Sunday, July 31, 2011

100 Seconds

Gof ya-hu i "The Day in 100 Seconds" ni' fina'tinas as Talking Points Memo.

Taya' cable-hu, ya achokka' meggai tinaitai-hu gi i internet kada diha, ti hu gof tutungo' i hafa masusesedi gi i mundon i mainstream media. Guaha dos mas ya-hu na huego. I fine'nina huegon video siha, ko'lo'lo'na "Sahyan Estreyas 2" pat estaba hu fa'na'an "Kareran Estreyas 2" pat fino' Ingles "Starcraft 2." Gof ya-hu humugando ayu yan umegga' lokkue' gi i professionat yan gof kapas na ganadot na banda. I mina'dos "politics" ayu un gof "frustrating" yan "interesante" yan "bunito" na huego. Guaha nai i mampulitikat mambaibaila, guaha mamyaoyaoyao, ya sesso manmumumu. Guaha manmaolek na taotao siha yan guaha mambaba lokkue'. Ayek un banda ya pakpaki yan bibayi i ganadot-mu siha!

Este i "Day in 100 Seconds" ginnen i kumeplanos-hu gi i ma'pos na simana.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Interview With Sung Hee Choi

My friend in South Korea Sung Hee Choice has been put in prison for the past two months for peacefully obstructing the construction of a Navy base in the tiny village of Gangjeong in Southen Jeju. She used to run the blog No Base Korea Stories, but after being arrested her friends have taken over the task of updating it on the fight against militarism in South Korea.

David Vine, an anthropologist who is most famous for his excellent book on the secret history of Diego Garcia, had a chance to visit Sung Hee recently and wrote up his interview for the website Foreign Policy in Focus.

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Jeju Island Activist Sung-Hee Choi Interviewed in Prison

Foreign Policy in Focus
By David Vine, July 26, 2011
Last week, I had the honor of going to prison. I was conducting research on South Korea’s beautiful Jeju Island, off the country’s southern coast, and was lucky enough to be one of the two people per day allowed to speak with the renowned imprisoned activist Sung-Hee Choi.

Choi was arrested for her attempts to prevent the construction of a naval base in Jeju’s Gangjeong Village, a base that many suspect would become a new port for the U.S. Navy. Despite the opposition of people like Choi, who has repeatedly laid her body in front of construction equipment, the South Korean government has been trying to create a base on Jeju since at least 2002, on an island that South Korea has declared, no less, an “Island of Peace.” Twice already, protestors have forced the government to find another construction site.

In the newest site, Gangjeong, where thousands of tons worth of construction supplies sit near the water, the base would pave over a delicate and rare volcanic beachfront, endanger local marine life, and destroy the heart of a beautiful seaside village. For five years, Gangjeong’s people have been struggling to stop the base.

Over the weekend, hundreds of South Korean police started assembling around Gangjeong in what villagers feared would be an imminent attempt to evict them by force from their permanent seaside protest site. This week, after protestors chained themselves to trees to block a police front hoe, the arrival of several politicians appears to have reduced tensions and forced the police, at least temporarily, to halt their eviction plans.

The following are Sung-Hee Choi’s words from our conversation last Thursday. I have lightly edited the transcript for ease of reading. Tomorrow morning, I return to Jeju to monitor the ongoing standoff with Sung-Hee’s powerful words still fresh in my mind.

SUNG-HEE CHOI: The United States and South Korea use military exercises in the Asia-Pacific region that are aimed against China not North Korea. There is big evidence that the United States will want the Jeju naval base, even though this is officially denied every time: They say, “This is not a U.S. naval base. This is a South Korean base.” So this is really a trick. They are really deceiving people. There is no problem for the U.S. military to use it. First, the U.S. and South Korean mutual defense treaty, which was signed in 1954, allows the United States to use of all South Korean military facilities. Second, the SOFA [Status of Forces Agreement] facilities are really meant for the U.S. military. Third, the U.S. military strategic flexibility policy under which South Korea has allowed U.S. forces in Korea to assume expanding regional and global roles beyond deterring North Korea.

The United States military can clearly use any South Korean base.

It is not only the military, but also corporations like Samsung and Daerim that are benefiting from the building of the base. It is not only a military part, but also the commercial part. What I am afraid about is the entrance of fascism in the whole island.

DAVID VINE: Fascism?

SUNG-HEE: Yes, fascism. Yes. In the mainland, and now Jeju island is being dominated by Samsung.

A base on Jeju would be a tragedy for Jeju Island and its people, because of what they have already experienced in 1948, when the South Korean military massacred 40,000 [accused communists].

Jeju’s people’s history is one of struggling against outside powers: the United States and Japan. U.S. military weapons [were involved in the massacre] just a few years after the South Korean liberation from Japan. Jeju's own identity is constant. Jeju has been the victim of the outside powers.

Why are we still struggling? Not only for the environment, but also for the history of the Jeju island and South Korea, which have been struggling against the powerful countries.

Another thing that I am thinking is that, day by day, Jeju island is a red button for the United States military. The United States already occupies all of the region that it covets. The United States already occupies Hawai’i, Okinawa, Philippines—or, they used to. Now they want to occupy Jeju island. This is a peace island. This is for peace. Now the vision of the peace activists here is for keeping the island as a real peace island.

Brother Song [a fellow activist] and [former Jeju Governor] Shin Goo-beom have tried to find alternatives for villagers for how to develop Gangjeong village for our future generation. One option is to build a UN Peace School. They are all talking about this. And also the chairman and the villagers’ committee, they are all talking about this. That needs to be our vision. That needs to be our ultimate goal. That is a concrete vision to create a real peace school for future generations in Jeju island.

And I really hope that you can talk about how the villagers are suffering. How they love their hometown. I really hope that you will please communicate how the islands in the Asia-Pacific region are now a target of an empire base for the United States.

DAVID: Why do you think there are so many people who are so dedicated to the struggle? Like yourself. People willing to go to jail. People willing to go on hunger strikes. There are many anti-base movements but people seem to be very passionate, and I wonder why—either personally for yourself or for others—you think people are so dedicated, so strong in their opposition?

SUNG-HEE: As I have written before, I feel a responsibility to talk for the voiceless animals and creatures who cannot speak. Second, for our future generations who will be the victims of war if we don’t stop the base. I think the villagers love their hometown so much. It is their hometown. They love it so much.

It is about love. It is about a love that cannot speak. It is about the sea that cannot speak. It is about the creatures who cannot speak aloud. We are basically talking about, we are basically talking….

And then, an automated voice and background music abruptly cut Sung-Hee off, announcing that our time had expired and instructing visitors to leave quickly. Sung-Hee grabbed her pen and the scrap of paper next to her and furiously wrote a few final words. She held the paper briefly up to the glass between us before a guard took her away. The paper read:

It is about love for the people who cannot speak now.

It is about love.

David Vine is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at American University in Washington, DC, and the author of Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia (Princeton University Press).

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Love and Hate

I find the messages of Guam's business community to be really funny sometimes. Sure, there's the usual rhetoric about their particular interests being the interests for all, and that people who have millions of dollars and small to medium sized local empires are just regular people too who want what's best for the entire island. The military buildup was of course one object of discourse where this rhetoric would emerge most clearly, as the particular interests of the rich to get contracts, to engorge themselves in speculative capitalism, and basically swim in a pile of golden tickets, came to also somehow mean that the average Joe Cruz would also be getting a huge slice of economic prosperity. Nothing even remotely close is on the horizon even if the buildup as it was first proposed should go through, but somehow people accepted na chumilong the millions made by one to the new minimum wage jobs that the buildup will create for hundreds.

What I find na'chalek today is actually the rhetoric over China and how in an effort to try to cover as many possible economic bases as possible, business and political leaders find themselves purposely contradicting themselves. The United States has the ultimate love and hate relationship with China, and Guam is right smack in the middle of that.

The report below from PNC News about the recent trip of members of the Guam Chamber of Commerce Armed Forces Committee is a perfect example of this. These members of Guam's economic elite had many meetings with Washington officials, and at each meeting according to them, the message was the same, Guam is strategically important, Guam needs to be built up militarily and the reason why is because of CHINA. China is growing in power both economically and militarily and has plenty of disposable income which it is spreading around the world to places where it both have current interests and has potential future interests (whether resource based or strategy based). So on the one hand, these titans of local industry head to Washington with prophecies of possible doom in the Asia-Pacific region with the rise of the Kraken that is China, being unleashed across the world. They argue in the most polite terms possible (which is characteristic of American ambivalence towards China) that China is dangerous and must be kept in check and Guam is the best place to do the checking from.



So according to the first face of Janus, China is a gathering threat to the United States and Guam can play a key role in keeping it from becoming too threatening.

Yet at the same time as representatives of Guam spell doom and gloom for the Pacific over China, they are also going to Washington talking about getting Visa Waivers for guess which country? It certainly wouldn't be China since as we all know, China is such a huge threat to the United States and cannot be trusted and Guam has to be built up in order to contain China. Oh, wait, lana, maleffa yu', it is China!

That's right, such is the life on the tip of the spear, where your economic engines are in their essence contradictory. Guam as a strategic military location needs to be kept secure, it needs to have its points of entry carefully checked and watched to ensure that whatever strategic assets that are placed here not unnecessarily put at risk. But Guam is also a tourist hub, and tourism actually does generate more money than military spending on Guam, but there are moments where the business of militarization conflicts with the business of tourism. The Guam Visitor's Bureau's report on how the military buildup will affect tourism argued that there will be a further decline because of the perception of Guam being too military, and that is something which already hurts Okinawa's tourism from mainland Japan, and so it would also be a stigma that Guam would end up shouldering as well. For the tourism industry you need markets and you need people who want to come to Guam and who will have money in their pockets to spend when they get here. China is the prize which everyone lusts after, with it's emerging middle class who are all looking for ways to spend their money overseas.

Ti sina un chule' todu malago-mu, is how I translate the famous line from the Rolling Stones song, "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Although Guam is a place where it constantly feels like it gets things both ways, both in good and bad senses, this may be a point where those desires to have more military and to have more tourism may not work out. The more that China does become a threat, the more likely Guam is to get more military from the US. But the greater a threat China is to the US, the less likely it is that they would approve a Guam only Visa Waiver since that would leave Guam open to an incredible amount of security risks.

Although I don't see it wrong that Guam attempts both arguments, but I just think it's hysterical to see both issues, the love of China and the hate of China being pushed on this island by our political and economic leaders.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Terrorists in (Un)expected Places

The recent attacks in Norway at first glance seemed like a dream come true for crazy conservatives who love to use Islam around the world as an example of why Americans must increase military budgets, stop the seeping spread of multiculturalism, counter the pansiness of liberalism and tolerance and take up the glorious counter-Jihad against the global Islamic Jihad. Norway, one of those crazy liberal, sort of socialist countries, which people always point to along with Sweden, as places which the United States should follow in terms of improving some basic social service or government program. The people at Fox News must have been very estatic at first after hearing about the attack, since it would no doubt give them great red meat for several news cycles, inviting on people who would argue against the building of mosques in American communities (one of whom is popular Republican Presidential possible candidate Herman Cain) and maybe even bring back that crazy Texas Congressman who says that Muslims are sneaking into the US in order to make "terror babies." At first it seemed like a gift from heaven for conservatives looking to tongue lash liberals or Democrats.

Then it was revealed that the attacker was in truth white and a conservative culture warrior, who hated Muslims, multiculturalism and was more of the type that Fox News would have on as a guest commentator than their object of their daily two minutes of hate.

A great article below by Gary Younge from The Nation has more on this.

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Europe's Homegrown Terrorists

Gary Younge
July 25, 2011
The Nation

Two weeks after the fatal terrorist attacks of July 7, 2005, in London, and one day after another failed attack, a student, Jean Charles de Menezes, was in the London Underground when plainclothes police officers gave chase and shot him seven times in the head.

Initial eyewitness reports said he was wearing a suspiciously large puffa jacket on a hot day and had vaulted the barriers and run when asked to stop. Anthony Larkin, who was on the train, said he saw “this guy who appeared to have a bomb belt and wires coming out.” Mark Whitby, who was also at the station, thought he saw a Pakistani terrorist being chased and gunned down by plainclothes policemen. Less than a month later, Whitby said, “I now believe that I could have been looking at the surveillance officer” being thrown out of the way as Menezes was being killed.

The Pakistani turned out to be a Brazilian. Security cameras showed he was wearing a light denim jacket and clearly in no rush as he picked up a free paper and swiped his metrocard.

“The way we see things is affected by what we know and what we believe,” wrote John Berger in Ways of Seeing. “The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled.”

When some Western commentators see a terrorist attack they are apparently far more comfortable with what they believe than what they know.

So it was on Friday when news emerged of the appalling attacks in Norway that have left an estimated seventy-six dead and a nation traumatized. Rupert Murdoch’s Sun in Britain (the bestselling daily newspaper) ran with the headline “Al Qaeda massacre: Norway’s 9/11.” The Weekly Standard insisted: “We don’t know if al Qaeda was directly responsible for today’s events, but in all likelihood the attack was launched by part of the jihadist hydra.” Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post then claimed: “This is a sobering reminder for those who think it’s too expensive to wage a war against jihadists.”

In just a few hours an entire conceptual framework had been erected—though hardly from scratch—to discuss the problem of Muslims in particular and non-white immigration in Europe in general and the existential threat these problems pose to civilization as we know it.

Then came the fact that the terrorist was actually a white, Christian extremist and a neo-Nazi, Anders Breivik, raging against Islam and multiculturalism. Unlike Muslims in the wake of Islamist attacks, Christians weren’t called upon to insist upon their moderation. No one argued that white people had to get with the Enlightenment project. But the bombings—and the presumptions about who was responsible—suggest that the true threat to European democracy is not Islam or Muslims but, once again, fascism and racists.

The belief that Muslims must have been involved chimes easily with a distorted, hysterical understanding of the demographic, religious and racial dynamics that have been present in Europe for well over a generation, variants of which are also at work in the United States today.

The general framing goes like this. Europe is being overrun by Muslims and other non-white immigrants, who are outbreeding non-Muslims at a terrifying rate. Unwilling to integrate culturally and unable to compete intellectually, Muslim populations have become hotbeds of terrorist sympathy and activity. Their presence threatens not only security but the liberal consensus regarding women’s rights and gay rights that Western Europe has so painstakingly established; and overall, this state of affairs represents a fracturing of society that is losing its common values. This has been allowed to happen in the name of not offending specific ethnic groups, otherwise known as multiculturalism.

One could spend all day ripping these arguments to shreds, but for now let’s just deal with the facts.

There have been predictions that the Muslim population of Europe will almost double by 2015 (Oner Taspiner, the Brookings Institution); double by 2020 (Don Melvin, the Associated Press); and be 20 percent of the continent by 2050 (Esther Pan, Council on Foreign Relations). Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum told Sarah Posner of Religion Dispatches: “The number I heard is every 32 years the population, the European population of Europe will be reduced by 50 percent. That’s how bad their birthrates are. This is in many respects a dying continent from the standpoint of European-Europeans.”

This is nonsense. The projections are way off. While Muslims in Europe do have higher birthrates than non-Muslims, their birthrates are falling. A Pew Forum study, published in January 2011, forecast an increase of Muslims in European population from 6 percent in 2010 to 8 percent in 2030.

The Norwegian terrorist Breivik feared a Muslim takeover. But Muslims make up 3 percent of Norway. Black Americans have a greater presence in Alaska.

But even if these predictions were true, so what? There’s nothing to say Europe has to remain Christian or majority-white.

Nor do immigrants struggle to integrate. In Britain, Asian Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus all marry outside of their own groups at the same rates as whites. For most ethnic minorities in Britain, roughly half or more of their friends are white. Only 20 percent of those born in Britain have friends only from their own group. According to a Pew Research Center survey, the principal concerns of Muslims in France, Germany and Spain are unemployment and Islamic extremism.

In most of Europe the official politics of multiculturalism that the likes of Breivik and more mainstream politicians rail against—a liberal, state-led policy of encouraging and supporting cultural difference at the expense of national cohesion—is an absolute fiction. Last year German chancellor Angela Merkel claimed the “multikulti” experiment had failed. Earlier this year, British Prime Minister David Cameron said the same thing. The truth is that neither country ever tried such an experiment. “We never had a policy of multiculturalism,” explains Mekonnen Mesghena, head of migration and intercultural management at the Heinrich Böll Foundation. “We had a policy of denial: denial of immigration and of diversity. Now it’s like we are waking up from a long trance.”

The real object of their ire is the existence of “other”—meaning non-white—cultures and races in Europe: the fact of “other” cultures, not the promotion of them. The single greatest obstacle to integration in most of Europe is not Islam or multiculturalism but racism and the economic and academic disadvantage that comes with it.

And, finally, Muslims are nowhere near the greatest terrorist threat. According to Europol, between 2006 and 2008 only .4 percent of terrorist plots (including attempts and fully executed attacks) in Europe were from Islamists. The lion’s share (85 percent) were related to separatism. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. But it’s not on the scale or of the nature that those first out of the gate on Friday claimed it was. Put bluntly, if you have to assume anything when a bomb goes off in Europe, think region, not religion.

But there are some in Europe who are struggling to cope with the changes taking place—who are failing to integrate into changing societies and who harbor deep-seated resentments against their fellow citizens. That is a sizeable and growing section of the white population so alienated that it has once again made fascism a mainstream ideology on the continent.

In Germany the bestselling book since the Second World War by former Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin blames inbreeding among Turks and Kurds for “congenital disabilities” and argues that immigrants from the Middle East are a “genetic minus” for the country. “But the subject is usually hushed up,” he wrote. “Perish the thought that genetic factors could be partially responsible for the failure of parts of the Turkish populations in the German school system.”

A poll published in the national magazine Focus in September 2010 showed 31 percent of respondents agreeing that Germany is “becoming dumber” because of immigrants; 62 percent said Sarrazin’s comments were “justified.” In Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France and Italy, hard-right nationalist and anti-immigrant parties regularly receive more than 10 percent of the vote. In Finland it is 19 percent; in Norway it is 22 percent; in Switzerland, 29 percent. In Italy and Austria they have been in government; in Switzerland, where the anti-immigrant Swiss People’s Party is the largest party, they still are.

Breivik was from a particularly vile strain of that trend. But he did not come from nowhere. And the anxieties that produced him are growing. Fascists prey on economic deprivation and uncertainty, democratic deficits cause by European Union membership and issues of sovereignty related to globalization. Far right forces in Greece, for example, are currently enjoying a vigorous revival. When scapegoats are needed they provide them. When solutions are demanded they are scarce.

Who Are We—And Should it Matter in the 21st Century? by Gary Younge is published by Nation Books.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Julian Aguon Wins The Petra Award

For Immediate Release

from the Guåhan Coalition for Peace and Justice
July 25, 2011

Local Author/Attorney Wins Prestigious Petra Award for Human Rights Work

One of Guam’s finest writers and attorneys, Julian Aguon, was recently chosen as a 2011 Petra Fellow for his “distinctive contributions to the rights, autonomy and dignity” of the people of Guam and the Pacific region, and the work he has done “for the cause of justice, fairness, and human dignity,” according to the Petra Foundation.

The Petra Fellowship comes with a $7,500 financial award, which will be presented to Mr. Aguon in Cambridge, Massachusetts the weekend of November 18 - 20, 2011. Mr. Aguon will also join an “inclusive, informal, hands-on national network of citizen activists who are working across the lines of age, ethnicity, class and issue to build a more just society,” according to the Petra Foundation.

As described on the Foundation’s website, “The Petra Foundation was established in 1988 to sustain the trajectory of Petra Tölle Shattuck's life by honoring the kind of people she most admired—unsung individuals making distinctive contributions to the rights, autonomy and dignity of others … Petra Fellows encourage others to make a difference in their own communities. Not one of the fellows has stopped working or growing. Many have gone on to receive wider recognition and their local successes have become models of regional and national significance.”

The Foundation’s namesake, Petra, was born in Germany during World War II, and “took refuge as a child from the bombings, hunger and harsh post-war realities in Karl May's novels about Native American heroes, whose struggles she would later embrace as her own,” according to the Foundation’s website.

Mr. Aguon’s tremendous contributions as an acclaimed writer, human rights advocate, and attorney made him a perfect candidate for the Petra Fellowship.

For more information about Mr. Aguon and the fellowship, please contact Mrs. Hope Cristobal at 483-0097 or ecris64@teleguam.net. Please do not publish this contact information.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Decolonization Registry

The Office of Senator Ben Pangelinan has for a few years now took on the task of trying to get people registered for the Chamorro registry. According to Guam Public Law a decolonization plebiscite cannot take place until 70% of those who are eligible to vote (those who are legally "Chamorro") have signed up for the registry. On Senator Pangelinan's website you can see what the count was as of last year April, less than 1,000, which is far short of the tens of thousands who need to be registered. In the rise since the start of the year of public discourse on self-determination, this issue of 70% has been regularly challenged as an insurmountable barrier to the process. The original intent of the law is clear. In times past referendum's on political status have low turnout and so the requirement is designed to ensure that if a plebiscite takes place, enough people vote so that the next step in Guam's political evolution is not decided by a tiny group.

 Senator Ben's office has taken on this task, and make regular appearances at public events such as Liberation Day to help people get registered. I'm glad to see him doing this, since for years the Decolonization Office itself didn't do much about this, and although there has been plenty of talk of self-determination there has been no real coordinated effort to get people registered or even educated. I had high hopes from the Calvo Administration on this front, and although their rhetoric is interesting sometimes and stuff I would agree with, I have seen very little substance yet.

If you are interested in getting registered then you don't have to wait for the next Liberation Day in order to sign up, you can go down to Senator Ben's office anytime and his staff can help you sign all the necessary paperwork. Here's the link to his website: Office of the People.

Friday, July 22, 2011

US Empire Creates Resentment, Not Security


As we debate an exit from Afghanistan, it’s critical that we focus not only on the costs of deploying the current force of more than 100,000 troops, but also on the costs of maintaining permanent bases long after those troops leave.

This is an issue that demands a hard look not only in Afghanistan and Iraq, but around the globe—where the United States has a veritable empire of bases.

According to the Pentagon, there are approximately 865 US military bases abroad—over 1,000 if new bases in Iraq and Afghanistan are included. The cost? $102 billion annually—and that doesn’t include the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan bases.

In a must-read article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Sciences, anthropologist Hugh Gusterson points out that these bases “constitute 95 percent of all the military bases any country in the world maintains on any other country’s territory.” He notes a “bloated and anachronistic” Cold War-tilt toward Europe, including 227 bases in Germany.

“It makes as much sense for the Pentagon to hold onto 227 military bases in Germany as it would for the post office to maintain a fleet of horses and buggies,” writes Gusterson.

In a recent Italian documentary Standing Army, the late author and Nation contributor Chalmers Johnson says, “The unit of empire in the classic European empires was the colony. The unit for the American empire is not the colony, it’s the military base.… Things that can’t go on forever, don’t. That’s where we are today.”
The bases—isolated from the host communities and, as Gusterson writes, “generating resentment against [their] prostitution, environmental damage, petty crime, and everyday ethnocentrism”—face growing opposition from local citizens.

Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) fellow Phyllis Bennis says that the Pentagon and military have been brilliant at spreading military production across virtually every Congressional district so that even the most antiwar members of Congress are reluctant to challenge big Defense projects.

“But there’s really no significant constituency for overseas bases because they don’t bring much money in a concentrated way,” says Bennis. “So in theory it should be easier to mobilize to close them.” What is new and heartening, according to Bennis, is that “there are now people in countries everywhere that are challenging the US bases and that’s a huge development.”

For example, in the wealthy, conservative town of Vicenza, Italy, environmental and progressive activists have been joined by the right-wing government, city council, and local businesspeople in the “Stop Dal Molin” base expansion campaign. A NATO base is already located there, but the United States is trying to expand to a new base and build a new landing strip less than 500 meters from some of the original Palladio mansions of the Renaissance, according to Bennis.

IPS has worked diligently not only with allies abroad but also in the United States to promote a more rational military posture with regard to bases. Other active groups include the American Friends Service Committee and the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the latter focusing on bases in Latin America.

In 2010, IPS mobilized congressional opposition to the building of a new base in Okinawa by working with groups in the United States and in Japan. This campaign included the creation of a grassroots coalition of peace, environmental and Asian American groups called the Network for Okinawa, a full-page ad in the Washington Post, articles in various progressive media, and a series of Congressional visits. (The East Asia-US-Puerto Rico Women’s Network Against Militarism also played a key role, linking anti-base movements in Okinawa, Guam, Puerto Rico and Hawaii.)

The Congressional outreach culminated in a recent bipartisan effort by Senators Jim Webb, Carl Levin, and John McCain to reject the proposed base in Henoko and rethink US military force posture in Asia overall. Other Congressional activity includes Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s recently passed amendment barring defense appropriations for FY2012 from being used to establish permanent bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) People’s Budget which calls for base closures, force reductions and “decreasing routine deployment of US troops overseas.”

Representative Mike Honda—a House Budget Committee member and lead author of the CPC budget—says, “Admiral Mike Mullen, chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says the biggest threat to our national security is our debt. Now if the Pentagon would just be willing to do something about it, we might actually see a different defense strategy abroad and a different defense budget here at home.”

While major peace organizations and other groups focused on human needs are demanding that the military budget be cut in order to fund vital domestic programs, the empire of bases is often overlooked.

“Most people involved in this work have no idea that the US maintains a network of roughly 1,000 foreign military bases,” says Joseph Gerson, director of programs for the American Friends Service Committee in New England and editor of The Sun Never Sets: Confronting the Network of U.S. Foreign Military Bases. “Similarly, they have no awareness that the bipartisan budget reduction commission called for cutting the number of US foreign military bases by a third.”

One budget item activists have set their sights on is AFRICOM—the US Africa Command launched in 2008 and responsible for overseeing all military and security programs and operations in Africa, and an increasing amount of development work. The AFRICOM headquarters alone costs almost $300 million for operation and maintenance, with an additional $263 million for support and $200 million for the Camp Lemonier base with 1,800 US troops in Djibouti. Based on the FY 2010 budget requests, AFRICOM would receive approximately $1.4 billion.

IPS took the lead in organizing the Africa Human Security Group, a coalition of faith-based and youth groups, African Diaspora groups, academics and Africa-based allies opposed to the development of the new US Africa Command. In general, African civil society is strongly opposed to AFRICOM and US military involvement on the continent. In large part due to widespread African criticisms, the US was unable to headquarter the command on the continent. It is located instead outside of Stuttgart, Germany.

“This is a victory for Africans,” says Emira Woods, co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at IPS, “and one that should be sustained through the next round of base negotiations.”

The opposition to US military bases stretched like tentacles across the globe has also led to some interesting transpartisan work. IPS research fellow Miriam Pemberton and the Cato Institute’s Chris Preble were part of a task force that argued substantial cuts to the military budget must be part of any deficit reduction package.

The task force report offered $1 trillion in military cuts over ten years, a proposal adopted by Bowles-Simpson Deficit Commission members Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and labor leader Andy Stern. Included is the idea that greater savings could be achieved by adopting the military strategy of “Offshore Balancing,” which would involve pulling most of our bases out of Asia and Europe, at a savings of approximately $80 billion per year. IPS’s forthcoming Unified Security Budget of the United States, FY 2012—which will be published in July—will include a new section on the military roles and missions we can do without, thereby realizing substantial savings. It will lean heavily on overseas bases and “military support missions” like AFRICOM.

The plain truth is that the staggering resources we spend to support an empire of bases isn’t making us more secure. Instead, they fuel resentment and consume resources desperately needed to invest here at home, as well as targeted development aid that could be used more wisely and efficiently by non-military experts.

“President Obama has ordered a new review to look for ways to cut the military budget,” says Pemberton. “Crucially, it is supposed to be—in his words—based on ‘a fundamental review of America’s missions, capabilities, and our role in a changing world.’ First on the list of roles we need to jettison—reaping benefits in billions of dollars saved and in international good will earned—is world policeman with precinct bases on every continent.”

Bennis agrees.

“The President talks about re-setting, and ‘new relations’ with people and governments around the world. 

Here’s an opportunity to make good on it.”

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mangge i Chamorro?

Last week a small group of people started walking at 5:30 am in front of the Malesso Church. They headed north along Route 4 for hours, passing through Inarajan and Ipan and eventually ending in the middle of the day at the Manengon Memorial in Ylig, Yo’na. For those who finished the journey it was a difficult trek of 19 miles the last half of which was under the unforgiving Guam sun. The name of this walk was "Remember Our Strength" or "Hasso i Minetgot-ta."

I started off with the group in Malesso, but by mile 13, for my own personal reasons felt like stopping and didn't continue. Although I was tired by that point it wasn't an issue of physical pain that made me stop. I made this decision because in my eyes the walk had become something I didn't want to participate in anymore, and with only 6 miles left I decided to catch a ride back to my car. My personal issues with the walk however shouldn't detract however from the event's potential importance and symbolic value. Despite my misgivings, we should celebrate those who did complete the walk and also take stock of the larger significance of what they accomplished.

On an island where walking has become so foreign except to those who exercise regularly, a gesture such as this is not to be taken lightly. Although those who did walk, had food and water and chase cars at their disposal, people were still put to their limit. There is always the hardness of the pavement, the casual rush of cars sometimes just a foot away from you, and the unforgiving nature of the elements. Clouds bring a reprieve from the heat, but also bring some rain, which feels good only until the sun appears and the heat returns with a vengeance.

History and remembering are supposed to be so important, but because humans by their nature forget things, and eventually leave this world, we create monuments, forms of commemoration in order to make certain that something remains understood, that something which should be remembered will have a place from which a collective mind can always be brought back to it. But these monuments are always passive, always an experience which can communicate the barest sliver of what is meant to be conveyed.

I have long wondered why the History Channel is so popular with people, and part of it is because of the way history is presented as entertainment. By this I don’t mean that history is presented as entertaining or fun to watch, but that it is meant to be that one-way experience, history becomes something which can be flipped on and off, it can be muted, it can be paused, fast forwarded, rewound. Or, if you don’t like a particular part of history, you can always wait until another version of it comes on later in the programming schedule. History becomes not a force which molds you, makes you, chains you, but something light you take in easy doses, something you TiVo and enjoy from the comfort of your couch.

For history of yore, things long dead and gone, this might be appropriate, but for histories more recent and more traumatic, such as World War II on Guam, it feels almost wrong to have such a passive commitment to history. Although you are hearing stories and recalling events which took so much from so many, it takes nothing from you, it costs you nothing to listen, and even if you claim to appreciate the importance of what is being said and that you will cherish and protect it always, those are mere words and engrams in your memory banks. It costs you nothing to say them or feel them, which is why even if you forget or fail to understand what you claim to, you still lose nothing in the process. History, like a sprawling, bland batch of cable channels, exists at your disposal. Even if this isn't the truth of the situation, this is nonetheless the experience, one of sovereign, self-serving detachment.

What made this walk so important and so inspiring, was that those who walked did not simply place words or discounted, faded memories at the altar of Chamorro suffering in World War II. They did not sit on their couch and hear about how those who suffered in the final days of Japanese occupation and then shake their heads, close their eyes and think about how it must have been to be forced marched from different corners of the island to an unknown fate in Guam’s central valley. Instead in the way that they memorialized and remembered that event is by giving up their very bodies to it, to try and not just use your mind to bridge the generational and temporal gap, but their bodies as well. Although the walk was not meant to be a re-enactment, the phrase walking in the footsteps of another comes to mind. You can imagine walking in the footsteps of another, which is an easy and passive way of doing it, or you can attempt to literally walk in them to honor them. You cannot and probably should not reduplicate their experiences, but does giving up your muscles and bones to commemorate something bring you closer to that experience? That is why the title of the walk was so appropriate. It was not “Remember Their Strength” or “Remember What Happened To Them.” It is instead “Remember Our Strength.” The change in pronoun greatly changes the potential meaning of the walk. It reminds us that the connections between the past and present are not the fanciful, vapid and eyeball-drying ones between a viewer and the television. It is convenient for us to feel and see history that way, but that is historical experience at its most minute and mundane level.

For the Chamorros of today. Those experiences are our experiences. Their triumphs are our triumphs. Their pain is our pain. Their strength is our strength. But we fool ourselves to imagine that that strength is like some free, much fantasized money from an anonymous dead uncle or aunt. It is something which arrives with us, but not something which we get to enjoy without strings. It is something which must be unlocked. It is something which each generation receives raw materials for, but must find a new way to forge and create with it. This walk represents a clear way in which Chamorros attempted to find that strength within them and to not greedily take from history, but even to offer themselves up in exchange for it.

Although I did not finish I had planned to speak and share some thoughts at the conclusion of the walk. I wanted to find amongst all the things Chamorros have written, something, an article, a testimonial, a poem, which would help sum up why this walk had been undertaken. After searching through my archives and several books, I settled upon the lyrics to the song “Mångge i Chamorro?” from the band Chamorro. The lyrics were featured in a very touching article written by Chamorro poet laureate Lee Perez titled “A Chamorro Re-Telling of ‘Liberation.’” The song is an intriguing mixture of lamentation of loss, recognition of responsibility and call to come together. To me it fit perfectly with what the intent of the walk was.

In hopes of commemorating the spirit of this walk and celebrating those who finished it, I thought I would paste the lyrics here:


Manmåtto, manmåtto magi

They came, they came here

Tåya’ mamaisen, tåya’ ni’ håyi

No one asked, not any of them

Chålan Maloffan

The road of the past

Homhom i karera

Is a dark voyage

Ti u ma’åñao ma’åñao

They will not be afraid of

Este na manera

This way



Pastot i lugåt

Shepherd of the place

Hami i Chamorro siñat

We Chamorro are the symbol/sign

Hami lina’la’ taotao Guahan

We are the life, people of Guam

Mångge Chamorro maila

Where are the Chamorro? Come

Tohge yan pulan

Stand and watch over

I tano’-måmi

Our land

Fanhasso familia

Remember, think of family

Guinaiyan-måmi

They are our love

Balensia i chekle

Fight the thief

Guatdia lina’la’

Guard our lives

Umoppan mensåhi

Have the message heard

Prutehi guinaha

Protect what we have/what’s ours



Pastot i lugåt

Shepherd of the land

Hami Chamorro siñat

We the Chamorro are the symbol/sign

Hami lina’la’ taotao Guahan

We are the life, people of Guam

Mångge Chamorro?

Where are the Chamorro?

Taotao Guahan

People of Guam

Mångge Chamorro?

Where are the Chamorro?

Taotao Guahan

People of Guam



Pastot i lugåt

Shepherd of the place

Hami i Chamorro siñat

We the Chamorro are the symbol/sign

Hami lina’la’ taotao Guahan

We are the life, people of Guam

Mångge Chamorro maila

Where are the Chamorro?, come

Pastot i lugåt

Shepherd of the place

Hami i Chamorro siñat

We the Chamorro are the symbol/sign

Hami lina’la’ taotao Guahan

We are the life, people of Guam

Mångge Chamorro maila

Where are the Chamorro?, come

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Defense Blind Spot

The article below from Common Dreams gives you a hint of what the term "militarism" refers to.

The rhetoric in Washington D.C. right now is that the American government and economy are potentially careening towards destruction, and so cuts and sacrifices have to be made. Armageddon in just in a few weeks and so there are both offers of compromises and rhetoric of righteous obstinacy from all sides. In a moment like this, where supposedly everything is being placed upon the table whereby the people aboard the plane which is surely going to crash unless the collective load can be lightened, make the decision as to what is chucked, you can see the ideological blindspots of people based on what they refuse to put out in the open, what they keep hidden behind their backs as they make angry suggestions about what is already on the table and should be thrown away for the good of the many.

It is intriguing how the most massive, overbloated, corrupt and inefficient part of the United States government, the Department of Defense, can remain exempt from the discussions about cutting budgets and saving money. Most on Guam might consider our local government to be the worst part of the United States and its empire when it comes to things such as oversight or money, but the vice of Guam's government is minor in so many ways compared to the constant and obvious theft which takes place in broad daylight through the Department of Defense each day.

This comparison is not meant to excuse corruption on Guam, but rather to place it in a better context. The hiring of a relative or a poorly qualified but politically related person is not good, but the level at which Guam's government corrupts life on Guam is so insignificant compared to the amount of graft and sheer mind-numbing incompetence at the Pentagon. The corruption there reaches global proportions, since the amount of money which is wasted dwarfs thousands of times over the entire budget of the Government of Guam, and could make up the economy of a large country. This is important because when people on Guam give an identity to the military and to the Department of Defense they tend to do it in positively skewed ways, pining for its garbage free roadsides or cheaper gas prices and seeing it as something which practices no nepotism but acts only based on merit. The Government of Guam on the other hand is something which is always skewed negatively, something which can be assumed to be unable to handle even simple tasks, something which you can always assume to screw things up, make them worse or just be absolutely inefficient. You see the military positively through proud serving men and women, and the Government of Guam negatively through a crowd of orange vested men seemingly doing nothing at a construction site or a bus driver sleeping in his vehicle while waiting for his next shift.

For Guam's peculiar way of conducting island business people here developed the term OOG or "only on Guam." Much of what came to be associated with this term was negative, or how only certain instances of public waste, corruption or incompetence could only be found on Guam. In those terms however, every local instance of public corruption must seem petty and almost silly when compared to that of the Department of Defense. The amount of money which is loses each year is somewhere in the billions, the amount of money it spends on things it never uses is enough to give any sensible person nightmares. So much of DOD's money is tied into projects which are welfare for defense contractors, making weapons that will never be used and generally don't function anyways. Since the level of waste at the Department of Defense far exceeds that of Guam and can be considered on the level of the most inept dictatorial regimes of postcolonial Africa, I am constantly surprised that the global lexicon hasn't adopted the phrase OAP "only at the Pentagon."

It is always surprising to see then the gap between the reality of an institution such as DOD and the daily sense impressions of people. That gap is precisely what makes the level of waste possible at the DOD. In the case of something like the Government of Guam, there is always a feeling of it needing to be better watched and monitored, and that is why even if it means that the island has failed itself, people can celebrate when GovGuam agencies are put in receivership. In the case of the DOD there is a feeling that one can let it do whatever it wants and everything should be ok. For Guam, this feeling of trust stems from personal feelings of the regimented order of military life, the nostalgia of the racist and paternal control from the Navy in pre-World War II Guam, and the perceptions of DOD as having endless coffers of cash from which it can draw from to constantly improve itself and take care of its problems. It is interesting then how this fantasy then clashes with reality over things such as the military buildup. So long as the buildup appeared to be in DOD's hands and was critiqued in very minute or limited ways, it appeared to be an economic dream come true. The natural faith that people have in the DOD being able to keep promises, do the impossible and ensure order seeped into the buildup, and so the more that others became involved in the process, activists, local leaders, the Governments of Japan and the United States, the more it seemed to fall apart. Even if the interventions of others were necessary or did important things in improving the buildup or calling into question things that needed to be questioned, there was still a tension amongst those who are ideologically predisposed to believe the fantasies of DOD supremacy, that something horrible had been done by daring to question whether or not DOD has the interests of Guam and its people at heart.

The Pagat lawsuit is a perfect example of this. While I have the feeling that many people support the lawsuit which attempts to protect Pagat by arguing that DOD did not follow the law when they selected the site for their five firing ranges, I also get the feeling, and one of the leaders of Para Hita Todu has even come out implying this, that the lawsuit is something wrong and bad because it gives a negative impression to DOD that Guam doesn't support them or want them. The problem with this logic is that it can't be right unless you believe that DOD is exceptional and should be given more freedom and autonomy than anyone else and should not be required to follow the law. Part of the frustration but also power of the Pagat lawsuit was how it was not couched in radical terms, and did not openly condemn colonialism and militarism, but rather asserted a very small legal challenge, which it appears will be successful. It did not attack DOD in the terms in which some activists assault the institution, which is something not shared by many and thus tends to be dismissed without any serious consideration. The attack just asked that DOD follow the law, which is powerful because DOD, while representatives of it may claim otherwise, generally gets to skirt the law and be made exempt from it. Due to its size and importance the DOD often gets the laws changed to suit its needs and not the other way around, and so given this context where DOD threw together a massive 11,000 page document of which so much cannot be taken seriously, you can see how they most likely expected the leeway they usually receive.

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

Published on Tuesday
July 12, 2011 by On the Commons
Why is the Most Wasteful Government Agency Not Part of the Deficit Discussion?


Republicans ignore incompetence, bloat and corruption at the Pentagon

by David Morris

In all the talk about the federal deficit, why is the single largest culprit left out of the conversation? Why is the one part of government that best epitomizes everything conservatives say they hate about government—- waste, incompetence, and corruption—all but exempt from conservative criticism?

Of course, I’m talking about the Pentagon. Any serious battle plan to reduce the deficit must take on the Pentagon. In 2011 military spending accounted for more than 58 percent of all federal discretionary spending and even more if the interest on the federal debt that is related to military spending were added. In the last ten years we have spent more than $7.6 trillion on military and homeland security according to the National Priorities Project.


In the last decade military spending has soared from $300 billion to $700 billion.




When debt ceilings and deficits seem to be the only two items on Washington’s agenda, it is both revealing and tragic that both parties give a free pass to military spending. Representative Paul Ryan’s much discussed Tea Party budget accepted Obama’s proposal for a pathetic $78 billion reduction in military spending over 5 years, a recommendation that would only modestly slow the rate of growth of military spending.
Indeed, the Republican government battering ram appears to have stopped at the Pentagon door. This was evident early on. As soon as they took over the House of Representatives, Republicans changed the rules so that military spending does not have to be offset by reduced spending somewhere else, unlike any other kind of government spending. It is the only activity of government they believe does not have to be paid for. Which brings to mind a bit of wisdom from one of their heroes, Adam Smith. “Were the expense of war to be defrayed always by revenue raised within the year … wars would in general be more speedily concluded, and less wantonly undertaken.”

The Tea Party revolution has only strengthened the Republican Party’s resolve that the Pentagon’s budget is untouchable. An analysis by the Heritage Foundation of Republican votes on defense spending found that Tea Party freshmen were even more likely than their Republican elders to vote against cutting any part of the military budget.

What makes the hypocrisy even more revealing is that the Pentagon turns out to be the poster child for government waste and incompetence.

In 2009 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found “staggering” cost overruns of almost $300 billion in nearly 70 percent of the Pentagon’s 96 major weapons. What’s more, the programs were running, on average, 21 months behind schedule. And when they were completed, they provided less than they promised.

The Defense Logistics Agency had no use for parts worth more than half of the $13.7 billion in equipment stacked up in DOD warehouses in 2006 to 2008.

And these are only the tips of the military’s misspending iceberg. We really don’t know how much the Pentagon wastes because, believe it or not, there hasn’t been a complete audit of the Pentagon in more than 15 years.

In 1994, the Government Management Reform Act required the Inspector General of each federal agency to audit and publish the financial statements of their agency. The Department of Defense was the only agency that has been unable to comply. In fiscal 1998 the Department of Defense used $1.7 trillion of undocumentable adjustments to balance the books. In 2002 the situation was even worse. CBS News reported that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld admitted, “we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions.”

Imagine that a school district were to reveal that it didn’t know where it spent its money. Now imagine the Republican response. Perhaps, “Off with their desktops!”

How did Congress’ respond to DOD’s delinquency? It gave it absolution and allowed it to opt out of its legal requirement. But as a sop to outraged public opinion Congress required DOD to set a date when it would have its book sufficiently in order to be audited. Which the Pentagon dutiful did, and missed every one of the target dates. The latest is 2017 and DOD has already announced it will be unable to meet that deadline.

Adding insult to injury, last September, the GAO found that the new computer systems intended to improve the Pentagon’s financial oversight are themselves nearly 100 percent or $7 billion over budget and as much as 12 years behind schedule!

The Pentagon is not just incompetent. It is corrupt. In November 2009 the Pentagon’s Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), the federal watchdog responsible for auditing oversight of military contractors, raised the question of criminal wrongdoing when it found that the audits that did occur were riddled with serious breaches of auditor independence. One Pentagon auditor admitted he did not perform detailed tests because, “The contractor would not appreciate it.”

Why would the Pentagon allow its contractors to get away with fraud? To answer that question we need to understand the incestuous relationship between the Pentagon and its contractors that has been going on for years, and is getting worse. From 2004 to 2008, 80 percent of retiring three and four star officers went to work as consultants or defense industry executives. Thirty-four out of 39 three- and four-star generals and admirals who retired in 2007 are now working in defense industry roles — nearly 90 percent.

Generals are recruited for private sector jobs well before they retire. Once employed by the military contractor the general maintains a Pentagon advisory role.


“In almost any other realm it would seem a clear conflict of interest. But this is the Pentagon where…such apparent conflicts are a routine fact of life”, an in-depth investigation by the Boston Globe concluded.

U.S. military spending now exceeds the spending of all other countries combined. Knowledge military experts argue that we can cut at least $1 trillion from the Pentagon budget without changing its currently expressed mission. But a growing number believe that the mission itself is suspect. Economic competitors like India and China certainly approve of our willingness to undermine our economic competitiveness by diverting trillions of dollars into war and weapons production. Some argue that all this spending has made us more secure but all the evidence points in the opposite direction. Certainly our $2 trillion and counting military adventures in the Middle East and Afghanistan and Pakistan have won us few friends and multiplied our enemies.

Defense experts Gordon Adams and Matthew Leatherman, writing in the Washington Post offer another argument against unrestrained military spending.

“Countries feel threatened when rivals ramp up their defenses; this was true in the Cold War, and now it may happen with China. It’s how arms races are born. We spend more, inspiring competitors to do the same — thus inflating defense budgets without making anyone safer. For example, Gates observed in May that no other country has a single ship comparable to our 11 aircraft carriers. Based on the perceived threat that this fleet poses, the Chinese are pursuing an anti-ship ballistic missile program. U.S. military officials have decried this “carrier-killer’‘ effort, and in response we are diversifying our capabilities to strike China, including a new long-range bomber program, and modernizing our carrier fleet at a cost of about $10 billion per ship.”

For tens of millions of Americans real security comes not from fighting wars on foreign soil but from not having to worry losing their house or their job or their medical care. As Joshua Holland, columnist for Alternet points out 46 states faced combined budget shortfalls this year of $130 billion, leading them to fire tens of thousands of workers and cut off assistance to millions of families. Just the supplemental requests for fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan this year were $170 billion.

What is perhaps most astonishing of all is that cutting the military budget is wildly popular. Even back in 1995, when military spending was only a fraction of its present size, a poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes reported that 42 percent of the US public feeling that defense spending is too high and a majority of Americans were convinced that defense spending “has weakened the US economy and given some allies an economic edge.”

This March Reuters released a new poll that found the majority of Americans support reducing defense spending.
The next time you hear Republicans insist they want to ferret out government waste and reduce spending and stamp out incompetence ask them why the one part of government that exemplifies everything they say is wrong with government is the one part of government they embrace most heartily.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License


David Morris is Vice President of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, based in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., which focuses on local economic and social development.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hasso i Minetgot-Ta

This is what I'll be doing tomorrow. Wish me luck.

****************************
HASSO I METGOT-TA
July 17, 2011
Southern Guam

On December 8, 1941, the Japanese began their attack on Guam, marking the beginning of the war-time occupation of the island. The people of Guam were ruled by the Japanese military until the United States returned to Guam on July 21, 1944.

For the over 950 days of Japanese occupation, the Chamorros who lived on Guam experienced great uncertainty, tragedy and suffering. But the Japanese occupation, and the years that followed, are also filled with remarkable stories of determination, love and strength.

On July 17, members of the groups We Are Guahan and Halom Tano will walk 19 miles from the Tayuyute’ Ham Memorial in Malesso to the Manenggon Memorial Monument in Yona. The walk, entitled “Hasso i Metgot-ta” or Remember Our Strength, is to remember the Chamorros who died during the war and to celebrate the strength of those who survived the Japanese occupation. The walk is not meant to be a re-enactment or commemoration of any particular march from any particular village, but is meant to be a small gesture to honor and recognize the strength of our grandparents, uncles, aunties and friends who lived and died during World War II.

Each person walking will be walking on behalf of a family member or friend.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Olbermann

Matto tatte Si Olbermann. Ya ha ususuni sumangan i minagahet, lao gaige gui' gi un nuebu na Channel. Current TV.

Gof ya-hu Si Olbermann, ya gi este na segment ha na'hasso hit put i impottante-na na ta adahi mo'na i tiguang-ta. Gaige gi todus hit i minalago na ta fanadahi i manatungo'-ta i mangga'chong-ta, lao i mimun gi kada korason-ta lokkue', taimanu na para ta fantrata i bisinu-ta, ayu ni' ya-ta ya ayu ni' ti ya-ta?

Ha mentona este na gof tahdong na sinangan ginnen Si Jackie Robinson, estaba bumebesbol ya i fine'nina na attelong Amerikanu ni' humagando gi i profesionat na level. Gi fino' Ingles, Guiya yumamak i rayan kulot.

"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."

Debi di ta fangatga mo'na este gi korason-ta kada diha.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fena Fences

I am in this picture, I am the white-t-shirted blur to the left in the background. For me this captures very much my feeling of walking in a sort of dream two weeks ago. After months of trying, myself and 20 others were given access to the Fena area of Naval Magazine on Guam. For those who don't know, Naval Magazine is a site for storing all sorts of weapons and bombs, and so access to the base is very restricted. We went as part of the Heritage Hikes that I help organize for We Are Guahan. While Heritage Hikes are always open to the public, because of base security issues, for those on base, we are always limited in the amount of people who can join and each person has to submit their SS# and sign a waiver ahead of time.

I grew up on Guam with very few people in my family who had base access. We rarely ever entered the base and being able to shop at the commissary wasn't something that we seemed to care about, or at least not openly. As such the bases on Guam are often total mysteries to me. I know very little about them in their current states, and know far more about what they were prior to World War II. Fena was one such place. It was once full of Chamorro villages. The area is bula ni' hanom, and is fed by springs which reach all the way to Inarajan on the Eastern side of Guam. You can see this abundance in how the presence of so much water leads to contradictions in the landscape. You are surrounded by the savannah as you stroll through Fena, which is most known for the lack of trees and tall kalaktos grass, but this savannah is dotted with not just any trees, but coconut trees, which are a rarity in the fina'okso' na lugat or hills of Guam. I had fragments of memories of Bubulao and occassional snippets of Naval magazine from ceremonies held along the fence in honor of massacres victims and survivors from the caves there in 1944. To sum things up, Fena was a place I knew nothing about and never imagined I'd ever have the chance to visit.

As we spent the morning there, hiking for four hours to different springs, waterfalls and latte sites, it was surreal to say the least. It made me thankful for being given access for this one morning in July of 2011. It made me angry that I wasn't able to spend more time there, exploring on my own, or that Chamorros in general aren't able to wander those hills looking for pieces of their past. But as with so many places behind the fences on Guam, you also have to be frustratingly thankful that this place still exists, but also temper that.

Although many claim that the US military is excellent at managining its environmental, cultural and historic properties, this is generally true of whatever small percentage remains after some wholesale long forgotten destruction. Such is the case of Fena. You can be thankful that as much of it has been closed off for decades because of it being taken by the military, but you also have to recognize that much was also destroyed and lost in the creation of the base there. According to legend the latte in Angel Santos Memorial Park in Hagatna come from the Fena area, donated by the US Navy. These are the ones leftover after so many others and the artifacts that surrounded them were destroyed in postwar construction. Although they do look nice in their current home, when you walk amongst them you can't help but get the feeling as if mangachang siha, their is something off about them, as if the tasa and the haligi don't line up properly, as if they were set up incorrectly.

Although I was grateful to be given the chance to visit Fena that morning, my gratitude and my connection there was always fuzzy. Like the image of me in the photo above, I remained blurry, possibly there, not really there. Unlike Pagat or Hila'an or other public sites where I can visit there at my leisure and explore to my heart's content, my movements at Fena were restricted. There was so much evidence of Ancient life there; so many questions that I wanted to seek answers for about the people who lived there amongst whatever remanants of their homes and daily lives I could find. A morning several months ago spent wandering the jungles of Hila'an was a life-changing experience in terms of understanding and experiencing Ancient history on Guam. It was something which made me feel more connected than ever to my ancestors. At Fena, with the constant understanding that I was a "guest" in this place, I could never make the same connection. I desperately wanted to. I wanted nothing more than to feel that connection, but the fences that surround bases don't remain at the borders, but are things which you feel even after you enter the base and ever after you leave it behind.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bittersweet Victory in South Sudan

From the Save Darfur Coalition:

“We are very thankful to America, those people who saw the suffering of their brothers and sisters. It is not our success alone. It is the success of everyone… from all over the world.” –Bishop Paride Taban

Two days ago South Sudan became an independent nation and I was honored to witness this historic event in person.

“It’s a miracle,” one Southerner exclaimed. “A dream has come true,” said another. So many people wanted me to know how important the support of the U.S. and the international community was in making that dream a reality.

I’m hosting a live webcast this Thursday, July 14th, to talk about my experience and the challenges facing both North and South Sudan. Click here to RSVP.

I also shot a quick video to give you a first look at what it was like to be in Juba as South Sudan declared its independence:



Video Blog: Week 2 from South Sudan from sara fusco on Vimeo.

Watch the video now and then join me on Thursday for the live webcast to talk about the trip.

While we celebrate this tremendous moment for South Sudan, we must rededicate ourselves to the people of North and South Sudan who are most vulnerable. During my travels I heard story after story of the horrors caused by the government-sponsored violence that has displaced more than 350,000 people in Darfur, Abyei and South Kordofan this year.

We have a responsibility to act before the death toll rises further. We must honor those who have been lost and help those who are suffering now by demanding decisive action from our leaders.

Being in Juba on July 9th was an experience I will never forget. And like Bishop Taban, many people I met expressed appreciation for Americans who stood up to call for U.S. action. We must continue to support civilians in both North and South Sudan by spreading the word and calling on our elected leaders to help prevent further violence.

Thank you for your continued support. Please take a moment now to RSVP for the webcast on July 14th.

Sincerely,

Tom Andrews
President
Save Darfur Coalition

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The Save Darfur Coalition — an alliance of more than 190 faith-based, advocacy and human rights organizations — raises public awareness about the ongoing crisis in Darfur and mobilizes a unified response to promote peace throughout the Darfur region and all of Sudan. The coalition's member organizations represent 130 million people of all ages, races, religions and political affiliations united together to help the people of Sudan. Please join the movement at http://www.savedarfur.org.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Nader 2012

Published on Monday,
July 4, 2011
by TruthDig.com

Ralph Nader Is Tired of Running for President
by Chris Hedges

The most important moral and intellectual voices within a disintegrating society are slowly discredited when their nonviolent protests and calls for justice cannot alter intransigent and corrupt systems of power. The repeated acts of peaceful civil disobedience, efforts at electoral and political reform and the fight to protect the rule of law are dismissed as useless by an embittered, dispossessed and betrayed public. The demagogues and hatemongers, the purveyors of violence, easily seduce enraged and bewildered masses in the final stages of collapse with false promises of vengeance, new glory and moral renewal. And in the spiral downward the good among us are reviled as naive and ineffectual fools.

There is no shortage of courageous dissidents in America. They seek to thwart the imperial disasters, looming financial insolvency and suicidal addiction to fossil fuel. They have stood in small knots on street corners week after week, month after month, year after year, to denounce the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have occupied banks, shut down coal-fired power plants, attempted to halt mountaintop removal, interfered with whaling ships and walked in blustery weather to the White House, where they were arrested. They are struggling to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza on a ship called the Audacity of Hope. But because the corporate state and the two major political parties are indifferent to principled calls for reform, and because the mass of the public still buys into the myths of globalization and the American dream, the plundering and destruction continue unimpeded.

When most Americans face the nightmare before us, when they realize the irreversible devastation unleashed on the ecosystem and the economic misery from which they cannot escape, violence will have a broad and terrifying appeal. Those of us who demand a return to the rule of law and remain steadfast to nonviolence will find ourselves cast aside—the useful idiots Lenin so despised. I watched this happen in the social and political implosions in El Salvador, Guatemala, the Palestinian territories, Algeria, Bosnia and Kosovo. I watched the same cocktail of despair, economic collapse and callousness from a corrupt power elite mix itself into potent brews of civil strife. I watched the same untiring efforts by those who detested the violence and cruelty of the state, and the nascent violence and intolerance of the radical opposition. I covered as a reporter the disintegration that tore these societies apart. Those who held fast to moral imperatives, including Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador and Ibrahim Rugova in Kosovo, were thrust aside and replaced with killers on both sides of the divide who embraced violence.

“Wait until October,” Ralph Nader said when we spoke this weekend. “That’s when the budget cuts will hit home. It is one thing to have the governors of Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida and the legislators saying we will cut this and that. We don’t know what will actually happen when the guillotines are put in place. You may have a different kind of surge of public resistance and protest.

“There will be more and more people in the streets, homeless and hungry,” he said of the looming cuts. “Babies will be sick. Everything will be overloaded from the free food to the clinics. You never know where the spark will come from. Look at the guy who robbed the bank for a dollar. That was not quite the spark, but that is what I am talking about. This is what you have to do to get health care. Let’s say 50 people did that. There are a lot of dry tinder piles like that."

The death of liberal institutions that once made incremental and piecemeal reform possible, which once could respond to the suffering of the poor, the unemployed and working men and women, which once sought to protect the Earth on which we depend for life, means the last thin hope for reform is embodied in acts of civil disobedience. There are no established institutions that will help us. The press ignores the cries of the underclass and the poor. The labor movement is atrophied and dying. Public education is degraded and being rapidly dismantled. Our religious institutions no longer engage in the core issues of justice. And the Democratic Party is on its knees before Wall Street. The most basic government services designed to ameliorate the pain, including Head Start and Social Security, are targeted by our corporate overlords for destruction. The Kyoto Protocol, which was not nearly ambitious enough to prevent environmental collapse, has been gutted so companies like Exxon Mobil can continue to amass the largest profits in history.

Radical reform, including a breaking of our dependence on fossil fuel, must happen soon to thwart the effects of dramatic climate change and economic disintegration. And this radical reform will come only through us. I will join, for this reason, those planning the prolonged occupation of Washington on Oct. 6. Acts of civil disobedience are our last, thin line of defense against chaos. Make a resolution this Independence Day to join us. You owe it to your children and to the generations who come after us. I am not naive enough to promise you we can reverse these trends. I know the monolith we challenge. But I do know that if we do not begin to take part in these nonviolent protests then we have, in effect, given up all realistic hope of change and succumbed meekly to corporate enslavement, environmental catastrophe and severe social unrest.

“The first sign that there is a real breakdown is that the bridge between the people you mentioned and the people who should be speaking out as a result of their professional status is not there,” Nader said. “I am talking about the deans of law schools and law professors, as well as leading members of the bar. The obverse of that is that in 2005 and 2006 there was a bridge built. It was the president of the [American Bar Association] Michael Greco. He thought the destruction of the rule of law by George Bush was historically very dangerous. He commissioned three reports, using members of the ABA who were formally in national security agencies such as the FBI, the NSA, the CIA and the Justice Department. They came up with three white papers on three subjects, one of them being signing statements. They concluded that the recurrent violations by President Bush had risen to the state of serious violations of our Constitution. These papers were made public. They sent them to President Bush. He never replied. Apart from The Associated Press, the press, including the [New York] Times and the [Washington] Post, ignored it. That to me was a much bigger litmus test. It showed how deep the institutionalized official illegality has become, more important than the ignoring of people like Chomsky and us.

“Usually people who are candid in calling things as they are, are viewed as people on the outside who want to change the system,” Nader said. “In the historic past they were socialists. They were radical labor leaders such as the [Industrial Workers of the World]. This time those people who are speaking out want a restoration of the rule of law. This is a pretty conservative goal. The extreme radicals are now in charge of our country, the military-industrial complex and the White House. It is not so much the military as the civilian leadership, the neocons in the White House. The military does not like to get into wars, but once they are in it is very hard to control them because they want to win.

“It’s not like Japan in 1939, which really was a militaristic society,” Nader went on. “It is exactly the opposite of what the constitutional founders thought would be the case. They put the civilians in charge to restrain the military. In effect, these people are activating and pushing the military into places the military does not want to go. They use a volunteer Army, flatter it, give it a lot of weaponry and send it abroad. Only about 5 million people, soldiers and their families, feel what is going on. Once it is entrenched, once you accept this neocon ideology, which is a vitriolic, aggressive, empire-spreading ideology, run largely by draft dodgers who in their youth gung-hoed the Vietnam War but wanted their friends to go and die for it, then democracy is too weak to overcome that. Two dozen people plunged this country into war. The first arena designed to stop this is the Congress, but it does not observe its constitutional duties or require a declaration of war.”

While protests are useful, Nader does not see any possibility for reform until there is a widespread effort to organize a sustained and radical opposition movement. This will come by building a movement that offers an alternative ideology and vision to that of unfettered capitalism, consumerism, empire and globalization. It is something Nader tried and failed to do during his own presidential campaigns.

"There is a tremendous asymmetry,” Nader said. “Seven hundred thousand people demonstrated in London. But where are they the next day? And where are their adversaries? The next day their adversaries are on the job. Where are the 700,000 people? They are out of there. How many organizers are on the ground in the 435 districts? Could labor unions have been organized without organizers? Could the suffragist movement have been organized without organizers? Could the anti-slavery movement or the civil rights movement been organized without organizers? If you don’t have organizers on the ground you know ipso facto that your demonstration is going nowhere.”

When I asked Nader, who mounted campaigns for the presidency in 2000, 2004 and 2008, if he would consider running again, he answered that it was “very unlikely.”

“You have millions of people who say run, run, run,” he said. “Then you put yourself out there and find they are voting for Obama. Until they become mature, until they realize that if they generate 5 to 8 million votes behind a progressive third-party candidate for leverage, what is the point? Why should people try four or five times? Let someone else do it.

“The people who go out there with some credibility and record, go into 50 states, sweat it out month after month, beating back ballot access obstacles, fighting the Democrats who are trying to suppress free speech and candidate choices for the voters, and then you still can’t get on the air to discuss civil liberties,” he said. “Never mind that they do not want to upset dear Obama or dear [John] Kerry. They don’t give you airtime to discuss the simple issue of the denial of civil liberties and the crushing of third parties.”

If elections were that effective, as the anti-war activist Phil Berrigan used to say, they would be illegal. We must follow the path Nader forged, attempting to sway enough people with conscience to sever themselves permanently and unequivocally from the mainstream and especially the Democratic Party. This defiance will again be dismissed as counterproductive and ineffectual. The sacrifices we are called to make will be real, uncomfortable and immediate, while the goals will be distant and uncertain. It will remain hard, for this reason, to jolt people awake. The expediency of the moment has a habit of subsuming the moral imperatives of the future. But time is not on our side. The impending disasters that await us, ecological and economic, are already visible on the horizon. If we do not sever ourselves from established systems of power, if we do not become in every action we undertake agents of rebellion, then the ecological, economic and, finally, human distortions that arise in times of confusion, suffering and collapse will overwhelm us.

© 2011 TruthDig.com

Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books, including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

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