Saturday, May 31, 2014

"Micronesian" Solidarity

For "Sindalu" the Guam Humanities Council Exhibit that I am working on, one of the tasks I did was to collect as many of the articles about Chamorros that have died in Afghanistan and Iraq as possible. Part of the problem with collecting these articles is that many of the Chamorro soldiers who have died lived elsewhere and were recruited outside of the Marianas. Sometimes these soldiers will show up in lists of dead from the Marianas, sometimes they don't. These lists are also more complicated by the fact that some of them will include the deaths of soldiers who were deployed but not killed in combat and others will exclude them.

What makes it even more convoluted is that the metrics for counting the dead has changed as well. During Vietnam, the number was strictly Chamorros, even though there were a handful of soldiers from other islands in Micronesia who did serve. But in the Wars on Terror, the fights in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa, more and more non-Chamorros from the region are serving and dying.

Now it is common to say "the Fallen of Micronesia," something created primarily in the media in order to create a larger number of soldiers from the region who have been killed in order to create more patriotic sentiment and play up the sacrifice from those of these small fragments of American colonies and neocolonies. Those who wish to improve Micronesian relations and create more Micronesian pride in the region, and try to get Chamorros to see themselves as more Micronesia shouldn't use this cheap solidarity tactic. This creates a sense of solidarity for us not as Micronesians but all as places that are strategically important to the United States, as colonies of some sort. It does not draw from who we are and where we have come from, but rather who has laid claim to us.

I am all for Micronesian unity, but if it comes through a shared subordination to the United States and bewildering forms of patriotism, my mind cannot wrap itself around that. If you listen to some of the rhetoric that is created after someone from Palau or Chuuk is killed while fighting in the US military, they use the same discursive structures of patriotism that people from other places in the United States use. This may seem normal from an American exceptionalist perspective where one might feel that everyone should accept the awesomeness of the US, but the peoples in Micronesia are supposed to be from independent countries and cultures, how strange is it for them to have these expressions of loyalty and devotion? How does this help to make clear the neocolonialism of their statuses today?

In a rough cut for the documentary Island Soldier by Nathan Fitch, which talks about Micronesian experiences in the US military, he has a section where the family of a soldier that was killed is expressing their grief and at one point the father talks about how it may be necessary that the people of the FSM get a vote in the US Congress considering how they are sacrificing their sons to fight American wars.

I'll reiterate this point, Micronesian solidarity that takes us through the matrix of the United States teaches us less about each other instead of more. It means that what we value about each other that makes us want to to see and know and work with each other has nothing to do with us, but comes from our shared colonizer. It weakens us because it makes us devalue what little sovereignty we do have, and just like the sons and daughters who go to war, it becomes something that we offer up as a sacrifice on the altar of tokenistic American inclusion.

As I was out searching for these articles I came across one more interesting than all the rest. At least 29 Chamorros have died in the War on Terror. But surprisingly the articles that actually discuss their Chamorroness are from outside of the Marianas. Those inside the Marianas focus on their fighting for American freedom and ideals, patriotism and other things that are kind of silly to talk about when you live in a colony. But articles from across the US, such as this one from Washington State, focus on the Chamorroness of his identity and the funeral. I found that contrast to be very interesting.

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"Pues Adios, Joe, Adios, Adios"
by Scott Fontaine
 The News Tribune

August 28, 2009

To fellow soldiers, Army 1st Sgt. Jose Crisostomo was a war-tested veteran who proudly served his country.

To Chamorros, he was a leader of the relocated Guam community who did everything from organizing fiestas to raising youth scholarship money.

To his family, he was Papa. And now, the man known to most everyone as Sinbad, is their “angel.”
“Papa, my heart hurts knowing you won’t be alive,” his teenage granddaughter Amalia said Friday during a tearful memorial service at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Church in Spanaway, her grandfather’s flag-draped casket a few pews away. “Hu guiya hao, papa. (I love you.)”

Crisostomo died Aug. 18 when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan, less than two weeks before his 60th birthday.

The veteran and native of Inarajan, Guam, re-enlisted for active service early last year, and had recently chosen to do another tour, his family said.

The longtime Spanaway resident first joined the Army in 1969 and had served almost 25 years before retiring in 1993. Most recently, he served with the International Security Assistance Force.
“My father loved the military,” said Tricia Crisostomo-Meyers, his daughter.

Friday’s gathering paid tribute to his military service and Chamorro heritage.

The church exterior was lined with Patriot Guard Riders holding American flags. By 9:30 a.m., a crowd of about 200 stood in silence waiting for the body to arrive. Another motorcycle group with the name “Che’Lu Riders” (Chamorro for “Brother Riders”) on their backs roared to the ceremony.
Crisostomo’s family wore white shirts with red, white and blue armbands. A group of men wearing black T-shirts saying “Grupun Minagof” carried the casket inside the church for viewing.

Grupun Minagof is a local service group of Chamorros. Crisostomo served much of the last decade as president.

Inside, a line of people stretched outside to view the body. By the time mass began, the crowd grew to about 400.

The kids talked about their stern but loving upbringing, as Crisostomo always encouraged them to lead a better life than his.

“It’s hard to miss my father because he left behind a family to be proud of,” recalled his son D.J.
His grandkids also recalled their time with their Papa ­ how he was a huge Mariners fan and how he used to catch birds with them.

Son Jay Crisostomo described how his dad, known as a handyman and a guy’s guy, would always request “one for the road” when drinking beer or barbecuing with his buddies.

During the traditional offertory of gifts, the family presented a toolbelt and an 18-pack of Budweiser, in addition to bread and water.

By early afternoon, the crowd made its way to Fir Lane Funeral Home. With Fort Lewis Brig. Gen. Jeff Mathis in the crowd with Crisostomo’s family, they said their final goodbyes. Some released balloons.

“See you, Joe!” said one member of Grupun Minagof, as a string of balloons resembling a rosary soared into the sky.

Army soldiers gave a rifle salute, as well as the traditional rendition of “Taps.”

Jay Crisostomo gave a sendoff his dad surely would have appreciated.

“I want you to know you’ve done your family proud, and the whole island of Guam,” he said.

“You can’t leave us yet, dad. You’ve still got one for the road,” his son added, before he and others in the audience cracked open a beer.

In the end, a group of singers strummed the Chamorro rendition of “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.”

The final line: “Pues adios, Joe, adios, adios.”

So goodbye, Joe, goodbye.

Read more here: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/military/2009/08/28/pues-adios-joe-adios-adios/#storylink=cpy

Friday, May 30, 2014

Language Pockets


Next week I'll be starting my Chamorro summer classes, and so those who are on Guam and interested in attending need to get in contact with me to learn the meetings dates and times. I've had these Chamorro classes for four years now, and they are alot of fun for me, and a good way to test out things that I eventually use when I teach Chamorro in a more formal setting. Below is a narrative I put together to shed light on how the classes evolved.

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I did not grow up speaking Chamorro. I am what is referred to as a “non-native” Chamorro language speaker. I only learned to speak Chamorro after taking classes at the University of Guam and also convincing my grandparents to speak to me in Chamorro. My experience in learning Chamorro was difficult. While I was supported by some, too many others were not supportive and were very counter-productive in my learning. The Chamorro language has come to the point where it is not quite dead, but clearly dying. Those who speak the language consistently do not speak it to their children or to their grandchildren. Those who attempt to learn the language are more often criticized unfairly and unnecessarily for the way they speak, instead of being supported and nurtured.
I am far from the only person my age or close to my age who has had a burning desire to learn to speak Chamorro, but I am sadly the one person amongst my friends and family who did not grow up speaking Chamorro, but learned it as an adult. Once when talking to Peter Onedera about his experiences teaching Chamorro at UOG for many years, he lamented that in all his years of teaching, and all the hundreds of students who said they were committed to learning the language and becoming fluent, only two actually went on to learn the language after taking his classes. It is clear that the interest is there, but people lack the support or the means to really become fluent.
In order to learn Chamorro in today’s Guam, you must have a very thick skin. You have to be able to deal with so many people who will lecture you, who will make fun of you, who will challenge your Chamorro, in ways which work against any efforts to revitalize the language. Rather than support, they tear you down and make it far more difficult to learn a language that everyone should support the return of.
Since Chamorro culture today has become to resistant to people learning and actively using the Chamorro language, networks of support for Chamorro language learners have to be created. If you are not fortunate enough to have a close relative or a close friend who can sustain you through the learning process, then you will most likely fail, and go nowhere. It is for this reason that in Fall of 2010 I started to hold informal, free Chamorro lessons, open to anyone interested in learning.
In years prior I had experimented with small language groups, both online and in person. They never resulted in much because the lure of English was often too strong. People would struggle with the Chamorro become embarrassed and simply use English since it was less stressful. Also, in these earlier language circles we were all equals, fellow students or activists and so while we could practice together, imparting lessons was often difficult.
These lessons I began anew in Fall 2010 were somewhat different. I started them at the request of several UOG students who were already taking Chamorro classes, but worried that their lessons wouldn’t be sufficient. For this first set of meetings, we met once a week, and each meeting would consist of a grammar lesson, and then be supplemented with the students providing a list of English words that they wanted to know in Chamorro, that would then be used with the new grammar that they had learned. This helped student participation since I wasn’t just giving them a list, but they were actively picking which words they thought would help them the most in speaking Chamorro.
During the course of these lessons, people interested in joining in were allowed, and we even made lessons available online so that those off-island could join via Skype. The Skye lessons proved difficult and were stopped within several months as the internet connection was sometimes unreliable and people who were skyping did not give their full attention to the lessons and so learned very little. The small setting was very good in establishing the foundation for Chamorro grammar. With only a few students, people could ask whatever questions they wanted comfortably, and were forced to pay attention and engage.
The first grammar lessons dealt with the four basic pronoun types and the ways of making different types of sentences. In this setting, students learned quickly and easily the pronouns for 1st person, 2nd person and 3rd person singular, but continued to struggle with retaining and using effectively the rest of the pronouns. I was impressed with how much people were able to retain though since this was not a regular classroom and that it was truly up to them how much they learned, and so I agreed to teach a second set of lessons in Spring 2011.
For Spring 2011, the size of the class increased to 10, as others heard about the lessons and joined in. Although I had some students who were already secure in the most basic elements of Chamorro grammar, given the large number of new students and the fact that it is still good to review, I started over with the lessons. In this larger group, the format was expanded to also allow for practice partners, and so after each grammar and vocabulary lesson, people would be divided into groups of 2 or 3 in order to form sentences. For this second set of lessons, we also began to incorporate music into the lessons. When students became proficient enough to understand and form basic sentences I began to give them song lyrics in English to have them translate into Chamorro. They would then sing them in front of everyone else. I also allowed more creative assignments such as love poetry and the creation of soap opera dialogue.
People felt excited about the amount that they had learned during Spring and committed to meeting for Summer 2011. During the summer months we met twice a week. Every Friday we would still have a grammar lesson. Every Tuesday we would meet and practice. This format was initially effective since the small coffee house format is often times ineffective because people are committed learners when they are in their group, but do not attempt to use the language consistently elsewhere. What undid the progress was that it was difficult to keep people coming to the classes consistently during the summer. People went on vacation, they had summer work, they wanted to rest and chill. Attendance dropped off as the summer went on, going from 10 to 4 or 5.
It was during the summer months that I also began to give homework assignments in order to try and get students to use Chamorro language elsewhere and not just in class. These assignments ranged in making simple sentences, writing stories, writing conversations. Given the summer months and the fact that this was not a class where I was giving grades, these assignments were very ineffective.
I began in Fall 2011, and did away with the paper homework assignments and also through the recommendations of those attending, designed a few new strategies for teaching Chamorro. The attendance for Fall 2011 has been roughly 6 each week. We reduced the meetings to once a week again, each Friday. Instead of beginning again, since the majority of those in attendance had some foundation in the Chamorro language, we continued on with lessons moving into more complex grammatical forms, such as the proper ways to use certain prefixes and suffixes. As we progressed into the complexity of Chamorro I was always careful to make clear that there are many ways of speaking Chamorro, and so while I might teach one way, I would often address the other ways of saying something or using certain words. It was important to be open and be tolerant about the language and not to be condemning of differences and especially to let people explore how to say things.
Some of the changes that were made this time are as follows: A Twitter account was created by myself, and I encouraged those attending classes to get a Twitter of their own. Through this account I would periodically tweet in the Chamorro language, questions or remarks, to which students were supposed to respond. Unfortunately there was only one type of response that students consistently responded to, and that was when I would Tweet “Hafa na Kanta?” and then provide a short excerpt from a popular English language song, translated into Chamorro. People would have to translate it and then tweet back to me what the name of the song was. This game aspect was very popular.
Since Twitter was not reliable in terms of getting people to respond in the Chamorro language, I decided a more simplistic way, and developed an email list of people. Through this email list I would send out twice or thrice a week, a Chamorro sentence, generally a question. It would be up to each person to email back with a response. They were encouraged to write as much or as little as they want. Response to this has been fairly good, although some people never respond, I have developed a small group of people who respond to every email. It is apparent from their emails that they are improving.
I found that by now people were able to write in Chamorro, but still had trouble comprehending Chamorro and listening to it or reading it. For Fall 2011 I made two changes to my format to help deal with this. First, every class begins with the hearing of a Juan Malimanga comic read out loud. After it is read, it is repeated by the group and then they work together to translate it. Secondly, each meeting will also have some text written in Chamorro, which the group also has to listen to and translate. This text can be a song, an advertisement, an article, a children’s book, a letter, anything. This has helped greatly because it reminds people that Chamorro is not just a language that is in the mouths of just a handful of people, but it is something that has been written down and is capable of deep thoughts.
One of the drawbacks to this way of having people practice and learn is that when I read things out loud to them, they tend to guess translate them based on the presence of a familiar word or an English sounding word. Rather than try to take apart the sentence as a whole, they hear a word that sounds familiar and then guess the meaning of the sentence based on that.
Since the start of these language groups I have consistently encouraged participants to find a language partner, usually an older relative fluent in the language, who they can regularly meet with or talk with in order to practice what they learn in our meetings. Those who have progressed in the learning have this support, as it helps them get the language out of their head and out of their lessons and into their mouth and into their world. Part of the effectiveness of these groups will be how well people can find support outside. One possible strategy to help this, might be to have the group leader talk to the potential partners of participants in order to help convince them to try to speak to the person only in Chamorro to help immerse them in the language.
As I look back on the year and a half that I’ve been teaching the Chamorro language in these small groups, I can attest to them being very effective in getting people to understand and learn the grammar.  I have 3 students so far, who if they put more effort and became dedicated, could be comfortably fluent in Chamorro in 6 months. What is missing from my current format is the means to get people to practice more and give them that space for just using the language, making mistakes and learning from their mistakes. Getting comfortable using Chamorro in front of other people and getting comfortable using it when talking about various things. I definitely see one possible improvement for Spring 2012, is to provide two meetings again, one for lessons and the other for just speaking and conversing. The main component that is missing is that practicing of the language, and since students are not taking the initiative to use it on their own outside of the group, the group has to shift slightly in order to help give them a little boost first.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Asia Pacific Pivot Points

From Jeju and Afghanistan, an Asia Peace Pivot

by Hakim
 

Mi Ryang, standing with Gangjeong Village Association members and Gangjeong’s mayor, outside the Jeju Courts, to refuse paying fines for protests against the U.S. naval base construction. (Courtesy of the author)“Don’t you touch me!” declared Mi Ryang.

South Korean police were clamping down on a villager who was resisting the construction of a Korean/U.S. naval base at her village.  Mi Ryang managed to turn the police away by taking off her blouse and, clad in her bra, walking toward them with her clear warning.  Hands off!  Mi Ryang is fondly referred to as “Gangjeong’s daughter” by villagers who highly regard her as the feisty descendant of legendary women sea divers.  Her mother and grandmother were Haenyo divers who supported their families every day by diving for shellfish.

Since 2007, every day without fail, Mi Ryang has stood up to militarists destroying her land.
In doing so, she confronts giants: the Korean military, Korean police authority, the U.S. military, and huge corporations, such as Samsung, allied with these armed forces.

Mi Ryang and her fellow protesters rely on love and on relationships which help them to continue seeking self-determination, freedom and dignity.

Jeju Island is the first place in the world to receive all three UNESCO natural science designations (Biosphere Reserve in 2002, World Natural Heritage in 2007 and Global Geopark in 2010). The military industrial complex, having no interest in securing the Island’s natural wonders, instead serves the U.S. government’s national interest in countering China’s rising economic influence.

The U.S. doesn’t want to be number two. The consequences of the U.S. government’s blueprint for ‘total spectrum dominance,’ globally, are violent, and frightening.

I recently attended a conference held at Jeju University, where young Korean men told participants about why they chose prison instead of enlisting for the two-year compulsory Korean military service.  “I admire these conscientious objectors for their brave and responsible decisions,” I said, “and I confess that I’m worried.  I fear that Jeju Island will become like Afghanistan, where I have worked as a humanitarian and social enterprise worker for the past 10 years.”

“Jeju Island will be a pawn harboring a U.S. naval base, just as Afghanistan will be a pad for at least nine U.S. military bases when the next Afghan President signs the U.S./Afghanistan Bilateral Security Agreement.

When the Korean authorities collaborated with the U.S. military in 1947, at least 30,000 Jeju Islanders were massacred.

How many more ordinary people and soldiers will suffer, be utilized or be killed due to U.S. geopolitical interests to pivot against China?

As many as 20% of all tourists to Jeju Island are Chinese nationals. Clearly, ordinary Jeju citizens and ordinary Chinese can get along, just like ordinary Afghans and citizens from the U.S./NATO countries can get along.   But when U.S. military bases are built outside the U.S., the next Osama Bin Ladens will have excuses to plan other September 11th s!

A few nights ago, I spoke with Dr Song, a Korean activist who used to swim every day to Gureombi Rock, a sacred, volcanic rock formation along Gangjeong’s coastline which was destroyed by the naval base construction. At one point, coast guard officials jailed him for trying to reach Gureombi by swimming. Dr. Song just returned from Okinawa, where he met with Japanese who have resisted the U.S. military base in Okinawa for decades.

The Okinawan and Korean activists understand the global challenge we face.  The 99% must link to form a strong, united 99%. By acting together, we can build a better world, instead of burning out as tiny communities of change. The 1% is way too wealthy and well-resourced in an entrenched system to be stopped by any one village or group.

‘We are many, they are few’ applies more effectively when we stand together. Socially and emotionally, we need one another more than ever, as our existence is threatened by human-engineered climate change, nuclear annihilation and gross socioeconomic inequalities.

The governments of South Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan and even my home country Singapore, have dangerously partnered with the U.S. against China, in Obama’s Asia pivot, dividing human beings by using the threat of armed force, for profit.

The non-violent examples of the people of Gangjeong Village should lead people worldwide  to make friendships, create conversations,   build alternative education systems, promote communally beneficial, sustainable economies , and create peace parks where people can celebrate their art, music, and dancing.  Visit Gangjeong Village and you’ll see how residents have created joyful ways to turn the Asia War Pivot into an Asia Peace Pivot, as you can watch in this video.

Alternatively, people can choose the “helpless bystander” role and become passive spectators as oppressive global militarism and corporate greed destroy us.  People can stand still and watch  destruction of beautiful coral reefs and marine life in Jeju, Australia and other seas; watch livelihoods, like those of Gangjeong and Gaza fishermen, disappear;   and watch, mutely, as fellow human beings like Americans, Afghans, Syrians, Libyans, Egyptians, Palestinians. Israelis, Ukrainians, Nigerians, Malians, Mexicans, indigenous peoples and many others are killed.
Or, we can be Like Mi Ryang. As free and equal human beings we can lay aside our individual concerns and lobbies to unite, cooperatively, making our struggles more attractive and less lonely.  Together, we’re more than capable of persuading the world to seek genuine security and liberation.
The Afghan Peace Volunteers have begun playing their tiny part in promoting non-violence and serving fellow Afghans in Kabul. As they connect the dots of inequality, global warming and wars, they long to build relationships across all borders, under the same blue sky, in order to save themselves, the earth and humanity.

Through their Borderfree effort to build socioeconomic equality, take care of our blue planet, and abolish war, they wear their Borderfree Blue Scarves and say, together with Mi Ryang and the resilient villagers of Gangjeong Village, “Don’t touch me!”

“Don’t touch us!”

Hakim
Hakim (weeteckyoung@gmail.com) is a mentor for the Afghan Peace Volunteers in Kabul. www.ourjourneytosmile.com






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Organizing Notes by Bruce Gagnon:

KATHY KELLY ON JEJU

Kathy Kelly being removed while blocking entrance to Navy base construction gate in Gangjeong village

Park Jung-Joo reports from Jeju Island, South Korea:

Peace Seminar of Gangjeong Peace School was held tonight at Peace Center in Gangjeong Village. Kathy Kelly gave us a talk of her experiences of peace activism in her life. She told us about people in Afghanistan, Iraq and in the US and how they have gone through the wars and fears caused by wars. It was really inspiring, challenging and also encouraging time for us. This is a poem she shared with us tonight in the middle of her talk.

Some 

by Daniel Berrigan

Some stood up once, and sat down.
Some walked a mile, and walked away.

Some stood up twice, then sat down.
“It’s too much,” they cried.
Some walked two miles, then walked away.
“I’ve had it,” they cried,
Some stood and stood and stood.
They were taken for fools,
they were taken for being taken in.
Some walked and walked and walked
they walked the earth,
they walked the waters,
they walked the air.
“Why do you stand?” they were asked, and
“Why do you walk?”
“Because of the children,” they said, and
“Because of the heart, and
“Because of the bread,”
“Because the cause is
the heart’s beat, and
the children born, and
the risen bread.”

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Robert Naiman

Posted: June 16, 2010 03:22 PM
 

 
 
Usually, when someone refers to a place as a "U.S. colony," they are making an analogy, suggesting that U.S. influence somewhere is so strong, and the indigenous residents of the place have so little effective say over key decisions, that it's as if the place were a formal U.S. colony.

But, remarkably, and perhaps predictably, for a country whose leaders, editorialists and pundits constantly pontificate about how we are an indispensable force for freedom in the world, we rarely discuss the fact that there are places in the world that are actual U.S. colonies. Still less do we consider whether we are complying with our international obligations to respect the right of self-determination for colonized peoples, and if we are not, what we could do to change that.
A small corrective is being offered as part of Asian Pacific Heritage Month by PBS, which is webcasting Vanessa Warheit's documentary, The Insular Empire: America in the Mariana Islands until next Sunday, June 20.

The Mariana Islands comprise two political entities, the territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Guam was ceded to the U.S. by Spain in 1898 after Spain's defeat in the Spanish-American war, while the Northern Mariana Islands were conquered by the U.S. from Japan in World War II. As political entities, the two have several features in common: while they are ruled by Washington, and their residents are U.S. citizens, many of whom serve in the U.S. military, they have no vote in Presidential elections, nor do they have a representative in Congress who can vote on the passage of legislation.

In other words: they are U.S. colonies.

Guam, in particular, is facing a major decision about its destiny, a decision made in Washington about which its indigenous population has not yet had any effective say. The United States is currently planning to relocate 8,000 Marines and 9,000 dependents to Guam by 2014. With an expected influx of foreign workers recruited for military construction projects, Guam's population is expected to increase by some 80,000 people by 2014, a 45% increase from its current estimated population of 180,000.

More than a quarter of the island is already owned by the U.S. military, the Washington Post noted in March, while a quarter of the island's population lives below the U.S. poverty level.

As the Post noted, Guam was not consulted in the decision to move 8,000 Marines to the island and has no legal means to block it. Yet an Environmental Protection Agency analysis said the U.S. military buildup could trigger island-wide water shortages.

The possibility that Guam's indigenous residents may suffer irreparable harm from this planned military buildup without ever having had any effective say about it heightens the responsibility of Americans who do have voting representation in Washington to know something about the military buildup and its historical background. Thanks to PBS, until Sunday we have the opportunity to catch up a little on the history they didn't teach us in school.

 
Follow Robert Naiman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/naiman 

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Militarization of public lands still a political battleground

Ilind.net

April 30th, 2014 · 6 Comments · Campaigns, environment, Politics

Okay. Last week I commented on Rep. Colleen Hanabusa’s interpersonal skills, which certainly make her an effective campaigner who can connect with voters.

Then, just a few days later, came news reports on her sponsorship of a bill that would appear to dramatically expand the military use of the Pohakuloa training area, including facilities capable of handling larger aircraft, more use by foreign nations, combined air-ground maneuvers, etc.
What struck me was that her glowing assessment of the bill seemed oblivious to the environmental, cultural, and political damage that such an expansion will entail.

Just a couple of days after Hanabusa’s bill was announced, it was reported that a lawsuit was filed alleging the state has failed to enforce lease provisions requiring the military to clear unexploded ordnance left by training operations at Pohakuloa.

Even the Star-Advertiser, in an editorial this morning, took a cautious stance (“Pohakuloa plans need balance“).
Encompassing 133,000 acres on Hawaii island’s high central plateau, Pohakuloa has been envisioned as a 21st-century training field to ensure combat-readiness of U.S. forces, a key element in regional defense, and in Hawaii filling its regional role.
However, this preparedness will come at a cost. Hawaii land is a precious resource, with associated cultural and environmental assets. That means the job of Hawaii’s elected leaders — who represent civilian interests as well as the military — is to see that the cost is not too high.
That’s no small order. Finding the right balance has been an elusive goal, with the ordnance-laced landscape of Kahoolawe, as well as years of environmental court fights over training activities in Leeward Oahu’s Makua Valley, as part of the legacy.
There’s a long history here. Leading up to WWII, and during the years Hawaii was under martial law, the military basically took control of any lands that it might be able to use. Sometimes the land was “set aside” for military use by presidential or gubernatorial executive orders. In the post WWII years, there was pushback from the territorial government which wanted to reclaim control of public lands. During that period and up through statehood, many federally controlled lands were converted to leases of fixed duration that required the military to clean up and return the lands in their original condition.

Of course, that’s been routinely violated over the years in many places, Waikane Valley, Kahoolawe, and Pohakuloa among them. The additional issue of the presence of depleted uranium at Pohakuloa and its potential affects on health have become public issues in the past several years as well.
During that post-WWII period, it’s my impression that local Republican leaders took stronger action to reassert local control over military-held land than the emerging Democratic Party. Why? Because Democrats saw the development of the defense industry as a way to break the political control of the plantation elite, an alternative to the plantation economy.

So where does that leave us today? I’m afraid elected officials of all stripes are more afraid of offending the military by expressing the resentment felt by local residents over continued military control of such vast tracts of land. Pohakuloa alone covers some 133,000 acres, according the Army.
That would be a large training area even in a big mainland state. In a small island state like ours, it’s a huge footprint that feels oppressive–and destructive–to many.

There were decades of protests, political pressure, and legal action that finally led to the end of military use of Kahoolawe. Long-term pressure has also reduced training at Makua and, to some extent, Schofied Barracks. As Hawaii’s civilian population grows, pressure to reduce the military footprint will continue to build.

I wonder how continued military control of Pohakuloa is viewed by Big Islanders. I wonder how much of the economic benefit actually stays in the Hawaii Island economy and how much is raked off by defense contractors from elsewhere?

In any case, Rep. Hanabusa’s presentation of her bill to expand the militarization of Pohakuloa as an unalloyed good is a disappointment.
  
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Marshall Islands sues nine nuclear powers over failure to disarm

Pacific nation that was site of 67 nuclear tests between 1946 and 1958 accuses states of 'flagrant denial of human justice'
Mushroom Cloud of Operation Castle-Bravo
Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, where a 15-megaton device equivalent to a thousand Hiroshima blasts, detonated in 1954. Photograph: US Air Force - digital version
 
The Marshall Islands is suing the nine countries with nuclear weapons at the international court of justice at The Hague, arguing they have violated their legal obligation to disarm.

In the unprecedented legal action, comprising nine separate cases brought before the ICJ on Thursday, the Republic of the Marshall Islands accuses the nuclear weapons states of a "flagrant denial of human justice". It argues it is justified in taking the action because of the harm it suffered as a result of the nuclear arms race.

The Pacific chain of islands, including Bikini Atoll and Enewetak, was the site of 67 nuclear tests from 1946 to 1958, including the "Bravo shot", a 15-megaton device equivalent to a thousand Hiroshima blasts, detonated in 1954. The Marshallese islanders say they have been suffering serious health and environmental effects ever since.

The island republic is suing the five "established" nuclear weapons states recognised in the 1968 nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) – the US, Russia (which inherited the Soviet arsenal), China, France and the UK – as well as the three countries outside the NPT who have declared nuclear arsenals – India, Pakistan and North Korea, and the one undeclared nuclear weapons state, Israel.
The NPT, which came into force in 1970 is essentially a compact between the non-weapon states, who pledged to not to acquire nuclear weapons, and the weapons states, who in return undertook to disarm under article VI of the treaty.

Although the size of the arsenals are sharply down from the height of the cold war, the Marshall Islands' legal case notes there remain more than 17,000 warheads in existence, 16,000 of them owned by Russia and the US – enough to destroy all life on the planet.

"The long delay in fulfilling the obligations enshrined in article VI of the NPT constitutes a flagrant denial of human justice," the court documents say.

The Marshall Islands case draws attention to the fact that the weapons states are currently in the process of modernising their nuclear weapons, which it portrays as a clear violation of the NPT.
The case against Britain, which has an estimated total inventory of 225 warheads and is in the process of replacing its submarine-launched Trident arsenal, states that: "The UK has not pursued in good faith negotiations to cease the nuclear arms race at an early date through comprehensive nuclear disarmament or other measures, and instead is taking actions to improve its nuclear weapons system and to maintain it for the indefinite future."

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament's general secretary, Kate Hudson, said: "The nuclear-armed states continue to peddle the myth that they are committed to multilateral disarmament initiatives, while squandering billions to modernise their nuclear arsenals. The UK government's plans to replace Trident make a mockery of its professed belief in multilateral frameworks – and now in addition to huge public opposition in the UK, it will also face an international legal challenge to expose its hypocrisy."


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Ban commercial fishing: Palau’s goal

And use drones for surveillance

By Giff Johnson
July 2013
Island Business News

Palau is aiming to become the first Pacific nation to ban commercial fishing in its 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). And in another unprecedented move, it will conduct a trial next month using drones for fisheries enforcement.

Soon after taking office for his third tour-year term, President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. announced his plan to ban commercial fishing and establish a working group to review the plan.

His announcement caused a stir in the fisheries and business world in large part because it is unprecedented in a region where most countries depend heavily on revenue from foreign fishing nations.

Remengesau’s long-term focus on environment, dating back to his first two terms in office from 2000-2008, underscores his belief that Palau’s resources are of value beyond dollar signs.

While it won’t be known until 2014 if the plan for what Remengesau describes as a “total marine sanctuary” will go into effect, it is drawing support from conservationists.

Noah Idechong, founder of Palau Conservation Society and a former Speaker of the Palau National Congress, is on Remengesau’s working group reviewing the proposal.

“We have to do these things (for a sustainable future),” Idechong said at the end of May on a visit to Majuro where Palau, Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia officials met to discuss expansion of marine conservation management efforts in the north Pacific.

“We don’t want the world to dictate to us. We have to think for ourselves.”

Remengesau is blunt about his plan for a total marine sanctuary: “It is in our best interests to do this. It is for the long-term sustainability of Palau and our contribution to the region—no commercial fishing.”

Remengesau believes there is momentum to make commercial fishing ban happen next year.
“We’re looking at it from all angles and the early review say it can work.”

And Remengesau’s ratcheting up enforcement with the rollout of airborne drones, like those being used by the US Government in the war in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The first test of the drones will be conducted in August in Palau by an Australian company, Remengesau said.

The main issue in the ban centers on how to replace the approximately US$5 million annually that Palau generates from allowing commercial fishing in its waters.

Compared to revenues Palau is producing from its tourism industry, Remengesau called fisheries money “negligible. It’s a drop in the bucket.”

Because Palau is on the fringe of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) fishing area where 70 percent of the region’s skipjack tuna is caught, most commercial fishing is concentrated to the south and east of Palau. Palau is not as dependent on fisheries revenue as are Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands and other PNA members, making it easier for Remengesau to take this step.
Under the PNA arrangement, Palau is allotted about 500 fishing days a year, out of approximately 50,000 annually. At the current minimum sales price of US$5,000 per day, Palau’s potential PNA day sales translate to US$2.5 million.

“There really is not much tuna fishing in our EEZ,” Remengesau said. “We can sell our fishing days to augment other (PNA members).”

This way, Palau can have its cake and eat it too. Even without fishing in Palau waters, it can generate fisheries revenue by selling its fishing days to other PNA members, which it has done successfully in the past.

The business community will be concerned about revenue and job loss if fewer fishing vessels visit Koror for fuel, supplies and crew changes. But Palau has already established a name for itself in the conservation world by effectively implementing marine “protected area networks” at the village level around Palau and by banning shark finning in its 200-mile EEZ.

Remengesau sees creating a total marine sanctuary as the obvious next step in Palau’s effort to conserve its resources. “We will be making our contribution to sustaining the migratory tuna stock as well as within Palau,” he said.

PNA’s tuna management is about “conservation, not just selling fishing days (to distant water fishing nations),” he adds.

With Palau now attracting in excess of 100,000 tourists annually, the country sees the benefit of maintaining its beauty and conserving natural resources that in turn attract visitors.

“Palau is very fortunate to be bestowed with natural resources not found elsewhere,” he said. “This comes with a responsibility to ensure these are here for the next generation.”

Remengesau said the concept of people inheriting their islands from previous generations needs to be revised to: “We are borrowing our environment from our future children. We’re a fragile and small island. The only way to sustain ourselves is to put our environment first for our people and economic opportunities that come from the environment.”

Still, Palau is a frequent target of illegal fishing by foreign fleets and with only one patrol vessel, the government is hard-pressed to conduct effective surveillance.

“The enforcement side is very important,” Remengesau said. The working group he has established is considering ways to beef up marine surveillance. His aim is to find innovative ways—such as using drones and partnering with other governments and non-government groups—to improve enforcement and expand cooperation on conservation.

Remengesau said he recently talked to officials at the US Pacific Command in Hawaii who said the use of drones for marine enforcement was “doable”.

“We’re already doing shiprider surveillance with the US,” said Remengesau in reference to Palau law enforcement officials who ride on US Coast Guard and navy vessels for marine surveillance. Drone technology is available and “it’s an idea whose time has come,” he said.

Palau will conduct its first drone tests in August. “We’re working with an Australian drone manufacturer,” he said.

“They’ve done a preliminary assessment and said it can work.”

For Palau, its distant southwest islands of Tobi, Sonsorol and Helen’s Reef are known areas of illegal fishing.

The range of the drones allows for a control center to be set up on Angaur Island, which is about 400 miles from these small islands and located near Koror, the capital, making logistics easier.
“The southwest islands are a hotspot for illegal fishing,” he said, adding that this area will be the focus of the initial drone enforcement work. Palau has one patrol vessel, the Australian-provided Remeliik. It costs US$37,000 to send it to the southwest islands and back on a patrol mission. In contrast, to operate a drone for 20 hours costs US$360, he said.

Without reliable information about the whereabouts of vessels fishing illegally in Palau waters, it can be a waste of time and money to dispatch its lone patrol vessel.

The plan is to relay information from the drones to the patrol vessel. Other details, such as the use of drone photographs for prosecution of vessels need to be worked out.

“We’ll do a dry run in August, set up the equipment and let our leaders see the drones in operation,” Remengesau said. “We hope it will be successful and can be implemented throughout the Pacific. We all share the same challenge of monitoring our borders, which are mostly water.”

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

Japan says US base in Okinawa is only solution

Jan. 20, 2014 12:39 AM EST
Associated Press 


TOKYO (AP) — The Japanese government said Monday it would push forward with a long-stalled agreement to relocate a U.S. military base within Okinawa, despite the re-election of a mayor who opposes the plan.

A government spokesman said building the base in Nago city is the only solution, given all the factors involved.

"We remain unchanged on continuing steadily with the plan," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, adding the government would work hard to win over Okinawa residents.

His comments come a day after Nago city Mayor Susumu Inamine, who vowed to block construction of the base by denying permits for the project, won a hard-fought contest against a pro-base opponent supported by Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

"The local residents, the people of this prefecture are so much against this," Inamine said of the base after his victory.

The U.S. and Japan agreed in 1996 to move the Marines Corps Futenma air station to Nago from a more congested part of Okinawa, but many Okinawans want the base off their island completely.
The plan got a boost last month when the governor of Okinawa gave the go-ahead for land reclamation to build the new base, whose runways would extend over water from the U.S. military's existing Camp Schwab. Opponents filed a lawsuit last week seeking to invalidate the governor's approval.

Inamine's victory will make it more difficult to move forward, analysts said.

"I don't think it'll be easy now for the U.S. base to be relocated, but I think there is a limit to what a local mayor can do," said Toshiyuki Shikata, a former Japanese military officer and professor of political science at Teikyo University in Tokyo.

The Futenma air station would be moved from Ginowan city to the sparsely populated Henoko district in Nago, because of concerns about aircraft noise, accidents in civilian areas and base-related crimes such as rape. The proposed move is part of a broader plan to consolidate and reduce the U.S. military presence in Okinawa, currently home to about half of the U.S. troops in Japan.

Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which supports the move, wooed voters with promises of additional development funds for the city. But an exit poll of 1,204 voters by Japan's Kyodo News service found 65 percent opposed to the base, and 13 percent in favor.

Inamine got 19,839 votes, versus pro-base challenger Bunshin Suematsu, who received 15,684.
"Despite all the efforts, the Liberal Democratic Party has lost," said Koichi Nakano, professor of political science at Sophia University in Tokyo. "I think it reflects how strongly people are opposed to a base relocation."

Before the vote, Hitoshi Morine, a spokesman for the Japanese Defense Ministry in Okinawa, said the government will seek bids soon for drilling surveys of the seafloor bedrock to begin designing the base.
 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

White Fright

The Santa Barbara Mass Shooting, Elliot Rodger, and Aggrieved White Male Entitlement Syndrome

When an entire social structure has been erected to reinforce the lie that white folks are "normal" and "Others" are "deviant," it can be very difficult to break out of denial. 
 
By Chauncey DeVega
Alternet
May 24, 2014


As I often ask, "what shall we do with the white people?" 

When an "Arab" or "Muslim" American kills people in mass they are a "terrorist". When a black person shoots someone they are "thugs". When a white man commits a mass shooting he is "mentally ill" or "sick". 

Whiteness and white privilege are the luxury to be an individual, one whose behavior reflects nothing about white people as a group. 

There will not be a national discussion of a culture of "white pathology" or how white Americans may have a "cultural problem" with their young men and gun violence. The news media will not devote extensive time to the "social problem" of white male violence and mass shootings. 

Elliot Rodger, a rich, white, entitled young man, allegedly killed six innocent men and women and wounded 13 others yesterday. Like Adam Lanza,  this would appear to be a case of aggrieved white male entitlement syndrome, one which has led to a murderous and tragic outcome. 


In a complementary manner, William Hamby offers up a sharp synthesis of how rage and white male privilege come together to create monsters: 

Rachel Kalish and Michael Kimmel (2010) proposed a mechanism that might well explain why white males are routinely going crazy and killing people. It's called "aggrieved entitlement." According to the authors, it is "a gendered emotion, a fusion of that humiliating loss of manhood and the moral obligation and entitlement to get it back. And its gender is masculine." This feeling was clearly articulated by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the perpetrators of the Columbine Massacre. Harris said, "People constantly make fun of my face, my hair, my shirts..." A group of girls asked him, "Why are you doing this?" He replied, "We've always wanted to do this. This is payback... This is for all the sh*t you put us through. This is what you deserve." 

At the risk of getting too existentialist, I'd like to propose a very simple and elegant explanation for not only school shootings but a host of other barbaric acts in recent years: White men are having a crisis of both aggrievement and entitlement. One need only look at the 2012 election season to see less brutal but equally mind-numbing examples of white men going mad because they are losing their power. The "Republican Meltdown" is a perfect example of men who previously had all the control escalating to madness when that control was lost... 

The thing is, losing power hurts. That's the "aggrieve" part of aggrieved entitlement. It's one thing for a bunch of white men to feel hurt because they are no longer the kings of their own private castles, rulers of all they survey. It's another thing for them to feel like they're entitled to power, and more importantly, entitled to punish others for taking it away. And that -- aggrievement plus the feeling of entitlement -- is what may well drive people like Adam Lanza to these horrific crimes. 

Elliot Rodger apparently explained his rage and "alpha male" bonafides as reported by police officials in the following way: 

"Bill Brown, the Santa Barbara sheriff, said that “written and videotaped evidence” obtained by the authorities “suggests that this atrocity was a premeditated mass murder”. 

“There’s going to be a lot more information that will come out that will give a clearer picture of just how disturbed this individual was,” he added. 

Asked about the specific video by Rodger, the sheriff, called it “evidence that we believe is connected to this crime”. 

Asked about the specific video by Rodger, the sheriff, called it “evidence that we believe is connected to this crime”. 

In that recording, Rodger spewed forth his plans to wreak murderous revenge for his failure to find a girlfriend. “Tomorrow is the day of retribution,” the man said. “The day in which I will have my revenge against humanity.” 

After detailing how “girls have never been attracted to me,” he threatened to “slaughter” members of a college sorority house – a group for female students - and then “take to the streets of Isla Vista and slay every single person I see there”. 

In comments interspersed with sickening laughs and chuckles, he said: “I’m 22 years old and I’m still a virgin. I’ve never even kissed a girl.   

“College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. But in those years I’ve had to rot in loneliness. It’s not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me. But I will punish you all for it.” 

“I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am, in truth, the superior one. The true alpha male." 

And just as in Adam Lanza's case (and others) there will be no "national conversation" about why white men are 23 or so percent of the United States population and approximately 75 percent of those who commit mass shootings. 

Any brave soul who dares to talk about white masculinity, white privilege, and gun violence will be hounded by the Right-wing's dogs--a media machine that cares nothing for the truth. Many otherwise decent, smart, and fair-minded white folks may also recoil at the thought that Whiteness and White Masculinity can be dysfunctional and violence. When an entire social structure has been erected to reinforce the lie that white folks are "normal", and those "Others" are "deviant" or "defective", it can be very difficult to break out of that haze of denial. Such an act requires a commitment to truth-telling and personal, critical, self-reflection which Whiteness, by definition, denies to most of its owners. 

White privilege and Whiteness hurts white people. Aggrieved white male entitlement syndrome is killing white folks' children, wives, daughters, sons, fathers, and mothers. Yet, White America stands mute. 

Again, what shall we do with the white people...especially if they are so unwilling to help themselves? 

Chauncey DeVega, a pseudonym, is editor and founder of the blog We Are Respectable Negroes. His essays on race, popular culture and politics have been published in various books and Web sites. He can be reached at chaunceydevega@gmail.com.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

We Are Comments

To be very honest I used to hate the comments on the Guam PDN website before. Every couple of weeks someone would tell me something someone was saying about me on in the threads. I wouldn't often check it out, but when I did it was never pleasant. It was like a no-reality zone there for most people. I would be called all sorts of names and people would make up some pretty insane things about me. The PDN comments were filled with so many people who had left Guam behind, but their disdain for the people of the island or disgust for the island burned brighter than ever. That disconnect was very intriguing for me. How the people who took that space the most seriously in terms of dominating it with their ideas were those who probably at the least to gain or least actual investment or connection to what they were arguing over.

Since the PDN changed their comments over to Facebook and requiring that people be signed into Facebook in order to comment the dialogue has cleaned up quite a bit. Whereas most progressive people stayed away from the PDN comments of ole, Facebook is filled with progressive and critical people.

A case in point is the most recent column by Lee Webber, formed publisher for the PDN. His article "Support buildup or support decline" upset quite a few people on Facebook and they logged onto the PDN site in order to express themselves. In the days past, Webber's column would have been covered in comments complaining about Chamorro this or Chamorros that, and would have bashed me and many people I know for everything from being communist to being a fake Chamorro. But Webber's column as of a few days ago had nothing but critical comments on it. Many of these comments offered very serious critiques of his pro-buildup position. At one point most of these comments were mysteriously deleted, only to reappear later after many complained the PDN was censoring their views.

I've pasted below Webber's original article and a number of the comments that were left.

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

"Support buildup or support decline."
by Lee Webber
5/21/2014
Guam PDN

On Monday evening, I spent quite a number of hours at Father Duenas Memorial School, attending one of the scoping meetings that allowed for public comment regarding the impending military buildup and use of Ritidian federal property for the planned firing range complex.
As one person said, "It is ironic that the same people that are pushing for minimum-wage increases are also denying people of the economic and growth opportunities that are brought in by the buildup."
It appeared to me the clear majority of testimony presented by the anti-military proponents were driven by emotion and distortion of fact, or a sheer dislike of any military presence, no matter where it was planned. It was also obvious the We Are Guahan members did not show the level of respect I have grown to appreciate from the Chamorro culture during my 45-plus years residing in Guam.

Jones testimony

Unlike the previous meeting, there was more testimony from pro-business, pro-military and pro-buildup members of the community -- Guamanians such as Jeff Jones, who was raised in Guam, married here and has raised his family here. His company, Triple J Enterprises, has been in business in Guam for more than 30 years and he employees nearly 350 local residents.
He understands the sensitivities regarding the wildlife refuge and the surface danger zone implications. He also seemed to understand the reality that the adverse impact would be minimal, at best.
The reality, as he put it, is that Guam has two main economic engines, tourism and the federal government. Without a balance in both, the overall quality of life for all residents would decline.
He aptly pointed out that with both of these segments of the economy remaining strong, many of the people complaining about the buildup would be unemployed or unable to personally benefit via government-funded social programs.
He also reminded listeners -- those who would listen -- that it is simple enough to look at regional neighboring locations to see poor infrastructure, educational systems and social support programs that residents of Guam currently benefit from, which could dry up should local economic growth be stifled.
The businesses of Guam need the buildup so we can continue to grow economic activity, which in turn will provide more and better-paying jobs and additional tax revenues for the government.

Sablan testimony

Another speaker for the business community was Mark Sablan. Mark is a Chamorro who also supports the buildup.
Mark was proud to note that his father, Dr. Ralph Sablan, was a retired U.S. Navy physician who served not only his country but the people of Guam.
Like Jeff, Mark lived his life on Guam and has raised his family here. He is a Chamorro and a Guamanian.
He was, as he put it, a "military brat" who has seen both sides of the fence. He was here during the Vietnam War and when all the bases were operating at peak. He remembered a healthy economy. All of his adult friends and relatives had jobs and he seldom heard the word "unemployed."
Those days are long gone, but it does not have to stay that way.
Mark reminded those, again who would listen, that his "parents and grandparents resided on Guam when the Japanese invaded the island. They lost everything they had and had to succumb to the orders of the Japanese Imperial Army soldiers.
"Having lost their homes, they relocated to their ranches, where they survived on whatever they salvaged from their destroyed homes and relied on the poultry and crops that they had. Eventually, they all ended up in Manneggon concentration camp. This was not at all pleasant. Their living conditions were horrible and many Chamorros lost their lives because of disease and malnutrition.
"When the Marines liberated Guam on July 21, 1944, the local people were ecstatic. I've often heard of stories from my now-deceased relatives on how well they were treated by these brave young soldiers. My grandfather was one of the few Chamorros who owned a ham radio. He risked his life by providing the Marines with information on the location of Japanese soldiers and fortifications. I could go on and on with many stories about the war as told by my parents and grandparents but I think you get the picture."

'Very disturbing'

Mark added: "Prior to the large-scale military buildup and even with the scaled-down buildup, it is very disturbing to me that a ... minority group of so called indigenous groups oppose the buildup. Surprisingly, one of these groups is made up of white-collar individuals with a majority of the groups being more of the lower-class residents. ... They are a small group, but yet manage to make the most noise, thus getting media attention.
"I know some of them personally. ... They don't see the big picture and feel that the feds always have a hidden agenda. With the more sophisticated groups, I see the validity of their arguments. The proposed condemnation of the newly established Guam International Raceway Park and the Pågat sites to me were a poor choice for a firing range."
Mark said he was very disappointed with a few of our senators, who seem to simply want to "debate, debate, debate to no end. They need to realize that there is no such thing as a perfect world."
In closing, he said: "There is a silent majority that supports the buildup. Please do not concede to the pessimism that you read in the local paper or see on the local news. Instead, listen to the people who really are in touch with Guam's economy and its people's welfare. Disregard the negativity from the self-interest groups.
As I walked out of the door, an elderly Chamorro gentlemen looked at me and said, "Too many of these young people do not understand what the cost of freedom involves."
The choice seems simple: Support the buildup or support economic decline.
Esta.
Lee P. Webber is a former president and publisher of the Pacific Daily News, and has been a resident of Guam since 1968.

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

DAVE LOTZ: A case of shooting the messenger and not addressing the message. BTW the messengers are young and old knowledgeable individuals of our island who should be listened to as they exercise their rights. BTW these were not scoping meetings, but hearings on the supplemental draft environmental impact statement for the military buildup.

DESIREE TAIMANGLO VENTURA: Webber is pretty dismissive of what he perceives to be "over emotional" responses from people passionate about protecting our island. He claims the well-researched presentations of many to have included "distorted" numbers, which is simply not true. Those numbers were directly from the SEIS. I didn't hear a single person in support of the build-up offer anything BUT emotional appeals. All they did was explain how long they've been on island and give us their personal beliefs (without ever citing any research or the document they were supposed to be responding to). They clearly didn't do their homework. Reminding people of WWII, trying to shame them by calling them "disrespectful," and going on and on about how long you've been on island IS an emotional appeal. I think the only difference is that the emotional appeals used by Webber and company lacked the sincerity and genuine concern that those who don't share his opinion seemed to exhibit. In particular, holding a traumatic time over the heads over our people in order to justify things for personal financial gain is pretty sick. Twisting experiences of our families during WWII in order to silence our community is EXTREMELY disrespectful. I know that the elders in my family are extremely offended by Webber trying to hold WWII over the heads of their grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. Also, there was quite a bit of heckling, disrespect, and snickering from the pro-build guys, who were hollering to "be quiet" and calling for "time" after younger residents offered to give their time to an older Chamoru woman who was speaking for things they were concerned with. Not buying this guy's silliness. Webber doesn't respect this island or its people. He views it as a place to make profit, nothing more.

J. RICK PEREZ: Lee Webber opines that there is a simple choice to be made, a choice that can be characterized as “a binary choice, a choice between “0” and “1” and a choice, that is somehow tied almost solely to economic development."

I believe that this is myth making at its best.

The simplicity of Lee Webber’s comments, reflect both the decision to ignore a host of existing conditions and issues on Guam - that are environmentally related, that are political status related and that are democratically related and citizen driven - without a clear explanation by Mr. Webber as to why he continually smears opposing viewpoints.

Lee’s modus operandi, as was pointed out in recent SEIS testimony the other day, is to continually reference the “Liberation of Guam” in order to play to the hearts and minds of our elders in a continual attempt to create friction and division within our community. Mr. Webber, our humanity as Chamorros and as islanders from the Marianas is not tied in any way to your self-conceptions of what patriotism may or may not be and should not be used as a tool to create fissures in our community.

In his attempt to shape public opinion and reference one point in time, Mr. Webber also ignores the reality that the retaking of the Marianas Islands during World War Two, the “Marianas Turkey Shoot,” was purely part of a series of military operational plans - “O Plans” - to move westward towards Japan.

If it was intended to be a humanitarian relief plan to "Liberate the Chamorro people," Mr. Lee Webber needs to produce the evidence to demonstrate that this was so.

No where in the historical record does it evidence that the Marianas Turkey Shoot was a operation to “Liberate” the Chamorro people of Guam.

I would argue that what Lee Webber continues to do is create doubt in people’s minds and hearts in order to push for a pro-military transformational agenda at the cost of more complete, evidence based interactions amongst the residents, all kinds of governmental leaders and military operational force representatives. Too many questions remain unanswered such as "is the Guam PDN, through its former publisher, attempting to further divide our Chamorro people?" Another question to consider is Lee Webber and the Guam PDN attempting to discredit domestic opposition to the further militarization of the island of Guam?

The question for Lee is, as the former Guam PDN Publisher, “what are the reasons for your unabated support of this build-up Lee and why have you been so persistent in advocating for a position, as opposed to reporting on the various positions?"

No to the build-up.


CHRIS SANTOS: Mr. Webber, given what was seen at the hearings I don't think your silent majority exists by any stretch of the imagination. The "best of times" was not in the 60's in the last big militarization of Guam. It was in the late 80's when Joe Ada was governor and the public treasury was flushed with upwards of $800 million per year. THAT HAD ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THE MILITARY. People have listened to people like you and Mark over and over again. It's the same message over and over again. They don't care for it and they are smart enough to think and research for themselves. There are only too many times you can write basically the same thing in the PDN over and over again until they just completely tune out.

BERNARD PUNZALAN: "It was also obvious the We Are Guahan members did not show the level of respect I have grown to appreciate from the Chamorro culture during my 45-plus years residing in Guam."

Lee must be referring to the respect and patience of our elders, who maintained their silence by placing faith that those decision makers would do the right thing. Instead, the generations of today have come to learn and realize that we are not who the U.S. says we are...we are just a piece of property that can be legally violated and dumped at any given moment.

It's pathetic. He seems to confuse himself and how people and countries have been taking advantage of the Chamorro culture over the past 400 years.When the money looks too good to pass up, let's not forget about the Solomon Report. https://archive.org/details/TheSolomonReportAmericasRuthlessBlueprintForTheAssimilationOf

ERISA CRISTOBAL: Funny thing is that Lee Webber does not ever quote from the actual DSEIS document in his “emotionally” driven article above. Instead he regurgitates other testimonials that only weaken his supposed purely fact-based argument. He might rethink his strategies because we Manhoben are not as easily fooled by this poorly written, unsubstantiated, biased article that only the PDN would print.

CARA FLORES-MAYS: A few years back, Lee Weber took part in a conversation at Mermaid Tavern in which he and other participants strategized about how to gain community support of the buildup by reminding our manåmko' of WWII so that they would remember how painful war times were. Psychologists and counselors would refer to this as "retraumatization of the victim". Lee Weber sat with Colonel Pond, Marine PIO Aisha Bakkar and Paula Conhain, director of communications from Washington. They strategized that they would work with village mayors to achieve this while isolating groups (like We Are Guåhan) who were gaining too much influence. In this same conversation, participants made fun of a Chamoru gentleman because he had a Chamoru accent and missing teeth and laughed about his UOG degree. I find it almost entertaining that Lee Weber is now writing a column about respect. Laughable if it weren't so disgusting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NsHQe-Ai9k4

BJ BELL: Stop ending your writings with 'esta', as if that alone makes you seem local. You obviously are a vulture of the island, no matter how long you have been here. I suppose you would have told the native Americans they were being unpatriotic by not supporting the federal government's genocidal policies toward them. You think Guam needs the buildup more than America needs Guam? Simply due to short term economic growth for Guamanians and outside foreign investors? Legalizing gambling and prostitution would do the same thing here, but that would be to obvious, wouldn't it? Plutocrats like you are what's wrong with your country, where you should move back to.

I would like to thank Webber for fueling the fire of Decolonization with his condescending attitude. If this is some elaborate sarcasm on his part in the vein of Colbert's conservative character, then good job, guy, you nailed it.

RK GUERRERO: My opinion is that supporters of the buildup are tired and lack the critical thinking skills needed to create new revenue streams other than to continue to suck down US taxpayer dollars because it is the easiest. Defense spending is bloated but is the main cash cow for many salivating businesses. Proponents seize on any world crisis or bogeyman and hope that the public is so thoroughly indoctrinated and bank on their patriotism to aid their cause. My suggestion for business leaders is to relearn the relevant skills needed to be successful in the 21st century that will allow them to think out of the box and become entrepreneurs all over again. Don't just pop up every now and then to remain relevant. This is a new world that needs leaders with critical thinking skills to lead our people to be successful by creating products or services that are needed. Think Google, DuckDuckGo etc.

TOM KEEFE: Wrong conjunction in the title. It should read "support the buildup AND support decline."

DANNY SABATO: Lee Webber, with the bond borrowing and some other financial maneuvers, this administration inclusive yourself, has already started the DECLINE OF OUR ISLAND.Putting 1.5 BILLION on the shoulders of our young generation is just irresponsible and crooked.

And now all you "fine Gentlemen" inclusive the Governor know very well, without the buildup, GG can never pay these bonds back. That's why his desperate push for the buildup, without considering the people of Guam and their welfare.

He really doesn't care for the people of Guam, as he discriminates in his drivel above, saying" ....with a majority of the groups being more of the lower-class residents. ..."

Well, Webber you should be glad that you belong to the higher class people, so you can see the dollar signs, and the buildup supporting your local dive shop. Your ignorance, and continuously pushing on political opponents and the "lower class" makes you a part of the problems Guam has developed during your 45 years on Guam.

ELIZABETH BOWMAN: I also attended the DEIS public hearings for approximately four hours last Monday. I didn't witness any disrespect being shown to the Chamorro culture (or elders, or environment . . . ) by the We Are Guåhan group. To the contrary -- the young people spoke of Chamorro culture with passion.

Mr. Webber's definition of "respect" appears to be based solely on the exclusion of debate or dissension. Mr. Webber does not appear to have respect for anyone whose views or circumstances differ from his own.

Many of the young people present that night referred to statistics and facts, many directly from the military itself. For example, a pamphlet from Our Islands Are Sacred that night was primarily composed of quotes from the military's own draft SEIS, stating, in part:

"The jobs generated by the build‐up are mostly temporary, construction jobs lasting
only a few years, and most of these jobs will not be given to Guam residents.

"The proposed action would support a maximum of 7,031 FTE jobs. This maximum number of jobs would occur in 2021. After 2021, the number of civilian sector jobs associated with the proposed action would begin to decline until the steady-state level of 1,438 jobs would be reached in 2028. Source: SEIS Chapter 4 (pg. 4-127)

"Civilian labor force demand is expected to increase by a maximum of 7,031 full-time jobs in 2021 (6,150 related to construction and 881 related to operations); of the 7,031 jobs, 3,058 are estimated to be taken by Guam residents. At steady-state, by 2028, labor force demand is expected to increase by 1,438 full-time jobs (all related to operations); 762 of the jobs are estimated to be taken by Guam residents. Source: SEIS Appendix D (pg. D-7)"

Mr. Webber's column does not mentions a single empirical fact relating to the proposed action. It is not clear whether Mr. Webber has read the SEIS.

I found Mr. Webber's closing reference to "the cost of freedom" extremely ironic in this political context.

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