P1 Majuro’s new airport opens The new Majuro airport opened December 9 for the first time, representing the culmination of more than two years of work by American International Constructors of Seattle and the US Army Corps of Engineers. The 7,000-foot strip will be only the second civil airfield in the entire three million square mile Trust Territory lighted for night operations — a factor critical in commercial scheduling. Thus Majuro makes its first real step in its emergence as a trans-Pacific crossroads, and also helps itself to an almost 900-fold increase in its water storage capacity due to the fact that tandem with the $2.2 million airstrip is a catchment system designed to alleviate the island’s sorely over-taxed water system.
P16 Kuwait and RMI friends The Marshall Islands has added the oil-rich country of Kuwait to the list of nations with which it has diplomatic ties. Last week, the Amir of Kuwait accepted the credentials of newly appointed Marshall Islands Ambassador Carl Heine in an elaborate and elegant ceremony in front of Banyan Place.
P18 New foreign secretary Bobby Muller has been appointed by the Public Service Commission as the new Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Until recently, Muller was the Secretary of the Ministry of Resources and Development. He takes over from Jiba Kabua who recently won election as Namdrik’s new senator.
P8 The story on radio V7AB The Journal spent a bit of effort listening to V7AB news broadcasts from the end of August to the beginning of November to see what was on the government station’s radar screen for news, both local and international. We listened to news broadcasts on 29 days from August 30 to November 1. On 25 of those day there were news broadcasts. Here’s what we found: Of the 162 stories that were read by V7AB staff on those 25 news program, only 28 percent (46) were Marshall Islands-related, while Pacific and international news was split evenly at 58 stories each. Of the 46 Marshall Islands-related stories, 78 percent (36) were either based on news releases issued by a government office or other entity, or were from wire services such as Radio New Zealand, and Yokwe Online. The balance of 10 Marshall Islands-related stories were produced by the V7AB news staff in the 25 days that they had news broadcasts.
P14 Cutting back at Kwajalein By 2010, many Kwajalein missile range operations will be moved to Huntsville, Alabama, reducing the on-island “footprint” of missile range activities. This follows an already significantly reduced American population at Kwajalein, which has dropped from about 2,500 as recently as the early 2000s to fewer than 1,700 today.
P16 AMI’s woes put Bikini dive in doubt The flagship tourism destination in the Marshall Islands could be forced to close its doors after 11 years of operations if Air Marshall Islands doesn’t get back in the air soon. With the annual opening of Bikini Atoll’s scuba dive operation looming in early February, company officials are expressing increasingly concern about the lack of progress in getting planes back in the air. The collapse of AMI has also caused medical evacuation costs for patients from remote outer islands to double for the Ministry of Health.
P20 Women of Waan Aelon in Majel In mid-October, the first young women graduated from a six-month canoe building and carpentry training course run by the Waan Aelon in Majel (Canoes of the Marshall Islands) program. That female trio — Neibo Anrak, Suzanne Jato and Tatiana Zackios — broke the male-only barrier, and now young women are fairly pouring into the program. A new group of 22 trainees arrived this wee, seven of whom are young women. Neibo, Suzanne and Tatiana are stepping up to the next level in the WAM program. “We wanted to show people that it didn’t stop with the firsts training,” said Director Alson Kelein of the continuing involvement of the three young women in the canoe program. Neibo is training to become a trainer. Suzanne is involved in the advanced carpentry and fiberglass program on a full-time basis, while Tatiana is working both in the advanced carpentry and fiberglass training, as well as learning administrative skills with WAM’s office management team.