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Daily News - Wednesday, 04 November 2009

Cash, not oil for Refidomsa
Minister of Hacienda Vicente Bengoa says that the money from the Dominican Petroleum Refinery (Refidomsa) deal will be paid out to the DR in cash, at some point between 22 November 2009 and 18 January 2010. There had been rumors and some published reports that the government would receive US$131.5 million, the value of the deal, in petroleum, from Venezuela. The deal gives Venezuela a 49% stake in the refinery.

Constitution postponed to December
Senate president Reinaldo Pared Perez says that the new Dominican constitution will be proclaimed on 10 December 2009. Pared announced that the proclamation would take place before the National Revisory Assembly, whose members will hear a full reading of the new Constitution. The proclamation was originally scheduled for next Friday, 6 November, Constitution Day, when President Leonel Fernandez will officially mark the end of the constitutional reform process.
Listin Diario reports that the rescheduled date was suggested by deputy Minou Tavarez Mirabal, to coincide with International Human Rights Day.

Taiwan gives more money
The First Lady's Office has received US$2 million in funds from Taiwan. The funds will be used to construct two learning and production centers for the "Progresando" program, in the Santo Domingo neighborhood of Sabana Perdida and the municipality of Boca Chica.
See http://beta.primeradama.gob.do/node/1
First Lady Margarita Cedeno and Taiwanese ambassador Isaac Tsai signed the cooperation agreement and the donation during a special ceremony.

Quality education, not branches
Higher Education Minister Ligia Amada Melo expressed her opposition to the opening of more branches of the state university, UASD. In an interview with El Caribe she said that research has shown that there is an inverse relationship between the opening of new branches and the quality of the graduates. The Fernandez government has built extensions of the UASD in Santiago, Nagua, San Francisco de Macoris, Higuey, Bonao and Puerto Plata. Others are under construction in San Juan de la Maguana, Barahona and Mao. "The university does not have the finances to operate adequately, not even in its main campus, and if the construction of branches continues, the level is going to decline," she said. She says that students will graduate with a degree, but will not be equipped to practice their career.
"We are saying this openly. We believe it is a mistake for the UASD to be pleasing the provinces that want to have branches, without thinking about quality. The President has said he does not want to support more branches, but the quality in those that already exist."

No money, no scholarship to Spain
The Ministry of Higher Education has confirmed that low-income students continue to have difficulties in securing their student visas to Spain, even after having won scholarships to study at Spanish universities. Speaking yesterday, Minister Ligia Amada Melo said that the Spanish consulate is prompt to grant visas to students whose parents can prove they have the "economic guarantees" to ensure the students will return. But not so with those who otherwise would not qualify for travel to Spain. The consulate suspects that students from lower-income backgrounds are more likely to apply for jobs in Spain after completing their studies. Visa applications from 150 students who won scholarships to Spain were rejected by the Spanish consulate.
The minister has lobbied the Spanish government for a more flexible visa policy, but this is not happening. The Minister says that instead they will increase the number of scholarships to the US, France, Brazil and Mexico, countries that have been more willing to issue visas to students who obtain scholarships and university admissions.
At the same time, she announced that students from Qatar would come to the DR to study medicine and pharmacy. As part of a cooperation agreement with Qatar, Ambassador Saud Abdulaziz Al-Sowaidi said that students and professors from both countries would take part in joint scientific research projects.

Get your marbete
One in two Dominican drivers have failed to get their "marbete" sticker for 2009-2010. The deadline for obtaining the sticker expires in 15 days. This means 700,000 stickers still need to be purchased. Drivers who fail to get the marbete will have to pay a RD$600 fine, plus the cost of the sticker. The Tax Department (DGII) has increased the number of purchase points.
The stickers can also be purchased online from the Tax Department website at www.dgii.gov.do

UN Haitises report not ready
A note from the UN Committee studying the viability of installing a cement plant near the perimeter of the Los Haitises National Park says that the complexity of the multidisciplinary focus by the five entities involved and the analysis of the large volume of information will cause further delays in the delivery of the report. The conclusions will now not be available until the end of November. The UN initially announced that it would be available in September.
A total of 550 Dominicans have taken part in the process in some way or another, while the committee has had to review 73 documents and 150 bibliographical references.
Hoy reports that there have been rumors that the report has actually been completed and that it is recommending against the installation.
Ministry of Environment officials initially rejected the proposed installation by the Consorcio Minero Dominicano, but this was overruled. Environment Minister Jaime David Fernandez said that President Leonel Fernandez himself had chosen the site.

Whisky contraband confiscated
The Customs Department (DGA) has confiscated 4,000 boxes of whisky, with an estimated street value of US$620,000, as reported in Hoy. Six DGA employees are being investigated. The consignment, which would have been subject to RD$18 million in taxes, originated on the island of St. Martin and was being smuggled through Samana. The shipment includes brands of Chivas Regal, Johnny Walker and White Label whiskies.

Rapper kills Miky
Police say that 20-year old rapper Jean Luis Valdez Flores has confessed to the brutal murder of TV personality Miky Breton. Breton, who was 49, was stabbed to death at the Princesa motel near Santo Domingo on Sunday. Hoy reports the Police are saying that Valdez killed Breton after the young rapper refused to have anal sex performed on him. Valdez admitted that he would initially receive Breton, and nothing more, but then Breton wanted to do the same to Valdez. Once Valdez refused, a fight broke out that led to the stabbing. The newspaper writes that Valdez told investigators, "He paid me RD$5,000 to play the role of a woman, and then he wanted to switch roles." Valdez says he had hit Breton and once he realized Breton was hurt, decided to kill him with a knife he had in his bag because no one would believe his version of what had happened. Valdez says that he and Breton were the only two men in the motel room. Breton was the producer of a popular Channel 5 crime series, Relatos de Miky Breton.
Jean Luis Valdez Flores is the lead singer of reggaeton band Sociedad 3-15, according to El Caribe.
At the funeral, TV producer Fidel Lopez described Breton "as one of the most noble human beings I have ever met." And a grieving Nuria Piera, the star investigative journalist, said "he will be my friend always, he will always be my best friend."

El Gringo gets three months
Manuel Emilio Mesa Beltre, known locally as "El Gringo," has been sent to three months preventive custody in Najayo jail for his role at the helm of one of Santo Domingo's largest micro-drug trafficking rings. The layers surrounding the Gringo case are still being peeled away, but ties to well-connected lawyers, large sums of cash and even a murder-for-hire plot have all been linked to Mesa.
El Gringo was arrested with an estimated RD$4 million and EUR900 in cash, and police say that RD$40 million in cash was seized from the Solano currency exchange house followed by the discovery of a further RD$10 million last night.
Hoy is also reporting that last night two unidentified men opened fire on journalist Franklin Guerrero's house in the Alma Rosa sector of Santo Domingo. The shooting occurred at 8pm, while Guerrero was at home with his family. Guerrero has been reporting on the Guerrero case, and officials say the crime points back to Capotillo, where Mesa ran his operation. Guerrero says he now fears for his life.

Lantigua wins in Lawrence
William Lantigua has becomes the second Dominican mayor in the history of the United States. Lantigua, whose family is originally from Peravia, won the mayoral post for city of Lawrence, Massachusetts, an important center of Dominican immigration in the northeastern US. This is the first time that a Latino, and a Dominican, achieves the office of mayor in the six states that make up the region of New England. Alex Blanco was the first Dominican mayor in the US, after having won the office in Passaic, New Jersey.

Martha still on in Latin Idol
Young Dominican songstress Martha Heredia is going strong as she is still among the most voted performers in this year's Latin American Idol, the reality talent show to find the best young singer in Latin America. The young singer from Santiago has captured the attention of local and international fans and is now one of the last standing performers on the show. Viewers can tune in to watch her tomorrow on Telesistema Channel 11 and can also vote for her using their cell phones. Tomorrow's show will be especially tense as the singer who receives the least amount of votes will be voted off in this final round. The season finale is scheduled for 10 December 2009.
See www.myspace.com/latinamericanidol

Prospect League starts
The Dominican Republic has long been a hothouse for young baseball hopefuls. Aside from producing some of the world's best baseball players, the DR's baseball culture also generates millions of dollars in revenue that is divided up by anyone "with their hand in the pot."
Recent scandals involving Dominican ball players has led to calls for stricter regulations by Major League Baseball for better management of the product that is coming out of the DR. There has been talk about instituting an annual draft of Dominican players, but opponents say a draft would only worsen the problem and sink the Dominican baseball culture.
Opponents of the draft, Ulises Cabrera, Brian Mejia and Roberto Morales have launched the Dominican Prospect League. Cabrera believes that if a draft were instituted, the DR could lose as much as RD$1 billion in revenue generated from signing players. The concept of the league is to bring together top Dominican amateur prospects in a once-a-week, four-team league where scouts can watch them play and for which stats will be kept.
Cabrera says the draft in Puerto Rico had hurt player development there. "We can use what happened in Puerto Rico as an example. They used to produce players like Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, Carlos Delgado and Roberto Alomar. When the draft was introduced, look at the results. There are hardly any Puerto Ricans playing in Major League Baseball."
Cabrera says: "The first part of implementation is to improve the ability for baseball teams to evaluate the talent." Each team will have twenty players and will be open to the best players in the DR's development system.

Pedro Martinez's night
Pedro Martinez pitches tonight in the 6th Yankees vs. Phillies game. This could be the World Series championship game for the Yankees.
Expect a total curfew tonight as Dominicans stay glued to their TVs to watch THE game. It is broadcast on Fox TV or CDN local TV at 7:57pm.
In the exciting final, 38-year old Pedro Martinez of the Phillies against 37-year old Andy Pettitte of the Yankees this Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
The Phillies won 8-6 on Monday, but still trail the Yankees 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.
MLB.com says that this has put Martinez "back where he wants to be: in a must-win situation for his club."
Dominicans are big Yankee fans. The generalized feeling into the Yankees vs. Phillies game could be summed up: "I hope Pedro Martinez has a great game, and that the Yankees win."
See http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=...

Baseball scores
The Leones are roaring early in the season and look to be an early favorite for a post-season berth. The Leones have proven they can win big or play nitty-gritty ball. Conor Jackson took it upon himself to deliver the Leones their third straight victory after he hit the game-winning single, giving the Leones a 4-3 victory over the Gigantes. But as the Leones prowl, the Aguilas are flying low, after losing again to the Toros with a 7-4 score. Aguilas fans have been disappointed by the sputtering thus far, but are hopeful they can regain their footing in the next games. Surprisingly enough the Estrellas have also had some early season success with a 6-2 victory over the Tigres del Licey.
Team W-L Avg. Diff.
AZUCAREROS 10 - 4 .714 0.0
ESCOGIDO 9 - 5 .643 1.0
LICEY 7 - 7 .500 3.0
ESTRELLAS 6 - 8 .429 4.0
AGUILAS 5 - 9 .357 5.0
GIGANTES 5 - 9 .357 5.0
For the schedule of the games, and more on upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
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