Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ron Paul: Hope for Racist America


Several months ago, when the American presidential campaigns were just beginning I remember an incredible excitement about Ron Paul and his impossible bid for the Presidency. As a shallow sort of figure, as a mere symbol, I admit though he was fun to watch.

First off, he was the only Republican who was anti-war, and this made the early debates alot more interesting than they should have been. I mean, so often I found myself feeling monumentally stupid to even be caring about these early debates since the actual election was more than a year away, and the ways in which these campaigns are reported nowadays, everything is recorded and analyzed, but then quickly forgotten. Its surreal how the immense amount of reporting on these campaigns can actually reduce not just how much we care about them, but how much we can readily remember. Its as if the sheer amount of reporting combined with the knowledge of how incredibly far away the election is can lead to a cynical deluge. The constant breaking news reports of campaign flubs, barbs and fundraising milestones, leads to an uncertainty over what actually matters, and if something truly important every took place, would I be able to recognize it?

I remember watching a few months ago an episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where they were commenting on the "battle of words" between Obama and Hillary. The language they used to describe the exchange was violent and meant to convey that a very real conflict was taking place here. Obama was "hitting hard" or "swiping" with his "newly sharpened elbows." The impression from this is that a real battle is taking place here and therefore this is a spectacle and showdown to watch and take seriously. The actual "words" which were being thrown back and forth, and used to hit hard with, were barely active, barely confrontational, barely reached the level of what we would consider to be a "battle of words." The Daily Show captures this gap very well, by portraying the battle through the 1960's Batman TV show style of after each "blow" blazoning "pow" or "bam" on the screen. The intent here is the same as it was in the original Batman, since this hit wasn't actually that hard (or more accurately, because a hit never actually happened), let's remind the audience or trick them into thinking it was, by making a loud "pow" sound.

This emptiness was only part of the frustration. The partisan pandering which took place was just as difficult to watch, especially on the Republican side, where their debates seemed like an angry wash of scared white male pandering. Whereas the Democrats clearly were pandering to a very wide and open tent and in their debates seemed to want desperately to try and bring in through their policy arguments as many people as people, the Republicans seemed to think that the only way to get the support of their base was to scare people, make veiled racist, homophobic remarks, and then propose themselves as the largest and most powerful white man in the room. Their attacks and posturing however made clear that those who make up their base is a single particular group, and that their support is gained through making gestures of shutting everyone else out of the tent.

The debates had a frustrating way of being racist and disgusting, but also boring. After minutes of dull and monotonous answers, with each candidate unsure how to say the same thing better or in different way, someone would rise from the pack with a truly insane or ridiculous statement, meant to win them the alpha male title. Mitt Romney's claim that Guantanamo Bay should be doubled was one such instance, as was San Diego's Duncan Hunter claiming to have built the border fence.

Ron Paul emerged as a sort of progressive pet (or pet project), because of the way he broke up these Republican rhythmns, injecting into these debates taboo perspectives about the war and America's role in the world. The fact that during one debate, Rudy Giuliani actually demanded that Paul apologize was a truly classic moment. One could almost feel perceive a wishful cloud of amnesia descend upon the state and the audience, as everyone sought furiously to banish from their minds, the idea that the United States could have somehow helped bring about 9/11. Ron Paul was intriguing because he was one of the few candidates on both sides who was willing to question the aura of imperial innocence that so many people, and not just presidential candidates wrap themselves in.

From this perspective I can understand why so many progressives would latch on to Ron Paul, he was sort of an exciting anomaly. A Republican anti-war candidate!! Did they still exist? Was there a way that they could be brought over from the darkside, or better yet was there a way that they (just like with Zell Miller and Joe Liberman), be used to sabotage the other side? For instance, even though Republicans seemed to loathe Ron Paul, why did he get so much applause at their debates and sometimes even seem to win them? (probably because of all the Democrats who would vote for him)

As Ron Paul has shifted however from a marginal, fringe figure, and slowly made his way into the consciousness of the United States and the internet, the symbol he once represented to many liberals and progressives, has begun to definitely shimmer and fade. Before, the only thing that mattered was his anti-war/critical of Bush stance, however now as he begins to raise more and more money, and more and more disillusioned voters become attracted to his campaign, his other troubling and frightening stances on issues are coming to the surface.

I won't go into the depths of how frightening his libertarian ideas are, since that will be a post in and of itself. Instead I just want to share with you the incredible twisted racism of Ron Paul's campaign, as exemplified by the following campaign video I just came across on Youtube. If the insanity of the video isn't obvious to you, I'll spare you my rambling analysis and just direct your to the post on this ad from the website Antiwar.com. It is almost shocking how similar this ad is to those made by one of Paul's former rivals in the race Tom Tancredo (which I've also embedded below)





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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

8,000

8,000 Marines and their 9,000 dependents will be transferred to Guam from Okinawa by 2014.

How will this affect our lives?
Ecologically?
Socially?
Economically?
Demographically?
Culturally?

Why are they coming here and why doesn't Okinawa want them?

Why don't we have a say in this move?

NOW'S THE TIME TO ASK QUESTIONS!
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For more information, visit the websites below:

http://www.chamorro.com
http://decolonizeguam.blogspot.com
http://minagahet.blogspot.com
http://www.geocities.com/minagahet

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Merry Christmas!!!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Guam's History Through Ginger Cruz

Guam and the Marianas Islands don't get much respect, especially in terms of the media in the United States, which consistently forget that these islands belong to the United States or are attached to them. This amnesia is of course very convenient for those wishing to avoid having to refer to the United States as "colonial" in a very ordinary and regular sort of way. Its possible to give the United States labels such as this in extreme cases, but even for some of the most critical people, such labels have to be kept from Guam, since their is nothing extreme about its relationship to the United States. The colonialness of it, is always there, and never really mentioned or dealt with. Guam basically proves that the United States is not an "extreme" or rare case colonizer, but an everyday one.

Interestingly enough though, the Marianas Islands do however make regularly appearances in what I guess you could call the world wide web of American progressive/liberal websites or the liberal blogosphere. The Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands in particular receives disdainful mentions for its garment industry there and the "unAmerican" treatment of its foreign workers. Guam, gets much less mention save for when its local corruption reaches national levels, such as during the Jack Abramoff scandal or when former Governor Guiterrez used local fundraising to sway President Bill Clinton into getting Guam's agenda "heard" in Washington D.C.

One such incident took place last week when former Guam news reporter Ginger Cruz was caught up in one of the numerous Bush Administration corruption scandals. I swear, it really makes no sense to me that people on Guam can complain about the terrifying forms of corruption on Guam everyday, and act as if Guam is responsible for creating corruption, when the corruption of entities such as the Bush Administration is destroying countries and threatening the entire world!

I knew of Ginger Cruz primarily as a narrator for the local documentary Guam's History In Songs. For those of you who don't know about this film, but are interested in learning more about Guam's history, this documentary is essential. Guam already has alot of histories out there, written and recorded in different forms, but in terms of creativity, or more diverse and interesting ways of thinking about, remembering or transmitting our history we are sadly truly lacking.

As I was talking to my friend recently, Guam has little to no tradition of literature, poetry or art. This doesn't mean that Guam has no writers, poets or artists, but rather that those who do these things don't see themselves as part of a larger movement, or see their work as tied to a people, a place, or any real ideas that bind people together beyond simple geography or the making of money. The idea that history is alive, living and open is hardly present in the consciousness of people on Guam, a fact which is attested to in the acceptance of history, its writing, its telling and the legitimacy of it, as being something "academic" and "objective." Therefore, as we find for instance in the case of Chamorro war stories, the "history" or the "presence" of the event that was World War II in Guam is reduced to the same strucutre and skeletal narrative that we find in the Liberation Day insert from the PDN each year. We can see this even more clearly in how personal narratives often eventually take on the form of that larger structure, as people feel obligated to shift and change themselves and their memories and feelings in order to become "objective," meaning in order to fit into that structure and therefore count as something "worth remembering" and "worth repeating."

What this documentary reminds us is that even just a generation or two ago, history was told primarily through songs. When I say history here, I don't simply mean in a bland sense of "events that happened," but history as a more organic process of dialogue and contestation amongst members of community as to not just what has happened, but what is important to be learned from the past, and also how the telling and communicating of these ideas can be important in further linking and binding a community together.

Songs would be used to communicate the reputation of one's family, but also to sully or ridicule the reputation of another. It would be used to pass on pieces of wisdom or even just information, albeit in a lyrical form. Lastly since singing was such a central part (gi este na tiempo, taya' nai telebishon yan didide' na rediu) of life on Guam, it would be something that made people feel connected, whether through the sharing of songs while working, while traveling or even when just passing by. Songs would be thrown to each other, and the meanings between friends, enemies, amongst a family, a village or even a people would be influenced and decided.

The documentary, which is a testament to the work of the late Carmen Iglesias Santos, features songs from the past century on Guam, which all highlight different sections and different historical events/conditions. Life under the Japanese, life under the Americans, Chamorro family and village life. The creative aspect isn't simply in the fact that the history of Guam is told in this documentary through songs, but rather in the way that we can hopefully take the more creative aspects from this way of thinking and "singing" history, and bring them into our lives today. If we simply memorize these songs, then we've missed the more important point of the film and the way Chamorros thought for centuries. That history is not a song to be memorized, but rather a song which is thrown back and forth amongst people, with verses repeated, changed, added or forgotten.

So again, before returning to Ginger Cruz, I recommend to anyone interested in Guam's history, to try and get a copy of the film, you won't regret it. Meggai na u nina'tungo' hao, siempre.

As for Ginger Cruz, it was interesting, because even though she was regularly referenced by people on the web discussing and research this scandal as a former news reporter and employee of Carl Guiterrez, it wasn't Guam that made her something people had to discuss. In fact, her constantly being mentioned in the press was the fact that she's a member of a particular relgious group, a wiccan, which makes her a modern day witch.

Don't believe me, read more below for the KUAM article, and also apparently i paguan-na of her corruption has led her to be nominated for a 2007 Golden Duke Award for "Corruption Chutzpah" because of her blending of "corruption with witchcraft." Sigun i reports na hu taitai, manthreaten Si Cruz taotao gi i che'cho'-na, na para u kahnayi siha!

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Former Guam broadcaster Ginger Cruz implicated in investigation
by Sabrina Salas Mantanane
KUAM News
Monday, December 17, 2007

Former Guam broadcaster Ginger Cruz implicated in investigation
by Sabrina Salas Matanane, KUAM News
Monday, December 17, 2007

It seems the tables have turned for the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, tasked with investigating allegations of waste and fraud related to the United States' effort to rebuild in the Middle East. According to the Washington Post and the Associated Press, inspector general Stuart Bowen, Jr. and former Guam news anchorwoman Ginger Cruz are under investigation on allegations of overspending and mismanagement and snooping into employee e-mail messages.

Cruz was formerly spokesperson for former governor Carl Gutierrez.

According to the Washington Post, current and former employees told investigators that she threatened to put hexes on employees and made inappropriate sexual remarks in the presence of staff members. The article also cited Cruz as being Wiccan - a member of a polytheistic religion of modern witchcraft.

Cruz reportedly denied making comments of a sexual nature and noted that she was cleared of any wrongdoing by an internal investigation by her office.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Progressive Good Tidings of 2007

Published on Saturday, December 22, 2007 by CommonDreams.org
Progressive Good Tidings of 2007
by Mark Engler

Understanding what is wrong in our society; speaking out against injustice; denouncing abuses by the powerful. All of these are crucial tasks. Many of us devote a large part of the year to them, and they are certainly necessary if we are to create a better world.

At the same time, it is highly doubtful that these acts are sufficient. Creating positive social change takes more. It takes the knowledge that people can organize to win justice and an awareness that, even in inhospitable times, some things can go right. The holiday season provides an important moment to reflect on a few of those advances that offered hope in 2007-many of which came about just in the past few weeks.

In early December the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA and the NSA, released a new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. The document may have single-handedly undermined the White House’s push to start yet another war in the Middle East. The report declared that Iran dropped its clandestine nuclear weapons program in 2003 and has not renewed it since. The NIE has greatly strengthened the hand of those in Washington-including many high-ranking military officials-who believe that a preemptive attack on Iran would be both unnecessary and disastrous. The NIE also solidified public opinion against military escalation and spawned a wide range of commentary denouncing the most recent round of Bush-Cheney war-mongering. The Washington Post, for one, editorialized that the report “strengthens the view, which we have previously endorsed, that this administration should not have to resort to military action to destroy Iranian nuclear facilities.”

Of course, efforts to stop a new war must continue. The NIE notwithstanding, U.S. relations with Iran remain tense, and the neoconservatives have recently been trying to regroup and articulate reasons why an attack would still be warranted. But their opponents can proceed from a much better position than before. So distraught are the far-right militarists that some have resorted to conspiracy theory: Neocon godfather and Giuliani advisor Norman Podhoretz recently voiced “dark suspicions” that the intelligence community was “leaking information calculated to undermine” President Bush.

Beyond Iran, 2007 witnessed a number of other critical shifts in policy debate. Whereas just a few years ago many public officials denied that global warming was even taking place, climate change is now almost universally regarded as one of humanity’s gravest challenges. The Nobel Committee trained a spotlight on this idea by awarding the Peace Prize to Al Gore and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Upon formally receiving the award on December 10, Gore passionately decried global warming as a “threat to the survival of our civilization that is gathering ominous and destructive potential.” Just a week later, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, he went further by explicitly charging that “My own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress” on climate policy–an unusually blunt acknowledgement which the conference attendees applauded energetically.

In their most serious drive in at least a decade to address this crisis and end U.S. dependency on foreign oil, Democrats have pushed a promising energy bill in Congress. The bill, which passed through the House on December 6, included what the New York Times calls “the first meaningful increase in fuel efficiency standards in three decades,” mandating that auto makers move from a standard of 25 miles per gallon (mpg) to 35 mpg by 2020. Due to a shameful filibuster by Senate Republicans and a threatened veto from the White House, two provisions from the original bill were removed from later versions: one would have required that at least 15 percent of the country’s electricity come from renewable alternative energy sources by 2020, while the other would have paid for this initiative by eliminating tax subsidies for oil companies. Despite these changes, the legislation marks a significant defeat for the big oil corporations and for the auto lobby. The rising public demand for action on clean energy suggests that this may be the first of many.

In another overdue but nevertheless important move, Congress passed a bill in May mandating a graduated increase in the federal minimum wage, raising it from $5.15 to $7.25–the first increase in 10 years. There were also some victories for working people on the grassroots level this year. In April, building on their 2005 victory against Taco Bell, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers won a campaign calling for McDonalds to demand that tomato growers it buys from increase wages for their farm workers. This increase will almost double wages for the workers, raising their pay from 40 cents to 72 cents per bucket of tomatoes picked. The agreement will also create a new code of conduct for labor relations and safeguard workers’ rights in future disputes. With their series of wins the Coalition of Immokalee Workers - made up of immigrant laborers who are traditionally among the most exploited in America - have provided some brilliant examples of the power of collective action.

There has also been a notable shift this year in the debate over the death penalty. On the national level, the movement to restrict capital punishment has been reinforced by actions at the Supreme Court. The Court has implemented a de facto moratorium since late September, ordering the halt of five scheduled executions while it deliberates on a case that will determine whether lethal injection constitutes a form of cruel and unusual punishment. Subsequently, on December 13, the New Jersey State legislature passed a bill outlawing capital punishment in the state, which Governor Jon Corzine signed into law the following week. New Jersey thus became the first state to abolish the death penalty since Iowa and West Virginia did so in 1965. David Fathi of Human Rights Watch argued that the move is “a very significant event for a state that has had the death penalty on its books for decades. It’s one more indication that the death penalty is on its way out in the United States.”

Advances in the global South also bode well. The rebellion in Latin America against the economics of corporate globalization continued in 2007, with governments in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela leading the march toward more progressive policies. In what ended up being a very positive development, Venezuela’s president Hugo Chávez lost a public referendum on December 3 in a narrow 51-to-49 percent vote. Among other things, the constitutional amendments at issue would have abolished presidential term limits and centralized state power. Chávez graciously admitted defeat. Contrary to the hysterical voices in the mainstream press asserting that Venezuela had become a dictatorship, the referendum showed that the country’s democracy is robust and its public debate vigorous. From a progressive perspective, the referendum’s failure will encourage Chávez to broaden the leadership of his “Bolivarian revolution” and potentially pave the way for a new generation of activists to succeed him.

For Latin America as a whole, one of the most significant gains of the year was the creation of the Bank of the South. On December 6 representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela met in Buenos Aires to inaugurate the new bank, which will compete directly with Washington-controlled institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. In the past, these institutions were leaders in enforcing a fundamentalist brand of “free trade” neoliberalism-an economic model that has had terrible results in the region. Not only will the Bank of the South represent a critical step in the battle for regional self-determination, it will be free to support approaches to development that can effectively combat inequality and address the needs of the poor.

For those who have grown disheartened living under the reign of George W. Bush, such victories abroad are genuine markers of hope. We can cheer them just as heartily as we celebrate the signs of progress within the United States-and resolve to work for even greater gains in the New Year.

Mark Engler, an analyst with Foreign Policy In Focus, is author of How to Rule the World: The Coming Battle Over the Global Economy (Nation Books, April 2008). He can be reached via the web site http://www.DemocracyUprising.com. Research assistance provided by Sean Nortz.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Shock Doctrine in New Orleans

Published on Friday, December 21, 2007 by Huffington Post
The Shock Doctrine in Action in New Orleans
by Naomi Klein

Readers of The Shock Doctrine know that one of the most shameless examples of disaster capitalism has been the attempt to exploit the disastrous flooding of New Orleans to close down that city’s public housing projects, some of the only affordable units in the city. Most of the buildings sustained minimal flood damage, but they happen to occupy valuable land that make for perfect condo developments and hotels.

The final showdown over New Orleans public housing is playing out in dramatic fashion right now. The conflict is a classic example of the “triple shock” formula at the core of the doctrine.

First came the shock of the original disaster: the flood and the traumatic evacuation.
Next came the “economic shock therapy”: using the window of opportunity opened up by the first shock to push through a rapid-fire attack on the city’s public services and spaces, most notably it’s homes, schools and hospitals.
Now we see that as residents of New Orleans try to resist these attacks, they are being met with a third shock: the shock of the police baton and the Taser gun, used on the bodies of protestors outside New Orleans City Hall yesterday.
Democracy Now! has been covering this fight all week, with amazing reports from filmmakers Jacquie Soohen and Rick Rowley (Rick was arrested in the crackdown). Watch residents react to the bulldozing of their homes here.

And footage from yesterday’s police crackdown and Tasering of protestors inside and outside city hall here.

That last segment contains a terrific interview with Kali Akuno, executive director of the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund. Akuno puts the demolitions in the big picture, telling Amy Goodman:

This is just one particular piece of this whole program. Public hospitals are also being shut down and set to be demolished and destroyed in New Orleans. And they’ve systematically dismantled the public education system and beginning demolition on many of the schools in New Orleans–that’s on the agenda right now–and trying to totally turn that system over to a charter and a voucher system, to privatize and just really go forward with a major experiment, which was initially laid out by the Heritage Foundation and other neoconservative think tanks shortly after the storm. So this is just really the fulfillment of this program.

Akuno is referring to the Heritage Foundation’s infamous post-Katrina meeting with the Republican Study Group in which participants laid out their plans to turn New Orleans into a Petri dish for every policy they can’t ram through without a disaster. Read the minutes on my website.

For more context, here are couple of related excerpts from The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism:

The news racing around the shelter [in Baton Rouge] that day was that Richard Baker, a prominent Republican Congressman from this city, had told a group of lobbyists, “We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did.” Joseph Canizaro, one of New Orleans’ wealthiest developers, had just expressed a similar sentiment: “I think we have a clean sheet to start again. And with that clean sheet we have some very big opportunities.” All that week the Louisiana State Legislature in Baton Rouge had been crawling with corporate lobbyists helping to lock in those big opportunities: lower taxes, fewer regulations, cheaper workers and a “smaller, safer city”–which in practice meant plans to level the public housing projects and replace them with condos. Hearing all the talk of “fresh starts” and “clean sheets,” you could almost forget the toxic stew of rubble, chemical outflows and human remains just a few miles down the highway.

Over at the shelter, Jamar Perry, a young resident of New Orleans, could think of nothing else. “I really don’t see it as cleaning up the city. What I see is that a lot of people got killed uptown. People who shouldn’t have died.” He was speaking quietly, but an older man in line in front of us in the food line overheard and whipped around. “What is wrong with these people in Baton Rouge? This isn’t an opportunity. It’s a goddamned tragedy. Are they blind?”

A mother with two kids chimed in. “No, they’re not blind, they’re evil. They see just fine.”



At first I thought the Green Zone phenomenon was unique to the war in Iraq. Now, after years spent in other disaster zones, I realize that the Green Zone emerges everywhere that the disaster capitalism complex descends, with the same stark partitions between the included and the excluded, the protected and the damned.

It happened in New Orleans. After the flood, an already divided city turned into a battleground between gated green zones and raging red zones–the result not of water damage but of the “free-market solutions” embraced by the president. The Bush administration refused to allow emergency funds to pay public sector salaries, and the City of New Orleans, which lost its tax base, had to fire three thousand workers in the months after Katrina. Among them were sixteen of the city’s planning staff–with shades of “de Baathification,” laid off at the precise moment when New Orleans was in desperate need of planners. Instead, millions of public dollars went to outside consultants, many of whom were powerful real estate developers. And of course thousands of teachers were also fired, paving the way for the conversion of dozens of public schools into charter schools, just as Friedman had called for.

Almost two years after the storm, Charity Hospital was still closed. The court system was barely functioning, and the privatized electricity company, Entergy, had failed to get the whole city back online. After threatening to raise rates dramatically, the company managed to extract a controversial $200 million bailout from the federal government. The public transit system was gutted and lost almost half its workers. The vast majority of publicly owned housing projects stood boarded up and empty, with five thousand units slotted for demolition by the federal housing authority. Much as the tourism lobby in Asia had longed to be rid of the beachfront fishing villages, New Orleans’ powerful tourism lobby had been eyeing the housing projects, several of them on prime land close to the French Quarter, the city’s tourism magnet.

Endesha Juakali helped set up a protest camp outside one of the boarded-up projects, St. Bernard Public Housing, explaining that “they’ve had an agenda for St. Bernard a long time, but as long as people lived here, they couldn’t do it. So they used the disaster as a way of cleansing the neighbourhood when the neighbourhood is weakest. … This is a great location for bigger houses and condos. The only problem is you got all these poor black people sitting on it!”

Amid the schools, the homes, the hospitals, the transit system and the lack of clean water in many parts of town, New Orleans’ public sphere was not being rebuilt, it was being erased, with the storm used as the excuse. At an earlier stage of capitalist “creative destruction,” large swaths of the United States lost their manufacturing bases and degenerated into rust belts of shuttered factories and neglected neighbourhoods. Post-Katrina New Orleans may be providing the first Western-world image of a new kind of wasted urban landscape: the mould belt, destroyed by the deadly combination of weathered public infrastructure and extreme weather.

Since the publication of The Shock Doctrine, my research team has been putting dozens of original source documents online for readers to explore subjects in greater depth. The resource page on New Orleans has some real gems.

Naomi Klein is the author of many books, including her most recent, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, which will be published in September.Visit Naomi’s website at www.naomiklein.org, or to learn more about her new book, visit www.shockdoctrine.com .

© 2007 Huffington Post

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

FISA

After so many persistent reports of Democrats in the House and Senate regularly caving into the demands of the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans, here at last is some good and inspiring news.

In case you didn't know, Chris Dodd is runing for President. Head to his website by clicking here.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Invasion of Guam

I'm working on the latest issue of Minagahet for those interested, which will feature the testimonies given by Chamorros and their allies this year at the United Nations on the question of Guam's political status. While I'm doing that I just wanted to post here for those interested, the contents of the last issue of Minagahet, which provided links to those who are interested in what's happening on Guam, around issues of hanom, hambiento, fino' Okinawa, fino' i militat, yan fino' i maladjusted.

If you would like to subscribe to Minagahet just email me and let me know and I'll add you to the list to receive it.

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Minagahet Zine
Vol. 5 Iss. 5
10/27/07
"The Invasion of Guam"


Hafa Adai, yan welcome to i mina'trenta kuatro na Minagahet.

Last month I decided to try a different format for Minagahet, which would feature lists of articles grouped around issues relevant to things such as the military build up, the environment, federalization, and so on. The response I received was very positive and thankful. People know things are happening, and these things may or may not be something they can control or prevent. But, rarely for a variety of reasons, do they feel they have the time or the abilities to find out exactly what is happening, or what they can do about it. Bula na infotmasion manliliko' giya Guahan put i mamtan i militat, hayi mismo gaitiempo para u taitai yan komprende todu?

If for instance, you just read a single article on the economic re-energizing that Guam will be experiencing over the next few years, then you might think that the future will be incredible, sen ma'lak siempre! The business community is clearly working hard on this military increase. From just one article you'll get an image of business leaders meeting regularly at conferences and forums, where they are working on bringing in some of their business friends from around the world, all for the betterment of the people of Guam, so that everyone can benefit in fantastic ways from the military increases that are already being felt on the island. If, however, you read how many articles there are covering the business community's efforts to capitalize on the impending military increases, and how many business are moving into Guam to set up shop, you probably won't get an image of businesses working towards what's best for Guam, but rather an image of ferocious drunken vultures circling and swarming around the island, looking for any means to make some money. Members of the Chamber of Commerce, the US Congress and the Department of Interior have been traveling around the United States and the Pacific letting any and all know that "GUAM IS FOR SALE! and ready and willing to be plundered" To make this point very very clear, during one such conference in New Zealand, businesses there were encouraged to invade Guam.

As with the last issue, I am hoping again that if people find the things they read here disturbing or unsettling about the way Guam, Chamorros and others on Guam are being treated, they find productive ways to act upon their discomfort or anger. As you read this, Guam is being sold. It is first being sold as a place ideal for investors looking to make a quick buck or carpetbaggers looking for an eager and patriotic population to plunder. Second it is being sold off, the very future of the island is being handed over to people who are interested in making whatever money they can off the majority of Guam's population, and then fleeing one's the economic "excitement" is over. Third, Guam is being sold a complete pack of lies and half-truths as to how this military increase and the economic "boom" that is taking place now, will impact the island. Those in charge, elected or otherwise, of the island's economy, government and society, have decided for the most part to either celebrate these things in almost stupidly exuberant ways, or to simply go with the flow. It is up to those who see the future of our island in jeopardy, who see or can feel the numerous ways the island can be poisoned, the economy ruined, and our lives put at risk by these moves, to do something about it!

For more info, head over to these blogs, the JGPO Blog and the Decolonize Guam Blog. My other two blogs are still going strong. At No Rest for the Awake - Minagahet Chamorro, I posted recently about the relationship between "Guam, GITMO and Diego Garcia." And at Voicing Indigeneity, we recently uploaded a new podcast for the school year titled "The Indigenous View."

Sahuma Minagahet yan Na'suha Dinagi

Sahuma


ARTICLES

Hanom: articles about the water on Guam

"Navy's Fuligni Supports Decision to Raise Water Rates," by John Davis, KUAM, 10/18/07"
"Bring Fena to the Table," From the Marianas Variety, 10/10/07
"Simon Says Stop to Navy," by John Davis, KUAM, 10/10/07
"Water Rights in Guam," from Senator Ben Pangelinan, Famoksaiyan, 10/06/07
"Navy: Rate Hike Had to Be Done," by John Davis, KUAM, 10/4/07
"Navy Water Rate Hike Irks Senators," by Mar-Vic Cagurangan, The Marianas Variety, 9/28/07
"GWA Plans to Reduce Dependency on Navy Water," by John Davis, KUAM, 9/28/07
"Navy Will Nearly Double Water Rates for Southern Guam," by Jennifer H. Svan, Stars and Stripes, 9/27/07
"Navy Raises Fena Water Rate," by Gerardo R. Partido, The Marianas Variety, 9/26/07
"Mounting Losses Brought About Need to Raise Rates," by Mindy Fothergill, KUAM, 9/26/07
"CCU Prepared to Fight Navy If Water Rate Increases," by John Davis, KUAM, 9/18/07
"US Military Buildup Brings Tensions to Guam," from AP, The Honolulu Advertiser, 8/16/07
"Unpingco Hits Navy Fena Plan," by Gerardo R. Partido, The Marianas Variety, 8/16/07
"Navy May Increase Price of Water to GWA," by Clynt Ridgell, KUAM, 8/15/07

Hambiento: articles about the selling of Guam

"US Ambassador Wants Islands to Cash in on Guam Military Buildup," by Giff Johnson, Pacific Magazine, 10/25/07
"Guam Business Conference Best Ever," by Gerardo R. Partido, The Marianas Variety, 10/15/07
"China Eyes Business Ventures on Guam," by Gemma Q. Casas, The Marianas Variety, 10/09/07
"Business Opportunities Conference Will Cover All Bases," by Clynt Ridgell, KUAM, 10/07/07
"Pacific Businesses Head to Guam to Check Out US Dollars," 10/05/07
"Unlocking the Value of Real Estate in Micronesia," by David B. Cohen, The Saipan Tribune, 9/30/07
"Invest in the Pacific, US Tells Philippine Businesses," by Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo, Philippine News, 9/19/07
"Businesses Encouraged to Invade Guam," by Martin Tiffany, Waikato Times, 9/10/07
"Cohen to Address Real Estate Conference," by Gerardo R. Partido, The Marianas Variety, 9/07/07
"Forum Focuses on Military Buildup," by Jesse Leon Guerrero, NAVFAC, 8/30/07
"Guam Industry Forum Unites Industry Innovation with DOD Opportunity," by Kyra Hawn, NAVFAC, 8/28/07
"Guam Industry Forum Passes Valuable Lessons" by Clynt Ridgell, KUAM, 8/24/07
"Japan May Control Military Money," by Gerardo R. Partido, The Marianas Variety, 8/24/07
"Camacho Address Industry Forum," by Gerardo R. Partido, The Marianas Variety, 8/24/07
"Business Leaders, Lawmakers Converge on Guam," from the Associated Press, NBC KHNL, 8/23/07
"Gun Beach to Undergo Multimillion Commercial Development," by Mindy Fothergill, KUAM, 6/05/07
"Report Paints Bleak Picture of Guam's Financial Situation," by Clynt Ridgell, KUAM, 12/21/06

Fino' Okinawa: articles about the island where the 8,000 Marines are coming from

"Governor Rejects Defense Agency Environmental Assessment," from Japanupdate.com, 10/25/07
"Japanese City Opposes New Runway," from United Press International, 9/8/07
"Okinawa Does Not Need New US Military Bases," by , Manabu Sato, Asahi Shimbun, 9/07/07
"Tensions Mount as Prefecture Rejects Military Assessment Letter" from Japanupdate.com, 8/9/07
"Guam Welcomes Okinawa Delegation," by Mar-Vic Cagurangan, Marianas Variety, 7/12/07
"Okinawa Airfield Returned After 61 Years,'" by Takuya Okamoto, The Japan Times, 6/24/07
"Three Rapes: The Status of Forces Agreement and Okinawa," by Chalmers Johnson, Minagahet, 4/29/07
"Okinawans Oppose Missile Deployment," by David Allen and Chiyomi Sumida, Stars and Stripes, 7/01/06
"US Military Retreats Over Japanese Base After Protests," by David Mcneill, The Independent, 10/27/05
"US Agrees to Relocate Marines on Okinawa," by Anthony Faiola, The Washington Post, 10/27/05
"Okinawans Outraged at Crimes by Troops of 'Rogue Superpower America,'" by Karl Grobe, Frankfurter Rundshau, 7/13/00

Fino' Militat: articles about what the military plans for Guam

"Senators Frustrated with Military," by Gerardo R. Partido, The Marianas Variety, 10/11/07
"Tankers Fuel Tip of Spear," from The Pacific News Center, 10/07/07
"Bice on the Buildup," by Michael Lujan Bevacqua, No Rest for the Awake - Minagahet Chamorro, 9/26/07
"How Will They All Fit on Guam?," by Teri Weaver, Stars and Stripes, 9/25/07
"Guam Officials Need to Be Careful," by David Allen, Stars and Stripes, 7/15/07
"The Pentagon as Global Landlord," by Nick Turse, Tomdispatch.com, 7/11/07
"Marianas as one Big Military Camp," by Gerardo R. Partido, The Marianas Variety, 6/18/07
"Military Mulls Infrastructure," by Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno, Pacific Daily News, 6/05/07
"From the Mouth of Fallon," by Michael Lujan Bevacqua, No Rest for the Awake - Minagahet Chamorro, 4/17/07
"Report Recommends US Military Buildup in the Pacific," by Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno, Pacific Daily News, 4/13/07
"Air Force to Proceed with Strike Plan," by Mar-Vic Cagurangan, The Marianas Variety, 1/28/07
"Navy May Outsource Civilian Jobs,'" by Gerardo R Partido, The Marianas Variety, 10/21/06
"Pace Visits Guam to Assess Infrastructure Growth Plans,'" by Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service, 6/2/06
"New Military Era Rises in the Pacific," by Edward Cody, Washington Post, 10/03/05

Fino' i Maladjusted: articles by the "activists" of Guam

"Lemlem," by Michael Lujan Bevacqua, No Rest for the Awake - Minagahet Chamorro, 10/01/07
"Women's Group Demands Impact Study on Troop Buildup," from Fuetsan Famalao'an, 8/15/07
"US Obligation Unfulfilled," by Patty Garrido, The Marianas Variety, 8/14/07
"Better Poor Than Dead," by Vicente Ulloa Garrido, The Marianas Variety, 8/10/07
"On Wars and Numbers," by Julian Aguon, The Voice Project, 4/23/07
"Letter to Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo," from the Hawai'i - Okinawa Alliance, 4/23/07
"Topics on Decolonization," by Victoria Leon Guerrero, KUAM Extra, 1/03/07
"Back to Guahan," by Erica Nalani Benton, Famoksaiyan, 11/30/06
"Okinawa Move Requires Strong Leadership, Not Meek Stewardship," by Senator Jesse Lujan, The Marianas Variety, 6/20/06
"From a Native Daughter: For Peace, Human Rights and the Environment ," by Fanai Cruz Castro, Minagahet, 10/23/05
"Thinking About the US Military in Guam," by Antonio Artero Sablan, Minagahet, 1/07/05
"If a Tree Falls; If Colonization Occurs..." by Senator Hope A. Cristobal, Minagahet, 9/1/04
"There are Things Other Than Marines and War that are Worth Celebrated!" by Rita Lujan Butler, Minagahet, 6/17/04
"Guam: Natives Chamorros Decry US Military Increase," by Rufo Lujan, Colonized Chamoru Coalition, 4/23/04
"Guam; A Self-Sustaining Nation," by Angel Leon Guerrero Santos, Nasion Chamoru, 9/17/91
"Is Guam for Sale?" by Governor Ricardo Bordallo and Congressman Robert Underwood, /91.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Solidarity with Okinawa

Subject: Call for Action against Henoko Military Base Construction

Over the last several days, examination of the document on procedures for conducting an environmental impact assessment of the new U.S. Marine Corp Air Station constructed by the Japanese government at coastal Henoko has reached a critical stage. The designated location of the base covers Oura Bay, a part of Henoko cape, and U.S. military Camp Shwab, and the base is to have two runways set in a V shape as well as other facilities. The examination committee affiliated with the Okinawa mayor will submit its response to the document by December 17th.

The Japanese government submitted the Henoko document to Okinawa Prefecture on August 9. Initially, the prefectural government and involved local leaders refused to accept the document in rejection of the national government plan on the grounds that the designated area is too close to residential areas. But they have now taken a seat at the negotiation table.

In response to the document, the examination committee sent as many as 76 questions regarding the flight path of military jets, training categories, the construction procedure plan and so on. However, answers from Ministry of Defense were vague as usual. The frustrated committee responded, "the government has clarified nothing" (Okinawa Times, December 11).

According to the World Conservation Union, constructing a new base at the planed area will threaten endangered species such as Dugong, the Okinawa woodpecker, and the Okinawa rail. [Please refer: http://www.iucn.jp/news/pdf/CGR3%20Rec032.pdf] Says Yoshikazu Makishi from Okinawa Dugong Network, "The key question is whether or not the committee will urge the government to rework this empty document."

People in Okinawa who wish to stop construction of the new base have fixed their eyes on the debate, and are encouraging Okinawa Mayor Nakaima and the committee to urge the national government to revise the Henoko document.

They are enthusiastically calling on the supporters around world to send a message of encouragement to Mayor Nakaima and the committee office before DECEMBER 17th (MONDAY), Japan time.

Okinawa Mayor Hirokazu Nakaima: kouhou@pref.okinawa.lg.jp

The Okinawa Prefecture Environmental Impact Assessment Committee Office,
Okinawa Prefecture Cultural and Environmental Department, Environmental Policies Branch
tel: +81-98-866-2183
fax: +81-98-866-2240
email: aa025003@pref.okinawa.jp

message examples:

- The document on procedures for conducting an environmental impact assessment of the new U.S. Marine Corp Air Station constructed by the Japanese government at coastal Henoko did not go through a proper public hearing process as required by Japanese environmental laws. I would like to request you to call for a public re-examination of the Henoko document.

- The Okinawa Prefecture Environmental Impact Assessment Committee claimed the national government responded vaguely to its 76 questions regarding the document on procedures for conducting an environmental impact assessment of the new U.S. Marine Corp Air Station constructed by the Japanese government at coastal Henoko. I urge that the national government's response to the committee's 76 questions be made public.

- Accepting the flawed document on procedures for conducting an environmental impact assessment of the new U.S. Marine Corp Air Station constructed by the Japanese government at coastal Henoko will subvert the environmental assessment system, and will threaten Okinawa's environment for years. I would like to request you to urge the Japanese government to revise the Henoko document.

end message examples


Thank you,
Hikaru Kasahara
Asian Peace Alliance [APA] Japan
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song/videos on dugong:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dCVdv_5Q3U
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHfO9g-4dPI

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http://www.ppjaponesia.org/modules/tinycontent/index.php?id=14

A Sharpened Confrontation with the Tokyo Government Features Okinawa in 2007 by Yamaguchi Hibiki September 2007

Anti-base Struggle

The struggle against U.S. military bases is entering another intense phase as the Japanese government has launched aggressive action to build a large U.S. base in Nago City, northern Okinawa. The United States has been eager to establish a new base in Okinawa putatively as a substitute military facility to Futenma U.S. airbase, an outdated base located in the midst of Ginowan city, which anyway had to be closed for technical and political reasons. The original plan agreed on in 1996 was to construct a base off the coast of Henoko, Nago City. But that project met with persistent and tough resistance of the Okinawa people and was slow to progress. The resistance compelled the Japanese and U.S. governments to abandon their initial plan and to shift to a new plan which was agreed on at the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee in 2006. The newly designated location of the base covers Oura Bay, a part of Henoko cape, and U.S. military Camp Shwab, and the base is to have two runways set in a V shape as well as other facilities. This plan is called a coastal plan as distinct from the defunct offshore plan.

At the moment, Okinawa Governor Nakaima Hirokazu and Nago City Mayor Shimabukuro Yoshikazu take the position that they do not accept the coastal plan on the grounds that the designated area is too close to residential areas. However, since neither of them is against relocating the Futenma base somewhere in Okinawa, they are only asking for the location of the projected base to be moved by a few hundred meters.

Governor Nakaima accepted with little resistance an application filed by the Defense Facilities Administration Naha Bureau for the execution of what they called a "preliminary survey" of marine life for the purpose of investigating the impact of a military base sitting on corals and dugongs living in the sea area. While regular environmental assessment requires long official procedures, the DFANB has skipped necessary steps and forced the survey on no legal ground. This signaled an extra-legal start of the base construction.

This aggressive act of the government has aroused strong anger among the people in Okinawa. Peace and anti-base people immediately stood up organizing another mass-movement to stop the remodelled base construction plan. This is the third wave of their struggle over the Nago-Henoko base. The first was the Nago citizen's referendum in 1997 that demonstrated their rejection of the base, the second the 2004-2005 struggle involving daily sit-ins and sea battles that aborted the original offshore base plan.

In the current phase, Okinawa people and supporters from all over Japan have again gathered at Henoko Beach. While some held sit-ins, others went into the sea on boats and canoes to stop the survey operation. Some of the protestors were divers who dived to prevent survey equipment from being set at the bottom of the sea.

Faced by this strong resistance, the government behaved tougher than before. The Japan Coast Guard, having cast off its facade of neutrality, openly sided with DFANB-hired divers and other operatives. Furthermore, the Japanese government dispatched the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force minesweeper Bungo to the Henoko sea area obviously to intimidate the protestors. It was also reported that JMSDF divers were directly involved in the placement of survey materials on the sea-bed. Violence wielded against protesting divers was reported frequently. On July 21, Taira Natsume, the best known leader of the struggle, felt his arms locked in a full nelson while he was covering a survey facility with his body at the bottom of the sea to prevent contract drivers from working on it. He felt unable to breathe, managed to slip away from his attacker, and burst to the surface. Then he shuddered finding the air valve had been shut off. There is a strong suspicion that it was done on purpose. "They seem to have crossed the line," Taira told Ryukyu Shinpo, the Okinawa local newspaper.

Simultaneous with the new military base construction in Henoko, the Japanese government is undertaking new U.S. military helipads construction in Takae, in Higashi village, northern Okinawa. Protest actions are organized against this project too but it is not easy for the Okinawa movement to organize simultaneous action over both Henoko and Takae projects.

Anger against Tokyo's Falsification of School Textbooks

The bases are not the only issue that calls for the Okinawa people's legitimate anger. It is the Tokyo government censors' intervention in high school textbooks that has met with categorical refusal by all quarters of Okinawa society.

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Tokyo on March 30, 2007 told the media that it had instructed textbook publishers to change the descriptions in high school textbooks about the Japanese Imperial Army's coercion of Okinawa civilians into committing mass suicide during the last days of the Battle of Okinawa. In this fierce battle a quarter of Okinawa's civilians lost their lives. During the battle, Okinawan citizens were directly or indirectly coerced by the Japanese Army to kill themselves rather than survive and surrender to the U.S. military. The Tokyo censors ordered the mention of "the Japanese army" dropped as the body that caused mass suicides.

In Okinawa, both conservatives and liberals strongly opposed the history text rewriting. Okinawa Prefectural Assembly unanimously passed twice a resolution demanding that the Japanese government repeal the MECSST instruction. Moreover, all the 41 municipalities in Okinawa passed similar resolutions. On June 9, 3500 people gathered in a prefecture-wide gathering against the history falsification. Another gathering is planned to be held in September 2007 and the Okinawa governor is attending it.

The Okinawa people have reasons to be seriously concerned with this act of rewriting history to exonerate the Imperial Army, afraid that the new Japanese army, the "Self-Defence Force," may direct their weapons toward them. The dispatch of the navy warship for the Henoko operation may show this fear is not far-fetched.

Victories in Upper House Election

The pent up anger of the Okinawa people found its explosive expressions in the Upper House election held on July 29, 2007. Two progressive candidates won, and one of them achieved an overwhelming victory defeating the Liberal Democratic rival. Itokazu Keiko, supported by a coalition of all opposition parties, defeated the LDP incumbent Nishime Junshiro by garnering over 370,000 votes against 250,000 for Nishime. Also, veteran peace fighter Yamauchi Tokushin was elected in the proportional representation constituency. When Yamauchi was mayor of Yomitan village in Okinawa, he succeeded in taking a part of the U.S. military base there back to the village, and currently he is a strong supporter of the Henoko struggle.

The victory in the Upper House election has brightened the Okinawa progressive people's perspective for the future given the fact that in the past few years the progressive candidates have suffered successive defeats. Itokazu herself, who contested the gubernatorial election in November 2006 lost to Nakaima Hirokazu backed by the ruling coalition.

There are indications that despite all difficulties, the tide has reversed in Okinawa.

Yamaguchi Hibiki(People's Plan Study Group, Asian Peace Alliance[APA] Japan)

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Global Women Activists Speak Out Against U.S. Military
>From the Nichi Bei Times Weekly September 20, 2007

By ALEC YOSHIO MacDONALD
Nichi Bei Times Contributor

With the debate over the American military's role in Iraq grabbing so many headlines these days, it might be easy to forget that the United States also occupies parts of well over a hundred other countries across the globe. And while war isn't actively being waged in those places, just the very presence of U.S. armed forces has produced plenty of heated conflict.

In Okinawa, for example, this presence has infuriated many civilians, according to Hiromi Minamoto of Okinawan Women Act Against Military Violence. Formed in the aftermath of the rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl by three U.S. servicemen in 1995, Minamoto's group of more than 200 members has been organizing protests against the military while working to educate others about its damaging impact.

As Minamoto explains, 75 percent of the U.S. armed forces in Japan inhabit Okinawa, despite the fact that the prefecture constitutes only one percent of both the nation's land mass and population. This heavy concentration means that her community's schools and residences sit right next to bases with no buffer zones, subjecting Okinawans to awful noise, air and water pollution. The sound of aircraft engines routinely interrupt children's lessons, oil and other industrial waste seeps into local rivers and wells, and accidents that would be unheard of in other places present a very real threat.

"Two years ago, a U.S. military helicopter crashed into a university campus," Minamoto recounted through a translator. "Luckily, it was during the summer break, so there were no casualties, but a building was ruined."

The presence of soldiers themselves creates frequent problems as well, especially in the form of violence against women. Minamoto's group stays particularly vigilant against these sorts of atrocities.

Furthermore, they seek healing and reconciliation for past military indiscretions as well, calling on the Japanese government to issue apologies to women used as sex slaves by its own military during wartime. Minamoto appreciates that U.S. lawmakers have expressed the same demands for accountability.

"When citizens outside Japan speak up about these issues, it puts pressure on the Japanese government, and we are encouraged," she affirmed.

Bay Area Gathering Attracts Women for Peace

Last week, Minamoto was one of several international visitors telling similar tales at the Women of Color Resource Center in downtown Oakland. She and the others came to the Bay Area to attend "Women Resisting Militarism and Creating a Culture of Life," the sixth annual meeting of the International Women's Network against Militarism. A gathering of peace activists from all over the world, it attracted delegates from Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico and Hawaii to engage in dialogue about the challenges they face back home.

Spanning from Sept. 11-15, the meeting entailed four public shows, a series of forums with local grassroots organizations and a closing ceremony featuring "dance, hip-hop, music, poetry, theater, visual art and an anti-military fashion show." Along with 50 foreign delegates, more than half a dozen Bay Area partner groups joined in the proceedings, with Women for Genuine Security and the PANA Institute serving as primary sponsors.

Deborah Lee, program coordinator for PANA's Civil Liberty and Faith Project, spoke about the goals of this gargantuan undertaking which she was helping to organize.

"We're not just focusing on the anti-militarism part," she explained, "but also how are people building and sustaining communities, creating healing and living with the long-term impact. Like in Okinawa, it's 60-plus years, so they've already had to develop many strategies to cope and to live and to survive and try to flourish amidst the situation."

In fact, with such a lengthy history of shouldering this burden, it isn't surprising that the Network formed and began meeting as a result of what people were doing in Okinawa.

"It started with the Okinawans," Lee remarked. "The Okinawan women have said to us repeatedly, 'This is your problem. This is your government. You have a voice with this government - we don't. This is your money, these are your children.'"

That was 1996. Since then, additional groups from various locations have come on board, widening and strengthening the Network. And as it grows, its member communities gain more resources and support in confronting their own specific local challenges - as in the case which Lee described of the newest member.

"This year we have the presence of people from Guam," she said, "specifically because many of these troops are going to be moved from Korea and Okinawa to Guam. And so the women in Okinawa and Korea felt we need to be in dialogue with who was on the ground in Guam, and how are they going to be dealing with the impact of all these troops."

Lee drew another example of this kind of information sharing and joint strategy formation by pointing to the future of Korea, where in less than five years, "they're going to be closing 20 bases - how are we going to deal with the clean up issues? So they need to talk to people in the Philippines, where the bases closed 15 years ago."

In her view, this kind of collaboration is lacking here in America.

"The way we're divided in the United States is: Filipino Americans, work on this; Japanese Americans, work on this... This conversation is not happening in our communities. So we wanted to use their coming as a chance to have some conversation about this - and hear from really dynamic women."

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We demand an end to helipad construction in the US Armed Forces Northern Training Area
WWF Japan
(World Wide Fund for Nature Japan)

WWF Japan has identified the forests of Yanbaru in Okinawa, where many endemic and rare species live, as an area whose protection should be prioritized. As one of the most important natural environments in the world, WWF Japan has already begun conservation activities in the area. The construction of new helipads in the US Marine Corps Northern Training Area will destroy Yanbaru’s natural environment and will threaten the peaceful livelihoods of the local residents, and so we strongly demand an end to their construction.

In the Northern Training Area (Jungle Warfare Training Center), there still remains healthy Okinawan sub-tropical evergreen broad-leaved forest. This forest is an important habitat for many endemic species and subspecies at risk of extinction, such as Okinawa woodpecker (Sapheopipo noguchii) and Okinawa rail (Gallirallus okinawae). According to an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (2006) produced by the Naha office of the Defense Facilities Administration Agency, over 4,000 species have been recorded at the site planned for the construction of the helipads and in the surrounding area. 12 plant species and 11 animal species are endemic and/or subspecies, and between 177 species (Environment Ministry est.) and 188 species (Okinawa Prefecture est.) are threatened with extinction. This fully meets one of the criteria for selection by the World Heritage Committee (to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.). Much forest has been lost due to the development of Okinawa following its return to Japan in 1972. However, the approximately 7500 hectares of forest occupied by the Northern Training Area has been preserved in its natural state, and has become a refuge for wildlife. The building of access roads and six military helipads, which would destroy the rich biological diversity of the natural environment, must not proceed !

At both the 2000 (Amman) and 2004 (Bangkok) meetings of the World Conservation Congress, the IUCN(the World Conservation Union) recommended the conservation of the Okinawa woodpecker and Okinawa rail, and of their habitat. The IUCN made the following recommendations to the Japanese government: that they create a conservation plan for biological diversity and for species threatened with extinction; that they consider nominating Yanbaru as a Natural Heritage site; that they create an action plan for the establishment and protection of a nature reserve; and finally that they carry out an environmental assessment which includes a zero option (i.e. not building the helipad). The IUCN also recommended that the US government confer with the Japanese government with a view to enabling the protection of wildlife based on US forces environmental control and management, and that the US government cooperate with the Japanese government�fs environmental assessment. The Japanese and American governments, both of which are affiliated to the IUCN, should follow these recommendations and not build the military helipads, and instead devote their energies towards the protection of these wildlife habitats.

According to the previously-mentioned Environmental Impact Assessment Report (Defense Facilities Administration Agency, Naha, 2006), if measures are taken to avoid or minimize impact, there should be no particular difficulty in conserving the environment. However, the report itself is not subject to environmental impact assessment law. Furthermore, because it was written on the premise that the helipads would be built, the report and its procedures do not represent a legitimate environmental assessment. The effectiveness of steps to avoid or reduce damage is questionable. It is clear that the report�fs conclusion, namely that there were no environmental protection problems, is mistaken. Rather, if the results of the same report’s survey of current environmental conditions are scientifically examined from a conservation/biological viewpoint, it is clear that helipad construction and military helicopter training will greatly affect the natural environment and its wildlife. The conclusion that should be derived from the report is that this inappropriate construction must be abandoned.

The six American helipads are planned to be built around the district of Takae, in Higashi village. The construction of the 75m diameter helipads and Osprey VTOL (vertical take-off and landing aircraft) military training will seriously affect the living environments of the residents of Takae. This small village has about 150 people, with 20% of its population being of junior high school age or under. The exposure of residents to both the unbearable roar of aircraft engines and the danger of air crashes are acts which ignore fundamental human rights, and infringe the Japanese Constitution’s guarantee of a peaceful, cultivated and healthy life.

At the 2008 G8 summit, held in Japan, the main environmental themes were the prevention of global warming and the conservation of biological diversity. In 2010 the Japanese government wants to hold a meeting of the partner-countries to the biological diversity treaty. At a time such as this the construction of military helipads amidst the rich biological diversity of the forests of Yanbaru can only be seen as greatly lacking in common sense.

Taking all the above into account, WWF Japan demands an end to the construction of the US forces helipads and access roads in the Northern Training Area.

For inquireies please contact:
Shin-ichi Hanawa
WWF Japan, Conservation Division
3-1-14 Shiba Minato-ku Tokyo 105-0014 Japan
TEL.03-3769-1713�@FAX.03-3769-1717
E-mail: hanawa@wwf.or.jp

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Indigenous Futures in a Not Yet Postcolonial World

In March 5-7 of next year, my department at UCSD will be hosting an important conference titled "Postcolonial Futures in a Not Yet Postcolonial World: Locating the Intersections of Ethnic, Indigenous and Postcolonial Studies." The conference is being organized by graduate students in Ethnic Studies, but is being supported by faculty, divisions and offices around the campus. I am on the planning committee and am incredibly excited about this conference! (pacha' i sanhilo' na link yanggen interesao hao pat malago hao muna'fanhalom abstract)

The drive behind this conference comes from a number of conflicts and discussions, all of which have worked to push our department and hopefully Ethnic Studies in general, in the direction of being more transnational and more intranational. This translates into more common academic terms as engaging more with indigenous and postcolonial studies. The push for our discipline to be more transnational comes from the desire to stop writing and positioning the United States as the center of the world, research and power.

For instance, even in the way in which the "rest of the world" is framed or even mentioned, we see the United States as being the center of it, whether in good or bad terms, it assumes that what happens here is more important, or defines everything else. In some ways, as a person interested in Guam's decolonization, I all too often decry and work to reveal the incredible power of the United States, because in a colony such as Guam, it is literally everywhere. But this elevation of the United States, doesn't simply mean its privileged status in making bad things happen, but also its passive status in defining the nature of the "rest of the world."

So for instance, one of the issues that I had hoped to avoid with this conference, was not to assume that "indigenous" means "native american" which is a tendency that so many people in the United States make. When I attended the First Indigenous Studies conference in Oklahoma earlier this year, such a conflict over the meaning of the term indigenous arose. The conference was attended by several hundred people, the majority of whom were Native American, although there were small, scattered groups of indigenous people from the Pacific, Latin America and Asia.

Although I was incredibly excited to be there, there were so many moments I felt like I didn't quite belong or that this space wasn't really meant for me, because "indigenous" for the conference didn't really seem to mean indigenous, but was just meant to stand in for Native American. A number of other participants especially from the Pacific felt the same way I did however, in terms of the conference not really being interested in their particular views, histories ideas and so on, and repeatedly asked the question to the organizers and to others, why did you say its an indigenous studies conference, if you meant Native American? Why should we have come all the way here, if you didn't plan on really including us? During the open meeting with the organizers, one Maori man, who had literally flown all the way from New Zealand, asked "what use is the category if you didn't mean it to expand your vision or your reach? What was the point of saying indigenous if you weren't really interested in using it beyond the United States?"

The committee this year, didn't make the same mistake, and were I'm sure careful to titled the conference "Native American and Indigenous Studies Conference." The conflict wasn't anything intentional, but was simply an natural assumption on the part of many of the Native American scholars that the plights, situations, histories, and thinking of indigenous people around the world, must be the same as or similar to those of Native Americans. In the ways in which these scholars attempted to be more transnational, or engage with the rest of the world, they did a poor job, because of how they assumed that everything out there, must be fundamentally like the way it is here. One of the disciplines which best captures the complexities, the idealism and the failures of the world out there is postcolonial studies.

But this mention of indigenous studies isn't coincidental, since the other direction of Ethnic Studies is precisely this, to engage more concretely with indigenous peoples, in particular in the United States.

One of the most persistent critiques of Ethnic Studies, from indigenous scholars as well as scholars whose work is not US based is its theoretical and content reliance upon the United States geographically and in terms of understanding of power and analysis. Because of this, the intellectual landscape of ethnic studies scholarship can seem like a wasteland, with nothing on the horizon to contest or write of, or which emanates power, but the United States nation-state. From this perspective, ethnic studies work can either give the impression of the United States being all powerful or all complicit, or make the only work possible that which seeks inclusion within its grasp.

Despite this critique, a large task of Ethnic Studies, since its inception has been the contestation of the constitution and making of the United States nation. Early on, this took the form of either articulating an independent important essence to the histories and cultures of ethnic groups or the unique and integral ways that these groups have helped “color” or develop this nation.

More recently, it has been involved in the much more difficult task of revealing the ghosts of the nation, its limits, its discontents, it contradictions, its necessary amnesias, its racial violence, etc. Doing the important critical work of revealing the heterogeneity of the nation, its weaknesses, its gaps, its impossibilities and its dependencies on different racialized bodies to constitute itself.

The transnational push in Ethnic Studies comes with the intent of making tangible the US nation-state’s complicity in bringing populations here, through war or mercantilism, economic pressure, etc. which upon arrival in this land, are supposed to signify both the benevolence of the United States, but also its irresistible appeal. It also serves to show how different imagined nations exist competing within the US nation, and consist of ties to other lands which stretch the boundaries, edges and centers of any nation across borders and oceans.

On the one hand, we must applaud these efforts to make the discipline more international, but what is often lost of forgotten is the need to also make the discipline intra-national. As Ethnic Studies works to connect the US nation to other nations, to displace the American centrism of its discipline, what is regularly left out is how the United States nation state is the home to a plethora of nations within nations. This political status is one which is supposedly better than that of states, yet whose occupants are treated like children you wouldn’t trust with sovereignty unless you were high.

Within the United States, the work of numerous Native American scholars has created a huge body of literature on the concept of nations within nations. First we have the histories of the private or state sponsored genocides, massacres and campaigns of ethnic cleansing which were enacted in response to both passive and active assertions of Native American sovereignty, which have pushed Native Americans into their current reservation system. There are genealogies and studies of the legal and juridical development, or the lists of decisions, precedents, and Congressional laws that have produced these nations. In addition to this, one must also include works on the infantilization and racilization of Native Americans over the past few centuries, in juridical and cultural terms which have created the racial commonsense, that these communities should and must exist as domestic dependent nations. And finally we find studies of what possibilities or hopes these nations can have given this status in terms of self-determination, political sovereignty and economic sustainability.

Furthermore, as Ethnic Studies pushes in this direction it must be careful to resist the urge to simply reduce the experiences, histories and aspirations of Native Americans to being similar to any other ethnic group, since both their histories and their contemporary positions place them in a very different and unique position. The importance of this point is the reason that it is so difficult to have a coherent conversation about it. To put it bluntly, the United States is a settler society and there is no national conversation taking place about what that means or what to do about that, other than "the past is the past" and "there is nothing that we can or should do about it." This conversation is so difficult to have because it implicates so many people in so many contemporary and historical injustices.

But, I should note here, that the indigenous studies component of the conference, and hopefully eventually the department isn't relegated to the United States alone. In the US, the need for the critique of Native Americans to be in Ethnic Studies is because of their crucial role in making sure that the United States is understood as a settler society, and that the existence of the nation-state of the United States is rightfull challenged because of the claims of indigenous people. But for this conference, we aren't interested in keeping the discussion just to the United States, because more and more today, indigenous peoples are connecting, working together and articulating themselves globally, often times in defiance of the very ways the modern world constructs or constricts them. And so as Ethnic Studies is becoming more transnational, it is important that we understand this gesture as not just being postcolonial, but potentially, in a more exciting way, being indigenous as well.

One more final notes before finishing. The goal of this conference then, is not to simply bring in the best postcolonial studies, ethnic studies or indigenous studies scholars. There are frankly plenty of conferences already that do this, and several of them are scheduled for next year. What we are instead looking to build is a space for a conversation amongst people in these fields who do their work with a careful awareness to each of these fields and not in isolation or blind antagonism with them.

If you are interested in attending the conference or submitting a paper or panel proposal for consideration, then please read the call for papers below or click on this link, Futures0308 to head to the conference website.

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CALL FOR PAPERS

"POSTCOLONIAL" FUTURES IN A NOT-YET POSTCOLONIAL WORLD:
Locating the Intersections of Ethnic, Indigenous, and Postcolonial Studies

March 5-7, 2008
Ethnic Studies Department
University of California, San Diego

In September 2007, after twenty years of debate, the United Nations finally passed the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – a huge symbolic victory for indigenous peoples around the world who struggle under predatory and exploitative relationships with(in) existing nation-states. At the same moment, the UN was lumbering along in the 18th year of its impossible attempts to eradicate colonialism, with groups from around the world flocking to it to petition for the decolonization of their territories or to demand that their situations at least be recognized as "colonial."

Across all continents, indigenous and stateless peoples are struggling for and demanding various forms of sovereignty, as the recently decolonized world is sobering up from the learning of its limits and pratfalls. Postcolonial societies that were born of sometimes radical anti-colonial spirits, now appear to be taking on the role of the colonizer, often against the indigenous peoples that reside within their borders. In places such as Central and Latin America, a resurgence of Third World Leftist politics is being accompanied by a resurgence of indigenous populism. Meanwhile the recent arrests of sovereignty/environmental activists in New Zealand represents another instance where those from the 3rd and 4th worlds who dare to challenge the current make up of today's "postcolonial world" are branded as terrorists.

As scholars involved in critical ethnic studies engage with these ever more complex worlds, they are increasingly resorting to the lenses provided by postcolonial and indigenous studies. This engagement however is not without its limits or problems. As ethnic studies scholars seek to make their vision and scholarship more transnational and global, this push is nonetheless accompanied by gestures that, at the expense of indigenous and postcolonial frameworks, re-center the United States and reaffirm the solvency of its nation-state. In addition, despite their various commonalities, indigenous and postcolonial studies represent intellectual bodies of knowledge that are fundamentally divided over issues such as hybridity, sovereignty, nation, citizenship and subjectivity.

The purpose of this conference, then, is to create a space where scholars and activists engaged in these various projects, in various forms, can congregate to share ideas, hash out differences and move beyond caricatured understandings of each of these intellectual projects. It seeks to ask how, by putting ethnic, indigenous and postcolonial studies in conversation with each other, we may theorize new epistemologies that may better address the violences and injustices of the contemporary world.

To this end we solicit papers that address questions including, but in no way limited to, the following:

- What are the epistemological frameworks that inform postcolonial, ethnic and indigenous studies? What is their relationship to modernity and how do they challenge and/or complement each other?

- What constitutes the subject of postcolonial and ethnic studies? How does the construction of these subjectivities limit possible conversations with indigenous studies?

- What are the limitations and pitfalls of sovereignty as popularly envisioned? How do postcolonial and indigenous communities reaffirm or rearticulate sovereignty within their respective contexts?

- What are the different theories and strategies of decolonization as laid out by postcolonial and indigenous studies, and how do they inform each other?

- How does the political status of indigenous peoples complicate dominant discourses on immigration and citizenship? Moreover, with regards to settler nation-states such as the U.S., how does the "nations-within-nations" status of indigenous communities complicate the project of ethnic and transnational studies?

Abstracts must be submitted to: futures0308@gmail.com

Requirements:
250-word abstract, specifying if the proposal is for individual or roundtable presentations
Information including name, institutional affiliation, mailing address, telephone number, e-mail address

Deadline for Submission: January 7th, 2008

For more information please contact: Michael Lujan Bevacqua at mlbasquiat@hotmail.com or Rashné Limki at rashne.limki@gmail.com

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Chamorro Language

I received this comment my blog several months ago on my post "State of the Chamorro Language." The author of the comment "One Hot Chamaole" apparently didn't like my post or my blog and left a rather annoying and useless comment, which she soon removed. I had the chance to read it before she removed however and thought that I would post it here in order to discuss some of the more "undiscussed" issues that the Chamorro language is up against.


Her comment as you'll read below was not friendly and not very intelligent either. But, this is something you often find with people who claim to be preserving the Chamorro language, a very clear lack of knowledge about what the language is, how it is being killed, and how it can survive. The usual list of things which are endangering Chamorro language are tv, internet, movies, music, kids who don't want to learn, laziness. All of these things have their roles, however it is incredibly pointless and actually counterproductive to pretend that these are the reasons the Chamorro language is not being passed on or spoken today. As I've written so many times before, but unfortunately my statements tend to fall almost completely on deaf ears, languages are passed on, from one generation to the next. The idea that you can blame the younger generation for not picking up their language is insane, it takes at least two generations to lose a language, and so the ideas and the perceptions of those who speak the language, but don't teach it or don't allow it to evolve and survive, are just as important as the perceived laziness of young people today.

For those of you who don't know her, One Hot Chamaole runs a very informative blog called "Chamorro Language and Culture" where she posts lists of Chamorro words, phrase and other information. Despite this service that she is providing to Chamorros and others around the world, I think its still important to address and bring out here how the perceptions one has about how to protect or preserve a language, and about how a language is lost can play a huge role in deciding whether or not the language will be saved through your efforts, or if you are merely preparing it for a museum. To put this in another way, we can write down all the lists of words for fruits and foods that one wants, but revitalizing and keeping a language strong, requires not just the words themselves, but also a fluid and open mindset which will support the language and help it thrive, and not encase it or trap it, thus ensuring its death.

Here at last is her comment, and you can find my notes and responses below:

I think getting rid of one's language and customs was more common in Guam than all of the other Mariana islands. You don't see this type of desperation on any other island but Guam. Spanish last names came from hundreds of years of colonization, not an overnight American fad. Besides, how is having a Spanish last name more American than Chamorro? [1] In addition to such desperation, you see the new little cirlce above vowels that you didn't see before in older Chamorro documents. And prior the Spain's arrival, Chamorro was NOT a written language. [2] So where does the å really come from aside from a pretentious attempt at regaining culture and even worse, making things up? [3] If you are really "awake", drop the facade. It is unthinkable that you can blame WWII for Guamanian complacency, for the lives that were lost, you should be ASHAMED of yourself. [4] Go to Saipan, and you'll still see even KIDS speak Chamorro. [5]

1. I don’t understand at all, what this is supposed to mean, “Spanish last names came from hundreds of years of colonization, not an overnight American fad. Besides, how is having a Spanish last name more American than Chamorro?” I really wish that people thought more carefully about their comments before submitting them, especially if they put so much emotions or energy into them. It comes off as looking incredibly dumb when they don't.

2. One of the main reasons that the language is being lost is because foolish people such as yourself who feel that Chamorro should be only a “spoken” language and not written one, and any attempt to write it is like a bastardization or “pretentious” act of “making things up.” Yes, Chamorro was not a written language, but that was hundreds of years ago. Today, if Chamorro is to survive it must be written! Those kids who you say are speaking Chamorro in Saipan, are most likely also reading books and on the internet, and the reason that the language is dying in all of the Marianas Islands is because there is an incredible lack of media in terms of magazine, newspapers, books and internet websites, which feature the Chamorro language! If we adhere to that stupid idea that the Chamorro language is meant to be verbal, and then not write it down and print it in as many ways and forms as we can, then the language will die. We will have protected whatever moronic purity people were defending, but we will have killed it.

3. Your whining about the little circle over the “a” is one of the dumbest things I have heard in a long time. First of all, that little “a” isn’t for show, it serves a purpose in making clear how the word is to be pronounced. The circle doesn’t mean nothing, but exists to linguistically differentiate sounds. If you are fluent in Chamorro, then you know the importance of being able to distinguish between the two “a” sounds. Since vowel pronunciation in Chamorro changes based on vowel harmony and the usage of possessive pronouns, that “pretentious” circle, can help a lot of people read how a word is supposed to be pronounced, whether with an “ae” sound or an “ah” sound. If we are interested in bringing the language back, then that means making it accessible for those who do not speak it! So for people who are just learning the language, this little circle will save them from a lot of ridicule, because they will know the difference in pronouncing words, even if they haven’t said or heard them before!

4. If you don’t think that World War II had anything to do with the changes in language, culture, landscape and lifestyle on Guam and in the CNMI, then you really need to take a closer look at the world around you, and the history of our islands. If you are interested in actually learning or knowing more, and not simply just mouthing off about a wide variety of topics that you actually know very little about, then I can direct you to different resources.

5. The language is being lost on all of the Marianas Islands. Obviously the language abilities and fluency levels in the CNMI are better, but they are also dropping, drastically according to many teachers and educators. The fact that “even KIDS speak Chamorro” on Saipan, doesn’t mean that the language isn’t being lost, I can name six kids on Guam that can speak Chamorro, but that doesn't mean very much in terms of the language as a whole. To make my points even further, look at the way kids from the CNMI are heading out into the world wide web? They are doing so in English, usually with a tiny bit of Chamorro mixed in, but definitely not as fluent Chamorro speakers. One of the reasons is simply because there aren't any websites out there for kids in Chamorro.

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