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Daily News - Monday, 17 August 2009

Change at the CDEEE
President Leonel Fernandez named businessman Celso Marranzini to head the State-Owned Electric Companies (CDEEE). Marranzini, a former president of the National Council of Business (Conep) has been perhaps the most vocal critic of the inefficiencies at the CDEEE under Segura.
Segura became probably the most controversial government officer, after TV investigative journalist Nuria Piera took details of the hundreds of bloated bureaucracy in government departments and Segura's own widespread nepotism in hiring, to the open. Segura was appointed the Executive Branch advisor on energy matters. Segura had been at the helm of energy policy for the past 10 years. Critics indicate the country is too behind in investing in new capacity, blackouts are the norm, collection levels have not improved, despite the government disbursing billions to the energy sector.
President Fernandez also appointed well-reputed former director of the National Intellectual Property Office (Onapi), lawyer Enrique Fernandez to be the new director of the National Energy Commission, formerly under Aristides Fernandez Zucco, who also has been signalled out for inefficiencies in fostering more alternative energy source projects in the DR.

Celso Marranzini at the CDEEE
Celso Marranzini, in one of his first statements after his appointment, stressed all must pay for the service. He said people can expect actions focused on collecting for energy served, billing and reducing expenses. He said he seeks less arrears with power generators to reduce the financial blackouts.
"We would like to warn all that everyone must pay for the service, the same way we pay for our telephone service and our credit cards. Electricity needs to be paid by all, but consumers must receive the satisfaction of a fair and stable service, he said.
He said he is not accepting the position to seek wealth nor power, and asked God to entrust him with the wisdom of King Salomon to be fair with the men and women of this country in resolving the problem that has most affected government and the population.
He said taking this position is a sacrifice for his family and his personal business, but he accepts the challenge to see if Dominican children no longer need to study by candlelight.

Fernandez cabinet changes
Continuing with the 16 August tradition of making changes in the government cabinet, President Leonel Fernandez appointed:
Politician Jose Francisco Pena Guaba (former head of the National Lottery): Dominican Port Authority.
Former La Romana senator Enrique Martinez (former head of the State Sugar Council-CEA): National Lottery.
Sigfrido Pared Perez: Migration Department.
Politician Artistides Fernandez Zucco (former National Energy Commission): Airport Department.
Politician Andres Vanderhorst (former Airport Department): Minister without Portfolio.
Rafael Evans: Consul General in New York
Eduardo Selman (former Consul General in NY): Minister without Portfolio.
Vinicio (Vincho) Marino Castillo (presently Presidential Advisor on Drug Affairs): National Commission on Ethics and Corruption
Jose Joaquin Bido Mena (formerly at the National Commission on Ethics and Corruption): Presidential Advisor on Issues of Transparency
Frank Rodriguez: National Hydraulic Resources Institute (Indrhi)
Hector Rodriguez Pimentel (formerly at Indrhi): Dominican Agrarian Institute (IAD).
Juan Francisco Matos Castanos was named director of the State Sugar Council (CEA) Laureano Guerrero: Custody and Administration of Seized Assets office.
Ilse Mena: advisor to the Executive Branch on issues involving Small and Medium Sized Business.

Back to school
School started today nationwide. An estimated 2.6 million students are enrolled in public and private schools in the 2009-2010 school year. President Leonel Fernandez was expected tos formally inaugurate the school year with a ceremony at the Centro de Excelencia Bella Vista public school in Santiago.
The Ministry of Education has announced the implementing this year of the "Thousand by Thousand" campaign, calling for at least 1,000 of classroom hours at public schools this year.
Hoy reports that RD$1.13 billion have been invested in the public school systems for 2009, with RD$840 million spent on remodeling dilapidated school buildings. 650 classrooms have been built and 568 others have been repaired, according to the Ministry of Education.. Education Minister Melanio Paredes says that 95% of the nation's public schools are ready for the first day of school.

UN mission re cement plant
The United Nations has named the international consulting team that will study the process whereby the Ministry of Environment issued a permit for installation and operation of a cement plant in the buffer zone of Los Haitises National Park. The cement plant has been the most controversial industry of recent months, receiving a 85% rejection of those surveyed in a recent Gallup poll.
The cement plant would go up in the The karst zone is a unique limestone area with caverns and underground river systems, regarded as a major reservoir for potable water. A judge ordered construction to stop until the case of its impact on the zone could be heard in court.
Environment Minister Jaime David Fernandez has said the permission was granted at a special request of President Leonel Fernandez. Originally, a team of experts of the Ministry of Environment had rejected the project at that site.
The United Nations team will begin its work in the DR next week, said Valerie Julliand, coordinator for the United Nations in the DR.
She explained the specialists were chosen "following criteria of academic ecellence, widespread knowledge of international conventions, work experience with the United Nations, integrity and transparency, among other aspects."
The team members and their background:
Juan Mayr Maldonado, team coordinator, Colombian, former minister of environment in Colombia, former president of the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development.
Leslie F. Molerio, Cuban, geologist with a masters in isotope hydrology, a field that uses tecniques to study the origins and movement of water. Specialist on karst formations. Member of the UNESCO International World Natural Heritage Review Committee and member of the Speleological Federation of Latin America and the Caribbean (FEALC).
Luis A. Bojorquez, Mexican, biologist with a doctorate in the sustainable management of river basins from the University of Arizona and researcher at the Computational Earth Systems Sciencie de California, and Institute of Ecology at the state university in Mexico (UNAM). Specialist in mapping subterranean waters and their impact on the environment.
Elias Mujica, Peruvian, archaeologist and anthropologist with studies at Cornell University. Consultant to the UNDP/UNESCO project on cultural, urban and environmental heritage. Former chief of the National Institute of Culture of Peru and has been coordinator of the Consortium for Sustainable Develoment of the Andean Ecoregion.
Pierre L. Auger, Canadian physician, with specialty in occupational medicine from London University. He works in occupational and environmental medicine at the Department of Public Health in Quebec. He has published frequently on air quality and exposure to industrial toxics.
Ray Bustinza, Peruvian, physician with specialty in epidemiology from the University of Laval. Specialized in evaluating risks and impact on health, environment and occupational hazards. He is employed in the Quebec University Hospital Center and is a collaborator for the Panamerican and World Health Organizations.
Eduardo Vadillo, Mexicano, biologist with masters in environment and development from the Polytechnical Institute of Mexico. He has specialized in land use, environmental planning and diagnostics of protected natural areas, industrial installations and contamination of soil and water. He is a professor at the UNAM.
Hernan Mora Corrales, Costa Rica, agronomist graduate of the National Institute of Agronomy of Paris, with a masters in social sciences and economy. Specialist in ecological land use, sustainable development. He has worked for the FAO in Brazil and Paraguay and for the IICA in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Julio Calderon, Panama, biologist with masters from the University of Havana. Vast experience in biodiversity, integral handling of water resources and UN environmental conventions. Responsible for the region of central America and the Caribbean of the United Nations Environment Program.

Pared Perez & Valentin again
The PLD majority in Congress re-elected Reinaldo Pared Perez and Julio Cesar Valentin of the ruling PLD party to preside the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Upon being sworn in for a second two year period, both defended the government from critics that point to widespread corruption in office, and called for respect among the different party blocks on Congress, as reported in Hoy.
They urged for space for both legislator campaigns into the 2010 legislative and municipal election and important bills under study in Congress.

Celebrating the Restoration
Yesterday marked the 146th anniversary of the Restoration, the efforts of General Gregorio Luperon to restore independence from Spain. Gaspar Polanco, Benito Moncion and other figures of the restoration movement were also honored for their participation in the 1863-1865 movement. Vice President Rafael Alburquerque lead the ceremonies at the National Pantheon in the Colonial Zone.

Monsignor comments on drugs
Bishop Emeritus of the Santo Domingo Archdiocese Monsignor Francisco Jose Arnaiz said that the "perfection" of the nation is in jeopardy due to the misuse of public funds, the increase in drug use and drug trafficking, extreme poverty, lack of public safety and an indifference displayed by government officials to key problems. Arnaiz made his comments during a mass at the Santo Domingo Cathedral on Sunday, on occasion of the 146th celebration of the restoration of independence from Spain.
Also speaking on the occasion of the Restoration, in Santiago Archbishop Ramon Benito de la Rosa and Carpio said that mechanisms to combat corruption and to permanently close the estimated 19,000 drug points need to be developed.
De la Rosa criticized the corruption in government and general disregard for following the law in the DR.

The deputy's zoo
PRD deputy Radhames Fermin maintains a zoo in Gurabo, Santiago with 150 animals, as reportd in Hoy. The deputy has been under attack by his colleague Radhames Castro (PLD-Santo Domingo) for not attending legislative sessions in two years. Castro has demanded Fermin return the RD$9 million+ he has received for legislative work. As reported, the zoo does not charge for admission. The legislature has said they cannot penalize him for being a no-show at Congress.

Tropical depression today
Significant rainfall is expected today and tomorrow as Tropical Depression Ana makes way into the Caribbean, cutting diagonally through the DR. Ana is the first of three named storms (Ana, Bill and Claudette) that are in the area reminding Caribbean residents that we are in the hurricane season.
The Center for Emergency Operations has issued a green alert from Cano Engano on the East coast through Cabo Beata on the Southwest shoreline. The National Meteorology Office says the rains will continue for much of the week with increased rains in the northeast, east and southeastern parts of the island.
The good news is that Ana is moving fast, at an estimated 37 kms per hour storm. Ana is expected to downgrade into a tropical wave as it passes through the mountainous areas of the DR.
Neither Bill or Claudette will affect the DR.

Is Super Sanchez back?
Super Sanchez could be back and his faithful Dominican fans will be on pins and needles on Tuesday as the former Olympic gold medal hurdler tries to recapture his top form one final time.
Felix Sanchez, at one point the most feared man in the 400 meter hurdles, has had a tough go of it lately, being hampered with continuous injuries. His performance at the semi-finals during the World Athletics Championships Sanchez proves he still has much left in him.
Sanchez ran a perfect race on Sunday, at Germany's Olympic Stadium in Berlin, clocking in a time of 48.83.
He had to struggle to get into the semis after running a fourth place race in the first round trials, but managed to get his run together and put forth his best performance of the year.

DR men at the Norceca volleyball
The DR has a 2-0 record at the 2010 World Championships Qualifier for NORCECA Group F after defeating Guatemala 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 27-25) on Sunday at the Bren Center on the campus of UC Irvine. The DR earlier had defeated Panama 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-22).
The DR team will next meet the US on Monday at 7:30pm in the final match of the tournament. The winner of the tournament advances to the 2010 World Championships in Italy. The second-place team goes to another qualifier in Mexico next week.
"They've got some good players," Jablonsky said of Dominican Republic. "We've just got to come out and focus on our side of the court and play our best volleyball."
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