Friday, October 31, 2008

Guam Humanities Council Receives Grant To Examine The U.S. Military Buildup

Written by Josh Tyquiengco, Pacific News Center - Guam, Saipan, CNMI, Asia-Pacific

Saturday, 01 November 2008 10:00

Guam- Thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities "We The People" Initiative, The Guam Humanities Council will get to document how impending military build up will change the island.

The new project is entitled, "8000, How Will It Change Our Lives: Community Conversations on the US Military Build up on Guam."

This open dialogue encourages island residents to look closely at the 2014 relocation of military personnel and their families to the island.

The GHC says the National Endowment initiative emphasizes support of projects that strengthen the teaching, study and understanding of American history and culture.

Native Radio Building Community

Native Radio Building Community
In These Times
September 27, 2008

For many communities — especially the country’s Native American tribes — radio still promises a way to spread news, share stories and support a cultural or regional identity.
By Mike Janssen

As new technologies take hold in the marketplace — and in the minds of consumers — old media are starting to look, well, older. FM radio is no exception. The debut of new cell phones that deliver audio applications spurred predictions of radio’s demise.

But for many communities, radio still promises a way to spread news, share stories and support a cultural or regional identity. This is especially true for the country’s Native American tribes, which have seized a rare chance to start new radio stations as a way of strengthening their communities.

Last fall, many Native people joined hundreds of schools, activists, churches and nonprofit groups that applied for new noncommercial FM stations with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Most of these applications were for frequencies in smaller towns and rural areas. (Radio spectrum in larger cities is too crowded to accommodate new signals).

Because the FCC had not accepted applications for noncommercial stations in more than seven years, demand was high.

Working to help tribal applicants was Native Public Media (NPM), a spin-off of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, which advocates on behalf of community stations across the country. NPM focuses on all media, not just radio. One of its goals is to increase Native access to broadband Internet.

But even in the Internet era, radio still suits the needs of Native communities, says Loris Ann Taylor, NPM’s executive director. Cheap and ubiquitous, radio is easily accessible to the poor, the illiterate and the low-tech. Radio also covers great distances instantaneously, making it particularly valuable for tribal communities in far-flung villages.

In Alaska, Native communities use radio to exchange personal messages and keep abreast of potentially dangerous weather.

“Radio really reaches across those barriers,” Taylor says. “In Indian country, radio still works.”

For Taylor, empowering Native communities with their own stations also carries a deeper significance. Through locally controlled media, tribal communities gain the power to reflect their Native cultures back to each other — a right denied them throughout decades of persecution and genocide. Taylor still remembers the grade-school teacher who pinched her hand if she spoke her Hopi language in class.

“What I find really important about my work is that radio allows us to be who we want to be,” she says. “It’s like freedom.”

Many noncommercial stations around the country focus on community issues. This is especially true of Native stations, which cover topics such as health, education and the environment; feature locally programmed music; and broadcast in Native languages that in some places are spoken by very few people.

With help from Native Public Media, 37 Native nations applied for 51 radio stations last fall. None of the applicants currently operates a station, according to Taylor. Even if some of those applicants fail in their bid for licenses, Native radio could double its U.S. presence. (There are 33 Native stations on the air now.)

It could also branch out geographically. No tribal stations broadcast east of the Mississippi, but last fall’s applicants included the Seneca tribe of New York and the Houma of Louisiana.

So far, 12 tribes have received FCC clearance to build stations. Many are now looking for startup funds, pricing equipment costs and planning programming.

One is South Dakota’s Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe, which once operated a radio station but lost the license when it failed to meet annual FCC requirements. Its drive to regain a station began at the urging of a few tribal members who run an Internet station, says Garryl Rousseau, chair of the new FM station’s board.

Many of the tribe’s 6,000 members want the station to promote their Dakota language, Rousseau says, which is in need of a boost. In a 2003 survey, less than 10 percent of members rated their command of Dakota as either “fluent” or “good,” and half said they couldn’t speak a word.

“It hasn’t gotten any better,” says Rousseau. He envisions a radio station that could partner with tribal schools to develop language education programs.

Other tribes face a longer wait to see whether they will receive broadcast licenses, as the FCC sorts out conflicts involving multiple applicants vying for competing frequencies. Among these applicants are the Coeur d’Alene tribe of northern Idaho, where Valerie Fast Horse, the director of information technology, learned of the opportunity to start a station through Taylor. (Both serve on the telecommunications committee of the National Congress of American Indians, an organization of tribal governments made up of 250 member tribes).

The Coeur d’Alene reservation covers 345,000 acres and is home to 2,000 tribal members who have no radio station that provides programming about their region or culture, Fast Horse says. They get their news from a station in Spokane, Wash.

Fast Horse says she envisions a radio station that covers local sports, tribal government and the Coeur d’Alene’s culture, music, language and history. The station could also deliver news about forest fires and heavy snowstorms.

And perhaps, most importantly, it could help improve the tribe’s relationship with non-Native neighbors. The Coeur d’Alene recently encountered friction with a group of nearby residents over control of resources, says Fast Horse.

“We need to tell our own stories about ourselves in a way that’s suitable to us,” she says. “Others can say what they want — it could be favorable or unfavorable. If we can tell our story, people have another voice to listen to.” 

Mike Janssen is a freelance writer and editor based in the Washington, D.C. area. His articles frequently appear in Current newspaper, the trade newspaper covering public broadcasting. His website is

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pacific Pulse


SUVA (FDP Online/Pacific Media Watch): Chief executive of Australia Network, Bruce Dover, yesterday announced the launch of a unique new television programme, Pacific Pulse, as part of Australia Network’s ongoing commitment to providing relevant content to its viewers.

Australia Network currently runs on Fiji One after normal local programming hours. It was originally Australia Television and later ABC Asia Pacific.

“A weekly feature-style television programme which will reflect the people, the personalities and the places which make the Pacific truly unique, Pacific Pulse will go beyond the headlines to explore the many other stories of this diverse, vibrant region,” a statement released yesterday by Australia Network said.

“Pacific Pulse will give Pacific viewers a new insight and perspective on local events and issues that matter to them,” said Dover.

Pacific Pulse will be co-presented by Tania Nugent, the face of Australia Network’s Nexus program, and Clement Paligaru, whose voice is recognised across the Pacific as a former presenter of Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat and current co-presenter of In the Loop, and will feature contributions from respected Pacific specialists.

“I am delighted with Australian Network launching Pacific Pulse – a program that captures the soul of the Pacific and offers an optimistic perspective,” said Murray Green, director, ABC International.

“This is another example of Australia Network’s ongoing commitment to providing relevant and engaging content for the Pacific,” Green added.

Tania Nugent, one of the presenters of the newly launched Pacific Pulse television programme, said they would be giving audiences “informative, entertaining and stimulating content” but more importantly, they would be providing “more than the headlines for our viewers".

Australia Network will also be providing viewers with a new evening Pacific News Bulletin, led by Australia Network’s correspondent, Sean Dorney, who has reported extensively on Pacific issues for three decades.

Pacific Pulse will be broadcast across the Pacific from November 1, on Australia Network.

It will broadcast in Fiji beginning this Sunday at 9.20pm (Sky Pacific and Fiji One later).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

First Our Land, Now Our Ocean

ben's Pen: First our land, now our ocean
28 October 2008
by Sen. Ben Pangelinan
Guam Variety News

First they liberated us from the Japanese. It was a brutal occupation where lives were lost and the people suffered tremendously at the hands of the oppressors and occupiers.

For this the people were eternally grateful and when they said they needed our lands to ensure that such an occupation would never occur again in our lifetime, willingly, a grateful generation surrendered up the lands.

For most of that grateful generation, time is now eternal. They have passed from this earth and are now in a place of eternal rest.

Those remaining behind have seen the truth, no longer colored with gratefulness. The treatment and injustices have erased the goodwill of liberation.

And now they come for more. This time, they want our ocean and deny us of its bounty, which have supported our lives and our families through thousands of years. They want to preserve and conserve, but we have done this for centuries. The only reason they can make such a case today is because we have successfully done so for hundreds of years. But they want to dictate once again on their terms.

But this time, we are not hampered by gratefulness. Among us are vigilant citizens and responsible stewards of our resources.

Mr. Manny Duenas of the Fisherman's Co-op and the other members of the fishing community of Guam who took the initiative to learn about and spread the information regarding President Bush's proposed establishment of a Conservation Area surrounding the Marianas Trench are such.

Ever watchful, the recent meeting was not called by any federal or local government office or elected official, but was organized solely by the community-minded efforts of Manny and others.

Manny and others printed colored maps of the areas potentially affected, comment forms, the August memorandum from President Bush initiating the process, and other relevant information so that we on Guam could quickly educate ourselves and comment before the deadline which was only days away.

His direct efforts resulted in the attendance of NOOA officials, a representative of the federal Council for Environmental Quality, Congresswoman Bordallo, and many of our local fishermen and community members.

The information Manny presented at the meeting, and in particular the President's memorandum, immediately confirmed that restrictions resulting from the establishment of a conservation area of such great scale and without little input on the eve of the largest increase in military activity and equipment in US history affecting the same land and ocean area would "not limit the Department of Defense from carrying out the mission of the various branches of the military stationed or operating within the Pacific."

I object to any further restriction of the local people, especially Guam fishermen, from access to these areas while the military and other international or US commercial access continues.

A matter with tremendous significance for not only the fishermen but for ALL of the people of Guam should have been brought to us and our input solicited by government representatives with more resources for public education purposes, and especially by the federal agencies purporting to work with Guam on matters regarding our oceans, our environment, and our economic viability.

I am proud of and commend these private citizens who despite the odds against the people of Guam having an impact on federal action by the President in this case, are not only brave enough and love Guam enough to stand up for themselves but to also make the great effort to invite and assist all of us on Guam to speak up for ourselves.

They are truly public servants and public leaders.

ben pangelinan is a Senator in the 29th Guam Legislature and a former Speaker now serving his seventh term in the Guam Legislature. E-mail comments or suggestions to

Land Swap Deal for Jinapsan and Urunao Landowners

After years of waiting for access road, Yigo residents swap deal
By Clynt Ridgell
Published Oct 29, 2008

KUAM News has confirmed that Congresswoman Madeline Bordallo held a meeting this week between federal officials and the various families that own land in Urunao and Jinapsan. The reason was a proposed land swap that the original landowners aren't too happy about.

Families who own land on both sides of Ritidian Point - the Urunao side and the Jinapsan side of the Yigo area - have had land problems for decades now. The most recent problem deals with the families who own land on Jinapsan, a beachside property basically surrounded by Andersen Air Force Base property. The only way to get on is through the base and all the security checkpoints. After the terrorist attack that occurred on September 11, 2001 the Star Sand Resort, owned by one of the resident families, had to close because they could no longer bring customers on base to get to their beach resort.

Juan Flores's family used to own land in what is now the Ritidian Wildlife Refuge. He is also related to the families that own Urunao and Jinapsan. Congresswoman Bordallo says that after 9/11 landowners with businesses like the Star Sand Resort had to close down because of the stricter security on base. Since then she began working on a way to find another way to access the property the problem is that much of the properties are surrounded by what is called "native forest", a natural habitat that the federal government or fish and wildlife to be exact is trying to preserve.

This made it unfeasible to build the type of access road that the Jinapsan property owners wanted. Flores said, "Then the Fish and Wildlife people decided that, well, maybe we can swap land they're the ones who made this determination and they were the ones who selected this area. And it's a parcel of property in Urunao."

The local government, according to Bordallo, wanted for the Jinapsan land owners to swap land with those who owned land along the Urunao side of Ritidian Point. This is something the landowners didn't agree with. "These are all interrelated families, so the Jinapsan families are saying 'Why should we swap land?' when they also own part of Ritidian," said the delegate.

Bordallo says she knew that this swap wouldn't fly, but decided to call a meeting to get all the families together to try and resolve the situation. She says it would include the Air Force, Fish and Wildlife, and the Federal Highway Administration. These families have a deadline of December 3 to decide whether or not they want to swap properties. If they choose not to Bordallo says things will remain pretty much status quo although they will try to build some sort of access road.

"We did obtain $3 million for an access to the old property and we're going to try to do the Highway people that were present there said they were going to try to do something to build a maybe a kind of a temporary access into the properties," Bordallo continued.

But Flores countered, "Our big question is why, why was this thing initiated? To protect the dead birds?" He's not buying the reason given by the federal government - namely that Fish and Wildlife wants to declare the Jinapsan area as a critical habitat and give the owners there land at Urunao.

He has a different theory, saying, "The military is coming in and who knows? We're not dumb. Maybe they will turn Ritidian as part of their recreational beach area for the military, for their dependents. I don't want you to get me wrong, I don't mind the military here, but leave us alone. Leave our land alone. Give us back what we actually deserve. That's all we're asking for."

U.S. Fish and Wildlife's Chris Bandy stated that if land was exchanged, the Urunao critical habitat would be lifted and transferred to Jinapsan. He also said that it was merely an attempt by his agency to afford the landowners another way to run a business while at the same time protecting habitat for the endangered Micronesian Kingfisher, the Marianas Crow and the Fanihi.

Meanwhile, AAFB also commented, stating that they support the congresswoman's and other federal agencies' efforts to provide business opportunities for Jinapasan families. The Air Force added they have provided unrestricted access to these families for the last seven years.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Websites Promote U.S. Citizenship For Korean Babies Via Guam

(Pacific Daily News)

A Taiwanese-born doctor, now naturalised U.S. citizen in Guam says he has been approached by tour agents about bringing in pregnant South Korean's to have babies born on Guam, reports the Pacific Daily News.

The agents are using two web sites -- and -- to lure the Korean mothers.

Dr. Thomas Shieh, an obstetrician and gynecologist, said he was first contacted four years ago and then again this summer but turned them down.

The site outlines a step-by-step process for expectant moms: (1) Get prenatal care in South Korea; (2) Give birth at Guam Memorial Hospital;(3) Get a passport and Social Security number in Guam within a week after birth; and (4) Go back to Korea in two to three weeks.

'Antiquities Act the wrong tool'

By Stefan Sebastian
Business Editor

Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU) is urging the White House to conserve the waters around the CNMI's northern islands under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, a statute that requires public and business sector consultations on management issues, rather than unilaterally designating the region as a national monument.

Bordallo's letter comes after local leaders in the CNMI long opposed to the Bush administration's proposal to establish a monument in the waters at issue, including Gov. Benigno Fitial, softened their stance last week in meetings with White House Council on Environmental Quality chief James Connaughton.

Talks will likely continue on the plan if measures to restore the CNMI's control over near-shore ocean resources-which it lost in a recent federal court case-play a part in them, a government spokesman has said, but the governor and other key figures are for now declining to give it their support.

In her Oct. 24 letter to Connaughton, Bordallo says that President Bush's plan to establish the proposed monument under the Antiquities Act would exclude economic interests and local communities from decision-making when it comes to how the waters would be managed. The Sanctuaries Act, she says, would serve as a more open way to craft a conservation plan for the region.

“I view retention of local flexibility to manage our marine resources in a way that balances the protections needed for sustainable marine resources with a thriving economy as an important sovereignty issue,” she writes. “The process in place under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, which involves formal public consultation of stakeholders, is a far better process that could be used to assess the merits of these proposals.”

Bordallo adds that local fisheries should remain under the control of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which regulates fisheries, and regional fisheries management councils.

“In short, where local conservation efforts have proven successful, I believe we should employ existing administrative processes that provide a proper role for ongoing local involvement in the management of our precious marine resources,” she writes. “I am extremely concerned that the process that is being employed now, in the last weeks of the Bush Administration, does not provide for adequate public input, let alone adequate congressional oversight.”

President Bush is expected to issue a decision on the monument issue before he leaves office in January.

Talks on impact of Guam buildup moves forward

Representatives of various CNMI environmental agencies are in Guam this week to take part in the sixth round of partnering sessions, in preparation for the impending military buildup.

Approximately 80 people, including officials from the CNMI's Coastal Resources Management Office, Division of Fish and Wildlife and the Tinian Mayor's Office, are taking part in the session, lasting through tomorrow.

“The entire meetings are designed to prepare the environmental activities necessary for the transfer of the Marines from Okinawa to Guam and the CNMI. The primary focus is on environmental issues,” said John Joyner, director of CNMI Coastal Resources Management Office.

Under the proposed Guam military buildup, approximately 8,000 U.S. Marines and 9,000 dependents will be transferred from Okinawa, Japan, to Guam. Construction of new defense facilities is slated to start in 2010, with the relocation to be completed in 2014. The cost of new infrastructure to be built could exceed $10 billion.

Although the focus of the relocation effort is in Guam, the program involves using Tinian and possibly Pagan and other parts of the CNMI’s northern islands, as a military training site.

There are several environmental issues that will arise from such a large-scale move, Joyner said. Concerns about infrastructure, roads, transportation, solid waste disposal, landfill concerns, health care needs and schools are just some of the issues being discussed.

“Whatever takes in moving that large amount of people in that short amount of time, that's what we're discussing,” he said.

The first meeting between the agencies took place two years ago, Joyner said, and it continue to be an ongoing discussion.

“It's a work in progress,” he said. “When we first began it was the whole matter of how do we get to know each other. A move of this nature is an ongoing work. It's probably one of the most humongous activities the U.S. military has gone through. As a result there is no specific plan laid out to follow. So you have to.those of us in the military and non-military, we have to work together and work with this as an unfolding, developing concept.”

Joyner said the next partnering session would probably be in February on Tinian.

Taotao Tano: Abolish Indigenous Affairs Office

Wednesday, 29 October 2008 00:00 By Junhan B. Todeno - Variety News Staff

TAOTAO Tano leader Greg Cruz wants the Office of the Indigenous Affairs abolished, but Press Secretary Charles P. Reyes Jr. says this can only be done through the Legislature.

“Mr. Cruz…should appeal to the Legislature for legislation to effect such a change,” Reyes said.

Cruz said the office has two staff members and no funding for any of its program.

“We believe that this office is only functioning to satisfy special interest groups, constituent’s payroll and benefits and not serving or helping our people at all,” Cruz said.

He said the office was created to coordinate the development, adoption and translation of a comprehensive history of the Marianas, and to ensure local participation in executive managerial decision-making in the government and private sector.

The office, he added, was supposed to assist and promote local entrepreneurial development, establish a community foundation for the advancement of the indigenous people, coordinate the translation and distribution of official documents such as the CNMI Constitution and the Covenant

Moreover, Cruz said, the office is supposed to plan for the establishment of an indigenous cultural center and an indigenous hall of fame, while coordinating an annual cultural festival, developing and implementing a long-range plan to assist and promote the entry of the indigenous people into professional and technical institutions of higher education, and serving as an advocate of positions taken by indigenous people on CNMI issues.

According to Reyes, “If it is a constitutional office, a constitutional amendment may be needed, in which case Mr. Cruz may circulate an initiative petition or persuade the Legislature to pass an initiative for the voters to consider.”

Bordallo, Guam residents say no to Marianas monument

Wednesday, 29 October 2008 00:00 By Therese Hart - Variety News Staff

HAGÅTÑA — Over 800 individually signed letters were submitted to Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo on Monday opposing the Marianas Trench monument proposal.

In addition, over 2,000 e-mails from the Billfish Foundation and 200 e-mails from local fishermen and those opposing the creation of the marine national monument in the Marianas were submitted to the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Bordallo, D-Guam, said on Monday that she opposed the use of the Antiquities Act to create marine national monuments.

“The president’s use of the Antiquities Act does not take into consideration the public consultation of stakeholders in the creation of a marine national monument,” Bordallo said.

She sent a letter last Friday to James Connaughton of the President’s Council on Environmental Quality stating her position.

“I received from Manny Duenas and the Guam Fisherman’s Cooperative Association over 800 letters from residents of Guam and the CNMI. I will be sending these immediately to Washington, D.C. and my office will deliver them to Chairman Connaughton,” said Bordallo.

Manny Duenas, president of the co-op, said that although the deadline to submit letters and petitions was Monday, he and his group will continue receiving testimony and submit them to the congresswoman’s office.

“We’re going to continue to collect original signed letters from people and offer our concerns over the issues for Guam and the whole Marianas,” Duenas said.

The Billfish Foundation, a non-profit organization, was founded in 1986 with a mission of conserving billfish worldwide.

“The Billfish Foundation promotes recreational fishing and conservation measures for responsible fisheries management. They feel that the president’s order is very discriminatory and the implication that the foundation is part of this so-called ‘destructive fishing practice’ that Pew and other organizations are putting forth to the world and that this is what’s going on in the Marianas is not true,” Duenas said.

He added that recreational fishing in the Marianas never has and never will equate to destructive fishing or mineral extraction practices.

Local fishermen said they are not responsible for over-fishing in regional surrounding waters and should not be penalized for the acts in other jurisdictions that use equipment and practices that do not support sustainable use or responsible conservation and management of fishing practices.

Chamoru Summit stresses indigenous leadership

Guam’s News Network

By Ronna Sweeny
(Ken Quintanilla contributed to this report)

With the hope of uniting and educating generations of Guam's indigenous people in our island community towards the movement of Chamoru Self-Determination, several Chamoru professors and students gathered this morning for the Second Chamoru Summit. Entitled "Protecting Our Way of Life and Ensuring Our Survival," the forum brought out over 50 participants today to learn about effective Chamoru leadership and self-determination.

Committee chairperson for the planning of the Summit Lisa Natividad says the intent of the event was twofold: being an educational track to teach younger generations of Chamorus the meaning of self-determination and to create a planning committee.

"The different committees that we've established are specific to educational strategies on Chamoru self-determination, there's a second one on rethinking education for Chamorus, one on a legal committee looking at developing legal strategies for achieving self-determination, there's another one on revitalizing the Chamoru Registry, to get more Chamorus on the Registry, which is absolutely necessary as we move towards the vote," Natividad explained.

One of the organizers of the summit, former senator Hope Cristobal, says committees were broken into task forces to cover decolonization including statehood, free association, and independence. The Summit provided those committees to share new findings and report about their task force. She said, "We decided to do this because there has been no conversation in the public and we also noticed to have seemed to disappear in the discourse and conversation at the local political level and we felt we need to continue the conversation so we can study it a little more and see where we can go where we left off."

Natividad feels this issue has been dead in terms of community involvement and government leadership for many years and hopes the summit helps others understand its importance. "I think in order for Chamorus to be able to accomplish self-determination it's going to require the support of all community members and not just those who self-identify as a Chamoru or those who are legally defined as Chamoru."

With the impending military presence to increase in the near future, it may make it difficult for Chamorus to exercise self-determination. The summit provided planning of concepts and identifying what the next steps are toward the movement. The Committee hopes to hold a summit every six months to present new findings and information to the community.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Military buildup continues in face of economic crisis

By Agnes E. Donato

The global economic crisis has not had any adverse funding impact on the planned military buildup in the Marianas, but the program's director says it is not unlikely.

In a meeting with the CNMI Legislature on Friday, the chief of the Joint Guam Program Office said that the multi-billion military expansion program, funded jointly by the U.S. and Japanese governments, continues despite the economic problems facing the United States.

“Right now, we've not seen any impact on [our funding]. But I'm certainly cognizant of economic pressures on the budget. We'll be prepared to react to that if that happens. But right now, the program continues,” said JGPO director David Bice.

He added that the programmed expansion in Guam, which involves the transfer of some 8,000 Marines and their dependents from Okinawa, is on track to be completed by 2014.

Bice also reported that the U.S. Department of Defense expects to have its draft master plan for the CNMI's part in the military buildup by December of this year. Citing experience with the Guam master plan, which he said has gone through about five revisions so far, Bice said the CNMI's draft master plan, once released, would be subject to many changes depending on public input and other factors.

Although the focus of the relocation effort is in Guam, the program involves using Tinian and possibly Pagan and other parts of the CNMI's northern islands, as a military training site.

The draft environmental impact study for the military buildup is expected to be out in early spring next year, Bice said.

Duplicated names found on pro monument petition

By Stefan Sebastian
Business Editor

The final tally of the signatures on a grassroots petition in support of the Bush administration's bid to establish a national marine monument in the waters around three of the CNMI's northern islands will have to be revised after a review of it found scores of duplicate names.

Last week, Friends of the Monument, a community group rallying local support for the White House's proposal, released the results of four months worth of work by volunteers, who canvassed the streets of Saipan gathering signatures for the petition.

After compiling the names, the total they unveiled stood at 5,502 signatories. However, an independent review of only one segment of the petition conducted on an Excel spreadsheet by an anonymous critic of the proposal and provided to the Saipan Tribune-which published all of the names on the petition in an advertisement-suggests that at least 28 of the signatures are shown on it twice.

After combing through of many of the names published, a Tribune reporter had confirmed in a cursory review at press time that seven of the names highlighted by the spreadsheet review are, in fact, duplicates.

On Sunday, Friends of the Monument answered a request for comment on the petition issue with a statement.

“The Friends of the Monument spent four months collecting signatures in support of the designation of a marine monument in the CNMI,” the statement says. “More than 60 volunteers spent hundreds of hours collecting more than 5,600 signatures at street fairs, local stores, and other gatherings. It represents one of the largest one-on-one information and outreach efforts ever undertaken in the CNMI and represents literally thousands of individual conversations. We do not believe that this sort of grassroots democracy should be discounted.”

The Friends of the Monument petition has previously become the subject of controversy. In a recent letter to White House Council on Environmental Quality chief James Connaughton, a letter that they later retracted after talks, Gov. Benigno Fitial and local political leaders contended the monument's supporters have appealed to “poorly informed school children,” tourists, foreign workers, and CNMI residents who hail from off-island locales to gain signatures for the petition. Consequently, they argued, it does not reflect the sentiments of the CNMI's people.

“[W]e believe the list contains the names of foreign national workers who, pursuant to the recent federalization of our immigration have short-term interests in the CNMI, and tourists who, frankly, should not have a say in the governance of either the [CNMI] or the United States of America,” the letter says. “We feel there are many duplicate names and we question the integrity of the petition.”

Word of the duplicate signatures on the petition comes after critics of the proposed monument last week also came under criticism for bullying members of the Man'amko Advisory Council to sign a resolution in opposition to it. Opponents of the plan have said previously they have collected signatures for a petition against the monument but have yet to issue their results.

Chamorro Summit draws good crowd among youth

Monday, 27 October 2008 00:00 By Beau Hodai | Variety News Staff

An event to educate and involve young Chamorros in dialogue on the issue of Guam's right to self-determination was held Saturday at the Udr. Carlyle Corbin
niversity of Guam.

"I think it's important," said UOG student Shawnette Celes on the issue of Guam self-determination. "I think that it's something every country that has been occupied by another country needs to consider."

Former senator and founder of the Committee for Decolonization and the Chamorro Registry, Hope Cristobal, made a presentation on the right to self-determination as laid out by the United Nations.

"If, under the UN, it's a right that's given to everyone, then we should have that right as well," said Celes.

She said that when she returned to Guam from the mainland in 2000, she recalled protesters in the streets with signs demanding self-determination and that there was public discussion on the issue.

"I think it's about time that we started talking about this again," said Celes.

The summit was divided into two parts, or tracks, with the first track divided into four sections.

The first section was Cristobal's presentation on the right to self-determination as laid out by the United Nations. The second section was a presentation on the option of statehood while the third section focused on the option of free association and the fourth option discussed the option of all-out independence.

One committee dealt with legal strategies, another with issues of economic development. Two committees dealt with educational strategies and aspects of Chamorro education and one dealt with registering Chamorros to the Chamorro Registry.

Cristobal said she hopes the summit served not only to educate young Chamorros on the right to self determination but also served as a forum for discussion on the subject, encouraging a new generation to register as Chamorros.

Lisa Natividad, an organizer of the event and an assistant professor at the university in the division of social work, said that nearly 100 people attended the summit and that she was very pleased to see many new, younger faces mixing with more experienced activists who have been working for a long time on the issue.

Natividad said that the next summit is set to take place in early 2009 and that Dr. Carlyle Corbin, the UN's external minister of the Virgin Islands and proponent of self-determination, will speak at the event.

"His visit to the region is really very important to us," said Natividad. She said Corbin's insight from the international and legal view points would be very helpful in local discussion of the issue.

Last day to submit testimony for Marianas Trench Monument

Monday, 27 October 2008 00:00 by Therese Hart | Variety News Staff

Today is the last day to submit written testimony in opposition to President George W. Bush's plan to designate and develop several Pacific atolls and reefs as marine sanctuaries which includes the Marianas Trench.

The president's executive order has local residents taking a stand against the proposal and teaming up with the CNMI government, which also opposes the order.

Testimonies can be faxed to 1-202-456-6546 or emailed to the Council on Environmental Quality in Washington D.C. at oceans@ceq.eop.govThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo said that she was against the order. Last week, Bordallo met with members of the Guam Fisherman's Co-Op and its president Manny Duenas who will be submitting 300-500 petitions today to the congresswoman's office, which she will transmit to Washington.

Local fishermen stressed that they are not responsible for over-fishing in regional surrounding waters and should not be penalized for the acts in other jurisdictions that use gear and practices that do not support sustainable use or responsible conservation and management of fishing practices.

"The president cannot say that the marine life in our region is in danger because we are overfishing, because we aren't," Kenneth Quenga, a fisherman from Yona said. Quenga said that if this were the case, then President Bush should establish marine protected areas.

The Bush executive order recognizes the views of territorial governments, local governments and interested parties which have all demonstrated strong opposition to any form of arbitrary Presidential designation, according to a statement from the Guam Fisherman's Co-Op.

An April 30 letter states that "the White House will not consider any proposed project that hints of controversy."

Not the cause

According to the Marianas Fishing Community, fishermen are not the cause of the degradation of high seas fish stocks or the destruction of critical marine habitat. Fishermen have historically--nearly 4,000 years--proven to be excellent stewards of the ocean whereby the harvest is primarily consumed by the community.

Moreover, fishermen continue to provide sustenance to residents of their islands without the need to implement industrialized harvesting methods and should be allowed to continue to fish in the waters of the Marianas with traditional or modern effective fisheries management tools, according to MFC.

Members of the fishing community also stated that they support the existing management established by the U.S. Congress under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

The community also recognizes that the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council for several decades has banned the use of the trawl nets, gill nets and most recently purse seine.

The WPRFMC also established large closed areas whereby larger (50') scale fishing vessels are prohibited from entering, thus protecting seamounts from industrial resource extraction to include anchoring which adversely impacts the marine habitat.


Sen. Judi Guthertz has already submitted her testimony, stating that it would be unethical and imperialistic for the U.S. to place Guam's waters under a conservation regime without the approval of the people it is entrusted with.

"The United States should be in the process of transferring authority and governance to the people of Guam, not taking authority away from the local government," Guthertz said.

Guthertz said that if Bush wanted to leave a legacy, he should have taken steps to further the development of self-determination and self-government for Guam.

"He has done absolutely nothing for the past eight years. Just looking at a map in an office inside the beltway and dreaming of a 'blue Legacy' is a ridiculous exercise in imperialism," Guthertz said.

Monument proposal divides community

Monday, 27 October 2008 00:00 By Zaldy Dandan - Variety Editor

Speaker Arnold I. Palacios says the marine monument proponents have unnecessarily divided the CNMI, pitting the islands’ communities against each other, all in the name of meeting the deadline imposed on the local people by the Philadelphia-based Pew group.

“That is why our constituents are suspicious about this sudden, well-financed and full-blown campaign run by Pew,” Palacios, R-Saipan, said in an interview of Friday. “Why are they rushing it? Why are we being forced to make a decision now? Aren’t we also entitled to carefully think about an issue that concerns our islands and our people? Or do they believe they know better than us about our own islands and we should just defer to their wisdom? This is not acceptable.”

He said Pew should have worked with the local community instead of insisting on its own “deadline.”

After the Variety asked Pew, through e-mail, for a comment, a statement yesterday from “The Friends of the Monument” was e-mailed to this newspaper, stating that the Friends “spent four months collecting signatures in support of the designation of a marine monument in the CNMI. More than 60 volunteers spent hundreds of hours collecting more than 5,600 signatures at street fairs, local stores and other gatherings. It represents one of the largest one-on-one information and outreach efforts ever undertaken in the CNMI and represents literally thousands of individual conversations. We do not believe that this sort of grassroots democracy should be discounted.”

According to Palacios, CNMI officials have been, and are still, willing to “sit down” with Pew and the White House to discuss the proposal that would designate the waters surrounding the northern islands of Maug, Asuncion and Uracas as a federally protected area.

The speaker believes, however, that President Bush will still sign the monument designation proclamation despite the concerns raised by the CNMI officials.

“Where is the science backing up this proposal? Why is it that a decision involving our islands was made thousands of miles away and is now being imposed on us, whether we like it or not?” Palacios asked.

He said the CNMI government will insist that the local people “will continue to have access to our own resources.”

When told that some monument proponents believe that CNMI officials opposed to it are “not speaking” for the people who put them in office, the speaker replied, “That’s an unfortunate statement to make. But a lot of our constituents are actually urging us to be more vocal against the monument.”

Another lawmaker, Rep. Stanley T. Torres, R-Saipan, said “some of my constituents may be supporting it, but a lot of them oppose it.”

House Floor Leader Joseph N. Camacho, R-Saipan, earlier said that their constituents may not be as “vocal” as Pew’s “friends,” but “they’re against it and they told us they’re against it.”

The Fitial administration, the Legislature and the CNMI mayors are opposed to the monument proposal.

Palacios said to settle the issue of public support, he is willing to introduce a bill calling for a referendum on the issue.

“Let’s put it on the ballot,” he added.

Echoing a similar statement from Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, Torres said the CNMI may change its mind about the proposal “if the feds give us back our submerged lands.”

Federal courts have ruled that the U.S. government “owns” the CNMI’s submerged lands.

Submerged lands a ‘sensitive issue’ for feds

Monday, 27 October 2008 00:00 By Gemma Q. Casas - Variety News Staff

The Fitial administration is upbeat over the prospect of resuming talks over the CNMI’s submerged lands, but a federal official said it shouldn’t be so optimistic because the issue may be overshadowed by the change of administration in the U.S.

President Bush is leaving the White House on Jan. 20, 2009 —or less than three months from now.

The federal official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the CNMI’s request for a 12-mile jurisdiction over its submerged lands is a sensitive issue that will set a precedent if granted.

Federal courts have ruled that the U.S. owns the CNMI’s submerged lands.

Last Wednesday, Gov. Benigno R. Fitial met with the president’s senior environmental advisor, James Connaughton, who is also the chairman of the White House Council for Environmental Quality.

The governor said their meeting ended on a positive note and he expressed hope that Connaughton will act as his bridge to persuade the White House to consider granting the islands and other insular areas up to 12 miles jurisdiction over their submerged lands.

Connaughton was on Saipan last week on a fact-finding mission amid the Bush administration’s plan to designate as a marine monument up to 115,000 square miles of waters around the three uninhabited northern islands — Uracas, Maug and Asuncion.

Bush is expected to act on the proposal before his term ends.

Local officials, however, are strongly opposed to the project amid fears it may result to a restriction of access to their ancestral marine heritage.

A strongly worded four-page letter that the governor, Senate President Pete P. Reyes and Speaker Arnold I. Palacios co-signed was distributed to the local media on Thursday.

The administration and the Legislature, however, said that letter was withdrawn and wasn’t supposed to be released to the public.

“I do not believe Mr. Connaughton ever read the letter, however, because Governor Fitial decided to withdraw it. I believe this was done in the spirit of cooperation that was forged at our very productive meeting on Wednesday. To my knowledge, most of the copies were collected, to be destroyed. I myself collected a number of them,” said Reyes in a statement.

But the Senate president said though they have softened their stance on the marine monument issue, they stand firm that it shouldn’t be rushed because so much is at stake.

“In essence, [the letter] stated that if the [Bush] administration was attempting to rush a designation on the people of the CNMI without meaningful discussion of our concerns and attention paid to our submerged lands issues, we would like to have no part in the designation and would prefer that the designation not occur,” he said.

“We are willing to discuss these important issues and are willing to make them a priority. We hope we can find a common ground,” he added.

NMI will remain under emergency declaration indefinitely

Monday, 27 October 2008 00:00 By Gemma Q. Casas - Variety News Staff

Governor Benigno R. Fitial says the commonwealth will remain under a state of emergency declaration indefinitely or until the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.’s secures the necessary permitting requirements for the rented generators that currently provide additional power supply for Saipan.

During a press briefing on Thursday, the governor said he will renew for the fourth time next month the state of disaster emergency declaration for the CNMI mainly because of technicalities regarding CUC’s condition.

Saipan experienced long hours of blackouts daily for three straight years until mid-September.

The problem was only solved when the administration and CUC decided to rent for $504,000 a month 15 megawatts of containerized generators from the U.K-based Aggreko International Power Projects Ltd.

Aggreko is now producing enough energy for CUC to prevent another load shedding.

CUC’s contract with Aggreko is good for 12 months only.

The firm and CUC are required to comply with certain environmental requirements to continue to operate.

The emergency declaration essentially suspends certain procurement regulations to enable CUC to do such.

CUC is now in the process of having the antiquated power engines at power plant 1 undergo maintenance repair using federal grants.

The governor said if the Aggreko rented generators are taken off-line there will be rolling blackouts on island again.

“CUC desires to comply with environmental and land use regulations but fears that the lack of permits or the permitting process would postpone or eliminate the in-service date, and uninterrupted service for Aggreko power generating equipment,” the governor said.

“In particular, taking Aggreko’s units off line, while undergoing the time and expense of computer modeling of the emissions of Lower Base power plants could plunge Saipan into renewed rolling blackouts,” he added.

Executive Order 2008-13 is set to expire on Nov. 6.

General says master plan for buildup project will be released soon

Monday, 27 October 2008 00:00 By Gemma Q. Casas - Variety News Staff

The Pentagon official in-charge of the office overseeing technical preparations for the relocation of about 12,849 U.S. Marines from Okinawa, Japan to Guam beginning 2012 met with local officials last week and expressed confidence that the final master plan for the CNMI’s role in the buildup project will soon be released.

Speaker Arnold I. Palacios, R-Saipan, said Maj. Gen. David F. Bice, the executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office, met with local lawmakers on Friday.

“The main purpose of the meeting was to give us an update on the master plan,” Palacios told the Variety in a phone interview.

Created in 2006 under the Department of Navy, JGPO is tasked to plan and execute the military buildup project on Guam that involves relocating the Marines from Japan to the territory.

The Northern Marianas, a 14-island chain U.S. commonwealth, is envisioned to provide much needed training areas for the relocated troops and allied forces of the U.S.

The relocation plan will cost Japan and the U.S. up to $15 billion once it is completed in 2014.

JGPO is the lead agency involved in the planning, integration of operational support, program and budget synchronization, construction oversight, as well as coordinating with the private sector and relevant governments in the relocation project believed to be the biggest since the Vietnam War.

Bice is a Vietnam War veteran.

He retired in 2002 but returned to active duty two years later in support of the Global War on Terrorism, serving as the inspector general of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Palacios said the visiting military official informed the Legislature that the master plan for the CNMI has been revised six times and is expected to be released before the year is over.

“They are still working on it. They are now on its sixth revised version,” he said. “We were told that if we have any further questions, we should direct it to Capt. Neil Ruggiero [JGPO’s public affairs officer].”

Palacios said the projected number of troops to be relocated still stands at over 12,000 as of this month.

Last May, the Legislature received a draft environmental impact statement report on the Guam & CNMI Military Relocation Project.

The draft report dated April 2008 showed that 12,849 Marines are to be relocated from different bases in Okinawa, Japan to Guam with their 10,350 dependents.

The project also involves the construction of berthing for visiting aircraft carriers and the establishment of a U.S. Army Ballistic Missile Defense Task Force on Guam.

The ballistic missile task force on Guam is an essential security measure in the wake of findings that about 90 foreign ballistic missiles were launched every year since 2002.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

From a Footnote...To the DNC

"From a Footnote...To the DNC"
October 3, 2008


May 15, 2008 - Bei Falak Denver - I'm Headed to the Democratic National Convention
Yanggen ilek-hu na "excited yu'" siempre ti nahong este na fino'-hu para u na'tungo' hamyo i tinahdong-hu i minagof-hu put este! Mampos excited yu'! Mamposssss.

May 19, 2008 - From a Footnote...To the Democratic National Convention
My new audience, and one which I am definitely happy to engage with is a liberal, Democratic, progressive one. There is so much terrain, so many issues and so many ideas upon which there is a strong affinity between what I believe and what these other bloggers believe, but I know that given my political status, there will be very fundamental divisions and distinctions, that cannot be simply explained away as "politics" or simple differences of opinion, but stem directly from the ambiguous and colonial status of Guam.

June 26, 2008 - Fache'
TRUE RUMORS ABOUT OBAMA: Barack Obama is spearheading a movement to rename “Marine Corps Drive” “Marine Drive Magazine Drive.”...Barack Obama is the white lady in Mai'ina...Barack Obama was really the one who grabbed the gavel from Judi Won Pat...Barack Obama closed down Gameworks...Barack Obama is the reason that it always rains on Liberation Day...Barack Obama is the one who keeps putting casino gambling on the election ballots and who also keeps organizing the Lina’la’ Sin Casino movements...Barack Obama is the one who wrote all the terrible Guam jokes for Bob Hope, Johnny Carson and Jon Stewart...When the Marines and their dependents get to Guam and the roads get worse, the infrastructure becomes even more strained and the cost of living shoots up even more, it will all be Barack Obama’s fault

July 9, 2008 - Racial Fantasies
From this perspective Obama does represent a huge shift. He is not just another rich white guy, who came from a perfect American home and had plenty of perfect American opportunities. He is not part of that fallacy of American normativity. Since he comes from modest means and a broken home, he does have a much more actual American story than most Presidents. But as a person of color, he also knows the pain of being an American who must constantly endure the racism of American race relations, where those with different names, skin colors, phenotypes or religions can always be treated like outsiders and always be told in both polite and impolite ways to "go home" or back to where they came from. Obama, as a Presidential candidate still isn't exempt from this. Despite being born in the United States and being a US citizen, there are still very strong rumors working their ways through "hard working" communities that argue that he isn't an US citizen and was in fact born in Kenya, and that he believes in one of those "non-American" or "anti-American" religions.

August 15, 2008 - Bloggers at the DNC
Whether this year results in significant gains for racialized groups is unlikely, but the Democratic National Convention will be a potent symbolic event, creating a huge emotional bubble amongst people in the United States, built from two very intimate, yet transcendent hopes. The first is the laudable hope that racism in this country can be surpassed and that dream of Martin Luther King Jr.'s is possible. The second is the selfish and self-protecting hope that should America at last elect a black person to its highest office, then white people who never owned slaves or killed Native Americans, will no longer have to feel guilty for the slaves owned and indigenous people that their ancestors killed or profited from

August 23, 2008 - Kao Sina Hu Interview Hao?
To tell you the truth, there is some hope on the horizon for this dream of decolonization for Guam, a faint trace fell into my inbox this evening. It is not much, and probably won't amount to anything, but it is still something.

August 24, 2008 - DNC Preview
Tomorrow is the first day of the convention and I'll have a lot more. I was able to meet up with the Guam delegation today. They all sported red Hawaiian shirts which made them very popular with the other delegations and they were often asked by complete strangers if they could take pictures of them. I'm not quite sure how I feel about this...

August 25, 2008 - DNC Day 1- The AAPI Matrix
I attended four Asian Pacific Islander Events today, and for the part of me that has lived out in the states for the past four years, and become accustomed to pan-ethnic rubrics such as “Asian Pacific Islander Americans” it was an exciting day. For the other part of me which is rooted in Guam, and had never even used the term “Pacific Islander” until I came out here, the day has been a bit disconcerting.

August 25, 2008 - DNC Day 1 - The Return of the Native
I think the crosswalk lights had been white for a while. Because he immediately darted off, in a different direction than which we had both been initially facing. In the last look that I got of his face, I saw a mixture of fear and confusion, as if the foundation for his identity in that moment had just completely collapsed and fallen away, leaving him to dangle without any certainty. I imagine that so many people who come to Guam serving in the military, or even tourists who visit Hawai’i get that look after they realize that a place that they imagined as theirs, whether it be a paradise or just another military base, in reality belongs to someone else, and has natives who claim it.

August 26, 2008 - DNC Day 2 - The Half Vote Dilemma
I've written before about the half-vote delegates that Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Americans Abroad receive in the Democratic Presidential primary process. For me this is just another sort of way in which the island is included and excluded, how it is never made a full part of the United States, but instead treated to small token gestures to make it feel more American then it really is. But this is my view on things, a member of the Guam delegation Taling Taitano...looks at it in a different way.

August 26, 2008 - DNC Day 2 - Okinawan Realities
I briefly met one elected official this afternoon, who had spent several years of her life in Okinawa. I introduced myself as the blogger from Guam. She mentioned having always wanted to visit Guam but never having the chance too. I took this opportunity to discuss the impending military buildup there...At first her face went ashen, and she said, oh no, how terrible.

August 27, 2008 - DNC Day 3 - Another Dispatch from the AA/PI Matrix
Guestblogged by Rashne Limki
The fundamental difference between the two groups (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) can be captured in one word – ‘colonization.’ The AAPI rubric is as absurd as AANA (i.e. Asian American Native American). But what makes the indifference, lack of awareness and absurdity starkly evident is that the majority of the speakers at the caucus stumble over the ‘PI’ part, hesitating about where exactly the letters P and/or I fit into the label. And of course, when not using the abbreviated version, the group is addressed simply as ‘Asian American.’

August 27, 2008 - DNC Day 3 - Looking for the Other Side of American Militarization
Coming from an island which has a far more intimate relationship to the military than any other military community (with the exception perhaps of the Marshall Islands), I'm struggling to find a place for the expression or even just mention of Guam's particular relationship with the United States military. Can any "real" "formal" American community, meaning those in states, know the feeling of being occupied in an American war, being displaced from your land to transform your island into a massive base, and also have your people then serve and die in that same military in record numbers? And this is all history which is not ancient, but has all taken place in the lives of my grandparents and thousands of other Chamorros.

August 27, 2008 - DNC Day 3 - War Reparations and Self-Determination are on the Table
Pilar Lujan also made an impact on the proceedings with her short, but to the point introduction to Guam, prior to providing the tally for the Guam delegation. She began by invoking that they were the delegation from Guam, "Where America's Day Begins" which was met by applause. She followed up this statement with a reminder that the Guam delegation seeks self-determination and war reparations from the United States. She again repeated a moment later, the reminder about self-determination for Guam.

August 28, 2008 - DNC Day 4 - The Lost Pacific
To say that this convention has been frustrating because of a lack of Pacific Islander presence would be a sen dongkalu na understatement. I've attended this week all of the events which were marked as "Asian-American Pacific Islander" or "Asian Pacific Islander American" and even "Asian Pacific American." I've had little to no luck. The delegates and representatives from these islands haven't been attending these meetings or even speaking at them.

August 28, 2008 - DNC Day - Operation New Life
She was considering how far things had come, how things had changed, how they hadn't, and how people came full circle. She is currently teaching journalism at Kent State University, and more than thirty years ago, over that war and its expansion into Cambodia had sparked even more protests, and at her current university several protesting students were killed to protect that idea of American exceptionalism, and that it above all has a right to wage whatever war it wishes.

August 28, 2008 - DNC Day 4 - Of Course...
I spent Barack Obama's speech crawling around on the floor of Invesco Field, trying to worm my way close enough to the candidate so I could get a decent picture of him with my cheap digital camera. Unfortunately, the closest I was able to get was right in the middle of the Texas delegation, so I have several dozen photos of a brown blur in a black suit that still has plenty of gravitas.

August 29, 2008 - DNC Day 5 - The War We Fight
Guestblogged by Victoria Leon Guerrero
Like Obama’s advisor, most political advisors know nothing about Guam . The DNC taught me that we will never have a presence until we make a statement. No one is going to listen until we shout loudly for our rights. There is no hope in fighting another country’s war. It’s time to fight for our own nation and her people.

August 29, 2008 - DNC Day 5 - Breaking News - Sarah Palin as Republican VP
I'm watching CNN right now and it seems that the Republicans have decided to make major history this election, by not just picking a woman for Vice President, but bringing together the first Father -Daughter Ticket in History!!!!

August 29, 2008 - DNC Day 5 - Some Quotes from the Week
Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo: "When I first sat in the Armed Services Committee, my first meeting. They said now, the question you ask, I was on the lower tier, the first row, now I'm on the second row. They said the question should be kind of generic and not too specific. So I had this question written out. Then I heard the rest of them, "my base" and "my state." I says, "Hey!" So when it came down to me, I said, "I want a carrier sent to Guam."

September 4, 2008 - Why Obama Has a Vision, While Palin Doesn't...Or Why I'm (sort of) a Community Organizer
When organizing communities, you are often working with an injustice and a vision. A community which is being mistreated, is not getting their fair share, has been ignored or forgotten, and you reference this historical or contemporary mistreatment in order to activate them, to propel them forward into a progressive, more inclusive, more prosperous, more equal or simply, just a better vision of the future. In Barack Obama's campaign you can see this, and contrast it with the McCain campaign's approach.

September 7, 2008 - Change You Can Handle - A White Compromise
But whereas Obama represents a change that "you can believe in" or a change which is derived from hope or dreams in a better future (something which, even if incrementally pushes you forward), McCain's campaign has changed this race back into the question of "change that you can handle." For all of those white voters out there who are uncomfortable or uneasy about voting for black man, who might be Muslim, and talks like he's smart and "uppity" McCain has offered them a chance to still change this country, but to still protect its perceived identity as a "white" nation. Protect the whiteness of America, but still be part of that bold pioneering American spirit!

September 13, 2008 - An Indigenous View on Palin's Alaska
There is far more to "Native America" than just casinos, and if you don't know about the fragile relationships that reservations or tribes have with their state governments in your state, its probably not because it doesn't exist, but its either because of the metaphorical erasure of Native Americans from American consciousness, or its because they were physically erased and displaced from your area or state.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Guatali Appeal Next Monday

District Court Assumes Dandan Ownership Issue

District Court to assume Dandan ownership issue
Friday, 24 October 2008
by Therese Hart
Marianas Variety News Staff

US District Court Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood has ordered a stay in the Superior Court proceedings involving the ownership issuJudge Frances Tydingco
e of the Dandan property where the next landfill will be constructed. The judge said this issue will now be decided by the District Court.

During its quarterly meeting, David Manning of receiver Gershman, Brickner & Bratton informed the court that because of the pending litigation in the Superior Court, it would be impossible to obtain debt financing for consent decree projects.

"There is an urgent need to clarify that the government of Guam has lawfully obtained title to the Layon site," Manning said.

Under GBB's timetable, construction of the new landfill is scheduled to begin in January, 2009, with the government of Guam required to deposit $20 million with a trustee.

Since the court's adoption of the receiver's timeline, it requires that financing be in place for the consent decree projects.

GBB advised the court that the cloud over the title to the Layon site must be cleared immediately or financing will be almost impossible to obtain.

Attorney General Alicia Limtiaco informed the court that the Dandan site has pending litigation in the Superior Court and that this issue should be resolved first.

There are court cases pending in the Superior Court regarding the title and the proper legal acquisition of the Dandan property.

One case involves a challenge to the government by the private property owners who claim that the government violated the eminent domain law and the land acquisition process.

Another pending case is between property owners regarding their interests in the distribution of property that has yet to be divided.

The order states that the District Court will not make any determination of property value and should the court find that the government of Guam has acquired legal title to the Layon site, the temporary stay will be lifted so that the Superior Court of Guam may address valuation issues.

Pleadings and briefs for a declaratory judgment must be filed by Oct. 27.

Briefs concerning legal rights or interests pertaining to the Layon site must be filed by other interested parties or landowners no later than Oct. 30.

A hearing is scheduled Nov. 6 at 9 a.m., at the U.S. District Court

Summit Will Tackle Self-Determination Issue

Chamoru Summit II tackles self-determination options
Friday, 24 October 2008
By Beau Hodai
Variety News Staff

AN event to educate and get young Chamorros involved with issues of self determination will be held tomorrow at the University of Guam. Hope Cristobal

The Chamoru Summit II will be held at the UOG College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences lecture hall from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. this Saturday.
Lisa Natividad, an organizer of the event and an assistant professor at the university in the division of social work, said the event will be divided into two tracks, the first track focusing on options for Chamorro self-determination.

She said the first track will be divided into four sections.

The first section will be a presentation by former Senator Hope Cristobal on a framework for self-determination as outlined by the United Nations. The second section will be a presentation on the option of statehood. The third section will focus on the option of free association and the fourth option will discuss the option of all-out independence.

"The whole idea is that at some point, we have to exercise the right," said Natividad. "And exercising the right basically means getting out there, having a vote, and the people deciding on which avenue to pursue -- and then developing that particular political agreement with the U.S.," she said.

"We would then move into developing a compact or some sort of political relationship with the U.S. to move away from the unincorporated territory status that we have now-- which really is equivalent to that of a colony," she added.

Natividad said that track two of the event will focus on different strategies toward gaining self-determination, and will be broken down into five separate committee meetings.

One committee will deal with legal strategies, another with issues of economic development.

Two committees will deal with educational strategies and aspects of Chamorro education and one will deal with registering Chamorros to the Chamorro Registry.

Cristobal, who established the registry and the Decolonization Commission while in the Legislature, said she hopes the summit will serve not only to educate young Chamorros on the right to self determination but also serve as a forum for discussion on the subject and encourage a new generation to register as Chamorros.

She said it is important for people to register so that they can asses their numbers and work better as a whole towards the goal of self-determination.

"I feel there has been no progress toward this by our public officials," said Cristobal. She went on to say that, on an international scale, there are many people in the global community who don't realize that there are people living under the United States who are struggling to maintain their identities.

Natividad said that in light of the approaching military buildup, the issue of self-determination is especially pressing.

"The military presence is a real big concern when you're talking about Chamorro self-determination issues," said Natividad. "One of the main reasons why it's a big concern is because when you talk about increasing the population of Guam with the military, it waters down the population of the people who are able to vote for this. Their increased presence here is a real threat to Chamorros having the right and opportunity to exercise self-determination."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Manamko’ reject monument bid

Thursday, 23 October 2008 00:00 By Emmanuel T. Erediano - Variety News Staff

THE Manamko’ Council is opposed to the marine proposal and backs Gov. Benigno R. Fitial’s position on the issue.

The governor, the Legislature and the CNMI’s mayors are opposed to the proposal.

In a resolution adopted on Monday, the senior citizens said the proposal “might neither be based on the scientific method nor on the traditional sustainable use approach of conserving natural resources practiced by Pacific islanders.”

The council gave James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, a copy of the resolution when he and other White House officials met with the senior citizens on Tuesday.

The resolution was signed by the council’s officers, including chairman Francisco Reyes and vice chairwoman Carmen O. Taitano.

They said they are concerned about a permanent federal prohibition, additional resource-use restrictions, a complete ban on commercial and recreational fishing within the proposed monument waters and a complete ban on all forms of oil, gas and mineral extraction activities in the area.

John Gourley, who resigned from the Mariana Islands Nature Alliance due to his opposition to the monument proposal, believes the White House is intent to implement it.

Gourley said the visiting federal officials want to pursue a framework for creating a monument despite the opposition of the CNMI government and traditional fishermen.

He added that local lawmakers are aware of the “tactics” of monument proponents. He did not elaborate.

Gourley said he hopes that the CNMI people will continue to express their concern about the proposal.

“They cannot just sit at the backg round and do nothing. They must get involved or stand to lose a significant portion of their [exclusive economic zone],” he said.

Guam fishermen say no to Marianas monument

Thursday, 23 October 2008 00:00 By Mar-Vic Cagurangan - Variety News Staff

HAGATNA — The Guam Fisherman’s Co-Op rallies behind the CNMI government in opposing the White House’s proposed Mariana Trench Marine National Monument, saying the plan will equally hurt this island’s fishing industry.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, members of the fishermen’s group voted unanimously to support the CNMI government’s petition against the Bush administration’s plan to turn the waters surrounding the commonwealth’s three northernmost islands as a federal marine reserve.

Fisherman’s Co-Op president Manny Duenas urged Guam officials to join the CNMI government in its efforts to block the federal plan.

“We don’t want any more federalization of the Marianas. What we have in place works. The federal plan will affect the tradition that we have been practicing for over 4,000 years,” Duenas said yesterday.

He said the proposed monument extends to the southern side of Guam waters, which are rich in seamount resources.

“The deeper part of the Marianas Trench is covered by Guam waters. The monument will exclude 50 percent of the marine resources in the southern seamount,” Duenas said.

The Fisherman’s Co-Op, which has about 150 members, is the lifeline for many island fishermen, who catch marine products for family sustenance and commercial trade.

Duenas said about 15 to 20 fishermen who cover the southern seamount produce about 50,000 tons of fish a year.

“The fishermen in that area use most of their catch for family consumption, and the excess are sold to local markets. We don’t plunder our marines resources. We use them for sustenance and to keep the community alive,’ Duenas said.

Sen. James Espaldon, R-Tamuning, plans to introduce a resolution expressing Guam’s support for the CNMI government’s stand against the White House plan.

“I represent the voice of our people who are against this proposed monument. What’s worse is that this is being done through an executive order instead of congressional legislation, without any input from us,” said Espaldon, chairman of the Legislative Natural Resources Committee. “They’re claiming our lands and the seas around us. How come island residents don’t have a say on this issue? Is this part of the militarization plan? They are militarizing our lands; do they want to militarize the seas as well?”

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Carolinians urge Bush to hold talks with Fitial on monument issue

Wednesday, 22 October 2008 00:00 By Gemma Q. Casas - Variety News Staff

THE second largest indigenous group of the Northern Marianas is urging President Bush to consider having a dialogue with their “paramount high chief,” Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, before the waters surrounding three northern islands are designated as a marine sanctuary.

The Carolinian Affairs Office Advisory Committee, in a letter to the president, asked the White House to host a round-table discussion on issues about the indigenous people’s rights to their resources around their oceans and lands.

CAO said the Covenant between the CNMI and the U.S. “is not an organic act, which Congress may unilaterally change at its pleasure.”

“The Carolinian and Chamorro people — the CNMI descents — have recognized among themselves as holding native title rights to lands situated in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, including rights over the sea, which co-exist alongside the rights for commercial and recreational fishers,” the group said in its letter to Bush coursed through his senior environmental advisor and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairman James Connaughton.

“These determinations of traditional rights have been handed down from generations to generations,” the group stated.

Connaughton is on island for a fact-finding mission regarding the proposed marine monument.

CAO said the CNMI descent-people first filed their claim on marine boundaries on Dec. 11, 1980.

“These include the rights to hunt, fish, gather and use resources within the area for personal, domestic or non-commercial exchange or communal consumption for the purposes allowed by and under their traditional beliefs and customs,” the group said.

It added that the traditional seasonal hunting of fishes and other native species, passed down from generation to generation, may be impacted by the marine monument proposal.

Bush to decide on NMI monument before term ends

Wednesday, 22 October 2008 00:00 By Gemma Q. Casas - Variety News Staff

PRESIDENT Bush will decide whether to designate a marine monument in the CNMI before he leaves the White House on Jan. 20, 2009.

James Connaughton, the president’s senior environmental advisor and chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said Bush and first lady Laura Bush have been briefed a few times about the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument project, which involves designating 115,000 square miles of waters around the islands of Uracas, Maug and Asuncion as a federally protected area.

“President Bush and [Mrs.] Bush…are very interested and excited in calling the world’s attention to the central Pacific Region in a way that the world hasn’t focused on this region before,” Connaugton told the Variety in an interview yesterday.

Connaughton is among four White House officials who will make the final recommendation to the president regarding the CNMI marine monument proposal.

“We will complete our assessment by the end of this month. The secretaries of Defense, the Interior, Commerce and me will formulate recommendations. Any final decision will come from President Bush and I will not speak for President Bush at this point,” Connaughton said.

He added, “There is no question he will make a decision before he leaves office and that decision could be ‘Proceed with the monument that has met the concerns expressed by officials’; or ‘Set and place a process for further evaluation for the program,’ which might take years.”

Connaughton said the National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey have considered designating a protected marine area in the Marianas region for years.

He said they want to assure the local people that the proposal is well-intentioned.

“We’re building on a very solid foundation of work,” he added.

According to Connaughton, the study to back up their recommendations on the marine monument proposal will be “comprehensive.”

“It’s looking at the biology, the natural resources. It’s looking at the geology and we’re also trying to understand the cultural resources. There is a historical component to this. We’re also taking into account the social and economic benefits. We will pull together all the information we have and we will use that as a basis for deciding whether additional action will be beneficial,” he said.

Monument bid rekindles submerged lands issue

Wednesday, 22 October 2008 00:00 By Emmanuel T. Erediano - Variety News Staff

THE controversial marine monument proposal has reminded indigenous residents about the issue of the CNMI’s submerged lands which the federal court says belongs to the U.S. government.

Independent congressional delegate candidate Juan T. Lizama believes that the CNMI “can still seek redress from the U.S. Congress and regain some of our submerged lands.”

The retired judge said he also hopes that the marine monument supporters agree that the submerged lands issue must be settled in U.S. Congress first before any decision on the monument proposal is made.

He said the Pew Group’s monument campaign has “touched many unresolved questions concerning the CNMI’s rights over our submerged lands and exclusive economic zone.”

Lizama said the federal court has already decided that the CNMI lost ownership of its submerged lands when its Covenant with the U.S. was ratified by local voters and enacted into law by the federal government.

But, he added, the CNMI congressional delegate can urge Washington, D.C. to revisit the submerged lands issue.

Lizama noted the mistrust generated by “what seems to be an undue haste in pushing the marine monument before the people of the CNMI are comfortable with it.”

James L. Connaughton, chairman of White House Council on Environmental Quality, told lawmakers on Monday that the federal government is very aware of the CNMI submerged lands issue.

Lizama said if he is elected delegate, he would immediately request the U.S. president and Congress not to take action on the marine monument until the issues on the CNMI’s submerged lands and exclusive economic zones are resolved.

“I would then work with Congress to resolve the CNMI’s submerged lands issue and simultaneously negotiate the details of our economic zone,” he said. “After we have completed those issues, I would then work with Pew to help establish marine monument to preserve our islands’ beauty, native species and our culture for future generations. We must jointly be involved in the process.”

He noted that some delegate candidates are promising to “deliver the moon.”

“But we must be realistic,” he said. “It will take a few years of building strong relationships and fostering trust in Congress and the federal agencies to make our issues understood, appreciated, and translated into a larger economic zone.”

Learn about Guam archaeology at lectures

By William B. Martin Jr. • Pacific Daily News • October 22, 2008

The Guam Museum Foundation continues to chip away at a fully realized center to house relics of island history.

The Foundation will begin its presentation of the "Museum Educational Series: Archaeology in Guam" tomorrow at the University of Guam, in a twofold effort to educate islanders on their past and cultivate strong ties to Guam-based archaeologists and anthropologists -- "a range of players," Leona Young, foundation administrator, said.

"These people have studied Guam for decades," she said. "They have a lot of work that the community should know about."

She said the scientists presenting the lectures will assist museum planners in the forthcoming "interpretive design" phase of the facility in which the oral, written and cultural tradition will be compiled to produce accurate exhibits.

The first among the educational series will look at preliminary archaeological findings at the Naton Beach site in Tumon. David DeFant of SWCA Environmental Consultants will present.

The lecture will refer to findings regarding numerous skeletons found beneath a swimming pool when Tumon's Hotel Okura underwent renovations in recent years, DeFant said. The Hotel Okura is now the Guam Aurora Resort Villa and Spa.

Other lectures will follow -- covering topics such as legendary Chamorro strength, maritime archaeology and regional historical fishing practices -- on two dates in November, one in January 2009 and again in February.

Though the presentations are designed for older school-age children and adults, Young said, presentations for Guam's children are possibly forthcoming as well.

Each lecture will cost $20, payable to the Guam Museum Foundation. Young said the money will be considered a donation to the nonprofit foundation for building the museum, and therefore is a nationally recognized tax-deductible expense.

'Crossing our t's'

Though she couldn't provide an actual dollar amount collected so far, Young said the museum is working to accumulate some $25 million to erect the museum -- and getting closer every day.

Many federal and local funding sources have been identified, Young said.

"We can show the community and federal and local government that our business plan is in place," she said. "We're dotting our 'i's' and crossing our 't's."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sudden Rush - Ea

The Other Hawai'i

This week Avi Lewis visits the people behind the native movement for self-determination in Hawaii. Well over 200 years old the movement has recently been gaining on strength.

Part 1

Part 2

Discovering Micronesia's Spanish heritage

Tuesday, 21 October 2008 00:00 by Zita Y. Taitano | Variety News Staff

A GROUP of educators and historians gathered last week to discuss the influence of the Spanish not only in the Mariana Islands but alsoMarie Lourdes Joy Onozawa, environmental planner/architect from Cebu, Philippines, speaks before a group on Friday on the importance of gathering resources during the International Conference on Spanish Heritage in Micronesia.

Close to 100 people attended the International Conference on Spanish Heritage in Micronesia for three days last week and over the weekend to go over the historical impact Spain had for 400 years and how we as islanders can preserve that part of our heritage.

Co-coordinator for the conference, Dr. Judy Flores, said the conference is funded by a grant from the Spanish program for cultural cooperation and is from the Spanish government.

"Their idea is to help preserve, promote, publish materials about the Spanish heritage in the Pacific," Flores said.

The $20,000 grant was intended only for the village of Inarajan, which is still rich in history from the Spanish era. However, the grant has since been extended to include the CNMI and Micronesia.

On the first day of the conference, which was Thursday, representatives from the Philippines presented information about how residents can help preserve part of the Spanish culture.

Later on that day, representatives from Palau, Guam, CNMI, and the FSM discussed what resources their islands have.

On Friday, one of the speakers, Marie Lourdes Joy Onozawa, environmental planner/architect from Cebu, Philippines, conducted a workshop that would assist the participants in identifying their resources.

The conference concluded on Saturday with a tour and on-site workshop in Inarajan where participants had a chance to see how Guam is able to gather resources and document them for historical purposes.

Flores said all the information gathered from the conference will be put together and published in a few months.

South Korea Economic Woes Affect Guam

Investment slides: South Korea economic woes affect Guam
By Steve Limtiaco
Pacific Daily News
October 21, 2008

The South Korean economy has been struggling -- the value of the Korean won compared to the U.S. dollar has dropped 30 percent this year and the country's main stock index has dropped 38 percent.

Those struggles have had an effect here, where Korean investment is important to real estate development and Korean visitors represent the second largest tourism market.

For Guam residents, Korea's troubles and the pending military buildup could make it more expensive to rent or to buy a home. That's because the island needs thousands of new homes to accommodate the buildup, and foreign investment to build them.

The decline in the won's value also has put a stop to what had been steady gains in Korean tourist arrivals, according to the Guam Visitors Bureau.

According to Pacific Daily News files, Guam needs to build about 5,573 units between now and 2013, or about 1,115 new units per year. That's in addition to homes the military will build for its personnel and their dependents.

By 2014, the military plans to transfer 8,000 U.S. Marines, and their dependents, from Okinawa to a new base in Dededo, increasing the island's population by about 42,000, and creating a housing demand. There also are other projects to expand the military's presence here at the Navy and Air Force installations, and the Army plans to build a ballistic missile defense facility.

The overall cost of the military buildup is expected to be about $20 billion.

Guam relies heavily on foreign investment to develop island real estate.

"The Korean market was probably one of the most importance sources of foreign investment funds in 2007," said Nick Captain, president of the Captain Real Estate Group.

He said the slowdown in the Korean economy has caused an "almost near elimination of foreign investment coming from Korea now."

Koreans in 2007 invested about $1.2 billion in foreign real estate, but are on pace to invest only $600 million this year, according to statistics gathered by Captain.

Captain said the decline in Korean investment will affect some large development projects on Guam as well as the market for land. He said a number of Korean-funded real estate projects here, "have taken a back seat or put on indefinite hold." Captain said he couldn't comment on the specific projects.

Captain last month told the Rotary Club of Tumon Bay that the sale of high-end homes -- those costing $500,000 or more -- has suffered because developers were counting on Koreans to buy them. Only five of those homes sold during the first half of this year, he said, with dozens more on the market but unsold.

Tourist arrivals from Korea had been growing during the past several years, by as much as 5.5 percent per year, said Gerald Perez, general manager of the Guam Visitors Bureau.

Arrivals are now down about 5 percent for the year.

"I can say for sure that the Korean economy, particularly with respect to the won versus the dollar, has played a big impact," Perez said.

The decline in the value of the won means Korean visitors now get less value for their money, he said.

"The problem is the Korean won just within the last month was 950 (to the dollar). Now it's running 1,450 (to the dollar)," Perez said.

Despite the overall decline, Perez said this should be a good month for Korean tourist arrivals -- about 22 percent higher than last October -- because several "incentive" trips are scheduled to happen this month. Those are trips or seminars given as performance rewards.

Anderson, Navy to Merge Installation Management

Andersen, Navy to merge installation management
Tuesday, 21 October 2008
by Tessa Borja
Marianas Variety News

THE Air Force and Navy bases on Guam are about to sign a memorandum of agreement on how the two bases will operate under the joiThe BRAC decision reached in 2005 directed Andersen Air Force Base to

nt basing concept provided by the most recent Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) agreement. According to the Air Force Times, the vice-chiefs of each service will sign the agreement on Oct. 31.

The agreement will merge Andersen Air Force Base and several Navy bases on Guam into Joint Region Marianas, which becomes fully operational in October 2009.

The BRAC decision reached in 2005 directed Andersen Air Force Base to "relocate the installation management function" to the Commander of U.S. Naval Forces, Marianas, while maintaining its operational command.

Although details for the merger are not yet available, Pacific Air Forces officials have said that the Air Force and Navy will share installation support and management responsibilities with the Navy as the lead agency.

A Navy admiral will command Joint Region Marianas while officers from the respective services will continue to command operations within their base.

According to the Pacific Air Forces' deputy director of installations and mission support, Colonel John Cawthorne, a substantial initiative such as the joint basing comes with its challenges.

"There's some things that needed to be worked through, and we've done that. I think the Air Force does not have any reservation about this working," he told the Air Force Times.

In a roundtable meeting with the local press early last September, 36th Wing commander Brigadier General Philip M. Ruhlman spoke about the initial phase of the merger, noting that he and U.S. Naval Forces Marianas commander Rear Admiral Bill French have been looking forward to working together with Joint Region Marianas.

"This is a fantastic opportunity to continually show what the Navy and the Air Force on Guam have already been doing all along," he said.