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Daily News - Thursday, 10 May 2007

New natural gas plant
President Leonel Fernandez was in Boca Chica yesterday to inaugurate the country's first natural gas compression and distribution plant, a Linea Clave operation. The plant was constructed at a cost of US$10 million. Natural gas for use by the plant will be imported and stored by the AES Andres Company at their storage facilities also in the Punta Caucedo area. Linea Clave president Ricardo Canalda explained that there are plans to convert 140,000 vehicles to run on natural gas. President Fernandez commented that 40,000 official vehicles could be converted to run on natural gas. Natural gas is cheaper, produces less contamination and is more efficient. Linea Clave spokesmen indicated that natural gas costs 7% less than fuel oil, 48% less than diesel, 24% less than subsidized propane, 48% less than non-subsidized propane and 66% less than gasoline.

Don't use LMD funds
The Administrative Chamber of the Central Electoral Board (JCE) has warned PRSC pre-presidential candidate Amable Aristy Castro against using Dominican Municipal League (LMD) funds for any political activity and is ordering Aristy to return RD$100,000 to the LMD. The funds are for the printing of a booklet that included the name of the DML and promotes Aristy's election bid. Through resolution 008-2007 the JCE is ordering Aristy to use his own funds to promote his presidential aspirations and not use LMD funds. The LMD is the government body that oversees the funding of city governments nationwide.
Judge Roberto Rosario signed the resolution that states that Aristy must deposit at the JCE documentation to prove that he used private, and not public funds, for his campaign.

Too much money for politics
The political parties PLD, PRSC, PRI along with the Central Electoral Board (JCE) are supporting Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez's proposal that the state stop funding political campaigns. Lopez Rodriguez also called for the campaign period to be limited to two weeks, instead of the official three month long campaign.
JCE head Julio Cesar Castanos Guzman says that Law 275-97 on campaign financing needs serious revision. Castanos clarified that the JCE gives parties 0.25% of all tax revenues in pre-election years and .50% of collections in the five months leading up to an election. Castanos said that by tying party funds to the tax collections, the parties receive a windfall in revenues that could be put to better use. This year the state will be handing out RD$296.8 million to the parties.
Orlando Jorge Mera of the PRD agrees with the proposal and says that next week the PRD will submit to Congress a bill for campaign finance reform. Federico Antun Batlle, president of the PRSC, said that the Cardinal's concern is valid. "The concern of the Cardinal is that so much money goes to politics instead of to combating poverty," said Antun. PRI's Trajano Santana criticized that the three majority parties receive 80% of the funds, while minority parties get only 20%. Every month, the PLD, PRD and PRSC receive RD$6.6 million, according to the report in the Listin.

DGII collects more money
During the first fourth months of the year the Tax Department (DGII) collected RD$46 billion, or RD$10.7 billion more than during the same period last year. This is a 30% increase in comparison to last year and RD$5.64 billion more than had been estimated. Income tax represented 43% of all taxes collected and 23% of taxes came from the ITBIS sales tax. Ten percent were from selective taxes, including taxes on alcohol, and other taxes represented 18% of tax collections. In April, the DGII collected RD$13.19 billion, or RD$2.94 billion more than in April 2006.

Conditioning renegoting generation
Energy generators EGE-Itabo and Dominican Power Group (DPP) are asking the government to pay US$60 million in compensation, the titles for the land where the plants are located and the cancellation of lawsuits by the State Run Electric Companies (CDEEE) as requirements to begin renegotiating conditions granted under the Madrid Accord signed during the Mejia government. Itabo is asking for US$15 million, payment of 100% of debts, a government guarantee for the payment of bills on time, payment of liquidation bills, cancellation of pending lawsuits and the transfer of property titles. DPP is asking for US$45 million in payment, a government guarantee for the payment of bills on time and tax exemption.
CDEEE head Radhames Segura said during a press conference that the companies also want tax exemption status from the National Congress. Palamara-La Vega, owned by Union Fenosa, said they would give up some of their rights in the Madrid Accord contracts if the CDEEE conceded recognition of transport charges and fuel charges, as well as maintenance costs.

Dominican Fiesta doesn't break rules
Ministry of Environment officials have determined that the noise levels emitted by the Dominican Fiesta Hotel are well within the legal limit, 58.3 decibels, and that they are complying by the rules. The limit is 60 decibels. Deputy Ministry Radhames Gonzalez completed the studies on Tuesday.

Air Dominicana announced
Tourism Minister Felix Jimenez announced that Air Dominicana will begin charter flights to Central America and the US in 2008 with a 737-800 plane. The company formation was announced yesterday. Juan Jose Hidalgo (Pepe), of Air Europa, was appointed president of the airline. Jimenez reported that most of funding for the airline is private, but the Dominican government will have a 40% stake in the company. Jimenez said that more private investment will be secured, and eventually the Dominican state could end up only investing between 25% and 30%. He explained that foreign capital will always be below 50% in order for the company to remain Dominican.

Destructive Dajabon "tornado"
The strong winds that passed through Dajabon Tuesday injured 38 people and damaged 225 homes, according to the Listin Diario. The "tornado" is also being blamed for knocking down trees and light posts as well as for damages to farms. Of the injured, 12 are military personnel and 26 are civilians. Government personnel are hard at work to clear roads and provide assistance. Stormy weather, nevertheless, is expected to continue throughout the country. The Center for Emergency Operations (COE) declared a state of emergency in Dajabon. COE has also called for a green alert in Santo Domingo, Santiago, Puerto Plata, San Francisco de Macoris, Trinidad Sanchez, Samana, Sanchez Ramirez, and Hato Mayor. Diario Libre reports that damages total US$150 million.

Cops sent to jail
A judge has sent the three police officers accused of killing three youths at the Duquesa dumps to jail for a year while prosecutors collect information and prepare for trial. The cops, who will be sent to Najayo, were taken to court at 7pm yesterday and waited while Santo Domingo prosecutor Perfecto Acosta arrived. The three officers were heavily guarded by the Dominican SWAT team. Hoy explains that the three officers appeared on the television talk show Hoy Mismo and handed themselves in. Once the program finished they were taken into police custody. The officers said once they explained they made their way to a motel, eventually moved to another motel and then decided to turn themselves in. The officers have maintained their innocence.

Saldana's hat at the Kentucky Derby
You know you are famous when a hat you wore has been auctioned off and this was the case for Dominican movie star, Zoe Saldana. Saldana's hat, which she wore to this year's Kentucky Derby, was auctioned off for a cool US$1,800. The funds went to the St. Judes Hospital to help children with Cancer. Saldana was invited to attend the event by Grey Goose Vodka and said that it was her first time at Derby, but it won't be her last.

Jaime Colson in Switzerland
The Embassy of the Dominican Republic in Switzerland, The Museum Bellapart and the Universal Postal Union welcome, for the first time in Switzerland, a retrospective exhibition of the Dominican contemporary painter, Jaime Colson (1901-1975). The exhibition will be open 16 May-15 June at the Universal Postal Union building in Berne, the capital of Switzerland. The showing coincides with the blooming of thousands of tulips on the grounds of the UPU headquarters, site of the 2007 International Peace Garden.
The Colson exhibition, on loan from the Bellapart Museum in Santo Domingo, features 36 paintings produced between 1919 and 1973 by this artist, acclaimed as the most important painter of the Dominican Republic. Jaime Colson, a passionate rebel at heart, whose life was an endless journey from country to country, experimented with many artistic styles, mainly cubism, surrealism and neoclassicism, all of which celebrate the human body, and are permeated with his strong native influence. This painter's European training and his American sensitivity have made him one of the leading artists of the Caribbean.
The exhibition is possible thanks to participation of the Ambassador Jose Ares and Minister Counsellor Juan Alcantara of the Embassy of the Dominican Republic in Switzerland and the sponsorship of Air Europe, DHL and Seguros Universal.

Rumors still haunt Sammy
Though the hopeful Hall of Fame slugger is continuing his comeback, it's not stopping Senator George J. Mitchell from including Sammy Sosa in his steroid investigation in Major League Baseball. Mitchell, who was chosen by Bud Selig last year to investigate the use of banned performance enhancing drugs (PED) in baseball is now asking for Sosa, and other high profile players like Rafael Palmeiro, to hand over medical records as part of the investigation. Though Sosa has testified under oath that he is innocent there still looms a cloud of suspicion over the slugger and his 595 career total homeruns. Diario Libre writes that of the 302 players suspended since MLB implemented its new drugs rules two years ago, 175 have been Dominican, almost 58%.

Dominican dinger derby
Dominican baseball players had a field day at the plate last night. Manny Ramirez and David "Big Papi" Ortiz, of the Boston Red Sox, both hit homeruns last night in Boston's 9-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. It was Ramirez's 476 career homerun and it was Ortiz's 8th of the season. Ortiz also batted in 4 RBI's.
Alfonso Soriano, one of baseball's highest paid players, hit a homerun in his first at bat for the Cubs only run. The dinger extended Soriano's consecutive RBI's game to 17.

Nine Dominicans among MLB's best
Nine Dominican players are considered among Major League Baseballs' best and most important figures. Albert Pujols, 1st base for the St. Louis Cardinals, heads the list. Other prominent Dominicans are Jose Reyes, Vladimir Guerrero (18), David Ortiz (20), Miguel Tejada (24), Robinson Cano (27), Alex Rodriguez (10), Hanley Ramirez (6), and Francisco Liviano (46).
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