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Daily News - Monday, 14 September 2009

Full Russian embassy
Russia is considering opening a full embassy in the DR, according to a joint statement issued by the governments of the Dominican Republic and the Russian Federation following the 7-11 September visit by Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso to Russia last week. The Ministers noted the positive dynamics in bilateral political, economic and trade ties with satisfaction, and affirmed their shared mindset to deepen mutually beneficial and equitable cooperation, especially in areas such as energy, including the hydrocarbons industry, transport, tourism and education.
It was also agreed that the DR would open a consulate general in St. Petersburg.
For the complete Joint Statement by Carlos Morales Troncoso and his counterpart Sergey Lavrov of Russia, see www.isria.com/pages/10_September_2009_72.php

European or US digital TV?
The DR needs to decide on the technology it will adopt to move from analog over-the-air broadcasting to digital broadcasting, or DTV. Digital broadcasting allows TV and radio stations to provide improved picture and sound quality along with a host of other advantages over analog broadcasting.
Jose Rafael Vargas, president of the Dominican Telecommunications Institute, said that the decision would be taken in January. He said the transition process still could take years, as in the US.
Both the European (DVB) and the US (ATSC) standards were presented at Funglode last week.
The US standard promises high quality and lower prices for digital TVs. The Europeans say they are the least costly and have an adaptor costing US$12 that can convert an analog TV to digital. There are also Japanese and Brazilian standards.

Cultural center in Villa Juana
President Leonel Fernandez inaugurated the RD$500 million state of the art Mauricio Baez Cultural Center on Friday. The center, located in Santo Domingo's Villa Juana district, has a library, amphitheater, high school, computer center and medical dispensary. Fernandez stressed that for him the new facility was a way of giving something back to the neighborhood where he spent his childhood years.

Nearly half the DR is poor
According to a study by USAID, nearly half the population of the DR (9,365,818 according to 2007 numbers) can be considered "poor" and 1.5 million people are defined as "destitute".
USAID released the details during a seminar in Santo Domingo attended by business, union and religious representatives.
The study also reveals that there are 1,400,000 single mothers, many of whom are underage. CASC labor representative Gabriel del Rio Done told El Nuevo Diario reporter Francia Valdez that the study had also found that most single mothers live in the province of Santo Domingo and in the National District. The large number of minors who are pregnant or have had babies is attributed to a lack of education and guidance.
The union representative questioned the effectiveness of the Solidarity Card, saying that not much could be done with RD$700, and called for a review of the program, and of minimum wages that he said forced many parents to send their children to work.

JCE to look at changes in residence
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) has ordered the early suspension of residence changes. The official deadline was supposed to be 16 September for changes of address. In the meantime, the JCE is investigating 6,887 cases.
JCE Administrative Chamber president Roberto Rosario clarified that the investigation would concentrate on changes of residence that have been made as part of "strange movements". He told Diario Libre reporters that in one month more than 80 people had established new residences, coincidentally all moving to the same street. Irregular changes would be annulled, said Rosario.
"We accept that we have to preserve citizens' rights to vote in the place where they reside, but we cannot allow citizens to be transferred from one place to another with the sole aim of affecting the votes by the citizens of the area who have a right to elect a mayor, a senator or a deputy for their district," he said.
Regarding the Law on Political Parties, Rosario referred to the fact that to date the legislators have not approved the bill, and therefore it would not be possible to apply it for the party primaries next November. The law calls for taxpayer money to be used to fund political party primaries.
The JCE judge, who is in favor of actions contained in the bill, said whether it can be applied in time for the congressional and municipal election of 16 May 2010 would depend on the text of the legislation Congress eventually approves.
"The proposed text establishes a system they call election auditing, which implies the creations of a body of electoral auditors and a set of regulations for their application. Truth be told, we do not have a lot of time, but the hope of the Administrative Chamber is to apply it, and what we have to do is get chance and will to walk together, and right now they are both limping", he added.

Protesting Proindustria appointments
The business sector has expressed its opposition to the new appointments of Jose Augusto Izquierdo, Jose Eduardo Nunez, Reynaldo Alvarez to Proindustria, saying that the appointments violate mechanisms for choosing the directors established in Law 392-07 that created the institution. Manuel Cabrera of the Association of Industries of Herrera says this is a case of political appointments.
"That instrument was created to boost industrial development, and now it is being politicized, so it is a setback for the sector, and loss of hope for industrialists who see the Law of Innovation and Industrial Competitiveness as the most important achievement of industry in the past 40 years".
Cabrera called on President Leonel Fernandez and legal advisor Abel Rodriguez del Orbe to reconsider the illegal appointments, as reported in El Caribe.

DNCD nabs two in La Cienega
The National Drug Control Department (DNCD) has announced the capture of two of the three men accused of picking up the 250 kilos of cocaine dropped from an airplane late last week. The airdrop occurred off the coast of Barahona, near the town of La Cienega. DNCD chief General Rolando Rosado Mateo identified the pair as Bienvenido Cuevas Guevara and Herson Cuevas Urbaez, a.k.a. "Yanku", both residents of La Cienega.
The nine drug packages were on board a small craft registered to one of the men. The boat was captured by the DNCD with assistance from the US Coast Guard and Dominican Navy after a brief gun battle.
The aircraft that brought the contraband drugs had been spotted hours earlier as it left Venezuela and was followed by radars as it tracked toward the Dominican coastline. The arrests were led by General Rosado Mateo.

DEA picked up Colombian capo
The Dominican authorities have extradited Colombian national Hector de Jesus Rodriguez Espinosa, a.k.a. "El Tio" to face charges of drug trafficking in Puerto Rico. DNCD agents arrested the Medellin native after they received a tip-off that he was hiding from the US authorities in the DR. The extradition request linked Rodriguez Espinosa to smuggling thousands of kilograms of drugs into the US.
A US Drug Enforcement Administration plane arrived at Las Americas International Airport on Saturday morning and took the prisoner to San Juan. At the time of his arrest, the 73-year old Colombian was living on Santo Domingo's Sarasota Avenue, driving a Hyundai Santa Fe SUV. He had been issued an ID as a legal foreign resident. The arresting officers were scrupulous about observing all the correct protocols for making a perfect arrest.

Retired cop killed stopping heist
A retired National Police officer was killed by assailants while repelling an armed raid on the Cambio Rosario currency exchange house in La Vega. He killed one of the robbers. Retired Second Lieutenant Nicolas Coronado Gomez died while being treated in the Centro Medico de Especialidades in La Vega.
The wounded assailant died while receiving treatment at the Juan Bosch Traumatological Hospital. Coronado Gomez used his regulation sidearm to defend the business where he was employed as a guard.
The second assailant managed to escape on foot leaving behind a red CG125 motorcycle, on which the two had arrived at the exchange house. The National Police are combing the Cibao region in search of the fugitive.

Gang operated from jail cells
National Police revealed yesterday that three convicts, sentenced to 30 years imprisonment, led a gang that conned people by phoning them and telling them that relatives had been involved in serious incidents and asking for money to resolve the problems involved. The prisoners are Jose Francisco Guzman Paulino (Selo), Ernesto Alcantara Martinez (Capital), and Garibaldy Nunez (Gary).
Police Chief Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin said that the prisoners made up a gang of hustlers that used a phone book to select their victims and locate their numbers.
This was the gang that was responsible for robbing TV journalist Alicia Ortega and her husband, as reported last week. The family's housekeeper answered the phone and was told that one of Ortega's children had been involved in an accident and conned her to bring the the safe to them. During the police investigation, the housekeeper identified gang member Franklin Arsensio Alvarez as the person to whom she handed the safe and the jewelry.
The operation was carried out from the San Francisco de Macoris jail.
Guzman Fermin said that the inmates were assisted by Asensio Alvarez and Jose Bonilla Gonzalez, both fugitives, and Angel Henriquez Mendoza, who had served sentences in San Francisco jail for a series of crimes. Henriquez Mendoza was killed in a shootout with Police last Friday after being caught red-handed trying to cheat another person.

US seeks DR military officials
Prosecutor General Radhames Jimenez Pena has revealed that he has several extradition requests pending from the United States, including some that involve Dominican military officials.
He said the names would be revealed when the time was right.
"Really, I don't have the details, but yes, there are several requests for extradition and they are working on this... they are working on this affair and... I believe that the national public opinion will have the opportunity to know the details", he explained when journalist Cristian Jimenez pointed out on his "Encuentro Extra" program that he knew that two colonels and the son of a military figure had been requested in extradition. He stated that the extradition process involved a series of procedures that include a request by the Prosecutor General to the Supreme Court.

Speculating re the US ambassador
Writing in Saturday's Hoy newspaper, opinion columnist Fabio Herrera-Minino speculated about possible reasons for the delay in the arrival of a new US ambassador to the DR. The reasons he listed included supposed involvement in drug trafficking by high-ranking government and military figures. He comments that the government officials in question have luxury residences and a level of spending that their monthly wages cannot account for. This is combined with the Dominican government's resistance to applying measures aimed at cleaning up its reputation, giving the impression that it does not care whether its government officials are engaged in illegal activities.
Another reason could be the Fernandez administration's wholehearted support for the Venezuelan government. This is reflected in the increasing level of dependence on Venezuela with the sale of 49% of shares in the Dominican petroleum refinery, Refidomsa to the Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA, enabling Venezuela to manipulate Dominican policy even further at a time when tensions between the US and Venezuela are increasing.
Active lobbying by former US ambassadors who subsequently move on to represent US companies and have unlimited access to the powers that be in DR politics and business could also be a factor. He goes on to claim that these "quickie diplomats" have become part of the inner circles of Dominican society and its exclusive entertainment zones.
Lastly, he speculates that it could be the government's laissez faire approach and lack of responsibility in fattening its consular and foreign missions in several US cities in a way that makes it impossible for the US Department of State to grant the privileges that come with the posts. He cites the extreme cases of the consulate in NY and the United Nations.

Dominican candidates in NY
Next Tuesday's Democratic primaries in the US will see 17 Dominicans vying for city council and district leadership posts in New York City and Yonkers in Westchester. Six of the aspiring politicians are women, creating a precedent in Dominican participation in elections in the Big Apple, to where thousands of Dominicans migrated in search of the "American dream".
Among the candidates in District 10 in Manhattan, where the seat has been vacant since Miguel Martinez resigned under a cloud over his handling of public funds, the possible candidates are teacher Ydanis Rodriguez, judicial delegate Francesca Castellanos, teacher Cleofis Sarete, former chess champion Ruben Dario Vargas, the president of Community Board 12, Manny Vasquez, and architect Luis Facundo who heads the office of the department of Industry and Commerce in New York City.
In the fight for the seat for District 7, former Police sergeant Manuel Lantigua and stockbroker and insurance broker Juan Erazo are vying for the chance to run for office. Diana Reyna is trying for her election to her third term as representative of District 34 in Brooklyn. In the Bronx, Carlos Sierra, a recent Political Science graduate, Yudelka Tapia and the Dominican-Puerto Rican Fernando Cabrera are trying for the city seats.
Dominican Julissa Ferreras will look for the Democratic nomination for councilwoman for District 21, which covers Jackson Heights, Corona, Elmhurst and East Elmhurst in Queens County. Up in Yonkers, in Westchester county, the Dominican community will have at least one council member, since all the candidates in one of the districts are Dominicans: Eulogio Santiago, Wilson Terrero and Virginia Perez.
The winners of Tuesday's primaries will stand for election in the 3 November general elections. Council members are paid a salary of US$112,000 per year.

DR third in volleyball
The DR won the bronze medal in the 2009 Final Tour Intercontinental Cup in Lima, Peru. The Women's National Volleyball Team defeated Peru twice and the US once, to place third. The gold went to Brazil, and the silver to the US. The final US-DR game went to four sets.

Players move to the MLB playoffs
The DR has 22 players hanging in with the teams that are moving on to the Major League Baseball playoffs. Diario Libre reports these are:
Yankees: Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera, Damaso Marte.
Detroit: Placido Polanco, Ramon Santiago, Fernando Rodney.
Anaheim: Vladimir Guerrero, Erick Aybar, Ervin Santana, Jose Arredondo.
Boston: David Ortiz, Ramon Ramirez.
Philadelphia: Pedro Feliz, Pedro Martinez.
St. Louis: Alberto Pujols, Julio Lugo.
Dodgers: Manny Ramirez, Rafael Furcal, Ron Belliard, Ramon Troncoso, Guillermo Mota.
Rockies: Ubaldo Jimenez.

Pedro bounces back in style
Pedro was back to his old form last night as he delivered his magic on Sunday before a crowd of roaring Phillies fans. He admits he is "bouncing back good."
As reported by MLB:
"He had already thrown 128 pitches. The potential tying run was on second base.
So when Pedro Martinez saw Phillies manager Charlie Manuel leave the dugout with two outs in the eighth inning, he begrudgingly assumed that his night was over. But Martinez talked his way into one more batter. The 44,901 fans at Citizens Bank Park roared with approval as Manuel trotted back to the dugout. And they shouted even louder when Daniel Murphy, who was on second, was thrown out trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt, ending the inning.
Martinez's masterpiece brought memories of the 1990s and sent the Phillies to a 1-0 victory over the Mets on Sunday night. Philadelphia swept the doubleheader and increased its National League East division lead to 6 1/2 games over Florida".

ONAMET: heat & some showers
A low-pressure trough remains to the northeast of the DR and the predominant winds continue from the east-southeast. Onamet says that the current heat wave will continue and only some showers will occur over most of the country.
The National Meteorological Office (Onamet) predicted rainfall for the provinces of Monte Plata, San Pedro de Macoris, El Seibo, Hato Mayor, San Cristobal, Barahona, Peravia, the central mountains and along the frontier. Santo Domingo and the National District will have scattered showers.
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