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Daily News - Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Confiscating turtle shell crafts
The Ministry of Environment has confiscated turtle shell handicrafts being sold in jewelry shops, shopping centers and gift shops in Santo Domingo and the eastern region. The articles were seized from shops in Las Americas International Airport, and gift shops in Boca Chica, Juan Dolio and Bavaro.
The Ministry said that the sale of these items violates Dominican law because they are made using the shells of turtles, considered an endangered species.

Government into business
The National Business Council (CONEP) held a press conference yesterday to express concern that text has been included in the constitution bill now into its second reading in Congress that would enhance the government's role as a business entity. CONEP president Lisandro Macarrulla says that government should be a regulator, not a participant in business activity. He is referring to the clause that states that the government "can on its own or in association with private business, exercise business activity." CONEP says that this would turn government into a formidable competitor in business, violating the current rules of the game and creating a situation of inequity as well as opening doors to unfair business practices that are now penalized by free trade agreements.

Castro's daughter visiting DR
Mariela Castro Espin, daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro arrived in the DR on an official visit yesterday. Castro is currently the director of the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) in Cuba. Hoy reports that while in the DR Castro received medical treatment for a cold at the Corazones Unidos clinic. She then met with Public Health Minister Bautista Rojas Gomez. Castro is expected to remain in the DR until 19 September. Hoy reports that Castro is in the country to follow up on an agreement signed between CENESEX and the DR's Presidential AIDS Council (COPRESIDA).

Where is your motorcycle?
It might be in Santo Domingo East. The Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) office in Santo Domingo East has been converted into a motorcycle warehouse. Many of the impounded bikes have been there for about a year without being claimed by their owners. Nearly 1,000 small bikes are being kept in the back yard.
Alberto Rosa and Rafael Almonte, two drivers of the ubiquitous "motoconchos", who were trying to recover their motorcycles, complained about needing to submit proof that they have helmets, driver's license, license plates, registration and insurance, and 10 copies of each document in order to get their bikes back.
Meanwhile, AMET spokesperson Miguel Medina said: "Nobody can violate Law 241, we should all use the roads with our documents up to date and the law is the same for everyone".
He pointed out that many people do not claim the bikes because they were stolen in the first place.

EU donates to border region
The European Union has donated RD$15 million to the Dominican Red Cross. RD$4.3 million of the funds will be used for a water treatment plant in the border communities of Pedro-Santana-Banica and Sabana Cruz. Dominican Red Cross director Ligia Leroux said the project should be ready in four months. The Red Cross will also include a hygiene campaign for local residents. The International Red Cross, the European Commission and INAPA will all be involved in the project, which has been in development for two years.

17 AH1N1 deaths
17 deaths have been directly attributed to the Ah1N1 virus, also known as the swine flu, out of 398 confirmed cases. Most flu victims have been under the age of 29.
The National Epidemiology Department says that most (88%) of these deaths have occurred in women.
Of the total amount of infected cases, only 172 required hospitalization. The largest number of cases was reported in the National District with 142 cases, with Santo Domingo having 97 cases, Santiago with 44 cases and Puerto Plata with 22.

Child labor
There are an estimated 436,000 child laborers in the DR. What is most alarming is that of the workers, 240,000 are between the ages of 5 and 13.
The breakdown by age is:
191,840 - 10 and 14 years
152,600 - 15 and 17 years
91,560 - 5 and 9 years
Of these 436,000 children, 244,160 work in urban areas and 191,840 are rural workers.
Most child workers (20.3%) live in the Cibao region. The southwest follows with 17.6%, the National District has 16.3% and the southeast has 15.7% of all child workers.
International Labor Organization (ILO) coordinator Elias Dinzey revealed the numbers during a conference on Journalism and Child Labor in Santo Domingo.
He said that 177,452 child laborers work in communal services. An estimated 18.2% do adult labor on farms while 20.5% work in trade and 11.6% work in manufacturing.
The study also found that 18% of these children are involved in jobs that puts them at risk of physical harm.

Amnesty International on Art 30
The debate around Article 30 of the new Dominican Constitution has yet to be resolved in the DR and now even Amnesty International is throwing its two cents into the arena. The international human rights group has published a call to Dominican legislators on its website, asking them to reconsider passing certain parts of the constitutional reform on abortion as it would make the act illegal and could put women's lives in danger.
According to the article published on 14 September, "Proposed changes to the Constitution of the Dominican Republic could lead to a ban on abortions, putting the lives of women and girls at risk and potentially increasing maternal deaths in the country."
The article continues by stating: "Article 30 of the constitution would introduce the inviolability of life from "conception to death" under the proposal. It is widely acknowledged that this will lead to changes in the country's Penal Code that could lead to a total abortion ban."
"As it stands, the proposed change to the Constitution would have a devastating impact on women's and girls' access to effective reproductive health care in the Dominican Republic," said Susan Lee, Americas Director at Amnesty International.
www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGNAU2009091413092&lang=e

Priest on sex education
Friar Santiago Batista says what the statistics have been telling Dominican society for years: that the sex education currently being provided has not given children clear guidance on sex, which should provide them with the knowledge to prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions.
"There is a mea culpa and the Church needs to develop stronger relationships, education through school," he says. In his opinion things have gone from one extreme to another and this is why abortions exist, for which the family is also responsible.

INDRHI out of control
According to Listin Diario, when Hector Rodriguez Pimentel, a PRSC politician, was at the helm of the Dominican Hydraulic Resources Institute (INDRHI) the payroll increased by 78%, going from RD$32 million to RD$57 million during his tenure.
As part of an effort to reduce INDRHI's budget, new director Frank Rodriguez has dismissed many employees who were apparently receiving monthly salaries without actually working at INDRHI.
Yesterday, a group of former employees protested outside INDRHI's offices at the Centro de los Heroes, asking for their jobs back. The protestors said that 800 employees have been fired.
One man, Pedro Diaz, explained that as part of a deal between Hector Rodriguez and President Leonel Fernandez, Rodriguez's followers were guaranteed 2,000 jobs in government, if they supported Fernandez's Presidential candidacy in the 2008 election.

PR capo was "undoubtedly protected"
The seizure of US$4.6 million in cash from a Mercedes Benz SUV in a luxury apartment building in Santo Domingo last week is making waves. District Prosecutor Alejandro Moscoso Segarra says that Jose D. Figueroa Agosto, the man identified as the owner of the cash, must have been protected by high-ranking Dominicans. He said that otherwise there was no way of explaining how a fugitive from a Puerto Rican jail could have various aliases and be able to circulate freely in the country, as reported in Hoy.
Figueroa Agosto escaped from the Puerto Rican jail in 1999. In 2007, Puerto Rican authorities requested the assistance of the FBI after Interpol reports indicated he was living in the DR under a different identity.
There is also speculation about Sobeida Feliz, who is in custody as Figueroa's accomplice, and who purchased two apartments paying RD$43 million in cash. There are also questions about the identity of the person who declared Figueroa at the civil registry, allowing him to obtain a DR birth certificate.

Prison warden dismissed
A gang of prisoners from San Francisco de Macoris jail is suspected of operating a scam that duped journalist Alicia Ortega's maid into giving thieves an undisclosed amount of money and jewels.
Hoy reports that Ernesto Alcantara, Jose Guzman Paulino and Garibaldy Nunez led the gang from jail and used Yudelka Hidalgo as their accomplice on the outside. Hidalgo is suspected of bringing the men new cell phone chips so they could make telephone calls.
Prison warden Yolanda Altagracia Martinez has been removed from her post at the jail. Prison director General Manuel de Jesus Sanchez said this was a perfect example of the problems with traditional jails.
No word on the whereabouts of Ortega's missing jewels and money.

Officer turns himself in
Prosecutor General Radhames Jimenez has revealed more details about the two high-ranking military officers and three civilians wanted for extradition to the US. One of the military officers is former Major Antonio Suarez Filipo, who has turned himself in voluntarily to Puerto Rican officials.
Jimenez did not name the second officer, but said he was a former colonel, adding that he has to follow certain protocols until the extradition process is complete.
Yesterday Jimenez announced that he had several extradition requests pending from the United States, including some involving Dominican military officers.

Jhonathan Leyba works for MLB
The Major League Baseball office that represents 30 MLB teams in the Dominican Republic corrects what it calls was most probably a misinterpretation in a news story published originally in Hoy and picked up by dr1news (12 August 2008). The story linked Leyba to a forged birth certificate.
Ronald Peralta says that Jhonathan Leyba's role at the Central Electoral Board in the case was merely a routine verification on behalf of Major League Baseball of the birth certificate of Jose Rafael Juan Pula prior to the signing of the ball player by the Colorado Rockies. The verification is required before a player is signed by the Minor Leagues.
"We stress that the Colorado Rockies nor Jhonathan Leyba has incurred in any violation of MLB regulations throughout his career and professional relationship with our office," states Peralta on behalf of MLB.

Davis Cup matches
The Dominican Republic will match Venezuela in Group II of the Davis Cup competition on 18-20 September. The event will take place at the Santo Domingo Tennis Club (La Bocha).
Coach Rafael Moreno is optimistic about the team's chances for moving on to Group I. The Dominican team has reached the finals of Group II three times, but has yet to move up.
Dominican Victor Estrella is ranked 265, and sacrificed playing with the Association of Tennis Professionals to be part of the Dominican team. Confirmed players for the DR are Victor Estrella, Johnson Garcia and Jose Hernandez. Either Jesus Felix, Amaurys Gomez and Luis Delgado will be the 4th berth in the Dominican team.
www.daviscup.com/ties/am2.asp

Mark Anthony to play in DR
Puerto Rican salsa singer Marc Anthony is expected in the DR early Wednesday, as he prepares for his weekend concert in Santiago. This will be the first time that Anthony performs in Santiago after his show was canceled earlier this year, so excitement about his performance is mounting. The show is this Friday, at the Gran Arena del Cibao at 8:30pm. Tickets are being sold in Santiago at El Emporio and El Encanto and in Santo Domingo, at Ticket Express and Spring Center in Arroyo Hondo. Tickets are priced at RD$1,700 and RD$5,000.
For more on upcoming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar
 
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