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Daily News - Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Costa Rica gets UN seat
The Dominican Republic learned a lesson in international diplomacy yesterday as Costa Rica easily defeated the DR's bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. After two resounding votes (116-72 and 119-70), which barely failed to achieve the two-thirds majority needed for election, the Dominican delegation withdrew its candidacy, and left the field open for Costa Rica. In the third round of voting the Central American country won the seat by a vote of 179-1. This will be Costa Rica's third term on the Security Council. The other Latin American country represented on the council is Panama, whose term expires in January 2009. The Dominican Republic's hopes for a chance at the seat at that time are dim, since Mexico has already announced its intention to pursue it.

Deputies approve amendment with Argo
The Chamber of Deputies has approved an amendment covering the loan agreement with the Argo Fund Ltd., which paves the way for a restructuring of the foreign debt with the Paris Club, which is a little over US$33 million. The favorable report from the Treasury's Permanent Senate Commission revealed that some of the bilateral restructuring agreements had been ratified after the agreed date, which led to a lawsuit by Agro Fund Ltd. The approval of the amendment will open the way for the reactivation of the agreements and a suspension of the lawsuit.

Treasury slow to pay clinics
The president of the National Association of Private Hospitals and Clinics (ADECLIP) announced last night that the Social Security System treasury has not paid for the services provided during the first month of the Family Health Insurance program (SFS). According to Rafael Mena, the outstanding sum is in the millions of pesos. The association president said that he had received dozens of calls from association members complaining that the HMOs had not paid their invoices. Payments were due over a week ago.

Almeyda denies lack of control
Minister of the Interior and Police, Franklin Almeyda, has told reporters that the latest incidents in barrios supposedly under the control of the "Barrio Seguro" program did not reflect any reduction in the program's effectiveness. Gang shootouts over the weekend in the Santo Domingo barrio of Capotillo resulted in four deaths. In the minister's opinion, what happened in Capotillo could have happened anywhere, "even in Gazcue" (a middle class neighborhood). Almeyda told reporters that "this (the safe barrios program) is a process, and we are hoping that the local population and the media will cooperate." The minister emphasized that it was not possible to eradicate crime from one day to the next. Incensed, Almeyda pointed out that the person who had made critical comments in the media was one Abel Rojas, "known as a rock thrower and tire burner". Almeyda said that the Capotillo Development Council was taking an active part in the Safe Barrio program.

Cemetery decree reverse requested
The Chamber of Deputies approved a legislative proposal to request the Executive Branch to withdraw Decree 1130-03, which authorizes the development of a cemetery on lands within the Mirador Norte National Park limits. The legislation was drafted by PLD Yuderka Ivelesse de la Rosa Guerrero, who argued that the park is a public asset and important natural resource that the former administration forgot about when it placed private interests above the public interest. The attempt to install a cemetery was initiated during the Mejia administration, and the case was taken to the Supreme Court which found the deal in contravention of the Constitution. In 2004 the Environmental Management office fined the cemetery management company RD$245,000 for damages done when the project was started without the necessary permits. Local residents have strongly opposed the cemetery project from the outset.

Parties reject JCE rules
The three main political parties in the Dominican Republic have rejected the set of rules that were proposed by the Central Electoral Board (JCE) as parameters for the May 2008 elections. The parties accused the JCE of overstepping its legal job description, designing a set of rules that, according to the parties, violate both the Constitution and Electoral Law. The PLD and the PRD warned the election tribunal that most of the controversial proposals modified the electoral law, but the law itself only allows for complementing the law. The PRSC pointed out the aspects of the regulations that it considers to be at odds with the Constitution, particularly those dealing with the beginning and end of the campaigns themselves, the right to correct mistakes and the rules on public meetings.

Tit for tat
The hullabaloo over the appearance of a military officer, albeit dressed in civilian clothes, in a political ad for the current President, has brought to light the existence of many other professionals who also serve in the armed forces. As sort of a "tit for tat" retaliation against the PRD party, which had exposed the first incident, Presidential Administrative Minister Luis Bonetti told reporters that the head of one of PRD candidate Miguel Vargas Maldonado's campaign teams was also a member of the armed forces. Noted neurosurgeon and international sports figure Jose Joaquin Puello holds the rank of colonel and receives a monthly check for RD$27,000 for his service at the Central Armed Forces Hospital and at the San Isidro Air Base. Puello is the country's leading neurosurgeon and a former president of the DR Olympic Committee.

Prosecutor accuses two in BC death
The Santo Domingo prosecutor's office has formally charged two young men of murdering an Italian man, Mauricio Banci, in Boca Chica. Cousins Omar Santana Perdomo, 18, and Pedro Luis Perdomo, 20, were formally charged with killing Banci during a robbery at the home of Orlando Sabatini, another Italian who was wounded in the attack. A third cousin, David Manuel Espinosa Perdomo has turned himself in and will be charged shortly. Both accused were sent to La Victoria Prison for at least 12 months of preventive custody. At the same time, El Nuevo Diario reports that Valentin del Rosario Lara has been charged with the murder of yet another Italian, Marino Magenaly, also in Boca Chica. According to police source del Rosario and a 15-year old accomplice waited for Magenaly outside his house where he was attacked and killed. The thieves took a television set, a cellphone and the man's wallet. Initial reports over the weekend tended to confuse the two cases.

AIDS vaccine fails to work
The search for an effective vaccine against the AIDS virus will continue, but the latest STEP trial, a Phase III trial, has revealed that the current Adenovirus 05 is not effective. Seventy of the 3,000 volunteers worldwide have become infected with HIV. Merck & Co, the sponsors of the trials, has suspended the drug trials. Jaycy Donastorg, Merck's principal researcher for the drug trials in the Dominican Republic, told Diario Libre reporters that none of the 78 Dominicans who took part in the trial had contracted the disease. She also mentioned that the study included volunteers whose sexual conduct exposed them to a greater risk of infection. While there will be no new vaccinations, according to Donastorg, the study will continue to monitor the volunteers. So far, over 21 years, more than 30 vaccines have been tried against the HIV virus.

All labels to be in Spanish
As of 21 November, Dominican consumers should find their shelves lined with products in Spanish labeling. The supermarket chains will be responsible for ensuring that the regulation is implemented. The Office of Weights and Measures (Digenor) says that this labeling will allow people to identify foods that are safe to consume.

Customs accuses two in money case
The two individuals accused of carrying US$250,000 in cash on their persons with the aim of taking it out of the country have been formally accused of money smuggling by the Director General of Customs. Juan Carlos Genao Dorrejo and Guillermo Martinez Gil were formally charged with trying to take the money to Panama. Genao Dorrejo, who supposedly has an impediment on leaving the country in place since 29 June 2005, left the country two weeks ago through Las Americas International Airport. The man has also been convicted twice on contraband charges.

Dominicans in US grow and grow
The number of Dominicans born in the United States is on the rise according to the Quisqueya Foundation. US-born Dominicans now comprise 40% of the total Dominican population in the US. According to Frank Valenzuela and Hector Frias, between 2000 and 2006 the Dominican population born in the United States grew from 345,000 to 549,000. The foundation's study also reveals that 53% of Dominicans live in New York, 14% in New Jersey, 12% in Florida and 7% in Massachusetts.

Baseball supplement
The Dominican Winter Baseball League gets under way tonight in Santo Domingo, Santiago and La Romana. Listin Diario has published a Baseball Supplement that contains pictures, short stories and a complete calendar for the 2007-2008 season. Given the fact that Santiago will host this year's Caribbean Series, the tournament is especially important for the great rivals, Licey and the Aguilas.
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