PUBLIC School System employees will receive their paychecks on Monday, March 2, PSS acting finance director Kimo Rosario said as he warned that PSS cannot spend more than what is allotted by its revised budget.
Friday, Feb. 28, was PSS’ payday.
A Marianas High School teacher, who is a federally funded PSS employee, said she received her paycheck Friday evening.
In an advisory issued Friday afternoon, Rosario told the employees: “PSS received its fund transfer required to make a biweekly payroll today. PSS Finance will now draft and authorize the bank ACH transfer. Due to time zone difference with financing lending institutions located outside the CNMI and this late bank transaction (drafting and authorization of bank ACH transfer past Bank of Guam’s ACH-transfer deadline), net payroll allotments will not be posted in your bank accounts until next week, Monday, March 2, 2020, at the soonest.”
An ACH transfer is “the electronic movement of money between banks through the Automated Clearing House network, one of the biggest U.S. payment systems.”
Rosario said “in total, the [CNMI] government transferred $950,000 — $750,000 for payroll Friday and $230,000 for FICA on Monday (following payroll) to PSS for operations. The amount we received is in line with our revised budget.”
PSS’ original budget for fiscal year 2020 was $37.7 million. Due to the economic downturn as a result of the coronavirus epidemic, the central government implemented across-the-board budget cut. PSS’ FY 2020 budget was reduced to $27 million.
Rosario noted that PSS is still operating at its previous budget level which he said is “not wise.” Three of the five elected members of the Board of Education, however, rejected the PSS management’s austerity-measure proposal, and instead “authorized” the education commission to “immediately” file an injunction against the central government.
Rosario said there is not enough funding for PSS’ $1.364 million biweekly personnel cost. “PSS is only paying our net ACH but not mandatory deductions like [Group Health and Life Insurance], tax withholding, and payroll vendors,” he added.
He explained that the PSS payroll has two parts: 1) net ACH — the employees’ bank net deposits amounting to $764,000; and 2) the mandatory deductions — FICA, GHLI, tax withholding which total $600,000.
Without the implementation of an austerity measure, Rosario said PSS is incurring a $400,000 deficit every two weeks. “This is why we need to implement cost-cutting measures,” he added.
“We are still spending $1.364 million despite knowing our revised budget cannot cover this amount.”
“I won’t lie to our employees just like the numbers don’t lie,” he said. “I don’t sugarcoat either. Lying in finance is stealing. Everyone is clamoring [against a] 25% [budget cut] but they seem to fail to understand this simple concept: ‘What is 25% of zero?’ If revenue collections are down, then…[our] share [of the revenue] decreases as well. Everyone needs to understand this simple logic.”

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Guam-bound tourists’ trip cancellations are nearing 20,000, according to combined figures from the Guam Visitors Bureau and Japan Guam Travel Association, as the number of novel coronavirus cases continues to climb in Guam’s main tourist markets.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — On Wednesday, two days after Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said in her State of the Island Address that “our dengue fever outbreak is over,” the Department of Public Health and Social Services reported it has two recently confirmed, locally acquired dengue cases.

(KagEs) — This is to respectfully inform parents that due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the school’s control, the movement back to the Kagman Elementary School campus will have to be postponed until further notice. The target date of moving back to the KagES campus on Monday, March 2, will not be possible at this time.

THE Manta Ray Battalion’s Drill Team conducted a car wash at Shell Susupe on Feb. 22, 2020. The cadets will use the money from the car wash for their upcoming drill training camp. The car wash started at 8 in the morning and ended at 12 noon. Some of the cadets were there before 8 a.m. and stayed there until noon helping their fellow cadets wash the cars.

SAIPAN Mayor David M. Apatang on Thursday swore in Kaelani Marie B. Demapan as the newest member of the Saipan Higher Education Financial Assistance board.

THE Northern Marianas Business Alliance Corp. or NMBAC joined Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios in Washington, D.C. two weeks ago and met with U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan and other federal officials to discuss CNMI workforce issues, including proposed amendments to the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act of 2018.

(Office of the Governor) — On Monday, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres wrote letters to all CNMI banks respectfully requesting them to consider providing a three-month grace period for all loans, mortgages, promissory notes, and other monetary obligations owed from residents on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota during this economic downturn as a result of the unanticipated impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has affected the global economy and CNMI tourism.

DURING a meeting between the Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority and the House Committee on Public Utilities, Transportation and Communications on Wednesday morning, lawmakers were notably concerned about the deed for the land where COTA intends to construct its new maintenance building in Lower Base.

BRADLEY R. O’Brien, a lawyer with the U.S. Department of Justice-Environmental & Natural Resources Division-Environmental Enforcement Section, is requesting the federal court to approve the payment of $538,446.92 to Gilbane Federal, for the invoices submitted by the federally designated Engineering and Environmental Management Company or EEMC.

<img style="float: right;" src="/images/Misc/pssEmblem0.jpg" alt="" height="1" width="1" />THE Board of Education, which decided on Wednesday to take the central government to court, also rejected the 20 percent pay cut proposal for the 1,067 employees of the Public School System.

IN the 1960s, recruiting American teachers was a problem for the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands which had been under direct U.S. rule since the end of the war. The TT had six districts: the Marianas (except Guam), Palau, the Marshall Islands, Ponape (Pohnpei), Truk (Chuuk) and Yap. (Kosrae was a municipality of Ponape that became a separate district in 1977.)

Arithmetic will win

THE raging dispute regarding the PSS budget — which is actually about the salaries of its personnel — reminds us of the following story which happened about a decade ago when the CNMI economy had not yet hit rock-bottom.

(DCCA-CCAC) — The Department of Community and Cultural Affairs-Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture is encouraging visual, traditional, and performing artists, as well as non-profit organizations and food vendors to register for the 39th Annual Flame Tree Arts Festival scheduled for April 16-19, 2020 at the Civic Center Park in Susupe, Saipan.

“AS a former young basketball player for the CNMI National Team, I’ve learned that it is important to have a coach who can lead and guide the players with a positive attitude and mindset,” Gold’s Gym personal trainer Jerry Diaz said.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Office of the CNMI Congressional Delegate) — The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday that would grant permanent status in the Marianas to foreign investors originally admitted to the Commonwealth under local immigration law. The same status would be available to a small group of foreign workers, some of whom have been in the Marianas for 40 years, Sablan told the House during debate on his bill. The bill, H.R. 560, passed the House by voice vote under rules that require a two-thirds majority of support. The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate.
“I am very grateful to Chairman Raúl Grijalva and Ranking Member Rob Bishop, who both are cosponsors of H.R. 560. Bipartisan support was essential for passage in the House today and will be essential, as well, for passage in the Senate,” Congressman Sablan said after the House vote.
The Marianas congressman has been working since he first came into office in 2009 to make the transition from local to federal control of immigration in the Marianas as least difficult as possible. Federal law extending control had been enacted the year before.
In 2018, Sablan drafted and introduced the U.S. Workforce Act, which protects the rights of U.S. workers against unfair competition from foreign workers in the Marianas’ economy. President Trump signed the bill, which became Public Law 115-218.
Last year, President Trump signed Sablan’s Long-term Residents Relief Act, Public Law 116-24. That Act converts about 1,000 people living under administrative parole into residents with a permanent, legal status in the Marianas. Just last week, the Administration issued the necessary guidance to allow those 1,000 people to begin the application process.
H.R. 560 provides the same permanent status — in the Marianas only — that President Trump previously approved for the parolees.
This time two additional groups are covered. The first are investors who had been lawfully admitted to the Marianas under local law before federal immigration was extended there. They have been holding on with short-term visas ever since, never certain from year to year about their business investments.
The second group, long-term workers, was defined in the U.S. Workforce Act and designated in that law for special treatment to provide more certainty to their employers and help stabilize the economy.
As vice chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee responsible for insular issues, Sablan held a hearing on H.R. 560 in February 2019. Marianas Gov. Ralph Torres testified in favor of Sablan’s bill. The Trump administration witness, though not taking a position on the specifics, noted that “without a sustained labor force, projected investment in the CNMI likely will wither.”
“H.R. 560 should go a long way to maintaining an adequate number of workers in the Marianas economy,” Congressman Sablan said. “The workers covered are people their employers’ businesses have come to rely through years of service. They are people with skills that our economy needs.
“And the investors covered by my bill originally put their trust in the Marianas and in Marianas immigration law. They have held on now for over a decade and I think giving them permanent status will encourage them to invest even more, something our economy really needs right now.”

(Press Release) — On Saturday, March 7, from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m., one lane, southbound along the Beach Road race route, will be closed for the safety of runners.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised its caution on travel to South Korea to the highest level, Korean Air confirmed Tuesday a member of its cabin crew has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

(MVA) — The 16th Annual Tinian Hot Pepper Festival on Feb. 15-16, 2020 served up all the usual food, fun, and festivities, seasoned with the island’s trademark hospitality and warmth.

THE Soroptimist-NMI Chapter on Tuesday held a Mardi Gras-style fundraising event for the organization’s Live Your Dream program, which awards education grants to women who are breadwinners of their families.

FIVE members of the Concerned Filipinos and Friends Overseas through the National Youth Movement for the West Philippine Sea displayed placards at the San Jose intersection from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday to celebrate the 34th anniversary of the People Power revolution that ended the authoritarian rule of Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

COMMONWEALTH Ports Authority officials on Wednesday met with the chairman and the general manager of the Port Authority of Guam to share ideas and their successes and challenges in operating seaports.

COMMONWEALTH Ports Authority Deputy Director Edward B. Mendiola met with members of the House Committee on Public Utilities, Transportation and Communications on Wednesday morning to update them on the ongoing runway rehabilitation project.

(Commonwealth Utilities Corp.) — There will be a scheduled water service interruption on Chalan Pale Arnold Road or Middle Road from 99 Cents Store to the Garapan traffic light on Friday, Feb. 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Customers in the affected areas should expect restoration of water services soon thereafter.

(BECQ) — The Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality analyzed water samples collected from Saipan's east and south recreational beaches as well as Rota's recreational beaches and storm drainages this week.

THE United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed the ruling of District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona in dismissing the lawsuit of a couple against Guam-based Pacific Indemnity Insurance Company for not defending them in the wrongful death claim over a fatal accident.

DUE to the global Covid-19 outbreak, the number of flights arriving at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport has “tremendously decreased,” Commonwealth Ports Authority Executive Director Chris Tenorio said in his report to the CPA board on Tuesday.

THE CNMI Scholarship Office board of directors on Thursday unanimously approved the reduction of scholarship grants to its more than 600 recipients starting in the spring semester.

WHAT could be more emblematic of the American Dream than fracking, the miracle technology that has created thousands of real jobs, lowered the cost of living, generated wealth and prosperity, boosted competitiveness and helped make the United States not just energy independent, but a net exporter of natural gas and petroleum products for the first time in decades?

MANILA — I’ve developed a theory that we in the Philippines have turned our back on modernity in 2016 when we elected the current president, and are reaping what we sowed.

HOW many of you remember that friendly greeting at the check-out? Probably not many, since paper bags generally went the way of the Model “T” Ford many years ago.

MOUNT Carmel School and Hopwood Middle School trounced their respective opponents on Tuesday and will face each other in the finals of the 2020 PSS NMIFA Interscholastic Soccer League at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville.

TOKYO (Reuters) — Asian shares fell on Wednesday as a U.S. warning to Americans to prepare for the possibility of a coronavirus pandemic drove another Wall Street tumble and pushed yields on safe-haven Treasuries to record lows.

(DPS) — On Saturday, February 22, 2020, at about 10:50 a.m., the Department of Public Safety received a 911 call reporting a criminal mischief incident at the CHCC Community Guidance Center on Navy Hill. DPS dispatched police to the scene.

(Press Release) — Green Meadow School would like to congratulate its Middle School Academic Bee Team members for placing second in the annual Middle School Academic Challenge Bowl held on Feb. 1, 2020 at Saipan Southern High School.

(Press Release) — With the help of its subscribers, IT&E presented $5,000 to the American Red Cross and the Andrea R. Ilao Foundation to aid victims of the recent disasters in Australia and the Philippines.

(Press Release) — Representatives from the Northern Marianas Business Alliance and the Society for Human Resource Management-NMI Chapter will provide information about federal issues concerning the CNMI’s labor and immigration updates during SHRM’s general membership meeting on Thursday, Feb. 27, in the ballroom of Hyatt Regency Saipan beginning at 11:30 a.m.

(DCCA-CCDF) — On Saturday, February 8, 112 child care providers attended a three-hour long orientation for the CNMI Child Care and Development Fund’s Quality Rating and Improvement System or QRIS. Held in the Marianas High School cafeteria, this event marked the beginning of the initiative’s fourth year of implementation in the CNMI.

(BECQ) — The Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality analyzes water samples collected from Saipan’s west coast recreational beaches and storm drainages on the west coast every Tuesday.

THE Rotary Club of Saipan conducted a cleanup drive at the Marpi tourist sites on Saturday as part of an ongoing island-wide environment campaign, club president Marcia Ayuyu said.

THE House Committee on Commerce and Tourism will hold a public hearing on Thursday, Feb. 27, for House Bill 21-89, which would prohibit the use of Styrofoam food containers in the CNMI, and Senate Bill 21-37, a proposal to ban the importation, production, distribution and use of single-use plastic bags in the Commonwealth.

THE House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday unanimously endorsed the passage of House Bill 21-98, which would authorize the governor “to enter into agreements to offset the Commonwealth’s judgment liabilities against a judgment creditor’s tax liability.”

WITH very few flights coming in, it is unlikely that the CNMI will have a Covid-19 case, Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. communications and public relations specialist Zoe Travis said on Tuesday.

DEMOCRATS and many Republicans complain that U.S. corporations are raking in huge profits as blue-collar jobs disappear. The reality is the opposite, a new Conference Board business survey reports. Corporate profits have been declining as employers increase wages to hire scarce blue-collar workers, but hold the champagne.

THE third time wasn’t the charm for Tokyo’s long-running attempt to increase its consumption tax. Data released last week showed that Japan’s economy contracted in the last three months of 2019 as the tax hike hammered growth — as many warned and like the previous two times the tax has been raised since its 1989 introduction, in 1997 and 2014.

THE Southern United Football Club made its way to the winning column after powering past the Kanoa Football Club, 4-2, on Saturday in the Youth League Spring U17 Girls Division at the NMI Soccer Training Center.

THE Blue Eagles secured the first spot in the playoffs of the United Filipino Organization-IT&E Basketball League 2019 by demolishing AK Toyota, 87-59, on Saturday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gym.

6JMs/Sea Bridges defeated Ming Yang,77-56, while Blue Haus outlasted Pacific Hardware, 80-76, in the season opener of the 2020 One Pacific Promotional Basketball League, Saturday, at the Gilbert C. Ada Gym.

(Press Release) — The Department of Community and Cultural Affairs-Division of Youth Services invites the public to the Walk for Parents event this Saturday, Feb. 29. Registration for the walk is free and will begin at 6 a.m. at the Oleai Beach Pavilion. The route will be from the Oleai Beach Pavilion to Quartermaster Road and back.

(NMHC) — Due to the impending austerity measures and the anticipated economic hardships as a result of the decline in our tourism industry as affected by the suspension of visitor arrivals from China and reduced flights from Korea, most, if not all of our clientele will somehow be affected by it.

(CDA) — The Commonwealth Development Authority, with the support of its board of directors, joins the CNMI community in doing its very best to stay calm, focused, efficient, and effective, with an unwavering commitment to providing support and assistance for business retention and expansion of our current CDA clients and the entire CNMI business/private sector that are committed to surviving this economic downturn by continuing to operate and manage their businesses, while we all look for innovative and effective strategies in being even more resilient in a tough economic environment.

(Press Release) — Dandan Middle School will have a PTSA meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 25, at 6 p.m. in the school cafeteria.

THE new National Weather Service warning coordination meteorologist on Guam, Landon Aydlett, met with members of the CNMI House of Representatives on Monday afternoon to discuss weather and disaster preparedness throughout the Micronesian region.

(DPS) — On Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, at about 12:24 p.m., the Department of Public Safety received a 911 call reporting a drowning incident that happened at Managaha. Dispatch summoned DPS Boating safety and medics to be on stand-by as the victim was being transported by a vessel to the Smiling Cove Marina.

THE Commonwealth Utilities Corp., in a status report filed in federal court, stated that the laboratory results for two wells — IF 108 and IF 22 — showed that perfluorooctane sulfonate or PFOS was at 25 parts per trillion while perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA was a non-defect.

(MCS) — To aid in Mount Carmel School’s fundraising efforts, McDonald’s Saipan recently donated $5,000 in Education Tax Credit to the institution. The purpose of the donation is to assist MCS in academic programs, services, and annual student-life events. Mount Carmel School is especially grateful to McDonald’s Saipan for its continued support of the school.

U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan said he is trying to garner support in the U.S. Congress for his bill, H.R. 560, which proposes to grant CNMI-Only permanent resident status to qualified long-term guest workers and foreign investors in the Commonwealth.

IF you’re looking for something to be on the edge of your seat about, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will start testing people with flu symptoms in five cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco) to see if the Wuhan coronavirus has slipped around our defenses and taken root in the U.S.

WITH septuagenarians dominating the race to be president, I hope you’ll indulge me a little as I celebrate the life of a man who had already reached adulthood before any of them were born.

I TEACH 5th grade, working with students at the doorstep of adolescence. It’s exciting to see children starting to evolve into unique adults. Yet there’s concern in seeing students starting to struggle with very grown-up issues that a few years ago, or even a few months ago, they weren’t physically developed enough to grasp.

TSUNAMI Swim is still in awe of two of its members — Maria Batallones and Kouki Watanabe — for topping the 3k distance category of the 14th Meek & Mighty Ocean Swim event at the Kanoa Resort beach on Feb. 15.

SYDNEY (Reuters) — Global shares and oil slid on Monday while safe-haven gold surged as the spread of the coronavirus outside China darkened the outlook for world growth with infections and deaths rising in South Korea, Italy and the Middle East.

SEOUL/BEIJING (Reuters) — Fears mounted on Monday that the coronavirus outbreak in China will grow into a pandemic with disruptive and deadly consequences for countries around the world, after sharp rises in infections in South Korea, Italy and Iran.

KOROR (PICRC) — On Feb. 12, 2020, Palau International Coral Reef Center research staff Marine Gouezo and Dawnette Olsudong, along with researchers from Australia Institute of Marine Science, and Southern Cross University and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, published a study in the journal Scientific Report from the publishers of Nature. Titled “Relative roles of biological and physical processes influencing coral recruitment during the lag phase of reef community recovery,” this research explores the process of coral recolonization after severe typhoon disturbances.

(CHCC) — The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.’s Community Guidance Center clinics are relocating to the newly renovated CGC offices on Gloria Drive, lower Navy Hill, across from the Transitional Living Center or TLC beginning Feb. 27, 2020.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Office of the CNMI Congressional Delegate) — High school students in the Northern Mariana Islands are invited to participate in the 12th Annual Congressional Art Competition. The winning artist from the Northern Marianas will have his or her artwork publicly displayed at the U.S. Capitol for one year, receive an invitation to the national winner’s reception in Washington, D.C., and may be eligible for scholarships to the Savannah College of Art and Design.

NEW YORK — Airlines around the world are counting the cost of the coronavirus that has led to thousands of China flights being canceled, with several Asian airlines teetering on the brink of ruin if the nation’s shutdown persists.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — A day after Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero sent a letter suggesting Guam Chamber of Commerce business members may view their employees as “overhead expense” — in a verbal back-and-forth over the minimum wage increase — the Chamber issued a rebuttal Friday.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — As tourist arrivals dwindle, some whose livelihoods depend on tourists paying for optional tours say they have felt the impact of the flight cancellations.

(CUC) — To support Commonwealth Utilities Corp.’s outreach efforts, Gary Camacho, CUC’s executive director, approved a lab-based outreach project in four schools.

(CUC) — The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. would like to inform the general public that there will be a scheduled water service interruption for the areas of Garapan Hotel Street, Lower Miha Housing, Chalan Pale Arnold Road (Middle Road) from CHCC to the Gualo Rai traffic light and from American Memorial Park to Marianas Eye Institute on Beach Road on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Customers in the affected areas should expect restoration of water services soon thereafter.

(Triple J) — Continuing his commitment to the growth of the CNMI, Triple J’s Bob Jones met with Department of Public Works Secretary James Ada and team Friday, Feb. 21, to discuss a public-private partnership with a particular goal in mind: the development of a sidewalk to connect the two main commercial sectors of the island, Garapan and Chalan Kanoa.

TINIAN — The 16th Annual Pika Festival, which happened from February 14 to 16, 2020, was a busy, fun, and eventful time for the Tinian Stallion Battalion. To start the ceremony, the Color Guard team, consisting of Cadet Command Sgt. Maj. Julia Biton (commander), Cadet 1st Lt. Kiran Shrestha, Cadet First Sgt. William Tudela, and Cadet Sgt. Chit Acollador presented the colors.

THIS past Saturday, the Saipan Chuukese community gathered at the multi-purpose center to meet with 2021 Chuuk State gubernatorial election candidates, former FSM Assistant Attorney General Daniel J. Rescue Jr., Esq. for governor, and current Association of Pacific Island Legislatures board member Sen. Gardenia Aisek for lt. governor.

THE 2020 CNMI Census has started its data collection, verifying addresses of housing units, group quarters and transitory locations, office manager Claudio K. Norita told the Saipan Rotary Club on Tuesday last week.

DESPITE the steep decrease in tourist arrivals due to the cancellation of flights following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the Marianas Visitors Authority continues to sign up tour guides for its certification program, MVA tour guide manager Kuen-Hee Han said.

MARIANAS Festival of Hope, an evangelistic event organized by the Billy Graham Evangelical Association and local Christian churches, drew thousands of people, on Friday evening at American Memorial Park. The event was also livestreamed, which allowed the participation of Tinian and Rota residents.

(DPS) — On Thursday, Jan. 31, 2020, at about 10:50 p.m., the Department of Public Safety responded to a possible pedestrian accident on Beach Road, in front of the KFC and Taco Bell restaurants in Chalan Kanoa.

(DPS) — On Wednesday, July 24, 2019, at about 4:11 a.m., the CNMI Department of Public Safety received a 911 call requesting for police assistance at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. DPS dispatched units to the area.

A HEARING in federal court will be held today, Monday, on whether Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona should recuse herself from the U.S. government’s case against Rota Mayor Atalig and co-defendant Evelyn Atalig who were both accused of corruption.

THE CNMI was awarded by the U.S. Department of the Interior $9.2 million in capital improvement project or CIP funding, Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios told Variety on Friday.

THE CNMI National Tennis Team won majority of the Northern Marianas Sports Association awards on Wednesday night at Fiesta Report & Spa Saipan. Tennis stars Carol Lee and Robbie Schorr were named NMSA Male and Female Student Athletes of the Year, Collin Sinclair received the NMSA Male Athlete of the Year Award while their coach, Jeff Race, was named Coach of the Year for the fourth time.

THE headline of Friday’s story, “No more cargos, containers from Asia, says Customs,” should have been, “No more cargos, containers from China, says Customs.” CNMI Customs has stopped processing containers shipped from China.

NEW YORK — Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. said it has canceled its voyages in Asia across three brands through the end of September as the coronavirus epidemic weighs on its bottom line.

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services) — On Feb. 21 2020, Livingston A. Taulung, secretary of the Department of Health & Social Affairs, received on behalf of the Federated States of Micronesia a donation of 21,000 surgical masks from Dr. Tan Siu Lin, founder of the Tan Siu Lin Foundation and honorary consul of the FSM in the People’s Republic of China’s Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, to assist the FSM in its capacity-building efforts to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

MAJURO — A S. Korean-flagged longline fishing vessel was charged Friday with five counts of fishing in Marshall Islands waters without a valid license. The vessel monitoring system or VMS, an onboard computer system that provides real-time positioning of a fishing vessel by satellite to island fisheries departments, provided the basis for the fisheries department in the Marshall Islands to investigate and charge the vessel, the Oryong 721, with illegal fishing.

KOROR (Press Release) — In 2019, the Palau International Coral Reef Center or PICRC was charged with the mission of conducting research and monitoring the Palau National Marine Sanctuary. In 2020, one of the first components of that research has begun: a socio-economic study to determine the potential benefits of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary or PNMS for local Palauans and track them over time.

(FEMA) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s in partnership with the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas is working to get homeowners back into their homes by helping them rebuild stronger and more resilient through FEMA’s Permanent Housing Construction or PHC Program.

(Press Release) — The community is invited to attend the 2020 Women’s Month proclamation signing on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020 at 10 a.m. at the multi-purpose center in Susupe. Hosted by the Women’s Affairs Office under the Office of the Governor, the proclamation signing will kick off a series of events in March.

(Press Release) — Put on your Mardi Gras masks and beads and join Soroptimist International of the Northern Marianas Islands for a Fat Tuesday Revival for a good cause at Godfather’s Beach House Bar at the Fiesta Resort & Spa.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — As the Guam Chamber of Commerce made a follow-up appeal on Wednesday for the Guam Legislature and governor to work toward delaying Guam’s minimum wage increase by six months, in light of the drop in visitor arrivals, one restaurant has started to cut back its business hours as tourist customers have dwindled.

(Office of the Governor) — Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios has returned from Washington, D.C. following a series of meetings and forums where he discussed the CNMI’s financial and economic downturn.

(Office of the Attorney General) —Attorney General Edward Manibusan and the Steering Committee are pleased to announce the 36th Annual Attorney General’s Cup Speech Competition to be held on Friday, May 1, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. in the Hyatt Regency Ballroom.

(BECQ) — The Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality analyzes water samples collected from Saipan’s east and south recreational beaches as well as Rota’s recreational beaches and storm drainages this week as part of the regularly scheduled sampling.

(Press Release) — The Marianas Writers Movement is hosting the last of its six-part series of writing/editing workshops on Saturday, Feb. 22, at 1:30 p.m. at the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library.

(CUC) — The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. would like to inform the general public that there will be a scheduled water service interruption for customers along Isa Drive from Sara Market on Capital Hill to the Kagman Mobil gas station on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Customers in the affected areas should expect restoration of water services soon thereafter.

UNTIL Bernie Sanders was elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont, in 1981, he had never held a steady job. Almost 40, he had been “virtually unemployed” his entire adult life. Those who knew Sanders before he was elected mayor say “he was always poor” and lived “just one step above hand to mouth.”

And so it came to pass

THE discussion during the recent meeting of the Board of Education’s finance committee highlighted, more or less, what we all mean when we say that the government is financially strapped: its personnel costs are quite enormous.

MP United Football Club and TanHoldings Football Club made their mark in the opening games of the U17 Girls Division of the Youth League Spring 2020 by notching victories on Saturday at the NMI Soccer Training Center.

JERRY Ayuyu, Chris Nelson, Rufino Aguon and Louie Wabol were inducted into the CNMI Hall of Fame in honor of their contributions and performance in the sporting world.

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union has added four countries and jurisdictions to its blacklist of tax havens, including the British overseas territory Cayman Islands.

(USCIS) — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Thursday announced that the application period for those seeking the new Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands long-term resident status will open on February 19, 2020.
Eligible aliens will have 180 days to apply for the new status, which was created by the Northern Mariana Islands Long-Term Legal Residents Relief Act (48 U.S.C. 1806(e)(6)), signed by President Trump on June 25, 2019.
Applicants must file Form I-955, Application for CNMI Long-Term Resident Status (, together with Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization ( by August 17, 2020.
CNMI long-term resident status is not the same thing as lawful permanent residence and does not lead to lawful permanent resident status.
To be eligible for the CNMI long-term resident status, an alien must fall into one or more of the following categories:
• Certain “stateless” individuals: Foreign nationals born in the CNMI between Jan. 1, 1974, and Jan. 9, 1978.
• Immediate relatives of qualifying “stateless” individuals: Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of foreign nationals born in the CNMI between Jan. 1, 1974, and Jan. 9, 1978.
• CNMI permanent residents under CNMI immigration law: Individuals who were permanent residents of the CNMI on Nov. 27, 2009.
• Immediate relatives of qualifying CNMI permanent residents: Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of an individual who was a permanent resident of the CNMI on Nov. 27, 2009.
• Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens: Individuals who, on Nov. 27, 2011, were either a spouse, child or parent of a U.S. citizen, and continue to have such family relationship with the citizen.
• In-home caregivers: Caregivers of critical medical or special needs individuals in the CNMI who on Dec. 31, 2018, had a grant of parole under the former USCIS parole program for certain in-home caregivers.
Additionally, they must:
• Have been lawfully present in the CNMI on Dec. 31, 2018, or June 25, 2019, under the immigration laws of the United States, including under a grant of parole under section 212(d)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(d)(5)) or deferred action;
• Be admissible as an immigrant to the United States under the INA (8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq.), except that no immigrant visa is required;
• Have resided continuously and lawfully in the CNMI from Nov. 28, 2009, through June 25, 2019; and
• Not be a citizen of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia or the Republic of Palau.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Gary Hiles, chief economist of the Guam Department of Labor, said the island doesn’t have enough construction workers to finish currently permitted and contracted building projects.

(Press Release) — The long wait of parents, students, teachers and administration of Green Meadow School for the results of the Mathcourt competition held on Jan. 18, 2020 is finally over.

(CNMI Judiciary) — Six high schools will be competing on February 27 and 28 for the opportunity to represent the CNMI at the National High School Mock Trial Competition in Evansville, Indiana in May. The CNMI-wide competition will be held at the District Court for the NMI. Schools represented include Grace Christian Academy, Kagman High School, Marianas High School, Mount Carmel High School, Saipan International School, and Tinian High School.

THE wife of John Jones, who went missing at the Grotto in Nov. 2018, has filed a lawsuit in the federal court against a diving company, among other defendants, and is seeking damages for negligence and wrongful death.

(BECQ) — The Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality analyzes water samples collected from Saipan’s recreational western beaches and storm drainages every week as part of a regularly scheduled sampling program.

GOVERNOR Ralph DLG Torres on Tuesday approved Tinian Local Bill 21-1, which appropriates $531,248 in Tinian casino license fees for the Tinian municipal government and the Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission.

ABOUT 80 of the 130 stranded tourists on Saipan have been repatriated already, but there are “issues” with those who are still on island, especially the individuals from Wuhan, Hubei, China, Commonwealth Ports Authority Chairwoman Kimberlyn King-Hinds said, referring to the lockdown in the Chinese province.

THE Northern Marianas Technical Institute on Tuesday received from the Department of Finance $300,000 of the funds collected from CNMI-Only Transitional Worker Permit or CW applicants.

THE House Committee on Public Utilities, Transportation, and Communications or PUTC met with Division of Procurement & Supply Acting Director Francisco C. Aguon Wednesday morning to discuss the current status of the Marpi landfill operation and maintenance.

IN one respect, at least, the Democratic nominating contest is running true to form: Sen. Bernie Sanders is getting the lion’s share of young adults’ votes. In New Hampshire, for example, voters under 30 represented 15% of the total but 28% of Mr. Sanders’s support. Voters 65 and older were 25% of the total but only 13% of the Sanders coalition.

BECAUSE its denial is incessantly repeated, the following truth must be incessantly restated: we ordinary Americans are fabulously rich and getting richer. The irony is that we are so very materially prosperous — with a prosperity that is shared by nearly all Americans — that we take our happy condition for granted.

FRANK Ermitanio is the second player to be added to the list of the 2020 Amigos Golf Club aces after he claimed the title for February by scoring a low total net of 140 in a two-day tournament at the Kingfisher Golf Links.

ROBBIE Schorr retained his men’s singles title after outlasting a former NCAA Division 1 player, TJ Bellama, on Monday in the 2020 White Coconut Tennis Classic at the American Memorial Park tennis courts.

THE Saipan International School Geckos bombarded Da’ok Academy with unanswered buckets on Tuesday night to win their game in the PSS Boys High School Basketball league at the Marianas High School Gym.

RESEARCHERS John L. Fischer, Robert C. Kiste and Miriam Kahn said “the populations of Micronesia were in good balance with their natural resources at the time of European contact.”

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — John Bolton, the former national security adviser to President Donald Trump, raised concern on Monday about his unpublished book being “suppressed” by the White House and suggested he should be able to respond to the president’s tweets about him.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The Trump administration is deploying highly trained officers to boost arrests of unauthorized immigrants in a number of cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, the latest move in a battle against localities that adopt “sanctuary” policies to protect them from deportation.

IN light of the reported burglaries at public schools, Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada on Tuesday said he will request the Department of Public Works and the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. to install more street and campus lights in all public schools.

THE Federal Bureau of Investigation declined to say what specific documents or records its agents sought when they executed a search warrant at the apartment unit of an accountant employed by Imperial Pacific International.

QUESTIONS were raised in the House of Representatives session on Tuesday regarding House Bill 21-31, which would legalize internet gaming in the CNMI.

I USED to make it a habit to try out all the latest social technology, if only to observe its function, rules, and contribution to the culture. That habit stopped last year during the “techlash.” I too found myself convinced that we’ve probably overindulged in preening, sharing, bragging, performing.

ISLANDER Rent A Car managed to snatch victory from Eats Easy x The Game in the United Filipino Organization-IT&E Basketball League Open Division on Saturday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gym. It was the alley-oop clutch shot executed by Mac Mintac in the game’s last few seconds that gave the Islanders a 95-93 victory.

SHIRLEY’S Football Club and the TanHoldings Football Club are off to a great start in the U13 coed division of the Youth League Spring 2020 after beating their respective adversaries on Saturday at the NMI Soccer Training Center.

HONOLULU (AP) — Growing up in American Samoa, Filipo Ilaoa’s neighbors were his cousins on a plot of land full of banana and breadfruit trees shared by his extended family and overseen by a chief elected by his relatives.

(CPA) — On Feb. 17, 2020, Asiana Airlines Inc. informed the Commonwealth Ports Authority that it would be canceling two sets of flights: the morning flights from Feb. 27 to 29, 2020, and the morning flights from March 4 to 18, 2020.

(Stellar Marianas) — Just in time for Women’s International Month, young women across the CNMI now have the opportunity to help their community by becoming a positive role model and ambassador to the world with 2020 Miss Marianas Pageant scheduled this July.

(MVA) — A photographer and writer from Japan’s JTB Publishing were in the Marianas recently to gather updated information and images for a new Saipan guidebook to be published in March 2020.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — With confirmed cases of COVID-19 — the disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus — on the rise worldwide, island residents shared concerns Friday on the possible impact for Guam.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — It took 48 years for Anna Diehl and Monica Baza to meet in person.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — A $500 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of an individual involved in thefts in Tumon.

A 41-year-old Tinian resident was arrested last week for slapping the face of his 12-year-old daughter and punching her right arm. He denied hitting his daughter who told police that her father also pulled her ear and pushed her.

WITH Interim President Frankie Eliptico declining to be considered for the position, the Northern Marianas College Board of Regents will start the process of forming a presidential search committee, Board Chairman Charles Cepeda said.

GARAPAN Elementary School was burglarized while an attempted break-in occurred at Dandan Middle School on Sunday evening, Variety learned.

IF banks reported their liabilities using the same fictitious accounting that the federal government does for student loans, they’d be charged with fraud. Behold the Congressional Budget Office’s latest restatement of the cost for income-based repayment plans.

AGAINST MHS 3, KHS Varsity ruled every possession in the first half. Cleaned boards and defensive stops were also key to KHS’ narrow win over MHS 3 on Thursday night in the PSS Boys High School Basketball League at Marianas High School Gym.

(Press Release) — The Rocball games at Marianas High School have been reignited with seven girl’s teams.

ON Saturday afternoon, the Hyatt Regency Hotel hosted a team of sumo wrestlers from Japan so they could meet with local community members, especially the youth.

(Press Release) — In partnership with the Commonwealth Women’s Association, 500 Sails is offering free swim classes for women and girls 12 and older through the Sirena Project. Below are the newly announced March dates, including two Fridays. (Turn austerity Fridays into a day to take care of yourselves!)

FORTY-SIX Girl Scouts from all troop levels — Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, and Cadettes — sold 1,300 boxes of the official Girl Scout Cookies on Saturday at five Joeten locations.

(Office of the CNMI Congressional Delegate) — President Trump’s fiscal year 2021 spending request for the Office of Insular Affairs, released Monday last week, cuts the agency’s discretionary budget from $103 million to $82 million, U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan said.

THE Commonwealth Utilities Corp. will receive $7.2 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for infrastructure projects to protect surface and drinking water in the CNMI.

AS part of the Women’s Month celebration, first lady Diann Torres, second lady Wella Palacios, and the Women’s Affairs Office will recognize five successful women on March 6 at the multi-purpose center.

PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte last week announced the termination of a security pact that underpins the U.S.-Philippines alliance, and President Trump responded by celebrating potential savings for the American fisc. The good news is that this isn’t a popular decision in Manila or Washington, and there’s time to save the agreement.

SOME years back we discussed the extraordinary adventure of Maurice and Maralyn Bailey, an English couple whose sailboat was wrecked by a whale and who drifted in a life raft for 117 days, a record at that time. I recently read a book about their experience that teaches us vital lessons which we can all use, whether stranded in a raft at sea or stranded in a thankless job. First, a summary of their story, then some life lessons.

IN 1789 — or about 230 years ago — the U.S. Constitution was ratified and approved by the Thirteen Original Colonies. This landmark legal instrument established the first democracy in the world. As a representative democracy, the people of the United States freely choose their political leaders at a general election, held every two to four years.

THE game between MHS Varsity and Agape Christian School in the PSS Boys High School Basketball League at Marianas High School Gym on Thursday night was a nail-biter from start to finish.

MANILA (AP) — In a popular Catholic church in the Philippines, nearly half of the pews were empty for Sunday Mass. The few hundred worshippers who showed up were asked to refrain from shaking others’ hands or holding them during prayers to prevent the spread of the virus that started in China.

JOSH Andrew, the son of Saipan Paddling Club’s head coach Justin Andrew, is a multi-sport athlete who has won countless sporting events thanks to his various sets of skills and tremendous athleticism.

(Press Release) — The Commonwealth Cancer Association is pleased to announce the 2020 Marianas March Against Cancer is set for Friday May 8, 5:30 p.m. to Saturday May 9, 5:30 a.m. at the Commonwealth Ports Authority, Airport Field.

(CHCC) — On Jan. 27, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a nationwide injunction that prevented the implementation of the Department of Homeland Security’s final public charge rule, which was issued in Aug. 019.

(MVA) — According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, arrivals to Saipan, Tinian and Rota increased 51 percent to 55,686 visitors in January 2020, compared to 36,878 visitors received in January 2019. Visitor arrivals in January 2019 were low due to the residual reduction in air service following Super Typhoon Yutu in October 2018.

AS part of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, the Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse will hold the Ninth Teen Poetry Slam on Feb. 28 at Hyatt Regency Saipan.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Thirty-year-old auto mechanic Richard A. Gapasin Jr. pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted possession of 50 or more grams of meth with the intent to distribute, under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

ATTORNEY David Banes has raised the issue of immunity from prosecution of the witnesses who will testify in the jury trial of his client, Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig, and his co-defendant and girlfriend Evelyn Atalig.

(BECQ) — The Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality analyzed marine water samples collected from Rota’s recreational beaches and storm drainages this week.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — The Office of the Attorney General is close to completing its criminal investigation into a viral video that shows a Guam police officer at Gov. Joseph Flores Memorial Park appearing to punch an arrested man in the stomach as he is escorted into a patrol car.

DUE to a projected revenue loss of $3.9 million subsequent to flight suspensions that resulted from the novel coronavirus outbreak, the Commonwealth Ports Authority has reduced its working hours to 72 from 80.

ON Oct. 31, 1967, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, D-Montana, informed his colleagues about recent news articles in Time Magazine and the New York Times that he said should serve as a “timely reminder that all is not well in the U.S.-administered Trust Territory of the Pacific.” The TT comprised of the NMI, Palau, the Marshalls and what is now known as the FSM.

TOKYO (AP) — Tokyo Olympic organizers reiterated their message on Thursday at the start of two days of meetings with the International Olympic Committee: the Summer Games will not be waylaid by the coronavirus that is spreading from neighboring China.

KOROR (Marianas Business Journal/Pacnews) — 2020 is an election year for Palau and with eight months to go before the primaries, four candidates have already declared their intention to seek the presidency.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Under pressure from President Donald Trump, the U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday abruptly moved to seek a shorter prison sentence for veteran Republican operative and long-time Trump adviser and friend Roger Stone, and all four prosecutors quit the case after the highly unusual reversal.

MANCHESTER, N.H. (Reuters) — Bernie Sanders narrowly won New Hampshire’s Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday, solidifying his front-runner status in the nominating race and dealing a setback to moderate rival Joe Biden, who appeared likely to finish a disappointing fifth.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — The potential for Guam to attract businesses in the commercial drone industry was discussed during a public hearing on Bill 217-35, introduced by Sen. James Moylan, which aims to offer tax incentives under the Guam Economic Development Authority Qualifying Certificate Program.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Nearly 1,000 more visitor cancellations were reported to the Guam Visitors Bureau in the five days ending Monday — bringing Guam tourist cancellations to 6,063 since the world learned of the 2019 novel coronavirus.

(NMC) — The University of Hawaii’s Pacific Business Center Program recently named Northern Marianas College’s interim dean for Cooperative Research, Extension, and Education Services, Patricia Coleman, as a Rising Star of Oceania.

THE Marianas Institute of Filipino CPAs and Accountants or MIFICPA will host a tax seminar that will be conducted by David J. Burger, managing partner of Burger, Comer & Magliari.

(BECQ) — The Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality analyzes water samples collected from Saipan’s west coast recreational beaches and storm drainages on the west coast every Tuesday.

(BECQ) — The Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality analyzed water samples collected from Tinian’s recreational beaches and storm water drainages this week as part of the regularly scheduled sampling.

(MVA) — For the best prices, participants in Saipan Marathon 2020 — scheduled for March 14 —are encouraged to register by this Friday’s (Feb. 14) early bird deadline.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Office of the CNMI Congressional Delegate) — Patients and their families in the Marianas will be protected from surprise medical bills under terms of legislation approved by the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee Tuesday. U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, a member of the committee, asked Chairman Robert Scott to clarify that the Marianas and U.S. territories were covered by the Ban Surprise Billing Act, before a final vote was taken.

“LAST week,” President Obama declared a decade ago, “the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections.”

SHORTLY after my wife graduated from college, she joined Zero Population Growth. Looking back, she tells me it was an emotional reaction fueled by reading Paul Ehrlich’s apocalyptic claims. In his book, “The Population Bomb,” Ehrlich wrote: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.”

CAPITALISM giveth, a vast and beautiful bounty. But it sure destroyeth a lot of stuff along the way. Rarely does a sober, even-keeled reckoning come along to illuminate the human suffering of creative destruction while gently acknowledging that this is the way it has to be.

(DPS) — On Friday, Feb. 7, at about 7:20 a.m., the Department of Public Safety received a 911 call reporting a possible burglary and theft incident at Hopwood Middle School’s temporary campus in Koblerville. DPS dispatched units to the area.

“AROUND the Islands” recently released a short documentary about the biology, history, and culture surrounding spondylus shells (you can find this episode and many more on the Marianas Variety website under the “Around the Islands” tab, or follow Around the Islands on Facebook and Instagram!). Check out the following excerpt and make sure to watch “What is Spondylus?” online for an in-depth look at the Marianas’ favorite shell!

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — President Donald Trump’s $4.8 trillion budget plan for the coming fiscal year drew a prompt rejection on Monday from congressional Democrats, who said it betrayed his promise to protect popular health and safety-net programs.

(Commonwealth Ports Authority) — On Feb.10, 2020, Saipan Tribune ran a story titled “’Impending economic storm,’” which stated that flights from China, and now Korea, have been suspended. This is incorrect.

(Press Release) — The Commonwealth Bureau of Military Affairs, the Commonwealth Ports Authority, and CNMI Homeland Security and Emergency Management are informing Commonwealth residents about the active airflow activities of military aircraft within the Mariana Islands Range Complex.

THE Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services is still investigating the cause of the fire that broke out at the typhoon-damaged Hopwood Middle School in Chalan Piao Monday afternoon.

(Press Release) — The CNMI’s first cybersecurity firm is on target to launch in the second quarter of 2020. The Latte Training Academy Inc and InteliSecure Inc. have partnered to bring a new economic driver to the CNMI. Cybersecurity is a growing and in-demand market segment within the technology industry; however the industry has suffered from a shortage of qualified professionals.

THE members of the 21st Legislature are now preparing to cut their respective funding allocations in response to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’s call for across-the-board cuts.

IN the face of a looming economic crisis due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, Imperial Pacific International CNMI LLC said it wants to reassure the public that it remains committed to the Commonwealth.

THE Board of Education’s five voting members — chairwoman Janice Tenorio, vice chairman Herman Atalig, MaryLou Ada, Andrew Orsini, and Phillip Mendiola-Long — will meet today, Wednesday, to decide whether the Public School System should file an injunction to prevent the cash-strapped central government from imposing a 25 percent budget cut on PSS.

AT the Jan. 15 White House signing ceremony for an initial trade deal with China, President Trump’s top trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, noted that his boss “has, for years, complained about our enormous trade deficit with China.” Indeed, Mr. Trump and others have long considered that gap a reflection of American economic weakness.

FOR years, the loudest voices in the climate-change conversation sounded like overwrought teenaged girls, so it is only natural that the loudest voice in the climate-change conversation eventually should be that of an actual overwrought teenaged girl, Time magazine person of the year Greta Thunberg. Why settle for Paul Krugman when you can have the real thing?

WE’RE deep into another presidential election. It’s a time when a few of the wealthiest, most cossetted and least appealing members of society try to convince us that America basically is an impoverished wasteland, filled with untold suffering and blight. The nation won’t heal itself until we put one of them in charge of its behemoth government.

IT was anyone’s game as it came down to the wire, but Islander Rent-A-Car gradually worked its way to a 78-73 victory against the GSM Hoopaholics on Sunday in the Open Division of the United Filipino Organization-IT&E Basketball League 2019 at the Gilbert C. Ada Gym.

SAIPAN International School defeated the MHS Junior team, 27-18, to earn its third win on Tuesday in the PSS Boys High School Basketball League at the Marianas High School Gym.

REGARDING Variety’s story on Tuesday, T’way Airlines said it did not refuse to fly back the woman who flew in from China to South Korea and then to Saipan where she was denied entry, Friday evening. T’way Airlines also said that the woman had a Macau — not a Hong Kong — passport.

BEIJING (The Wall Street Journal) — China’s auto makers, the world’s biggest iPhone assembler and even state-owned energy companies are using their assembly lines to pump out more face masks and other medical supplies as the country responds to a coronavirus outbreak that has spread around the world.

WASHINGTON (Press Release) — President Donald J. Trump has proposed $619 million for the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs fiscal year 2021 budget for the benefit of fellow Americans in the U.S. territories of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

(Commonwealth Utilities Corp.) — There will be a scheduled water service interruption for customers from the Twins Supermarket area in Puerto Rico to the Marina Heights building and the lower Navy Hill area on Friday, Feb. 14, from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Customers in the affected areas should expect restoration of water services soon thereafter.

IT&E continues to strengthen its bid for the playoffs after collecting its fifth win by pulling a second-half comeback against Saimar Pilot, 84-74, on Saturday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gym.

(Office of the Governor) — Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, through the Department of Commerce-Central Statistics Division in collaboration with the U.S. Census Bureau Economic Census section, are pleased to release the results of the 2017 CNMI Economic Census.

(Office of the Governor) — Thirty naval officers and about 300 sailors were on Saipan this weekend for some rest and recreation after long days of being out at sea. USS Bunker Hill CG-52 arrived on Saipan Friday morning for a port visit, 21 days after departing its San Diego homeport on January 17, 2020.

TWELVE students are participating in Marianas High School’s Project STEM, an after-school program that provides opportunities for gifted and talented children with special needs to engage in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines.

CHINESE couples who wanted to get married at the Saipan mayor’s office have cancelled their wedding following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the mayor’s marriage coordinator, Bobbi Yamada, said.

(Press Release) — The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. Crisis Counseling Program You, Us, Together, United’s or YUTU Tinian staff in collaboration with the Tinian Mayor’s Office-Scholarship Health, and Education or SHE Division, hosted a “Self-Care Day” at Tinian Elementary School on Jan. 31, 2020 to support mental, emotional, and physical health.

THE Commonwealth Utilities Corp. water and wastewater division has implemented a pressure monitoring program that aims to address the root cause of non-revenue losses, CUC Deputy Executive Director William B. Gilmore said.

(CNMI Judiciary) — On Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, the Supreme Court wing of the Guma’ Hustisia will open during regular business hours. In addition to alternate site courtrooms at the Marianas Business Plaza and the District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands, the Supreme Court courtroom will now be available for both trial and appellate court sessions.

THE Senate on Monday unanimously confirmed the appointment of Catherine Attao to the Northern Marianas Technical Institute board of trustees, and Dr. Warren Creed as member of the Health Care Professions Licensing Board.

PATRICK Hernandez Muna was arrested by the Department of Public Safety on Sunday and was brought before Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo for a bail hearing on Monday morning.

SENATOR Paul A. Manglona on Monday said Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ implementation of a 64-hour work schedule for the executive branch may be based on “unreliable financial information.”

A WOMAN believed to have visited the People’s Republic of China within the last 14 days was “removed” by U.S. Customs and Border Protection from Saipan after her arrival on Friday at the island’s international airport, an official told Variety.

(Saipan International School) — For the months of January and February, SIS has been playing host to a great group of exchange students from Korea.

NO major American political party has nominated a full-throated socialist for President. But after his strong showing in Iowa, could Bernie Sanders be the first? That’s the question Democrats have to ask as Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary approaches. Republicans may want to hold the Schadenfreude.

FRIDAY’S labor report for January was better than expected coming amid China’s coronavirus outbreak that is causing global economic uncertainty. The jobs growth trend is a testament to the U.S. economy’s resilience, though it needs a trade-war asterisk.

I HAVE been teaching economics since 1967 — 40 years of it at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. During that interval, economic reality has not changed.

(Press Release) — All people facing cancer, their family members, and caregivers are invited to the next Commonwealth Cancer Association monthly support group meeting scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 13, at 5:30 p.m. in the Hyatt Regency Chamolinian Room. The guest speaker is Helen C. Sablan, director of the CNMI State Medicaid Agency, Office of the Governor.

(Commonwealth Utilities Corp.) — There will be a scheduled water service interruption for the areas of Capital Hill 1200 Block, 1300 Block, Wireless Ridge, Eggi Drive, Marshall Loop and for customers along Capital Hill, Isa Drive to the Kagman Mobil gas station on Wednesday, Feb. 12, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Customers in the affected areas should expect restoration of water services soon thereafter.

(Press Release) — The CNMI judiciary’s electronic filing system, E-File & Serve, is currently experiencing technical difficulties.

(Press Release) — The Saipan Chamber of Commerce is excited to kick-off its first training of 2020 with a customer service seminar, facilitated by our island’s master in sales, Jim Arenovski of Island Training Solutions. With today’s economic landscape, there is no better time than now to ensure your staff is equipped with the customer service skills needed to retain and expand your customer base.

TINIAN (Press Release) — The family and friends of Master Sgt. Tiona R. Jones congratulate her upon graduation from 1st Sergeant’s School.

WILLIAM S. Reyes Elementary School held its STEM Fair from Jan. 20 to 31 to select its representatives to the CNMI-wide competition set for March 13-14 at Marianas High School.

WITH the looming across-the-board budget cuts, Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada said he is now working with the principals and teachers to come up with an “amicable solution.”

NEW YORK — Officials in China are buying up medical masks from factories that typically supply hospitals around the world, forcing global manufacturers to boost output in other places and some hospitals to ration supplies.

MY fellow taxpayers, this is your quarterly warning that Uncle Sam is not a good steward of your money. The Congressional Budget Office just released its most recent 10-year projections for federal spending and revenues. The picture is not pretty.

THE progressive party’s Iowa caucuses were a hilarious parody of progressive governance — ambitious, complex, subtle and a carnival of unintended consequences. The party that promises to fine-tune everything, from the production of wealth to the allocation of health care to the administration of education, produced a fittingly absurd climax to what surely was Iowa’s final strut as a national distraction.

BALTIMORE rang in the New Year with crime-scene tape and blood stains. Although 2019’s murder toll isn’t final yet, the city hit a 25-year high with 348 killings. In 1993, when Baltimore notched its all-time high of 353 killings, Charm City had 130,000 more residents than today. In 2020, Baltimore is shrinking as well as being violent and corrupt.

MY stepfather passed away a couple weeks ago. His death came suddenly and too soon, catching us all by surprise. He wasn’t ill or anything. It was a trying time for the family, especially my mother, so the burden of making various funeral and other arrangements fell to me.

FOR me, at least, the most grating aspect of contemporary “fact-checking” isn’t the dubious journalistic nature of the project, or the endlessly nitpicking of every Republican utterance, whether it’s particularly misleading or not. It’s the increasingly popular effort to try to credit Barack Obama for everything good that’s happened during Donald Trump’s presidency.

I HAVE been telling readers that our Governor is following #45’s (Trump) Play Book and he continues to follow the same plays with his decision to proudly say “the U.S. Senate made the right decision to not find #45 guilty.” I have seen a lot of politics in my many years but the Impeachment of #45 and the thought that our Governor are both innocent reeks of insulting our intelligence and mocking Justice.

EHROLL Peredo showed finesse on the floor during Thursday’s Masters Division game of the United Filipino Organization-IT&E Basketball League as he carried Blue Haus to a 97-63 victory against Old iSkool at the Gilbert C. Ada Gym.

SAIPAN’S only Olympic-size pool has been closed since Oct. 1, 2018, local swimmers have never stopped hitting the waters — practicing in open water or in pools when they can. But with Saipan hosting the 2021 Pacific Mini Games, the swimmers are hoping that the former Kan Pacific Swimming Pool in Marpi will be re-opened soon. Here are some of their remarks shared by Tsunami Saipan head coach Hiro Kimura via email:

MAJURO — The Marshall Islands on Friday issued an indefinite ban on all international travel by government employees and elected leaders to reduce risk of importing the coronavirus now affecting over 34,000 people in 28 countries and territories.

MAJURO — Two Marshall Islanders died from dengue fever this week at Majuro hospital emphasizing the severity of the outbreak now in its eighth month.

WHO: All NMDs are invited to attend.

What: Northern Marianas Descent Corporation General Membership Meeting

When: February 10, 2020 (Monday) 6 p.m.

Where: Carolinian Utt Pavilion Agenda (1) Public Lands Lease Extension; (2) Proposed Public Lands Lease Sliding Scale Fees

(Office of the Governor) — The executive branch announced on Friday that it will implement a 64-hour work schedule beginning on March 15, 2020 and reinforce ongoing cost-containment measures. CNMI retirees’ pensions remain unaffected.
Under Directive 2020-002, business hours for departments and agencies under the executive branch will be closed during every Friday beginning March 20, 2020 until further notice.
The directive is a result of lingering economic effects of Super Typhoon Yutu and the substantial adverse impact of the current novel coronavirus outbreak in China. While there is no presence of novel coronavirus in the CNMI, temporary suspensions of flights from China have led to a significant loss of economic activity and revenue.
“This outbreak has essentially brought our tourism industry to a standstill for an undetermined period, causing a severe disruption in revenue and affecting many of our local businesses and residents accordingly,” said Gov. Ralph DLG Torres. “As a government, we have to adapt and make adjustments for this unforeseen circumstance.”
The Secretary of Finance has formally recommended to revise the annual revenue estimate for FY 2020 by a reduction of 20.7 percent and budgetary resources by 28.3 percent for the remainder of the fiscal year. This reduces revenue estimates for FY 2020 by $48,387,717.
Both the executive and legislative branches of government are now working together to implement these reductions. The Office of Personnel Management and the Office of the Attorney General have been directed to work with all departments and agencies to ensure that all civil, excepted and exempted service employees are properly notified and advised of the modified work schedule.
“These are challenging times, but we understand that almost every economy in the Asia-Pacific region are experiencing revenue downturns. This decision to reduce work hours are attributed to factors outside of our control,” said Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios.
“In order to keep essential public services like education and public safety intact, we had to lay all options on the table and determine our priorities as a government. We have had to make cuts of this size in order to protect our retirees’ pensions, which provide for their basic needs. Since 2015, we have kept that commitment to ensure their full pensions, and we will continue to meet that as much as we can,” said Governor Torres.
Lt. Governor Palacios noted that it is unfortunate that certain members in the community are spreading rumors of a cut to pensions, but he indicated that it is not the case.
“Unfortunately, there are people out there that have been painting a picture that we made that decision. That’s not the case. We continue to be mindful to give retirees their full pensions, but at the end of the day, we continue to look at our priorities with the limited resources we now have as a result of this coronavirus outbreak,” he added.
“While we understand that public health is at the top of our priorities, financial recovery is being done, so that we can eventually revert back to a normal work schedule. Lt. Governor Palacios and I appreciate all our government employees for their patience during these financial challenges and for their continued commitment to serve the people of the Marianas,” said Governor Torres.
In addition to a reduction in work hours, the executive branch will be reinforcing cost-containment measures through hiring freezes, overtime and travel restrictions, fuel and utility conservation, and government procurement.
“The executive branch together with the Legislature have determined a collective approach to addressing these challenges head-on, because this is what a responsible government should do in challenging times. We will continue to work to promote the Marianas as a world-class destination to our other source markets, economic and financial recovery are at the forefront of our policy initiatives, so that we can return to normalcy,” said Governor Torres and Lt. Governor Palacios.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — President Donald Trump was acquitted on Wednesday in his U.S. Senate impeachment trial, saved by fellow Republicans who rallied to protect him nine months before he asks voters in a deeply divided America to give him a second White House term.

(NMHC) — Officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Denver, and Hawaii offices were on island, Feb. 4-5, to conduct the first Grantee Strategy Launch, a series of focused technical assistance or TA training on the ground aimed at 2018 and 2019 new grantees under the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery Program.

(Press Release) — Bank of Guam has established an account to receive donations for the victims of the Taal volcano eruption in the Philippines. Working with the Batangas Southern Tagalog Association of Guam, funds raised will be sent directly to the Batangas Family Association in the Philippines for immediate assistance.

(Office of the Governor) — In an effort to strengthen our connection with our counterparts in the mainland and improve services provided to our CNMI Veterans, Executive Officer of Veterans Affairs Stanley T. Iakopo recently met with Veterans Affairs Honolulu Regional Office Benefit Supervisor Eric S. Gaskins and Veterans Affairs Honolulu Regional Office Director Sergio S. Chao, who is responsible for the delivery of VA benefits and services to Veterans and their dependents in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, and the CNMI.

REPRESENTATIVES from the non-profit organization Leadership in Disabilities and Achievement of Hawaii conducted training for the Division of Youth Services-Child Protective Services workers so they can better help and respond to children with special needs.

(BECQ) — The Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality analyzes water samples collected from Saipan’s east and south recreational beaches this week as part of the regularly scheduled sampling.

(CNMI Emergency Operations Center State Warning Point) — Based on the information received from the National Weather Service, there has been a brief increase in north swell and this will cause hazardous surf at Tinian and Saipan.

(CHCC) — The Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation-Bureau of Environmental Health has been selected to participate as a mentee local health department in the National Association of City & County Health Officials’ Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards Mentorship Program.

(Press Release) — On February 5, 2020, the Commonwealth Ports Authority received notice from Hong Kong Express that the airline will suspend all flights from Feb. 6, 2020 to March 28, 2020.

THE Department of Public Lands on Thursday informed the House Committee on Natural Resources that it will issue a request for proposals for the long-term lease of the Marpi public land where the former Mariana Resort & Spa is located.

E.J. Kahn Jr., in his amusing 1966 book “A Reporter in Micronesia,” wrote that for some Trust Territory islanders, President John F. Kennedy was “their best American friend in this or any other world.”

You can’t repeal arithmetic…

LAWMAKERS seeking reelection this year all agree. The governor, not the Legislature, should cut the FY 2020 budget based on the new (and dismal) revenue projection — an estimated $40 million reduction.

TRYING to dislodge a president whose approval ratings have been stuck well below 50 percent for virtually his entire presidency, in an atmosphere of economic effervescence, Democrats would be smart to signal voters that they won’t bring about major policy shifts but will restore decorous behavior.

IT was a battle of equals as the game was filled with exciting exchanges, but when it mattered most, it was PPG Paint that pulled through with the clutch shots to beat Saipan Vegas 74-70 on Sunday in the Masters Division of the United Filipino Organization-IT&E Basketball League at the Gilbert C. Ada Gym.

“GROWING up, I remember participating in various sports until I fell in love with basketball,” Gold’s Gym personal trainer Jerry Diaz said in an interview with Variety. “I have two young daughters and I want them exposed to sports such as soccer, basketball, baseball, football, paddling, swimming, karate, and mixed martial arts.”

TARAWA, Kiribati (Press Release) — The Ministry of Health & Medical Services of the Republic of Kiribati has updated its health travel advisory in relation to the 2019 novel coronavirus.

From the ruins of a storm, an Oasis emerged at Saipan World Resort and now all are invited to share this unique and relaxing experience minus the entrance fee.

Fire up your New Year health and wellness goals at Gold’s Gym Saipan, the islands’ most extensive fitness experience and reach your goals more successfully than ever before.

Changing into or maintaining a healthier lifestyle is made a whole lot easier with local restaurant Caravan in Garapan.

Energy plays a big role in getting fit and healthy and one local company is making sure you get the best form of energy, pure and simple.

Hopwood Middle School — not MHS as earlier reported — students perform a traditional Chamorro dance during the Chamorro and Carolinian Language Heritage Studies Performing Arts Competition at Saipan Southern High School on Jan. 25, 2020.

(Press Release) — This is to inform all parents, guardians, and the community that the Kagman unified schools February PTSA meeting has been moved to Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. The venue is the Kagman High School cafeteria, starting at 5:30 p.m. We are encouraging all parents, and guardians to attend this meeting. Child care will be provided.

DES MOINES, Iowa/LACONIA, N.H. (Reuters) — Pete Buttigieg took a narrow lead on Tuesday in the first batch of long-delayed results from the chaotic Iowa Democratic Party caucuses, and former Vice President Joe Biden trailed badly in fourth place with about 62 percent of precincts reporting.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Public Health officials held a press conference Wednesday morning where they reiterated there were no cases of novel coronavirus on Guam.

(BECQ) — The Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality analyzes water samples collected from Saipan’s west coast recreational beaches and storm drainages on the west coast every Tuesday.

GOVERNOR Ralph DLG Torres, Marianas Visitor Authority marketing manager Thomas Kim, and Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.-Public Health and Preparedness Program coordinator BJ Nicholas on Wednesday briefed members of the business community about the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak.

THE Monday night caucuses were the biggest moment in four years for Iowa Democratic Party. They messed it up beyond belief. They had one task: to produce timely, accurate, and reliable vote totals, and they failed completely. TV anchors sat around filling time, waiting for Godot to show up with election returns. None appeared. The candidates themselves began flying off to New Hampshire for next week’s primary.

(Press Release) — The Marianas Writers Movement is continuing with its Saturday workshops. Each workshop will be two hours, beginning at 1:30 PM in the VTC Room of the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — On Monday, Guam Community College announced the approval of its first four-year bachelor’s degree program, focusing on Career Technical Education.

(CHCC) — The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. is continuing to monitor the ongoing outbreak of the novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV which began in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, in December 2019, and which has now spread across mainland China.

IN his reply to the defendant’s objection to proposed jury instruction No. 1, Assistant U.S. Attorney Garth Backe said the federal court “should rule, prior to opening statements and outside the presence of the jury, that the [U.S.] government can proceed on both a false statement and false representation theory in this case.”

NOBODY knows what market distortions the Federal Reserve’s prolonged ultra-low interest rates are creating, but count progressive local governments as big winners. Behold how Puerto Rico on Lake Michigan, otherwise known as Chicago, is financing budget deficits and public pensions with cheap debt.

IN the immediate aftermath of the FBI executing the issuance of Federal Search Warrants on Governor Torres and his cohorts, the community was in shocked disbelief that such a situation would befall upon the Governor in our simple islands holding the highest office of trust and honor.

MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer) — Overseas Filipino workers or OFWs who are presently in the Philippines for a vacation will not be allowed to go back to their places of work in China, Hong Kong and Macau amid the novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV threat.

APIA (Samoa Observer/Pacnews) — Despite generating more than seven megawatts of power and being hailed as an answer to blackouts, Samoa’s solar power plants are unable to steer the country through its electrical state of emergency.

(MVA) — Star Marianas Air, in cooperation with the Marianas Visitors Authority and the Tinian Mayor’s Office, will extend its normal hours of operation during the 16th Annual Tinian Hot Pepper Festival slated for Feb. 15-16, 2020.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — With the first of two minimum wage increases set to take effect on March 1, small-business owners said an increase in consumer prices is unavoidable.

TINIAN — On Jan. 29, 2020, U.S. Army Recruiter Staff Sgt. Michael A. Ryan arrived at Tinian Jr./Sr. High School to evaluate the JROTC Stallion Battalion in preparation for the triennial JROTC program accreditation or JPA which is scheduled for December. The last JPA occurred in December 2017, and the Stallion Battalion received a 97 percent rating, allowing the unit to receive its gold star, better known as the “Honor Unit with Distinction.”

(DPS) — On Thursday, Jan. 31, 2020, at about 10:50 p.m., the Department of Public Safety received a 911 call reporting a possible pedestrian accident on Beach Road, in front of the KFC and Taco Bell restaurants in Susupe. The caller added that he was calling for the victim. DPS dispatched units to the area.

MOUNT Carmel School president Dr. Galvin Deleon Guerrero said MCS plans to establish a performing arts center, which will be the home for the performing arts in the Marianas.

(Commonwealth Ports Authority) — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has scheduled for publication a “Notification of Arrival Restrictions Applicable to Flights Carrying Persons Who Have Recently Traveled from or were otherwise present within the People’s Republic of China.” The notification is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on February 4, 2020.

DUE to the looming financial crisis in the CNMI following the reduction of flights as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak, the Saipan Higher Education Financial Assistance board is contemplating to “temporarily” stop providing merit incentives to scholarship recipients.

ELIZABETH Warren (D., Rolling Stone) wants to own the nerd lane. “I have a plan for that!” is practically her campaign slogan, and her tedious promises to “nerd out” are calculated to appeal to the intellectual vanity of Democratic primary voters, NPR-listening types who like to think of themselves as the smart people.

WHILE pressing her agenda to expand means-tested welfare programs, Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is claiming that the federal government’s poverty statistics vastly undercount the number of Americans who are “destitute.”

THE old becomes the new. The Iowa caucuses are set for Feb. 3rd, CST, and Bernie Sanders, born in September 1941, three months before Pearl Harbor, leads the RealClearPolitics average of recent polls by 4 points in Iowa, 10 points in New Hampshire, and 5 points in the biggest delegate prize, the Super Tuesday-voting California.

BEN Duenas started the new year strong by claiming the Amigos Golf Club’s January Ace of the Month title after he shot a two-day total net score of 139 over the weekend at the Kingfisher Golf Links.

RAE — not Regina — Camacho won the gold in the Marianas Cup Weightlifting Tournament on Saturday.