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Daily News - 24 July 1998

Dominicans pay RD$222 million to rice producers
The Dominican government paid rice mill owners and rice producers RD$222 million cancelling a long standing debt. President Leonel Fernández called out that common sense and dialogue may prevail in order for all sectors to seek solutions to the nation's problems. During the meeting where they received the payment, the producers guaranteed that the next rice harvest would reach 4.4 million quintals, or 15% more than the 1997 harvest.

Power plants to go out for maintenance
One of the units of the largest power park of the nation, the 210 megawatt Los Minas, will be out of service over for the next five days for maintenance works. The disconnecting of Unit VI of the Los Minas power park will increase the electricity deficit and bring about an increase in blackouts. Power generation has improved since the May, but maintenance work required for major plants is forecast to bring back the days of eight hour blackouts in the fall months. The Los Minas Unit VI plant produces 105 megawatts. The announcement was made by the operations manager of the Dominican Power, the company that operates the plant. He said that as soon as maintenance works for Unit VI are completed, sister plant Los Minas Unit V will be also taken off line for maintenance. The CDE has scheduled major maintenance works for large government plants for the fall.

PRD gives rebelling members a second chance
The president of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), Enmanuel Esquea Guerrero said yesterday that the party looked the other way when a group of PRD deputies disobeyed the party order to not participate in congressional sessions until the new 16 August congress opens. But he said that congressmen continuing to attend the sessions will be expelled from the party, such as occurred with the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Hector Peguero Méndez. Peguero Méndez, a re-elected deputy, has rebelled against party guidelines. On a first day after his expulsion, 26 PRD deputies defied the party order to not attend congressional sessions until the new congress opens 16 August. Yesterday, 13 PRD deputies returned to the session. There was not sufficient quorum, though, to be able to modify the chamber's ruling and allow for a secret vote. A secret vote would increase Peguero Méndez's chances of being re-elected president of the Chamber of Deputies, against the PRD party leadership decision that Winston Arnaud be presented by the party as candidate to president of the Chamber of Deputies. The PRD is majority in both congressional houses.
With a quorum of 64 legislators of a possible 120, the Chamber of Deputies met yesterday. Among the bills passed is one that creates the Consejo Provincial de Energía of the province of Puerto Plata. Another, Law 6097, establishes obligatory retirement for physicians working in public hospitals at 65 years old.

M.I.M protests delay of gold mine bid process
Alejandro Losada, general manager of M.I.M. Holdings Limited, an Australian firm that has bid for the Rosario Dominicana gold mine exploitation, denounced that sectors with influence within the government seek to delay the bid in order to continue benefitting from the present situation. He said the company has decided to maintain their bid, but close their office here upon the announcement that the Central Bank would delay the process another six months. He said the company has already invested over US$14 million in its bid.
The Central Bank delegated the process to Salomon Brothers, but the bidding process has not gone as scheduled, due to sectors that apparently favor one or another sector and feel by delaying the process they will be favored. The Central Bank Governor Hector Valdez Albizu announced yesterday at the American Chamber of Commerce that the winner of the bid would be known in six months.
The three remaining contenders for the exploitation of the sulphide deposits in Cotuí are from Canada, the United States and Australia. Henry Kissinger has visited with President Fernández on behalf of the U.S. firm.

Major tragedy in Midtown NY
Hoy newspaper reports that for moments passersby in the Midtown area of Manhattan witnessed what seemed more a scene from the "Godzilla" film than reality. Tons of steel and brick collapsed on the senior citizens home, Hotel Woodstock. The 12 floor building was buried under debris caused when a rain of construction materials fell after the collapse of an elevator. A woman denied buried under the debris, and 12 other persons were injured. The 82 year old woman, Teresa Feliciano, died while surprised when watching television. Emergency forces, firemen, police and paramedics evacuated the seven buildings in the area, including the building where the Dominican Consulate is located. The tragedy occurred around 8:25 am causing hundreds to run for their lives.
The tragedy occurred when an elevator used to bring up construction materials collapsed. One of the parts of the towers that held the elevator caved in, causing the accident that resulted in a domino effect where giant beams of steel and other construction material later collapsed.
The office building where the Dominican Consulate is located, at 1501 Broadway and 43rd St., of 23 floors was evacuated. 70 corporations, banks and international business are located within that building and all personnel was evacuated. Next door is the editing of the New York Times. It was expected work to be back to normal at the Consulate today.
A large area of Times Square and Sixth Avenue was covered by construction material. Major construction works are taking place in this area that is being renovated.

Extradited Dominican gets 50 year sentence
Francisco Medina, known as Freddy Krueger, reached an agreement with New York judicial authorities and accepted a sentence of 50 years. He declared himself guilty on 18 counts, including 14 murders between 1990 and 1995. Medina said he first killed when he was 26 years old. He admitted to drug dealing in Manhattan and Bronx, explaining that he received US$1,000-US$3,000 for each assassination as an incentive from his bosses. News reports say that the Dominican has no relative in the U.S. His lawyer felt that Medina should have gone to trial, but explained that his client chose to declare himself guilty to all counts to get through with the matter. He was extradited last year from the DR to the United States. Medina could be released for good behavior from jail at 76 years old. He was exempt from the death penalty as per an agreement with Dominican authorities.

Firestone materials not used on Palacio de los Deportes renovation
The company that represents Firestone products in the Dominican Republic says that it is not true that that material is being used in the remodeling of the Palacio de los Deportes, the principal basketball sports arena of the city of Santo Domingo. In a visit to the Listín Diario, Diego Martínez, of Qualitek said that the contractors have lied to the nation when they have said they are using the material in their renovation. He said that the contractors are using a material known as Giscolene, manufactured by the Spanish firm Gisconsa. He said there is no such thing as a consortium Giscosa-Firestone. He denied what appeared in a journalistic report whereby the contractors, Eng. Nelson Morrison says that the works being carried out have a guarantee of 20 years, and a possible life span of 50 years, guaranteed by Firestone and Giscosa. He said it is not true what Eng. Morrison told the press, that some 10,716 square meters of Firestone material has been used. Martínez said the company is considering taking legal action. He said that Morrison should make a public clarification that he has not used Firestone materials and is incorrectly using the name of the prestigious companies.

Dominicans get good start at World Baseball Games
The Dominicans Republic has yet to loose a game in the World Baseball Series taking place in Italy. Dominicans defeated Panama. Cuba is also without losses, defeating South Korea yesterday. Sixteen teams from six continents, playing 68 games in 11 cities across Italy over the next two weeks make the series a true world baseball series. Cuba is the favorite, having won every one of the 21 tournaments the team has entered since 1952. The Cuban team has the advantage that it gathers many of the best players of Cuba, while in competing countries the players have preferred to join money-making leagues, such as is the case of Dominicans and the U.S. Major Leagues.
The DR and Cuba are in Group A, together with Italy, China, Japan, Panama and South Africa. The United States is in Group B along with the Netherlands, South Korea, Russia, Nicaragua, Taiwan, Australia and Canada.
Although professionals are being allowed for the first time, no U.S. major leaguers are taking part.

Use your Visa card to gamble on the Internet
A report on the Internet says that a company, licensed in the Dominican Republic, Internet Casino Sports Gaming, has become the first Internet gaming operation to issue VISA and MasterCard debit cards. Gamblers may establish an account by applying for a card on the company's Web sites or by phone, and if approved, must deposit a minimum of $1,250 to back that debit card. Winnings will be deposited in the account. Players may not spend beyond the limits of their debit card deposits and their winnings.
Joseph Gallagher, in a company press release, says that the card service is a guarantee of protection of the player's funds.
As announced, the Internet Casino Sports Gaming will launch its first online casino within 40 days - http://www.TheGambler.com. The company is in the process of signing up players and accepting applications for the VISA and MasterCard debit cards on the Web site and over the phone. Already in place is the firm's Dominican Republic casino sports book service accessed via 888 number -- 888/227-2200.
In addition to offering video poker, roulette, slots and blackjack, www.TheGambler.com Casino and Sportsbook will accept overseas wagers on football, basketball, boxing, baseball, soccer, hockey, tennis, horse racing, auto racing and golf. I.C.S.G. will be the first online gaming service to offer wagering on professional golf. The firm's software designers have developed a process for speedy downloading of its online casinos.
``It is time for Internet gaming to join the established forms of wagering in this country - horse racing, legalized casinos, card clubs and riverboats - in certain standards of customer service,'' said Gallagher.

Off-shore gambler pleads guilty
A United Press International news wire reports that a New Jersey man pleaded guilty to running an illegal gambling business located in the DR that took bets on sporting events over the Internet and on the phone. U.S. prosecutors took Lawrence Stofan to court for his Global Sports Network charging him with federal gambling. He could face 5 years in prison and a fine of at least $250,000 when sentenced on October 26.

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