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Daily News - Monday, 20 July 2009

Fernandez returns
President Leonel Fernandez returned home from his 10-day trip to the Middle East and Europe last night. Fernandez held meetings in France, Israel and Egypt. During his trip he met with the director of UNESCO, took part in the XV Summit of Non-Aligned States (NAM), and held meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Palestinian National Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, among others.

Stronger ties with Africa
The DR's potential participation as an observer in the African Union and the DR's cooperation with Algeria and Angola in the areas of electricity, are strengthening the country's relationship with the African continent.
On his return from accompanying President Leonel Fernandez on his 10-day trip to the Middle East, Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso says that these African nations are now among the DR's strongest allies.
Morales met with several leading African diplomatic figures while attending the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Egypt.
Listin Diario reports that the DR's diplomatic corps in Egypt will head the DR's efforts on the African continent.
Morales also commented on the possibility of the Algerian company Sonatrach sending a delegation to the DR to study cooperation between both countries. Sonatrach, the 11th largest petroleum consortium in the world, is considering the DR as a trans-shipment point for penetrating the Latin American market.

Universities will be evaluated
The Ministry of Higher Education (SEECyT) has announced that six Dominican universities, including APEC, the UNPHU, UNICARIBE, UOD, ISA and IPL will be evaluated by international experts from Canada, Spain, Argentina and Ecuador. Among those evaluating the universities will be Dr. Alain Chanlat (Canada), Dr. Jose Antonio Cobacho (Spain) and Dr. Maria Rubio Gomez (Ecuador), and other national and international experts.
They will be making recommendations on the universities' vision, their administrative and academic organization, human and financial resources, careers and courses on offer, and teaching capacity.

DPCA inefficient?
Hoy reports that in the last five years the Department for the Persecution of Administrative Corruption (DPCA) has archived 49% of the cases that it has received. Since 2004 the DPCA received 163 cases of which on 30 have been sent to other judicial institutions, while 133 have been archived. Another 5 cases have been taken to trial and another four have been suspended. In all, only 3 cases have resulted in a sentence, the first being the Plan Renove corruption case, which sent Fabio Ruiz, Antonio Paulino Reynoso (Padre Tono), William Mendez Montes de Oca, Antonio Marte, Blas Peralta and Amaro Guzman to jail. The second case was that of Yorman Solano Vasquez from the Border Development Department, who was found guilty of accepting bribes. Finally, there was the 2008 case against Dominga Fabiola Henriquez, former treasurer at the Immigration Department, who was found guilty of stealing RD$1.7 million from collections at the Las Americas Airport.

Miguel Vargas: PRD president
Miguel Vargas Maldonado was sworn in as president of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) by Virgilio Bello Rosa at an event held at the Sans Souci Convention Hall over the weekend. In his acceptance speech, Vargas promised that his party would continue to act in the defense of the best interests of the people, taking the role of a critical, firm and responsible opposition against the government's errors, misconduct and bad actions, he told the audience of over 5,000 delegates gathered for the event. He criticized the Fernandez administration's lack of capacity to solve national problems. "Where they have been capable is in wasting the people's money and overseeing the greatest corruption in the history of the nation," he said.
He promised he would modernize the PRD using Internet technology.

30 neighborhoods, no power
The Ede-Este power distribution company is warning 30 neighborhoods in Santo Domingo, Boca Chica and even San Pedro de Macoris that they will be without power today, due to maintenance of the power system.
Ede-Este did not explain what type of maintenance work was going to be done, or how long the power outage would last.
Hoy reports there has been a slight increase in power distribution in and throughout Santo Domingo, but according to Diario Libre, rolling blackouts will continue throughout the city and will affect the province of Santiago, because the San Felipe generator is out of service.

Many violent deaths in '09
The number of violent deaths in the first 5 months of the year has risen to 959, of which 79 were women. The information was published by the Statistics Department at the DR's Attorney General's Office. Of the deaths 373 were directly related to crime, with a rate of 9.4%. Drug-related deaths totaled 140, and robberies related to 184 deaths.
A total of 150 people were killed in shootouts with police while 589 persons died in non-crime related acts. Fights that resulted in deaths totaled 174, with an added 40 occurring at nightclubs.
A month-by-month breakdown reveals that 170 died in January, 152 in February, 155 in March, 173 in April and 159 in May

Prisoner dies at DNCD
Family members of Angel Felipe Franquis de los Santos are accusing officials at the National Drug Control Department (DNCD) of killing their relative and trying to cover it up by claiming that he committed suicide. Franquis was arrested last Friday with 98 kilos of cocaine on the Duarte Highway. He was accompanied by three other people.
Family members argue that Franquis had called his girlfriend only a few hours before his death, saying he was hungry and wanted water, and that a person on the verge of suicide would not do that.
The family says he was killed later and his jeans tied around his neck, before arriving at the National Pathology Institute, in order to simulate a suicide.
DNCD spokesman Roberto Lebron has set up a commission to investigate Franquis' death.

DR still a stop point for drugs
The DR is still a transshipment point for drugs making their way from South America to the US and Europe. The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) says that an estimated 200 tons of drugs pass through the region each year, with many of the drugs arriving on secret planes and boat shipments. Some of the drugs also pass through the DR's ports in containers that arrive in the DR legally. The DEA says it is pleased with the DR's efforts against drug trafficking, but that many of the drug shipments come in on flights that aren't regular, but continue arriving from Panama, Colombia and Venezuela.
The DEA says that drug traffickers are also using speedboats to evade capture and detection by officials.
According to El Caribe, the DEA is willing to double its efforts in the DR via the Merida Plan, which covers the DR, Haiti and the Central American nations, but this depends on congressional changes. The US Congress could cut back on drug enforcement funding due to the financial crisis, before the DEA agrees to double its help to fight drug trafficking in the Caribbean.
As part of its plan, the Obama administration will now fund US$100 million for the remainder of 2009, and will do the same for 2010.

Guillermo Leon passes
Dominican businessman Guillermo Leon Asensio, of E Leon Jimenes (Presidente and Aurora cigars) died at a New York City hospital last night. He was 81. He is survived by his wife Yin Nouel de Leon and his four children. His brothers Eduardo and Fernando had already passed away, most recently Fernando who died earlier this year.

Marcos Diaz dominates again
Dominican long-distance swimmer Marcos Diaz has once again proved he is king of the Greek waters after winning the Greek marathon Toroneos Gulf Crossing for the fourth time.
"This was a great accomplishment for me," said Diaz. Diaz completed the race in a time of 6 hours and 9 minutes, 8 minutes ahead of second place Anastasios Caravanas.
Diaz dedicated the race, which he considered one of his toughest, to all Dominicans and his 1-year old son, Kai.

Haitises concert rallies youth
Despite rumors that the concert had been canceled and rains that threatened to have that effect, the free concert "Musica por Los Haitises" took place to an impressive capacity crowd at the Plaza de Espana in Santo Domingo's Colonial Zone.
DR1 News correspondent Lu Olivero attended the 5-hour concert and described it as something he had never seen, and even less expected. "I was extremely proud of young Dominicans at this moment. To see them standing together, 5,000 strong, for a cause they believe in. They came to support the natural beauty of the Dominican Republic, something I was excited to experience."
Some 20 musical stars, including folk legend Xiomara Fortuna, Calor Urbano, Pavel Nunez, Son Abril and others rocked the crowd with a vibe that could only be described as full of energy. Concertgoers danced through the night in support of a cause that has become dear to many Dominicans from all walks of life.
The message of the night was clear: that the nation's youth would not stay silent in reaction to a decision that could affect millions of Dominicans.
Event coordinators said that T-shirt sales had generated an estimated RD$300,000 in revenue, which was not enough to cover the more than RD$1 million production cost.
However, private citizens donated the lights, the stage, sound and other facilities, and all the musicians performed free of charge.
The positivity in the air, great music, and the conscious effort by young people to support Los Haitises was capped by the singing of the Dominican national anthem, which received the largest cheers of the night.
The concert has been the most visible of events and protests against the building of a cement factory on the edge of Los Haitises National Park. Proponents say there would be no harm done if the cement factory were to be built, arguing that the factory site is nowhere near the park. At the event, opponents of the proposed factory said the decision was made without the consent of the community that is likely to suffer tremendous environmental effects and this could set a precedent for politicians to continue to make decisions without consulting the people.
During the event, a video was screened with explanations about the natural resources of Los Haitises and its cultural value.

Gloria Gaynor: Hard Rock Cafe
Gloria Gaynor, known for her "I Will Survive" will be at the Hard Rock Cafe Santo Domingo stage this coming 1 August. Hard Rock Cafe is located in front of the Columbus Park in Colonial Santo Domingo. Tickets can be purchased at Hard Rock.
For more on upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
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