Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I'd Rather Be Activating

Sigh, there is so much going on right now, that could possibly dictate the future of Guam in terms of the military buildup. I should be out organizing right now, or working with other like minded people who are either trying to halt, stall or re-negotiate this buildup. I should at least be paying very close attention to what's going on so I can help disseminate the information which the media on Guam is ignoring or which the military doesn't want people to know or think very much about.

Sadly, I am not doing much of that right now, since I have a stack of papers to grade.

Puede ha' ti taiguihi para todu i lina'la'-hu gi kolehu. Puede ha', para bai hu espiha empenu put taimanu sina hu na'dana' maolek i lina'la' i fafana'gue yan i lina'la' activist.

Debi di bei hasso na este i fine'nina na semester giya UOG, yan siempre lumafa'set este gi tiempo.

But regardless, here are some current events in Guam that both myself and all of you should be paying close attention to:

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Team to hear buildup concerns
By Amritha Alladi
Pacific Daily News
October 28, 2009

Culture clash and the availability of resources were two primary concerns expressed by members of local government agencies, nonprofits and the general public on the Guam Compatibility Sustainability Study yesterday.

At a workshop sponsored by the governor's office, members of the governor's Advisory Consulting Team told the public that the study hinges on their voicing of concerns dealing with the compatibility issues caused by the impending military buildup.

"This is your opportunity to provide direction in the development of our roadmap for our children and future generations," Gov. Felix Camacho said. "Your participation at the public workshop is vital."

The compatibility study addresses the public's concern with regard to how to protect existing communities, and provide opportunities for economic development.

The Advisory Consulting Team primarily consists of members from the Matrix Design Group Inc., an interdisciplinary planning and engineering firm specializing in professional engineering consulting for the public and private sectors. The team will hear about issues the public has identified as areas of concern, and will provide a set of recommendations to the military and GovGuam on possible actions to take to ease the transition, the team's project manager and Matrix Design Group Vice President Celeste Werner said.

Dawn Cruz, a residential supervisor at Sanctuary Inc., said members of her nonprofit organization were interested in problems that may arise socially, such as new forms of bullying among youths. Additionally, she wanted to find out how the shift of 8,000 Marines and their families to the island would affect the number of youths that Sanctuary Inc. sees at its shelter.

"Are we going to have a long waiting list?" she asked. "We need to prepare ourselves for the demand."

She added that programs such as those for substance abuse prevention or family counseling may have to be altered to meet the needs of a new group.

Aside from social issues that may arise as a result of cultural differences, Guam residents said that establishing the infrastructure to support the influx of people on the island would be the biggest challenge.

"A lot of the infrastructure is a big problem. Having enough water to provide the number of people living on the island as well as power," Dededo resident Joann Fontenot said. "If we can have all that structured, then, of course, everyone will be living comfortably."

Meanwhile, Tamuning Vice Mayor Louise Rivera added that land use is of concern to her because she has seen several projects approved by the Land Use Commission, but very few that have been enforced in a timely manner.

The team also explained the process of drafting an environmental impact statement, in preparation for the release of a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) projected for Nov. 20.

The EIS is a detailed study of the potential consequences a federal action -- in this case, the buildup -- might have on people or the environment, and potential alternatives that would avoid or reduce those impacts, the One Guam Web site states. Once the draft is released, the public has 45 days to review it before the final EIS is published in the Federal Register.

But on Friday, Sens. Judy Guthertz and Rory Respicio, in a letter to Maj Gen. David Bice of the U.S. Marine Corps, requested an extension of the time needed for the public to review the draft after its release.

Following U.S. Ambassador John Roos' indication that Washington may give the new Japanese leadership more time to review the U.S.-Japan agreement on the realignment of forces, the two senators said that the people of Guam should similarly be granted an extension to review the EIS.

"Japan has announced that their decision may not be forthcoming until next summer," the letter reads. "From our perspective, the extremely restrictive 45-day review period is simply a matter of bureaucratic convenience, unrelated to the broader public purpose that it should serve, and certainly no longer sensible, based on the extension given to Japan."

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‘Guam can’t expect DoD aid for buildup’
Tuesday, 27 October 2009 04:35
by Therese Hart
Marianas Variety News Staff

(Second of a series)

IT IS a policy of the Department of Defense not to provide funding for any buildup areas in a community, according to Celeste Werner, AICP president of Matrix Design Group, which is part of the governor’s Advisory and Consulting Team.

“There are a number of communities that are struggling with the exact same issues that Guam is experiencing as far as not having the funds to provide or get ready for the buildup,” Werner told Variety.

These communities, she added, are doing exactly what the government of Guam is trying to do, which is identify requirements.

“Identify them even though they don’t know what the real mission is because it’s changing. The draft environmental impact study is not out yet. They’re pulling their information together and in most cases, they’re in the same position,” said Werner.

While the consulting group can only provide input to the military, Werner foresees issues that need to be negotiated. “The military can say these are our projections and it may not be the same as ours, so there may be issues that need to be negotiated out,” she said.

Japan’s money

Werner noted that the funding that the government of Japan is providing is earmarked just for military construction projects.

“GovGuam has no control over that so we’re just focusing on what GovGuam can provide for revenues. We represent GovGuam. We worry about what GovGuam’s position is and make sure that it is fair and balanced across the board,” she said.

“Our documents will provide a third party objective, technical, professional review and opinion and recommendation that is not just coming from GovGuam. You can use those in plans and then go forward and identify more funds from different federal agencies,” said Werner.

Creative funding

Werner said the rush for federal funds is very competitive.

“Guam isn’t the only one vying for federal dollars for its own buildup. Some communities are being creative about how they are going to fund it,” Weerner said.

Some communities are doing public private partnership. Others are partnering with different nongovernment organizations involved with environmental issues that may have the same mission or goal as Guam in some specific areas that would require some additional funding.

“This is pulling both public and private in a partnering opportunity,” said Werner.

Werner said her group will be able to provide solid factual data with a third party objective and show the justifiable need for whatever Guam needs to meet and sustain the challenges of the buildup.

A series of workshops will be held to address the socio-economic impact of the buildup as well as an orientation of the national environmental policy act process related to the buildup.

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Top U.S. military officer warns Japan against reneging on Futemma plan

Oct 23 09:38 AM US/Eastern

(AP) - TOKYO, Oct. 23 (Kyodo) — Visiting U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen on Friday warned Japan against reneging on a 2006 Japan-U.S. accord concerning the relocation of a U.S. military airfield within Okinawa, saying not honoring the pact would "diminish the security support for Japan."

Navy Adm. Mullen told reporters at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo that he sees the planned transfer of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futemma Air Station in downtown Ginowan to the northern Okinawa city of Nago as "an absolute requirement in terms of whole realignment pieces."

"I don't believe, from the military standpoint, it is possible to provide the kind of security and defense support to Japan and to the region without it," Mullen said, referring to the current bilateral accord on moving the Futemma facility by 2014.

"Moving it (the Futemma base) somewhere else diminishes the security support for Japan and the region," he said.

Mullen's remarks are in line with the tough stance shown earlier this week by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates toward Japan's new government, which has been reviewing the bilateral negotiations leading to the 2006 accord in its attempt to seek more "equal" Japan- U.S. ties.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has said his government will seek to move the heliport functions of the Futemma facility outside Okinawa, or even outside Japan -- a proposal that would contravene the bilateral pact that took years to reach.

Mullen also expressed hope that the Hatoyama Cabinet will reach a conclusion on whether to alter the realignment accord by the time U.S. President Barack Obama visits Japan on Nov. 12 and 13.

The top U.S. uniformed military officer met Friday with Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa and confirmed the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance, according to Japanese government officials.

In their meeting, Okada told Mullen that Tokyo will try to reach a conclusion on the Futemma issue as soon as possible, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Okada also told the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff that Japan has been considering new support measures for Afghanistan, such as vocational training, following the scheduled end in January of the Japan's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean in support of U.S.-led antiterrorism operations in and around the war-torn country.

At the embassy, Mullen cast doubt on the idea of a no-first-use nuclear doctrine advocated by Okada, saying it would "dramatically reduce our flexibility."

He called for careful discussions on the doctrine as the U.S. nuclear deterrence extended to Japan has been serving well and the matter concerns the security of Japanese people.

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Guam takes $17M, Palau rejects $156M .
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 00:51
by Mar-Vic Cagurangan and Bernadette Carreon Variety News Staff/Palau Horizon

GUAM has received $16.8 million in Compact Impact grant, accounting for over 50 percent of the $30 million allocation for U.S. jurisdictions affected by Micronesian migration, Washington officials announced yesterday.

Hawaii has received an additional $11.2 million, while the Compact Impact grant payments for the CNMI and American Samoa are still pending, according to a press release from the Department of Interior.

According to DOI assistant secretary for insular areas Tony Babauta and Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo the funds are allocated based on a formula derived from the latest enumeration of Compact migrants, which is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Although Guam has been receiving the lion’s share of the annual Compact grant, local officials insist that the territory should be getting way more than what it receives each year.

Sen. Frank Blas maintains that the U.S. owes Guam about $400 million for services provides to Compact migrants since 2003.

But just the same, Bordallo sees the grant as a welcome treat for Guam. “These funds may be used for education, healthcare and social services for FAS citizens,” she said.

U.S. jurisdictions stand to receive Compact grants until 2023 to aid them in defraying costs incurred as a result of increased demands placed on health, educational, social, or public sector services, or infrastructure related to such services, due to the residence of qualified non-immigrants from the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or Palau.

But while Guam is happy to take what it can get, Palau is not.

Palau has turned down the United States’offer of $156 million in direct economic assistance to its former trust territory, which celebrated its 15th Independence Day last month.

The amount is “nothing more than an arbitrary determination made without due consideration of the facts of the ground here with respect to the funding Palau needs to continue to thrive,” according to the island nation’s chief Compact representative Joshua Koshiba.

“We will not agree to accept a package that we do not believe is responsive to the requirements of the review, is adequate and in our best interest,” Koshiba stated in a letter to Alcy Frelick, director of the U.S. State Department’s Office of Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Islands Affairs.

The United States’ annual financial assistance to Palau ended last Sept. 30, but the U.S. promised to extend it for a year while the two nations review their Compact’s funding provisions.

Koshiba said Palau will not be pressured by a timetable set by U.S. which wanted the review concluded during the Oct. 19 meeting, which he called a “charade.”

He said the U.S. team did not consider the financial analysis presented by Palau.

The U.S. offered a financial package of $178.5 million but this included over $22 million to support the U.S. Postal Service for Palau and the two other

Freely Associated States — the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Palau wants the U.S. to continue the level of financial assistance originally set by their Compact — at least $15 million in direct assistance, which amounts to $225 million for the next 15 years.

Koshiba said the U.S. proposal minus the postal service money will total $156 million.

This, he added, is inadequate and will reduce the per capita income of Palau by 23 percent in the next six years and 14 percent in the next 15 years.

The proposal, he said, will also mean a 26.4 percent cut in Palau’s budget — or 12.9 percent of the island nation’s gross domestic product.

Moreover, he added, this will mean that Palau’s Trust Fund will be depleted by 2028, well before the 50th anniversary of the Compact in 2044.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Kellogg, Brown and Rape

I posted last week about Al Franken's first amendment that has passed in the US Senate. Named the "Jamie Leigh Jones Amendment" it was meant to keep Federal military contracts away from corporations who force their employees to sign secret arbitration contracts, which prevent them from taking to court anyone who sexually harasses or sexually assaults them, and furthermore prevents them from even suing their companies (should they find this foreclosing of justice a bit unfair). The amendment is named for a woman who had a horrifying experience while working for a military contractor in Iraq. Here is the short version of her story according to Senator Franken's office:

When Jamie was 19, she was working for then Halliburton subsidiary KBR in Iraq, where she was placed in a barracks with 400 men. She complained about sexual harassment, but KBR took no action and she was eventually drugged and gang-raped by co-workers. When she tried to report what had happened, KBR locked her in a shipping container under armed guard. One of her guards smuggled her a cell phone, which she used to call her dad. Her dad and her Congressman got her back to the States. Once Jamie was back with her family, she discovered that the fine print in her contract with KBR prevented her from taking her case to court. Since then, she's been telling and retelling her story around the country, fighting on behalf of victims of sexual violence.
The amendment passed 68-30, with nearly all Republicans voting against it. When I posted this last week it seemed like a nice victory for Democrats, especially since they haven't accomplished much since coming into power first in 2007 and then again in 2009. But now, there seems to be a good chance that a leading Democrat in the Senate, Hawai'i Senator Daniel Inouye is going to either water down the amendment or take it out completely. Apparently in recent weeks, the Senator's office has been a camping ground for defense industry lobbyists, who are determined to get this ammendment killed. According to a Huffington Post article that I've pasted below the pressure is building and it is very likely that he will cave into it somehow.

From what I know of Inouye, it seems strange that the defense industry would have to apply so much pressure on him, when he is one of their most ardent supporters and one of their most favored politicians. His relationship is so intimate with the military industrial complex, I would think that all they would have to do is wink and he would nod back, and the whole thing would be taken care of.

The Democrats are of course, out of the two mainstream choices, the political party for the left or for progressives. Although they may make heroes out of some Democrats, or feel that they are right there with them on certain economic or social issues, in terms of peace and military, all politicians, especially those that have been around for a while and have alot of power, tend to take the same position on the military and war. Inouye is a clear example of this, although, he goes a step further and is ready to intervene in order to protect corporate members of the military industrial complex.

I've also included below, the transcript of a segment from the Rachel Maddow show on the Jamie Leigh Jones Amendment.

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MADDOW: One specific vote on one specific part of the giant legislation that funds the Defense Department is turning into a real political problem for 30 Republican senators.

In Idaho, the "Lewiston Morning Tribune" called out its two senators in an editorial titled, "Senators Crapo and Risch Cast an Inexplicable Vote."

In Mississippi, "The Clarion Ledger" editorialized, quote, "Senators Cochran and Wicker voted to protect corporations, not victims, and they should own up to that."

An opinion piece in the "Osawatomie Graphic" was titled simply, "Kansas Senators are Disappointing." In Tennessee, a "Crossville Chronicle" writers asked, "Whose Side are Our Senators On?"

The "Athens Banner Herald" in Georgia headlined a letter quote, "Georgia Senators Embarrass State." And in Louisiana, a "Shreveport Times" writer asks, quote, "What exactly is Sen. David Vitter problem with women."

When Republicans are getting called out in Mississippi, Kansas, Louisiana, Tennessee and Georgia, something big is going on politically. This all began when 30 Senate Republicans voted against an amendment by Democratic Senator Al Franken of Minnesota.

The amendment said that the government shouldn't give defense contracts to companies if those companies prevent their employees who have been raped or discriminated against from suing in court.

Franken's amendment passed, but 30 male Republican senators voted no on it. Now, much of the outraged response to that vote across the country is due to the fact that this legislation was prompted by a horrible real-life case, the case of Jamie Leigh Jones.

She was a 20-year-old female contractor at Halliburton subsidiary, KBR when she says she was drugged and gang raped by her co-workers and locked in a shipping container. Because of her employment contract, Ms. Jones was not allowed to sue. She still hasn't had her day in court.

I want you to know that we called every single one of the 30 Republican senators who voted no on this. Not one of them agreed to come on the show to talk about why they voted the way they did. Senators, I want you to know, the invitation remains open.

Joining us now is Jamie Leigh Jones and her attorney Todd Kelly. Thanks very much to both of you for coming on the show tonight. I really appreciate it.

JAMIE LEIGH JONES, FORMER KBR HALLIBURTON EMPLOYEE: Thanks for inviting us.

TODD KELLY, JAMIE LEIGH JONES' ATTORNEY: We appreciate that.

MADDOW: Jamie Leigh, four years ago, you were drugged and raped for working as a contractor in Iraq that led to, not only this legislation, but to the outrage over the people who voted against this legislation. Can you tell us briefly what happened?

J. JONES: OK. Well, I went to Iraq to serve my country during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Four days upon my arrival there, I was brutally and sexually assaulted and drugged.

And when I reported my assault to Halliburton KBR, they essentially imprisoned me in a container. And I was held captive by armed guard, by guards that were called gurkhas. And they are guards that have machine guns and everything else and they're hired by KBR.

And after pleading with one of the guards, he did let me contact my father, who contacted Congressman Ted Poe. And Congressman Poe dispatched a rescue mission to get me out of there.

MADDOW: Now, I understand you were not allowed to sue, to see that anybody was held responsible for what happened to you.

J. JONES: Right.

MADDOW: Is that because of the contract that you signed when you signed up with Halliburton?

J. JONES: Yes, exactly.

MADDOW: How would you describe Halliburton's role overall in responding to what happened to you? We know how you just described what happened immediately after the incident happened. But what's happened since?

J. JONES: Do you want to comment on that?

KELLY: Well, if you're asking what happened from a legal standpoint, Halliburton has made every effort to force Jamie into secret binding arbitration. If you're asking from a sense of how they have helped Jamie, obviously, she'd be in a better situation to answer that question than I would, but I would say not very much.

J. JONES: Yes. They have tried to completely keep this under arbitration because then, it would be quiet and secret and binding. Then I would not be able to be sitting here in front of you today to tell my story, which I think is very crucial for other wives, mothers and daughters that want to go and serve their country by working for a contractor.

So, you know, essentially, I think that corporations should never be above going in front of a trial by jury. And so this Franken amendment would prevent that from happening.

MADDOW: The amendment, obviously, passed and I think that we're all watching to see what happens whether it ultimately becomes law.

J. JONES: Right.

MADDOW: The Defense Department has expressed concerns about whether or not it would be enforceable, although they say that they agree with the overall intent of it. We don't know what's going to happen next.

J. JONES: Right.

MADDOW: But I have to ask your reaction to those 30 no votes. Three out of four Republican senators voted against this amendment. How did you feel about that?

J. JONES: Well, I think that is really unfortunate. I wouldn't - I cannot even understand the reasoning as to why anyone would vote against it. I am very happy about the votes that we did get for it.

I'm thrilled it's gotten as far as it has gotten. Hopefully, the 30 senators will have a change of heart during a conference because maybe if they tried to understand how they would feel if their daughter or wife or somebody was in my position, how they would feel if it was to go in front of an arbitrator. Hopefully, they'll change their position on it, so -

MADDOW: Jamie Leigh, either you or Todd - I was struck by the argument from Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama. He's one of the people who voted against it and he argued against it.

J. JONES: Yes.

MADDOW: And he said this is just a political shot at Halliburton. This is just Democrats taking a shot at a politically unpopular company. Can I ask you to respond to that?

KELLY: Absolutely. It's not that. In fact, if this amendment had been in place when Jamie went to Iraq, her rape most likely never would have happened. What needed to happen is that companies like Halliburton need to have rules in place that forced their employees to obey those rules that needed to have oversight.

And they're only going to implement such things if their actions are exposed to the light of day. And what happened in the case of Jamie is, for years prior to her arrival there, the environment was allowed to grow and to fester.

And these people, because of the arbitration provision, were never punished. Their actions were disposed of secretly in binding arbitration that couldn't be appealed, even when the arbitrators blatantly disregarded the law.

So they created this environment that they then threw Jamie into. And the rape occurred as a natural and foreseeable consequence of that action. This has nothing to do with politics. This has to do with doing the right thing by our young American women and girls that are trying to support this country like Jamie.

MADDOW: Jamie Leigh Jones and her attorney Todd Kelly, thank for telling this story publicly and fighting for this.

J. JONES: Thank you.

MADDOW: And thank you for coming on the show tonight. I really appreciate it.

KELLY: Thank you for having us.

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Sen. Inouye may strip anti-rape amendment from defense bill
October 22, 2009 by kyle
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/22/frankens-anti-rape-amendm_n_329896.html

Franken’s Anti-Rape Amendment May Be Stripped By Senior Dem, Sources Say
By Sam Stein, stein@huffingtonpost.com

First Posted: 10-22-09 10:40 AM Updated: 10-22-09 12:35 PM

An amendment that would prevent the government from working with contractors who denied victims of assault the right to bring their case to court is in danger of being watered down or stripped entirely from a larger defense appropriations bill.

Multiple sources have told the Huffington Post that Sen. Dan Inouye, a longtime Democrat from Hawaii, is considering removing or altering the provision, which was offered by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and passed by the Senate several weeks ago.

Inouye’s office, sources say, has been lobbied by defense contractors adamant that the language of the Franken amendment would leave them overly exposed to lawsuits and at constant risk of having contracts dry up. The Senate is considering taking out a provision known as the Title VII claim, which (if removed) would allow victims of assault or rape to bring suit against the individual perpetrator but not the contractor who employed him or her.

“The defense contractors have been storming his office,” said a source with knowledge of the situation. “Inouye either will get the amendment taken out altogether, or water it down significantly. If they water it down, they will take out the Title VII claims. This means that in discrimination cases, they will still force you into a secret forced arbitration on KBR’s (or other contractors’) own terms — with your chances of prevailing practically zero. The House seems to be very supportive of the original Franken amendment and all in line, but their hands are tied since it originated in the Senate. And since Inouye runs the show on this bill, he can easily take it out to get Republicans and the defense contractors off his back, which looks increasingly likely.”

A Democratic aide on the Hill, also with knowledge of the situation, confirmed the account, as did a source who works on defense contracting matters outside of Congress. “The contractors are putting on a full-court press on this amendment… they are all doing it,” said the latter source.

A spokesman for the Senate Committee on Appropriations said that “the committee does not comment on ongoing conference negotiations.” But another source with knowledge of the situation stressed that it was premature to say that any decision has been made. Indeed, even the Hill source said that the situation is fluid and could change before the bill is sent out of committee — likely in the next few days.

The decision on what to do with Franken’s amendment is being made in conference committee with the House of Representatives, which severely limits the number of lawmakers who can weigh in on the matter.

The second-longest-serving member of the United States Senate, Inouye is a veteran of WWII. The chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, he has received $294,900 in donations from the defense and aerospace industries over the course of his career, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Franken’s amendment passed the Senate on October 21, 2009 by a voting margin of 68 to 30. The 30 Republicans who opposed the provision were widely pilloried in the press. But they were actually joined in some of their concerns by the Obama administration’s Department of Defense, which worried that “enforcement would be problematic, especially in cases where privity of contract does not exist between parties within the supply chain that supports a contract.”

The White House, for its part, told HuffPost it supports the intent of the amendment and it is “working with the conferees to make sure that it is enforceable,” said spokesman Tommy Vietor.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I'll Be Sitting at the Transitional Table this Weekend

I didn't even realize it, but my name was mentioned in both The Marianas Variety and The Pacific Daily News this week. This Saturday, October 24th from 1 - 3 pm, my grandfather, Tun Jack Lujan and myself will be presenting on the history of Chamorro blacksmithing and traditional tools, at the T. Stell Newman Center outside of Big Navy. Our presentation is part of the exhibit Transitional Table: Guam's Shifting Food Traditions During and After World War II. The exhibit opened at the museum on October 13th and will remain open until November 21st. As I wrote about earlier on this blog, I helped with the researching and the writing of this exhibit, and I'm very pleased with how it turned out.

In his presentation, grandpa will talk about his experiences growing up and being taught to be a blacksmith by his father Tun Marianao L.G. Lujan, and also his experiences blacksmithing during World War II, and how him and his father helped provide necessary tools for Chamorro farmers who were forced to provide crops and food for the occupying Japanese troops. As part of his presentation he will display several tools made before and during World War II.

For my part I will be talking about the history of Chamorro tools, and transitions that Chamorros made from once using cheggai, hayu and to'lang for their tools, to the incorporating lulok or metal, thus creating the array of tools that Chamorro farmers and gardeners use today. Since, I'm learning about blacksmithing now from grandpa, I'm sure I'll also discuss issues of legacy and what sort of plans we have for ensuring that this art doesn't die when grandpa stops working on it.

Annai humanao yu' para i gima' grandma yan grandpa pa'go, ilek-na Si grandma na hu sodda' yu' dos biahi gi i gasetan este simana. Ha fa'nu'i yu' i dos gaseta, ya pues hu espiha siha gi i internet. Ma post i dos guini pappa'.

If you have time on Saturday afternoon, and are interested in seeing more and learning more about Herroron Chamoru, i lina'l'a-niha yan i fina'tinas-niha, or in other words Chamorro blacksmiths, their lives and their works, please come down and join us. There is no admission fee, pues ti sina un fa'dagi na taya' salape-mu.


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From the October 21, 2009 Pacific Daily News:

Guam’s food history: Learn about the island’s shifting food traditions at ‘Transitional Table’
By Amritha Alladi

Spam wasn’t always a staple of the Chamorro diet. It was introduced to the island after World War II.

Guam residents can follow the island’s dietary changes through the second leg of the Guam tour of the Smithsonian Institution’s “Key Ingredients: America by Food,” exhibition.

“Transitional Table,” which explores how food traditions changed on the island during and after the Second World War, is now on display at the War in the Pacific National Historical Park in Asan.

The exhibition will consist of 70 historical photos depicting daily life and food traditions pre-war, during Japanese occupation and post-war, according to Monaeka Flores, coordinator of administration, marketing and programs for the Guam Humanities Council.

She says many of the native food traditions were revived because there were no imports coming in at that time.

“A lot of the older methods were revived. Farming and fishing became more important during the occupation,” she says.

However, immediately following the war, Guam was introduced to C- and K-rations including spam, which has become a huge part of the local diet today, she says. Thus, a presentation on Nov. 18 by University of Guam’s nutrition professor, Rachel Leon Guerrero, will address health issues caused by those dietary changes.

A collection of tools made by Chamorro blacksmith Jack Lujan on Oct. 24 will showcase the old tools used for farming at that time, of which the machete and fosiños gardening hoe were the most commonly used, according to Lujan’s grandson, Michael Lujan Bevacqua.

“Most Chamorros were forced to work on municipal farms,” Bevacqua says. “They were pushed to continue to make tools that were needed by the Japanese.”

Other presentations scheduled for Nov. 7 and Nov. 14 will include former military chefs and stewards who will share their stories of how they started off as mess hall attendees and worked their way to cook for former presidents and secretaries of defense. They include the late Adrian Sanchez, who cooked for Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, and Emanuel Diaz who was a surviving Chamorro steward on one of the ships during the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Flores says.

“He (Diaz) came home and brought back the skills for huge fiesta planning and shared a lot of his skills with the community,” Flores says. “These gentlemen faced a regular system of discrimination, overcame a lot of the obstacles doing jobs they really didn’t want to do, and a lot of them really exceeded expectations.” It was similar to the discrimination African-Americans faced in the mainland, she says.

“Key Ingredients” explores the evolution of American food and how eating habits and celebrations have become a veritable melting pot to incorporate the flavors and traditions of the country’s many inhabitants.

The traveling exhibition is designed to serve rural, under-privileged communities by setting up at local venues and partnering with community organizations.

The Smithsonian Traveling exhibition will next be stationed at the Guam Community College after Nov. 21.

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Spam and the genesis of Guam diet .
Monday, 12 October 2009 23:13 by Zita Y. Taitano
Marianas Varietey News Staff

Ever wonder how Spam became a popular food item for Guam? You will get the history behind Spam’s popularity, among others, at an exhibit that tells about Guam’s shifting food traditions tonight at the National Parks Service T. Stell Newman Visitor Center in Sumay.

The exhibit is the second part of the Smithsonian Institution’s “Key Ingredients – American by Food” tour, featuring a local view called Transitional Table, which focuses on how the types of dishes on Guam have changed during and after World War II.

The first leg of the tour featured the “Rice Festival” and was sponsored by the Guam Women’s Club. This particular event showcased the different uses of rice from various countries.

Dr. Kimberlee Kihleng, GHC executive director, said the new component of the food festival takes a look at how food on Guam has been altered after the war and how Spam, corned beef and navy biscuits became part of the local diet.

“Of course, we’re looking at the bigger picture about the American influence, American colonialism and how that has changed the diet after World War II and looking at new things that have come about because of that,” Kihleng said.

The project took about two months to put together, said Monaeka Flores, GHC administration coordinator. Local artist Michael Lujan Bevacqua, who is also a humanities scholar, helped in the preparations for the project.

Flores said they did research, photo archived, and even interviewed survivors of WWII. They were also able to pull stories from the council’s documentary production of “Families under siege”.

“When people tell stories on Guam, food is like a central part of story telling in itself. People would often recall an event with the kind of foods they ate, what they had to do for food, so almost every recollection of World War II experience has a reference to food,” she said.

The six-week exhibit also includes a series of programs and lectures by scholars, chefs and cultural food experts on food traditions. There will be photo displays in addition to artifacts from the era, as well as story-telling by manamko, who will talk about what foods they ate in order to survive the war and how they were prepared.

The event opening begins at 6 p.m. The exhibit, which will continue on through Nov. 21, is hosted by the Guam Humanities Council, in partnership with the War in the Pacific National Historical Park and the Arizona Memorial Museum Association.


Program Event Schedule:
10/17 – Curator’s Corner: WWII Saki Cups and Tokai Maru ceramic ware - 1 to 3 p.m.
10/21 – Curator’s Exhibit Tour – 6 p.m.
10/24 – Families Under Siege Part I with Jack Lujan and Michael Lujan Bevacqua – 1 to 3 p.m.
10/28 – Families Under Siege Part II with Toni Ramirez and panelists – 6 p.m.
10/31 – Curator’s Corner – Canteens – 1 to 3 p.m. (Also includes Living Through Invasion – Through the eyes of a 5-year-old presented by Mariana Gabriel and U’zeum Children’s Discovery Museum)
11/4 – Families Under Siege Part III with Rita Franquez and panelists – 6 p.m.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Judith Butler on the UC system

Hafa hinassosso-mu put Si Judith Butler yan i che'cho'-na?

Annai hu tuthuhun i lina'la'-hu gi eskuelan Grad, guaha nai ti komprendeyon i tinige'-na siha, pi'ot put "gender" yan "sex." Estaba kalang taya' sensia-ku put asunton "gender yan sexuality" pues ti hu hulat gumacha i tinige'-na Si. Ma gof dingu i chi-na siha i hinasso-ku.

Lao ti apmam, mana'payon yu' gi i hinasso-na siha. Dumidide' dumidide' hu tumutuhun kumomprende hafa kumekeilek-na, ya pues humuyongna na hu gof agradesi taimanu ha puga' asunto siha put hemplo gender, sex yan i tahtaotao.

Lao para i mannatibu na feminists siha, fihu ma sangan na Si Butler gof conservative, pat gof liberal. Ha sangan na apa'ka na palao'an gui' ya pues todu tiempo manunuge' gui ginnen ayu na estao. Ti sina ha dingu i estao-na, pues achokka' gof "radical" i tininge'-na siha gi este na banda, gof otdinario gi i otro banda. Gi iyo-ku dissertation, hu usa un tinige'-na Si Andrea Smith, ya ha tacha Si Butler put iyo-na conservative na hinasso siha put i Estados Unidos. Lumatakhilo' Si Butler gi entre i linahayan liberal pat progressive, put i sinangan-na kontra i isaon Bush yan i mangga'chong-na kontra i lai Amerikanu yan i Constitution Amerikanu.

Para Si Butler, estague i dinaffe' Si Butler. Achokka' gof radical gui' put kosas sex yan gender, ti ha chachanda i nasion-na yan i estoria put taimanu mana'fanhuyong i nasion-na. Mafa'tinas i Nasion Amerikanu ginnen i te'lang yan i taila'la' na tahtaotao i Natibu Amerikanu siha. Ma na'suha, ma pugao, ma puno' i Natibuh siha, ya humuyongna i Estados Unidos! Ilelek-na Si Smith, yanggen malago hao tumacha i Gubetnamento Amerikanu pat i nasion-na, ti debi di un akesept na i tinituhun-na Amerika, i Constitution-na. Debi di un tutuhun i tinacha-mu gi i mapuno' yan i mapugao i Natibu siha giya Amerika. Yanggen un tutuhun i estoria-mu gi i mafitman i Constitution, kumekeilek-na na i estorian i Estado Unidos, put menhallom, pas, demokrasia. Ya gi este, un fa'sahnge yan fa'exceptional i sinisedin i Natibu siha. Un puni na mismo i baba matratan-niha ni' muna'posible i Amerikanun Pa'go na momento.

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Save California's Universities
by Judith Butler
Guardian UK
October 4, 2009

It may seem that the thousands of people who converged on the University of California Berkeley's famous Sproul Plaza, home of the free speech movement, on 24 September were simply upset about money. Where has all the money gone? Who has taken it away?And perhaps there is no one to blame.

The University of California finds itself with a shortfall of $1.15bn for the next two years, the result of an $813m cut in state funding and another $225m increase in costs for student enrolment. Everyone knows that the state government is dysfunctional, that public funding decreased by 40% between 1990 and 2005 and that this year alone brought another 20% reduction, accelerating the abandonment of the premiere public university by a California legislature fully paralysed by minority rule (a two-thirds majority is required for sealing any budgetary deal) and Proposition 13 (the 1978 ban on increasing property taxes that strangleholds any attempt to increase revenues for public services).

It would seem like UC faces the same situation as other public services and institutions: layoffs, cutbacks, decreased services and the prospect of a seriously compromised education for undergraduates and graduates alike. So what's the problem?

Mid-summer, when no one was around, UC president Mark Yudof invoked "emergency powers" to implement furloughs on staff and faculty, and sent word to campuses that drastic cuts had to be made in operating expenses. Claiming that the UC system has no funds from which to draw in such dire moments, Yudof devised a plan, which includes a graduated salary reduction programme for staff and faculty.

One might have expected faculty and staff to understand the dire circumstances that led to these lamentable cuts. But it became clear that certain cuts actually devastated some programmes, while others absorbed the setback with ready reserves. The administration did not wait to reach a settlement with the unions. The faculty briefly canvassed were certainly not party to the decision.

As a result, the bad news that deans handed down at the beginning of the semester eliminated 2,000 positions, gutted programmes that train high school teachers in science education, closed courses in East Asian languages and advanced Arabic, overburdened classrooms, shut students out of their majors, let scores of lecturers go and closed the university library on Saturday. In addition, the administration demanded of students tuition and fee increases of nearly 40%, imperilling the very notion of an affordable public university and forcing many students to leave the university or scramble for full-time jobs.

Yudof's attempts to explain himself have only helped solidify a sense of outrage on the part of faculty, staff, students and the wider public. The result is a profound and growing scepticism about Yudof's ability to advocate for the future of the public university.

Those of us who were trying to develop a balanced critique of both the paralysis of the state economy and the questionable governance by UC administrators were incredulous when Yudof gave an interview to the New York Times Magazine in which he bragged about his own $800,000 salary, shamelessly displayed his anti-intellectualism, described his entry into the field of education as "an accident" and complained that he tries to speak to faculty and staff about the budget, but it is "speaking to the dead".

Suddenly, the problem was not only fiscal – "we don't have the money" – but a more profound loss of confidence in the mode of governance and the figure of authority entrusted with making the case for public education to the state and federal government during these hard times.

Faculty, staff and students are collectively outraged that the university has failed to make public and transparent what the cuts have been and will be, and by what criteria and set of priorities such cuts are made. Rage also centres on the devastation of "shared governance" – the policy that faculty must be part of any decision-making that affects the academic programmes and direction of the university. In its place, a "commission" was appointed by the administration with paltry representation by faculty. Emphatically missing are those in the arts and humanities.

No answers are forthcoming to a set of burning questions: Why in this age of slash and burn has the UC administration bloated by 283%, as their own public financial reports make plain? And why does the university spend $10m a year on inter-collegiate athletics and over $123m on a new athletic centre?

During a time of corrosive neo-liberalism and rising doubts about education and the arts as public goods worthy of state support, the administration ducks and hides – when it is not boasting about its own stupidity, failing to take up the task of making its decision-making process transparent, refusing to honour the mandate to bring in the faculty to share in establishing priorities and weakening the safeguards against a rampant privatisation of this public good that will undercut the university's core commitment to offer an education both excellent and affordable.

Many sceptics murmured that the call for a walk out and teach in on 24 September would come to nothing. So when over 5,000 students, staff and faculty crowded the open common of Berkeley alone (and several thousand more on the other 10 campuses), every major national and international media outlet took stock.

The vocal and theatrical demands of the demonstrators were not, as governor Arnold Schwarzenegger quipped, just noise coming from another "screaming" interest group. On the contrary, a rare solidarity among unions, students and faculty sought to "save the university", and their cry clearly struck a chord across a broad political spectrum. Robert Reich, former US secretary of labour, joined other faculty for a pointed speak-out the night before. Faculty and students clustered into an array of groups, pursuing strategies from mainstream lobbying to anarchist display. The administration was clearly shaken, and subtle hints of division among administrators could be detected. Some congratulated the demonstrators, and others hissed.

My wager is that the walls of the university will shake again – and again – until the message is received: This fiscal crisis is also a crisis in governance. The administration needs to make their books transparent, re-engage shared governance and set their priorities right so that the US can continue to claim a public institution of higher learning where a student does not require loads of money to receive a superlative education.

This is the promise that we see dying at this moment, and the very thought sends us into the streets en masse.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

We Are Always Stronger Than We Think...But Not Always As Strong as We Think

Two years ago, the United Nations, after more than 20 years of debating, at long last passed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Depending on your particular circumstances as an indigenous person, and what existing "sovereign" nation-state claims your land or your destiny, this was either a hopeful sign or a twisted and sad spectacle.

For me personally, the adoption of the Declaration came at the perfect moment. I was in New York the following month testifying before the United Nations about the current situation on Guam. When I got there a few days prior to testifying, I wandered around the streets of New York trying to figure out what to say. I wanted to come up with something that others from Guam wouldn't cover or address, but which I could also speak to with very little reading up or research. In other words, something interesting and unique, that could be written in a few hours.
The Declaration seemed like the perfect point to address. Chamorros on Guam are considered to be indigenous in some cases, in others not so much. From the UN's perspective, the presence of Guam there has nothing to do with the fact that they are indigenous people there seeking self-determination, but rather that they are from a non-self-governing territory. In fact, many would argue that both nationally and internationally, if we make the argument that Chamorros have a right to self-determination as an indigenous people, we weaken ourselves.

Para Guahu, I think that it would be hard to weaken Guam's position politically in the world today and that much of the crafting and strategizing of message to the international and national world is far more hype than anything else. I understand the point however, and that there are certain moments, in certain settings, such as a court case, where that type of crafting is essential and must be deliberate, but I am always one in favor of never assuming that we have more power than we really have. I agree with the finayi of Maga'lahi Hurao that we are stronger than we think or manmetgotna hit kinu ta hongge, but that doesn't mean ever overestimating yourself or your impact. Such overconfidence or overbelief is the enemy of strategy or even careful planning or clear vision. It leads you to make the same mistakes and same choices, and to miss your real points of strength. There are always a multitude of things that can be done or have to be done in order to effect change, but there are also always decisions to be made, and that tends to be where you effectiveness lies. How well you can determine which avenue is the best to pursue, and the most important in making possible the large picture goals you have. In that struggle, something like the UN and testifying there, plays a small role. An important one, but while the aura of it, the chance to speak to the world can be enthralling, its very critical not to overstate it, and not to pretend or imagine for a moment that it does more than it appears to.

So, depending on how you frame it, the Declaration for Chamorros could be important or irrelevant in and of itself. When you start to look at the more practical or concrete applications, considering that the United States voted against it, and that it doesn't have any binding power anyways, its far more irrelevant than anything else. This combined with the fact that Chamorros tend to consider themselves as indigenous people in a multicultural framework, one subordinate to the United States and its rule, then any sort of local relevance of this Declaration quickly evaporates. If this meant more, then it would be something that we would be celebrating annually each year, or that children would be learning about in school, but instead it is a snippet of trivia that activists pass around in emails.

Despite, this limited impact, I nonetheless found it helpful in making my testimony, and also in the writing of my dissertation. When I was trying to address the concept of sovereignty, from the position of Guam, an exceptional, insignificant site, which at one moment signifies very little and then the next, the ability for a country to dominate half the world, I found this Declaration and the refusal of several white settler states to adopt it, helpful. When I saw the US, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, all benevolent, supposedly liberal democratic states, choosing the vote against the largely symbolic Declaration, it helped me connect the ways in which these sorts of symbols can be far more dangerous than they appear. It helped me get at the delicacies of the origin stories, or the mythological tales that nation-states, especially those born out of violent, settler colonialism have to protect in order to banish their ghosts, which usually come out in the form of indigenous people and their claims to self-determination or decolonization.

This year, I prepared testimony again for the United Nations, but unfortunately wasn't able to fly out to speak before the Fourth Committee. I'm considering repasting my testimony on my blog sometime soon. In the meantime however, I thought it appropriate to paste the article below recognizing the second anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People:

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Statement On The Occasion Of The Second Anniversary Of The Adoption Of The Declaration On The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples
By Les Malezer
From the website Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources
Former Chairperson of the Global Indigenous Peoples Caucus on the Declaration

AFFIRMING HUMAN RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

Exactly two years ago, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, we held our breaths as the inter governmental global authority considered the ballot to extricate 500 years of global prejudice against Indigenous populations.

As the votes were cast, the large and diverse observer delegations of Indigenous Peoples searched the voting screen in the hope that the time to celebrate had finally arrived.

It had.

One hundred and forty-four (144) governments realised the need to set in place a definitive international standard to protect the human rights of Indigenous Peoples, and a paltry four (4) governments remained fixed to recalcitrant political opposition.

By embracing the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples the United Nations issued unambiguous confirmation that Indigenous Peoples are collective, structured civilisations, entitled to the same human rights that all other peoples enjoy.

This simple but highly significant development in human rights, to concede the existence of Indigenous Peoples, and to confirm our human identity, ultimately will have a sweeping effect on the application of human rights law.

At the global level, it is as significant as the condemnation of slavery, as heralded by the Slavery Abolition Act in Britain in 1833.

Three countries – USA, New Zealand and Canada – remain opposed today to the Declaration.

Australia issued a strong statement of support for the Declaration on 3 April 2009, reversing its negative vote from two years ago.

New Zealand is on the verge of accepting the Declaration and public discussions are keeping the pressure upon the government to revise its opposition.

But as New Zealand grapples with the politics of supporting the Declaration, the persistent voices of opposition to Indigenous rights continue to cast hoary concerns within the New Zealand society.

‘Maori are not Indigenous Peoples.’ ‘The Declaration winds back progress in the country.’ ‘Maori will kick us out of New Zealand.’

Many of us recognise such miserable sentiments from the decades of extensive debate during the drafting stages of the Declaration.

A few years ago these viewpoints were very threatening and upsetting for us as we reasoned that human rights applied equally to Indigenous Peoples.

Now, following the strong support at the international level for equality and justice, these sentiments are not only redundant, regressive sentiments, they are droll.

In reality New Zealand has every reason to be proud of the Maori and to embrace the Declaration.

It is hard to conjure thoughts or recognition of New Zealand without leaning towards strong imagery of Maori identity and presence.

New Zealand is, so far as I know, the only nation in the world where the national anthem is sung in the Indigenous language, and if you do not know of the haka as a mode of New Zealand cultural reception then you do not know New Zealand at all.

Throughout the world we are waiting for USA, New Zealand and Canada to emerge from their ignobal dark stance rooted in empire dogma.

Time marches on and the Declaration is increasingly being used as the ethical gauge for Indigenous issues.

However, two years on, we are also witnessing the negative reactions following the attainment of a standard on the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous Peoples are being targeted by political groups who now feel the weight of tolerance and equality against their position of power and control.

Political insurgents are resorting to physical intimidations including killings to defy the Indigenous Peoples and their rights to their territories and resources.

In Latin America, particularly, there are recent cases of violent threats being made against Indigenous Peoples and their rightful place in the political life of the State.

In Columbia and Peru, we lament the recent murders of Indigenous leaders and the bullying of the Indigenous Peoples, victimised because they now claim, with the authority of the international voice for justice, the same rights as all other peoples.

In such countries, the government and the people must come to terms with the real meaning of the Declaration and the historical change represented by 13 September 2007.

In Peru and Columbia, as lives are lost and freedoms are threatened, we must believe that it is the ‘Wind of Change’ that blows around the world and that justice and strength for Indigenous Peoples are the only acceptable outcomes.

During the past year we have seen the spirit of the Declaration escalate in the workings of the United Nations.

The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, taking up the challenge of Article 42 of the Declaration, has now provided a assessment on legal standing of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and focussed the attention of governments, jurists and Indigenous representatives on the obligations that exist in international law to promote and protect those rights.

The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has requested the Human Rights Council to ‘pay particular attention’ to the protection of Indigenous rights in its regular sessions, as well as to ensure the Universal Periodic Review procedures and examination of the periodic reports by the treaty bodies are adequately focussed upon Indigenous Peoples situations.

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous People has given notice of his intention to emphasise the significance of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and exhorted the successful implementation by States through ‘good faith engagement of indigenous peoples with States and the broader political and societal structures’.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights has stressed that eliminating discrimination is a duty of the highest order and is giving priority to discrimination-free societies and a world of equal treatment for all. The fundamental principle of non-discrimination is the leading theme of a sustained outreach effort.

The High Commissioner has pointed out in her report to the Human Rights Council that Indigenous Peoples in many countries endure age-old discrimination and exclusion, including land grabs, the suppression of traditional customs, and outright violence.

The Durban Review Conference, held in April 2009, has given clear and unambiguous support to the implementation of the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Outcome Document from the conference welcomed the adoption of the Declaration – a major priority of the Programme of Action from the Durban Conference in 2000 – and urged States to implement the rights.

But the main concern for the implementation of the Declaration lies with the role and responsibilities of States.

Implementation of the Declaration can only really be achieved if States and Indigenous Peoples work in cooperation and partnership to identify the challenges and agree upon the actions to be taken.

However States must accept that historical injustices and unequal treatment cannot remain unaddressed or be forgotten.

The States must be prepared to review their charters, laws and institutions to remove entrenched prejudices.

They must be committed to the restitution of lands and territories or where that cannot be fairly achieved, be prepared for compensation in an acceptable form.

Unquestionably, States must agree, with the consent of Indigenous Peoples, to the establishment of independent, objective and fair procedures and tribunals to resolve conflicts and disputes between States and Indigenous Peoples.

Without these fundamental approaches the situation of Indigenous Peoples may be trapped by the historically-derived disadvantages that they have suffered since colonisation or domination.

Ultimately, it is time for Indigenous Peoples to organise for change, by revising our relationships with the States to find solutions to long-standing problems and by healing any existing divisions within our communities that might impair our capacity to govern for our future well-being.

Two years ago the governments of the world accepted an international standard by which the rights and freedoms of the Indigenous Peoples are now to be adjudicated.

As another year passes we look for progressive change, and it is there.

But after centuries we are also impatient, so we want to do more than just read the Declaration; we want to live it.

So let us concentrate in the year ahead on the elimination of racial discrimination and the implementation of self-determination, and expect that next year our communities have experienced the positive elements of those winds of change.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Indigenous Resources and Asian American Journalists

Being on Guam for the past year, I haven't been traveling around much for conferences. I've participated in plenty on Guam, but haven't had the experience of writing a new academic paper/presentation in a while. Here are two conferences that I'm considering applying for next year.

If anyone is interested in being on a panel let me know.

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Engaging Indigenous Communities Conference: Resources, Rebellions, and Resurgence - Call For Papers

August 9-13, 2010

Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada

This conference is being undertaken in honour of the 1850 Robinson Treaties. The vision of the Anishinabeg leaders to protect our heritage and resources while sharing with the newcomers. It is this vision that remains as relevant today as it was 160 years ago. Contact between different peoples has resulted in a multitude of responses including peaceful interactions, uneasy relations, and far too often to war and genocide. Recognizing the autonomy of nations to determine their futures, including the allocation of resources, or the lack of such recognition, has sometimes been mediated by various types of agreements and treaties. It is through access to, or exploitation of resources (i.e. human, land, forest, mineral, water, and animal), that the colonial project has had the greatest affect on Indigenous peoples and Indigenous peoples on the colonial project. Thus the focus of the conference will be on exploring Indigenous peoples’ perspectives on resources, and the moments in history (and in present day) when Indigenous peoples have fought (peacefully or otherwise) to protect those resources. It is the contemporary resurgence of Indigenous perspectives and understandings or appropriate relationships to resources that we hope informs the conference. The conference will begin on the 9th with registration and at conclude at noon on the 13th of August.

Presentations on the following themes are encouraged with other related proposals welcome


•How do Indigenous communities define ‘resources’?

•How do Indigenous communities regulate/relate/engage with resources?

•How have historical neglect, misrepresentation, misunderstandings affected Indigenous communities’ relationships with their resources?

•How have agreements and/or treaties protected/attempted to protect resources?

•Are treaties valid methods to protect resources?

•How have community-university partnerships advanced Indigenous access to and/or protection of resources?

•How have universities forwarded exploitation of Indigenous people and resources?

•How can a relationship between the larger society and Indigenous people be shaped to benefit the environment?

Individual papers and panel submissions are welcome. Please submit a 250-350 word proposal for individual papers and 250-500 word proposal for panels. Please submit you proposals electronically by email or mail to the address below. The deadline for submissions is 8 January 2010.

Contact Information: For further information please contact
Dr. Karl Hele
c/o Organizing Committee
Engaging Indigenous Communities: Resources, Rebellions, and Resurgence
Department of Community Economic and Social Development
Algoma University
1520 Queen Street East
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Canada P6A 2G4
eicrrr[at]gmail.com

Location : Sault Ste. Marie, ON

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AAJA is already gearing up for its 21st Annual National Convention set to take place from Aug. 4 to 7, 2010 at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa in Los Angeles California. This will be the third AAJA convention to be hosted by the L.A. chapter, the first two being in 1993 and 1987. Los Angeles is the birthplace of AAJA, and the chapter--being among AAJA's largest -- has more than 200 members.

WORKSHOP PROPOSALS NOW BEING ACCEPTED
The theme for the 2010 AAJA National Convention is "Back to the Future." As the media industry works to redefine itself, it is critical for journalists to find out about more issues affecting the industry and various AAPI communities, learn new skills, and broaden their professional networks. Download a 2010 AAJA National Convention proposal form. Only online submissions will be accepted. Please send your ideas with the subject line: "AAJA 2010 Workshop Proposal" to events@aaja.org by December 15, 2009.

Click here for more info

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Yobimizu

Earlier this year in May, I helped organize and participated in an event called Chule' Tatte Guahan or Reclaim Guahan. It took place on May 23rd and was an all day event at Skinner's Plaza, that featured music, art, information and activism. For me personally, it was an important event because it represented the first time that I was working on an event such as this on Guam. I've helped organize big and small conferences or activist events in the states, but never something like this on Guam. For most of the organizers, who became known as "Guahan Youth," they underwent a similar experience.

Some had returned recently from living or going to school in the states. Others had been involved in different grass roots or activist groups locally but never been on the frontline, never the main faces or the main voices, or most importantly those whom the main responsibility would fall upon. I was very involved early on, when the original idea was to try to lobby the Guam Legislature and get them to walkout of session in order to protest Federal interference in Guam's goverance and the military buildup. When this fell apart, our efforts soon evolved into holding some sort of public event, where people could get involved or learn more about issues affecting Guam today, I was still there, although I had to step down a little bitm in order to try and finish my dissertation.

The spirit of the event was just as the name implies, it was about reclaiming Guahan. This name had many different definitions or meanings, even amongst the organizers themselves, and so the theme wasn't oppressive in any narrow sense. Reclaiming Guahan was about empowering Guam in a variety of ways. Some used the rhetoric of social justice or democracy. For some such as myself the framework was more about decolonization. For some who came this and should be a Chamorro only or Chamorro-mainly event, since they are the only ones who can truly claim the right to take back Guam. For others it was about developing a Guam consciousness, a progressive and empowered Guam spirit. For most however, the task was finding a way to blend these two together, to find a way to reach out to Guam in general and to Chamorros in particular, but not subsume one within the other, or to not reinvent the colonial wheel by reinvigorating the notion of everyone on Guam just being Guamanian.

This is one of the key tasks which I am ashamed few of the Chamorro activists out there are taking seriously, its how to you build a coalition or a progressive movement on Guam, which can appeal to Chamorros in particular and also the island of Guam in general? How can you find a way to talk about empowering Guam's indigenous people, but also at the same time empowering others on the island? There are ways of doing it. Its not an impossible task by any means, but it is a difficult one, which will require some flexibility and some creativity.

In the months since the debate over the Indigenous Fishing Rights Bill emerged, I find myself talking over and over about the same basic point, and that is that Guam needs to give up on the stupid American facade its invested in. The facade is all around us and we all spend large chunks of our days maintaining it. To describe it more concretely in a few ways, we can find it in all the bolabola about the US Constitution being the limits of our lives, or that American examples are what we should always follow and emulate, and that we need to work hard to be a proper American community. Guam is unique and our political status means that we shouldn't overstate our Americaness, especially if it means blinding ourselves to the reality of our situation. The central point of this, in the midst of Guam figuring out its identity is determing what the relationship of Guam's indigenous people, Chamorros, are with non-Chamorros.

Or to put it in more pratical terms, what sort of community is Guam? Is it the kind where, like so many others, the indigenous people are nothing but recepticles of culture, which we draw from and steal from in order to support a tourism industry, but allow nothing else? Or is the understanding that Guam has indigenous people, require that certain laws or policies be put in place to ensure the respecting of that right or that place? These are the questions we should all be asking ourselves, Chamorro or not. I hear all cultures on Guam talk taifinakpo' about respect, but how does this then translate into law or political rights? Is this talk from Chamorros pointless, since they live to be disrespected by the United States, and seem to relish in giving up their culture and language in order to be more comfortable Americans? Is this sort of talk from non-Chamorros pointless as well, since the respect isn't meant to translate into anything? They are just empty words, meant to try and fill in the lack of respect? Like speaking well of something or someone as you do nothing while they fade away before your eyes.

The tangent derives from the fact that these issues haunt me all the time, and they haunt me so ferociously, for the same reason that the Reclaim Guahan rally was such a formative experience for me. These issues haunt me, because although I think about them academically and abstractly, I can't really act as if these things are somehow outside of me and outside of my realm of affecting.

While I am never one to ever overstate my own influence, I am told enough on a daily basis, that much is expected from me in terms of Chamorros and Guam. That I am one of a handful of young Chamorros today, who could have a significant impact on the future of our culture, our communities and our islands. I will admit that most of these statements or expectations come from progressive, radical or liberal minds, and so most would dismiss me the way most commentors on the PDN website dismiss facts or knowledge when they comment, or in other words, very quickly and easily. But nonetheless, as I have gotten older, become more public in what I do and what I say, the things I feel or think may not have changed necessarily, but my relationship to them has, especially in terms of how they might or might not, or worse yet, how they must affect the island around me. When I conceive of decolonization and work to effect it, either in my classrooms, in conferences, on this blog, I cannot enjoy the comfort of most ideologues. I cannot take on the position of some activists who feel that so long as I am doing what I want to do, or what I've always done, then I am doing my part. I cannot accept that the game of activism or social change on Guam can or should remain the same, and that I should just merely pick up someone else's babao or banner and start waving it as high as I can. Being who I am, I feel that not only do things have to change (everyone feels this), but that I have an obligation or some role in helping change it.

For me decolonization is not something which only "crazy" activists are out caring about, or some abstract idealized spiritual/cultural process, its not even some kernel of consciousness which you can claim to have through the retelling of Angel Santos stories. It is something that I not only play a role in bringing about, but that I play a role in shaping, and its for that reason that I take it very seriously. And one of the issues which I feel is so important in making different kinds of decolonization a reality, is confronting those questions of Guam's political identity and where the island's indigenous people fit. As I'm sure I've talked about before on this blog and will talk about again, political decolonization rests on carving out that place for non-Chamorros. And by place I don't mean letting them vote in a plebiscite or simply coming up with a good argument as to why someone from the Philippines or Korea should support Chamorro self-determination. It means actually building a new community, it means reclaiming Guam in a radically different spirit, not on bred through the apathy of American colonialism and dependency, but something else.

The rally itself, was exciting and fun, but for some organizers didn't meet their expectations. Over the course of the day we had more than 500 people attend. I took regular counts througout the day. At one point, 323 people were at the rally itself, listening to music, speakers, painting, writing poetry or picking up flyers. By the time night fell, there were still 150 people left for a candle light vigil. For an event dealing with empowerment and decolonization, the crowds that we had could be considered to be a miracle. But still, I could understand how people could be disappointed. You put weeks and months of your life into making something happen and then you don't get the crowds you hoped for, and you don't instill as much consciousness as you thought you would.

I wasn't as frustrated or upset as most, first because in the pantheon of potential Guam events, a crowd of 500 is fantastic for something which did not feature free food, political candidates running for office, the Pope or a band visiting from off-island. But second, because the most important aspect of the event for me wasn't about the amount of random people showed up, simply to be counted and added to a tally to make an event seem imposing. What was more important to me was the quality of people who came and also the quality of the people who helped organize the event. I got glimpses of the next generation of Chamorro progressive, grassroots and political leaders, and hopefully this event will help nurture them along those paths.

It is almost a frustrating and taifinayi na sinangan nowadays, to say that Chamorro activism on Guam is undergoing an identitiy crisis or trying to figure itself out. Groups like Nasion Chamoru are splintered and diffuse and don't seem to have any coherent message or strategy anymore. Many more groups simply don't exist anymore, as members become burned out, fight with each other, or eagerly join the system they spent so long criticizing. Some new groups like Famoksaiyan, still haven't figured out what exactly they are and what they want to do. The death of Angel Santos is one of the main points of reference for this discourse, and so often times this discussions either begin or end with the idea that everything got messed up or fell apart when Angel Santos died. Then, if you have any knowledge of activism on Guam, you might follow this up by commenting on the fact that the older generation of activists just fight with each other and can't work together and that there is no one who can unify everyone.

Discussing a figure like Angel Santos is always a delicate thing. On the one hand you want to honor and respect and recount his achievements, to tell his story and those who fought alongside him for Chamorro rights (pi'ot put i tano'). But on the other, you never want to overstate the importance of a single person in any struggle. You never want to tell the whole story of a movement or a people through a single person, you never want to reduce what people were fighting for or experiencing to that sort of simplicity. Firstly, you don't want to do this because it weakens your story, it makes takes the reality out of it and turns it into fantasy or stale legend. It means that the whole balance of your history and your destiny as a people depends on whether charismatic figures emerge to make people move and without them, you are taiesperansa. Second, you don't want to say this because it means that social change and movements move from being one of Obama's election mantra's last year, "we are the one's we have been waiting for" to the customary, "you (whoever you are) are the one that we have all been waiting for." Or in other words, we all have to wait until a figure appears on the scene, who can bring people together, who can make them see past their petty differences and personal conflicts and organize them into a revolutionary, well-oiled social-political force.

First off, I want to note that no such figure has ever existed, so much of that unity or that stability is engineered after the fact, by media in order to simplify a complex issue, or by the people in the movement themselves in order to integrate that experience into their own life and also express why a movement might have stopped, stuttered or failed. It is also an effect of those who might oppose any such social change, because if you reduce an entire movement into a single person, then it is very easy to neutralize, both in your minds and in practice.

I often talk to other people who are working towards decolonization on Guam about the need to establish ourselves, meaning to have spaces that are ours, to have websites where we can send out information and have phone lines where people can call us. We need to ground ourselves, because if we are working towards the betterment of the island, then we need to be accountable, we need to have places where people can contact us, to join us or to argue against us. But ultimately we need to be more than just a handful of personalities, a couple of young or old activists, some with signs by the road, other with angry rhetoric. By remaining at that stage of just a handful of people and nothing more, we are easy to dismiss. We are easy to write off, even by those who might want to know more or sympathize with us. Even if we get 500 people to attend an event, or if we pack the lecture hall at UOG for our forums (as we have done many times), we still appear to be small and minute, because if you take away three or four people, you don't have much of a movement left. I don't mean that there is on one left to think the things that they think or believe the things that they believe, but that there would be no one left to organize the things they do, or to try and do the public work of critical or decolonial thinking.

The title of this post, is a Japanese word, yobimizu, which I've come across in reading the mangas Samurai 7 and Berserk. It refers to the "water that calls" or the water that is used to prime a pump, to bring more water. It is meant to be a special water that can produce beyond itself, beyond its initial state. In Berserk, the term is used to refer to things which can open portals to other dimensions or create a tear in the fabric of reality and lead to another place. In Samurai 7 one of the characters is referred to as yobimizu, or the force which brings all seven of the Samurai together to fight off the Nobuseri bandits and protect Kanna village. Without that character as the force which calls the others, they lose some of their power, their unity.

Alot of times, I see an unwillingness to move to this next stage of activism as stemming from the fact that there really are no true leaders out there. Angel Santos was the last real leader, and since then we just can't get anything together. We just can't come together and we are simply waiting until the next magahet na ma'gas comes along to organize and mobilize us. But the truth of the matter is, that no real leader ever comes along. No human has the magic that we attribute to great historical figures, at least not inherently. They rise up and emerge as famous or infamous through so many different factors, very few of which have anything to do with those figures themselves. Whether they are intellignet, articulate, beautiful can be a factor, but I don't believe that anyone is predetermined to be a great leader, but rather that certain people at certain moments, simply fit. These things can't be figured out ahead of time, you can make educated guesses, you can strategize, you can see what are the ideological or political tendencies out there. But waiting around for The One to show up and bring everyone together is just about the worst thing in life, especially political or activist life that you can do. Life is about choices, and tough decisions, especially if you are working to change things, and the aura of the ideal leader is all designed to keep that choice out of our hands, to pretend as if someone else, someone who is perfect for the task should be the one making the choice, the one who decides what we do.

There are those who wait for the yobimizu, they wait for those who have the power to call others and to bring everyone together. There are others who see that the potential for leadership can be in anyone, that anyone holds within them that quality of yobimizu. My hope for the Reclaim Guahan Rally is that there were at least a half a dozen people who attened that event or helped organized it, who through that experience started to understand themselves as potential leaders, who aren't going to be content to wait around for the next Angel Santos to come and save us, but will see that they have the same power and potential that he did, ya ti sina un usa ayu na fuetsa, kontat ki matata'chong hao gi i daggan-mu yan munanangga.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Question of Guam

I'll have more details soon on this year's trip to the United Nation's, but in the meantime, here's: THE UN report on the Petitioners speaking on The Question of Guam. It contains, summaries of the testimonies presented dealing with Guam.

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MICHAEL TUNCAP, of the Pacific Islands Study Group of the University of California, Berkeley, said that as a descendant of a 4,000 year civilization that had existed before the nations of Germany, France, Great Britain and the United States, he requested that the United Nations recognize the inalienable right to self-determination of Guam. The continued occupation of United States military forces in Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands was rooted in a system of racial inequality between European Americans, Asian and Pacific settlers and the indigenous Chamorro people.

He said that since initial contact with the United States in 1898, massive pacification and military occupation had prevented the people of Guam from exercising their inalienable right to self-determination. Colonial ideas of racial and gender superiority had shaped a long history of military violence and United States economic security. As such, the United States currently asserted that its citizens -- military personnel -- had a “constitutional” right to vote in the people’s decolonization plebiscite.

However, he said, the indigenous Chamorro people in the Marianas and the other island residents were denied the right to vote in United States elections. The United States also continued to deprive the people of Guam their right to land, even as they caused the toxic pollution that was irreparably damaging the environment. The United States military also threatened the integrity of the land through economic colonization, and colonialism had also caused irreparable harm to bodies of land and water. For those and other reasons, the Fourth Committee must immediately enact the process of decolonization for Guam in lieu of the severe, irreversible impacts of United States militarization. The process must include the maximum funding allowed to achieve a far-reaching education campaign informing all Chamorus from Guam of their right to self-determination and decolonization options, he said.

HOPE ALVAREZ CRISTOBAL, Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice, said the Chamorro people of Guam had a long history as a free and independent people, interrupted by over 450 years of colonization by outside nations beginning in the sixteenth century. She said that earlier United Nations resolutions had addressed military issues in the operative clause calling on the administering Power “to ensure that the presence of military bases and installations would not constitute an obstacle to decolonization”. However, she said the United Nations today seemed satisfied with obscure reference to the military -- the single most serious impediment to decolonization. Those types of changes undermined the intent and purpose of the United Nations Charter, especially Chapter 11, devoted to the “territories whose people had not attained a full measure of self-government”.

The administering Power of Guam had in the past cited the issue of its military activities as one of the reasons why that Power would no longer cooperate with the Committee. She noted the “positive light” used to describe the massive militarization of Guam in the working paper, which said its inhabitants “generally welcomed the build-up”, and she said nothing could be further from the truth. The militarization of the Chamorro people through the militarization of Guam, combined with over a century of United States immigration policies, was a flagrant violation by the administering Power of accepted standards in its fiduciary responsibilities, and must be addressed.

JULIAN AGUON, speaking on behalf of the Chamoru Nation, said instead of advancing the decolonization mandate of Guam, the United States was engaged in the largest military build-up in recent history, with plans that would bring, among other things, 50,000 people and six nuclear submarines. The United States pledge in 1946 to ensure its decolonization mandate on Guam had, half a century later, become “politically empty and spiritually murderous” words, and the Chamorro people continued to live in colonial conditions. That was why his delegation had come to New York, year after year to, in effect, “throw ourselves on the funeral pyre that is the United Nations decolonization apparatus”.

Self-determination, as outlined in the United Nations Charter and international conventions, was an inalienable right, he said. As a Member State, the United States was bound to protect and advance the human rights articulated within the United Nations system. “We need United Nations intervention into the increasingly desperate human rights situation in Guam,” he said. “The hyper-militarization of Guam is no doubt illegal under any principled construction of international law.”

DAVID ROBERTS, PhD candidate in the Department of Geography of the University of Toronto, said that the United Nations must work for a just solution in Guam, based on the understanding that Guam’s status as a non-self-governing entity effected the ability of the Chamorro people to make crucial decisions about their lives and where they lived. He maintained that Guam’s virtual status as a colony should be abhorrent to those who champion democracy around the world.

He urged the Committee to give top priority to the fulfilment of the right of Chamorro to self-determination through a decolonization process that included a fully-funded campaign informing all Chamorro from Guam of their rights and options. The Committee, with United Nations funding, must investigate the administering Power’s non-compliance with its international obligation to promote the economic, social and cultural well-being of Guam, and must send a team within the next six months to assess the effects of the past and future militarization of the island. Finally, he said the Committee must comply with the Indigenous Forum’s request for an expert seminar to examine the impact of the United Nations decolonization process on indigenous peoples.

MEGAN ROBERTO, of the University of California Berkeley Pacific Islander Alumni, said that, having been educated by one of the best universities in the world, she spoke English with no recollection of her mother tongue. She was a success story of the United States colonization of Guam. However, she questioned that success, wondering if leaving the island had been the best option for her family.

Continuing, she said the physical and emotional consequences that colonization had had on the remaining Chamorro who lived on Guahan pointed to a positive answer. Among other things, Chamorro people had been exposed to radiation, Agent Orange and Agent Purple as a result of the island being a decontamination site for the United States in the 1970s. The community was also robbed of its cultural resources. The effects of colonialism on the Chamorro people had travelled along with them in the forced migration and assimilation. However, forced migration was not self-determination.

She said that the Committee should give top priority to the fulfilment of her people’s inalienable right to self-determination and immediately enact the process of decolonization of Guahan in lieu of severe, irreversible impacts of United States militarization. The process must include a fully-funded and far-reaching education campaign informing all Chamorro from Guahan of their right to self-determination and decolonization options.

The Committee must send United Nations representatives to the island within the next six months to assess the implications of United States militarization plans on the decolonization of Guahan and the human rights implications of the United States military presence. And finally, the Committee must comply with the recommendations of other United Nations agencies, especially the Permanent Forum in Indigenous Issues, which had recently requested an expert seminar to examine the impact of the United Nations decolonization process on indigenous peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

JOSETTE MARIE QUINATA, Southern California Chapter of Famoksaiyan, said her homeland was threatened by the impending United States military build-up on Guam that was scheduled to begin in 2010. Yet Guam continued to be excluded from decisions that would affect the very people whose environment would be destroyed, and whose concerns were “second to militarization and colonialism”. The question of Guam was not solely based on political turmoil and chaos among those who claimed Guam as a United States “possession”, but also a reflection of Guam’s identity, which continued to suffer from political hegemony and an administering Power that failed to recognize and respect political rights.

She recounted a dream in which she saw her ancestors, and spoke about revitalizing the Chamorro people and preserving their language and culture. She said that a “powerful calling” had kept her passion alive in understanding Guam’s heritage and struggle for self-determination. She looked forward to creating a future “moved by heart, strength, and courage” to reaffirm that the question of Guam was a question of decolonization and the eradication of militarism and colonialism.

DESTINY TEDTAOTAO, a Graduate Student at the University of Southern California School of Social Work, speaking on behalf of the Chamorro grass-roots organization “I Nasion Chamoru”, said that as the end Second Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism neared, Guam unfortunately still remained a Non-Self-Governing Territory under the United States. Guam continued to be a possession of its colonizers, and the Chamorro people were still being denied their rights to land and political destiny.

She said the devastation wrought on the island and its people created an uphill climb for self-determination. Yet, with the impending military build-up on Guam that was to start in 2010, she asked that the United Nations uphold the promise and “sacred trust” set forth in General Assembly resolutions 1514 and 1542, and ultimately hold accountable Guam’s administering Power in recognizing and respecting its quest for self-determination.

The people of Guam were strong, and had a resilient culture that had continued to prevail amidst agonies of political disarray, militarism and colonial dominance. Yet, the people’s voices for choosing their own political destiny had been silenced, ignored and misunderstood. Guam’s administering Power had neglected the people’s right as an indigenous people, and the people had long suffered at the hands of outside influences and decisions that neglected their voices and interests. As a daughter of Guam, self-determination was not only a word that encompassed and exuded empowerment, but also a struggle, she said.

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