AMERICAN SAMOA HEADLINE NEWS

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Wednesday, June 23, 1999
Samoa News

FOOD STAMP EMBEZZLEMENT INVESTIGATION CONTINUES

PAGO PAGO--The investigation into allegations of embezzlement and fraud of the local Food Stamp Program continues, according to various sources in the government.

The investigation is being conducted by the Territory's Task Force on Public Corruption and White Collar Crime, headed by Assistant Attorney General Fredrick J. O'Brien.

Several sources contacted this week said that the issue is still a top priority for the government and one ranking government official told Samoa News yesterday that "we are optimistic that the end is in sight."

TERRITORY'S CANNERIES FACE TOUGH GLOBAL COMPETITION

PAGO PAGO--Existing or planned tuna processing plants in any part of the world, especially in this region, are a great threat to American Samoa's fish industry.

That threat comes in the form of lower labor costs, putting American Samoa's industry in a very competitive position with its average minimum wage of $4.44 per hour compared to the next highest, $1.01 per hour, in Mexico.

But with countries in the region looking at tuna processing as a major industry, in which American Samoa has been a benefactor for many years, officials of the two canneries are taking the threat of global competition seriously. They oppose an increase in the American Samoa minimum wage.

LAWMAKERS PLAN TO ADDRESS TERRITORY'S SEX CRIMES

PAGO PAGO--When sexual assault against minors, especially children under the age of 13, occurs in cities across the U.S., it is a very sad story.

But when this occurs here, a territory which claims to be based on religious and cultural beliefs that respect children and women, the public wonders what has happened to American Samoa.

Many question what lawmakers are doing about this issue, such as those who have called Samoa News over the last couple of days following Court reports of two cases before the High Court that involve sexual assault and molestation of minors.

What was very upsetting to one parent was the detailing of what an 18-year-old man allegedly did to a 12-year-old girl.

Allegations of kidnapping and another sexually assault were also included in the same Court documents. And three lawmakers, including House Speaker Aina Saoluaga T. Nua, want to address this issue when the Legislature returns to session next month.

REPORT CLAIMS 11 GAMBLING MACHINES CONFISCATED BY POLICE

PAGO PAGO--A poker machine owner claims that during day two of the government's enforcement of the licensing of poker machines, eleven of his gambling machines that were not licensed were confiscated by police.

The owner's confirmation followed a call to Samoa News claiming that the government had seized poker machines from an Amusement Center in Nu‘uuli.

Government officials charged with handling the checking of licensed poker machines were not available for comment last night.

YOUTH WORKSHOP SPREADS ITS MESSAGE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD

PAGO PAGO--A 15 member Bahai Youth Workshop from Hawai‘i arrived on-island last week Friday to spread many messages to the people of American Samoa through drama, dance and song.

"They use these to relay their messages about racism, choices, drugs and many other things that our youth go through," explained Afoa Titi Nofoagatoto‘a, Chairman of the American Samoa Bahai Faith Youth Committee.

"They are also spreading the Bahai Faith's central teaching, which is the Unity of Humanity," he added.

SAMOAN CONSTRUCTION COMPANY TO BUILD NEW SPREP CENTER

APIA, Samoa--The South Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) has come another step closer to having new buildings with a decision on the contractor who will construct the new SPREP Center in Vailima, Samoa.

SPREP is the Samoa-based intergovernmental agency charged with supporting 22 Pacific Island member countries in safeguarding and sustainably developing the Pacific environment. It has been based in temporary accommodations in Vaitele since its move to Samoa from Noumea in 1992.

The Chairman of the SPREP Headquarters Task Force, His Excellency Mr. Paul O'Callaghan, announced today that the contract for the construction of the new SPREP Center at Avele Road, Vailima, would be awarded to C.A.R.E. Construction Company, Ltd., a newly formed Samoan company.

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