P1 US smokescreen over Bravo The evacuation of Rongelap Atoll has brought into focus the conflicting views of Marshallese and US government officials regarding radiation exposure from nuclear tests. Marshallese are charging that the US deliberately exposed the people to fallout during the Bravo H-bomb test and predictably US officials deny this. But a just-released documentary on the Bravo shot that is premiering in Australia concludes that the US version of the facts is a smokescreen to cover up its culpability for allowing hundreds of Marshallese to be exposed to high level fallout. Produced by Australian Dennis O’Rourke, “Half Life” is the result of a more than three year investigation of the Bravo test, during which O’Rourke spent months on Rongelap and traversed the United States digging into 30-year-old Pentagon archives for film and interviewing the principal players in the US nuclear program in the Marshalls.
P16 Bucks needed for basketball It has been a busy week for the basketball team that is preparing to represent the Marshall Islands at the Oceania Games in Fiji early next month. According to team coach Brad Sasser, they have come up with just over half of the $10,000 they need to cover travel, housing and food costs for the week-long tournament in Fiji.
P3 Rape concern raised The recent reported assault and rape of an American woman living in Majuro highlights a problem Marshallese women believe is becoming more prevalent in the Republic. According to Evelyn Lanki from Women’s Affairs, lots of Marshallese women are abused by husbands or partners but often they don’t want to talk about it. She explained how a lack of studies and statistical data “doesn’t mean that it’s not going on. There’s all kinds of abuse here in the RMI including rape. But it seems hidden behind the culture. Women think if it happens it’s your fault or you behaved in some way to want it.” Women’s Athletic Club President Risi Graham also believes women don’t report rape “because it’s against our custom.” But, she said, “it’s about time the subject came out into the open to be discussed.”
P13 $60m and counting The Nuclear Claims Tribunal this week signed a compensation payment bringing the total awards to the $60 million level — $15 million more than the Tribunal is receiving from the US. Because the Tribunal only pays a percentage of each award, it has actually limited total payments to $30.9 million. Tribunal officials said 1996 was the biggest year for compensation awards, with $10.5 million awarded. The Tribunal is receiving $45 million from the US through 2001. Tribunal member Jim Plasman said the difference in the compensation programs — in the US, Americans have received 100 percent of their compensation awards, but in the Marshalls, compensation has been limited to 57 percent and now is starting at 25 percent because of funding shortage — “suggests that the Marshall Islands is not being treated the same.”
P18 Brand-X upsets Jets Brand-X upset the Continental Jets in a two-game sweep this week, putting them into the Majuro basketball championship against the Rita Hawks. In the rain-delayed first game, Brand-X surprised the top team in Pool B, defeating the Jets 72-65 behind 22 points by James, 18 by Kinso and 16 by Len. Vincent led the Jet’s offense, scoring 16. Calep scored 13 and Jeffery added 12. The second game went down to the final seconds, with Brand-X winning 70-67. Len led Brand-X with 22 points and 23 rebounds, Mark scored 16, James 13 and Kinso 11. For the Jets, Vincent scored 25 and Jason added 15.
P1 Kwaj jobs disappear Close to 300 Marshallese and American workers at Kwajalein are expected to lose their jobs later this year, as the US Army moves into the second year of “transforming” the Reagan Test Site. A total of 15 percent of the Marshallese workforce and 17 percent of the American workforce are expected to be cut. There are currently 912 Marshallese employees and 958 American workers. There were 1,050 Marshallese working at Kwajalein last year.
P3 Litokwa calls for US dialogue President Litokwa Tomeing offered an unmistakable message about diplomacy to US Ambassador Clyde Bishop during a visit last week by Bishop and Kwajalein Commander Col. Stevenson Reed. In the understated manner of a criticism delivered directly but offered with a dose of Marshallese diplomacy, Tomeing suggested that Bishop might consider stopping by more often. “It is always good to come together every so often, to greet one another, and to see how we can help each other out,” Tomeing told the two American officials. “We should do this more often.” The President said there is no need for an appointment. “Surprise me by simply walking in unannounced,” Tomeing said. “Why only meet when there is something to talk about?”