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VIDEO: BLUESKY JOINS THE WORLDWIDE ‘ICE CHALLENGE’ TO BATTLE CANCER

reporters@samoanews.com

Puleleiite Li’a Tufele of Bluesky Communications was the first to shower in the ice cold bucket of water during their Ice Challenge held last Friday as part of the worldwide online fiesta “Ice Challenge”, a tribute to all those who have and are battling cancer.
Tufele presented a $2,000.00 check donation from Bluesky Communication to the American Samoa Community Cancer Coalition at the end of the event.
 

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VIDEO: SAMOA-I-TEXAS A’OGA SAMOA

This is a special year for the Samoa-i-Texas A’oga Samoa.  They celebrate 20 years this summer.  This year saw the largest enrollment ever, over 70 students.  Founded by the late Tina Fa’avaefou Sasa, it has been instrumental in teaching the Samoan culture to Samoan children born and raised outside of Samoa.  They learn aspects of the culture and language.
 
Every year they chose a theme, a portion of the culture to focus on.  Last year they studied Samoan tattoos, the pe’a and malu.  This year’s theme is the Matai system, or the chief system.
 
This year the A’oga Samoa was once again priviledged to have a guest come and speak to the school.  They had talking chief from the community come and share his knowledge about the matai system.  He shared his beliefs on what makes a good matai and the some of the traits that a matai must possess. 
 
This year’s school concluded with their annual showcase night.  Parents, friends and family were invited to come and witness the children’s projects and see their performances they put on.  Some of the classes had to create their own to’oto’o and fue while other classes built their own replica fale Samoa’s. 
 
The showcase was also the yearly fundraiser for the children’s program for the church.  The students and their parents and friends were able to raise $15,000.  They give all praise and honor to the Lord for another successful year.  Rev. Menise Sasa, the minister, credits the hard working staff as well as the support from the parents and community.

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VIDEO: LEONE WHITES KEEP ASRU SHIELD AFTER HARD FOUGHT BATTLE WITH NU’UULI

tony@samoanews.com

This past Monday evening, July 14, 2014, at the Veterans Memorial Stadium, one of the oldest rivalries in the history of American Samoa rugby, which has carried through to American Samoa Rugby Union matches, played a Shield Game — with the Leone Whites, current holders of the shield and the Nu’uuli Rugby Team fighting it out — and, at one point in the game, literally. The Whites did hold onto the Shield at the end of the game, with a score of 10- 8.
 
Nu’uuli’s Rugby Team put on quite a show for their fans in the hope of claiming the title, and despite the match starting out looking very violent and brutal, both teams showed their village spirit in not giving up, even to the last second.
 
Midway into the second half of the game, Leone was leading 7 - 3, and Nu’uuli was on the verge of scoring their first try of the game, when, just a few yards away from the goal line, a heated scrum between the two teams ended up in a fight between players of both teams near the Nu’uuli sidelines.
 
The fight — or exchange of punches between two of the players from opposing teams— lured more players into a tense situation, which began to look like it might become a bigger fight. Usually, in this type of situation, things are calmed before play resumes. But, then, two of Nu’uuli Team’s fans came onto the track and began to make their way to the sidelines, and were just a couple of feet away for the players fighting.
 
At this time, Leone Whites captain, “Scottie” called his whole team to their sidelines, and decided to end the game as it was, for the safety of his players, who were nearly clobbered on the Nu’uuli’s side of the field. The game was already in Leone’s hands with a 4-point lead.
 
However, a meeting of the captains was called with the ASRU board members, who were at the match, and the Leone Whites captain agreed to continue the match, to try and conclude the game on a ‘fair’ note.
 
Nu’uuli pounded their way into the try zone and scored their first try at the continuation of the game.
 
But their hopes of taking home the shield were crushed in the hands of Maugalei Ve’ave’a and the Whites, as Leone edged off a game changing field goal just before full time, to officially conclude the match with the Whites on top 10 - 8.

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VIDEO: LEONE WHITES KEEP ASRU SHIELD AFTER HARD FOUGHT BATTLE WITH NU’UULI

tony@samoanews.com

This past Monday evening, July 14, 2014, at the Veterans Memorial Stadium, one of the oldest rivalries in the history of American Samoa rugby, which has carried through to American Samoa Rugby Union matches, played a Shield Game — with the Leone Whites, current holders of the shield and the Nu’uuli Rugby Team fighting it out — and, at one point in the game, literally. The Whites did hold onto the Shield at the end of the game, with a score of 10- 8.
 
Nu’uuli’s Rugby Team put on quite a show for their fans in the hope of claiming the title, and despite the match starting out looking very violent and brutal, both teams showed their village spirit in not giving up, even to the last second.
 
Midway into the second half of the game, Leone was leading 7 - 3, and Nu’uuli was on the verge of scoring their first try of the game, when, just a few yards away from the goal line, a heated scrum between the two teams ended up in a fight between players of both teams near the Nu’uuli sidelines.
 
The fight — or exchange of punches between two of the players from opposing teams— lured more players into a tense situation, which began to look like it might become a bigger fight. Usually, in this type of situation, things are calmed before play resumes. But, then, two of Nu’uuli Team’s fans came onto the track and began to make their way to the sidelines, and were just a couple of feet away for the players fighting.
 
At this time, Leone Whites captain, “Scottie” called his whole team to their sidelines, and decided to end the game as it was, for the safety of his players, who were nearly clobbered on the Nu’uuli’s side of the field. The game was already in Leone’s hands with a 4-point lead.
 
However, a meeting of the captains was called with the ASRU board members, who were at the match, and the Leone Whites captain agreed to continue the match, to try and conclude the game on a ‘fair’ note.
 
Nu’uuli pounded their way into the try zone and scored their first try at the continuation of the game.
 
But their hopes of taking home the shield were crushed in the hands of Maugalei Ve’ave’a and the Whites, as Leone edged off a game changing field goal just before full time, to officially conclude the match with the Whites on top 10 - 8.

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Video: O3b successfully launches four new satellites

joy@samoanews.com

O3b Networks confirms that its second group of four satellites has been successfully launched from the Space Center in French Guiana. The launching was yesterday for the latest addition to its medium earth orbit constellation, which is transforming broadband connectivity to underserved populations around the world. American Samoa is currently waiting for its hookup through the American Samoa TeleComunications Authority, with its CEO, Moefauo Bill Emmsley saying, “ASTCA is targeting the end of September 2014 to cut-over services of its O3b."
 
O3b CEO Steve Collar said in a news release they are thrilled at the successful launch of their satellites. “They will now go through a period of in-orbit testing before being fully integrated into our network as we continue to bring customers up across the world. The exciting O3b journey continues and we are already looking forward to our third launch early next year.” (Connect to video of launch at samoanews.com)
 
According to the minutes for the ASCTA Board meeting last month, John Turbull from O3b was on island and he has since received a payment of $300,000 from ASTCA. According to the meeting minutes, board member Don Fuimaono pointed out that Turbull had stated, “It was an ASTCA problem as to why O3b was not operational yet.”
 
The ASTCA CEO was told by the board to get legal counsel to look into the O3b contract for possible action regarding another phone company in Samoa — Digicel — for their O3b program. The CEO reported to the board that he questioned Digicel O3b Network and learned that the Digicel contract was for its whole network, which is out of Fiji, and that is how they already have O3b operating in Samoa.
 
Samoa News staff members who were in Apia recently experienced a pleasant surprise using the Digicel O3b service there and commented on how fast it is when compared to any of the Internet services provided currently in American Samoa.
 
Samoa News understands over the coming months O3b will be connecting American Samoa as well as other countries to the network with the schedule dates to be announced soon.
 
According to a news release by O3b Networks, Arianespace, a European commercial launch service sent the satellites into a circular orbit at an altitude of 8062 km.
 
Lift- off of the Soyuz ST-B launcher went off as scheduled, just before 6 a.m. yesterday morning American Samoa time.
 
O3b, a reference to the “Other 3 billion’’ people on earth who do not have broadband access, will complete its initial constellation with yesterday’s launch, heralding the introduction of O3b’s services on a global basis.
 
The company, founded in 2007, is already providing services following the launch of its first four satellites in 2013, with spectacular results. The O3b system combines the global reach of satellite with the speed of a fiber‐optic network, removing the impact that satellite delay has traditionally had on the quality of satellite connections.
 
CEO Collar said, when they first envisioned delivering high-speed connections to the underserved populations around the world over a state-of-the-art satellite network, “We knew this was a project that could dramatically improve people’s lives.”
 
Said Collar, “The response that we have had from our customers so far has been emphatic. They tell us that what we are bringing to the market is game-changing and this launch will enable us to provide that same game-changing service globally.”
 

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Video: Powerful message for Special Olympics

Special Olympics "transforms the spirits" of young athletes
tony@samoanews.com

The Special Youth Olympics of American Samoa held one of their major fundraisers at the Gov. H.Rex Lee Auditorium in Utulei this past Friday evening, July 4th — which featured Samoa’s favorite comedian, Tofiga Fepulea’i of “The Laughing Samoans”. The special event brought numerous supporters, families and friends together, especially the fans of the Laughing Samoans here in the territory.
 
Chairman of the Special Youth Olympics group Tafa Tua-Tupuola said, “It’s such a great pleasure to have everyone here to enjoy, embrace, and celebrate the fundraising for our special youth athletes, so they can represent American Samoa for the Special Olympic World Games. How important it is to rely on fundraising. One thing I want to share with everyone here who is able to attend and celebrate with us, is that, for the past 14 years we’ve had athletes, people with disabilities… who enjoy socializing throughout school from the time they start kindergarden."
 
"But by the time they finish high school, they remain at home a majority of the time. If we as people without disabilities struggle to get employment, imagine people with disabilities trying twice as hard or ten times as hard to get a job.
 
"These disabled individuals stay at home, and they feel to themselves that it’s their disability that keeps them at home. Imagine them not feeling proud of who they are. But it is through sports in the Special Olympics that transforms their spirit from being depressed, to being proud of who they are, and this is why we have been trying to push and reach out to those disabled individuals, to join the Special Olympics, and this is why we rely on fundraising, businesses, and people out there who are willing to support Special Olympics.”
 
Tua-Tupuola noted their recent trip to the Special Olympic Games in Australia, saying, “Many of our athletes weren’t certain of what to expect. We had athletes that didn’t socialize, didn’t communicate, athletes who had a very difficult time trying to make friends, but throughout the whole process of meeting other disabled athletes from other countries, they realized that there are other people out there who are just like them.”
 
She added, “But when they performed, you should’ve seen their spirit. They wanted to make their country proud of who they are — and this is what this program is all about, to allow people with disabilities to be proud of who they are, and in order for that to happen, we need to help them transform their spirit."

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Video: Powerful message for Special Olympics

Special Olympics "transforms the spirits" of young athletes
tony@samoanews.com

The Special Youth Olympics of American Samoa held one of their major fundraisers at the Gov. H.Rex Lee Auditorium in Utulei this past Friday evening, July 4th — which featured Samoa’s favorite comedian, Tofiga Fepulea’i of “The Laughing Samoans”. The special event brought numerous supporters, families and friends together, especially the fans of the Laughing Samoans here in the territory.
 
Chairman of the Special Youth Olympics group Tafa Tua-Tupuola said, “It’s such a great pleasure to have everyone here to enjoy, embrace, and celebrate the fundraising for our special youth athletes, so they can represent American Samoa for the Special Olympic World Games. How important it is to rely on fundraising. One thing I want to share with everyone here who is able to attend and celebrate with us, is that, for the past 14 years we’ve had athletes, people with disabilities… who enjoy socializing throughout school from the time they start kindergarden."
 
"But by the time they finish high school, they remain at home a majority of the time. If we as people without disabilities struggle to get employment, imagine people with disabilities trying twice as hard or ten times as hard to get a job.
 
"These disabled individuals stay at home, and they feel to themselves that it’s their disability that keeps them at home. Imagine them not feeling proud of who they are. But it is through sports in the Special Olympics that transforms their spirit from being depressed, to being proud of who they are, and this is why we have been trying to push and reach out to those disabled individuals, to join the Special Olympics, and this is why we rely on fundraising, businesses, and people out there who are willing to support Special Olympics.”
 
Tua-Tupuola noted their recent trip to the Special Olympic Games in Australia, saying, “Many of our athletes weren’t certain of what to expect. We had athletes that didn’t socialize, didn’t communicate, athletes who had a very difficult time trying to make friends, but throughout the whole process of meeting other disabled athletes from other countries, they realized that there are other people out there who are just like them.”
 
She added, “But when they performed, you should’ve seen their spirit. They wanted to make their country proud of who they are — and this is what this program is all about, to allow people with disabilities to be proud of who they are, and in order for that to happen, we need to help them transform their spirit."

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Video: New sports training facility dedicated

tony@samoanews.com

The director of the Veterans Memorial Stadium and Sports Complex Tole’afoa Henry Tavake has surely made a statement considering the amount of work— and the changes that he’s made — since his time as stadium director. Numerous improvements have been seen outside and inside the stadium, well noticed by the public.
 
Friday morning, June 20, marked the opening of Sports Complex Training Facility that was added to the visitor’s side of the stadium, with an extension attached to the grandstand. Inside are three spacious rooms that are now utilized by the Weightlifting Association, Table Tennis Association, and the Judo and Karate Association – not to mention the two buildings on both ends of the stadium that were restrooms in the past, which have since been renovated to house Wrestling and Boxing.
 
As part of Tole’afoa’s improvements to the complex there are also new volleyball courts that are now set on the eastern side of the stadium, as well as the new billboard facing the main road, to display events and dates of activities that will take part at the Sports Complex.
 
During his speech at the dedication and opening ceremony, Tole’afoa said, “My staff knows that I am not a man of many words. If I want to prove something or prove a point, I let my work do the talking. The building that is being opened today, was supposed to be just a small extension to the back, something easy, something that the governor had proposed.”
 
He added, "Just two weeks later, the governor came by for a visit, and saw the poles already in place to build a foundation. Governor Lolo kind of disagreed — and told me that this wasn't our agreement. But I told him, not to worry, after his time as governor, all of these things would last for a lifetime, and testify to his term in office."
 
 According to Tole’afoa, it took three months to complete this project. "We didn't have a plan, nor blueprint of the project, we just did it, and now it's done, and we have a certificate to approve this project. Thank you so very much to those who contributed and helped out during this project, I don't want to mention any names in case I miss someone, but thank you all."
 
 He noted that the project cost $82,000 overall, but did not disclose the funding source. He thanked those present and all who contributed to the new building.

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Video + Update: Paul Ieti on America's Got Talent

"I made it through to the next round, Mom."
joy@samoanews.com

American Samoa’s native son, Paul Ieti stole the hearts of the audience and the judges alike on national television Tuesday night when he sang ’Stay’ by Rihanna, on America’s Got Talent (AGT), an American television series on the NBC television network with millions of viewers worldwide.
 
The ‘Toa o Samoa’ — who is from the village of Aoa — is stationed at Hunter Army Airfield, Savannah, Georgia and because of his awesome voice, made it to the next round on AGT.  Ieti is a US Army Private First Class and a Petroleum Supply Specialist. He is the son of Akenese and Lemaua Ieti of Aoa.
 
This reporter watched AGT, as did many local viewers, to see Ieti’s first live performance on national TV, last night, which played at 7p.m. on Channel 5. AGT is in its ninth season. A video of his full performance can be viewed through a link on samoanews.com
 
Samoa News in chats with some viewers heard that some shed tears of joy, some were screaming his name during his performance — and some took screen shots of their TV while Ieti was on, and later posted them on their Facebook pages.
 
When  Ieti took the stage and introduced himself, he was fielded with questions from Howie Mandel — where he was from and what he did for a living. The 21-year-old soldier proudly stated he was from “American Samoa” and announced that he’s a serviceman, to great cheers from the audience.
 
Mandel thanked Ieti for his service and asked why he took the military as his “life path”. The toa-singer said he joined right out of high school because he wanted to serve as a way of giving back. “Speaking of service we just got back from deployment from Afghanistan for nine months,” he added.
 
Mandel asked Ieti how long he has been singing. Ieti’s response, “All my life. Music has been a comfort zone for me, and this was a really big deal in Afghanistan… and it got me… and my brothers and sisters [fellow soldiers], it was our escape whenever I’ld sang.”
 
During the performance, the ‘intro’ to the song began slowly, and one of the judges thought he might’ve missed his cue. However when Ieti finished singing, the crowd went wild and all four judges stood up, clapping and applauding the young toa-singer.
 
As normal following each performance, the judges make their comments, however, Samoa News notes that following Ieti’s powerhouse performance, judge Mel B jumped up from her seat and ran onto the stage to give the American Samoa son a hug, saying, “That was my comment!”. The second judge to give Ieti a hug was Heidi Klum, who told him, “You are so awesome and you have the most beautiful voice.” Howard Stern also got up from his seat announcing, “I want to hug you” and walked up onto the stage, and gave him a hug as well — saying “good job… good job…”
 
Mandel, pronouncing his name “Yetti”, told the toa-singer, ”You came out very unassuming and very nervous and very shy, and then all of the sudden you started to sing — and a sound came out of you that nobody expected.”
 
“You are amazing,” said Mandel. All the judges gave Ieti four yes votes (thumbs up), and a standing ovation, with a salute from Mandel, as he left the stage. Stern said of Ieti’s performance, “I really thought he was going to blow it… big time!” — with the other judges agreeing.
 
Last night’s AGT show was the beginning of Judge’s Auditions, which will continue until a set amount of performers are found.
 
Ieti has passed his audition and now moves on to the next level, which according to the show’s format, will eventually have performers compete against each other in episodes aired weekly, with eliminations dictated by votes from America’s viewers of the show. The ultimate prize: A chance to perform at Radio City Music Hall and win $1 million dollars.
 
The audience got up from their seats applauding and cheering for Ieti as he left the stage. Backstage, fighting back his tears, Ieti said “I still can’t believe this is really happening to me.” He then called his mother, Akenese, and told her he made it. She replied loud and clear through the phone, “Yes you did, wow that’s amazing!”
 
In an earlier interview with Ieti, he told Samoa News that AGT had reached out to him to audition. “I was contacted by America/s Got Talent a few months ago and they said they have seen my videos.”
 
There are 25 video clips of Paul Ieti singing covers posted on his youtube page, where close to 800,000 viewers have visited, with more than 13,000 subscribers. According to his youtube page, Ieti created an account in February, 2011 and has since posted “hey everyone i hope you enjoy all my videos .... just sharing a God given talent.” Viewers of Paul’s youtube videos range from 2,000+ to 77,000 on each one.

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Video: 5 June Jones scholarships to athlete-scholars

tony@samoanews.com

Yesterday morning at the Governor’s Office, five local high school seniors each received a $2,000 Academic Scholarship from the June Jones Foundation.

The June Jones Foundation was in Am. Samoa for their 7th Annual Goodwill Mission which began last Saturday and ended yesterday with the presentation of scholarships.

On hand to present the scholarships were (l-r back) Lt. Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga, June Jones, and (standing) former NFL player Jesse Sapolu of the San Francisco 49ers, along with the parents of the recipients.  

Scholarship winners are:

Titiula Manuma of Tafuna High School
Pelekina “PJ” Fuimaono of Samoana High School
AJ Filoiali’i  of Tafuna High School
Audreena Sualevai of Samoana High School
Feliua’i Tuiolemotu of Tafuna High School
See photos below.

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