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Hello, purchase thank you for joining us for this week’s news report. I’m Blaire Phillips and here are the news highlights.
Pacific nations declares support at Rio+20
The Pacific Island countries of Palau, approved Kiribati, Fiji and Samoa has declared their support for the new Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO) initiative aimed at restoring the world’s oceans to health productivity. The Global Partnership for Oceans is a new and diverse coalition of public, private, civil society, research and multilateral interests working together for healthy and productive oceans. It was first announced in February 2012 by World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick at the World Oceans Summit and has been gathering growing support. The Declaration commits the Partnership to mobilizing “significant human, financial and institutional resources for effective public and private investments in priority ocean areas”. It aimed to improve capacity and close the recognized gap in action in implementing global, regional and national commitments for healthy and productive oceans. The partnership is also targeting key areas such as sustainable seafood; livelihoods from capture fisheries and aquaculture plus critical coastal and ocean habitats. The initiative also earned support from other countries as well as various international organizations, agencies and private foundations. The initiative was launched on the sidelines at the Rio+20 summit.
US DOE ensures Palau Upward Bound program
After nearly 30 years of after-school academic assistance to high schools students in Palau, the TRIO Upward Bound has been awarded to continue its services. US Department of Education recently awarded the Palau Community College $1.7 million to continue the TRIO Upward Bound program for high school students. The award from DOE will guarantee services for another five-years. Services has also been extended under the new grant to include counseling designed to improve financial and economic literacy for students and parents, guidance on the assistance in secondary school reentry, and alternative education programs for secondary school dropouts. Initiated in 1983, the program’s mission remains the same and continues to provide opportunities and assistance to students to succeed in higher education. The program offers a range of courses and assistance in college preparation among others.
Court denies injunctive relief to stop new jellyfish and rock island fees
Judge Alexandra Foster has denied the national government’s motion for injunctive relief stopping the Koror State Government from implementing new rock island and jellyfish lake fees. The ruling stated that the government failed to show that the collection would cause irreparable harm to the Republic. The government earlier filed a motion for temporary restraining order, but was also denied by Judge Foster. The national government initially filed the case arguing that there will be unspecified economic loss because tourists will travel elsewhere in light of the heightened fees. The new increased fees became effective on July 1.
Two jailed, one to receive house arrest in RMI fraud case
Three former Marshall Islands government workers who were found guilty by a jury of defrauding the government of more than $47,000 in US grant has been sentenced to serve 18 months in jail. Judge James Plasman sentenced Nella Nashion, Donny Andrike and Steve Samuel each to three-year terms in jail, with half the jail time to be served and half the sentence suspended. In addition, each is required to pay restitution to the government as their portion monies that were stolen from U.S. grant funding provided to the Ministry of Health. Nashion is expected to be placed under house arrest based on past practice of sentences involving women and due to the lack of facilities for female prisoners. The court order allows her to be placed in another facility designated by the RMI government or house arrest. The judge noted that if the government is required to reimburse the U.S. government for money stolen, the restitution from the defendants shall be applied. Each of the three people convicted face additional charges in separate criminal cases for allegedly defrauding the government of other grant funding.
ADB and USP sign loan agreement
The University of South Pacific and the Asian Development Bank on June 19 signed the first loan agreement valued at $19 million to help the school upgrade its regional campuses and ensure student access to innovative distance and e-learning. According to ADB, the loan package compromises of four separate components to be implemented over eight years. The fist component is guaranteed by the Kiribati government valued at $2.6 million will support civil work s and ICT connectivity in the Kiribati campus. It also includes construction of additional classrooms, ICT studio and student and administrative facilities. In the Solomon Islands, investment of $9.75 million will see construction of a new campus to include modern teaching facilities, science and computer labs including other offices. Other investments are also planned at the regional campuses and in Fiji.
Pacific exhibitors prepare for the 2012 Trade Pasifika
Vendors from across the Pacific are gearing up for the first ever 2012 Trade Pasifika in Fiji later this month. Handicrafts from the Marshall Islands, salt from the Christmas Islands in Kiribati and many other goods manufactured in other parts of the Pacific will be exhibited and on sale at the three-day event. The event offers a combination of product and services from trade, export and import specialists within the Pacific. Trade Pasifika aims to showcase various produce from the Pacific and to provide a space to identify new markets for them. Chairperson of the Trade Pasifika organizing committee stated, “most Pacific Island countries do not export goods and services in significant quantities.” He hopes that more Pacific producers will be able to export their produce to a range of markets through the Trade Pasifika event. Presentations from primary, manufacturing and service sectors from Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia will also be conducted for participants during the event including workshops on trade related issues. The event is set for June 25-27.
Kiribati newspaper closes amid police investigation
The Kiribati Independent newspaper has announced that it will stop publishing while an investigation ordered by the government is carried out. This week, police visited the newspaper’s offices to investigate complaints from the Ministry of Communications that the publisher had breached newspaper registration guidelines. The publisher and editor of the Kiribati Independent, Taberannang Korauaba, said he believes the move is politically motivated. Korauaba said reporters have been too intimidated to work, and the newspaper cannot operate under such “difficult” circumstances. He told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat the Kiribati Independent will cease publication until the investigation is completed.
Breastmilk can destroy HIV, study says
Can human breastmilk really destroy or prevent HIV transmission? Well according to the Fiji AIDS Foundation there has been a breakthrough in the use of breast milk to destroy HIV. It has always been assumed that the virus was transmitted through breast milk from HIV mothers to their babies, however according to the study, pathogen suggests the importance of breast milk on HIV. In a control research at the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine, a fed mice whose immune systems has been engineered to mimic those of human’s breast milk had been injected with HIV. According to Dr. Garcia of UNC, the study provided significant insight into the ability of breast milk to destroy HIV and prevent its transmission. It also provides new leads for the isolation of natural products that could be used to combat the virus. Humanized mice have a fully functioning human immune system and can be infected with HIV in the same manner as humans.
CNMI high pay staff to be grandfathered
College of the Marshall Islands staff who are paid substantially above government pay rates are expected to be “grandfathered” into the college’s newly adopted pay scale system. Responding to concerns voiced by the RMI government leaders, the college spent a year reviewing and revising its pay structure to bring staff salaries closer to the Public Service Commission pay system. The end result was a new pay structure announced that would increase salaries for some existing staff, while cutting back others. College President Carl Hacker said he is not surprised by the reaction people on the planned salary cutbacks, but the issue is about being careful with public’s money. He said that after consideration, the new plan is that instead of reducing salaries for existing staff they will be maintained at their current salary levels, but will not be eligible for additional annual increases. A recently signed agreement between the government and the college providing the college with $3 million a year for operations is the same amount it has been receiving from the government for a number of years, despite substantial increases in most costs.
Micronesia Challenge terrestrial workshop held in Palau
Palau hosted the 2nd Micronesia Challenge Terrestrial Measures Workshop this week. The workshop, which was held at the Palau International Coral Reef Center’s conference room brought participants from the FSM, Marshall Islands, Guam and the CNMI. Among the objectives were review of the proposed monitoring indicators, review status of terrestrial working group that focused on developing the process for periodic measures and many others. The Micronesia Challenge is a commitment by these five Pacific nations who participated in the workshop to preserve natural resources.
Pacific Health representatives meet in New Zealand
The World Health Organization (WHO) and health representatives from Pacific Island countries are meeting in New Zealand for the Fourth Pacific Non-Communicable Disease Forum and the Workshop on Tobacco Taxation in the Pacific. In line with the United Nation’s need to increase commitment toward strengthening NCD prevention, the Forum is guided by the theme “Mitigating the Crisis” to strengthen responses and mitigation to the NCD crisis in the Pacific. WHO and Pacific health representatives in attendance are planning for cost effective, population-based interventions to help in the reduction of Pacific NCD’s. In addition, representatives will also attend the Workshop on Tobacco Taxation to focus on building and strengthening in-country capacity to develop tax policies that aim at curbing tobacco use in hope to loosen the grip of substance over the Pacific. According to health statistics, one third of the world’s smokers reside in the Pacific. Betel nut chewing with use of tobacco is also growing in number around the region.
RMI Youth cleans up on World Ocean’s Day
On World Ocean’s Day, Marshallese took responsibility and collected over 400 trash bags full of waste at the beaches of Delap. The clean up which was organization by a local youth environmentalist group collected waste that such refrigerators, tire parts and plastic in six different sites in the town of Delap on Majuro. According to reports, the purpose of the clean up was to promote awareness on World Ocean’s Day and the importance of keeping the island and the ocean clean. In addition, the group also collaborated with the Marshalls Billfish Club for the Children’s Fishing Fair and the Raycrew Dive Shop to conduct an underwater clean up where 10 bags of trash was collected from the coral reef flats. World Ocean Day is observed every June 8 and is recognized globally.
Morei to participate in U.S leadership program
Palau’s very own museum Director to participate in a leadership program and visit some of the finest art museums in the United States. Pia Morei, Belau National Museum’s Director and Curator has been selected as a participant in the upcoming Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program in Washington DC. The program is designed to expose participants to current techniques, approaches, and new technologies utilized in museum management in the United States and to explore traditional and changing roles undertaken by U.S. museum including how museums encourage and promote community growth and stability through civic pride, tourism, and interest in local history and culture. Through this program, Morei will also have an opportunity to visit many different museum associations, institution and centers such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Peace Corp trainees arrives in Pohnpei
Over 20 new Peace Corps trainees arrived on Pohnpei this week for a three-month intensive training in cultural understanding, teaching English as a second language and local languages. Upon the completion of their extensive training, the trainees will then be sworn in as volunteers and will be giving assignments to various islands in FSM and Palau. Since its establishment, over 200,000 volunteers have been sent around the world focusing on improving education, health, business, and environment among other things. However, in the FSM and in Palau, Peace Corps volunteer efforts primarily focus on improving education.
Countdown to Olympics
The Summer Olympics are only 30 days away and many countries from around the world are bidding fare well for their athletes as they make their way to London. To honor Palau’s Olympians President Johnson Toribiong hosted a dinner at Palasia Hotel with an esteem group of leaders on hand to pay their respects.
Honorable Chief Ibedul gave a blessing to flag barer and athlete himself Rodman Teltul to wear a ceremonial clothing that bares a likeness of Prince Leboo while he carries the flag during the opening ceremony.
There was even a special performance by Palauan artist living abroad Kendall Titiml, who is also involved in a unique music delegation with Olympic games called Wantoks.
The president also acknowledges the donations from the Hamatomo Company of Japan for Palau stylish clothing, and a $30,000 check from IP&E.
Oceania athletes make their way to London
Farewell ceremonies took place throughout Oceania as Samoa also said goodbye for their delegation of 8 athletes who will be competing in tae kwon do, judo, weight lifting, archery, athletics and kayaking. Track and Field athletes of the Federated States of Micronesia have already arrived in London and are staying at the official 2012 pre-training camp located at Edge Hill in Orms Kirk Lenkashire located at about 185 mile outside of London.
FSM Olympian, Debra Daniel, Swimmer competes in 2nd Olympics, 50m Freestyle
Debra Daniel, who will be competing in her second Olympics in the 50 meter Freestyle is welcoming her new surrounding where she says on a quote, “ Back at home we do not have a pool. I’m used to train in the ocean or the rivers so this will be different for me, and it will be very modern. It’ll be interesting to see how Debra does in the Olympics when there aren’t shark and crocodile in the pool we wish her and all other athletes good luck in the upcoming games.
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