Hello thank you for joining us for this week’s news report, I’m Blaire Phillips and these are the news highlights for the week of May 11, 2012.
Palau Nurses Make a Stand
In our breaking news, Palau’s entire hospital nursing staff went on “strike” today Friday May 11th, where they delivered a petition listing several demands to the Minister of Health. The last time a similar movement was organized in Palau by hospital nurses took place back in 1983, which led to a massive rally. During the event, the nurses, President, Minister of Health and Senates agreed to meet on Saturday May 12th to address the issues. Watch OTV and OTV2 er Kid for the full coverage after this report.
Palau’s Associate Justice Resigns
Associate Justice Alexandra Foster has tendered in her resignation to President Toribiong effective July 10. After four years of serving the Palau Supreme Court, Foster and her family decided that it was time to return back home to the United States. In her resignation letter Foster expressed that she leaves with great trepidation, as she does not know if she’ll ever enjoy her life or job as much as she has in Palau. Foster was appointed in 2008 by then President Remengesau to fill in the vacancy left by former Associate Justice Larry Miller. According to the Court, Foster had more involved trials and hearings and issued promptly more substantive opinions than the total combined number of similar opinions of the rest of the justices. With her resignation, the Court will be left with two Associate Justices Kate Salii and Lourdes Materne.
Court clears Oilouch of constitution and ethics violation
The Republic of Palau failed to prove that Senator Raynold Oilouch violated the Palau Constitution and the Ethics Act by working as an independent contractor for the Koror State Public Lands Authority while serving as a member of the Senate Office. In the 10-page decision, Chief Justice Ngiraklsong ruled that Oilouch is not a public employee and his work as an attorney for KSPLA is not a public employment therefore, he may serve both as a Senator and an attorney for KSPLA. President Toribiong responded to the Courts decision stating that although he respects the courts ruling, the government intends to appeal the decision, as the government believes public employment arises when the service is paid with public funds. Last year, the Senate Legal Counsel issued a legal opinion clearing Oilouch of any violations, however the Senate majority and the President’s Office launched an investigation, which led to the lawsuit filed by the Attorney General’s.
Laws to protect Pacific waters in process
In efforts to protect Pacific waters and its fisheries, the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency is working on drafting an agreement to deal with illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing in the Pacific region. The proposed agreement, which is expected to be finalized later this year will put a stop to boats fishing in restricted waters and fishermen catching types of fish which they shouldn’t. According to reports, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing is a major international concern with an estimated value of up to $150 million dollars a year, a significant lose to the Pacific. Once drafted, the agreement will need to be endorsed by the Pacific Island Forum Leaders. If the leaders endorse the agreement it will then come under the Niue treaty, which protects fishing in the region.
President highlights progress during his first term
In other news President Johnson Toribiong last week during his last State of the Republic Address highlighted several projects and goals achieved during his first term as President of the Republic of Palau. Among those achievements noted was the $250 million compact review agreement, which is still in progress, the recovery of the economy, increase of tourism, and the rise of employment opportunities among several others. Toribiong also went along to highlight some of the major achievements or progress undertaken by his ministries in terms of infrastructure, aquaculture, education, health, security and others. In closing, Toribiong emphasized the importance of a government working together to find solutions. Admitting that his administration faced a lot of challenges, he found other ways or other source of funding to move the nation forward. Serving his last year as President of the Republic of Palau in this current administration, Toribiong will once again run for the Office of the President in this upcoming election.
2012 Election Candidates Update
More people are now filing their petition with only few months left until the election. Here’s Rolynda Johnathan with more.
Palau, Marshall Islands head Asia/Pacific media freedom rankings
Palau and the Marshall Islands lead 40 nations in the Asia/Pacific region in media freedom, according to a global report issued last week. Of 197 nations rated globally, Palau ranked number 16 and the Marshall Islands ranked 17, said the Freedom House annual press freedom report. In Asia and the Pacific, Palau and the RMI ranked number one and two, respectively. President Christoper Loeak of Marshall Islands commented on the ranking saying that he absolutely supports freedom of press and welcomes free media. In the Asia/Pacific region, Pacific islands dominated the top 15 nations listed as having “free” media, with only New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Taiwan in the top portion of the 40 Asia/Pacific nations evaluated. Former Pacific Magazine publisher Floyd Takeuchi said history has shown that media freedom is central to the development of democratic institutions in all three of the independent nations in the Western Pacific.
Experts calls on the Pacific to value all species
Scientists, conservation practitioners, local and international experts called on the Pacific to make every effort to understand and value all plant and animal species during the recently concluded Pacific Islands Species Forum in Solomon Islands. During the Forum, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Oceania Regional Director reiterated Prime Minister of Solomon Islands’ call to the Pacific to take extraordinary action to ensure species and intact ecosystems are conserved and managed in a time of rapid development. More than 70 participants from around the Pacific shared information including results of implementation on the ground, data gaps, conservation needs and how regional policies can protect Pacific Island species. Presentations and discussions during the Forum also highlighted the devastating impact of invasive species. Nearly 70 percent of extinctions of Pacific Island land species have been caused by invasive species such as rats. The Forum also recognized that a great deal of work is already taken place in the research level to conserve and protect island species.
Red Cross Society terminates Chin again
Palau Red Cross Society has once again terminated Miriam Chin as its Executive Director. On May 6th, one week after Chin was scheduled to return back to work as ordered by the Court, the Red Cross Board of Directors released a statement confirming her termination. The board listed eight reasons why Chin was terminated which include lack of transparency and accountability, and insubordination. The Board further explained that although Chin was reinstated to her post by the Court, the Board was not removed from exercising its powers including terminating the Executive Director again. Santy Asanuma Chairman of the Board of Directors stated that Mary Ann Delemel is still appointed as the Acting Executive Director of Red Cross and any transactions made by Chin as the Red Cross Executive Director is invalid. The board originally terminated Chin in 2010, which led to a series of events and lawsuits from both sides. On April 16, Justice Materne ordered Chin’s reinstatement back to Red Cross and also ordered Red Cross to pay her back salary since August of 2010. At the meantime, the Board is currently in the process of filing for an appeal on Materne’s ruling.
Increase of Plastic Waste in the North Pacific
Small fragments of plastic waste floating in the North Pacific has increased significantly over the past 40 years according to scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The scientists revealed that the plastic has added millions of hard surface to the ocean. According to the research, plastic discarded into the ocean that does not sink will eventually break down into pieces. Aside from its possible long-term impacts on the Pacific Ocean and concerns over marine organism ingesting these fragments, scientists also found that the fragments make it easier for marine insects to lay their eggs. The report also revealed that about nine percent of fish collected during the study had plastic waste inside their stomachs. The study estimated that fish in the North Pacific Ocean might be ingesting roughly 24,000 tonnes of plastic each year. The North Pacific Gyre tends to retain ocean debris such as plastic due to its natural water circulation, the area is popularly known as “garbage patches”. Scientists continue to study the area to determine the effects the debris has on the ocean’s natural ecosystem.
Stop TB & PITCA meeting in Palau
In efforts to ultimately eliminate tuberculosis in the Pacific, health officials from around the region including international health organizations gathered in Palau for the first ever Stop TB & PITCA conference.
And now here’s Yalap Yalap for this week’s environmental update from the Palau Conservation Society.
Research lab opens in RMI, others to open in the Pacific
Beginning this summer, high school students will be able to work on biology experiments alongside College of Marshall Islands faculty at its newly established Short Term Education Program for Underrepresented Persons or STEP-UP research training laboratory. The STEP-UP program provides a short-term research education and training for high students in communities that are underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral research such as the Pacific. US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in collaboration with the University of Hawaii are working to develop the Pacific STEP-UP program by establishing research labs in the Pacific such as the lab at CMI. Laboratories at local colleges in American Samoa, CNMI and Palau are now being established. University of Hawaii faculty is also conducting local workshops at each college to train potential STEP-UP mentors on how to use lab equipments and research techniques. Through this program, NIH hope to increase the number of students committed to a career in biomedical research, students who will bring the benefits of cutting edge medical sciences to the Pacific.
Australia hosts International Television Conference
More than 800 delegates from 30 countries around the globe are participating in 2012’s Input Sydney television conference, the world’s most free thinking television event. During the event, participants will screen and debate around 80 hours of programming from different genres with producers, editors, broadcasters and other TV executives. Television producers and programmers from the Pacific region also joined the conference including OTV’s Executive Producer, and representatives from Fiji TV, Tonga Broadcasting Commission, Samoa, and Papua New Guinea. Delegates from the Pacific also had the opportunity to address important social and national issues through the Pacific Forum on Public Interest Television event. According to Input Sydney officials, the event was designed to facilitate networking between content producers and broadcast executives in a stimulating, accessible and entertaining environment. The event was scheduled to conclude on Friday May 11th.
Kwajalein base cuts staff
The U.S Military is cutting back staff at its missile-testing site in the Marshall Islands. As the US Army implements new contracting requirements more people have been let go. According to reports, Marshall Island officials have asked the Army command at Kwajalein to do its best to reassign Marshallese employees. Over the past four years, the base has experienced budget and personnel cuts, reducing the Marshallese workforce significantly. Although the base continues to implement personnel and budget cutbacks, Acting Public Affairs Officer for the Army stated that US Army has recently added nearly a dozen new construction jobs and will assist Marshallese workers who wish to apply for these jobs.
Young women perpetuate dying art
A group of young Marshallese women are successfully perpetuating a cultural skill that was in danger of dying out just a few years ago. University of the South Pacific recognized the group of women for completing a six-month jaki-ed or fine mat-weaving course at the USP Campus. First Lady called the training program “a milestone” that will encourage other young women to take up conventional ways of earning a living while contributing to culture preservation and promotion of Marshallese heritage. Although the course officially ended last week, the weavers are back in USP working on new mats that will be auctioned during an annual jaki-ed auction in late September. President Christopher Loeak praised the revival of jaki-ed skills. “They are revitalizing the culture but just as important they can also make a living from it,” he said. “It may inspire people to go into other areas of our culture, to make a living and be proud of being Marshallese.”
Coast Guard Cutters provides training and delivers supplies
Yap State’s Ulithi Atoll received needed supplies for the reconstruction of its health clinic in addition to basic boater safety training from the U.S Coast Guard Cutter SEQUOIA. The Oceania Community Health partnered up with SEQUOIA to deliver the supplies for the reconstruction of the clinic. Providing more assistance to the people of Ulithi Atoll, the crew conducted a basic search and rescue and boater safety training, where they also took the opportunity to stress the timely reports of missing persons at sea. SEQUOIA’s health technician also provided basic training and guidance in treating common afflictions. Supplies delivered to the atoll also included clothes, toys and books donated by military families on Guam.
XHS students named Gates Millennium Scholars
Two graduating students from Xavier High School have been named Gates Millennium Scholars. Pearl Asugar of Chuuk and Eleanor Titiml of Palau received this year’s award, which provides a full-cost scholarship for their entire undergraduate program. Asugar will be attending St. Martin’s University in Washington State where she will major in civil engineering. Titiml however, will be attending Creighton University in Nebraska where she will study marine biology. About a thousand students were awarded this year with the same scholarship, which also included students from Marshall Islands and CNMI. The Gates Millennium Scholarship is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which offer scholarships to students of diverse backgrounds.
Now let’s go to PICRC for another monthly update from the Palau International Coral Reef Center.
LS Students Revamp AES Library
Over the past few weeks, students and volunteers for the Library and Information Services (LS) program at Palau Community College made the four-hour voyage to Angaur State to assist with a library renovation project at the State’s Elementary School Library. The students worked long into the night assembling new shelving, organizing and labeling library materials, cleaning, and redesigning the library space. As a result, the school library is now much more usable and attractive for AES students, faculty, and staff and for the local community. The project also gave students first-hand experience at reorganizing and redesigning a library space and a chance to put their classroom knowledge into practice.
Olympic flame for London Games lit in Greece
The ceremonial olympic flame that will burn during the London Games was lit on Thursday, signaling the official countdown to the start of the 2012 Summer Olympics. Taking place at the birthplace of the ancient Olympics in Greece, an elaborate ceremony featuring lovely Grecian actress Ino Menegaki dressed as a high priestess, who used a mirror to focus the sun’s rays and light the torch. The triangular torch is designed to commemorate London hosting the Olympics for the third time, including 1908 and 1948. Athletes from all over Oceania, anxiously await the opportunity to represent their island countries in the world’s largest and most honored sporting event, where Olympic glory can await any country no matter how big or small. OTV hopes to provide continued Olympic coverage representing the perspective of Oceania atheletes, so if there are any athlete’s or stories you would like to see featured please email email@example.com
As reported in last weeks Micro Sports, to commemorate the 5 year anniversary of Earthrace’s first world record attempt, we’re going through the vast vault of documentary footage we captured to reveal never seen before footage of the historical first record attempt. What the world knows is that to complete the world record for circumnavigating the globe in this case using bio-diesel, Earthrace needed to arrive back in San Diego before June 21st. But what most people didn’t know was that was another urgent race within a race developing involving fuel sponsor Jennifer Koskelin Gibbons. And what’s going on here?
Find out in the next Earthrace mini-episode, airing this weekend on OTV.
2012 Etpison Cup Weekend Sports Activities 12 & 13 May
There’s definitely no reason to be bored this weekend as there’s plenty of activity surrounding the 22nd annual, Etpison Cup.
On Saturday - 5k/10k Walk for Life
Registration begins at 530am for a fee of $2.00 The walk starts at 6:00am
Route: 5km starts at Drop off to Bank of Hawaii & Back and the 10k begins at Drop Off to Ngermid Intersection & Back
May 12th – Mixed V6 Canoe Regatta with races of 250m & 500m
Registration Fee of $10.00/crew of 8 paddlers (3men &3 women)
4-on-4 Beach Volleyball registration is already closed but you can come and watch
Start Time: 9am / May 12-13 Saturday and Sunday 3on3 Basketball: same, registration is already closed but there are Divisions 12 & Under Coed; 13 to 15 Coed; 16 to 18 Boy/Girls; 20K Cycling on Sunday Starting at 6am.
2012 Etpison Cup
The 22nd annual sports fishing tournament known as the Etpison Cup kicks off tomorrow at Drop Off Bar and Grill. Over $50,000 in cash prizes is up for grabs and all you have to do to claim the $30,000 grand prize is pull in a billfish weighing in excess of 501 lbs! But don’t worry you can still scoop up the baby grand prize of 5k if you bring in a 201 to 300 pounder. Time as always will be a factor as the total weight will based on the first 10 fish brought in between 6am and 4pm. The full weekend of activities culminates in a big concert event Sunday Night at Drop Off Bar & Grill, featuring the smokin hot blues rock of Just Enuff.
It’s a fun filled weekend for the whole family and a chance to earn some big bucks in these lean economic times! I think I’m going to have to take up fishing….and paddling….and volleyball….
That’s it for this week news highlights and Happy Mother’s Day!