U.S Postal officials address security issues in Majuro meeting
Officials from the U.S Postal Service and the Freely Associated States Postal Service Executive Conference launched a two-day meeting this week in the Republic of Marshall Islands. A key issue of focus during the meeting was the soon-to-be-implemented screening of packages mailed to the United States from Palau, health the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. During the meeting, approved RMI acting President Phillip Muller stressed the importance of communication and consultation in addressing future postal service issues. Muller was referring to the sudden enforcement of a new mail screening requirement imposed by the U.S Transportation Security Administration that prompted U.S postal offices in FAS states to stop accepting packages over one pound. Officials also discussed how to implement long-standing screening methods for mail.
World Bank helps Palau with Fiber Optic Project
A team of experts from the World Bank recently visited Palau and met with Palauan officials regarding technical and finance assistance. The World Bank Mission Team worked with the Finance Ministry to begin the financial, procurement and other assessments required by the Bank for projects with Palau such as financing a Fiber Optic Submarine Cable Project. The Team also met with PNCC, Division of Transportation and Communications representatives including members of the Underwater Fiber Optic Cable Task Force. During their meeting, the Team shared available funding options for consideration that would be needed to complete the project. Prior to their visit, the Ministry of Finance released $4 million of the $16 million dollar ADB loan to the National Development Bank of Palau as a loan to PNCC for the purpose of purchasing the Guam-Philippines fiber optic cable. Back in August of 2011, a memorandum of understanding was signed between PNCC and FSM telecommunications Corporation to work jointly to acquire, manage, operate, deploy and maintain a new or existing underwater fiber optic cable to Yap and Palau. According to the Office of the Vice President, ongoing work with the World Bank will continue toward the final implementation of the fiber optic project.
Foreign Lawyer Disbarred by Palau Supreme Court
Effective August 22, 2012, Palau’s former Micronesian legal service attorney, Clara Kalscheur, has been disbarred from the practice of law in the Republic of Palau. A panel of three justices rendered this disciplinary decision after a formal complaint was filed against Ms. Kalscheur for failing to provide competent legal representation in three separate cases. Ms. Kalscheur did not contest the charges either in writing or while present at her formal court hearing. The disciplinary order has been sealed, so the facts’ surrounding Ms. Kalscheur’s alleged incompetence has not been released. This disciplinary action must be reported to all other jurisdictions in which Ms. Kalscheur is licensed to practice law and notice must be given to all of her clients in her pending cases. Under Palau’s disciplinary rules, a disbarred attorney may seek reinstatement two years after their disbarment, but reinstatement is not automatic.
PAN Fund distributes funding for PAN member states
The Protected Areas Network Fund board on Friday July 27 distributed funding to nine PAN member states for the 2 and 3rd quarter of the fiscal year for the purpose of implementing management plans for each respective state. Governors and representatives of each of the nine states received funding from the members of the PAN Fund board and also had the opportunity find out more information regarding quarterly progress reports among others. Chairman of the PAN Fund Board Joe Tutii Chilton stated the PAN fund board expresses their thanks to the states for their patience with the disbursement process and the board will continue to work to improve the process.
RARE Micronesia Wide Island Resilience Program
RARE Micronesia this week launched the RARE Micronesia Wide Island Resilience Program to further utilize social marketing skills and background research for better conservation program. The program is geared towards conservation and will initially be implemented in eleven conservation areas across the Micronesia region, which includes Palau, Saipan, Kosrae, and Pohnpei among others. According to RARE officials, each respective site will have a designated manager. Each designated manager will then participate in a seven-week workshop with the aim of changing the behavior of people and becoming more active in conservation. By the end of the workshop, the managers will be able to utilize social marketing skills and background research in conservation. The program was implemented with cooperation with the Micronesian Conservation Trust.
RMI Vocational Institute to close
The Republic of Marshall Islands Ministry of Education is establishing a new vocational program and expanding adult education to accommodate students who have been attending a school that has ceased to exist due to lack of funding. RMI’s National Vocational Technical Institute was almost entirely funded by United States grant funding, however last year U.S officials said they want to focus funding on elementary education and the recently completed school year would be the school’s last to receive US funding. Since its establishment, the school has been a second-tier high school in the Marshall Islands and focused on English, math and other skills development for students. Despite the school’s closure, the RMI government is undertaking three initiatives to aid students from the Vocational school. Some students will be redirected to Marshall Islands High School, some to the College of Micronesia’s general equivalency diploma program while others will be shifted to the new Industrial Arts and Life Skills program.
FSM, Japan foundation sign fisheries agreement
The Federated States of Micronesia Secretary of Foreign Affairs Lorin Robert and Shimba Fukuda of the Foundation of Japan recently signed the a memorandum of understanding to implement the Fisheries Development Assistance for Pacific Island Nations. The Fisheries Development Assistance for Pacific Islands Nations is implementing technical transfer and capacity building through repair and restoration of fishery related facilities in each of the four states in the FSM. Overseas Fishery Cooperation Foundation experts will conduct repair and restoration with local counterparts on three boats and an ice plant for Yap Fishing Authority, three ice plants in Weno and two others in Chuuk, the Office of Fisheries and Aquaculture research vessel, two other ice plants in Pohnpei, the Lelu ice plant and two others in Kosrae. The foundation will also conduct fisheries extension services assistance project by providing advice on how to operate ice machines effectively.
UN expert urges Kiribati to address safe water and sanitation
An Independent United Nations expert is urging the government of Kiribati to address the human rights to safe water and sanitation that could help tackle the high child mortality rate in the country. Special Rapporteur on the right to water and sanitation Catarina de Albuquergue who is currently on an official visit to the country said that she was shocked by the child mortality rate in Kiribati, the highest in the Pacific. She further noted that a large number of the population practices open defecation meaning that people use the sea and bushes as their toilets, however such practice has serious implications for people’s health, as human waste spreads diseases. In addition, inadequate waste water management systems for existing toilets, lack of hand washing habits and open defecation results in an explosive combination leading to many preventable child deaths.
Marshall Islands concerned as booster rocket washed up on island
A booster rocket from an airborne launch from the U.S. Army’s missile testing range at Kwajalein in June has washed up at Mili Atoll prompting the Marshall Islands government to ask the United States government to remove the large object. The “stage one” motor from the Pegasus rocket that propelled NASA’s NuSTAR satellite into orbit more than a month ago was expected to sink when it fell back to Earth from an altitude of nearly 40 miles. The booster rocket was attached to an airplane for the highly publicized launching of the research satellite that is being used by NASA to study black holes in space. The booster rocket did land in the predicted drop area in the open ocean, but drifted for some time before coming ashore on Mili Atoll. The Army said it is working with the U.S. Embassy and the Marshalls government “to develop appropriate response actions” and ultimately remove the said item from Mili Atoll.
Marshall Islands install bulk meters to enhance adaptive capacity
Bulk Water Meters are being installed in the Marshall Islands to help the nation manage droughts. The Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change (PACC) Project has installed the meters at the national Airport Reservoir with plans in place to install them at the Laura Water Plant also. The meter will accurately show the amount of leakage through the velocity, volume and drops in water flow measurements and can locate any leaking points. According to recent assessments and studies in the In-Country Consultation Report (2009) for PACC, climate change has direct impact on rainfall patterns in the Marshall Islands. This atoll nation has very limited groundwater supplies and any reduction in rainfall puts the nation at a high risk of drought. PACC is working to increase water storage and to improve existing water systems at selected pilot sites that is the Airport Reservoir and the Water Plant, to conserve the limited water they have. This will better equip people to withstand future droughts caused by climate change.
Search for Earhart returns without hard evidence
The search for evidence of Amelia Earhart’s crash 75 years ago has ended in Kiribati without any dramatic or conclusive evidence to determine what happened to the missing pilot and her navigator. The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery departed from Hawaii nearly a month ago in a $2.2 million dollar expedition to establish whether Earhart might have survived the apparent crash. During their expedition, the team did collect volumes of sonar data and many hours of high-definition video, which would need to be reviewed before result of the expedition can be released. Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean solo. She was also the first person to fly across the Pacific Ocean solo.
Ekei Women’s Group travels to Philippines for medical check up
More than half of the members of the Ekei Women’s Organization will be traveling to the Philippines in effort to make health a personal matter, an issue the women believes needs to be prioritized in families across Palau. All the women will undergo medical check ups and will also visit few hospitals that are currently serving Palauan citizens who are on medical referrals. The women will also have an opportunity to visit farms and gardens in the Philippines in hopes to gain additional experience in farming and botany. The trip was organized by Ekei’s former President Christina Salii. Ekei has been in existence since in the 1970’s and has provided a wide range of services to the community such as scholarships for students, event sponsoring, the annual Christmas parade and many others. The women will return on August 7.
New military recruits sworn in
The U.S Embassy Charge d’ Affaires Richard McCrensky, Vice President Kerai Mariur and other government officials this week held a swearing-in ceremony for fourteen new Palauan and Yapese U.S Army recruits. McCrensky and Vice President Mariur highlighted the history of Palauan service in the U.S Armed Forces, and urged the enlistees to take full benefit of the educational and other opportunities that will be presented to them. Hundreds of young Palauans enlist in the U.S military each to seek better opportunities outside of Palau.
1,100 lbs. White Sturgeon caught in Canada
A monster white sturgeon weighing an estimated 1,100 pounds and measuring 12 feet, 4 inches was caught and released on the Fraser River, a British Columbia waterway famous for its big sturgeon. Dean Werk, owner and guide of Great River Fishing Adventures said that he has never seen a sturgeon that big in the 25 years that he’s been a professional guide. He believes that this particular hasn’t been caught in at least 18 years and believes that it’s over 100 years old. According to the 2012 International Game Fish Association book of World Record Games fishes, the world record for a white sturgeon is 468 pounds caught in California. The Fraser River is a conservation area, so the monstrous fish was tagged and released back into the river.