Smol Melanesian na pasifik Nius Digest # 833

MELANESIA:

1) PNG to open new diplomatic missions overseas

By Online Editor
10:41 am GMT+12, 19/07/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea will soon open up new diplomatic missions at locations of critical importance both regionally and globally.

This comes as PNG’s diplomatic relations develop and diversify.

The new diplomatic missions earmarked to open include Bangkok, Geneva, Israel, Paris and Shanghai.
Currently, PNG has 18 diplomatic missions and consular posts around the world.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Rimbink Pato, says there’s been an ongoing review of policy, priorities and tools for PNG’s international connections to move ahead.

Pato said this in his ministerial statement to Parliament, titled ‘Papua New Guinea Connect: New challenges and new opportunities for growing PNG’s connections in a globalizing world’.

In addition to posting representatives abroad, Pato says the department will be appointing well-qualified roving ambassadors, based in Port Moresby but travelling in order to promote specific issues.

The Minister says there’s also need for the appointment of honorary consuls, where need and cost do not justify full time diplomatic representations.

SOURCE: NBC PNG/PACNEWS

2) Special Team To Review Structure Of PNG Constitution
Parliament to resume debate on amendments in 2 months

By Jeffrey Elapa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, July 18, 2013) – Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s move to change Papua New Guinea’s Constitution in two places in the name of stability received overwhelming support in Parliament yesterday.

Using its numerical strength, the Government breezed through the first reading 87 to three on votes.

Kundiawa Gembogl MP Tobias Kulang, Rabaul MP Dr Allan Marat and Madang Governor Jim Kas voted against the proposed amendments to sections 124 (1) and 145 (1) of the Constitution.

Notable absences from the debate were Sir Michael Somare and Sir Julius Chan, who were earlier in chamber while former prime minister and current Governor of Western Highlands Paias Wingti voted for the amendments.

In keeping with the provisions of the Constitution when voting for amendment, Parliament should now return within two months for the second reading.

Presenting the Bill for the amendment, O’Neill gave notice that government would establish a team of eminent people to review several key drivers of the nation, a review of the structure of the Constitution itself among them.

This team will be appointed by a committee comprising the prime minister, the Opposition leader, the Chief Justice, Chief Ombudsman and the Permanent Parliamentary Appointments Committee chairman.

Apart from reviewing the structure of the Constitution, the team of eminent people will review the nation’s political, legislative, judicial and service delivery structures.

O’Neill said based on their report, the government would move to conduct a nationwide referendum to determine the most desired and suitable changes to be made in relation to our institutions of government and national service delivery.

He said he was pleased that people from all walks of life, including professors of law, students, councilors and church and women leaders were debating the pros and cons of the amendments.

He said it was not the first time the Constitution was being amended as it had been amended numerous times since its adoption.

“Therefore, the Constitutional amendments proposed by our government are not unprecedented in fact and in evidence.

O’Neill said a government voted in after a general election must be allowed to enjoy the mandate of the people.

“We are not removing the provision for Motions of No Confidence (Section 145). We are simply giving the process more accountability and building on the changes approved by the House earlier this year, and on reforms implemented by the Somare government in the last decade.

“The amendments are not extreme; they are not dangerous; they don’t undermine our democracy or accountability

“The claim that these proposals are all about keeping Peter O’Neill in the office of Prime Minister indefinitely is just laughable.

“I will remain in this office for as long as I retain the confidence of a majority of the elected men and women who, under the Constitution, decide who is Prime Minister. These changes are not about protecting Peter O’Neill. No! They are about strengthening long term political stability and confidence in our system of government and participatory parliamentary practice. And that is what our nation needs today,” he said.

The second change to Section 124 (1) of the Constitution is designed to clearly define sitting periods of the House in each year.

It will stop the prolonged adjournment of the House for political convenience and survival and allow the Government to better plan its legislative program and will help keep the Government more accountable.

“Our government is not heartless. We adhere to the principles of inclusive participatory democracy.”

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

3) Vanuatu MP: Political Stability Cannot Be Bought
Willie Jimmy criticizes creation of new political posts

By Len Garae

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, July 18, 2013) – Leader of the Liberal Democratic Party and Opposition’s outspoken politician to keep the Vanuatu Government on track, MP Willie Jimmy, has warned the Government against allegedly buying political support with unbudgeted political posts saying money cannot buy stability.

MP Jimmy spoke up following the signing by the Prime Minister of the Official Salaries (Amendment) Order No. 92 of 2013 on July 15 in which, he created four new political posts of one Senior Political Advisor to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, one Assistant Senior Political adviser to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, one Driver to the parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Residence Cleaner to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.

MP Jimmy labeled the new posts as an “act of desperation” to give his “cronies” to keep them with him in the Government.

“You can get the new positions approved by the Council of Ministers but the COM must run the state’s affairs in accordance with the Constitution and the rule of law which apply,” the MP said.

“It would be proper to create a law first to give relevant guidelines to the administration of the Office of the Parliamentary Secretary before appointing him because then he would have teeth with which to bite when leaders are not implementing Government policies but when he has no teeth, he would find himself in the same boat with the Ombudsman who can bark so much to get the leaders to implement the decisions but if they refuse to implement them, he cannot penalize them as he has no law to support his voice.”

As far as the MP is concerned it is all a waste of money that is being paid into this new department in the Office of the Prime Minister.

“The total salaries for the parliamentary Secretariat to the Office of the Prime Minister is between Vt12 million [US$123,077] and Vt15 million [US$153,846] in one year and this is a lot of money. You pay someone to do a job that is not provided for under any law for him to do it, except the COM Decision,” he said.

“The person can knock on the door of any ministry to say, ‘Hey, be reminded to pay for the land at Torba and upgrade the health facilities there and in Shefa, extend Valesdir Airport, do the Epi ring road and the roads in Tongoa and airports in Tongoa and Emae”.

But MP Jimmy said the Department of Public Works has its own laws under which to carry out its responsibilities.

Asked his opinion of the appointment of the Parliamentary Secretary, MP Jimmy said any new government that succeeds the present one must make it its priority to review the policy of the appointment of the Parliamentary Secretary.

He said the salary of the parliamentary secretary is almost as high as that of a State Minister while the Constitution says only one sixth of members of parliament can be appointed to ministerial positions including the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.

Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com

4) Solomons Parliament To Enact New Political Party Bill
Lilo reiterates need for political stability, integrity

By Elliot Dawea

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, July 18, 2013) – The Solomon Islands Government will bring a new bill to regulate the country’s political party system when parliament resumes on July 25.

Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo confirmed this during his address marking the country’s 35th independence anniversary last week.

The bill is to be called the Political Parties Integrity Bill 2013.

Mr. Lilo said in the area of political stability and integrity, some progress has also been made in 2013.

“Consultations have also found the desire to have strong, vibrant and disciplined political parties,” Mr. Lilo said.

“Improvement of political integrity and stability [in] institutions is my government priority,” he added.

The bill aims to provide for the orderly registration and management of political parties. This should set in place some good structures for the 2014 general elections.

The objects of this Bill are to establish an authority (the Commission) to regulate political parties; to provide for registration of political parties, including the rules for amalgamation of political parties and to regulate the constitution and rules of political parties.

The bill will also look into regulate coalition agreements, and encourage political parties to enter into pre-election coalition agreements, to provide for rules for selection of candidates; and to regulate campaigns and other electoral activities of persons other than political parties and candidates.

It will also deal with preliminary provisions.

It sets out the objectives of the proposed Act in relation to the development of political parties and their roles under our democratic parliamentary system and the governance of the peoples of Solomon Islands.

It will regulate activities of persons who are not political parties contesting elections, during a general election.

Such non-contesting parties or groups are required to have a license to undertake any activity, such as campaigning and fund raising for another political party or candidate.

National Parliament said the bill is yet to reach their office.

Solomon Star

POLYNESIA:

5) Tuilaepa Criticizes Opposition’s Comparison Of Samoa To Fiji
PM says Fiji’s Bainimarama ‘rules with a gun and an iron fist’

By Mata’afa Keni Lesa

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, July 19, 2013) – Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has responded angrily to the leader of the Opposition, Palusalue Fa’apo II’s comparison of the media environment in Samoa to that of Fiji.

“It was best if you kept quiet and just zipped it,” Tuilaepa said. “But you chose to open your lips. Now the whole world knows how uninformed you are.”

The Prime Minister made the comments in a statement issued by the Office of the Press Secretariat late yesterday evening.

It was in response to a press conference called by Palusalue and the Tautua Samoa Party on Tuesday, to highlight their concerns about the Government putting pressure on the media to set up a Media Council.

Palusalue was highly critical of the Government.

“We always talk about Banimarama and the exclusion of freedom of speech in Fiji,” he said.

“Samoa is getting closer to what’s happening in Fiji.”

Yesterday, the Prime Minister strongly rejected the comparison. He advised Palusalue to “stick to what you know.”

“Fiji is a dictatorship, it is not a democracy,” said Tuilaepa.

“It does not have a Parliament like Samoa that people like Palusalue and the Tautua Party enjoy every day.”

Tuilaepa pointed out that “Bainimarama is an unelected dictator who rules with a gun and an iron fist and does not need to consult anybody.

“He and his military have the power to issue decrees and control the media and whatever they write and broadcast.”

In Samoa, the Prime Minister said “media freedom is thriving” and “it will continue to do so.”

Tuilaepa said the idea to set up a Media Council is nothing new.

He explained that “it was the media themselves who raised and pushed the issue of setting up a media council to Government some years ago” so that they brought in a “media expert from England to present a report and negotiate with Government…”

“The issue of a media council is nothing new,” said the Prime Minister. “But local media has been very disorganized in recent years and Government has taken up the media’s initiative to help them set up a council.

“Essentially, it’s not a Government initiative, it’s a media initiative.”

According to Tuilaepa, the “proposed media council is more-or-less a complaints commission where people can forward any complaints about publications and broadcast.

“Even reporters can complain about their editors and publishers to the media council. It will be completely run by the media industry without any involvement from Government whatsoever.”

On Tuesday, Palusalue said the Government should respect the freedom of the media as the fourth estate in Samoa.

As a matter of fact, Palusalue advised Prime Minister Tuilaepa to stop meddling with the affairs of the media.

“The fourth pillar of any democratic country is the media,” said Palusalue. “It’s where everyone gets the freedom of speech, to show their rights, to say anything.

“In my opinion, the government has no right to interfere with how this body should be set up within the media. Why do they need it so soon instead of the two year timeframe that the media has been advised of before.”

The time frame in question was given by the Samoa Law Reform Commission. It had advised the Government to allow the media to act on setting up their own council within that period.

Last week, however, Attorney General, Aumua Ming Leung Wai said he has been “instructed” by the Government to draft the legislation to set up the Media Council.

Samoa Observer: www.samoaobserver.ws/

MICRONESIA:

6) Marshall Islands Declared Sex-Trafficking Destination
Government allegedly took no effort to prevent trafficking in 2013

By Giff Johnson

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, July 19, 2013) – The U.S. State Department has red-flagged the Marshall Islands as a sex-trafficking destination, and put the country on a global “watch list.”

In last year’s State Department Trafficking in Persons Report, the Marshall Islands was listed as a “Tier 2” country, the middle designation in a report that lists countries as Tier 1, 2 and 3.

The 2013 report, which was cited in the Marshall Islands Journal Thursday this week, states: “The Republic of the Marshall Island is a destination country for women from East Asia subjected to sex trafficking,” the report states bluntly, adding: “The government has made no effort to prevent trafficking during the year. It did not conduct any public campaigns or take other steps to raise public awareness about the dangers of trafficking.”

The report goes on to state all the things that it says the Marshall Islands government did not do this past year to curtail human trafficking.

“The government has not made an effort to identify victims proactively, especially among vulnerable populations, such as foreign and local women in prostitution and foreign men on fishing vessels in Marshallese waters,” the report said.

“The Marshall Islands government made no effort to identify trafficking victims or ensure their access to protective services during the year. Law enforcement and social services personnel do not employ systematic procedures to identify victims of trafficking proactively among high-risk populations with whom they come in contact, which is a risk factor for victims being punished for acts committed as a result of being trafficked.”

The State Department report urges the government to:

Train law enforcement and judicial officials to implement new anti-trafficking laws.
Increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and punish trafficking offenders and apply stringent sentences to convicted offenders.
Take steps to prosecute public officials when there is evidence they are complicit in trafficking activities or hindering ongoing trafficking prosecutions.
Work with NGOs and international organizations to provide protective services to victims.
Make an effort to study human trafficking in the country.
Adopt proactive procedures to identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups, such as foreign workers and women in prostitution.
Develop and conduct anti-trafficking information and education campaigns.
Accede to the 2000 United Nations Trafficking in Persons Protocol.

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

7a) Disagreement Delays Reburial Of Ancient Bones On Guam
Historic Preservation Office calls for further documentation

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, July 19, 2013) – The National Wildlife Refuge has cancelled its reburial ceremony for the two sets of ancient remains found in Ritidian on Guam eight years ago, due to objections from the Department of Chamorro Affairs and the Guam Historic Preservation Office (HPO).

The refuge called off the event scheduled for tomorrow in response to Chamorro Affairs President Joseph Artero-Cameron’s demand to cease the reburial plans, “until adequate documentation is submitted to the authorized entity.”

“Should you still plan to proceed without the proper documentation, i.e. acceptable osteology report and an acceptable plan, then I, the authorized representative under the [Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act] for indigenous rights, am claiming those ancestral remains as the property of the indigenous people,” Artero-Cameron said in a July 17 letter to National Wildlife Refuge Manager Joseph Schwagerl.

Osteology study

The human skeletal remains that belonged to a woman and a child were found at the breadfruit-collection area in the refuge’s Ritidian unit in October 2005 after they had been disturbed in two of several pig-disturbance pits. They are believed to be 400 to 500 years old.

“At the two burial features, no grave-goods or offerings were evident. The excavations recovered artifacts and midden only from the surrounding cultural deposit, associated with the general habitation of the site,” stated the osteology report prepared by Dr. Mike T. Carson.

The report was based on the osteology study by Karen Kadohiro.

“The burial pits had been dug into the existing cultural deposit, apparently toward the end of the period of site-use, most likely in the range of the 1400s through 1600s according to radiocarbon dating and stratigraphic association,” the report said.

The report said the bones were in poor condition and many were fragmented, but the cranium maxilla, mandible and remaining long-bones were successfully reconstructed.

The female’s teeth showed partial red-color staining, which is presumed to have been caused by the chewing of betelnut.

Burial plans

Schwagerl said the refuge prepared reburial plans for the ancient remains in adherence to Chamorro traditions. He said the ceremony involved cultural leaders and performers.

“We have prepared signs in both English and Chamorro identifying the site as an ancient Chamorro burial site. We are in the process of preparing a permanent monument,” Schwagerl said.

Schwagerl said HPO is demanding a further osteology study, which he said would not be possible without jeopardizing the integrity of the bone parts.

“These partial remains of a woman and child were buried for hundreds of years and are in no condition for additional analysis and the purpose is not evident,” Schwagler said.

He said the Guam Historic Preservation Office disagreed with the refuge’s plan to bury the remains directly into the ground, and wants the skeletons to be placed in a container along with the documents.

“They were asking for documentation and a report which we have already submitted to them in 2005,” Schwagerl told Variety. “They accepted the report but we never received a response from them. Now they are saying they don’t have the report.”

Variety sought comments from Historic Preservation Officer Lynda Aguon, but phone calls had not been returned as of press time.

“We do not know when or if this issue may be resolved, and fear that they will continue to be stored as hundreds of other ancestral bones are being stored all over the island. This is unacceptable to us, and mostly likely the ancestors. But we will do our best to find a solution,” Schwagerl said.

“It has been our hope that these ancient Chamorro ancestors be returned to their place of rest, rather than locked in a storage cabinet as they have been since 2005,” he added.

Marianas Variety Guam: www.mvguam.com

FRENCH: 

7b)Immigration: Kevin Rudd annonce l’agrandissement du centre de Manus

Mis à jour 19 July 2013, 14:20 AEST
Caroline Lafargue

L’Indonésie a accepté de modifier les conditions d’obtention de visas pour les Iraniens, sur demande expresse du Premier ministre australien.

Jusqu’à présent, les visiteurs iraniens en Indonésie pouvaient obtenir un visa de 30 jours à leur arrivée dans le pays, moyennant 25 dollars américains. Désormais, les Iraniens devront obtenir un visa auprès de l’ambassade indonésienne à Téhéran avant de pouvoir monter dans l’avion. Cette mesure est destinée à ralentir l’afflux de demandeurs d’asile en Indonésie, qui passent ensuite en territoire australien.

Des représentants du ministère australien de l’Immigration seraient allés négocier avec le gouvernement iranien pour qu’il accepte de reprendre des demandeurs d’asile. Pour le moment, l’Iran ne laisse pas rentrer sur son territoire les Iraniens qui ont demandé l’asile à l’étranger.

De son côté, Kevin Rudd a dévoilé  aujourd’hui une partie de sa nouvelle politique d’immigration. Il va faire passer la capacité du centre de rétention de l’île de Manus, en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, de 200 à 3000 places. L’une des mesures phares pourrait être l’installation permanente des immigrants en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, non plus comme demandeurs d’asile en Australie, mais comme résidents papous.

Actuellement, des demandeurs d’asile sont placés provisoirement en centre de rétention sur l’île de Manus en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, mais il n’a jamais encore été question qu’ils vivent dans le pays.

La question des demandeurs d’asile est centrale dans cette campagne électorale en Australie. Et le candidat Tony Abbott, chef de l’opposition libérale, continue de souligner l’impuissance du gouvernement Rudd à stopper l’afflux de demandeurs d’asile :

« Le Parti Travailliste est incapable de stopper les bateaux, parce qu’il est trop influencé par les Verts, il est trop influencé par certains militants qui estiment que ce pays devrait servir de canot de sauvetage pour le monde entier. »

Quand on demande au porte-parole de l’opposition sur les questions d’immigration quelles sont ses propositions pour ralentir l’afflux de demandeurs d’asile, voilà ce que Scott Morrison répond:

« Je pense que le futur gouvernement a une série de solutions à sa disposition, et quand nous serons en mesure de vous annoncer notre programme, nous le ferons. »

Le problème est certainement l’un des plus complexes auxquels l’Australie soit confrontée aujourd’hui. Chris Bowen, l’ancien ministre de l’Immigration et actuel ministre du Budget, a déclaré hier qu’il ne fallait pas oublier les autres réfugiés :

« J’ai visité un certain nombre de camps de réfugiés dans le monde, ils vivent dans des conditions indescriptibles. Il y a des gens dans ces camps qui ne réuniront jamais l’argent nécessaire pour payer leur voyage, leur bateau, le passeur, et je voudrais que nous n’oublions pas ces gens-là. »

Et effectivement, ceux qui parviennent jusqu’en Indonésie, en provenance principalement d’Afghanistan, du Pakistan, d’Iran, d’Irak, du Sri Lanka, y sont arrivés parce qu’ils avaient pu réunir beaucoup d’argent. L’ABC a pu recueillir le témoignage d’un passeur indonésien, qui a tenu à rester anonyme. Il a réussi à faire entrer 12 bateaux de demandeurs d’asile dans les eaux australiennes cette année. Ce passeur gagne jusqu’à 40 000 dollars par bateau. Et il estime qu’aucune mesure ne pourra empêcher les demandeurs d’asile d’affluer en Indonésie, aux portes de l’Australie, pas même leur placement dans des centres de rétention à Nauru et en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée:

« Ces gens-là peuvent au moins y vivre, même si c’est pendant 10 ou 20 ans, mais au moins ils ne risquent pas d’être tués ou de se faire bombarder, au moins ils peuvent survivre, n’est-ce pas ? »

En réalité, des centaines de demandeurs d’asile meurent chaque année dans la traversée vers l’Australie. Lundi, quatre nouvelles victimes se sont noyées au large de l’île australienne de Christmas au sud de l’Indonésie.

EDUCATION:

8) Tongan student attack causes injuries and 147 arrests overnight

By Online Editor
3:59 pm GMT+12, 19/07/2013, Tonga

Student violence Thursday night, saw two boys admitted to Vaiola Hospital and the arrest of 147 boys, has forced the postponement of the finals of the Tongatapu Secondary School Rugby Tournament that were scheduled for today.

Two Tonga College boys are in Vaiola Hospital with injuries sustained in an alleged attack by Tupou College students last night at a home in Tofoa. Police have arrested 147 boys who remain in police custody for interrogation.

The Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Soakai Motu‘apuaka told Matangi Tonga Online Friday that the decision to postpone the finals for all rugby grades today was due to the escalating fights between students.

He said around midnight last night it was alleged that a group of Tupou College students went and smashed a home at Tofoa with rocks, and the two Tonga College students who sustained injuries including head injuries, were now in the hospital. The home was occupied by a Tonga High School teacher and a few Tonga College students.

“The two injured boys are reported to be in a stable condition but we have in police custody at the Nuku’alofa Central Police station 147 students from Tupou College whom we are interrogating today. We had to pull out our policemen from the Mu‘a and Nukunuku Police stations to help deal with the matter,” he said.

Following the incident, he said that police contacted the Secondary School Rugby Committee and asked them to consider postponing the rugby finals today. The postponement was confirmed by the Committee President Fr. ‘Aisake Vaisima of ‘Apifo‘ou College this morning.

He said the finals will still be held, but police would meet again with the committee to decide whether it is best to have one final per rugby grade a day.

The Acting Deputy Police Commissioner believed that finding a solution to the fighting between school students needs a holistic approach.

Tonga College is an all boys Government school, while Tupou College is an all boys boarding school of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga.

SOURCE: MATANGI TONGA/PACNEWS

9) Solomon Islands Teachers’ Association Head Steps Down
Faisi will remain as SINTA industrial relations officer

By Bradford Theonomi

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, July 19, 2013) – Outspoken Solomon Islands National Teachers Association (SINTA) president Samson Faisi has stepped down yesterday amidst threats his union may be deregistered.

SINTA executive agreed for their chief to step aside after the Assistant Registrar General Haelo Pelo charged Mr. Faisi is not qualified to hold the post because he’s no longer a teacher.

“Yes, I’ve [stepped] aside, but I’m not completely out of SINTA,” Mr. Faisi told the Solomon Star.

He remains SINTA’s industrial relations officer.

“This means I will remain SINTA’s spokesman on all issues relating to welfare of teachers.

“And so I wish to assure teachers that I will continue to advocate for their welfare.”

This latest twist of events came as most schools in the country remained close, with teachers entering their fifth day of strike over government’s failure to pay their dues in time.

Mr. Faisi said despite his stepping down, the strike will continue until teachers are paid their dues.

Meanwhile, cabinet yesterday approved a list of SINTA and non-SINTA members who will be paid their re-level and increment on July 25 next Thursday.

Those to be paid are part of the 21 Education Authorities agreed and finalized by the taskforce appointed to look into the teachers’ issue.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said, only eight Education Authorities are left and will be finalized soon and have them paid.

Honiara teachers are expected to meet this morning at the Honiara High School hall to hear updates from the SINTA executive.

Solomon Star

BUSINESS/TRADE+

10) Pacific Products Showcased in Europe

By Online Editor
10:31 am GMT+12, 19/07/2013, Switzerland

A range of products from the Pacific was showcased at a Pacific Breakfast event on 9 July 2013, in the margins of the Fourth Global Review of Aid for Trade in Geneva, Switzerland.

The event effectively brought the taste of the Pacific to Europe by serving freshly ground Tanna coffee from Vanuatu, and a range of jams, chutneys and herbal teas and infusions from Friends Fiji.

An initiative of the Pacific Islands Trade and Investment (PT&I) network in Europe, the exploratory Pacific Breakfast event was successful in attracting around 100 people.  Among the attendees were the Director General of the World Trade Organisation,Pascal Lamy; the Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa, Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo; Minister for Trade from Papua New Guinea, Richard Maru and Ambassadors and international delegates attending the Aid for Trade events in Geneva.

In introducing the event to the Guests, the Director of the Economic Governance Programme at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Shiu Raj highlighted the uniqueness of the Pacific products. “Many of the high value niche products from the Pacific have a story that links to our cultures and traditions. These products are increasingly produced through ethical and sustainable practices and a number of Pacific products are being used by international chains and celebrities,”Raj said.

The Pacific Showcase event profiled a selected range of Pacific product offerings that could enter into the European markets.  Guests were provided an overview of Pacific exports including boutique coffees from Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Vanuatu; chilli sauce from Samoa; canned tuna from Solomon Islands; and luxury personal care items including soaps and body oils from Fiji and Tonga. Other Pacific products such as vanilla, noni juice, cultural artefacts, jewellery and handicrafts were also on display at the event.

“The response by the participants at the Pacific Showcase illustrates the interest that European consumers may have in Pacific products. Export opportunities for boutique, fair trade and niche organic products are real. Buyers and suppliers are encouraged to contact the PT&I desk in Geneva, which promotes and markets Pacific products in Europe,” Mr Raj said.

Long viewed as a niche market, the value of the European organic market has grown consistently over the last decade.  Data presented at BioFach 2013, the World’s leading Trade Fair for Organic Food, indicated that in 2011 the European market for organics was estimated to have had a value of 21.5 billion euros.  In the same year, Germany alone had an estimated turnover of 6.6 billion euros.  Significantly, in the larger European countries, it is estimated that approximately 25% of this demand is met by imported products.

The Pacific Islands Trade and Invest in Europe promotes Pacific exports and assists in developing critical marketing channels and value chain linkages to enable Pacific Island exporters to establish their products in European markets. The PT&I also assists in enhancing access to technical support and establishing partnerships with agencies that can deliver practical assistance to address the challenges and impediments to increased trade with Europe.

The presence of a PT&I desk in Europe has been made possible through the funding provided by the European Union, under the Pacific Integration Technical Assistance Project (PITAP), which is a component of the Strengthening Pacific Economic Integration through Trade (SPEITT) programme.

SOURCE: PIFS/PACNEWS

11) PNG to push SMEs for two million jobs

By Online Editor
12:53 pm GMT+12, 19/07/2013, Papua New Guinea

Authorities in Papua New Guinea are hoping a new emphasis on developing small-to- medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will generate up to two million jobs in the next decade or so and boost the number of locally-owned businesses.

However, critics say that the government will first need to improve infrastructure and access to credit.

Speaking at a business and information expo in Port Moresby on 04 June, the managing director of PNG’s state-owned National Development Bank (NDB), Moses Liu, said about 10% of SMEs in PNG were owned by locals, adding that the country faced a “huge challenge” in galvanising SME growth, but also highlighted the “… need to start now”.

Trade Commerce and Industry Minister Richard Maru told attendees that the government was consulting the private sector on a number of key issues, including reforms and new investment earmarked for SMEs.

“PNG’s SME sector is not only creating wealth for our citizens but also growing employment,” he said.
Maru said government plans to boost the number of SMEs from 49,000 to 500,000 by 2025 would create an additional two million jobs in the formal economy.

The government has begun work on a range of incentives aimed at encouraging and supporting SME growth, including tax breaks, state buying commitments, the provision of subsidised finance and proposals to restrict foreign investment.

The state has lowered the cost of finance through the NDB, which in January reduced interest rates for SMEs to 6.5%, down from 20% last year.

Three months on, the bank launched its micro-financing arm, the People’s Micro Bank, which offers loans from K5,000 up to K100,000  to family-owned companies with fewer than ten employees.

Businesses can also apply directly to the NDB for larger loans.

Boosting the number of locally owned SMEs could spell significant challenges for the PNG government.
The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2013 ranked PNG 104 out of 185 countries.

The IMF described PNG’s business environment for SMEs as “poor”.

In a 2013 economic briefing on PNG, the World Bank pointed to the infrastructure upgrades needed, particularly for roads and highways, adding that improvements would also have to be made to the telecommunications system.

The organisation noted that the electric power grid, too, required significant investment.

The briefing also highlighted the importance of improving access to credit programmes for smaller businesses, such as the SME Risk-Share Facility and the BSP Rural Banking Programme.

The former is a guarantee scheme that aggregates the loans obtained through the programme into one portfolio, reducing the risk to banks and financial institutions that lend to SMEs.

“Obtaining credit is an issue for a lot of nationals because of the lack of a security base,” Liu told Business Advantage PNG in June.

“When you look at the bulk of the population, about 80% live in the district or rural areas, and they don’t have real assets or funds in the banks.”

SOURCE: OXFORD BUSINESS GROUP/THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

12) Fiji Airways Appoints Stefan Pichler as the New CEO

By Online Editor
3:42 pm GMT+12, 19/07/2013, Fiji

The Chairman of Air Pacific Limited Trading as Fiji Airways, Nalin Patel, announced Friday the appointment of Stefan Pichler as the new Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer.

Patel said after an extensive global search the Board was delighted to have Pichler join the company: “Pichler is a proven Chief Executive with a strong track record in turning businesses around and growing them to new levels. He has extensive global experience, not only in all airline business models, but also in the tourism industry.”

Pichler is currently Chief Executive Officer of Jazeera Airways where he led the company in the last four years to a remarkable turnaround, achieving the highest operating profit margins in the industry in 2011 and 2012. He was recently awarded the “Personal Achievement of the Year Award 2012” by Business Aviation for the Jazeera Airways turnaround.

Before that, he was responsible for Virgin Blue’s transformation from a low cost carrier to a network airline and served as their Chief Commercial Officer. Pichler also launched Virgin Blue’s long haul carrier V Australia in 2008 and served as its Chairman.

Formerly the Chairman and CEO of Thomas Cook AG,  where Pichler built the company from a national German tour operator to the world’s second largest leisure group, he has also held Senior and Executive Board roles with Lufthansa AG.

Pichler commented on his appointment: “I am excited to join Fiji Airways on the road ahead to build a bright future, based on a strong brand and a dedicated team. Together, we will build a company which every Fijian can be proud of.”

“This a remarkable confluence of the right person in the right place at the right time. Pichler’s distinctive career experience and outstanding accomplishments established him as the best possible fit for CEO of Fiji Airways. We are confident that under his leadership Fiji Airways will continue to modernise, grow and prosper as we move forward into the future in this significant new chapter in the history of Fiji Airways, “ said Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Fiji’s Attorney-General and Minister for Civil Aviation.

“Pichler is taking charge as the momentum for progress is already in place—a solid partnership among all the staff of the airline, all interested in the same thing—the continued success of Fiji Airways.”

Patel assured Pichler of the full support of the Board and experienced management team and also thanked Swift for acting as the interim CEO until 31st August 2013.

FIJI AIRWAYS/PACNEWS

13) Solomons Premier Does Not Oppose Undersea Mining
Temotu’s Beu: no evidence mining will impact environment

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 18, 2013) – The premier of Solomon Islands’ Temotu province says until he receives proof that seabed mining is environmentally unsafe, he will not stand in the way of it taking place in the region.

The comment follows reports that local people are unhappy the national government has granted a license to an Australian company, Bluewater Metals, to do exploratory drilling for gold in the seas off Temotu province.

But Father Charles Brown Beu says there is no evidence to show that undersea mining will have any impact on either fish or the marine environment.

“If the people are made aware of these things in no uncertain terms most definitely people will welcome this. It’s only because they still do not understand and it’s not easy to understand these things, it is the first time ever in Solomon Islands.”

Father Charles Brown Beu says if there is any sign that the mining is unsafe the onus is on the national government to put a stop to it.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

14) NZ MP believes cohesion in Pacific will reap rewards

By Online Editor
3:41 pm GMT+12, 19/07/2013, Samoa

An MP representing New Zealand at the Pacific Islands Forum Trade Ministers Meeting in Samoa says it’s important countries in the region remain a tight group.

Yesterday, the trade minister of Papua New Guinea told Radio New Zealand International that it had withdrawn from any future discussions on the Forum’s PACER Plus trade deal, which aims to create a regional common market.

He said the deal was too weighted in New Zealand and Australia’s favour.

Recently, members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group have been taking a more hands-on approach to issues such as trade and regional politics – matters that might once have been more the preserve of the regional body.

But the private secretary for New Zealand Foreign Affairs, John Hayes, says the Forum provides an important overarching structure.

“We’re a big region and we have a lot of large ocean states, we’re separated by a lot of sea. What I think is really important is that as a region we remain a tight cohesive group because if we don’t do that we just split our ability to deliver really good economic rewards for the communities that each of us represent.”.

SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

15) OCTA updates Forum Trade Ministers on PACER Plus negotiations

By Online Editor
12:56 pm GMT+12, 19/07/2013, Samoa

The fifth Forum Island Country Trade Ministers’ Meeting was held on 18 July 2013 in Apia, Samoa. The Meeting was chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa and Minister responsible for Trade, Honourable Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo.

All 13 Forum Island Countries (FICs) that are members of the Office of the Chief Trade Adviser (OCTA) were represented. The Meeting was preceded by the ninth Forum Island Countries Trade Officials’ Meeting on PACER Plus on 16 July 2013, during which senior trade officials discussed a range of issues concerning the OCTA and the PACER Plus negotiations and made recommendations for the Ministers’ considerations.

Ministers were updated on the operations and activities of the OCTA and recent progress in the PACER Plus Negotiations. They also deliberated on the recommendations from the Officials and provided them with directions and strategic guidance on how to progress progress the PACER Plus negotiations. Ministers endorsed the PACER Plus Roadmap which includes Trade in Services, Investment and Trade in Goods as new priority issues for negotiation.

Ministers discussed and agreed on a number of procedural matters regarding the operations of the OCTA, including endorsing the OCTA’s budget and work programme.

The OCTA Governing Board is chaired by Honourable Clay Soaloai Forau, Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade for Solomon Islands, who is also the Lead Spokesperson for PACER Plus. The two other members of the OCTA Governing Board at the Ministerial Level are Tonga and Kiribati, represented by the Honourable Dr. Viliami Uasike Latu of Tonga and the Honourable Pinto Katia of Kiribati.

The remaining four positions on the OCTA Governing Board are held by senior officials. On the rotation of senior officials on the OCTA Governing Board, Ministers agreed that the Republic of Marshall Islands, Niue, Samoa and Vanuatu will fill the vacant four positions following the next rotation scheduled for May 2014.

SOURCE OCTA/PACNEWS

LAW&ORDER:

16a) No arrest despite Interpol warning over dealer

stuff.co.nz
Sunday, July 21, 2013

Update: 6:26PM POLICE say they did not have sufficient information to arrest one of the world’s most wanted drug dealers while he lived in New Zealand.

A 17-day window was given to police last year to nab Chen Guoming, 48, who was subject to an Interpol Red Notice alert – but he left the country freely.

Chen was eventually arrested earlier this month in Fiji, in a combined effort between police there and a Chinese Ministry of Public Security operation.

New Zealand police who recognised Chen’s particular facial features had tipped off Chinese authorities.

He was the mastermind behind a massive methamphetamine operation busted in Suva, Fiji – in 2006 – where enough material to make $700 million worth of meth was found.

Arrests were made in Fiji, Hong Kong and Malaysia but Chen disappeared.

Authorities in several countries said he had multiple identities and may have been able to move in and out of New Zealand for years, unchallenged.

Immigration New Zealand confirmed it now knows Chen arrived here in August 2008 under a fake name and was sprung after applying for New Zealand residency last August under an assumed identity.

Immigration would not discuss the issue further referring inquiries to police. Police Minister Ann Tolley declined comment saying it was an operational issue.

Police spokesperson Grant Ogilvie said they were contacted by Immigration on August 21last year regarding a residency application by Chen who was subject to an Interpol Red Notice.

On the Interpol website Red Notices are their highest alert available for persons “wanted by national jurisdictions for prosecution… Interpol’s role is to assist the national police forces in identifying and locating… with a view to their arrest”.

Ogilvie said a Red Notice was not sufficient under New Zealand law for a person to be arrested – that would require a warrant from a New Zealand court.

“The information supplied by the Chinese authorities as part of the Red Notice was not sufficient to seek a warrant to arrest from the New Zealand courts for Mr Chen,” he said.

He said with the residency application Police assisted Immigration on an investigation into his identity “including liaison with Chinese authorities”.

Chen left New Zealand on September 7 and it was “not until some time after he left” that it was proven he was on a false identity.

“Until that point New Zealand Police had no grounds to seek an arrest warrant…. There is no suggestion that Chen was involved in drug activities while he was in New Zealand.”

Police were “quite satisfied” that they had dealt with the matter appropriately. New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, who has labelled Auckland as a “sin city” hide out for criminals, was surprised by the police response saying there were two ways for authorities to view Red Notices.

“One is turn a blind eye, or second, go and get a warrant,” he said.

“I think it’s the former and it is a bit alarming.”

Peters was foreign minister at the time of the 2006 drug bust in Suva.

He recalled growing concern among authorities across the Pacific about what might have been going on in the transnational crime area in the South Pacific.

Had it been any other Pacific nation than Fiji a lot more attention would have gone into it, Peters added.

Chen is not the first red-flagged Chinese citizen to get into New Zealand.

Last year a political scandal broke out around Chinese millionaire Bill Liu, who came to New Zealand while wanted in China on fraud allegations.

He was granted citizenship in 2008 by then minister Shane Jones, despite advice from Department of Internal Affairs that he failed the good character test.http://www.fijitimes.com/

16b) Vanuatu Government wins court ruling, terminates roving Ambassador’s appointment

By Online Editor
4:03 pm GMT+12, 19/07/2013, Vanuatu

The termination of Vanuatu’s roving Ambassador to Russia and Eastern Countries, Thi Tham Goiset, is now official, with the court ruling that upheld government’s decision.

An official statement issued by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Edward Natapei said the court ruling supported the Vanuatu Government decision that the termination was legal and legitimate.

“Clearly, she did not comply with her appointment conditions, said Natapei.

Until today, Madame Goiset has never travelled to Russia even though she was granted credentials to represent Vanuatu there.

“Instead, through her own agents, she tried to operate in countries which were not within her legal diplomatic mandate such as in Malaysia and the Middle East.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers this to very undiplomatic and disrespectful to these countries, said Minister Natapei.

In addition, Port Vila has ordered that all diplomatic passports issued by the Roving Ambassador be cancelled and returned to Vanuatu.

“Madame Goiset refused to return the official car belonging to the government of Vanuatu.

“Now with the court decision, the ministry will be in contact with the police to remove the car from her, said the deputy PM and Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Moana Carcasses Kalosil, the Vanuatu Government will introduce a review the country’s Foreign Service Act, at the next sitting of Parliament.

“Vanuatu needs people with clean records and not those whose background could be questioned by people of the sending and receiving country.

“Under my leadership, I want to have people who are technically competent, experienced, can speak and write English/French, be able to draft professional speeches, negotiate or at least have the ability to draft diplomatic communications and be able to maintain diplomatic protocol in foreign countries and international organisations, said Natapei.

In April this year, the Madame Goiset’s appointment was terminated by the Government of Vanuatu. She refuted the revocation saying the Minister of Foreign Affairs cannot unilaterally revoke her appointment.

SOURCE: PACNEWS

17) PNG Parliament fails to pass new law on human smuggling and trafficking

By Online Editor
3:52 pm GMT+12, 19/07/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea Parliament Thursday failed to pass new Criminal Code provisions on human smuggling and trafficking.

The bill, tabled by Justice Minister and Attorney-General Kerenga Kua, failed to secure the minimum of 56 votes required to become law.

Only 52 MPs were present in the chamber and leader of government business James Marape was forced to move a motion to rescind voting on the bill until the next sitting in Parliament.

The proposed legislation provides for hefty penalties for human smuggling and trafficking offences.

The proposed penalties are 15 years for people smuggling, 20 years imprisonment involving children under 18 and life imprisonment if death occurs.

The proposed penalty for human trafficking is 20 years imprisonment to be increased to 25 years if it involves a child under 18 years and life imprisonment if death occurs.

Speaking on the new changes, Kua said human smuggling and trafficking were growing concerns throughout the world and the Government had to take a tougher stand on these issues.

“This action is in compliance to and shows the commitment of the government on transnational crimes,” he said.

He added that human smuggling and trafficking also undermined national security and breached immigrations laws and therefore were crimes against the state.

“It must be criminalised and carry hefty penalties as a deterrence to offenders,” he said.

Meanwhile, PNG Parliament Thursday passed two key pieces of legislation – Treasury Bill (Amendment) Act 2012 and Attorney General Act 2013.

The Treasury Bills (Amendment) Act empowers the Minister for Treasury to issue Treasury Bills without seeking Parliament’s approval.

The amendment specifies the authority to borrow, that now empowers the minister or has the authority of borrowing funds on behalf of the state.

Key elements of the amendment include:

*The authority to borrow – an amendment that clearly specifies in the act the restrictions on the powers of borrowing to align with the Constitution under section 209 which requires raising of funds be authorised by parliament;

*Borrowing purposes – to guard against the risk of abuse, the borrowing power restricted by statement of the purpose for which the minister can borrow. That means the purpose for which the minister will issue Treasury Bills is specified clearly and the reason why the Treasury Bill should be issued, and

*Provides a clear definition of loan in relation to the issuance of Treasury Bill.

The Attorney General Act 2013 provides for the establishment of the office of the state solicitor and its functions and responsibilities, including providing legal services and clearance to the state while the attorney-general provides legal advice to the Ministers and NEC.

Attorney-General Kerenga Kua said the Office of the State Solicitor had been established under the general provisions of the Public Service Management Act of 1995 and that had undermined the advice of the state solicitor.

He added that under the new act, the state solicitor would be subjected to the Leader Code.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

18a) Fiji’s National Security Intact As Troops Deploy Overseas
Tikoitoga: 531 soldiers in Golan Heights by August

By Maika Bolatiki

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Sun, July 18, 2013) – The security of the nation is very much intact.

This was the reaction from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) Land Force Commander, Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga.

The Fiji Sun had posed the question of security in Fiji to the Land Force Commander, after more of our soldiers were drafted into peacekeeping duties in the Golan Heights, at Rewa District School on Tuesday.

Colonel Tikoitoga admitted that the RFMF faced some challenges with the requests from the United Nations for more Fijian peacekeepers but this was being handled through careful planning.

By August he said there would be a total 531 soldiers in the Golan Heights.

“Currently we have 334 soldiers in Sinai and 134 in Iraq,” Colonel Tikoitoga said.

In September there will be another rotation to Sinai.

He however said, with RFMF’s sound planning they have managed to fulfill their peacekeeping engagements and likewise maintaining security in the country.

He assured the nation that the security is in the good hands of the RFMF with the help of the Fiji Police Force.

“Security here in Fiji will at all times be intact.”

Recruitment

There will be recruitment this Friday at the Queen Elizabeth’s Barracks (QEB) after cabinet had approved two recruitments.

He said with the number of our soldiers involved in peacekeeping duties overseas, they needed to have a lot of reserves here in Fiji so that when they came back they were replaced.

Colonel Tikoitoga said the RFMF wanted peacekeepers to spend more time with their families before being called for another rotation.

He said Friday’s recruitment drive and the second one next year, was critical in ensuring the RFMF had enough soldiers on hand.

The recruitment is open to all Fijians and not only to the iTaukei as claimed by RFMF critics.

“The RFMF is an institution for all races and critics should not be spreading the other side of the story that it is just for the iTaukei people.”

Colonel Tikoitoga stressed the recruitment is open to all Fijians – and not only to the iTaukei as claimed by some RFMF critics.

FijiSUN: http://www.fijisun.com.fj/

CLIMATE CHANGE/CONSERVATION & ENVIROMENT:

18b) Coastal villages advised to move

Luke Rawalai
Sunday, July 21, 2013

COASTAL villages around the country need to move and resettle elsewhere if they see the need to do so, says permanent secretary for Rural Development Alifereti Filipe.

Speaking during a visit in Labasa yesterday, Mr Filipe said many coastal villages in the country including the North were threatened by the rise in sea level.

“It is a big concern within the ministry and these villages include many of those within the coastlines of Vanua Levu too,” he said.

“Resettlement in Vanua Levu has already taken place in villages like Vunidogoloa in Cakaudrove and there are still many to come.

“The climate has not been very kind to Fiji and other Pacific nations which have been affected by the results of climate change and its impact has been bigger than we anticipated.”

“We all love to stay close to the sea because of its contribution to our livelihoods but we need to consider the risks that the changes will pose to us and our children in the years to come.”

Mr Filipe said although the besieged coastal dwellers did not contribute to greenhouse emissions, the problem was on their doorsteps and they need to identify solutions for reducing the risks of climate change.


18c) Wellington shaken by strong 6.5-magnitude earthquake off New Zealand coast

Updated 21 July 2013, 18:01 AEST

A strong 6.5-magnitude earthquake has struck off New Zealand, jolting the national capital, but no tsunami alert was issued and there were no immediate reports of major damage. The quake hit at 5:09pm (local time), 57 kilometres south-south-west of Wellington, at a depth of 14 kilometres, the US Geological Survey said. The fire service received multiple calls to assist people trapped in elevators in Wellington and the tremblor also set off sprinklers in city buildings and cut electricity supplies in many areas.

A strong 6.5-magnitude earthquake has struck off New Zealand, jolting the national capital, but no tsunami alert was issued and there were no immediate reports of major damage.

The quake hit at 5:09pm (local time), 57 kilometres south-south-west of Wellington, at a depth of 14 kilometres, the US Geological Survey said.

USGS initially reported the magnitude at 6.9.

It was followed minutes later by another quake of 5.5 magnitude and came about 10 hours after a 5.8 tremor in the same region.

New Zealand’s GeoNet earthquake monitoring service described the tremor, which was felt widely, as “severe”.

“There was a rocking and rattling which lasted about 30 seconds,” a resident in the city of Nelson said.

The fire service received multiple calls to assist people trapped in elevators in Wellington and the tremblor also set off sprinklers in city buildings and cut electricity supplies in many areas.

Seismologist Anna Kaiser told the New Zealand Herald that earthquakes of this magnitude were not unusual in the region.

“When we get one of these events there will be increased seismicity in the region and there’s always the possibility of a larger event but it’s unlikely.”

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said earthquakes of such magnitude can generate local tsunamis but there was no threat of a “destructive widespread tsunami “.

New Zealand’s civil defence authorities said it was “unlikely to have caused a tsunami that will pose a threat to New Zealand.”

A 6.3-magnitude quake hit New Zealand’s second largest city, Christchurch, in February 2011, toppling buildings onto lunchtime crowds and leaving 185 people dead.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

AFP

19) Fiji willing and able to help other Pacific nations with climate risks

Posted at 21:54 on 19 July, 2013 UTC

Fiji’s attorney general says Fiji is always willing to help other Pacific nations where it can to alleviate climate change and disaster risks.

Kiribati purchased 6000 acres of freehold land in Vanua Levu last year to guarantee arable land for farming, as rising tides threaten food security.

Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum says Fiji has helped Kiribati in the past with the Banaban Islanders being gifted Fiji’s Rabi island from 1945 after British phosphate mining stripped 90 per cent of their land.

He says current threats do not involve moving entire countries, but Fiji can still help.

“Whether it’s food security, whether it’s in terms of how they deal with natural disasters themselves and the actual impacts of climate change, it is a complex area and Fiji has always been ready and willing to help.”

Fiji’s attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum.

Radio New Zealand International

20) Obama secures new EPA chief to step up climate battle

By Online Editor
1:00 pm GMT+12, 19/07/2013, United States

The U.S. Senate confirmed Gina McCarthy on Thursday to head the Environmental Protection Agency, a long-awaited move that could help President Barack Obama revive his plans to fight climate change.

The Senate voted 59 to 40 for McCarthy, who oversaw rules on mercury and soot pollution from power plants in her prior job as the EPA’s top air official, a position she has held since 2009.

Obama nominated McCarthy in early March, but her confirmation had been held up by a partisan battle over his nominees for other positions, and by broader opposition to the EPA from some Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

A Boston native, McCarthy has long worked at state and federal levels to regulate emissions, winning the confidence of many officials leading heavy industries, such as power plants and manufacturers.

She has also worked for several Republican governors, including 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney when he headed Massachusetts.

The experiences made McCarthy a solid choice for the task of balancing coal, natural gas, and political interests in implementing the new rules on greenhouse gas emissions Obama wants, analysts say.

The EPA is first expected to finalize carbon rules on new power plants and then to propose rules on existing ones. Thousands of existing power plants account for about a third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Senators from big coal-producing states, including John Barrasso of Wyoming, a Republican, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a Democrat, have said regulations targeting coal-fired power plants will strangle the economy and kill jobs.

After leading a fight against McCarthy over EPA transparency issues, Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, said last week he would not block a vote on her appointment.

Vitter, Barrasso and Manchin all voted against McCarthy on Thursday.

Vitter said the nominee had been part of a “war on coal” and had helped lead a “methodical march against affordable, reliable energy.”

Manchin said he was not against McCarthy personally, but against the EPA’s “regulatory rampage.”

The Senate killed a wide-ranging climate bill early in Obama’s first term. Continuing opposition in Congress on fighting climate change has pushed Obama to use executive actions to tackle the issue that is one of his top priorities.

Obama wants the climate rules on existing power plants to be finalized by June 2015. Any EPA rules on climate will likely face legal challenges.

McCarthy will also oversee rules on hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas, auto emissions, and the use of biofuels. Her agency is expected to play a role later this year or early next in working with the State Department to determine whether the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring Canadian oil sands petroleum to refineries along the Gulf Coast, is in the national interest. The State Department will make the final decision.

McCarthy’s confirmation rounds out Obama’s environment and energy team. Ernest Moniz, a former physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was confirmed in May to head the Energy Department, and Sally Jewell, a former outdoor goods executive, was confirmed in April to head the Interior Department

SOURCE: REUTERS/PACNEWS

21) Climate change framework soon

By Online Editor
3:43 pm GMT+12, 19/07/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea Minister for Forest and Climate Change Patrick Pruaitch told parliament a new legislative framework that could control and regulate climate change issues such as carbon trade in the country would soon be finalised.

Pruaitch said since no law governed climate change, related proposals on carbon trade could not be facilitated.

He said that in response to a question from Kagua-Erave MP James Lagea, who asked about the status and progress on the issues of carbon trade, as more than 14 local level government wards in his province were covered with thick forest that ended on the border of Karamui, Chimbu and Kikori and Baimuru in Gulf.

Pruaitch said it was difficult for his people from these isolated areas to access government services to improve their lives but they had virgin rainforests that could benefit them through the carbon trade.

He said since 2005, there had been great interest in the carbon trade because some “carbon cowboys” were going around convincing people to sign up for this while the country did not have a policy guideline on the issue was in place because no leadership was provided then.

He said under his leadership, a new climate change policy and legislative framework was to be finalised by the end of the month and would be brought before Cabinet and then to parliament.

“The policy framework will guide how we deal with the carbon trade. Until we have a policy, we’ll allow the carbon trade work and discussions to proceed,” Pruaitch said.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

RELIGION/CULT+:

22) Pacific Conference of Churches calls for reason in PNG religion debate

By Online Editor
3:51 pm GMT+12, 19/07/2013, Fiji

Christians must attempt to change the world through living Christ-like lives, not by forcing legislation on others, says the Pacific Conference of Churches.

Responding to a motion in the Papua New Guinea parliament to review freedom of religion laws, PCC General Secretary Reverend Francois Pihaatae said it was important that legislators reflect on Christ’s message  of love.

“While the PCC recognizes the sovereignty of all nations to create laws, we would – in all humility – suggest that whatever is done is in a way which reflects God’s appreciation of the diversity of His creation and His love for all people,” Rev Pihaatae said.

“It is also helpful for legislators to reflect that Christ spoke about justice and inclusivity and in living lives which showed a genuine care for and of neighbor.”

A motion moved by Hela Province Governor Anderson Agiru and carried in the PNG parliament has allowed the setting up of a national consultation on whether to allow religious freedom in the country.

Rev Pihaatae said Christianity and Christian missionaries had played a major role in the history of PNG and most Pacific countries.

“We urge Pacific leaders to value this contribution to our history. At the same time we call on church elders to teach their congregations that being a Christian is more than about worship. It is about loving your neighbor, caring about the environment and taking practical steps towards reducing poverty,” he said.

“There is also a need to look at developing economic models which are relevant to our people.”

Rev Pihaatae said violence against women and children must also be addressed.

“This cannot be done through legislation but we can gain forward movement if we live the Gospel which is common throughout the Pacific.”

And he said the PCC invited churches in PNG to provide clear moral directions to legislators on religious freedom and Christian responsibility.

SOURCE: PCC/PACNEWS

SPORTS:

23a) Ashes 2013 Live: Second Test, England v Australia at Lord’s

Posted 21 July 2013, 18:40 AEST
Adrian Crawford

Follow Grandstand’s live updates of day four of the second Ashes Test between England and Australia at Lord’s.

Welcome to Grandstand Online’s coverage of the fourth day of the second Ashes Test between England and Australia at Lord’s.

Joe Root’s unbeaten batting heroics put England well on top with a lead of 566 and five wickets in hand going into Sunday.

Stay with us all night and for the duration of the Test for constant updates, interviews, commentary highlights, photos, video and the best from social media.

23b) One dead in PNG , properties burnt over a game

By Online Editor
3:36 pm GMT+12, 19/07/2013, Papua New Guinea

A fight over Australia’s last State of Origin rugby league finale has claimed the life of one man in Lae and enormous damage to property as fans fought after the game on Wednesday night.

A man was shot dead and several properties were burnt to the ground following a fight at the Bumbu settlement in Lae, Morobe.

The fight started when two groups of youths attacked each other over the result of the Queensland-New South Wales match played at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

Eyewitnesses said both parties were under the influence of alcohol.

One of those at the scene, Berry Kaupa, from Sinasina, Chimbu, said drunken youths from Bundi Camp and Nawae Block had an argument and fought around 10pm at Nawae Block.

“A group of youths from Bundi Camp went to buy steam (home brewed spirit) at Nawae but they teased a group of youths there, calling them losers,” Kaupa said.

“The Nawae youths retaliated and chased them.”

Kaupa said during the melee someone threw a stone into the premises of a Western Highlander which hit the wall of his house.

He said the Western Highlander took out a gun and shot indiscriminately at the fighting youths.

“It was dark and we could not work out what happened but we later found out that a man was hit by a bullet,” Kaupa said.

The killing angered the Nawae community who mobilised and burnt down two houses belonging to the suspect, Kaupa said.

The fighting continued into the morning where pop-guns, wire catapults, stones, sticks and bush knives were used to chase all Western Highlanders living in the area.

“Between 6am and 8am another four houses and three trade stores belonging to the Western Highlanders were raided and set on fire,” he said.

Lae metropolitan commander Supt Iven Lakatani confirmed this.

He said he had immediately sent a police unit into the fighting zone on Wednesday night after receiving reports of the incident but they were forced to return when they were stoned by the fighters.

“We are yet to establish the cause of the fight and make arrests,” Lakatani said.

“We went in there this (yesterday) morning and talked with the community leaders to stop and they have agreed to remove the road blocks they have set up.”

Police said a man from Sepik was shot dead and his body was at the Angau Memorial Hospital.

“Police have commenced investigations into the matter,” Lakatani said.

He said separate investigations will be carried out on the killing, arson and fighting.

Sources from Nawae Block said the situation was still tense.

SOURCE” THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

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