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Daily News - Wednesday, 14 May 2014

President Medina opens more schools
President Danilo Medina inaugurated 93 classrooms in nine schools yesterday, Tuesday 13 May in Maria Trinidad Sanchez (Nagua) province, increasing the number of students who will now be attending the new full school day programs. The new schools will benefit 3,255 students and include kindergarten classrooms, IT centers, administration areas, libraries, science laboratories and kitchens and dining rooms.

The schools are: Gloria Altagracia Bido, Mata Bonita, Baoba del Pinal, El Factor I, La Factoria, Villa Flores, Hermanas Mirabal, La Colmena, and Ceja del Aguacate.


Approval ratings at 69% for President Medina, says poll
Noticias SIN has published more details of its April 2013 Penn, Schoen, Berland public opinion poll. The survey confirms President Medina's high approval ratings in recent public opinion polls at 69%.

The polls show that 70% would like Medina to run again. However, the 2010 Constitution prohibits consecutive re-election in the DR.

The poll shows that Medina is especially popular among young voters (aged 18-24), with 77% feeling the country is on the right track under Medina, compared to 59% of people over the age of 55.

The poll also asked Dominican voters what they considered the biggest problems:

Crime 36%, employment 20%, cost of living 18%, blackouts 4%, corruption in government 4%, presence of Haitians 3%, drugs 2%, hunger 2%, education system deficiencies 2%, others 10%.


911 tests a success
According to government spokesman Roberto Rodriguez Marchena, the results of the trial run of the National System for Emergencies and Security 911, were successful.

He was speaking during a meeting held at the Presidential Palace yesterday, Tuesday 13 May with key members of the national press, and chaired by Presidency Minister Gustavo Montalvo. Rodriguez Marchena said that everything had gone smoothly, including the care provided by the members of the service at the emergency reception center, sending people to the site of the emergency and the information system.

He said that they carried out 50 trials, each one becoming more complex.

In its first phase the system will start in Greater Santo Domingo, covering the National District, Santo Domingo East, North and West, San Antonio de Guerra, Boca Chica, Pedro Brand and Los Alcarrizos.

The service will be free but misuse will result in a fine of up to 15 minimum wages.

Twenty percent of the 911 operators will speak English so that they can assist tourists as well as the local population. The service is designed for helping in cases of serious traffic accidents, fires, health emergencies and crimes and involves 6,500 police officers, 914 firefighters and more than a thousand health professionals.

The system also has 600 police vehicles, 50 ambulances and 90 motorbike ambulances at its disposal.


Naturalization bill ready
Following a meeting held yesterday, Tuesday 13 May with presidential legal advisor Cesar Pina Toribio, Interior and Police Minister Jose Ramon Fadul confirmed that the proposed naturalization bill is now ready and agreed and will be sent to Congress in the next few days. He said that once the proposal becomes law, everyone who is affected by it would need to comply with the legislation. He said the government would continue to give priority to the National Status Legalization Plan that was ordered by the Constitutional Court in September 2013.


First Lady hands out awards
First Lady Candida Montilla handed "Exemplary Mother" awards to 100 women yesterday, Tuesday 13 May for their accomplishments nationwide. The event took place at the Perello Cultural Center in Bani, Peravia province prior to the Mothers' Day celebration in the DR that falls on Sunday, 25 May. It was attended by representatives from the local authorities, business owners, academics, professionals, religious leaders, community workers and the military forces.

The prizes were awarded to Carmen Carmona, Ana de Jesus Segura, Rosa Maria Lorenzo Urbaez, Beata Antonia Hernandez, Rosario Ascencio, Yolanda Ramon, Dominga Eusebia Suarez, Rosa Cruz, Olga Garcia Ferreras, Luisa Feliz Acosta, Eddy Bethania Pimentel, Josefa Amador (Erminda), Irene Batista, Rosa Ramirez Taveras, Maria De los Santos Feliz, Hilda Luz Perez, Priscila Cuevas, Diodina Araujo, Maria Rosario Sanchez, Nereyda Pena Calderon and Eulalia Lebron Luciano. Also Josefina Martinez, Maria Benitez (Yeya), Dulce Maria Garcia Mendez de Lebron and Francisca Herrera Heraux.

An initial mothers' awards presentation was made at the Teatro Regional del Cibao on Tuesday, 6 May for the Santiago region, when the first 25 women received their awards. Awards ceremonies are also planned for the eastern region and Greater Santo Domingo.


Presidential press briefing goes on line
On Monday 12 May journalists from the provinces were able to participate in the weekly Monday meeting between the press and the Presidential communications team for the very first time.

Now, in order to take part, members of the press no longer need to be physically present at the Presidential Palace, as all public activities held at the Palace will be transmitted live on the Internet with sign language interpretation at envivo.presidencia.gob.do.

Edwin Medina from San Juan de la Maguana and Hector Rodriguez de Moca asked the Minister of Public Health, Freddy Hidalgo questions via Skype about what the public needed to know about how to protect themselves against the chikungunya virus.

Next Monday, 19 May Dominican journalists based in New York will also be able to take part in the media briefing.


New Movie Cultural Cluster to help brand DR
Dominican Republic Industries Association (AIRD) president Ligia Bonetti announced the founding of the movie cultural cluster yesterday, Tuesday 13 May. The initiative, which is aimed at helping movies become part of the DR country brand, has the backing of the Ministry of Culture and the National Competitiveness Council. Representatives of the Dominican movie industry were at the AIRD headquarters for the presentation. According to Bonetti, the cultural industries in general, and filmmaking in particular, provide the opportunities that the country needs, and so must receive backing from all business segments.

Bonetti recalled that some 37 movies have been filmed in the DR since the approval of the movie law that provides tax breaks for productions. She highlighted the enormous potential of the industry to serve as liaison for all productive sectors as it has tie-ins with agriculture, financial services, infrastructure, tourism, telecommunications and commerce. She placed special emphasis on its importance for the country's image, and on how it can serve to present the goodness of what is Dominican, our products, our music, art and sports. "It is an excellent tool for exports and country brand," she said.

Culture Minister Jose Antonio Rodriguez, AIRD vice president Circe Almanzar and Competitiveness Council director Andres Van Der Horst also attended the event. Movie producers and directors were also present, as well as Robert Carradine, owner of Caribbean Cinemas, the largest movie house chain in the DR.


It is now harder to steal standardized scholastic tests
The director of the Standardized National Scholastic Tests at the Ministry of Education, Ancell Scheker has announced that this year the tests will be sealed in plastic so that no one can open them and read them before the students sit for the examinations. She said that in previous years the tests used to be sent in sealed paper envelopes but due to humidity they were easily opened and sometimes they got wet and spoiled and had to be replaced. She said that the new packaging would have to be opened with scissors.

The tests are scheduled for Grade 8 on 16th to 20th June and for High School (Bachillerato) on 24th and 27th June.


Charcoal smuggling to Haiti wipes out border forests
Charcoal contraband at the border with Haiti continues to devastate Dominican forests, a feature in Diario Libre reports today, Wednesday 14 May. Journalist Kirsis Diaz and a team of Diario Libre photographers were at the border to capture the trafficking in charcoal. The feature highlights how charcoal smuggling goes on openly at the border.

The story focuses on how the Grupo Jaragua environmental group has placed specific complaints with the authorities and presented evidence about the illegal charcoal trade, but there is apparent complicity with military sectors. The feature says that Cesfront border forces are making it more difficult, while also pointing to continued complicity between the smugglers and some elements in the military forces. A 2011 complaint submitted to the Environment Prosecutor in 2011 accused a General Campusano of complicity in the devastation of Dominican forests. As reported, the traffickers maneuver in the border province courts to easily get off when cases have been made against them.

Environmentalist Jake Kheel has made a documentary about the plight of Dominican forests on the border. He told Diario Libre that the illegal charcoal trade "is eating up Dominican forests piece by piece and is leaving large areas naked, little by little." He has been studying the Bahoruco mountain range for four years and has seen how the mountains' forest cover is disappearing as more and more mountains are deforested. Kheel's film, Death by a Thousand Cuts explores the changing reality of communities along the Dominican-Haitian border, illustrating how deforestation cuts across the economic and social fabric of both countries with far-reaching consequences, largely unrecognized in either nation. Haiti's long history of charcoal consumption has resulted in its deforestation, and, in the eyes of Dominicans, it is the driving force behind the illegal exploitation of Dominican forests.

Diario Libre's article and video also focuses on the threat to the iguana, a protected species that is also being hunted by illegal immigrants from Haiti.




Cuba's MVP plays in Mexico using forged DR passport
ESPN sports online is reporting on the case of Cuban slugger Alfredo Despaigne, 28, a three-time MVP in Cuba's national league who has been playing in Mexico using a forged Dominican passport. Prior to leaving Cuba, Despaigne had broken the Cuban league regular-season home run record during the 2012 season, hitting 35 and breaking the old record of 33. He is not known to have defected from Cuba.

As reported, the passport was issued in his name on 24 April 2013 at the Dominican passport office. Dominican passports can only be issued in person. ESPN reports that Despaigne has no family in the DR and has ever visited the country. Baseball America reports that Despaigne was in Cuba playing for Pinar Del Rio in April 2013 and played in a game on April 24, 2013.

The Dominican passport has enabled the Cuban athlete to play in Mexico, a MLB affiliate.

As reported, Francia Hernandez, the colonel in charge of detecting passport fraud in the Dominican Republic, told ESPN that the Dominican passport Despaigne is using has three irregularities: The numbers of the passport and of the book belong to two different Dominican citizens, and the ID card used to make the passport is false.




Credit card fraudsters arrested
The National Police has arrested two women and a man who they believe have been engaging in credit card fraud in several shopping centers using stolen and cloned credit cards.

The preliminary report from the police said that they are Karina Alejandra Aquino Hasbun, 25, Stephanie Nicole Guzman Pujols, 26, and Cesar Marino Reyes Romero (El Pollo), also 26.

The report goes on to say that the two women were detained in a shopping center on Santo Domingo's Winston Churchill Avenue where they were buying goods worth RD$36,000 using eight credit cards from five different banks.

Aquino Hasbun, who lives in the Paraiso area, was arrested with three credit cards, an identity card in the name of Zaida Yojelina Alcantara Genao, and a Samsung cell phone. Guzman Pujols had five credit cards and two cell phones.

Following her arrest, Aquino Hasbun told police that she had been given the cards by a man known as "El Pollo" who asked them to purchase the goods which they would later divide between them. He was then arrested as he was trying to collect the items they had bought.

They are all due to appear in court for the terms of remand to be decided.


Cubans arrested for illegal boat trip
The Dominican Navy has arrested three Cubans trying to get to Puerto Rico in a Zodiac boat. They were arrested on Monday afternoon, 12 May, near Playa Caribe in Guayacanes, Juan Dolio.

Two of those arrested had also been arrested in March this year for the same reason. The authorities say that so far this year 45 Cubans have been stopped from travelling to Puerto Rico.


Youth Orchestra benefit concert at the National Theater
The Catholic University of Santo Domingo (UCSD) and Fundacion Sinfonia present a Youth and Talent Gala Symphony tonight, 14 May 2014 in honor of Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez at the National Theater's main hall. Two guest musicians, Canadian pianist Avan Yu and Spanish violoncellist Alfredo Ferre Martinez will be playing. They will be accompanied by the National Music Conservatory's Juan Pablo Duarte Symphony Orchestra directed by Maestro Dante Cucurullo. The funds from the benefit will go towards building and equipping the kitchen lab of the UCSD hotel and tourism school.

The tickets are RD$1,500, RD$1,000, RD$500 and RD$300 at the box office, or online to [email protected]

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

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