State of Health and Education in Pohnpei 2019

State of health and education in Pohnpei

Today on the podcast, me and June share some amazing facts and figures from the recent State of the State address by Pohnpei State Governor, Marcelo Peterson.  We only shared these two sectors on this podcast.  The address is actually 22 pages long.

Health

We started off with health. The main thing, well the most amazing thing I learned was that 80 percent of all the visits to the hospital were for non-communicable diseases or NCD’s! As we all know, NCD’s are preventable, curable, manageable… I’m talking about diabetes, hypertension, heart disease.  Mind blowing.

education

Our education department is doing well.  Very well.  I am happy with the facts and figures coming out of our education department.  Take a listen and let us know if you agree.

You should be able to download the address on the Pohnpei State Government’s website but, I haven’t seen it there yet.

Come back again, visit our recent blog posts, and consider subscribing to get more news and updates from Micronesia.

Libraries, more than one China and air fare prices

On today’s episode of the Micronesian News Broadcast, the kids share news from across the region.  Click the video to view the broadcast.

More Libraries

Recently, in Laura on Majuro atoll, a new public library was opened.  If you’ve ever been to Majuro, you can appreciate the drive to Laura.  So, great job to the folks that made this happen.

Libraries are important, for many obvious reasons.  Free books to borrow, computers, more books and the silence!! But, here is my favorite reason:

Libraries are spaces where people of all ages can practice lifelong learning.

If you’re not learning as you go along in this life, what’s the point?

Check out the rest of the stories

Group of NMI, Guam lawmakers seeks lower airfare, more flights on the Marianas Variety

Taiwan president to visit Palau, Nauru, Marshalls

All shared by video as well on the Micronesian News Broadcast.

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Elections, selections and reflections in Micronesia

Election time 2019

The election month of march has been one hell of a month here in Micronesia, particularly in Pohnpei.

National congress elections across four states and absentee ballots from the USA mainland, Guam, Hawaii and Saipan! It was a busy time for many.

I thought there was more drama during this election season than the last with the bribery scandal, human trafficking and that great social media campaigning by Senator David Panuelo.  We really saw the end of one era and the beginning of another in terms of campaigning, I think.  And, maybe a new era of government?

Selection and reflection

We discuss our views on how the election went, and most especially on the supposed re-count by President Christian.  By the way, I don’t think the re-count is going to go through, plus a friend of mine called the election commissioner for Pohnpei and confirmed it.

Still, the idea of a recount brought out so many crazies on the internet.  I hope those crazies realize now that they are crazy, because nothing really happened.  Senator David Panuelo remains the victor and an honored elder statesman steps down.

Subscribe to our blog for more updates on all sorts of things in Micronesia.

Check out our last Podcast.

 

 

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

EP-87 Election Drama from the Micronesian Podcast

Election Drama

Hello everyone, this election is turning out to be a very interesting time of year here in Micronesia.

From the Chuuk State Political Status Commission, to the recent bribery scandal of Master Halbert over in Honolulu, election season is going to be lit. Once again i’ll be joined by the Editor of the Micronesian News Broadcast to discuss some news.

On this new episode we take a look at a developing story here on Pohnpei. One of the congressional candidates is being accused of Human Trafficking, Forgery of Documents, & Non compliance to labor laws among other things. Listen below.

Stay updated

Keep on staying updated.  See you on the next episode.  And check out the previous ones here.

ASVAB test and the military on the Micronesian Podcast

Latest episode

On this episode, I follow up on a previous podcast on opportunities for our youth in Micronesia, specifically the ASVAB test or Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.

Testing

I speak with my oldest daughter who took the ASVAB today. I find out what she thinks and why she took it.

My thoughts

We talk about my experiences with the ASVAB and eventually the military.  I share my thoughts on the military and some suggestions for our youth.

Good episode today, following up on a previous episode.

 

 

 

Opportunities for our Youth in Micronesia – EP 83 on the Micronesian Podcast

Our Future

On this episode, I am just sharing information that would help our Youth.  Because, they are our future.

The ASVAB is coming.  The B, stands for battery.  As in a battery of tests.  I recall sitting in the PICS cafeteria hall with probably a hundred other hopefuls to take that battery of tests.  Aaaah! the memories.  Check this practice site.

I mention the benefits of joining the military in the podcast.  I think the greatest benefit is simply the experience of being held accountable 24/7, which includes holding yourself to a higher standard.  That is what we need our youth, our future, to grab a hold of.  The service, as in the military, and most people forget this, is all about serving.  You serve something greater than yourself.  You are no longer are about me and I, but we and us.  It seems a hard lesson for some, but once you embrace that lesson, it all makes sense.

Career exploration

The other opportunity I talk about on the podcast is the upcoming career exploration week.

PICS High School will be taking their senior class around Pohnpei to explore careers.  They will be visiting companies, government offices and embassies to get an idea of what they want to do.  This is awesome! Our public high school has been neglected so much over the years.  This high school is where our first leaders came from. Respect to PICS High School.

Podcast

Thanks for listening and visiting us here on the blog.  See our previous posts and visit us on Facebook and Youtube:

 

Homeless where America’s Day begins

An editorial about Guam homeless mentions the FSM Government, why?

A recent homeless count was conducted in Guam.  While the numbers are not staggering, they are increasing.

Homeless count

It’s good to see that homeless numbers are monitored. The most recent count was conducted by the Guam Housing and Rural Authority and Guam Homeless Coalition.

Why do we care about these numbers in the FSM, RMI and Palau?  Because, the Guam media loves to single out the FSM:

Officials also must seek more housing assistance for regional migrants. They must press the federal government to provide sufficient aid under the Compacts of Free Association.
Just as important, the government of the Federated States of Micronesia must step up to help its citizens with housing and other transition issues.

How about the chamorros?  And actual numbers? Why is that not being addressed in the Guam daily post editorial? This is from the Island Times:

Chamorros or Guam natives still represent the highest number of homeless persons of 337 in 2018, down from 370 in 2017.  Second largest…Chuukese with 290.  Pohnpeians with 67.

These are numbers from the recent count by the Guam Housing and Rural Authority and the Guam Homeless Coalition.

One homeless person is not good, right? If you agree that homelessness is not good for anyone, thank you.  Let us proceed.

Help given

Let me address the comments about FSM government stepping up and the federal government providing “sufficient aid”.  Here is a quote from the Department of the Interior:

Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Doug Domenech has announced that Guam’s 2018 share of Compact Impact funding, $14.9 million, is being provided to the Government of Guam for costs associated with providing education, public health, and public safety-related services for the residents of the territory.

Is $14.9 million sufficient aid? Let’s be crystal clear on why this funding was allocated by the US Congress:

“This funding is allocated by Congress to help Guam address impacts on public services by residents who hail from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshalls, and the Republic of Palau, and ultimately helps bolster public services for the people of Guam.”

To help Guam address impacts on public service. You’re welcome Guam.  Use this federal money ($14.9 million) and the numbers compiled responsibly and with integrity.  You’re welcome brothers and sisters of Guam.  But, please remember this funding ends in 2023, at the strike of midnight. Never say our presence didn’t benefit Guam a single dime.

Stay updated

It’s good to be updated.  Facts empower us.

 

Yap leaders and bribery officials named

Leaders

On this podcast, we continue to talk about leaders, continuing from the last blog post.

Leaders in Yap and the FSM National Government, make up today’s podcast.

New administration/message

In Yap, the new administration shows their stuff.  When “gifts” are left for the new Governor and Lt. Governor, the contents are shared and a message is passed.  No bribes for this new administration.

Pig feed

On the closed facebook forum, Micro forum, names are shared.  A member of the forum who uses the name, pig pen, shared the names of the FSM Government officials who allegedly were bribed by a Hawaii based engineering firm.

Conclusion

Such an interesting time we live in.  Stay updated.  Keep sharing.  We are grateful for this medium to be able to discuss what is going on in our island nation.  The year has just started.  We look forward to a great one and hope that more stories are shared, more information is revealed.

 

The bribe and the building

Of bribes

Well, what a way to start the year 2019 with stories of bribes and buildings.

I’m sure you may have already heard this story if you follow news from Micronesia. If you haven’t here is an article that explains the situation briefly:

Last week, the US Justice Department filed charges in the US District Court for Hawaii against Frank James Lyon who’s the president of the civil engineering firm LYON Associates in Honolulu.

Between 2006 and 2016, it’s alleged Frank James Lyon made bribe payments of at least $US200,000 to Micronesian officials.

According to court documents first reported by Hawaii News Now, in exchange he and his co-conspirators obtained around $US7.8 million in contract payments.

It’s alleged that between 2011 and 2016 Mr Lyon spent another $US240,000, this time to Hawaii officials. He subsequently won a $US2.5 million contract.

Prosecutors allege the bribes came in the form of vehicles, gifts and entertainment for officials, and were falsely classified as business expenses.

That’s pretty much the gist of it.  A sad story for our country.

Innocent until

Let’s remember that, we have just heard some parts of this story.  Also, until someone is convicted in a court of law, they are just accused of a crime, not guilty.  Yeah, I watched hundreds of episodes of “Law and Order”… you can’t fool me 🙂

We shall have to see how this will play out.  Since Hawaii is a U.S. state and FSM is a soverign country, what will happen?  This is where I am most curious.  Not that way.

Of buildings

A two day celebration was held in Chuuk.  The Chinese-built Chuuk State Administration buildings are done, in the words of a highly placed FSM Gov official:

“The biggest project, in the biggest state of the FSM, donated by the biggest country in the world”

Why the fixation with size from this government official?  By the way, the Chinese flag was way bigger than all the flags (FSM and Chuuk state) flying that day.  But you know what they say about flag size, right? 🙂 Listen to the podcast to find out.

Till the next blog post or Podcast, see you later.

 

 

Trust Funds R Us

Recently our wonderful FSM PIO (Public Information Office) published a story on the state of FSM’s compact trust fund.

Good news

For the most part, the article was very positive.  The article gave encouraging figures like:

As of November 30th 2018, the total value of the Trust Fund was $642,183,870. By comparison, the total value of the Trust Fund was $564,970,738 the year prior. Since it began in 2005 the Trust Fund has seen a performance return of 5.7%. Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 (i.e. October 2017 through September 2018) saw growth of 6.77% for the Trust Fund as a whole.

What was even better was the current projection.  I know, it’s just a projection, but it sounded great:

Current projections are that the Trust Fund will reach slightly over one billion dollars ($1,000,000,000) by 2023. At that point, the Trust Fund must focus on a distribution policy that sustains its growth while also ensuring the continued delivery of government services.

That is an astounding number.  Some people think this is not enough.  But, how much do we need to give us a boost? Are we going to say fuck it and just rely on grants to sustain us forever? I think we all know the hard answer to that question.

Other funds

Also, we have another source of funds, the Trust Fund for the Federated States of Micronesia is another investment created by FSM Congress back in 1999.

The FSM Trust Fund was created by Congress in 1999. The Fund’s investment adviser is Wilshire Associates Inc. The custodian of the Fund is the Bank of New York.

This trust fund was audited back in 2015  and had some issues, including no board of trustees.  The last update I can find on the fund, was from the FSM PIO back in 2017:

On February 01, 2017, the FSM Secretary of the Department of Finance & Administration, the Honorable Sihna Lawrence, announced that the FSM Trust Fund ended calendar year 2016 with a total balance of $94.12 million, including the state accounts established by Public Law 18-107.

How does the one billion dollars projection sound now? Maybe better to know there is a cushion of $94.12 million dollars, which was back in 2017.  I am curious to know, what will the numbers be this year.  Unlike the compact trust fund that has a website and is updated regularly, the FSM trust fund doesn’t have that, yet?

You may recall though, President Christian recently signed public law 20-47 to “further promote transparency and accountability of the FSM Trust Fund.”

The Law

The law states “While the Board of the FSM Trust Fund…has not been duly constituted…all powers of the Board shall be vested in and exercisable by the President of the FSM; Provided, however, that he shall cause the Administrator of the Fund to report on a regular basis to Congress of the progress of the FSM Trust Fund. The Administrator shall report…to Congress on a quarterly basis but at least 10 days before each regular session….The Administrator shall be deemed a fiduciary and shall be held to the standard of a fiduciary….”

So, no board of trustees still and now we are expecting an update every three months.  We will be looking for it.  And don’t forget to read that 2015 audit report if you’re curious about the history leading up to the recently signed public law 20-47.

Till then, see you on the next blog or podcast.