This week the bureau of public works announced that a water hour schedule will begin and continue indefinitely in Airai and in parts of Koror. According to Acting Director of Public Works, healing Joe Reklai, drugs supplying water to Koror and Airai became a problem since the breakdown of the water pumps at the treatment plant in Airai. Furthermore, shop the broken pumps are still in a well and the equipment needed to retrieve them is currently not on island. He says that hopefully the equipment will arrive next week. In the meantime, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Industries and Commerce is looking for outside pumps to replace the damaged ones. However, these specialized pumps could take up to three to four months to arrive in Palau.
Funds from the Republic of China assist ROP in reimbursing PSB depositors
President Toribiong announced on August 30th that the Govemment of Palau has received another installment of funds to reimburse depositors with unpaid claims against the failed Pacific Savings Bank. The new funds are the most recent installment received by the ROP resulting from the generosity of the Republic of China. The R.O.P. intends to distribute a portion of the available funds to as many depositors as possible. For this distribution of available funds, people with unpaid claims against the failed PSB totaling less than a hundred thousand dollars are eligible to apply. Starting Tuesday, September 4, 2012, those with unpaid claims against the failed PSB totaling less than a hundred grand are urged to come to the old OEK Building in Koror and fill out a claim form. The office will be open from 9am to 5pm daily, including lunchtime. The office will also be open on Saturday, September 8th and Saturday, September 15th during the same hours. The deadline for filing claims to be eligible for a distribution of the new funds is 5pm Saturday, September 15th. All required forms and documentation must be submitted and received by no later than that date and time. For more information on these funds please call the President’s office at 767-2532.
43rd Pacific Island Forum held in the Cook Islands
The 43rd Pacific Islands Forum took place following the Polynesian Leaders Group meeting in the Cook Islands this week. The leaders highlighted several issues of common concern in the Polynesian region where they also noted very carefully major issues in the Pacific Plan, which they would particularly focus on climate change, fisheries and other areas of importance. Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna pointed out that the group was not set up to compete with other groupings within the Forum and that when looking at the geographical proximity of each of the Polynesian nations, it would make sense to address issues of common concern as a group instead of addressing them in a Pacific regional level. OTV’s Rolynda Jonathan and Blaire Philips attended the forum and will have full reports when they return next week.
Pacific faces serious depopulation and labour mobility issues
The Pacific Islands News Association Forum was also held in the Cook Islands this week. During the PINA’s forum the unique economic situation of Pacific Islands that has many islanders migrating to neighboring developed countries in search of better employment opportunities was discussed. Although depopulation is a regional issue, the increase in Pacific migrants are due to job unavailability, unreliable transportation and lack of basic essentials such as access to water, electricity and healthcare. Although people continue to migrate to big developed countries such as New Zealand, Australia and the United States, others are coming in to fill up the gap and keeping the population steady. In the North Pacific, the number of young people migrating to the U.S for job or educational opportunities continues to rise, however like the Cook Islands, foreign workers are filling in the gap left by depopulation. Different initiatives are now being explored to address migration and depopulation in the North Pacific region in a national and regional level to hopefully address the declining population and increasing demand of skilled jobs.
SIS Leaders discussed strategic positioning within the PACIFIC PLAN
In addition to those two forums, Smaller Island States or SIS held its 21st meeting with a more strategic positioning of the interests within the Pacific Plan. Also high on the agenda was the proposal to develop a program based approach as the basis to seek additional funding for the SIS Development Fund. The SIS Leaders’ Meeting was the first in the series of meetings that led up to the 43rd Pacific Islands Forum in the Cook Islands. Membership of the Pacific Islands SIS includes the Cook Islands, Kiribas, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Federated States of Micronesia and Tuvalu. Other issues for SIS Leaders’ consideration included special requirements in climate change financing, sub regional transport services, tourism potential and gender equality. The one-day SIS Leaders’ meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Henry Puna of the Cook Islands.
Non-Communicable Diseases leading cause of death in the Pacific
In 2000, Pacific Island countries signed on to achieve eight millennium development goals, which included the combat of NCD’s under goal number 6, but according to the 2012 Pacific Regional MDG’s Tracking Report prepared by the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat, the region is ‘off-track’ to achieving goal 6 by 2015. However individually, Cook Islands and Niue are the only countries on track to achieve the MDG’S including goal 6. Fiji, Palau, Samoa and Tonga are also making notable progress towards achievement. But NCDs continue to be the leading cause of death in the Pacific as 8 out of 10 deaths are NCD related. Discussions have been made to identify areas of action towards NCD response and currently the World Health Organization is working on ways to strengthen efforts to combat NCD’s in the region.
Secretary of State confirmed to attend PIF
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was confirmed to attend the Pacific Islands Forum in the Cook Islands this week. Mrs. Clinton attended the post-forum dialogue on August 31, as part of the U.S.’s intensive engagement and ongoing collaboration with the Pacific Islands. Her visit will emphasize the depth and breadth of American engagement across economic, people to people, strategic, environmental, and security interests. Mrs. Clinton will lead the highest-level US delegation in the forum’s history, accompanied by senior officials from the Departments of State, Defense and Interior. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key both flew to Rarotonga for the forum on Wednesday. Both leaders are expected to have bilateral talks with Mrs. Clinton.
Chamorro man alleged leader of Georgia terror group
In other regional news, a Guam descendent is the alleged leader of an anarchist militia that Georgia prosecutors say killed two people and collected assault weapons for anti-government attacks, according to the Associated Press. Private Isaac Aguigui and three other Army soldiers based in southeast Georgia were charged by state authorities with several felony counts, including murder. Isaac Aguigui’s grandparents and father were from Guam, but the soldier has never been to the island, said Gloria Aguigui, the man’s grandmother. The militia, composed of active duty and former U.S. military members, allegedly spent at least $87,000 purchasing guns and bomb components. Prosecutors said the group called itself F.E.A.R., short for Forever Enduring Always Ready. The AP reports that Aguigui funded the militia using $500,000 in insurance and benefit payments from the death of his pregnant wife a year ago. The militia plotted to take over Fort Stewart by seizing its ammunition control point and talked of bombing the Forsyth Park fountain in Savannah, according to prosecutors. In Washington state, the group plotted to bomb a dam and poison the state’s apple crop. Ultimately, the militia’s goal was to allegedly overthrow the government and assassinate the president.
Male nurse charged with sex assault against U.S. coastguard crew member in Kwajalein
Sexual assault charges have been filed against Dennis Henry, a male nurse at the Kwajalein Hospital for allegedly sexually assaulting a crew member of the Guam based USCG Cutter “Sequoia”. On March 25th Henry allegedly administered the drug Ambien to the “Sequoia” crew member, identified as “GC”, who was on liberty while the USCG Cutter was docked at an Army base on Kwajalein Atoll. According to the affidavit, Henry told investigators that the sex was consensual, but denied administering Ambien to “GC”. “GC” admitted he was intoxicated, but denied taking Ambien and denied ever engaging in “consensual sex with any other male.” GC told investigators he woke up dazed and in pain after swallowing a lump in a beer from Henry. A blood sample confirmed Ambien in his system. Henry was arrested on Saturday August 25th in the Marshall Islands and has been transported back to Hawaii to face a charge of aggravated sexual abuse.
Guam Brothel owner faces life for sex trafficking Chuukese woman
In February 2011 Song Ja Cha, the owner of a brothel called Blue House Lounge in Guam, was convicted of 20 federal crimes connected to sex trafficking and prostitution. Between 2004 and 2007 Cha lured nine women from Chuuk and promised high-paying jobs as waitresses and store clerks in Guam. Upon arrival in Guam, their passports and plane tickets were confiscated and they were forced into prostitution. The women were also given forced birth control injections. Cha’s sentencing is set for September 20th and federal prosecutors are asking for a sentencing of life in prison and payment to her employees of an estimated $305,000 in back wages and damages.
Family sues Washington school district for 8 year-old Palauan girl’s gunshot wound
Earlier this year an 8 year old Palauan girl named Amina Kocer Bowman who lives in Bremerton, Washington suffered a gunshot wound from a 9 year classmate who brought a gun to school in his backpack. She was shot once when the gun fired through his backpack. The bullet passed through her arm and into the side of her body missing all vital organs. Her family is now suing the school district, saying it failed to heed clues the boy was dangerous. Amina Kocer-Bowman’s family filed a $10 million claim Wednesday against the Bremerton School District. The claim says her teacher was concerned that the boy who brought the gun to school was acting out and fighting. It also says the boy had told several other children his intention to bring a gun to school. The girl’s family is also suing the boy’s relatives for allowing him access to handguns.
Police Blotter full of alcohol related arrests & violent incidents
The police blotter from August 24th to the 28th contained eleven alcohol related arrests and reports of extreme violence. Here’s the breakdown..
On August 24th in Ngerias there was a reported case of child abuse and 50year old male was arrested and contained until sober for further processing.
On August 25th there were three arrests including 30 year old Ellicson Tatingal, who was spilling trashcans and bothering the neighbors in Smiich, 25 year old Jeraldez Leon who was involved in a 2 car accident in Meketii, and 44 year old Robbin Kuchad who was bothering customers and the cashier at KD store in Ngerchemai.
On Sunday August 26th, six alcohol related arrests were made of the following individuals: 29 year old Tommy Sasao in Medalaii, 21 year old Rhyone Sonskit at the PCC Dormitory, Steven Midas in Ngerbodel, Flora Delmel at the BPS Summer House, 28 year old Ngiramedal Danely Eric at Dumpling King Restaurant and 30 year old Cain Iyekar in Ngerbeched.
And on August 27th, Fuany Ngiruios was arrested for being drunk and causing a disturbance at the TR Headquarters in Medalaii.
Other violent unsolved cases during this period include a brawl that occurred on August 26that 3:30am, involving several Palauan men fighting in the SLC parking lot leaving an injured victim who sustained stab wounds on the arms and shoulders and scrapes on the face. Witnesses say the fight was between people from the Ngerbeched and Idid hamlets. Also during that same early morning a male victim reported that he had been attacked near MJ Burger Stand by an unknown Palauan male wearing a white long-sleeved shirt and dark pants. The suspect swung at the victim with a machete, nearly striking the victim’s head. Officers responded to the area but the suspect had left. And just a few minutes later, a Palauan male that had been stabbed and needed medical attention waved down patrolling officers in front of the Post Office. Officers then transported him to the Emergency Room and the victim reported that he was somewhere in Idid Hamlet when a suspect appeared out of nowhere and started to stab him with a sharp object. All three cases are under investigation.
FLU case increase in August
Since the beginning of August, the Belau National Hospital has seen an increase in influenza cases. Over 30 patients a week are seeking treatment at the Out-Patient Department with flu-like symptoms. The public is urged to continue practicing hygienic habits such as proper hand washing and food handling to prevent further spread of the flu. Although there may be many social activities and gatherings, those experiencing flu symptoms are encouraged to remain home or seek medical attention. Furthermore, the public should keep in mind that children under 12 years of age are not allowed within the hospital at any time unless seeking medical attention. Hospital visiting hours remain unchanged and are between 10am and 2pm in the daytime and between 6pm and 8pm in the evenings. Keeping with these rules will limit the spread of influenza like illnesses within the hospital.
FSM seeks PHL Expertise to develop Rice Industry
The Federated States of Micronesia is seeking technological assistance from the Philippine government to learn how to develop its own rice industry. “Micronesia, particularly in Pohnpei, has so many natural resources. We need to maximize these resources for consumption, and to start reducing importation such as rice from other countries,” said FSM Senator Shelten Neth in a statement released by the Philippine Rice Research Institute. In a recent tour of the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, including PhilRice headquarters, Neth said his country wants to explore a possible “country to country” collaboration on rice production. A net importer of food products, FSM imports rice and other food from Australia, the United States, and Japan, among other countries.
Habele Awards; Additional Scholarship
Thanks to a pair of generous last-minute donations, Habele has awarded two additional K-12 scholarships for the 2012-13 school year. The announcement brings the scholarships total to 25, with winners attending independent schools in three of the FSM’s four states. Habele was founded in 2006 by a group of former Peace Corps Volunteers. They’ve been supporting low-income students at independent, non-public, K-12 schools through tuition scholarships for six years. The group also supports after school programs such as high school robotics clubs and the Waa’gey canoe-carving project. Last month they donated a thousand English dictionaries to the middle schools across Yap State.
Chuuk’s Solar Computer Lab
A primary school on the island of Udot within Chuuk, were given access to the internet in a much more safe and cost sufficient way. The Pacific Island Schools Connectivity, Education and Solar Project, with the help of numerous local community members were able to set up six Computer Lab-in-a-box and a long-distance, solar powered wireless internet connection, between the small island of Udot and Chuuks main Island, Weno. The single-level school on Udot required a 30-foot pole on which to mount the antenna, while another antenna was mounted on the roof of the three-story building of Truk Stop Hotel, which provided the necessary height for the line-of-sight to provide connectivity across the Chuuk Lagoon to udot Island. Finally the network was routed to a Wi-Fi network providing connectivity to the school, and for the local community. The Solar-In-a-Box was developed by the students of Illinois Institution of Technology, it includes a six Intel Classmate laptops, solar panels and mounting gear, a charge controller, wiring and laptop security equipment, all contained in a specially designed and ready-to-ship box that can transform into the computer lab’s table. The team was fortunate to be on-island during a Summer Institute for the teacher training sponsored by the Department Of Education.
Marshall’s movie maker receives top honor on Bikini exiles
A Marshall Islands film for the first time will feature at the opening of the Moondance International Film festival in New York next month. The Sound of Crickets at Night is the latest film by Jack Niedenthal, is about an elderly nuclear survivor from Bikini Atoll who summons a mysterious ancient deity to help reunite his family. The film, the fourth feature by Niedenthal has been awarded the Moondance Atlantis Award for foreign feature films. The 1 hour 20 minute movie filmed entirely in the Marshall Islands on Majuro Atoll and Bikini Atoll will be shown in New York on September 14th, in Guam on September 29th and finally in Hawaii in mid October.