Monday, March 31, 2008

No Need to Inform Tinian About Military Activities There

US military need not inform Tinian about its activities
Monday March 31, 2008
By Junhan B. Todeno
Variety News Staff

TINIAN Mayor Jose P. San Nicolas says any military activity, such as fencing the property leased by U.S. armed forces, can proceed even without informing his office.

Based on the lease agreement, the mayor said, the military doesn’t need to inform the municipal officials about its movements on Tinian.

San Nicolas said he, too, has not seen any fence that the U.S. military supposedly installed on Tinian.

In a separate interview, Press Secretary Charles P. Reyes Jr. said he will check with the military.

He noted at the same time that whatever movement the U.S. military will undertake in the area will always conform with applicable environmental laws and regulations.

In an e-mail to Variety, the Tinian Municipal Council members said they are not at liberty to discuss or release any information regarding the activities of the U.S. Military on the island.

It is the U.S. Department of Defense that will release information as needed, the council stated.

It added that the island welcomes any U.S. military build-up on Tinian, “considering it will be a plus for our economy.”

Rep. Edwin P. Aldan, Covenant-Tinian, earlier said that the island’s legislative delegation should be informed of any activities the U.S. military was conducting in the area.

Aldan said the U.S. military has fenced a small area on the northern part of the island that is used for target practice and other exercises.

Separate H2 Visas for Guam

Separate H2 visas for Guam military build-up will be issued
Monday March 31, 2008
By Gemma Q. Casas
Variety News Staff

A RANKING U.S. Naval official says separate H2 visas will be issued for Guam to ensure that its military build-up project that involves relocating 8,000 Marines from Japan will push through as scheduled despite the projected labor shortage in the territory.

Capt. Robert Lee, director of the Joint Guam Program Office, told Variety in a telephone conference with Capt. Neil A. Ruggiero, JGPO Forward public affairs officer, and an environmental officer, that 10,000 to 12,000 H2 visas will be issued to Guam.

Lee said this will not be counted against the national quota of 64,000 H2 visas.

He said this means the U.S. military will be able to get the needed labor force for constructing new housing facilities and other infrastructure in Guam even if the plan to federalize CNMI’s immigration system hits a snag or is not acted at all.

“There’s no relation or tie-in to that,” he said.

H.R. 3079, or the Northern Marianas Immigration Security and Labor Act, has been bundled with other bills under title 7 of the omnibus package bill S. 2739 which is now in the U.S. Senate.

This bill contains a provision establishing a nonimmigrant alien program which is entirely separate from the transitional workers program.

The U.S. military needs up to 15,000 skilled workers for the massive build-up project in Guam where 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa, Japan, and their 9,000 dependents will be relocated.

Hawai'i Senator Criticizes Feds

Hawaii senator criticizes feds for treaty failure on migration
Monday March 31, 2008
By Giff Johnson
For Variety

MAJURO — American states are footing a bill for hundreds of millions of dollars for services to migrants from U.S.-affiliated islands in the Pacific — a tab that the federal government is supposed to pick up, but has failed to, a Hawaii state senator told Marshall Islands and U.S. officials in Majuro at the weekend.

Nearly one-third of the 70,000 Marshall Islanders and about 25 percent of the 107,000 Micronesians now live in America, escaping stagnant economies, dismal public schools and limited health care by using visa-free entry privileges under a Compact of Free Association to move to locations as diverse as Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii to rural northwest Arkansas. The increasing out-migration to America — though the actual numbers remain small on a global scale — have sparked increasing debate in the U.S. about how to pay for services provided to newly arrived islanders.

“The federal government has not honored the Compact of Free Association,” said Hawaii state Sen. Kalani English at an oversight hearing in Majuro held by U.S. House Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Asia, Pacific and Global Environment Chairman Eni Faleomavaega, D-American Samoa. “Even though they are supposed to be treated as U.S. citizens, federal law says ‘Oh no,’ so states are forced to pick up the burden. Our estimate is it costs $91 million a year to provide services to all freely associated states, or FAS, citizens in Hawaii and we only get back $10 million from the federal government.”

Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony deBrum complained that different states in the U.S. have different interpretations of islanders’ status, causing hardships to accessing jobs and health care. In some states, islanders have full access to federal services, including job training, food stamps, low cost housing and others. “In other states, it is restricted,” deBrum said. “There is discrimination against Marshallese, especially where there are large populations such as Arkansas.” In some places, “We’re treated worse than aliens,” he added.

“Given the no-growth scenario projected (in the Federated States of Micronesia), it is reasonable to assume that large numbers of Micronesians will continue to emigrate in search of jobs, and perhaps also to afford their families a standard of health care and education that they will not easily find at home because of the increased financial pressure on government services,” said Fr. Francis Hezel, S.J., director of the Micronesian Seminar research institute in Pohnpei, in a recently published paper.

The U.S. Congress capped at $30 million what it calls “Compact Impact” aid provided to just three islands, Guam, Hawaii and the Northern Marianas.

But English believes that other states will soon begin demanding reimbursement from this limited fund.

“The Guam Legislature has just passed a resolution asking the U.S. government to reimburse it for $400 million (for services to FAS citizens),” English said. “Hawaii’s congressional delegation is proposing to lift the $30 million cap and reinstate eligibility for federal programs. It will be very helpful for the states for the federal government to fully implement the treaty. Hawaii is a willing partner but we ask the U.S. federal government to pay its share of the costs.”

U.S. Ambassador to the Marshall Islands Clyde Bishop told the hearing that no other countries in the world have the same visa-free access to the U.S. as these U.S.-affiliated islands that were formerly governed as a United Nations Trust Territory by the U.S. from World War II.

“If people from the freely associated states enter the U.S. under the Compact and are placed in a situation of uncomfortable challenges, it behooves both governments to look at it,” Bishop said. “The U.S. government can be more active with the states, and the Marshall Islands can invest in screening and ensuring that Marshallese are fully aware of their options. By working together we can improve the situation.”

U.S. states are particularly complaining about the high costs of treating contagious diseases such as tuberculosis, sexually transmitted infections and Hansen’s disease (leprosy). Recently, Arkansas Deputy State Health Officer Dr. Joe Bates testified to the state legislature that between 2000 and 2005, Northwest Arkansas had nine cases of congenital syphilis, six of which involved Marshall Islanders; 38 people with infectious syphilis, 21 of whom were Marshall Islanders; and eight cases of leprosy, all among Marshall Islanders.

“Hawaii had a budget surplus the last few years, but now it’s disappeared,” English said. “The cost to deliver medical services for TB, sexually transmitted infections, and Hansen’s disease might be cheaper (by sending) medical teams to the Marshall Islands to do screening (instead of treating people in Hawaii).”

DeBrum, who was involved in negotiation of the first Compact of Free Association in the early 1980s that established the visa-free immigration status, said the original intent of the provision acknowledged the economies of the freely associated states could not provide jobs to their growing populations and that educational opportunities and access to full health care were extremely limited. “U.S. access was provided to make up for that shortfall,” deBrum said, calling the visa-free status a “safety valve” for the islands. “But we’re now faced with rules that stand in the way of enjoyment of these full privileges.”

Congressman Faleomavaega said it was clear that there was no appreciation of this on the U.S. side. He recommended that the immigration status of freely associated state citizens be changed to that of islanders from American Samoa.

“American Samoa is the only insular area where the people are not U.S. citizens,” Faleomavaega said. “They are classified as OU.S. nationals’ and receive all the benefits of U.S. citizens. Would classification of U.S. national help (the problems faced by freely associated state citizens in the U.S.)?” he asked.

While deBrum said the idea of Marshall Islanders being U.S. nationals “flies in the face of free association” and raised sovereignty issues, English said it was essential to get the U.S. government to define the status of migrating islanders from U.S.-affiliated islands.

“What (Congressman) Eni said is important,” English said. “We don’t have a definition of what a freely associated state citizen is entitled to.”

Cement Shortage on Guam

Cement shortage hinders projects
Monday March 31, 2008
By Zita Y. Taitano
Variety News Staff

A NUMBER of construction projects may be delayed because of the low amount of cement that is available on island.

Various contractors have complained to Variety that the island is suffering from a scarcity of cement resulting in the virtual standstill of many important construction projects.

Leonard K. Kaae, senior vice president for Black Construction Corp., said that in fact there has been no cement for a little more than 10 days. Kaae said that because of this, it has become difficult for them to follow the timeline needed to complete construction projects.

Kaae said the supplier for the island receives the cement from Japan, as well as Taiwan and China.

"We've been out of cement over the last three months three times since January and last year we were out of cement on three occasions," he said.

"When we were building Home Depot, the island ran out of cement on three separate occasions," he added.

The situation, Kaae said, has already begun to affect the company's employees.

"With reference to construction, the one major component that is required is concrete and the single most important component to concrete is cement. So without cement, basically you come to a real standstill and this has a major impact on our employees. What do you with all these people if you can't pour concrete," he said.

He did note that measures are already being implemented to remedy the situation and hopefully the island will have an adequate supply of cement soon.

Guam Buildup Shifts from Elation to Worry

Guam buildup shifts from elation to worries-Laney
Monday, March 31, 2008
By Mark Rabago, Assistant Editor

Guam is singing a different tune two years after the announcement that 8,000 U.S. Marines and about 9,000 of their dependents will relocate to the U.S. territory from Okinawa.

First Hawaiian Back economics consultant Dr. Leroy Laney said that the CNMI neighbor's initial celebratory feeling about the impending $15-billion military buildup in Guam has died down since the April 2006 announcement. In its place are questions ranging from “who would foot the bill” to “would it all be completed on time.”

“The biggest change I've noticed is when I was here in August 2006, the military buildup has just been previously announced in April, there was a great sense of elation and euphoria. [people saying] 'God we're getting all this money and everything is going to be great and everybody that lives and works and makes a living is going to get their slice of it.

“Coming back here now in early 2008, the biggest change I've noticed is that the rhetoric and the discussion has changed more toward, 'How much is this going to cost and who's going to pay for it?' and 'Can we get it done in the timeframe that the military has set out?'” said Laney, who served as guest speaker of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce monthly meeting held last Friday at Saipan Grand Hotel.

Laney, who is also a professor of Economic and Finance at the Hawaii Pacific University, added that much of the apprehension in the military buildup revolves around the 2010-2014 timeframe expected for the military buildup to be completed.

He said the Joint Guam Planning Office has published a timeline but what he is concerned about is that the projects are somewhat timed abruptly to start in 2010 and also end abruptly in 2014.

“It seems to me that's somewhat optimistic. Knowing how these things go it’s not likely that it's going to have that trajectory. First of all, its not that far off; 2010 is just around the corner, as a matter of fact, and people that I talked to in the construction industry over there are kind of the opinion that, 'well if we're really going to get started in 2010 then this, this, and this should've been happening right now.' It's not, so it's not going to happen that quickly.”

The other thing that worries Laney is that the window from 2010 to 2014 is a rather brief one to cram all of that planned military construction in Guam.

He, however, admits that the military buildup is a boon to the U.S. territory.

“Regardless of what trajectory it is, if it takes in a longer timeframe, it's going to be a big boost to the Guam economy and I would think the CNMI economy would be looking at ways that you can get some of that also.”

And the benefits of the Guam military buildup to the Commonwealth does not stop there.

“If job growth here is not that great, the possibility of jobs over there might be greater. I heard some talk about using Saipan as a staging area for some of the construction that is going on,” he said.

Guam and CNMI are also expected to get a bigger boost once the U.S. Navy decides to expand the port in the U.S. territory to allow its mighty aircraft carriers to dock there.

“They're talking about an aircraft carrier visiting the harbor. They're expanding the harbor so an aircraft carrier can get in there. I heard from the lieutenant governor (Mike Cruz) over there that four or five business visits a year from an aircraft carrier is almost like home-porting there. When all the sailors hit the town, it's like a small town pulling up to the dock. That would be a big boost. I would think they would also come over here (CNMI),” said Laney.

Aside from the CNMI and Guam, Laney also talked about the U.S. economy and why he believes it is in recession. He also said Hawaii's economic growth is undoubtedly decelerating but that it continues to be in a better position than the overall U.S. economy.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Brain Drain in the NMI

NMI faces brain drain
Sunday, March 30, 2008
By Agnes E. Donato, Reporter

NMI workers may flock to Guam for buildup

If the CNMI economy continues at its sluggish pace, the Commonwealth may very well lose some of its best and brightest workers to neighboring Guam, which economy is expected to benefit from the relocation of 8,000 U.S. Marines and 9,000 of their dependents from Okinawa.

This according to First Hawaiian Back economic consultant Dr. Leroy Laney, who served as guest speaker during Friday's Saipan Chamber of Commerce monthly meeting at the Saipan Grand Hotel.

Responding to a question posed by Northern Marianas College's Eric Plinske about the negative impact, if any, the Guam military buildup would have in the CNMI, Laney said workers leaving would be biggest problem.

“If there is no or very little job creation here and it all goes over there [Guam]-that's where all the job creation is, depending on how long it lasts,” he said.

In an interview with the Saipan Tribunei after his presentation, the professor of Economic and Finance at the Hawaii Pacific University reiterated that line of thought.

“Maybe Guam is where people will go for jobs because there will be a lot of jobs over there. There will be a brain drain and a body drain,” he said.

“I think there's more to do in Guam to employ people in the CNMI and immigrant workers in the Philippines and other countries. One of their big problems is not having enough labor and since the CNMI is right next door, it would seem to me that it's only logical that would be a possible source of it.”

Laney, however, said that the migration of CNMI workers to the northernmost part of the Mariana chain would likely be temporary. “The possibility is they would all come back after it's over; the [military buildup] won't last forever.”

He added, “It's sort of like a hardening of the infrastructure and all this military housing, but it will not create permanent jobs. So it depends on how long it will be but certainly people do go where job opportunities are and jobs is one way to measure an economy.”

Laney, who used to work under former Federal Reserve chair Allan Greenspan, also said that the military's timeframe for the Guam military buildup (2010-2014) seems a little optimistic.

“Looks like it might be unrealistic and it’s going to be hard to meet that timeframe but it is going to be positive for the Guam economy. When you talk about an order of magnitude like this it’s really very hard to put any kind of precise estimate on real gross island product rates of growth,” he said.

Laney added that he talked with people in the construction industry in Guam and they said if 2010 is the target date for the start of the military buildup in Guam, then the groundwork plan should have already been laid out by now.

Navy Begins Construction of New Homes

Navy begins construction of new homes
Sunday March 30, 2008
By Zita Y. Taitano
Variety News Staff

IN keeping its commitment to provide a quality lifestyle for its sailors and their families, the U.S. Navy on Friday held a groundbreaking ceremony to build 55 homes at the Old Apra housing complex in Santa Rita.

The three-bedroom and four-bedroom units will replace the current homes that were built in the 1950s and 1960s.

Overseeing the $42.1 million project is Black Construction Corporation. According to the company's senior vice president, Leonard K. Kaae, the housing upgrade is a good move for the Navy.

"Certainly it's a positive step on behalf of the Navy to demolish these (homes) and replace them with new homes as a result of their age. This will also improve the quality of life," Kaae said.

Naval Base Guam Commanding Officer Capt. Scott Galbreath said the reconstruction of the homes at the complex was necessary.

"So many were damaged by years of earthquakes and typhoons," Galbreath said.

The new homes have air-conditioning units that are energy efficient, covered patios, private fencing and additional storage spaces, among other features. The housing area will also include playgrounds, jogging and bike trails, and a picnic area.

Meanwhile, the project, which is in phase I, is scheduled to be completed by May or June of 2009. The second phase will include the reconstruction of about 73 homes at Old Apra and has yet to be awarded to a contractor.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Japan Misses US Bases Deadline

Japan misses deadline for budget for US bases
NHK Online
Updated at 17:45(JST) Mar. 29

Japan's parliament has effectively missed a deadline next week for approving a budget for supporting US military bases in the country.

The government wants approval for a new Japan-US accord stipulating how much Japan will pay toward the cost of supporting US military facilities for the next 3 years. The current accord expires on Monday.

At a meeting of the lower-house committee debating the matter on Friday, the opposition Democratic Party proposed a closer examination of the requested 3-year budget, saying it contains wasteful spending.

The committee agreed to meet again in April, effectively eliminating the possibility of parliamentary approval in time for the start of the new fiscal year that month.

The delay is already affecting the operation of US forces in Japan. Plans to relocate jet fighter drills from Okinawa to some other locations in Japan have been cancelled.

Japan usually pays a certain share of the wages of Japanese people working at US bases, but the United States is now footing the bills as a stop-gap measure.

Foreign minister Masahiko Koumura says there is no doubt the budget delay is undermining US trust in Japan.

Friday, March 28, 2008

State of Mourning for Fallen Soldier

State of mourning declared for fallen soldier
by Sabrina Salas Matanane, KUAM News
Friday, March 28, 2008

Governor Felix Camacho has declared a state of mourning and has ordered all flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of the late U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Joseph Gamboa. The serviceman passed away earlier this week while on deployment in Iraq. The governor wrote of Gamboa, "He was a brave soldier who fought for our freedom and made the ultimate sacrifice. Our heartfelt condolences are with the Gamboa family and all those who mourn this great loss."

Nightly rosaries are being said at 127 Chalan Saligao in Astumbo, Dededo located across from Astumbo Elementary School.
Local bigwigs in flap after U.S. military jeep does U-turn in school parking lot
Mainichi Daily News

URUMA, Okinawa -- Local education officials are complaining after a U.S. military jeep used a parking lot at a school for disabled students to do a U-turn, local officials said.

The Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education plans to file a protest with the U.S. forces over the incident as early as Friday.

According to officials, the medium-sized two-seater jeep drove onto the premises of the Okinawa prefectural high school for the mentally disabled in Uruma, Okinawa Prefecture, at around 2 p.m. on Thursday.

The jeep made a U-turn in a parking lot about 30 meters away from the main gate and left the premises about 1 1/2 minutes later.

Around 70 teachers were in the school at the time. There were no students due to spring break.

This was not the first case of intrusion by U.S. military vehicles into schools in Okinawa. A U.S. Marines armored vehicle entered the same high school on July 18 last year, while another U.S. military truck entered the Okinawa Prefectural Maehara High School on Aug. 6 last year. Both schools are about 1 kilometer away from each other.

"When we filed a protest against the intrusions last year, the U.S. military said they would take thorough measures to stop it from happening again. Here comes an intrusion again, right after prefectural citizens held a rally protesting the incidents (triggered by U.S. servicemen)," said Morikazu Nakamura, superintendent of the prefectural board of education.

(Mainichi Japan) March 28, 2008

Island Mourns Another Dead Solider

Article published Mar 28, 2008
Guam son killed in Iraq: Family, island mourn fallen Malesso soldier
By Stephanie Godlewski
Pacific Daily News

In two weeks, Staff Sgt. Joseph Gamboa would have been heading home to see the face of his 1-year-old baby girl, loving wife and four other children, who are stationed in Germany.

Instead, the island is mourning after the soldier was killed while fighting the war on terror in Iraq.

The Malesso man is the first regional casualty of the war in Iraq this year. His death brings the number of casualties to 25 since the war began in 2001.

According to The Associated Press, more than 4,000 U.S. service members have been killed in Iraq.

The United States has about 31,000 troops in Afghanistan and 156,000 in Iraq.

U.S. forces in Iraq peaked at 20 brigades last year and are to be cut to 15 brigades, with a total of about 140,000 combat and support troops, by the end of July. A key question facing Bush is whether security conditions are improved enough to justify more reductions.

Gamboa's eldest brother, Frank Gamboa Jr., said Joseph Gamboa had called the day before and expressed his excitement about heading back to Germany and the arms of his family. The next day, the family received word that Joseph Gamboa was killed.

Frank Gamboa Jr. said the family knew only a few details of what happened.

"I know he had an injury to the head from metal shooting into his head from an explosion. They said he tried to hang in there, but I think he couldn't fight it. My brother was a fighter," Frank Gamboa Jr. said.

Waiting for family
Funeral arrangements have not been made because the family is awaiting the arrival of Gamboa's wife, Michelle Gamboa, and their five children from Germany, Frank Gamboa Jr. said. In the meantime, the family will be holding nightly rosaries at their house in Dededo.

Joseph Gamboa's father-in-law, Pete Guerrero, said both sides of the family are pulling together to support each other in this difficult time.

"Our culture makes us busy, so we don't grieve much until the day (of the funeral), so what we do is prep. It's a team effort," Pete Guerrero said. "It's culture that makes it hard to grieve. I would not trade it for anything else."

Frank Gamboa Jr. said it was his brother's second tour in Iraq and he had narrowly missed disaster before by staying in the barracks when he should have been eating and the mess hall was attacked.

Frank Gamboa Jr. said his brother was an adventurous soul out to better his life for his family.

"He was an adventurous person who liked to have a lot of fun," Frank Gamboa Jr. said. "He left Guam to get his life going better."

The brother said he got to see Joseph Gamboa last year. During the visit, Joseph Gamboa gave his dog tags to his father.

"At least we got to say, 'We're proud of you. You're doing a good thing,'" Frank Gamboa Jr. said.

Other branches of the military are offering their sympathies to the family and offering to help them with anything they might require.

Guam Army and Air Guard spokeswoman Officer Candidate Christine Martinez said everyone in the service stands with the family in their time of grief.

"On behalf of Maj. Gen. Donald J. Goldhorn and the Guam Army and Air National Guard family, we would like to express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Joseph Gamboa," Martinez said. "He gave the ultimate sacrifice defending our nation and its people. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Staff Sergeant Gamboa's family and we stand ready to help them should they need our assistance."

Gov. Felix Camacho also sent his condolences to Joseph Gamboa's friends and family.

"The lieutenant governor and I are deeply saddened by the loss of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Joseph Gamboa. He was a brave soldier who fought for our freedom and made the ultimate sacrifice. Our heartfelt condolences are with the Gamboa family and all those who mourn this great loss. I have declared a state of mourning and ordered all flags to be flown at half-staff in his honor. I ask the people of Guam to pray for the Gamboa family and all the men and women who protect our great nation."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sewages Closes Beaches

March 26, 2008
Sewage closes beaches: Pump problems cause wastewater overflow
By Stephanie Godlewski
Pacific Daily News

The putrid smell of wastewater greeted drivers on Route 1 in Tamuning yesterday after manhole covers were overflowing in the street.

Portions of the nearby beach area were closed after the sewage got into the water that many spent the day swimming in.

Guam Waterworks Authority crews closed the center southbound lane of Marine Corps Drive near the Pizza Hut intersection around 11:30 a.m. to work on pumping the water out.

One worker on site, Tony Cruz, said there was a problem at the Hagåtña pump station, which caused the wastewater to back up into the street.

GWA spokeswoman Heidi Ballendorf said there was a breakdown in service at the station, but that it was back up and running around 1:30 p.m.

The backed-up sewage was caused by multiple factors, said Julie Shane, GWA wastewater engineer.

"This overflow is due to a combination of work at the pump station and problems with lines coming out of Tamuning," Shane said. "However, we managed to get the pump station back online quickly, and our crews did an excellent job in an emergency situation. Some overflow did reach the river by Jimmy Dee's, and we have notified the Guam Environmental Protection Agency."

Sewage swimming

One resident in the area was frustrated because the wastewater got into a popular swimming spot, but no signs were put up to warn swimmers of what was in the water.

David Stone of Tamuning said he was upset there was no warning about sewage contaminating the water in the area.

Stone said he didn't even realize the sewage was being pumped in until later, when he took a walk and noticed GWA crews pumping wastewater.

"There were no signs on the beach. There should have been signs on the beach warning swimmers," Stone said.

The resident said when he approached a nearby beach club where tourists were frolicking in the water and notified management of the situation, no one had been informed.


Late yesterday afternoon, the Guam Environmental Protection Agency issued a beach closure for a portion of East Hagåtña Bay. The closure extends from Dungca's beach to the Alupang Beach Tower.

A beach advisory is in effect for Sleepy Lagoon Beach and Trinchera Beach. The advisory asks residents not to wade within 400 yards of the areas.

Guam EPA spokeswoman Tammy Anderson said the closure will be in place until bacteriological samples taken from the water are back to safe levels.

The closure was ordered because of the leakage of sewer water, Anderson said. Anderson said a test will be done on the water today.

She said it's unclear whether GWA will be fined for the overflow.

"It's under investigation," Anderson said. "It's too early to tell if we'll be issuing a citation."

Living on Base?

How many USFJ personnel live on base?
By Travis J. Tritten
Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Wednesday, March 26, 2008

About 75 percent of United States servicemembers and civilians in Japan lived on military installations last year, according to Japan’s Ministry of Defense.

That number was higher — 77 percent living on bases — in Okinawa prefecture, where recent alleged crimes by servicemembers have caused some Japanese politicians to question the number of Americans living off base.

The U.S. military’s goal is to provide on-base housing for about 80 percent of those living in Japan under the Status of Forces Agreement, U.S. Forces Japan said.

Half of the 10 base residential areas in Okinawa with a population of at least 800 SOFA-status residents were at or above that goal last year, the Ministry of Defense reported.

On mainland Japan, just one of five prefectures with a U.S. military presence made the 80 percent goal. Three prefectures came within 8 percent of the goal, according to the defense ministry. The housing figures were collected in March 2007.

“We are in constant coordination with the government of Japan to acquire more base housing,” said Col. Michael Presnell, director of logistics and installations for USFJ.

In February, Japanese delegates from Okinawa filed a protest with USFJ urging the military to move more servicemembers onto bases following the alleged rape that month of a 14-year-old girl by a Marine. Japanese investigators decided not to press charges, but the Marine remains in U.S. military custody.

The Marine was an off-base resident and “the fact that servicemembers live in local communities has never been acknowledged before as a problem,” said Shusei Arakawa, a member of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly’s Special Committee on Military Affairs and former Okinawa City mayor.

It is also a waste if on-base housing built with Japanese taxpayers’ money remains vacant, Arakawa said.

USFJ tries to fill 90 percent of its on-base housing units, though that figure fluctuates depending on maintenance and changing base populations, Presnell said.

Even environmental factors such as humidity can affect the percentage of occupied base housing. In Okinawa, 248 units are on hold due to heat and humidity issues, Presnell said.

Overall, there are many factors that determine where SOFA-status residents live including available housing units and land, Japan and U.S. construction funding and residents’ personal choices.

For example, Sasebo Naval Base has the lowest percentage of SOFA residents living on base of any area in Japan. Only 55 percent have on-base housing, according to the Japanese government.

But over 90 percent of its on-base housing units are occupied, Presnell said.

The Sasebo facility is squeezed by geography and has little room to grow. Sasebo city’s bustling downtown curves around the small main base and the largest concentration of housing, the Hario housing facility, is a 30-minute drive to the south.

The lack of space for new housing is one reason 350 to 400 families live off base in Sasebo communities.

Meanwhile, one of Sasebo’s largest renovation projects ever is under way and will upgrade hundreds of its existing housing units, which are beginning to age.

On-base occupancy “depends what is available and what we can build. Sasebo is limited in space,” said Donald Chang, an engineer with USFJ who negotiates with the Japanese government over housing needs.

At Sasebo and other bases, getting the money just to maintain or upgrade existing base housing can be a major undertaking.

The Sasebo housing project is part of more than $360 million requested by the U.S. military this fiscal year to maintain base housing in the Pacific, according to USFJ.

Living on or off base is also often a choice or privilege, depending on the rules of individual base commands.

Residents arriving in Sasebo can choose to enter the waiting list for base housing or opt for living in the Japanese community, according to the base Web site.

Those who choose to live off base lose the right to a courtesy move and any future move into government housing will be at their expense, according to the base.

Anyone arriving at Okinawa must apply for base housing, though depending on the time of year, “command-sponsored families can expect about a four- to 12-month wait before moving on base,” according to the U.S. Marine Corps.

Yokota Air Base in Tokyo has strict rules requiring any available on-base housing to be filled by unaccompanied or accompanied servicemembers alike, according to the Air Force.

That prefecture also has the highest percentage of SOFA-status residents living on base — 90 percent of more than 8,302 residents.

Numbers, locations of SOFA-status residents

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Guam Struggles to Find $$$ for Military Buildup

Guam struggles for $$$ to fund island infrastructure upgrades
Weekly Japan Update
Date Posted: 2008-03-27

Guam needs money, plenty of it, to fund dozens of large scale construction projects needed in advance of the planned relocation of 8,000 American Marines and their families from Okinawa.

The realignment will boost Guam’s largely tourism-based economy from $3 billion to more than $4 billion as the military moves will swell the military population to 19,000, and boost the number of dependents another 19,000. There are now 6,400 American troops on Guam, along with about 7,700 family members.

Guam’s 170,000 residents are mostly in favor of the relocation, but worry about how they’ll be able to get everything built to support it. “We need private-sector participation because it’s too big a project for a small government and a small community,” says Gerald Perez, former president of the Guam Chamber of Commerce. “We feel like we’ve been told to upgrade port facilities, build roads and houses all at the same time,” a politician adds, “and it’s simply impossible.”

Moving 8,000 Okinawa Marines to Guam is estimated to cost $10.3 billion, with Japan’s government picking up the tab for more than $6.1 billion to cover infrastructure construction. Officials say that infrastructure involves building a water supply system, sewage facilities, family housing and barracks for the troops. Guam has already asked Japan to ante up another $3 billion to cover costs to the local civilian sector for upgrade projects.

Guam’s Governor figures that’s only fair, because “I would expect a good amount of the Special Project Entities would be going to Japanese companies.” Felix Camacho says the relocation effort is far beyond Guam’s local capability, noting Guam’s annual budget is only $450 million. He says there’s a lot of work to be done to support the massive building projects, because the 48-kilometer-long island has only one major road running from the Apra Port to the Andersen Air Force Base. That road winds through downtown Agana. ‘Camacho says the Apra Port capacity must be at least doubled to handle the increases in materials flowing to Guam.

Construction is supposed to begin in 2010, but the former Chamber leader predicts that number will wobble. “We suspect it may have to be drawn out over a long period of time,” he said, “unless we get help.” James Martinez, head of Guam’s Contractors’ Association, also predicts full blown construction may “be delayed further than 2010.”

Apart from Guam’s concerns about obtaining enough funding to make the project start-ups run smoothly, some worries are mounting that the delays in building a new military airfield in Okinawa may stall or hamper needed funding deals. The Japanese government is still wrangling with Okinawa officials over construction of a new airfield at Camp Schwab to replace the controversial Futenma Marine Corps Air Station located in Ginowan City.

Trouble at the Tip of the Spear

"Trouble at the Tip of the Spear"
Tobias Harris
Observing Japan
March 23, 2008

Most of the concerns about the lack of progress in implementing the 2006 US-Japan realignment agreement have focused on political troubles in Japan, as Tokyo has struggled to get local governments involved in the relocation of US forces in Japan to accept the terms of the 2006 agreement. With the change of government in Iwakuni removing an obstacle (and, in accordance with Tokyo's tit-for-tat tactics, resulting in the restoration of frozen subsidies to Iwakuni) and the environmental survey at Camp Schwab in Okinawa proceeding, albeit irregularly, attention is now shifting to Guam, the receiving end of the realignment agreement.

A look at Guam shows that even if the Japanese side of the process was proceeding smoothly, the US still has substantial work to do to prepare Guam to host an additional 40,000 US service personnel, dependents, and contractors, a substantial increase from the 13,000 who are there presently (in addition to 173,000 civilians).

The stakes of the Guam buildup are enormous. For Guam's citizens, the expanded military presence will mean a massive boon to the territory's economy. For the US military, Guam will become an important hub for the Navy, Air Force, and Marines, a transformation already underway as far as the Air Force is concerned. Contractors are undoubtedly excited about the projected $13 billion price tag, a number that will likely increase. But preparing the island for the massive influx of US forces will require cooperation among the federal government, the Japanese government, Guam's government, and the US military — and for the moment, cooperation has been elusive, raising questions about whether the project will begin in 2010 as scheduled.

The Hill, a Capitol Hill publication, highlighted an additional problem: Madeline Bordallo, Guam's congressional delegate, is struggling to build a coalition that will support funding for the project. The article notes that Ms. Bordallo is having a particularly hard time gaining support in the Senate, where Guam has no representation. (Another problem is that many lawmakers know nothing about Guam, beginning with its location.)

Federal funding is indispensable, because this project is not just a matter of military bases. The influx of personnel will entail major improvements in the island's infrastructure, which is already stressed due to its position in Typhoon alley and a surprisingly costly snake problem. It will entail new homes and schools. (The Washington Post reviewed the infrastructure and funding problems in an article last month.)

What does this mean for the Japanese government? According to the 2006 agreement, of course, Japan is obligated to pay $6 billion towards the transfer of Marines to Guam, meaning that Tokyo will be paying for this massive construction project. Undoubtedly Washington is eager to receive Japanese funds. But given the coordination problems that have hampered the process to date, and the oversight problems that will undoubtedly dog the process in the future, is Japanese money worth what the Japanese contribution will cost in terms of efficiency? The debate in the Diet last year over Japanese fuel contributions that may have been diverted to the Iraqi campaign was in a sense a preview for the debate that will surround the use of Japanese funds in Guam. While most of the contribution will be in the form of loans from the Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC), the GOJ's $2.8 billion direct contribution will come under intense scrutiny from the opposition — and if the DPJ and other opposition parties manage to form a government, the 2007 law authorizing the use of Japanese funds could be repealed (if the DPJ's opposition to the law's passage is any indication).

Admittedly, though, the efficiency gains for releasing Japan from its obligations are the least important argument in support of this idea, because as noted above the process is inefficient as is.

I think that the next president should offer to renegotiate the 2006 agreement and to release Japan from its financial contribution as a gesture of goodwill and a signal that the next administration will mark the beginning of a new, more equitable era in the alliance. For the Bush administration, a closer alliance has meant an alliance in which Tokyo is more subservient to Washington. The next administration can break from the past by recognizing Japan's financial difficulties and freeing Tokyo from having to pay for construction on Guam. While the Japanese financial contribution will be missed, particularly as the price tag grows, the change in tone that would result from renegotiation would yield long-term benefits from US-Japan cooperation (instead of the ill will associated with the current arrangement).

Meanwhile, the next president should make preparations on Guam a priority for US Asia policy and use presidential power to solve the coordination problems currently hampering the construction project, pressuring Congress to appropriate funds for the construction in order to expedite the process. (And the US might as well finance it from deficit spending and let China pay for the construction.)

Tobias Harris
I am an American, Chicago-born, and a fledgling Japan/East Asia specialist, who until recently worked as an aide to a member of the Japanese Diet. I have been published in a variety of publications, including the Wall Street Journal Asia, the Far Eastern Economic Review, and J@pan Inc. I can be contacted at
Posted by Added Entry at 7:56 AM

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Governor Never Gave Budget for Dump Closure

Governor never gave budget for dump closure'
Tuesday March 18, 2008
By Therese Hart
Variety News Staff

SPEAKER Judi Won Pat (D-Inarajan) yesterday said the administration never submitted to the Legislature a budget request for the closure of the Ordot dump in the governor's 2005, 2006, and 2007 budgets.

"I don't know what the Governor is talking about… I checked with Senator (Eddie) Calvo and we have it on record that he never submitted a request for the closure of the landfill," Won Pat said.

Won Pat said that the request was only submitted in the governor's 2008 budget and even at that, he tapped into the Department of Education's funding.

Won Pat said she thought the governor would take 10 percent from other agencies to minimize the loss, but instead 100 percent of the funding was taken from the Department of Education.

"Clearly, this governor doesn't care about education," Won Pat said.

Won Pat also said that the governor and not the Legislature determines what the ceiling will be for his budget.

As for the controversy surrounding the Dandan site, Won Pat said that she and her colleagues were concerned about the process in which the Guam Economic Development Authority chose that particular site.

"We support the closure of the Ordot landfill, however, there are still many questions in terms of how Guam EPA went about selecting Dandan. We're still wondering whether that is truly where the new landfill should be," Won Pat said.

* Disappointed *

In a press release, Sen. Rory Respicio (D-Agana Heights) said that he was disappointed but not surprised with Chief Judge Tydingco-Gatewood's decision.

"This is the path from which the federal courts have never deviated since the beginning. The order appointing a receiver is full of assumptions that go against the facts in the issue. I believe the Chief Judge is following a direction that is wrong for Guam and our people, but is right for the federal government because it is the easiest path."

Respicio chided Tydingco-Gatewood's decision and said that the Chief Judge's decision shows a lack of caring about preserving the island's water resources.

"We've already seen reports that desalination plants might be necessary. I'm sure the Feds already have contractors lined up for those projects, just as they already had a contractor lined up to handle the receivership."

"By the judge's decision it is obvious that the federal government doesn't care how much a government-built landfill will cost the people of Guam. Our people are the ones that the federal government continues to shortchange every day... by not fully reimbursing Guam Compact Impact expenses, by not paying Guam the federal share for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and by making our people wait for more than 60 years for war reparations for pain and suffering in World War II.

"By the judge's decision it is obvious that the federal government doesn't care that the selection of Dandan violated the Consent Decree multiple times. This decision obviously has nothing to do with the Consent Decree at all. The Consent Decree is just an excuse to act unilaterally, to force us to do their bidding, and to bring in pre-selected private interests that will make millions from the federal government, while the people of Guam continue to suffer," the senator said.

Respicio also said that it is his belief that federal receivership will set back territorial-federal relations many years.

Private Firm Takes Over Dump

Firm takes over dump; Court says all remedies exhausted
Tuesday March 18, 2008
By Gina Tabonares
Variety News Staff

FED up with GovGuam's lack of leadership, planning, and vision, District Court of Guam Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood yesterday ordered the appointment of a Virginia-based receiver that will handle the island's solid waste management.

The appointment of Gershman, Brickner & Bratton Inc. (GBB), a Fairfax, Virginia-based company, as receiver was not decided hastily, Chief Judge Tydingco-Gatewood said, emphasizing that "it was not made lightly or with relish."

In a 23-page order, the court said there is no more remedy left to resolve the island's garbage crisis, which the court described as "highly dysfunctional, largely mismanaged, overly bureaucratic and politically charged."

The court said the inherited problem is "beyond correction by conventional methods."

The selection of GBB, with Special Principal Associate David L. Manning as the signatory, displaces GovGuam's full power and authority in enforcing the terms of the Consent Decree.

The company now assumes all of the responsibilities, functions, duties, powers, and authority of the Solid Waste Management Division of the Department of Public Works "and any and all departments, or other divisions of the DPW in so far as they affect GovGuam compliance with the Consent Decree."

The receiver now has the authority to complete management and control of all Consent Decree projects including but not limited to the supervision of all GovGuam employees associated with the Consent Decree projects, performance of existing contracts, and entering into future contracts deemed necessary.

GBB is now also in charge of the facilitation of financing and borrowing of funds to carry the Consent Decree projects. It can modify the revised financial plan or methods of debt financing it deems appropriate.

The receiver will likewise take care of the application of the Consolidated Commission on Utilities for rate increases for residential waste collection services and tipping fees and will be in charge with hiring all consultants, professionals, contractors and engineering firms or counsel, which the receiver deems necessary for the performance of duties necessary in meeting the mandates of the Consent Decree.

* Fees *

The receiver, which is required to submit quarterly reports to the court regarding the progress made toward the compliance of the Consent Decree, will initially use the $2.8 million deposited by GovGuam to pay the penalties for missing Consent Decree deadlines.

Under the initial compensation rate GBB submitted, GovGuam taxpayers have started paying the company's president and special principal associate $250 per hour.

A fee of $225 per hour will also be paid for the executive vice president, $210 per hour for the senior vice president, $185 per hour for the vice president, and $165 per hour for the principal associate or principal engineer.

The firm's asking fee for senior project manager or senior project engineer or senior associate engineer is $160 per hour.

A fee of $140 per hour will be paid for project manager, $125 per hour for project engineer, $105 per hour for consultant II or contract administrator, $85 per hour for engineer I, $65 per hour for support manager, $60 per hour for administrative secretary, editor or staff accountant, and $45 per hour for clerical or support staff.

On top of the hourly fee for the receiver's staff, GovGuam will also pay for the staff travel expenses and the board and room arrangements of visiting GBB workers from Virginia.

* Exhausted remedies *

The court stressed that it considered drastic remedies to ensure that islandwide health and environmental hazards brought about by the Ordot Dump leachate does not continue.

The Chief Judge said that despite the passage of 22 years, the Ordot dump is still in operation and remedial measures that include the imposition of monetary damages, the appointment of a special master or court monitor, the imposition of a moratorium, and the immediate closure of the Ordot Dump did not resolve the continuing harm to the environment and the citizens of Guam.

According to the court, the history of the Consent Decree case demonstrates that the GovGuam is "paralyzed by an institutional and systematic quagmire that has prevented it from effectively complying with the Consent Decree."

The Chief Judge stated that GovGuam should not be surprised by the receivership order, saying the record reveals that the local government has been on notice of its violation of the Clean Water Act for 22 years.

She also mentioned that GovGuam lacked commitment towards financing the Consent Decree projects.

Despite being earlier advised by the Public Utilities Commission to improve its collection rate, DPW recently reported that it only improved its collection rate from 30 to 50 percent.

The Chief Judge said the lack of consistent revenue stream from collections is exacerbated by the Legislature's failure to provide funding for any of the Consent Decree projects.

"Without commitment to fund the necessary projects, there is little chance that the closing of the Ordot Dump and opening of the landfill at Dandan will occur at all," the court stated.

The court also pointed out the lack of cooperation between the executive and legislative branches to respond to the solid waste crisis.

The Chief Judge said the Legislature not only failed to provide any funding for Consent Decree projects but actively prohibited the expenditure of monies toward the development of the landfill in Dandan.

Until this time, the court noted that GovGuam has no tangible progress with DPW Director Larry Perez "undecided as to how best to proceed."

Monday, March 17, 2008

Federal Receiver Takes Over Solid Waste Management

Federal receiver takes over Guam's solid waste management
by Mindy Aguon
Monday, March 17, 2008

After being on notice for the last 22 years of violating the Clean Water Act and failing to clean up its act, the Government of Guam has run out of luck and time. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood Monday morning issued a monumental decision appointing a federal receiver to oversee solid waste management operations.

The judge found no other means to ensure compliance with a 4-year-old consent decree and the closure of the Ordot Dump that at this point has no realistic end in sight. Guam's governor says grave financial implications not only on the government but island residents. Quite simply, "Highly dysfunctional, largely mismanaged, overly bureaucratic, and politically charged" is how the federal court described the island's solid waste system.

With the government's belief that it will take four years before a new landfill is opened and the dump is closed, the chief judge found no other alternative than to appoint a receiver. After interviewing seven of the nine potential receiver candidates, Tydingco-Gatewood selected one of the Government of Guam's picks - Gershman, Brickner and Bratton, Inc. of Fairfax, Virginia - through its principal associate, David Manning, to oversee the government's solid waste management operations. The judge says the appointment of GBB as a receiver is a positive step in moving GovGuam forward as she found that imposing monetary damages, closing the dump, or appointing a special master were inadequate remedies.

Governor Felix Camacho says he and Department director Larry Perez have both done their best to find ways to make the Ordot closure happen. "Many of them, both Republicans and Democrats, have failed the people of Guam," said Camacho. "I tell you, it's going to cost the people of Guam. If we had done this expeditiously and on a timely basis with their support, it would not lead to receivership but because of their repeated impediments and their refusal to support this process in compliance with the court we are where we are now.

"The Legislature had absolutely no interest in allowing this government to succeed by closing Ordot and opening a new landfill at Layon or Dandan."

The legislative impediments include Resolution 103, passed by Democrats Rory Respicio, Judi Guthertz, David Shimizu, Tina Rose Muna-Barnes, Adolpho Palacios and Judi Won Pat; and Republicans Jesse Anderson Lujan and Frank Blas, Jr. The measure presented to the federal court the Legislature's intention and support for a landfill in Guatali. Governor Camacho continued, "There's so much more that this receivership on this government is going to lead to, and only time remains to see what the irreparable harm that is being brought upon our people and our territory what that will be."

The governor met with the attorney general this afternoon, but says there's nothing's to appeal but now getting the job done.

With the government on notice for the last 22 years of its violations of the Clean Water Act and the history of non-compliance, DPW's director says the court's imposition of receivership didn't come as a surprise, rather the timing of her decision. Perez noted, "In terms of the inevitableness of it, the thing that came to mind personally, how much more impediment would the legislature keep giving me?"

Speaker Won Pat meanwhile reacted to today's announcement and the governor's response, telling KUAM News, ""When I came in on Thursday and checked last week to see if there have been any request to the legislature regarding the consent decree since 2005, there hasn't been any since 2008. And that was the time that it was included.

Government officials have been unable to reach GBB representatives hoping they can get more information in the next few days.

According to the chief's judge's order, the federal receiver has been assigned several duties, responsibilities and authority out its mandate. The receiver shall have:

- Full power and authority to enforce the terms of the consent decree
- Supervision of all GovGuam employees associated with the consent decree projects
- Performance of existing contracts
- Entering into future contracts receiver should follow Guam's regulations and statutes unless compliance would unreasonably delay the progress
- Hire consultants, Professional, contractors, etc.
- Facilitation of financing and borrowing of funds necessary to carry out the duties relating to the consent decree
- Can apply to the Consolidated Commission on Utilities for rate increases for residential waste collection services or tipping fees
- On a temporary or permanent basis
- Full access of all government records
- Consult with the USEPA in complying and secure technical advice

GBB officially begins its receivership services today. According to the court's order the appointment will continue until there is compliance with the consent decree or the receiver chooses to back out. The solid waste management consultants must submit quarterly reports and is responsible solely to the District Court. The judge also made it clear that no lawsuit can be filed against the receiver.

The company is aware that there is currently $2.8 million available to be used to cover the expenses of the receivership that can be replenished as needed.

In the meantime, according to the company's filing with the court, Manning will charge $250 an hour while GBB's vice-president, Chace Anderson, draws an hourly fee of $185. Billings will be provided to the court on the seventh day of each month for the court's review, with payment from the government by the 25th. Payment shall be limited to 90% of fees and 100% of all reasonable expenses, while 10% of fees will be held in trust to be paid upon completion of the services.

Read the District Court's decision by clicking here

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Global Indigenous TV Network

Indigenous TV Broadcasters To Form Global Network
Wednesday, 12 March 2008, 12:13 pm
Press Release: Maori Television Service

Indigenous TV Broadcasters To Form Global Network

A global network of indigenous television broadcasters will be launched at the World Indigenous Television Broadcasting Conference – WITBC ’08 – to be hosted by Maori Television in Auckland from March 26-28.

The World Indigenous Television Broadcasting Network (WITBN) will be aimed at promoting indigenous broadcasting at the highest levels internationally and at fostering closer relationships between broadcasters. Indigenous television leaders are encouraged to attend the conference at the Aotea Centre – part of the Auckland Convention Centre at THE EDGE® – and contribute to this important milestone in the development of indigenous broadcasting.

Maori Television chief executive Jim Mather says global indigenous broadcasters share similar organisational visions and purpose – to protect, maintain and strengthen indigenous representation in the media while preserving and developing their indigenous languages, culture, people and stories.

Indigenous broadcasters worldwide face similar challenges in the legislative and political struggle particularly in terms of meaningful participation in global broadcasting and creating space for indigenous voices, sharing of limited resource, and access to new resources including funding, technology and skilled workforce.

“The process of building relationships and connections amongst indigenous broadcasters has already begun with many trans-national and collaborative initiatives mostly in the form of film festivals and conferences, and some collaborative initiatives such as the Pac Rim documentary series,” Mr Mather says.

“However, there is no formalised worldwide indigenous broadcasting network or collaborative body. WITBC ’08 provides a space for discussions around the establishment of a global network which will open up a number of opportunities in terms of increased audiences, access to resources, international indigenous advocacy and knowledge transfer such as learning, teaching, up-skilling and training.”

Leaders, producers and planners involved in indigenous and public television can also register to attend WITBC ‘08 via the website

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

One of Navy's Most Feared Subs on Guam

U.S.S. Ohio among Navy's most feared subs
by Sabrina Salas Matanane, KUAM News
Wednesday, March 05, 2008

It's one big, lean, mean machine. And described as the U.S. Navy's newest and most lethal platform, the U.S.S. Ohio is the lead ship in its class of trident ballistic missile submarines and the first of four to have been selected to be converted into a conventional land attack and special operations platform. Lieutenant Commander Rich Massie is the commanding officer of the Ohio, and says, "This submarine will operate in and out of Guam; basically from here forward both us and our sister ship, the U.S.S. Michigan, will be operating in the Western Pacific from this point onward."

With a price tag of about a billion dollars, unlike other subs the Ohio is equipped to do much more than her sisters at sea. "We can accomplish any of the standard missions that any of the submarines do," noted Massie. "We also have the unique capability of being able to carry special operations forces." Also known as the "Blue Crew", the Ohio carries an assortment of missiles and manpower and is virtually undetectable undersea.

Reportedly from the Pacific Ocean it can hit targets in North Korea and from the Indian Ocean anywhere in Afghanistan. And in addition to its crew of 160, the Ohio also has the capability of carrying out special ops with a contingent of the elite Navy SEALs. Massie continued, "We have 65 extra bunks so we can carry a soft force special operations force. It's that big for them to be able to conduct covert and clandestine operations that their capable brings a huge capability to the war on terror."

The U.S.S. Ohio will be conducting training missions in the Pacific with stops here in Guam and recently in South Korea. She's homeported in Bangor, Washington.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Announcement: Guma'Famoksaiyan

Gathering Strength for our Journey Ahead
May 23-25, 2008
San Diego, California

Famoksaiyan is a group comprised of dedicated and passionate people who work on issues of decolonization, cultural and language revitalization and the dissemination of information regarding the proposed military build up of Guam. The organization’s first conference was held in San Diego, California, on April 14-15, 2006, and was titled “Famoksaiyan: Decolonizing Chamorro Histories, Identities and Futures.” The people who attended that first gathering left with the desire to transform the energy and excitement of the conference into something more sustainable.

Famoksaiyan translates into “the time or place of nurturing or growing,” or “the time to paddle forward.” And it was in this spirit that more than 70 Chamorros and individuals of other ethnic identities from Guam gathered together to share their work, ideas and stories in hope of effecting a positive change for Chamorro communities in the Marianas Islands and the United States.

In a short period of time, Famoksaiyan has organized and assisted in organizing several historic meetings, trips and conferences. Most prominently amongst these have been the following:

• Three trips to the United Nations to testify to the international community on the question of Guam.
• The “Decolonizing Our Lives” forum held at the University of Guam, which gathered more than 250 people. The event served to educate individuals about what different organizations are doing to facilitate Guam’s political and cultural decolonization.
• A second Famoksaiyan conference held on April 20-22, 2007, in Berkeley and Oakland, California. Titled Famoksaiyan: “Our Time to Paddle Forward,” Summit on Decolonization and Native Self-Determination, the conference brought together more than three hundred people to share and learn about the struggles of indigenous people in the Pacific and the Americas.

As part of Famoksaiyan’s continuing commitment to the decolonization of Chamorro lands and lives, we are pleased to announce in cooperation with Chamorro Hands in Education Links Unity (CHELU) Inc.:

Gathering our Strength for the Journey Ahead

Day 1 Friday, May 23, 2008 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Famoksaiyan Sustainability Meeting
CHELU Inc. Office
334 Willie James Jones Ave
San Diego, CA 92102

Day 2 May 24, 2008 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
I Salud i Taotao yan i Tano’
Joyce Beers Community Center
1220 Cleveland Avenue
San Diego, CA 92103

Day 3 May 25, 2008 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Ma’cho’cho’cho’ para i Mamamaila
Sons and Daughters of Guam Club
334 Willie James Jones Ave
San Diego, CA 92102

In times past, knowledge, skills, family and village histories were passed down to the younger generations through different guma’ or houses, such as the guma’saga’ or the family home, or the guma’ulitao, the bachelor’s house. In these spaces young Chamorros, would be given the crucial knowledge of their family, clan and village genealogy, and also be imparted the necessary skills for tasks such as planting, fishing, navigation, debate and weaving. Through this inter-generational sharing, young Chamorros would be prepared to be productive, respectful and active members of both their clan and their village.

As Chamorros and their islands face uncertain futures due to various economic, health, environmental, military and social concerns, it is crucial that we come together to work towards developing progressive solutions to these problems. This year’s gathering hopes to continue the spirit of our ancestors by creating a guma’famoksaiyan, or a house where we can nurture each other, grow and strategize ways to continue paddling forward. We will do this by first, providing presentations and facilitating discussions about fundamental issues that are affecting our people and our islands, whether it be health and diet issues, the impending military buildup, the reality of Guam’s physical environment, the decolonization of Guam and the plight of the Chamorro language. Second, in the hopes of building a more progressive and critical Chamorro / Guam community, we will also convene working groups to discuss different projects and strategies to creatively and effectively confront the existing problems that face our island.

Attending the gathering is free, however donations will be taken throughout the weekend. Please contact Michael Lujan Bevacqua ( or Leiana San Agustin Naholowaa ( or visit the Guma’Famoksaiyan website at for more information.

Chamorro Hands in Education Links Unity, Inc. (CHE’LU) is the official fiscal sponsor of Famoksaiyan and the Guma’Famoksaiyan gathering in May 2008 in San Diego, California. CHE’LU is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and all donations made to Famoksaiyan are eligible for tax deduction. Neither CHE’LU nor Famoksaiyan support any political candidate, party or affiliation in compliance with the laws governing nonprofit institutions.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

GPA plans for Wind Power

GPA plan puts wind power on island grid
By Carlos B. Pangelinan
Pacific Sunday News

Can Guam harness the power of the wind to generate electricity? Not only do officials at the Guam Power Authority seem to think so, plans already are under way to construct monitoring stations.

The stations, according to GPA officials, are needed to determine the feasibility of a wind farm that could generate as much electricity as one of Cabras' baseload generators.

John Cruz, GPA manager of special projects and research and development, said the idea stems from studies by the agency and its consultant, RW Beck, as well as from recent Integrated Resources Plan stakeholder meetings.

The IRP is a resource plan with consideration given to local power demands, trends in energy costs, energy source availability and environmental policies, Cruz said. He said at least three existing generators -- including Tanguisson 1 and 2 and Cabras 1 -- are expected to retire within the next 10 years.
Retrofitting plants to run on natural gas and the installation of wind turbines are among the utility's long-term alternative energy plans, which have become more critical with the rising cost of oil. For most ratepayers, the fuel-recovery surcharge takes up more than half of their power bills.

Cruz said the use of wind turbines is looked at as a way to reduce the cost of producing power. And while the rising cost of oil, which powers all of Guam's power plants, is an obvious reason, Cruz said trends in environmental policy both in the United States and abroad give reason to seriously consider wind.

For every 10 to 13 cents in production cost for a kilowatt hour, findings suggest it may be possible for the agency to save about 1 to 2 cents by using wind turbines, Cruz said.

When you consider the scale of GPA's operations -- a capacity of about 550 megawatts, according to the utility's Web site -- this is substantial. One megawatt-hour equals 1,000 kilowatt-hours.

Looking into the future, policy trends are a factor in providing GPA an incentive to use wind -- a renewable source of energy.

And while it has not already happened, Cruz said it is likely Congress will eventually pass some type of "carbon tax" that would discourage the use of greenhouse-gas-emitting energy sources. He added that states throughout the country have passed laws targeting specific amounts of emissions to reduce by a certain number of years.

"We are in the process right now of getting a list of places that would be the best places to put up monitoring stations," Cruz said.

He said RW Beck is researching potential sites for the stations and once the sites are determined and GPA bids out the work to construct them, the utility will begin a yearlong monitoring program to obtain wind data. The data will determine the best design for a wind turbine farm.

"By 2011, hopefully we can have (the wind turbines) installed," Cruz said.

Cruz said the plan is currently to set up a 40-megawatt wind farm.

According to Pacific Daily News files, this is the same amount produced by each of Cabras baseload generators 3 and 4. According to Cruz, GPA will need at least 20 wind turbines, and they don't necessarily have to be in a single location.

"GPA's capital cost estimate for 40 megawatts is $97,075,000," he said. Based on preliminary information provided by GPA, the cost of each turbine would be about $4.8 million each.

Bruce Best, who does research for the University of Guam on alternative energy sources, said it's possible to generate 40 megawatts through windmills on Guam, however there is a caveat.

In addition to the considerable amount of land needed for the windmills, there will be times when the turbines will not generate power because the wind will not be consistent, he said.

Cruz said another model GPA has looked at will begin to generate electricity at winds of 6.7 miles per hour, but the rate at which the turbine will produce at a "maximum steady state" would be at about 25 mph.

This means the model will produce the same amount of electricity beyond 25 mph, and will shut down when it reaches 56 mph to avoid breaking.

Local environmentalist Paul Tobiason applauded GPA's plans, but adds that conservation needs to take place and more needs to be done to make government agencies accountable for the electricity they use.

"Conservation should be (viewed) as a form of alternative energy," he said, adding that more needs to be done by individuals and, particularly, government agencies to conserve electricity.

He said basic things such as water-blasting roofs and turning off lights and electronic devices when not in use are simple conservation methods.

He also said the government of Guam needs to be up front with ratepayers on how much electricity it consumes, and taxpayers should be able to go on agency Web sites and be able to read how much energy is being consumed at GovGuam agencies and offices -- and paid for by taxpayers.

Okinawa Rape Case Worried Guam Activists

New Okinawa rape case worries Guam activists

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff

THE activist group Chamoro Nation has renewed its call for the removal of the U.S. bases on Guam following a new rape incident involving a U.S. serviceman in Okinawa.

"We the Chamoru people of Guam are appalled by the continuing indecent behavior of violence such as the rape of yet another child in Okinawa by members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Our sincerest and heartfelt sympathy goes out to this poor child, her family and the entire Okinawan community," the Chamoru nation said in a statement of solidarity with the Japanese community.

The latest rape case against, filed by a Filipino woman who accused an American soldier of sexually attacking her in an Okinawa hotel, came following the arrest of 38-year-old Staff Sgt. Tyrone Luther Hadnott, who was charged with raping a 14-year-old girl in Okinawa.

The series of rape cases involving members of the U.S. Armed Forces has sparked outrage in Japan, which is host to some 50,000 U.S. troops under a security treaty.

"This horrendous attack along with the past acts of violence by U.S. service members further instills our belief that the transfer of these so-called 'family orientated' soldiers to Guam will severely and adversely impact the well-being and safety of our island community causing us to live constantly in a state of fear and oppression, as it has done to all outside the bases in Okinawa and throughout our region," the Chamorro Nation said.

The tensions in Japan have been exacerbated by allegations of additional less serious crimes by American troops. Japanese leaders have deplored the behavior and accused the U.S. military of lax discipline.

"The courageous stance taken by the people of Okinawa to protect their families from the ruthlessness of these monstrous, uncaring and vicious people is clearly the only solution to insuring their safety," according to statement from Chamorro Nation, the most vocal anti-military bases group in Guam.

Though Guam is generally receptive to the military expansion plan for the island, a handful of activists and women senators have repeatedly expressed concerns about the social impact of the relocation of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa.

Debbie Quinata, maga'haga of Chamorro Nation, said her group stands in firm solidarity with the people of Okinawa in calling for the removal of all U.S. bases and their soldiers from Okinawa.

"We further call for their removal from Guam, Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines returning to their country, the United States of America," the statement said.