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reporters@samoanews.com

SOLOFA’S STATUS HEARING SET FOR MONDAY

U.S. Justice Department spokesperson Laura Sweeney said yesterday that Paul Solofa has been ordered by a federal judge to remain in Washington D.C. after being convicted Thursday of witness tampering and obstruction of justice in the local Department of Education school bus spare parts bribery scheme.

Solofa was released on his own recognizance since his 2010 arrest and has been residing in American Samoa.

A status hearing is set for Monday to determine whether Solofa should be detained, pending sentencing on Apr. 27, said Sweeney via e-mail from Washington, responding to Samoa News questions.

Sweeney did not explain why the federal government is moving to detain Solofa, who is a native of Samoa, an independent country with no extradition treaties with the United States.  (See yesterday’s edition for more details on Solofa’s conviction)

According to federal court records, the 12-member jury handed down a unanimous decision to convict Solofa of both charges.

GOVERNOR APPOINTED FLAG DAY EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

A six member Executive Committee has been appointed by Gov. Togiola Tulafono to oversee preparations for the 2012 Flag Day celebrations marking 112 years since the territory became a part of the U.S. family.

Co-chairs, Lt. Gov. Faoa A. Sunia and Secretary of Samoan Affairs Lefiti A. Pese will head up the group comprised of ASG Treasurer Magalei Logovi’i, ASG Budget and Planning Office director Malemo T. Tausaga, Governor’s Chief of Staff Pati Faiai and Governor’s Office chief protocol officer Palaita T. Suiaunoa.

Togiola asked government agencies and departments to give their full cooperation and support to the executive committee.

SECOND CRUISE LINER FOR 2012 ARRIVES TODAY

Phoenix Reisen's cruise liner “Albatross” arrives this afternoon, at around 1pm, with up to 830 passengers and 340 crew members.

Albatross is the second cruise ship of the year to call into Pago Pago and will depart for Apia, Samoa at 11pm tonight.

Executive director the American Samoa Visitor’s Bureau David Vaeafe said the ship is on a 119-night voyage from Hamburg, Germany to Monte Carlo, Monaco and will arrive in Pago Pago from Bora Bora, French Polynesia before departing for Apia, Samoa.

Some shops and restaurants in the town area will open for the cruise ship. Visitors will also be able to shop at the marketplace set up on the Port with vendors selling local souvenirs and handicrafts.

TERRITORIAL PRAYER BREAKFAST SET FOR NEXT WEDNESDAY

The Annual Territorial Prayer Breakfast will be held Feb. 1 starting at 8am at the Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa in Fagaalu.

Gov. Togiola Tulafono has encouraged directors to invite their deputies and senior administrators to participate “in this important annual service” which was first launched in 2007.

“...it is… right to give thanks and praise for the blessings of our God that American Samoa receives, as well as to pray for His blessings for our Nation and all countries and their leaders, regardless of race, creed, ethnicity, and religious affiliations, across the globe who face challenges in our world,” said Togiola about the annual service.

NEW ZEALAND TRAVEL AGENT FAM-TRIPS NEXT WEEK

American Samoa will host its first New Zealand travel agent familiarization group next week under a new program - funded by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs -  to promote Pago Pago as a tourist destination.

The visit is being organized by the American Samoa Visitors Bureau with the support of local travel industry members. Visitor’s Bureau executive director David Vaeafe said the purpose behind the familiarization visit is to give key travel agents and wholesalers that sell the Pacific Islands an opportunity to experience what American Samoa has to offer.

“Basically we are an unknown holiday destination and by inviting these 10 agents from New Zealand, one of the biggest source for tourists into the Pacific region, they will meet members of our tourism industry, see some of the sites and experience what we have to offer,” said Vaeafe. “If a travel agent can experience first hand a destination he or she will have no problems selling the destination, tour or hotel to a client.”

The 10 travel agents will be in Pago Pago from Feb. 3-5 and Travel Associates Travel Service in Auckland is coordinating the familiarization trip.

The travel agents will take a tour of the main island of  Tutuila, conduct site inspections of some hotels and visit the National Park of American Samoa. The Visitor’s Bureau has also began planning two other travel agent familiarization visits from Australia and the US mainland for later in the year.



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