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Daily News - Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Fernandez to Portugal and France
President Leonel Fernandez is traveling to Portugal on Friday to take part in the 19th Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government in Estoril. The meeting runs from 29 November to 1 December.
He will continue to France on 2 December for an official two-day visit. In France, Fernandez will meet with President Nicolas Sarkozy and will engage in discussions on the economic crisis and challenges facing Latin America in the areas of investment in business innovation.

Constitution in January?
The proclamation of the new Dominican constitution has been postponed until 26 January 2010. Initially scheduled for 6 November, National Constitution Day, the proclamation was put back until 10 December. Listin Diario reports that President Leonel Fernandez wants the date moved to the 26 January, which commemorates the birth date of founding father Juan Pablo Duarte.
Senate president Reinaldo Pared Perez says he would have preferred the proclamation to take place in December so that the reform process could be officially concluded this year.

Consumers switch mobile providers
In the two months since numeric portability was announced, more than 9,000 cell phone users have switched service providers. Dominican Telecommunications Institute (INDOTEL) president Jose Rafael Vargas said that the minor glitches in the system that affected the process during the early stages have now been fixed. According to Vargas, there are 9 million phone users in the DR, roughly equivalent to one cell phone or LAN line phone per resident.

Scheduled blackouts
The electricity distributors have announced a series of scheduled power cuts throughout Santo Domingo and other parts of the DR. The distributors say they are carrying out regular maintenance on their networks. The blackouts will start and 8am and run through 5pm, and are expected to last until this Friday. Residents in the areas of Azua, Barahona, La Romana, Boca Chica, Juan Dolio, Hato Mayor, Higuey, El Seibo and Monte Plata should expect blackouts. In the province of Santo Domingo, residents of Villa Juana, Miraflores, Villa Consuelo, Villa Francisca, Barrio Nuevo, Los Molinos, Colonial Zone, Los Mameyes, Sans Souci, Los Minas, Dona Maria, La Esperanza, Vista Hermosa, Palma Real, Pena Gomez, El Cristal, Los Jardines del Remanso, Palmera, Monterrey, Villa Laura, Hainamosa, Los Rosales, Naco, Don Honorio, Los Pinos, Los Rios, Parque Botanico, Arroyo Manzano, Los Girasoles, Brisas del Norte, Piantini, Serralles, La Esperilla, Los Restauradores, Bella Vista, Jardines del Embajador, La Julia, Ciudad Universitaria, Villa Carmelo and parts of Arroyo Hondo and Los Prados.
Dominicans are accustomed to long unscheduled blackouts. The blackout story is news because the blackouts are being announced.

Save the COJP
Once a center for sports and leisurely strolls amidst the greenery in the city of Santo Domingo, the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Stadium is "under attack." Increased levels of pollution are a problem but most notable now is the fact that the green areas of the park are being usurped for public works projects. This increase in projects is leaving many to wonder what will become of the park as the city grows and projects are built to accommodate this growing metropolis. The Park, located between Kennedy Avenues and 27 de Febrero and Maximo Gomez and Ortega y Gassett, is a valuable piece of real estate that is centrally located.
Built in the 1970s, it has also been the main center for sports activities in the city of Santo Domingo. But in recent years the Metro Subway project and the Duarte Corridor have taken over substantial chunks of the project. The Ministry of Public Works has also taken space to install offices there. And already, numerous concrete sports installations have engulfed its green areas. In a letter, Minister of Sport Felix Jay Payano raises concerns about developments at the park and asks for limits on the use of the park for non-sporting projects.

Exporting helicopters?
The Dominican Civil Aviation Institute (IDAC) has ordered the immediate closing of Swfai S.A., an aviation maintenance company operating in the Hainamosa Free Trade Zone. IDAC said the company had committed several irregularities, which included the unauthorized assembly of helicopters for export.
Listin Diario reports that IDAC also found falsified documents in some of the company's helicopters. The craft in question are HI839, HI840 and HI890 that were intended for export from the DR.
IDAC has informed the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) of the irregularity in order to prevent these aircraft from operating in other countries and are investigating others that could be in operation. Listin Diario reports that the South African authorities were also notified and have cooperated by keeping the craft on the ground.

UNPHU proposal wins big grant
A joint project by students of the UNPHU in Santo Domingo with Venezuelan company Nova Oceanic Energy Systems is among the 26 winners of the Global Competition on Climate Adaptation, as reported in Diario Libre. The project won a US$200,000 grant for implementing the project over two years, and additional funding for a US$99,215 kickoff fund to test the proposal. The grants were awarded to projects presenting innovative solutions to climate adaptation.
The 2009 global competition is funded by the United Nations Global Environment Facility (GEF) and additional partners in the 2009 Development Marketplace. The students competed against 1,755 proposals from around the world.
Moises Alvarez, coordinator of the initiative in the DR and dean of the Science School at the UNPHU said the project, presented in Washington D.C., seeks to extract kinetic energy from waves and convert it to electricity. It also has side benefits in that it would serve as a breakwater, reducing coastal erosion and the effects of storms on the coast.
The researchers suggested that a pilot project could be implemented in Paraiso, in the southwestern province of Barahona.
For more information, see http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DEVMARKETPLACE/174515-1257552373887/...

DR exports cause concern
A slight decline in exports to the US could cause some discomfort, but a whopping 33.73% decrease in exports of apparel to the US is cause for major concern. The value of these exports has also fallen by 27.96%.
The exports registered 277,542 million square meters of textiles during the first 9 months of 2008, to 183,933 million square meters in 2009. The value fell from US$644.52 billion in 2008 to US$466.45 billion in 2009. The concerns over this trend are highlighted by the fact that the DR is part of the DR-CAFTA trade agreement, which was expected to spur Dominican exports to the US markets. This has not been the case.
The DR is now the 20th largest exporter of apparel to the US, after having been 4th in ranking.

Yzaguirre: new US Ambassador
Raul Humberto Yzaguirre has been appointed as new US Ambassador to the DR. Yzaguirre, who was born to Mexican parents in San Juan, Texas, is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has served as president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza. Yzaguirre replaces former Ambassador Robert Fannin, who resigned from his position in January 2009. Yzaguirre has a long track record of fighting for civil rights, especially on behalf of the Hispanic and Latino communities in the US and immigration rights.

Drug points in the barrios
A new map released by the National Drug Control Department (DNCD) identifies Villa Consuelo and Capotillo as the main neighborhoods for micro drug trafficking. The map identifies a total of 15 neighborhoods as key points for this low-level drug trafficking. They include Cristo Rey, El Caliche, La Zurza, Villa Juana, Mejoramiento Social, Villa Maria, Villa Francisca, San Carlos, 27 de Febrero, Ensanche Espaillat, Las Canitas, Gualey and Guachupita. These are areas of high population density. The DNCD and the National Police have expressed concern that residents in these neighborhoods are quietly complicit in the sale of drugs, either out of fear or because they too are benefiting from the drug trade.

Socialists in the DR
PRD president Miguel Vargas Maldonado was sworn in as vice president of the Socialist International at a conference being held at the Hilton Hotel in Santo Domingo yesterday. The organization, headed by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, has called on all governments to implement policies that deal directly with the international financial crisis, global warming and social inequalities. According to Papandreou, during a speech during yesterday's event, "today's system has failed us." But the conference, attended by delegates from all corners of the globe, wasn't without controversy. A crowd assembled outside the Hilton, protesting against the conference and the constitutional changes agreed upon by the PLD and PRD.

Bill Rood passes away
The visionary man who gave the American Chamber of Commerce the needed push to turn it into a respected business lobby group, Wilson Rood, known to all as Bill, passed away on Monday. For many years Rood was the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce and took it from less than 300 members to 3,000 in the 1980s with innovative ideas, including the implementation of the visa assist procedure for executives of leading companies with ties to the US market. He is recognized for his outstanding efforts in promoting US investment in the DR. Thus, the American Chamber of Commerce leaped to becoming a vital link between Dominican and American companies.
Jose Baez Guerrero writes in Hoy about how, after having fought as a soldier in the Second World War, Bill Rood made the most of a university studies program for veteran soldiers and graduated in law. He later joined the FBI with which he kept ties until late in life. He went on to work in Young & Rubicam advertising agency in Puerto Rico, prior to relocating to the Dominican Republic.
Rood's late wife Kate was the owner of the El Greco Art Gallery in Naco, contributing her knowledge of arts and culture to Dominicans. He is survived by his sons Bill and Alex and their families, long-time residents in the DR.

Aventura's AMA
Dominican-American bachata group Aventura has another award to place on its mantelpiece. This time the group walked away with an AMA for Favorite Latin Music Artist. The award came as a surprise to many, because the New York-based group was in the same category as powerhouses Wisin & Yandel and Luis Fonsi. The group expressed their honor at winning the award. Aventura has been one of the hottest Latin music acts in the last 10 years and their success has propelled bachata to new heights, bringing it to new audiences.

ITF Tennis Pro Tournament
World-class tennis is taking place at the Parque del Este courts this week. The Dominican Republic F1 Futures tournament, part of the International Tennis Federation Men's Circuit tournament is named Los Tres Ojos-RD 2009. Players from 33 nations in Europe, Africa and the Americas are competing for US$30,000 in prizes. The DR team is made up of Victor Estrella and eight other Dominican players who are hoping to make the ATP ranking - Jose Ramon Hernandez, Amaury Gomez, Jesus Felix, Oscar Eduardo Dominguez, Andres Mauricio Gonzalez, Renan Gonzalez, Eduardo Pou Ramirez and Luis Felipe Nunez. The Dominican Tennis Federation (Fedotenis) is sponsoring the event.
Persio Maldonado, president of Fedotenis and Zone III of the Central American and Caribbean Tennis Confederation (COTECC) opened the event with Luis Mejia, president of the Dominican Olympic Committee.
For schedules and updates, see www.fedotenis.org/ListItem.aspx?ListId=833 or www.itftennis.com/mens/tournaments/tournamentoverview.asp?...

The baseball scores
We have a new leader at top of the standings with the Escogido playing strong and staying strong. The Escogido have been the surprise of the season and have given some serious thought that they are a real championship contender for 2009-2010. Could this real be the Year of the Red? Not much else has changed in the standings, as the Toros moved down to second place and Licey staying in the third spot. But Aguila fans are wondering what has happened to their team of old. Horrible play and some bad breaks have left them in fourth place. They are still within striking distance, as they are only 4.5 games behind the first place spot. In last night's match-ups the Gigantes took advantage to get a much needed victory over Licey, 5-3.
Team W-L Avg. Diff.
ESCOGIDO 18 - 11 .621 --
AZUCAREROS 18 - 12 .600 0.5
LICEY 17 - 13 .567 1.5
AGUILAS 14 - 16 .467 4.5
GIGANTES 14 - 16 .467 4.5
ESTRELLAS 10 - 20 .333 8.5
For schedule of games, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar

Santo Domingo Festival 2009
Merengue will be taking over an 8km stretch of the Malecon of Santo Domingo for the 6 December Santo Domingo Festival 2009. Artistic promoter Luis Medrano has booked 40 merengue, bachata, salsa, pop, ballads, rock, reggaeton, hip hop and folkloric groups for performances on five stages. The stages are set up from the Feria Ganadera in the west to the Obelisco off from the Eugenio Maria de Hostos Park in the east.
For more on upcoming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar
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