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Daily News - Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Fernandez wants bills passed
President Leonel Fernandez met with Senate president Reynaldo Pared Perez and Chamber of Deputies head Julio Cesar Valentin and urged both leaders to approve pending bills in Congress. The President lobbyied for the passing of the bills for the recapitalization of the Central Bank and the criminalization of electricity theft. The IMF has requested these bills prior to a review of the country's Letter of Intent.
Economic, Planning and Development Minister Temistocles Montas says that if the Senate approves the recapitalization of the Central Bank and the Criminalization of Electricity Theft bills this week, the IMF could review the country's Letter of Intent as soon as next week. Montas said that those two bills are the only hurdles the DR has before they can sit with the directory board of the IMF.

Preval visiting DR
Haitian President Rene Preval is scheduled to visit tomorrow from 11 am on an official state visit. He will have lunch with President Leonel Fernandez and will attend an event at Funglode, the President's think tank. Funglode tomorrow will celebrate the 100th birthday of Haitian author, Jacques Roumain with the presentation of a documentary on his life and a conference on his works. The events are programmed for 7 pm and admission is free and open to the general public. Preval will be arriving with Jaques Edouard Alexis, the Haitian foreign relations minister, and a delegation of high-ranking government officials.

A peaceful strike
The national strike, which was sponsored by the Alternative Social Forum (FSA), ended with a noticeable decrease in commercial activities throughout the country, as city streets were unusually calm as most people went about only essential business. Reports of disturbances or acts of violence were the exception. The National Business Council (CONEP) estimates that 35% of industry workers did not go to work. Listin Diario writes that the work stoppage was fulfilled by 70% of citizens in Santiago, the second largest city. The strike was ignored in the southeast and eastern parts of the country where there is full employment and major concentration of tourism businesses.. Leaders of the strike called the day a success. Professor Maria Teresa Cabrera, spoke on behalf of the FSA and said that the success of the strike can be measured by the fact that outside by that provided by the OMSA buses there was very little public transport and many businesses closed due to the lack of clients. FSA leaders, quoted in Hoy, said that they would continue organizing strikes until things in the government responds to the demands.
When interviewed by journalists, president of the Senate Reynaldo Pared Perez also told journalists that Monday's protest in Listin Diario was politically-motivated because it was organized by a group that opposes the government.
Julio Cesar Valentin, president of the Chamber of Deputies, said that the strike should call all sectors, including the government, to adopt a national agenda in line with the real possibilities of the nation.
National Police Chief Bernardo Santana Paez classified the general strike as orderly and said it was a peaceful demonstration. Diario Libre is reporting that police shot 5 persons in San Francisco and Santiago and that Rafael de Jesus Torres Tavarez was shot and killed in Navarrete. Listin Diario writes that the victim, a 33 year night watchman and taxi driver, was shot by the military in an unexplained happening late at night.

DR, Cuba begin trade talks
Yesterday the DR and Cuba officially began negotiations to formalize a free trade agreement. Trade is increasing between both nations and the agreement is regarded as a way to facilitate trade, as reported in Hoy. Bertha Verdura, who is in charge of commercial affairs at the Cuban Embassy, spoke to the press on occasion of the visit of a 36-company strong trade mission from Cuba. For the occasion, a trade exhibit is taking place through 13 July at the Dominican Fiesta Hotel. Verdura said that in the first quarter of this year trade between both nations is up 32%. Verdura highlighted the "excellent ties" between both nations and the fact that 500 Dominicans are currently studying in Cuba. The exhibition will also serve as a connector for Dominican exporters to access Cuban markets.

EPA with EU moving forward
Negotiations between the EU, the DR and CARICOM for an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) have entered their final stage with three rounds of talks scheduled between July and September, as reported in Diario Libre. The newspaper is also reporting that an agreement could be ready by October and could be signed by December of this year.

Unemployment high in the DR
The unemployment rate in the DR is 16.2%, double the average in Latin America that is 8.1%. Economic Minister Temistocles Montas, quoted in Hoy, says that the figures prove the outstanding economic development in the country has done little to create jobs. Montas made his comments during the the VIth Workshop on National Effectiveness in Development and Management of Results, that is sponsored by the Inter American Development Bank (IDB). Montas says that the country is far from reaching the Millenium Development Goals and that in the DR the 20% richest families receive 14 times higher incomes than the poorest 20% of families. Montas says that public spending should increase as a way to combat this trend.

Sexual harrasment at universities
UASD professors deny that there is an increase of sexual harassment at the university and claim that female students dress provocatively to get better grades on assignments. UCSD dean Ramon Alonso said that the situation should be monitored carefully and said that it could be construed as mutual sexual tension or harassment. Education Minister Alejandrina German said that sexual harassment in the educational system will not be tolerated. Professors Miguel Pouerie, Juan de la Cruz, Roberto Byas, Francisco Acosta and HEctor Ortiz said that there are isolated cases at the UASD but its not a big phenomenon, though Pouerie did say that in terms of sexual harassment body language should be analyzed because he claims that some women do use their bodies to get what they want. He says that sometimes female students dress provocatively and stand very close to professors making insinuations in order to get better grades. He says that it hass happened to him and that students would then ask, "Do you think I'll pass this class?"

Dominicans have lots of phones
According to Dominican Telecommunications Institutes head Jose Rafael Vargas, 64.7% of Dominicans have their own telephones, of which 54.8% are cell phones. He continued by pointing out that in the DR there are 5 cell phones to every wired phone (LAN lines), and that this is a common trend in Latin America. He explained this is because of the widespread pre-paid phone plans that facilitate even the indigent getting a phone. Santo Domingo represents 78.2% of LAN lines and 68.6% of the nation's cell phones. In the capital city there are 117 cell phones per 100 persons and only 42 LAN lines per 100 persons.

Vlad wins All Stars derby
Dominican Vladimir Guerrero won last nights Century 21 Home Run Derby held at San Francisco's AT&T Park. Guerrero became the third Dominican to win the annual All Star Derby. Sammy Sosa was first to wins in 2000 and Miguel Tejada won in 2005. Another Dominican, Albert Pujols once made it all the way to the semi-finals but lost out by one homerun.
Guerrero hit a few towering shots but his longest blast was 503 feet to left center field.
In tonight's 78th mid-season classic 10 Dominicans will be on the field playing at some point and five Dominicans have the honor of being starters. Alex Rodriguez, Vlad Guerrero, Big Papi David Ortiz, Placido Polanco and Jose Reyes will all be starting for the American League.

Five on Latin Legends team
Five Dominicans have been named to the ESPNdeportes/MLB-sponsored Latin Legends Team. Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, Juan Marichal, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were selected to the 12-man squad. The vote was divided up among fans, media experts and a panel of ESPN voters and the team represents the best Latino baseball players of all time. Puerto Ricans Ivan Rodriguez, Bernie Williams and Roberto Clemente made the team along with Venezuelans Omar Vizquel and Johan Santana and Panamanians Rod Carew and Mariano Rivera.

Horford signs for big cash
Puerto Plata-born Al Horford has officially become a NBA player after signing a two-year US$6.5 million contract with the Atlanta Hawks. The first two years of the contract are guaranteed and the Hawks have an option for a third year. Horford, who was selected 3rd in last month's draft, has signed the largest contract of any Dominican in the history of the sport.

Super Felix comes in 3rd
Track and Field star Felix Sanchez came in 3rd in a race in Padua, Italy. Sanchez clipped the 9th hurdle in the 400-meter race and that was enough to allow winner Michael Tinsley to jump into the lead. Sanchez says he won't make the same mistake again when he travels to Rome next Friday. Sanchez says he is ready to defend his 2003 gold medal in the Pan American Games later this month in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Sanchez said he felt no pain in his ankles, which is important for Sanchez who has been continuously injured for the last 2 years.
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