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(MVA) — Christmas in the Marianas will celebrate its final night with a Mochitsuki Festival on Saturday, Dec. 28 at Paseo de Marianas in Garapan. The Mochitsuki Festival is an annual celebration in Japan marked by the pounding of “mochi” or glutinous rice in preparation for the new year.

(Press Release) — StayWell Insurance Saipan would like to announce that they will be holding a day-long open enrollment session event this Friday, December 20, 2019 at the Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is open to all CNMI government employees who wish to apply or learn more information about the StayWell CNMI Government Employee Personal Plan.

McDONALD’S of Saipan held its annual employee appreciation night on Monday at Fiesta Resort & Spa. This year’s theme was “Denim and Diamonds,” and the performers were the employees of the Middle Road and Garapan branches themselves.

(Press Release) — CNMI Weightlifting will hold a meeting on Saturday, Jan. 4, at 1 p.m. in the NMPASI conference room to discuss future events.

(Press Release) — The Lady Aces returned triumphant from Guam on Dec. 2, 2019 after participating in the 2019 Thanksgiving Hoopfest hosted by the Tamuning Typhoon Basketball Club and sponsored by the Tamuning Mayor’s Office and Bank of Guam.

BLUE Hauz notched its second straight win in the Masters Division of the United Filipino Organization and IT&E Basketball League after washing out PPG Paint, 99-76, on Saturday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gym.

JERICHO Cruz, who visited Saipan recently, talked with the youth of the Rollers Basketball Club at the Ada Gym and told them not to give up on their dream of becoming a pro basketball player.

EATS Easy x The Game remains supreme in the Men's M-League Masters as they earned their second straight win powering past Matansa Football Club 11-6 last Sunday held at the NMI Soccer Training Center.

THE fifth annual Saipan Aquathlon will be held on Jan. 26, 2020, Sunday, at Kilili Beach Park, the Triathlon Association of CNMI said.

THE CTSI girls improved their record in the 2019 TanHoldings Christmas Basketball Tournament by beating Lady Rollers, 56-41, on Sunday at the TSL Sports Complex.

THE Blue Eagles continue to sit at the top of the food chain in the Open Division of the United Filipino Organization and IT&E Basketball League after outlasting Islander Rent A Car, 81-76, on Thursday at the Gilbert C. Ada gym.

(NMC) — Individuals who participate in Northern Marianas College’s upcoming information session on Thursday, Jan 9., 2020, will qualify to have their NMC Spring 2020 admission application fee and placement test fees waived. The waiver represents a savings of up to $75.

(DPS) — On Tuesday, Dec, 24, 2019, at about 8:10 p.m., Department of Public Safety police officers were conducting routine patrol in Dandan when an individual flagged them down. The individual reported a burglary and theft incident that occurred at his son’s home.

(Press Release) — The Joeten-Kiyu Public Library’s registration for beginner and intermediate ukulele class is ongoing. The class is for children 8 years or older and adults. The total cost for eight class sessions. Classes are held at JKPL in partnership with ukulele instructor Larry Lee. The first session is set to begin on Jan 7, 2020, and will be held every Tuesday from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

WHAT do Star Wars, sushi, K-pop, Confucius institutes and Bollywood all have in common?  They are prime examples of soft power, a term that refers to a nation’s ability to affect other countries without the use of military or diplomatic coercion.  Understanding soft power will go a long way in understanding how Pacific islands interact with the outside world.

From words to deeds

AS we have pointed out in the past, as the exclusive casino license holder on Saipan, Imperial Pacific International will and should be under constant scrutiny, and that has been the case even before it opened its “temporary” casino at DFS over four years ago.

The next midterm elections are less than a year away

SOME of the House minority bloc members have very strong opinions about the governor — especially since he became governor.

ON April 1, 1983, Marianas Variety reported that a parent had filed a $1.5 million (equivalent to about $3.8 million today) lawsuit against Hopwood Junior High School and the medical officer who attended to her son.

IN 2010, the U.S. electorate responded to the overreach of the Obama administration — on health care, but not only on health care — by giving Republicans control of the House in 2010 and then the Senate in 2014.

THIS holiday season, children may learn about that greedy man, Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge is selfish until ghosts scare him into thinking about others’ well-being, not just his own.

MAJURO — In the wake of confirmed measles cases in Kiribati and Hawaii, as well as ongoing spread in many islands in the South Pacific, the Marshall Islands has tightened its measles prevention requirements for people entering and leaving the country.

MANILA (Philippine Star) — Human rights groups may find it hard to believe, but lately the Philippine National Police has been exercising tolerance in dealing with drug suspects. This, however, is about to change in 2020, according to the PNP officer-in-charge.

PRESIDENT Donald Trump on Friday signed into law H.R. 1865, or the fiscal year 2020 appropriations bill that includes U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan’s Disaster Recovery Workforce Act.

MARIO K. Espeleta’s replica of a Skymark airplane made of recycled materials won the Skymark Night Contest on Sunday, besting 16 other entries.

EIGHTY families with the Public School System-Early Intervention Services Program on Friday will receive Christmas presents — plush toys — from the Lions Clubs of Region 2, District 204.

TWO individuals from the CNMI earned their commission as second lieutenants in the United States Army on Saturday, according to Lt. Col. Tom Anderson, professor of military science at the University of Guam.

GOVERNOR Ralph DLG Torres has created a State Workforce Development Board in compliance with U.S. Public Law 113-128, which amended the Workforce Investment Act of 1998.

CHINESE demonstrators expressing support for the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday were attacked by fellow Chinese nationals in Garapan. Four of the victims were then arrested by the police, the demonstrators told Variety.

(BECQ) — The Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality analyzes water samples collected from Managaha’s recreational beaches and dock as part of the regularly scheduled sampling.

WHEN classes resume on Jan. 6, 2020, four public schools that are holding double or half-day sessions will return to a full-day schedule, Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada said.

HOPWOOD Middle School principal, teachers, and students on Wednesday thanked Rep. Roman C. Benavente for the construction of a pavilion or pala-pala that students can use during their break time or outdoor activities on their temporary campus in Koblerville.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — The largest healthcare network in the Philippines, The Medical City now has an office on Guam.

DEPARTMENT of Lands and Natural Resources-Division of Fish and Wildlife Director Manny Pangelinan said the bill that would ban sunscreen products that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate is crucial to the preservation of CNMI marine life.

A DIVERSE group of community members participated in the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s 20th Annual Christmas Bird Count on Saipan, Wednesday, DFW wildlife biologist Emilie Kohler said.

(Press Release) — Green Meadow School students in the K-2 and 3-5 divisions gave their competitors a good fight in the Primary Grade Forensic Conference on Dec. 7, 2019 at Saipan Community School.

(Press Release) — TanHoldings executives and employees toured select sites on the Garapan Heritage Trail early this month, capping the trip to the historical sites in the village with a donation to the NMI Museum of History and Culture.

(MVA) — In line with the Marianas Visitors Authority’s Sports Islands promotion of the Marianas, the weekly Saipan Morning Run kicked off Friday, Dec. 13, and will be held every Friday at 8 a.m. in the main tourist district of Garapan. Saipan Morning Run is jointly organized by MVA and Pacific Development Inc.

ON Saturday, December 14, 2019, five dedicated and valiant teams gathered at Marianas High School and participated in the first annual Extreme Raider Challenge hosted by Marianas High School’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Dolphin Battalion.

(MVA) — The Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands is lending its support to the Marianas Tourism Education Council in their work to educate students on the important of tourism and how they can be involved in the industry, even at a young age.

TO better serve the community, the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library is planning to build a multimedia and technology center that will cost $2 million, JKPL Director Erlinda Naputi said.

NOW that the teachers and principals will get half of their incentives, House Floor Leader John Paul Sablan and House Education Chairman Roman C. Benavente would also like to see the Public School System rebuild damaged classrooms.

REPRESENTATIVE Sheila Babauta asked former President Barack Obama about the planned relocation of U.S. Marines from Okinawa, Japan to Guam during the 2019 Obama Foundation Leaders: Asia Pacific Program in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Dec. 13.

SEAMAN John E. Hart has filed a lawsuit in federal court against a tugboat operator for injuries he said he sustained in the vessel almost two years ago.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (U.S. Department of Education) — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has announced new federal assistance for students and schools in 13 states and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands impacted by Hurricanes Florence and Michael, Typhoon Mangkhut, Super Typhoon Yutu and other natural disasters in 2018 and 2019.

TINIAN — Airman 1st Class Anthony Canlas once again sets another life milestone by graduating at the top of his class in technical school at Fort Eustis, Virginia. Tinian Jr./Sr. H.S. alumni Anthony Canlas is a Distinguished Honor Graduate in Air Force Technical School on December 18, 2019, four months after completing Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release) —  U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Doug Domenech has announced that Interior will provide $2 million to the government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to streamline financial management and coordination of disaster recovery funding across local agencies and organizations receiving federal assistance as a result of impacts from Typhoon Yutu.

(GMS) — Green Meadow School is proud to announce that for three consecutive months, its middle school students have won numerous top awards from various competitions such as the National Speech and Debate Association, Math Court, and Junior Thespians.

(UOG) — The University of Guam and natural resource officials in Saipan and Rota exchanged expertise and challenges regarding watershed management last week during a workshop made possible from a National Science Foundation grant. The discussion helped to identify gaps in available resources and encourage more collaboration in management and restoration efforts in the Marianas.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — A defective license plate light and expired registration prompted police to conduct a traffic stop on a vehicle leaving a game room around 3 a.m. on Dec. 20.

(DPS) — On Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, at about 6:03 p.m., the CNMI Department of Public Safety received a 911 call reporting a disturbing the peace incident taking place near the I Love Saipan store in Garapan. Police were dispatched to the scene.

(Press Release) — Triple J Saipan Inc. generously sponsored the venue for an evening of mentorship and delicious food for students from the Million Dollar Scholar or MDS program at Kagman High School, Marianas High School, and Saipan Southern High School.

(Press Release) — As part of Green Meadow School’s plan for school year 2019-2020, its Parent Teacher Student Association organized campus cleanups on Nov. 23, 2019 and Dec. 21, 2019. These activities also allowed GMS to meet the health and safety requirements of the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs’ Child Care Development Fund program.

(Press Release) — Almost 60 community members from the diverse ethnic groups of Saipan availed themselves of the recent free health screening at the San Antonio Parish Social Hall. The event was organized by the National Youth Movement for West Philippine Sea-Marianas chapter, US Pinoys for Good Governance-Marianas chapter, BAYANi-Bayan Bago Sarili, the National Federation of Filipino American Associations-CNMI chapter and the Asian Community of the CNMI.

(MVA) — In preparation for higher visitor arrivals during the holiday season, the Japan Saipan Travel Association or JSTA and its tourism partners conducted a cleanup of the main tourist district of Garapan, Saipan on Dec. 21, 2019.

(DPS) — On Tuesday, December 24, 2019, at about 2:42 p.m., the CNMI Department of Public Safety received a 911 call reporting a theft in progress taking place along Flame Tree Road, in As Lito. Police were dispatched to the scene.

THE Office of Planning and Development has applied for a $2 million federal grant to fund the zoning office implementation of Saipan Local Law 20-25 or the Nuisance Abatement and Blighted Property Maintenance Act of 2018, OPD Director Kodep Ogumoro-Uludong said.

THE House of Representatives last week presented a framed copy of House Commemorative Resolution 21-10 to the family of the late Francisco “Magas” Deleon Guerrero Cabrera.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Roxanne Hocog was all smiles after she was spared from having to serve anymore time in prison for her part in a major contraband scheme uncovered at the Department of Corrections in 2017.

ASKED for an update regarding the autopsy on the two women who were fatally shot inside a restaurant in San Antonio on Dec. 16, 2019, the Department of Public Safety said it is still waiting for the go-ahead from the Office of the Attorney General.

THE Department of Public Safety has confirmed that speed caused the auto collision that claimed the life of Sergio Apostol, 62, DPS spokesman Dre Pangelinan said.

NORTHERN Marianas College Interim President Frankie Eliptico on Thursday said NMC will receive $21.9 million from the Emergency Assistance to Institutions of Higher Education or IHE program of the U.S. Department of Education.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Jeff Sanchez and his team at ShowPro Pyrotechnics, a subsidiary of JamzMedia Productions, have put on hundreds of fireworks shows since he formed the company in 2012.

THE CNMI was in “recovery mode” in 2019 following the two typhoons that devastated the three main islands, but it was also the year when the Commonwealth showed grit and resilience.

NORTHERN Marianas Technical Institute Chief Executive Officer Agnes M. McPhetres is confident that the U.S. Economic Development Administration will approve NMTI’s $10 million grant application for the construction of a new campus in Koblerville.

BERMAN Higgins Jr., who was sentenced to prison for assaulting a woman, is facing new charges, this time for kicking and kneeing an arresting police officer, and for trying to run over the officer.

THE Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality and the Division of Coastal Resources Management are reminding the local community to celebrate an “environmentally safe” New Year’s Eve.

HUNDREDS of local residents gathered on Sunday at the Garapan Fishing Base for the Winter Island Music Festival, which featured the Hawaiian band Kapena and other island artists.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — For the man who created the group that brought more than a hundred more hospital beds with the construction of Guam Regional Medical City, building a new and sustainable public hospital could work — but there first has to be a solid business and management plan.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Around 11 p.m. Friday, DeAndre Barcinas was out by Paseo when he and some friends saw a flash of light streaking across the sky. Officials first called it a meteorite but later noted that a Chinese test launch of a satellite had been reported.

SHAWN Masga, a resident of Rota, has been charged with domestic violence: assault and battery, and disturbing the peace.

(Press Release) — On Dec. 18, 2019, the local Supreme Court issued its opinion in “In re Estate of Pangelinan,” denying reconsideration of the order granting late filing and the order to register.

THE over a dozen participants in the 20th Annual Christmas Bird Count of the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s on Dec. 18 observed 2,343 birds and 48 endemic and migrant species on Saipan, DFW ornithologist Emilie Kohler said.

(Press Release) — After months of discussion among boaters on Saipan, a new association has been formed to promote both recreational and commercial boating in all its forms. The Saipan Boaters Association will soon be chartered as a non-profit corporation.

THE Board of Education on Wednesday unanimously approved the release of $1.3 million in incentives to 641 teachers, instructors, counselors, librarians, principals, and vice principals.

SUPERIOR Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho has ruled that Eunice Jean Yurong Basa is the biological daughter of the late former Rep. Benjamin Ayuyu Sablan also known as Benjamin Kappon and an heir to her father’s estate.

IT is the Attorney General’s Office that will select a medical examiner to perform an autopsy on the two homicide victims, Department of Public Safety spokesman Dre Pangelinan said.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — A federal criminal complaint was filed in the District Court of Guam against Richard A. Gapasin Jr. after he was found in possession of nearly three pounds of methamphetamine.

A GROUP of vendors, including construction companies, on Thursday asked the Commonwealth Casino Commission on Thursday to take “disciplinary action” against Imperial Pacific International for not paying its bills.

A DISPUTE between Imperial Pacific International and USA Fanter Corp. over construction costs is delaying the completion of the sewer system of the casino resort that will be connected to the wastewater treatment facility of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.

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