Sunday, September 25, 2016

Target Shaped Island of Guam


The Independence for Guahan Task Force held their second monthly general meeting last week and it was a significant success, with 70 members of the community coming to listen to educational presentations and provide feedback. Here are some media reports on the meeting, both before and after. As you'll read below the educational portion of the evening focused first on security threats to Guam due to it being a strategically important unincorporated territory of the United States. Second, it contained a presentation on Singapore, the first model of an independent nation that Guam can look to in terms of inspiration as it pursues independence itself. Each monthly meeting will feature a new independent nation to analyze and compare.

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Does the US military turn Guam into a regional target?

By Timothy Mchenry

Pacific News Center

September 20, 2016



The topic was chosen after audience members at the first general assembly continually asked about how Guam should handle recent threats from North Korea. 


Guam - Does the American military presence on Guam make the island safer, or a target for countries like Russia, China and North Korea. These questions will be explored by the independence for Guahan task force at their second general assembly.

The topic was chosen after audience members at the first general assembly continually asked about how Guam should handle recent threats from North Korea. Independence for Guahan co-chair Dr. Michael Bevacqua says Thursday’s meeting will focus on Guam’s current security risks or issues. Bevacqua says this conversation will naturally center around Guam’s relationship with North Korea, Russia and China; specifically, if affiliation with the United States and housing U.S. military bases has made those countries Guam’s enemies by proxy. Additionally, Bevacqua says audience members asked about other small, successful independent nations Guam can mirror, if indeed the people choose independence. Task force members point to Singapore, one of the richest nations in the world and has a similar land mass to Guam.


“What the task force is really trying to remind people is that Independence is not a scary, weird abnormal thing. More than 80 former colonies chose to become independent. And so it’s the natural course for people in Guam’s position to seek more basic control over their lives. There is nothing strange or weird about this and so at each meeting what we would like to do is present a different model for what Guam can be like as an independent country,“ said Bevacqua.


According to an Independence for Guahan press release, each general assembly pays tribute to a Chamoru hero who believed in Independence for Guahan. This meeting will honor Dr. Bernadita Camacho- Dungca, who passed away earlier this year. Dr. Duncga was a pioneer in Chamorro linguistics and education. 




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Independence for Guahan Task Force honoring Chamorro pioneers
by Ken Quintanilla
KUAM News
September 20, 2016

While community conversations will continue next week to educate on Guam's political status options, the Independence for Guahan Task Force will be holding its second general assembly this Thursday. Because the group's last assembly had many questions regarding Guam's handling of threats from North Korea, this week's presentation will focus on the limitations and vulnerabilities that come with being an unincorporated territory that host US bases, such as Guam.

Other areas of discussion will include information about successful independent nations along with a tribute to a Chamorro hero who believed in independence. This week's Chamorro hero tribute will be Dr. Bernadita Camacho-Dungca, who was considered a pioneer in Chamorro linguistics and education and wrote Inifresi (The Chamorro Pledge).

The assembly begins Thursday at 6pm at the Chamorro Village main pavilion.

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Independence Task Force discusses militarization on Guam
By Shawn Raymundo
Pacific Daily News
9/24/16

While Guam’s location in the northern Pacific has played a key role for the U.S. armed forces for decades, members of a decolonization task force advocating for the island's independence question whether or not the military presence makes the island a target for regional threats.

During their second general assembly meeting at the Chamorro Village on Thursday night, the Independence for Guahan Task Force conducted a presentation to answer the question: "What can Guam do to protect itself from threats like North Korea and China?" The presentation was attended by about two dozen residents.

The Decolonization Commission's independence task force represents one of the three political status options Guam’s native inhabitants could choose, should the island hold a plebiscite – a non-binding referendum that would measure the preferred political status in regards to island’s future relationship with the U.S.
The three options are statehood, independence or free association.

Gov. Eddie Calvo has proposed holding the plebiscite during the 2018 General Election, but nothing is official.

Citing the Chinese missile that’s been recently dubbed the “Guam Killer,” independence co-chairwoman Victoria Leon Guerrero noted news publications that have reported both North Korean and Chinese militaries have been conducting missile testing with the purpose of possibly striking Guam and the U.S. military bases here.

“We always hear that China and Korea want to attack Guam, and that’s why we need America,” Leon Guerrero said. "(We’re told that U.S. military exercises are) happening to protect us. But actually in the world, (other countries) don’t see themselves as a threat to us, they look at (the exercises) as a threat to them.”
Recent exercises, like bomber training at Andersen Air Force Base and the launch of the joint-operations training known as Valiant Shield, have likely perpetuated the idea that the U.S. is militarizing Guam for the purpose of attacking its regional enemies, she said.

“So all of this is a tit-for -tat that we’re caught in the middle of,” Leon Guerrero said. “‘I’m going to do this and you’re going to do that’ … What we want to ask ourselves is: Are we a threat because Guam is what they desire or because the U.S. is here?”
After the U.S. Air Force’s announcement that Andersen would be hosting a rare training exercise with the military’s three bomber aircraft, international news sites reported the North Korean government's response.

“The introduction of the nuclear strategic bombers to Guam by the U.S. … proves that the U.S. plan for a preemptive nuclear strike at the (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) has entered a reckless phase of implementation,” North Korea’s foreign ministry said.

Guam’s identity around the world, Leon Guerrero said, isn’t being seen for the island that it is, with a culture and people, but rather as a U.S. military installation and base.

“That’s why Guam is how the world sees it today, as a place that could be attacked, because there’s so much testing,” Leon Guerrero said. “We’re offending everyone around ... do we really need it? Do we really need a third of the island being used this way?”

Using the island nation of Singapore as an example, the independence task force noted that there are once-colonized lands that gained independence and became financially sufficient and successful.

Except for a brief period during World War II when Singapore endured Japanese occupation similar to Guam, the small island was a British colony since 1819 up until 1965.

Since it gained independence, Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product had increased by 3,700 percent as of 2014. That same year, the country’s GDP reached an all-time high of $306.34 billion, according to the World Bank.

Ana Won Pat-Borja, a member of the task force and the researcher for the Guam Legislature’s legal counsel, said Singapore didn’t have any natural resources to profit from, but acknowledged that for the past two centuries it has been a prime hub for trading, with its port.

The country, she noted, capitalized on its best asset by investing heavily into the port and opening up foreign investments into free trade, thus making it one of the largest and most visited ports in the world.

Singapore, Borja continued, isn’t without its problems, as human rights concerns have been an issue, specifically the country’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Borja said choosing independence isn’t a path to doom.

In an effort to educate the island as much as possible before the proposed plebiscite, the Independence for Guahan task force launched its monthly general assembly meetings in August.

Melvin Won Pat Borja, a member of the task force, acknowledged that the independence option is the “underdog,” adding that if the plebiscite were to happen today the likely outcome would be statehood.

“If we’re going to be successful in winning the hearts and minds that this is the right path for our people, we have to take responsibility for it,” Melvin Borja said, advocating for more outreach.

The task force will hold its third general assembly meeting on Oct. 27.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Banning English to Preserve Culture

Todu i Chamorro siha ni' mañathinanasso put i kotturå-ta yan i minalingu i lenguahi-ta, debi di u ma tatai este. Anggen ta cho'gue mas kinu manggongongong siña ta na'lå'la' mo'na i lenguahi-ta. Atan este na familia. Manu na gaige i Chamorro siha ni' siña tumattiyi este na hemplo?

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Indigenous family bans English to preserve culture
by Lynn Desjardins
english@rcinet.ca
Radio Canada International
September 5, 2016

Like many parents, Nancy Mike and Andrew Morrison have to work hard if they want to preserve their aboriginal language. Because so much English is spoken in Iqaluit in the northern territory of Nunavut, they have decided to ban English at home and oblige their two daughters to speak their native language of Inuktitut, reports CBC.

“Language is not just language; it’s the way you transmit culture,” said Mike to CBC reporter Sima Sahar Zerehi. Mike said she wanted to be certain the girls were able to speak to her unilingual grandfather and great-grandfather and to be close with the extended family.

English is everywhere

Preserving the language is difficult because English in books, movies, toys and movies is ubiquitous. Although the school system has an Inuktitut stream, materials are most often in English.
When Mike reads English books to her children she translates on the spot.

Total immersion with extended family

Four or five times a year she and her partner send their children to visit relatives in the more remote town of Pangnirtung where they can spend time with family and be totally immersed in their native language.

They also enjoy the lifestyle which includes spending more time on the land and eating what’s called country food—food hunted or gathered locally.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Democracy Now! and the North Dakota Pipeline

Democracy Now! is doing some great coverage of the protests over the North Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Here are some interviews and a column from Amy Goodman after a warrant was put out for her arrest in response to her coverage. If you are able, please consider donating in order to support their continuing efforts.

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Native American Activist Winona LaDuke at Standing Rock: It's Time to Move On from Fossil Fuels
September 12, 2016
Democracy Now!

While Democracy Now! was covering the Standing Rock standoff earlier this month, we spoke to Winona LaDuke, longtime Native American activist and executive director of the group Honor the Earth. She lives and works on the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota. She spent years successfully fighting the Sandpiper pipeline, a pipeline similar to Dakota Access. We met her right outside the Red Warrior Camp, where she has set up her tipi. Red Warrior is one of the encampments where thousands of Native Americans representing hundreds of tribes from across the U.S. and Canada are currently resisting the pipeline’s construction.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. While Democracy Now! was covering the standoff at Standing Rock earlier this month, on Labor Day weekend, we spoke to Winona LaDuke, longtime Native American activist, executive director of the group Honor the Earth. She lives and works on the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota. She spent years successfully fighting a pipeline similar to Dakota Access, the Sandpiper pipeline. We met her right outside the Red Warrior Camp, where she has set up her tipi. Red Warrior is one of the encampments where thousands of Native Americans, representing hundreds of tribes from across the U.S. and Canada, are currently resisting the pipeline’s construction. Her tipi is painted with animals that are threatened by climate change. We began by asking Winona LaDuke why communities are now protesting the pipeline.
WINONA LADUKE: It’s time to end the fossil fuel infrastructure. I mean, these people on this reservation, they don’t have adequate infrastructure for their houses. They don’t have adequate energy infrastructure. They don’t have adequate highway infrastructure. And yet they’re looking at a $3.9 billion pipeline that will not help them. It will only help oil companies. And so that’s why we’re here. You know, we’re here to protect this land.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain what happened to the Sandpiper pipeline, the one that you protested, the one that you opposed.
WINONA LADUKE: What we opposed, yeah. So, for four years, the Enbridge company said that they absolutely needed a pipeline that would go from Clearbrook, Minnesota, to Superior, Wisconsin. That was the critical and only possible route. They proposed a brand-new route that would go through the heart of our best wild rice lakes and territory, skirting the reservations, but within our treaty territory. They did not consult with us, and they made some serious errors in their process. They underestimated what was going to happen there.
And so, for four years, we battled them in the Minnesota regulatory process, which is a process which is more advanced and slightly more functional than North Dakota’s regulatory process, which, from what I can see, is largely nonexistent. And in that process, we attended every hearing. We intervened legally. We rode our horses against the current of the oil. We had ceremonies. And they cancelled the pipeline. That’s what they did, after four years’ very, very ardent opposition by Minnesota citizens, tribal governments, tribal people, you know, on that line.
And that pipeline, you know, big problem—we still have six pipelines in northern Minnesota to go to Superior, the furthest-inland port. But their new proposals are not going to happen there. Enbridge has said that they still want to continue with their proposals for line three. The first pipeline they want, they want to abandon. The beginning of a whole new set of problems in North America, the abandoning of 50-year-old pipelines, with no regulatory clarity as to who is responsible. And so we are opposing them on that, that they cannot abandon, and they cannot—they still cannot get a new route.
But when they announced that, you know, in my area, I could have said, "Hey, good luck, y’all. We beat it here. Good luck." You know? But, no, we said we’re going to follow them out here, too, because we believe that—you know, we could spend our lives fighting one pipeline after another after another, but someone needs to challenge the problem and say, "This is not the way to go, America. This is not the way to go for any of us." So, we came out here to support these people.
AMY GOODMAN: So talk about everyone who’s out here.
WINONA LADUKE: There are a lot of people out here, you know? It’s very funny, because I feel like I’ve been like the Standing Rock switchboard, the travel guide, for the past two weeks. You know, everybody hits me up on Facebook, calls me up: "Hey, LaDuke, I want to bring out this. I got some winter coats. You know, what should I do?" I was like, "Oh, my gosh!" You know?
So, a lot of people are coming here, united. You know, so what I know is out here is like—you know, I go walk in here, and I’ve seen people from the—you know, from Wounded Knee in 1973. I’ve seen people I worked with in opposing uranium mining in the Black Hills in the 1970s and '80s, you know, out here. I mean, I've been at this a while. You know, it’s like Old Home Week out here. I’ve seen people from Oklahoma that opposed the Keystone XL pipeline, and Nebraska. And I’ve seen people from, you know, out in our territory that are opposing the pipelines here. The tribal chairman of Fond du Lac is here, and, you know, a whole host of Native and non-Native people. And there are a lot of people that just do not believe that this should happen anymore in this country, that are very willing to put themselves on the line, non-Indian people, you know, as well as tribal members, and they are here. And it is a beautiful place to defend.
AMY GOODMAN: For people who are watching in New York and Louisiana, in California and India, China and South Africa, why does this matter to them?
WINONA LADUKE: This matters because it’s time to move on from fossil fuels. You know, this is the same battle that they have everywhere else. You know, each day or each week, there’s some new leak, there’s some new catastrophe in the fossil fuel industry, as well as the ongoing and growing catastrophe of climate change. The fact that there is no rain in Syria has directly to do with these fossil fuel companies. You know, all of the catastrophes that are happening elsewhere in the world has to do with the fact that North America is retooling its infrastructure and going after the dirtiest oil in the world—the tar sands oil and the oil out of North Dakota, the fracked oil—rather than—you know, they were working with Venezuela’s—it also has to do with crushing Venezuela, because Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world. And rather than do business with Venezuela, they were bound and determined to take oil from places that did not want to give it up, and create this filthy infrastructure. So, this carbon—this oil is very heavy in carbon and will add hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 to the environment, if these pipelines are allowed through. So, that is—you know, it affects everybody.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, some tribes are for the pipeline. Can you describe the division?
WINONA LADUKE: You know, I don’t know that I would say some tribes are for it. I would say some interests in Indian country have been for the pipeline. I mean, historically, the Three Affiliated Tribes is an oil-producing tribe, but they came down here to support the opposition to the pipeline. They came down there. Their whole tribal council came down here a couple of days ago. You know, but the fact is, is that, you know, some tribes have been forced into production of fossil fuels. Eighty-five percent of the Navajo economy, for instance, is fossil fuel-based. About the same percentage of the Fort Berthold economy is fossil fuel-based.
So, you know, just to give a little historic picture: You come out here with your smallpox, and you wipe out 95 percent of the people, the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara people, in the early 1800s. They live along these villages, you know, just trying to hang in there. Then you come out here, and you flood their lands. And the agricultural crops that they produced are now owned by Monsanto and Syngenta as trademarked varieties that they created. Right? And then you’re out here in North Dakota, and everybody in the country flies over North Dakota and looks down and says, "Well, that’s North Dakota." Nobody comes out here. And so stuff continues out here for a hundred years, where these people are treated like third-class citizens, you know, where they have no running water in their houses, and they have oil companies coming out here. And you have high rates of abuse and violence against women and children, and it accelerates and increases in the oil fields, until you have an epidemic of drugs, which now hits this community. This community doesn’t get any benefit from oil, but the meth and heroin that came out of those fields is here, you know? Because those dealers came up here, and then they saw these Indian people, and they said, "Well, we’ll just go there." And so these reservations are full of it. You know? And then you say, you know, to that tribe up there, the BIA cuts some backyard deals and starts oil extraction. And so, then you—
AMY GOODMAN: The Bureau of Indian Affairs.
WINONA LADUKE: Bureau of Indian Affairs. And then you end up with oil—you end up with haves and have-nots in the oil fields. And you end up with a tribe that now has oil revenues that are coming in. And they look out there, frankly, and they say, "You know? Things haven’t been going too well for us, so we’re going to sign a few more of these leases, because, after all, you know, nothing has ever worked out well for us. And so, we’re going to get a little bit of money." And that’s how you get—you know, you force people into that, with a gun to their head, and then they end up destroying their land, you know, which is what is happening up there on that reservation. And they’ve had huge investigations into corruption at the leadership. But, you know, you force poor people. You force people into that situation, and that’s a perfect storm.
AMY GOODMAN: You’ve talked and written about Native Americans having PTSD, post-traumatic stress syndrome.
WINONA LADUKE: Yeah, we have ongoing; I didn’t finish it, I still have it. You know, you say "Enbridge," and I get this little like quirk, you know, and because the Indian wars are far from over out here. But, you know, what you get is intergenerational trauma, is what it is known as, historic trauma. And other people have it. But you have a genetic memory, and you look out there, and you see—every day you wake up, and you see that your land was flooded. And that big power line that runs through this land, that doesn’t benefit you. You still have to—you know, everything that is out here was done at your expense, but you still have to pay for it. And every day you go out there, and some—you know, you got a roadblock, that the white people put up, coming into your reservation. And every day you go out there, and you look at your houses, and you see that you’ve got crumbling infrastructure, and nobody cares about it. And you’ve got a meth epidemic, and you’ve got the highest suicide rates in the country, but nobody pays attention. You know, and so you just try to survive. That’s what you’re trying to do. Like 90 percent of my community, generally, I would say, is just trying to survive.
You know, I mean, in my community, we have rice. We still have our wild rice. And we can go, and we can harvest wild rice. And we can be Anishinaabe people. You know, we can still live off of our land. You know, these people have a much tougher time living off of their land. The buffalo were wiped out, you know? But this year is their stand. This is their stand. They’ve got a chance to not have one more bad thing happen to them. And from my perspective, my perspective is, is that $3.9 billion pipeline, these guys don’t need a pipeline. What they need is solar. What they need is wind. Look at this wind. You know, what they need—they have like class 7 wind out here. What they need is solar on all their houses, solar thermal. They need housing that works for people. They need energy justice. This is this chance, America, to say, "Look, this community does not need a pipeline. What this community needs is real energy independence." They call this energy independence, you know, shoving a pipeline down people’s throats, so that Canadian oil companies can benefit, and, you know, a bunch of people can—the world can worsen. That is not energy independence. Energy independence is when you have solar. Energy independence is when you have wind. Energy independence is when you have some control over your future. That’s what these people want.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Winona LaDuke, longtime Anishinaabe activist from White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota.

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North Dakota v. Amy Goodman
Journalism is not a crime
By Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan
Democracy Now!
9/15/2016

Last Thursday, an arrest warrant was issued under the header “North Dakota versus Amy Goodman.” The charge was for criminal trespass. The actual crime? Journalism. We went to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to cover the growing opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Global attention has become focused on the struggle since Labor Day weekend, after pipeline guards unleashed attack dogs and pepper spray on Native American protesters. On that Saturday, at least six bulldozers were carving up the land along the pipeline route, where archeological and sacred sites had been discovered by the tribe. The Dakota Access Pipeline company obtained the locations of these sites just the day before, in a court filing made by the tribe. Many feel that the company razed the area, destroying the sites, before an injunction could be issued to study them.

Scores of people, mostly Native American, raced to the scene, demanding the bulldozers leave. The guards pepper-sprayed, punched and tackled the land defenders. Attack dogs were unleashed, biting at least six people and one horse.

We were there, filming the guards’ violence. When we released our video of the standoff, it went viral, attracting more than 13 million views on Facebook alone. CNN, CBS, MSNBC and scores of outlets around the world broadcast our footage of one of the attack dogs with blood dripping from its nose and mouth.

Five days after the attack, North Dakota issued the arrest warrant. North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Lindsey Wohl, referencing the “Democracy Now!” video report in a sworn affidavit, states, “Amy Goodman can be seen on the video identifying herself and interviewing protestors about their involvement in the protest.” Precisely the point: doing the constitutionally protected work of a reporter.

“Charging a journalist with criminal trespassing for covering an important environmental story of significant public interest is a direct threat to freedom of the press and is absolutely unacceptable in the country of the First Amendment,” said Delphine Halgand, U.S. director of the global press freedom watchdog group Reporters Without Borders. Carlos Lauria of the Committee to Protect Journalists added: “This arrest warrant is a transparent attempt to intimidate reporters from covering protests of significant public interest. Authorities in North Dakota should stop embarrassing themselves, drop the charges against Amy Goodman and ensure that all reporters are free to do their jobs.”

Steve Andrist, executive director of the North Dakota Newspaper Association, told The Bismarck Tribune, “It’s regrettable that authorities chose to charge a reporter who was just doing her job,” adding that it “creates the impression that the authorities were attempting to silence a journalist and prevent her from telling an important story.”

This is a story that is critical to the fate of the planet. It’s about climate change, and indigenous rights versus corporate and government power.

The arrest warrant was issued on the same day that North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple called out the National Guard in preparation for a court decision due out the next day. On Friday, the judge ruled against the tribe, allowing construction to continue. Fifteen minutes later, in an unprecedented move, the departments of Justice, the Interior and the Army issued a joint letter announcing that permission to build the pipeline on land controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers would be denied until after “formal, government-to-government consultations” with impacted tribes about “the protection of tribal lands, resources and treaty rights.” Construction and nonviolent blockades continue along nonfederal lands, despite the government’s request that Dakota Access halt construction voluntarily.
Many have said that journalism is the first draft of history. In the past 20 years, a hallmark of the “Democracy Now!” news hour has been our coverage of movements, because movements make history. The standoff at Standing Rock is a historic gathering of thousands of people from over 200 tribes from the U.S., Canada and Latin America who call themselves “protectors, not protesters.” It marks the largest unification of tribes in decades.

To date, none of the pipeline security guards have been charged, despite being clearly shown in the video assaulting protesters with dogs and pepper spray. Now, the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board is investigating the pipeline security guards’ use of force and their use of dogs.
In the meantime, we will fight this charge. Freedom of the press is essential to the functioning of a democratic society. North Dakota, muzzle the dogs, not the press.

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 Lakota Activist Debra White Plume from Pine Ridge: Why I am a Water Protector at Standing Rock
Democracy Now!
September 12, 2016

While Democracy Now! was covering the standoff at Standing Rock earlier this month, we spoke to longtime Lakota water and land rights activist Debra White Plume, who was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and lives along the banks of Wounded Knee Creek. She described what the Dakota Access pipeline means to her.


AMY GOODMAN: That same day, though, right next to the Red Warrior Camp protesting the pipeline, we spoke to longtime Lakota water and land rights activist Debra White Plume, born and raised on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, living along the banks of Wounded Knee Creek. I asked her to talk about what the Dakota Access pipeline means to her.
DEBRA WHITE PLUME: What it means to me is that it pushes us further over the tipping point of not only fossil fuel extraction, but the desecration of Mother Earth and the exploitation of Native peoples in the area, as well as the threat to drinking water. Where I live, six hours from here, when I turn on my tap, the water that comes out is from the Missouri River. It’s a 50-50 mix with the Ogallala Aquifer and the Missouri River, because at home our aquifer is badly contaminated by decades of uranium mining. So, there’s only portions of the aquifer on the Pine Ridge Reservation that pass the Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum contaminant level for alpha emitters. So we have to mix half and half with the Missouri River water.
AMY GOODMAN: And what would happen to the Missouri River water?
DEBRA WHITE PLUME: Well, if the pipeline is put in, it’s going to leak or spill or burst or explode, and that oil is going to get into the water. And Dakota Access pipeline says they’re going to bury it 30 feet under, and they’re assuring everybody that it’s going to be safe. But I think Western science doesn’t really know everything it thinks it knows. And we need to make our decisions based on what’s best for Mother Earth and our coming generations. And that includes protecting our water. Water is under threat all over the world. Right now, there are people who have no access to clean drinking water.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you call yourself a protester?
DEBRA WHITE PLUME: No, I call myself—first and foremost, I’m just a regular human being. I’m a mother and a grandmother, a great-grandmother. I’m Lakota. I’m a woman. And it’s—water is the domain of the women in our nation. And so, it’s our privilege and our obligation to protect water. So, you know, if somebody wants to label me, I guess it would be water protector.
AMY GOODMAN: You go way back to the Pine Ridge Reservation, where you live today, 1973. Could you describe what happened then?
DEBRA WHITE PLUME: Sure. What happened then was the Indian Reorganization Act government, which is an act of Congress, in place in 1934, governs most Native nations in the United States. Well, our IRA government at that time was very oppressive to Lakota people. They were keeping us from having jobs or homes or whatever few services the federal government provided, because we held onto the Lakota way of life, and we also wanted to reclaim not only our identity, but our lands and the care of our land and the responsibility of caring for our land.
And at that time, the tribal president was Dick Wilson, and he had been working with the federal government to sign away one-eighth of our homeland to the federal government. And it just happened to be where there was a lot of what the fat taker calls resources, and they want to mine it—you know, coal, gas, oil, uranium, whatever it may be, water. And so, we put up a ruckus, and we said, "No, you’re not going to do that, because our coming generations need that."
And so, there were a lot of shootouts and armed struggle going on in those days. And in the so-called border towns around us, which we call occupied territory, Indians were getting killed, and their murderers were not being held for justice. They were like charged with the lowest felony there could be, doing two years of probation. And it was just enough was enough. You know, it was a moment in time there was the women’s movement, there was the civil rights movement, there was the Vietnam War stuff going on. And we just said, "That’s enough for us, too. We’re not going to take this anymore." And we stood up, and we fought. You know, we had to fight our own government, and they called in the FBI and the Marshals and the Army. Basically, it was a military occupation of our homeland.
AMY GOODMAN: And what happened then?
DEBRA WHITE PLUME: Well, Wounded Knee was liberated by relatives from the Four Directions. And the military came in and surrounded the little tiny village of Wounded Knee. And the rest is history. But we were able to get our spiritual way of life removed as a criminal act in American law. Prior to that, it had been a crime to practice our way of life. We have many people that went to prison in those days or were committed to, held in and died at state mental institutions for having a sacred pipe or conducting any of our ceremonies.
AMY GOODMAN: Lakota leader Debra White Plume of the Pine Ridge Reservation, speaking from Red Warrior. Special thanks to Laura Gottesdiener, John Hamilton, Denis Moynihan.

Friday, September 16, 2016

September General Assembly Meeting


Two Letters to the Editor about Decolonization

Two letters to the editor on recent and not so recent activities related to Guam's decolonization.

For those who don't know, there are three political status options that are outlined per local and international law for Guam's future, integration (statehood), free association and independence. Each of these status has a task force that is mandated to educate the community about their status. These task forces are volunteer and have always been, although public law does indicate that the Commission on Decolonization is supposed to provide funding and support for their outreach.

But there is little written into the law about the structure of these task forces or details about their obligations. They are supposed to have a certain amount of members and they each have a chairperson who gets to serve and vote on the Commission itself, but other than that, they are amorphous and nebulous non-governmental organizations. The business of government usually moves slowly, unless there are electoral concerns that indicate a need to move more swiftly. When the Commonwealth movement died in the late 1990s, our political leaders tried to keep the movement for decolonization formalized and alive by housing it and placing responsibility over it in particular government agencies or entities, such as the Guam Election Commission and the Commission on Decolonization. But as interest at the executive level of government faded or the process become too complicated, things ground to a halt. If things move slowly when people are receiving a salary in order to maintain or advocate something, you can imagine what might happen to those whose role was based purely on passion and volunteerism. These task forces became largely inactive mirroring the inactivity of the government itself. Individuals on the task forces kept up their advocacy in their own way, but as groups, the task forces stopped engaging the public in educational outreach.

Under the current governor, little happened during Calvo's first term for the reasons we found in the previous two administrations. No money was provided for outreach, the Commission on Decolonization was not given enough autonomy or authority to work effectively. The governor and his team were not informed enough about the issue and had no workable plans or strategies in order conduct outreach effectively. In Calvo's second term however there has been a shift, a sometimes inconsistent shift, but still a promising one. Working with the Legislature he provided funding for the Commission and for the task forces. The Commission has become more active, even if appears to be more dysfunctional than anything at times.

But over the past year, only the Independence for Guahan Task Force has been making use of this shift and the money that has been provided. It has been a difficult process, as we are a volunteer organization that has to follow the laborious and sometime soul-draining government procurement process, lao para bei in singon ha'. We've been having meetings and undertaking social media campaigns to help get the word out and so far we've been fairly effective at promoting both decolonization in general and independence in particular to the island community.

The other two task forces, Free Association and Statehood have yet to spend their money or really even try. In our last Commission on Decolonization meeting the statehood task force surprised everyone present by insisting that they wouldn't do any education unless a date for the plebiscite had been set. They insisted they didn't have to do any education since they had reached out to people more than a decade and a half ago, and that they were certain that everyone still remembered they information they had disseminated back then. As their task force chair Eddie Duenas noted, without a date for a plebiscite, any activity to educate people on this issue would just be spinning our wheels. The Independence for Guahan Task Force challenged that idea and said that education is always important and is the key to empowerment, regardless of whether the purpose has been completely clarified.

A co-chair to the Statehood for Guam Task Force wrote a letter to the Guam Daily Post, in which he misrepresented so many things, including what happened at the most recent Commission on Decolonization meeting. Ray Lujan, a UOG student who attended the Independence for Guahan's last general meeting in August wrote a response. Both are included below.

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Not Ready to Decide
by Ray Lujan
Letter to the Editor
Guam Daily Post
9/12/16

I am writing this letter in response to the statements by Mr. Eloy Hara on Sept. 3 in this newspaper. He represents the Statehood Task Force with the Commission on Decolonization. While I wholeheartedly respect and appreciate the historical reference to the work of the commission as offered in the letter, I think it’s equally important to point out that there indeed is a need for more in-depth education outreach from all three task forces and from the commission.

As Mr. Hara points out, each task force began conducting its outreach in 1989 – well before I was born. But now that I’m an adult, I think it’s fair for me to ask for updated information and re-energized conversations devoted to this issue. Although I was a little more hopeful with Gov. Calvo’s initial claims that his administration would actually address self-determination more seriously, the most helpful information I’ve received has come from the Independence Task Force.

I began taking special interest in this very important matter a couple of years ago. Since then, I have involved myself with the decolonization commission’s joint projects with the University of Guam. I was a student of Dr. Carlyle Corbin in a special topic area class titled "Democratic Governance in Non-self-governing Island Territories" and I have recently been in attendance at the Independence Task Force’s public meetings and forums. Even then, I, along with many others, feel the need for more research on the process as well as the implications all three statuses have for Guahan. After the most recent decolonization forum at the university, which hosted keynote speakers from Guahan and a journalist covering the process in New Caledonia, many left with more questions than they had answers. The questions posed to the keynote speakers from the audience, which consisted mostly of young adults, illustrated just how little is known among members of my generation about the process of political self- determination.

Much has changed since the position papers were produced by the three task forces over 15 years ago. We are realizing more and more how our current non-self-governing status has proven to be of grave consequence to our way of life. The cost of living continues to increase, and our natural resources are quickly being squandered away for military and foreign commercial interests. Like others, I have many questions that I feel should be addressed by the task forces.

Although I have yet to make up my mind, I applaud the work of the Independence Task Force and their team for putting out the information they have shared. They have offered comparative analyses, they have invited other people who have experienced independence in their own countries to share with us, and they have asked for input from the community to be able to develop a more balanced outreach. This grassroots approach seeks to hear the issues and concerns from the people, myself included, in the hope of potentially providing answers. In addition, their monthly general meetings serve to inform those in attendance about a different component of the process. Even with its limited resources, this one task force has managed to organize very well thought-out events and meetings for those of us who aren’t old enough to have been involved since 1989.

I feel there is a moral and ethical obligation to educate the younger generation and to provide the knowledge necessary so they can make an informed and competent decision about the island’s political future. We, too, will live with what those eligible to vote decide for the future of our island. Our voices matter in this process and we are saying we need more information and time.

I hope to see more of this type of work from all three task forces as well as from the commission.

Until I do, I agree with the commission’s decision to delay the plebiscite.

I absolutely agree with anyone who says that our community is not ready for this plebiscite until each of the three task forces has exhausted all means necessary to fully engage our people in widespread discussion of the benefits and the consequences of each status. Our people must not be too hasty in making this decision until we understand what each status could mean for us – regardless of how Congress could potentially respond.

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Decolonization As I See It
Letter to the Editor of the Guam Daily Post
From Eloy Hara
September 3, 2016

After I read the Aug. 24 article on page 8 of The Guam Daily Post, titled “Independence Task Force Faults Calvo for Plebiscite Delay,” I became very upset! Again Gov. Calvo is being blamed for what the Independence Task Force created by their continued insistence to the commission that they and the people of Guam are “not ready.”

In 1989, Gov. Joseph F. Ada appointed former Sen. Edward R. Duenas and myself as chairman and vice chairman, respectively, for the Statehood Task Force. Regularly scheduled meetings were held and the three task forces - statehood, independence and free association - were tasked to research their respective statuses on how to proceed with the plebiscite. They must point out the various “pros & cons” and start an educational process on the plebiscite with “Eligible Guam Voters.”

A few months ago, Gov. Calvo went to the Guam Election Commission and Registered the Decolonization Commission for the November General Election Plebiscite. For that bold move, he was chastised by the Decolonization Commission and the Independence Task Force for taking things into his own hands. However, that move sparked things up and attendance at meetings was revitalized with strong forward movement until the Independence Task Force stalled the progress again.
At that time, I decided to start attending decolonization meetings again. I have not attended any since Gov. Calvo started the meetings knowing that it would have been a complete waste of my time. The Decolonization Commission had been going around in circles and continues to do so, thanks to the new Independence Task Force co-chairpersons.

Move to delay plebiscite

During the very first meeting I attended, it was obvious who was actually running the meetings. Some of the Decolonization Commission members, at the insistence of the Independence Task Force, moved that the plebiscite be delayed yet again until sometime in the future because they were not ready for the November election. Mr. Joe Garrido of the Free Association Task Force objected and stated that he was ready and would not be able to continue if there is further delay and even offered to give the $80,000 of his education money to the Independence Task Force. Sen. Edward Duenas and I objected and stated that we have been ready and have in fact already completed a full round of educating the island community until such time that Gov. Gutierrez cancelled the whole process during his administration.

Sometime in 1997, Sen. Hope Cristobal established by local law the Guam Decolonization Commission to research the three terminal status options (statehood, independence and free association) as endorsed by the United Nations. In 2000, the Decolonization Plebiscite was scheduled to be held in conjunction with the 2000 general election. However a separate voter registration was required for the plebiscite and adequate public education on the three options and funding were lacking, thus postponing the plebiscite, which has languished since then.

Encountering one obstacle after another, here we go again! This process for granting Guam a permanent civil government, which was signed by 30 Chamorro leaders, has been going on since 1901.

Here we are some 115 years later still going around in circles that we must first educate everyone in Guam. If the law had intended that “all” the people of Guam should be educated, the separate voter registration would not have been necessary. Since my first day of participating in the Decolonization Commission meetings, the three task forces understanding are for us to research and educate the “eligible” plebiscite voters only. The bottleneck issue regarding the “70-percent need” should never have been an issue at all. The way I see this issue is simple: Have the Legislature repeal this law.

Obstacles at every meeting

Another obstacle that recently surfaced is the new co-chairs of the Independence Task Force dominated all of the conversations at every meeting. They talked whenever they desire, never following any parliamentary procedures by raising their hands and waiting for the chairperson’s recognition. When we, the statehood chair and vice chair, raise our hands we don’t get recognized. Even our objections to postponing the plebiscite were not recognized, right along with the free association chairman’s objection.

The Statehood and Free Association Task Forces never agreed that the governor’s Troy Torres head the educational process. The educational process has always been the respective task forces' job and facilitated by the Decolonization Commission. Both the Free Association and Statehood Task Forces suggest that we not waste time and money to continue the education process until within one year of a scheduled plebiscite. We further recommend that the next plebiscite be held the very next gubernatorial election on November 2018.

My personal contact is 688-0504 for those that may desire to question me.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

NASAA 2016

Gaige yu' giya Grand Rapids, Michigan gi este na simåna para i kada såkkan na konferensia para i NASAA (National Assembly of State Arts Agencies). Gof umachågo' iya Guahan yan iya Michigan. Siña este i uttimo na sakkån-hu gi CAHA, nai sumesetbe yu' komo membron board desde 2011. Gi este na konferensia mandanña' membro ginen i arts council gi diferentes na states pat territories, ya ma diskuti hafa guaguaha put prugraman art siha gi i bånda Federåt. Ma diskuti lokkue' diferentes na strategies put i prublema yan chinanada siha i arts councils ma fafana' på'go.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cruz Kontra Calvo Put Salape'

Some recent articles about budgets and bills and the yinaoyao between the Legislature, most notably Senator BJ Cruz and Governor Eddie Calvo and his team at Adelup. Ti menhalom yu' put este na asunto siha, pues tåya' otro sinangån-hu. Taitai este siha, ya hagu un diside håyi gaitinina yan håyi mambebende dinagi.

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September 10, 2016
The Honorable Edward J.B. Calvo
Governor of Guam
Ricardo J. Bordallo Governor’s Complex
Hagåtña, Guam 96910

Re: Response to Lapse Message on Substitute Bill No. 250-33 (COR)

Dear Governor Calvo:

Håfa adai! On September 1, 2016, I delivered a letter to you relative to the concerns you identified regarding Substitute Bill No. 250-33 (SB250), now the Annual Appropriations Act of FY 2017. I had hoped my clarifications would have prompted you to direct your fiscal team to reconsider its initial findings on SB250. Unfortunately, based on your lapse message to Speaker Judith T. Won Pat, you have disregarded the facts raised in my letter. Instead, you remain committed to a misguided temper-tantrum against the overwhelming bipartisan majority of senators who crafted the budget, which is now law.

Put simply Governor, fourteen senators built a budget that made sense because you transmitted a budget that made things up. As I have said before, the General Fund revenues you provided to the Committee on Appropriations and Adjudication (Committee) were inflated, overly aggressive, reckless, and irresponsible.

As such—and for the second consecutive fiscal year—both the Committee and the Office of Finance and Budget (OFB) worked diligently to correct General Fund Revenue Projections to a more conservative level. Because of this work, your General Fund revenues (which presumed a 10.7% increase in the General Fund as compared to FY 2016’s adopted levels) were reduced by $55 million.
Notwithstanding this reduction in General Fund revenues, there continues to be $18 million more appropriated from General Fund revenues in SB250 than in Public Law 33-66 (Annual Appropriations Act of FY 2016).

In light of the glaring contradictions and misunderstandings perpetuated by your fiscal team, I will take the time here to address every “concern” raised in your recent letter to the Speaker:

SAFETY

1. Department of Corrections (DOC): You claim that there is a $2.8 million shortfall for the DOC-Guam Memorial Hospital Authority consolidated cooperative agreement.

Fact: Section 1(n)(3), Chapter V of SB250 allocates $1.1 million toward this agreement. This is the same figure provided in DOC’s FY2017 detailed budget request. This request was certified by the Bureau of Budget and Management Research (BBMR) and provided to the Committee.

2. Guam Police Department (GPD) and Guam Fire Department (GFD): You claim that there was a $3.7 million cut from GPD which would have gone to hiring more police officers, promoting officers, and covering anticipated overtime and utilities. You also claim that there was a $1.8 million shortfall for GFD that would have gone to hiring vacant positions.

Fact: I would like to direct you to the OFB Website at ofbguam.org, which can provide you and your fiscal team with comparative appropriation levels from FYs 2015 to 2017. There you will discover that GPD and GFD have consistently received an increase in appropriation levels over the past three (3) fiscal years.

Over the past two (2) fiscal years, the Guam Legislature has appropriated to, and prioritized the recruitment and hiring of, additional public safety officers for DOC, GPD, and the GFD, providing nearly $9.5 million ($6.2 million in FY 2015 and $3.3 million in FY 2016). You have not utilized this funding source to the full benefit of our people.

In the original version of SB250, the Committee wanted to truly prioritize funding to DOC, GPD, and GFD by restricting your ability to both transfer funds out of and reserve spending authority from these agencies. Yet, at the request of certain senior Adelup officials, an amendment was made to delete the transfer authority restriction—providing you with the authority to take money from agencies you say are so shortchanged.

HEALTH

1. Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center (GBHWC): You claim that there was no funding for the GBHWC Drug & Alcohol Prevention and the Focus on Life Suicide Prevention Programs.
Fact: Sections 2 and 3, Part III, Chapter III of SB250 clearly allocate funding in the amount of $1.57 million and $86,000 to these programs, respectively.

2. Retirees Medical, Dental, and Life Insurance Premiums: You haphazardly claim that there is a $4 million shortfall in Retiree MDL Insurance Premiums.

Fact: Both you and Lieutenant Governor Tenorio were completely aware of the appropriation level in SB250 prior to the signing of the FY 2017 Health Insurance Contract. In that contract, Lieutenant Governor Tenorio selected a non-exclusive contract and that “choice” will now cost the taxpayers of Guam $21.6 million more than the alternative. I will admit: it takes a lot of brass to blame me for a shortfall your administration has chosen to create.

I should not have to remind you that, as of the end of FY 2015, the government of Guam is facing a $120 million General Fund deficit because of what the Public Auditor has called “overspending.”
The memo sent to you by the Health Insurance Negotiations Committee states, that with the selection of an exclusive health insurance carrier—in other words, one (1) carrier which was TakeCare Insurance—the government of Guam would have saved $20 million. Yet, despite this information, Lieutenant Governor Tenorio still decided to choose the non-exclusive option which included Calvo’s SelectCare, Netcare, and TakeCare Insurance at a $1.6 million increase over what was spent in 2016.
Governor Calvo, it is decisions like these that make so many people wonder how you can continue to complain about shortfalls when your administration has had such a large hand in creating them.

Your administration had the opportunity to save $21.6 million, money that could have met any of the alleged shortfalls you are now lamenting. How many policemen could $21 million support? How many lifesaving pharmaceuticals could it buy? Your administration had all of the information and the power to save millions, and it said “no.” Sadly, the consequences of that poor decision will not belong to you alone.

3. Residential Treatment Fund (RTF): You claim that the RTF appropriation is short by $1.6 million.
Fact: As I explained to you in my previous letter, this was the exact same amount that you requested in your Executive Budget Request for FY17.

4. Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS): You claim that DPHSS was cut by $2.6 million, of which $2 million is from the Medically Indigent Program (MIP) and $600,000 is from the Medicaid local match program.

Fact: For MIP, the amount of $15.8 million appropriated in Section 2(a) and $1 million in Section 2(b), Part II, Chapter III of SB250 was more than what was requested in the DPHSS detailed budget requests as certified by BBMR. It was only after the DPHSS Budget Hearing that its Director provided a correction to the BBMR’s certified DPHSS detailed budget request, wherein $15.8 million was requested for MIP.

For Medicaid, $14.3 million was requested by you and appropriated by the Guam Legislature in Section 3, Part II, Chapter III of SB250.

In FYs 2014 and 2015, you transferred a total of over $3 million from both DPHSS and GBHWC to other agencies. If you continue to believe that there are any shortfalls in DPHSS or GBHWC, it would be prudent for you to discontinue your practice of taking funds from these agencies and actually provide them every single cent the Guam Legislature had appropriated.

EDUCATION

Guam Department of Education (GDOE): You claim that $11.5 million was cut from the GDOE that would have helped pay for personnel, utilities, and operating expenses as well as $2 million for the Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program.

Fact: The total GDOE appropriation was increased by over $3 million compared to FY16. What concerns me are how highly disingenuous your actions are regarding our three (3) education agencies this fiscal year. You continue to withhold nearly $10 million from the GDOE, $20 million from the University of Guam, and $10 million from the Guam Community College. You claim that we shortchanged education on spending authority, but you won’t release cash for the spending authority they already have.

Instead of the division, scare tactics, and temper-tantrums to which the Administration now seems accustomed, I hope that with the enactment of SB250 you can truly prioritize Education, Health, and Public Safety in a manner commensurate with the tone of your recent message.

Si Yu’os ma’åse’,

Benjamin J.F. Cruz

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Cruz slashes $55 million from Calvo's budget
by Robert Tupaz
Guam Daily Post
August 18, 2016

Before the budget battle even began, the administration yesterday sent out its initial reaction expressing concern with a $55 million cut from the governor’s 2017 fiscal year budget appropriations request.

Lawmakers convened at 9 a.m. yesterday morning to begin fiscal year 2017 budget hearings, but recessed before discussing a substitute version of the budget so that lawmakers could review the new proposal versus the one proposed by Gov. Eddie Calvo in February. Lawmakers are scheduled to reconvene today at 9 a.m.

Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz, legislative appropriations chairman, on Tuesday said he cut, capped and balanced the budget. He introduced a substitute version yesterday in Bill 255-33. Cruz explained that the substitute budget “responsibly cuts $55 million in newly proposed spending without jeopardizing current operations, lowers the ‘cap’ on GovGuam’s debt ceiling, and commits to a balanced budget based on conservative revenue estimates and expenditures.”

Thus, instead of utilizing a projected $736.4 million that the administration pegged would be derived from the general fund, Cruz provided $681.2 million for government operations. Cruz in his Tuesday statement said, “conservatism is necessary.”

“In response, the governor’s office expressed several concerns. Among the most glaring, said the administration, is what they view as an “abdication of responsibility in the actual creation of the budget.”

In a statement from Adelup, Gov. Eddie Calvo expressed five areas of immediate concern.

“The Legislature’s duty is to appropriate funds to agencies and offices to support the functions of the government and the services provided to the people of Guam,” Calvo said. “This substitute bill is a stack of papers with a bunch of numbers, and with it the Legislature is essentially telling me and my administration to find the money for essential services without a valid revenue source.”

In a bulleted statement, the administration contended the substitute budget:

• Cuts about $60 million in General Fund revenues and increases or adds Special Fund Revenues (i.e. Section 2718 Funds), which are phantom revenues.

• A $60 million cut of departments’ budget will trigger draconian measures to include furloughs of current staff.

• Despite being advised of the current appropriation shortfall for retirees' medical, dental and life insurance, nothing has been done to fully fund such need. An additional $10 million is needed.
• The vice speaker continues to insist Section 2718 Funds (health insurance reimbursements) be used as fund source, but history shows that GovGuam rarely receives a reimbursement because it is not overpaying. $5 million was appropriated from this fund for retirees' medical, dental and life insurance.

• Inadequate appropriations and expanding the governor’s budget authority does NOT make a budget.
Cruz, alluding to an audited deficit of $120 million from the past two fiscal years, said he wouldn’t put forward a budget bill full of false expectations.

“Any budget that plans to spend more money than we can actually collect makes a promise we can’t keep, and I think we all have had enough of that,” Cruz said.

In the committee report on Bill 250-33, Cruz noted that the committee on appropriations was “at a crossroad.” The report stated that on one hand, Calvo’s fiscal team maintained a bullish outlook on the economy with projections based on “aggressive assumptions.” On the other hand, the report noted that though optimistic, “eminent economists on island … foresee moderate growth for the upcoming fiscal year.”

Cruz reasoned that any shortfall in anticipated revenue will add to an audited $120 million cumulative deficit dating back two fiscal years. Cruz said the appropriations committee thereby “invokes the accounting principle of conservatism.”

The budget proposed by Cruz sets the following for the executive branch: line agencies, $389.7 million; semi-autonomous agencies, $337.16 million; debt service, $79.3 million; and miscellaneous expenditures, $55.5 million.

The legislative branch will be appropriated $8.97 million and the judicial branch $34.3 million.

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 Guam Governor Raises Concerns Over Fiscal 2017 Budget
9/1/16
Radio New Zealand International

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, September 1, 2016) – Displeased with the fiscal 2017 budget act lawmakers passed earlier this week, Gov. Eddie Calvo said the Legislature failed to adequately appropriate funds to necessary services, such as government of Guam retirees' health insurance premiums.

In a 14-1 decision, the legislative body on Monday passed the annual spending bill, which cut spending and lowered revenue projections by about $55 million. Calvo said such savings come at a cost to GovGuam retirees and the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center.

“We all want to save money, but we also have a responsibility to fulfill,” Calvo said in a press release. “And this budget bill falls short of providing for those services. That’s just the beginning of what my team has found so far.”

Sen. Mike San Nicolas, D-Dededo, opposed the bill, saying it did not do enough to ensure the speedy payment of tax refunds.

Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz, D-Piti, whose finance committee worked on the bill, reduced spending levels to create a balanced and conservative budget without adding to the local government’s $120 million deficit, according to lawmakers. Anticipated revenue levels were also lowered because the governor’s fiscal team had overprojected certain revenue collections, according to lawmakers.

Adelup noted the government’s current shortfall of about $13.8 million for this fiscal year’s Retiree Medical, Dental and Life Insurance plan. The administration criticized the Legislature in the press release, stating the governor’s office brought the shortfall to lawmakers’ attention months ago, “but nothing has been done.”

The current fiscal year budget appropriated a total of $24.2 million for such costs.

When the governor submitted his budget request to the Legislature earlier this year, he had set the retirees’ health care appropriation at $34.86 million, but that appropriation level was reduced in the Legislature’s final version of the fiscal 2017 budget bill to $24.86 million.

Oyaol Ngirairikl, Adelup’s communications director, said the issue is that the retiree health insurance plan is a contractual obligation that needs to get paid, regardless of whether the Legislature adequately funds it or not.

“When you have the shortfall, then the governor has to use his transfer authority to pay for this,” she said.

Another example the governor’s office noted was the appropriation to the Department of Administration for the residential treatment fund. The treatment fund pays for the residential care of individuals under the Superior Court’s jurisdiction who have physical, mental or emotional disabilities.

The treatment fund is set to receive an appropriation of $1.6 million, however, Health and Wellness directors told lawmakers that there are more clients to take care of and is expected to cost $3.2 million.

The current budget bill increased funding to several agencies, including the public safety entities like the Guam Police Department and Guam Fire Department.

When asked if the governor would be on board with lawmakers re-appropriating funding from other GovGuam agencies like GPD and GFD to pay for the retirees’ health insurance plan, Troy Torres, Adelup’s policy advisor, said the Legislature would be well within their right to do so as it comes down to priority spending.

Torres, however, continued to state that the administration’s response to such an action would questions Cruz’s decision “to arbitrarily reduce revenue projections.”

For the last two budgets, Cruz has lowered the revenue projections Calvo and his financial team have submitted to the Legislature in the annual executive budget request. Cruz has stated that Calvo’s financial team has overprojected revenue in areas such as business privilege taxes.

For the current fiscal year, Calvo’s budget request had General Fund revenue projected at $848.6 million, but Cruz lowered it to $825 million. The administration’s latest budget report for July states General Fund revenue is tracking at $827.5 million — $21.1 million short of what the Calvo administration projected.

The government first ended fiscal 2014 with a $60 million deficit, and it was announced earlier this summer that that deficit doubled at the end of fiscal 2015. DOA Director Christine Baleto told lawmakers that the deficit was the result expenditures the government is obligated to pay for as well as a $10 million shortage in revenue.

Public Auditor Doris Flores Brooks further explained that the government’s spending has been outpacing its revenue.

The governor blamed the Legislature for the $120 million deficit GovGuam is currently in, stating that lawmakers have shortchanged government agencies their necessary budgets to operate.

“In these last few months, the vice speaker has criticized the administration for having a deficit,” Calvo said in the release. “Yet, it is precisely this type of legislative financial wizardry that got us into a deficit; they are once again making false and empty promises because they didn’t appropriate from viable fund sources.”

When lawmakers passed the fiscal 2014 budget act, Calvo chastised the Legislature by calling the spending bill “the worst exercise of political gamesmanship over the pst two years.”

“It is so painfully obvious some senators had just one thought in mind: ‘Where can the Legislature appropriated all this money for the greatest number of votes?’”

However, upon signing the fiscal 2015 budget, Calvo stated “for the fourth year in a row, GovGuam has passed a budget that reflects the priorities of our community,” going on to note that they had increased funding to public schools, health care services and public safety. He also said that “for the most part” the Legislature used the administration’s revenue projections.”

Ngirairikl said that although the governor supported the fiscal 2015 bill at the time, what Calvo is stating now is that the Legislature then and now have failed to appropriate for certain services that need an adequate appropriation level.

Radio New Zealand International
Copyright © 2016 RNZI. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Forum Failure

Ti hu egga' i Commander and Chief forum gi NBC yan MSNBC pa'go.

Tinane' yu' ni' mamana'na'gue.

Hiningok-hu meggai gi internet put håfa masusedi.

Ti makopbla si Trump. Machanda si Hillary.

Ti nahong i minagahet gi sinangan-ñiha.

Lao, impottante nai na ti ta po'lo na parehu este na dos.

Ti chumilong i hinasson-ñiha. Ti chumilong i minalate'-ñiha.

Buente ti ya-mu i idehå-ña pat i sinangån-ña si Hillary, lao ti puniyon na gaitiningo' gui'.

Lao ai adai si Trump.

Annok na ti meggai, ti nahong i tiningo'-ña put este na asunto siha. Ti listo gui' para u presidente.

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Clinton: No US Ground Troops in Iraq, Syria; Trump: Steal Iraqi Oil
by Juan Cole
Informed Comment
September 8, 2016

The NBC Candidates Forum continued the shameful corporate coverage of the Great American Meltdown that is our election season. That season has given us a Faux Cable News that runs clips of only one side and pays out hush money to cover up how its blonde anchors were not so much hired as trafficked; a CNN that has hired a paid employee of the candidate as a consultant and analyst; and networks that won’t mention climate change or carbon emissions the same way they won’t mention labor unions. They aren’t even trying to do journalism any more– cable “news” is mostly infotainment as a placeholder between ads for toilet paper. I can’t bear to watch it most of the time and just read the news on the Web. If I have to watch t.v. I turn on local news (often does a better job on national stories too) or Alarabiya and Aljazeera, which for all their faults do actually have real news (and their faults cancel out one another). I can always get the transcript for the cable news shows; reading it is faster and less painful than having to watch.

The NBC Forum didn’t really challenge either candidate on implausible statements, but on the whole engaged in a lot of badgering of Hillary Clinton while letting Donald Trump get away with outright misstatements of the facts and tossing him a lot of softballs.

The big Middle East questions for Clinton came from military personnel and veterans and concerned Iraq and Syria. She also got an Iran question.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, as an Army veteran, a commander-in- chief’s to empathize with servicemembers and their families is important to me. The ability to truly understand implications and consequences of your decisions, actions, or inactions. How will you determine when and where to deploy troops directly into harm’s way, especially to combat ISIS?
LAUER: As briefly as you can.
CLINTON: We have to defeat ISIS. That is my highest counterterrorism goal. And we’ve got to do it with air power. We’ve got to do it with much more support for the Arabs and the Kurds who will fight on the ground against ISIS. We have to squeeze them by continuing to support the Iraqi military. They’ve taken back Ramadi, Fallujah. They’ve got to hold them. They’ve got to now get into Mosul.
We’re going to work to make sure that they have the support — they have special forces, as you know, they have enablers, they have surveillance, intelligence, reconnaissance help.
They are not going to get ground troops. We are not putting ground troops into Iraq ever again. And we’re not putting ground troops into Syria. We’re going to defeat ISIS without committing American ground troops. So those are the kinds of decisions we have to make on a case-by-case basis.
So that’s the headline: Hillary Clinton pledges no ground troops in Iraq or Syria. She doesn’t seem to understand that President Obama has recreated the Iraq Command and has 4,000 or so troops there. There are 250 embedded with the far-left Kurdish YPG in northeast Syria. So is she saying she would pull those troops out? Or that they aren’t ground troops?

Plus she started by saying she will defeat ISIL (though it may be already defeated territorially before she ever gets into office). She says she will defeat it from the air and give support to the Iraqi Army.
From the point of view of military strategy, nothing she said makes any sense. You can’t defeat a guerrilla group from the air. So far no force on the ground has been willing to go after ISIL in its Syrian lair, al-Raqqa. How would she change all that?

As for supporting the Iraqi army, it collapsed in 2014 and only one really good brigade has been retrained and shown effectiveness. None of the cities she mentioned it taking would have fallen to it without extensive help from Shiite militias, many of which are tight with Iran. So if she is going to intervene from the air, she is going to have to support pro-Iranian irregulars, not just the Iraqi army.
Nor is it clear that the Iraqi Army and its Shiite auxiliaries can truly defeat Daesh/ ISIL. Yes, they can take territory. But a lot of Sunni Arabs are frustrated with the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad and they are not going to be less frustrated if they feel they have traded Daesh rule for Shiite militia rule.

Iraqi Shiites have a profound blind spot to their own sectarianism, having occupied the space of “the national” in Iraq and claimed it for themselves. They are in denial about how much the Sunni Arabs collaborated with Daesh to get away from Shiite rule. While it is true that many Sunni Arabs were happy to be rescued from Daesh by the Iraqi Army, it is not clear that any of the promises of Baghdad to put money into cities like Ramadi and Fallujah will be honored.

As for Iran, she stood by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that pledges Iran only to enrich uranium for civilian purposes.
“LAUER: Do you think they’re playing us?
CLINTON: On the nuclear issue, no. I think we have enough insight into what they’re doing to be able to say we have to distrust but verify. What I am focused on is all the other malicious activities of the Iranians — ballistic missiles, support for terrorists, being involved in Syria, Yemen, and other places, supporting Hezbollah, Hamas.
But here’s the difference, Matt. I would rather as president be dealing with Iran on all of those issues without having to worry as much about their racing for a nuclear weapon. So we have made the world safer; we just have to make sure it’s enforced.
It is not clear to me what terrorists she thinks Iran is supporting. Hezbollah doesn’t function as a terrorist organization but as the national guard for Shiite-majority south Lebanon. Israel annexed south Lebanon in 1982 after launching a brutal war of aggression that may have left 90,000 dead. Hizbullah grew up as a resistance movement to that aggression and that occupation, both of which the United States government tacitly supported. We all know exactly what Israelis would do if someone tried to occupy 10% of Israel as it is now constituted. So why call Lebanese who resist occupation ‘terrorists’? Except, if you rather like the idea of Israel occupying neighboring Arabs?

As for Hamas, Iran and it haven’t had good relations since Hamas broke with Tehran to support the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (they bet on the wrong horse). Besides, demonizing Hamas is silly. The Gaza Strip is a large outdoor concentration camp kept that way by the Israelis and the inmates under such conditions are likely to stage prison riots from time to time. End the occupation, Hamas might go away. There wasn’t any Hamas in Gaza to speak of anyway until the Israelis themselves covertly built it up in the 1980s as an alternative to the secular PLO.

The Iranians are not involved in any meaningful way in Yemen, which is beset by internal struggles between the deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh (an Arab nationalist that Mrs. Clinton used to support) and his vice president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, with the Saudis having come in on the side of the latter (they used to support Saleh). True, Saleh has allied with a Zaidi militia, the Houthis, but Zaidism is a completely different kind of Shiism than in Iran and Iran is not a big player in Yemen. Saudi Arabia, which is indiscriminately bombing civilian infrastructure in Yemen like bridges and hospitals, is the meddling party, not Iran. Over a hundred thousand residents of the capital, Sanaa, demonstrated recently against the Saudis. Not even one was an Iranian.
It is truly scary that this is Clinton’s take on Yemen.

As for Syria, I also criticize Iran for propping up the genocidal al-Assad regime. But the forces backed by the Saudis in conjunction with the US CIA are just as bad; some of them are worse.
And besides, we just decided that she needs pro-Iranian Shiite militias if she is going to have someone to give close air support to in the fight against Daesh.

These talking points on Iran may as well have been written for Clinton jointly by Bibi Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman. They bear no resemblance to an American grand strategy that would make sense for American interests.

So I don’t think she has a realistic way of intervening effectively in the Middle East (air power is useless in these kinds of struggles), and I fear she is so biased against Iran that she will end up de facto undermining the JCPOA and thence alienating the only effective set of potential regional allies against Daesh.

She also doesn’t say what she will do when air power fails to defeat Daesh.
As for The Donald, I don’t know if there is a lot of point in analyzing what he says, since he will say the opposite things tomorrow.

On Middle East issues, Trump said:
“President Obama took over, likewise, it was a disaster. It was actually somewhat stable. I don’t think could ever be very stable to where we should have never gone into in the first place.
But he came in. He said when we go out — and he took everybody out. And really, ISIS was formed. This was a terrible decision. And frankly, we never even got a shot. And if you really look at the aftermath of Iraq, Iran is going to be taking over Iraq. They’ve been doing it. And it’s not a pretty picture.
The — and I think you know — because you’ve been watching me I think for a long time — I’ve always said, shouldn’t be there, but if we’re going to get out, take the oil. If we would have taken the oil, you wouldn’t have ISIS, because ISIS formed with the power and the wealth of that oil.
LAUER: How were we going to take the oil? How were we going to do that?
TRUMP: Just we would leave a certain group behind and you would take various sections where they have the oil. They have — people don’t know this about Iraq, but they have among the largest oil reserves in the world, in the entire world.”
Iraq was not stable in 2011; it was being regularly blown up by terrorists. Obama’s withdrawal of US troops did not destabilize it. That had already happened. There was no way for US troops to stay there since the Iraqi parliament would not vote them immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts.
Trump’s ridiculous suggestion that the US should have found a way to steal Iraq’s petroleum, apparently by establishing a mercenary force at the Rumayla fields near Basra, is so preposterous that even Matt Lauer timidly and briefly questioned it.

The proposition that if the US had in fact managed to steal Iraq’s petroleum fields for itself that would have calmed the country down and prevented the rise of ISIL is so absurd that there are no words to describe how absurd it is. It is actually more absurd than any of Sarah Palin’s word salads.
It is like a presidential candidate saying that we’d have much better relations with Norway, and that country would be more stable, if the United States hired local mercenaries to occupy its oil fields and siphon of their profits to US banks. (Sounds properly absurd when you put it in the context of white people, doesn’t it?)

Then there was this:
“TRUMP: Hey, Matt, again, she made a mistake on Libya. She made a terrible mistake on Libya. And the next thing, I mean, not only did she make the mistake, but then they complicated the mistake by having no management once they bombed you know what out of Gadhafi. I mean, she made a terrible mistake on Libya. And part of it was the management aftereffect. I think that we have great management talents, great management skills. “
Trump supported the Libyan intervention at the time. In fact, he was outraged before the intervention that there hadn’t been one according to Politifact:
“”I can’t believe what our country is doing,” Trump said, according to a BuzzFeed transcript. “Gaddafi in Libya is killing thousands of people, nobody knows how bad it is, and we’re sitting around we have soldiers all have the Middle East, and we’re not bringing them in to stop this horrible carnage and that’s what it is: It’s a carnage.”
Matt Laurer didn’t challenge any of Trump’s lies about his past positions, and his journalistic reputation suffered badly for it last night.

Trump also said that Russia wants to defeat Daesh/ ISIL as badly as the US does and there should be more cooperation between the two. But in fact, Daesh doesn’t pose that big a danger to the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, since it is out in the eastern desert. So Russia is not in fact that interested in it, since it is in Syria to prop up al-Assad. Russia wants to destroy the Syrian Army of Conquest or Nusra Front, the leader of which is an al-Qaeda operative. The US complains that the fundamentalist militias vetted by the CIA are cooperating too closely with al-Qaeda for it to be possible to separate the two out in bombing raids. Actually I’d say that if the militias you support are so intertwined with al-Qaeda that they’d get hit if al-Qaeda was bombed, then you haven’t done a very good job of vetting.

Then Trump went on to heap praise on Vladimir Putin and to call him a better leader than President Obama. He kept saying Putin had called Trump “brilliant,” which he didn’t (not sure if praise from an old KGB operator is high praise or just manipulative).

Lauer was criticized for letting Trump get away without answering any substantial questions about his Middle East policy.

It was a low, wretched performance, by the network and both candidates, full of fluff and posturing and Alice in Wonderland statements of policy along with an almost complete derogation of authority by the anchors. It marked a low point in our national discourse about world politics.
Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. His new book, The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East (Simon and Schuster), will officially be published July 1st. He is also the author of Engaging the Muslim World and Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East (both Palgrave Macmillan). He has appeared widely on television, radio and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at Salon.com. He has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles. His weblog on the contemporary Middle East is Informed Comment.

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