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No sea transport for Manu’a — MV Sili down again


Two hours after the MV Sili departed the territory last weekend headed for the Manu'a Islands, the vessel returned to port because of a problem with one of its engines.
The vessel had just been given the green light to sail by the US Coast Guard (USCG) following a mandatory inspection.
A total of 25 passengers were on board the vessel. The cargo included fuel drums and supplies belonging to the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA).
It is uncertain when the vessel will be cleared to sail again.

Starkist is likely whistleblower in US tuna sector probe

Starkist has likely been accepted into the corporate leniency program of the Department of Justice (DOJ), according to class action lawsuits against the Dongwon Industries-owned company and rivals Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee Foods.

This means Starkist could get immunity from prosecution in the US government’s probe of alleged price fixing in the packaged seafood sector.

On Sept. 2, Undercurrent News reported the DOJ’s case against the big three tuna brands, Bumble Bee, Thai Union Group-owned Chicken of the Sea and Starkist likely relies on a whistleblower from within the sector.

Court denies request to re-hear citizenship lawsuit


The federal appeals court in Washington D.C. has denied a request by five American Samoans for a rehearing en banc of the citizenship lawsuit decision handed down in June this year by a three-judge panel of the same court.
The panel upheld the lower court’s decision that constitutional citizenship birth on U.S. soil does not apply to those born in American Samoa.

DoH home visit grant now on “corrective action plan”


The Maternal Infant and Early Childhood (MIECHV) grant that the Department of Health used to hire close to 200 people for the On the Job Training (OJT) Program is under scrutiny by the grantors, which was revealed in a letter sent by the grantors to Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga and DOH Director, Motusa Tuileama Nua.
The grantors have put all MIECHV grants on a corrective action plan and non compliance “may affect current and future funding for the AS DOH home visiting program.”

Lolo vetoes budget hikes for Fono and Judiciary


Exercising his authority under the constitution, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga line item vetoed changes the Fono made to the government’s initial budget submission for fiscal year 2016 and then signed the budget bill into law on Wednesday.
With the line-item veto, the original FY 2016 budget of $417.85 million is reduced by $992,500 — the total amount the Fono cut from the Visitors Bureau and eight projects under the Special Program budget category. The Fono had reallocated this money to the FY 2016 budgets of the Fono and the Local Judiciary.

Minimum wage compromise ready for Obama’s signature

StarKist: local economy is fragile, but it “remains committed” …

Federal legislation reducing the next minimum wage hike from 50 cents per hour to 40 cents for American Samoa has been officially approved by the US Congress after the US House yesterday approved amendments the US Senate made to the House version of the measure.
The bill “amends the federal Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 to reduce a scheduled increase in minimum wage applicable to American Samoa.”

Allegations of School Lunch fraud in Manu’a surface


The Criminal Investigation Division with the Department of Public Safety has launched an investigation into the handling of produce that is being weighed in at the School Lunch Program (SLP) for the schools in Manu’a, as some people are getting checks, yet allegedly they have no farms and have not provided the produce — such as watermelons, cucumbers, eggplant, papayas and bananas, to the program.

Retirement board probe uncovers illegal diversion

Still awaiting audit says Save, who seeks funds to bring auditors on island

“The investigation thus far has identified various fraudulent activities perpetrated by employees to conceal the illegal diversion of over $100,000 of (ASGERF) funds for personal use,” says Police Commissioner Save Liuato Tuitele in his letter to Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga.

Amended minimum wage hike bill passes Senate

Contains retroactive clause for 40¢ raise

The US Senate late yesterday afternoon in Washington D.C. passed by unanimous consent, an amended version of the US House bill which now calls for a 40 cent per hour hike in minimum wage for American Samoa, according to Congresswoman Aumua Amata.
In a statement yesterday afternoon, Amata — who sponsored the original House version to delay the wage increase until 2017 — said the measure is being returned for a final vote in the House where it is expected to pass unanimously before being sent to President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature.

Wage hike modification on the table for territory

Will retroact to 40¢ — if amended legislation passes

Minimum wage for American Samoa will increase by 40 cents under an amended federal legislation pending in the US Senate and the measure is scheduled to be presented today on the Senate floor for a vote, according to Congresswoman Aumua Amata’s office.
However, Tri Marine International chief operation officer Joe Hamby says the company remains concerned over the additional burden put on its start up local operations, Samoa Tuna Processors Inc., “which is losing money.”

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