Toribiong considers impleading OEK into lawsuit over State of Emergency
After the Palau trial court denied the Republic’s efforts to quash the lawsuit filed by Alan Seid for damages as a result of the President’s declaration of a state of emergency, discount on August 7, recipe 2012, the President went public with his potential forthcoming legal strategy. The President has announced that he is considering bringing the OEK in the suit as a third party defendant. If there is liability, then by impleading the OEK as a third party, the President may be able to share liability with Palau’s Congress. The President said his actions were “in reliance” on the OEK’s ratification and “since the OEK agreed with my declaration … [they] should be included in this lawsuit.” By this the President suggests that the OEK may be ultimately liable, in whole or in part, for the any damages that are sought by Seid in the underlying action. However, under Palau Rule of Court 14 (set forth below), the President is not free to bring the OEK in as a third party, as a matter of right, as the time period to file without requesting permission from the Court has long passed. If the President decides to bring the OEK into the action as a third-party defendant the President must now motion the Court for this privilege.
Senate refuses to release public documents
Three months after the public hearing on the Bill that would put OTV out of business, the Senate continues to refuse the release of the videotape of the session that was promised to OTV. Before the hearing the Committee Chair Kathy Kesolei promised a DVD copy of hearing in exchange for OTV not having cameras present. Despite several requests, the video has not been given to OTV, however a letter was written in response claiming that documents are “under review and cannot be released”. OTV responded saying “Your letter dated June 8th, 2012 indicating that you cannot release the video is entirely disingenuous as the first pubic hearing, which cast a negative light on our company, was publicly aired for several days immediately following the first hearing.” The senate was asked to comment on the status of the tape but no response was given.
Micronesian women pledge support to establish Foster Care Network
At the closing of the recently concluded inaugural Women’s summit held in Palau, Guam’s First Lady Christine Calvo inspired women leaders from across the Micronesian region to address challenges facing today’s youth. Calvo issued a “Call to Action” to establish Micronesia Foster Care Network to address challenges and issues facing children in need throughout Micronesia. “I think it’s our duty – our responsibility – to meet with young people in every community,” said Calvo. “We need to go out into high-risk neighborhoods and reach out to our most vulnerable youth. They need to know we’re listening. They need to know that their circumstances today do not dictate who they can become.” Her call received overwhelming support from all delegates. She suggested that a regional foster care network can provide services from helping foster children get home to their families in the outer islands to services as simple as setting up weekly phone calls. The Summit is the first event held by the Women of Micronesia Exchange Network.
U.S to address RMI nuke information request
In response to a strong statement of concern from the Marshall Islands government about the lack of access to classified information about US’ nuclear testing decades ago, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell has promised to initiate a review of data available for public release during his recent visit to the Marshall Islands. In the 1990’s, an initiative by US President Bill Clinton led to the declassification of thousands of reports, studies and communications from the nuclear test-era that had been classified for decades. However the RMI government has maintained that the US has not made a full disclosure of information available to the Marshall Islands to enable them to understand the full impact of the 67 nuclear weapons tests. Campbell said the government will look for what it can do to provide more information to the government of the Marshall Islands when he returns to Washington. During the visit, Campbell handed over a check of over $20,000 U.S Department of State grant to KIO Club, a non-profit women’s group.
Micronesian man faces attempted murder charges
A Micronesian man who is believed to be Pohnpeian is facing several charges including first-degree home invasion and attempted murder for stabbing his ex-girlfriend in the neck. 23 year-old David Hebel was set to go on trial for charges stemming from a March attack, where he reportedly broke into his ex-girlfriend’s home in Bay City, Michigan and stabbed her. An adjournment has forced his trial to begin on September 19 after he agreed to submit a DNA sample to investigators. Hebel reportedly confessed to breaking into Markee Rousse’s house, where he then stabbed her. He told investigators at the time that he had seven or eight beers prior to the incident. When asked by investigators if he stabbed Rousse, he replied, “I believe I did”. However, no fingerprints where recovered from the knife that Hebel allegedly used. Rousse testified during a preliminary examination back in June that she woke up to the sound of breaking glass and saw Hebel standing in her bedroom. He said that he wanted to talk her, then grabbed her, choked her, and eventually stabbed her. Rousse fled the scene to her mother’s house nearby, where she was then taken to the hospital. If convicted, Hebel can serve up to 20 years in prison. He is being held at a $250,000-dollar bond, which his attorney says “an amount that is virtually impossible to meet.”
Palau government employees receive COLA
Palau national government employees were happy to see an increase in their paycheck this week. On Thursday August 9 when employees received their payroll an additional $60 dollars of cost of living allowance covering two pay periods in July and the current pay period was posted on each paycheck. One employee stated, “I’m grateful for the extra money that I can use a bit off for bills and other expenses.” Employees eligible to receive COLA are those earning less than $25,000 per annum. Under the 2012 Supplemental Budget Act employees will receive a $20-dollar COLA from July through September 2012. The $20 COLA is excluded from deduction of taxes including pension plan contribution, social security tax and contribution to the Healthcare Fund.
Pacific delegates prepare for 43rd Pacific Island Forum
Participants from around the Pacific region recently met in Fiji at the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat headquarters to attend a series of pre-forum meetings leading up to the upcoming 43rd Pacific Islands Forum in Cook Islands. Both the Small Islands States Officials’ meeting and the Pacific Plan Action committee meeting were attended by Pacific delegates who addressed issues specific and unique to the seven smaller island states such as climate change, regional transportation, and regional social initiatives amongst others priorities. Both meeting was followed by the Forum Officials Committee meeting, which was attended by Palau’s Director of Foreign Affairs Jeffrey Antol. The 43rd Pacific Islands Forum will consist of the Small Island States Leaders meeting, the Pacific ACP leaders meeting, Pacific Island Forum Formal Session, leaders retreat and the 24th post forum dialogue partners’ plenary session. The Forum is set for August 25-31.
Greenpeace urges countries to take action
At the 8th Scientific Committee meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in Busan, South Korea held this week, Greenpeace urged Scientist into taking action in the reduction of the bigeyed tuna in the Pacific. Greenpeace also called for a ban against destructive aggregating devices used in fishing and also called for creation of marine reserves in the Pacific Commons where all fishing activities should be banned. The final decision will be made at the annual Western and Central Pacific Fisheris Commission in Manila this December. “Strong recommendations from scientist and commitments from government are both necessary to save the Pacific and the millions dependent on it for food and jobs. Time is running out for tuna, and for future generations, we need action now,” said Jeonghee Han, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace East Asia. Three Greenpeace activists representing different generations held tuna images and delivered “No Fish No Future” messages as a warning sign to the delegations at the meeting venue. Greenpeace is campaigning for global network of marine reserves covering 40 percent of the world’s oceans and for more sustainable fishing industry, both necessary steps to restoring our oceans to health.
MOE teachers and staff to receive Singapore math training from expert
Palau’s Ministry of Education has awarded a contract to a highly recognized Singapore Math trainer and consultant from the United States to assist with the implementation of the Singapore math curriculum in the country. MOE selected Cassandra Turner to develop and present two comprehensive Singapore Math training workshops for local teachers, one for teachers of grades 1 to 3, and another for teachers of grades 4 to 6. She will also develop an agenda for a training workshop for teachers of grades 7 and 8. In the 2011-2012 school year, MOE began implementing the Singapore Math curriculum, however since the curriculum follows a new methodology and specific techniques in the classroom, training is required. Turner has years of experience and knowledge with the Singapore Math curriculum and has introduced it to schools and district across the U.S, Mexico and Canada. “It’s a great honor to be selected for this job following such a competitive process. In adopting Singapore Math, Palau is choosing a world-class curriculum that provides students with an exceptional foundation in mathematics. I’m very excited to help teachers learn how to use the Singapore materials successfully,” says Turner. The contract is funded by the Territories and Freely Associated States Education Grant Project, a U.S. Department of Education federal grant under MOE.
Pacific Island Nation will be first country in the world to be powered entirely by sun
The tiny three atoll nation of Tokelau that lies halfway between new Zealand and Hawai’i, is set to become the world’s first ever country to draw all of its energy requirements from the sun. The nation of 1411 residents, who are New Zealand citizens, will switch off their diesel generators and turn on the power from the more than 4000 solar panels that make up the new solar power stations. The switch to solar cost approximately $7 million dollars, but will pay for itself in a matter of five years. Tokelau is one of the most challenging environments for such a project logistically. There are neither airstrips nor wharves on the atolls. The only means of reaching them is by a long boat trip from Samoa, some 500km away that ends outside the reefs, where a landing barge takes passengers and equipment to shore. Swells pose an additional challenge for offloading cargo. Besides Tokelau, the New Zealand Government is helping to build a 1-MW solar photovoltaic power plant in Tonga. It is also aiding the Cook Islands to transform its 100% reliance on diesel generation into renewable energy generation.
Travelers Between North and South Pacific May Soon Have Relief
Anyone who has traveled from Micronesia to the South Pacific recently has experienced difficult and expensive routes. Since Continental terminated the direct route between Guam and Fiji, travelers have had to take the long way around transiting through Hawaii in the East or major Asian Cities in the West. New discussions between Nauru’s Our Airline and the Marshall Islands Business and government sectors may be bringing relief. New routes from Majuro to Brisbane, Australia and Fiji may resume after two meetings resulted in optimistic outcomes. “We promised the public we would revive the economy,” Acting President Phillip Muller said as he indicated government support for the resumption of Our Airline service. “We promised to work with, and listen to, our private sector. We are doing it.” Our Airline officials presented a proposal to the Cabinet seeking its support for guaranteeing a certain level of revenue as part of the startup of the Majuro leg of the service. The airline is seeking a government commitment to a “startup fund” that would essentially guarantee the airline its break-even requirement of $10,000 for each weekly flight. If all goes well the airline could start flying to Majuro within three to four months of an agreement from the government to proceed.
Marshallese students first in Micronesia to take part in online nursing program
Fourteen nursing students from the Republic of Marshall Islands have traveled across the vast Pacific Ocean to the U.S State of Maine for a five-week intensive hands-on session as part of the University of Maine’s first online bachelor of science nursing program. The students are the first in the Micronesian region to take advantage of the University’s two-year online program. “These students are really the pioneers for this program. They will be the first nurses earning a bachelor of science degrees in all of Micronesia,” said Wilson Hess President of UMFK. According to Hess, the idea behind promoting the program in the Marshall Islands is to improve the overall health care system in the Marshalls. Prior to taking his post as President of the University of Maine at Fort Kent, Hess served as President of the College of the Marshall Islands and understands the current health care standards in RMI. UMFK is well positioned to offer the BSN program to the Marshall Island nursing students says Hess. After spending the fall, winter and spring taking the online courses, the students will return to campus next summer for a second five-week session and their BSN degree.
U.S organization sends 1,000 dictionaries to Yap
A U.S-based non-profit organization continues to contribute to communities in the Federated States of Micronesia to expand student’s learning capacity and further develop education in the country. This past week, boxes full of dictionaries intended for 900 students arrived in Kolonia. Habele stated on their website that the donation is “intended to provide every student in middle school throughout Yap a personal dictionary of their own.” Regina Raigetal, Habele Director on Yap who led the dictionary donation project explained that it “was designed to meet a specific, locally voiced need and hoped the books would reach students within the first few weeks of the new school year.” The project was initiated and organized by Habele, a South Carolina based charity that has been working in Yap to support K-12 aged students since 2006.
Pacific on brink of El Nino
The Pacific is about to enter an episode of El Nino, but the signal is mainly seen in the ocean temperature and not yet in the atmospheric circulation according to the latest Island Climate Update. According to reports, the Pacific will enter into an extreme warm weather pattern over the next three months. The impending change has been monitored by buoy and satellite measurements which shows that the ocean is warmer than usual. El Niño pattern can bring dry weather and affect crops according to weather experts. El Niños are usually characterized by reduced easterly trade winds and warmer sea surface temperatures around the international dateline in the Pacific. The Island Climate Update is a monthly publication prepared by the Pacific National Meteorological Services, NIWA and SPREP. It provides a review of current and forecast weather in the Pacific region.
Ski Mask to avoid the sun has become a fashion statement in China
The Chinese are obsessed with fair skin which is considered a sign of feminine beauty, so for middle-class Chinese women sun protection comes with its own gear. Bright colored face masks have become popular in beach towns, because unlike the parasol, it keeps both hands free. The colorful face shield is a relatively new product made of stretchy fabric commonly used in bathing suits that keep the women fully protected from ultraviolet rays. Wearing a brightly colored mask over their faces is a small price to pay in order to maintain their skin, their beauty and their reputation. The masks are a specialty of Qingdao and costapproximately $3