Sunday, December 30, 2012

Adios DK

After serving eight terms as one of the most progressive members of the US House of Representatives, Dennis Kucinich is leaving Washington D.C. next month. Kucinich was often the most reasonable voice in very unreasonable and irrational times. He ran for President several times, once I got to see him at a campaign stop in Atascadero, California. He was proud defender of the often time embattled and much maligned label of liberal. He will be missed. Below is the text for one of his most famous speeches given in February 2002.


A Prayer for America

by US Rep Dennis Kucinich

February 17, 2002

I offer these brief remarks today as a prayer for our country, with love of democracy, as a celebration of our country. With love for our country. With hope for our country. With a belief that the light of freedom cannot be extinguished as long as it is inside of us. With a belief that freedom rings resoundingly in a democracy each time we speak freely. With the understanding that freedom stirs the human heart and fear stills it. With the belief that a free people cannot walk in fear and faith at the same time.

With the understanding that there is a deeper truth expressed in the unity of the United States. That implicit in the union of our country is the union of all people. That all people are essentially one. That the world is interconnected not only on the material level of economics, trade, communication, and transportation, but interconnected through human consciousness, through the human heart, through the heart of the world, through the simply expressed impulse and yearning to be and to breathe free.
I offer this prayer for America.

Let us pray that our nation will remember that the unfolding of the promise of democracy in our nation paralleled the striving for civil rights. That is why we must challenge the rationale of the Patriot Act. We must ask why should America put aside guarantees of constitutional justice?

How can we justify in effect canceling the First Amendment and the right of free speech, the right to peaceably assemble?

How can we justify in effect canceling the Fourth Amendment, probable cause, the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure?

How can we justify in effect canceling the Fifth Amendment, nullifying due process, and allowing for indefinite incarceration without a trial?

How can we justify in effect canceling the Sixth Amendment, the right to prompt and public trial?

How can we justify in effect canceling the Eighth Amendment which protects against cruel and unusual punishment?

We cannot justify widespread wiretaps and internet surveillance without judicial supervision, let alone with it.

We cannot justify secret searches without a warrant.

We cannot justify giving the Attorney General the ability to designate domestic terror groups.

We cannot justify giving the FBI total access to any type of data which may exist in any system anywhere such as medical records and financial records.

We cannot justify giving the CIA the ability to target people in this country for intelligence surveillance.

We cannot justify a government which takes from the people our right to privacy and then assumes for its own operations a right to total secrecy.

The Attorney General recently covered up a statue of Lady Justice showing her bosom as if to underscore there is no danger of justice exposing herself at this time, before this administration.

Let us pray that our nation’s leaders will not be overcome with fear. Because today there is great fear in our great Capitol. And this must be understood before we can ask about the shortcomings of Congress in the current environment.

The great fear began when we had to evacuate the Capitol on September 11.

It continued when we had to leave the Capitol again when a bomb scare occurred as members were pressing the CIA during a secret briefing.

It continued when we abandoned Washington when anthrax, possibly from a government lab, arrived in the mail.

It continued when the Attorney General declared a nationwide terror alert and then the Administration brought the destructive Patriot Bill to the floor of the House.

It continued in the release of the bin Laden tapes at the same time the President was announcing the withdrawal from the ABM treaty.

It remains present in the cordoning off of the Capitol.

It is present in the camouflaged armed national guardsmen who greet members of Congress each day we enter the Capitol campus.

It is present in the labyrinth of concrete barriers through which we must pass each time we go to vote.
The trappings of a state of siege trap us in a state of fear, ill-equipped to deal with the Patriot Games, the Mind Games, the War Games of an unelected President and his unelected Vice President.

Let us pray that our country will stop this war. “To promote the common defense” is one of the formational principles of America.

Our Congress gave the President the ability to respond to the tragedy of September 11. We licensed a response to those who helped bring the terror of September 11th. But we the people and our elected representatives must reserve the right to measure the response, to proportion the response, to challenge the response, and to correct the response.

Because we did not authorize the invasion of Iraq.

We did not authorize the invasion of Iran.

We did not authorize the invasion of North Korea.

We did not authorize the bombing of civilians in Afghanistan.

We did not authorize permanent detainees in Guantanamo Bay.

We did not authorize the withdrawal from the Geneva Convention.

We did not authorize military tribunals suspending due process and habeas corpus.

We did not authorize assassination squads.

We did not authorize the resurrection of COINTELPRO.

We did not authorize the repeal of the Bill of Rights.

We did not authorize the revocation of the Constitution.

We did not authorize national identity cards.

We did not authorize the eye of Big Brother to peer from cameras throughout our cities.

We did not authorize an eye for an eye.

Nor did we ask that the blood of innocent people, who perished on September 11, be avenged with the blood of innocent villagers in Afghanistan.

We did not authorize the administration to wage war anytime, anywhere,anyhow it pleases.

We did not authorize war without end.

We did not authorize a permanent war economy.

Yet we are upon the threshold of a permanent war economy. The President has requested a $45.6 billion increase in military spending. All defense-related programs will cost close to $400 billion.
Consider that the Department of Defense has never passed an independent audit.

Consider that the Inspector General has notified Congress that the Pentagon cannot properly account for $1.2 trillion in transactions.

Consider that in recent years the Dept. of Defense could not match $22 billion worth of expenditures to the items it purchased, wrote off, as lost, billions of dollars worth of in-transit inventory and stored nearly $30 billion worth of spare parts it did not need.

Yet the defense budget grows with more money for weapons systems to fight a cold war which ended, weapon systems in search of new enemies to create new wars. This has nothing to do with fighting terror.

This has everything to do with fueling a military industrial machine with the treasure of our nation, risking the future of our nation, risking democracy itself with the militarization of thought which follows the militarization of the budget.

Let us pray for our children. Our children deserve a world without end. Not a war without end. Our children deserve a world free of the terror of hunger, free of the terror of poor health care, free of the terror of homelessness, free of the terror of ignorance, free of the terror of hopelessness, free of the terror of policies which are committed to a world view which is not appropriate for the survival of a free people, not appropriate for the survival of democratic values, not appropriate for the survival of our nation, and not appropriate for the survival of the world.

Let us pray that we have the courage and the will as a people and as a nation to shore ourselves up, to reclaim from the ruins of September 11th our democratic traditions.

Let us declare our love for democracy. Let us declare our intent for peace.

Let us work to make nonviolence an organizing principle in our own society.

Let us recommit ourselves to the slow and painstaking work of statecraft, which sees peace, not war as being inevitable.

Let us work for a world where someday war becomes archaic.

That is the vision which the proposal to create a Department of Peace envisions. Forty-three members of Congress are now cosponsoring the legislation.

Let us work for a world where nuclear disarmament is an imperative. That is why we must begin by insisting on the commitments of the ABM treaty. That is why we must be steadfast for nonproliferation.

Let us work for a world where America can lead the day in banning weapons of mass destruction not only from our land and sea and sky but from outer space itself. That is the vision of HR 3616: A universe free of fear. Where we can look up at God’s creation in the  stars and imagine infinite wisdom, infinite peace, infinite possibilities, not infinite war, because we are taught that the kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven.

Let us pray that we have the courage to replace the images of death which haunt us, the layers of images of September 11th, faded into images of patriotism, spliced into images of military mobilization, jump-cut into images of our secular celebrations of the World Series, New Year’s Eve, the Superbowl, the Olympics, the strobic flashes which touch our deepest fears, let us replace those images with the work of human relations, reaching out to people, helping our own citizens here at home, lifting the plight of the poor everywhere.

That is the America which has the ability to rally the support of the world.

That is the America which stands not in pursuit of an axis of evil, but which is itself at the axis of hope and faith and peace and freedom. America, America. God shed grace on thee. Crown thy good, America.

Not with weapons of mass destruction. Not with invocations of an axis of evil. Not through breaking international treaties. Not through establishing America as king of a unipolar world. Crown thy good America. America, America. Let us pray for our country. Let us love our country. Let us defend our country not only from the threats without but from the threats within.

Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good with brotherhood, and sisterhood. And crown thy good with compassion and restraint and forbearance and a commitment to peace, to democracy, to economic justice here at home and throughout the world.

Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good America. Crown thy good.

Thank you.

Dennis J. Kucinich

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Land of Guns

Celebrating the Prince of Peace in the Land of Guns
by Michael Moore

After watching the deranged, delusional National Rifle Association press conference on Friday, it was clear that the Mayan prophecy had come true. Except the only world that was ending was the NRA's. Their bullying power to set gun policy in this country is over. The nation is repulsed by the massacre in Connecticut, and the signs are everywhere: a basketball coach at a post-game press conference; the Republican Joe Scarborough; a pawn shop owner in Florida; a gun buy-back program in New Jersey; a singing contest show on TV, and the conservative gun-owning judge who sentenced Jared Loughner.

So here's my little bit of holiday cheer for you:

These gun massacres aren't going to end any time soon.

I'm sorry to say this. But deep down we both know it's true. That doesn't mean we shouldn't keep pushing forward -- after all, the momentum is on our side. I know all of us -- including me -- would love to see the president and Congress enact stronger gun laws. We need a ban on automatic AND semiautomatic weapons and magazine clips that hold more than 7 bullets. We need better background checks and more mental health services. We need to regulate the ammo, too.

But, friends, I would like to propose that while all of the above will certainly reduce gun deaths (ask Mayor Bloomberg -- it is virtually impossible to buy a handgun in New York City and the result is the number of murders per year has gone from 2,200 to under 400), it won't really bring about an end to these mass slayings and it will not address the core problem we have. Connecticut had one of the strongest gun laws in the country. That did nothing to prevent the murders of 20 small children on December 14th.

In fact, let's be clear about Newtown: the killer had no criminal record so he would never have shown up on a background check. All of the guns he used were legally purchased. None fit the legal description of an "assault" weapon. The killer seemed to have mental problems and his mother had him seek help, but that was worthless. As for security measures, the Sandy Hook school was locked down and buttoned up BEFORE the killer showed up that morning. Drills had been held for just such an incident. A lot of good that did.

And here's the dirty little fact none of us liberals want to discuss: The killer only ceased his slaughter when he saw that cops were swarming onto the school grounds -- i.e, the men with the guns. When he saw the guns a-coming, he stopped the bloodshed and killed himself. Guns on police officers prevented another 20 or 40 or 100 deaths from happening. Guns sometimes work. (Then again, there was an armed deputy sheriff at Columbine High School the day of that massacre and he couldn't/didn't stop it.)

I am sorry to offer this reality check on our much-needed march toward a bunch of well-intended, necessary -- but ultimately, mostly cosmetic-- changes to our gun laws. The sad facts are these: Other countries that have guns (like Canada, which has 7 million guns -- mostly hunting guns -- in their 12 million households) have a low murder rate. Kids in Japan watch the same violent movies and kids in Australia play the same violent video games (Grand Theft Auto was created by a British company; the UK had 58 gun murders last year in a nation of 63 million people). They simply don't kill each other at the rate that we do. Why is that? THAT is the question we should be exploring while we are banning and restricting guns: Who are we?

I'd like to try to answer that question.

We are a country whose leaders officially sanction and carry out acts of violence as a means to often an immoral end. We invade countries who didn't attack us. We're currently using drones in a half-dozen countries, often killing civilians.

This probably shouldn't come as a surprise to us as we are a nation founded on genocide and built on the backs of slaves. We slaughtered 600,000 of each other in a civil war. We "tamed the Wild West with a six-shooter," and we rape and beat and kill our women without mercy and at a staggering rate: every three hours a women is murdered in the USA (half the time by an ex or a current); every three minutes a woman is raped in the USA; and every 15 seconds a woman is beaten in the USA.
We belong to an illustrious group of nations that still have the death penalty (North Korea, Saudi Arabia, China, Iran). We think nothing of letting tens of thousands of our own citizens die each year because they are uninsured and thus don't see a doctor until it's too late.

Why do we do this? One theory is simply "because we can." There is a level of arrogance in the otherwise friendly American spirit, conning ourselves into believing there's something exceptional about us that separates us from all those "other" countries (there are indeed many good things about us; the same could also be said of Belgium, New Zealand, France, Germany, etc.). We think we're #1 in everything when the truth is our students are 17th in science and 25th in math, and we're 35th in life expectancy. We believe we have the greatest democracy but we have the lowest voting turnout of any western democracy. We're biggest and the bestest at everything and we demand and take what we want.

And sometimes we have to be violent m*****f*****s to get it. But if one of us goes off-message and shows the utterly psychotic nature and brutal results of violence in a Newtown or an Aurora or a Virginia Tech, then we get all "sad" and "our hearts go out to the families" and presidents promise to take "meaningful action." Well, maybe this president means it this time. He'd better. An angry mob of millions is not going to let this drop.

While we are discussing and demanding what to do, may I respectfully ask that we stop and take a look at what I believe are the three extenuating factors that may answer the question of why we Americans have more violence than most anyone else:

1. POVERTY. If there's one thing that separates us from the rest of the developed world, it's this. 50 million of our people live in poverty. One in five Americans goes hungry at some point during the year. The majority of those who aren't poor are living from paycheck to paycheck. There's no doubt this creates more crime. Middle class jobs prevent crime and violence. (If you don't believe that, ask yourself this: If your neighbor has a job and is making $50,000/year, what are the chances he's going to break into your home, shoot you and take your TV? Nil.)

2. FEAR/RACISM. We're an awfully fearful country considering that, unlike most nations, we've never been invaded. (No, 1812 wasn't an invasion. We started it.) Why on earth would we need 300 million guns in our homes? I get why the Russians might be a little spooked (over 20 million of them died in World War II). But what's our excuse? Worried that the Indians from the casino may go on the warpath? Concerned that the Canadians seem to be amassing too many Tim Horton's donut shops on both sides of the border?

No. It's because too many white people are afraid of black people. Period. The vast majority of the guns in the U.S. are sold to white people who live in the suburbs or the country. When we fantasize about being mugged or home invaded, what's the image of the perpetrator in our heads? Is it the freckled-face kid from down the street -- or is it someone who is, if not black, at least poor?
I think it would be worth it to a) do our best to eradicate poverty and re-create the middle class we used to have, and b) stop promoting the image of the black man as the boogeyman out to hurt you. Calm down, white people, and put away your guns.

3. THE "ME" SOCIETY. I think it's the every-man-for-himself ethos of this country that has put us in this mess and I believe it's been our undoing. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps! You're not my problem! This is mine!

Clearly, we are no longer our brother's and sister's keeper. You get sick and can't afford the operation? Not my problem. The bank has foreclosed on your home? Not my problem. Can't afford to go to college? Not my problem.

And yet, it all sooner or later becomes our problem, doesn't it? Take away too many safety nets and everyone starts to feel the impact. Do you want to live in that kind of society, one where you will then have a legitimate reason to be in fear? I don't.

I'm not saying it's perfect anywhere else, but I have noticed, in my travels, that other civilized countries see a national benefit to taking care of each other. Free medical care, free or low-cost college, mental health help. And I wonder -- why can't we do that? I think it's because in many other countries people see each other not as separate and alone but rather together, on the path of life, with each person existing as an integral part of the whole. And you help them when they're in need, not punish them because they've had some misfortune or bad break. I have to believe one of the reasons gun murders in other countries are so rare is because there's less of the lone wolf mentality amongst their citizens. Most are raised with a sense of connection, if not outright solidarity. And that makes it harder to kill one another.

Well, there's some food for thought as we head home for the holidays. Don't forget to say hi to your conservative brother-in-law for me. Even he will tell you that, if you can't nail a deer in three shots -- and claim you need a clip of 30 rounds -- you're not a hunter my friend, and you have no business owning a gun.

Have a wonderful Christmas or a beautiful December 25th!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Decolonizing the University

I have been thinking alot lately about decolonization and the University of Guam. This was one of the primary reasons that I decided to leave island and go off and obtain a Ph.D. So that eventually I could return one day and teach at UOG and help transform the university from an institutional that began with a colonial function, but need not continue to perform it. This is something that is not unique to UOG, but rather something that nearly all educational institutions on Guam participated in for the past few centuries. It is a truism of education today that learning takes place through a movement from that which is familiar to that which is unfamiliar. In order for concepts and ideas to take hold you must first associate it with something familiar and then later can associate with things unfamiliar. This is the most efficient way of learning. To skip the familiar stage can create significant gaps of understanding and also feelings of alienation.

UOG in recent years has taken more steps in order to incorporate this basic aspect of learning into their curriculum. Often times it is at the level of choices of individual faculty, but it is a significant improvement over the way the university operated in the past. Decolonizing the University of Guam could mean a wide range of interventions or reforms, but what I want to focus on today, are some ideas that are simple and broad and things that I feel no one should truly be against in terms of charting the future course for UOG.

I've listed three possible ways to think about decolonizing UOG below. They are political status change,  Chamorro Studies and clear-eyed regionalism. The writing is rambling and probably full of typos and other mistakes.


Political Status Change: The political status of Guam is something that affects almost every aspect of the island. This is something that many people do not perceive in their daily lives, but that impact is there nonetheless. As something that is so significant and far reaching, something that affects the community around the university so much, it is something that the university should take seriously in terms of the way it engages with the community. The University of Guam is looked to as a place of enlightenment, a place of validation and a place of knowledge. The research conducted there, the professors that teach there, the projects that it takes on, are interpreted as being more legitimate and more credible because they come from Micronesia's largest institute of higher learning.

The Government of Guam, in particular under the previous Governor, has shown an inability to take the issue of Guam's political status seriously. The current Governor has shown some interest in taking up the rhetoric of decolonization, but there has been little substance to this yet, save for a handful of meetings.

The University of Guam can fill the void that the Government of Guam has left. I do not say this in terms of advocacy, or taking up the cause of a certain political status. Instead I would argue that the University of Guam should take up the issue in terms of its expertise. Should the University of Guam develop some sort of institute or program related to self-determination in a broad sense, it could be a means for focusing the varied talents and skills of its faculty in a way that helps enlighten the community of this pressing issue.

The discourse on self-determination and political status change is often caricatured as being the talk of activists and not connected to concrete and real things. This is hardly true. Self-determination discourse deals with economy, environment, education, politics, sustainability and so many other topics.

Chamorro Studies: As an educational system initially created to bar the value from the native or the local, a standard and necessary intervention is to not only allow value to be articulated with the local, but also to elevate and promote it as well. For centuries people on Guam operated under colonial logic in terms of what Guam and Chamorros might offer the world. Guam as a small, faraway island. The Chamorro people themselves were small, heavily scarred by colonialism, lacking any cultural purity or inherent modernity. As a result, this place and its people were seen in terms of knowledge, in terms of education to offer nothing. Education must be a shaping of the local so that it matches what we find elsewhere.

Things have changed significantly since the days when the University of Guam was first founded. When we look at the world of academia today and what the University of Guam has to offer, we can see clearly that the old colonial logic isn't as powerful as it once was. As an institute of higher education there are many aspects of UOG that will be similar to other colleges and universities. In these terms, there are few ways that UOG can excel or be unique. It is unlikely that the University of Guam will one day be the premiere institution for English or Psychology or Art or many other programs it currently has. There is far too much competition for these types of programs and it would incredibly difficult to try to pursue such a thing.

A clear eyed analysis of what UOG has to offer the world that few others can is a very important part of reimagining the university and potentially decolonizing it. What is it that UOG can do that no other University in the region, in the US, in Asia, in the world can do? At the top of that list is "Chamorro Studies" and that UOG with its recently created program in Chamorro Studies can easily be the premiere institution for all things related to the study of Chamorros, their history, language and culture.

For linguists, historians, anthropologists, sociologists, political scientists and other academics both Guam and Chamorros have intriguing and complex histories. A site of historical and contemporary colonization. A site of intense historical and contemporary militarization. A site of historical cultural eradication and contemporary revitalization. A site of historical language endurance and resistance to colonial pressures and a contemporary site for swift and merciless language loss. Outreach related to these issues, studies of these issues could all be potentially situated or coordinated through the University of Guam. In terms of funding related to these issues, UOG would be the natural choice for grants and other programs.

The University of Guam taking up the task of Chamorro Studies also relates to its relationship to the community around it. As we transform the University in order to reflect more of the region and the island that surrounds it, this means engaging more concretely with the Chamorro community, and not just as a location for the educating of Chamorros, but rather a site for the legitimization and the study of their knowledge, history and culture. UOG is already seen as a location for the learning of the Chamorro language and the learning of Guam History. We need only build upon this credibility and assert that UOG be a place where Chamorro Studies can be promoted. This can help lead to feelings of ownership over UOG that will in the long run help the community feel a greater sense of ownership and possibly affinity.

Clear-Eyed Regionalism: Colonies are always forced into seeing themselves as minor versions of the colonizer and what he is supposed to represent. This mimesis is always a failed project due to the fact that while the colonizer may advocate that their way is the best way, they rarely ever want the colonized to actually achieve success, much less surpass their example.

As a result of this, the future is never open or free. It is instead a path that is meant to follow that which the colonizer has always accomplished and laid out. Colonies always feel trapped, forced to follow in the shadow and cherish the example that their colonizer represents, and as a result often times develop themselves in ways that are not consistent with their resources or their realities.

As part of the Great University of Guam Conversations, President Underwood showed a picture of current and former leaders of the islands that surround Micronesia, all of whom had attended the University of Guam. In somber tones Underwood informed everyone that this image will most likely never happen again, as China is investing more and more in the Micronesia islands and it is likely that the future leaders of Micronesia will be educated in China instead of Guam. This was a sobering thought, since in a colonial context, we might assume that since UOG is representative of US education in Guam, and Guam is the closest thing to being American in the Western Pacific, everyone would simply gravitate there.

This is part of the contradiction of colonies. That while you feel like you may have some extra value through your association with the colonizer, this value may make you feel stronger or more stable than you truly are. It is because of the way your gaze does not look directly at the world or island around you. Instead your gaze travels to the colonizer and you look back at yourself through his assumed gaze. So while you can gain extra value that may not have anything to do with what you truly have (because you are an appendage of the colonizer), it also means that you will perceive the value for what you do or do not have through the ideology of the colonizer.

Guam sits at the center of Asia and the Pacific. It has long been thought of in strictly colonial terms as a gateway to the United States for those in Asia. In truth this is only part of its existence. It is also a gateway for the United States to Asia. A transit point for the Pacific and Oceania. Guam has long been a crossroads for so much.

Despite all these connections, despite this international existence to the island, Guam tends to see itself first and foremost through an American lens. It looks to the United States first, and then to the world around it second. Its relationship to the other islanders in Micronesia. Its relationship to Asia nations are all mitigated by the colonial imaginings of the island.

Decolonization need not only be a introspective intervention, but it can also be a re-imagining of the relationships that Guam has with those around it. Because of both its political status and its location in the world, it is not in Guam’s interest to only see things the American way and to only plan itself as such. This is always the answer in short terms, because the connections to the United States already exist and things such as funding and media already flow towards Guam. Other connections may appear to be more delicate and less secure, but in the long run they could be more beneficial. 

Guam should not think of itself solely as "America in Asia" or "Where America's Day Begins!" In colonial terms people on Guam invoke these slogans in order to overcome the political and geographical gap between the US and Guam. They try to assert that Guam is truly a part of the United States. These slogans are true and so my issue with them is not their veracity, but rather that they sell Guam short. Guam can be so much more than just a fragment of the United States in the middle of an ocean.

This sort of existence is not possible in a colonial context. The dependency that is a part of every colonial relationship will make this sort of destiny for the island feel impossible, and make it feel as it Guam should simply remain in the shadow of the US and take what it is fortunate enough to receive and seek nothing more. This is why decolonization in the way that I have discussed in this talk is not so much about specific plans or actions. It is instead creating the ability to see the world in a way that would benefit you and your island first. It is about clearing your eyes and your mind so that you can see what sort of possibilities wait around you. Some of them may be connected to the colonizer, some of them elsewhere. But decolonization is meant to give you that simple ability to choose, that simple ability to decide that this will be beneficial, while this should not be retained.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Riddle Game

I just finished watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I had worried that the film would drag on due to the fact that they were taking a relatively short book and transforming it into 3 films, totaling as much as 9 hours of screen time. The book Breaking Dawn was not worthy of two films, and this was blisteringly apparent when both Part 1 and Part 2 seemed to drag on forever during certain sections. I was worried about a similar fate for the first Hobbit film.

While I did cringe during certain parts, I did have to admire the way they extended the film, but still kept it entertaining. I recently reread the Hobbit and found that so much of the richness of it was in my head. The writing is very sparse and not very detailed. Even fact it seems that Tolkien's true passion was writing songs, since the books are littered with ballads from every race in Middle Earth. But this is one of the hallmarks of fantasy writing. The writing itself may not be the most lyrical or creative, but the way they weave the world, the words and the characters together makes them so memorable, that your mind unknowingly fills in everything for you.

One part that made me truly nostalgic was infamous Riddle Game between Gollum and Bilbo. When I first read The Hobbit so many years ago I had so much fun trying to guess the riddles, and I remember getting most of them, but one or two of them confused the hell out of me.

I went back into my copy of the Hobbit (not my old copy, but a new edition I bought this past year), and typed up the riddles featured in the Riddle Game. Check them out below. For those who haven't read the book or seen the movie, see what you come up with.

What has roots as nobody sees,
Is taller than trees,
Up, up it goes,
And yet it never grows?

Thirty white horses on a red hill,
First they champ,
Then they stamp,
Then they stand still.

Voiceless it cries,
Wingless flutters,
Toothless bites,
Mouthless mutters.

An eye in a blue face
Saw an eye in a green face.
‘That eye is like to this eye’
Said the first eye,
‘But in a low place
Not in a high place.’

It cannot be seen, cannot be felt,
Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt.
It lies behind the stars and under hills,
And empty holes it fills.
It comes first and follows after
Ends life, kills laughter.

A box without hinges, key, or lid,
Yet golden treasure inside is hid

Alive without breath,
As cold as death;
Never thirsty, ever drinking,
All in mail, never clinking.

This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees and flowers;
Gnaws irons, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays kings, ruins towns,
And beats high mountains down.

What is in my pocket?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gun Laws and Knife Laws

'None Dead' in China: Sensible Laws vs. Maniacal Attacks

8,000 miles away from Connecticut, a vicious attack on school children has only one grace: all survived

- Beth Brogan and Jon Queally, staff writers 
On the other side of the world and just hours before 20 children were gunned down in a massacre in Connecticut on Friday, 22 children were the victims of a vicious, similar-minded attack at a Chinese elementary school by a man wielding an 8-inch knife.

Just as brutal and as nonsensical as the murders at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, the incident in Henan Province, China had an outcome that victim's families now mourning in Connecticut are only wishing they could share.

The sliver but potent aspect of good news? As of Saturday morning, none of those 22 children attacked in China had died from their injuries.

Unlike the US—where mass killing after mass killing reveal how the prevalence and accessibility of automatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips make killing easy for the deranged or enraged—China's strict guns laws make such incidents nearly impossible.

"The huge difference between this case and the U.S. is not the suspect, nor the situation, but the simple fact he did not have an effective weapon," Dr. Ding Xueliang, a Harvard-educated sociologist at the University of Science and Technology in Hong Kong, told CNN. "In terms of the U.S., there's much easier availability of killing instruments—rifles, machine guns, explosives—than in nearly every other developed country."

The guns used in Friday's massacre in Connecticut, according to reports, were a Sig Sauer and a Glock, both handguns. A Bushmaster .223 M4 carbine, which is a semi-automatic military-style assault rifle, was also found at the scene.

US Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), told CNN that "other developed nations such as Germany and Canada see hundreds of fatalities from guns each year, instead of 9,000 or 10,000." And added, "There's a reason for that."

Barbara Demick in the Los Angeles Times wrote Friday that bloggers in China were praising their country's strict gun laws in the wake of both incidents. Demick wrote:
Zhang Xin, a prominent real estate developer and one of the wealthiest women in China, deplored the lack of political will in the United States.
"Really, why can’t these politicians put aside their difference and prohibit the sale of firearms?" wrote Zhang Xin, in her widely followed microblog on Sina Weibo.
As Shanghaiist notes, China has seen its own trend of violence targeting young children since 2010. Other knife attacks have been used by the National Rifle Association, rightwingers and other pro-gun lobbyist groups to argue that strict gun laws don't stop violent acts. But, as the publication adds, "societies which allow their citizens easy access to firearms, of any type, are placing their citizens at a far higher risk of death and injury than those that do not."

Citing statistics by the Center for Disease Control, Prof. Peter Dreier points out that in 2011 (the most recent year available) "there were 15,953 murders in the United States and 11,101 (30 a day) were caused by firearms. Suicides and unintentional shootings account for another 20,000 deaths by guns each year."  Dreier notes that many more people are injured—some seriously and permanently—by gun violence each and every day.

"It is no accident that the United States ranks first in the world—by a wide margin—in gun-related civilian deaths and injuries," Dreier said. "Compared with every other democracy, we have the most guns per capita and the weakest gun laws."

In addition, he notes, the danger isn't simply the number of guns, but the types of guns that make the US such a dangerous nation.

"Other countries permit hunting rifles," Dreier said, "but many Americans believe it is their right to own an assault weapon." Such weapons, which can fire rapidly and need minimal reloading, have been consistently used in shooting massacres—like the one Newtown on Friday—that result in the highest casualty rates.

The United States hasn't passed any gun safety legislation since 1994 and lawmakers allowed the "assault weapons ban" to expire in 2004.

The calls for new gun laws were loud and clear on Friday and into Saturday.

"If we’ve reached a point where our children cannot attend school without fear of being gunned down by a homicidal maniac who has obtained easy access to firearms," said the Coalition to End Gun Violence, "then the freedom we cherish as citizens of the world’s greatest democracy is at risk of extinction."

"If elected officials cannot find their voices now and call for change—if NRA campaign contributions and threats continue to dictate their decision-making, taking priority over the preservation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—what will it say about them?"

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Truth About Santa Claus

I recently took my kids to watch the film “Rise of the Guardians.” It was an entertaining movie, where the mythical beings that accompany some kids throughout their childhood, such as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, are portrayed as guardians who fight to keep the children of the world safe. The movie was strange for me due to the fact that all of these guardians came from Western cultures, but were meant to represent the childhoods of everyone in the world. Every culture always has their own sorts of beliefs that children are told to give some magic to the world or help them respect boundaries or authority, learn certain values. There are always similarities about these beliefs, but there are still very distinct differences. I was surprised that the film didn’t do more to show diversity in these guardians in line with the diversity of beliefs in the world.

After watching the film I asked my five-year-old Sumahi if she believed Santa Claus to be real. Her response, “Siempre!” This has presented me with a small problem. As Sumahi is five years old she has license to believe in just about anything, but what about me, how am I supposed to respond to her fictitious belief?

I am by nature a very critical person. This has manifested many times in the way I talk to Sumahi about the world. The first book that I ever bought for her was about the successful slave revolt on the Amistad. I’ve followed that up with a mixture of Disney princess books and as well as books related to peace and cultural empowerment.

When she was only two and we spotted a dead bird outside of our house, I hesitated for a moment when she asked me “Hafa bidada-na i paluma?” Like most parents so much of how you parent becomes about the issue of innocence. How much do you censor about the world, how much do you soften the harshness of reality? I told Sumahi, “Matai enao na paluma.” When she asked what that meant I said, “Kalang mamaigo’ gui’, lao ti u fakmata’ ta’lo.”

Discussions of colonialism and decolonization have naturally been difficult as they are very abstract for kids to grasp. But in some ways Sumahi already understands the basics. One of her current favorite movies is “Avatar” by James Cameron. Towards the end when the Na’vi are defeating the human mercenaries, Sumahi was jumping up and down on the couch cheering for them.

Sumahi and me already have a pretty good relationship in terms of truth and the world, but on the topic of Santa Claus I’m strangely apprehensive. I’m not exactly sure why. I can’t stand the idea of Santa Claus and most of the iconography and symbolism surrounding Christmas. It feels so foreign to Guam and to what I’m familiar with, that I have never really understood why people on Guam took up the idea of Santa Claus in their lives and how they would raise their children.

The way I see it now I have three basic responses for Sumahi on the Santa Claus issue:

1. The Sell-Out: I don’t rock the boat or cause any waves; I just go with the flow. I tell Sumahi that Santa Claus is real and she has nothing to worry about. This Christmas all those gift she’s going to get weren’t purchased by myself or any of her other relatives, instead they came from a bearded old white guy who broke into the house to place them under the tree!

2. The Dream Killer: I not only tell Sumahi the truth, I basically slap her in the face with it. I tell her that there is no such thing as Santa Claus, and while we are at it the Easter Bunny doesn’t exist either.

3. The Local Critique: I tell Sumahi that Santa Claus does exist, but he just doesn’t visit Guam. He does go out there and give random gifts to random boys and girls, but he never visits Guam. When she asks me why he wouldn’t visit Guam, I have plenty of options to explain my position. Santa’s reindeer would never be able to survive in Guam, they would overheat and die and those are special, hard-to-replace reindeer. Santa might also have a problem due to the lack of chimneys on island. I don’t know if his magical powers would allow him to squeeze through air conditioning ducts. Lastly, Santa Claus would never be able to survive all the boonie and non-boonie dogs on Guam. He would get ripped to shreds. 

I still haven’t decided which approach to take on the Santa Claus issue. There is a logic to both letting her have her illusions, as well as dispelling them, I’m so torn.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Showcase of Tools

Every Wednesday I'm at the Chamorro Village where I open my grandfather's blacksmith shop.

My grandfather is a Chamorro Master Blacksmith and the only remaining pre-World War II blacksmith. Due to my grandmother being ill we haven't made much lately and so the case of tools for sale is fairly empty right now.

Above is a picture of the last time that it was truly full and the last time my grandfather was down at the shop. Each of those tools or knives in there is slightly different and has its own story or rationale. It is interesting to know and to feel that story and that complexity even if for more who walk into the shop it is simply a piece of metal.

I thought just for education sake I'd list the tools in the showcase above and give some background on each of them.

Kamyo: A tool for grating coconut. You attach the metal blade to a wooden stool and then grate halves of coconut over the metal teeth in order to shred the coconut meat. This is the first tool that I learned to make and one of the few that I can make entirely on my own. In the times before metal the kamyo would be made using sharpened shell.

Skinning Knife: Something that grandpa only started to make recently and in response to the many hunters on Guam. Most of grandpa's tools have been geared towards farming and farmers, even if not many farmers buy them anymore. But each week many hunters, especially those in the military stationed on Guam come through the shop. Grandpa decided to make a knife that was affordable for them when they are skinning pig or dear.

Se'se' ha': Although grandpa is famous for making machetes, in truth we don't sell that many anymore. They are hard to make and few people want to pay the cost for the amount of time and work that goes into them. As an alternative grandpa began making a smaller and lighter blade that he sometimes calls a utility knife or a camping knife, which is still sturdy and solid, but not as menacing as a proper machete. This is now grandpa's biggest selling knife and thank goodness because it is very easy to make when compared to some of the other tools.

Higam: Not made by us, but by another artist. Nonetheless it is still a very nice piece. The higam is known in Guam today as adze, gachai or hachita and is used for carving and shaping the hull of a canoe. In ancient times the higam was made with a stone or shell tip lashed onto a wooden handle. The tip for the higam in the picture is made from hima or giant clam shell, a material used in ancient times. In the centuries since European contact the higam was made using metal blades. If you are from the Gofigan clan on Guam, one of the theories for where your name comes from is that in the past you were excellent canoe builders. Gofigan may come from the ancient Chamorro title "Gofhigam" or to be very good with a higam.

Macheten Anakko': The traditional Chamorro machete is fairly heavy and thick compared to those you find in other countries and cultures. It isn't necessarily long, but still has a nice heft to it because it was used primarily for splitting coconuts open at a quick and consistent pace. But a 12 in machete costs about $500 - 600, and few people are willing to pay that much for it, even if you can consider it a work of art. A few years ago grandpa started to make a lighter, longer machete that was easier to make than the traditional and therefore much more affordable. This is a machete that you can use to split open coconuts, but has to be used much more carefully than the traditional type, especially for heavy duty activity. The first few that we made I referred to as "Macheten Palakse" because of the way their shape and the blue we used on them reminded me of a parrotfish. My father refers to them as a lady's machete, because they are lighter and to be used for less strenuous jobs than the traditional "manly" machete.

Macheten Dikike': A perfect option for those looking for a great gift or a great souvenir from my grandfather. The macheten dikike' is a smaller version of the traditional Chamorro machete. The shape is the same and the handle is the same and it is still functional, although its smaller size means you probably shouldn't try much heavy duty work with it. Some hunters have found it ideal for slaughtering and skinning animals. Chamorro blacksmithing for many centuries was rooted in practical applications due to the scarcity of metal on the island. This meant that blacksmiths didn't mess around alot when creating things because most of your metal came from salvaging things. Two things happened in the 20th century to change this. First the US colonial period brought in more metal than ever before and second the US Navy on Guam created the first market that blacksmiths could produce non-practical, but more souvenir based goods for. Guam had silver and goldsmiths who would sometimes produce pieces of jewelry as souvenirs for those who visited Guam, but blacksmiths became more active in terms of creating souvenir knives during this period. The macheten dikike' that my grandfather makes is based on the type that his father sold to the US Navy as gifts for officers and sailors as going away gifts, when their tour was up on Guam. This practice continues up until today, although they tend not to buy the macheten dikike' but instead choose one of the cheaper knives.

Tiheras Pugua': One of the most popular tools that grandpa sells, these are scissors designed specifically for cutting open the husk of pugua'. For those who enjoy chewing pugua' getting open the husk can sometimes be difficult. Using regular scissors, even a knife or smashing it with a door can all be dangerous and ineffective. These scissors are very popular but this isn't an item that we like making very much. People don't want to pay very much for tiheras pugua', in fact they sometimes want to pay very little and so it can be difficult to get compensated for your time and work when people think of the tiheras pugua' as just like any other pair of scissors.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Misty Mountains

Soon I will be sitting in a movie theater singing along to this song.

Far over the misty mountains cold
In dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away, ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold

The dwarves of yore made mighty spells
While hammers fell like ringing bells
In places deep, where dark things sleep
In hollow halls beneath the fells

For ancient king and elvish lord
There many a gleaming golden hoard
They shaped and wrought, and light they caught
To hide in gems on hilt of sword

On silver necklaces they strung
The flowering stars, on crowns they hung
The dragon fire, in twisted wire
They meshed the light of moon and sun

Far over the misty mountains cold
In dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away, ere break of day
To claim our long-forgotten gold

Goblets they carved their for themselves
And harps of gold; where no man delves
There lay they long, and many a song
Was sung unheard by men and elves

The pines were roaring on the height
The winds were moaning in the night
The fires were red, it flaming spread
The trees like torches blazed with light

 The bells were ringing in the dale
And men looked up with faces pale
The dragon's ire more fierce than fire
Laid low their towers and houses frail

The mountains smoked beneath the moon
The dwarves, they heard the tramp of doom
They fled their hall to dying fall
Beneath his feet, beneath the moon

Far over the misty mountains grim
To dungeons deep and caverns grim
We must away, ere break of day
To win our harps and gold from him!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

North Korea Missile Tests

North Korea Rocket Launch: Long-Range Missile Fired, South Korean Defense Ministry Confirms

By Jack Kim and Mayumi Negishi

SEOUL/TOKYO, Dec 12 (Reuters) - North Korea successfully launched a rocket on Wednesday, boosting the credentials of its new leader and stepping up the threat the isolated and impoverished state poses to its opponents.

The rocket, which North Korea says put a weather satellite into orbit, has been labelled by the United States, South Korea and Japan as a test of technology that could one day deliver a nuclear warhead capable of hitting targets as far as the continental United States.

"The satellite has entered the planned orbit," a North Korean television news-reader clad in traditional Korean garb triumphantly announced, after which the station played patriotic songs with the lyrics "Chosun (Korea) does what it says".

The rocket was launched just before 10 a.m. Korea time (0100 GMT), according to defence officials in South Korea and Japan, and easily surpassed a failed April launch that flew for less than two minutes.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said that it "deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit", the first time an independent body has verified North Korean claims.
North Korea followed what it said was a similar successful launch in 2009 with a nuclear test that prompted the United Nations Security Council to stiffen sanctions that it originally imposed in 2006 after the North's first nuclear test.

The state is banned from developing nuclear and missile-related technology under U.N. resolutions, although Kim Jong-un, the youthful head of state who took power a year ago, is believed to have continued the state's "military first" programmes put into place by his deceased father Kim Jong-il.
Washington condemned Wednesday's launch as a "provocative action" and breach of U.N. rules, while Japan's U.N. envoy called for a Security Council meeting. However, diplomats say further tough sanctions are unlikely to be agreed at the body as China, the North's only major ally, will opppose them.

"The international community must work in a concerted fashion to send North Korea a clear message that its violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions have consequences," the White House said in a statement.

Japan's likely next prime minister, Shinzo Abe, who is leading in opinion polls ahead of an election on Dec. 16 and who is known as a North Korea hawk, called on the United Nations to adopt a resolution "strongly criticising" Pyongyang.

There was no immediate official reaction from the Chinese government, which is North Korea's only major ally.

China had expressed "deep concern" over the launch which was announced a day after a top politburo member, representing new Chinese leader Xi Xinping, met Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang.


On Wednesday, China's state news agency Xinhua said North Korea had the "right to conduct peaceful exploration of outer space" but also called on it to abide by U.N. resolutions.

"China has been the stumbling block to firmer U.N. action and we'll have to see if the new leadership is any different than its predecessors," Bruce Klingner, a Korea expert at the Heritage Foundation, a U.S. thinktank told a conference call.

A senior adviser to South Korea's president said last week it was unlikely there would be action from the U.N. and that Seoul would expect its allies to tighten sanctions unilaterally.

Kim Jong-un, believed to be 29 years old, took office after his father died on Dec. 17 last year and experts believe that Wednesday's launch was intended to commemorate the first anniversary of the death.

The April launch was timed for the centennial of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the founder of North Korea and the grandfather of its current ruler.

Wednesday's success puts the North ahead of the South which has not managed to get a rocket off the ground.

"This is a considerable boost in establishing the rule of Kim Jong-un," said Cho Min, an expert at the Korea Institute of National Unification.

There have been few indications the secretive and impoverished state, where the United Nations estimates a third of the population is malnourished, has made any advances in opening up economically over the past year.

North Korea remains reliant on minerals exports to China and remittances from tens of thousands of its people working on labour projects overseas.

The 22 million population often needs handouts from defectors who have escaped to South Korea in order to afford basic medicines.

Given the puny size of its economy - per capita income is less than $2,000 a year - one of the few ways the North can attract world attention is by emphasising its military threat.

Pyongyang wants the United States to resume aid and to recognise it diplomatically, although the April launch scuppered a planned food deal.

It is believed to be some years away from developing a functioning nuclear warhead although it may have enough plutonium for around half a dozen nuclear bombs, according to nuclear experts.

The North has also been enriching uranium which would give it a second path to nuclear weapons as it sits on vast natural uranium reserves.

"A successful launch puts North Korea closer to the capability to deploy a weaponised missile," said Denny Roy a senior fellow at the East-West Center in Hawaii.

"But this would still require fitting a weapon to the missile and ensuring a reasonable degree of accuracy. The North Koreans probably do not yet have a nuclear weapon small enough for a missile to carry."

Pyongyang says that its development is part of a civil nuclear programme, but has also boasted of it being a "nuclear weapons power".

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tolerating Missiles

There’s No Country That Would Tolerate Missiles

Photo: Johnny Barber)

Walid al Nassasra and two of his daughters stand staring into the pit where his brothers sheet-metal roofed, cinder-block home stood until it was hit in a pin-point strike with a precision guided bomb from an F-16 fighter jet (provided by the United States) on 19 Nov 2012 at 10 pm as the family slept. If not for the clothes and bedding strewn about, it would be difficult to tell that a home once stood here. His brother Taqwfiq, like Walid, is a farmer. Their family has been farming in the Rafah area for 35 years. They are poor people, scratching out a living on a small plot of land. As we sat and talked with Walid, Israeli F-16's roared across the sky.

His brother as well as a 12 year old nephew remains hospitalized, the nephew is in the ICU with skull and hip fractures. His sister-in-law is blind after her head and upper body was severely burned.
His 4 year-old niece suffers severe burns and a fractured leg stabilized by an external fixation device. In this kind of reduction, holes are drilled into uninjured areas of bones around the fracture and special bolts or wires are screwed into the holes. Outside the body, a rod or a curved piece of metal with special ball-and-socket joints joins the bolts to make a rigid support. The fracture can be set in the proper anatomical configuration by adjusting the ball-and-socket joints. Since the bolts pierce the skin, proper cleaning to prevent infection at the site of surgery must be performed. Yes, i said his niece is 4 years old. She has been released to the home. They bring her to us to show us her damaged body, her face covered in burns, her leg with eight metal screws holding it together. She is crying. All 9 surviving members of the family were injured in the blast.

2 nephews, Ahmed and Mohamed, were killed. (Yes, every Martyr, innocent civilian, and resistance fighter here has a name. Everyone killed here has family left behind who grieves for them. Everyone.)
There was no warning given. No calls, no leaflets, no roof tapping. Just an enormous explosion in the night that made Walid think his house was bombed, eighty meters away, as all the windows exploded and the walls rattled.

When Walid was asked what he would say to the people of the U.S., he said, "The American people already received our message. During Cast Lead the American people saw that the majority of the martyrs and injuries were civilians, and they didn't do anything. They deal with Israel as if it is a state in America."

President Obama said, "There’s no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders." We supply the planes, we supply the bombs, we supply the vetoes at the UN Security Council that gives cover to these crimes. We as Americans are complicit. The question is, "How much longer will we tolerate it?"

Johnny Barber
Johnny Barber is currently in Afghanistan as a member of a delegation from Voices for Creative Non-Violence. He has traveled to Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Gaza to bear witness and document the suffering of people who are affected by war. His work can be viewed at:  and

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Botasion 2014

Para todus ni' ya-niha umeyak fumino' Chamoru. Taitai i tinige'-na gi gaseta Si Pedro Onedera.

Mamange' gui' put meggai na diferentes na kosas, lao ha na'sesetbe i lenguahi-ta.

I meggaina na Chamorro siha, ma usa i lenguahi para "na'magof" na kosas yan gi didide' ha' na lugat. Lao para Si Onedera ha u'usa fino' Chamoru para u diskuti yan kubre maseha hafa malago'-na. 

Fihu ilek-hu na todu i manggaige giya Guahan pa'go ilek-niniha na ma onra i fino' Chamoru yan gaibali gui'. Lao puru ha' kuentos ayu, yan i kuentos gi fino' Ingles, pues hafa i mismo bali-na? Lao Si Onedera ha na'annok na para Guiya i bali mas ki kuentos taibali. Ha gof guaiya i lenguahi-ta yan ha na'sesetbe todu tiempo.

Gi este na tinige'-na ginnen i PDN, mannge' gui' put hinasso-na put i botasion 2012 yan i mamaila na botasion gi 2014.


Ta Atan i Ileksion Liheslatibu gi 2014
Tinige' as Pedro Onedera
The Pacific Daily News

Ti manmatåta'chong trabiha i Mina'trentai dos na Liheslatura yan i siremoñas inågurasion ni' para u abiba i hinalom Limtiaco, Morrison, McCreadie yan si Frank B. Aguon, Jr.

Ta atan siempre i mamaila' dos åños na tiempo piot para i enkåmbent siha ni' u fanma mantieni ha' ni' botu siha osino u fanma lakngos despues di 2014 ya este ta li'e' ha' na pusipble sigun ginen i ittemon risutto ni' manhuyong si Judith Guthertz, si Adolpho Palacios, si Mana Silva Taijeron yan si Sam Mabini.

En fin, guaha hinengngang sa' esta bebengbeng gi i talanga-hu put pinisepblen dinanña' Rory Respicio yan si Tom Ada para i tikket gobetnadot na puesto yan siña ha' ta'lo si Aguon yan otro na Demokrat.

Ti hu huhungok håyi i Ripåpblikan para u dåggao hålom gi i finalågu ya siña ha' lokkue' mampos tåftaf ma katkula håfa i GOP para u cho'gue. Put mås, dumanña' ha' siempre si Maga'låhi Calvo yan si Sigundo Maga'låhi Ray Tenorio para i mina'dos na tetminon-ñiha lao siña ha' ma fåna' kinentråriu ginen as Frank Blas, Jr. ni' ha chagi pumetsigi i siyan diligao konggressu lao annok i numiru siha na posipble ma ta'loyi este ta'lo gi dos åños na tiempo.

Sigun ginen este i maloffan na ileksion ni' kantidå fuetsa para tinige'-hålom gi todu na kampein siha desde mahot, bisa-mahot, liheslatibu, konggressu yan kontodu i siyan åditot pupbleko, håfa u ma susedi gi i ileksion 2014 u ma ina siempre kontåtki esta a'annok håfa para u ma li'e' guennao na tiempo.

Un hinasso ni' malago' yu' tumungo' mås gi kampein tinige'-hålom ni' ma cho'gue nu i taiguen kandidåtu yan prisidenten Republic of Guåhan, si Norbert Perez.

Hu hasso un åttikulu gi iya Marianas Variety na i taotao-ña pumega hålom i na'ån-ña para diligao konggresson Guåhan lao kontodu para iya Notte Mari'ånas yan ta'lo iya Amerikan Samoa.

Håfa uttemo-ña ayu?

Na'enteresao lokkue' yanggen ha na'huyong iya Kumision Ileksion Guåhan emfotmasion put kuånto na botu siha ha risibi sigun ginen finalagu-ña. Put mås ta'lo, na'enteresao kao mañule' gui' botu ta'lo gi iya Notte Mari'ånas yan iya Amerikan Samoa.

Ti hu tungo' kao sumåsaga si Norbert Perez gi iya Hawaii osino gi sanlagu. Ti klåru gi iya guåhu put fanliheng-ña. Gi maloffan tiempon bakasion manrisibi yu' un anåkko' yan mikuentos na mensåhen i-mel ginen un sapotte-ña ginen sanlagu.

Put fin, ha sodda' este na endebedu'åt i adres i-mel-hu ya ha tuge'i yu' put todu minaolek Norbert Perez ya kulan ha pega na profeta gui' para i tinaotao Mañamoru gi iya Guåhan yan gi enteru mundo.
Ilek-ña ta'lo na nina'en Yu'os si Norber Perez para i taotao sa' malåte', menhalom, tomtom, maolek kumuentos yan famao ya debidi u fanekungok i taotao Guåhan put guiya yan lokkue' sa' guiya senmaolek na siudadånu para i mundo. Magåhet, ti ha hongngang yu' na tinige'-hålom i na'ån-ña tåtkumu kandidåtu. Hu båtga na bai hu nangga ya bai hu li'e' håyi sapotte-ña siha. Hu tungo' råmas familiå-ña yan kao para u guaha fuetsa put kinalamten-ña yan priniponi-ña gi siñåt siha, papeletta siha, na'chetton siha osino franela siha.

Tåya' lini'e'-hu.

Hu nangga lokkue' para bai hu li'e' kao u guaha taotao-ña ni' manmambisisita guma' put guma' osino para huntan dikike' osino rali gi katkuet na songsong. Humåhnanao ha' tåya' nu este. Kao guaha tumungo' put este? Yanggen hunggan, put fabot, na'tungo' yu'.

Siempre u guaha prubecho para i manmenhalom put pulitikåt yanggen ma hassuyi i dimimorian ga'lågu yan kabåyu yanggen ma tutuhon i kandidåtu manhuyong put entension-ñiha. Maolek yanggen manma lakngos siñåt tapbleru siha gi tinaftaf na tiempo ni' kåsi un åñu åntes di i ileksion taiguihi i bidå-ña as si Dennis Rodriguez gi fine'nana na finalagu-ña ya inayuda gui' maskeseha ti inayuda si Corinna Gutierrez ni parehu bidå-ña lokkue'.

Pues, para i mi'emfotmasion na tapbleron siñåt si Jose Santos Servino siña tuma'lo yan kontodu si Moe Cotton ni' malakngos temå-ña gi i internet ya ma li'e' gi enteru nasion.

Guaha na taotågues siha siempre ta a'atan ya hu lili'e' esta fuetsa yan minaolek ginen taiguihi as Michael Ysrael, si Jackie Marati, si Carlo Branch, si Peter Sgro, i inilihi-mahot as Robert Hofmann ginen i sengsong-hu, si Abugao Leevin Camacho yan si Julian Aguon, ya mandanña' siempre yan si Joshua Tenorio ni' kulan mampos mamatkilu yan gof ma honño' guini na biåhi. Ma sangåni yu' na ha sumai gui' gi i mina'tres na råmas gubetnamento, i hostisia, tåtkumu ha chagi esta i ramas ekseketibu yan liheslatibu. Metgot siñente-ku na siempre humuyong gui' yan metgot enteron-mineggai kandidåton liheslatibu.

Pumalu siha ni' ya-hu ya posipble kandidåton-ñiha ginen iya Unibetsedåt Guåhan as Anne Perez Hattori yan si Michael Lujan Bevacqua, si Monte Mesa, si Monica Okada Guzman, si Mark Mendiola, si Hope Cristobal, Jr. and tuma'lo siempre si Leah Beth Naholowaa, si Adonis Mendiola, si Gary W. "Frank" Gumataotao, yan si Roland Blas.

Un taisuette na kandidåton bisa-mahot ginen Hågat siña ha' ha chagi si Derek Baza Hills para i liheslatibu. Yan, lameggai lokkue' na manma'lak estreyas siha ginen i atmenestrasion ekseketibu siempre manhuyong para u ma chagi i finalågu. Ma tungo' na sesso di manma tå'chong kandidåtu siha ni' ginen ma ge'hilu'i dipåttamento yan ahensia siha ginen i Gubetnamenton Guåhan ya iya 2014 posipble este siempre.

Put fin, asunto yan topiku ni' manmalalakngos gi i ñus taiguihi pinekka' mapotge', gamboleru, kinahat militåt, cho'cho' kriminåt, åmot binenu, idukasion yan inadahen salut u kontenuha tumakhilo' gi i kampein siha gi i isla. Kulan guinifen lista este siha siempre para ayu na kandidåtu ni' manespipiha håfa para u petsigi gigon malågu gui'.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Puenggen Minagof Lamo'na

Bai hu gaige guihi lamo'na:

The University of Guam CHamoru Language Students are hosting Puengen Minagof Nochebuena 2012 from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at the UOG Humanities and Social Sciences building. Activities include student belen competition, weaving and cooking demonstrations, and a nativity play. For details, call Rosa Palomo at 727-5522 or email

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Drone Supremacy

For me, the most depressing aspect of the past US presidential campaign was the final debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. After months of trying to create stark contrasts between them, and trying to incite people to vote for them and not think of them as just being two slightly different flavors of the same soda, the façade fell fast and in an almost embarrassing fashion when the President and his challenger appeared to not only share the same talking points on foreign policy, but possibly share the same brain entirely. They looked more like long lost twins who had just found each other, rather than two distinct sides of the American ideological spectrum.

This benefited Obama significantly, because Romney could not make the case that he offered something new in terms of how the US relates to the rest of the world. As a result the incumbency of Obama made him appear to be more solid, made it seem like the ideas they both supported belonged to him and Romney was a creeping opportunist.

But even if the Republicans hadn’t grudgingly chosen Romney as their candidate, they would have still faced a similar problem on foreign policy. Other than the desire of some Republicans to go to war with Iran or shout to the heavens that Israel can do anything it wants to, there are no real differences. All presidential candidates believe that the United States is the greatest country and the world and as a result should be allowed to do whatever it wants to the rest of the world. Republicans may be much more vocal about this, and blazon it the way they would the head of an animal they have mounted on their wall. But Democrats are not very different. They may emphasize working together and cooperation, but at the end of the day still believe that the United States should be allowed to act unilaterally when it feels like it.

The only Republican candidate who diverged from this script in the last election was Congressman Ron Paul. When asked to sum himself up in a single word he chose “consistent.” In some ways he is the most ideologically consistent Republican in recent memory. He takes positions that are very unpopular with his party in its current form, but may have been standard in previous incarnations. One of the ways he diverges greatly from his party is in terms of foreign policy. While every candidate hopes to find a dozen ways of trying to make American unilateralism and exceptionalism sound less imperial, Paul offered a simple, practical proposal. He argued that US should base its foreign policy on the golden rule, don’t do to others what we don’t want done to us.

For your average nation this is sound advice, since they most likely don’t have any grand world scheming designs. But for an empire such a thing is heresy. While it is something so obvious, it is also something most agree you should never take seriously. The simplicity is something that cannot and shouldn’t not be accommodated in such a complicated world. 

The US has bases and troops in how many countries around the world? How many other countries have overseas bases? The US has bases designed to box in those it sees as potential threats. How would people in the US feel if those same threats decided to open up bases ringing the world in order to box them in? The US is using drones in increased frequency to target those they say are their enemies and on their hit lists. The number of countries the drones operate in is increasing as well. How would people in the US feel is China decided to start flying drones over Washington D.C. and started to bomb people in their homes or at weddings because they were the enemies of China?

Since World War II the US has worked tirelessly to try and rig the game of political winners and losers around the world. They haven’t always been successful, but when they have, terrible things have happened to people. How would people in the US feel if they found out that other countries were assassinating American leaders? Rigging elections? Funneling weapons and money into dissidents? You might argue that in the case of those fighting for freedom and liberation it is important to support them, but if you look on a case-by-case basis how many examples of America interfering with the politics of other nations have been altruistic? How many led to the emergence of leaders who were more loyal to US strategic interests and corporate interests then their own people?

This American exceptionalism is not only widely accepted, but many in the US believe it to be necessary. Through imperial eyes they feel it necessary that there be a different set of rules for the US, since it is more important than anyone else. Even if this is never spoken of directly, it is still implicit. Every empire and imperial master has made the same argument, the world works because they are on top. If they were to fall, if they are to be less powerful than they already are, the world will surely crumble and chaos will reign.

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in their books “Empire” and “Multitude” write about how the human race is driven by two impulses. For those not wanting to delve into the postmodern political philosophical explanation for this, remember that high philosophical concepts always have kitsch versions of themselves. For example it is possible to explain general parts of their thesis through the never-ending climax to the manga Naruto. The bad guys, Tobi (who has been revealed as Uchiha Obito) and Madara Uchiha are fighting a way to collect all the energy of the 9 tailed beasts in order to awaken the 10 ten tailed beast through whom they will cast the ultimate spell upon the world. This spell will place everyone in the gaze of the caster and this is how they will force peace upon the war-ravaged ninja world. Naruto and the ninja-samurai alliance seek to create peace not through this sort of all encompassing domination, but through the creation of new friendships and through understanding and seeing differences as marginal compared to the bonds that people share.

These are the two dynamics that we see at war in Naruto nowadays, and they are also at work in Hardt and Negri. One of them sees security through the eyes of dominating and controlling. This is what they term Empire, where it sees existence as a fight to clamp down and restrict. Peace is forced through war and maintained through war. For the other they use the term “Multitude” as a horizontal force and being. It pulses with life and creativity and seeks to tear down barriers and establish new commonalities, connections and communities. They constantly do battle and challenge each other, one side believing the other to be idealistic and too trusting, the other side arguing that you cannot force things such as peace or order through violence and war. 

Monday, December 03, 2012

The Question of Palestine

Don't get me started about Israel. Mungga mana'kuentos yu' put Israel.

My blood is already boiling just thinking about it. Siempre bai kinahulo'guan anggen kumuentos yu' put este.

A ray of hope was spotted recently for Palestinians, but like most things it could be short lived or meaningless since even the notion of "hope" in Palestine, like everything else is something Israel strives to control and quash. Their partial recognition by the United Nations is a big symbolic step, but how will it help stop the daily abuse and daily stranglehold that Israel has over The Occupied Territories?

The resolution from the United Nations is pasted below.


Status of Palestine in the United Nations
The General Assembly,

Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and stressing in this regard the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples,

Recalling its resolution 2625 (XXV) of 24 October 1970,1 by which it affirmed, inter alia, the duty of every State to promote through joint and separate action the realization of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples,

Stressing the importance of maintaining and strengthening international peace founded upon freedom, equality, justice and respect for fundamental human rights,

Recalling its resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947,

Reaffirming the principle, set out in the Charter, of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force,

Reaffirming also relevant Security Council resolutions, including, inter alia, resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967, 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973, 446 (1979) of 22 March 1979, 478 (1980) of 20 August 1980, 1397 (2002) of 12 March 2002, 1515 (2003) of 19 November 2003 and 1850 (2008) of 16 December 2008,

Reaffirming further the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949,2 to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, including, inter alia, with regard to the matter of prisoners,

Reaffirming its resolution 3236 (XXIX) of 22 November 1974 and all relevant resolutions, including resolution 66/146 of 19 December 2011, reaffirming the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to their independent State of Palestine,

Reaffirming also its resolutions 43/176 of 15 December 1988 and 66/17 of 30 November 2011 and all relevant resolutions regarding the Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, which, inter alia, stress the need for the withdrawal of Israel from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, primarily the right to self-determination and the right to their independent State, a just resolution of the problem of the Palestine refugees in conformity with resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948 and the complete cessation of all Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,

Reaffirming further its resolution 66/18 of 30 November 2011 and all relevant resolutions regarding the status of Jerusalem, bearing in mind that the annexation of East Jerusalem is not recognized by the international community, and emphasizing the need for a way to be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the capital of two States,

Recalling the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of 9 July 2004,

Reaffirming its resolution 58/292 of 6 May 2004, affirming, inter alia, that the status of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, remains one of military occupation and that, in accordance with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, the Palestinian people have the right to self-determination and to sovereignty over their territory,

Recalling its resolutions 3210 (XXIX) of 14 October 1974 and 3237 (XXIX) of 22 November 1974, by which, respectively, the Palestine Liberation Organization was invited to participate in the deliberations of the General Assembly as the representative of the Palestinian people and was granted observer status,

Recalling also its resolution 43/177 of 15 December 1988, by which it, inter alia, acknowledged the proclamation of the State of Palestine by the Palestine National Council on 15 November 1988 and decided that the designation “Palestine” should be used in place of the designation “Palestine Liberation Organization” in the United Nations system, without prejudice to the observer status and functions of the Palestine Liberation Organization within the United Nations system,

Taking into consideration that the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, in accordance with a decision by the Palestine National Council, is entrusted with the powers and responsibilities of the Provisional Government of the State of Palestine,

Recalling its resolution 52/250 of 7 July 1998, by which additional rights and privileges were accorded to Palestine in its capacity as observer,

Recalling also the Arab Peace Initiative adopted in March 2002 by the Council
of the League of Arab States,

Reaffirming its commitment, in accordance with international law, to the two-State solution of an independent, sovereign, democratic, viable and contiguous State of Palestine living side by side with Israel in peace and security on the basis of the pre-1967 borders,

Bearing in mind the mutual recognition of 9 September 1993 between the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people,

Affirming the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders,

Commending the Palestinian National Authority’s 2009 plan for constructing the institutions of an independent Palestinian State within a two-year period, and welcoming the positive assessments in this regard about readiness for statehood by the World Bank, the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund and as reflected in the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee Chair conclusions of April 2011 and subsequent Chair conclusions, which determined that the Palestinian Authority is above the threshold for a functioning State in key sectors studied,

Recognizing that full membership is enjoyed by Palestine in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia and the Group of Asia-Pacific States and that Palestine is also a full member of the League of Arab States, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Group of 77 and China,

Recognizing also that, to date, 132 States Members of the United Nations have accorded recognition to the State of Palestine,

Taking note of the 11 November 2011 report of the Security Council Committee on the Admission of New Members,

Stressing the permanent responsibility of the United Nations towards the question of Palestine until it is satisfactorily resolved in all its aspects,

Reaffirming the principle of universality of membership of the United Nations,

1. Reaffirms the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to independence in their State of Palestine on the Palestinian territory occupied since

2. Decides to accord to Palestine non-member observer State status in the United Nations, without prejudice to the acquired rights, privileges and role of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the United Nations as the representative of the Palestinian people, in accordance with the relevant resolutions and practice;

3. Expresses the hope that the Security Council will consider favourably the application submitted on 23 September 2011 by the State of Palestine for admission to full membership in the United Nations;

4. Affirms its determination to contribute to the achievement of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the attainment of a peaceful settlement in the Middle East that ends the occupation that began in 1967 and fulfills the vision of two States: an independent, sovereign, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security with Israel on the basis of the pre-1967 borders;

5. Expresses the urgent need for the resumption and acceleration of negotiations within the Middle East peace process based on the relevant United Nations resolutions, the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet road map to a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement between the Palestinian and
Israeli sides that resolves all outstanding core issues, namely the Palestine refugees, Jerusalem, settlements, borders, security and water;

6. Urges all States, the specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system to continue to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination, independence and freedom;

7. Requests the Secretary-General to take the necessary measures to implement the present resolution and to report to the Assembly within three months on progress made in this regard.


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