Sunday, March 25, 2007

Privitaization Is Not A Panacea

Privatization is not a magic bullet -- each case must be carefully evaluated
By Frank T. Ishizaki
The Pacific Daily News
March 25, 2007

Privatization is such a popular buzzword that can be both vogue and scary. We need to carefully approach any privatization effort by asking basic questions, weighing risk and benefits, and considering how to deal with current employees. While I believe that certain governmental functions can be partially or fully privatized, we must proceed carefully.

Possible areas for consideration might include: food services; solid waste collection, recycling, and landfill operations; billing and collection of accounts receivable and inventory control; medical services; equipment maintenance and repair; certain human resource functions.

I note that the Pacific Daily News in its editorials over the past few years has been strongly advocating that we privatize the operations of the prison. Four years ago, when I was director of corrections, the governor instructed me to proceed with the privatization of prison operations. As a result, I did extensive research on the subject by contacting key officials from the National Institute of Corrections and consulted with several of my correctional colleagues. One director told me that he oversees several prisons in his state and that there was no significant cost differential between state-operated facilities versus contractor-operated facilities. He further told me that contract management and operational monitoring were his challenges to ensure that privately operated prisons minimize the state's liabilities from failure to maintain health, safety and environmental standards.

After much review, I concluded that privatization of DOC operations was not going to be cost-effective and recommended against the proposal to privatize. In summary, responsibility for the care of inmates and the liabilities associated with any failures in the operation of the prison, to include security, health care, treatment and rehabilitation, cannot be outsourced. The government continues to own those responsibilities in spite of outsourcing operations.
A key component to my rejection of privatization of the prison was that prison management companies (which are, after all, businesses and have a profit motive and are constantly looking at the bottom line) are known to get in the door by submitting low-ball bids in order to win contracts and move, in subsequent years after the bid is awarded, to renegotiate the contract to increase fees by reporting operational losses. In the meantime, the basic prison infrastructure will have been destroyed and any future attempt by the government to reoccupy and operate the prison will be significantly more costly.

In 2003, a visiting official from the NIC told me that he had been on island several years prior to my tenure as director of corrections. At that time, the topic of privatization had been thoroughly discussed and feelers had actually been put out to see if there were any interested bidders. There were no interested "investors/bidders." He informed me that one huge but basic difficulty in privatizing DOC is the infrastructure of the facility. The layout of the structures, which are spread out in "cottage" fashion all over the "campus," does not lend itself to efficient operations. The recommendation would be that new, multi-story facilities be built to replace the existing typhoon-damaged buildings, which currently house, at any given time, up to 600 inmates.

Key components to successful privatization of services are good contract management and operational oversight. We generally have low marks in these areas and risk greater problems if we privatize prison operations. If we cannot find cost savings in a privatization move, why proceed?

As a model, DOC privatized the meal services and was able to immediately reduce the cost of feeding inmates. As this endeavor has been in operation for three years, we now need to evaluate the program to determine if it has met our expectations. To answer some of my questions concerning this particular privatization effort, I recently requested the assistance of Professor Ron McNinch. I wanted him to conduct a privatization assessment of the GTA, GPSS food services, and the DOC food-service contracts. He has volunteered and will be conducting an analysis, with the assistance of his students, as a class project -- at no cost to our government. I eagerly await the results and trust that his report will help us determine if privatization has been successfully carried out in these situations.

In summary, privatization has great potential to improve our effectiveness and efficiency, but we must proceed carefully and intelligently. We must not take a shotgun approach but rather should focus on each entity in question on a case-by-case basis.

Senator Frank T. Ishizaki is a senator in the 29th Guam Legislature, a former chief of police and former director of corrections.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Guam: What the Pentagon Forgets It Already Has

Looking for Friendly Overseas Base, Pentagon Finds It Already Has One

April 7, 2004
New York Times

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam - Washed by a southwesterly Pacific breeze, a line of B-52 Stratofortress bombers stand parked on the hot tarmac here, their tails stenciled with "MT," a reminder that they flew here recently from the snows of Minot, N.D.

Away for more than a decade, the B-52's, the United States' largest bombers, are back in Guam, part of a wide-ranging drive by the Pentagon to make this island, an American territory, a "power projection hub" on the edge of Asia.

"We are openly talking about putting a fighter wing there, a tanker squadron there, a Global Hawk group there," Gen. William J. Begert, Pacific Air Forces commander, said by telephone from Hawaii, almost 4,000 miles east of here. The Global Hawk is an unmanned surveillance plane.

"Guam, first of all, is U.S. territory," General Begert said. "I don't need overflight rights. I don't need landing rights. I always have permission to go to Guam. It might as well be California or New Jersey."

Next year, Washington is to decide on a new round of base closings, the first in a decade. Opening the debate, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld reported to Congress on March 23 that the military had 24 percent more base capacity than it needed.

Judging by Mr. Rumsfeld's comments after his trip here last November, Guam will be a winner in the base-closing process. This volcanic, 209-square-mile island, with a population of about 160,000, fits the Pentagon's new strategy of creating "lily pads" to allow for the rapid deployment of military muscle.

"Rumsfeld keeps saying, `What about Guam? Let's build up Guam,' " said an American diplomat in Tokyo, where the defense secretary stopped after visiting here.

The Navy loss its base at Subic Bay, the Philippines, in 1992 after the Philippine Senate refused to extend the lease, and American memories of that remain sharp. The diplomat added, "We don't want to be somewhere where they don't want us, where they can throw us out."

At the naval station here, Rear Adm. Arthur J. Johnson, the commander, said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had raised Guam's strategic value as the Pentagon realized the usefulness of an all-American outpost in Asia. "We invested huge amounts of money in facilities we could not use when we needed them, for example, Saudi Arabia," Admiral Johnson said. "Places where the U.S. is autonomous have come greatly to the fore."

Military officials here declined to discuss how Guam would fit into an American response to the rapid rise of China. But by moving ships and submarines to Guam, the Pentagon cuts "the tyranny of distance," trimming five days off a Pacific crossing from Hawaii, said Richard Halloran, a military analyst based in Hawaii.

"A lot of these moves are intended to deter China," Mr. Halloran, a freelance military writer, said from Honolulu, where the United States Pacific Command is based. "You are not threatening China, not in any way jeopardizing their security. On the other hand, if China becomes belligerent, you are in position to do something about it, particularly with the submarines and an aircraft carrier."

Carl Peterson, a businessman on Guam, said of Washington's low-key military buildup here: "It just sort of happens. Why disclose it? Why tell the Chinese what you are going to do before you do it?"

Later this year, a new nuclear-powered attack submarine is to arrive here, the third to make Guam its home port since 2002. While Washington debates whether a carrier should come here or to Hawaii, Guam's outer harbor is being dredged and World War II-era wharves are to be repaired for more efficient munitions handling.

["Guam's geo-strategic importance cannot be overstated," Adm. Thomas B. Fargo, the senior military officer in the Pacific, with 300,000 soldiers, sailors and marines under his command, said on March 31 in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee. "Both Navy and Air Force facilities will continue to figure prominently in Guam's increasing role as a power projection hub."]

Across the naval station here, new housing is being built, part of a near- doubling of military spending on the island from levels of a decade ago.

"Guam is no longer the trailer park of the Pacific," Admiral Johnson said of the new military investment. "Guam has emerged from backwater status to the center of the radar screen. This is rapidly becoming a focus for logistics, for strategic planning."

Washington's investment in Guam is most easily seen from the catwalk of Andersen's 13-story air traffic control tower.

Down below, work is under way on an air-conditioned, typhoon-resistant hangar for B-1 bombers, a huge war reserve material warehouse, a new base exchange shopping center, a new fitness and health center and a new base security center. Out of sight, new underground pipes are delivering aviation fuel directly to parking pads for jets, and the first of 60 munitions storage "igloos" are being built. To foil terrorists, workers are drilling water wells on base and burying power lines off base.

"This is by far the largest amount of construction I have seen at any Air Force base in my years in the service," said Capt. David Vandenburg, a 29-year-old Oklahoman who is chief of base development.

Captain Vandenburg's commander, Col. Paul K. White, said that when he was assigned here a year ago he was leery of Guam because of its sleepy reputation. "But this is a very exciting time to be here," he continued. "If bases are closed, the units will have to go somewhere."

Of the Pentagon's new appreciation for Guam, Mr. Peterson said: "Rumsfeld is high on Guam; he was heard asking, `How are we going to do Guam?' They are not showing their hand. But through innuendo and comments that we pick up on, everybody is suggesting there is going to be so much going on here."

While apartments, fitness centers and military support offices are not glamorous, they are essential for increasing what Capt. David M. Boone, a Navy Seabee, calls Guam's "surge capacity." In a military emergency, the island could quickly swell with planes, submarines, and ships.

"The real trick for me is to figure out how many people are going to be living here 10 years from now," said Captain Boone, who has command of military construction on Guam. "It is a moving target."

Guam has been a supply base since Spanish galleons from Manila stopped here to pick up fresh water and food before crossing the Pacific to Acapulco, Mexico. In the late 19th century, the island was a Spanish coaling station; the United States gained control in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. In recent decades, Air Force pilots dubbed Guam "the world's largest gas station."

But it is increasingly being used for military training. The Marines have rented typhoon-damaged structures for urban warfare exercises. Rural warfare training has been conducted in the southern jungles, forests so thick that one holdout Japanese soldier from World War II was captured only in 1972.

About 150 miles north of here, a small island serves as a bombing range. There is also the wide-open sea and the sky above it, with no one to complain about sonic booms.

"In Minot, the nearest bombing range is in Utah, a two-and-a-half hour flight," said Lt. Col. Robert Hyde, a 37-year-old Mississippian who commands the base's new unit of six B-52's. Referring to his training here with the Navy, Colonel Hyde said, "In North Dakota, obviously, you can't work easily with a carrier battle group."

During the Christmas 1972 bombing of North Vietnam, more than 150 B-52's flew from here. On a recent morning, bulldozers and pavers were upgrading the acres of tarmac that make Andersen comparable to a major international airport.

In this treeless landscape, even B-52's look small. In the shade of one the planes' huge, drooping wings, Master Sgt. Ralph Gillikan, a mechanic last stationed at the North Dakota base, surveyed the surrounding sea of concrete and said, "The parking here is good."

Friday, March 16, 2007

More on the Move from Okinawa to Guam

Move to Guam could cost Marine Corps extra $465M a year
By David Allen, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Friday, March 16, 2007

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The move of some 8,000 Marines and their families from Okinawa to Guam by 2014 is expected to cost the Marine Corps an extra $465 million annually.

However, a recent inspector general’s report concluded that the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps are not prepared for the increased annual costs resulting from the planned changes to the force structure in the Pacific.

The 14-page report, released Monday, is the culmination of a yearlong audit and interviews with military officials. It states the Marine Corps is the only branch so far to estimate how much it will cost yearly to move assets to Guam from Okinawa. However, the corps has not included the cost in its budget projections.

“The source of funds for the additional requirements (has) not been resolved between Headquarters, Marine Corps and the Department of the Navy,” the report states.

The Navy and Air Force also will incur additional annual costs by moving assets to Guam, but the services have not determined what they are, the report adds.

“If DOD and the Services do not include the projected increased annual funding requirements in the next Program Objective Memorandums for DFY 2009,” the report read, “the quality of life for servicemembers and their dependents and the readiness of U.S. forces in USPACOM may be adversely affected.”

The United States has reached agreements with Japan and South Korea for a major restructuring of U.S. forces in the Pacific. A reduction of some 12,500 U.S. Forces Korea personnel is expected to be complete by the end of 2008.

The United States and Japan agreed last May to replace Marine Corps Air Station Futenma with a new airfield on Camp Schwab and to close several other Marines bases on Okinawa. That would result in the move of 8,000 Marines and about 9,000 family members to Guam, with Japan picking up about $6 billion of the estimated $10.3 billion cost.

To help cover that cost, Japan officials are considering reducing host-nation support for U.S. forces remaining in Japan. Japan now pays about $3.03 billion a year to maintain U.S. forces and is expected to pay that much until 2008.

“DOD must recognize and plan for a possible substantial increase in funding requirements to support forces remaining in Japan if Japan reduces its host nation support,” the IG report states.

Besides the Marines, the Air Force plans to relocate about 3,500 servicemembers, civilian employees and their families to Guam from various locations, but has not estimated the increased budget requirements for the move, according to the report. Also, the Navy, which closed many facilities on Guam in 1993, will need an increase in funds to “refurbish and adequately maintain facilities” for the influx of Marines and airmen.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Guam Officials Want a Say In Marines' Move

Guam officials want a say in Marines' move from Okinawa
By David Allen, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Saturday, July 15, 2006

NAHA, Okinawa — The chief thing Guam officials are taking home with them after a four-day trip to Okinawa is a need to ensure they have a say in the process of moving some 8,000 Marines and their dependents from Okinawa to their island over the next eight years.

B.J. Cruz, a senator in Guam’s legislature, said at a news conference Thursday that he learned Okinawa leaders have managed to get concessions from the Japanese government “for certain infrastructures.”

“Guam is not in a similar position,” he said, explaining that the master plan for the use of Guam, to be sent to Pacific Command Adm. William J. Fallon, was prepared without local input.

PACOM officials have acknowledged the initial plan did not include local input but say that will come in the next phase of planning.

Cruz, however, said that “there is no assurance that our concerns and our recommendations are going to be implemented.”

He was one of nine Guam officials Japanese Diet member Mikio Shimoji of Naha invited to Okinawa. They visited communities that host U.S. military bases and industries, Battle of Okinawa museums and peace memorials, schools and business districts developed on former base land.

They also got a look at how local communities cope with the large U.S. military presence.

Cruz said Guam officials needed to be careful Marines do not come to their island to the detriment of Guam residents.

“There is only one freshwater lake and the military owns that lake … they sell that water to the local community,” he said. “Since they sell that water to the local community, they can also turn it off. Three of us live in villages where over the last two months we’ve been without water for almost 30 days.”

Cruz said he will press the U.S. government to provide adequate infrastructure for the island’s civilians as well as the military.

Lt. Gov. Kaleo Moylan, who led the Guam delegation, said the trip was to ensure a smooth transition of Marines to Guam. Moylan, who is running against Gov. Felix Camacho for this fall’s Republican gubernatorial nomination, said Okinawa and Guam had parallel post-World War II histories.

“You had military bases placed here without the consent of the local population,” he said. “Guam had a similar experience. Now that we are in the process of realignment … the voices of the people of Guam need to be heard.”

Guam Legislature Vice Speaker Joanne Brown said she “hoped that Guam can minimize the adverse experiences that people of Okinawa encountered” with such a large military presence.

“We’re very concerned about the social impact this will have on our people,” she said. “It’s going to be very, very critical in the next few months and certainly in the next few years for us to ensure that the leadership of Guam … be very, very aggressive.”

She said Guam officials need to be just as aggressive with the U.S. government as Okinawa officials are with Tokyo.

“The federal government has a responsibility to make sure the military buildup does not adversely affect our people,” she said.

Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Close U.S. Overseas Military Bases

Published on Monday, March 12, 2007 by
A New Network Forms to Close U.S. Overseas Military Bases
by Medea Benjamin

In a new surge of energy for the global struggle against militarism, some 400 activists from 40 countries came together in Ecuador from March 5-9 to form a network to fight against foreign military bases. The conference began in Quito, then participants traveled in an 8-bus caravan across the country, culminating in a spirited protest at the city of Manta, site of a U.S. base.

While a few other countries such as England, Russia, China, Italy and France have bases outside their territory, the United States is responsible for 95% of foreign bases. According to U.S. government figures, the U.S. military maintains some 737 bases in 130 countries, although many estimate the true number to be over 1,000.

A network of local groups fighting the huge U.S. military complex is indeed an “asymmetrical struggle,” but communities have been trying for decades to close U.S. military bases on their soil. Their concerns range from the destruction of the environment, the confiscation of farmlands, the abuse of women, the repression of local struggles, the control of resources and a broader concern about military and economic domination.

The Ecuadorian groups who agreed the host the international meeting had been fighting against a U.S. base in the town of Manta. The U.S. and Ecuadorian governments had signed a base agreement in 1999, renewable after 10 years. The purpose of the base was supposed to be drug interdiction, but instead it has provided logistical support for the counterinsurgency war in Colombia, placing Ecuador in a dangerous position of interfering in the internal affairs of its neighbor. The base has also affected the livelihoods of local fishermen and farmers and brought an increase in sex workers, while the promised surge in economic development has not materialized.

During Ecuador’s presidential race in November 2006, candidate Rafael Correa criticized the base and after winning the election he quipped, “We can negotiate with the U.S. about a base in Manta, if they let us put a military base in Miami.” His comment displayed the stunning hypocrisy of the U.S. government, a government that would never deign to have a foreign base on its soil but expects over 100 countries to host U.S. bases.

In a great boost to the newly-formed network to close foreign bases, President Correa sent high-level representatives to the conference to express support, and he himself, together with the Ministers of Defense and Foreign Relations, met with delegates from the network to express their commitment to closing the Manta base when it comes up for renewal in 2009.

But the Ecuadorian government’s courageous stand is unfortunately not echoed in most countries, where anti-bases activists usually find themselves fighting against both the U.S. bases and their government’s collusion.

Indigenous representatives attending the conference talked about the destruction of indigenous lands to make way for bases. In the island of Diego Garcia, the indigenous Chagossian people have been driven off their lands, as have the Chamorros from Guam and the Inuit from Greenland. Kyle Kajihiro, director of the organization Area Hawaii, explained that the U.S. military occupies vast areas of Hawaiian territory, territory which was once public land used for indigenous reserves, agricultural production, schools and public parks.

The delegation from Okinawa, Japan, has been trying to dismantle the U.S. bases for the past 50 years. One of their main complaints has been the violence against women. Suzuyo Takazato, the director of Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence, has compiled a chilling chronology of sexual abuse against Okinawan women by U.S. soldiers, including the rape of a nine-month old baby and a six-year-old girl. “We publish these horrible crimes to break the silence and impunity of U.S. soldiers who, according to the base treaty, cannot be judged in Okinawa.” Even when groups are not successful in closing the bases, at least they are pushing for U.S. soldiers to be subject to the laws of the host country.

The representative from Guam talked about the environmental devastation—the dumping of PCBs, Agent Orange, DDT, heavy metals and munitions, as well as fallout from the detonation of 168 nuclear bombs in the North western Pacific between 1946 and 1958, leading to high rates of radiation-linked cancers on his island. Activists who have been successful in closing bases warned that it is critical to force the U.S. to clean up before leaving. The Filipinos who won the closure of the Subic and Clark bases in 1992 after years of popular pressure are still fighting to force the U.S. military to clean the site and compensate the affected population.

One of the most compelling success stories came from Vieques, Puerto Rico, where a U.S. base was installed in 1948 in this island paradise of lagoons and sand beaches. The military used the base to build, store and test bombs and chemical substances, like cancer-causing Agent Orange. For decades the local people, especially the fisherman, protested the base, but the anti-base struggle was catalyzed in 1999 when a bomb killed a local civilian, David, Sanes. Activist Nilda Medina spoke with great passion about how they set up permanent protest camps, thousands performed acts of civil disobedience, and others went on hunger strikes. After residents occupied the test area for 13 months, the Navy finally agreed to close the base in May 1, 2003. Now the local people, as in so many other sites, are fighting to clean up the land and treat those who have been exposed to harmful chemicals.” We’re so proud of what we accomplished and want to tell our story to encourage others,” said Nilda Medina. “We understand that this is part of a worldwide struggle against the militarization of our planet.”

Post-9/11, this militarization has become even more entrenched as part of the “war on terror.” Representatives from Cuba at the conference complained bitterly about the use of the Guantanamo base as a center for illegal detention and abuse of prisoners. Activists from Japan, Turkey, Italy and Germany said their countries had been used to facilitate the invasions and ongoing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Delegates from Germany said they have 81 U.S. bases, more than anywhere in the world, and that Germany had became a central rotation point for U.S. soldiers on their way to and from Iraq. They complained that the use of U.S. bases as a launching pad for hostile military operations makes their country vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

This is why over 100,000 people came out for a demonstration in February 2007 in the Italian town of Vicenza against a proposed new military base. “We don’t want the noise, the pollution, the taxing of our infrastructure,” said local organized Cinzia Bottene. “But most of all, we don’t want to be accomplices to Bush’s war and a target for reprisals.”

Many U.S. groups sent representatives to the conference, including the Fellowship of Reconciliation, AFSC, United for Peace and Justice, Southwest Workers Union, WILPF, Global Exchange, CODEPINK and the Marin Interfaith Task Force. U.S. delegates said that the bases did not make them more secure; just the contrary. “One of the reasons the U.S. was attacked on September 11 was because of U.S. foreign bases in Saudi Arabia,” explained Joe Gerson of AFSC. “But while the U.S. military has since abandoned the bases in Saudi Arabia, it has replaced them with even more bases throughout the region, creating more animosity towards Americans.” The U.S. delegates made it clear that the network to close U.S. foreign bases was in line with the efforts of the U.S. peace movement, which would like to see our military used for defensive, not offensive purposes. U.S. delegates also emphasized how the billions of dollars now being spent to maintain this empire of bases would be better invested in people’s needs for health, education and housing.

The new global network will help local groups share experiences, learn from one another, and provide support for the local efforts. It will conduct research, maintain a global website (, publish an e-newsletter, and convoke regular international meetings to assess progress.

Luis Angel Saavedra, head of one of the Ecuadorian organizations sponsoring the conference, was thrilled with the outcome. “We’ve been working against the base in Manta for the past seven years, and this conference feels like the culmination of this entire campaign,” he said. “It will strengthen President Correa’s position to close the base. Our people are better educated after all the publicity we’ve received. And we now have a network to exchange strategies and experiences with people all over the world. I’d call that a great success.”

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace. To learn more about the Network to Abolish Foreign Military Bases, go to

Friday, March 09, 2007

Basing panel recommends against moving Marines from Okinawa to Guam
By Leo Shane III, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Wednesday, May 11, 2005

WASHINGTON — The future of the Pacific fighting force hinges on keeping Marines in Okinawa and abandoning proposals to move them to Guam, say members of the Overseas Basing Commission.

“Okinawa is the strategic linchpin in the Pacific region,” Commissioner James Thomson, CEO of the Rand Corp., said at a news conference Monday unveiling the group’s report on the future of overseas military facilities.

The report had leaked out on Friday, much of it reported in Sunday editions of Stars and Stripes.

“This is a matter ultimately of distance, how close one can be to the area of potential threat, either ones we already know about or ones that can emerge. The location of Okinawa from the point of covering those threats is much better than Guam. It’s closer.”

The commission has recommended that the Defense Department slow down the return of foreign-based troops to the United States, and specifically that most Marines currently on Okinawa remain there.

The report does recommend that the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station be relocated, either to Kadena Air Base or Marines Corps Air Station Iwakuni.

For the past two years, defense officials have discussed the possibility of relocating Marines off Okinawa, with rumors including moves to Guam, the Philippines or Hawaii.

Commissioner Anthony Less, a retired vice admiral who once commanded the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, said the facilities at Kadena offer enough space for the Futenma Marines to carry out their missions, so moving them away from the potential threats in the region would not be beneficial.

The report says that critical infrastructure and quality-of-life programs might not be available to units returning to domestic bases if defense officials keep up the current pace of the project, and urged the process be slowed until after full force and facilities assessments are finished later this year.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

No More Foreign Bases

Declaration: International Conference for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases, March 5 to 9, 2007

Quito and Manta, Ecuador

We come together from 40 countries as grassroots activists from groups that promote women’s rights, indigenous sovereignty, environmental justice, human rights, and social justice. We come from social movements, peace movements, faith-based organizations, youth organizations, trade unions, and indigenous communities. We come from local, national, and international formations.

United by our struggle for justice, peace, self-determination of peoples and ecological sustainability, we have founded a network animated by the principles of solidarity, equality, openness, and respect for diversity.

Foreign military bases and all other infrastructure used for wars of aggression violate human rights; oppress all people, particularly indigenous peoples, African descendants, women and children; and destroy communities and the environment. They exact immeasurable consequences on the spiritual and psychological wellbeing of humankind. They are instruments of war that entrench militarization, colonialism, imperial policy, patriarchy, and racism. The United States-led illegal invasions and ongoing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan were launched from and enabled by such bases. We call for the immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops from these lands and reject any planned attack against Iran.

We denounce the primary responsibility of the U.S. in the proliferation of foreign military bases, as well as the role of NATO, the European Union and other countries that have or host foreign military bases.

We call for the total abolition of all foreign military bases and all other infrastructure used for wars of aggression, including military operations, maneuvers, trainings, exercises, agreements, weapons in space, military laboratories and other forms of military interventions.

We demand an end to both the construction of new bases and the reinforcement of existing bases; an end to and cleanup of environmental contamination; an end to legal immunity and other privileges of foreign military personnel. We demand integral restauration and full and just compensation for social and environmental damages caused by these bases.

Our first act as an international network is to strengthen Ecuador’s commitment to terminate the agreement that permits the U.S. military to use the base in Manta beyond 2009. We commit to remain vigilant to ensure this victory.

We support and stand in solidarity with those who struggle for the abolition of all foreign military bases worldwide.

Foreign Military Bases Out Now!

Manta Si! Bases No!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The US role in Guam's Environmental Problems

How much of Ordot's environmental problem comes from U.S. government?
By Luis Szyfres
3 Feb, 2007
Pacific Daily News

Dorado Landfill (the Ordot dump) started out as a dumping ground for the U.S naval forces in the 1940s. During the 1950s, the landfill was transferred from the Navy to the government of Guam and has served as the island's only municipal waste disposal site ever since.

A study by the EPA (Dorado Landfill Leachate Streams, 1980-1998) identified 17 toxic chemicals in the Ordot dump. All of them belong to the EPA's 2002 list of "Priority Toxic Pollutants," including: arsenic; lead; aluminum; barium; antimony; cadmium; chromium; manganese; pesticides; PCBs; toluene; ethylbenzene; xylenes, zinc and cyanide.

In the landfills at Andersen Air Force Base, the studies of shallow subsurface soil and groundwater from downgradient wells found all the same 17 "Priority Toxic Pollutants."

How has the federal government performed the cleanup of its dumpsites on Guam? Throwing the toxic chemicals in dumpsites, or burning them with napalm? Giving the dumpsites to the private citizens or the local government? All these toxic chemicals (were) stored in federal facilities in Guam since the 1950s, and are present to this day in very high concentrations, above the accepted standards of the EPA. The irony is that it is precisely the EPA that has the mission of setting up the regulations,
and if any toxic chemical is above the concentrations stipulated in the regulations, they have to enforce the law -- but they never enforced anything with federal government landfills.

These toxic chemicals enter the bloodstream and may affect any organ or system in the body. Some examples of the most common diseases associated with these chemicals include: cancer; Parkinson's; multiple sclerosis; Alzheimer's; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; renal dysfunction; cardiovascular disease; liver dysfunction; deafness; blindness; epilepsy; seizures; attention deficit disorder; emotional instability; depression; learning disabilities; arthritis; joint pain; anemia; hypothyroidism;
stillbirths; infertility; immune suppression; and dementia.

The federal government states that the situation represents a "great and immediate health threat to the people of the island."

U.S. Assistant Attorney Mikel W. Schwab described the government Guam's performance as "unacceptable and a chronic failure." He said that despite the involvement of several government agencies, nobody was paying attention to the great and immediate health threat to the people of the island. The local government's institutional failure and lack of leadership mean resources are being wasted," Schwab said (in the Dec. 21 Marianas Variety.)

It is obvious that the families of Guam do not put in the garbage cyanide, arsenic, lead, barium, cadmium, ethylbenzene and many other very toxic chemicals.

We can only say that, superimposed upon the toxic chemicals from the federal government, the people of Guam discard waste derived from residential and commercial activities.

The most important question: Does it make any sense to clean up only one of 25 dumpsites with toxic chemicals?

The EPA Superfund list of landfills in Guam that need cleanup includes 25 sites, but some sites have numerous landfills: i.e. Andersen Air Force Base has 39 landfills. Thus, in a small island, 30 miles long and 8 miles wide, we have about 100 dumpsites with toxic chemicals.

The toxic chemicals from the dumpsites will disperse throughout the entire island of Guam due to evaporation, rains, infiltration and typhoons.

The study of the EPA in the Andersen Air Force Base dumpsites in Urunao, Guam, states: "Surface soil samples were not analyzed for volatile organic compounds because geological and meteorological conditions on Guam induce volatilization and infiltration.

For example, with lead:

Airborne dust and dirt with lead may travel long distances, spreading the contamination when it falls from the air (to the) soil and groundwater.

Lead may remain stuck to soil particles or sediment in water for many years, or be moved by the rainwater, spreading to rivers, lakes and streams.

The levels of lead may build up in plants and animals from areas where air, water or soil are contaminated with lead.

People are exposed to lead by breathing air, drinking water, eating foods or swallowing dust that contains lead.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Two Chamorros Killed in the Horn of Africa

National Guard confirms two killed, one injured in Horn of Africa
by Jason Salas, KUAM News
Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Guam Army National Guard has confirmed that two soldiers were killed in the Horn of Africa, with another being injured in an accident involving a military vehicle. Specialist Gregory Fejeran, Specialist Christopher Fernandez and Sergeant Robert Balajadia were in a military SUV that rolled over; Fejeran and Fernandez were killed in the incident while Balajadia sustained injuries.

SGT Balajadia was reportedly listed as being in stable condition and was medically evacuated to Landstuhl Military Hospital in Germany. The military confirmed that the accident was not the result of hostile action. The soldiers are part of Team Charlie, 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry, currently deployed to the Horn of Africa in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Major General Donald Goldhorn, Adjutant General of the Guam National Guard, expressed his condolences to the families of the deceased soldiers. He also offered his prayers to SGT Balajadia and to his family for a speedy recovery. The deaths of Fejeran and Fernandez are the 17th and 18th from Micronesia since 2003, respectively, due to the conflict in the Middle East.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

World's Largest Anti-Terrorism Exercise on Guam

US to stage world's largest anti-terrorism exercise on Guam
Yahoo News
Mon Feb 19, 3:21 AM ET

The world's biggest anti-terrorism exercise will be held this year on Guam, underscoring the Pacific island's growing importance to Washington.

Exercise TopOff4 is part of a series of large-scale manoeuvres established to strengthen the United States' ability to respond to terrorist attacks involving weapons of mass destruction.

US Coast Guard commander in Guam, William Marhoffer, said the TopOff4 exercise would be bigger than last year's Valiant Shield war games, in which the US mobilised 30 ships, 280 aircraft and 22,000 military personnel.

"It will be bigger in some ways. Valiant Shield was a military exercise. It was a show of force. It was the first time we had three carrier strike groups in combined operations in the Pacific since the Vietnam War.

"Top Officials (TopOff4) is a domestic counter-terrorism exercise ... it involves the intelligence communities, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Defense, the US Coast Guard."

The exercise is expected to centre around a maritime terrorist attack.
US Vice President Dick Cheney is to visit Guam later this week.

"This exercise highlights Guam's strategic value and will show the world that we are prepared to defend our island and our nation from any threat of terrorism," Governor Felix Comacho said in his State of the Island address.

Guam and neighbouring US territories including the Northern Mariana Islands are considered by the US as strategic locations in the Asia-Pacific region.

Guam is home to one of the largest US military naval bases in the region and 8,000 marines will soon be relocated there from Japan.

The island, with a population of 170,000, is banking on the US military buildup to bail it out of its economic woes.

The US and Japan are spending 15 billion dollars on the relocation of the marines from Japan, which is expected to further boost Washington's military strength in the Asia-Pacific.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Japan PM Denies Sex Slavery in WWII

Japan's PM: No coercion in sex slavery
Official’s statement rejects government’s landmark 1993 acknowledgement
By Tim Sullivan
The Associated Press
Updated: 8:25 a.m. PT March 1, 2007

TOKYO - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday there was no evidence Japan coerced Asian women into working as sex slaves during World War II, backtracking from a landmark 1993 statement in which the government acknowledged that it set up and ran brothels for its troops.

Abe’s comments to reporters came as a group of ruling party lawmakers urged the government to revise the so-called Kono Statement, which states that Japan’s wartime military sometimes recruited women to work in the brothels with coercion.

“The fact is, there is no evidence to prove there was coercion,” Abe said. “We have to take it from there.”

Historians say that up to 200,000 women, mainly from Korea and China, were forced to have sex with Japanese soldiers in brothels run by the military government as so-called “comfort women” during the war.

Japanese leaders have repeatedly apologized, including former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who said in 2001 that he felt sincere remorse over the comfort women’s “immeasurable and painful experiences.”

Abe’s comments were likely to provoke a strong reaction from South Korea and China.

‘Respecting the historical truth’
Earlier Thursday in Seoul, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun urged Japan to be more sincere in addressing its colonial past as dozens of people rallied outside the Japanese Embassy, lining up dead dogs’ heads on the ground. The demonstration marked the anniversary of a March 1, 1919, uprising against Japanese colonial rule, which still stirs up deep-rooted bitterness among Koreans.

Each of the dogs had a knife placed in its mouth on pieces of paper with the names of Koreans who allegedly collaborated with Japan during its 1910-45 colonial rule. Protest organizers said the animals had been slaughtered at a restaurant, as dogs are regularly consumed as food in Korea.

In a nationally televised address, Roh said Japan “needs to, above all, show an attitude of respecting the historical truth and acts that support this.”

“Instead of trying to beautify or justify its past wrongdoing, (Japan) should show sincerity that is in line with its conscience,” he said.

Roh also referred to recent hearings with sex slave victims in the U.S. Congress.

“The testimony reiterated a message that no matter how hard the Japanese try to cover the whole sky with their hand, there is no way that the international community would condone the atrocities committed during Japanese colonial rule,” he said.

Roh’s office said late Thursday that it did not immediately have a direct response to the Japanese leader’s remarks. In Beijing, calls to the Chinese Foreign Ministry seeking comment on the remarks were not immediately returned.

Several members of the U.S. House of Representatives have drafted a nonbinding resolution calling for Abe to “formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility” for using “comfort women” during the war.

Attacked by right-wing nationalists
Supporters want an apology similar to the one the U.S. government gave to Japanese-Americans forced into internment camps during World War II. That apology was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1988.

Japan objects to the resolution, which has led to unease in an otherwise strong U.S.-Japanese relationship.

The Kono Statement was issued in 1993 by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono after incriminating defense documents were discovered showing the military had worked with independent contractors during the war to procure women for the brothels.

The statement has been attacked by right-wing nationalists in Japan, who argue the sex slaves worked willingly for the contractors and were not coerced into servitude by the military.

Despite the official acknowledgment, Japan has rejected most compensation claims by former sex slaves, saying such claims were settled by postwar treaties. Instead, a private fund created in 1995 by the Japanese government but funded by private donations has provided a way for Japan to compensate former sex slaves without offering official government compensation. Many comfort women have rejected the fund.

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