Vice President and Cardinal meet to discuss poverty programs|
Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez visited Vice President Margarita Cedeno on Monday 1 October to discuss the social programs run by her office aimed at improving living conditions for families in extreme poverty.
Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez expressed his interest in working closely with the Vice President in her office's Progress with Solidarity Program. The Medina administration says that one of its objectives is to take 400,000 families out of extreme poverty, increase the middle class to 1,500,000 families and to generate 400,000 new jobs.
Vehicle taxation sticker sales going well|
Dominicans are procrastinating less. The Taxes Office (DGII) has announced that the renewal of vehicle taxation stickers has so far resulted in RD$214,374,400 being paid in the first month of the process. The best news is that this number is 40% higher than during the first month last year.
159,732 marbetes have been renewed, which is 45,374 more than at this same time last year. In total there are more than 2.9 million vehicles in the country.
The announcement stated that most stickers are being sold over the counter, but 13,644 have been purchased online, with Internet sales 31% up over the same period last year.
There are 332 counter sales points available throughout the country and the process ends on 30 November.
Western Malecon promenade announced|
The City Government of Santo Domingo and the Ministry of Public Works have announced the construction of the 30 de Mayo Maritime Walk on the Malecon from Abraham Lincoln to Km. 12 (Manresa), connecting with the Gregorio Luperon Avenue. RD$253 million will be invested on a 50-50 basis by the two institutions. Santo Domingo Mayor Roberto Salcedo announced that five-meter sidewalks will be built, trees will be planted and seating will be installed. Minister of Public Works Gonzalo Castillo said that work would begin immediately so that the new promenade is ready for use by Christmastime, as reported in Listin Diario.
Metro gets funds to finish line 2 by Xmas|
The Santo Domingo Metro continues on schedule for a Christmas time opening of the first half of the second line. Leonel Carrasco, deputy director, said that the government has authorized a monthly allotment that will enable the train to open this year. But Carrasco was not able to reveal the total that will be received.
Carrasco also told the press that the magnetic cards would soon replace the plastic cards to expedite service.
Regarding the completion of the second line, he said that 36 of the 45 needed French Alstom Transport cars have arrived, some elevators need yet to be installed among other pending details.
Measuring 21 kilometers in length, the Line 2 of Santo Domingo metro will cross the city from east to west, connecting Los Alcarrizos to San Luis, with an interchange with Line 1 at Juan Pablo Duarte. But for the first phase, service will be from Km. 9 (intersection with Av. Gregorio Luperon) of Duarte highway under John F. Kennedy Avenue and Avenida Padre Castellanos on to the Francisco Rosario Sanchez Bridge (Puente de la 17), with the intercepting with the first line at the Juan Pablo Duarte (Av. Maximo Gomez) station. Line 2 will start with 14 stations, on a westward track until the San Martin station where it will take a northern track to cross the Ozama River.
Dominguez Brito awaits Supreme Court's opinion on Felix Bautista|
Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito says he stands by his position that the Supreme Court of Justice should reverse the decision to shelve the corruption case file against senator Felix Bautista. He guaranteed he would fulfill his role as attorney general and that his critics should do the same, as reported in Listin Diario. He said he is awaiting the Supreme Court of Justice's decision on whether to revoke the closure of the Bautista casefile.
He rejected speculation suggesting that the move to try Felix Bautista was motivated by an intention to take former President Leonel Fernandez to court, saying he was "one of the former President's men." Dominguez Brito denied rumors that he had met President Danilo Medina to discuss the Felix Bautista case yesterday, Monday 1 October. He said he was at the Presidential Palace to discuss matters pending from the last few days.
Former district attorney Guillermo Moreno commented that the Felix Bautista case would reveal whether President Danilo Medina had a genuine will to persecute corruption or if the policy of erasing the past would continue. He said "the way this case is handled will test the reach of the judicial protection to guarantee impunity to Leonel Fernandez and the corrupt group that accompanied him during his eight years in government," as reported in Hoy.
He called for Hotoniel Bonilla, the director of the government's Anti-Corruption Department to be fired and prosecuted for ordering the definitive filing of the case for corruption against Senator Felix Bautista. He said that Bonilla violated the law when he closed the case for alleged lack of evidence.
Moreno said that the Penal Procedures Code states that filing should be provisional, and that the penal aspects can still be carried out.
Leonel returns to the USA in a private jet|
Former President Leonel Fernandez, in his role as president of the Global Foundation of Democracy and Development (Funglode) flew to the United States yesterday, Monday 1 October to take part in various activities in Rhode Island and New York. The former President has been an invited speaker in numerous activities abroad after leaving the Presidency.
He left from Santo Domingo's La Isabela airport in a private jet, together with his assistant, Danilo Perez, his personal doctor and two security officials. Fernandez regularly traveled on private planes during his 12 years as President.
Dominicans getting older|
A report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) entitled "Growing Old in the 21st Century: a Celebration and a Challenge," suggests that Latin America and the Caribbean are beginning to move in the same direction as developed nations and a quarter of the population will be over 60 by the middle of this century. The report said that at the moment the figure is only 10% (942,000 people over the age of 60), but this is set to treble over the next 38 years, resulting in 2,875,000 people over 60.
Those countries that will have the highest percentage of the population over 60 in 2050 will be the Dominican Republic (39.2 %), Puerto Rico (31.5 %), Chile (30.3 %), Costa Rica (29.8 %) and Brazil (29%).
People aged over 80 are predicted to be 5.5% of the population in 2050 compared to 1.6% today. The DR currently has 157,000 people over the age of 80, but this will increase to 637,000 by 2050.
"The population aged 60 or over is growing at a faster rate than the total population in almost all world regions. Globally, the population aged 80 years or over is growing faster than any younger age group within the older population. The population of centenarians, those aged 100 years or over, is growing fastest," says the report. It adds: "Population aging is occurring because of declining fertility rates, lower infant mortality and increasing survival at older ages."
Vitalija Gaucaite, an expert from the Economic Commission of the United Nations for Europe (UNECE) who helped produce the report, said that the main reasons for the aging population in the region were the decline in the birth rate, migratory movements and a better standard of living.
The report states that governments need to look at pensions and healthcare as well as the other needs of elderly people, especially as generally speaking, many people in Latin American and Caribbean countries do not currently have access to a pension.
Dominicans need to watch their weight|
At a press conference held to mark World Heart Day, Dr. Petronila Martinez Peguero, president of the Dominican Cardiology Society, said that in the last 15 years there has been an unprecedented increase in obesity in the country, as in 1995 the obesity rate was barely 16% but it now stands at 26%, representing a 64% increase.
She stated that people should not be tempted by special offers on fast food, such as 2 for the price of 1, as they would start to eat larger portions and become used to eating that amount. She also said that people who ate large quantities often lacked a hormone called Leptin, which is produced by fatty tissue and gives the feeling of being full. People with this deficiency tend to eat more and become overweight.
Dr. Martinez went on to list the medical conditions associated with excess weight, including cardiovascular problems, diabetes and high cholesterol.
She called for the Ministry of Public Health to legislate on saturated fat levels in street food, as more and more people were eating outside the home. In addition she urged the health authorities to consider policies for tobacco smoking restrictions, taxes on food rich in oils, sugar and salt, providing pedestrian and bicycle paths to encourage physical activity, and healthy school meals.
Major international drugs bust|
Following the crash of a small plane in Constanza on Saturday 27 September, the National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) has announced that they have dismantled an international drugs ring, made up of people from Venezuela, Colombia, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and the United States as well as Dominicans.
In addition, DNCD chief Rolando Rosado Mateo has accused the president of Caribair aviation company, Rafael Rosado Fermin, of belonging to the network along with businessmen Sergio Rene Gomez Diaz and Jose Vicente Figueroa Ortiz. All three are now under arrest. The announcement was made during a press conference called by the DNCD yesterday, Monday 1 October. John Niedzialek, head of the US Drug Enforcement Administration office at the US Embassy in Santo Domingo was present at the event.
A total of 15 people have been detained, including Venezuelan Jose Luis Veras Marquez, Alberto Laureano, AKA "el piloto" from the US, Holmes Errol Outram from the Bahamas, Harry Williams Nazario from Puerto Rico, Raymond Mario Perez, alias Max, from the US, Dominicans Danny Salvador Ramirez Cabral, alias Marcial and Cristian Chavez. Victor Hugo Sanchez Portes and Eduardo Leyba Perez were killed in the crash. Rosado Mateo said that captain Anthony Eduardo Leyba Perez was an undercover agent who had died when the groups discovered that their structures had been penetrated.
The DNCD chief said that several members of the armed forces had also been arrested: Army Lieutenant Colonel Juan Ramon Rosado Perez, alias Rosario, Air Force First Lieutenant Henri Francisco Valdez Garcia, alias Jefecito, Army Sergeant Major Jose Antonio Cleto Cruz and a former police private, Carlos Manuel Ramirez.
General Rosado said that the group had been followed for more than a year.
The arrests were made after the crash of the small plane in Constanza. Rosado Mateo said that the plane US registration N711WX that crashed in Constanza had been acquired by the ring in the United States and brought to the DR to be refitted for use to transport drugs from South America to the DR, Haiti and Honduras.
He said the group used the DR as center of operations for refitting the small planes for wider flight range. He said that the drug ring used military personnel at the Constanza, Puerto Plata and Santiago airports for their operations.
Rosado Mateo added that no drugs were found in the Constanza plane, but that another US registration N4592 belonging to Sergio Rene Gomez Diaz, which had taken off from La Isabela Airport (in northern Santo Domingo) for Curacao and Venezuela had been captured with drugs on board.
He announced that several properties had been used to launder the assets, including Pasion Night Club, Plaza Hermanos Gomez Diaz and residences in Santiago were confiscated. In Santo Domingo, the DNCD confiscated the Carmax dealer-finance house, Plaza Carmax, and Carmax Car Wash. Five airplanes were seized in the same operation.
Rosado Mateo says that the Dominican government would prefer the group to be tried in the United States so that they can receive exemplary judgments. As reported in El Dia, he said that in the DR the law does not give specialized treatment for organized crime. He advocated for legislation to fight organized crime that considers the charge of conspiracy. He said this would ensure that individuals, such as those involved in this case, who do not touch a gram of cocaine, but manage the business from a distance, could be tried.
Rosado Mateo also announced changes to the agents assigned to different DNCD divisions, airports, accounting, human resources, General Inspector office and other units.
Caribair issued a statement disputing the allegations that its president, Rafael Rosado Fermin was a member of an international drug ring and denied any links to the 27 September plane crash in Constanza made by General Rolando Rosado Mateo.
Caribair has been linked to several other drug-related cases in the past, as reported in Hoy.
Violent deaths down|
Police spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Diego Pesqueira has announced that so far this year 1,626 people have lost their lives due to violence, defined as murder or gunfire exchanges, which is a decrease of 13% over last year.
Pesqueira also said that there has been a reduction of four percentage points in the rate of violent deaths, reducing from 25 deaths per 100,000 population to 21.
He went on to say that most of the deaths, 1,065, were due to social conflict, although that too had decreased by 16% over last year when the figure stood at 1,268. He also stated that the numbers of people killed by the police had reduced as well from 186 last year, to 159 this year.
Murder in Puerto Plata|
On the night of Monday, 1 October four heavily-armed men shot and killed an Italian businessman, Raffaele Foria, 67, and injured a US air controller, Rius Stanley Leonard and their security guard, Air Force Second Lieutenant Daniel Alvarado Fernandez in Villa Panorama in Sosua, Puerto Plata province.
The injured men were hospitalized and the police continue their investigation to determine the motive behind the shooting, suspected to be robbery.
Junot Diaz awarded major prize|
Junot Diaz has been awarded a US$500,000 MacArthur Genius Grant along with another 22 people announced by the MacArthur Foundation yesterday, Monday 1 October.
According to the Foundation, the fellows were all chosen "for their creativity, originality and potential to make important contributions in the future".
Diaz, said the Foundation, offers "a powerful insight into the realities of the Caribbean Diaspora, American assimilation, and lives lived between cultures" in his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and two short story collections, Drown and This is How You Lose Her.
Diaz said the grant, which came out of the blue, would be 'transformational'. "It allows you to focus on your art with very little other concerns. It's kind of like a big blast of privilege".
Diaz is the second Dominican to have won the award. Last year, Francisco Nunez was awarded the same award for his work to bring choir singing to young people while directing the Young People's Chorus of New York City.
Dominicans win bronze in Pan Am volleyball cup|
The Dominican Republic's men's volleyball team won the bronze medal at the U23 Pan American Cup by defeating Canada 25-23, 25-15, 25-23 in the bronze medal match held last Sunday at the Langley Events Centre. The Dominican team made a comeback after losing in the round robin to the Canadian team in straight sets. The Dominicans finished the tournament with a 2-3 record and the bronze medal. Brazil won the gold medal defeating Argentina 25-18 25-13, 25-17 in the final.
"I feel happy for my athletes, because we achieved the goal of winning a medal, and worked a lot with our service sending all the balls against their number nine (Bradley Kufske) as part of our tactical plan and it worked," Dominican Republic's coach Cuban Osiel Vazquez told Norceca reporters.
Canada's coach Ben Josephson said: "Their service reception was spectacular. We weren't able to get much going until the third game. Credit to the Dominican Republic coaching staff and players for cleaning up the things we did well last game."
Alex Diaz Jazz at La Cantina|
Colonial City bar/restaurant/lounge La Cantina del Agave presents Alex Diaz Latin Jazz Quintet on Wednesday, 3 October at 8:30pm. Listen to a Latin Jazz Harlem-style jazz concert with Ivan Renta (saxophone), Gustavo Rodriguez (piano), Joe Nicolas (bass) and Otoniel Nicolas (drums). Enjoy the Latin music arrangements by congos master drummer Alex Diaz in an unforgettable night of energy and exciting rhythms. Jazz Picante en la Cantina, Wednesdays, at 8:30pm. Arz. Merino 115, Colonial City, Santo Domingo. No Cover. Reservations recommended at Tel 809 567-4444.
For more on ongoing and upcoming events, see http://dr1.com/calendar
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