Samoan News, Tala Samoa
Samoa celebrates 54 years of Independence
Samoa celebrates its 54th Anniversary of independence from New Zealand, which ruled for 50 years.. The nation gathered at the Mulinuu Malae as the opening ceremonies were conducted. After the speeches and raising of the flag the traditional march past was conducted featuring schools, churches, civic organizations, and bands. Always a colorful event, the uniforms and marching to drums and bands playing is one of the most anticipated events for Samoa's population each year.After six decades of colonial administration first by Germany and then New Zealand, Samoa became independent in 1962.
The President of French Polynesia, the Governor of American Samoa, and the Ulu o Tokelau are some of the overseas dignitaries invited to attend with members of the diplomatic corps.
This year's independence celebration is being held at the hockey field at the Faleata Sports complex and not the traditional Tiafau malae at Mulinuu because of construction works for the new Parliament house.
A group of entertainers from Leone village in American Samoa is among those performing traditional dance and songs in today's event.
Another group of entertainers are prisoners currently serving sentence.
The independence celebration is for one day to be followed by a public holiday tomorrow and a commissioned holiday for public servants on Friday.
The President of French Polynesia, the Governor of American Samoa, and the Ulu o Tokelau are some of the overseas dignitaries invited to attend with members of the diplomatic corps.
This year's independence celebration is being held at the hockey field at the Faleata Sports complex and not the traditional Tiafau malae at Mulinuu because of construction works for the new Parliament house.
A group of entertainers from Leone village in American Samoa is among those performing traditional dance and songs in today's event.
Another group of entertainers are prisoners currently serving sentence.
The independence celebration is for one day to be followed by a public holiday tomorrow and a commissioned holiday for public servants on Friday.
American Samoa's Tri Marine to find other opportunities
Tri Marine International says it will look for other opportunities to source a tuna supply for its American Samoa cannery.
The fishing industry in the territory is facing serious challenges with restrictions imposed since June, and the United States recently withdrawing from the Pacific fisheries treaty.
There is concern these challenges will result in the closure of Tri Marine's two Pago Pago canneries, as it may not have enough raw material to be processed.
A company spokesperson, Heidi Happonen, says Tri Marine will be able to source tuna from around the world, but at a cost.
She says Tri Marine will look to source tuna from other fleets that may be available to make direct deliveries to American Samoa, while supporting every effort to negotiate a new treaty for US-flagged boats.
StarKist Samoa did not respond to questions on how it would get its fish supply this year.
Government monitoring development
The American Samoa Government is watching closely how the United States pull-out from the South Pacific Tuna Treaty will impact the local tuna industry.
According to the executive assistant to the governor, Iulogologo Joseph Pereira, the implications of the withdrawal of the United States from the Treaty is being reviewed by the American Samoa Fisheries Task Force.
He says the administration has received information that some of the fishing vessels which supply fish to the local canneries are not going out fishing because it is not economically and financially feasible.
Several locally-based purse seiners have been tied up since the end of last year, as they don't have licenses to fish in nearby waters that have been their traditional fishing grounds.
Iulogologo said the government is aggressively implementing economic development initiatives aimed at easing the adverse impact on the territory's economy should the canneries reduce production days due to the shortage of fishstocks.
Horrific Bus crash is not as deadly as reported initially.
5 People were injured when the bus they were riding crashed in Mulifanua, Samoa. There were many reports that initially claimed 15 people died in the crash however, that was not confirmed and the latest reports are reporting that the bus driver and a few others were involved in the crash but none had died. The injured were all treated at Leulumoega Hospital and then transferred to Motootua Hospital where the extent of the injuries are catagorized as serious but not life threatening. Witnesses claimed the bus driver and friends were on the bus which is the Manono Bus. This was one of the old wooden frame buses and the results could have been worse. According to one source there have been close to 50 Bus accident related deaths in the last 5 years and the quality of Bus driver in Samoa is in need of re-examination.
Enhanced internet access step closer for Samoa
The Asian Development Bank is granting US$25 million towards an underwater cable which will improve internet access for Samoa.
The $57 million project will link Samoa to Fiji's international submarine cable network.
Samoa is currently linked to the American Samoa-Hawaii cable system which is operating at near capacity.
The ADB grant comes on top of $16 million from the World Bank and $1.5 million from Australia.
The outer island of Savaii will be connected to the existing cable for the first time enabling it to receive high-speed internet.
The ADB says the cable will make telecommunications more affordable and efficient for the people of Samoa.
American Samoa warned over mininum wage hike
American Samoa has been warned that wage increases could substantially reduce employment and affect the local tuna industry.
The senator, Galeai Tu'ufuli, told reporters he supports higher minimum wages in the territory and wants to hike them up to 7 US dollars and 50 cents per hour.
But the American Samoa Chamber of Commerce says it's not in favour of the move and questions the data used by Galeai.
The Chamber's Chairman, David Robinson, says it's hard to see how employers can afford such a hike in the current economic climate.
American Samoa's minimum wage has been set by federal law since 2007, but the 50-cent hike has been delayed over the last three years, with the next increase set for September the 30th.
On Anzac day, Pacific countries reflect on their role in war
In Samoa, large crowds turned out at a dawn service in the capital, Apia, to remember those who fell in war.
Our correspondent, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia, said 49 soldiers of Samoan descent, who had joined either New Zealand or Australian forces in both world wars, were remembered in Saturday morning's ceremony.
Speaking at the service, Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi praised the courage and service of local soldiers who fought to maintain peace and freedom.
"The First World War was described at the time as 'the war to end all wars'," said Tuilaepa. "Sadly, since then, World War Two has been fought and other localised wars and conflicts continue to happen up to this day."
"Samoans have served in World War Two and now in UN peacekeeping operations in conflict zones around the world."
Government Building, Apia, in 1914 soon after New Zealand took control of German Samoa.
New Zealand's first act of the First World War was in August 1914 when it sent a 1485-strong military force at the request of Britain to take control of Samoa, then a German colony, to disable a radio transmitter on the main island, Upolo. New Zealand went on to rule Samoa for another 50 years.
At Saturday's service, Prime Minister Tuilaepa reflected on Samoa's complicated place in the conflict of 1914-1918: "For Samoa, as we heard last year during the commemoration for the start of the First World War, and its impact on the nationhood path taken by our country, there were Samoans serving in World War One on both sides of the battle lines."
Tonga also commemorated its 91 soldiers who were sent to the battlefields of Europe and the Middle East in the First World War, as well soldiers who were deployed to other conflicts and on peacekeeping missions at a ceremony at the Cenotaph, Pagai Si'i, in Nuku'alofa on Saturday morning.
Tongan soldiers were joined by soldiers from both New Zealand and Australia for the ceremony.
Warrant officer Roger Middleton raises the NZ Flag during the Nuku'alofa dawn service.
In Papua New Guinea, large crowds turned out for a ceremony at the Bomana War Cemetery near Port Moresby, where over 3,000 soldiers who died during the country's occupation in the Second World War are buried.
Addressing the crowd, Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said the bravery of Papuans and New Guineans who served in the Australian Army during the war, and the bravery of Papuan villagers who helped allied soldiers along the Kokoda track remains one of the most honoured parts of the history of war in the Pacific.
The Kokoda track campaign consisted of a series of battles between mainly Australian and Japanese forces in what was then the Australian territory of Papua. During that campaign, local Papuan carriers, who Australian troops called the 'Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels', carried supplies up the Kokoda track to allied soldiers and carried back injured troops for treatment.
"We pay special tribute to those brave men and women, who wrote their names into history with distinction and courage," said Mr O'Neill.
"Right now we stand on sacred ground -- where so many fallen warriors are buried. Here at Bomana, 3,834 service personnel from Australia, New Zealand, the United States and other allied partners have their final resting place...they will forever rest in our soil with due care and respect," he said.
"Now the Pacific lives in peace, and our countries have moved on from the horror of war -- but we will honour those who paid the supreme sacrifice," said Mr O'Neill.
Cenotaph honouring World War victims in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.
The Cook Islands will hold Anzac Day commemorations on Sunday (NZT, Saturday Cook Islands Time), with Rarotonga's traditionally separate RSA and civil Anzac commemorations combining to create a special centenary commemoration programme.
Hundreds of Cook Islands soldiers enlisted for the First World War, most of them in their teens, and served as labourers and ammunition bearers in France, Egypt and Palestine as part of the Maori contingent.
Machete attack triggered by a slap on brother’s face
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA: THURSDAY 17 APRIL 2015: A young man angered by the attack on his older brother retaliated by attacking a matai with a machete.
68 year old Gaga Sagele of Falealupo village is still hospitalized for serious wounds from the attack.
Gaga, was sent to relay the village council’s decision of the attacker’s older brother was still banished from the village.
According to the Ministry of Spokesperson, Superintendent Lemamea Su’a Muliaga Tiumalu, said that it was Gaga who slapped the young man’s brother first which triggered the attack.
One of the young man’s cousin tried to visit Gaga at the hospital yesterday. He said that Gaga did more than relay the council’s decision.
The young man, now charged with causing injuries with intent, learnt about the incident then followed Gaga and attacked him with a machete.
The cousin told Talamua that the incident could have been avoided if Gaga had not attacked first.
Lemamea confirmed the charge against the young man and his name is suppressed and police investigations are continuing.
“The police are working together with the Alii ma Faipule to secure peace,” said Lemamea.
The attacker’s cousin and a few relatives residing in Upolu decided to visit Gaga however, one of the hospital security guards advised them to seek assistance from the police.
He also said everyone in Falealupo is inter-related and he hoped the incident would not divide or cause further tension.
The village council met and decided to continue the ban against the attackers older brother when he was seen again in the village breaking his banishment conditions.
Meanwhile Gaga’s condition is still critical, said Lemamea.
SAN FRANCISCO (Press Release) — Scott Burch has been selected as the new superintendent of National Park of American Samoa located on the islands of Tutuila, Ofu, and Ta‘u in a remote part of the South Pacific. He replaces Jim Bacon who will be moving to the National Park Service’s Denver Service Center. Burch will begin his new assignment in summer 2015.
“Scott has a lot of experience with Pacific island issues, having lived in Hawaii much of his life,” said Pacific West Regional Director Chris Lehnertz. “He also has a strong background in managing large and diverse workloads, and in building successful partnerships. He’s a great fit for this position.”
Burch is currently the management assistant at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, and previously served as a concessions management specialist at Denali National Park and Preserve. He brings a wealth of knowledge in sustainable economic development on public lands informed by his academic and professional work experience from both the private and public sectors.
During his graduate work at the University of Hawaii Burch analyzed impacts of recreational use on Hawaiian off-shore island wildlife sanctuaries and designed a commercial recreation permit and fee system for those areas. He also founded a non-profit organization and a commercial ocean eco-tour company that were both based on collaborative work with local communities to conduct natural resource monitoring, advance sustainable low impact ecotourism, and implement education programs in fragile island ecosystems. These efforts earned him the Mayor of Honolulu Special Recognition Award and a nomination for the Hawaii Living Reef Award.
“I am excited to have the chance to contribute to the work of the dedicated staff at National Park of American Samoa, our partners, and the neighboring communities in finding that balance in the best interest of the people and unique ecosystems of American Samoa,” said Burch. “I am also delighted to be moving once again to a Pacific island. Snorkeling, outrigger canoe paddling and surfing are some of my family’s favorite past times; and having grown up in Hawaii, I feel most at home where I can live, work and play in and near the ocean.”
Established in 1988, the National Park of American Samoa (nps.gov/npsa), the only U.S. national park south of the equator, is dedicated to preserving the Samoan/Polynesian culture and landscape. The 10,500 acre unit consists of parklands on three separate islands: Tutuila, Ta’ū and Ofu. Almost all the land area of these volcanic islands — from the mountain tops to the coast —is rainforest. Close to a quarter of the park consists of submerged coral reef offshore from the islands.
Egon Keil appointed Samoa Police Commissioner
Egon Keil, has been appointed as Samoa's new Police Commissioner.
Mr Keil, who was one of 13 applicants, had spent 17 years with the Los Angeles police department before returning to Samoa three years ago.
Mr Keil, who is 50, is the son of a prominent businessman, Maposua Rudolf Keil, who runs the country's first FM radio station.
Under amendments of the Police Act, he is the first person to be appointed with outside police experience and qualifications.
The Prime Minister, Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, has told reporters the new police commissioner has outstanding knowledge from his career in the police force in the United States.
Samoans feel edged out of retail sector
An academic says community views on the presence of Chinese in Samoa show concern about the country's retail sector.
Dr Iati Iati from the University of Otago is a speaker at this week's China in the Pacific conference at the National University of Samoa in Apia.
He has just concluded a survey in Samoa of grassroots views on China's role in the country.
Chinese dominance in the ownership of supermarkets and general stores was a recurring theme in people's views.
"On the one hand they're quite pleased with the prices that are available to people, on the other hand they are concerned that this will lead to a lot of Samoan businesses going out of business. They just cannot compete, both in terms of price and in terms of the fact that a lot of Samoan businesses are caught up in certain cultural protocols which makes it a little bit expensive for them and offering their goods."
Dr Iati Iati says another imbalance is that local people don't have the access to capital and goods that the Chinese businesses have.
Teen pregnancies drop in American Samoa
Statisticians at American Samoa's LBJ Hospital say there has not been a 14 year old mother giving birth at LBJ Hospital for the first time in five years.
Radio New Zealand International correspondent, Monica Miller told Jenny Meyer the number of babies born at Pago Pago's LBJ Hospital has been dropping steadily for the last five years and so too has the teen pregnancy rate.
According to the Family Planning Division of the LBJ hospital, there's been a steady decline in the number of teenage pregnancies and this corresponds with the overall birth-rate also dropping in the last five years. Some of the figures that have been released according to the manager Marilyn Anesi, in 2013 there were 138 babies born to teenage mothers but last year that number dropped to 114. One of the things she was particularly pleased about was that for the first time in five years there is no baby born to a 14 year old mother. The previous years there has been a steady increase to the number of babies born girls 14 years of age. Last year and the last four years prior to 2014,15 was the youngest age.
So what are the hospital authorities and the statisticians crediting with this development?
According to Monica she thinks that their message is getting out. She says, "I know that they have a very strong teen monitoring programs where the teenagers in the high schools and the American Samoa Community College talk to girls who are in serious relationships and trying to spread the message that they should not have sex at that young age and that they should wait for marriage. They've also opened up their clinics sometimes late on Tuesdays and Thursdays and even opening up on Saturday morning. According to Mrs Anesi they've seen an increase in the number of people that are coming to the clinic now to make use of family planning services. The other belief is that whereas before people believed that using family planning would interfere with the will of God for parents to have children but I think that with a new generation coming up now they don't hold that belief as much as their parents did."
This seems to be a good news public health story. How has the reaction been from different sectors: education, health and perhaps even the teenagers themselves as the news hit the public?
Monica continues, "Unfortunately the report that we carried, this is the first time the information has come out and so there hasn't been any reaction so far. On the other side of the coin though, I know that the government people have been looking at why our census has been going down and that would be interesting to see what the government people would make of the fact that the birth-rate has dropped. If you compare the number that were born last year to 2010. It's actually 200 less babies."
Monica Miller says the 2010 census recorded a population for American Samoa of 55,000 people, which was lower than the commonly assumed estimate of 60,000, and she says there is a mid-census count planned soon for the territory.
Yesterday was the dawn of a new era for Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle, Paul Soliai.
It was when he stepped into the shoes of a matai, having been bestowed with the Leulua’iali’i title at the village of Solosolo.
“A matai name is a blessing,” he said. “It is not something that you get today and then you forget tomorrow.”Father Stowers advised Leuluaiali’i Paul to seek God first and place him above all else.
Referring to his achievements on and off the football field, he said: “You have fought and you have won. You deserve it (the title) and you have the blessings of your family, village and your church.”
He also reminded Leulua’iali’i not to forget his roots.
“Don’t forget that wherever you go, you are carrying the name of Leulua’ialii. You are taking with you the village of Solosolo.
“Always remember that a matai title is about the life of service, and fulfilling the roles of the matai is not an easy task.
“However, when you seek God His blessings will be upon you. Most of all you have to love and honor your family, church and village.”
Leulua’iali’i Paul, who is in the country with a host of other NFL players, said he was humbled by the honour.
The ceremony was well attended by the Solosolo village council – including Deputy Prime Minister, Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo.
The bestowal ceremony was followed by traditional exchanges of gift, food and money.
Soliai attended Rancho Alamitos High School in Garden Grove before moving to American Samoa for his senior year, he attended Nu'uuli Technical High School in Pago Pago where he was team captain as a senior.
Soliai spent two seasons at Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kansas. He was a two-time All-Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference offensive lineman. He earned an honorable mention All-American selection in 2002, and was a First-team junior college All-American as a sophomore in 2003.
Considered a four-star recruit out of junior college by Rivals.com, Soliai was listed as the No. 32 non-high school player in the nation.
Soliai transferred to the University of Utah in 2004 and was redshirted his first season. He played in 12 games as a junior in 2005, with up five tackles, 1.5 of which were for a loss. He made four stops against rival Utah State, including an assisted tackle for a loss. He also had a 10-yard sack against Arizona.
In 12 games at nose guard as a senior in 2006, Soliai recorded 35 tackles (13 solo), 3.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks for 15 yards, four pass break-ups, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a blocked kick. He earned a Second-team All-Mountain West Conference selection.
In April 2007, Soliai measured a height of 6-feet-4 and a weight of 332 pounds at his Utah Pro Day. He ran the 40-yard dash in 5.02seconds and 5.12 seconds, the short shuttle in 4.53 seconds and the three-cone drill in 7.77 seconds. He measured a 30½-inch vertical jump, but an elbow sprain prevented him from doing the 225-pound bench press.
Prior to the draft, Soliai was praised for his rare size, strength, quickness and athleticism, while also being criticized for his lack of technique and moves.
Soliai was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the fourth round (108th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft, signing a four-year contract on June 7.
Before the NFL lockout, Soliai was franchise tagged by the Dolphins. Giving him a one-year guaranteed salary of at least $12 million, which is the average of the top 5 salaries at that position.
On January 24, 2012, Soliai was added to the AFC Pro Bowl Roster to replace Ravens DT Haloti Ngata.
On March 14, 2012, Soliai signed an 2-year extension with the Miami Dolphins worth $12 million, with $6 million guaranteed for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. On March 11, 2014, Soliai agreed to terms with the Atlanta Falcons on a five-year, $33 million contract including $14 million guaranteed.
American Samoa limits immigration sponsorship
A bill that would limit the ability of corporations to sponsor foreigners to live and work in American Samoa is now law.
In a letter informing Fono leaders about the bill's signing, Acting Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga said the change to the Immigration Code will require all corporations desiring to sponsor foreigners to first obtain a certification from the Attorney General's Office.
Lemanu says this measure will ensure that a corporation is in good standing and meets certain requirements before they are eligible to sponsor such people.
The bill will also prohibit corporations from sponsoring a foreigner who has any control or interest in the company.
Lemanu says the corporate sponsorship provision was intended to foster the investment beyond the capacity of local businesses.
He says it also aimed to support American Samoa-owned businesses in need of human resources not available in the territory.
However Lemanu says over the past few years the territory has witnessed the increase of foreign ownership of small businesses within the capacity of American Samoans to own and operate.
Criticism of commercialisation of Samoa tattoos
A teacher of the Samoan culture at the American Samoa Community College is concerned about the commercialisation of the Samoan art of tattooing.
Teleiai Christian Ausage says the tatau or measina is a mark of service or tautua and in the old days only children of chiefs would have a tattoo.
He says there are certain cultural tasks that a person with a tattoo is expected to perform, but now one particular tattoo artist is using the ancient art form for commercial benefit.
"So the question is who has the authority and the ownership of this measina? As of now, he's putting this on everyone even people that are non-Samoans. So I am a little bit of afraid of this, because we are putting our own Samoan measina to other racial ethnicity, which is non-Samoan."
Teleiai has written a book about the tatau which is expected to be released in April.
Marine Genocide as Chinese Fishing Armadas threaten to destroy Pacific fishing stocks
A political tsunami is building in the South Pacific over the growing presence of Chinese fishing boats.
More than 1300 heavily subsidised Chinese boats are now licensed in the region with plans for a further 300 this year.
Fishing with long-lines, many are targeting albacore tuna with some set to take over the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of the Cook Islands and Samoa.
"I call it marine genocide, something needs to be done about it soon," Samoa fish exporter and expatriate New Zealander John Luff said.
Alarm over the expanded Chinese fleet was part of the logic for New Zealand appointing former Labour MP Shane Jones as an ambassador to the region, but Pacific countries appear to be indifferent to Wellington's warnings.
In Rarotonga politicians are actively working to exclude New Zealand fishing operations, preferring the Chinese.
Sources were shocked even though a year ago diplomatic dispatches were pointing to China's openly declared plan to increase its deep-water fishing fleet to more than 2300 boats.
Luff said they have been told two long-liners were about to arrive in Samoa's 129,000 square-kilometre EEZ, the Pacific's smallest. They've also been told they will be allowed to operate inside the smaller territorial waters.
"It is outrageous for this approval to get done," he said.
"They won't tell us what flag it is - we are assuming it is China."
Another 20 boats have also been licensed by regional authorities and Samoa, but Luff said officials told him they would only let one or two in at a time.
"The whole South Pacific fishery is in trouble and yet these guys are inviting them in," he said.
Luff said that with such a small EEZ, no matter where the newcomers fished, they would wipe out the domestic fishery.
"The South Pacific stock is getting hammered and if nothing is done soon, it will be beyond recovery," he said.
Pacific nations were facing powerful nations and were "reluctant to upset them for fear of losing their candy".
One of the big problems with the Chinese boats is that they are heavily subsidised by Beijing, meaning they can take fish long after it has become uneconomic for other boats.
A large tuna fishery exists in the northern Cooks EEZ but Rarotonga politicians have given licenses to a large number of Chinese boats, and last week approved South Korean purse-seine, or net fishing, boats, to take tuna.
The Cook Island's celebrates 50 years of self-government from New Zealand this year. Its Labour Party fisheries spokesman Reno Tirikatene said giving away Pacific fisheries resources to unproven Chinese companies was bizarre.
"Kiwis are chasing toothfish pirates in Antarctic whilst the Cooks are hopping on the Oriental Express of seafood fraud," he said.
"More galling is the fact Kiwi taxpayers, pay for it."
Part of that taxpayer money is in the form of a New Zealand Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation into the granting of tuna licenses being carried out on behalf of Cook Island Police. Neither party would comment.
Charges of corruption among politicians and civil servants are under the spotlight and in a formal submission made by interests groups and non-government organisations to the Marine Stewardship Council, concern was expressed at what China was doing and questions asked over the SFO's "ongoing investigation into … corruption allegations."
The Samoa National Orchestra String Ensemble had their second performance at the TATTE Convention Centre during the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture’s (M.E.S.C) Annual Conference last month.
The performance was in collaboration with the two-day conference exploring the theme “Education for Sustainable Development”. This performance featured a programme of hymns and classical music.
The String Ensemble is part of the Samoa National Orchestra who is striving to improve classical music in the region and strengthen skills on instruments such as the clarinet, bassoon, violin, viola and cello.
This year, the String Ensemble aims to continue these intimate performances and increase their repertoire, as does the Orchestra.
Some of the Orchestra performances this year will include presentations and visits to local schools in the hope of increasing awareness and interest in a wider variety of musical styles and instruments in Samoa.
This move is in conjunction with the Samoa National Orchestra Academy which commenced late last year. The Academy is a training program for school students who have shown an aptitude for music studies and wish to learn a stringed instrument while improving their theoretical knowledge.
Members of the String Ensemble include:
TJ Naioti, Tipazo Aukusitino, Ben Solomona, Enoch Fruean, Atonio Savalio, Beatrice Carey (Australian Volunteer for International Development)
Samoan MP guilty of forgery
The Supreme Court in Samoa has found the Associate Minister for Trade and Commerce, Muagututagata Peter Ah Him, guilty of two charges of forgery.
The ruling party MP was acquitted of a third charge of forgery and theft.
Muagututagata had stood trial in November after a Chinese company in which he holds a 10 percent share filed a complaint to the police.
The company, Grand Ocean Limited, had accused the Associate Minister of forging an invoice to clear two shipping containers and inventing 30 thousand US dollars of costs.
He is to be sentenced on the 23rd of February.
Meanwhile on a separate case, the charge of attempted rape against the suspended editor of the government newspaper Savali, has been withdrawn before the chief justice, Patu Falefatu Sapolu.
It comes after the prosecution has asked for the original charge to be substituted with two counts of indecent assault against the accused, Tupuola Terry Tavita.
The new charges will be heard for mention in the district court today.
Samoa talo exports more than triple
Talo exports from Samoa to New Zealand have more than tripled, increasing from four to fifteen containers a month.
The rise in exports is being credited as a result of the Samoa Manufacturers and Exporters, or SAME, trade show in Auckland in November last year.
The president of SAME, Tagaloa Eddie Wilson, says figures on export earnings from 2013 were at 1 point 4 million US dollars, and has risen to about 4 million dollars at the end of last year.
Tagaloa says Australia has given the green light for new varieties of talo from Samoa to be exported, and they are expected to be on showcase at a trade show in Sydney in March.
Australian authorities however are requiring a scientific clearance to confirm the blight fungus that devastated the old talo variety, is no longer present.
Japan against protecting local tuna supplies from overfishing
WATCH Pacific island countries enforce their own measures against overfishing of local tuna fishery following the dramatic failure by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) to agree to a reduction in fishing efforts at its annual negotiation sessions in Samoa last December.
Already the eight island countries that are members of the powerful Pacific sub-regional grouping of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) comprising the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu are threatening to enforce reductions in fishing efforts in their own waters.
Especially worrying for PNA member countries is the fast declining stock of the much sought after Bigeye tuna, in high demand for the world’s sashimi (raw fish) market. Scientists are warning that Bigeye stock is at 16 per cent of its historic population, and PNA members, teaming up with their nine other Pacific island neighbours that together are members of the Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency had wanted the WCPFC to reign in overfishing in the four high sea pockets it manages in the Pacific Ocean.
However, five days of negotiations in Apia’s sprawling but modern convention centre in Faleata, a suburb of Samoa’s capital, produced zero consensus on reducing fishing efforts on bigeye in the high seas. Foreign countries that fish in the Pacific are referred to as Distance Water Fishing Nations (DWFN), and one of them, Japan was identified as the country that shot down the PNA and FFA proposal.
“Once again the interests of the small Pacific Island nations have been railroaded at this high level meeting raising questions of the ability of the commission to address the overfished stocks and put a limit on stocks that are nearing overfishing,” a disappointed CEO of the PNA Office Dr Transform Aqorau said at the end of the failed WCPFC negotiations in Samoa. “The PNA will regroup and revise its strategy to work outside the ambit of WCPFC and use the existing commercial arrangements to address overfishing in our waters.”
By Lanuola Tupua, Photos by Tuifao Tumua NUS
Close to a hundred National University of Samoa students have been awarded scholarships to study in overseas universities this year.
They were congratulated at a ceremony held at the University yesterday.
A Prayer Service was conducted by Rev. Siaosi Salesulu who gave the students words of encouragement, telling them that they were now young Samoan Ambassadors and as such, “you should always stick with God."
“Don’t let abuse and praise get to you,” he advised, reminding “it is the prayers of Samoa that you walk with faith and in the end you shall find success."
In his Keynote Address, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegoi, who is also the Chairman of the Scholarship and Training Committee, encouraged the scholars to use the opportunities that are being made available to them wisely.
He reminded them that “you have an obligation to return to Samoa after your studies to serve and apply your newly-acquired knowledge” to benefit your country.
He advised: “Grab the opportunity with both hands and make the most of it.
“As sons and daughters of Samoa, and as recipients of scholarships overseas, go with the thought of how you can help pave the way forward for the development of your country, and what you can contribute when you return.
“Following the completion of your studies you are expected to return to serve and use your newly acquired knowledge for the betterment of the country.”
Tuilaepa also reminded the students that many scholars had been returned home before completion of their scholarships.
“Many have brought back and no more scholarships will be wasted on them,” recalled Tuilaepa.
He said: “They were brought back because they caused trouble, they liked drinking and clubbing, and they ended up in fights, especially those going to Fiji.”
He then acknowledged the generous assistance of Samoa’s perennial partners whose support was vitally invaluable in Samoa’s struggle as a developing nation.
It’s understood that 40 scholars are sponsored by the Australian government, and 53 are sponsored by the New Zealand government.
Seven are sponsored by the government of Samoa.
Both the Acting High Commissioners of New Zealand and Australia, Ms Sophie Vickers and Ms Rosemary McKay respectively, spoke at the ceremony. They offered their congratulations and wished the scholars well also.
They assured them that their countries’ investment in their academic studies were vitally important to the development of Samoa as an Independent Nation.
This year also marks the first three-year trial programme of a scheme aimed at addressing the shortages in the workforce in Education and Health.
Samoa avoids a direct hit from Cyclone Amos.
Tropical Cyclone Amos kept its eye on the ocean as it passed by Samoa. The islands bore the brunt of the southern half of the storm, enduring winds from the northeast and bands of torrential rain.
No deaths have been reported, but Amos left destruction in its wake. Samoa's Disaster Management Office said there had been significant damage to coastal roads, particularly on the northern island Savai'i.
Apia, the capital city, on the northern shore of the island of Upolu collected 218mm from the cyclone. That is just over the average rainfall for April, falling in 30 hours.
The cyclone is still feeding off the very warm ocean waters north of Samoa, which remain a degree and a half or even two degrees warmer than usual at the moment.
Cyclone Amos comes around two months after Category 5 Cyclone Winston - measured on the Australian tropical cyclone intensity scale - devastated parts of neighbouring Fiji.
Amos next headed for American Samoa, but authorities there cancelled a hurricane warning as wind speeds diminished. A flash flood warning has been kept in place.
Pago Pago, on American Samoa’s main island, Tutuila, recorded 77mm of rain from Amos. The smaller islands of American Samoa, further east, are directly in the path of cyclone for Monday.
Samoan Flea Market and "old" Makeki Fou burns down
The start of 2016 began with fireworks in Apia, just not the kind you want to see.
The Flea market also known as the Makeki Fou to an older generation, located in Savalalo burnt to the ground as the result of a fire that burnt the entire commercial area and food court of the Flea market, a favorite for visitors and tourists. As fire fighters struggled to save the historic site, the flames engulfed the structure and there was nothing but flames within the interior of the building and the crowd who gathered took pictures which were immediately posted on social media sites causing an even greater sens of loss among expatriates who had grown up on Makeki Fou reports in the morning as well as the food which was perhaps the most attractive feature of this building.
There were no known injuries caused by the fire. Reports have the fire beginning at 6pm which is fortunate since business had closed and vendors all left for the weekend at 5pm. The fire is suspected to have begun in the area where food is prepared. The Fire department arrived but were unable to prevent the complete demolition of the large structure. The large crowd who gathered there posted pictures of the fire online which was one of those events Samoans all over the world took personally.
The Makeki Fou was constructed in the 1970s. At first it was just a market for produce and fish with food stalls where many workers and students went to eat for lunch and during the day. Later the produce was taken to another location and the Fleas Market was born. There were a large number of stalls owned by individuals who rented small stalls for an affordable rate and this provided them with a means to sell products from clothing to house wares. The number of traditional artifacts and Samoan items increased as more tourists came to Samoa. It was a great opportunity for the local entrepeneurs a place to sell their wares.
The loss of all the stalls was devastating to the local economy. The new year could not have started with a worse event. There are calls for the government to investigate the fire to find out if there was any arson involved. There is also a demand for the government to rebuild the Flea market. The government has a location already set up in Vaitele but the lack of foot traffic has prevented the new location from attracting vendors to sell their wares there.
The location is probably one of the most expensive real estate locations in Samoa and the government has built many buildings around this location for public service and business. Time will tell what the new venue will look like.
Cannery threat not new for American Samoa
The owner of two fishing companies operating in American Samoa says a recent threat by canneries to move offshore is nothing new.
The owner of Ocean Global and Sea Global, Doug Hines, says the canneries continue to post very good profits and have recently announced investments in Papua New Guinea and Kiribati.
He says a recent wage increase is not damning enough to warrant departure from the territory and threats have been used in the past to secure concessions from the government.
"They've made these comments for over the last 40 years they've been coming off the island, and the American Samoa government, the people of American Samoa have always always been there to grant support."
Mr Hines says it is the US fishing operators that are experiencing economic hardship, not the canneries who have a more than adequate supply of fish.
Samoa serious about tuna fisheries conservation
Le Mamea Ropati, who was speaking at an event for World Tuna day, says it's an important year for tuna fisheries in Samoa.
He also says Samoa made a commitment when it signed under the Tokelau agreement last year.
"These agreements signifies Samoa and the Pacific islands determination in ensuring effective management for sustainable economic viability of our tuna fishery, so that we can reap the benefits from these resources today and also in the future."
Samoa's Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Le Mamea Ropati.
Art by students at Leulumoega Fou School of Fine Arts was on display at the event. The artwork promoted the economic benefits of the tuna industry, and the importance of sustainability and conservation of tuna stocks.
In 2011, Parties to the Nauru Agreement declared May the 2nd to be World Tuna Day.
Teacher and 2 students held from Don Bosco for rape in Utulei
Source: KHJ News, Pago Pago, American Samoa
PAGO PAGO: THURSDAY 23 APRIL 2015: A 27 year old teacher and two students from Don Bosco school were charged today with having sex with a 15-year-old girl.
The teacher, Vaega Anderson, and students Falesefulu Susuga and Nomani Tepa made their initial appearances in District Court today. They were each charged with rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse in the first degree and endangering the welfare of the a child.
The government’s case states that on April 20, a male adult walked into the Fagatogo police station with three female minors. He told police that he was concerned to see the three girls fraternizing with some of the Don Bosco students at Utulei during the weekend and evening hours.
The girls are 14, 15 and 17 years old. The 14-year-old told police that she hung out with Don Bosco boys during the period that she ran away from home but nothing sexual had happened between her and the boys.
The 15-year-old and the 17 year old told police that in addition to hanging out with some of the Don Bosco students, they both engaged in sexual activities with them.
The charges against all three defendants involve the 15-year-old girl.
The 15 year old girl told police that she had sex with two students and a teacher from Don Bosco, who were later identified as defendants Anderson, Susuaga and Tepa.
She said one of the students went by the name of Pekiga who was later identified as defendant Susuga. She said the second student she had sex with she didn’t know his name but he was accompanied by two other Don Bosco students on the night the sex happened. She said the third person is a teacher because he dressed like the rest of the Don Bosco teachers and he also wears a traditional tattoo or sogaimiti.
She said the sex with the defendants occurred at an abandoned house in Utulei during the weekend of April 16-19.
The girl was able to identify Anderson at the police station as the one of the persons she had sex with. A Don Bosco student considered a witness in the investigation identified defendants Tepa and Susuga. He told police that Tepa did have sex with the 15-year-old girl.
When questioned by police, the 27-year-old teacher admitted to having consensual sexual intercourse with the 15-year-old girl at an abandoned house in Utulei on April 19. Susuga, who is 19 years old, also admitted to having sex with the same girl on April 16. Tepa, also 19, admitted to police also to having sex with the same 15-year-old on April 19.
The defendants are being held on bail of $100,000 each.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa, All Blacks preparations are expensive
Samoa Prime Minister and rugby boss Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi says hosting the All Blacks for July's historic test in Apia is expensive.
Samoa Prime Minister and rugby boss Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi has joked he'd like to pay the All Blacks in coconuts and pawpaw for their looming test in Apia.
Tuilaepa was defending the high ticket prices for the July clash. With a capacity of around 12,000 at Apia Park, tickets range from $12 to $270.
He said the cost of hosting the All Blacks was expensive and revenue had to be recouped.
"I wish we could use coconuts to pay for the All Blacks visit," Tuilaepa told the Samoa Observer newspaper, "but that's not the case. Money is required. It's expensive."
"If only they would accept some baskets of pawpaw and if they all ate guava, that would've been fine but these boys want steak, so it's not cheap."
The All Blacks will be in Samoa for four days from July 6 on their historic visit with the match being used as part of the World Cup buildup for both teams.
Tuilaepa talked up the prospects of his team though he wasn't prepared to reveal details, saying he didn't want to give any advantages to the All Blacks.
"We are well prepared," he said.
"But I don't want to tell you because if I tell you, it will be pointless to [prepare then] because news about it will spread and then those preparations will become stale."
"If we discuss it now, then by tonight it will be all over the news in New Zealand. It would be broadcasted and spread by some other nasty people there.
"Someone might tell them that we have a plan A, plan B and plan C. That's why I don't want to tell you now.
"See these guys [the Samoa Observer] will put it on the internet and then the All Blacks coach will read about it. It's amazing what's happening these days."
Samoa have had to make repairs to Apia Park for their first hosting of a test against the All Blacks.
Interest will also centre on the strength of the Samoan team after players complained in November of poor management by the Samoan union, threatening at one stage to boycott their clash with England at Twickenham.
Earthquakes strike Samoa and Tonga
A series of earthquakes has struck off the neighbouring South Pacific ocean states of Samoa and Tonga, the US Geological Survey has said, just hours after a major tremor rattled Papua New Guinea to the west.
A number of 6.8-magnitude quakes struck south-west of the Samoan capital, Apia, in waters between the two island states of Tonga and Samoa.
Residents in Samoa told Reuters there were no reports of damage and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said there was no tsunami threat.
The quakes came just hours after a 7.7 quake struck off the coast of Papua New Guinea, near the town of Rabaul, in the country’s north-east.
A tsunami warning was issued soon after the PNG quake, though the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said no destructive, Pacific-wide tsunami was expected.
American Samoa Govt won't invest in food plant
The American Samoa Governor has signed an agreement to allow AVM Bernardo Engineering to look for a company to manage a proposed food plant, after the Government turned down an offer to invest in the business.
Lolo Moliga says the Government doesn't have the funds and it goes against the Government's principles to do so.
AVM, a Filipino company, had offered a 10 percent shareholding in the company.
Lolo has now given the green light for AVM to find a third party willing to invest.
The food processing plant would employ 700 to 1,000 people and AVM will invest more than US$100 million dollars.
New proposal to relax strict fishery laws in American Samoa
A proposal that would allow American Samoa longliners to temporarily fish within a prohibited area is to be reviewed this week by a group that advises the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council.
The Scientific and Statistical Committee will consider a proposal to temporarily allow American Samoa longline vessels of 50 feet or greater to operate within American Samoa's Exclusive Economic Zone.
The issue has divided local longline owners, with fears that the exemption would put those operating smaller vessels in the EEZ out of business.
A statement from the Council says the proposed action would provide relief to the American Samoa longline fishery, which has not been profitable for the past several years.
Longline fishermen in these areas believe that an influx of Chinese longline vessels across the region is mostly responsible for the collapse, by reducing regional catch rates and lowering wholesale prices.
Other contributing factors are higher operating expenses.
Samoa youth unemployment plan 'much needed', says ILO
A project coordinator for the International Labour Organisation in Samoa says the country's new action plan on Youth employment is the first of its kind and is a much needed approach in Samoa.
The one year project is funded by Sweden's government and has been launced by the ILO in partnership with Samoa's government.
Cherelle Jackson, who coordinates the national plan known as SNAP on YE, says the project will address key issues that challenge youth employment in the country.
Youth unemployment is estimated to be around 16 percent and further adds to the overall unemployment rate, which remains a critical challenge in Samoa.
Ms Jackson says the plan will also seek to encourage more work in rural areas.
It's a much needed approach on youth employment. We need to increase employment for young people but also the need for people to create employment for themselves.
American Samoa school destroyed by tsunami to finally be rebuilt
Clearance has finally been given for a school destroyed by the 2009 tsunami in American Samoa to be rebuilt.
Students of Taputapu Elementary School, on the western end of the main of island of Tutuila, are still using an air conditioned tent set up shortly after the tsunami as a classroom.
The US Federal Emergency Management Agency had refused to provide funding for the school's rebuild at its original site in Poloa, because of its proximity to the sea.
But the Deputy Director of Education, Russ Aab, says clearance for the construction of a new school has finally been issued, and Taputapu elementary is expected to be rebuilt to the north in Fagalii.
Mr Aab says there had been a delay in getting the lease approved by landowners, but that has now been settled and the project should be put out for tender soon.
Taputapu is the last of the five schools in the territory destroyed by the tsunami to be rebuilt.
Samoa Police Association not happy with commissioner criteria
The more than 500-strong Samoa Police Association has voiced strong opposition to opening up the position of police commissioner to a person with what they deem limited experience.
The president of the association Police Inspector Fata Manuele Pemita says a letter has been handed to the Minister of Police outlining their concerns.
In 2013 parliament endorsed an amendment which includes criteria for all applicants to the position of commissioner to have ten years of police experience and hold a commissioned rank.
Fata says although the amendment was passed two years ago it was never put into reality and now the Public Service Comission wants to open up the criteria for selection to include applicants with no police work experience.
Interviews for the position of a police commissioner are scheduled to start on Friday.
Radio New Zealand International understands 14 applicants have been shortlisted, including seven senior police officers.
Two of the applicants are from New Zealand.
Ex Samoan Cabinet Minister seeks dismissal of criminal charges
Former Samoa cabinet minister, Muagututagata Peter Ah Him, is seeking the dismissal of criminal charges without conviction.
Muagututagata, who resigned from parliament suddenly last week, was found guilty last month on two charges of forgery, following a complaint by the Chinese company in which he is a shareholder.
He was in court today for a pre-sentencing hearing.
His lawyer has called for the charges to be dismissed, a probation report suggested a substantial fine and the prosecution is seeking a substantial jail term.
Samoa Rugby Union CEO and Head of HPU resign
Fred Amoa said his resignation was handed in yesterday but insisted it was a coincidence the head of the Union's High Performance Unit, Tuala Mathew Vaea, was also leaving.
A dispute between the SRU and Manu Samoa players also remains unresolved, after the team threatened to boycott a test against England in November.
But Fred Amoa said that did not influence his decision to step down, and that he simply wanted a change and to return to his work as a lawyer.
"Just personal reasons. I think it's time somebody else will take over. I've had my turn, it's time for somebody else," he said.
"I'm pretty sure someone will be recruited by the Samoa Rugby Union to carry on the work and organise and prepare the team for the All Blacks match [in the] middle of the year and also the Rugby World Cup."
A team from the New Zealand Rugby Union will be in Samoa next week to check on preparations for the July test between the All Blacks and Manu Samoa at Apia Park.
Chinese laborers flown in to build Apia Park.
Dozens of Chinese labourers have been flown into Samoa to spend all day in the heat, every day, getting once ramshackle Apia Park fit for an All Black test later this year.
While a Manu Samoa vs All Blacks rugby test on July 8 is an emotional high-point for the Polynesian nation, like much else in the country it's being paid for with Chinese aid money.
The Samoa Observer reported that a multi-million dollar facelift is being carried out by Beijing state-owned Shanghai Construction Company.
It has flown 100 Chinese workers and hired 40 locals in what project official Hong Liang Da says is a race against time.
"The workers had to sacrifice their holidays to make sure our work is on schedule," he said.
"The rainy season at the end of last year meant the workers had to do inside work." Hong said it was only on the Christmas Day and New Year's Day they did not work.
"We came back to work after those days," he told the Samoa Observer.
"We work so that we don't fall behind schedule."
The men have to work from 6.30 am to 6pm but if it gets too hot they are allowed a two-hour break in the afternoon.
Renovation is underway on the grandstands along with a new roof, replacing seats, a satellite, scoreboard and replacing the sound system.
Hong would not say what it was costing.
Shanghai Construction has an awkward reputation around the Pacific and is known for glitzy buildings, such as apartments in Suva and a court house in Rarotonga, that need expensive maintenance shortly after they are opened.
They built a lavish swimming and sports complex for the South Pacific Games in 2007. Samoa has sought New Zealand aid since in a bid to maintain them.
Samoa has a colonial history of using Chinese labour.
Under German rule between 1900 and 1914, Samoans would not work on plantations so Berlin allowed for the importation of around 6000 "coolies" from Guangzhou.
After the New Zealand occupation in 1914 many were forcibly repatriated but hundreds with Samoan families remained.
In 1931 the New Zealand Parliament passed a law forbidding Chinese men from having sexual relations with Samoan women.
Several couples were prosecuted but the fact that around 30,000 Samoans today claim part Chinese heritage suggests New Zealand law was honoured more in the breach than the fact.
In Samoa, 70% of students fail national maths exam.
Results for Year 13 show 70 percent of students failed in the Samoa Secondary Leaving Certificate national mathematics exam.
The CEO of the Ministry of Education, Matafeo Tanielu Aiafi, has rejected a call by parents for the marks to be changed.
He says the marking system did away with scaling last year and reintroduced the old marking system to allow teachers to find and fix students' weaknesses including in the area of maths.
But a lawyer and parent, Pa'u Tafaogalupe Mulitalo, says the only solution to the controversial exam results is to take the issue further legally.
He says other parents are supporting the move.
Samoa airline revival mooted
Tu'uu says this follows concerns raised by many of the travelling public over delay of international flights, alleging this was the result of pilots working far too many hours.
He has told parliament Virgin Samoa and Air New Zealand have been seen as more friendly to each other rather than competing.
The Prime Minister, Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, says the joint venture deal between Polynesian Airlines and Virgin Australia will be reviewed this year.
He says the government has a long-term vision for the development of tourism with a plan to upgrade Faleolo International Airport.
This, he says, will open up to more competition with other big airlines.
Gov. Moliga resubmits bill to limit ability of Businesses to sponsor foreigners
American Samoa's governor, Lolo Moliga, is resubmitting to the Fono a bill which would limit the ability of businesses to sponsor foreigners.
The bill was approved by the House in the last special session but the Senate did not act on it.
The bill would allow only corporations certified by the Attorney General to sponsor foreigners aliens.
Under it, corporations must provide proof of financial responsibility, proof of timely payment of local taxes, fees and other government charges, an established business plan and proof of good corporate citizenship.
Governor Lolo is concerned that under existing law, an American Samoa corporation may be formed and after the articles of incorporation are approved becomes wholly owned and operated by a foreign national lawfully residing in the territory.
That corporation could then sponsor its owner/operator and any other foreigners.
Suspended Samoa newspaper editor accused of breaching bail
The police in Samoa are looking into an alleged breach of bail conditions by the suspended government newspaper editor, Tupuola Terry Tavita.
It comes after the adopted father of the complainant wrote to the Prime Minister and the Attorney General asking for help, after friends and family members of the editor approached the victim and her family to withdraw the complaint.
The police say one of the bail conditions is for the accused not to approach the victim.
However, the family of the victim wrote that they have been approached four times, and said that they were told the Prime Minister and Attonery General were behind the efforts to withdraw the case.
Neither could be contacted for comment.
American Samoa delegate sworn in to US Congress
Aumua Amata Radewagen has been sworn in as American Samoa's delegate to the US Congress.
She took two oaths of office, one with colleagues on the House floor and earlier a ceremonial swearing-in by House Speaker John Boehner in his Office.
Aumua who is the first woman to hold American Samoa's seat in Congress said she was elated.
"It's a very humbling experience, I am just in awe by everything and just to be here at the tip of the leadership in the United States. I thank God and I thank the people of American Samoa for giving me this opportunity to serve them."
Aumua replaces long time delegate for American Samoa Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin who served 13 terms.
She is expected in the terriotry this weekend to meet with the Governor and Fono leaders to discuss issues affecting American Samoa they want her to focus on.
She will also give a report on her first week in office.
American Samoa flu outbreak continues
An influenza outbreak in American Samoa is showing no signs of abating with hospitals and health centres continuing to be inundated with cases.
Department of Health epidemiologist, Scott Anesi, says authorities are seeing a rapid increase in the number of people presenting with flu-like symptoms including fever, sore throat, body aches and a running nose.
Mr Anesi says the department saw 305 cases in the week ending December 21st and that rose to 400 people the following week.
The LBJ Hospital has been crowded with flu patients and people have been waiting for up to three hours to be seen.
Multiple offender sentenced in American Samoa
An American Samoan man who went on a robbery spree robbing several busineses and homes, including the home of a church minister, has been sentenced to 16 years in prison.
Joseph Iakopo is acccused of fourteen burglaries, which occured over several weeks in early 2013.
Court documents say the robberies covered about six villages on the main island of Tutuila.
According to court documents, the defendant stole more than $3,000 from a church safe, which was at the home of a church minister, and more than $2,000 worth of merchandise from stores, two restaurants and private homes.
Samoa News reports that Iakopo faced 34 charges, ranging from first and second degree burglary, attempted burglary, stealing, first degree assault and property damage.
Iakopo appeared last Friday in court for sentencing where the defence sought leniency, but the prosecutor argued Iakopo was a career criminal who had not learned his lesson from an earlier conviction.
The court agreed and sentenced Iakopo to 16 years in prison.
Miss Samoa wins the Ms. South Pacific 2014
The 20-year-old Law and Music University student from New Zealand also scooped the two main categories for the pageant, best talent and best interview.
Miss Cook Islands, Antonina Browne, was the first runner-up, Miss Fiji, Nanise Rainima, was second runner up, Miss American Samoa, Anneliese Sword was third runner up and Miss Papua New Guinea - Grace Nugi was fourth runner up.
Miss Nauru - Kauai Oppenheimer won the Miss Internet, Miss Fiji won Miss Photogenic, Miss Niue, Nina Nemaia was voted Miss Personality, and Miss American Samoa won the National Tourism Award.
New Manu Samoa coach expected by Christmas
The Samoa Rugby Union hopes to appoint a new national head coach before the end of the year.
Stephen Betham stepped down following the country's disappointing Rugby World Cup campaign, where the Manu finished fourth in their group and failed to qualify automatically for the 2019 tournament.
SRU Chief Executive Officer Faleomavaega Vincent Fepuleai says a number of high profile and interesting candidates have put their names forward, with the bulk of those coming from overseas.
"It was closed a couple of weeks ago. The independent committee is working on that and going through their process of shortlisting and the interviews. We've had 18 or 19 applicants - we're hoping to make an appointment before Christmas and we're hoping the right person will take us over the next four years".
Faleomavaega says whoever gets the job will have to live in Samoa and the SRU is willing to pay what is required to secure the best person for the role.
Samoa company eyes NZ high-end organic market
A Samoan company selling gluten free breadfruit flour and raw fermented coconut oil is hoping it can become a staple in New Zealand's high-end organic market.
The company, Maiden South Pacific, recently introduced its handmade organic products to a number of New Zealand retailers.
One of its Samoan directors, Kalala Mary Autagavaia, says they are working with farmers and families in Samoa, through their village matai, to utilise land sustainably.
She says its about how they can use what the land produces, but doing so in a way that doesn't destroy it.
"If you walk through some of our plantations in the Pacific, there's food galore, there's breadfruit hanging off the trees, there's papaya, there's coconuts, but how do we take care of that and be good guardians of that land. I guess it's all those sorts of things that make our products special. We're not just going in to make a profit out of people, it's about working with the people, for the future."
Kalala Mary Autagavaia says there are also plans to collaborate with the Wellington Chocolate Factory to produce a 'Samoa Bar', made with koko Samoa beans.
Senator Galea’i: looking for “one honest man” to enter the Governor’s race
By Fili Sagapolutele
Although a staunch supporter of the Lolo and Lemanu camp in the 2012 gubernatorial race, the very outspoken Sen. Galeai Tu’ufuli is looking for someone who is honest, who has the guts to stand up for the people and practice transparency as a candidate for governor in the next general election.
Galeai’s comments come at a time when many in the community, including those in the public sector, have started talking about the 2016 gubernatorial race and possible candidates for governor.
In past years, such discussion regarding candidates for the gubernatorial race becomes intense at least 12 months before an election. This time around, Galeai has started early — 18 months before the November 2016 election.
Speaking with reporters at a news conference yesterday morning, where several issues were discussed, Galea’i made a surprising revelation: “I’m looking for someone to run as candidate for governor”. He says he is not interested in the post, adding “I’m too old for the job.”
“I’m looking around for someone, who is honest, someone who has the guts to stand up for the people. Someone, who, when he says ‘transparent and accountability’, he practices it instead of trying to skirt it,” said Galeai, referring to the Lolo Administration’s promise after winning the 2012 race of “transparency and accountability to the people of American Samoa.”
Galeai said, “I’m looking for somebody with a good mind. Somebody who cares about the people — above all things,” and pointed out that the current administration has not fully practiced “transparency and accountability” on several issues, including government spending and hiring.
Galeai describes Lolo as a “very compassionate person” but running the government and territory, does not rely on “those kinds of emotions” because it could get the territory into trouble, he said.
“I hear Lolo speak, it attracts people, because he talks about family and God. You don’t run the country that way. You pray to God to help you think and then you practice that thinking,” he said. “You don’t have to be reminded who is your Savior. We all know, because we’re very religious people.”
The Manu’a senator also voiced his disappointment over Lolo’s involvement in the final decision for the 2015 Fautasi Race. (See separate story in today’s edition.)
Galeai acknowledged that he was a strong supporter of the Lolo and Lemanu camp during the 2012 gubernatorial campaign. He added, “I’m a great supporter of Lolo. A staunch supporter of Lolo. I still am. But he has to change my mind, by doing his job righ t— because he is not doing it right now.”
Asked to elaborate further on doing the job right, Galeai responded, “when Lolo says things or initiates an issue, he needs to stay with it and finish it; instead of kicking up a storm and all of a sudden it just phases out. That happens a lot.”
Galeai, chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee, is also concerned with the administration’s spending in personnel costs with reports of many new hires, a lot of them on contract. He says spending is too high versus the approved budget.
He says he has received information that contract workers’ salaries are high — some at $40,000 annually. “It seems to be the starting salary for contract employees,” he said, adding that the Senate will take a much closer look at the financial numbers when the Fono gets into reviewing the fiscal year 2016 budget in the Fall this year.
Galeai also says that there are too many small offices attached to the Governor’s Office. “You don’t see that anywhere else but this place [American Samoa],” he said. “Maybe the governor has a different style of management, but that will get us into trouble in the future.”
(Among the small offices attached to the Governor’s Office, since the Lolo Administration, is the Medicaid Office and the Office of Fraud Prevention and Investigation.)
Another concern by Galeai is the administration initiating the road construction project from Visa Point in Lauli’i heading to Fagaitua without an approved funding source. He says the law is clear, a project is not initiated “unless you have money for it.”
During a Senate Public Works Committee hearing on Mar. 31, Public Works director Faleosina Voigt said improvements to the Eastern District roads have begun, starting with the Visa Point to Fagaitua project, which is funded with local revenue from the Governor’s Office.
Responding to committee questions about the funding source, Voigt said the three-mile construction project would cost more than $1 million, and that all she knows is that the funding is coming through special programs under the Governor’s Office.
However, Sen. Laolagi F.S. Vaeao said there was no such funding allocation for this project in the approved FY 2015 budget.
Galeai said at the hearing that he had watched on KVZK-TV the ground breaking for this project, and the governor had stated that the work had begun — but there was no money for it. While he is supportive of road improvements, Galeai told the Public Works director that it’s important that there is a set funding source already approved by law for these types of projects.
Voigt reiterated that she didn’t know the funding source, and her department was working with the governor’s office, which is providing the money.
Samoa News should point out that Galeai — although still a supporter of the governor — has been critical of the administration during Senate debate and discussion of government issues, especially when it comes to finances and spending by the Administration.
Galeai has also been critical of the governor for not responding to the Senate Government Operations Committee recommendation in September 2013, which called for further review and recovery of the nearly $1 million in payouts to directors of the previous Togiola Administration — including the former governor and lieutenant governor. (See Samoa News edition Apr. 10 for latest update on payouts.)
- See more at: http://www.samoanews.com/content/en/senator-galea%E2%80%99i-looking-%E2%80%9Cone-honest-man%E2%80%9D-enter-governor%E2%80%99s-race#sthash.OoyGH5Tw.OZtpZq3L.dpuf
Malie candidate Seiuli Ueligitoni wins the by election for Sagaga Le Usoga seat
In Samoa, the Sagaga Le Usoga constituent's by-election preliminary results have shown the only candidate from the village of Malie, Seiuli Ueligitone Seiuli, has topped the polls with 735 votes.
But one of the two by-election candidates from Afega village, Fata Tulasunu'i Paulo Seuseu, came second with 492 votes.
The four candidates, all running for the ruling Human Rights Protection party, competed in yesterday's by-election after the former MP, Muagututagata Peter Ah Him, stepped down in March.
The other candidate representing the village of Afega, Logo Fetaomi, came third with 392 votes and the only candidate from Tuanai village, Vatuua Alefosio, came fourth with 121 votes.
The official count will be held on Monday, followed by the announcement of the winner.
Samoans asked to have their say on new passport scheme
Samoa's opposition leader says a proposed new law giving passports for investment is a recipe for corruption and will drive long-time Samoans out of business.
But others say the scheme will be good for the country as long as there's respect for Samoan culture and traditions.
Sally Round reports.
People in Samoa are being asked to give their views on the Citizenship Investment Bill which would give citizenship to foreign investors with at least two million US dollars to spend. The government wants to boost the economy and provide more jobs for Samoans. The investors would have to inject their money into certain specified areas, including property development, food and fish processing, tourism, and wind and solar energy. Our correspondent in Samoa Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia says there's been heated debate in Parliament so far with most opposition MPs and several ruling party members voicing opposition to the plan.
AUTAGAVAIA TIPI AUTAGAVAIA: The majority of these concerns were voiced against the number of Chinese business people currently operating their business in the country and the Prime Minister attacking all this negativity against the Chinese saying why there's no opinion against the German or British or Korean but why label the Chinese?
The bill doesn't target investors from any particular country but with China's wealthy middle class spreading its wings they are a likely source of new investment. An exporter in Samoa Grant Percival says the proposal would help grow the economy.
GRANT PERCIVAL: They'll bring in fresh capital. They won't be borrowing locally. There's one thing about the Chinese, they don't start a business unless they know they've got an outlet and generally their outlet is China. So they'll come in here, start a business and know how to export into China.
But a local lawyer Leota Raymond Schuster says there's already a vehicle for investing in Samoa and it's unecessary to have to resort to selling passports. He says the proposal's causing much tension in the business community.
LEOTA RAYMOND SCHUSTER: There are people at the top and perhaps some who are dealing with people in Asia that are interested in this legislation for businesses purposes but we think it's opening up a can of worms. It's satisfactory that we already have a foreign investment certificate providing for people who are genuinely interested to come and invest.
One ruling party MP says Samoans are defined by their language, culture and links to their land and such a law affects their very independence. Thousands of Samoans claim Chinese ancestry with waves of immigration from China since the early 1900s. The Chinese established themselves as shopkeepers from the early days and continue to dominate the retail and wholesale trade. The leader of the opposition in Samoa Palusalue Faapo II fears the proposals will hurt local business.
PALUSALUE FAAPO II: If you look around town our people used to have businesses like small shops and so forth. They're all being closed now and taken over by the Chinese so I believe, that will happen, in 10 to 15 years there won't be many Samoans being able to compete with these people coming into Samoa through this bill.
Palusalue says with limited freehold land available, property investors will push up land prices and make land unaffordable for locals. He also says it'll hurt Samoan culture and tradition and attract the wrong type of investor.
PALUSALUE FAAPO II: This will open the door for anybody who has 4 million tala including all this criminal activities, criminal people will be able to enter Samoa and this will flow to New Zealand and Australia because they have the Samoan passport to travel.
But Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, questioned by our reporter in Samoa recently, dismissed such concern.
TUILAEPA SAILELE MALIELEGAOI: It's the kind of thing you expect from any opposition. (Reporter) But is it not true that these elements could come in if they've got the money? (It's) very stupid to say that. Who will come in to this very small island country?(reporter) You've got some checks and balances in place? Yes, yes that will automatically ensure that we have peace and tranquillity.
Those checks and balances include a special high-powered committee to vet and scrutinise applications from potential investors and to make sure they're on track to deliver. An academic who has researched passport sales in the region Griffith University's Anthony van Fossen says past experience in the region has shown even legitimate citizenship programmes do nothing to stop the illegal and uncontrolled sale of passports.
ANTHONY VAN FOSSEN: In fact the introduction of a legal programme may lead to very high levels of passport sales that are hard to control. Of course I'm not saying that this will necessarily occur in Samoa and it appears to be a programme explicitly oriented towards genuine investment and citizenship rather than just passport sales.
Dr van Fossen points out that uncontrolled passport sales led to conflict between long-time citizens and new arrivals in the Marshall Islands and Tonga which saw its capital destroyed in subsequent riots in 2006. He says Samoa's proposed law has attempted to avoid the pitfalls they've experienced.
ANTHONY VAN FOSSEN: Particularly the committee and the proposal of quite complete public accountability. Those are very good measures. It took the Tonga monarchy many years to achieve anything even remotely like what's being proposed in Samoa in terms of transparency.
Our correspondent Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia says people he's spoken to aren't completely anti the bill.
AUTAGAVAIA TIPI AUTAGAVAIA: Most of the opinions that I've gathered are very positive and very supportive of the Chinese businesses because they think these are the only shops where you get the very good prices, the cheap ones than going to other shops. I think the overall opinion to those people who are against it, is you just wait and see, have a go with it and wait and see what's going to happen.
But the exporter Grant Percival says the threshold for investment won't work.
GRANT PERCIVAL: I met a group of them end of last year. They were very interested. But the levels, they said, were just way too high. It was quite difficult for them. They felt that they would not invest at that level. But at something half that level, they might consider it.
The Bill has passed its second reading in Parliament and people in Samoa now have a chance to give their views.
Press Release – Media PA
LEFAGA, SAMOA is home to the island nations newest resort. The luxurious Return to Paradise Resort was opened in August 2014 and is already collecting international accolades, having recently been named one of Booking.coms Places to Be on …Samoa Invites You To Return to Paradise With a Special Nostalgic Screening of Iconic Hollywood Movie
LEFAGA, SAMOA is home to the island nation’s newest resort. The luxurious Return to Paradise Resort was opened in August 2014 and is already collecting international accolades, having recently been named one of Booking.com’s “Places to Be” on New Year’s Eve.
Return to Paradise Resort is hosting a special nostalgia weekend in May to celebrate its opening. The weekend kicks off with a red carpet screening of Hollywood movie Return to Paradise on the 15th of May, followed by a charity gala dinner and ball on the 16th of May. The proceeds of the auction will go to Marist Trust, which provides assistance for people with severe spinal injuries.
Return to Paradise was filmed in Lefaga in 1953 on the very beach where the resort has been built, and starred Hollywood legend Gary Cooper along with his love interest Roberta Haynes. Several local Samoans were also cast in the film, a huge step forward in human rights at the time. This was the first major Hollywood film to use indigenous actors for major speaking parts at a time when most native movie roles were played by white Hollywood actors.
The resort will be showing a special re-digitalised screening of the movie at a Samoan-style red carpet event on the 15th of May. The event’s sponsor, Fiji Airways will be flying Roberta Haynes business class to attend the movie screening and gala ball as the guest of honour. The six surviving cast members who had speaking roles in the movie will join her for the premiere.
Return to Paradise Resort is proudly 100% Samoan owned and operated. The four star resort offers world-class food, service and facilities in an authentic Samoan setting. The resort is ideal for conferences, events and weddings.
Tickets to the movie premiere and gala ball are on sale now, and special accommodation packages are also available. For more information contact the resort at email@example.com or phone (+685) 35055 (Samoa).
Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
Pitfalls addressed in Samoa passport scheme
An academic who's studied passport sales in the region says Samoa's citizenship investment plan appears to have addressed some common pitfalls.
People in Samoa are being asked to give their views on the Citizenship Investment Bill which would give citizenship to foreign investors with at least two million US dollars to spend.
Anthony van Fossen of Australia's Griffith University says the attempt to outlaw agents and the proposal for a vetting committee are among steps which might avoid problems experienced in Marshall Islands and Tonga.
"Particularly the committee and the proposal of quite complete public accountability. Those are very good measures. It took the Tonga monarchy many years to achieve anything even remotely like what's being proposed in Samoa in terms of transparency."
Dr van Fossen says his research shows even legitimate citizenship programmes do nothing to stop the illegal and uncontrolled sale of passports.
Samoa School of Language opened
The Samoa government has opened a school for foreign languages.
Three language teachers from China are already in the country to kick off the school with learning Chinese to be followed by other foreign languages such as Japanese, German, French and Samoan for non-Samoan speakers.
Speaking at the opening of the Samoa School of Language, the Prime Minister, Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, says this is the opportunity for anyone of any age to learn other languages so they can communicate and share other people's cultures.
"Some of our young people who go on scholarship, to countries like China and Japan, can no longer feel threatened by the communication barriers because they can learn these languages before they leave."
Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi has also announced that the Samoa Tourism Authority will financially support to 30 students who cannot afford the cost of the language school.
Samoa welcomed Queen Victoria yesterday.
The Cruise Ship docked at Apia Harbour in the morning before tourists disembarked, making a beeline to check out the monuments and historic sights in Samoa.
The Samoa Observer caught up with some of them at the Samoa Tourism Authority cultural village where they witnessed the preparation of the umu. This was done as soothing Samoan music was played by a string band in the background.
The Gentrys from Florida, United States of America, who are on the boat for a total of 66 days explained that the ship will only stay in Samoa for a day before departing for Fiji.
During this time the passengers will enjoy Apia and explore an Organic Plantation.
The ship sails to Australia and New Zealand before heading back to America through the Panama Canal.
For Lloyd and Christine Aikenhead from Canada, the weather in Samoa is a big a attraction.
“Right now it’s snowing back home,” Christine said.
Lloyd and Christine Aikenhead from Canada visiting Samoa for the very time is enjoying the taste of palusami at the S.T.A
“So the green grass and the trees blossoming is very nice to see.”
Yesterday afternoon, their lunch consisted of breadfruit and palusami.
The many taxis in the city were also one of the things that the couple had noticed during the hours they’d spent in Apia.
“This is our first and probably only time in Samoa. We really enjoyed the cultural event at the S.T.A,” they said before leaving to see the Organic Plantation. The cruise ship departed last night.
Samoa calls for more money for renewable energy
Samoa's prime minister has told a regional workshop on energy efficiency that it is vital that development banks and donors give more support to capacity building in the renewable sector.
Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi says Samoa wants to be generating all its energy from renewable sources by 2017.
He says currently 30 percent of Samoa's electricity is from a combination of renewable sources such as hydro, solar and wind.
Tuilaepa says the Pacific recognises the importance of energy efficiency especially now with the demand to cut fossil fuel use and reduces greenhouse gases.
He says Pacific countries, while they know the impacts of climate change place additional burdens on their national budgets, they lack the funds for adaptation and mitigation projects.
He says sustainable sources of energy mean sustainable development in the small island states.
All Blacks worried about test against Samoa due to contagious viral disease
New Zealand Rugby is monitoring a mosquito-transmitted disease that has infected thousands in Samoa but remain confident it will not threaten the historic All Blacks test.
While on the decline, according to the Auckland Regional Public Health Service, more than 4,400 cases of the mosquito-spread viral disease chikungunya, which carries similar symptoms to dengue fever, have been reported in Samoa over the last six months.
Of the estimated 69,000 cases in French Polynesia, nine people have died from the illness. Deaths are rare, however, with most people overcoming potential fever, joint and muscle pains, headaches and rashes within one week.
There are no vaccines or medicines to prevent chikungunya. Travelers are merely advised to protect themselves from mosquito bites, through clothing or repellant.
NZR chief executive Steve Tew was relaxed when approached yesterday, but indicated the outbreak would be continually monitored.
"New Zealand Foreign Affairs are still sending Kiwis up there without any advisory and the precautions are similar to malaria – to cover up," Tew said. "It is on the decline, so we're not treating it as a major concern right now. We'll keep an eye on it."
NZR operational staff, along with Sky Television technicians, also returned this week from a two-day stay in Apia, where the main focus was assessing the state of the pitch where the All Blacks will meet Samoa on July 5.
The respective unions appear to have reached an agreement where a problematic drainage system, which has been built in preparation for the Youth Commonwealth Games, will be covered in some way to prevent it encroaching on the in-goal and sidelines.
"They had a good look around and we've now got a handle on what's good and what needs a bit of effort," Tew said. "There's no deal breakers, but they'll have to do some remedial work around this drain, that's for sure. Our operations people think that's quite achievable."
All Blacks manager Darren Shand is expected to travel to Apia in around three weeks and check on medical facilities, accommodation and transportation.
In recent weeks World Rugby and the Samoan Rugby Union have jointly moved to input wide sweeping reforms which resulted in the sudden resignations of the chief executive and general manager of high performance.
Former All Blacks midfielder Alama Ieremia has stepped up to accept the high performance role – all of which should help avoid possible strike action from the Samoan players.
"They've got some good people who have taken over key roles," Tew said. "That hasn't done any harm."
Team Samoa has started a Crowd funding campaign to raise $12,000
A big fa'afetai tele (thank you very much) to those Facebook families and friends that have pledged financial assistance towards the #TeamSamoa campaign.
More excitement for Samoa supporters around the world and boxing fans with the announcement today of Monty Betham Jr. pictured here with Teleiai Edwin Puni and Team Betham in front of the old Chinese Association Centre (‘Fale o Saina’ as it was commonly known back then) in Apia in 2007.
Monty has taken the bait and answered twitter troll, Adam Hollioake’s challenge to fight on the SUPER 8 Redemption Card on March 28th in Christchurch.
The former UK Cricket skipper, who is the only international cricketer to become a professional fighter, threw down the gauntlet to Betham on twitter last week, accusing the former Kiwi’s captain of hiding behind his wife’s lack of approval as an excuse.
After retiring from rugby league in 2006, Monty made his professional debut in Samoa in March 2007 in a co-promotion by Event Polynesia and Polynesian Xplorer. On the amateur undercards were two young prospects, Vaitele Soi and Farani Tavui. It was also the start of a new era in Samoa boxing.
Early this week #TeamSamoa Supporters network launched a crowdfunding campaign for patriotic Samoans and boxing fans around the world starting with my Facebook families and friends being asked to donate $10 or $20 towards funding of a 5 weeks training camp in New Zealand for Samoa based boxers Vaitele Soi (Vailele, Taga & Vaovai) and Farani Tavui (Satupaitea).
#TeamSamoa Supporters network is seeking your help to raise $12,000 to fund (airfares, accommodation, meals. trainers, training facility, training gears, medical, insurance & miscellaneous) for the 2 Samoa based fighters. This is a much needed preparations for the biggest fight of their lives. At this stage Vaitele & Farani do not have any sponsors or Government assistance.
We are working at setting up a crowdfunding utility for people to donate. I hope you can help and be part of the winning #TeamSamoa.
Feel free to comment and click 'like' to spread the word.
American Samoa case for US citizenship continues
Oral arguments have been heard in a Washington DC appeal in what has been dubbed a United States citizenship lawsuit brought by 8 people born in American Samoa.
The plaintiffs, who are all U.S. nationals, have argued the Citizenship Clause of the U.S. Constitution applies to persons born in American Samoa, and therefore they should have been given automatic citizenship.
Defendants, which include the State Department, disagree, arguing only Congress has the authority to grant U.S. citizenship to "outlying territories" such as American Samoa.
The case was dismissed in a lower court last year, prompting the appeal.
The plaintiffs have the backing of the American Samoa Government and the territory's US congresswoman Aumua Amata.
A Judge from New Zealand appointed to Samoa's Supreme Court
A second New Zealand woman judge has been appointed to the Supreme Court of Samoa for a twelve month period.
Justice Elizabeth Margret Aitken, was sworn in by the Head of State, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, on Wednesday, before taking up her duties next week.
The first New Zealand woman judge appointed to Samoa's Supreme Court was Justice Ida Malosi.
Court hears case on American Samoa citizenship rights
HAGATNA, Guam >> A federal appeals court in the nation's capital is scheduled to hear oral arguments Feb. 9 in a case related to the citizenship rights of residents of American Samoa.
Unlike the territory of Guam, those born in American Samoa are not considered U.S. citizens.
At issue is the fact residents of the territories do not have the same rights as residents in the rest of the United States. Congress over the decades has passed laws giving only specific rights to the individual territories, such as the Organic Act of Guam.
Former Guam resident Neil Weare, president of the "We the People Project," in 2013 filed a lawsuit in the federal court in Washington, D.C., on behalf of American Samoans, arguing they've been denied their right to be U.S. citizens.
The court threw out the case, but Weare appealed, and the circuit court ruled some of the issues in the case could move forward.
It's hoped that having the courts clarify the citizenship rights of the 4.7 million people living in the territories also will help clarify the constitutional relationship between the United States and its territories, Weare has said.
One of the goals of the federal legal battle is to obtain full representation in Congress, where Guam currently has a non-voting delegate. It's an issue important to individual rights and control of our own economy, Weare has said.
In addition to the American Samoa case, the "We the People Project" has announced plans to file a lawsuit related to the inability of U.S. citizens living on Guam to vote for president of the United States. It has been gathering information from residents on its website in connection with the proposed lawsuit.
According to an order issued this week by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, oral arguments in the American Samoa case will be heard at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 9, before Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown and Senior Circuit Judges Laurence Silberman and David Sentelle.
Attorneys representing the residents who filed the lawsuit will have 20 minutes to speak, and attorneys representing the U.S. government will have 10 minutes, followed by 10 minutes for attorneys representing the American Samoa government, the order states.
The United States has argued against birthright citizenship for American Samoa residents, as has the American Samoa government.
The U.S. State Department has argued that the U.S. territories are not "states" and therefore do not have the same rights as states -- only those specifically granted by laws passed by Congress.
The American Samoa government has argued that automatic U.S. citizenship could undermine local traditions and practices, including land ownership rights that are restricted only to those of Samoan ancestry.
It also has argued that becoming U.S. citizens should be a choice for American Samoa residents instead of being mandated.
The U.S. Congress has the power to decide how people become naturalized citizens of the country, but it can't restrict birthright citizenship for those born under the U.S. flag because it's a "fundamental right," according to an attorney representing the residents who filed the lawsuit.
Several high-profile Guam residents, including former Gov. Carl Gutierrez, Guam Del. Madeleine Bordallo, and former Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Areas Tony Babauta, last May submitted testimony in support of the American Samoa residents who filed the lawsuit.
Gutierrez, in a written statement, said, "Nearly 600 soldiers from Guam recently returning home from Afghanistan, in fact, more than 125,000 veterans call a U.S. territory home. It's about time the federal government stops arguing that Guam and these other territories aren't really part of the United States when it comes to important rights and benefits."
Bordallo, in a written statement, said, "So long as Guam and other U.S. territories are part of the United States, citizenship by birth should be recognized as a right guaranteed by the Constitution, not a mere privilege extended by Congress."
American Samoa mulls informer plan
The acting Commissioner of Public Safety, Save Liuato Tuitele, first revealed the informant initiative at a Senate hearing this week about last year's unresolved shooting incidents.
Save said the idea was to offer a cash reward to entice members of the public with information that can help with police investigation to come forward.
He said there may be people who know something but are afraid to contact police.
Governor Lolo says he supports the programme as anything that will help police with their investigation is welcome.
American Samoan Women who force young girls into Prostitution are going to jail
Two women in American Samoa have been found guilty of promoting prostitution and sentenced to 28 months in prison.
The owner of a bar in Atuu, Faasaina Park, and her second in charge, Lusia Tuai, have been convicted of assault and forcing two women from Samoa to engage in prostitution.
The women's lawyers asked for probative sentences but the prosecution argued the women should receive significant jail terms because their prostitution enterprise was an ongoing activity that started as early as 2010.
According to the prosecution, the enterprise included luring women from other countries under false pretenses to come and work in American Samoa.
The prosecution argued that neither women has taken responsibility for their actions or apologised to their victims.
American Samoa Govt to pay thousands in overtime wages
American Samoa's Education Department has agreed to pay more than 17,000 US dollars in overtime wages to 20 employees.
It will also give almost 6,675 hours of paid leave to 44 workers who can use them as compensation for unpaid overtime hours of work in the future.
The US Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division found the Department paid bus drivers and technology department employees only for their scheduled weekly hours regardless of hours actually worked.
By doing so, overtime hours worked were under-reported.
The division's director in Hawaii says shifts such as transporting school children to extra-curricular events, had also been paid separately without contemplation of an overtime premium, as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Terence Trotter says the Department appreciates the American Samoa Government's full cooperation in resolving the matter.