Sunday, November 29, 2009

Going Palin

Ti hu gof komprende sa' hafa, lao fihu manuge' yu' put Si Sarah Palin.

Annai ma anunsia na inayek gui' as McCain para Vice President gi i bandan Republican, hu tuge' este na post: "Sarah Palin as VP."

Annai tumunok Si Palin ginnen i ofisina-na, hu tuge' este na post: "So is Palin now a community organizers with no actual responsibilities?"

Annai ilek-na Si Palin na mandisidi na para u dingu i ofisina-na, hu tuge' este na post: "Palin resigns."

Hu tuge' este na post: "An Indigenous View on Palin's Alaska" put i estao i Natibu Amerikanu siha gi i Estados Unidos yan i botasion 2008. Este na post, i mas mabisita na post sa' pega i link gi i blog Crooks and Liars.

Duranten i botasion 2008, fihu manuge' yu' put gender yan race, sa' ayu na botasion i fine'nina na biahi giya i Estados Unidos na malalagu (yan sina mailihi) un atelong na lahi yan un apa'ka na palao'an. Achokka' guaha na biahi gi i media na ma kuentos put race yan gender, ti sesso ma kunetos put i dos achagigu. Umachaigi Si Obama yan Si Hillary Clinton, lao umachaigi race yan gender lokue'.

Estague iyo-ku posts put este:
The Feminine Turn
A Battle Between Race and Gender (Again, But Different)
Change You Can Handle: A White Compromise

Ya ni' ngai'an na bai hu maleffa i binibu-hu gi duranten i 2008 Republican National Convention, annai mamagat Si Palin, ya ilek-na este, ""I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities." Ha kakase' Si Obama gi este na sinangan-na, sa' estaba, antes di humalom gui' gi i Congress, community organizer gui' giya Chicago.

Gof lalalu put este chatklaru yan chatmalate' na sinangan-na, ya pues hu tuge' este na post: "Why Obama Has a Vision While Palin Doesn't...or Why I'm (sort of) a Community Organizer."

Pa'go kalang "rogue" pat "solu na lupes" Si Palin. Pumasesehu gui' gi meggai na lugat. Ma apapasi gui' bula na salape' para i tiempo-na, i kuentos-na. Gi entre i bandan conservative yan gi entre i Republicans, duru mandiskuti siha put "kao pau falagu Si Palin gi 2012?"

Esta meggai hu taitai put i nuebu na lebplo-na Going Rogue: An American Life. Kao para bai hu famahan kopia? Hekkua', ti siguru yu'. Ti gailugat yu' pa'go. Ti apmam makpo' iyo-ku semester yan meggai para bai hu cho'gue put iyo-ku dissertation (ti munhayan tribiha!). Kao malago yu' na bai hu gasta i gof presisu na tiempo-ku gi este na lepblo? Achokka' ti hu taitai gui' esta, siguru yu' esta na puru ha' takin toru.

Sigun i finayin Si Robin Williams:

It's wonderful, I went looking for her book and I found it in the fantasy aisle. With Sarah you get the feeling she was voted least likely to write a book and most likely to burn one. You look at her and wonder 'Where did they find her, Project Running Mate?'

Estague dos na tinige' put Si Sarah Palin, yan kao debi di ta chathinasso put Guiya? Taitai siha yan Hagu la'mon.

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Published on Monday, November 23, 2009 by The Guardian/UK
Those Who Follow Sarah Palin are Sowing the Seeds of Their Own Destruction
The former Alaska governor represents thwarted aspirations and brooding resentment. But she backs policies which would increase them
by Gary Younge

In the film, The American President, the president's speechwriter Lewis Rothschild (played by Michael J Fox) appeals to the commander-in-chief to take a firm, clear stand against the Right. "People want leadership, Mr President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone." he says. "They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand."

The president (played by Michael Douglas) retorts that the American electorate's problem is not a lack of leadership but an undiscerning palate.

"We've had presidents who were beloved, who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight," he says. "People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty. They drink the sand because they don't know the difference."

As the faithful wait in line in small towns across the country (some for more than a day) to see Sarah Palin on her book tour, the question of whether the US is deprived of a competent political class or gets the leadership it both deserves and truly desires seems as pertinent as ever.

On the one hand there is roughly between a quarter and a third of America that will clearly believe anything. That is the figure that strongly approved of George Bush's handling of the economy last year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the bailout. That same figure, in the immediate aftermath of hurricane Katrina, believed that Bush's response to the disaster was "about right", and still supports the war in Iraq.

That also happens to be approximately the same proportion of Americans who back Palin for president. Most data suggest the overlap is considerable. Palin's rise to prominence, from little-known governor to one of the most popular and arguably most charismatic Republicans in the country in just a year, has been startling. She had a thin record when she was picked to run as vice-president. Today, having quit the Alaska governorship mid-term and published a bestseller, only her wallet is thicker.

Her resignation speech was so rambling that you would have struggled to find a coherent sentence with an industrial-strength searchlight. "Let me go back to a comfortable analogy for me - sports," she announced. "I use it because you're naive if you don't see the national full-court press picking away right now: A good point guard drives through a full court press, protecting the ball, keeping her eye on the basket ... and she knows exactly when to pass the ball so that the team can win." This was not the answer to a hostile interview from the "liberal media elite" but a prepared speech of her own making.

It would be easy to discount her as just a media phenomenon who would go away if we stopped talking about her. That would be a mistake. It would be even easier to poke fun at her as just a small town hick who has blundered into the limelight with a nod, wink and a "you betcha". That too would be a mistake.

For the very things that liberal commentators ridicule her for - being inarticulate, unworldly, simplistic and hokey - are the very things that make her attractive to her base. Indeed, every time she is taunted she becomes more popular because it reaffirms the (not entirely mistaken) view that the deeply held values of a sizable section of the population are being disparaged.

The same dynamic was true for George Bush, but with one crucial exception. Bush is the scion of a wealthy family who turned his back on the cultural trappings of his class while embracing the social confidence and political and financial entitlement that came with it. Palin had none of those advantages: she grew up far from power and privilege in every sense.

The difference in their comfort levels when put on the spot with simple questions was evident when each was asked about their newspaper reading habits. Bush was cocky: "The best way to get the news is from objective sources. And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world." Palin froze: "I've read most of them ... all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years."

In her world, Ivy League is a slur; cities are not the "real America"; and those who know the price of arugula but cannot handle a rifle are not to be trusted. Palin is the antithesis of an aspirational figure. Her supporters love her not because they want to be like her, but because they already are like her. So for better and for worse, Palin is an entirely self-made - and, if her book is anything to go by, self-invented - personification of the kind of political animal Bush sought to both emulate and nurture. Bush was Palin-lite.

To that extent her performance over the past year has been more tragic than comic. Palin represents the thwarted aspirations and brooding resentment of a large section of white working class Americans. That is not to suggest that her supporters are necessarily racist, but polls show her support is racially exclusive.

Her base has plenty to be resentful about. Their wages are stagnant, their economic security has eroded, and their prospects for social and economic advancement have stalled. In 2004, white Americans were the only racial group for whom the poverty rate actually rose. The fact that it was lower than every other group is of little comfort. Demographically, they are set to become a minority by 2042. Geopolitically, the country for which they display so much patriotic fervour has lost one war, is losing another, and is regularly lectured by others about the urgency of putting its fiscal house in order. America is not what it used to be. The country they keep saying they want to "take back" no longer exists and is not returning.

So when Palin rails against Washington DC, bank bailouts and elitist media she catches their ear. The longer unemployment keeps rising, house prices keep falling and universal healthcare continues to be elusive, the more ears there will be. Motivated, organised and angry, Palin's wing of the Republican party does not have the numbers to make bad things happen; but, as it showed over the summer during the healthcare town hall meetings, its determination to derail good things should not be underestimated.

The trouble is that while many of their grievances are well founded, their affection is certainly misplaced. None of their problems can be remedied by the politics championed by Palin. Indeed, the greater the traction her politics gets, the worse things will be for her base. The America whose passing they mourn was lost precisely because of the freemarket, low-tax, warmongering agenda she advocates.

To crawl through the desert in search of water only to find sand is disappointing; to not know the difference between water and sand is delusional; but to go looking for sand in the belief that it will truly quench your thirst, not once but twice, well that is truly depressing.

© 2009 Guardian News and Media Limited
Gary Younge is a
Guardian columnist and feature writer based in the US

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"The Bull in the China Shop"
Frank Rich
New York Times
November 22, 2009

AT last the American right and left have one issue they unequivocally agree on: You don’t actually have to read Sarah Palin’s book to have an opinion about it. Last Sunday Liz Cheney praised “Going Rogue” as “well-written” on Fox News even though, by her own account, she had sampled only “parts” of it. On Tuesday, Ana Marie Cox, a correspondent for Air America, belittled the book in The Washington Post while confessing that she couldn’t claim to have “completely” read it.

“Going Rogue” will hardly be the first best seller embraced by millions for talismanic rather than literary ends. And I am not recommending that others follow my example and slog through its 400-plus pages, especially since its supposed revelations have been picked through 24/7 for a week. But sometimes I wonder if anyone has read all of what Palin would call the “dang” thing. Some of the book’s most illuminating tics have been mentioned barely — if at all — by either its fans or foes. Palin is far and away the most important brand in American politics after Barack Obama, and attention must be paid. Those who wishfully think her 15 minutes are up are deluding themselves.

The book’s biggest surprise is Palin’s wide-eyed infatuation with show-business celebrities. You get nearly as much face time with Tina Fey and the cast of “Saturday Night Live” in “Going Rogue” as you do with John McCain. We learn how happy Palin was to receive calls from Bono and Warren Beatty “to share ideas and insights.” We wade through star-struck lists of campaign cameos by Robert Duvall, Jon Voight (who “blew us away”), Naomi Judd, Gary Sinise and Kelsey Grammer, among many others. Then there are the acknowledgments at the book’s end, where Palin reveals that her intimacy with media stars is such that she can air-kiss them on a first-name basis, from Greta to Laura to Rush.

Equally revealing is the one boldfaced name conspicuously left unmentioned in the book: Levi Johnston, the father of Palin’s grandchild. Though Palin and McCain milked him for photo ops at the Republican convention, he is persona non grata now that he’s taking off his campaign wardrobe. Is Johnston’s fledgling porn career the problem, or is it his public threats to strip bare Palin family secrets as well? “She knows what I got on her” is how he put it. In Palin’s interview with Oprah last week, it was questioning about Johnston, not Katie Couric, that made her nervous.

The book’s most frequently dropped names, predictably enough, are the Lord and Ronald Reagan (though not necessarily in that order). Easily the most startling passage in “Going Rogue,” running more than two pages, collates extended excerpts from a prayerful letter Palin wrote to mark the birth of Trig, her child with Down syndrome. This missive’s understandable goal was to reassert Palin’s faith and trust in God. But Palin did not write her letter to God; she wrote the letter from God, assuming His role and voice herself and signing it “Trig’s Creator, Your Heavenly Father.” If I may say so — Oy!

Even by the standard of politicians, this is a woman with an outsized ego. Combine that with her performance skills and an insatiable hunger for the limelight, and you can see why she will not stay in Wasilla now that she’s seen 30 Rock. The question journalists repeatedly asked last week — What are Palin’s plans for 2012? — is a red herring. Palin has no obligation to answer it. She is the pit bull in the china shop of American politics, and she can do what she wants, on her own timeline, all the while raking in the big bucks she couldn’t as a sitting governor. No one, least of all her own political party, can control her.

The fact-checking siege of “Going Rogue” — by the media, Democrats and aggrieved McCain campaign operatives alike — is another fruitless sideshow. Palin’s political appeal has never had anything to do with facts — or coherent policy positions. The more she is attacked for not being in possession of pointy-headed erudition, the more powerful she becomes as an avatar of the anti-elite cause. As Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, has correctly observed, “She represents less a philosophical strain on the right than an affect and a demographic.”

That demographic is white and non-urban: Just look at the stops and the faces on her carefully calibrated book tour. The affect is emotional — the angry air of grievance that emerged first at her campaign rallies in 2008, with their shrieked threats to Obama, and that has since resurfaced in the Hitler-fixated “tea party” movement (which she endorses in her book). It’s a politics of victimization and sloganeering with no policy solutions required beyond the conservative mantra of No Taxes. Its standard-bearer can make stuff up with impunity: “Thanks, but no thanks on that bridge to nowhere”; Obama’s “palling around with terrorists”; health care “death panels.”

After the Palin-McCain ticket lost, conservative pundits admonished her to start studying the issues. If “Going Rogue” and its promotional interviews are any indication, she has ignored their entreaties during her months at liberty. Last week, Greta Van Susteren chastised Oprah for not asking Palin “one policy question,” but when Barbara Walters did ask some, Palin either recycled Dick Cheney verbatim (Obama is “dithering”) or ran aground. Her argument for why “Jewish settlements” should be expanded on the West Bank was that “more and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead.” It was unclear what she was talking about — unless it was the “rapture” theology that requires the mass return of Jews to settle the Holy Land as a precondition for the return of Christ.

The discredited neocon hacks who have latched on to Palin as a potential ticket back into power have their work cut out for them. But it’s better for Palin’s purposes to remain as blank a slate as possible anyway. Some of her most ardent supporters realize that she’ll drive still more independent voters away if she fills in too many details. And so Matthew Continetti, the author of the just-published “Persecution of Sarah Palin” and her most persistent cheerleader after William Kristol, wrote in The Wall Street Journal that her role model for 2012 should be Bob McDonnell, the new Republican governor-elect of Virginia, who won on “a bipartisan, center-right approach.”

What Continetti means is that Palin could still somehow fudge her history as McDonnell did; his campaign kept his career-long history as a political acolyte and financial beneficiary of Pat Robertson on the down-low. Even the far right has figured out that homophobia is a turnoff to swing voters, which is why Palin goes out of her way in “Going Rogue” to remind us she has her very own lesbian friend. (What’s left unsaid is that the book’s credited ghost writer, Lynn Vincent, labeled homosexuality as “deviance” in her own writings for World, the evangelical magazine.)

But no matter how much Palin tries to pass for “center-right,” she’s unlikely to fool that vast pool of voters left, right and center who have already written her off as unqualified for the White House. The G.O.P. establishment knows this, and is frightened. The demographic that Palin attracts is in decline; there’s no way the math of her fan base adds up to an Electoral College victory.

Yet among Republicans she still ties Mitt Romney in the latest USA Today/Gallup survey, with 65 percent giving her serious presidential consideration, just behind the 71 for her evangelical rival, Mike Huckabee. The crowds lining up in the cold for her book tour are likely to be the most motivated to line up at the polls in G.O.P. primaries. They don’t speak the same language as Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Michael Steele, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner or, for that matter, McCain. They are more likely to heed Palin salesmen like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh than baffled Bush administration grandees like Peter Wehner, who last week called Palin “a cultural figure much more than a political one” on the Web site of the establishment conservative organ Commentary.

Culture is politics. Palin is at the red-hot center of age-old American resentments that have boiled up both from the ascent of our first black president and from the intractability of the Great Recession for those Americans who haven’t benefited from bailouts. As Palin thrives on the ire of the left, so she does from the disdain of Republican leaders who, with a condescension rivaling the sexism they decry in liberals, belittle her as a lightweight or instruct her to eat think-tank spinach.

The only person who can derail Palin is Palin herself. Should she not self-destruct, she will doom G.O.P. hopes of a 2012 comeback. But the rest of the country cannot rest easy. The rage out there is larger than Palin and defies partisan labeling. Her ever-present booster Continetti, writing in The Weekly Standard, suggested that she recast the century-old populist outrage of William Jennings Bryan by adopting the message “You shall not crucify mankind upon the cross of Goldman Sachs.” If Obama can’t tamp down that rage across the political map, Palin will at the very least pave the way for a demagogue with less baggage to pick up her torch.



Thursday, November 26, 2009

Decolonization and the Loincloth

I’m sure that most people out there have heard the term “sausagefest” before. Its a term you use to refer to the fact that something is comprised mainly of men, or to call attention to the fact that there are way too many men here.

The Micronesian Island Fair last month at Ipao beach, was a very interesting and inspiring experience, but also one which some might refer to however, as a sade’fest. Sade’ is the Chamorro word used for diaper, but it is also the contemporary Chamorro word which is used for loincloth.

For a variety of reasons at this year’s event, there were sevearal dozen men, from Guam and from other islands who were sporting very little clothing other than a small shred of cloth covering their, you know what’s.

Chamorros from Guam and Rota who were wearing loincloths did so because of their participation in certain events, such as the building and maintaining of the guma’higai, a small cultural village which was built on the edge of the fair, and was meant to represent a blending of ancient and prewar traditions. Men also came sinade’ in order to participate in the guma’latte blessing ceremony that was held on the afternoon of the last day of the fair. A large guma’latte or latte house will be constructued at Ipao over the next few months, which will eventually be the home of the Saina, or the large open ocean sakman canoe that the group TASI built last year and sailed to Rota earlier this year.

The blessing ceremony was truly a site to behold, since it incoporated not just these men in loincloths, but also hundreds of chanters and dancers, all of which represented contemporary Chamorros making a pact or a convenant with the spirits in the ground at Ipao. As part of this compact they will be allowed to build a structure there, but they will also have to pay proper respect and deference to the ancestral spirits that still remain there.

At the start of the ceremony, more than a dozen men in loincloths and different ancient inspired regalia from weapons such as futfut and pulus, to acho’ atupat, and tuhong tinifok made from designs recorded from ancient times. It was incredible to see, these men standing tall and proud, and unfazed by the fact that around them, people were constantly snapping pictures, there were numerous remarks being made about the shapes and tightness (or lack thereof) of their daggans,
Chamorros prior to Spanish colonization, went naked most of the time, and would wear certain articles of clothing (such as grass skirts, pandanus vests or a tife’) for special events, such as parties or war.

Loincloths started being used in Guam as an assertion of a more indigenous identity or to make a statement only in the past few decades, first as part of plays or shows, but later as the wardrobe of certain political and cultural activists. Naturally, those who did these sorts of things, especially the activists, were looked down on and metaphorically spat upon as being crazy people, fools, who want to turn back the clock, or can’t accept the way things are and live in fantasy worlds.

Nowadays, they are becoming more and more common, especially with the rise of youth dance groups. There is however, still a certain amount of public scorn and contempt for not just those who wear loincloths, but those who are making efforts to bring back certain practices or re-invent things which were lost. They are perceived as people who are fighting against the will of history, as attempting to do the impossible, raise the dead, or reconnect to something we have already been long broken from.

Although we all speak constantly about culture and regularly claim to know how it works, and when something is really something, or when something is borrowed, or when something no longer exists, most people don’t actually consider in their comments how culture works. To be very clear, there is no such thing as authentic or original culture. Not on Guam and not anywhere.

There is no certain and natural way in which a culture is supposed to exist, whereby if they change they are somehow inauthentic or don’t really exist anymore. Cultures are constantly changing, and they change not only because something is lost or because something is gotten rid of, but also because they adapt and they re-invent themselves.

Therefore there is no natural or correct route to culture, it will always change, regardless of whether you are colonized or influenced by another culture, your culture will always change from one generation to the next and never remain the same.

Therefore, there is no actual reason why Chamorros cannot attempt to revive old forms or try to reinvent arts such as dance or trades such as canoe carving or navigation. You can claim that those things were lost along time ago, but that is no reason why we shouldn’t bring them back today.

We may place a high value on culture which appears to be natural or authentic, but in truth culture is always about choices. It is always a matter of people making decisions, to change things, to adapt, to incorporate and so on. It is the same today, when we look at our history and how it is changed, it is up to us to determine whether we want to take it in a new direction or not. And ideas of what we can or cannot authentically do shouldn’t play a role in making our minds up.

The work that groups such as TASI are doing represent a form of very concrete and clear decolonization. An attempt at forging a new path in Chamorro culture, by reaching into the past for something that was lost, but making an over effort that this be there for us in the future. It has nothing to do with turning back the clock, but merely taking control over our culture and our future. The ways that Chamorros navigated the seas when the Spanish came to Guam is not something that we should let remain in the history books or archives alone, if we have the desire and the means it should be brought back, it should become an everyday part of our strength as a people.

The same, perhaps, goes for the sade’.

I wonder, if as I watch events such as the launching of the Saina, and the construction of the guma’latte, if I am watching a real shift in the course of our history take place. I wonder sometimes if someday the carving of a sakman or a galaide, will not only just be something that a group like TASI does, but something which all families take part in. Something which fathers and sons or mothers and daughters accomplish together.

When I consider the possibility of this happening, then I also wonder what will become of the sade’? Will there come a point where its considered normal to wear a sade’? Will there come a point in Chamorro culture where Chamorro men will wear loincloths for special ceremonies or occasions? Where a well-made, expensive sade’ will be like a nice suit? I wouldn’t be against this at all, but it does make me think about how I really should be working out more.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Report on Carlyle Corbin's Visit to Guam

I had the honor of spending some time with Dr. Carlyle Corbin while he was on island last week. He has a vast amount of knowledge about territories and colonies today and what are the different obstacles they are facing and strategies they are using to push for the the next phase of their political evolution. I learned quite a bit from him, and had the chance to also help him in updating his blog.

Here's a report that I came across detailing his recent trip.

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Analysis by Maria Rodriguez, International Correspondent
Washington, D.C., Nov 16 (OTNS)

International Advisor on Democratic Governance Dr. Carlyle Corbin advised the Chamoru people of Guam (Guahan) that the political evolution of the remaining sixteen non self-governing territories, including the US-administered territory of Guam, should continue to be examined within the context of international law and principles, and is no different than the case of any other territory formally listed by the United Nations.

Corbin offered this assessment during the keynote address on “Self-Determination, Globalization and Militarisation: Thoughts on Non Self-Governing Territories in the 21st Century” delivered last week at the University of Guam Lecture Hall in Mangilao, Guam. Corbin, an international advisor on governance, was formerly the US Virgin Islands Minister of State for External Affairs and the territory’s representative to the United Nations. The President of the University and former Guam Delegate to Congress Dr. Robert Underwood provided the formal introduction to the evening event.

In his address, Dr. Corbin indicated that Articles 1 and 55 of the United Nations Charter serve to confirm the inalienable right of peoples to self-determination, while Article 11 provided the international legal mandate for decolonisation. He noted that “relevant international conventions, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, along with the International Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples are among the applicable international instruments in the decolonisation process."

The governance advisor, who has served as an independent expert to the annual United Nations decolonisation seminars in the Pacific and Caribbean since the 1990s confirmed that the resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly provided further legislative authority for political and constitutional evolution. He has referred to the lack of progress in decolonisation implementation as the “Achilles heel of the United Nations.”

Corbin’s intensive ten-day lecture tour in Guam focused on the political and constitutional evolution of the US-administered territories. The visit coincided with the introduction of legislation introduced in the US House of Representatives by Guam Delegate to the US Congress Madeleine Bordallo which seeks US funding for a public education program on self-determination for the territory. Delegate Bordallo is the Chair of the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans, and Wildlife.

The visit by the international expert followed a trip to Guam and the neighboring Northern Mariana Islands by a Congressional delegation last August when the Chairman of the full House Committee on Natural Resources Nick Rahall expressed support for a self-determination process for Guam. Delegate Bordallo’s proposed measure for federal funding would have to be approved by the full US House of Representatives and Senate as a separate bill, or attached to another legislative proposal, and subsequently signed by the US President Barak Obama.

Corbin was the independent expert to United Nations missions to the Atlantic/Caribbean territories of Bermuda, and to the Turks and Caicos Islands in 2005 and 2006, respectively, but the visit to Guam was not directly related to any specific United Nations activity. He did indicate that he would offer any relevant findings on the state of the self-determination process in the territory to the relevant United Nations bodies, as appropriate.

He explained in an extensive interview immediately before his departure from the Pacific that a major function of his visit to Guam was to provide some insights on the United Nations self-determination and decolonisation processes through a series of lectures at the University of Guam, and to engage students and faculty in Social Justice and History classes of the university in interactive discussion. He described the dialogue with the undergraduate students and faculty as “intellectually stimulating given their heightened sense of awareness of the need for the future political evolution of Guahan, as well as other territories in the wider Pacific region.”

During his visit, the international advisor also met with Acting Governor Judith Won Pat and members of the Guam Legislature, along with Delegate Bordallo’s Senior Policy Advisor Joaquin Perez, for informal discussions on the international procedures on self-determination, and on various means by which the territory could accelerate the process in view of the Congressional legislation and planned US military build-up in the territory.
Corbin indicated that “further militarisation should not be permitted to distract the territory from pursuing self-determination which remains an inalienable right under international law, and recognised by all member states of the United Nations.”

Corbin also regarded favourably the move by Virgin Islands Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen who has asked for Virgin Islands inclusion in the self-determination legislation which provides assistance for public education in the area of self-determination. The Virgin Islands interest in the measure comes as that territory awaits a decision of its territorial court on whether its draft constitution adopted last May by its Fifth Constitutional Convention would be permitted to go forward to the US Congress for consideration following objections to certain provisions of the draft by the territory’s present elected governor. The President of the Convention requested United States and United Nations assistance for a public education on the territory’s draft constitution during a presentation to the United Nations Special Political and Decolonisation Committee last October.

Corbin, who served as the international advisor to the Virgin Islands Fifth Constitutional Convention, noted that the issue of a permanent political status for the Virgin Islands would remain unresolved even if the territorial court ultimately provides for Congressional review of the draft constitution. “This is the case,” he indicated, “since the constitution to replace the territory’s Revised Organic Act of 1954 would be based on the present territorial status, and it is precisely the democratic deficiencies inherent in the prevailing status which do not provide for a full measure of self-government.” He noted that the territory of Guam is governed by a similar Organic Act, and a constitution based on that status would be viewed in a similar light.

Corbin went on to call for the inclusion of American Samoa in the legislation, as well, especially since that territory “was engaged in a proactive approach in addressing political status and constitutional evolution following its 2007 report of the American Samoa Future Political Status Study Commission of American Samoa.” He recalled that the full Committee on Natural Resources of the US House of Representatives has already adopted the Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2009 last July providing for a “federally-sanctioned self-determination process for the people of Puerto Rico,” a US-administered commonwealth of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean.

Corbin indicated that the measure regarding Puerto Rico was introduced by Commonwealth Resident Commissioner to the US House of Representatives Pedro Pierluisi, and “sets forth that if the territory votes in referendum to remain in the present status it would have to be consulted again at regular intervals.” The measure is now before the full House of Representatives for consideration.

The advisor noted that under the legislative proposal “if Puerto Ricans vote for a decolonizing option, then the people would vote on the alternatives of independence, free association with the United States or becoming an integrated state of the United States.” He suggested that this approach was consistent with the 2005 and 2007 White House reports on Puerto Rico which called for a similar referendum process, and which identified and provided “parametres for the options, even as the supporters of the legitimacy of the status quo option argue vociferously against the measure which they feel denigrates the prevailing commonwealth status which has been in effect since 1952.”

According to Corbin, “the autonomy exercised by Puerto Rico in its commonwealth status - even as it has been re-defined by successive Washington administrations as lesser autonomous than originally envisaged - was an important interim step in acquiring the necessary capacity to assume real self-government under a valid free association arrangement as defined by Resolution 1541 (XV) of the United Nations General Assembly - if the people choose to go that way.”

He also indicated that key to the Bordallo legislation for Guam self-determination “is the very fact that international law and principles serve as its backdrop and political rationale – a recognition which is usually absent in the rationale for earlier proposed measures on self-determination for the territories, but is nevertheless consistent with the Pierluisi legislation on Puerto Rico self-determination.”

A featured activity of Dr. Corbin’s stay in Guam was a day-long strategic planning workshop on “Chamoru Self-Determination” which was convened by the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice in conjunction with the Division of Social Work of the University of Guam. The session examined in detail the United Nations review process of each territory undertaken at UN headquarters in New York, as well as through its human rights/self-determination component in Geneva.

He advised during the workshop that the UN General Assembly had consistently confirmed that the self-determination process leading to decolonisation was a fundamental human right, “even as many territories may not be as aware of this fact as much as they might.” In this connection, the workshop had benefit of the legal analysis of Chamoru attorney Julian Aguon on a dual legal strategy for the achievement of self-determination encompassing the decolonisation and indigenous rights areas of focus, as set forth in Aguon’s 2008 University of Hawaii Law Review article. The workshop also utilised the United Nations declarations on Decolonisation, and on the Rights of Indigenous peoples, respectively, as key components of the legislative authority for self-determination. Corbin regarded the session as “very dynamic and necessarily interactive in its approach.”

Regarding the future status of the remaining territories, Corbin surmised that a number of them may be well prepared to move towards full independence, or political integration with their present administering power “assuming on the one hand the larger country would agree to the integration of a smaller and culturally distinct jurisdiction, and on the other hand assuming that the people of the territory are willing to agree to an irreversible political arrangement which may have the effect of subordinating their culture to that of the larger country in which it would integrate.” He emphasised that political integration was, in fact, one of the three United Nations-recognised status options of political equality providing for the full measure of self-government for the people of the territory, but he posed the question of whether “cultural subservience” would be worth the price.

Corbin offered that the model of political integration of some territories with a neighboring independent country - where cultural norms might be more compatible - had not been sufficiently explored “owing perhaps to political rivalries and the result of external factors.” “Ironically,” as he stated “remaining in the existing dependency status has its own implications for cultural, as well as political, minoritisation.”

He also referred to the “possibility of integration between two neighboring territories, as has been recently suggested for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. He noted that such an approach “would certainly meet culturally affinity considerations,” and indicated that “the exact form of the political status of the merged entity would have to be addressed to ensure that the new arrangement would be “politically valid and sustainable.”

On the whole, Corbin suggested that, in most cases, “as many territories evolve politically from dependency governance to more autonomous arrangements, new models of shared autonomy will necessarily have to be created, perhaps building on existing autonomous modes of governance like Greenland and the Faroe Islands, in self-governing political status arrangements with Denmark; the Cook Islands and Niue in free association with New Zealand; or even the former United Nations trust territories of the Pacific Islands which emerged into a particular free associated statehood model with the United States largely with a distinct military strategic dimension.”

In moving forward, the advisor cautioned that territories should be wary of the “sustainability of arrangements” such as the commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands in what turned out in the end as a “far less autonomous political status than originally envisaged by the islanders in the Commonwealth agreement.”

On the issue of militarization of the territories, the self-determination expert submitted that “the necessary negotiating power to influence its nature and extent, as well as in determining just compensation for land use, toxic clean-up and the like, is lacking in a politically deficient non self-governing territorial status where the authority by an administering power is exercised unilaterally, even as varying degrees of consultation might be possible.” He cited the aftermath of the military departure from the islands of Vieques and Culebra (Puerto Rico), as well as from the British territory of Bermuda, as examples of territories where the environmental and other impacts continue to be addressed years after.

On the issue of globalisation, Corbin pointed to “the need for more political autonomy of the territories in order to engage the international marketplace, as well as to access international technical and other assistance such as that offered through borrowing membership in regional development banks.” He pointed to the British territories in the Caribbean which have a certain degree of integration in regional economic and other institutions as evidence of their capacity to more effectively engage the international system, even as their political dependency arrangements are subject to unilateral abolishment, as in the case of the Caribbean territory of the Turks and Caicos Islands whose government was “unilaterally dismantled by the British through extra-constitutional means.” He noted that the United States is significantly less flexible in providing sufficient political space for the territories under its administration to join regional and other international institutions, “even as the terms of reference of many of these bodies provide for the participation of territories.”

“In the final analysis,” Corbin indicated, “each territory has the right to make its own decision in exercise of the right to self-determination based on its own unique set of conditions, which in the case of Guam is quite immediate in view of the immense demographic changes on the horizon as a result of further militarisation.” In other cases,” he said, “the scenario may appear less immediate, but gradual erosion of political power coupled with steady population growth make the situation no less uncertain.”

To address the issue of the future self-determination of the non self-governing territories comprehensively, the international expert called for an independent review of any progress which has been made in each of the remaining Pacific and Caribbean territories, and recommended that the territorial universities be intricately involved since the United Nations had not fulfilled its mandate to undertake such analyses.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Adios Grandma

The grandfather of someone very close to me passed away recently. As I type this, I’m currently in the hospital in the middle of the night keeping watch over my own grandfather, who has been here for several days now. “Matai Si Ukudu gi un kåmyo,” i Chamoru ma sångan. Hunggan, dinanche este. Yanggen tin un tungo’ håyi Si Ukudu, gi i tiempon antigu, gof kapas Si Ukudu mumasge’. Achokka’ gof pikaru este taotao, ya meggai manina’bubu as Guiya, gof mappot para makonne’! I minagahet este na sinangan. Hunggan, maskeseha Si Ukudu ha eskapåyi todu i enimigu-ña siha gi lina’la’, guaha unu na ti ha hulat umigi. Ya kinenne’ gui’ ni’ este na kontrariu annai gaige ha’ gi i kamyo-ña.

My life has been a bit crazy in recent months. Amongst many other things, I moved to Guam, I defended my dissertation, I started working at the University of Guam. There were so many other moments however, which were incredibly difficult and which in some instances I still haven’t found time to truly reflect on.

For instance, earlier this year, my grandmother from my father, Helen Bevacqua passed away in California. It was something that we had been expecting for some time. In her final years she had developed Alzheimer’s Disease, and had slowly become weaker and weaker and less connected to the present. When I saw her last year, along with my brother Jack, she struggled to remember who we were. She could still remember her children by then, but only a few of her grandchildren. Throughout the meeting, she worked hard to try and recall and retain who exactly we were.

When she passed away, I was thousands of miles away in Guam, rushing to finish up a draft of my dissertation, so that when I returned to California in June, I could defend it and finally finish up my Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies. When I received word from my father, I was stunned for a moment, I had no idea how to react. I had been expecting this moment for a while, my father had done his best to mentally prepare me for what was coming. I wanted to grieve, but at the same time I was worried that I wouldn’t finish my dissertation, and I became riddled with anxiety over what to do. Like with a lot of trauma and emotions during the dissertation-writing process, I ended up swallowing my grief for several months. I only told a few of my closest friends about my grandmother’s passing and only really talked about it with my relatives. In essence, I did my best to bury the trauma, until I would have time to really feel it.

I ended up defending my dissertation on time, but in the months since, the weight of not properly grieving over my grandmother’s death as gotten to me.

I’ve come to think, over the past few months, that grief works in our waking lives, in the same way that dreams work in our sleeping lives. You can “live” without either of them, but it eventually catches up to you and starts to disrupt your sanity and your stability. In both cases, the act is a way of refreshing the mind either consciously or unconsciously.

I lina’la’ puru ha’ put minatai. From the moment you become aware that you are living and that you exist, you are haunted by the moment when you might no longer be so. That somewhere along the way a moment will come when you will expire, when the current form you have will simply vanish or will transform into something else. It will be a time when people will no longer refer to the last time that they saw you, but instead reflect on the last time you were ever seen or ever spoken to.

And because in every living moment, we bear the painful trace of our death, as we celebrate life, we are constantly also forced to confront death, and to experience grief and grieve over those who go before us. If you sleep for days but you don’t dream, your mind can go a bit crazy, and even though you are living you could lose your sanity. Thinking about the past few months, I’ve sometimes felt a bit unhinged, because there have been too many times when I knew I should have stopped and reflected, stopped and remembered or even just paused to breathe and make sure I’m doing okay, but haven’t found the time to.

After listening to my friend talk about losing her grandfather, and also spending the week helping watch over grandpa at the hospital, reminded me of my grandmother who passed away earlier this year, and how I have yet to memorialize her.

A memorial service was held earlier this year in Hawai’i, before her ashes were buried in Punchbowl Cemetery next to those of my grandfather, i kayu-hu, or whom I was named “Michael” after.

When I think back on my grandmother’s life, I wish that I had been able to spend more time with her. In her final year, she lived just a few hours north of where I was staying in San Diego, but with her mind going, it was very painful and so I didn’t keep much contact. For years prior to that, she lived in a retirement community in Washington State, and I would only see her every few years. Before that, she lived in a cozy house in Foster Village on the island of Oahu, which we would visit her in, every time we passed through Hawai’i or spent the summer there. That was the house that my father grew up in, and so even though it’s been more than a decade since she left that house or since I was there, I still remember so many things about that house.

In remembering my grandmother and what sort of connection we had, one thing always pops into my head, and that was a love of art and making art. For one Christmas that the Bevacqua family spent in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, I brought with me a number of different paintings that I had made from Guam. At that time in my life, I was a full time artist and student, painting and selling all the time at the Chamorro Village and at art and craft fairs. I didn’t make any money off of it, but it was still something I was constantly doing and taking very seriously. I remember Grandma B, loving some of the paintings I brought with me, and asking if she could keep one of them. Earlier in her life, she had been a painter as well, and so scattered throughout the homes of her children you can find some of the artwork that she had made.

There is one painting that she made, which I have always associated with her, since as my father has moved around, from place to place, he’s always kept that painting with him and hung it up wherever he stayed. The painting is nothing special, just a simple image of a sailboat riding an ocean wave. But as I was sitting here at my laptop writing this post, as I thought about all the experiences over the years that I shared with my grandmother, the colors of that painting, its subject matter, kept popping back into my head. When I thought about what sort of way would work best in terms of memorializing her, I considered a painting, or a poem, or just a post, but no matter what I came up with, that image, the ocean of her painting was always there.

Eventually I settled on writing her a poem, and bringing into it, her love of art and her love of the sea.

Sin otro mas kuentos, I would like to dedicate the following poem to my grandmother Helen Bevacqua. Deskånsa hao nanan bihå-hu, munhåyan i che’cho’-mu, makpo’ i hinanao-mu:

I tatalon i napun tåsi
Ha langak humatsa i sakman
Ha hulat muna’kalamten i pilan
Ha langak lokkue’
Kumilili i guesgues i pintot.

Puede ha’ para bai hu rastreha este na raya
Ya bai hu machalani asta Hågu


Friday, November 20, 2009

Community Response to the DEIS

Whether or not you support the military buildup which will hit Guam over the next few years, like one of those catastrophes from the film 2012, you should be concerned about the Draft Environmental Impact Statement that is being released on Nov. 20th.

Anytime the Federal Government (including the military) plans a large project, they are required to do an EIS in order to assess the impacts and damages that the project might have on the surrounding environments or communities. The EIS process is meant to provide those who will be affecting with a report on what is going to happen to them should the project proceed and be completed. The community is given a short window where they are allowed to respond to the EIS, and regulatory agencies are given the power to suggest alternative plans or recommend that parts of the project, or the entire project as a whole should not be allowed to proceed.

For Guam's military buildup EIS, a number of massive projects are being combined into a single report, which will be somewhere around 8,000 pages long. 4,000 pages for the report and 4,000 pages of appendices. The people of Guam are being given 90 days to read and respond to this report and then submit their comments or concerns.

While the amount of time that is being given itself sounds unreasonable, that isn't the worst part of this process. The problem with the EIS is that it provides the appearance of democracy, or the spectacle of people commenting and taking part in public planning or the governing of their resources, when in truth, no such power exists. The 90 days and the public comment period is meant to be a public relations tactic more than anything else. If 10,000 people submited comments saying that there should be no military buildup to Guam, it would most likely have no effect on the buildup. Although we are meant to believe that this is how it works, in truth that sort of power doesn't exist here. The appearance of it is what matters, that we are supposed to be sated or satisfied and happy with the appearance of power, rather than the real thing.

In order to give voice to the concerns that people are having, both over the buildup and over the release of the DEIS, there will be a demonstration on Friday, November 20th at the ITC Intersection from 4 - 7 pm. The demonstration is being organized by the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice. Check out the press release below for more details. And remember if you're a student in one of my classes at UOG, you can get extra credit by attending!

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For Immediate Release
from the Guåhan Coalition for Peace and Justice
November 18, 2009

EIS Process Worthy of Protest
Community to Respond this Friday

The Guåhan Coalition for Peace and Justice will lead the community in a response to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) scheduled for release this Friday, November 20.

The EIS is expected to report the impacts the proposed military build-up and population boom will have on Guam’s environment. However, it was not conducted in a manner that demonstrated a true assessment of the social, cultural and political implications an increased military presence will have on the island’s people. Local residents and their elected officials were largely excluded from the process of gathering information and making recommendations for this study.

The EIS is an 8,000-page document, and the community will have 90 days to respond. This does not provide a sufficient opportunity for local residents to thoroughly investigate its findings and voice their concerns. The Department of Defense is already finalizing their plans for the build-up, without first taking into consideration the comments and concerns from local residents and leaders. An 8,000-page visual will be presented at Friday’s event to represent the enormity of the EIS.

The Coalition, which is made up of grassroots organizations and individuals advocating for the political, cultural, social, environmental and human rights for the people of Guam, will gather at 4 p.m. Friday at the ITC intersection in Tamuning to express these and other concerns about the EIS.

When: Friday, November 20, 2009, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Where: ITC Intersection
What: A Community Action Response to the Release of the EIS
Who: Guåhan Coaltion for Peace and Justice
For More Information: Call Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero at 735-2747 or email reclaimguahan@gmail.com

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

HR 3940

Last week I helped organize the writing of some testimony to the United States House of Representatives, on Bill HR 3940 which was recently introduced by Guam's Non-Voting Delegate Madeleine Bordallo. The Bill, if passed would authorize the Department of the Interior to make available some of its grants to the Government of Guam, to be used for political status educational campaigns.

Its a small, but potentially significant step in terms of getting a large scale movement on Guam going again towards changing the island's political status. We'll have to see what happens, and when the backlash of people in the United States decrying the idea of the Federal Government funding education so that its colonies/territories can secede from the union. Right now there is alot of optimism on this bill being passed, since it doesn't actually provide any money for a campaign, but all of that will quickly disappear once word gets around that the tip of America's spear might become independent. On the other hand, as the testimony notes, it can represent a very important step into terms of getting the United States engaged on the issue of decolonization of its territories again, and try to get it to recognize its responsibilities as a colonial power.

I'm pasting the testimony below for you to read, it was submitted to Congresswoman Bordallo's office on behalf of the organization's listed. The list smaller than what I had hoped, but the timeline for the writing was so cramped and fast that a number of groups couldn't give their permission to sign the letter in time and couldn't be added. But nonetheless, the organizations below, both big and small, formal or informal are the ones who have taken on the responsibility of promoting discussions on political status in Guam, and working towards making it happen.

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November 11, 2009

Joint Testimony in Support of H.R. 3940

The political and social climate of Guam is changing rapidly, yet the island’s people have yet to determine whether or not this change is the future they desire. With an unresolved political status, the people of Guam have been denied the human right to determine their future. This human right to self-determination can no longer be ignored. Therefore, our non-governmental organizations have come together to support H.R. 3940, which “authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to extend grants and other assistance to facilitate a political status public education program for the people of Guam.” We support this bill for the following reasons:

• As noted by Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo in her remarks introducing this bill, the political status of Guam remains unresolved. Over the course of Guam’s 111-year relationship with the United States, only few significant changes have been made with regards to the island’s political status. These changes, however, have not been sufficient, as Guam remains in an ambiguous political position, without a path to self-determination. Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory – it belongs to the United States, but it is not a part of the nation.

• The people of Guam have expressed their desire for a new political status in the past; however, our aspirations have not been realized despite efforts by Guam’s representatives, the administration and Congress. H.R. 3940 could provide an important catalyst in terms of reinvigorating the process of self-determination on Guam; first by helping to educate its people about the options available to them in their political evolution, and secondly by placing the issue of self-determination itself back on the Federal agenda in Washington D.C.

• To our knowledge this is the first time that a Guam Delegate has sought to clarify the role and responsibility of the Department of Interior to ensure the economic, social and political development of Guam. As Bordallo notes, federal funding for political status education is not without precedent. We support this bill because federal assistance for political status education has never been provided to Guam despite the legal and moral responsibility of the United States, as a signatory to the United Nation’s charter, to support the movement of its non-self-governing territories towards full self-government via a referendum consistent with international standards for decolonization.

• In recent years the United States Federal government has drifted towards disengagement and silence as to its position on territorial self-determination, and has both metaphorically and physically removed itself from its seat of obligation in the United Nations. This bill can be an important step towards helping the United States towards charting a clear and transparent course of action in order to fulfill its legal and moral responsibility as the administering power of a number of non-self-governing territories as mandated by the United Nations.

• To this end, we recommend that the bill be revised so that the Department of Interior may extend such funding and assistance to American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands, whose political status also remains unresolved.

• At present, the Guam initiated Commission on Decolonization for the Implementation and Exercise of Chamorro Self-Determination (1GCA Chapter 21) has yet to undertake its mission due to a lack of funding for a public information program.

• We believe that the unprecedented military buildup which has been initiated in Guam poses a serious threat to the realization of political self-determination. The plans contained in the bilateral agreement signed by the United States and Japan to relocate US Marines from Okinawa to Guam by 2014 makes the need for political status education funding necessary for this purpose, and a realistic time table for a self-determination plebiscite more critical than ever.
• We believe that the exercise of our human right to self-determination can only be achieved through the concerted and coordinated efforts of the people of Guam, our elected leaders, the federal government and the United Nations. To this end, we are mobilized and committed as non-governmental organizations to seek and support such multilevel action.

• While it is the obligation of the United States, as the administering power that placed Guam in its current political status, to fund a political status education program, it is important to note that the materials and parameters of the program must be made and decided by the people of Guam. The U.S. is mandated under international law to monetarily support and respect the self-determination of the peoples of its non-self governing territories; however, the U.S. must not impose its desired path on the people. Instead, we recommend that Congress make funding for this program available to an unbiased institution like the University of Guam, which can design and carry out an effective and relevant education program.

We commend Congresswoman Bordallo for placing this issue on the Congressional agenda at this critical moment in the shared history of the United States and our island.

We also urge Congresswoman Bordallo and all members of the Committee on Natural Resources to take every opportunity to impress upon all members of Congress the essential links between any plan for increased militarization of our island and the unresolved issue of political status.

In his 2008 campaign, President Barack Obama committed to supporting “full self-government and self-determination for the people of Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands, and their right to decide their future status.” While we believe that this bill can be a crucial first step towards realizing this commitment, as the United States moves to increase its military presence in this region of the world, it is imperative that the issue of self-determination and political status remain front and center, not an afterthought.

We believe the success of any plan to position Guam as “The Tip of the Spear” for US forward defense in the region must follow, not precede, resolution of Guam’s political status, and the fulfillment of the United States’ legal and moral obligation to promote the inalienable right to self-determination of the people of Guam. This will ensure that any militarization which takes place in Guam or other territories will be based on the principles of genuine security, and on respect for human needs and rights.

Si Yu’us Ma’åse

The Undersigned Organizations:

Chamorro Studies Association
Chamoru Cultural Development and Research Institute
Commission on Decolonization: Independence Task Force
Famoksaiyan
Guahån Coalition for Peace and Justice
The Guahån Youth
Guam Community College's Center for Civic Engagement
I Nasion Chamoru
National Association of Social Workers: Guam Chapter
Taotaomo’na Native Rights Group

The Stupak Ammendment, George Carlin and Monty Python

From John Amato on Crooks and Liars

I want to propose a new amendment be added during the conference committee when the House and Senate get together to merge the health-care reform bills. I know the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will love it, since they are officially members of Congress now. Here it is.

All pro-life male members of Congress who ejaculate without the express intent of making a baby will be considered to have had an abortion. (This will include airport-bathroom encounters.) Under this new rule, the male pro-life members then must fall in line with the same restrictions to health care as women will have to under the Stupak Amendment. Then starting in 2013, all pro-life men in America will be covered under this provision as well.

Remember, sex is for one thing and one thing only. I believe a man has an even greater responsibility than a women does just by the fact that the Congress is made up of mostly men.

Out of the 56 women in the Democratic caucus, only two voted for Stupak. All 17 Republican women voted for it.

What this adds up to is that 97% of the Democrats who voted for the Stupak amendment were male. 90% of the Republicans were male.

I would have to guess that if more than 17% of the congress were women, there would be a little bit less likelihood that women's rights would be so often used as a handy tool to placate neanderthals.

If men want to lead this country in the debate about abortion, then they should show real leadership and take responsibility for their behavior. Are you with me, Bishops? A woman can't just stand around and get pregnant. She needs our seed to be planted in her garden, so why should a woman be held to a higher standard than a man? Is that the democracy and freedom our troops are fighting for?

I'm sure the USCCB will gladly jump on board with this because they are in the sex business and are considered the world's No. 1 experts in that field. They understand better than any living person how a baby is made -- after all, they are Bishops. Imagination is a wonderful thing and can inform and educate people who have never experienced sex. Wow, who knew?



Friday, November 13, 2009

Chinamoru Is...

I found this on the Indigenist Intelligence Review.

But its originally from the blog Anishinaabekwe.

Gof bunita yan gof magahet este.

Fihu gumongong yu' put i Chamoru siha, yan i hinasson-niha put i kutturan-niha.

Gi fino' Ingles, gof "ma'i'ot" pat "narrow" i hinasson-niha.

Hinasson-niha na i kutturan Chamoru, solu hafa uniku giya Hita, ya taigue gi todu i otro kuttura.

Pat hinasson-niha, na i Chinamoru solu hafa estaba gaige guini antes di manhalom i Espanot.

Dinagi este dos na hinasso. Ti magahet yan dinagi.

Gi este dos na hinasso, i Chinamoru i perfekto Chamoru ha'. Lao taya' gi hilo' tano' perfekto, taya' taotao, taya' kuttura. Sina un aligao gi todu i lugat giya este na mundo, yan taya' sinedda'-mu siempre. Pues hafa i bali-na ayu na inaligao?

Taitai este na betsu. Este dipotsi i korason i mannatibu na taotao.

Estague i minagahet debi di ta akihom.

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Indigenous Is...

Indigenous is not a skin color,
Indigenous is not my nose,
Indigenous is not my eye color,
Indigenous is not my lips,
Indigenous is not romanticizing ancient teachings,
To appropriate,
To disseminate,
To cut to pieces,
And abbreviate in a research document,
Indigenous is removing layers of shame from your ancestors trail,
Indigenous is stepping up to the plate,
Healing and creating a new way for future generations,
Indigenous is standing tall,
Indigenous is standing beautifully,
Indigenous is an honor.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Possible Live Blog Tomorrow

For the next two days I'll be in and out of the "Guam Community and Economic Development Forum: Strategies for a Sustainable Future" which is taking place agupa' and agupa'na at the Sheraton Resort in Tamuning. I'm hoping to live blog for the parts that I attend, and so stay tuned for an update tomorrow.
This forum promises to be an interesting one. There are plenty of people speaking whose ideas and insights I trust, but even more people whose ideas and plans for Guam I find incredibly suspect. Most economic forums on Guam, especially those related to the military buildup, tend to take the form of yard sales, where local and Federal government officals, as well as local businessmen promise that everything and anything on the island is up for grabs, and that there will be plenty of money to be made by those who do the grabbing. So as I said, there might be a serious dimension to this conference, and might actually provide some critical thoughts on economic development and the military buildup, instead of trotting out the same Americanizing and capitalist platitudes that have put Guam into the precarious and unsustainble economic position it is in today.

I'm pasting the agenda and session info below.

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Guam Community and Economic Development Forum
Strategies for a Sustainable Future
November 12-13, 2009 (Sheraton Laguna Resort)

Proposed Agenda:
Day I

7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. Check in/Registration/Breakfast

8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Introduction and Welcoming Remarks
UOG President Robert Underwood, Ed.D

8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Opening Remarks: The Guam Situation
The Honorable Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo
The Honorable Governor Felix P. Camacho

9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. Overview of Guam’s Role in Asia and the Current State of the Guam Build Up
Derek Mitchell, Principal Deputy Asst. Sec. of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs

10:00 a.m.–10:15 a.m. Morning Break

10:15a.m. – 11:15a.m. Socio-Economic Impact
Panel A - Economic Impact
The Guam Story: What this Growth will Entail
Expected shifts in income distribution, fiscal impacts/revenue growth, plans for expenditures of increased revenues, policy implications
• Anthony C. Blaz, Administrator, Guam Economic Development Authority
• Bertha Duenas, Director, Bureau of Budget & Management Research
• Art Illagan, Director, Department of Revenue and Taxation
• John Camacho, Banking & Insurance Commissioner, Department of Revenue & Taxation
• Aulii Limtiaco, President, Pacific Public Finance Group LLC
Moderator: Tina Garcia, Deputy Director/Financial Service Manager, GEDA

11:15a.m.-12 noon Panel B - Social/Cultural - Community Perspectives on the Buildup
Impacts on Local Community/Villages
• Lisalinda Natividad, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Social Work, University of Guam
• Antonio M. Palomo, Historian
• Anne Perez Hattori, Ph.D., Professor, Pacific History, University of Guam
• Debbie Quinata, Maga Haga, Nasion Chamoru
• Tony Lamorena, Director, Bureau of Statistics & Plans
Moderator: Clifford Guzman, Galaide Group

12:00p.m.-1:30p.m. Lunch- The Honorable Judith Won Pat, Speaker 30th Guam Legislature
Public Sector Reforms and Fiscal Discipline, Accountability, Land Use

Bob Cook, CEO/President, El Paso Regional Economic Development Corp.
How El Paso is Planning for the Ft. Bliss Build Up


1:30p.m.-2:30p.m. Panel C - Health and Social Services
• J. Peter Roberto, Director, Public Health & Social Services
• Saied Safa, MD, FACP, FASN, Pacific Medical Group
• Sarah Thomas Nededog, Executive Director, Sanctuary, Inc.
• Peter R. Sgro, President & Chairman, Guam Hospital Health Care Development Foundation
• Captain David B. Miller, Commanding Officer, Department of the U.S. Navy, Naval Hospital
Moderator – Margaret Hattori-Uchima, UOG Nursing Professor

2:30p.m.-3:30p.m. Panel D – Housing – “Can We Afford It”
• Siska Hutapea, Vice President/Chief Appraiser, Captain, Hutapea & Associates
• Matthew Cruz, Bank of Guam
• Jeremy Rojas, President, Guam Housing Corporation
• Steven Cruz, USDA Rural Development Office
• Benny Pinaula, Executive Director (Acting), Guam Housing & Urban Renewal Authority
Moderator – Nora Camacho, Deputy Director, Guam Buildup Office

3:30p.m.-3:45p.m. Afternoon Break

3:45p.m.-4:30 p.m. Panel E – Public Safety - “Is There Safety with Numbers?”
• Robert Camacho, Chief of Airport Police, Guam International Airport Authority
• Paul Suba, Chief of Police, Guam Police Department
• Alicia Limtiaco, Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General
• Leonardo M. Rapadas, U.S. Attorney for the Districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands
Moderator – David Okada, UOG Dir. Institutional Effectiveness, Planning & Research

4:30p.m.-5:00p.m. Panel F - Renewable Energy/Energy Efficient Solutions for Guam
• Joaquin Flores, General Manager, Guam Power Authority
• CAPT Peter S. Lynch, Commanding Officer, NAVFAC Marianas
• Steve Ricci, Senior Research Engineer Energy Systems, Battelle Institute
• Bruce Best, TADEO, UOG
Moderator –John Peterson, Ph.D., Director, MARC, UOG


Day II

7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Check in/Registration/Breakfast

8:15 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Introduction and Welcoming Remarks
UOG President Robert Underwood, Ed.D.

8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Panel G – Utility and Infrastructure Requirements
• Simon Sanchez, Chairman, Consolidation Commission on Utilities
• John Benevente, General Manager, Consolidated Utility Service
• Lawrence Perez, Director, Department of Public Works
• John J. Jackson, Director, Joint Guam Program Office (Forward)
• Frederick E. LaCroix, Chief Executive Officer, The Powersource Group LLC
Moderator –John Peterson, Ph.D., Director, MARC, UOG

9:30a.m. – 10:30a.m. Panel H- Impacts on the Environment
“Impacts on Guam’s Natural Environment and Marine Resources”
• Gary Denton, Ph.D, Director, UOG Water & Environmental Research Institute of the Western Pacific
• John Jenson, Ph.D, Professor, UOG Water & Environmental Research Institute of the Western Pacific
• Jason S. Biggs, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology, University of Guam
• Lorilee Crisostomo, Administrator, Guam Environmental Protection Agency
• Tony Lamorena, Director, Bureau of Statistics & Plans
• Moderator –John Peterson, Ph.D., Director, MARC, UOG

10:30 a.m. – 10:45a.m. Morning Break

10:45a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Panel I - Buildup and Post-Buildup Economic Development Opportunities
• Tourism Development: Gerald S.A. Perez, Director, Guam Visitors Bureau
• New Industries: Carlos H. Salas-Executive Manager, A.B. Won Pat International Airport Authority
• New Industries: Glen Leon Guerrero-General Manager, Port Authority Guam
• Small Business Development (Inside and Outside the Fence):
o Kenneth Q. Lujan, SBA Guam Branch Manager, U.S. Small Business Administration Guam Branch Office
o Albert Sampson, NAVFAC Marianas Small Business Advisor
o Michael R. Ady, President-M80 Systems, Inc.
Moderator – Anita Borja Enriquez, Ph.D., Dean, School of Business & Public Administration, UOG

11:45p.m.-1:15p.m. Lunch
Keynote Speaker – Republic of the Philippines Senator Richard Gordon: “Overall Asian Economies and the Redevelopment of Economic Zones”

1:15p.m.-2:00p.m. Panel J - Workforce Development/Employment Needs
• James Martinez, Executive Director, Guam Contractors Association
• Mary P. Torre, President, Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association
• Carl Peterson, Chairman of the Chamber Education/Workforce Development Committee, Guam Chamber of Commerce
• Maria Connelley, Director, Guam Department of Labor
Moderator – Karri T. Perez, Ph.D., Assistant Professor Global Resources Management, SBPA, UOG

2:00p.m.-3:00p.m. Panel K - Education: Investment in Human Capital, Building Capacity
• Nerissa Bretania Underwood, Ph.D., Superintendent, Guam Department of Education
• Mary A.Y. Okada, Ed.D., President, Guam Community College
• Herbert Johnston, D.B.A., Education Director, GCA Trades Academy
• Elizabeth Hawthorne, Ph.D., Dean, School of Education, University of Guam
Moderator - Karri T. Perez, Ph.D., Assistant Professor Global Resources Management, SBPA, UOG

3:00p.m.-3:15p.m. Afternoon Break

3:15p.m.-4:15p.m. Panel L - Preparing for the Economic Growth and Beyond
“Guam: The Making of a Pacific Tiger”
• Gayle M. Cooper, Certified Economic Developer and Executive Director, Economic Development Group of Eloy, Arizona
-Posturing Economic Policies and Strategies to diversify development

-Federal Resources, Policy Makers, Public and Private Partners
Presentation by Federal Partners:
• Joseph M. Diego, Area II Director, USDA Rural Development
• Kenneth Q. Lujan, SBA Guam Branch Manager, U.S. Small Business Administration Guam Branch Office
Moderator – Anita Borja Enriquez, Ph.D., Dean, School of Business & Public Administration, UOG

4:15p.m.-5:00p.m. Next Steps and Conclusion
UOG President Robert Underwood, Ed.D
M. Claret Ruane, Ph.D. in Economics (Specialization: International Development Economics) UOG-House Economist, UOG Pacific Center for Economic Initiatives

Monday, November 09, 2009

Dos Pitduras

Nigapna, umakuentusi ham yan i ga'chong-hu put i sinienten-mami put i activism-mami, ya lana taimanu sesso duru yan fihu kalang machaleghua ham, put i minakkat-na hafa in tingo', yan hafa in tingo' na debi di u macho'gue. Mana'hasso gui' i ga'chong-hu put i kachido (mubi) Matrix, yan i dos na pitduras (pills) ni' Si Morpheous umofresi Si Neo. Unu na pill pau fina'nu'i hao i minagahet put i eriya-mu, i otro pau nina'bense hao ta'lo na todu maolek, ya pua laknos i chinatsaga-mu (yan i inebra-mu lokkue).
Gi i che'chon-mami, fihu in siente na debi di mampos annok manu debi di un ayek. Unu para u binabayi hao ni' atadok-mu, i otro para u nina'maya' ha' ta'lo i inatan-mu. Lao sa' hafa i meggaina na taotao Guahan, manma'a'nao nu i pitduras minagahet, ya ga'o'-niha i pitduras binachet?

Yanggen un atan i isla-ta pa'go, ti mappot para un sodda' un repuestas para este finaisen-ku.

Para i pitduras binachet, kalang mafalulon gi un banderan Amerikanu. Kalang ma sumai gui' gi i salapen militat. Achokka' i lina'la' ni' munanangga despues di un panot este na pitduras ti taikachang, maolekna kinu i otro. I otro na pitduras, hunggan madulok ni' minagahet, lao ti chuilong i minagahet yan i minagof. Fihu ma sangan na i mas magof i taitiningo' kinu i gaitiningo'. Ya magahet este na sinangan guini giya Guahan. Todu i dinagin colonialism, mandadana' siha gi un gof dongkalo na "ad campaign" para u pugi hao na este na pitduras, Guiya i empenu, Guiya i chalan-mu para minagof yan sinafu.

Yan hafa gaige gi i otro pitduras? Hafa sina ha na'i hao? Hafa sina ha cho'guiyi hao? Ti meggai, fuera di i minagahet. I otro na pitduras, bubula' ni' minagahet, yan ti minagahet otdinariu este, lao minagahet minakkat. I minagahet i eriya-mu. I minagahet put sa' hafa taiguini este na isla. Yan este na minagahet ti sina kumetu, yan todu i tumutungo' put Guiya, ti sina mangetu lokkue'. Este na pitduras i amot i activist, i mina'kalamten-niha.

Yanggen un akompara este na dos pitduras, unu bubula' ni' prinemeti, ha promemeti hao todu i mundo yan todu i riniku gi hilo' tano'. I otro, taya' prinemeti-na, fuera di na este i minagahet. Ti ha promemeti hao minagof pat un trankilo na hinasso. Todu i sinangan-na, na ti magahet yan lachi i tano' yan debi di u matulaika.

Lao i prubleman este, i rason na kumuenkuentos ham yan i ga'chong-hu put este nigapna, put i ti nahong i minagahet. Gof maolek na gaige gi fi'on-mu i minagahet, yan gaige gi i fino'-mu lokkue', lao ti nahong este para un tulaika i tano' yan i taotao.

Fihu ta hasso, na gigon na mafakcha'i i minaghaet, manmafatto hit gi i finakpo' yan makpo' i karrera-ta. Lao gi minagahet, i minagahet dipotsi i tinituhun. I minagahet sina gui' chumalani hit mo'na, lao ti nahong. Estague i minakkat este na lina'la' activist. Meggaina i salape', meggaina i taotao gi i otro banda. Meggaina i kumakanno' i pitduras binachet. Menosna i salape'n-mami yan i tiguang-mami gi este na banda. Este diferensia kumekeilek-na na mas dongkalo i che'chon-mami (lao mismo i che'cho'-ta).

Lao kao maolekna na hu ayek i otro na pitduras? Achokka' gof mappot este na chalan na inayek as Guahu, kao malago na para bei tulaika i inayek-hu?

Ahe'. Maskeseha, makkat este na obligasion-hu, ya hu admite este gi i na'an iyo-ku blog (No Rest for the Awake), ga'na-ku na para bai hu gaige gi i bandan minagahet kinu i bandan dinagi tinaitiningo'.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Educational Notes

I know that Guam's educational system is in turmoil right now, but in truth, education is under attack all over the place, especially in the places (California and Hawai'i) that I have close friends and relatives.
On Guam, the local Department of Education is going to have its Federal funds managed by a third party receiver, because of the Federal DOE has complained for years that Guam's DOE just can't take care of itself and can't manage properly the Federal funds it receives. For most people on Guam this is an important and progressive step since DOE, like any local agency is always envisioned to be the most corrupt institution in the universe, and can signify nothing but incompetence and can accomplish nothing. It is in contexts like this that we can perceive most clearly the colonial psychology of Guam, where the Federal Government, in the many forms it takes whether it be Marines, military or their DOE, always appears on Guam as some sort of angel, or more appropriately, some form of liberator. Even if the word "liberator" is never used (although I bet it and the imagery is being used right now on the PDN comment sections), the way in which people talk about this situation, will all take the form of a people being liberated from the black ghastly horrors of something, by the white knight of American intervention.
It'll be very interesting to see what happens on Guam over the next few years. There is still this blind hope that the crazy militarization of Guam that's just on the horizon is going to make Guam a prosperous paradise, and will make everyone's economic dreams come true. After all, if America holds this key to liberating and improving life, the answer to any of Guam's problems is always to simply bring in more of it, or find more ways to emulate it more. Although, most people would respond to this argument with a counter that I'm talking about abstract ideas such as colonialism, when the problems with DOE are all practical concrete things: services it can't provide, competence that it can't embody, schools falling apart, etc. I won't say that any of these things aren't problems, but my response is always, so how does a Federal takeover solve any of these problems? How does emulating American fix any of these things? How does waiting for them to liberate us do anything? The quick answer is, that it doesn't, but its a very easy way that a community can exclude itself from taking responsibility for things. It can blame problems on a particular segment of the population (GovGuam workers, public school teachers, Chamorros), and then act as if identifying these people as the problems of society and then marking who has the potential to liberate us from these problems (Feds, US, military), somehow constitutes work or great acts.

In California, the UC system, which I spent several years in at UCSD in a Ph.D. program in Ethnic Studies (and until I submit my final dissertation, am still technically a part of), is in crisis. I get plenty of emails about what's going on, but not being in California, its often hard to keep up.
One website which collects alot of different information, from faculty and students at multiple University of California campuses is remaking the university. My department also produced a statement condemning the budget cuts and supporting the September 24th protests that took place around California. Last month, I also posted a letter to the Guardian UK that UC Berkeley professor Judith Butler wrote on UC crisis.

In Hawai'i, where my father works as a public school science teacher, the economy there has led to massive state government cuts, and tens of thousands of public school teachers forced to take furloughs. Overall the Hawaii Department of Education budget was cut by 14%, which translates into a 8% salary cut for every public school teacher. Over the past year whenever I get a call from my father, he updates me on the latest problems in the educational system there. I'm posting below the article "Dead Last: Hawaii Gets an "F" in Education" from the website truthout.

If you click on the link for the article and scroll down to the comment section, there are some interesting suggestions on how to alleviate the eduational crisis in the United States and its colonies. The unspoken problem that lies at any discussion about education and how its in crisis is always one of priorization. In terms of rhetoric education is always high up there, but in terms of practice it tends to get left behind, and one of the main ways in which this happens, is that education is sacrificed in order to fund militarization.

Communities with large military bases suffer because the base is exempt from property and sales taxes, while schools are reimbursed less than half the cost of educating military children. The solution is 100% reimbursement, or collect sales taxes for on base store goods, which are often purchased by retirees who live off base.

Why don't we just close the military facilities (call it a permanent furlough!) and use all that money for education? We spend $1 trillion per year on defense, military research, paying for past wars, and phony anti-terrorism programs (fear mongering). Yet our education goes down the tubes while Obama fiddles with empty words. Our priorities and our ignorance are so perverted it boggles the mind.

*************************

Dead Last: Hawaii Gets an “F” in Education
Friday 06 November 2009
by: Jon Letman, t r u t h o u t News Analysis
http://www.truthout.org/1106098

Hawaii’s public schools are in crisis.

Simply put, there isn’t enough money to keep them open full-time. With the State of Hawaii facing a $1 billion budget deficit through the middle of 2011 and a $468 million budget cut to Hawaii’s Department of Education, in September the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) voted to accept a two-year contract that includes 17 furlough days for both the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 academic years.

Commonly referred to in the islands as “furlough Fridays,” the cuts have been scheduled for regular school days, reducing Hawaii’s public instruction from 180 days to 163, the fewest in the nation and ten days less than the state second from the bottom, North Dakota.

The classroom cuts were made despite President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s call for the nation’s schools to increase the amount of classroom time so that the US can better compete in the global marketplace.

With what was, for most parents, an unexpected and unwelcome surprise, the furloughs have sparked a firestorm of debate in which state politics, budget priorities and questions about the impact school cuts will have on students, their families and the state have all come to a head.

There is no shortage of frustration to go around, particularly among parents of public school children. One such parent is Jack Yatsko, a PTSA member and the father of fifth and eighth grade daughters on the island of Kauai. At an anti-furlough rally he helped organize one week prior to the first furlough day, Yatsko said in a speech before Kauai’s state building, “our kids are not poker chips in a high stakes game of budget and contract negotiations.”

Yatsko pointed out that in 2005 and 2006, the Department of Education consistently informed parents that if their child missed 10 or more days of school without a medical excuse, they could be prosecuted for educational neglect.

Of the 34 furlough days planned this year and next, Yatsko said, “this is educational neglect.”

Another parent on Kauai, Nadine Nakamura, has a son in fourth grade and daughter in eighth grade. Nakamura is also a PTSA member and is chair of her School Community Council.

Like Yatsko, she sees a web of blame-game being played. “Everyone is pointing to the other group, saying, ‘it wasn’t us.’ The governor says she wasn’t involved in negotiations. The legislature says the governor wouldn’t raise taxes, then you have the Board of Education and Department of Education saying the legislature and governor shouldn’t have cut their budget in the first place. Some are saying parents should have rallied a long time ago. One state legislator says, “I can’t believe the teachers approved [a contract with furloughs].”

Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser, among the most vocal state legislators calling for a special legislative session to examine possible alternatives to the furlough days, calls the classroom cuts “unacceptable.”

In an op-ed piece in the Honolulu Advertiser, Hooser suggested a using a portion of a $180 million Hurricane Relief Fund as one way to keep schools open. Hooser has also called for reforming Hawaii’s general excise tax which, unlike most states, generates the bulk of Hawaii’s education funding. So-called “new sin taxes” on soda, processed and fast food, and petroleum oils are potential revenue generators, Hooser wrote.

According to Wil Okabe, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, Hawaii’s public schools, which operate as a single school district, cost $5 million a day to run. The latest two-year contract, approved by 81 percent of voting teachers, reduces their pay by nearly 8 percent as it slashes instructional days for students.

And while Hawaii received over $157 million in stimulus funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, money intended to keep the state from cutting education services, Okabe indicated that it was Governor Lingle who imposed 14 percent budget cuts on the Department of Education while using stimulus money for balancing the state budget. Okabe called it a “shell game.”

He added that Hawaii’s schools do have the opportunity, if they choose, to individually vote to exchange non-instructional work time such as “professional development” or “wavier days” for cancelled class days as an alternative to furlough Fridays.

One woman who knows Hawaii’s education system intimately is Maggie Cox. Currently serving her second four-year term as Kauai’s representative to the Board of Education, Cox has worked as a teacher, vice principal and principal for 40 years in Hawaii. She also served on the negotiating committee for the contracts that include the 17 furlough days.

Cox says that if the governor or state legislature wanted to “bail out” the schools, they could have done so last spring. If they provide the funds, she says, the schools can return to offering full instruction.

While stressing that the Board of Education reduced classroom cuts by over 50 percent (from Lingle’s originally requested 36 days to 17), Cox said, “we did the best we could to have as little impact on the schools as possible.” She concedes that reduced classroom time means some subjects won’t be covered or covered as well (in the classroom). Cox also noted that prior to the furlough days, Hawaii’s academic year was 180 days, in keeping with the majority of public schools across the country but, as she acknowledged, well below that of countries in Europe and Asia.

“When you look at other nations, teachers’ salaries and schools are top priority. The budgets are there for them,” Cox said.

According to Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 2003 research, the average number of instructional days in Korea, Japan and China was over 221, with Australia, Russia, England and Canada all between 188 and 196 days. With the latest cuts, students in Hawaii could have up to 12 weeks less class time a year than those in East Asia.

Meanwhile, nearly one-third of Hawaii’s public schools are in restructuring as they attempt to meet federal No Child Left Behind requirements and Hawaii’s fourth and eighth graders’ test scores lag behind in National Assessment of Educational Progress rankings.

Here a cut, there a cut

Hawaii’s state employee furloughs haven’t been limited to educators and school employees. One furloughed state employee is Raymond Catania, a social services assistant with the Department of Human Services, Child Services, and an 18-year veteran with the state.

Catania, who has two teenage daughters, one a sophomore at Kauai High School, pulls no punches.

“By forcing teachers to take furloughs, it hits our children. Rich families can send their kids to Punahou (where Obama studied) or other private schools, but the working class can’t afford that so our kids get cheated.”

“The governor got what she wanted – furloughs and layoffs,” Catania said, blaming the Lingle administration for not raising the general excise tax in a bid to please what he called “the business community she represents.”

All options, including the hurricane fund, tax increases and the introduction of a lottery to generate revenue, should be examined, Catania said, adding that the governor shares blame for the school cuts with the teachers’ union leadership.

“They (HSTA) were in the best position to resist the furloughs. There was far more sympathy for teachers and kids than for state workers like me. If the union refused to accept furloughs, there would have been a lot of public support, but they gave in and settled quickly.”

And while many argue that temporary furloughs are better than layoffs, Catania disagrees. “Some elements in the community say, ‘at least we’ve got our jobs.’ The slaves had jobs. So what? My wife and I have three jobs and we can’t even pay our bills and we’re not alone.”

In a state with some of the highest living costs in the nation, where salaries are consistently lower than national averages, Catania’s frustrations are not uncommon. The furloughs and classroom cuts have only rubbed salt in open wounds.

Catania said that with Hawaii’s huge military presence, it is painful to see military expenditures increase, while the host state suffers what he considers disproportionate cuts to education and human services.

Some State of Hawaii education officials expressed similar criticisms of burgeoning military budgets while education programs are slashed, but refused to be quoted by name.

On Oahu, Kyle Kajihiro, program director for the American Friends Service Committee, an international Quaker-founded nonprofit that works for development, peace programs and social justice, sees the current economic crisis as a pretext to cut programs for political or ideological reasons. He said the cuts are indicative of the state’s priorities.

“I have to question why the defense budget keeps going up and up and schools keep getting cut. It’s unconscionable.” Citing the National Priorities Project, Kajihiro points out that since 2001 Hawaii residents have paid a $3 billion share of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “For that same money, Hawaii could have funded 54,718 elementary school teachers for a year,” he said. Hawaii has around 13,000 public school teachers.

Long-term effects of school cuts include lowering Hawaii’s competitiveness and ability to diversify its economy, keeping Hawaii dependent on federal handouts and tied to an economy based on the military and tourism, Kajihiro said.

Instead, Kajihiro said that because Hawaii is an isolated state with finite land and natural resources and heavily reliant on imported food and energy, it could also be a case study of best practices that could apply to the rest of the planet.

“There is experience here based on ancient Hawaiian models that we could be capitalizing on to create a new paradigm of economic development and sustainability, but we need to foster young people with the necessary imagination and schooling to become global leaders.”

“Politicians and community leaders always say children are our future. This is the time they need to prove that they mean it by funding our schools and investing in education.”

——–

Jon Letman is a freelance writer in Hawaii. He writes about politics, society, culture and conservation on the island of Kauai. He can be contacted at jonletman@hawaiian.net.

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