P1 As Amata turns against Compact, minority party finds it appealing President Amata Kabua has notified the US government that the amendments to the Compact of Free Association now being considered by the US Congress are not acceptable to the government of the Marshall Islands. Meanwhile, the opposition party of the Marshall Islands has taken the stand that amendments contemplated in the US House of Representatives to modify the Compact render the document acceptable.
P2 Helbert achieves captain status Helbert Alfred made history today as he captained his first flight for Air Marshall Islands as a fully certified pilot. The Majuro-Mili-Majuro flight, first ever by a qualified Marshallese captain, was greeted by a throng of well wishers at its completion here in Majuro. On hand to congratulate Helbert for his fine accomplishment was Chief Secretary Oscar deBrum, Attorney General Greg Danz and about 30 other enthusiasts.
P1 Thumbs up to Compact American Samoan Congressman Eni FH Faleomavaega wants the US government to begin negotiations with the Marshalls for a new post-compact relationship. But times and the fortunes of the islands have changed dramatically from the 1980s, with a pervasive “sense of indifference” toward the Pacific on the part of many Washington officials, the five-term US representative observed during a visit to Majuro last week. “The problem facing the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau is that the Cold War is over,” he said. “This changes the entire equation. The only reason that the US appropriated $2 billion in the Compacts was for strategic/security reasons.”
P6 Pacific tuna catch doubles Tuna catches have more than doubled in the Pacific since the early 1980s but with the possible exception of bigeye tuna, the fish are in no danger of being fished out of existence, the South Pacific Commission reported in Majuro. The increase from 540,000 tons of tuna caught in 1980 to more than 1.4 million tons caught yearly in the early 1990s is the result of an explosion in purse seine fishing fleets of five distant water fishing nations, said John Hampton, the SPC’s principal fisheries scientist. He was speaking to more than 100 fisheries officials meeting in Majuro to develop a conservation and management system for the Pacific.
P1 $8.5m crisis The RMI Disaster Committee on Monday approved a recommendation to Cabinet that it declare a national state of emergency because of an impending crisis in the energy sector. The state of emergency recommendation is based on Majuro and Ebeye’s utility companies being on the verge of financial collapse and without a big injection of funding are expected to suffer an $18 million shortfall this year. MEC and KAJUR are facing a July 10 deadline for payment of $6.5 million for the fuel delivered earlier this month.
P3 Gas prices keep going up Gas prices hit the $6 mark for the first time at the end of May, but Majuro drivers barely had a week to “enjoy” the price. Two additional price hikes have followed during the first two weeks of June, with Mobil increasing prices to dealers by 36 cents so far this month. Currently, gas prices range from $6.39 to $6.44 per gallon.
P4 Farewell to Around Town’s founder The man who coined the term “Around Town” and made famous a “likatu and lakatu” photo section in this newspaper died in Majuro this week. Grant Gordon died at Majuro hospital Tuesday this week after an extended battle with emphysema — but one that had not stopped him from continuing to do things he liked to do, including traveling to Ailinglaplap last month for the big canoe race and fishing competition.
P20 Evelyn DEServes a medal As Delap Elementary School entered the new millennium, its outlook was grim. Classes were split between morning and afternoon sessions. Landowners were upset with the terms of the school’s lease, often locking students and teachers out. There were few textbooks. When Principal Evelyn Konou entered the scene as the new principal in 2001, the school was on a fast-track toward rock bottom. Often in the Marshall Islands with such a situation, where below-average standards are the expected norm, people don’t question the status quo. For Konou, however, the status quote was not acceptable and now, seven years later, DES is touted as one of the Ministry of Education’s best run public elementary schools. Both teachers and students show up to school every day, the land lease situation is settled, and the students get a full day of instruction.There has been top-level administration discussion about gearing DES to apply for accreditation from the US Western Association of Schools and Colleges.