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Daily News - Friday, 21 December 2007

DR1 takes holiday break
DR1 Daily News will not be updated on Monday, 24 December or Tuesday, 25 December as it breaks for the Christmas holiday. The DR1 Forums will remain open 24/7 for any breaking news and commentaries, and the Daily News will be updated beginning Wednesday, 26 December.
See www.dr1.com/forums

Happy Holidays!
Traffic has stepped up in major cities as city residents scramble for last minute shopping and preparations for family and friends gathering for Christmas. Meanwhile, as is traditional, the usual office and business deals have slowed down, as Christmas parties, vacationing and shopping become the priority.
In Santo Domingo, the city is presenting a free merengue show on the Malecon, this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with performances by Kinito Mendez, Pochy Familia and Krisspy, among others in the Eugenio Maria de Hostos park area.
Fernando Villalona is on stage this evening at the Jet Set disco on Ave. Independencia for a RD$400 cover.
For the younger set, there is a free hip-hop performance at the Plaza Marina across from the Ozama River on Saturday afternoon.
The free Santo Domingo Cathedral Christmas carols concert is being held on Tuesday, 25 December at 8pm. Anyone wishing to attend this very popular event needs to get to the Colonial City church no later than 7pm to get a seat for the concert, which is also televised. The Cathedral now has a brand new air conditioning system.

AILA expects many travelers
Authorities at Las Americas International Airport (AILA) are expecting an estimated 249,036 to pass through the airport this holiday season. Diario Libre writes that travelers bringing gifts valued at US$2,500 or less will be exempt from paying taxes on those items. This government concession is for Dominicans who travel back to the DR during the holiday season.

Edesur: There will be light
The power distribution companies are promising to do their bit for a bright Christmas. Edesur has announced that it will provide its customers with uninterrupted power service during the Christmas holiday. The continuous power service will begin on 24 December at 5pm, lasting until 6am 25 December. Edesur will provide the same service from 31 December through 1 January 2008.

Police patrol streets
Chief of Police Mayor General Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin announced that during the Christmas and New Year celebrations 15,000 police officers would be patrolling the streets to control crime during the holiday season. He said this includes 3,165 new recruits. Fermin said that 1,095 police officers would help AMET traffic police, 400 would be on foot patrol, 3,006 would be responsible for citizen security and 1,670 would be used as auxiliary agents. Fermin spoke during a ceremony where the National Police were assigned 36 new motorbikes and 4 new pickup trucks for the National Police and Tourism Police (Politur) patrols to improve security in tourist areas. Also, the Police received 10 OMSA buses that will be used to transport police officers.

US Ambassador visits JCE
Central Electoral Board president Julio Cesar Castanos Guzman said that new US Ambassador to the DR Paul Robert Fannin visited the JCE yesterday to hear their concerns about the staging of the next presidential elections in the light of the lower than expected budget allocation that was assigned to the JCE for 2008. Fannin was accompanied by Embassy officials Roland Bullen, Peter Hemsch, William Brands and Lissett Dumit. Castanos said that the ambassador asked the simple question of what impact not having the requested budget would have on the next elections. JCE officials have been lobbying for an increase in the JCE's allocation of RD$2.5 billion, a significantly lower sum than the requested RD$7.8 billion to mount the 2008 elections and all scheduled projects for 2008. Hacienda Minister Vicente Bengoa has said the budget would be approved as is.

New jail for Santiago
The Attorney General's office has announced that it will construct a new jail in Guatapanal, south of Santiago. AG Radhames Jimenez explained that the new RD$300 million jail would replace the Rafey jail that was partially destroyed by TS Olga and the flooding of the Yaque del Norte River. Jimenez added that the land for the new jail was being donated by the Dominican Agrarian Institute. The jail will have capacity for housing 1,200 prisoners.

Drivers begin to get subsidize fuel
The authorities began distributing subsidized fuel to drivers yesterday. The subsidized fuel will benefit a total of 4,000 selected trucking transporters and 30,000 selected passenger transporters. Diario Libre writes that the Ministry of Industry and Commerce is distributing the fuel to gas stations controlled by the transport cartels through the Pelicano Company. Industry and Commerce officials are supervising the process. The subsidized fuel is part of a cost savings plan announced by President Leonel Fernandez by which drivers would get one million gallons of subsidized fuel per month in order to keep cargo and passenger transport prices stable.

Bottoms Up!
Beginning tonight the alcohol decree, which limits the sale of alcohol throughout the DR, will be lifted allowing alcohol to be sold at the discretion of club and bar owners. The decree will be back in effect on 1 January 2008. The lifting of the decree is welcome news for some bar and club owners who have asked officials to loosen restrictions on the decree. Earlier this year officials partially complied allowing 300 establishments to stay open until 3am on weekends and 1am on weekdays.

Juan Luis Guerra doing his part
The Juan Luis Guerra Foundation has handed out food, medicine and toys to people affected by TS Noel and Olga. The supplies were donated by Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin and were handed out in Las Canitas area of Santo Domingo as well as the Robert Reid Cabral Children's Hospital. Listin Diario reports that the donations are worth US$40,000.

Baseball updates
It took a shot from Joel Guzman to keep the Estrellas tied in fourth place during this year's final push towards the playoffs. Guzman hit a grand slam in the sixth inning yesterday to help the Estrellas to an 11-5 victory over the Azucareros. In other baseball news, the Gigantes kept their tight grip on the league's top spot by shutting out the Aguilas 1-0. Finally, Escogido, behind the arm of starter Nerio Rodriguez, beat up on inter-city rivals Licey with a score 5-1. With this win Escogido moved a step closer to a spot in the post-season mix. Although it would take a complete collapse on the part of the Aguilas there is a slight possibility that the only team representing the Cibao region in the post-season could be the Gigantes.
Current Standings
Team Win Lost Percent Games Behind
Gigantes 28 17 .636 --
Licey 27 18 .600 1.5
Aguilas 21 24 .467 7.5
Escogido 21 25 .456 8.0
Estrellas 21 25 .456 8.5
Azucareros 18 28 .400 10.5
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