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Daily News - Tuesday, 08 December 2009

Signing the new Constitution
Deputies and senators have begun the signing of the 38th Constitution, described as "an unprecedented text". The Constitution now has 277 articles, double its previous size.
The Constitution will enter into use as of its proclamation on 26 January.
The Constitutional Revisory Assembly, made up of all senators and legislators, met in 58 sessions over a 7 -month period to review the text received from President Leonel Fernandez, the main promoter of the new Constitution. The revision includes a change that enables President Leonel Fernandez to seek re-election in 2016.

The DR's deficit
The DR has been accumulating a large trade deficit with the countries with which it has signed free trade agreements. Since 2006, the DR has imported US$19.84 billion in goods, but only exported US$16.15 billion, for a deficit of US$3.69 billion.
The DR has signed two main agreements since 2006: the DR-CAFTA with the US and 5 Central American nations, and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), signed with the European Union and the members of Caricom.
Manuel Diez Cabral, president of the DR's Association of Industries (AIRD), says the DR must boost its productive sectors as well as its political will in order to solve this problem. As reported in Listin Diario, he said that Dominican companies have disadvantages such as high electricity, transportation and taxation costs compared to Central American competitors.

Too much debt
According to economist Bernardo Vega, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is concerned about the DR's high levels of debt, which he says are excessive. Vega said the problem isn't just the level of debt as a percentage of the GDP, but also the type of debt that the DR is taking on. He said the debt that causes most concern is the US$400 million in sovereign bonds the DR has negotiated with Europe.
The DR has entered into a stage of large-scale construction, which has required large influx of debt to fund the projects. The government is currently building the Metro II line, the Duarte Corridor highway extension, and has announced it will undertake the financing of the US$109 million Juan Marichal sports, residential and tourism complex. In addition, the government has declared the Santo Domingo to Santiago passenger and cargo train as a priority.

No cement license
The Ministry of Environment has officially revoked the building permits for the cement plant at the Los Haitises National Park. This move officially brings to an end a process, which saw many Dominicans, both young and old, join in a fight against what could have been an ecologically disastrous construction. The Ministry heeded the advice from a United Nations Development Program multi-sectorial task group that concluded the factory would only be beneficial for its promoters. The builders of the cement plant in the buffer zone of the Los Haitises National Park had announced shortly after the UNDP group released their findings that they would relocate the plant.
Minister of Environment Jaime David Fernandez announced that the deforested areas on which the cement plant was under construction would now be used for a major reforestation project, which will provide employment for local residents. The State Sugar Council and concession owner the Consorcio Minero Dominicano will be in charge of the project.

IDAC can train
The International Civil Aviation Organization has given the DR's Civil Aviation Institute (IDAC) a special license that will allow IDAC to train local and international technicians. The Trainair license system's goals are to "improve safety and efficiency of air transport through the establishment and maintenance of high standards of training and competency for aviation personnel on a worldwide basis and in a cost effective manner." Only 45 countries have been given this license. The DR was awarded the license at the 11th annual Global Trainair Training Symposium and Conference.
See: www.icao.int/trainair/Home/Index.html

Too many doctorates
Vice rector of the PUCMM University Radhames Mejia says that the doctoral degrees being offered in the DR are only adding to the number of people with doctorates in all disciplines. He said that these doctors rarely do any research and are not contributing to increase the knowledge base at the universities. He added that 80% of Dominicans with doctoral degrees are not doing any type of independent investigations or research to contribute to the country's progress. He said that this research, if carried out, would become an integral part of economic development.

Used car sales down
The car market in the DR has taken a hit, and the used car market is feeling it hardest. El Caribe is reporting that used car sales have dropped by 60% in 2009. The hope is that a fair, scheduled for 17 December to 21 December, will boost end of the year sales. The best months for used car sales were March and August when 560 and 413 used cars were sold by members of Asocivu, the used car dealers association. During the first week and half of December consumers have only purchased 10 vehicles from Asocivu members.

Sex workers trained
The Presidential Council on HIV/AIDS (COPRESIDA) is launching a training program for 150 former sex workers and 52 transsexuals in technical and vocational skills as part of a new social development program. The program is being conducted in partnership with the Technical Training Institute (Infotep). Trainees will attend courses in the areas of beauty, bakery, nail design, hair, cooking, hotel room management, delivery services, interior design and other vocations. The program seeks to provide the workers with alternative job skills.

Jail doesn't stop sex
Diario Libre is reporting that 72% of inmates in the nation's jails say they have a sex life behind bars. Prisoners in La Victoria jail have the highest percentage, with 82% of inmates saying they are sexually active. About 67% of inmates in Nagua jail say they have sex, while 65% of those in Salcedo and 55% of those in Samana say they have sex. The information was provided by the UN Joint Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
Of those interviewed 10% said they have sex with multiple partners. Twelve percent say they have sex for cash in jail. Eighty two percent of those who are having sex say they do use condoms during their activities. Of the 759 persons interviewed, 44.7% say they received some form of sex education. Seventy percent say they have never contracted an STI in jail, while 30% say they have been infected at least once.

Morrison to Granada
Dominican poet Mateo Morrison will travel to Spain to represent the DR at the VI edition of the Granada Poetry Festival 2010. The Festival takes place from 14 to 21 January and 116 poets from 77 countries are taking part in this event.
Morrison will take the opportunity to discuss the development of Dominican poetry, as well as contemporary poetry.

Luis Dias dies
Dominican music legend Luis Dias passed away at the Plaza de la Salud in Santo Domingo this Tuesday morning. Dias suffered a heart attack on Sunday. He was undergoing detoxification treatment when he began feeling chest pains and experienced convulsions. According to a report in Hoy, Dias was also suffering from lung and liver problems.
Luis Dias, who was considered the father of Dominican rock music, was best known for his songs, "Baile en la calle", "El guardia del arsenal" and "Papa Liborio."

Rains will continue
Capital dwellers were greeted yesterday with heavy rains throughout the day, and meteorologists expect the rains to continue into today. The heavy rains caused flooding throughout Santo Domingo and made the rush hour commute more of a headache than usual. Meteorologists say that low-pressure fronts in the North Atlantic have been causing rains during the month of December.

"All You Need is Love"
Pavel Nunez, Tony Almont, Laura Rivera and Luichy Guzman were among hundreds of international musicians who sang along with the chorus of Beatles classic All You Need is Love as part of an international initiative to raise money for HIV patients.
The event, sponsored by the Starbucks franchise, was seen in 196 countries and the Dominican contingent aired on UK television at 9:30pm local time. Guzman said the opportunity was an honor and that he felt he was singing with Paul McCartney.
See: www.starbucksloveproject.com

Garbage turned into treasure
A 57-year old Dominican father of two makes a living by collecting discarded prize tickets at betting parlors in Manhattan. The New York Times tells his story in its 8 December issue. "For the past 10 years, Jesus Leonardo has been cleaning up at an OTB parlor in Midtown Manhattan, cashing in, by his own count, nearly half a million dollars' worth of winning tickets from wagers on thoroughbred races across the country," reports the newspaper. The report says he makes an average US$45,000 a year going through the collected discarded tickets, and even pays taxes on the earnings.
See: www.nytimes.com/2009/12/08/sports/08otb.html?_r=2&th&emc=th

Museums day
If there is a museum you've always wanted to visit and have been postponing it, on Thursday, 10 December, Dominican government-sponsored museums and some private museums will be open from 9 am to 12 midnight and admission will be free. The event is known as "The Long Night of the Museums" and is in its second year. Special activities are planned for the participating museums. The event is held to mark the Day of National Heritage and is organized by the Department of Museums of the Ministry of Culture.
For more upcoming events nationwide, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
 
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