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Wed
28
May
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AIRCRAFT CARRIER MIDWAY AVAILABLE

HONOLULU --The US Navy wants to give away an inactive aircraft carrier, one named after a Pacific atoll and a famous World War II naval battle.

The former USS Midway, now part of the Navy's mothball fleet in Bremerton, Washington, is available as a donation. Eligible recipients include any US state, possession, municipal government, or non-profit entity, include American Samoa, Hawaii, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and, possibly, Midway itself.

The recipient of the aircraft carrier will be required to maintain the ship as a

non-moving museum or memorial.

Midway Atoll, scene of a decisive 1942 US naval victory in the war against Japan, is located about 11-hundred miles west-northwest of Honolulu. It's now a wildlife refuge operated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Limited numbers of visitors to the atoll, known for its albatrosses or "gooney birds," are permitted.

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Wed
28
May
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WESTERN SAMOA PASSPORT SCANDAL

APIA --A leaked parliamentary bill shows the Western Samoan government had planned to sell citizenship papers from as early as 1994.

The Samoa Observer newspaper reports that under Article 19 of the Foreign Investment Bill drafted that year, Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana was given exclusive power to sell citizenship's, permanent residencies, and temporary permits to foreign investors.

The revelation comes in the wake of a scandal over illegal passport sales in Hong Kong involving tens of thousands of dollars.

The Samoa Observer says that advertisements in Hong Kong newspapers promoting Samoan passports for sale had been done so in anticipation of the 39-page Investment Bill becoming law. But the idea was shelved when knowledge of the passport scam became public.

Since the controversy began last month, the normally ebullient Alesana, who holds the immigration portfolio, has continually refused to comment on the issue, fueling public speculation as to...

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Wed
28
May
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JAPAN REQUESTS FSM TOURISM PROPOSALS

The Federated States of Micronesia has been invited by Japan to request grant funds for tourism infrastructure improvements, including airport expansion.

During this month's Second Japan-FSM Roundtable Talks in Tokyo, FSM Secretary of External Affairs Asterio Takesy was encouraged by Japan's Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda to submit funding proposals that would permit one of the FSM airports to accommodate wide-bodied aircraft. The funds would be used to rebuild and lengthen the chosen airport's runway and to make terminal improvements.

The goal of the aid project would be to improve FSM earnings from tourism.

Expected to vigorously compete for the Japanese funding are the airports serving the states of Pohnpei and Chuuk. Pohnpei offers tourists the ruins of Nan Madol, while Chuuk contains the remains of dozens of World War Two ships and planes in a lagoon popular with divers.

Other matters discussed during the Tokyo talks included the further...

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Wed
28
May
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AUSTRALIA STILL HOLDING ON TO PNG ARMS SHIPMENT

CANBERRA --Australia says it is still holding an arms shipment that was originally bound for Papua New Guinea for use by foreign mercenaries against the Bougainville secessionists.

The arms shipment includes four Russian-built helicopters, rocket launchers, high explosive rockets, and a huge quantity of ammunition.

A Russian transport aircraft carrying the weaponry was diverted to the Australian Airforce base at Tindal, south of Darwin, on March 27 at the request of the PNG government. At the time it was considered unsafe for the aircraft to land in Port Moresby because of unrest in the capital over the government's mercenary contract with the British-based Sandline International.

The chief spokesman for the Australian Defense Force, Brigadier Paul Tys, said Tuesday the issue of ownership of the arms shipment was a matter to be resolved by the PNG government and the Sandline company. Brigadier Tys said the equipment was still in the state in which it was...

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Wed
28
May
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FSM PRESIDENT PROPOSES COMPACT NEGOTIATION COMMITTEE

In the Federated States of Micronesia, President Jacob Nena has proposed that the FSM Congress establish a six-member special committee to prepare the case for extension of the US-FSM Compact of Free Association.

The Compact, which provides the FSM with assistance funding from Washington totaling more than US$1.3 billion over 15 years, will terminate in the year 2001. Negotiations to consider Compact renewal options, however, already are scheduled to take place between the United States and the FSM beginning in 1999.

In draft legislation submitted to the FSM Congress, President Nena has proposed that the special Joint Committee on Compact Negotiation be made up of one representative each from the Executive Branch, the Congress, and the four FSM states of Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap.

Earlier this month he vetoed a Congressional Act that would have established a nine-member committee, including four members of Congress.

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Wed
28
May
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FRENCH POLYNESIA'S PRO-INDEPENDENCE RADIO PLANS EXPANSION

The director of French Polynesia's pro-independence radio network, Victor Maamaatua, is visiting two atolls in the Tuamotu island group this week, to arrange for a further expansion of Te Reo O Tefana's FM broadcast capabilities.

The Voice of Tefana now serves the highly populated Society Islands with four stations, which are located on Tahiti, Bora Bora, Raiatea, and Huahine. The fifth station, according to Maamaatua, is likely to be built on either Makatea or Tuniau in the Tuamotu Archipelago, depending on which atoll offers the best transmission relay site.

Maamaatua says expanding radio services to the less populated and widely scattered Tuamotus will benefit pro-independence efforts, by providing an alternative radio voice to the pro-French government stations already in operation there.

In the election of two French Polynesian deputies to the French National Assembly May 17, pro-independence candidates came in second to pro-French candidates in both the...

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Wed
28
May
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RAROTONGAN TO CLOSE JUNE 3 FOR RENOVATIONS

The government-owned Rarotongan Hotel in the Cook Islands, which is suffering losses of $150-thousand (New Zealand) a month, will close June 3 for a 3-million-dollar face lift.

The resort is scheduled to open again September 10 as a four-star hotel, just in time to serve as a key venue for the annual South Pacific Forum meeting of regional leaders beginning several days later.

Meantime, complications associated with the announced sale of the Rarotongan to Crocombe & Company have continued to frustrate long-planned, essential renovation plans. Although a purchase agreement was concluded last November, sale closing obstacles still remain because of liens on the property held by the Nauru government, which is owed money by the Cook Islands government.

The hotel has suffered accumulated losses of over $15-million, according to official Cook Islands reports.

With the Forum meeting fast approaching and the sale still incomplete, the government has agreed...

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Wed
28
May
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COOK ISLANDS NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL FORMED

In the Cook Islands, a community advisory council has been established to advise national leaders on such matters as the privatization of government-owned businesses, tax reform, and the repayment of government debt.

Chairman of the new National Development Council is Cook Islands Deputy Prime Minister Inatio Akaruru, who says the NDC "brings government another step closer to full cooperation with the community."

The eleven-member Council includes representatives of the private business sector, non-government organizations, and both traditional and church leaders.

Akaruru, the NDC's only government representative, says formation of the Council is tangible evidence of the Cook Islands government's commitment to an increased "level of transparency" in its operations.

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Wed
28
May
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JAPANESE STUDY FINDS NO NUCLEAR TEST LINK TO CANCER IN MARSHALLS

Doctors who conducted a cancer study in the Marshall Islands say they can find no link between the nuclear tests of the 1950's and the Pacific nation's abnormally high cancer rate.

The study, by doctors from Japan's Tohoku School of Medicine, found that nearly 30 percent of the Marshall Islanders who lived through the nuclear tests have developed thyroid cancer.

The doctors say in their report that no conclusions are yet available concerning the relationship between possible exposure to radiation and the diseases observed.

The study involved the checking of more than 6,000 Marshal Islanders who were alive during the nuclear tests.

The United States conducted 67 nuclear tests between 1946 and 1958 at Bikini and Enewetak atolls, with many of the blasts depositing radioactive fallout onto inhabited islands.

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Wed
14
May
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FSM RECEIVES HOSPITAL EQUIPMENT FROM JAPAN

Hospital equipment, with a value of 80-thousand US dollars, has been donated to the Federated States of Micronesia by the government of Japan.

The equipment will be used to expand immunization programs in all four FSM states: Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap.

The items donated by Japan include refrigeration equipment, vaccine carriers, thermometers, and vehicles.

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