Monday, April 26, 2010
Environmental Protection of Bases?
by David Vine
Just weeks before today’s Earth Day, and for the second time in little more than a year, environmental groups have teamed with governments to create massive new marine protection areas across wide swaths of the world’s oceans. Both times, however, there’s been something (pardon the pun) fishy about these benevolent-sounding efforts at environmental protection.
Most recently, on April 1, the British government announced the creation of the world’s largest marine protection area in the Indian Ocean’s Chagos Archipelago, which would include a ban on commercial fishing in an area larger than California and twice the size of Britain. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband called it “a major step forward for protecting the oceans.
A representative for the Pew Charitable Trusts—which helped spearhead the effort along with groups including the Marine Conservation Society, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and Greenpeace—compared the ecological diversity of the Chagos islands to the Galapagos and the Great Barrier Reef. The Pew representative described the establishment of the protected area as “a historic victory for global ocean conservation.” Indeed, this was the second such victory for Pew, which also supported the creation, in the waning days of the George W. Bush administration, of three large marine protection areas in the Pacific Ocean, around some of the Hawai’ian islands and the islands of Guam, Tinian, and Saipan.
The timing of the announcements for both the Indian Ocean and Pacific marine protection areas—on the eve of upcoming British parliamentary elections and in the days before Bush left office when he was trying to salvage a legacy—suggests that there’s more here than the celebratory announcements would suggest.
A Base Issue
Both marine protection areas provide safe homes for sea turtles, sharks, breeding sea birds, and coral reefs. But they are also home to major U.S. military bases. Chagos’s largest island, Diego Garcia, hosts a secretive billion-dollar Air Force and Navy base that has been part of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. The Pacific protection areas are home to U.S. bases on Guam, Tinian, Saipan, Rota, Farallon de Medinilla, Wake Island, and Johnston Island.
In both cases, the otherwise “pristine” protected environments carve out significant exceptions for the military. In Chagos, the British government has said, “We nor the US would want the creation of a marine protected area to have any impact on the operational capability of the base on Diego Garcia. For this reason…it may be necessary to consider the exclusion of Diego Garcia and its three-mile territorial waters.” In the Pacific, the Bush administration stressed that “nothing” in the protected areas “impairs or otherwise affects the activities of the U.S. Department of Defense.”
The incongruity of military bases in the middle of environmental protection areas is particularly acute since many military installations cause serious damage to local environments. As Miriam Pemberton and I warned in the wake of Bush’s announcement, “Such damage includes the blasting of pristine coral reefs, clear-cutting of virgin forests, deploying underwater sonar dangerous to marine life, leaching carcinogenic pollutants into the soil and seas from lax toxic waste storage and military accidents, and using land and sea for target practice, decimating ecosystems with exploded and unexploded munitions. Guam alone is home to 19 Superfund sites.”
Similarly, the base on Diego Garcia was built by blasting and dredging the island’s coral-lined lagoon, using bulldozers and chains to uproot coconut trees from the ground and paving a significant proportion of the island in asphalt. Since its construction, the island has seen more than one million gallons of jet fuel leaks, water fouled with diesel fuel sludge, the warehousing of depleted uranium-tipped bunker buster bombs, and the likely storage of nuclear weapons.
For all the benefits that marine protection areas might bring, governments are using environmentalism as a cover to protect the long-term life of environmentally harmful bases. The designation also helps governments hold onto strategic territories. Indeed, all of the Pacific and Indian Ocean islands involved are effectively colonies, including the Chagos Archipelago, which Britain refers to as the British Indian Ocean Territory and which was illegally detached from Mauritius during decolonization in the 1960s.
The environmental cover-up goes deeper. In addition to the Mauritian sovereignty claim on Chagos, the islands are also claimed by their former indigenous inhabitants, the Chagossians, whom the U.S. and British governments forcibly removed from their homeland during the base’s creation in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Since their expulsion, the Chagossians have been struggling for the right to return and proper compensation. Three times since 2000, the British High Court has ruled the removal unlawful, only to have Britain’s highest court overturn the lower-court rulings in 2008. The Chagossians have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights and expect hearings to begin this summer.
Again, the timing of the announcement of the Chagos marine protection area is far from coincidental. It could cement forever the Chagossians’ exile no matter the ruling of the European court. “The conservation groups have fallen into a trap,” explained Chagossian Roch Evenor, secretary of the UK Chagos Support Association. “They are being used by the government to prevent us returning.”
Others agree. In a letter to Greenpeace UK, Mauritian activist Ram Seegobin wrote, “Clearly, the British government is preparing a fall-back plan; if they lose the case in Europe, then there will be another ‘reason’ for denying the banished people their right of return.”
British lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, director of the human rights organization Reprieve, was even more direct: “The truth is that no Chagossian has anything like equal rights with even the warty sea slug.”
While the Pew Charitable Trusts, a foundation created by the children of one of the founders of Sun Oil Company, has been working behind the scenes for three years with British officials on the marine protection areas, other environmentalists have opposed the plan. “Conservation is a laudable goal,” Catherine Philp argued recently in The Times of London, “but it is a hollow and untruthful one when decided on behalf of the true guardians of that land who were robbed of it; not for the protection of the environment, but for a cheap media win and the easy benefit of the military-industrial machine.”
It did not have to be this way. The Chagossians, as one of their leaders, Olivier Bancoult, has said, once “lived in harmony with our natural environment until we were forcibly removed to make way for a nuclear military base.” The U.K. and U.S. governments could correct this injustice and protect the environment at the same time by finally allowing the Chagossians to return and serve as the proper guardians of their environment. It is not too late to correct this mistake. It is not too late to prevent the good name of environmentalism from being used to compound injustices that have been covered up for too long.
David Vine is assistant professor of anthropology at American University in Washington, DC, the author of Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia (Princeton University Press, 2009), and a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus.
Monday, 26 April 2010 03:57 by Tiffany Sukola
Marianas Variety News Staff
ALTHOUGH concerns have been raised over the long-term social, economic and environmental effects of the impending military buildup, a recent study done by University of Guam students shows that a majority of the general population is in favor of the plan to relocate nearly 8,000 Marines and their dependents from Okinawa to Guam.
University assistant professor Amy Owen and her students recently completed a research project on the perception of local residents regarding the U.S. buildup and related immigration issues. According to their data, a majority of island residents polled believe the buildup will be good for Guam’s economy.
Out of 403 poll-takers, 53 percent view the buildup as positive while 41 percent said otherwise. According to the survey, 71 percent of responders perceive the buildup as good for the economy while 74 percent perceive the buildup as bad for culture.
Owen, who specializes in cultural geography, said the goal of the study was to objectively gather an accurate representation of local views regarding the buildup and related immigration issues.
“Our research also shows that Guam’s culture, though very diverse, is unified and very tolerant of other ethnicities,” said Owen. “There is remarkable uniformity across ethnicities in viewpoints and opinions on a variety of topics as they relate to the buildup.”
Owen said the research indicated that the concern of local residents regarding immigrants is not ethnic; rather it is economic at base. Local residents are concerned that non-residents will take resources like jobs and healthcare.
Of the 403 respondents, Owen said 58 percent identified themselves as Chamorro, 28 percent as Filipino, six percent as other Pacific Islander, four percent as Asian and another 4 percent as Caucasian.
Out of the 403 respondents, 78 percent identified themselves as military or military families.
According to the data, middle age respondents were the most positive about the buildup while younger and older poll-takers viewed the buildup less positively.
Youth are concerned about jobs, land takings and cultural and identity loss according to the study.
Owen said the research indicated that higher incomes and lowest incomes viewed the buildup most positively while middle income groups perceived the military buildup least positive.
The research project, which was submitted to journal Asia Pacific Viewpoint earlier this year, will be officially presented later this week.
Tuesday, 27 April 2010
by Therese Hart
Marianas Variety News Staff
ABOUT 100,000 protesters attended a rally on Okinawa Sunday to demonstrate against a U.S. air base in a row that is dominating Japan's national politics and souring its ties with Washington, according to Kyodo News and AFP.
News wires reported that Sunday’s gathering was the largest demonstration on Okinawa since the island reverted to Japan in 1972 after 27 years of U.S. occupation.
The protesters joined local politicians in calling for the removal of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and vent their anger against the central government for dragging the issue out, according to the foreign wire agencies.
Kyodo News reported that Okinawa governor Hirokazu Nakaima, the speaker of the Okinawa assembly and most of the mayors of the Okinawa prefecture's 41 towns joined the huge protest near Kadena Air Base, the Asia-Pacific region's largest US military facility.
Demonstrators held yellow banners with messages protesting against the US military presence, including: "No Base!" and "US bases leave Okinawa!"
Meanwhile, Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on Saturday denied a Washington Post story that Japan is close to supporting portions of the 2006 alliance to move U.S. Marines from Okinawa’s Futenma air base to the more northeast coast of Okinawa.
In a nationally televised news conference, Hatoyama said going along with the plan to build a new air facility on Camp Schwab — on the Henoko Peninsula and reclaimed land in Oura Bay — was unacceptable, according to the Stars and Stripes European edition.
"The report is not true," Hatoyama said. "We cannot accept the existing plan."
He said putting the air base on land reclaimed from the ocean would harm the marine environment.
The Washington Post stated that Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada met with U.S. Ambassador John Roos and outlined an alternate plan for closing the air station that involved accepting most of the 2006 plan.
Several Japanese media outlets reported Sunday that Okada admitted he met with Roos but denied he proposed accepting most of the 2006 agreement.
Hatoyama promised to reach a decision on an alternative site by the end of May.
"I do indeed have a plan in mind," he said earlier last week. "But we are still trying to convince the United States. I cannot relate to the local people a plan that the U.S. will not accept."
Sunday’s event had the support of Okinawa’s political spectrum. Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima, an independent backed in the last election by the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, shared the stage with the members of more left-leaning parties, including Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan.
It was the first time members of the LDP — the ruling party for more than 50 years before Hatoyama took office — attended an anti-base rally on Okinawa, according to the Stars and Stripes.
Just after Hatoyama took office in September, he initiated a review of a 2006 agreement with the U.S. to close Futenma and build a new airstrip for the Marine units on Camp Schwab and on reclaimed land in Oura Bay. The ministerial committee reviewing the plan scrapped the idea, and Hatoyama is studying alternatives.
He promised to come up with a plan acceptable to Okinawa, the U.S. and whatever community he selects to host the Marines by the end of May.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
GPA plan includes upgrading facilities, equipment
By Dionesis Tamondong • Pacific Daily News
April 22, 2010
Power generation and distribution projects, a central office for Guam's power and water agencies, and investments into digital technology are among the things for which the Guam Power Authority plans to borrow about $210 million.
The Consolidated Commission on Utilities on Tuesday approved the power agency's plan to borrow up to $210 million for various improvement projects and refinancing efforts.
The bond financing needs the approval of the Legislature and the Public Utilities Commission. The loan would be paid back with future revenues collected from ratepayers.
The agency also has plans for another series of rate increases starting April 2011, according to a resolution the utilities commission passed Tuesday night.
CCU Chairman Simon Sanchez said a bulk of the borrowed money would go toward upgrading the agency's transmission and distribution facilities and equipment. If those facilities are able to run more efficiently, it will help lower the agency's operating costs, and in turn, delay or reduce future rate increases, Sanchez said.
The agency plans to invest in a $33.2 million Smart Grid Project, which has been estimated to produce up to $5 million per year in fuel savings, according to the CCU resolution. The agency received a $16 million federal grant for the digital technology project, but it must come up with the rest of the money.
A shared, central facility is also planned for the two utility agencies, which would called the Fadian Administration and Operations Center.
The building would help reduce costs for leasing and renovating existing facilities while streamlining operations for the two agencies, the resolution stated.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Sign Petition – Halt the Guam Build Up
CLICK HERE TO SIGN PETITION!
The President of the United States,
Michael Block (White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs ),
Cecilia Munoz (Director of White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs),
Nancy Sutley (Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality)
On Earth Day, April 22, 2010, we – the undersigned environmentalists, scholars, clergy, community leaders, and concerned citizens — call attention to the severe long-term impacts of preparations for war on the physical environment and, in turn, on human health.
We are extremely concerned about the environmental impacts of the proposed military expansion and build-up in the U.S. territory of Guam, noting the following points:
History of US Militarism in Guam:
* The people of Guam have lived under U.S. administration since 1898. Guam remains a U.S. colony, one of 16 non-self-governing territories listed by the United Nations, and represented by one non-voting delegate in the U.S. Congress. Local communities are highly constrained in their ability to influence the political process and were not consulted when the expansion plans were drawn up.
* For the indigenous Chamorro people, the long legacy of U.S. and Navy military control includes major land takings beginning in the early 20th century; radiation exposure; poor health; and the restriction of traditional practices such as fishing.
* In 1954, the entire island was affected by toxic contamination following the “Bravo” hydrogen bomb test in the Marshall Islands. In the 1970s, Guam’s Cocos Island lagoon was used to wash down ships contaminated with radiation en route from the Marshall Islands where they were part of an attempted clean up. From 1968 to 1974, Guam had higher yearly rainfall measures of strontium 90 than Majuro (Marshall Islands).
* As a corollary, the incidence of cancer in Guam is high. Cancer mortality rates from 1998 to 2002 showed that nasopharyngeal cancer was 48 times higher for Chamorros than among the general U.S. population. Cervical and uterine cancer mortality rates were 3 times higher. Chamorro deaths from cancer of the mouth and pharynx, the lungs, stomach, prostate, liver, breast, and thyroid were all higher than overall U.S. rates.
* Andersen AFB is a continuing source of toxic contamination through dumpsites and possible leaching of chemicals into the underground aquifer beneath the base. In 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency found antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, lead, manganese, dioxin, deteriorated ordnance and explosives, and PCBs at two dumpsites just outside the base at Urunao, Guam. Other areas have been affected by Vietnam-war era use of the defoliants Agent Orange and Agent Purple, as planes used for aerial spraying were cleaned in Guam. While there are some clean-up efforts currently underway, it has not resulted in the cumulative clean-up of the island. Instead, multiple toxic sites continue to exist, thereby impacting the health status of the island’s people.
Current Build-up Plans:
* Currently, Guam’s military significance is being redefined as part of a major realignment and restructuring of U.S. forces and operations in the Asia-Pacific region. Thirty miles long and eight miles wide, Guam houses the largest Air Force fuel supply in the United States and the largest supply of weapons in the Pacific. The military controls one-third of the island and intends for Guam to become a power projection hub.
* The proposed military build-up of Guam involves the transfer of 8,600 Marines currently based at Futenma Marine Air Station (Okinawa, Japan); the acquisition of 2,200 additional acres for military use, including additional live-fire ranges; and the dredging of 71 acres of vibrant coral reef in Apra Harbor to create berthing for a nuclear aircraft carrier for just 64 days a year. Also planned: a missile defense system and expansion of Andersen AFB. This proposal will increase the population of 173,456 by nearly 47% — or nearly 80,000 people, including U.S. Marines, support staff, military contractors, family members, and construction workers.
Inadequacies and Objections to the Current Plan:
* The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has given its worst rating to the DOD Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) regarding the proposed build-up. The EPA emphasizes the lack of a specific plan to address the wastewater treatment and water supply needs of the increased population, which will overstretch the already inadequate infrastructure and may result in “significant adverse public health impacts.” Low water pressure could lead to increased exposure to water borne disease from sewage stormwater infiltration into drinking water. Also, it could result in saltwater intrusion into Guam’s aquifer. The planned expansion will result in an increase in spills of raw sewage, exposing people to raw sewage in their drinking water supply, through the shellfish they eat, and during ocean recreation. Moreover, the EPA report argues that the build-up “will result in unacceptable impacts to 71 acres of high quality coral reef ecosystem in Apra harbor” and concludes that, “These impacts are of sufficient magnitude that EPA believes the action should not proceed as proposed.”
* Despite its inordinate length (9 volumes totaling 11,000 pages), the DEIS is vague in places, contains significant contradictions, and scarcely addresses social and cultural impacts to the island.
* Even though the public comment period was far too short — a mere 90 days to absorb the implications of the 11,000 page report — there has been an outpouring of pubic testimony, concern, and opposition to the build up expressed at town hall meetings, public hearings, community events, on the internet, and in media reports.
Many public comments on the DEIS focused on unequal amenities and opportunities inside and outside the military fencelines. As proposed, the build-up plan will exacerbate the reality of two Guams: one inside and one outside the bases.
Several Guam Senators, including Speaker Judith Won Pat, have questioned the build-up. Congressional Representative Bordallo and Governor Felix Camacho have greatly moderated their earlier support after seeing the detailed proposals and hearing the strength of community concern.
* The planned military expansion has serious implications for the Chamorro people’s right to self-determination: military-related personnel could outnumber the Chamorro population, who currently make up 37% of the total. Chamorro leaders have taken this issue to the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization and urged this committee to send representatives to Guam to conduct an assessment of the current situation on the island’s people.
We urge you to:
1) Halt the current plans for the military build up in Guam;
2) Demand the DOD rewrite the DEIS to include socio-economic and cultural impacts and mitigation, clearly outlined environmental impacts and mitigation, address the impacts to self-determination, complete cost-benefit analysis, and federal accountability for impacts on local communities;
3) Require the DOD to clean up existing contamination and toxic sites, on and off-base, caused by military operations on Guam, before any base expansion projects are considered;
4) Limit the military’s use of land on Guam to its current “footprint”;
5) Recommend federal funding to strengthen Guam’s inadequate infrastructure.
The White House press statement, issued mid-March 2010, emphasizing the administration’s commitment to “One Guam, Green Guam,” balancing the military’s needs with local concerns, promoting renewable energy, and reducing fuel and energy costs on the island does not address people’s core concerns. These goals cannot be achieved without addressing the inadequacies and concerns raised about the current build-up proposal.
We look forward to working with you on these matters.
Monday, April 19, 2010
By Dionesis Tamondong
Pacific Daily News
April 12, 2010
The construction of an 18,000-bed facility to house temporary workers for military buildup projects is set to break ground at the end of this month.
The Ukudu Workforce Village, which covers about 75 acres of property spanning Tamuning and Dededo, is just one of a few sites that have been approved for living quarters for foreign workers needed for military construction work.
The Guam Land Use Commission has also recently approved an application by Black Construction Corp. for its workforce housing project in the Harmon Industrial Park. When completed, that complex can house up to 1,200 workers.
On Thursday, the commission approved DDT Konstract International's application for its 300-capacity barracks along Bello Road in Barrigada.
If the GLUC was to approve all the pending applications for temporary worker housing facilities, the existing and pending barracks would have the capacity to accommodate more than 23,000 foreign laborers, Department of Land Management Director Chris Duenas said.
That figure is close to the combined populations of Santa Rita, Agat, Talofofo, Umatac, Inarajan and Merizo.
Dededo Mayor Melissa Savares said she was initially concerned about the impact the Ukudu Workforce Village could have on her village -- from the strain on water lines to the traffic congestion. But she said most of her concerns have been allayed after learning more about the facility and requirements placed on the developer.
Younex Enterprises Corp., as part of the conditions of the commission's approval, is required to mitigate potential adverse impacts.
Younex must work with Guam Waterworks Authority to ensure water services in surrounding areas aren't disrupted by its workforce housing facility. As well, buses will transport the workers during non-peak traffic hours to alleviate traffic congestion.
One of the many other conditions requires that "written assurances are submitted stating that the conduct or behavior of the H-2 workers will not be disruptive to the island and its people. The workers should be briefed on Guam's culture and customs ... ," according to the conditional approval letter.
So far, the Ukudu Workforce Village is the largest planned worker housing facility. Whether the complex actually meets its capacity depends on the projects awarded to Younex and the number of workers needed for those projects.
"We expect to open the first 2,000 beds in the fourth quarter of 2010 and will continue to add sectors of 2,000 beds as demand warrants, said Younex Senior Vice President David Tydingco. "By the end of 2011 we expect to be up to 8,000 beds, and that will grow as additional demand warrants."
The workforce village will provide workers three meals a day, a 24-hour medical clinic, organized recreational activities, banking services, convenience stores and other services.
The 252-acre property sits on the Harmon Annex adjacent to the Navy's South Finegayan family housing. About 75 acres of that property is dedicated for the worker housing facility, which is also conveniently located near the planned Marine Corps base.
The major buildup projects won't start until the Record of Decision is handed down by the Navy's top officials, and that's expected this summer.
An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 workers from off island will be needed for numerous projects related to the military buildup over several years.
Already, developers and construction companies are gearing up for those multi-million dollar contracts and subcontracts, and that includes obtaining additional workers and finding or building facilities to house them.
Core Tech International's application for its workforce living quarters -- the Royal Hawaiian Apartments in Tamuning -- is pending before the Land Use Commission, and it has two other sites it can use as barracks, said Joshua Tenorio, Core Tech's business development director.
Last year, Core Tech acquired the Royal Hawaiian Apartments and the vacant El Dorado apartment complex in Upper Tumon. The company can also convert its Tiyan facility, which it's currently leasing to the local government for the temporary John F. Kennedy High School, into a barracks.
"We're doing what we need to do in terms of upgrading our facilities and going through the regulatory process so that we're able to exercise our options if we're fortunate to be awarded one of those contracts," he said.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The new Guam doctrine will mark a significant stepping-stone in the creation of Asia's concert of powers. This ranks as a 'brave' prediction, because we don't yet have an Asian concert, and Barack Obama hasn't yet set foot on Guam to unveil a new doctrine. But both are approaching.
If Obama had not tarried in Washington to deliver the health centrepiece of his first presidential term, we would by now have the new Guam doctrine on display. But for Obamacare, the president would have made his tour last month � Guam, Indonesia and Australia. That trip is now scheduled for June.
The Guam stopover will underline the point that the US is spending billions on the island as a fresh assertion of its continuing role as Asia's military guarantor. A previous column offered this translation of the doctrine that will be blessed when Obama makes his Guam touchdown: 'We're going to be here for a long time yet.'
But my translation sentence is deficient because it reflects only the military dimension of the new doctrine. The beauty of what Obama will offer is that it will have a second, multilateral (Concert of Powers) dimension, building on the military framework of the US bilateral alliance system in Asia.
A translation of both dimensions of the Obama doctrine would look like this: 'We're going to be here for a long time yet, but we are certainly ready to talk about new ways to run the neighbourhood.' Or to put it more formally: the new doctrine will link a continuing assertion of US military capability to a willingness to think new thoughts about Asia's security architecture and a concert of powers.
A new Guam doctrine resonates in Canberra because Nixon's original version had such a profound impact on Australian defence thinking. Heading for the Vietnam exit door, Nixon used a stop-over press conference in Guam on 25 July, 1969, to float a thought bubble about US allies needing to take care of themselves. In dealing with non-nuclear threats, Nixon said, the US would 'look to the nation directly threatened to assume the primary responsibility of providing the manpower for defence.'
The rough translation of that at the time in Asia and Australia went like this: We're getting out of Vietnam. Good luck, everybody. We suggest a Do It Yourself kit for defence.'
Sitting back in Washington, Kissinger later wrote of his 'amazement' that what had been private White House musings had suddenly been unveiled in an unscripted, impromptu pronouncement on Guam. The off-the-cuff announcement meant there'd been no briefing, consultation or forewarning for allies.
The strategic shift via press conference caused all sorts of frissons across the region, not least in Canberra. It didn't equal the magnitude of the Nixon-goes-to-China shock, but it certainly made an impression. Indeed, it was the reaction of allies as much as Nixon's words that turned the Guam presser into the Guam doctrine.
After Guam, Australia was on notice that forward defence and reliance on the great and powerful ally did not amount to a defence policy. And as the US exit from Vietnam gathered pace, the Guam doctrine grew in significance. Every Australian Defence White Paper since 1976 has been, in part, a post-Guam document. The argument ricochets, rebounds and recurs: How much weight for the alliance versus spending on self reliance? Defend the continent or help the neighbourhood? Is it a regional capability or an expeditionary force?
The affirmation of the US commitment to its role as an Asian power has been a standard couple of paragraphs in most post-Cold War speeches by visiting US presidents and secretaries of State or Defence. Guam puts fresh dollars behind those words. The new superbase is a military statement of intent expressed in concrete.
What Obama can do is define the meaning of a new Guam doctrine in ways that reach beyond the military dimension. The Obama version of the Guam doctrine can be about conversation as well as concrete.
Indonesia and Australia stand equal in the number of US presidential touchdowns on their soil over the last 50 years � each has six. More on those mixed half dozens in a moment.
Popes kiss the ground when their plane lands. US Presidents lay their hands on the shoulder of the leader they meet. The Pope offers a blessing. The President sends political and diplomatic messages.
The coming Obama visit to Guam, Indonesia and Australia is somewhat curtailed but the intended messages are coming into view. Stopping in Guam is, plain and simple, a nod to the Defence Department. Going to Indonesia is an expression of Obama's own life. Mark it as a White House personal-and-policy must, building on a lot of other compelling reasons for giving Indonesia more prominence.
And Australia? Perhaps Kevin Rudd's magnetism has captured Obama during their various interactions over Afghanistan, climate change and the G20. Or, more likely, the State Department and Hillary Clinton won with an argument that was part geography and part politeness. You're going all the way to Indonesia, why snub the Australians when they are virtually next door?
The first leg of the trip will give us a new Guam doctrine on the US's continuing military presence in Asia. Richard Nixon did his doctrinal dance in Guam as the US extricated itself from Vietnam. Nixon's Guam doctrine was about allies henceforth taking primary responsibility for their own defence.
The Guam doctrine that Obama will bless is made flesh in the creation of a new multi-billion dollar US military superbase. The message can be encapsulated as: 'We're going to be here for a long time yet.' Given the politics of Japan at the moment, the message could be aimed as much at Tokyo as Beijing.
Beyond the personal history of Obama in Indonesia, the White House is briefing on the visit as an expression of the view that 'America has been somewhat absent from the region over the last several years and we are committed to re-establishing that leadership.' It's a two-part US call to Asia: our attention may have wandered but we know about our interests.
Reading that briefing, I was struck by the joining of Australia and Indonesia as twin 'middle powers' and the description of the journey as another expression of 'the changing global governance' of the 21st century. You can use phrases like that when you brief in the White House.
For both Australia and Indonesia, the Obama trip will be the seventh visit by a US President in the past 50 years. That figure suggests Australia has been doing pretty well with presidential touchdowns while Indonesia continues to strive to get due recognition for its significance. Indeed (warning: incoming clich�) Australia may well have been 'punching above its weight' in gaining presidential attention. The figures are contained here at the US State Department accounting of presidential trips.
Australia got off to a 'flying' start with two visits by LBJ; one in 1966 to express his friendship for Prime Minister Holt and one the following year to mourn Holt's disappearance in the surf. Then there was a 25-year gap, after which Australia scored repeatedly: George H Bush in 1992, Bill Clinton in 1996, and George W Bush in both 2003 and 2007. Obama's trip to Canberra means Australia will have enjoyed a touchdown by four US presidents in a row. In the touchdown stakes, that is close to the gold standard for 'middle powers'.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
By Dionesis Tamondong
Pacific Daily News
April 9, 2010
Obama this week sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, asking for the authority to shift up to $50 million in his administration's budget request next fiscal year for critical improvements to the Port Authority of Guam.
"Modernization of the port is a critical prerequisite for the military construction program supporting the realignment of U.S. Marine Corps forces from Japan to Guam, a part of the overall U.S. strategy for military forces in the Pacific region," Obama said in the April 5 letter.
If approved, the Department of Defense will transfer funds to the Department of Transportation to finance the port improvements.
The letter from Obama, who has scheduled a Guam visit in June, was made after Guam officials questioned the federal government's intent to help GovGuam pay for the cost of hosting a much larger military presence.
The port had applied for an economic stimulus grant of almost $50 million through the Transportation Department, but that wasn't approved.
The port has plans for about $200 million worth of upgrades, with a large bulk of the funding from federal grants and loans.
Without those facility improvements, the port can become a chokepoint in the delivery of construction materials and commercial cargo throughout the region.
Thursday, April 08, 2010
Thursday, 08 April 2010
by Therese Hart
Marianas Variety News Staff
CONTINUING discussions on President Obama’s national healthcare reform package have produced more questions than answers.
At last night’s meeting held by the Guam Medical Association, local physicians raised questions to Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo, but she said many of their inquiries will be answered once the new law is ironed out.
Even federal government entities such as the U.S. Department of Public Health and Human Services has asked Guam’s Department of Public Health and Social Services to wait for more guidance on how the new legislation will affect Guam.
“The healthcare reform legislation is still being reviewed and analyzed by staff in our Baltimore Central Office, and we have been asked to hold off on providing guidance and answering questions at the regional level while Central Office staff carefully review the legislation,” federal health department representative Brian Zolynas stated in a letter to Tess Arcangel of the local health department.
Physicians asked about Guam’s choice of opting into the new health insurance exchanges.
Kin Perez from Bordallo’s office said if Guam decides to opt in, Guam can develop its own insurance exchange, which is currently being discussed by several local insurance companies with the government of Guam.
He added that Guam can choose to opt in with Hawaii, which, however, will affect current rates since Hawaii rates are higher than Guam.
The health insurance companies are asking GovGuam for assistance because Guam leaders—and not the insurance companies—will make the decision whether or not to opt in to the plan.
The companies have asked the government to create the high-risk insurance pool, because Guam currently doesn’t have one.
“This is going to cause all kinds of problems because it becomes effective within 90 days,” Perez said.
The high-risk insurance pool will be created within 90 days for people with existing medical conditions. The pool, backed by $5 billion in federal money, will offer subsidized premiums to people who have been uninsured for at least six months and have yet-to-be-defined medical problems.
Bordallo said local physicians are asking the same questions raised by their counterparts in the every state and that it will take time to clarify all the details.
She assured the doctors that Guam has time to get all its questions answered by 2014, the deadline for opting in or out of the new health insurance exchange.
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
BREAKING NEWS: Former Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller Dies
|Former Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller died in the morning hours of April 6 at her home in rural Adair County. (Courtesy photo)|
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Former Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller died in the morning hours of April 6 at her home in rural Adair County, Cherokee Nation officials confirmed to the Cherokee Phoenix.
Mankiller, who was one of the few women ever to lead a major American Indian tribe, was 64.
Her passing came a little more than a month after her husband, CN Community Services Group Leader Charlie Soap, announced that she was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer.
“Our personal and national hearts are heavy with sorrow and sadness with the passing this morning of Wilma Mankiller,” said Chad Smith, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation in a statement released by the tribe. “We feel overwhelmed and lost when we realize she has left us but we should reflect on what legacy she leaves us. We are better people and a stronger tribal nation because her example of Cherokee leadership, statesmanship, humility, grace, determination and decisiveness."
“When we become disheartened, we will be inspired by remembering how Wilma proceeded undaunted through so many trials and tribulations," Smith said. "Years ago, she and her husband Charlie Soap showed the world what Cherokee people can do when given the chance, when they organized the self-help water line in the Bell community. She said Cherokees in that community learned that it was their choice, their lives, their community and their future. Her gift to us is the lesson that our lives and future are for us to decide. We can carry on that Cherokee legacy by teaching our children that lesson. Please keep Wilma’s family, especially her husband Charlie and her daughters, Gina and Felicia, in your prayers.”
In a March 2 news release, Soap said Mankiller had stage 4 metastatic pancreatic cancer but gave no other details.
In the release, Mankiller wrote she was prepared for the journey.
“I decided to issue this statement because I want my family and friends to know that I am mentally and spiritually prepared for this journey, a journey that all human beings will take at one time or another,” she wrote. “It’s been my privilege to meet and be touched by thousands of people in my life, and I regret not being able to deliver this message personally to so many of you.”
Mankiller served as principal chief from 1985 until retiring in 1995. Prior to becoming principal chief, she served as deputy chief under Ross Swimmer. She assumed the principal chief position and served out the remainder of the 1983-87 term after Swimmer resigned to take a Bureau of Indian Affairs job in Washington, D.C. She was elected principal chief in 1987 and 1991.
Mankiller was born on Nov. 18, 1945, at W.W. Hastings Indian Hospital in Tahlequah, according to a CN press release.
Mankiller requested that any gifts in her honor be made as donations to One Fire Development Corporation, a non-profit dedicated to advancing Native American communities though economic development, and to valuing the wisdom that exists within each of the diverse tribal communities around the world. Tax deductible donations can be made at www.wilmamankiller.com as well as www.onefiredevelopment.org. The mailing address for One Fire Development Corporation is 1220 Southmore Houston, TX 77004.
Memorial services will be April 10 at 11 a.m. at the Cherokee Nation Cultural Grounds in Tahlequah.
Staff and wire reports contributed to this story.
Reach Staff Writer Christina Good Voice at (918) 207-3825 or email@example.com.
Sunday, April 04, 2010
This year's event will focus largely on the critical issue of U.S. military bases. In order to continue tying together individual peace movements, we would love to read onstage any messages received from groups/individuals representing Okinawa, Guam, Hawaii, and Korea. (One of our speakers, actor/free diver Ikue Masudo, as well as one of our singers, Sandii Bunbun, who will perform with her troupe of hula dancers, will speak regarding the environmental situation in Hawaii that continues to be threatened by the military presence there.)
Event information is down below, and a report on last year's event is also available here:
Spring Love (Harukaze) is making its second run in Yoyogi Park on April 3rd and 4th, promising a weekend extravaganza of top-rated musical and dance performances, film screenings, organic food and goods, and talk sessions featuring peace-related social action.
Come out and enjoy the cherry blossoms while feeding your mind and soul with some Spring Love!!
Date/Time: Saturday, April 3rd (1-8 PM) and Sunday,
April 4th (12-7:30 PM)
Venue: Yoyogi Park Outdoor Stage
Event will feature:
■ Performances from numerous musicians and dancers representing a variety of artistic genres
■ Peace-related talk sessions, films, and exhibitions
■ Events on two separate stages (Spring Stage and Love Stage)
■ Booths with literature from peace-related NPOs/NGOs
■ Spring Love Market with sales of various eco-friendly goods
■ Spring Love Kitchen featuring stalls with organic/ethnic foods
■ Live painting
■ Kids’ activities
Saturday, April 3rd
2:30-3:25 PM: Military bases and the role of the media
Panelists: Kobayashi Atsushi (director/producer of several military-base related documentary films); Shiva Rei (freelance journalist who has reported from places including Iraq and Gaza)
Navigator: Inada Hideaki (Solar Inc.)
4:35-4:50 PM: Hints for carving out natural, sustainable lifestyles in today's unnatural, unsustainable modern societies
Speaker: Ikue Masudo, formerly known as Takagi Saya (TV/film actor, free diver, owner of Furyu organic cafe/gallery)
Navigator: Fukui Hiroshi (Peace Not War Japan music director,DJ)
4:50-5:50 PM: Why should Japan's Constitutional Article 9 (the peace clause) be protected?
Panelists: Matsumari Masumi (Peace Boat); Shiva Rei (freelance journalist); Kamebuchi Yuka (gospel singer, peace advocate)
8:30 PM〜: Documentary film screenings
We don’t need bases anywhere!, ANPO and The Insular Empire: America in the MarianasMessage from Yanbaru: A Documentary of Takae, Higashi Village in Okinawa, Alternative Lifestyles: Learning from the European Squatting Movement, Kukuru
Sunday, April 4th
2:00-2:45 PM: Listen to citizens' voices: No more wasteful, destructive construction!
Hear from activists working to stop the following projects in environmentally rich areas: a tunnel through Mt. Takao; a nuclear power plant in Kaminoseki; and a U.S. military site in Takae Village, Okinawa.
Panelists: Sakata Masako (Kenju no kai); Higa "Marty" Masato (documentary filmmaker); Yamato Taka (organic loquat farmer); Yamada Sei (peace/environmental activist and author)
3:30-4:25 PM: Building sustainable, non-militarized economies: examples of organic, small-scale, community-based alternatives to a military-dependent economy
Panelists: Kikuchi Yumi (Harmonics Life Center director, Tokyo Peace Film Festival producer, Japan United for a Ministry of Peace committee member); Tanaka Yu (Mirai Bank Director, Japan International Volunteer Center board member, ap bank member); Kosaka Masaru (organic restaurant/bar owner, writer, rice/soybean farmer)
5:10-5:25 PM: Kikuchi Yumi, a well-known peace/environmental activist, writer, translator, and international speaker, shares the latest information on 9/11-related issues, the Tokyo Peace Film Festival, and more!
Navigator: Kimberly Hughes, Peace Not War Japan co-coordinator.
Ikue Asazaki (traditional Amami Shimauta folk songs)
Sayoko meets YA MAN RIDDIM (funky reggae + djembe)
Blues the Butcher-590213 + Leyona (rock/soul/reggae/blues)
Rakita (acoustic groove)
Yuppi & Tane (elementary school aged singer/songwriter!)
Rabirabi (percussion/voice duo)
Ailie (roots reggae)
GOCOO ＋ GoRo
11-piece wadaiko (Japanese drum) ensemble
Kamebuchi Yuka and Voices of Japan (VOJA) (gospel)
Mika Arisaka (jazz)
SandiiBunbun with Earth Conscious and Hula All Stars (Hawaiian)
The Tchiky's (Acoustic/Afrobeat/Dub)
Fukugawa Baron Club (Indonesian gamelan)
YOSHIE (belly dancing)
Jintaramuta (fusion unit blending Japanese traveling street protest music together with elements of modern jazz)
Mon Kumagai (shamisen)
※ Please note that there may be changes in the list of performers and guests.
※ Please refrain from smoking within the venue area, as well as from taking photographs of the performers.
※ A portion of the sales of food and goods--as well as all donations placed in our donation boxes, will be given to several grassroots organizations in order to support their ongoing work for nonviolent peace action.
※ Spring Love has a “gomi-zero” ("no garbage") policy.
Please leave the venue as clean as you found it by separating your trash at one of the provided garbage stations. Garbage
cleanup is an extremely expensive undertaking, and if this policy is not respected, we may not be able to offer this free
festival in the future. Show some spring love by following the "gomi-zero" rule!!
※ Volunteers needed before and during the event!! (setup, translation/interpretation, cleanup, various administrative tasks,
etc.) If you are able to help, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Event support: A SEED JAPAN, Solar, Peace Not War Japan,
TEAM promotional clips, (featuring a live performance from singer UA in Takae village, Okinawa)
Saturday, April 03, 2010
Perspectives :: Guam set to oppose relocation of 8,000 Marines to island from Okinawa
The local community in the U.S. territory of Guam is leaning toward rejecting the planned relocation of about 8,000 U.S. Marines to the island from Okinawa Prefecture.
The local governor, who had initially expressed his willingness to host the troops, is now calling for a delay in the deadline for the relocation, set at 2014.
While Japanese legislators and government officials insisting that U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma be moved out of Japan hope Guam will host a substitute facility, growing anti-base sentiment in the island community has cast a shadow over even the already agreed-upon relocation of some 8,000 Marines.
The recent dispute in Guam over the relocation of Marines suggests that the situation on this resort island is similar to that of Okinawa, where residents are protesting the excessive burden of hosting U.S. bases in Japan and historically unequal relations between the island prefecture and the central government.
Nancy Sutley, head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and an adviser to President Barack Obama on environmental issues, met with local legislators on March 23 to ask for their opinions on the planned relocation of Marines to the island.
The Mainichi Shimbun has obtained the minutes of the talks, held behind closed doors, in which Sutley and the U.S. government were roundly criticized. [Comment Added: Pacific News Center, Guam Senators Hammer Sutley On Draft EIS for Buildup, http://www.pacificnewscenter.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3951:guam-senators-hammer-sutley-on-draft-eis-for-buildup&catid=45:guam-news&Itemid=156] One of the legislators declared that islanders will fight against any forcible expropriation of their land, and pointed out that the expansion of U.S. bases there would drastically change islanders' lives over the next 300 years.
Another criticized the federal government for extending no assistance to finance infrastructure building necessary to expand the bases, while one other demanded that historically unequal relations between the federal government and Guam be rectified.
Overwhelmed by the furious legislators, Sutley only said the federal government will do its best to ensure the expansion of the bases will benefit local residents, and promised to convey their opinions to Washington. However, she failed to make any specific pledge. Her bureaucratic response only disappointed the attendees.
The local community's anti-base sentiment was sparked by an interim report on the environmental assessment released by the U.S. military in November last year. The report called for additional forcible land leases, which one local legislator describes as "a bolt from the blue," and a large-scale dredging of the harbor.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejected the assessment as inadequate, and advised the military not to implement the relocation as planned, sending shockwaves throughout the island.
The U.S. military has explained that the additional land lease is necessary to build a firing range for the Marines, and harbor dredging is needed to allow a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to enter the port.
During construction work, the island's population is estimated to increase by 50 percent to approximately 260,000. Nevertheless, the military has failed to work out any plan to build additional water supplies or sewage facilities to cope with the increase.
In its written opinion, the EPA expressed grave concern that the island would be seriously short of water, and that excessive sewage water could cause serious health problems, such as the spread of infectious diseases.
Moreover, the EPA pointed out that dredging could damage the 28-hectare coral reef off Guam.
(Mainichi Japan) April 3, 2010
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Perspectives :: Tokyo under pressure to foot infrastructure bill for expansion of Guam base
Japan is under mounting pressure to foot the expenses of building infrastructure necessary to expand U.S. bases on Guam to accommodate about 8,000 Marines to be relocated out of Okinawa Prefecture, as Washington has failed to shoulder the financial burden.
The Guam territorial government estimates that $3.9 billion, or approximately 370 billion yen, will be necessary to build an additional sewage treatment facility, power station and improve roads and bridges. The amount is eight times the annual budget of the island.
A high-ranking Guam government official expressed grave concern that the island could go broke, pointing out that the federal government has stopped short of pledging to foot the costs. He then asked if Tokyo will shoulder the financial burden.
Military bases cover 30 percent of the land area of Guam, with Andersen Air Force Base situated in its north and Apra Harbor Navy Base on its west coast.
Furthermore, a total of 17 servicemen from the island have died in the war in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001, and in a Feb. 15 address Guam Gov. Felix Perez Camacho emphasized that Guam dedicated more lives and land per resident to war than any other state or territory in the United States.
Angered by a federal government that is trying to force the islanders to make further sacrifices, the Guam legislature adopted a resolution on Feb. 11, demanding that the plan to expand bases in Guam be revised, and in his Feb. 15 address Gov. Camacho insisted that the expansion of U.S. bases in Guam be delayed beyond 2014.
The Social Democratic Party, a ruling coalition partner in Japan, has demanded that U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture be moved to Guam. However, Guam's legislature and governor are increasingly critical of the already agreed upon plan to shift some 8,000 Marines in Okinawa to Guam.
- Guam set to oppose relocation of 8,000 Marines to island from Okinawa
- DPJ's partners lodge opposition to Futemma reclamation option
- Japan still seeking an agreement by May with U.S. on Futemma: Okada
- Guam jittery on Hatoyama's indecision on U.S. base
- Gov't to propose two plans to relocate Futenma base within Okinawa Prefecture
(Mainichi Japan) April 3, 2010