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Daily News - Friday, 25 July 2014

President Medina opens more schools
Yesterday, Thursday 24 July 2014, President Medina opened five new schools in the southwestern province of Peravia (Bani) with 85 classrooms at a cost of RD$205 million.

The inauguration ceremony was held at the Paya high school, but he received other elementary schools for the government at the same time - Peravia Fundacion, Professor Marino Baez, El Sifon and Manuel Emilio Pena.

The new schools have libraries, IT labs, a dispensary, kitchen, dining room and science labs.

Student Ana Mercedes Arias made a speech, along with Education Minister Carlos Amarante Baret, the Minister of Public Works, Gonzalo Castillo, Governor Nelly Melo de Guerrero and school principal Dalma Rosa Arias.


UNDP: DR listed as having high human development
The United Nations has launched its 2014 Human Development Report. The report focuses on Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience. The Dominican Republic is listed in 102nd place on a list of 187 countries, the same ranking as in last year's report. It is ranked last in the high human development category, the second after countries listed with very high human development. In Latin America and the Caribbean, only Chile, Cuba and Argentina are listed in the very high human development category. The index takes into account life expectancy at birth, mean years of schooling, expected years of schooling, and gross national income per capita.


Saona gets its renewable energy power plant
A new 50-kilowatt power plant lights up Saona, the 110 km? island in the National Park of the East. A collection of beaches, but without hotels, the visit to the island is the most popular excursion taken by tourists visiting the Dominican Republic's southeastern tourist resorts.

The Ministry of Environment has installed a solar powered plant costing US$400,000. The plant will provide electricity to around 100 families living permanently on the island - about 500 people - and the elementary school, healthcare center, a church and control center.


UNICEF and CESTUR to combat child sexual exploitation
The Specialized Corps for Tourism Security (CESTUR) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) signed an agreement yesterday, Thursday 24 July 2014 to prevent the sexual exploitation of children and teenagers by travelers. CESTUR director General Justo Martin Amilcar Fernandez Tejada signed for CESTUR and UNICEF director Maria Jesus Conde Zabala for UNICEF at the event at the CESTUR offices. The event was attended by Deputy Minister of Tourism Fausto Fernandez, executive vice president of the National Hotel & Tourism Association (Asonahores) Arturo Villanueva, and his wife Susana Brugal, who is the president of the Asonahores' Ladies Association. Both organizations have committed to training CESTUR members in the prevention of sexual exploitation of children and teenagers. The agreement also includes changes to police training, specialist trainers in hotels and other tourist businesses, as well as security personnel. "The Tourism Police plays a key role in the prevention of crimes linked to sexual exploitation because their members are on the streets, they have privileged information about what goes on in their communities and have a legal mandate to guarantee the security of citizens, especially the most vulnerable, such as minors," said Maria Jesus Conde.

Separate church and state to reduce teenage pregnancies
Family planning experts say that the lack of priority given by the government to teenage pregnancies is behind the alarmingly high rate of teenage pregnancies in the Dominican Republic. At a press conference called by ProFamilia, a local organization that promotes family planning, Carmen Barroso, director for the western hemisphere for the International Family Planning Federation stated that official figures show that 22.1% of teenage girls between the ages of 15-19 have been pregnant at least once. Barroso pointed out that despite advances in human development, teenage pregnancies are on the rise.

She called for changes in political will in order to prioritize the issue. She called for an increase in sexual education of students.

She also said that the lack of priority is due to the resistance imposed by religions on recognizing the importance of sexual and reproductive rights and their teaching in schools. She says that religious representatives believe that sexual education would encourage indiscriminate sexual practices among young people, encouraging them to become sexually active at an early age.

She said that education was needed on the scientific aspects of sexual education. "It is shocking that into the 21st century we still have religious interference in states that are pluralistic," she commented during the press conference held yesterday, Thursday 24 July 2014.

ProFamilia director Magaly Caram said that the state should not continue defining public policies based on religion, but should focus instead on statistical evidence.

She commented that the Catholic Church hierarchy rejects integrated education in sexuality, the use of modern contraceptive methods, and abortion for health reasons or rape. She called for separation between church and state.

Power distributors running at US$568 million deficit for first quarter
State-owned power distribution companies (Edes) and the Dominican Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE) have run up a deficit of US$568.4 million due to increases in their operational costs and not billing for power purchased from power generators. The total also includes investments by the Edes and the CDEEE, including in the installation of coal-fired power plants, but does not include financing. Without the investments, the deficit would be US$303.7 million, as reported in El Dia.

From January to April this year, the power distributors and the CDEEE spent US$917.3 million on purchasing energy, paying their personnel and other commitments, but their revenues were only US$613.6 million. The central government covers the deficit.


Private schools are asked to have extended school day
Jose Ramon Rodriguez, the education consultant to the Cooperative Association for Investment and Employment (Coop Aspire) says that 25% of Dominican students attend private schools. He advocated for government support for private schools to adopt the extended school day whereby students enter at 8am for a school day that ends at 4pm.

During a conference entitled The Extended School Day: Hopes and Challenges for Private Education, which was attended by dozens of private school principals, recommended that the government also invest in the infrastructure of the private schools so that they can implement the initiative.

Rodriguez said that the startup of the Extended School Day in a "well-intentioned" effort by President Danilo Medina, will only succeed if the private schools are included.

Water crisis is expensive for families in Greater Santo Domingo
The drought affecting big cities is draining the pockets of individuals and budgets of small businesses that have to buy water from third parties.

In the neighborhoods of the northern parts of the National District, a 25-gallon tank of water costs RD$100. In barrios of Santo Domingo West and Pantoja, a small truck costs RD$500. At these prices water is hitting the pockets of poor families in Greater Santo Domingo.

Daniel Alcantara, a pushcart water salesman in the Villa Francisca area, fills a tank for R$100. Alcantara distributes water to several blocks between the Ravelo, Las Honradas and Caracas streets. "Can you imagine? In order to wash clothes I need a hundred pesos just for water," said Amarilis Medrano, a resident of Ravelo Street.

Beauty salon owner Cinthia Herrera says that at times the only way that they can obtain water for the house and for the business is to ask the Fire Department. "When we get a group together and we ask the Fire Department to send us a tank truck, sometimes the guys (who sell water) are angry, but it is very expensive," she said.

In Villa Francisca there are areas without faucets or hydrants, and others like Francisco Henriquez y Carvajal where yesterday, Thursday 24 July 2014 residents were supposed to receive the (water) service for six hours, but people could not get more than a half a tank, with the use of a small pump.

In the sector of the Jose Contreras Project in Pantoja, a truck costs RD$500, and if used efficiently, it can last a week. "Together with all of the other problems we have to spend money on water, too," exclaimed one local resident.

In Villas Agricolas the demand is so high that residents wait for others to finish before they connect their pumps. "Some water is getting here, but everyone takes it at once," said Jose Lopez. In San Carlos, the locals call Thursdays "the Day of Judgment." In the dawn hours they have to be alert in order to be able to do household chores.

The Santiago Water and Sewer Corporation (Coraasan) announced yesterday, Thursday 24 July 2014 that if the long dry spell that is affecting the country persists, they will be forced to increase water rationing.

Coraasan spokesman Dario Fernandez said that given the critical situation, consumers must cooperate by saving water during their daily routines.

"We should stop watering gardens, the fronts of our houses, and the little vegetable patches we have out back, since it is getting harder and harder to supply so much water," Fernandez stated. He said that the levels at the Tavera Reservoir are worrisome, since it should be at 327 meters above sea level and it is now at 317 above sea level.


Gomez Mazara asks the commission to annul the PRD convention
Yesterday, 24 July 2014, PRD activist Guido Gomez Mazara submitted his request for the annulment of the PRD's 30th Ordinary Convention held last Sunday, 20 July 2014 where Miguel Vargas Maldonado was ratified as party president.

The documents were received by the National Organizing Committee's events secretary, Leudy Peralta, together with notaries Odalis Ferreras and Jesus Maria Hernandez.

Gomez Mazara was accompanied by Eligio Jaquez, Tomas Hernandez Alberto, Wellington Arnaud, Fausto Liz, Ramon Emilio Concepcion and his mother, Carmen Mazara. Acting as his notary was Gejoel Jimenez.


Mary Pelaez denied parole
San Cristobal judge Willy de Jesus has denied parole for Mary Pelaez who is serving a jail sentence for money laundering and belonging to the gang led by Puerto Rican Jose David Figueroa Agosto. Pelaez must stay in her cell in Najayo women's prison until she has completed her five-year sentence. She is more than halfway through.

The judge made his decision after the assistant Prosecutor, Faustino Pulinario, opposed parole last week saying that she did not meet all the requirements under the rules.

Less than a month ago, Willy de Jesus released Sobeida Felix Morel whose parole request had been rejected several times.


Too many women are dying
There have been 117 femicides so far this year (to 20 July 2014) according to the Minister of Women, Alejandrina German. This is a 54% increase compared to the same period last year. She described the situation as "an epidemic" despite all efforts by the Ministry and other institutions over the last 10 years.

She went on to say there were more femicides than deaths from dengue fever, cholera or chikungunya and attributed the increase in numbers was due to violence, crime and hit-men.

German was speaking during a meeting of the National Commission for the Prevention and Fight against Domestic Violence (CONAPLUVI), held yesterday, Thursday 24 July 2014, which was also attended by Women's Prosecutor

Roxanna Reyes, Culture Minister Jose Antonio Rodriguez and public prosecutor Andrea Villa Camacho, from the Domestic Violence Unit.


Julia Alvarez gets US arts award
On Monday, 28 July 2014, US President Barack Obama will present the National Medal of Arts to Dominican novelist, poet and essayist Julia Alvarez in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support, and availability of the arts in the United States. This is the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the US government. Julia Alvarez is being honored for her "extraordinary storytelling". Alvarez rose to prominence with the novels "How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents," "In the Time of the Butterflies," and "Yo!"

Her writing explores themes of identity, family and cultural divides and illustrates the complexity of navigating two worlds and the human capacity for strength in the face of oppression. Alvarez will be honored in the East Room of the White House in a ceremony that will also be attended by the First Lady, Michelle Obama.



Rain forecast for the weekend
A tropical wave over the eastern Caribbean south of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico is bringing a disorganized area of clouds and very welcome gusty showers are expected nationwide today, Friday 25 July 2014. The National Weather Office (Onamet) forecasts thunderstorms in the northeast, southeast, southwest and center of the country. Rains are expected in the provinces of La Altagracia (Punta Cana), La Romana, San Pedro, El Seibo, Monte Plata, Hato Mayor and San Cristobal, reaching out to the northeast, southwest and center of the country today, but diminishing over the weekend.

Onamet is forecasting highs of 32°C and 34°C and lows of 23°C - 25°C for the main cities. Temperature forecasts are: Santiago (22/33°C), Punta Cana (24/32°C), Barahona (23/32°C), La Romana (22/23°C), Montecristi (24/33°C), Samana (24/32°C) and San Juan de la Maguana (20/32°C).

Jorge Celedon at the National Theater
Colombia's Latin Grammy winner Jorge Celedon (Cumbia-Vallenato) will be performing in Santo Domingo at the Carlos Piantini Hall of the National Theater in Santo Domingo this evening, Friday, 25 July 2014. He is on his "Sin frontera 2" tour, accompanied by 21 other musicians. Tickets are for sale at the Theater for RD$3,500 and RD$2,500.


Aura at Hard Rock Cafe
Dominican pop ballad group Aura is giving a super-concert on Wednesday, 13 August 2014 at the Hard Rock Cafe, Blue Mall in Santo Domingo starting at 7pm. The group members are Javier Grullon, Manny Cruz and Jose Julio Sanchez. 4th floor, Blue Mall, Winston Churchill and Gustavo Mejia Ricart avenues. Tickets can be purchased at ticketexpress.com for RD$700, RD$1,500 or RD$2,500.

Ed Kowalczyk at Harc Rock Cafe
Ed Kowalczyk, the lead singer and main songwriter for the band Live, is performing at the Hard Rock Cafe at Blue Mall in Santo Domingo on 14 August 2014. 8pm. 4th floor, Blue Mall, Winston Churchill and Gustavo Mejia Ricart avenues. Tickets: RD$1,500-RD$2,500.


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

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