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Daily News - Friday, 18 June 2010

300,000 to take national tests
Education Minister Melanio Paredes has announced that everything is ready for 314,426 students to take the national scholastic tests on Tuesday with enhanced security measures. Paredes announced that students requiring special conditions would be evaluated in their own schools, preventing the need to transport them to unfamiliar surroundings.
After last year's scandals, when students were found using cell phones to exchange information, the Minister called on the educational community to make a serious commitment to this year's process.
A total of 158,818 eighth grade students, 33,968 adult students who are finishing primary school and 109,862 fourth year high school student plus 16,774 students from technical schools will be taking the tests.
Ancel Scheker, director of the National Scholastic Tests, told Listin Diario that in order to protect the integrity of the examinations, security measures for the tests themselves had been stepped up significantly.

Second IMF review
The governor of the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic, Hector Valdez Albizu, reported on Thursday that the government's economic team is immersed in preparations for the draft of the letter of intent for the second review of the DR's Stand-by arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Valdez Albizu said that he believed that the 5% to 5.5% growth rate in the GDP that the IMF had forecast might be conservative. El Nuevo Diario reports that Valdez Albizu made his comments after inaugurating an International Seminar on Economic Communication at the Central Bank.

DR protests human trafficking report
The Ministry of Foreign Relations has sent a formal protest to the US Department of State over the Tier 3 classification awarded to the DR in 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report. Deputy Foreign Minister Rosario Graciano told Hoy newspaper that "we do not understand or accept the classification given by the Department of State".
The report, released on Monday, said that the Dominican Republic "did not fulfill the minimum standards to eliminate the traffic of persons, and makes no significant efforts in this direction". The document describes how Dominican women, including minors, engage in prostitution in 11 countries in the Caribbean, the Americas and Europe, often under duress.
See http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2010/

Santiago has problems with garbage
The Urbaser company has suspended garbage collection services in the south part of the city of Santiago de los Caballeros, leading to concerns across the city due to the increase in refuse in public places, as reported in Diario Libre.
Urbaser executives said that they suspended the garbage pick-ups because of the city council's unpaid debts to the company.
Santiago will have a new city council as of 16 August, and apparently the company is concerned it will not maintain the contract.
Last Wednesday, more than 132 Urbaser workers were suspended from their jobs until the company resumes its garbage collections.
The suspension of services affects the areas of La Otra Banda, Villa Liberacion, Bella Vista, Cienfuegos, Mella I and Mella II, Rafey, Los Jasmines, Cristo Rey, and other barrios whose residents fear an outbreak of diseases.
Santiago Hygiene Corporation (CASA) executive Ingrid Fernandez denied that the local council owed any money to Urbaser.
"I am surprised at this measure taken by Urbaser, since we paid them an additional RD$700,000 towards the debts, taking care of the situation, as well as supplying them with fuel", said Fernandez.
Silvestre Aquino, the local council Cleaning Department director said that garbage collections with city trucks would be rescheduled to cover the routes where the service was suspended.
The city of Santiago de los Caballeros currently produces an average of 900 tons of solid waste per day. Nonetheless, the trucks are only picking up 600 tons.

Blackouts seem to get worse
Complaints about blackouts never seem to end. Yesterday, residents of Los Mina in Santo Domingo East said that electricity supplies came on during some hours in the afternoon, but at night they were plunged into darkness and insecurity. They said the blackouts started at 9pm on the dot, as reported in Diario Libre.
In Santiago the situation is even worse. In the Cristo Rey sector, which is supposed to be on a 24-hour circuit, electricity supplies were sporadic yesterday.
In Hispaniola and Jardines Metropolitanos, considered middle class barrios, the absence of electricity caused disruptions, as was the case in La Zurza and other urban areas that suffered blackouts. In Los Mina Viejo in Santo Domingo East, residents are saying that the electricity problems began when the elections ended. And on the Padre Castellanos Ave. and the V Centenario Expressway, services are being cut off for as long as 8 hours straight.
There was an average deficit of 410 megawatts yesterday, although the CDEEE placed the maximum deficit at 605 megawatts, even though the supply improved overnight. The average (401 MWs) is 21% less energy in relation to the estimated demand that was set at 2,007 megawatts, according to a report on electricity generation from the Superintendence of Electricity. Yesterday's difference was due to the absence of six generating plants that were off line.

PRD to appeal JCE decision on Oviedo
The PRD says it will appeal the Central Electoral Board (JCE) Disputes Chamber decision reversing the original order for a vote recount in Oviedo in the province of Pedernales. In a press release, party secretary general Orlando Jorge Mera said that they would give notice of an appeal and continue their fight to obtain a recount.
The note defined the Disputes Chamber decision as "absurd and lacking in a legal basis", because the PLD did not present evidence to challenge the need for a recount, but that instead, the chamber judges had given in "to public and private pressures".
"Despite having cancelled Act A-1 (for congressional seats) for that voting district, this invalidation only applied to the 99 PRD preferential votes and not for the 64 preferential votes for the PLD that are compiled in Act A of voting district 009", said Jorge Mera, as he criticized the rejection of the previously approved recount.
The decision to not recount the votes grants the Pedernales senate seat to PLD candidate Dionis Sanchez, with 14 votes over his PRD rival Saturnino Espinal.
JCE Judge John Guiliani said the PRD already questioned the physical votes that could have been tampered with as they had been deposited in hands of the Election Board that responds to the Administrative Chamber from 16 May to 16 June. The Administrative Chamber director is said to be the ruling party strongman in the JCE. Guiliani said that any recount would have been questioned by the PRD anyway, as reported in Listin Diario.
Judge Aura Celeste Fernandez said that the PLD did not provide elements with sufficient weight to annul the decision for the recount. She said the lack of trust in the veracity of the actual votes was not enough to annul the recount.
Dissident JCE judge Eddy Olivares said that what should have been done was to order a new election in Oviedo.

PC supports Ortega's appeal
Civil society group Citizen Participation (PC) has expressed its support for the appeals process filed on behalf of journalist Alicia Ortega against intimidation by Dominican Agrarian Institute (IAD) director Hector Rodriguez Pimentel targeting the journalist and her advertisers. The civic group says it rejects all kinds of attempts to throttle freedom of expression and thought.
PC coordinator Santiago Sosa said that he thought it was absurd that Hector Rodriguez Pimentel would use legal means to intimidate a group of companies that have no responsibility for the contents of "El Informe con Alicia Ortega", an investigative television program.
They called on President Leonel Fernandez and the competent agencies to apply the proper sanctions in order to prevent this sort of thing for recurring in future.

Security a major issue for judges
Arriving at 9am, with only the protection of the laws and codes while entering the courtrooms, is just one of the security challenges a judge faces each day. Driving their own cars, and some, in the recent past, have even been seen walking to the closest public car route to use public transport only completes the chess game.
What measures exist to protect judges in a society where crime is becoming more unpredictable by the day? The question is being posed is several quarters following a series of articles on security in the nation's courts published by Diario Libre.
Besides the fact that most judges do not have bodyguards, it is said that the lack of a protection plan for judges faced with any sort of contingency has not been taken into account.
Also unknown are the mechanisms and resources that the authorities have at their disposal to tackle any problem that a judge might face when it comes to personal safety. Although many judges have bodyguards, others leave the court unaccompanied.
There are even cases where, despite having decreed a 30-year jail sentence to the accused, judges and prosecutors have been seen walking alone to a parking lot to get into their vehicles at night.
The frequency with which these cases are seen in the National District and the province of Santo Domingo has become routine. In many of the smaller towns the security of judges and prosecutors is glaringly absent.
"Well, I am here as you see me, alone", said one magistrate who asked the newspaper to withold his identity. Likewise, an assistant prosecutor described how he left in darkness with only divine protection, after pronouncing a sentence in a controversial case.
Judges and prosecutors have been the targets of robberies in their homes and cars. One judge was robbed recently as she arrived at her apartment in Gazcue. Another had a person arraigned on charges of robbery after he was caught stealing accessories from the judge's car.

Police and DNCD chiefs to Puerto Rico
The Chief of Police, Major General Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin and the head of the National Drug Control Department, Major General Rolando Rosado Mateo are traveling to Puerto Rico today. They took a private plane from La Isabela Airport (El Higuero) this morning. Prior to their trip they held an hour-long meeting with President Leonel Fernandez at the Presidential Palace. Guzman Fermin denied that Puerto Rican fugitive Jose David Figueroa Agosto, linked to a major drug trafficking ring in the DR and Puerto Rico, had been captured. The trip was announced after a Grand Jury in Puerto Rico announced that charges would be pressed against Dominican Ramon Antonio del Rosario Puente (Tono Lena), arrested in Venezuela and sent to the DR. It is expected that Del Rosario will be extradited to Puerto Rico.

Onamet forecasts rains for weekend
A low-pressure trough and a tropical wave over the eastern part of the island will cause rains with thunder and lightning and occasional wind gusts over a large part of the national territory.
The National Meteorological Office (Onamet) said that rains would continue over the next five days and would be heaviest on Saturday and Sunday because of the low-pressure trough.
The Onamet is keeping a constant eye on the active tropical wave that is closing in on the Lesser Antilles. While the system has little chance of intensifying and becoming a tropical storm, it does have a very large field of clouds.
As a result, Friday will be partly cloudy with scattered showers over a large part of the country. The forecast for Santo Domingo and the surrounding area is for increasing cloud cover and rains. Rainfall is expected to be heaviest in the northeast, southeast and central mountains.
To follow storm weather in the DR, see http://www.dr1.com/forums/weather-beyond/ and http://www.dr1.com/weather/hurricanes.shtml

Charlie likely, not Garcia nor Horford
So far Charlie Villanueva is the only of the three Dominican NBAs likely to play for the Dominican Republic in the Santo Domingo 2010 Centrobasket championship from 5 to 11 July.
It is now known that Dominican NBA basketball player Francisco Garcia is on the roster to play in Basketball without Borders (BWD) Asia that will be held in Singapore from 28 June to 1 July.
Also playing in the Singapore event is NBA All-Star, fellow Dominican Al Horford (Atlanta Hawks). Horford played for the Dominican national team, but announced he would not do so this year. Other team members for the BWB Asia are 2009 NBA Champion Trevor Ariza (Houston Rockets), Corey Brewer (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Taj Gibson (Chicago Bulls). The four-day camp will unite the top 50 young basketball players from 22 countries across Asia to promote basketball and encourage positive social change in the areas of education, health and wellness.
Meanwhile, the third Dominican NBA player, Charlie Villanueva is expected to play for the DR in Santo Domingo. Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva "is leaning toward" playing for the Dominican Republic this summer, his older brother, Rob Villanueva told the Detroit Free Press yesterday.
As reported, Villanueva is "50-50" to play this summer -- mainly because he was considering his training schedule. Some logistical details still need to be ironed out. The tournament is a qualifier for next summer's FIBA Americas Championship -- a 2012 London Olympics qualifier.
Reportedly, Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars cleared Villanueva to participate.

Kiteboarding in Cabarete
Follow the best kite boarders in the world as they compete in Cabarete, Puerto Plata province this weekend. In the first day, Alberto Rondina (Cabrinha, ITA) defeated local rider Carlos Rodriguez (EH, DR). PKRA reports that nevertheless it was a successful day for most of the local Dominican riders: Felix Antoine (Star Kites), Ariel Corniel (Ozone), Alex Soto (F-One) and Robinson Hilario (F-One) who skillfully jumped their way into the second round. Alex Pastor (Airush, ESP), Tomas Teixeira (RRD, BRA), Andy Yates (Slingshot, AUS), Sebastien Garat (RRD, FRA), Luke Whiteside (North, UK), Youri Zoon (Slingshot, NED), Micheal Schitzhofer (JN Kites, AUT), Tom Hebert (Airush, NCL), and Kevin Langeree (Naish, NED) eliminated their opponents making their way to the second round of heats.
In the women's division, Karolina Winkowska (Slingshot, POL) defeated the Dominican Queen of Kiteboarding Susi Mai (Cabrinha, GER) in the first heat of the women's division. Holly Kennedy (North, UK) defeated Tala Elajou (F-One, FRA) but was later eliminated by Winkowska in the second round of heats.
To follow this event, see www.prokitetour.com/news.php?id=106

III Music Fiesta 2010
The III Music Fiesta 2010, organized by the Alliance Francaise in Santo Domingo, is being held from Saturday, 19 June from 6pm to 12 midnight throughout the Colonial City, continuing through 21 June. The events are sponsored by Santo Domingo Municipality, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Culture. Performances including jazz, hip hop, rock, classical, reggaeton and folk music can be seen at Casa de Teatro, Teatro Guloya, the Tourism Cluster of Santo Domingo, Fundacion Taller Publico Silvano Lora, Teatro Las Mascaras, Fundacion Juan Mayi, Brazilian Culture Center, the Spanish Culture Center, the Nicolas de Ovando and Mercure Accor Group hotels, and the Dominican-French Chamber of Commerce.
Freddy Ginebra, who heads the organizing committee of events for Santo Domingo, American Capital of Culture says that events are also taking place simultaneously at six parks in the Colonial City: Duarte, Colon, San Jose, Plaza de Espana, El Conde and Fray Bartolomeo.
Santiago is also participating in the French cultural event, Music Fiesta 2010 with performances at Duarte Park on 6pm, with Grupo Tipipalo, the VideoCafe at Centro Leon, and on Monday at the Bar Moises Souahin of GTC.
Alliance Francaise director Jean Solito said that the event was aimed at promoting music in two ways: first, by encouraging amateur musicians to voluntarily play their music on the street. And second, to organize free concerts so the general public can appreciate a range of musical styles.
This is part of an international event being celebrated in 310 cities in 120 countries to mark the start of summer.
Groups taking part this year are Stevy Mahy (fusion ballads), the ensemble of the National Conservatory of Music, Folklorists Glaem Parls and his Group, the Ministry of Tourism folkloric dance troupe, palos groups from Villa Mella, the National Music Conservatory choir, rock groups La Tripulacion, Malapaz, Blackout, Zigzag, De Hierro, Astronautas Clandestinos, Nordic, Second Thought, Sister Madness, Alvin and Guntel playing rap, Mamboferoz and Aumbata in fusion, songwriters Victor Victor, Frank Valdes, Irma Carias, Vicente Cifuentes, Annia Paz and Milton Felix Trio playing jazz, Maximo Perez playing classical music and Yiod Band representing Latin fusion music, Nameless Absolution: Metal, Crescendo for R and B, pop, Samuel Breuil for Raggamuffin and Ulipo performing ballads.

Karate in Santiago
The First Caribbean Open Karate Championship, Discovering America, is taking place this weekend (18-20 June) at the Gran Arena del Cibao in Santiago. Competing are athletes from Spain, Mexico, Peru, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Chile, Costa Rica, Brazil, Venezuela, Curacao, Haiti and Ecuador and the Dominican host team.
The event is a preparatory championship for the Central American and Caribbean Games, set for Mayaguez, Puerto Rico in July.
For more on upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar

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