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Daily News - Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Pinalito Dam inaugurated
President Leonel Fernandez and his entourage of government officials attended the inaugural of the Pinalito Dam in the central province of Monsenor Nouel yesterday. The dam will produce 50 MW of energy and was built at a cost of US$300 million by the Brazilian firm Odebrecht, through financing from the Brazilian National Development Bank.
The dam has a height of 55 meters and will help regulate the Tireo and Arroyo Madre Vieja rivers.
The Pinalito dam is expected to save the government 315,000 barrels of fuel per year, or US$20 million.
The dam will be administered by the Dominican government firm Generacion Hidroelectrica Dominicana (EGEHID), a subsidiary of the State-Owned Electricity Companies (CDEEE).
According to Rafael Suero, the dam's administrator, the goal is for dams in the DR to produce 300MW of energy by the year 2012.

New schools in the Northwest
Education Minister Melanio Paredes was busy in the border cities and towns in the northwest over the weekend. He inaugurated public schools in the provinces of Dajabon, Valverde and Monte Cristi in time for the school year that opens 17 August nationwide. In Dajabon city, the new San Ignacio Technological Institute has 20 classrooms and was built at a cost of RD$40 million. Paredes was in Villa Esperanza at the inaugural of the Centro Educativo Pedro Henriquez Urena. And later in Sabana Larga to receive seven new classrooms, and improvements at the public school there, and in Chacey, where nine classrooms were built, and in Candelon two rooms were repaired. Other towns were schools have been refurbished and improved are Maizal, La Yaguita, Cruce de Guayacanes, Santa Maria, La Gallera and La Nueva Judea, as reported in El Caribe.

Mediation in medics crisis?
Monsignor Agripino Nunez Collado mediated in the public hospital staff crisis and got the public hospital doctors to agree to sit at the bargaining table with the government on Thursday, El Caribe reports. The doctors are demanding widespread wage increases, while the position of the government is that increases should be pegged to productivity.
The director of the Dominican Medical College (CMD), Dr. Waldo Suero had announced earlier that their work stoppage at public hospitals would continue for an undetermined period of time. The decision came after the Ministry of Public Health cancelled five doctors and two nurses who were involved in a scuffle at the Francisco Moscoso Puello hospital in which hospital director Roberto LaFontaine was punched by an unnamed person on Monday. CMD president Waldo Ariel Suero said the decision to cancel medics just added gasoline to the fire. Suero's term as president of the CMD ends 15 December.

RBS on DR finances
Despite the upbeat reports by government officials regarding the effects of the international financial crisis on the DR, a report issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) says the crisis has heavily impacted the DR. The RBS forecasts the DR will only grow by 0.6% in 2009. The report also indicates that tax revenue has decreased by 15%, during the first four months of the year and will only make up 13.5% of the GDP at year's end down 2.3% from 2008.
According to the report, exports are down 24%, tourism income declined 8%, remittances dropped 7% and direct investment is down 40%.
The report explains that a large decline in imports has allowed for a reduction in the deficit of the current accounts on the balance of payments, which is expected to finish the year at 5.7% of the GDP, down 2.2% from 2008.
RBS expects the central government's debt to increase by 27% of the 2009 GDP, which is 2.5% higher than 2008.
Central Bank Governor Valdez Albizu has said that the Dominican economy grew by 1% during the first four months of 2009 and that the accumulated inflation rate during the last five months was only 1%. He says the government's goal is to achieve 3% growth by year's end.
RBS, Britain's biggest bank in balance sheet terms, itself posted the largest annual loss in British corporate history last year.

Dominican to run for NYC mayor
Dominican-born Frances Villar has submited her candidacy to be Mayor of New York City. Villar, originally from La Romana, migrated to New York at the age of three with her family. Yesterday, the 26-year old Villar presented the necessary 14,000 signatures needed to make her candidacy official. She is running with the Party for Socialism and Liberation. Mayor Michael Bloomberg leads in the polls trailed by Democratic and Working Families Party candidate Bill Thompson, who is the current New York City Comptroller.
Though Villar's chance seems long, her candidacy is seen by many as inspiration for many young latin women in New York City.
The election is scheduled for 3 November 2009. The New York City Council extended the city's term limits last year, permitting the current Mayor, Michael Bloomberg to run for a third term.

Protests in Navarette
A simple work stoppage turned into a bloody protest in the town of Navarrete, midway between Santiago and Puerto Plata, leaving one man hurt. The stoppage was organized by the Frente Popular de Navarrete 24 de Abril and other local organizations who demand better power service, completion of public works projects and improved access to drinking water, among other things.
Nathanael Morel was the 24-year old victim who was shot in the abdomen, after protestors faced off with SWAT police.
Hoy reports that the main roadways of Navarrete have been blocked off by burned tires and debris. The protest in Navarrete is one of many social unrest that have continually popped in the DR in recent weeks.
Listin Diario is reporting a partial 24-hour work stoppage by transport unions in Puerto Plata.

30 days for suspect youth murder
A 15-year old minor implicated in the murder of bank executive Kaisha Patricia Requena Grullon will only spend 30 days in jail for his role. Judge Kenia Romero Severino says this is an initial sentence for the youth until his role in the murder is fully determined. Listin Diario reports the youth is part of a gang and that the day of the murder he and other gang members committed 11 stick-ups in the city of Santo Domingo.
Listin also reports that the family of the child has basically disowned him, saying they don't want him to return home so he doesn't ruin his younger brothers. The other suspect murderer, Deylin Oscar Perez Paredes was sent to La Victoria for a year as the case is heard. Requena died when she resisted the robbery of her handbag upon arriving late at night to her home in the El Millon neighborhood.

DNCD shakes things up
The National Drug Control Department (DNCD), looking to shake things up within the organization, has named new regional directors in their Santiago (Roberto Antonio Bello Santos), San Francisco de Macoris (Pedro Manuel Nin Suero), Bani (Fermin Tejada) and Barahona (Major Felipe de Leon Garcia) offices. The inspectors of the Azua, Bonao, La Vega, Nagua and Samana office were also changed. Major General Gilberto Delgado Valdez, director of the DNCD, announced the changes.

Pedro Martinez's big night
Tonight could be a night to remember by baseball fans. Pedro Martinez, a sure first ballot Hall of Famer, will step on the mound for what could be his last hurrah as a baseball player. Martinez is pitching with his fifth team, the Philadelphia Phillies, and is looking to add one more glimmer to his already shining career. Coming off of an injury-plagued campaign in New York, Martinez seeks to recapture some of his fire and ride off into the baseball sunset on a winning curve. Martinez will pitch tonight against the Chicago Cubs starting at 8:05pm.

Vlady gets 400
Vladimir Guerrero has become the 4th Dominican baseball player to reach the 400 home run club. Guerrero becomes only the 6th player in Major League Baseball history to have a career batting average of .320 and over 400 home runs. He is also now the 7th player in MLB history to hit 400 home runs and have 2,000 hits. These numbers, for those who don't know baseball, reflect Guerrero's ability to bat for power and also be a consistent threat at the plate.
Guerrero batted his milestone 400th career home run in the Los Angeles Angels 8-7 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday
Other names on the 400 home run list are "the Babe," Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig and Stan Musial, all Hall of Famers.
Though Guerrero has played in the "steroid era" and is in a list that includes three players that have been accused of consuming illegal substances, he has kept his name clean so far. Guerrero, though at the tail end of his career, he is now 34, is expected to challenge the 500 home run milestone, joining another exclusive club and increasing his case for a ticket to Cooperstown.

DR team to World Softball
The Dominican women's softball team qualified to participate in the XII Women's World Softball Championship set for 9-19 July 2010 in Oklahoma, US. The team will also be competing in the Central American and Caribbean Games in 2010 and the Pan Am Games in 2011. The DR is ranked 5th in the Americas, behind the US, Canada, Venezuela and Cuba.
The DR team qualified at the Panamerican Championship held this month in Maracay, Venezuela.
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