Friday, July 30, 2010

SB 1070 Updates

Federal judge blocks key parts of Arizona immigration law
The ruling halts implementation of provisions that require police to determine the immigration status of people they stop and suspect of being in the U.S. illegally. An immediate appeal is expected.
By Nicholas Riccardi and Anna Gorman
Los Angeles Times
5:50 PM PDT, July 28, 2010

A federal judge on Wednesday blocked most of a controversial Arizona immigration law just hours before it was to take effect, handing the Obama administration a win in the first stage of a legal battle expected to end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton in Phoenix issued a temporary injunction against parts of the law that would require police to determine the status of people they lawfully stopped and suspected were in the country illegally.

Bolton also forbade Arizona from making it a state crime to not carry immigration documents, and struck down two other provisions as an unconstitutional attempt by Arizona to undermine the federal government's efforts to enforce immigration policy.

In her 36-page decision, Bolton wrote that the provisions would have inevitably "swept up" legal immigrants and were "preempted" by the federal government's immigration authority.

"The court by no means disregards Arizona's interests in controlling illegal immigration and addressing the concurrent problems with crime," she wrote. But, she added, "it is not in the public interest for Arizona to enforce preempted laws."

Gov. Jan Brewer vowed a swift appeal to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. "We would have liked to have seen it all upheld, but a temporary injunction is not the end of it," she said through a smile after an appearance in Tucson. "I look at this as a little bump in the road."

Immigrant rights advocates, who had been gearing up for protests after the law takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, were ebullient.

"It's a victory for the community," said Lydia Guzman, president of Somos America, or We Are America. "It means justice will truly prevail."

Bolton's decision came as little surprise to many legal experts, who had predicted that the law, SB 1070, would be halted because it appeared to contradict U.S. Supreme Court precedent. Brewer signed the measure April 23, saying it is needed to protect Arizona from violence and lawlessness associated with illegal immigrants entering the country from Mexico.

Half of all people stopped for entering the country illegally are detained on Arizona's southern border.

Civil rights groups and then the Obama administration sued, contending that the measure would lead to racial profiling and interfere with the federal government's ability to regulate immigration. The law would allow Arizona, for example, to prosecute people the federal government might believe have a right to remain in the country, such as asylum seekers.

"While we understand the frustration of Arizonans with the broken immigration system, a patchwork of state and local policies would seriously disrupt federal immigration enforcement and would ultimately be counterproductive," the Justice Department said in a statement. "States can and do play a role in cooperating with the federal government in its enforcement of the immigration laws, but they must do so within our constitutional framework."

Many of the parts of the statute that Bolton, an appointee of President Clinton, allowed to go into effect are largely technical. She preserved a clause that forbids any local entity from creating a policy of less than full enforcement of federal immigration laws, as well as a provision that makes it a misdemeanor to block traffic to solicit work or hire a worker -- an effort aimed at getting rid of day laborers.

But she found that the federal government was likely to prevail in trial in its arguments against the other provisions, making it likely that her temporary order will eventually become permanent, said Andy Hessick, a law professor at Arizona State University.

"It would be very surprising if the permanent injunction were to differ after trial," he said.

The law's author, state Sen. Russell Pearce, predicted in a television interview that the measure would be upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote -- an allusion to the majority of justices who are Republicans. But Gabriel "Jack" Chin, a law professor at the University of Arizona, said the issue may not break down in a partisan manner in the judiciary.

"I think they're going to hesitate to say the United States wants to let a person in because he might be able to give us information, but the state of Arizona can arrest him," Chin said. "For those saying, 'Wait till the conservative wing of the Supreme Court gets their hands on this,' I'm not so sure."

The Supreme Court already will consider another Arizona law this fall. That law dissolves any business that repeatedly and knowingly hires illegal immigrants. The court may signal its view of SB 1070 in that decision.

In Arizona, where the immigration debate has grown to a deafening roar, the discussion was less about legal details and more about how illegal immigration has changed the state.

Faye Yanez, 65, and her husband were leaving a Home Depot in Tucson on Wednesday morning when they heard of the decision. "We feel slighted," said Yanez, a school teacher. "The state should have a right to take care of the state because the federal government isn't doing anything."

Susie Baker, 53, who remodels homes in Tucson, felt differently. "I am thrilled," she said as she headed into the store. "I think Jan Brewer is out of her mind. She is bringing harm to Arizona."

Baker said she often hires Latinos on home projects, and doesn't ask them their immigration status.

"To me, it doesn't matter," she said. "They are willing to do the work."

Politicians' reactions also were divided largely on whether they supported the bill. It received votes from all Republicans in the state Legislature and no Democrats.

The state's two Republican U.S. senators, John Kyl -- who recommended Bolton for the federal bench -- and John McCain said in a statement that they were disappointed by the ruling. "Instead of wasting tax payer resources filing a lawsuit against Arizona and complaining that the law would be burdensome, the Obama administration should have focused its efforts on working with Congress to provide the necessary resources to support the state in its efforts to act where the federal government has failed to take responsibility," they said.

Outside the federal courthouse in Phoenix, Vice Mayor Michael Nowakowski, a Democrat and strong foe of the law, said debate over SB 1070 had been a political sideshow that didn't make the state safer. He dismissed polls showing a majority of voters in Arizona and in the U.S. back the measure.

"Polls are for politicians before elections; they're not for civil rights," said Nowakowski, contending that many civil rights laws would have polled poorly in the 1950s and '60s.

Michelle Dallacroce, a Phoenix-based activist against illegal immigration, said she saw a silver lining in the ruling. "About a year or two ago, during the [presidential] elections, the media had a blackout on what was going on regarding illegal immigration," Dallacroce said.

Now, immigration is constantly on the news. "In 2010," she said, "Arizona has jump-started this major issue."

nicholas.riccardi@latimes.com anna.gorman@latimes.com

Riccardi reported from Phoenix, Gorman from Tucson. Times staff writer Nicole Santa Cruz in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times

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Published on Wednesday, July 28, 2010 by CommonDreams.org
Darkness at Noon in Arizona: Delayed, But Not Over
by Jeff Biggers

While a federal judge struck down important parts of Arizona's draconian immigration law today, namely the obligatory police check of immigration status, the battle over Arizona's immigration crisis has hardly come to a screeching halt.

Over the past three years, publicity hound Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a Massachusetts-raised former DEA bureaucrat, has been leading "crime suppression sweeps" targeted at Mexican and Latin American immigrants. Arpaio's costly sweeps have led to the deportation or forced departure of over 26,000 immigrants--a quarter of the entire US total, according to the AP.

And why, when crime rates on the Arizona-Mexico border are down, and crime rates across Arizona are at their lowest in decades?

"This is a media-created event," says Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik. "I hear politicians on TV saying the border has gotten worse. Well, the fact of the matter is that the border has never been more secure."

As the Arizona Republic reported, even the borderlands sheriffs disagree with Arpaio and Gov. Jan Brewer's immigrant crime fear-mongering:

Even Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever, among the most strident critics of federal enforcement, concedes that notions of cartel mayhem are exaggerated. "We're not seeing the multiple killings, beheadings and shootouts that are going on on the other side," he said.
As Arpaio continues to profit from publicity, the death toll of immigrants in the desert are soaring: 40 in Pima County (Tucson area) in the last few months.

Far from any criminal intent, a new report notes that the collapse of climate and clean energy legislation will add to their already record number of environmental refugees from Mexico and Latin America.

Arizona, like the nation, needs immigration reform, not repression.

Not that this is anything new to anyone from Arizona--or vaguely familiar with its history. As a transplanted kid in the 1970s, I learned that the "Five C's" on Arizona seal--cattle, copper, cotton, citrus and climate--not only defined Arizona's historical economic development, but reminded us as students of history that Mexicans and Mexican Americans--illegal or legal--built our state.

And they still do. Until the economy slumps--like the construction industry now in Arizona--or the copper industry in the past. Then, the fear--and the profiting of it--soars again.

Both out-of-state immigrant interlopers, Sheriff Arpaio and Gov. Jan Brewer are latecomers to the politics of Arizona's immigration porn and prison profits.

In this same burning month of July in 1917, another publicity hound sheriff led his own "crime suppression sweep" and rounded up over 1,000 hard-working immigrant copper miners, who were striking for better living conditions in Bisbee. As Katherine Benton-Cohen notes in her brilliant chronicle, Borderline Americans: racial division and labor war in the Arizona borderlands, Sheriff Harry Wheeler simply roared at the rounded up strikers: "Are you American, or are you not?" Wheeler and his cronies illegally and violently placed the copper miners on cattle cars and deported them across the country line.

Wheeler and his anti-immigrant yahoos went down in infamy for the Bisbee Deportation.

Before this latest immigration debacle ever gets untangled in the courts or Congress, Sheriff Arpaio and Gov. Brewer will be no less infamous.

Nor will Arizona's border and immigration issues be over.

Jeff Biggers is the author of The United States of Appalachia, and more recently, Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland (The Nation/Basic Books).

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Arizona Immigration Law: Court Ruling A Warning To Other States
BOB CHRISTIE 07/29/10 10:07 AM
Associated Press

PHOENIX — Arizona is preparing to ask an appeals court to lift a judge's ruling that put most of the state's immigration law on hold in a key first-round victory for the federal government in a fight that may go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gov. Jan Brewer called Wednesday's decision by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton "a bump in the road" and vowed to appeal.

Protesters in Phoenix went ahead with plans Thursday for a march to the state Capitol and a sit-in at the office of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The sheriff said if protestors were disruptive, they'd be arrested, and he vowed to go ahead with a crime sweep targeting illegal immigrants.

Paul Senseman, a spokesman for Brewer, said Arizona would ask the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco later Thursday to lift Bolton's preliminary injunction and to expedite its consideration of the state's appeal.

Bolton indicated the government has a good chance at succeeding in its argument that federal immigration law trumps state law. But the key sponsor of Arizona's law, Republican Rep. Russell Pearce, said the judge was wrong and predicted the state would ultimately win the case.

Opponents of the law said the ruling sends a strong message to other states hoping to replicate the law.

"Surely it's going to make states pause and consider how they're drafting legislation and how it fits in a constitutional framework," Dennis Burke, the U.S. attorney for Arizona, told The Associated Press. "The proponents of this went into court saying there was no question that this was constitutional, and now you have a federal judge who's said, 'Hold on, there's major issues with this bill.'"

He added: "So this idea that this is going to be a blueprint for other states is seriously in doubt. The blueprint is constitutionally flawed."

In her temporary injunction, Bolton delayed the most contentious provisions of the law, including a section that required officers to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws. She also barred enforcement of parts requiring immigrants to carry their papers and banned illegal immigrants from soliciting employment in public places – a move aimed at day laborers that congregate in large numbers in parking lots across Arizona. The judge also blocked officers from making warrantless arrests of suspected illegal immigrants.

"Requiring Arizona law enforcement officials and agencies to determine the immigration status of every person who is arrested burdens lawfully present aliens because their liberty will be restricted while their status is checked," said Bolton, a Clinton administration appointee who was assigned the seven lawsuits filed against Arizona over the law.

Other provisions that were less contentious were allowed to take effect Thursday, including a section that bars cities in Arizona from disregarding federal immigration laws.

The 11th-hour ruling came just as police were preparing to begin enforcement of a law that has drawn international attention and revived the national immigration debate in a year when Democrats are struggling to hold on to seats in Congress.

The ruling was anxiously awaited in the U.S. and beyond. About 100 protesters in Mexico City who had gathered at the U.S. Embassy broke into applause when they learned of the ruling via a laptop computer. Mariana Rivera, a 36-year-old from Zacatecas, Mexico, who is living in Phoenix on a work permit, said she heard about the ruling on a Spanish-language news program.

"I was waiting to hear because we're all very worried about everything that's happening," said Rivera, who phoned friends and family with the news. "Even those with papers, we don't go out at night at certain times there's so much fear (of police). You can't just sit back and relax."

More demonstrators opposed to the law planned to gather Thursday, with the Los Angeles-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the immigrant-rights group Puente saying they would march from the state Capitol.

Lawmakers or candidates in as many as 18 states say they want to push similar measures when their legislative sessions start up again in 2011. Some lawmakers pushing the legislation said they would not be daunted by the ruling and plan to push ahead in response to what they believe is a scourge that needs to be tackled.

Arizona is the nation's epicenter of illegal immigration, with more than 400,000 undocumented residents. The state's border with Mexico is awash with smugglers and drugs that funnel narcotics and immigrants throughout the U.S., and the influx of illegal migrants drains vast sums of money from hospitals, education and other services.

"We're going to have to look and see," said Idaho state Sen. Monty Pearce, a second cousin of Russell Pearce and a supporter of immigration reform in his state. "Nobody had dreamed up, two years ago, the Arizona law, and so everybody is looking for that crack where we can get something done, where we can turn the clock back a little bit and get our country back."

Kris Kobach, the University of Missouri-Kansas City law professor who helped write the law and train Arizona police officers in immigration law, conceded the ruling weakens the force of Arizona's efforts to crack down on illegal immigrants. He said it will likely be a year before a federal appeals court decides the case.

"It's a temporary setback," Kobach said. "The bottom line is that every lawyer in Judge Bolton's court knows this is just the first pitch in a very long baseball game."

In the meantime, other states like Utah will likely take up similar laws, possibly redesigned to get around Bolton's objections.

"The ruling ... should not be a reason for Utah to not move forward," said Utah state Rep. Carl Wimmer, a Republican from Herriman City, who said he plans to co-sponsor a bill similar to Arizona's next year and wasn't surprised it was blocked. "For too long the states have cowered in the corner because of one ruling by one federal judge."

The core of the government's case is that federal immigration law trumps state law – an issue known as "pre-emption" in legal circles and one that dates to the founding of America. In her ruling, Bolton pointed out five portions of the law where she believed the federal government would likely succeed on its claims.

The Justice Department argued in court that the law was unconstitutional and that allowing states to push their own measures would lead to a patchwork of immigration laws across the nation and disrupt a carefully balanced approach crafted by Congress.

Arizona argues that the federal government has failed to secure the border, and that it has a right to take matters into its own hands.

For now, the federal government has the upper-hand in the dispute, by virtue of the strength of its arguments and the precedent on the pre-emption issue. The Bush administration successfully used the pre-emption argument to win consumer product cases, and judges in other jurisdictions have looked favorably on the argument in immigration disputes.

"This is clearly a significant victory for the Justice Department and a defeat for the sponsors of this law," said Peter Spiro, a constitutional law professor at Temple University who has studied immigration law extensively. "They will not win on this round of appeals. They'll get a shot after a trial and a final ruling by Judge Bolton."
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Associated Press Writers Paul Davenport and Jacques Billeaud contributed to this report.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Power of Karaoke

I’m feeling depressed this month. Tinemba yu’ gi este na mes.

I spent the last year trying to get a permanent job at UOG and got nothing despite applying for several positions. Right now I’m teaching part time at UOG this month to get by, but come August, I won’t have a full-time job but will still have two kids to support, credit card debt to appease and a mountain of student loan debt that is always mahalang for my salape’. I’m spending the month of July trying to line up some full-time work for decent pay, but haven’t found anything certain yet.

This is especially so when I’m watching a movie and some fantastic, but old pop or rock song comes on, and I’m tempted to start singing along with the soundtrack of the movie. I used to do that, but movies have a way of chopping up or rearranging a song to make it fit and so its really really embarrassing when you are the only person in a theater yelling along to a song and it cuts out, but you keep belting it out for a few embarrassing seconds afterwards.

I haven’t made official plans to go out and karaoke yet this month, but I think about it all the time, and I’ve come up with a list of the first ten songs that I will sing once I get there. This list definitely dates me as being young and impressionable during the 1990’s since most of i mas ya-hu na kantan karaoke siha are from that decade. Nonetheless, this is my A-Team list, infused with the essence of Macguyver, which, when used properly, can lift spirits, solve global warming, balance the budgets of governments and maybe even finally get war reparations for Chamorros. Such is the power of karaoke!

Check out my list below, and feel free to share some of your own favorite karaoke songs in the comments. By the way, there are no Chamorro songs on the list, that’ll be for a separate post!

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#10: “Basket Case” by Green Day. A very close call between this song, “Time of Your Life (Good Riddance)” and “Longview” from Green Day. This is a lovely little blitzkrieg of a song which is great to start with. Fast, lively, funny and also pathetic in so many ways, this song has a great way of helping you forget whatever you were worrying about or thinking about a moment ago.



#9: "Undone - The Sweater Song" by Weezer. So many great Weezer songs to choose from, some of which aren't on most automated karaoke systems (put hemplo: In the Garage). But if given the choice of only one to choose from, I always have to pick "Undone" for nostalgia and for sheer weirdness. A real hard-core karaoke song makes you sing with absolute intensity pat fehman na sinente about the most ridiculous things, and so its almost surreal when the chorus arrives and you find yourself swept up in the fervor about communicating to some unknown person about the means through which all of the armor of illusions that you cherish in your life and keep wrapped around you, can be destroyed by the simple yanking on one of its many threads. The dialogue at the beginning and the middle of the song is also great for ad-lbbing with your friends and you can always replace the proper names or ideas with more local or contemporary flavor (hey jose, you going to the giput after the pocket meeting?)



#8: “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. There could be so many Queen songs on this list, but naturally I had to go with the one which it seems was written to be song by a large group of people pumped up and invigorated by life and alcohol, who don’t only want to yell song lyrics, but want to yell in voices that sound like prissy Europeans and yell nonsense-sounding-but-not-really-nonsense-words like “Bismillah!” and “Galileo!” BR contrasts to most karaoke pop favorite songs, because part of its appeal is its specificity and its novelty. Most rock groups like Queen have long “epic” songs like this, but those songs tend to remain popular only with hardcore fans and never receive popular appeal. But the story and the musical and vocal variations in BR make it so unique and truly an experience of its own to sing it.



#7: "Creep" by Radiohead. This song was for quite a while, my all time number one karaoke choice, so loved by me that I would sometimes choose it more than once to sing, even when such a move is frowned upon in collective/joint karaoke outings. The lyrics for this song are mysterious and almost mystical, especially when one tries to grasp what exactly the meaning or the story of the singer is meant to be. The song is complex in how it describes the relationship between the singer and someone who they see themselves as both loving, but also a creep in relation to. It literally runs the gamut of paralyzing and enchanting feelings that one feels when in love. From wanting to possess, to wanting to observer and daring not to touch, to not feeling good enough, but also feeling like you should be the only person in their world. But the song ends with that haunting line which everyone can take something different from, "I don't belong here."




#6: “Don’t Look Back in Anger” by Oasis. This one comes in very close with “Wonderwall” by Oasis, but is higher up on my list because the variations in the music and lyrics like “please don’t put your life in the hands/of a rock and roll band/ who’ll throw it all away” make it a richer experience to sing and listen to. If you ever hear my sing this karaoke style you might hear my mix up the English lyrics with some Chamorros ones. I love to end this song with my own Chamorro translated lyrics. So the real last lines for the chorus are “don’t look back in anger/I heard her say,” but I like to say instead “lao mungga ma atan yu’ baba/ ai nai ta’lo”



#5: “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind (3eb): A karaoke tour-de-force for my generation. Incomprehensible at times yet very highly suggestive lyrics, which find a way of resonating for almost everyone. It was one of those fun little pop-rock songs which was played everywhere for the longest time, with most people having no idea that it was a song about the joys and sorrows of doing crystal meth in San Francisco. The album edit is much more fun than the radio edit, which cut out the last verse where the singer describes having sex with someone else on crystal meth and than fearing that she’s dead.



#4: “Lighting Crashes” by Live. Another great song which is fun to sing, but whose subject matter makes it a little awkward if you ever say that you “love the song.” Most people interpret the song as being a tragedy where a mother dies giving birth to her baby. According to the writer and singer, the focus of the song is on how life transfers from one generation to the next. In the same hospital an elderly woman passes and a new child is born. The simplicity of the lyrics actually helps enhance its potential meaning, as if the simple words and images such as “lightning crashes” and “I can feel it coming back again/like a rollin’ thunder/chasing the wind” all become so easily filled with our own experiences and our own ideas.



#3: “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones. This was never a favorite Rolling Stones song of mine until I heard it in the context of the TV show House M.D. The song itself is about inspiration and disillusion in the 1960’s, involving different things such a protests, drugs and love. For all of my music life I have preferred The Beatles over the Rolling Stones, but every once in a while I’ve returned to a Rolling Stone song which I once didn’t think much of, and heard it and enjoyed it in a whole new light. This song fits so well with the story of Gregory House, and when I saw it used as the soundtrack to both his life and his philosophy the song really clicked in my head. House is an extreme example of the things we all do to ourselves and other people in order to create order in our lives, feel in control and pursue what it is we think we want or need. He ruthlessly puruses knowledge and the truth of a situation in order to feel in control, to feel like the things that he wants, he can not only get, but also deserves. But, as we often see in that show, being the smartest man in the room or in a hospital doesn’t exempt you from life’s rules, life’s inconsistencies and its chaos. And so many times the very things which will fit most well in our hearts or souls come in ways we would consciously reject as being too much or not enough, the things we say we don’t want.




#2: “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls. I am not someone who hates pop music because its vapid or simple, because that is usually the thing which makes a piece of music connect with people on a more intimate or deep level. When something is complex or riddled with deep and overbearing meaning it is hard to find yourself in it, and finding yourself is one of the main reasons why people turn to music. To find some echo of your life, your pain, your join and even your politics. “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls is one such song for me and probably for many people my age. It was written and inspired by the plot for the movie City of Angels, but its meaning goes far beyond that of an angel who is in love with a human and wants her to see and know him. It potentially speaks for all who have loved someone they knew they could never have, or wanted something in their life which was impossible. This song is one of those many potential bridges through which we can see and feel the limits and dreams of our lives, as not small and insignificant, but as meaningful, epic and tragic.



#1: “One” by U2. My favorite song to finish a long marathon of karaoke songs with. This song is all about the impossibilities of community and unity. It is about at once the love and the bonds which we feel with each other and can make people across the world see themselves as tied through fate, destiny, liberation and justice. But it is also about the difficulties in those ties, how we are all always frayed at the edges, always feeling like we are being torn apart or betrayed, and the best of the human spirit wasted or lost on war, violence and trauma. For a politically-minded person such as myself its the perfect way to end a karaoke session.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Capitalism: An Elizabeth Warren Story

I recently re-watched Capitalism: A Love Story, and saw Elizabeth Warren's parts in the movie, and so since she's popping up on all the US progressive blogs lately, I wanted to post something about her. But first, after watching Michael Moore's latest film again, I saw it in a slightly new light.

When I first saw that movie last year I didn't completely grasp how radical what Michael Moore is proposing in that film, how he created a mainstream artifact which didn't only talk about the evils of capitalism (which any film about big corporations as bad guys does), but he also called on something to replace it. And in coming up with his replacement he places under the wholesome signifier of democracy plenty of old and new socialist imagery. Things which you can invoke as the bad guys of action films or straw-men-nations of economist fantasies, but never as something offering much to the world (remember what Francis Fukuyama said, history is over, it ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall and those who lost and what they represent have close to nothing to offer us anymore).

In a way Moore is attempting to overcome the mental block which so many progressives and leftists bump against when they stop merely chanting that another world is possible and actually begin to try to plan it or make it possible. That even if so many people can agree that capitalism is a system built on exploitation and turning people into commodities, and one which has led to horrid atrocities just in the same way as every other possible economic system has, people pause and hesitate when it comes to conceiving of something else. The passion begins to fade, resignation sets in, and they sigh that even if capitalism is bad, imperfect and not all that it is cracked up to be, it is still the best possible system and so there really isn't anything that can be done to change it. Leftist politics becomes bogged down because it can go beneath that perceived capitalisitc foundation in society, it lives in fear of messing with it, and therefore refuses to attempt to articulate any project which would challenge it. As a result Democrats and liberals can offer promises to fix certain economic problems in peoples' lives, but cannot actually fix them, can't do anything to change them, because such acts would require tampering with and disrupting that perceived capitalist foundation.

But the funniest part in any discussion about things such as capitalism, socialism or communism is that most people who are talking about them have no idea about any of the these concepts, and you can tell that based on which countries they say are capitalist and which are socialist and then whether they talk about them as being such in good or bad ways. The US is in name a capitalist society and has a capitalist economy, but it only has such because for most of the 20th century, socialist programs and reforms were put in place, to keep workers from revolting and keep the country together. And one thing that I love to talk about with my business major or political science students at UOG is how China is probably the greatest capitalistic country ever.

Returning to Elizabeth Warren, she is now under consideration to be in charge of the new Consumer Protection Financial Bureau, something which she was instrumental in planning and proposing. Warren has become a favorite of the more progressive wing of the Democratic party because unlike Barack Obama and most of his economic flunkies, who merely give lip service to the ideas of "making Wall Street pay" or "reforming the system to protect average Americans" but have no problems protecting and prioriziting the interests of the rich, Warren is not interested in that. She is hardly socialist or radical, but simply appears to be someone who is principled and fair, and sees the current US economic system as corrupt, imbalanced, unsustainable and preys on the weakest and poorest and lets the rich get away with economic murder.

Below is an article discussing about whether or not she'll get picked and what it might mean (a further eroision of the the Democrat's much needed progressive base. Beneath it however is a very funny video from Funny or Die, which features the inner monologue of Secretary Treasury Tim Geithner when he is discussing how perfect Warren is for the CPFB leadership role.

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Posted: July 26, 2010 04:38 PM

Somebody really, really doesn't want Elizabeth Warren to run the new Consumer Protection Financial Bureau, or "CFPB," which she first envisioned and proposed. Who? The big banks, for sure, as well as others who don't want their misbehavior brought to light. And Tim Geithner, whose vision of Wall Street and its problems is fundamentally different from Warren's. There are others, too -- ideologues like Megan McArdle of the Atlantic, who has made something of a cottage industry out of attacking Warren on specious grounds.

The President's attempting to split the baby when it comes to appointing Ms. Warren, but the facts and public perception are aligned and present him with a stark reality: He must choose between appointing Ms. Warren or placating the big banks. There is no Third Way. Unfortunately for the President, Elizabeth Warren is a yes or no question.

The ideological opposition to Warren's appointment is usually grounded in the false notion that the relationship between, say, a bank and a lender, is a symmetrical exchange between equals taking place in a mythical "free market." They've failed to heed the lesson taught by Freud in Civilization and its Discontents: "Civilization ... obtains mastery over the individual's dangerous desire for aggression by weakening and disarming it and by setting up an agency within him to watch over it, like a garrison in a conquered city."

An agency outside the individual is necessary to a well-functioning civilization, too, especially when confronting an oligopolistic banking system with a history of fraud and predation.

There have been at least two empty and ineffective lines of attack against Elizabeth Warren: The first is that she's opposed to "financial innovation," and the second is that she lacks the necessary "managerial experience." Ms. McArdle attempts to open a third: That Prof. Warren is a bad scholar. McArdle fails miserably, misquoting or misunderstanding other academic papers and Warren's own work while failing some basic analytical challenges. She does succeed, however, in showing the lengths to which some will go to block this appointment.

Despite the fact that McArdle is " the business and economics editor for The Atlantic," numbers don't seem to be her thing. She infamously miscalculated the effect of repealing Bush's tax cuts for each American by a factor of 10, arriving at $25 instead of $250 per person, and then blithely explained: "The calculator on my computer won't go into the billions, and I truncated incorrectly. The main point stands; even a very optimistic set of assumptions doesn't yield huge net benefit." Actually, $250 for every man, woman, and child in the US -- and that's only for the next two years -- is serious money. And as for that calculator problem, Ms. McArdle, there's only one word for that: spreadsheets. You've heard of them, I trust.

Spreadsheets are particularly handy when you're making statements like this: "Does it matter if we have a regulator that can use data consistently?" In this piece McArdle leans on an old Wall Street Journal anti-tax screed by Todd Wysocki. "More weird metrics for Elizabeth Warren," her headline quavers. McArdle eagerly repeats Wysocki's suggestion that family living expenses are actually less than they were in the 1970s. But Wysocki's stacking the deck (and making a completely different point) by using pre-tax rather than after-tax figures. Warren's point is that two-earner families have less disposable income today than one-earner families did in the seventies, even with both adults working.

She's right. I used a spreadsheet (highly recommended) to look at the increases in expenses, using the figures Wysocki (and the McArdle) cites. Here's what I found: Mortgage costs increased from 18% to nearly 20% of after-tax income. Health insurance premiums increased from 3.5% to 3.63%. (That doesn't include increases in out of pocket expenses like copays and deductibles.) And there was a whopping new expense of nearly 20% for day care, which wasn't needed with a one-earner family. Add in car payments and the expenses Wysocki cites went from 39% of after-tax income to 62.3% -- which pretty effectively underscores Prof. Warren's point, don't you think?

McArdle saves her real "firepower," such as it is, for a piece she calls "Considering Elizabeth Warren, the Scholar." It's a blend of deception, misdirection, and poor analysis, chock full of comments like this one about Warren's book on two-earner families: "... Warren simply fails to grapple with what her thesis suggests ... Admittedly, I don't quite know what to say, but at least I can acknowledge that it's a pretty powerful problem for the current family model. Warren kind of waves her hands and mumbles about social programs and more supportive work environments. There is no possible solution outside of a more left-wing government."

Got it? McArdle says Warren's book is a failure because a) Warren fails to solve one of the problems she identifies, b) not that McArdle knows what the answer is, but c) "Warren kind of waves her hands" (get me a rewrite!) and "d) mumbles about social programs etc." -- which means she does propose solutions, but they're ones that involve e) "more left-wing government." Which McArdle doesn't think is the solution, even though she acknowledges that she doesn't have a solution.

Does it matter if we have a "business and economics editor" who can use data ... and logic ... consistently?

McArdle then suggests that Warren doesn't understand numbers because Warren asserts that (says McArdle) "housing consumption hasn't increased much ... by less than a room per house." McArdle conclues that this is a "twenty percent" increase, given a starting size of five rooms per house, although if consumption's gone up by less than a room per house it's less than twenty percent per house (no calculator needed for that one!) And that's with two people working full-time instead of one.

"The square footage of new homes has increased dramatically since 1960," writes McArdle. But how much of that is McMansions and other high-end homes? She doesn't say, presumably because she doesn't know. Since we're talking about housing consumption among middle- and lower-income working families, a basic understanding of "mean," "median," and "average" would make that kind of information critical to McArdle's argument.

But McArdle's main line of attack is on the papers that Warren has co-authored on medical bankruptcy. Yet at times she's not criticizing the paper itself, but what Warren's co-authors may or may not have told the press. As for the article itself, it's entitled "Illness And Injury As Contributors To Bankruptcy," and comes replete with appropriate cautions like these: " We cannot presume that eliminating the medical antecedents of bankruptcy would have prevented all of the filings we classified as 'medical bankruptcies.'" Yet McArdle repeatedly claims Warren et al. suggested medical bills were the sole cause of these bankruptcies, then beating this nonexistent claim to death.

McArdle also makes the analyst's most basic mistake -- fallacy based on anecdote -- by repeatedly saying that by definition "Patty Barreiro" is a "medical bankruptcy" case. Barreiro is the wife of Edmund Andrews, the financial writer who wrote about their own bankruptcy. She's become a bete noir for all of those who believe that bankruptcy is most commonly a character defect, not an unfortunate combination of circumstances. McArdle's fixation on her isn't just bizarre. It's also bad analysis. The definition Warren et al. use for "medical bankruptcy" is $5,000 or 10% of income, and those are appropriately high figures for anyone familiar with the real world.

(McArdle also grossly mis-states the contents of another academic paper, but fortunately this piece does the heavy lifting on that misrepresentation - hat tip Atrios.)

For those who argue that Warren lacks managerial experience, I have three words: "Chief Administrative Officer." Warren understands the mission better than anyone, and she'll be able to hire someone to handle the logistics. And, as for her alleged hostility to "financial innovation," there's no sign of that. Some "financial innovations" destroyed the economy, and she's right to be a little "hostile" to them.

Elizabeth Warren's view of what needs to be done to fix Wall Street is fundamentally different from Tim Geithner's or Larry Summers'. Her view is correct -- and it's also more popular politically. The President's attempt at a "nuanced" solution -- that Elizabeth Warren will "play a role" even if she's not appointed to lead CFPB - is a nonstarter. The banks, and the public, would see that decision for what it is: A surrender to financial interests at the expense of the American consumer.

The Megan McArdles of this world will wail and gnash their teeth If Elizabeth Warren is appointed, but that doesn't matter. What does matter is that if Warren doesn't run CFPB, the same regulators who mismanaged the economy in general - and consumer protection in particular - will still have the upper hand. Any answer but "yes" to the Warren question would be a disaster, both on its merits and politically. You don't need a spreadsheet to figure that out.

_______________________________________________________________

Richard (RJ) Eskow, a consultant and writer (and former insurance/finance executive), is a Senior Fellow with the Campaign for America's Future. This post was produced as part of the Curbing Wall Street project. Richard also blogs at A Night Light.

He can be reached at "rjeskow@ourfuture.org."

Website: Eskow and Associates



Monday, July 26, 2010

Don't Start Believing

My entire trip last month to South Korea was almost completely overshadowed because of the sinking of the South Korean ship the Cheonan, and the killing of 46 South Korean sailors. The South Korean Government was quick to assume it was North Korea and eventually a report was released confirmed that.
The sinking of the ship became something which allowed the government to stall or crackdown on all sorts of activities that they perceived to be weakening the national security of South Korea. The main targets became social democratic and civil society groups, primarily those who have a core precept that the two Koreas should be someday (puede ha' ti apmam) reunited. For just the week that I was in South Korea, I could see it in the eyes of so many activists, that the sinking, regardless of what the truth behind it was, would be used against them, would be something which Right wing elements could twist into turning the country into a blind nationalistic and militaristic frenzy.

I wrote some short thoughts about this, in particular the way that the group PSPD has produced a counter report for the government's official findings on the sinking, and how when they had submitted that to the UN Security Council (which generally isn't a big deal, since even I can submit a report on Guam to the UNSC. It usually doesn't mean much). That submission became a lightning rod for Right-wing and government attacks on them. While all the PSPD had done was ask some legitimate questions about how South Korea did their analysis and reach such certain conclusions that North Korea has done it, but as a result they found themselves being physically threatened by conservative protests and threatened from high above by the government and various officials.

One of the many frustrations that activists in South Korea regularly repeated was over this Chenoan issue, and how the US government was too quick to side with the South Korean government in blaming North Korea. So much to the point that they most likely would have done so regardless of what any inquiry stated or regardless of whether any inquiry ever existed. For activists in South Korea, this fact was obvious and to be expected since in their rhetoric the US and the current SK Government are both addicted to war and fear-mongering and so even if a report was released stating that North Korea was threatening the world's remaining unicorn population, you would find scathing press releases about it and announced new exercises to take place in the Asia-Pacific region in anticipation of a possible North Korea strike on Bobo yan Prancer the world's last two unicorns.

What made the activists frustrated was the feeling that regular people, for instance regular Americans weren't able to see the obvious for themselves. That they had heard nothing from the American people to indicate that they weren't falling for such an obvious militaristic ruse, that they couldn't be more level-headed or discerning about this. Part of this frustration was not deserved since most South Korean activists didn't know how Americans were responding, and in truth you couldn't fault most Americans for feeling a certain way about something or believing a version of it, when the reality was that they for the most part knew nothing about it. The sinking of the Chenoan ship was major news in the Asia-Pacific region (although not really Guam), but elsewhere it was something which could simply be dismissed as more evidence of crazy Kim Jong.

One joke that I heard more than once in South Korea was about missile testing and the difference between American media and its treatment of North and South Korea. Everytime that North Korea launches a missile, when it (if ever) is successful it is the end of the world, a threat to world peace and so on. When it fails (which it usually does) it's a sign of North Korea and how pathetic and weak and once again crazy it is. It dares to challenge and stand apart from the civilized and freedom-loving world, yet it can't even launch a mere missile?! The importance however is that, every single step that North Korea takes, the US media is watching and covering it through the lens I just described. The same doesn't go for South Korea, who recently had a failed missile test of their own, but was not reported in the American media in anywhere near the same way. The punchline to this joke is of course that if the US media is interested in reporting the threats that are out there to "world peace" then the missiles of a belligerent, aggressive, well-funded wanna be regime like South Korea's, who feels that it has the Golem of the United States watching its back, is far more dangerous that a weak, suffering regime like that of North Korea's.

Needless to say, I was (happily) surprised earler today when I was forwarded not just once, but twice, the LA Times article pasted below, which talks in some small detail about the questions that people in South Korea are having about whether or not North Korea was responsible for the Cheonan sinking.

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Doubts surface on North Korea's role in ship sinking
Some in South Korea dispute the official version of events: that a North Korean torpedo ripped apart the Cheonan.
By Barbara Demick and John M. Glionna
Los Angeles Times
July 23, 2010
Reporting from Seoul

The way U.S. officials see it, there's little mystery behind the most notorious shipwreck in recent Korean history.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton calls the evidence "overwhelming" that the Cheonan, a South Korean warship that sank in March, was hit by a North Korean torpedo. Vice President Joe Biden has cited the South Korean-led panel investigating the sinking as a model of transparency.

But challenges to the official version of events are coming from an unlikely place: within South Korea.

Armed with dossiers of their own scientific studies and bolstered by conspiracy theories, critics dispute the findings announced May 20 by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, which pointed a finger at Pyongyang.

They also question why Lee made the announcement nearly two months after the ship's sinking, on the very day campaigning opened for fiercely contested local elections. Many accuse the conservative leader of using the deaths of 46 sailors to stir up anti-communist sentiment and sway the vote.

The critics, mostly but not all from the opposition, say it is unlikely that the impoverished North Korean regime could have pulled off a perfectly executed hit against a superior military power, sneaking a submarine into the area and slipping away without detection. They also wonder whether the evidence of a torpedo attack was misinterpreted, or even fabricated.

"I couldn't find the slightest sign of an explosion," said Shin Sang-chul, a former shipbuilding executive-turned-investigative journalist. "The sailors drowned to death. Their bodies were clean. We didn't even find dead fish in the sea."

Shin, who was appointed to the joint investigative panel by the opposition Democratic Party, inspected the damaged ship with other experts April 30. He was removed from the panel shortly afterward, he says, because he had voiced a contrary opinion: that the Cheonan hit ground in the shallow water off the Korean peninsula and then damaged its hull trying to get off a reef.

"It was the equivalent of a simple traffic accident at sea," Shin said.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement that Shin was removed because of "limited expertise, a lack of objectivity and scientific logic," and that he was "intentionally creating public mistrust" in the investigation.

The doubts about the Cheonan have embarrassed the United States, which will begin joint military exercises Sunday in a show of unity against North Korean aggression. On Friday, an angry North Korea warned that "there will be a physical response" to the maneuvers.

Two South Korean-born U.S. academics have joined the chorus of skepticism, holding a news conference this month in Tokyo to voice their suspicions about the "smoking gun:" a piece of torpedo propeller with a handwritten mark in blue ink reading "No. 1" in Korean.

"You could put that mark on an iPhone and claim it was manufactured in North Korea," scoffed one of the academics, Seunghun Lee, a professor of physics at the University of Virginia.

Lee called the discovery of the propeller fragment five days before the government's news conference suspicious. The salvaged part had more corrosion than would have been expected after just 50 days in the water, yet the blue writing was surprisingly clear, he said.

"The government is lying when they said this was found underwater. I think this is something that was pulled out of a warehouse of old materials to show to the press," Lee said.

South Korean politicians say they've been left in the dark about the investigation.

"We asked for very basic information: interviews with surviving sailors, communication records, the reason the ship was out there," said Choi Moon-soon, an assemblyman with the Democratic Party.

The legislature also has not been allowed to see the full report by the investigative committee, only a five-page synopsis.

"I don't know why they haven't released the report. They are trying to cover up small inconsistencies, and that has cost them credibility," said Kim Chul-woo, a former Defense Ministry official who is now an analyst with the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, a government think tank.

A military oversight body, the Board of Inspection and Audit, has accused senior naval officers of lying and concealing information.

"Military officers deliberately left out or distorted key information in their report to senior officials and the public because they wanted to avoid being held to account for being unprepared," an official of the inspection board was quoted as telling the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.

The Cheonan, a 1,200-ton corvette, sank the night of March 26 about 12 miles off North Korea. The first report issued by Yonhap, the official South Korean news agency, said the ship had been struck by a torpedo, but soon afterward the story changed to say the ship sank after being grounded on a reef.

The military repeated that version for days. The audit board found that sailors on a nearby vessel, the Sokcho, who fired off 35 shots with a 76-millimeter cannon around the time of the sinking, were instructed to say they'd been shooting at a flock of birds, even though at first they had said they'd seen a suspected submarine on radar.

On April 2, as Defense Minister Kim Tae-young was testifying before the National Assembly, a cameraman shooting over his right shoulder managed to capture an image of a handwritten note from the president's office instructing him not to talk about North Korean submarines.

Such inconsistencies and reversals have fueled the suspicions of government critics. U.S. officials, however, say the panel's conclusion is irrefutable.

Rear Adm. Thomas J. Eccles, the senior U.S. representative on the panel, said investigators considered all possibilities: a grounding, an internal explosion, a collision with a mine. But they quickly concluded that the boat was sunk by a bubble-jet torpedo, which exploded underneath the vessel and didn't leave the usual signs of an explosion, he said.

"The pattern of damage was exactly aligned with that kind of weapon," Eccles said in a telephone interview. "Torpedoes these days are designed to drive underneath the target and explode. They use the energy of their explosion to make a bubble that expands and contracts. It is designed to break the back of the ship."

Pyongyang, meanwhile, denies involvement in the sinking and calls the accusation against it a fabrication.

South Koreans themselves appear to be confused: Polls show that more than 20% of the public doesn't believe North Korea sank the Cheonan.

Wi Sung-lac, South Korea's top envoy for North Korean affairs, says the criticism from within has made it difficult to get China and Russia on board to punish Pyongyang for the attack.

"They say, 'But even in your own country, many people don't believe the result,' " Wi said.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Pakistani Angel Gets Its Wings

They say that whenever Australia loses a cricket match, an angel gets its wings.

Ok, gi minagahet, maybe no one actually says that except for me, but its definitely the sentiment I feel.

I just finished the large project that was taking up almost all my time this past week, and so I was taking a break tonight by following some international Test cricket on Cricinfo. I've never been a fan of Australian cricket, and so the past few years, as they have declined (eventually being dominated by India in a tour two years ago), my passion for seeing the sometimes arrogant smirks on their faces turn into woeful frowns has grown. They are currently a Test series against Pakistan, which as most would assume would be completely in Australia's favor.

Pakistan cricket still hasn't recovered from the attacks on a visiting Sri Lankan team last year, and so they no longer have any home games and have to play all their matches on their people's grounds or on neutral terrain. Apart from that, their team is also incredibly young and gadda', I'm only familiar with about half of their current Test squad roster.

This sort of overlord kontra underdog story was too tempting to resist, even though I had a feeling that Pakistan would experience yet again the feeling of having your daggan handed to you by a gleeful Australian cricketeer. In the 2nd Test, Pakistan was given a miracle, a clear blessing from whatever Gods out there follow cricket and intervene in matches possibly because they have bets placed on one of the sides. Australia was magof fa'om in the first innings for 88 runs, and while they fought back and Pakistan wasn't able to capitalize very much over the next two innings, Pakistan still had a very good chance when they were set a chase of only 180 runs. Australia didn't let up much and Pakistan, it seemed, was determined to almost lose the match. It took them seven wickets but they eventually got to 180, winning the match, their first against Australia in more than 15 years.

Here's an article on the match for those interested.

Finally, the metaphor for this post, that of an angel getting its wings, I'm not sure if I want to stick with that or change it to something more "local." How about this one: Kada na ti mangganna Australia gi Test cricket, mautot i adalalak-na un karabao.

Nah, that was horrible. It's late now, mampos matuhok yu', maybe I'll try again later.

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Hope floats after hoodoo ends
Pakistan's modern contests with Australia have been compelling, for what they have revealed about each country's approach to sport
Osman Samiuddin
July 24, 2010
Cricinfo

In losing every single Test for nearly 15 years to Australia a broader story was being written than just one country's complete owning of the other. In that time Australia have built decisively and maintained ruthlessly a dominance of the game almost unequalled, which is only now beginning to rust. More and less in the same period - but more pointedly from 1999 onwards - Pakistan's years have been dark ones, struggling to build anything they haven't themselves taken down immediately. Australia have prospered; Pakistan have flourished, struggled, flourished, struggled and then struggled more.

In a way, the Headingley result actually says as much about Australia's continuing descent than it does about Pakistan. Not only has Ricky Ponting now overseen two Ashes losses after all, he is also the first Australian captain to lose a Test to Pakistan since John Howard became PM. It can be argued that if anything is a true indicator of their decline, it is this; that no side quite as ludicrously inexperienced as this one has beaten Australia for many years is merely the salt.

No opponent has had as tight and brutal a grip over Pakistan in the modern age as Australia; no opponent has so exposed Pakistan's vast spectrum of frailties physical and mental; no opponent has so taunted Pakistan with the dictum that talent alone is nothing; no opponent has stuffed down their throats as forcefully the truth of sport today, that triumph has a collective, not individual, imprint.

In its own quiet way, shed of the jingoism of Pakistan-India, of the age of the Ashes and of the ego clashes of Australia-India, Pakistan's modern contests with Australia (to call it a rivalry is to denigrate the notions of equality inherent in that) have also been compelling, for what they have revealed about each country's approach to sport.

Until the end of that 1995-96 series, there was a degree of equality about their jostling; Pakistan had won 11 to Australia's 14 Tests. Since then they only ever came close to not being thrashed three times and each time they lost, in Hobart in 1999, in Colombo in 2002 and in Sydney in 2009, it broke them that much more. By the time of Michael Hussey's semi-final escape in May, they had long gone over the edge: a whole generation of cricketers had come and gone believing, behind the press conference platitudes and public statements, that Australia cannot be beaten.

How crippled they are by Australia was evident in this chase. Forty to get with seven in hand, last night in Pakistan, was an equation fifty-fifty and that was an improvement from the opening day when they were 88 all out. The way they went about it this morning, possibly the players thought they had less chance. At one point, you would've put good money on John Howard's longest hops winkling out the lower order.

But just to provide a blip in that equation is cause for some celebration - and there will be an outpouring in Pakistan. No matter that they collapsed at the finishing line only to stick one pinky over. In its own individual way, as the win that halted that run, it will be difficult to forget.

The optimist will draw greater significance, not least from this being a second win in 19 Tests against all sides. They chased a small total to win it, which is precisely what they haven't done on three occasions in the last year alone. The nature of the chase suggested they're far from getting it down pat and Pakistan have forever been poor chasers of small totals. To expect that to change overnight is to be a fool but finding a way to win, experiencing a big win, can do telling things to young players.

Elsewhere he will see the arrival of Azhar Ali and the immediate calm he brings to the top order and feel that here is something out of which a solid one-down can be moulded. He will look at an opening partnership that has provided three century and five half-century stands in 11 Tests, even as he scratches his chin to wonder how Imran Farhat has contributed to that; Friday was the Farhat of Lahore 2003-04, an opener of promise and patience, not the ICL-jigged chancer. He will note that not a single catch was dropped in the outfield over two Tests or by Kamran Akmal. The potential of the bowling attack, meanwhile, will compel even the pessimist to rejoice alongside him.

He'll also say what a fine way to start a captaincy. Few would've imagined Salman Butt to be the man to break this hold but few second-guess Pakistan cricket correctly. Butt had his moments here, some nice hunches, some level-headedness but some scary, panicked moments too.

He should not, though, see the win as some triumph of youth over age and rule out a return of Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan. The middle order has promise but nowhere through the two Tests has it been sturdy enough for Test cricket. It needs the kind of mentoring Inzamam-ul-Haq's presence in the middle provided earlier this decade to both Yousuf and Younis.

The pessimist will simply wait till the end of a still long summer.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pagat Protest Today

A peaceful protest and demonstration will be taking place today on the backroad to Anderson near the Pagat trail and cave area. It will happen from 3-7 and is being organized by We Are Guahan.

For those of you who don't know why this protest is happening, read the articles below. You can also check out some of the recent posts from Drea on Waiting on Wonderland. The images in this post were painted by her for today's protest.

From her post "Liberate Pagat:"

Today is the day we celebrate Guam's liberation from the Japanese. As a child, my grandmother would have our mothers get all of us together. We'd go to the parade and watch as all the amazing floats rolled by. The floats are always really amazing. It was so much fun for us kids, but for my Grandma it was deeper than just candy, music, and floats. When she was our age they weren't marching in parades. The marching they did was different. My grandma is gone now, but I still respect today as her day. I see today more as a memorial day for those who lived through and those who lost their lives, during the occupation and ending it.

Instead of going to the parade or even watching it on t.v., I decided to stay home and make posters for the rally on Friday. We will be lining route 15 to show the military officials and the CEQ that we care about Pagat. And really, it isn't just the ancient village that is being affected. There are families who will be asked to give up their land. The Raceway Park, that has helped to keep our roads safe from illegal drag racing, will have to relocate. How long will it take for them to rebuild? There is also an endangered species of Butterflies, the Marianas 8 Spot Butterfly, that calls Pagat home. And then there is the noise pollution and environmental problems that the firing range can cause. Not to mention, the military already has 1/3 of the island. What will be left for us when they're done? Will they ever be done?

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The $1 Billion Question
The Marianas Variety
July 23, 2010

This has been the question many people in the community have been asking since the release of the draft environmental impact statement last November. This question was also the topic of a series of conference calls held last week by the Joint Guam Program Office and hosted by the Council on Environmental Quality.

Many in the community, including the governor, the legislature, and Congresswoman Bordallo have urged the Department of Defense to stay within its footprint. DoD currently controls approximately 39,000 acres on Guam, or one-third of the island. It is reasonable to assume that DoD could therefore accommodate firing ranges that would reportedly take up 1,200 acres.

During the conference calls, however, DoD came up with various excuses why the training ranges would be “incompatible” with current and future military operations. The ranges, DoD representatives stated, could not be near any munitions storage or interfere with existing flight paths.

Unfortunately, most if not all of the detailed information referenced by DoD has been kept from the general public and not included in the draft report for review and comment.

JGPO and CEQ have indicated that the details will be included in the final impact study. This means, of course, that any comments or criticism of DoD’s decision to exclude all DoD controlled property will be essentially meaningless.

During the conference calls, DoD representatives stated that they had received advice from “leadership” and members of the community not to place the firing ranges on the west coast of Guam because of the potential negative impact on recreational diving and fishing.

Of course, DoD does not seem overly concerned with the destruction of over 71 acres of reef at Apra Harbor. The destruction of that “unprecedented” amount of reef will significantly impact our environment, fishing, ocean-based tourism, and ocean-based recreational activities.

The possible impact on recreational diving was seen as a reason to totally exclude candidate sites on the western coast of Guam. Yet DoD’s preferred alternative calls for the possible condemnation of the Yigo racetrack, the only racetrack on Guam where people can gather to safely race their cars and or off-road vehicles.

DoD stressed the importance of public safety during its conference calls as another reason why it selected Pagat. This statement came literally moments after showing a map that displayed a rifle firing range located across the street from a cluster of homes on Jesse Dydasco Perez Street in Yigo. DoD’s preferred alternative also has the firing range for the MK 19 grenade launcher, which has a maximum range of over a mile and a half, placed right alongside the back road.

DoD identified Pagat as its preferred alternative last November. The closer one looks at the reasons DoD has made public, the stronger the sense that things are not what they seem.

The answer to the question “Why Pagat?” may not be found in the nine volumes of the draft impact study, or the 10 volumes of final impact report, but rather in the pages of a lease agreement.

Leevin Taitano Camacho
Yigo

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Pagat remains top option
Friday, 23 July 2010
by Janela Buhain
Marianas Variety

DESPITE protests from the activists, the final environmental impact study maintains Pagat as the site for the proposed firing range.

The military, however, is attempting to reach a compromise with the local community by promising to provide limited public access to the site.

At a press conference held at the Hilton Guam Resort and Spa yesterday, Assistant Secretary Jackalyne Pfannenstiel said a commitment was made to ensure public accessibility to Pagat when the firing range is not in use. She reassured the community that the firing range project will not have a negative impact on Yigo’s ancient site.

Members of We Are Guahan, however, are not open to compromise. They will hold a demonstration at 2:30 p.m. in Pagat to stress the site’s importance to the local community and to warn against the environmental and cultural impact of having a military firing range built in the area.

Federal officials, who are currently on island, are scheduled to tour the site at around 3 p.m.

A bullet point handout outlining the changes made from the final draft states that no military training would occur below the cliff or within the boundaries of the historic Pagat site.

The final report also states that “an access plan will be developed with the input of Guam agencies and the public.”

*Opposition

We Are Guahan member Leevin Camacho said their mission is a “voice in opposition to the lack of exploring alternatives for the firing range.”

We Are Guahan organizer Moñeka Deoro said the organization is committed to protecting the area.

Deoro said putting a firing range in Pagat is an injustice to the people of Guam because it is used as ancestral land, which is rich in culture and wildlife.

Camacho said there was no evidence that an analysis was done for other sites. He said there seems to be a lack of transparency from federal officials regarding alternatives for a military firing range, particularly one within the military’s existing footprint.

*Aware

During the press conference, Pfannenstiel said national officials are aware of the environmental and cultural impact the firing range could potentially have.

“The preferred alternative in the final EIS is that the Route 15 area will be confirmed,” Pfannenstiel said. “The bigger question is access. We are committed to work with the people of Guam to assure access and to improve access,” she added.

Federal officials made no commitment to eliminating land condemnation in their agenda. However, Pfannenstiel stressed that they are committed to “working with land owners to look for a win-win situation.”

*Sasayan Valley

The final impact report no longer includes Sasayan Valley among the alternative sites.

Senator Judi Guthertz said she appreciated DoD’s efforts to assure the public of continued public access to Pagat Village and promises to negotiate in good faith with landowners for additional property, but she noted they made no commitment not to use land condemnation for this purpose.

Other senators, however, questioned the sincerity of these promises, in light of past extremely tight limits on local access to sites such as the former Sumay village on Big Navy.

##

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Gap Between Delays and Done Deals

I love to hear people talk about how massive and overwhelming (yan kalang taichi) the planned US military buildup to Guam is. And I love how in that discussion of immensity, they are trying to say that the huge tidal wave of bodies, hardware, speculative spending, carpetbagging and tip of the spear sharpening, it is all a good thing! The only other thing which is that figuratively massive and supposed to be a good thing is the rapture.

The gap between the object of which you are attempting to describe or argue about and the reality that you are trying to staple to that object don't fit very well. Ti uminos pat ti umaya, there is a clear gap, and not just any gap, but one which yawns a chilling contradiction whenever you try harder to close it or cover over it.

Several months ago, Guam lived in a similar sort of gap, when the DEIS or Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the buildup was released. The military and its PR arm for the buildup, JGPO made great pains to ensure that whenever the DEIS was mentioned, it was always mentioned as well that Guam was receiving twice the normal time limit for public comment.

Usually communities in the states gets 45 days to read and parse through a DEIS, but Guam, because it's special, because it's exceptional, because America is sweet on its colonies, and because it is the only tip of the spear in the Western Pacific that can handle most of what the US military might want to put there, it gets treated twice as good as everyone else.

This was a very nice sentiment, something to help yokyok the always waiting embers of emotionationalism of those on Guam (that always present emotional craving to be more nationally American and seek out the artifacts that prove it), but it was like trying to cover over the Marianas Trench with a 45 x 90 foot tarp. Its big sure, but not big enough to cover up what you want.

90 days, to read anywhere from 8,000 - 11,000 pages. Now that right there is a massive gap, which you would have to have American flag contact lenses on to not perceive. Even if the people of Guam were given 8,000 days to read and comment on the DEIS, it still wouldn't make a difference. The DEIS was a very apt metaphor for the buildup itself. Mysterious, massive, threatening to consume everything, but at the same time, gof machalapon yan ti fitme, or all over the place and not very clear or certain. Scattered within it, you find some hopeful promises, but so much more uncertainty and so much more potential damage.

One of the reasons why I would argue that things seemed to change with regards to public perceptions about the buildup during the DEIS comment period, was because of the way in which people were forced to stare into the gap that was those thousands of pages which were meant to chronicle the potential impacts to Guam because of the buildup. As I often said to people on this blog, in the media and in conversation during that time, even if you have no actual knowledge about the DEIS or the buildup, if you can simply imagine that the document which is meant to analyze what impact it will have is eight times longer than the King James version of the Bible and six times longer than the Penguin Classics edition of War and Peace, then your mind has to wonder, what the hell is in there?!?!?!

Your ideological and emotionational devotion to the US has to be very strong to imagine that a document of that size is simply dollar signs, unicorns and happy faces. There was a logical, automatic way in which that size itself translated into a nagging, suspicious feeling. A book like War and Peace is long because its a long story, but a document like this being long means that there is a long list of impacts. It is not long because the author chose to make it long, but its long because there wasn't any way to make it shorter!!! And given that so much of the public discourse on the buildup had been primarily positive (with a few token minor negatives), that simple fact could be so jarring.

In the time since that comment period, we've been able to see a number of other gaps in this buildup form or become clearer. One of the most significant forms you can see this is through the relationship between something being delayed, negotiated, fought over, funding slashed and something being constantly argued as being "a done deal." Esta magutos i finihu. The "done deal" trope was so effective from 2005 - 2009, for rebuffing any criticism of the buildup or calls to stop or change it. It was effective because of the way Guam always struggles with this desire to respect the US and to give up its local sovereignty or local power to them in order to improve things, take care of things or pay for things. It was funny how so many people, when asked about their personal thoughts on the buildup would preface their responses with the notion that "its not up to us." Pure, fresh, unadulerated colonial ambivalence. When asked what you personally feel about something, you couch even that ability to think about it or make a choice in the matter (something which should always belong to you), being something which is either already dominated or will be dominated by the US. It is a point which people use to try to reflect reality (of Guam's colonial, powerless position), but it is just as much something that they use to create reality, to create and reengineer that powerlessness.

I shouldn't be writing this post right now, I've got too much work to do, but I was compelled to write it after reading more news from Japan (as opposed to recent news from the US) about delays, slowdowns, changes in funding, and plenty of unanswered questions about the buildup. None of these shreds of news indicate that the buildup is being called off or not happening, but there is a very big difference between something being a done deal and ultimately "closed" off and no longer subject to change, debate or even being prevented. But the first step in a situation like this is to change things on that level, to open up something like the buildup, to deprive it of its force of being assumed or unquestioned.

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Japan may delay finalizing U.S. base relocation details

Jul 20 03:18 AM US/Eastern - Jul 20 05:18 CST

TOKYO, July 20 (AP) - (Kyodo) — Japan may delay finalizing details of the planned relocation of a key U.S. military base within Okinawa Prefecture, Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa suggested Tuesday in reference to the original deadline of August.


Kitazawa, speaking to reporters after a Cabinet meeting, said the government must pay attention to the result of a gubernatorial election in Okinawa slated for November.

"We must place importance" on the election to choose the governor "who has the heaviest responsibility for Okinawa," he said.

The Japanese and U.S. governments agreed in May to move the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station within the island prefecture despite strong opposition from locals. The two countries then decided to work out such details of the relocation plan as a specific location and construction methods for the replacement facility by late August after a series of talks.

Kitazawa said the government hopes it could avoid forcing people in Okinawa to accept finalized details without any argument, adding, "I think it is likely that we cannot tell anything for sure until after the election."

His comments signal that the government may not aim to reach a conclusion during the ongoing talks between Japanese and U.S. officials and experts, and will instead only narrow the possible options they could take.

Tokyo's position of delaying the relocation may cause U.S. backlash. But Kitazawa said, "I believe the U.S. side understands the political situation in Okinawa well."

The Japan-U.S. agreement in May said more of the U.S. military drills in Okinawa will be transferred out of the prefecture, naming Tokunoshima Island of Kagoshima Prefecture, Self-Defense Force bases in mainland Japan and the U.S. territory of Guam as possible hosts.

The government is now more likely to abandon the Tokunoshima option as it is considering giving up earmarking in the budget for next fiscal year the cost of research in connection with a possible transfer of some U.S. military drills there, government sources said.

Cabinet members denied anything has been finalized.

"That isn't something definitively decided," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku told a news conference on Tuesday. Kitazawa said the government is not yet at a stage where it can decide "whether or not we should give up."

The move to give up securing funds reflects concerns over the considerable costs likely to arise in building supply and maintenance facilities and barracks needed to move the drills onto Tokunoshima, said the sources, who added strong protests from the islanders to accepting the drills were also factored in.

Kitazawa has said a concrete transfer plan would be compiled by the end of next month. For now, the Defense Ministry will consider moving the drills to SDF facilities at which the U.S. military has already conducted them, they said.

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9H2KREO0&show_article=1

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