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Daily News - 25 February 1998

See the last solar eclipse of the millennium
Caribbean cruises through the Caribbean sold out several weeks ago. Those on board will be able to get a privileged view of the last solar eclipse that will be visible from earth this millennium. The full solar eclipse will be seen at mid-day in Santo Domingo on Thursday, 26 February, 1998. The eclipse will be visible from land, as most of the path will be over the water of the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The eclipse begins in the Pacific Ocean and heads northwest, across the Galapagos Islands and northern South America, before passing over the Caribbean.
Eclipses occur when the moon's orbit takes it between the earth and the sun, casting the moon's shadow over the earth. An eclipse of the sun can only take place at a new moon. At that time, the sun, the earth, and the moon, must be very nearly, if not precisely, aligned. During most months, the new moon occurs when the moon is too far north or south for an eclipse to take place. But when the sun is close to the ascending or descending node of the moon's orbit, an eclipse will occur.
In total eclipses such as this one, the moon blocks the sun for several minutes, the skies darken so much that birds prepare to settle down for the night and the stars become quite visible before the phenomenon when the last rays of sunlight gleam through the irregularities on the moon's surface.
Experts warn that observing the sun directly - even during a partial eclipse - can cause permanent eye damage. Damage to the eyes comes predominantly from invisible infrared wavelengths, so the fact that you feel no discomfort while gazing at a partial eclipse does
not guarantee that your eyes are safe. Experts say that you can peek at the sun, but not stare. Experts say a total solar eclipse can be safely viewed with the naked eye, since the sun's disk is completely obscured. But appropriate precautions should be taken when the total phase ends.
For more information, check out NASA's web site eclipse page at http://planets.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/eclipse.html

Major power plant returns to service
The administrator of the Corporación Dominicana de Electricidad said that there has been an increase in the supply of energy. The Los Minas VI power plant is back on line, contributing 100 megawatts. No one is getting excited about this, despite engineer Temístocles Montás optimism. He said the operation of the plant translates only into a decrease in the blackout hours suffered by the population. Montás said the Los Minas V will also go on line soon, as repairs are completed. Major power plants are due for maintenance works once the two Los Minas turbogas generators, which are expected to supply upwards of 185 megawatts between the two, enter the system.

Consensus for re-election
A consensus was reached during talks held by the political reform subcommission of the National Dialogue for the modification of the Constitution to permit presidential re-election for two consecutive periods. Thereafter, the President would not be able to run for President again. The subcommission also voted in favor of installing mechanisms for organizing referendums and plebiscites. It was also agreed that persons only under the age of 75, and in excellent physical and mental condition, would be eligible to run for president.
The National Dialogue talks being held in Santo Domingo from 23 to 25 February to define the national priorities into year 2000. During discussions of the economy subcommission, President Leonel Fernández proposed that the national budget be sent to Congress on 16 August, at the start of the second congressional legislative period of the year, and not at year's end as has been the tradition. For the first time in modern Dominican history, the budget was sent to Congress in October. The President feels submitting the bill even earlier, in August, would give time for congressional debates, modifications, and the reaching of a consensus among political forces represented in Congress.

Director of CEA says he's open to investigations
The director of the Consejo Estatal del Azucar (CEA), the state sugar council, said he is available for any investigations that the Attorney General may require. The Listín Diario publicized on 24 February that 60 officers of the CEA reported to President Leonel Fernández irregularities in the present director's administration. The officers request that the government investigate the use of the RD$682 million that were received for future sales of raw sugar and molasses. Also requested is information on the sale of property in Cumayasa, in the province of La Romana. Pedro Rodríguez Chiappini said that those who have made the denouncement to the press are persons whose interests have been affected by his administration. Rodríguez said that if there has been corruption, the administrators of the sugar mills are involved as they handle 90% of the resources in question. He said the moneys were used primarily to repair the mills, plant 40,000 tareas, pay more than RD$15 million in severance payments to workers, and to pay banking interests.

Conflict over delays in the completion of Victoria jail
Euclides Sánchez, director of the Oficina de Ingenieros Supervisores de Obras del Estado, the office at the Presidency that supervises government construction, and candidate for senator at La Vega for the government party, visited Attorney General Abel Rodríguez del Orbe, after the former contractor of the remodeling and expansion works at the La Victoria jail accused him of irregularities in the handling of resources. In the complaint, engineer Maximino Brito said ther ehave been anomalities in Sánchez's handling of funds at his disposition through the office of engineers that supervise government works. Sánchez recently rescinded Eng. Brito's contract for completion of works at La Victoria, after a request from the Attorney General himself, who said that the jail was behind in its construction schedule and that Brito owed suppliers RD$12 million. The Victoria jail is the nation's largest, housing some 3,000 inmates. Attorney General Rodríguez del Orbe requested that the Armed Forces complete the jail construction. The Armed Forces have worked on the jail installations in San Pedro de Macorís and San Francisco de Macorís.

Deputy corruption case to be studied by Supreme Court
President of the Supreme Court, Jorge Subero Isa announced that the Supreme Court in full would study the case of corruption presented by the administrator of the Banco Agrícola, Paino Abreu Collado, against present deputy of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC), Adriano Sánchez Roa. Many cases of corruption in the past government have been kept on hold, primarily because high-ranking officers in the previous government are involved. The Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD), the government party, seeks reelection through a possible electoral agreement with the PRSC for the upcoming 16 May congressional and municipal elections.

New fountain and lights for seaside boulevard
City Mayor Rafael Suberví Bonilla formally inaugurated the remodelling works of the Malecon, from Abraham Lincoln Av. to Calle 30 de Marzo. Also, now in operation, is the new dancing water fountain located south of Av. Máximo Gómez, facing the Caribbean. The works also included re-pavement of the avenue and sidewalks, installation of new benches, and boulevard lights. Suberví announced that the works would be extended to kilometer 12, at the Haina/San Cristobal intersection.

Siesta - the best anti-stress medicine
Dominicans should heed recommendations of health experts in Canada who stress the importance of the siesta. The siesta as a Dominican tradition is slowly declining as employees avoid going home for lunch in order to avoid traffic jams. A large number of Dominicans, though, are still able to enjoy a siesta. Press reports indicate that the Canadian Pacific Railway and Nova Corporation have habilitated areas where their employees can nap. The Canadian Dream Institute of Calgary says that a daily nap of 20 minutes is the best anti-stress medicine.

Police force of women military to watch over public schools
The Minister of the Armed Forces, Admiral Ruben Paulino Alvarez, announced that 400 women army officers will be transferred to the National Police following a request made to this end by Chief of the Police, Mayor General Jose Aníbal Sanz Jiminián. The women will make up a new police force that will be assigned to public schools. In recent months violence has sprouted in schools, several of which have been affected by neighborhood gangs.

On the J.F. Kennedy bus corridor
The director of the Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET), engineer Hamlet Hermann, announced that the John F. Kennedy Avenue bus lane will operate in a manner similar to that of the Av. 27 de Febrero. Engineer Hermann had originally said the bus lane would be located in the center of the expressway. He now says the buses will circulate across from the sidewalks as occurs on the 27 de Febrero bus lane.
The John F. Kennedy bus lane will service passengers going from Los Alcarrizos all the way to San Isidro, east of Santo Domingo.

Marketing expert in Santo Domingo
Philip Kotler, renown author, professor and speaker, visited Santo Domingo last week to participate in the V Marketing Congress of the Universidad Catolica de Santo Domingo. This is the second time that Mr. Kotler visits Santo Domingo to participate in the university marketing week.

Hospitals expected to be back in service by March
The government is promising that three of the largest public hospitals (Padre Billini, Maternidad Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia and Luis E. Aybar) in Santo Domingo, now closed for major remodelling and maintenance works, will soon be ready. Once they are back in service, the government will carry out repairs at the Dario Contreras, Francisco Moscoso Puello and Rodolfo de la Cruz Lora hospitals.

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