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Pacific News Briefs

compiled by Samoa News staff


A Hawaiian Airlines employee has filed a racial harassment and discrimination suit against the carrier, saying that his life was threatened by colleagues who placed a noose and a lynching rope near his locker.

Timothy Degrate, who is black, alleges the incident happened in August 2016. 

"What that means to me, murder, death, intimidation," Degrate tells Hawaii News Now. "It was just a hostile environment to work in."

Degrate said it started with a few derogatory comments years ago, then co-workers started harassing him.

He says he suffered psychological trauma as a result.

In a statement, Hawaiian Airlines denied the allegations of workplace violence, but said it has taken steps to bolster staff training.

"We are sorry that Mr. Degrate felt disrespected in any way," said Ann Botticelli, senior vice president of corporate communications at Hawaiian Airlines, in an emailed statement.

"An independent investigation of Mr. Degrate’s allegations was unable to verify actions by specific individuals as described by Mr. Degrate, and we vigorously deny all allegations of workplace violence. Having said that, because Hawaiian Airlines is committed to maintaining a fair and safe work environment we have taken additional efforts to improve workplace interaction at our Kona station, including mandatory staff-wide training on communicating and interacting with respect."  

Degrate has been with Hawaiian Airlines since 2000, and is a lead line service supervisor at the Kona International Airport.  

He is seeking damages and attorneys' fees.

(Source: Hawaii News Now)


A Fiji company says new technology to make the tuna fishing industry more transparent could be difficult for some Pacific island states to implement.

The firm, TraSeable, is involved in trialing the block-chain technology that tracks tuna from when it's caught to when it's sold.

Founder and managing director Ken Katafono said strengths of the technology are that it's difficult to hack and no one person or entity holds all the data.

But Katafono said it was likely to be hard getting all countries to buy in and provide key data.

He said slow Internet speeds could also be a problem.

"Pacific island countries they are at different areas of development and they have access to different resources and infrastructure. I think implementing technology like this can be challenging for some of them that don't have good Internet connections."

Katafono said while there's a lot of work being done by regional agencies in the Pacific in terms of digitizing fisheries data, there's still some way to go.

He said the technology that is essentially a digital ledger, was still at a pilot stage but was expected to be commercially available this year.

(Source: RNZI)


Supporting the decision Guam voters made in 2014 to legalize medicinal marijuana, Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo this week responded to the letter from Grassroots Guam sent to her office on Tuesday.

The group shared concern after US Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed a memo that gives marijuana a pass in states where it's legal. The new guidance gives federal prosecutors more discretion in how they enforce the federal law.

Bordallo states, "I do not believe the federal government, and specifically the Justice Department, should implement regulations that supersede the express will of voters on this matters." She says she will work with her colleagues to ensure decisions are made at the local level.



The Chinese government is expected to start building a major training center for Samoa's police as part of a multi-billion dollar aid package for the region.

Samoa's Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, said the regional package included direct grants and soft loans but Samoa was looking at maximizing the former for major projects.

Tuilaepa said his government was still in negotiations with China for funding other major projects.

One project could potentially be looked at is the Apia wharf reconstruction which is partly funded by the Japanese government.

(Source: RNZI)


Australia has sharply criticized China’s efforts to build influence in the Pacific, accusing Beijing of “duchessing” politicians and pumping money into useless infrastructure projects.

“You’ve got the Pacific full of these useless buildings which nobody maintains, which are basically white elephants,” Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Australia’s minister for international development and the Pacific, told The Australian newspaper.

“I’ve gone to islands and you’ll be driving along on some back road and all of a sudden you see this Chinese road crew building a road to nowhere and you think ‘hmm, what’s all that about’,” she added.

“We want to ensure that the infrastructure that you do build is actually productive and is actually going to give some economic benefit or some sort of health benefit.”

(Source: Today Online)