the same as was used to build the Santo Domingo Metro. The tunnel is the responsibility of OPRET and the Ministry of Public Works is in charge of the elevated traffic ramps at the intersection of Ortega y Gasset and 27 de Febrero.

DR AIDS stats
AIDS is prevalent among gays, transvestites and drug addicts, according to a study released today that says that 1.1% of the adult population is infected with HIV. This information is contained in the First Survey on Risky Sexual Behavior with Serological Ties carried out in the country. The study showed the prevalence of HIV in people who use drugs to be 8% and in homosexuals and transvestites 6.1%. The study also shows that amongst sex workers the HIV rate is 4.8%.
The study, carried out in 2008 and released yesterday by the Presidential Council on AIDS (Copresida), covered the Dominican capital and the provinces of Santiago, Barahona and La Altagracia.
La Altagracia province has the highest rate of HIV among homosexual men at 7.6%, and at the same time the study showed that the highest proportion of sex workers (prostitutes) with HIV+ was found in Barahona at 8.4%.
The study also found that the prevalence of the virus is greater in the older segment (25 years or older) of the prostitutes. Syphilis was the most prevalent disease among the sex workers, with 11.3% reporting infections.
Copresida executive director Gustavo Rojas Lara stressed that "historically these groups are discriminated against and stigmatized, and this makes getting any information on their sexual behavior all the more difficult, a factor that was taken into account by the survey."
The study was carried out by Copresida and Ministry of Public Health staff with financial and technical assistance from the World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations HIV/AIDS Program (UNAIDS) and other organizations. The survey used 3900 subjects divided into 1300 sex workers, 1400 homosexuals and 1200 drug users.
According to USAID, 50 of every 100,000 Dominicans lives with the disease and 58,000 children have been orphaned by the illness.

2/3 of houses have no meters
Of the 2,730,285 houses counted in the country two years ago, 47% (1,117,789) did not have an electricity meter, while 33.3% (790,212) have a meter and 19.5% (462,284) pay a fixed rate. In other words, 66% of houses do not have meters.
Diario Libre reports that the data obtained from the National Survey of Income and Expenses in the Home 2007, carried out by the National Statistics Office (ONE), says that in individual houses (1,834,201) 574,426 have meters, and 889,936 do not.
Out of more than 257,000 rooms, shacks and back-yard housing units, some 48,000 have meters (18.6%), and in barracks (generally built for flood victims or families displaced by hurricanes) there are only 1,472 meters (11.8%).
Only 6.3% of the houses (160,189) use other sources of energy. According to a study by the National Business Council (CONEP) last May, each consumer or group of consumers should have an electric meter and pay for the energy consumed. CONEP points out that to donate or subsidize energy without any metering or limit is to convert an expensive service into a free service.

DR withdraws Honduran ambassador
The Dominican Republic has decided to withdraw its ambassador in Honduras, Jose del Carmen Acosta. The ambassador returned to the DR last night. This move comes as part of the diplomatic pressure being brought to bear by the heads of state and of government at the Central American Integration System (SICA) meeting in Managua, Nicaragua. According to Listin Diario, the SICA, as well as the OAS, is using the diplomatic isolation of Honduras as a way to force the re-establishment of democratic government after President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown by a military coup.
Ambassador Acosta returned to the Dominican Republic for "consultations", a diplomatic term that indicates displeasure on the part of the withdrawing nation. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega told reporters that at the XXXIV SICA Meeting, the governments agreed to put a halt to all diplomatic and commercial contacts with Honduras. Yesterday the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) announced it was putting a hold on credit worth some US$200 million to Honduras.

USCG to help find drug plane
Dominican naval vessels are marking the site as the DR authorities await the arrival of a special Coast Guard ship that will help locate the remains of the aircraft that fell to the sea, allegedly with a drugs consignment on board. National Drug Control Department (DNCD) spokesperson Roberto Lebron told investigative journalist Huchi Lora that they had instructions to stay on the scene until the USCG ship arrives to help in the search for the airplane. The aircraft crashed into the Caribbean off the coast of Bani, and fishermen in the area at the time of the incident told El Caribe reporters that the plane fell into the water "and sunk right away."
In the meantime, the body of the person said to be the pilot has not been identified and remains at the Pathological Forensics Institute.

Maconi cleared for extradition
The Penal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) has ordered the extradition to the United States of Ernesto Bienvenido Guevara Diaz (Maconi), who is described as the "right hand man" of former Army captain Quirino Ernesto Paulino Castillo, who is on trial in NY for drug trafficking.
The decision handed down says that the accused has been identified as the person who procured the trucks, loaded the vehicles and placed the drugs "on track" (to the US), after being contacted by Paulino Castillo. The extradited individual was accused of forming part of the group that prepared a stash of 1,387 kilograms of cocaine for shipment to the United States, which was seized in December 2004 when Paulino Castillo was arrested. Guevara Diaz has also been processed on a drug trafficking charge together with deceased inmate Rolando Florian Feliz.
The court also ordered the seizure of all of the Guevara's assets. Judges Hugo Alvarez Valencia, chief judge of the Penal Chamber, Julio Ibarra Rios, Edgar Hernandez Mejia, Victor Jose Castellanos and Dulce Rodriguez de Goris accepted the opinion of the assistant attorney general Gisela Cueto and the request for extradition from the lawyer representing the United States penal authorities, Analdis Alcantara Abreu.
The SCJ authorized the Attorney General to carry out the procedures needed for the Executive Branch to decree the extradition of Guevara Diaz, who is currently being held at Najayo Prison.

Vermont + DR to care for songbird
The Vermont Center for Eco-studies (VCE Bicknell) Thrush bird conservation team recently introduced two of their Dominican counterparts to the Vermont songbird that has formed a bridge between the two countries since VCE began studying the species on Hispaniola in 1994.
Ardent Dominican conservationists Jesus and Jaime Moreno, co-owners of the DR's top-selling ice cream company Helados Bon www.heladosbon.com and VCE partners in the DR, visited the study site on Mt. Mansfield 29-30 June to personally meet the Bicknell's Thrush itself.
On the second day of the quest, 4 thrushes were caught and the newcomers were able to see a newly captured male and female thrush. It was an exciting and rewarding moment for all, and Jesus proved an avian Pied Piper, as the male sat in his hand for a full minute before flying off. They mist-netted one more female (a bird banded in 2007), putting their morning total at 7 birds in 7 nets.
Jamie Phillips of the Eddy Foundation and Chuck Kerchner of AgRefresh www.agrefresh.org were also on the visit.
The VCE is beginning an ambitious 2-year, multi-partner conservation project in the Cordillera Septentrional, at Quita Espuela Mountain.
"Once again, the Bicknell's Thrush had proved to be a bridge between two countries and two cultures, each with equal responsibility for ensuring its long-term conservation," tells the VCE Bickell center, in a blog.

DR defeats Brazil in volleyball
The Dominican Republic women's national volleyball team has defeated the Brazilian team to remain undefeated in Pool B in the tournament. Brazil is seeded number one in the world and was the gold medalist at the Beijing 2008 Olympics. The DR is the defending champion at the tournament. The win earned the Dominican Republic a direct ticket to the semi final round of the competition, a qualifier for next year's FIVB World Grand Prix.
The tournament is part of the North, Central America and Caribbean volleyball circuit. Norceca reports that Dominican player Bethania de la Cruz tallied eight of her match-high 26 points in the tie-breaker leading the Dominican Republic to a thrilling victory over Olympic champions Brazil with a score of 25-23, 19-25, 18-25, 25-23, 15-13 Tuesday night at US Century Bank Arena in Florida International University.
Prisilla Rivera and Milagros Cabral contributed 15 and 12 points respectively to the victory and Annerys Vargas and Lisvel Eve chipped in nine and eight tallies.
Brazilians Thaisa Menezes and Sheila Castro each produced 17 points and Welissa Gonzaga and Mari Steinbrecher recorded 12 and 11 respectively.
"You have to feel excited after defeating an Olympic champion like Brazil," said DR coach Marcos Kwiek. "It was a team victory with everyone contributing. Bethania was great but the rest of the team really supported her performance. It is good to win but the biggest win is when you win the title."
"The Dominican team played well and deserved the victory and that is important," said Roberto Guimaraes, the Brazilian coach. "We made errors in key moments but that is always the story. When you lose you always make errors."

Music concert for Los Haitises
More than 20 musical performers are coming together for a concert in support of the preservation of Los Haitises, the singular karst region in northeastern DR, considered the main source of water for the south and eastern regions. The event is scheduled for Sunday, 19 July starting at 4pm at Plaza de Espana, in Santo Domingo's Colonial City. Several young composers are writing lyrics and music especially for the event. They join the grassroots movements campaigning to convince the Dominican Mining Consortium to relocate its cement plant to a less vulnerable location.
Calor Urbano, Marel Alemany, Janio Lora, Pavel Nunez, Gnomico, Pablo Cavallo, Victor Victor, Son Abril, Grado Celcius, Cayhao, Sociedad Tabu, Juango Davalos, Diego Mena, Nelson Poket, Xiomara Fortuna, Marte o Venus, Tony Almont and DJ Visionario are among the participants who have signed up to join their voices to raise awareness about the threat posed by the construction of the cement plant to the district of Gonzalo, in the province of Monte Plata.
The MCs for the program are Karina Larrauri, Mario Peguero, Mauvie Espinosa, Nashla Bogaert, Milton Cordero (Lechuga), Aura Rosa, Daniela Espinal, Bolivar Soto, Samir Saba, Hector Anibal, Maryanne Fernandez, Anina Rodriguez, Claudia Cruz, Angely Baez, Larimar Fiallo and Frank Ceara.
Music for Los Haitises is part of a campaign strategy that also includes the sale of t-shirts, pins and car banners, all of which are for sale at Casa de Teatro, Meson de Bari, Encuentro Artesanal, Quintana Bar, Narbon, Cinema Cafe, Modafoca and Beer House.
See http://musicaporloshaitises.blogspot.com/2009/07/como-puedes-ayudar.html
For more on upcoming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar
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