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FRIDAY, July 24, 2009
This Week's
Inside Stories
10 known
H1N1 cases

The first six people with confirmed cases of A/H1N1 flu (Swine Flu) in Majuro have fully recovered. “Part of the reason for their full recovery is that these individuals were generally young and healthy with no ‘co-morbid’ illnesses, so they were able to fight off this particular flu,” said Majuro Hospital Administrator Dr. Maire Lanwi-Paul.
Energy, waste on Summit agenda
The leaders of Micronesia wound up a two-day confab in Majuro this past week, concluding with a July 15 adoption of numerous action scenarios specific to health, telecommunications, environment, transportation, energy, tourism, and invasive species. Hosted by RMI President Litokwa Tomeing, the affair was attended by Presidents Manny Mori and Johnson Toribiong of FSM, Palau and Governor Benigno Fitial, Guam Governor Felix Camacho, and the governors of three of the four FSM states representing governors of the various entities participating in the conference.
Ship registry tops 50m tons
The Marshall Islands ship registry surpassed the 50 million gross ton mark earlier this month, continuing its steady growth, said International Registries Inc. (IRI) in a release this week. In less than six years, the Marshall Islands fleet has grown from 18.5 million gross tons and 626 vessels at the end of 2003 to 50 million gross tons and 2,044 vessels in July 2009 reflecting an average annual growth rate of 23 percent in terms of gross tonnage.
RMI tops world in health costs
The Marshall Islands is spending more money on health care than any other country in the world, according to various international reports. The Marshalls is spending about 15.4 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care. The United States is number two in spending at 15.2 percent.
Illegal imports
For the first time in recent history, a high-ranking government official has declared that smuggling is happening on Majuro. Speaking during Wednesday’s Public Accounts Committee hearing, Minister of Justice David Kramer questioned the Ministry of Finance’s Customs, Revenue and Tax Division and asked why is it that people on Majuro can buy a packet of cigarettes for $1 when the tax on cigarettes is $1.50?
Tobolar loses $1.4m
Tobolar has lost $1.4 million since late 2008 because of the artificially high price paid to copra producers and a huge reduction in the world market price for coconut oil — developments that could herald the end to the primary cash crop in the Marshall Islands. Pacific International Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer Jerry Kramer, whose company holds the management contract for Tobolar, warns that the current copra price approved by the government is hurting the Delap-based copra processing plant. "The government wants
“The government wants Tobolar to pay a price that far exceeds the world price,” said Kramer, adding that while the government’s heart is in the right place, this price comes with consequences. According to Kramer, the world price for copra is at seven to eight cents per pound while government has ordered the price paid to copra producers be 22¢ per pound for the outer island producers and 23¢ per pound for Majuro’s producers. In recent weeks, outer island copra producers have been complaining that they have not been getting paid for their copra. In June, after a cry for help from Tobolar to the government, Cabinet approved a $500,000 subsidy to Tobolar. This fund however did not materialize until last week — a month after the approval — and only $170,000 of it was made available.
“I understand government’s position to help the people but this has consequences, it costs,” said Kramer. “We have to bite the bullet and cut the price of copra.” Kramer
said because of the high cost, Tobolar is in the red by $1.4 million. “We can’t sell our oil, we’ve used up our line of credit with Bank of Guam and we’re on the boarder line of whether or not Tobolar can pay its loan,” said Kramer. Tobolar’s last copra oil sale was in November 2008. Even as the world price of copra oil has fallen from $1,400 per ton back to $440 per ton now, Kramer said Tobolar still can’t find a buyer. Kramer warns that if the current RMI price for copra doesn’t reflect the world prices, then come 2010, Tobolar will need an additional $3 million subsidy just to cover the cost of buying copra from producers. But with no one buying the Marshallese copra oil, one is left with the question of what Tobolar will do with all the copra it continues to buy?
Beautify the islands... Keep trash off the streets & beaches.
Mayor Titus tightens the financial belt
Decades of uncontrolled expenditure coupled with failing to pay its own income, social security and health taxes and debts is what some long time employees and current council members are blaming for what they call the demise of Majuro Atoll Local Government. But, Majuro Mayor Titus Langrine (pictured) says the sacrifices made today will put MALGov in a better position come 2011. Speaking with the Journal on Thursday, Majuro Mayor Titus Langrine brought to light the troubles his administration is now facing as it enters the third pay-period whereby some, if not all, MALGov employees may not receive their paycheck. “It’s not a problem with revenue collections,” explained Langrine who noted that MALGov’s monthly tax revenue collections have steadily averaged about $200,000 each month. “What we’re hit by now is a cash flow crunch because of our debt obligations.” Langrine said MALGov’s massive debt Langrine said MALGov’s massive debt obligation to MISSA is what is curtailing MALGov’s programs, operations and ability to meet payroll. “Because of the court judgment we have to pay $95,000 to MISSA monthly,” he said. “We’re paying our debts first and then taking care of payroll.” Langrine said that over the last three pay-periods they’ve only had enough to pay some employees and not all. This system however has some council members and employees accusing the administration of being biased. “It seem only those on the
inside circle are getting paid and the rest of us are not,” said one councilmember who wished not to be named. “It’s really bad now,” said one MALGov staffer. “We have families we have to feed too and bills we have to pay and they expect us to work for nothing.
MALGov has fallen so far down that it might as well be defunct." Langrine (pictured) does not downplay the concerns about MALGov’s troubles and admits that in the past year over 20 employees have resigned, including MALGov’s long time sheriff Tarry Carney and Treasurer Joseph Batol.“What we’ve done is put a freeze on new hires and we’re not replacing those positions that are vacated,” said Langrine. “The next two years are going to be tough for MALGov. I’m just trying to clean up the mess I was left from the past.” With the new fiscal year looming on the horizion, Langrine is hopeful that MALGov’s new budget will be able to address the problems experienced this current fiscal year and he says MALGov needs to stays the course, pay off its debts first and then “by 2011 all our debts will be cleared.”
Enewetak was the place to be to witness the total eclipse of the sun on Wednesday afternoon. “The weather was really good with no clouds and they say it got really dark,” Enewetak Local Government’s Neil Flores told the Journal. In Uliga, the eclipse was pretty much a non-event, with thick cloud hiding the Sun as the Moon crossed between it and Earth, but witnesses did see it (using prescribed shades) in Long Island. Tourists who flew to Jaluit on the Dash-8 reportedly were also disappointed as MIVA’s Dolores deBrum, speaking to the Journal an hour before the eclipse, said it was “raining buckets.”

Journal 7/25/1970

Journal 7/22/1974

P1 Did you ever hear the story about the two hermit crabs living in a cave? Forgive the repetition if it is a rerun, but the point is worth considering: One day a horse ran by the cave. About a year later, one of the hermits says: “Did you see that white horse?” Another year passes and the second hermit replies. “Wasn’t a white horse. It was black.” Finally the first hermit, again one year later, says: “I’m leaving. I can’t stand this constant bickering.” This is the only story that comes
P1 “We do not legislate for ourselves alone, but for our children and for generations to come. Whether our grandchildren are known as Micronesians, Americans or Micronesian-Americans may be determined by our actions this summer.”Speaking a the opening of the third and final session of the
to mind when one encounters the “St. Pierre” thing vis-à-vis the Marshall Islands Hermit Crab Association. Oh, hell, we agree the St. Pierre thing is non-news. But it appears to be news. At the recent conference establishing the Pacific Islands News Association in Suva both Bud Smyser (of the Honolulu Star Bulletin) and Stuart Inder (Pacific Islands Monthly) asked what was up with the St. Pierre case. Amazingly, makes you think that all that is going on in Micronesia is the St. Pierre thing. One more piece of this sprawling intestine washed up on the beach here this past week: a group of Marshallese leaders (identifiable as belonging to one side of the argument occurring in the cave) came out in heavy opposition to the fallen saint. Then St. Pierre (through his legal hatchet Ben “Slow Dancer” Abrams) casts aspersion on the Marshallese dissenters, pointing out that some of the signers of the petition supporting the High Commissioner were themselves adversaries of the poor bilked Marshallese woman Totha Samuel in 1966. St. Pierre obviously failed to perceive that the petition supporting the HiCom’s attempt to remove the doughty public defender was not so much a statement against St. Pierre as a statement that one group of politicians here in the Marshalls disagree with another group of local politicos simply because this is the established fashion. As Benny the legal beagle pointed out, James Milne, Henry Moses, Larry Edwards and Ekpap Silk supported St. Pierre in a May 18, 1974 petition. It is only natural, then, to expect that by July Atlan Anien, Amata Kabua, Charlie Domnick and Joba Kabua would be coming out with a counter petition. The indication of just how petty this split business gets here in eastern Micronesia is the news story, not positions on the very boring and over-dramatized St. Pierre case. There is going to be a new dock in Majuro: Therefore the two groups take positions on the issue of the dock being good or not. This applies to everything and is the most serious problem facing the Marshallese people today. There is a power struggle going on today in the Marshall Islands and if you would like to know from this writer who is going to win, I can tell you with a very high degree of certitude: Uncle Sam.
Third Congress of Micronesia, Senate President Amata Kabua continued: “Within a week or so the Congress will receive the report of its political status delegatio. History will judge this Congress by its reaction to this report.” Kabua recalled that the 1968 session was labeled the “summer of dissent,” the 1969 session the “summer of decision.” However he refused to name the summer ahead until the closing of the session in 45 days. “he events of this session will speak for themselves; we do not have to give them names,” he said.
P2 Toke Sawej, assistant manager of Kwajalein Importing and Trading Company (KITCO) has been elected United Micronesian Development Association (UMDA) board representative for the Marshall Islands. UMDA stockholders voted to replace former board member Atlan Anien, vice president of the Marshall Islands Import Export Company (MIECO). According to Keith Smith, m anager of KITCO, the election of Sawej represents a victory for KITCO over MIECO. “We had more voting stock behind us and we won,” said Smith.
P3 Acting Peace Corps Director John Middleton has announced that the Marshalls will be receiving 38 new Peace Corps Volunteers on August 22. “The new volunteers will have a majority of their number assigned to the Department of Education, with eight assigned outside of Education.
P9 The following story appeared under the title, “Quick Quick Service”: During a recent congressional session Senator Olympia Borja complained he had no microphone and no ashtrays. The next day he had a microphone and two ashtrays. There was a short — but loud — buts of laughter from the Senator and spectators.

Journal 7/24/1992

P1 If word gets out to the Cook Islands, they’ll be cringing. If the beefy Hawaiians now strutting their stuff to the South Pacific on Hokule’a read about it, they’ll contemplate ceding their state to the RMI. And when Marshallese around the world find out about it, their breasts will swell and their heads will swelter in a warm glow of justifiable esteem. At issue is the results of the first trial runs of the Enewetak-built stark-styled lean and mean “walap,” the sleek definition of what sailing ought to be. According to President Kabua’s personal marine consultant John Slattebo, the performance of the yet-to-be named Enewetak canoe, which has been undergoing trials these past weeks, far exceeds expectations. “Not only are we amazed at the speed of the canoe, we are also frankly surprised at the number of people it can carry while steaming along at approximately 12 knots,” said the sailing master. In one run, according to Slattebo, the fleet Enewetak-style canoe soared from Gateway beach to the town side of the airport, then shot across the lagoon to a small islet past Enemanit before arcing home again to Gateway in under 55 minutes. “I was truly amazed,” Slattebo said.
P1 The Marshalls’ first Mother and Child Health Conference opened Tuesday with more than 250 participants. Jan Alfred expressed the Ministry of Health’s concern for the seriousness of the health problems facing Marshall Islanders. Among Micronesians, “Marshallese have the highest infant mortality rate,” she said. Causes of the high rate of child deaths are malnutrition, lacking prenatal care, poor nutrition during pregnancy and diabetes, she said. Fr. Jim Gould, SJ, observed: “We’re doing to the children with malnutrition what the United States did with the Bomb to the people of the northern Marshalls 40 years ago.” Visiting health official Dr. Sitileki Finau said: “In the Pacific we say we love each other, care for each other, go to church on Sundays. But there are people starving to death. Why?”
P6 Calling up Air Mike in Honolulu to reconfirm a ticket back to Majuro got strange answer from the agent. He says we needed to have our military clearance ID papers ready for check in to Majuro. When we responded that military clearance was only needed for Kwajalein, he said, “no, the computer says Majuro is a military installation, too.”