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Daily News - Wednesday, 23 April 2014

President Medina opens more schools
President Danilo Medina was in Sanchez Ramirez province, in the north central region yesterday, 22 April 2014, to inaugurate eight schools with a total of 87 classrooms that will serve 3,915 pupils. The cost of the project was RD$212,489,000.

The project included the construction the elementary schools Salome Urena,Juan Sanchez Ramirez, Ana Martina Jose, El Platanal, and Matias, Zambrana Abajo. In addition, one new high school was built (Ramon Maria Dominguez High School and a polytechnic school (Juan Sanchez Ramirez Polytechnic).

Each school is fitted with a cafeteria, kitchen, library and a science and IT labs. Solar panels were installed to supplement the electricity needs of the schools.

Education Minister Carlos Amarante Baret urged the communities to care for their new schools and keep them clean and tidy. He also stressed that the buildings would also be used for night classes and reading clubs.

Minister for Public Works Gonzalo Castillo said that since the schools would serve the children breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack, the low-income heads of households with children in school would be able to save some money and be assured that their children will receive nutritious meals during the school year.


More forests in the Dominican Republic
On occasion of the celebration of Earth Day, the Ministry of the Environment presented findings of the 2012 Land Use Study. The analysis of satellite images shows that the Dominican Republic has a total area of 48,230 square kilometers; that is less than the 48,442 square kilometers that has been traditionally reported as the total area of the country. As reported in Diario Libre, Perez explained that the reduction in the total surface area of the Dominican Republic is due to transformations of landforms in coastal areas caused by natural phenomenon.

The results were presented by Mariana Perez, the director of environmental information at the Ministry of the Environment at an event held at the UASD, the state university. Perez reported that forest cover in the Dominican Republic has actually increased from 32.90% of the total area in 2003 to 39.2% of the country at present. This means that forests cover close to 19,000 square kilometers of the national territory. With this increase the forested area, the country has surpassed the United Nations Millennium Development Goals for percent forested area (35%), a full three years ahead of the target date of 2015.

Water bodies nationwide also increased from 0.74% of the total surface in 2003 to 1.1% in 2012. Perez said this increase in surface water is mainly due to the increase in the size of the Enriquillo Lake.

The study also revealed that while in 2003, farming represented 38% of the national land use, by 2012, this had been reduced to 35%, or 16,959 square kilometers. Urban areas increased from 1.46% of the national land surface to 2.4%, or 1,133.30 square kilometers.


JCE makes it easy to get new card
The JCE is accepting the presentation of the ID for the issuing of the new ID card in the new format, as reported in El Dia. A birth certificate, marriage certificate or job proof is only necessary if the information is to be changed on the new ID card.

Regardless, Diario Libre reports that there were long lines at the JCE provincial headquarters that are the first to issue the new card.

The JCE says that university students and employees at big companies should wait for mobile units to visit the schools and large businesses.

The old ID will expire in 18 months.



President Danilo Medina meets Marc Anthony
President Danilo Medina received the Puerto Rican singer Marc Anthony in the presidential office yesterday, 22 April 2014. Marc Antony presented to President Medina a work of art created by the children at the Ninos de Cristo orphanage that is supported by the salsa artist in La Romana.

President Medina and Marc Anthony warmly greeted each other. Anthony stressed the importance of the state continuing to collaborate with the orphanage while the President said how much he admired Anthony.

The Ninos de Cristo orphanage, for children from 0 to 16 years, was inaugurated on 2 April, and was financed by the Maestro Cares Foundation.


First Lady to receive award on her way to Rome
First Lady Candida Montilla left yesterday, 22 April 2014, for New York, where she will receive the 2014 Humanitarian Award to be presented by the Morristown Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce. She will then fly to Rome, Italy, where she will head up the Dominican delegation at the canonization of popes John XXIII and John Paul II on Sunday 27 April.

The Humanitarian Award recognizes the First Lady's efforts in leading social outreach programs that target vulnerable populations in the Dominican Republic, benefiting the poor and the disabled. The award recognizes the First Lady's commitment to improve the lives of people with disabilities is her leadership in the construction of the Integrated Attention Center for the Disabled (CAID). The award will be presented on Friday 25 April 2014 at the Morris Museum.

Montilla is accompanied by her assistant Luz Marina Alvarez; Rafael Ovalles, deputy communications director for the Presidency (DICOM) and Miguelina Raposo de Solis.



New trail opens in Botanical Gardens
As a way to make a connection between visitors and nature involving the senses, "The Sensory Trail" has been created at the Botanical Gardens in Santo Domingo.

The path was made especially for those with motor, sight and hearing disabilities so that these individuals can enjoy a rich and stimulating experience in nature in an ecological, simple, tangible and memorable way.

According to Karen Pannocchia, coordinator of the trail, it is the first project of its kind created in the country for those with disabilities. The path is 550 meters long and takes around 20 to 30 minutes to complete. She said that the path winds through a wooded area where there are 13 information signs, also in Braille, about the flora and fauna endemic to the country.

In addition a MP3 audio guide system is also available with sign language for those with hearing disabilities.

Finally, disabled access is now provided at the restrooms at the end of the trail.

US Ambassador James Brewster was there for the opening of the trail that was financed by the United States International Development Agency (USAID) under the "Empowerment in Sustainable Tourism" cooperation program with the Dominican Consortium for Tourist Competitiveness (CDCT).

The project also received support from the National Botanical Garden, the National Council for the Disabled (CONADIS), the Ministry of the Environment and the United States Forestry Service.


Loma Miranda case closed
Speaking during an interview at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD), Minister of the Environment Bautista Rojas Gomez said that as far as he and the Ministry are concerned the case of Loma Miranda is definitively closed.

He refused, however, to comment on the decision of the Upper Administrative Court (TSA) that declared Loma Miranda a protected area, having granted an appeal to stop mining exploitation in the area.

Rojas Gomez said that since last year, 3 June 2013, the Ministry of the Environment had denied Xstrata Falcondo the requested permits to mine in Loma Miranda and that decision has not changed. He went on to say that the study to assess the environmental impact of mining operations showed that the exploitation of the area would not be feasible and hence, for the Ministry, the case was closed.


Chikungunya on the increase in San Cristobal
There have been between 26 and 30 suspected cases of the Chikungunya virus reported every day in the emergency room of Juan Pablo Pina Hospital in San Cristobal. Likewise, each of the three main private clinics in San Cristobal are reporting receiving between seven and ten cases a day.

According to the regional health director, Daniel Martinez, the areas of San Cristobal province suffering most from the disease are Haina, Nigua, Palenque, Villa Fundacion, Madre Vieja Sur and Pueblo Nuevo.

Martinez said that in different areas of Haina the number of those affected was also on the rise and warned that with the recent rains the spread of the virus could increase.

According to the daily report issued by the management of the regional hospital Juan Pablo Pina, most of the chikungunya virus patients are coming from the Barrio Nuevo sector of the San Cristobal on the banks of the Nigua River.

Doctor Miguel Angel Geraldino, hospital director, said that the patients who arrive at the hospital with symptoms of chikungunya are submitted to a rigorous treatment therapy prescribed by the Pan American Health Organization and the Dominican Ministry of Public Health.

Geraldino went on to say that all of the doctors working in the emergency room have received instructions on how to respond when presented with potential cases of the virus and that in the majority of chikungunya patients treated at the hospital and then released.

While the disease appears to be affecting people all across the province of San Cristobal, the Provincial Health Authority officials say they are unable to carry out an education campaign to inform the local population of the risks and proper procedures to deal with the virus due to a lack of resources. Prevention is by avoiding mosquito bites.



Book of condolence for Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Republic of Colombia Embassy opened a book of condolences for the death of the writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who passed away on Thursday 17 April 2014 in Mexico City. The book has been open since yesterday, 22 April.

Admirers of the famous Colombian author began to arrive at 9am to sign the book and express their feelings in homage to his life and his tremendous influence in the world of literature. The Colombian ambassador, Admiral Roberto Garcia Marquez, said that all of the Colombian diplomatic missions throughout the world would have a book of condolences open until this Friday. He said that at least 50 people had already signed the book by noon yesterday. Admiral Garcia Marquez said that he hoped that when the book was presented to the Marquez family members on Friday 25 April, each page would be filled with messages of condolences and appreciation of the great Colombian author.

The embassy is located at Calle Andres Julio Aybar 27 in the Piantini area of Santo Domingo.


Caamano family claims missing bones
Claudio Caamano Velez, member of the Caamano Foundation and son of the late fighter and ex guerilla Claudio Caamano Grullon,, has complained via the social network Twitter, that the bones handed back to him yesterday, 21 April by the National Institute of Forensic Science (INACIF), and that were exhumed from the grave of Francisco Alberto Caamano Deno, were not complete.

He said that the remains had been taken back to the Maximo Gomez cemetery and while the remains were waiting to be transferred to the Pantheon, it was discovered that two femurs were missing.

On 31 January, the Upper Administrative Court had ordered the Exaltation Commission, headed by Culture Minister Jose Antonio Rodriguez to carry out the order to transfer the bones to the Pantheon, but the Minister of Culture had not complied with the order.

The statement by the Caamano relative is made inspite of the family accepting the findings of a December 2013 study carried out by the INACIF that determined that the so-called remains of Caamano did not correspond with DNA of his relatives. After the finding, the family admitted that those were not the remains and Francis Caamano, speaking for the family, had said the wish was that the memory of Caamano continue to reside in the grave at the National Pantheon.



Lull in construction in the East
According to Luis Miguel Martinez Glass, executive director of the Construction Workers Pension Fund (FOPETCONS), some 45% of the tourism projects in the eastern part of the country are paralyzed due to a lack of money and the high cost of construction materials, especially rebar and cement.

Martinez Glass also said that other public and private construction sector companies across the country were also in arrears, including more than a billion peso shortfall in pension contributions.

He argued that the perilous situation would be even worse if it was not for the large public works projects, such as the construction of hundreds of schools and classrooms ordered by the government in different parts of the country.

Martinez stated that the East, which has been the boom area for tourism projects, had barely five important projects underway at the moment and one could observe thousands of workers seemingly wandering the streets in the region, looking for work. He said that around 80% of construction workers are foreigners, mainly Haitian.


Leonel Fernandez has 'fake' followers
Social media consultant, Pavel De Camps, has said ex-President Leonel Fernandez has more than 3,000 'fake' followers on his newly launched Twitter account, noting that every ten minutes a fixed amount of exactly 100 followers are added.

De Camps said that it is impossible for 100 people to register at exactly the same time. Using an audit using a program called 'twitteraudit' to check Fernandez' account, De Camps claims that the audit showed that indeed that false accounts are being created to inflate Fernandez's popularity on Twitter.

He said that only 78% (or 16,835 people) of the followers on Fernandez's Twitter page are legitimate, while the remaining 22% (or 3,754 people) were actually fake accounts.. By this morning the account had 19,000 supposed followers.

Hoy newspaper contacted Annia Valdez, Fernandez' assistant who promised to look into the matter.


Nobody sues in TelexFree scam
In the Dominican Republic so far no one has sued TelexFree for fraud, says Yeni Berenice Reynoso, the National District prosecutor. She said the investigation of the case is on hold due to the lack of legal action being taken by citizens who have been allegedly affected by the scandal. She stressed that if citizens do not present claims, the prosecutor's office cannot act. Reynoso said that only an investigation for money laundering has been opened.

As reported in Diario Libre, prosecutor general, Francisco Dominguez Brito, says that the government should vigorously pursue the matter and not wait for citizens to present claims. Brito said that it is apparent that many people lost their money, despite the monetary authorities having alerted the public of the risk of investing or participating in a pyramid scheme. An estimated 150,000 people lost upwards of US$100 million in the get-rich-quick scheme that is now under investigation by the Securities Exchange Commission of the United States, where the TelexFree was located.


Albert Pujols' 500th home run
Dominicans celebrated yesterday Albert Pujols' 499th and 500th home runs. Playing for the Los Angeles Angels, Pujols became only the 26th player to reach the milestone when he batted his 500th in the fifth inning of the game against the Washington Nationals in Nationals Park in Washington, D. C.

The historic homerun was hit off a pitch by Washington Nationals' Taylor Jordan. In the game, Pujols batted five RBIs and the Angels won 7-2.

The home runs were the 7th and 8th this season for Pujols.




Francina Hungria and Padre Alegria: Man and Woman of the Year
Diario Libre's Man and Woman of the Year were chosen yesterday. Father Gregorio Alegria received the award for his work with the poor in La Barquita

Francina Hungria, the engineer who lost her eyesight after being a victim of vehicle theft, was chosen Woman of the Year for her bravery and commendable efforts to overcome the tragedy and help the blind. They will receive the awards in a ceremony at the Santo Domingo Sheraton tonight, 23 April 2014, at 8pm.


Thimo Pimentel and the 1965 Civil War
The halls of Galeria 360 shopping mall are showing the "Identify! Identify!" photography exhibition by Thimo Pimentel. The exhibition features photographs taken during the 1965 Civil War. The exhibit is open from 14 April to 4 May 2014 at the Av. John F. Kennedy mall. On Wednesday, 23 April 2014 at 6pm in the central lobby of the mall, a talk will be presented on the 1965 Civil War. This informative presentation will be repeated at 6pm at the same central lobby on Saturday, 26 April 2014.

For more on upcoming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar

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