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Daily News - Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Fernandez meets Israeli PM
On Tuesday, his last day in Israel before traveling on to Egypt, President Leonel Fernandez met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset. They agreed on cooperation between the two countries in the areas of education, technology, agriculture and trade. Both heads of state also agreed to continue diplomatic talks during the next general assembly of the United Nations, which is scheduled for September.
During his official visit to Israel, Fernandez also met President Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, as well as business leaders.
In a recent address, Netanyahu had backed a Palestinian state alongside Israel, although he conditioned this position to the Palestinian state not having an army. Netanyahu also said the Palestinian state would have to reciprocate by recognizing Israel as the Jewish state.

Palestinian agreement
President Leonel Fernandez and his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas have signed a bilateral agreement calling for an exchange of diplomats between the DR and the Palestinian National Authority. The agreement is deemed a first step in the process of construction of friendship and cooperation. The agreement was signed at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh.
In Egypt, Fernandez said that the DR, from its "modest position", would do what it could to contribute to a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. President Fernandez is in Egypt to attend the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, or NAM, from 15-17 July.
During his stay in Egypt, Fernandez will be defending ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya, calling for his return to government. As reported in Hoy, Zelaya made a surprise visit to the DR on the morning of Fernandez's departure to Egypt to attend the NAM summit to lobby for Fernandez's support to a move for a UN resolution calling for his return to power in Honduras.

Reform limits presidential power
Legislators working on Constitutional reform have agreed to limit the President's power for the first time ever. They voted in favor of a measure stopping the President from annulling judgments passed by city governments and filling vacancies for mayors or city council officials.
Legislators also voted for a measure preventing the President from filling temporary vacancies at the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Land Courts, Justices of the Peace and Instruction Judges.
The President will no longer decide on the members of the Central Electoral Board (JCE), the Chamber of Accounts and Congress.
The changes are set out in Article 108 of the Constitution on the powers of the President.
The legislators also agreed that the President would only be able to approve contracts worth 200 minimum salaries without congressional approval and included a item obliging the Executive Branch to send the budget for the upcoming year to Congress no later than the first of October of that current year.
It was also decided that the President would now bear the title of "Supreme Authority of the Armed Forces and the Police, instead of "Supreme Chief."

Cold water = hard cash
Encouraging island nations to harness the power of the oceans for their energy needs, at a presentation at President Leonel Fernandez's think-tank Funglode last Wednesday 8 July, development experts unveiled some of the world's most innovative technologies using cold seawater.
"We're talking about using cold sea water to make cold, hard cash," asserted Lelei TuiSamoa LeLaulu, referring to sea water air conditioning (SWAC) and a similar technology, ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), which generates energy by harnessing the difference between deep ocean water and warmer surface water.
"It does not make sense to import expensive, dirty oil from thousands of miles away when the ocean surrounding us can give us our energy needs," declared LeLaulu, president of SOS Caribe, a company pioneering the use of cold water technologies.
David Jourdan, a noted ocean explorer featured on National Geographic and Discovery channels and president of Common Heritage Corporation (www.commonheritagecorp.com) which pioneered cold water use in Hawai'i, added that both OTEC and seawater air conditioning can also produce fresh water daily by capturing condensation from the cold water pipes and can be used for cold water agriculture that makes soils extraordinarily productive.
Many of the technological methods promoted by SOS Caribe were developed by legendary deep-sea scientist and Common Heritage Corporation founder Dr. John Craven, who has been involved in every major ocean innovation in the United States over the past 40 years.
Addressing the growing importance of carbon trading, SOS Caribe director Jaime Moreno observed "the use of cold water technologies is not only immensely sustainable but is also a valuable clean development mechanism asset."
Moreno, who owns the country's largest ice cream company, said SOS Caribe wanted to launch the first commercial use of seawater air conditioning in his country "at a time when global warming was increasing the demand for air cooling".
A key player in the development of competitiveness clusters in the Dominican Republic, Moreno points to unpredictable oil prices on the world market and expensive fossil fuels for the wider Caribbean region: "To be really competitive we have to drastically slash our energy costs and these cold water technologies can cut energy bills by 80 percent."
Charlotte Vick, who serves as ocean content editor for Google Earth, believes that accessibility of bathymetric data now available on Google Earth 5.0 is a significant improvement in evaluating appropriate activity in the ocean.
"These cold water technologies were developed with tens of millions of US and Japanese taxpayer dollars for over 20 years," she noted, adding, "it's the markets, industries and tourism facilities close to sea water, which have finally matured enough to recognize the commercial value of these systems - and to start using them to cut energy costs and boost profits."
SOS Caribe (Sustainable Solutions) specializes in designing and implementing commercially productive sustainable development programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. For further information, contact [email protected]

Segura travels, DR gets blackouts
Controversial Executive Vice President of the Dominican State-run Electricity Companies (CDEEE) Radhames Segura traveled to the Middle East to accompany President Leonel Fernandez, while on the home front 12-hour+ blackouts are back. The blackouts follow two major increases in power rates levied on paying consumers.
As reported in Hoy, the blackouts are the result of a 26% deficit in supply, as reported by Superintendence of Electricity. The blackouts are occurring due to long-standing arrears in paying agreed upon subsidies to generation companies.
According to the Superintendence of Electricity, average generation on Tuesday, 14 July was 1,342 MW while demand was 1,809 MW.
The CDEEE reported that the service would improve on Tuesday, when the AES Andres power plant in Boca Chica went online. Service was also affected in the metropolitan south area due to the shutdown of Itabo I.
Radhames Segura has been in the press after TV investigative journalist Nuria Piera revealed details of the bloated CDEEE payroll. Piera found that Segura had even included more than 40 members of his own family circle on the payroll, which is said to be 10 times larger than what would be needed to run the electricity department efficiently.

Codetel Internet blackout
Thousands of Codetel Internet customers suffered a blackout all morning on Wednesday. The Dominican Institute of Telecommunications (Indotel) has confirmed the blackout. Codetel said it was working on the problems and service seems to have been gradually being restored.
Recently, the president of Indotel warned telephone companies about the deteriorating service.
Codetel users have been among the worst affected. The decline in quality of service has come since Claro Codetel took over US-owned Verizon Dominicana.

Soco Bridge closed
The Ministry of Public Works is announcing that the Soco Bridge, between San Pedro de Macoris and La Romana, will be closed for two days for renovation works. The bridge will be closed between 10pm and 6am in order to add an inch of asphalt, as well as other work. Public Works has set up detours to and from San Pedro and Santo Domingo. The detour will be set up on the 0 kilometer of the Autovia del Este, heading towards La Romana, passing through the municipality of Ramon Santana, passed the 14th kilometer and through the Batey Cabeza de Toro, rejoining the San Pedro-La Romana highway.

EU donates money
The Dominican government is due to receive EUR18.5 million this month to be used for government programs in the areas of education, health, poverty aid and competitiveness.
Yesterday, Jean Marc Ruiz, the head of the European Business Commission and Domingo Jimenez, director of the Multilateral Cooperation Department (DIGECOOM) said yesterday. They said that the EU would be donating EUR75 million for the 2010 and 2012 budgets to contribute to new national strategies for development that the government will present to Congress in September 2009, as reported in Hoy.
Jimenez says the EUR18.5 million will enable the government to implement policies and strategies for sustainable development. He said the money is part of the 9th European Development Fund.

Juan Tomas Taveras Rodriguez case
Interior & Police Minister Franklin Almeyda Rancier has overruled a 10-day arrest warrant for Police General Juan Tomas Taveras Rodriguez. Taveras had been ordered under arrest for publishing two articles in Clave Digital on security and defense in which he questioned the fact that the Armed Forces was taking on Police roles.
Earlier, Police Chief Major General Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin reached an agreement with Santo Domingo district prosecutor Alejandor Moscoso Segarra to close the legal case in which the military requested a habeas corpus in an ordinary court. Moscoso sided with Guzman Fermin saying that the General must complete his sentence and that it wasn't a judiciary sentence, rather a matter of police justice.
With his release, nevertheless, the legal procedures in civilian court are being dropped, and the case could now go before the Police Court where he could be tried for matters of discipline and faults that Guzman Fermin had deemed serious, as reported in Clave Digital.
As reported in El Caribe, he could be subject to maximum arrest for 30 days, suspension from his post, demotion and definite suspension from the force.
Taveras Rodriguez is accused of violating Law 96-04, Letter C of Art. 65 that penalizes Police officers who disobey orders from their superiors.
The president of the National Commission of Human Rights (CNDH), Manuel Maria Mercedes, says that the arrest was in violation of the constitutional right of freedom of expression. General Jose Tomas Taveras himself had appealed to justice on the grounds of his arrest representing a violation of Article 25 of the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights.
The articles on the military and the police were published on 22 and 29 June 2009.
General Taveras Rodriguez is a graduate in communications and journalism. He writes regularly for the Justicia y Bien Comun (Justice and the Common Good) column in the online news service Clave Digital.
Other articles include:

Linares seeks Martinez's post in NY
Guillermo Linares, the first Dominican ever elected to public office in US history (1991), announced today that he will be resigning from his position as Commissioner for Immigrant Affairs for New York City in the Michael Bloomberg administration.
He is resigning in order to run for his old job as city councilor for Washington Heights in Manhattan.
The post became vacant when fellow Dominican Miguel Martinez resigned, sending in a one-sentence letter to city officials yesterday, in response to expected charges of irregularities in office. "Effective today, July 14, 2009, I am submitting my resignation to the New York City Council," stated Martinez.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are reportedly preparing to file charges against him stemming from an investigation into a non-profit group he financed in northern Manhattan as early as this week.
As reported in the New York Times, the letter ended the Upper Manhattan Democrat's 7-year council career amid a whirl of controversy and short-circuiting his re-election campaign.
Martinez was elected to the city council in 2001. Linares maintained his seat until he was term limited in 2001.
In comments to the New York Daily News, Bloomberg said he was likely to support Linares' quest to get his old job back.

Albert is not enough
Albert Pujols' bat and glove were not enough for the National League team to beat the American League team. But for Pujols it was a memorable night as he caught the inaugural first pitch for President Barack Obama. Obama, wearing a Chicago White Sox jacket, threw a lefty floater that almost hit the ground. But Pujols learned forward a bit and caught the President's toss, saving him from sure embarrassment. Pujols then jumped up in excitement and congratulated Obama. During the game there was much cheering and applause from the crowd.

Pedro is a Philly
Pedro Martinez has been out of the game for half the MLB season, but that wasn't enough to keep the Philadelphia Phillies from signing the future Hall of Famer and three-time Cy Young winner. Details of the contract were not released immediately, but Martinez could receive up to US$1.5 million in incentives. At the age of 37, Martinez is at the twilight of his career, but he has been injury prone in the last three seasons. If healthy, Martinez could prove to be a worthy 5-inning pitcher for the Phillies.
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