July 12, 2014

Northern Marianas College Receives 6-Year Accreditation

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune/PIR, July 10, 2014) — With a banner draped behind them reading "BELIEVE," Northern Marianas College officials announced yesterday that the institution has been approved a six-year accreditation with the WASC Senior College and University Commission, which now allows it to expand its offering of four-year degree programs.

"We are happy to announce that we received notice from [the Western Association of Schools and Colleges] yesterday morning and they have granted us initial accreditation for six years," said acting NMC president Jacqueline Che. "Also, they have approved our proposal to offer a bachelor’s of business management this fall 2014 semester."

The room erupted in cheers and applause after the announcement.

The college’s accreditation used to be under WASC’s Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.

The new accreditation under the Senior Commission now allows the college to offer more four-year degree programs. Right now, its only four-year degree program is the bachelor’s degree in education.

In its letter to the college, the Senior Commission commended NMC’s dedicated faculty, staff, and administrators for their commitment to the success of their students despite the financially pressed and geographically-isolated environment of the college.

The six-year accreditation requires the college to submit only one interim report, according to Amanda Allen, NMC’s accreditation liaison officer and director of Distance Education.

The report will address four areas that the college is committed to build upon: faculty roles and development, research and data-supported decisions, assessment of learning, and student success.

Allen said that while there is a new bachelor’s degree being offered, the college retains its core identity as community college. She said the college’s bachelor’s degree in business management along with its bachelor’s degree in education "will just be one step up."

"We’re not changing our identity, we’re just growing."

Che noted that while colleges usually take [four] years to gain initial accreditation, the college did so in less than four months.

Within a month after receiving affirmation of its accreditation with the Junior Commission, the college quickly set the foundation to move toward the Senior Commission, submitting its subsidy report in March, hosting a site visit in April, and yesterday morning receiving news of its affirmed accreditation.

Che thanked the "amazing community of faculty, staff, and students who worked so hard to be a part of this."

"It was definitely a team effort," Allen said.

Board of Regents chair Frank Rabauliman said it is interesting to look back at the events leading up to their success, noting that after U.S. Department of Education’s citation against NMC for its dual accreditation last year, the college worked first to reaffirm itself under ACCJC, and then secondly move forwards in its transition to the Senior Commission.

He thanked his fellow board members for their decision to go ahead with the implementation of a new four-year bachelor’s degree in business management. The degree will be available to current and new students this fall semester.

Yap Basketball Team to the Micro Games 2014

COLONIA, Yap (DY&CA July 10, 2014) - As Yap prepares for its’ departure to the upcoming 8th Micro  Games, a young, dedicated, and committed group of athletes living in Pohnpei are busy working hard on the selection of the 12 to make up the official Yap Basketball Team which will represent Yap in the upcoming 8th Micro Games in Pohnpei this July 19 -29, 2014.

Under the direction of their head coach Mr.Mark Kostka and trainer Mr. Ari Skilling, the Yap Basketball Team has gone through an elimination process from 22 to now 14 players anticipating a cut of 2 more athletes to make the final 12 member team as required by FIBA. The two that will be cut will then be the assistant coach and team manager, as explained by Florian Yatilman aka FJ the teams’ team captain.

The team was formed when these groups of athletes, some in school at COM national campus in Palikir and others working in Pohnpei heard that Yap will not be sending a basketball team to the 8th Micro Games this year. Through their efforts and working with the Yap Sports Council, they have managed to organize themselves, find the best coach and trainers, get sponsored and now getting ready to represent Yap in the following weeks to come.   “It has not been an easy task, said FJ, we have been juggling between work, school, and practice to build up what we have today and we hope Yap would be proud of all our work, win or lose.”

Currently the members of the team are MJ Haretal, Brandon Yatilman, Regis Libyan, Zachery Gadjusek, Jimmy Hasugulmal, Sebastian Tairuwepiy, Keith Taliugyan, Ari Skilling, Ezerrin Yoror, Jamal Ranganbay, Edward Fasug, FJ Yatilman, Trevor Phnouay and John Yilbuw.

In a recent trip by the Chef de Mission Mr. George R. Torwan to Pohnpei on his own personal meetings, he made it a point to visit the Team at the friendship gym at COM National campus where the team has been allotted Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings for their practice time.  The team had a chance to discuss what the team been doing, things that may be needed by the team, as well as the final leg work to be done by the team before the other athletes arrive from Yap. The team also expressed that they have the home court advantage as the Basketball games will be held at the friendship gym at COM National Campus. Yap could not be more proud to have such great athletes with such great patriotism; George expressed during his visit.

According to FJ, the team has received all their uniforms and basketball shoes and the selection of the 12 will take place sometimes next week where the team will make its final reorganization and stand by ready to represent the State of Yap in the 8th Micro Games 2014.

July 9, 2014

Yap enforces ban of plastic grocery bags at stores

COLONIA, Yap (Yap EPA, Press Statement, 7 July, 2014RR

The Yap State Environmental Protection Agency (Yap EPA) wishes to remind all retailers of their obligations under Yap State Law 8-45 and the Yap EPA Plastic Bag Regulations. 

As of 4 July 2014, retailers are not permitted to distribute plastic grocery bags to customers. Police officers and Yap EPA officers will be monitoring retailer compliance with this requirement.  Retailers who distribute plastic grocery bags to customers will be liable for a fine of $100 per violation.

Plastic bags that are included within the ban are the grocery bags with handles made from thin plastic.  Plastic bags that are still permissible include trash can liners, fresh produce bags, freezer bags and snap lock bags, and plastic that is an integral part of the packaging of a product that is sealed prior to sale.

Retailers are also reminded that the Plastic Bag Regulations require all retailers to display the sign contained in Annexure A to the Plastic Bag Regulations at the front of their stores and at the cashier until 4 March 2015.  Failing to comply with this requirement constitutes an offense, for which retailers can be fined $100 per day.

The plastic grocery bag ban is consistent with the Government’s attempt to reduce plastic waste and pollution within Yap State. Any person with questions regarding the plastic grocery bag ban should contact the Yap State Legislature, or Yap EPA.  Retailers with excess plastic grocery bags may contact Yap EPA for assistance with the environmentally safe disposal of those plastic grocery bags prior to 4 October 2014.  

FSM President vetoes Congressional act 18-73

Palikir Pohnpei

President Manny Mori has vetoed Congressional act 18-73, which would amend the provisions of the FSM (Federated States of Micronesia) Trust Fund Law.  The details of the amendment seeks to establish a board and its responsibilities such as removal provisions of board members, appoint representatives from the 4 states, conflict of interest provisions, and reappointment eligibility.  

The original purpose of the FSM trust fund which was stated in public law number 10-150 was specifically to assist the FSM in meeting its budgetary requirement or shortfall. The primary reason the president vetoed the bill is he proposed changes. He proposed that it should include a  provision where the president has power to have immediate access in case of  natural disasters such tsunami and earthquake.

President Mori also stated that the FSM national government should at least have a majority on the board so as to protect the interest of the primary contributor, the national government.  The FSM national government is the only contributor to the fund, providing 100% of the funds. Yet the proposed amendment seeks to have a representative from each of the 4 states which would make the states the majority group.

July 8, 2014

ADB to invest $228 Million in the Pacific

Asian Development Bank(ADB) will invest $228 million in the Pacific Island Countries in form of energy projects.  These projects are intended to reduce the region's reliance on fossil fuels for energy. "ADB's energy strategy in the Pacific is focused on assisting Pacific governments with projects that will build greater energy security and sustainability in the region," said Mike Trainor, ADB's Pacific Energy Specialist and lead author of the report in a statement. 
The report released by ADB stated that there is an expected 7% increase in the demand for electricity annually in the Pacific Islands up until 2030.  
   Many Pacific Islanders will be grateful for that considering the cost of electricity is very high especially here in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia.  

If they can lend Pohnpei Utility Corporation (PUC) some of the money to rebuild the hydroelectric plant at Nanpil, or buy wind turbines to place on top of Sokehs Rock, these will probably generate more electricity than the petroleum plant.

New Patrol Boats for Pacific Island Countries

Pacific Countries such as o Tonga, the Solomon Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Samoa, Vanuatu, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Cook Islands will be receiving new patrol boats to replace the old ones from Australia.  These patrol boats are meant for the pacific countries to keep watch of their exclusive economic (EEZ) zone which extends 200 nautical miles from their shores.  

This program began in 1990 by Australia as an effort to keep the pacific region securely stable.  It has enabled the recipient countries to combat over-fishing within their waters and illegal migration.  So far the program has been very successful and the recipients are very grateful to Australia for engineering it.  

Federated States of Micronesia received 3 Patrol boats from the program since 1990 and they are still in very good condition, the 3 boats are sent for dry docking every 2 years.  In fact, they do not need to be replaced by new ones.  Instead if Australia give the fund they use to create the boats for operational cost, that will be more beneficial for all the patrol boat programs within each respective country in the pacific.  

Propaganda Wars results in Free Education for Citizens of Pacific Island Countries in China

Today, many FSM (Federated States of Micronesia) citizens are studying in China as a result of politics tension within the Asian region.  China and its neighboring South Korea and Japan are engaged in propaganda wars for soft power, to win support of their neighboring tiny island countries in the Pacific.
China began a program with the Pacific countries a few years ago to have aspiring students study at its many universities.  

Glenda Elieisar, 24, from the Federated States of Micronesia, an island nation with a population of 100,000 in the South Pacific, wrote her name in Chinese characters in a direct transliteration. When asked what does she think of China, Elieisar then smiled and said China was a good place. If China invests more in Micronesia, it will create more jobs, she added.
Elieisar is no exception. In recent years, more and more young people are invited from island countries in the Pacific by the Chinese government to study the Chinese language in Beijing. The Chinese government also finances their living expenses during their studies. After returning home, many young people find jobs at factories or hotels in their countries, which are operated by Chinese companies.
Meanwhile, Japan has 22 Japanese language institutes in 21 countries, including Japanese Cultural Centers operated abroad by the Japan Foundation.  South Korea has gone a different route by promoting their drama tv shows in the pacific countries.  They would show them for free on cable tv and also theaters.