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NEW US SENATE BILL PERTAINS TO PACIFIC ISLANDS MATTERS

WASHINGTON (June 17, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS) ---In Washington, the US Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee has introduced legislation involving several matters pertaining to the Pacific Islands region.

Included is a proposal to extend --by five years-- a program that provides food to the residents of four Marshal Islands atolls affected by the US nuclear weapons testing program at the end of World War II. The four atolls are Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap, and Utirik.

The legislation also recommends extending Federal housing assistance on Guam to residents from the Freely Associated States --Belau, the FSM, and the Marshalls-- as long as all eligible US citizens have been serviced.

Still another section of the Senate bill would make it easier for the government of Guam to acquire excess US military land in the Micronesian territory. The legislation calls for a 180-day process, whereby Guam and the US Fish and Wildlife Service would attempt to agree on transfer...

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Wed
18
Jun
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FSM PACIFIC POST DIPLOMATIC NOMINATIONS

PALIKIR (June 16, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS) ---The President of the Federated States of Micronesia, Jacob Nena, has requested that the FSM Congress approve several new nominees for key diplomatic posts in the Pacific Islands region.

They include Wilton Mackwelung as Consul General in Guam, Kasio Mida as Consul General in Hawaii; and Gabriel Ayin as Deputy Chief of Mission at the FSM Embassy in Suva, Fiji.

The FSM President also is requesting confirmation of a number of key domestic post nominees.

At an upcoming Special Session of Congress to consider the nominations, President Nena also is expected to request Congressional approval for the Federated States of Micronesia to host the 1998 South Pacific Forum.

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Wed
18
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MAJOR US EDUCATION GRANTS TO AMERICAN SAMOA, CNMI, AND GUAM

Pacific Islands Development Pogram/Center for Pacific Islands Studies

WASHINGTON (June 15, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS) --Grants totaling over twelve and a half million US dollars (US$12,694,476) have been made to American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam to help with the education of children from low-income families.

The funds, awarded by the US Department of Education in Washington, will be made available to the three territorial school systems in September, for use during the new school year.

The funding amounts are based on the number of children in low-income families and the degree to which the territories have been able to raise moneys for the students' education.

American Samoa and the CNMI will receive more funding than during the past school year and Guam will receive slightly less.

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Wed
18
Jun
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FISHING VESSEL USING DRIFT NETS LOCATED NEAR MIDWAY ISLAND

HONOLULU (June 12, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS) ---A fishing vessel believed to be using illegal drift nets has been intercepted in international waters northwest of Midway Island in the Hawaiian Islands chain.

The US Coast Guard, after being alerted to the discovery of a large drift net by legal fishermen in the North Pacific area, sent a C-130 aircraft from Honolulu to survey the scene. The plane's crew videotaped both the drift net and the vessel suspected of using it.

A patrol boat from the Fisheries Agency of Japan now is at the scene, attempting to determine the national origin of the vessel.

Drift nets, which can range over scores of miles of the Pacific Ocean, capture and kill sea birds and mammals, unwanted fish, and turtles --including various endangered species-- in addition to fish for food. Large-scale drift net fishing generally is prohibited by international treaties and agreements.

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18
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RAINBOW WARRIOR IN HONOLULU ON WAY TO MARSHALL ISLANDS

HONOLULU (June 12, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS) ---The Rainbow Warrior, flagship of the environmental organization Greenpeace, has arrived in Honolulu from Mexico and is undergoing routine repairs, provisioning, and crew changes.

The vessel will set sail for Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands, this weekend to participate in Greenpeace's current Pacific Campaign.

Captain Andy Troia, interviewed abroad ship, said the Campaign's goal is to reduce what he called "the environmental mess already evident here and to keep anything worse from happening." Among Greenpeace's current Pacific objectives are to reduce pollution, preserve coral reefs, and, in particular, prevent the establishment of nuclear waste dumps on Pacific atolls.

The Marshall Islands government already has commissioned the US firm, B & W Nuclear Environmental Services, Inc., to carry out radioactive waste disposal research, to determine the feasibility of building a repository on one or more of the...

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Wed
11
Jun
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BLACK PEARL PRODUCTION EXPANDING IN COOK ISLANDS

AVARUA (June 6, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS) ---A third Cook Islands location is being developed for black pearl farming.

Joining the other Northern Group islands of Manihiki, which already grosses over $3 million (New Zealand) a year in the sale of its pearl harvest, and Penrhyn, where 80 farms now are under development, is the island of Suwarrow.

The Cook Islands Government Property Corporation, following the establishment of environmental impact guidelines for use of the Suwarrow lagoon, plans to engage commercial operators in the Polynesian country's expanded black pearl development project before the end of the year.

Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Henry says once the Suwarrow farms are in full production, "revenues of $5 to $10 million are possible, with the government benefiting from taxes of several millions per year."

Sir Geoffrey's Vision 2005 economic plan sees marine resources as one of the four key revenue earners for an increasingly privatized Cook...

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Wed
11
Jun
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PRESIDENT CLINTON SAYS MORE US LAWS TO BE APPLIED TO CNMI

WASHINGTON (June 9, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS) ---US President Bill Clinton, through a strongly-worded personal letter, has informed the Governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Froilan Tenorio, that federal immigration, naturalization, and minimum wage laws are going to be extended to the CNMI.

The reason, wrote the President, is "concern about certain labor practices in the islands that are inconsistent with our country's values."

Clinton told Tenorio he is working with the Congress to implement the laws in the US commonwealth "in a reasonable and appropriate manner."

Of particular concern, said Clinton, is the fact that half of the approximately 60,000 people in the Northern Marianas now are alien workers from Asia, comprising an overwhelming majority of the islands' work force. As a result, he pointed out, the jobless rate among residents remains high, at 14%, and the minimum wage, at $2.90 for garment and construction workers, "is plainly...

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11
Jun
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PRESIDENTS KABUA AND NENA TO MEET WITH OIA DIRECTOR STAYMAN

PALIKIR (June 11, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS) ---The new presidents of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Imata Kabua, and the Federated States of Micronesia, Jacob Nena, will travel to Washington later this month to confer with US government officials about development funding.

Immediately following participation in United Nations General Assembly events in New York, both presidents will meet with Allen Stayman, Director of the US Department of the Interior's Office of Insular Affairs.

Among the matters to be discussed will be preparations for extension of the 15-year US Compacts of Free Association with both the Marshall Islands and the FSM. Negotiations to consider Compact renewal options are scheduled to begin formally in 1999.

The Compacts now in force provide the FSM with US$1.355 billion and the Marshalls with US$958 million in financial assistance. Implemented in 1986, the current Compacts will terminate in the year 2001.

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11
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POSTAL SECURITY CHECK MADE IN AMERICAN SAMOA

PAGO PAGO (June 11, 1997 - SAMOA NEWS) ---A US Postal Inspector visited American Samoa last weekend to conduct a security check of the South Pacific territory's postal facilities, according to Postmaster Apolo Fialua.

Postal Inspector Dean Day returned to Honolulu Monday night after checking the post office's overall security, including mail storage and lighting.

Day also met with Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety Mike Sala to discuss the disappearance of a package of crystal methamphetamine from the facility after it had been submitted for registered mailing to the Drug Enforcement Agency in Honolulu. It is presumed stolen.

Day declined to discuss the case. However, the Postal Inspector indicated that he had a complete report from local authorities on the case and was taking the report back to Honolulu for review.

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US OIA PALAU OFFICE TO MOVE TO POHNPEI

WASHINGTON (June 11, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS) ---The Micronesian headquarters of the US Office of Insular Affairs will move from Palau to the Federated States of Micronesia's capital island of Pohnpei.

Neither the date for the move nor the precise location of the new Pohnpei office, which will be used to continue to serve the three Freely Associated States of Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the FSM, has been set.

An Office of Insular Affairs spokesperson in Washington says the move to Pohnpei is being made because of geographical considerations. Pohnpei is centrally located among the three northern Pacific nations, while Palau is at the western extreme.

The three Micronesian countries formally were part of the US-administered UN Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, together with the US Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The FSM, Marshall Islands, and Palau now are independent nations, while the Northern Marianas elected to become a part of the United...

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