Friday, October 29, 2010

Dear Jon, Sane People Protest Crazy Wars

by Medea Benjamin from

When Jon Stewart was on Larry King's show talking about his Rally to Restore Sanity, he likened himself to Alice in Wonderland and the rally as the Mad Hatter Tea Party. But is Jon Stewart really Alice, trying to find sanity in an upside-down world? Or is he the March Hare, the ultimate "slacktivist" who thinks it's always teatime -- time to sit back and jibberjabber?

The 10-30-10 rally on the capital's mall is looking more and more like a celebration of "slacktivism." Stewart is courting people who do not want to open their window and yell, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!" As he says in the Rally for Sanity website, he's looking for the people who've been "too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs (or are looking for jobs)."

So let's get this straight: people who were so horrified when the U.S. invaded Iraq that they joined millions of others to protest are not sane? We shouldn't speak out against Wall Street bankers whose greed led to millions of Americans losing their jobs and homes? It's irrational to be angry when you see the Gulf of Mexico covered in oil because BP cut corners on safety? Don't get upset when the Supreme Court rules that corporations are people and can pour unlimited funds into our elections?

Stewart often roasts the warmakers and corporate fatcats on his show, but he seems to think that his viewers should be content to take out their frustrations with a good belly laugh.

When Jon Stewart announced the Rally to Restore Sanity, he included CODEPINK among the "loud folks" getting in the way of civil discourse. He also equated progressives calling George Bush a war criminal with right-wingers calling Obama Hitler.

So we started a facebook page asking Jon Stewart to invite us on the show to set the record straight. Beware of what you ask for. We did, indeed, get a call from the producers but it was not for a live interview with Jon Stewart. No, it was for a taped session with myself, a Tea Party organizer and a tear-gas dodging, anti-globalization anarchist "giving advice" to Daily Show's Samantha Bee about how to organize a good rally. It was clear they wanted to portray us as the crazy folks who should not come to their rally for reasonableness.

I consulted with my CODEPINK colleagues. Some said, "Don't do it. It's a trap and will only further marginalize us." We'd already been ridiculed several times on the show, like when we stood up to question General Petraeus at a Congressional hearing or when we organized protests at the Marine Recruiting Center in Berkeley. But the majority of my colleagues thought it would be crazy to decline the chance to get an anti-war message out to millions of viewers.

The producers told us to come to the New York studio "in costume." The anarchist, Legba Carrefour, was all in black, including a black bandanna covering his face. The Tea Partier, Jeffrey Weingarten, came in patriotic red, white and blue. I decided to "go professional," with a CODEPINK t-shirt and a gray suit. The producers were disappointed. They had wanted me to appear in one of the wild outfits we have worn in Congress -- like a hand-lettered pink slip accessorized with a hot-pink boa and a glittery "no war" tiara.

But my attempt to look professional was thwarted by the fourth guest who suddenly appeared and was positioned right behind me: A huge, scary puppet head of Iranian President Ahmadinejad.

So there we were, four "crazies" being quizzed by Samantha Bee for over two hours. She started out with softballs -- what did we stand for, what activities did we engage in. Then the questions and the antics got sillier and sillier. By the end we found ourselves spinning a blind-folded Samantha Bee around, then watching her swing a baseball bat at Ahmadinejad's head to see if it was really a pinata.

I'm sure that with over two hours of tape, there will be plenty of footage to turn into a four-minute segment showing us as a bunch of nutcases. After all, it is a comedy show.

But it's too bad that Jon Stewart, the liberal comedian, is putting anti-war activists, tea partiers and black bloc anarchists in the same bag. And it's sad that he's telling his audience -- many of whom are young progressive thinkers -- that activism is crazy.

An anonymous assistant on the Daily Show's blog chastized CODEPINK on line. "Dipping hands in fake blood or screaming over everyone just makes you look crazy and then the rest of the country ignores you." He said that we should, instead, focus on solutions.

CODEPINK has been proposing solutions since the day we started. We risked our lives meeting with UN weapons inspectors in Iraq right before the U.S. invaded to see if war could be avoided. We have repeatedly traveled to Afghanistan to push for reconciliation. For the past eight years we have been posing solutions about how to deal with terrorism, how to extricate ourselves from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, how to make us safer at home. Whether under Bush or Obama, our voices of sanity have been drowned out by a war machine that makes billions selling weapons and hiring mercenaries.

Meanwhile, we've witnessed the agony of mothers who have lost their sons in these senseless wars, the unspeakable suffering of our friends in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the lavish spending on war while our schools and hospitals are gutted.

It was because of this insanity that we began to interrupt the war criminals during their public appearances, shouting -- yes, shouting -- for an end to the madness. It was because of this insanity that we put fake blood on our hands to represent the hundreds of thousands of innocents who died as result of their lies. In our post-9/11 24/7 news cycle, we learned that the more audacious and outrageous the action, the more likely we were to get our anti-war message into the national conversation.

For this the Daily Show calls us crazy!

Don't get me wrong. CODEPINK women love to laugh and we try not to take ourselves too seriously. But we do feel that it's the sane people who protest crazy wars, who cry out against the dangers of global warming, who rail against big money in politics, who implore our politicians to spend our resources rebuilding America, not bombing people overseas.

So let's celebrate the people who walk the talk. Slacktivism did not end slavery, activism did. Slacktivism did not get women our rights. Activism did. Slacktivism won't end war or global warming. But activism just might.

Jon Stewart says he wants to restore sanity to Washington; so do we. We'll see you out on the mall, Jon.

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of CODEPINK and Global Exchange. CODEPINK will be organizing a Mad Hatter Tea Party at the Rally to Restore Sanity. To join, click here. Her "interview" with Samantha Bee will be aired on the Daily Show on Thursda

Clinton makes brief visit to Guam


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stood in front of a star-spangled backdrop yesterday and told hundreds of military troops that their crucial role in the Pacific is growing.

Clinton, who embarked on a two-week tour through Asia, stopped on Guam briefly yesterday afternoon and gave an address at Andersen Air Force Base. About 400 service members from the various military branches packed into the Global Hawk hangar to hear her speak.

To begin, Clinton called on each branch to make some noise.

"I can barely hear you all," she taunted, with her hand cupped at her ear. "Who's here from the Navy?"

In response, a mass of sailors in blue and brown camouflage stood up and roared. Next to them, at least 200 airmen sat silent, waiting for their turn to roar back.

"All right. And what about the Marines?" Clinton asked.

One woman in the middle of the crowd stood up with a "oorah," then peered around and realized she was alone.

"Well, I don't think you'll be lonely for too long," Clinton said, smiling and laughing.

So there it was, even when the Secretary of State was rallying troops and joking around, the footsteps of fast-approaching military buildup were inescapable.

The buildup will transfer about 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam, and that shift is expected to trigger a total growth of about 41,000 people to Guam by 2016, and about 14,000 by next year, so the population boom alone has the power to reshape the island. So do the billions of dollars of buildup funds headed to Guam.

Before she spoke yesterday, Clinton met with Gov. Felix Camacho, Lt. Gov. Mike Cruz, Speaker Judith Won Pat and Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz, each of whom brought concerns about the buildup to the table. Won Pat presented a legislative resolution that details senators' concerns with the buildup process.

During the speech yesterday, Clinton didn't talk much about the buildup directly, but she spoke about the general increase in federal government activity and energy on this half of the globe. This is her sixth trip to the Asia-Pacific region as secretary of State, she said, since this region is "the center of much of the change and challenges of the 21st century."

"We are engaging ever more actively in this region," Clinton said. "With our allies, our partners, with emerging powers, with institutions that are being built in order to keep the peace, advance prosperity and stability."

Clinton added later in her speech that one of the goals of the President Obama's administration was to "re-assert" the American presence in Asia.

"You can see we are paying a lot of attention to what's going on in the Asia-Pacific region because the United States is both an Atlantic and a Pacific power ... Everywhere I travel on your behalf, I hear from leaders and citizens alike that they are glad America is back."

From Guam, Clinton will head to Vietnam, where she said the United States is building relationships that were "unthinkable" only a decade ago.

Buildup Talks

Journalists were not permitted to interview Clinton during her time on Guam, but Camacho made himself available for interview when her speech was done.

Camacho said he spoke with Clinton for about 15 minutes and most of the discussion was spent on buildup concerns and Japan politics. The Japanese government is helping to pay for the relocation of Marines from Okinawa to ease the presence of military troops in Japan.

A gubernatorial election in Okinawa could potentially alter the current path of the buildup, Camacho said.

The governor said Clinton told him she believed Okinawa would stay "on the right track."

Guam and Okinawa share many of the same buildup concerns -- such as the construction of a new military base -- Camacho said, and what happens in Okinawa has a direct impact on what happens here.

"She said, you know, that they were in discussions with the leadership -- the prime minister of Japan -- with regards to this, and there is a commitment to move forward," Camacho said. "But there is a bit of a conflict, in that, on the one hand, they recognize the concerns of the Okinawan people and the nation of Japan with regards to the building of additional military bases. On the other hand, they recognize the value and the need for America to remain as a resident power in this part of the world, as a deterrent to aggressive neighbors. It's conflicting, and they are caught somewhere in the middle."


Clinton spoke about one of those neighbors, China, during a speech in Hawaii on Thursday, before she flew to Guam.

In Hawaii, she said the military would remain "forward deployed" in this region, and urged China to work with the United States instead of against it.

"It is not in anyone's best interest for the United States and China to see each other as adversaries," she said.

Yesterday, Camacho said he also spoke to Clinton about a visa waiver program for Guam, which could allow tourists from China to infuse more tourism dollars into the local economy.

If a visa waiver wasn't possible, at least a "Marianas-only waiver" should be considered.

"Japan is a declining market ... and we see China as a growth market," Camacho said.

The governor said Clinton said the idea of a "Marianas-only waiver" was interesting, but she made no promises.

Great Debate saw final election push

by Sabrina Salas Matanane from

Guam - The final showdown between the two gubernatorial teams was much more structured and organized than their verbal scrap held the night before at the Hyatt and hosted by the Guam Medical Association.

University of Guam Field House was packed with supporters from both camps. They were asked a total of 18 questions. In his opening statements former Governor Carl T.C. Gutierrez talked about his experience and how the stakes are high with the military buildup. He added that the Guam needed a seasoned leader, someone with experience in crisis management and a leader than can pull the community together. His opponent Senator Eddie Baza Calvo began by thanking his supporters. The republican candidate for governor then began to attack his opponent's record reminding them about the Gutierrez Administration when there was "hanom taki", a 38% graduation rate for high school students and 10,000 people who were unemployed. Calvo's running-mate Senator Ray Tenorio then began to speak saying this election is about "character not charm".

When asked "If you are elected, how will your administration address critical issues and concerns in public K-12 education?" Gutierrez responded that he will work the Bureau of Budget Management and Research to ensure the Department of Education receives its timely allotments. Senator Calvo however reminded the public that Gutierrez transferred $2 million out of education when he came into office.

When asked "How will our administration work to preserve Guam's culture?' Calvo responded saying he would spend more money on the Department of Education to promote the Chamorro culture in school. He added that he would support the construction of a Chamorro museum, Gef Pago and the Hurao Academy. Calvo added that he would also work with village mayors to maintain their unique identity and would work to revitalize Hagatna. Democrat Gutierrez said "Language is the umbilical chord of our culture".

When asked "How will your administration work with these agencies or other stakeholders to improve law enforcement on Guam?" Gutierrez started by referring to public law that mandates law enforcement officers receive their 10% increments over the next four years. Gutierrez said he will work to make sure they get their necessary raises. The democrat gubernatorial candidate also said that if elected he would pull together Guam's law enforcement and the military's to be part of "community policing". Gutierrez also talked about how under his administration streetlights were put up for safety reasons but it was this administration that took them down. Republican Calvo responded by calling Gutierrez out, saying that when he was Governor he increased the number of police officers to watch him, that under his administration there was a record number of rapes and murders. Calvo said if elected "there will be more police officers". He added that he would work to improve technology, communication and interconnectivity with law enforcement. He added that he supports more neighborhood patrol programs and would open more police kobans.

During the set of questions for candidates for Lt. Governor, the first question posed was "if elected, how will your leadership team improve and support adult and higher education on Guam?" Senator Frank Aguon Jr, approached the podium with a copy of their policy platform, ASAP Guam". Holding it in the air Aguon said they will work collectively and collaboratively with the University of Guam and the Guam Community College to make sure they identify the opportunities and challenges to get good job for families. In Senator Ray Tenorio's response he said "he showed you a book, our platform is n our heart". Calvo added that under a Calvo Tenorio administration they will create new scholarships among other things. He added that Calvo helped put together the apprenticeship program and that together if elected they will help everyone, not a few.

When asked "How will your administration manage our precious lands and work with landowners?" Tenorio said their plan first would say Pagat is not sale. He added that they will protect Pagat and that the Department of Defense should stay within its existing blueprint. Senator Aguon talked about the Chamorro Land Trust Commission and that under a Gutierrez Aguon administration it would be a priority to ensure those properties are immediately surveyed.

When asked "How will your administration work to reduce crime?" Aguon responded by saying they would work with village mayors and law enforcement agencies to recognize what law enforcement heads have to do for the buildup. He added they would partner with military security forces to be part of the community. Senator Tenorio said you will have a Lt. Governor who was a cop. He added that former Governor Carl Gutierrez had more police officers protecting him than on the streets. He also responded to Gutierrez' earlier statements about streetlights, saying their were "chandeliers in Agana Heights". Tenorio ended saying more cops means more safety.

When asked "How will your administration improve Guam's economy and provide for long term growth?" Calvo started by referring to Gutierrez record as Governor saying unemployment was at 15% and how 10,000 people were unemployed. Calvo added that under his administration they will take advantage of the buildup and implement the classroom to careers initiative. He said he will go to the Department of Education, University of Guam and the Guam Community College and ask them to build a curriculum so that our young people can take advantage of the new economy. Gutierrez responded to the question saying we need to get more Visa Waiver programs for Guam and work with the airlines. He says if you bring in more tourists it's guaranteed the economy will get better.

When asked "what will your administration do to improve Guam-Federal relations?' Gutierrez started by saying when he was Governor he doesn't believe any one had a better relationship, referring to how he was able to bring former President Bill Clinton to Guam. He said that we have been ignored in Washington D.C. and do not have a face there. He says its not Bordallo's job, he said it's the Governor of Guam's job to network," This face will be the face of Guam in the federal government," Gutierrez said. In response Senator Calvo said "his face is so great the federal government took their kids out of public school." Calvo added that he's friends with Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo and would work with her.

When asked "how will your administration work to improve Guam's utilities?" Calvo was first to respond and again referred to when Gutierrez was Governor when GWA had "hanom taki". Calvo said children were drinking water that could kill them. The republican candidate then said under the Consolidated Commission on Utilities there has been vast improvements and that he would work with them and the federal government. He made reference to his bi-partisan trip to the nation's capitol and said that with the help of Congresswoman Bordallo they were able to secure millions in federal money for infrastructure improvements outside the fence. Gutierrez said that he would work with the legislature to allow the Governor to be able to appoint some of the members to the CCU. He also said he recalled when he was Governor that the Guam Environmental Protection Agency shutdown Tropicool which was run by Pepsi. He said while he was trying to fix hanom taki you were selling it to the people.

It was once again turn for the candidates to Lieutenant Governor to be asked questions. When asked "How will your administration work to improve relations with the judiciary?" Senator Aguon said his running mate knows almost everyone in the court by now despite detractors that have tried to take him down he stands here innocent. Aguon then said they need to provide more resources and expand the northern satellite court among other things. Tenorio said that the reason people in the court may know him is because of the number of times he's been indicted and the number of times his agency heads have been indicted. Tenorio added that they need to get the judiciary their resources and bring people and government officials to justice.

When asked "How will your administration work with the Guam legislature?" Calvo was first to answer and asked the crowd at the UOG Field House "How many democrats are here for Calvo Tenorio?", He followed up "I love both sides… that's so important to work with consensus." The republican candidate for governor said he will work with Delegate Bordallo and all sectors of the community he added that during his first week he will meet with the Legislature both minority and majority. He said "Now is the time to come together." Former Governor Carl Gutierrez took the podium and said the only problem when governor was working with the Legislature but come January 1st he is ready and is already working with the Legislature. He cited how he and Senator Ben Pangelinan will work together, "there is no time for petty politics". He added that he has a great working relationship with all the democrats.

The debate ended with both teams coming together shaking hands. Residents are encouraged to read teams respective platforms. To view Gutierrez Aguon's ASAP Guam policy platform log on to To read the Calvo Tenorio team's Blueprint 2020 log to

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Clinton Will Visit Guam; Will Meet With Troops, Governor


GUAM - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will stop in Guam later this week during her travels through the Asia Pacific region. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell made the announcement in a press briefing today. While in Guam, Secretary Clinton will meet with U.S Forces and troops stationed in Guam or are moving through. She will also have a bilateral meeting with governor and also representatives from Guam there on the base, according to Assistant Secretary Campbell.

She will then depart Guam for Vietnam.

Below is the transcript from the press conference.


Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release October 26, 2010


On-The-Record Briefing

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell

On Secretary Clinton’s Upcoming Travel to the Asia-Pacific Region

October 26, 2010

Washington, D.C.

MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. Obviously, we are very mindful of emerging tragedies in the region. Obviously, the Secretary this morning on behalf of the United States offered condolences to Burma for the damage caused in Rakhine State by Cyclone Giri and our embassy there is standing by and has already offered assistance to the Burmese Government.

And likewise, in Indonesia we are watching carefully unfolding events regarding not only the earthquake yesterday that produced a tsunami this morning, but also now the volcano that has erupted at Mount Merapi. And again, we are standing by to provide whatever assistance the Government of Indonesia may require in the coming days. And the Secretary will have these thoughts in her mind as she departs tomorrow for an extended trip to the region. And here to go through details of what the Secretary hopes to accomplish is our Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Thank you, P.J., and good – I guess it’s good afternoon. Good afternoon, everyone. If I can, let me take you through the details of this trip. It’s a very complicated and, frankly, lengthy trip. And I’ll go through all the schedule details and then I’m happy to take any questions on any of the substantive aspects of the upcoming trip.

First of all, it is Secretary Clinton’s sixth major trip to the region; seventh if you include the shorter trip that we took to Hawaii and then had to turn back for the Haiti tragedy last year. This trip has many stops and it is intended to send a strong message of U.S. engagement on a range of issues – strategic, political, multilateral. We’ll be dealing with some of the key institutions that are evolving in Asia and also economic and trade as well.

Secretary Clinton sets off tomorrow morning. Her first stop will be in Hawaii where she will have some preliminary discussions with our commanders in Hawaii – Admiral Walsh, CINCPACFLT, and Admiral Willard, our Commander of U.S. Forces in the Pacific. She will be meeting later tomorrow afternoon for a substantial intense interaction with her counterpart, Foreign Minister Maehara from Japan. At that session, we will review all aspects of our bilateral relationship, every – all the areas of coordination and consultation ranging from recent security developments to prospects on the economic and trade front. After that session which will be staged there in Honolulu, we will have a press availability – a joint press conference for the two foreign ministers.

The following day, Secretary Clinton will be giving a major address on U.S. strategy, accomplishments, and the way forward in the Asia-Pacific region. This, she will present to a collected group, a consortium of organizations that have been brought together by the East-West Center. This is her second major speech on Asia since the one that she gave in January which articulated the key features that the United States would – that would inform our strategy in terms of our multilateral approach to institutions in the Asia-Pacific region. This speech will talk about areas where we intend to focus our activities in the upcoming period, including high-level diplomacy with our allies and partners, the preparations for President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington in the early part of 2011, steps to prepare for both the G-20 in South Korea and APEC in Japan, and also recognition that at the economic level 2011 is emerging as a very consequential, in many respects, make-or-break year for the United States.

The speech will be a few high-level visitors that the Secretary will huddle with and then we will depart Hawaii. We will stop in Guam. In Guam, the Secretary will meet with U.S. forces and troops that are stationed in Guam or are moving through. She will also have a bilateral meeting with the governor and also representatives from Guam there on the base. From there, we will proceed directly to Hanoi. In Hanoi, the Secretary will represent the President – special representative to the President – to the East Asia summit meeting that is underway. Secretary Clinton will make a presentation as a guest of the chair on October 30th.

Before that, in the morning, she will have a series of high-level bilateral meetings, including with President Lee Myung-bak, also a meeting with the new foreign minister, other high-level meetings with Russian counterparts, Indian interlocutors. And in the morning, she will have a meeting with all her counterparts on what we call the Lower Mekong Initiative, which is a collection of states that all share the Mekong River as part of its heritage. And we will discuss next steps associated with our assistance and the program for cooperation that links the Mississippi with the Mekong, two of the world’s great rivers.

From Hanoi, we will travel to Hainan Island, where Secretary Clinton will have a meeting with her counterpart in the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, State Councilor Dai Bingguo. At that session, we will review the various issues in the U.S.-China relationship, make sure that we’re making adequate preparations for both the upcoming G-20 meeting, APEC, and particularly for the session that will take place in January when Hu Jintao will visit the United States, or in early part of 2011.

From there, we will proceed to Cambodia. In Cambodia, Secretary Clinton will do a variety of stops, both to highlight civil society projects, other issues in which the United States is deeply engaged, like the Peace Corps. We will have high-level meetings with the foreign minister, with the prime minister. We will have an opportunity to review the tragedies that have befallen Cambodia in the past through the visits to the genocide museum, perhaps interactions with counterparts on the ongoing trial there about the Khmer Rouge period.

At every stop, the Secretary will highlight both political and economic interactions, a desire to promote U.S. exports and see a more forward engagement on economic matters. I should have said in Vietnam, in addition to the multilateral meetings that will be taking place. The Secretary will meet with the Vietnamese leadership about a range of issues of closer coordination between the United States and Vietnam. This follows on from the Secretary’s visit this last summer to Hanoi as part of the ASEAN Regional Forum.

From Cambodia, we will go to Malaysia – again, both these countries, the first visit for Secretary Clinton. In Malaysia, the Secretary will have an opportunity to interact with Prime Minister Najib and his key cabinet on a range of issues. Few countries have come as far in terms of our bilateral relationship as the one between the United States and Malaysia; enormous progress on a range of issues – proliferation issues, political coordination, and strategic dialogue. And I think you will see the flourishing U.S.-Malaysian relationship on full display.

From Malaysia, the Secretary will make a number of stops that we, unfortunately, had to cancel after the tragic earthquake in Haiti forced her to postpone that trip, so we will be stopping in Papua New Guinea. Obviously, Papua New Guinea is a – there’s been enormous petro finds, natural gas and the like, but there are important issues on the island of biodiversity, issues associated with the status of women, and also questions associated about how the current government plans to manage this tremendous windfall that will be coming to the people of Papua New Guinea through this massive find of petroleum and natural gas.

From Papua New Guinea, we will proceed directly to New Zealand. The Secretary, while in New Zealand, will reaffirm, really, a recommitment to a relationship that has not received as much attention over the course of the last 25 years between the United States. And Wellington –

there, we will issue the so-called Wellington Declaration which will underscore our desire to see U.S.-New Zealand relations return to a significance in terms of coordination on a range of issues – nonproliferation, politics, climate change, how we work together in the Pacific Islands. And we, of course, are very grateful for the work and support that New Zealand has provided us and other nations in Afghanistan.

From – in New Zealand, she will visit both Wellington and Christchurch and looks very much forward to interacting with Prime Minister Key. From there, we will go to Australia – Australia, our anchor of our relationship in the Pacific, underscoring strong, political, and security ties there. She will be with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates for what we call our AUSMIN meetings. There, in Melbourne, she will have an opportunity to interact intensively with new Foreign Minister Rudd and also meet new Prime Minister Julia Gillard, along with Steve Smith the new defense minister for Australia, who she has worked closely with when he was foreign minister. A whole range of issues in terms of coordination on Asia-Pacific security issues, coordination on some trade-related issues, and on issues in South Asia.

On the way home, we will stop in American Samoa. And here, I just want to underscore that we often talk about stepping up our game in the Asian Pacific region. In that formulation, the A gets a lot more attention than the P, the Pacific. You will note on this particular trip that the Secretary will be stopping in three Pacific islands – American Samoa for a quick meeting there on the way home. And I must say that the Secretary and the State Department is very grateful for the encouragement and support that we’ve gotten from Congressman Faleomavaega in terms of our overall desire to increase our assistance and our overall engagement with the Pacific islands.

So as you can see, it’s a very diverse trip. It covers our engagement with the multilateral institutions of Asia that are evolving – the great important powers of Northeast Asia, high-level diplomacy with Japan, with China, with South Korea. A lot of the key emerging states in Southeast Asia where we have had, frankly, only infrequent visits in the past, the Secretary very much looking forward to those stops.

This will be the longest trip of her tenure to date. And I think with that, I’ll just open it up for any particular questions. Yeah.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Watch gubernatorial forums on KUAM-TV

by Sabrina Salas Matanane from

Guam - KUAM taped last night's Chamorro Language Forum at the University of Guam last night, likewise we are recording today's Okkodo High School Debate between both gubernatorial teams. KUAM will also be broadcasting the UOG Great Debate LIVE Thursday night, we'll start with our pre-show at 6:30 and a wrap up show after the debate is over.

You'll also be able to text in who you thought won the debate and we'll reveal the results after in our post show.

Our live broadcast will also be simulcast on our sister station Isla 63am. KUAM is planning an encore broadcast of all the debates and forums we've recorded. We will be rebroadcasting them this weekend on the stations of KUAM.

FCC complaints filed against Marianas Media

by Mindy Aguon from

Guam - Allegations of federal violations have surfaced as the Republican gubernatorial team of Eddie Calvo/Ray Tenorio has alleged a local television station hasn't made a level playing field for the election. While they've alleged the station has given free advertising to one political campaign, the company is refuting the allegations calling them baseless and without merit.

Calvo/Tenorio legal counsel Tom Fisher says Marianas Media (aka, KTKB-CW4), hasn't been playing fair. "They're not reporting the expenditures. They're not reporting the contributions. So one of the sides isn't telling the truth, quite frankly," he explained.

Fisher filed two complaints with the Federal Communications Commission alleging local television station KTKB (aka, "The CW4") owned by Marianas Media Investors, Inc. has violated federal rules and regulations. On October 8 Fisher attempted to review a political file, that was to contain detailed information on which candidates sought commercial air time on their television station, how much they were charged and when the spots aired on TV, but was told to leave.

Fisher was eventually given a copy of the company's political file and after reviewing it with the Gutierrez/Aguon Campaign Contributions/Expenditures Report, he found some discrepancies. "While the CW4 claims that they did $151,000 in airtime and production for the Gutierrez/Aguon committee, looking at the Gutierrez/Aguon, filings there is no report of an expenditure at all for that the conclusion's clear they were getting free advertising time," he stated.

Fisher says free advertising for one campaign while another must pay created a significant disadvantage that skews the election process. He stresses that this is why the FCC has such stringent rules to ensure the playing ground during election is level.

The Marianas Media political file included a contract with Gutierrez/Aguon signed on May 25 for $330,000. The agreement states that the Committee to Elect Gutierrez/Aguon 2010 would pay three installments of $110,000 each in three installments due May 30, July 15 and August 31 for television ads that ran in May through July.

KUAM News visited the CW4 offices today in Hagatna and reviewed the political file and found a second contract had been signed last week for $106,250 for more than 500 television ads to air until the General Election.

Fisher says the problem is none of the advertisements that have aired on CW4 were included in the Gutierrez/Aguon Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Report. He continued, "If CW4 did, in fact advance this then Gutierrez/Aguon should have reported it but they didn't. If there was no advancement then that was also a contribution. If the Gutierrez campaign actually paid for these advertisements then they should have put it down as an expenditure. They didn't do it."

Marianas Media Investors, Inc. issued a statement today calling the FCC complaint "baseless and malicious". Chief operating officer and executive news producer John Dela Rosa claims the complaint is part of Calvo/Tenorio's campaign attacks and Marianas Media will not give in to their longstanding tactics of fear and intimidation. He added the claims are without merit, as MMI offers no free advertising or production to any political campaign.

When asked how much Gutierrez/Aguon has paid for advertisements to CW4 and why the ads weren't included in their report to the Guam Election Commission, campaign legal counsel Randy Cunliffe responded, saying he didn't believe they'd been billed yet. "Then we have to assume that a television station did six months of political advertisement for the Gutierrez/Aguon campaign and didn't bill them at all. If you accept that as true, even if you accept that as true the Guam Election Commission and Guam law still defines that advance, that loan as a contribution.

"That contribution also had to be reported in the Gutierrez/Aguon filings and was not."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Chamorro-English Children's Book Written And Illustrated On Guam

GUAM - Christine Restuvog is a mother of three who authored and published her first children's book out of her Yona home.

The Mannge' Manhoben is a children's book written in both Chamorro and English. The author ...freelance writer, Chrisine Restuvog Quinata who says this is the first English-Chamorro children's book series written and illustrated in Guam.

Quinata based the characters in the book on her own three children, Isa, Mariana and Kin. She says that her children speak more Chamorro than she does and thinks it's great because it's important that her children know their culture.

Quinta says, "The importance of the book is that we wanted it to be fun, but we wanted to make sure that the Chamorro language was in there so we can keep the Chamorro language alive."

Kids learn Chamorro because throughout the book there are Chamorro words mixed into sentences like this one..."This is my che'lu Kin, a nickname for Joaquin. Che'lu means brother or sister in Chamorro. Kin is my che'lu."

Quinata's explains her eureka moment, "Gosh, it happened a year ago and so I never really acted on it. I watch a lot of cartoons with my kids. They have really unique and dynamic shows, but nothing that really relates to my kids and their culture."

"It's also an environmentally friendly book. This is printed on recycled duplex board with soybean ink. So it's safe for the kids, safe for the environment."

Quinata says there will be more books to come where each child goes on their own adventure learning about the Chamorro culture and way of life.

The book can be purchased at Bestsellers at GPO and Micronesia Mall, The Buzz Cafe, Ben Franklin Crafts and The Piazza in Hagatna.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Who Profits from Silly Campaign Season?

by Laura Flanders from

We need another word for silly season. It's way beyond silly how some are competing in this midterm race.

In Illinois in particular, it's not been pretty in the tight fight for Barack Obama's old seat. At three different points in a recent televised debate, Democratic contender Alexi Giannoulias challenged Republican Representative Mark Kirk over his claims that he had been shot at in a plane when he was serving in Iraq. 
"The question, Congressman, is, why would you not tell the truth? Why would you make all this stuff up?" Giannoulias asked.

Actually the question is, "What, Congressman Kirk, did you do while the Illinois economy was diving off a cliff?"

According to the 2010 Report on Illinois Poverty, close to 20 percent, or 3.5 million, Illinois residents live in poverty or close to it. The poorest in the state face 1930s style unemployment rates of 27 percent.

What's Kirk's record? He voted against the Reinvestment Act, against tax cuts for the average person. He voted FOR tax cuts for the super rich, and voted six times for a loophole that rewards companies that export jobs.

While Giannoulias is no dream candidate, at least he's for reinvesting such that the state as a whole stands a chance. Kirk's for tax policies that let the super rich get ever further ahead.

Campaigns this year are likely to spend a record $3 billion on television advertising -- and more than ever it's negative. There is no way precisely to quantify it but quality we can assess: It sucks. Mudslinging may be good for ratings, but it's no way to make decisions about our shared future. Money media, however, are laughing all the way to the bank.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Port celebrates 35 years: Ceremonies, growth plans mark the year

By Shaun Bevan • Pacific Daily News • October 19, 2010

The Port Authority of Guam is celebrating its 35th anniversary by hosting weeklong celebrations that began with a flag-raising ceremony yesterday morning.

"It's a legacy-setting year for the Port itself, because this is the only opportune time that the Port is getting the financial support it needs from the Department of Defense," said Monte Mesa, the Port Authority's chairman of the board. "More importantly, the Port is earning its financial creditability for the loan by the (U.S. Department of Agriculture)."

The Port soon will have access to $50 million of funding from the Department of Defense and an additional $54.5 million loan from the USDA that has yet to be awarded.

The total amount will fund the first phase of the Port's modernization program, which will include:

The expansion of the cargo yard;

Extension of the communication capabilities between cargo arrivals and account billing operations; and Improvement on customer processing to provide better reporting and check-in services. Construction for the first phase of projects is slated to begin in mid- to late-2011 and be finished in 2014.

"We are now faced with a new challenge of (modernizing) the port while tasked with keeping the service levels that the customers are accustomed to," Port General Manager Enrique Agustin said. "I'm very proud to say that the people we have at the Port are up to the challenge."

The Port was turned over by the U.S. military to the government of Guam in 1966, but the Guam law that created the Port as an autonomous agency wasn't passed until October 1975. Although the technology has changed in the 35 years of operations, the mission of the Port is still the same as it has always been, which is to provide quality service to the community, Agustin said.

Other events for the celebration will be scheduled throughout the week, and will end with an awards ceremony on Friday evening at the Hotel Nikko Guam.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Imperial Defense of Pentagon Bloat

By David Sirotav from

Beware the sophistry of budget talking points -- especially those seeking to deter any criticism of defense spending.

That's the lesson of these last few weeks, as establishment Republicans desperately try to thwart both progressives and tea party conservatives who are pressuring Congress to reduce Pentagon bloat.

The latest talking point du jour has been around in one form or another for years. It asks us to forget that a) America spends more on defense than every other major nation combined and b) the Pentagon, whose annual budget is now approaching World War II levels in inflation-adjusted terms, has lost track of trillions of taxpayer dollars. In light of those disturbing truths, we are nonetheless urged by Beltway Republicans to focus on the fact that defense spending is "4.9 percent of our gross domestic product, significantly below the average of 6.5 percent since World War II," as a recent Wall Street Journal editorial proclaimed.

That widely circulated article, aimed squarely at grassroots conservatives, was jointly written by three of the most influential Republican think tanks in Washington -- the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute and the Foreign Policy Initiative. And like clockwork, the "percentage of GDP" nugget went from their pen to the GOP's well-oiled media machine.

Within days, was bewailing supposedly "historically low (defense) spending" and citing the GDP talking point as a "rallying call." The American Spectator magazine, meanwhile, held up the op-ed as an "important reminder to new Republican congressmen" to refrain from "shortchang(ing) both our troops and American national security." Not surprisingly, that's when the "percentage of GDP" stat began being loyally parroted by establishment Republican voices on talk radio.

At one level, the GDP line is designed to simply avert attention from the $700 billion annual defense bill being, well, $700 billion. That's not only a massive sum, but also comparatively exorbitant. Yes, the Pentagon budget is so outsized that according to former Reagan Pentagon official Larry Korb, "(E)ven if the United States were to cut its (defense) spending in half it would still be spending more than its current and potential adversaries."

But, then, discussing defense spending in GDP argot is more than just distracting. It's dangerously incoherent, or just plain dangerous, because the language implies that military expenditures must increase as the economy expands.

Think about it: From a strictly defensive, protect-the-nation perspective, that assumption makes no sense.

"Does a more prosperous economy increase the risk that we will be attacked by a foreign power or by a terrorist group?" writes Slate's Tim Noah. "Of course not."

He adds that "a growing GDP may increase the level of defense spending we can afford, but it has no bearing on the level of defense spending we actually need."

This is true, except in one disturbing case: if -- but only if -- we assume the economy should grow primarily as a consequence of military dominance.

Herein lies the truly "dangerous" part of the GDP mantra. If Republicans in Washington believe American economic growth should be based on the United States militarily subjugating and exploiting foreign countries, then those Republicans can logically (if abhorrently) insist that Pentagon spending must remain a constant percentage of GDP.

Most elites in the GOP establishment, of course, would never openly admit to believing that our economy should be based on hegemonic conquest. We know this because the GOP establishment expressed unanimous outrage at anyone even vaguely suggesting that America wages war for energy resources.

But maybe that's the unspoken admission in the GDP-themed push for more military expenditures. Perhaps for all of the GOP's outrage at war-for-oil allegations, the Republicans' defense spending rhetoric exposes their truly imperial vision -- one that even the slickest talking points can no longer hide.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Micronesian Island Fair now in 24th year

by Janjeera Hail from

Guam - The 24th Annual Micronesian Island Fair kicked-off this morning with an opening ceremony attended by hundreds of the island's schoolchildren. This year's theme is "The Tastes of Micronesia" and apart from great local and regional cuisine, visitors can look forward to authentic crafts, artwork, and exhibits from all our neighboring islands.

The event continues this weekend, running from noon to 9pm on both days.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Underwood says he can't endorse candidates

by Sabrina Salas Matanane from

Guam - University of Guam president Dr. Robert Underwood wants to clear the record. While his speech given during former president Bill Clinton's visit to Guam 12 years ago has been used in political advertisements, he says he cannot and does not endorse any candidate for governor or senator.

In a statement issued today, Dr. Underwood said, "The recent unauthorized use of my voice and words in a political television advertisement and e-mail letter taken from an event held 12 years not appropriate." He has asked the Democratic gubernatorial of Carl Gutierrez/Frank Aguon to remove his voice and words from their commercials.

As part of his contract with the university and as a Government of Guam employee, Underwood is unable to participate in political activities.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Nikko hosting 4th Chamorro Conference

by Michele Catahay from

Guam - The 4th Chamorro Conference will kick off this week at the Nikko Hotel in Tumon. Representatives from throughout the region will be in attendance for the three-day event, which focuses on promoting Chamorro language and culture. Conference chair Zita Pangelinan says the goal of the event is to develop mission statements and plans of action for the cultural, economic, and community development of Chamorros.

She explained, "Anyone who's wanting to learn more about their history and wanting to learn and hear and listen to experts, listen to researchers. This is a collaborative effort and our whole purpose is to unite and create those vision statements."

The event runs from the 12th to the 14th. You can register at the door - prices are $60 for students, teachers, and seniors, and $100 for everyone else.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Cruz requests President Obama visit Guam

by Nick Delgado from

Guam - Vice-Speaker B.J. Cruz is urging President Barack Obama today to include Guam in his November trip. Cruz sent a letter to the nation's commander in chief requesting that he make time to meet with members of the military and the civilian communities as part of his plans to visit India and Indonesia next month.

The vice-speaker expressed his disappointment that Obama's planned visit earlier this year was canceled and states that a November visit would be timely. He adds that the relocation of Marines from Okinawa to Guam plays a huge importance as to why the President should speak with the people regarding the impacts the buildup will have on the island.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Justice Department Sues Guam Election Commission: Overseas Citizens Must Have Right To Vote!

By Jeff Marchesseault and Baldo Besich from

GUAM - Last week the U.S. Attorney General promised to sue Guam over election law violations. And now it comes to pass. The Department of Justice filed their complaint today in the U.S. District Court of Guam following news that the Guam Election Commission had failed to deliver timely ballots to overseas service members and citizens who are registered to vote on island.

Nevertheless, the atmosphere has been cooperative.

Last week, News Watch noted that the Guam Election Commission had been working closely with the Justice Department after failing to comply with the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.

The U.S. Department of Justice was warning the Election Commission that litigation was imminent. This, even though the case would involve as few as 100 votes in an unopposed federal election. The race in question is for Guam's non-voting Delegate, a seat presently held by incumbent candidate and Member of Congress, Madeleine Z. Bordallo - widely considered a shoo-in for reelection.

GEC attorney Rawlen Mantanona told the commission last week that the federal government would petition the court to enforce Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) provisions on Guam. Mantanona broke word to commissioners that a court could decide whether or not they would have to accept late votes in the nonvoting delegate's race.
Nevertheless, the commission voted not to break a conflicting local statute that does not accept votes after election day, even though by doing so they failed to comply with a federal request.
As of last week, the commission was in the process of contacting 83 service members online and over the phone - giving them an option to download email ballots or to wait for paper ballots in the mail.

The arrival of GEC's ballot card stock supply had been delayed - which bottlenecked the timely delivery of federal ballots for the Congressional seat.

To protect GovGuam races, GEC broke ballots into three pages: (1) partisan races for Governor and Legislature, (2) the nonpartisan race for Attorney General, and (3) the federal race for non-voting U.S. Delegate.

Local legal counsel has argued that the the low number of votes in question would not sway the race. But the Justice Department insists that 'the law is the law' and that all states and territories will be taken to court if they do not comply. However, as News Watch explained last week, the court case will not prevent polls from opening November 2nd.

Commissioner Josh Tenorio told News Watch, "we don't expect the local races to be affected by the actions that the Justice Department will be taking against the commission." Throughout its teleconferences over the previous week, the Justice Department never questioned the validity of the upcoming Gubernatorial and Legislative election. Here is the official news release from the U.S. Department of Justice explaining the rationale behind its suit against Guam election officials:


WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against Guam and its election officials seeking emergency relief to help ensure that military service members and other U.S. citizens living overseas have the opportunity to participate fully in the Nov. 2, 2010, federal general election.

The lawsuit, brought under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), was filed in federal district court in Hagatna, Guam. The department also filed a motion for emergency relief seeking additional time – until Nov. 15, 2010, – for receipt of absentee ballots to ensure eligible military and overseas voters have sufficient time to receive, cast and return their ballots and to have their votes counted. The suit also requests an order requiring Guam officials to take steps to ensure that military and overseas voters have the option of receiving their blank absentee ballots by email.

"Our uniformed service members and other overseas citizens deserve a meaningful opportunity to participate in the elections of our nation's leaders," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "This suit seeks both immediate and permanent relief to ensure that Guam's military and overseas voters, many of whom are members of our armed forces and their families serving our country around the world, will have their votes counted in the upcoming, and future, federal elections."

UOCAVA requires states to allow uniformed service voters (serving both overseas and within the United States) and their families and overseas citizens to register to vote and to vote absentee for all elections for federal office. In 2009, Congress enacted the MOVE Act, which made broad amendments to UOCAVA. Among those changes was a requirement that states transmit absentee ballots to voters covered under UOCAVA, by mail or electronically at the voter's option, no later than 45 days before federal elections.

The action was necessary because Guam failed to mail ballots to its military and overseas citizens until between Sept. 27, 2010, and Oct. 1, 2010, well beyond UOCAVA's deadline of Sept. 18, 2010, the 45th day before this year's general election. Guam also did not timely establish procedures to offer voters the option of receiving their ballots electronically. The requested extension of the deadline for counting UOCAVA ballots will ensure military and overseas voters have a 45-day period to receive, mark and return their ballots.

More information about UOCAVA and other federal voting laws is available on the Department of Justice website at Complaints may be reported to the Voting Section of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931 .

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Why Can't Haitians Get A Fair Election

by Robert Naiman from

On November 2, Americans will have the opportunity to vote for their representatives in Congress, an election likely to affect whether the "normal" retirement age is raised for Social Security and how decisively President Obama moves to end the war in Afghanistan. There are many legitimate criticisms to be made of the electoral system in the United States as we know it. But it could be much worse. We could be confronted with the electoral system that Haitians are currently facing in elections scheduled for November 28.

In Haiti, as things are currently run, political parties are completely excluded from participation if the people currently in power don't like them, including Haiti's largest political party, the Fanmi Lavalas party of deposed and exiled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

It is a telling fact of our political-media culture that while American newspapers regularly carry articles, op-eds and editorials raising the alarm about democracy and human rights in countries where the U.S. has little influence, the major U.S. media are virtually silent about extreme violations of democratic rights in Haiti, a country where the U.S. has tremendous influence. (Two rare, praiseworthy exceptions have been the Miami Herald, which last month published this op-ed by Ira Kurzban, and the reporting of the AP's Jonathan Katz.)

In particular, the unfair elections that Haitians are expected to endure are expected to be paid for by foreign donors, including the U.S. There is no serious question whether the U.S. has influence it can use. Indeed, in Afghanistan, the U.S. and other Western donors, who pay for Afghan elections, told the Afghan government, unless you implement certain reforms, we're not paying for the election.

But, although both Republican and Democratic Members of Congress have called for the U.S. to use its influence in Haiti to ensure a fair electoral process, there has been so far no visible change in U.S. policy. Despite all the blather following the earthquake about how "this time it's going to be different, this time Haitians will have a say," it's not different this time. Not yet.

In June, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee published a report prepared under the direction of Republican Senator Richard Lugar, the ranking Member. Senator Lugar's report called on the State Department to press the Haitian government to reform Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council so that political parties, including Fanmi Lavalas, would not be arbitrarily excluded from participating in the election. But, as far as anyone can tell, the State Department never said boo about it.

Now Representative Maxine Waters is circulating to her colleagues a letter to Secretary of State Clinton, urging Secretary Clinton to make a clear statement that elections must include "all eligible political parties" and "access to voting for all Haitians, including those displaced by the earthquake." Rep. Waters' letter urges that the US not provide funding for elections that do not meet these minimum, basic democratic requirements.

Shouldn't it be a no-brainer to say that the U.S. shouldn't pay for elections in Haiti from which the largest political party is excluded? If you agree, ask your Representative to sign the Waters letter for fair elections in Haiti.

Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy

Monday, October 04, 2010

CNMI government faces stalemate

by Bob Coldeen, for KUAM News

Guam - Four days past deadline, lawmakers in the CNMI still have not agreed on a budget. And as a result, the government shutdown continues.

Still no solution to the budget crisis. The house and senate convened over the weekend. Saturday evening house members passed yet another version of a budget bill...and the senate immediately amended that version. Now two bills sit before the house. But action was taken. "I'm not at liberty at this time to tell the public what we're going to do because we just started working on it," said House Speaker Froilan Tenorio.

As the bill remains pending in the house, 1,400 government employees are barred from going to work. "Why not act today? Each day means another government shutdown. I know that...that's why I told committee members I don't care if you have to work overnight you have to work on this."

Lawmakers say they believed both parties reached a breakthrough agreement - until the governor got involved. Diego Benavente, House Minority Leader, said, "When we were told there was an agreement we were all excited, by 2 o'clock we were told well the gov didn't like that agreement so that agreement was off the table." And representative Joe Guerrero said, "It makes you almost think that this agreement that somebody doesn't want an agreement between the house and the senate intentionally. So that we will continue to have a shutdown on Monday. So the administration can save more money."

And lawmakers say the governor's meddling into their affairs infringes on the power of the Legislative Branch.

The governor's administration denies they have control over the house majority. Angel Demapan, Governor's Press Secretary, said, "That's pure speculation, the majority of the house are experienced leaders, former governor, former lawmakers, they have minds of their own. The administration always offers their advice and recommendations but at the end of the day it's the lawmakers themselves who will make that conscientious decision for the people."

The first government shutdown in the commonwealth's history will carry on until a budget is passed into law. "I think the speaker should consider the urgency of this matter by not acting on the impression that there's an intentional delay," said Senator Pete Reyes.Senate President Paul Manglona added, "If the house doesn't know this is serious, lets go out to the community people are screaming at us. They don't care...get to work do your job and pass a budget."

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Cracks in the American Way, as Labor Stands Strong in Europe

by Michelle Chen from

The idea of American Exceptionalism has loomed large over the last half century, creating an air of national impunity while spreading a neoliberal capitalist model to every corner of the globe. Now the Great Recession has revealed American workers to be exceptional in the worst possible way: facing exceptional pain and exceptional weakness in the labor movement.

A report published by the International Trade Union Confederation (submitted, ironically, to that pillar of the postwar American hegemony, the World Trade Organization) takes a critical view of the U.S. workforce in the context of global human and labor rights. The ITUC's findings expose many of the cracks in the American Way, from a persistent gender wage gap to a failure to uphold child labor protections to a disturbing prevalence of human trafficking. One of the key systemic problems is the institutional weakness of the labor movement:

U.S. law excludes large groups of workers from the right to organise. These include agricultural workers, many public sector workers, domestic workers, supervisors and independent contractors. Moreover, for most private sector workers forming trade unions is extremely difficult and anti-union pressure from employers is frequent. The report notes that there is a $4 billion union-busting industry which aims at undermining trade union organising.
The U.S. worker certainly stands apart from her compatriots across the Atlantic. They're the ones in the news, mobilizing against the harsh austerity plans governments are imposing in
respose to an exceptional American export: the global economic crisis.

This week, worker demonstrations in France, England, Greece and other besieged economies rocked the continent with an old-school militancy seldom seen in the “developed” world and virtually unheard of in American communities.

In France, transit workers paralyzed the country's railways to show aggressive opposition to a proposed increase in the standard retirement age by two years. London's Tube went into a deep freeze on Tuesday, part of a timed-release chaos plan to strike at numerous points during the fall.

Greek truck drivers stopped traffic too, feeding into several days of protest in opposition to proposed anti-labor reforms. Workers countered a wash of teargas by lobbing stones, bottles and tomatoes at police. A day-long strike by healthcare workers left hospitals in disarray. Much of the rage was directed at the potential dismantling of the closed-shop system, which would undermine traditional labor protections and licensing regulations in trades like truck driving.
With plans for a major industrial action by public workers on October 7, the civil-service union ADEDY, Reuters reports, has called on workers to “massively participate in the rallies and demand the termination of all agreements that did away with rights to work and pensions.”
Spain, another blight on the EU's books, erupted in its first general strike in years this week.

Protesters hoped the strike would force the government to confront the political costs of austerity policies. Ignacio Fernandez Toxo, head of the Workers Commissions union, told the Associated Press: “The strike was not called to topple the government but it's up to the government if it wants to stay there.”

Activists in Brussels, meanwhile, stood their ground against riot police and smoke canisters, marching toward the buildings of the European Union as officials contemplated new penalties to impose on member states with swollen deficits.

Depending on how the public reacts to the chaos, the actions could either inspire solidarity or further polarize labor and the political establishment. Either way, unions have upped the ante in the battle against the austerity frenzy.

The U.S. labor movement's fight for relevancy

Labor on this side of the ocean, however, continues to grapple with its message and mission, barely keeping pace with American-style austerity in the form of the anti-spending, anti-government agenda of Washington's deficit hawks.

Unions hope to regain some relevance with this weekend's “One Nation Working Together” rally, which labor is coordinating alongside civil rights, antiwar and environmental groups, among others. The broad, and accordingly vague, agenda centers on “jobs, justice and education.” As Art Levine reports, organizers aspiring to Tea-Party caliber charisma may find that the biggest hurdle at this point is just getting people to show up.

The greater challenge looming over the One Nation campaign isn't just the optics—it's defining a weakened movement in an increasingly unstable political arena. And it's tapping into the public outrage that the right has shrewdly exploited in galvanizing new constituencies. So the groups carrying the “One Nation” banner might want to focus a bit less on projecting an aura of middle-class liberal harmony, and instead learn from the mass appeal of European union militancy.We're running into one of the most dangerous aspects of the myth of American Exceptionalism: the concept that American workers somehow operate outside historical class antagoisms. Folks are lulled into the belief that deep social crisis can and should be resolved by individual upward mobility and by negotiating within establishment institutions (like Election Day or corporate-controlled collective bargaining).

But as the ITUC's new report starkly reveals, America's labor crises often put its people in the same quagmire as their peers in other economies. So when workers around the world are roused to action—organized, passionate, and not afraid to get a little dirty—why should American labor be any exception?

© 2010 In These Times

Michelle Chen's work has appeared in AirAmerica, Women's International Perspective, Extra!, Colorlines and Alternet. She is a regular contributor to In These Times' workers' rights blog, Working In These Times. She also blogs at

Saturday, October 02, 2010

New Political Status Options


A bill funding an education program to enable Guam to explore other political status options is now headed to the president’s desk after the U.S. Congress passed the amended version of H.R. 3940 that Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo sponsored.

Guam has been an unincorporated territory of the United States since 1950.

The U.S. House and the Senate passed on Tuesday the bill which had since been transmitted to President Barack Obama.

Bordallo said the Obama administration supports her bill. So did other federal and local officials, including cause-oriented groups and decolonization and indigenous rights advocates on island.

“I look forward to President Obama signing the bill into law. As soon as it becomes law I will request Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta to follow Congressional intent and provide federal funds to Guam for a political status education program,” she said in a statement.

Bordallo introduced the bill on Oct. 27, 2009 and originally passed the full House of Representatives on Dec. 7, 2009 by voice vote.

On Tuesday, the House passed the amended version by a vote of 386 ayes to 5 noes. The Senate passed the amended measure by unanimous consent late Tuesday.

"The passage of this bill by the Senate and the House recognizes the importance of political self-determination for the people of Guam. The bill makes it clear that the Secretary of the Interior has the authority and should provide federal funding for political status education for a future self-determination vote,” said Bordallo.

Speaker Judi Won Pat said she’s happy to learn that the bill passed Congress but raised concern on funding issue.

“Of course, we're very happy. My concern here is the funding. I believe that $300,000 to fund this education program was identified at one time. However, according to the Commission on Decolonization, they said it would cost at least $500,000 and so, if we get $300,000, it's shy of what we're going to need,” she told the Variety.

With the military buildup progressing, the speaker said: “It’s important that we do a thorough, extensive education program on self determination on the different choices that we have. We really need to do a good job on this one.”

Firing Range

In related news, Bordallo also questioned Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn on the proposed firing range location on Guam during a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

“I urged Secretary Lynn and the Department of Defense to strongly consider proposed alternatives to Marine training requirements like moving the proposed firing range to Tinian or using existing DoD lands on Guam,” the congresswoman said.

The House Armed Services Committee held two hearings in September and another will be held on Oct. 1, Washington time, on H.R. 5136 or the National Defense Authorization Act which will appropriate funds for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for the fiscal year and for other purposes.

The bill mentioned Guam and the Committee’s commitment to the international agreement between Japan and the United States, including the movement of Marine Corps forces to Guam.

“This bill includes several key provisions to assist in a smooth implementation of this strategic realignment, including allowing the administration to spend up to $500 million to provide community infrastructure on Guam to support this move and a process to unify the utility systems on the island,” according to the bill.

Bordallo expressed her belief that acquiring additional land on Guam for a firing range is unlikely and that, in order to get the military build-up done right, all other options be considered.

Lynn stated that the DoD will examine alternatives to the proposed firing range location, including a location on Tinian, and agreed that a resolution beneficial to the civilian and military community must be reached.

“I appreciate the DoD's willingness to seriously consider other alternatives for the proposed firing range location and I will continue to work with my colleagues and stakeholders on this important issue,” added Bordallo.