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Daily News - Monday, 11 August 2014

Next Defense Minister could be a civilian
Minister of Defense, Admiral Sigfrido Pared Perez said the time is right for a civilian to lead the armed forces in the Dominican Republic. Interviewed on Esferas de Poder TV on Sunday, 10 August 2014, he said that ministries of Defense are already headed by civilians in most Latin American countries. He recalled that the current President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet had served as minister of Defense.

A civilian minister would be able to sit with other cabinet ministers, while a military officer is subordinate to the President according to armed forces rules.

It is thought that President Danilo Medina may announce changes to his cabinet at his government's two-year mark, on 16 August 2014.

Read more in Spanish: http://www.elnuevodiario.com.do/app/article.aspx?id=386417

Focus on sports in schools for 2014-2024
Minister of Sports Jaime David Fernandez said that the way Dominican athletes are identified and developed would change considerably over the next decade. He said that from 2014 to 2024 the focus would be on sports in schools.

He said the new plan is to use public schools as the first space for recruiting children with sporting talent and that a university sports platform is being developed. According to the minister, smaller sports facilities will also be built.

In the interview, he justified the cuts to funding requests made by the Dominican Olympic Committee and national sports federations and employees with multiple jobs in government by saying the aim was to raise wages and sponsor improvements in sports facilities nationwide.

Moreover, Fernandez told Diario Libre that as of 7 February 2014, sports federations that do not file their financial reports would not receive new allocations. The federations are required to present quarterly financial statements.

Read more in Spanish: http://www.diariolibre.com/noticias/2014/08/11/i740171_plan-desarrollo-2014-2024-priorizar-deporte-escuelas.html?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_1

Government spends RD$1.1 billion on vaccinations
Public Health Minister Freddy Hidalgo says that the government is investing RD$1.1 billion in vaccination programs in 2014. This is up from RD$426 million in 2012, at the start of the Medina administration. The reason for the increase was that a new vaccine is added ever year, he said during an interview with the Corripio news group published in El Dia today, 11 August 2014.

Immunization program director Zacarias Garib Arbaje said that in 2012 the Ministry of Public Health included the rotavirus vaccination to reduce cases of diarrhea in infants. In 2013 it included the Pneumococcal vaccination to reduce infections.

For 2014 the Ministry has plans to start with the human papillomavirus vaccine as part of a strategy for early detection of cervical cancer. The vaccination will be applied to 100,000 girls between the ages of 10 to 11 who are not considered sexually active.

Hidalgo said that 6% of early deaths in the Dominican Republic occur in Haitian immigrants who use local public health services but had not received previous medical care.

Read more in Spanish: http://eldia.com.do/salud-publica-ha-duplicado-su-presupuesto-de-vacunacion/

Public hospitals will charge patients with insurance
Public Health Minister Freddy Hidalgo says that the Medina administration is investing RD$3.9 billion on improving 74 public hospitals nationwide. At the end of the renovation programs, the hospitals will be ready to charge patients who are affiliated to health plans. This will improve the public hospitals' finances.

At present, public hospitals do not charge for their services. Hidalgo said that 20-30% of people who use public hospitals are insured.

He said that in order to reduce maternal-child deaths, they are renovating the 10 public hospitals where the highest numbers of deaths were registered and the 27 centers that refer the most patients to them.

In addition to the general improvements, some hospital centers have been targeted for major expansion programs. He mentioned the Public Hospital Luis Eduardo Aybar that will become a health city with an investment of RD$6.9 billion.

The minister added that at the end of the year 70% of the 50 Primary Healthcare Units (UNAP) under construction will be ready to offer their services.

Read more in Spanish: http://eldia.com.do/el-gobierno-invierte-rd3900-millones-en-planta-fisica-hospitales/

Private investment sought for coal-fired plants
Dominican Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE) executive vice president Ruben Jimenez Bichara says it has offered private investors shares in the construction of the two coal-fired power plants or that they provide the financing. The government expects the plants to generate power at 12 US dollar cents, half of the average current cost with petrol fuels. The power plants will have the capacity to generate 350 megawatts each and the construction is estimated to cost US$1.95 billion.

He traveled to Washington yesterday, Sunday 10 August 2014 for talks on electricity matters in the DR with US government officials as a follow up to statements made by US Vice President Joe Biden during his visit earlier this year. The DR is interested in obtaining financing for rehabilitation of electricity distribution networks, Jimenez Bichara told El Dia. The discussions will also touch upon the possibility of sourcing natural gas from the United States. He said that natural gas contracts are signed for 20-year terms.

Read more in Spanish: http://eldia.com.do/bichara-ofrece-al-sector-privado-invertir-en-las-plantas-a-carbon/

Blackouts could worsen due to arrears with generators
The Dominican Electricity Industries Association (ADIE) says the government is five months behind in its payments to some companies, as reported in El Nuevo Diario.

ADIE reports that the government arrears with the sector were at a historic US$818 million in the first week in August. The debt record was US$780 million in October of last year.

High levels of arrears usually lead to longer blackouts. The problem comes when the lack of cash flow reduces the companies' capacity to purchase fuel for operating the plants.

ADIE, however, says that the situation is not linked to the increase in blackouts. The association's press release said blackouts are caused when the distribution companies do not purchase the power they need in order to supply the demand. Distribution companies in the DR are government-owned.

ADIE says that the debt is the result of the distributors not being able to charge consumers for the electricity served. According to estimates, 33% of the power served is not paid for.

Read more in Spanish:

http://www.elnuevodiario.com.do/app/article.aspx?id=386370

http://www.adie.org.do/

Delays in issuing pharmaceutical and cosmetic permits
The Herrera Industries Association (AEIH) is warning that companies are trapped in major bureaucratic delays with the Ministry of Public Health issuing permits to pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies. Association president Victor Castro says that this results in many lost export opportunities. He said companies have to wait one to two years to obtain the permits that according to the law should be issued in no less than 90 days.

He attributed the situation to the General Agency of Drugs and Pharmacies under the deputy Minister for Guarantee of Quality of the Ministry of Public Health.

Castro called for the bottleneck to be unblocked in order for the national industry to develop.

Read more in Spanish: http://www.elnuevodiario.com.do/app/article.aspx?id=386370

Stem cell company at the Cyberpark
Eddy Martinez, president of the Santo Domingo Cyberpark has announced that BioCells Dominicana is implementing the first biopharmaceutical center for research, investigation and implementation of stem cells at the Santo Domingo Cyperpark, as reported in Diario Libre. He said this is an Italian-US investment.

The plan is to install a biological bank with stem cells. The bank will store human tissue and umbilical cords, as well as biopsies carried out in hospitals.

"This is the process of human cell immortalization and how to store them so they can be used at a later date", said Martinez.

He said the first phase costs US$15 million. The company is currently processing the permits required by the United States Food & Drugs Administration and its European counterpart.

He said the service would be available in the DR, the US, Europe, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

In a second and third phases of the project, scientific research and experiences and knowledge will be exchanged with local and foreign universities, specialized institutes, hospitals and stem cell centers.

The plan is for the Centro BioCells to eventually comply with all requirements for the use of stem cells in a range of therapeutic applications.

The CyberPark is located in La Caleta, Boca Chica, 28 kilometers east of Santo Domingo, and one kilometer from the Las Americas International Airport.

Regenerative medicine in the DR made the headlines after the case of baseball pitcher Bartolo Colon's treatment came to light.

Read more in Spanish: http://www.diariolibre.com/noticias/2014/08/11/i728091_instalarn-banco-clulas-madre-parque-ciberntico-santo-domingo.html?t=foto

BVRD: Raising company capital by selling shares
As companies seek access to lower cost of capital, the private-owned and managed Dominican Republic Stock Market (BVRD) has announced the issue of the first common shares for the CCI Puesto de Bolsa S.A.

Securities Superintendent (SIV) Gabriel Castro described the emission as a landmark in the development of the Dominican capital market. He says this provides investors with an alternative to channel savings.

Castro says that each share comes with the right to vote in the shareholders assembly in proportion to the shares issued, as well as ownership of the social asset if the company were to close, in the reserves and distribution of profits.

The company was approved to issue up to 373,734 shares or 5.26% of the approved capital.

The Superintendence of Securities has approved the issuing of corporate bonds in the primary market in the past.

Read more in Spanish: http://www.diariolibre.com/movil/noticias_det.php?id=740261

Dominican mountaineer dies in Indonesia
Tragedy struck abroad when a Dominican mountain climber, 26-year old Mario Rodriguez, who is the son of the president of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) Mariano Rodriguez, died on Sunday, 10 August in an accident on the Rinjani mountain in Lombok, Indonesia.

At 3,726 m, Rinjani is the second highest volcano in Indonesia.

Rodriguez's father told Listin Diario that he still does not have details on how his son died.

Rodriguez said he was traveling to Indonesia with his daughter on Sunday, 10 August to take charge of the situation.

Read more:

http://www.indonesia-tourism.com/forum/showthread.php?104-Mount-Rinjani-Lombok-West-Nusa-Tenggara-Indonesia

http://nationalgeographic.co.id/berita/2014/08/pendaki-dominika-tewas-di-gunung-rinjani

http://www.listin.com.do/la-republica/2014/8/10/333129/Muere-un-hijo-del-presidente-del-TSE-Mariano-Rodriguez

Family dies in truck crash
The Police have identified the six victims of the Friday, 8 August 2014 crash of a freight truck into the Ferreteria Ciriaco hardware store at Km. 48 of Duarte Highway in the north-south direction to Santo Domingo. AMET spokesman Roberto Lebron says the victims were all related to each other.

They were the driver, Santo Alberto Jimenez Garcia, his wife Clementina Reyes, the driver's 12-year old son Wilmer Jimenez, the driver's brother Freddy Francisco Jimenez Garcia, and the driver's cousins Juan Jose Cruz Campos and Kelvin Antonio Velazquez, both 16.

Relatives say that the driver and the family were from Fantino in Sanchez Ramirez (Cotui). The truck was laden with wood for the Ferreteria Cerinca in Pantoja, Alcarrizos.

The driver's father, Jose del Carmen de la Cruz, said his son usually left in the early mornings to transport wood and would usually travel alone. On Friday, though, he was traveling with the family members because the plan was to continue on other errands after delivering the wood to the hardware store. He said he still doesn't understand what happened.

The hardware store owner Francisco Alcantara estimated the losses due to damage caused by the crash at RD$2 million.

The victims were buried on Saturday, 10 August 2014.

Royal Spanish tall ship crew found trafficking drugs
News reports say that the Spanish training tall ship Juan Sebastian Elcano was being used for trafficking cocaine. Three crewmembers have been arrested for attempting to smuggle 127kg (280lbs) of the drug. The Spanish authorities were notified after New York City authorities arrested two Colombians suspected of obtaining 20kg of cocaine from the sailors during a May 2014 visit.

On Wednesday, 7 August Spanish newspaper El Pais reported that the drugs were found on 2 August and had been stored where the spare sails were kept.

The newspaper says the authorities suspect the drugs were loaded in Cartagena de Indias (Colombia) when the ship stopped there from 14-19 April 2014. Three crewmembers were subsequently arrested in Galicia for allegedly selling drugs when the ship called on a port in New York (10-15 May). The ship's previous stop was in Santo Domingo from 24-28 April.

The ship was subject to an extensive search when it docked in La Carraca (Cadiz) where the drugs were found.

Read more in Spanish:

http://eldia.com.do/buque-de-la-armada-espanola-cargado-con-droga-paso-por-rd/

http://elpais.com/elpais/2014/08/06/media/1407358009_877482.html

http://elpais.com/elpais/2014/08/06/inenglish/1407331088_841277.html

Earthquake felt in northern DR
Two earthquakes were felt in the Dominican Republic on Friday, 8 August 2014.

They were a 4.7 magnitude located 9 km east of Pedro Garcia, and another measuring 4.5 on the same Richter scale off Licey al Medio, both in the central province of Santiago.

For reports on the earthquake and where it was felt, see http://dr1.com/forums/north-coast/145012-earthquake.html

Tropical wave to bring rains on Tuesday
The National Weather Office (Onamet) is forecasting scattered showers for tomorrow, Tuesday, 12 August 2014 due to the passing of a tropical wave. The tropical wave is moving westwards from Puerto Rico.

Over the weekend of 9-10 August, the DR benefited from scattered showers. The rains are especially welcome after several months of drought.

Meanwhile, infection specialist and Dominican Pediatric Research Association president Virgen Gomez has warned that the rains could create new breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that transmit dengue fever, malaria and the chikungunya virus that has been declining locally.

Read more in Spanish: http://www.diariolibre.com/noticias/2014/08/10/i739361_lluvias-aumentan-riesgos-contraer-chikungunya.html

Dominican masters swimmer is second in FINA 2014
Ana Ysa Tejeda, the best Dominican masters swimmer of all time, placed second in the 200 meters backstroke event (category 40-44 years) that took place in Montreal last week. Competing in the FINA Swimming Masters, she clocked 2:36.85 for the second best time. Kimberly Lloyd of the United States won with a time of 2:33.16. Bronze went to Nathalie Plante of Canada, with a time of 2:36.88. Another Dominican swimmer, Raquel Torres, competing in 800 meters freestyle in the 30-34 women's category, clocked 10:44.91 to place seventh in the world.

Read more: https://finamasters2014.org/__splashW/ResultList_17.pdf

Bartolo is third best Dominican pitcher of all time
41-year old Bartolo Colon has become only the third Dominican pitcher to win 200 games in Major League Baseball. Others are greats Juan Marichal (243) and Pedro Martinez (219). Colon is still active, so will move up in the list of the 200-win club.

This MLB season, in 23 starts, Colon is 11-9 with a 3.97 ERA. His career era is 3.94.

Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Major_League_Baseball_pitchers_with_200_career_wins

DR wins Caribbean amateur golf championship
The Dominican Republic has won the 2014 Caribbean Amateur Golf Championships (CAGC) in Puerto Rico that ended on Saturday, 9 August. The winners put together combined scores of 278. Jamaica was second with 280 followed by the Bahamas.

The DR was second in the Hoerman Cup, with 1,212 strokes, behind 1,184 by Puerto Rico.

Blood moon can be seen in DR
If you are game for getting up at 2am, then check out the sight of the moon taking on a dramatic red color. NASA says the moon will begin to change color at about 2am Eastern Time on Tuesday, 12 August 2014.

The moon show will last through 4:24am, with the height of the event forecast for 3:45am.

It is not yet known if there will be a clear sky or some cloud cover.

The red moon is caused by a lunar eclipse. When the moon passes fully into the shadow of the earth and is no longer illuminated by the sun, large amounts of atmospheric dust scatter away the blue/green light and let the red light go straight through, shining on the moon.

Read more: http://time.com/62125/blood-moon-lunar-eclipse-cosmic-jaguar/

For more on ongoing and upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
 

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