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Daily News - Wednesday, 23 September 2009

DR1 News breaks for Mercedes Day
Tomorrow Dominicans commemorate the "Dia de las Mercedes", a day dedicated to honoring the Virgin of the Mercedes, patron of the Dominican Republic. The tradition dates back to the days of the island's colonization by Spanish conquistadors. Historic records describe how the Virgin saved the Spanish conquistadors from an attack by native Indians in 1495. A shrine in her honor was built at the top of a hill (Santo Cerro) in the central province of La Vega. The DR1 Daily News will not be published tomorrow to commemorate this holiday. News will be compiled and included in the Friday, 25 September issue.
For more on upcoming holidays, see http://dr1.com/travel/prepare/holidays.shtml

Fernandez to addresses UN today
President Leonel Fernandez is expected to speak at the United Nations General Assembly today, as well as participating in a series of UN-related events. He will be holding a private meeting with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, followed by a meeting with Finnish President Tarja Halonen. Fernandez is expected to deliver his speech at 3pm and then will attend a special luncheon hosted by US President Barack Obama.

Rajendra Pachauri to visit
Climate change expert Rajendra Pachauri from India has accepted an invitation by President Leonel Fernandez to visit and work together with the Ministry of Environment. Pachauri chairs the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whose report has served as a guidepost for UN climate change talks. He is recognized as a leading global thinker and leader of research on climate change. He shared the podium with Al Gore to receive the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the IPCC.
He met in New York with President Fernandez, Presidency Minister Cesar Pina Toribio, Environment Minister Jaime David Fernandez, Omar Ramirez, director of the Presidential Climate Change Office, and Dominican ambassador to the United Nations Federico Cuello at the United Nations.
President Leonel Fernandez attended the UN inaugural session where Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called for support for the landmark conference in Denmark in December to tackle the threat of catastrophic climate change.

Truthful information deleted
In response to general media uproar, the Constitutional Revisory Assembly deleted the word "truthful" that legislator Pelegrin Castillo had inserted in a text on freedom of speech. Castillo had defended the use of the word, saying that it was part of the Spanish Constitution. But media and freedom of the press defenders in the DR said the wording could be used for censorship. As reported in Diario Libre, 124 legislators voted against this, and 38 in favor.
Now Art. 50 of the Constitution will read:
"Freedom of expression and information. All persons shall have the right to express their thoughts, ideas and opinions freely, in any media, without establishing any previous censorship.
1) All persons shall have the right to information. This right includes searching for, investigating, receiving and disseminating information of all types, of a public nature, by any media, channel, or manner, in accordance with the Constitution and the law;
2) All the information media have free access to the sources of official and private news in the public interest in accordance with the law;
3) Professional confidentiality and the journalistic conscience clause are protected by the Constitution and the law;
4) All persons have the right to respond and rectify when they feel affected by information that was disseminated. This right will be exercised in accordance with the law;
5) The law guarantees equal and broad access for all the social and political sectors to the communication media that is the property of the state.
Paragraph.- the enjoyment of these liberties will be exercised respecting people's honor, privacy, as well as dignity and morals, especially the protection of young people and children, in accordance with the law and public order.

Common law unions are legal
Live with someone and be prepared to face responsibilities. The Constitutional Revisory Assembly is including informal unions or "concubinage or common law marriages" in the Constitution. These unions will have the same rights and duties when it comes to personal and patrimony obligations as those of formally married couples. The Constitution establishes that the exclusive and stable union between a man and a woman, free of marriage impediments, that forms a de facto home, generates rights and duties in personal and patrimonial relations, in accordance with the law, as reported in Diario Libre.
Legislators also agreed that religious marriages by different religious denominations would have civil standing according to the terms established by the law, without prejudice to what is established in international treaties. In the past, only Roman Catholic Church weddings were given binding civil status.

UASD vendors back
It's like a visual blight on the outer limits of the city's largest university campus. The Police had evicted the food vendors from the sidewalks surrounding the UASD, but now they are back. Hoy reports that UASD officials, security chief Leonardo Percel and Urban Planning director Angel Sosa authorized their return on condition that they kept their distance from the UASD's main gates. But that didn't last long and they are back on the UASD sidewalks near the entrance.

UN and banana producers
The United Nations and banana farmers from Azua, Montecristi and Valverde have signed a cooperation agreement aimed at strengthening banana production in their areas. This is a 3-year, US$4.7 million agreement in coordination with the National Development Strategy. The cooperation agreement seeks to increase producer competitiveness by introducing new technologies. Economy, Planning and Development Minister Temistocles Montas and UN Development Program (UNDP) country representative Valerie Julliand signed the accord. Julliand said the agreement would help the DR to move towards fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals.

Selling overpriced drink to schools?
The former president of the Cattle Ranchers Association, Cesareo Contreras says that the same milk product that is sold in supermarkets for RD$25 a liter is being sold to the Ministry of Education for the school breakfast program at RD$42. He backed the opinion of Pro Consumidor director Altagracia Paulino who said an investigation into the quality of what is being supplied and pricing should be ordered with the participation of the Ministry of Public Health and the Department for Standards and Quality Systems (Digenor).
Contreras disputes claims by some dairy product companies, saying that they were selling "milk that is not milk, and cheese that is not cheese".

Travel to the DR stable
Despite the worldwide economic downturn, travel to the DR has remained relatively stable. Central Bank statistics indicate that there has been a decline in travel of only 2.29% from January to August 2009. By August, the monthly decline was only 1.14%. North America (the US and Canada) sends most tourists, with 55.7% of total arrivals. Europe sends 34.07%, as reported in Hoy.

Sun Village and Maxim's close
Two legal suits have led to the closure of Sun Village and Maxim's Bungalows in Cofresi, Puerto Plata. Both are Canadian investments. Tourists staying at those hotels were relocated to the nearby Hacienda Resort, also in Cofresi.

Paya case lulls
More than a year after the murder of seven suspected drug traffickers in Paya, Bani the trial has yet to commence. DR Attorney General Radhames Jimenez has now officially asked the Supreme Court of Justice to change the venue, saying that a judge in the National District should hear the trial.
According to Jimenez and Presidential narcotics advisor, lawyer Vincho Castillo, prosecutors are trying to prevent the circus that has developed with judges in San Cristobal. Yesterday the judges were threatened with murder by one of the accused.
Jimenez has labeled the situation as potentially dangerous for the public during a press conference that included the 13 Paya prosecutors, Castillo, Police Chief Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin and Armed Forces Minister Lt. General Rafael Pena Antonio.
According to Jimenez, the death threats against the judges were made by the accused during pre-trial hearings, in the courtroom, with some going as far as saying, "we are going to kill you." According to Castillo, the Paya case will be a test for the Dominican judicial system.

Prospect's bad luck
Just three months ago Wagner Mateo was on top of the world. His young career seemed promising and the signing of a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, which included a US$3.1 million signing bonus, meant that in the short-term he could provide some financial stability for his family.
But now Mateo is facing the reality that he might never play a single inning with the Cardinals.
According to published reports the contract, which was signed on 2 July 2009, included a provision that gave the Cardinals a 90-day window to void the contract, and the bonuses, for a variety of reasons, including medical difficulties. And that's when the hammer dropped.
During a series of medical examinations lasting close to two months, doctors discovered that Mateo had visual problems, with his right eye testing 20/30. The Cardinals and their doctors labeled this a pre-existing injury.
Edgar Mercedes, who runs the Born to Play academy where Mateo trained and represented him in negotiations, said that Mateo has 20/30 vision in his right eye, but that the eye has no nerve damage and there is no degenerative condition. "The kid always played with that. When they saw him (in Florida at their spring training complex) in Jupiter, he was killing the ball. When they came to the Dominican Republic, he was killing the ball. He's worn contacts all along. His vision hasn't gotten any worse than when he was crushing everyone," said Mercedes.
Neither Mercedes nor his family has commented on the issue. Mercedes is holding a tryout for his Born To Play Baseball academy players on Oct. 17 in the Dominican Republic at the La Academia complex, where Mateo will be in attendance. Luis Jolie, a speedy 16-year-old Dominican center fielder who became eligible to sign on July 2, will also be in attendance, as will Edward Salcedo (more on him later).
Mateo's $3.1 million bonus would have been the highest this year for a 16-year-old international amateur player, topping the $3 million the Yankees gave to Dominican catcher Gary Sanchez. The bonus also would have been the highest in franchise history, edging the $3 million the organization gave J.D. Drew in 1998.

Ramirez is CoverGirl
Popular Dominican TV and movie star Dania Ramirez has just been announced as the newest face of CoverGirl. People Magazine reports that the 29-year old beauty, best known for her role as Maya on Heroes, jokes that while her deal may have just come to fruition this summer, in her mind "it's been in the works my whole life. I've always dreamed of being a CoverGirl." She tells PEOPLE that she's especially excited about becoming a CoverGirl spokesmodel because, "I'm bringing my story, a story of struggle and hard work. Not speaking the language [when I got to America] and trying to figure out my definition of beauty, you learn to recognize the beauty in all of us. It takes a strong person to get where I've got."

DR defeats Canada in Norceca
The DR defeated Canada in three sets during the NORCECA Women's Continental Volleyball Championship taking place in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
The DR defeated Canada in consecutive frames by score of 25-20, 25-22, 25-20 in the first match of Pool A of the tournament.
Prisilla Rivera and Milagros Cabral topped the Dominican offense with 15 and 12 points respectively and Lisvel Eve and Altagracia Mambru added 9 and 8. Tammy Mahon and Tiffany Dodds charted 15 and 11 points for Canada.
"We know Canada and trained well for them," said Dominican Republic coach Marcos Kwiek. "I think the 3-0 result means that our study of the videos and our game plan worked well."
"Dominican Republic played very well and we couldn't stop their captain number 10 (Cabral)," said Arnd Ludwig, the Canadian coach. "We didn't have precision in our reception and that facilitated their blocking. We were 9-2 ahead in the second set and allowed them to come back."
Other participants are Puerto Rico (ranked 18th), Cuba (5th), Costa Rica (30th), the USA (2nd), and Mexico (26th), Trinidad & Tobago (53rd). The DR is ranked 14th.
Up for grabs are the regional bragging rights and the single ticket available to the FIVB World Grand Championships Cup in November. The event is being held from 22-27 September.
The pool play runs through September 22-24 with the winner of each group advancing directly to the semi final round. The second and third place teams then will play crossed matches in the quarterfinals (September 25).
Four daily matches are scheduled starting at 14:00 (local time) with Puerto Rico playing always at 20:00. All the matches of Puerto Rico and those for the medals will be on national television by TeleSports Channel 13. Matches can be seen "on demand" via www.mediasports.tv
The DR has won the bronze medal in the event, which is held every two years, at every tournament since 2001.
See www.norceca.org

5th Contemporary Dance Encounter
Teatro de Bellas Artes at the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts) presents the 5th Contemporary Dance Encounter at the Palace of Fine Arts (Bellas Artes) in Santo Domingo. Dance groups from Martinique, Dominica, Cuba and the DR are participating in this year's event, which takes place on 25, 26 and 27 September. Friday and Saturday's performances are at 8pm, and Sunday's is at 6pm. Tickets are priced at RD$250, and are on sale at the Bellas Artes box office on Av. Maximo Gomez, on the corner of Av. Independencia. Tel 809 689-5252.
For more information on upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
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