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Daily News - Wednesday, 02 September 2009

Doctors make progress
The Dominican Medical Association (CMD) and the Ministry of Public Health ended the first phase of their discussions to resolve an impasse that has lead to constant striking by the public hospital doctors and nurses. Agreements were reached regarding the so-called "recovery quota" charged at public hospitals and that reportedly is used for a payroll padded by political patronage.
Nunez said that 11 of the points presented by the CMD were agreed upon, which moves the discussion ahead.
Listin Diario is reporting that a representative of the Ministry of Hacienda will be present at all future meetings of the commission. The commission should present recommendations within nine days.
Mediator Monsignor Agripino Nunez Collado said the reality is that no agreement on reinstating a group of doctors that were fired has been reached. However, the Minister of Public Health has promised to review the petition to reinstate the doctors.

Doctor admits wrong doing
Doctor Juan Antonio Suero has admitted that he made a mistake when he attacked the director of the Francisco Moscoso Puello hospital, Roberto Lafontaine. Suero punched the hospital director during a national work stoppage by doctors. Suero says he regrets his action, but insisted the decision by the Ministry of Public Health to fire him was extreme. He offered free consultations to compensate, but said he needed to be reinstated because his family depends on him.

UK helps DR with climate change
El Caribe is reporting that the UK will grant RD$1.4 million to help the DR prepare its position at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The funds will be used for workshops to instruct Dominican participants on the issues at hand, trends and implications. Minister of the Environment Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal said the issue of the environment is a priority for the DR.

Peace Corps director visits
Peace Corps director Aaron Williams visited with Vice President Rafael Alburquerque yesterday. Williams was a volunteer in the DR from 1967 to 1970 when he met his wife, Rosa Maria, with whom he has two sons. Williams is the 4th director in the Peace Corps' history to have served as a Peace Corps volunteer.
He was sworn in as the 18th director of the Peace Corps on 24 August 2009. He was accompanied in the visit to the Presidential Palace by Christopher Lambert, new charge d'affairs of the US Embassy.
Williams is a graduate from Chicago State University with a B.S. in Education and Geography, and a MBA in Marketing and International Business at the University of Wisconsin.
He worked in Minneapolis with General Mills before beginning a long USAID career with positions in Honduras, Haiti, Costa Rica, Barbados and South Africa. In 1998, he went to Baltimore as the Executive Vice President of the International Youth Foundation.
In 2002, he went to work for RTI International, an organization that describes itself as being dedicated to improving the human condition in developing countries.

Jaime David tours Brazil with Lerner
Environment Minister Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal visited Curitiba, Brazil accepting an invitation of world recognized architect and urban planner Jaime Lerner. During the tour, they stopped at the Universidad Libre de Medio Ambiente. The meeting is following on proposals Architect Lerner has made for the city of Santiago. The city planning expert has said that large public investments are not necessary to turn a chaotic city into a sustainable one. He defends that what is most important is to carry out quick interventions at critical points.

Business on short term relief
The president of the Association of Industries of the Dominican Republic (AIRD), Manuel Diez Cabral expressed his concern that funds to be received following the signing of a stand by agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) be used by the government to maintain its high level of current spending and even increase these expenditures. In an interview at El Caribe, Diez commented: "Our concern is that the money comes in and then suddenly you see the current spending of the government take off again, and the only thing that we will be able to show for it are payroll checks," he said.
He said the cash injection will stimulate the economy, but in six months time the deficit wil be back. "It would be putting a six month patch or one for as long as the stimulus lasts without changing anything," he alerted.
Current expenditures make up 66% of the present RD$329.99 billion budget or RD$217.17 billion. Capital spending is but 20% or RD$65.61 billion and debt payment is 14% or RD$47.20 billion.
The IMF agreement would open doors to an injection of US$1.5 billion from different multilateral organizations. Upon announcing talks for the agreement, the government said it would then seek to issue US$1 billion in sovereign bonds.
Diez Cabral said the funds should be invested in construction projects that create jobs and increase consumption while developing infrastructure. Circe Almanzar, vice president of the AIRD, called for the construction of the needed highways in tourist zones.

Borrowing for public works
The majority PLD party voted yes to three loans requested by the Presidency. These are the financing contract with the Brazilian export bank, BNDES for US$48,743,918 million for the construction of the Duarte Corridor, the overpasses to expedite north-south traffic in Santo Domingo. The project has a 21-month duration. Grupo Estrella from the DR and Odebrecht from Brazil are the contractors.
The Senate also approved a loan for US$20 million with the Deutsche Bank S A Espanola for use in the rehabilitation of the Duarte-Casabito-Constanza highway. And a EUR9 million 200 Euros with the French Development Agency for the expansion of the Plan Sierra, a reforestry project.

Pared against nepotism
Senate president Reinaldo Pared Perez called "unacceptable" that direct family members of senators are receiving paychecks from the "barrilito" special fund. The fund ranging from RD$400,000 to RD$1 million per month per senator, is used by these at discretion. Pared says the revelation has damaged the senators' image. Investigative journalist Alicia Ortega on "El Informe" of Channel 7, gave names that proved that most senators employ many of their family members, including their children, spouses, parents and even in-laws. Pared urged senators voluntarily remove their relatives, or as president of the Senate he would take other measures.

UASD students do better
Though education has been a weak point in the DR's development, this generation of university students is doing better than their parents. According to Hoy, 40% of the parents of UASD University students either never went to school or didn't finish elementary school. 29.52% of the fathers didn't finish their primary education.
Only 17% of both fathers and mothers completed high school. Only 12% of either parents graduated from university.
The profile of UASD students is part of a graduation thesis dating back to 2005 by Alvaro Belmar, Enilda Garcia and Maria Diaz Solis.
The study shows that the education of fathers and mothers is similar. While 11.97% of the fathers of UASD students had not completed middle school, 12.75% of the mothers hadn't either.
The generational difference provides hope that the DR's next generation of students will do better than this generation.
The profile of UASD students is part of a graduation thesis dating back to 2005 by Alvaro Belmar, Enilda Garcia and Maria Diaz Solis.

Manager's thief caught
A 21-year Chilean William Ignacio Diaz Santander and 36-year Argentinean Cesar Antonio Santillan have been arrested in connection to the theft in the hotel room of French pianist Richard Clayderman's manager, Tussaint Gilbert Oliver Charles Marie Urban. Diaz Santander and Santillan were apprehended while trying to change a check at the Banco de Progreso. They are suspect to have stolen the check from a hotel in Samana. Diaz is the lead suspect in the robbery of US$16,000 and 1,900 Euros, three credit cards and a pair of shoes, from the Clayderman manager's room at the Melia. William Ignacio Diaz Santander had entered 15 days ago on a tourist card.

Looking out for Erika
Tropical Storm Erika is moving into the neighborhood of the DR, and its present track would bring rains and winds especially to the eastern and northern coasts. The National Meteorological Office (ONAMET) has given an early warning to residents now that the storm is nearing Puerto Rico. The storm effects are expected on Friday.
See http://www.dr1.com/weather/hurricanes.shtml for links on following weather in the Caribbean.

Dominicana defeats Uruguay
In a dogfight against Uruguay, the DR came back from a deficit in the second half to win the game in the second round of the FIBA Americas Championship. The Dominican team went into the third quarter with a 55-42 deficit and then entered the 4th quarter down 64-56. The troops lead by Luis Flores and NBAers Charlie Villanueva, Al Horford and Francisco Garcia lead a fourth quarter attack that clinched the game. The DR team tied the game and swung the momentum in its favor.
Flores, the team's emotional leader, scored 9 of his 14 points in that fourth quarter, hitting two free throws with 9 seconds in the game, which pushed the Dominican lead to three points.
The three point lead with 9 seconds to go forced the Uruguayans to play for a three point play. But a foul by the Dominican team forced a sideline inbounds play and left the Uruguyans with little hopes to get a good shot off.
The DR will play Puerto Rico in its next game. Puerto Rico is ranked 11th in the world.
The DR needs to win three games in the second round to qualify for the World Cup Championship in Turkey.

Furcal's family affected by fire
The family of Dominican baseball player Rafael Furcal has been evacuated from their California home as a result of seasonal fires that are affecting the area. Reports indicate that the fires were literally yards away from Furcal's home, but that his family and home are safe. News sources indicate that Furcal is currently on a road trip and that he received a frantic phone call from his wife explaining the situation. "I told my wife, 'You know what, get clothes for the kids and take the car and get out of there,'" Furcal said. "Life is more important than anything." After getting a day off to be with his family Furcal returned to the team and the family has returned to its home.

Juan Bosch's "The Woman" on stage
Chiqui Vicioso has adapted the short story "La Mujer" (The Woman) by Juan Bosch into a play. It will be presented for the first time at the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts) on 4 September at 7pm. Aidita Selman and Lidia Ariza in the starring roles. Directed by Germana Quintana. This is sponsored by the Ministry of Woman and the Embassy of Spain. RSVP 809 685-3755 ext 238. No admission fee.
For more on upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
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