23 February 2018

PETITION DEMANDING ELECTIONS IN SINT EUSTATIUS FOR 2019


Action comes in response to the suspension of elected dependency governance and the imposition of direct rule from the Netherlands.
________________________________________

change.org


On February 7, 2018, King Willem Alexander of the Netherlands signed a law passed by parliament by which the Executive Council and Island Council of Public Entity St. Eustatius were dissolved and replaced by a Government Commissioner accountable only to the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations.
As part of this law, the elections for the Island Council slated for March 2019 were postponed until a moment beyond that date deemed appropriate by the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations.
Even though the law as a whole is of a highly questionable legal nature as it relates to the international treaties to which the Kingdom is a signatory, the postponement of the elections is in direct contravention of the people's rights to freedom of opinion expressed under article 19 and the people's right to political participation under article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
With the indefinite postponement of elections, the democratic order is all but erased and the citizens of St. Eustatius have been stripped of their democratic rights of participation and representation.
It is for those reasons that, through this petition, the undersigned protest and condemn the postponement of the elections for the Island Council of St. Eustatius and urgently demand that these elections are organized for March 2019 as scheduled to give the citizens of St. Eustatius the opportunity to directly elect their representatives.

20 February 2018

UNITED STATES PROPOSES CUTS IN AID TO ITS DEPENDENCIES






By Matt Kaye 

Washington, D.C. – President Trump’s fiscal 2019 Budget for the territories and Freely Associated States is down more than $20 million from the current fiscal year, including some reductions for Guam.

The $608 million request compares with close to $629 million for fiscal year 2018. Among the proposed reductions is a more than $251,000 cut in the request for Guam Capital Improvement Program funding that would leave the island with just over $6.3 million in CIP dollars next fiscal year.

Guam’s mandatory Compact Impact aid would stay flat under the president’s request at just over $14.9 million. The administration again zeroed out discretionary Compact aid of $3 million for all the islands.

Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo issued a statement that she will wage a battle over those funds once more.

Compact Impact funding is split between GovGuam general operations and the Guam Department of Education School Leaseback Program.

Section 30 income tax payments were reduced to $78 million from $85.7 million in the current fiscal year, likely reflecting the impact of federal tax reform.

Other requests include just over $14.7 million for technical assistance for all the islands which is down $2.9 million for Guam brown tree snake control.

The administration is also seeking $2.8 million total for the territories for the Empowering Insular Communities to spur strategies to reduce island electricity costs. But that’s a reduction of $639,000 from the current figure.

19 February 2018

STATIA PARTY CRITICAL OF DUTCH HEAVY HANDED TAKEOVER

SABA-NEWS.COM



the United People’s Coalition (UPC) sees the takeover of government on St. Eustatius on the basis of the “Three Wise Men” report as “an unfortunate and heavy handed measure.
Reginald Zaandam

“It must be clear that UPC sees this action as a sad day and a black page in Statia’s history. Some may rejoice, but UPC sees this measure as an action that creates a wrong perception and also severe attack on our ability and capability to govern our island,” Reginald Zaandam of the coalition said in a press statement.

The current coalition is not scot free in this development, he said. “As one of the coalition member stated in their radio programme that they saw this long coming, we of the UPC wonder why they did not adjust their approach in governing to avert this move by the Dutch.”


Listening to a recent radio programme, Zaandam said, “It was clear that this measure was the fault of everyone else but them. It is unbelievable that these persons thought that they could continue doing at will what they wanted with impunity.”
On the other hand, a closer look at Article 132 used as basis of this measure, UPC failed to see grounds derived from this article that substantiate the postponing of the next year’s election.

There are several municipalities in the Netherlands that were placed under similar supervision, but were never excluded from taking part in the election he said. “Our thoughts are that this part of the measure should be contested through a summary case.”

UPC questioned why Statia’s government, in the spirit of good governance and of course transparency, was not given the opportunity in a bilateral consult to clarify and or to discuss these findings and recommendations before The Hague enforced this measure.
“Now since we read the content of the measure, let us wait and see in what spirit the state secretary will explain this unfortunate measure to our people,” Zaandam said.

Dutch State Secretary for Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops appointed two commissioners to take charge of the Statia Government in what he called an “exceptional measure.”

According to Knops, the current government has completely neglected its tasks and there are intimidation and lawlessness. The Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament and the Senate adopted a bill on Tuesday providing for an administrative intervention in St. Eustatius.

18 February 2018

UNHCR to Send Team to Indonesian Papua to Probe Alleged Human Rights Abuses



JAKARTA – The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights announced on Wednesday his office will send a team to investigate reports of human rights violations in eastern Indonesia’s Papua province, where a separatist conflict is underway.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said there were reports of serious human rights abuses and it was important to probe these allegations.

“I am also concerned about increasing reports of excessive use of force by security forces, harassment, arbitrary arrests and detentions in Papua,” he said.

Hussein said large mining and logging companies have committed serious human rights violations against farmers, workers and indigenous communities from the island of Sumatra to the island of Papua, including illegal appropriation of land, and the criminalization of nearly 200 activists since August last year.

In the last two weeks, a woman was shot dead by the police while officers were pursuing a Papuan fugitive accused of theft, and a BBC reporter was expelled from Papua for criticizing the authorities on Twitter, although it was later retracted.

“The current system pressures journalists to limit reporting on Papua, and signals to the military and police that journalists can be interfered with,” Indonesia Researcher of Human Rights Watch, Andreas Harsono, said in a statement on Wednesday.

The western half of the island of New Guinea belongs to Indonesia, a territory rich in natural resources and the scene of a separatist conflict since its independence from the Netherlands in 1963.

17 February 2018

Puerto Rico’s Criollos de Caguas repeat as Caribbean Series Baseball Champs






GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Puerto Rico’s Criollos de Caguas came from behind to defeat Dominican squad Aguilas Cibaeñas 9-4 in the Caribbean Series final and win the regional baseball title for the second straight year.

It was an emotional victory for the side from Puerto Rico, a United States commonwealth that was devastated last fall by Hurricane Maria and had difficulty even in organizing a winter league season.

The situation appeared bleak for the Criollos late in Thursday night’s final at Estadio Panamericano in the western city of Guadalajara, with Aguilas Cibaeñas leading 4-1 after six and a half innings.

But the Puerto Ricans erupted for five runs in the bottom of the seventh, three of them coming on a home run by catcher Jonathan Morales that gave Criollos a 6-4 lead.

Earlier that inning, Aguilas had opened the door to the rally by walking lead-off hitter Anthony Garcia and David Vidal, both of whom scored on a single by Ruben Gotay.

Morales’ round-tripper brought home Gotay and Dayron Varona, who had reached on a single.

The Puerto Ricans then tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning thanks to a double by Johnny Monell that drove in Jesmuel Valentin and Anthony Garcia and a single by Gotay that brought home Monell.

With their victory in Thursday’s final, the Criollos won their fifth title at this annual competition, which features the champions of Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

The Criollos also won last year’s Caribbean Series, played in Culiacan, Mexico, but the 2018 title was about more than just baseball.

After Category 4 Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017, and devastated the island’s electrical grid (around 40 percent of the US commonwealth’s residents are still without power more than four months later), the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League opted to play a reduced winter schedule.

All of the contests also were played during the day due to a lack of electricity.

16 February 2018

Overseas Countries and Territories conference convenes in Curacao



Trade and investment conference sets actionable high level discussions in the Caribbean overseas territories

WILLEMSTAD, Curacao — COSME, a European Union-funded programme committed to providing support to Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT) entrepreneur sustainability and inspiring growth, hosted a two-day workshop for trade and policy dialogue on February 8 – 9, 2018, in Curacao.

Entrepreneurs around the world focus on economies of scale in order to stay competitive. The Caribbean OCTs have the possibility to leverage their collective power through regional collaboration in trade and investment. Workshop facilitator, Pauric Brophy (Irish Republic), led discussions on how OCTs can continue to reinforce their collaboration in the field of trade and investment post-COSME.

The workshop attracted participation from all Caribbean OCTs, except the Cayman Islands and St Barthélemy. The objectives of the workshop were to:

1. Explore the creation of a regional (OCT) trade and investment policy working group.

2. Increase the capacity of participants to analyse, comment on, formulate and implement trade and investment policy decisions.

3. Support the building of stronger partnerships with other stakeholders and institutions that support regional collaboration in trade and investment.

The level of interaction ensured meaningful and high-level consensus for actionable dialogue to chart a path forward. Marlon Penn, BVI junior minister for trade, attended and said, “The discourse was indeed fruitful. What needs to be done now is to take steps to foster greater collaboration in the area of trade and investments. OCTs need to proceed as a collective unit. It is now time to act.”

Caribbean OCT entrepreneurs continue to demonstrate their strength and, through enabling trade and investment policies, they can continue to grow and scale their operations further, increasing their contributions to the economy.

COSME is a 54-month programme with the responsibility to disperse €15 million to projects benefitting participating Caribbean territories. The funds were made available by the European Union. The programme’s overall objective is to contribute to the sustainable and climate-resilient economic diversification and prosperity of Caribbean OCTs by improving the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the participating territories.

15 February 2018

SINT EUSTATIUS FORMER ISLAND SECRETARY TAKES NETHERLANDS TO TASK FOR ABOLISHING ELECTED GOVERNMENT





BES REPORTER

St. Eustatius: A Sad Story of Failed Opportunities, Disregard, Deception, and Inability



By Koert Kerkhoff
The past few days a new chapter was written of the history of St. Eustatius, but not a history that anyone would like to tell his grandchildren with pleasure or pride. It is a sad story of failed opportunities, disregard, deception, and inability. Inability and unwillingness on the part of The Hague to be respectful and with trust to deal with the island and its elected representatives and executives; Inability on the side of Statia to muster more patience and close the ranks. In the media, the local administration is demonized and accused of almost anything. This piece does not join in but chooses a different angle in which the backgrounds are more important.
10-10-10 
When it became clear that the “big” islands of Curacao and Sint-Maarten no longer saw a future for the Netherlands Antilles, the future of the three other islands had to be considered about. In a referendum, Statia spoke out for a continuation of the Netherlands Antilles in an adapted form. That option was hardly given any thought and under time pressure it was decided that Statia had to become a public entity together with Bonaire and Saba.
The deadline in 2008 was not met and then set at 1010-2010, not because it would be more feasible, but because it was a more satisfying date symbolically. In the last twelve months preceding that date, quite a few politicians from The Hague visited Statia and the mouths and air were full of promises about tackling the delays in the maintenance of the infrastructure, the improvement of the government administration, to bring about a higher level of socio-economic development, to improve education and to ensure access to good health care for all inhabitants.
The Antillean flag was lowered under pomp and circumstance and with the disappearance of the flag most promises also disappeared. National Office for the Caribbean Netherlands and the Tax Administration Caribbean Netherlands got beautiful buildings in Oranjestad but had to contact Bonaire for each decision. The same routine applied to the Immigration Services, Social Services, Education, Culture, and Science, and Economic Affairs. The dollar was introduced and new legislation in all possible areas engulfed the island despite its outspoken legislative restraint. Partly due to an inflation rate of more than 15% in the first year, which was not compensated for by adjusting the minimum wage, the dissatisfaction rose and it was therefore not a surprise that, at the first elections in March 2011, a coalition was elected which would be less charmed by plans, ideas and meddling busy-bodies from The Hague who did little else than denying that any promises were ever made or point at Statia as a cause for the retraction, partly or altogether, of promises.
This coalition fell within a year and was succeeded by a coalition that wanted to let the Netherlands do as much as possible, even though Statia’s interest were not really served by it. This had its impact and the elections of March 2015 brought a coalition to power that was elected on the platform of an own, Statian, course with a greatly reduced input from the central government on the ins and outs of the local administration. The Hague quickly proved not only to (want to) understand the change in course and took everything out of the closet to make life as hard as possible for this coalition, in the hope that this elected coalition would clear the field as soon as possible for a more The Hague-friendly variant. However, after a year the coalition was still there and didn’t feel like throwing the towel.
The Hague did not hesitate and slammed the island with supervision: not because the coalition made a mess of it, but because it sent reports about the deplorable state of or even missing financial records of the preceding years under an administration that was supported and protected by The Hague. The supervision consisted of little other than an extra bureaucratic layer on top of an already fragile financial department that then completely imploded under the pressure. In 2016, this was reported by the administration to The Hague along with strong indications for financial mismanagement in the years before 2015. The Hague responded by changing the supervision in preliminary supervision, pretended the financial maladministration was relating to the present and not the past, and took on board KPMG to cull debris. The Hague forgot to regulate that via the Island Council, which made the intake and payment of KPMG (760,000 Euro) an illegal act.
2016 – 2017 
The preliminary supervision and an ever-increasing interference of the kingdom representative in the internal affairs of the Island brought the extremely fragile civil service, already destabilized by a failed reorganization attempt of 2012 and 2013 and a structural lack of manpower in crucial departments, to a stand-still which rendered good governance by the Executive Council nearly impossible. A plan of action was drawn up jointly with The Hague and the kingdom representative, but the realization of the plan was scarcely done by the lack of its own budget for the plan of action and endless talks about who ultimately had the decision-making authority. The opposition in the Island Council did not pass up on any opportunity to report how little results this coalition was making and could count on sizeable support from The Hague.
Despite the positive opinion of the Cft, the budget which was prepared by KPMG was rejected by the minister who simply stated that as long as he did not approve the budget Statia had to ask his permission for literally every payment for which request an extra form had to be filed separately, so also for the payment for adjusting the budget. The absurdity of this situation was totally escaped the minister; the fact that money was spent on toilet paper and drinking water without having been asked for permission, did not escape him and that led to letters from him stating that Statia did unlawful expenditures. In the meantime, the kingdom representative (re-)appointed without any consultation with the Island Council, after the resignation of the island governor beginning 2016, an acting island governor who was an active politician of the opposition. That caused added tension in the Executive and Island Council. Subsequently, the appointment of a island governor was discontinued by the Minister and the kingdom representative because, according to the kingdom representative, no qualified candidates had applied.
After he and the minister promised to restart the nomination procedure, the acting island governor was reappointed, and the minister said that he would only look for a new island governor after the Franssen and Refunjol had submitted their report. It is now clear that when this last pledge was made, the takeover of the local administration had already been established as strategy and the report by Franssen and Refunjol would only serve to motivate such a measure.
Dutch Arrogance and Ignorance
Those looking for facts in the report of Franssen and Refunjol has a rude awakening. The report presents the gossip and slander that circulate on the island as truths without mentioning that the group interviewed consisted almost completely of people who for some reason or another had to settle a score with the local administration or with one of the representatives personally. The gentlemen also point out in the report that the local government has been placed itself outside the law by saying that parts of the BES laws that infringe on the principle of self-governance are not binding in those areas which are the responsibility of the island. It seems the writers just have one purpose: to strengthen the image of the coalition leader as the opposition depicts him, an almost paranoid dictator, and pass it as the gospel truth.
The one-sidedness is condoned by the writers by stating that the coalition did not want to talk to them, the objective researchers. In doing so, it is convenient forgotten that the researchers and their mission are a flagrant violation of the agreements made with the coalition by unilaterally selected and formulated by the minister, with, as has now become clear, no other purpose than to substantiate the takeover. As long as the coalition was put off as dictatorial, lawlessness, and derelict of duty, it was alright. That the Dutch government is also being blamed is no more than a stylistic addition: despite the accusations, the first and second chambers are not dissolved until further notice and the government is not replaced by a Brussels Commissioner designated by the European Union. Consequences are only to be borne by Statia.
The whole mindset and attitude is characteristic of approach by The Netherlands. The own view is not questioned, because what The Hague thinks and surmises, is right and proper and not subject to doubt. All actions are based on that premise and criticism is done away with fallacies as a circular reasoning or recourse to the hierarchical relationship. If this view were only the product of a conscious political tactic to remain the boss, it would be reprehensible, but it could be discussed still. The inconvenient truth is, however, that the mindset derives from a colonial and racist subconsciousness and it is therefore totally unmentionable and leads to a blockade and resistance as soon as one knocks at the door of that subconsciousness. In that subconsciousness, it is impossible to deal on an equal basis with people who do not fit the image of what is Dutch. Only if the other party has sufficiently adjusted, communication is possible.
It is inconceivable that The Hague should adapt and so far, they have not shown to be able to do it either. They get into a defensive cramp as soon as they are facing the representatives of the colonial slavery past, even if that past is not mentioned, and they can only talk about the local government in the same clichés that are reserved for African Countries: victim role, corrupt, nepotism, duty dereliction, cruelty and lack of reverence of the black for the white. Because of the almost daily confrontations with the clichés, the local representatives are painfully aware of colonial slavery past. That pain is not diminished when the other party downplays and ridicules it, but is alleviated by showing compassion, recognition and understanding. The day that happens, however, has yet to come because empathy is not a highly esteemed virtue in The Hague.
An Apparent World 
The reality is that Statia (and with Statia the other Dutch islands in the Caribbean) has a non-Dutch history and culture. The approach that the legal status of public entity imposed by the Netherlands makes it Dutch, does not change anything. In the Netherlands, multiculturalism has never gotten beyond hardly tolerating any other culture than the superior dominant own culture; there is no respect and appreciation for other cultures. Because of this inequality, it is not so strange that the world in which Statia is seen as part of the Netherlands is not the world in which a Statian dwells because he will always draw the dirty end of the stick in that world. On his island the Statian culture is dominant and the Dutch culture is tolerated by him. In The Hague’s thinking, Statia has become Dutch after 1010-10 and it is expected that the culture has adapted to that concept immediately. That is not the case, but The Hague and its representatives do not realize that and go on to assume that Statians and Dutchmen are moving in the same cultural continuum of the dominant Dutch culture. Misunderstandings and collisions are therefore invariably blamed on the Statians, because they would not behave according to the prevailing standards, forgetting that Statia is not The Netherlands. Yes, the Dutch flag flies over Statia and the color of the tax envelope is also blue, but a Statian looks at it with other eyes than a Dutchman while that Dutchman thinks they think the same. And it is labelled as high-treason as it turns out that a Statian thinks something else.
Betrayal
Betrayal seems to be the red line linking Statia with the Netherlands. Statia was betrayed when the status of public entity was imposed, when the promises to end the welfare and wellbeing disparities were not kept; when dialogues only appeared to be Dutch monologues; when last year Statian proposals to talk to each other were left unanswered or rejected; when, despite Dutch blockades and opposition, Statia put the financial administration in order and still Statia was accused of maladministration; when the Dutch parliament raped democracy on Statia without a second thought or a sign of remorse.
It is bitter to read today that the Secretary of State now wants to build Statia with input from Statians. This could have been done by for once sit down at the table with the elected representatives and listen unbiased and without interrupting with the remark that “the rules do not allow it”, but instead look at how the rules can be adjusted. It seems, however, quite easy to quickly adjust the laws and regulations, but only to maintain the unreality of The Hague of uniformity and Dutch supremacy within the kingdom.

14 February 2018

GUAM, NORTHERN MARIANAS DEVELOPING CLOSER COLLABORATION

CNMI, Guam to have a ‘stronger voice’



By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

MARIANAS VARIETY

THE Marianas Working Group, an inaugural business collaboration between the CNMI and Guam concluded on Friday with a declaration that the islands will have“a stronger voice” on critical issues affecting both jurisdictions.
The two-day collaboration and cooperation concluded at 4 pm with recommendations from each working group.
Each group, composed of government agency representatives from from Guam and the CNMI, presented a completed policy agenda for consideration by both Governor Ralph Torres and Governor Eddie Calvo.
The policy agendas recommended by the working groups will guide future discussions and actions of the Marianas Working Group.
The participants were divided into seven groups to tackle issues, identify challenges, and come up with possible solutions to problems.
These groups were Labor and Education, Infrastructure and Telecommunications, Health and Food Security, Ports and Commerce, Homeland Security and Public Safety, Finance and Taxation and Land, Environment & Veterans Affairs.
READ THE FULL REPORT HERE .

13 February 2018

NETHERLANDS TAKEN TO TASK FOR ABOLITION OF ELECTED GOVERNMENT IN ITS CARIBBEAN "PUBLIC ENTITY" OF SINT EUSTATIUS



INSTITUTION OF DIRECT RULE FROM HOLLAND WIDELY CRITICISED 




Teaching Naughty Islanders a Lesson

By Brighter Path Foundation


ST. EUSTATIUS/COMMENTARY – St. Eustatius, a Public Entity of the Netherlands was recently placed under direct Dutch rule after the ‘Committee of Wise Men’ concluded in its report that there is a “gross neglect of duties” on St Eustatius. 

The report further characterized the administrative situation on Statia by lawlessness and financial mismanagement, but the report was also critical of the Dutch Government’s role in the development of the situation in Statia.

In 2009, the UK government imposed direct British rule on the Turks & Caicos Islands for three years, after evidence of government corruption and incompetence was found. This move was met with strong political and regional resistance and condemnation, but the British Government was convinced that this was the way to go and claimed that the islanders would welcome the British with open arms, the latter proved not to be entirely the case.

In the case of Statia, the ‘Committee of Wise Men’ recommended this measure after reviewing published reports and after conducting interviews with 70 individuals out of a population of 3200, which is equivalent to 2% of the Statian population. The ‘Committee of Wise Men’ argued that imposing direct rule was necessary because the island government had ruled out any form of dialogue with its Dutch counterparts. 
The Committee further argued that such a measure would be met with accusations of “neocolonialism” but that the majority of Statians would be welcoming of this intervention, this based on consultations with just 2% of the Statian population.

The dissolution of democratically elected representatives in dependent overseas territories, while striping the citizens of their voice, seem to be the applied strategy of choice when the democratically elected representatives of said dependencies start to ‘misbehave’. Both the Dutch and the UK government argued that the imposition of direct rule in their territories were in accordance with their country’s constitution. 

One could however argue, whether such a measure, whereby an unelected British or Dutch official assumes all power to govern at ‘will’ for a period of years in its ‘territory’ without the organization of local elections, is truly the right thing to do.

Mr. Galmo Williams the former premier of the Turks & Caicos Islands until direct British rule was imposed said, “We will never be able as a nation to move forward [if] every time we reach a crossroads our rights get taken away, our freedom gets taken away.” Mr. Williams describes the problematic relation that exists between the administering power and its’ dependency, namely the belief that the administering power must rescue the islanders out of the hands of their corrupt and incompetent representatives, while at the same time reinforcing a sense of helplessness in the hearts and minds of the islanders, who usually say, “Let the Dutch/ British come” when governing and social challenges arise in the territory.

Instead of imposing direct rule in Statia, a neutral third party (preferably outside of the Dutch Kingdom) could have been solicited to mediate between both governments. Or the people of Statia could have been asked via a consultative referendum, if they were desirous of direct Dutch rule.

The continuous practice of stripping islanders of their voice when the dependent territory ‘misbehaves’ can not only be viewed as the exertion of power but also as a morally unjust practice.

(links provided by OTR)

12 February 2018

U.S. TERRITORIAL OFFICE HEAD UNDER SCRUTINY FOR CONFLICT OF INTEREST



Official draws scrutiny of his own after a career of working for scandal-plagued bosses.



Doug Domenech, a top official at the Department of the Interior, worked as a political appointee at the agency during the George W. Bush administration when it was rife with corruption. The official is now coming under scrutiny for his own questionable actions as a Trump administration appointee.

A month after winning confirmation to serve as assistant secretary for insular affairs at the Interior Department in September 2017, Domenech purchased between $15,001 and $50,000 worth of shares in Compass Minerals, a mining company that does business with the department, Politico reported Monday. In 2017, the Interior Department, for example, paid the company $15,000 on a contract.

As assistant secretary for insular areas, Domenech coordinates federal policy for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The office also is responsible for administering and overseeing grant assistance to the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Palau.

Compass Minerals produces salt, potash, and fertilizers. Along with the Interior Department, the company has won contracts with the departments of Defense, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs over the past seven years. Domenech was confirmed to his position at the Interior Department on September 18 and reportedly purchased the shares in Compass Minerals in late October.

Last fall, Domenech also sold more than $15,000 in shares of Chevron. However, he still owns shares in pipeline company Enbridge Inc. and smaller stakes in pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners and refiner Valero Energy, according to Politico.

Domenech’s investments raise questions about conflict of interest and whether the Interior Department will steer contracts to these companies or implement policies that could boost the companies’ share value. Last week, Trump’s head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resigned on the heels of a Politico report that she had purchased stock in a tobacco company soon after taking her job, which oversees smoking-cessation programs.

The Interior Department had not responded to a request for comment from ThinkProgress at the time this article was published. Politico reported that Compass Minerals does not do business in the Virgin Islands or other territories that Domenech directly oversees.

Domenech’s bosses have faced serious corruption charges at each step of his career in government. Most recently, Domenech served as secretary of natural resources in Virginia under Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), where the governor was a vocal supporter of drilling off the Virginia coastline. McDonnell was convicted of public corruption charges in 2014 for receiving gifts from a political donor and was sentenced to two years in prison. But the former governor never served any time after the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the sentence.

09 February 2018

PAPUA FACES HEALTH CRISIS WITH MEASLES OUTBREAK



PACIFIC BEAT BY BINDI BRYCE

Indonesia's Government has come under fire for its slow response to a severe measles outbreak in the province of Papua that has claimed the lives of dozens of children.
The disease was first reported in September last year and since then at least 59 children living in the remote Asmat region have died, leading to suggestions the Papuan people are being neglected by the Government.

READ THE FULL REPORT HERE.

31 January 2018

Puerto Rico Sees No Debt Payment Ability Until 2022

Governor Rossello issued revised fiscal turnaround plans, painting a bleak picture of an island struggling after its worst natural disaster in 90 years.

Puerto Rico’s governor has projected Thursday his bankrupt, hurricane-ravaged U.S. territory will run a budget deficit for the next four fiscal years, requiring new financing while leaving next to nothing to repay the island’s US$72 billion debt until 2022.

The announcement is supposed to justify Rossello’s decision to privatize the power utility, PREPA. Rossello's plan also predicted a minimum of US$35.3 billion in federal aid to help recover from Hurricane Maria that devastated Puerto Rico in September, as “external liquidity support” to maintain basic services.

READ THE FULL REPORT IN telesur.

28 January 2018

DOCUMENTARY ON WESTERN SAHARA OPENS IN GERMANY



Logo menú


Despite threats of censorship, documentary filmmakers show human rights violations in 

Western Sahara


Stories about life in Western Sahara — a disputed territory controlled by the Moroccan government — are rarely told by people who live there. In a militarized environment with aggressive controls on media and citizen reporting, few stories of Western Sahara reach audiences beyond the immediate region. But a new documentary film that charts one independent media group’s struggle to document human rights violations in Western Sahara has the opportunity to change this.


READ THE FULL STORY HERE.

25 January 2018

VIRGIN ISLANDS LONDON OFICE DIRECTOR NAMED POLICY FELLOW AT UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE

Caribbean News Now




LONDON, England — The British Virgin Islands’ London Office director, Benito Wheatley, has been selected by the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP) as a 2018 Policy Fellow. As the BVI’s United Kingdom and European Union representative, Wheatley will engage University of Cambridge scholars and the CSaP’s network of senior UK government and EU public servants and business leaders in a series of meetings on the future of the UK’s relationship with the Overseas Territories (OT).

Among other things, he will discuss UK-OT relations in regard to security, climate change, natural disasters/recovery, international business and Brexit.

Commenting on his selection as a Policy Fellow, Wheatley said, “It is an honour to be selected by Cambridge as a CSaP Policy Fellow, which is complementary to my role as the BVI’s UK and EU Representative. The devastation caused by the two Category 5 hurricanes in 2017 that hit Anguilla, BVI, Turks and Caicos and other islands in the Caribbean, brought into clear focus the importance of Britain’s relationship with the Overseas Territories. There is an urgent need to comprehensively review UK-OT policy with a view to reframing the relationship at this point in time to respond to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.”

Wheatley is the first official from the Caribbean and a British Overseas Territory to be selected as a CSaP Policy Fellow. He is also the co-chair of the OCT-European Union Partnership Working Party on Financial Services.

He holds a Master of Science degree in International Strategy and Diplomacy from the London School of Economics and Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Morehouse College (USA). He is also a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Institute of Directors (IOD) and an alumnus of CSC Leaders.

23 January 2018

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION REPORT ON NORTHERN MARIANAS

COMMONWEALTH 
OF THE NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS
WHO Country Cooperation Strategy 
2018–2022

OVERVIEW 

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is one of five inhabited United States island territories. It spans 464 square kilometres and comprises four inhabited islands (Saipan, Tinian, Rota and Pagan) and 10 uninhabited ones. The population was 53 883 in 2010, with 90% of people living in the capital of Saipan. The Constitution of the Commonwealth was adopted in 1977. The three branches of the Government are Executive (headed by the governor), Legislative (Senate and House of Representatives) and Judicial. The Commonwealth’s gross domestic product rose by 3.5% in 2015, a 0.7% increase on 2014, according to data compiled by the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis. Economic growth is attributed to flourishing tourism, the gaming industry and the amusement sector. 

HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENT 

Public Law 16-51 (2009) transferred the national health system to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (CHCC), a public entity that is headed by a chief executive officer. The Corporation consists of a primary hospital, a modernized haemodialysis facility, a community health centre, rural health centres in Rota and Tinian, public health services, and behavioural health services. There are also four private health clinic groups. The majority of the physicians are from the United States of America, and there are five times more nurses than physicians. The Government is supportive of increased training opportunities for local health-care staff. The Medicaid programme, a federal–state shared insurance for the poor, covers only American citizens. Poverty is a major determinant of health. The 2010 population census found that 34% of the population were uninsured for health care. Almost the same percentage holds true at the present time. The Medical Referral programme provides logistical and other support to people needing off-island tertiary care, for example in the Philippines or Hawaii. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) were the leading causes of death from 2011 to 2014. Diseases of the circulatory system accounted for 252 deaths (33%), cancers accounted for 133 (18%), endocrine, nutritional and metabolic disease accounted for 54 (7%), and diseases of the respiratory system accounted for 52 (7%).

READ THE FULL REPORT AT THE WHO WEBSITE.

21 January 2018

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION REPORT ON GUAM

GUAM
WHO Country Cooperation Strategy 
2018–2022
OVERVIEW 

Guam is an unincorporated and organized territory of the United States of America in the western Pacific Ocean. Guam has an estimated population of 162 000 spread across 19 villages. The majority of people live in the northern part of the island. Guam is one of five Pacific island jurisdictions of the United States of America with a civilian government and a governor elected by popular vote. Guam’s economy is forecasted to continue a moderate expansionary trend, driven by military-related activities, tourism, construction, trans-shipment services, food processing and textiles. 

HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENT 

The Department of Public Health and Social Services is responsible for public health policies. Guam Memorial Hospital, which is located in the village of Tamuning, provides a broad range of health-care services to residents and people from neighbouring islands, such as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia. The United States Naval Hospital Guam provides health services primarily to military personnel, but also provides voluntary community services to the civilian community. The Guam Regional Medical City, a private hospital, started its service in 2015 in the north of Guam. Non communicable diseases (NCDs) and communicable diseases were identified as important health challenges in the Guam community health assessment in 2014. The rate of NCDs continues to increase. In 2014, around half of deaths in Guam were attributed to heart disease (31%) and cancers (18%) such as lung and cervical cancer. However, fewer people are opting for cancer screening. Many people suffer from heart disease or are living with diabetes. Tobacco use is a major risk factor for these NCDs. Incidence of tuberculosis (TB) also remains high. 

READ THE FULL REPORT AT THE WHO WEBSITE .

15 January 2018

CARIBBEAN BANK FUNDING TO VIRGIN ISLANDS DISASTER RECOVERY




CDB approves US$65.5mn in loans, grants to support disaster recovery efforts in BVI

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The board of directors of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has approved US$65.5 million in loans and grants to the government of the British Virgin Islands to assist with the recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction of social and economic infrastructure, resulting from the cumulative effects of recent severe weather events.
Daniel Best, director, Projects Department, CDB noted, “The government of the British Virgin Islands’ preliminary assessment report estimates US$3 billion in damage and losses — the equivalent of three times the annual gross domestic product, from the passage of Hurricane Irma.”
“This project is a reflection of our commitment to providing and mobilising resources for recovery and reconstruction, and to improve climate resilience and socially inclusive infrastructure and institutions in our borrowing member countries,” Best added.
The rehabilitation and reconstruction project aims to strengthen the socio-cultural and economic preparedness and resilience of the population of the British Virgin Islands to future climate-related hazards, while supporting the population in re-establishing sustainable livelihoods. This will be achieved through:
  • The rehabilitation and reconstruction of critical social and economic infrastructure in the country’s transport, water and sewerage, governance, education and national security sectors;
  • The provision of technical assistance in design and construction supervision services; and
  • Institutional strengthening for psychosocial support and disaster mitigation.
The project will be supported through a US$65.2 million loan and a US$300,000 grant.
It comprises several components, including:
  • Rehabilitation and reconstruction of critical climate-resilient social and economic infrastructure;
  • Enhancement of institutional capacity for: psychosocial support and disaster risk reduction;
  • Upgrade/reconstruction of 3.9 kilometres of roads;
  • Construction of approximately 900 metres of coastal defences;
  • Construction/upgrade of 12 educational institutions and recreation facilities;
  • Rehabilitation of nine public infrastructures;
  • Rehabilitation of ten water and sewerage facilities;
  • Provision of information and communication technology equipment and other resources for 29 institutions; and
  • Training of 80 persons in providing psychosocial support services.
In October and November 2017, CDB approved three immediate response loans on highly concessionary terms, totalling US$2.25 million and an emergency relief grant of US$200,000 to the British Virgin Islands after the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and Tropical Storm José. These funds assisted the government in the provision of emergency relief supplies and humanitarian assistance, cleaning and clearing debris, as well as restoring critical infrastructure and essential public services.
The project is consistent with the bank’s strategic objective of promoting environmental sustainability and disaster risk management in its borrowing member countries, and its corporate priority of promoting disaster risk management and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

14 January 2018

GUAM TOURISM AFFECTED BY U.S-NORTH KOREAN TENSIONS

Newsweek

NORTH KOREA NUCLEAR MISSILE THREAT WRECKS GUAM’S HOPE FOR 2018 TOURISM BOOM

North Korea’s threats to launch a nuclear missile strike against the U.S. territory of Guam are expected to take a toll on the island’s tourism industry in 2018.
At least 40,000 fewer tourists are expected to visit Guam in the year ahead compared with 2017, according to local media reports confirmed by the Guam Visitors Bureau.
The fiscal year of 2017 was deemed to be the island territory’s best year in tourism, with as many as 1.56 million visitors from South Korea and Japan alone.
That number is expected to drop significantly, however, in the wake of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s renewed threats to target the Pacific island.
READ FULL ARTICLE IN NEWSWEEK 

12 January 2018

U.S. NUCLEAR TESTING "PUT THE POPULATION OF GUAM IN HARM'S WAY KNOWINGLY AND WITH TOTAL DISREGARD FOR THEIR WELL BEING"

The impact of nuclear testing in the region, according to (a 2012 U.S. report), “was the largest ecological disaster in human history."
________________________________________________

PACIFIC ISLAND TIMES






While North Korea renews its nuke strike threat, Guam renews its call for radiation exposure compensation

Three weeks after carrying out a powerful nuclear test in its own testing site on Sept. 3, North Korea warned it might detonate a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean. If Pyongyang makes good on its constant threats, civil defense officials say, residents will have 14 minutes to duck and/or run for their lives. The Office of Civil Defense has thus renewed its guidelines on how to survive a possible nuclear strike, giving the community a crash course on the danger of exposure to radioactive elements. “Do not look at the flash or fireball—it can blind you. Take cover behind anything that might offer protection. Remove your clothing to keep retroactive material from spreading,” state the guidelines.

If North Korea’s hydrogen bomb detonation did come about, it certainly wouldn’t be the ocean’s first nuclear blast.

READ THE FULL REPORT IN PACIFIC ISLAND TIMES.




11 January 2018

VIRGIN ISLANDS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE HEAD COMPARES BRITISH, FRENCH, DUTCH AND U.S. DISASTER RELIEF TO CARIBBEAN COLONIES

BVI NEWS.COM

UK further criticised for low-grade treatment


Chairman of the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association (BVICCHA) Louis Potter has joined the growing number of critics who have accused the United Kingdom (UK) of not doing enough for Overseas Territories.

He criticised the UK government for not implementing adequate measures to ensure the British Virgin Islands had relief funding in the event of a disaster such as Hurricane Irma.

“That [is something] they should have accomplished or they should have been working on long time,” Potter said in a recent interview with BVI News.


READ THE FULL REPORT IN BVI NEWS .




09 January 2018

CHALLENGE TO MEDIA'S DEFENCE OF COLONIALISM IN TERRITORIES


Pacific Daily News


As we crawl out of the dumpster fire that was 2017 for much of the United States and its territories, we inch cautiously into 2018 and hope for the best. As someone who has been working over the past few years to elevate the community consciousness about decolonization, I am most interested in what the coming elections and federal cases will bring in terms of changing the island’s political status.
What occupies my thought process is the role of the media in helping build that consciousness or impede it. The media institutions in any society don’t just exist to report or investigate. These institutions also, often in less perceptible ways, promote values and norms, usually on behalf of elite segments of society.
In a colonial context, these roles gain a colonial dimension. Both institutions and individuals often will be compelled to defend and naturalize the colonial status quo. In both explicit and implicit ways, the media will promote notions of the greatness of the colonizer and propagate a fantasy of American political belonging that may not really exist.
We see this in the media landscape in Guam. Guam isn't a state, yet the media functions in such a way as if Guam is just like any other part of America. You can replace certain words in your average story and suddenly it'll be set in Arkansas or Kansas.
This does a disservice to those who consume that media, as it promotes a mis-recognition of reality. It encourages them not to recognize the truth of our relationship to the U.S., but proposes patriotism and pride as appropriate responses to living in a contemporary colony.
The media isn't alone. We see the same inconsistency from both Adelup and the Legislature. One day there’ll be a press release condemning U.S. colonialism, the next day a resolution promoting the fiction that we are just like any other part of America.
The educational system is one of the most problematic sites for this type of intellectual framing. So much of what is taught is wishful American-centric lessons that range from stupid to harmful. There are many things that would overlap in curriculum on Guam and any corner of the U.S., but if the foundation of your curriculum is they are one in the same, colonial problems will emerge.
This can change, if only the media landscape of Guam take up resolutions like the rest of us. For instance, not every story has to highlight Guam’s colonial status, but this has to be a silent yet still fundamental fact. The media often portray Guam’s relationship to the U.S. as something we are failing to live up to, as if we are some rebellious and corrupt piece of American real estate.
We are owned by the U.S., a immoral relationship that shouldn’t be glossed over in today’s world. As such, the focus on decolonization not happening because of local leaders and problems misses the point. The U.S. has an obligation to assist in this movement, but for decades has largely been unhelpful or obstructionist. Any coverage of the delayed decolonization has to assign the karabao’s share of blame at Uncle Sam’s feet.
Let us hope that in the coming year the media resolves to abandon its role as defenders of the colonial status quo and work to become real guardians of truth. 


08 January 2018

JUNK FOOD AID IN PUERTO RICO DISASTER AFTERMATH

Dk logo med




by

When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, the Houston food bank put out a list of most needed items for people to donate. On the list were foods like granola bars, peanut butter, protein in easy to open pouches or pull-top cans like tuna and canned chicken, as well as ready to eat canned items with pull-tops like fruit. Presumably, they were thinking that in a natural disaster people need food that is calorie and protein rich for maintaining energy. They also need food that is not too salty so as to make people thirsty (remember, access to clean drinking water can be an issue in these circumstances) and food that people will actually want to eat. 
This is worth noting—particularly because the exact opposite has been happening in Puerto Rico. While individuals and organizations have been trying to get all kinds of desperately needed food and supplies to the hurricane ravaged island, one company seems to think that any old junk food will do. 

READ THE FULL ARTICLE IN DAILY KOS