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Flashback – May 2006-May 2008

May 30, 2006

US military prepares for next century

The U.S. military’s reshaping of its forces in the western Pacific is aimed at preparing for the “needs of the nation” in the next century and not because of concerns about China’s increasing military buildup in the region, according to Rear Admiral Charles J. Leidig Jr., commander of the Naval Forces Marianas. Leidig explained that the reshaping of the U.S. military forces in the western Pacific is not directed at any specific threat. “We are working to shape up forces so that we are properly positioned for the needs of our country in the next century,” Leidig told the media shortly after the Memorial Day ceremony at the Susupe Veterans Memorial Park in Susupe.

Power supply stability: The Okinawa experience

NAHA, Okinawa—A decade ago, this isolated southern prefecture of Japan generated 100 percent of its electrical power from diesel-fuel generators. Today, with the price of petroleum products skyrocketing, Okinawa has dramatically reduced its dependence on imported oil and produces only 22 percent of its electricity from diesel generators. Okinawa Electrical Power Company, the prefecture’s only power company, now relies on coal to produce 77 percent of its electricity. The remaining 1 percent is generated by renewable energy sources, primarily solar and wind power. Satoru Matayoshi, Okinawa Electrical Power Company’s engineering liaison group leader, says the utility changed its fuel source mix to reduce costs to the company. That keeps costs under control for consumers.

May 30, 2007

Liquidated Fund assets expected to top $39M

The NMI Retirement Fund expects to withdraw some $39 million of its investment assets by Sept. 30, 2007. In his report to the Fund board of trustees yesterday, NMIRF comptroller Noel Soria said the pension program will have to liquidate another $1.2 million worth of assets on May 31, 2007. The Retirement Fund needs the cash to pay retiree benefits. Assets must be liquidated because the Fund has insufficient cash flow due to the government’s failure to remit its employer contribution. Soria said withdrawals are now averaging $2.4 million a month. Thursday’s withdrawal will bring the total to $22.4 million.

Dotts: It’s the end for all CNMI garment factories

Once the new minimum wage reaches $4.05 next year, there will be no more garment factories on Saipan, according to a lawyer representing many garment manufacturers on the island. Attorney Michael Dotts, in an interview with Saipan Tribune, said he believes that with the passage of the new minimum wage rate, most of the factories still on the island have only one year to go. “Some factories feel that they could afford a wage rate of up to close to $4 per hour and some feel that they can’t really afford any wage increase at all,” he said.

May 30, 2008

Some alien workers backed out from filing small claims

Some alien workers who were advised by the Department of Labor to file small claims to collect their administrative awards went to court yesterday but soon backed out upon learning that it will their responsibility to serve their complaints to their previous employers. “How can we serve our complaints to our previous employers when in fact they just shut down their factory, abandoned us, and left the CNMI?” one of the four workers who went to the Superior Court yesterday told Saipan Tribune.

DPL urged: Stop new public land leases

The Senate has urged the Department of Public Lands to hold off any new public land leases on Saipan while there are pending applications for village homesteads. The resolution, adopted by the Upper House, said that new public land leases must be suspended so homestead applicants can be entertained. The original resolution proposed to include Tinian and Rota but Sen. Paterno Hocog asked that the two senatorial districts be removed. Sen. Joseph Mendiola agreed, saying that a suspension of public land leases may jeopardize Tinian and Rota’s efforts to attract developers to stir up their economies. There are approximately 4,000 homestead applicants waiting for their homestead lot assignments.

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