Northern Marianas

Volcanic haze from Hawaii reaches CNMI and Guam

The National Weather Service in Guam says residents should continue to monitor information from their service as well as the local emergency management offices.

It says people with respiratory health problems should minimise time outdoors when the haze is evident.

Mariners and pilots have also been warned to be aware of the slightly lower visibility.

Satellite imagery shows a dense plume of haze spanning the central Pacific that becomes more diffused closer to the Marianas.

The haze is being carried along by the east-northeast trade winds.


CNMI cat killing video goes viral

The video has prompted animal rights activists to call for legislation making animal abuse a crime.

On Wednesday, the Bureau of Environmental Health suspended the operation of Happiness Chinese Restaurant on Saipan after it was found in violation of sanitary regulations.

The suspension was not prompted by the video or claims the establishment was serving cat meat.

An anti-animal cruelty bill to protect cats and dogs that are house pets is currently languishing in the CNMI Senate after passing the House last year.

Northern Marianas to host 'lean and simple' Mini Games in 2021

Saipan will host the 2021 Mini Games and President of the Northern Marianas Sports Association, Michael White, said all sporting facilities are already in place except for the toilet and shower blocks, which need federal funding.

He said this month's Mini Games in Vanuatu set a very high bar and were more upscale than what they have planned.

"We have all of our sporting facilities in place - we've organised international competition in virtually every sport that we're going to offer," he said.

CNMI in need of 911 system - top emergency official

Mr Norita's comments come after the response time to a recent household fire came under scrutiny from family members.

He said the CNMI currently has no specialised system to handle emergency calls.

"Currently it's just telephone lines, that's all it is," he said.

CNMI opposition to marine sanctuary

In a letter to President Barack Obama, a Marianas Conservation member John Gourley said turning the Marianas Trench into a sanctuary on top of being a marine national monument will give the CNMI less access to natural resources and minerals in the area.

Under that set-up the CNMI would need to obtain permission from the federal government twice - one for the trench being a national monument and another for the trench being a marine sanctuary- before its people can fish or mine in waters around the Marianas Trench.

Concerns at CNMI hotel building site after injuries

A construction worker dying of a heart attack and about 80 serious injuries have been recorded at the construction site of the 190-million, 373-room Imperial Pacific Resort on Saipan.

The US Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez has requested the federal court to issue a warrant to inspect the construction project after an Occupational Safety and Health Administration tried, but was denied entry.

MCC International Saipan Ltd, which operates the construction site for Hong Kong-based Imperial Pacific International, reported that an onsite worker had a heart attack.

CNMI's Tinian hotel to stay open

The closure of the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino had been announced at the beginning of the month, citing losses suffered as a result of a typhoon in August.

However in a letter to Tinian's mayor, Hong Kong Entertainment chair Wai Chan announced that the premises will stay open.

Tinian Dynasty, which opened in 1998, has 412 guest rooms, is Tinian's biggest employer and taxpayer.

CNMI legislature approves $145m budget

The bill is due to be signed off by the end of the month to avoid a government shutdown.

The Inos administration has raised some concerns about the budget including unclear funding of a five percent salary increase for law enforcement personnel.

There is also concern that benefits outlined for some Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation employees are not funded.

The cut in the Marianas Visitors Authority's budget from $US2.5 million to $US1 million may also be an issue.

CNMI gets over US$25m typhoon assistance

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has given just over $20 million in assistance to households on the island.

In addition the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved nearly $5.9 million in low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, and businesses.

The bulk of the federal funding has gone on household assistance, covering rents and repairs.

It has also provided money for items such as uninsured damage to an essential vehicle, disaster-related moving and storage expenses, and some medical and dental costs.

CNMI airline cuts hours, lays off staff

Star Marianas Air which flies between Tinian and Saipan has reduced its hours and let go of about 10 percent of its staff on Tinian, with more to be retrenched in the coming days.

The Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino is expected to close down before the end of September.

The airline's president Shaun Christian says the resort's anticipated closure has substantially reduced the number of travellers between the islands.

He says hopes of a solution that would encourage the hotel to stay open are quickly fading and the cuts are necessary to keep the airline viable.