Thursday, December 31, 2015

Mataima'ho giya Majuro


Gi i Tasen Pasifiku, guaha dos na klasen isla, takhilo' yan takpapa'. Ti kumekeilekna este na i taotao gi un takhilo' na isla mas maolek pat mas malate' kinu i taotao gi otro. Lao este put i tano' gi ayu na isla yan i tinakhilo'-na gi hilo' i tasi. Iya Guahan, un "takhilo'" na isla. Lao meggai na isla gi Marshall Islands yan gi FSM, manakpapa'. Para i manasaga' gi i manakhilo' na isla siha "climate change" un fihu mapacha na asunto, lao ti magahet, ti atdet i chinathinasso trabiha. Lao para i manasaga' gi i manakpapa' na isla siha, esta gof magahet yan gof atdet ayu. Esta manathinasson-niniha put taimanu na para u inafekta todu gi lina'la', put hemplo gi este na tinige', i hanom ni' ma gigimen kada diha.

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

Perishing of Thirst in a Pacific Paradise
12/28/2015 02:50 pm ET
Peter Mellgard Associate Editor, The WorldPost

MAJURO, Marshall Islands -- A few yards from the crashing waves of the Pacific, on a precariously narrow strip of land, precious rainwater pools on the runway of the Marshall Islands' main airport. This is how the government hydrates tens of thousands of its citizens: the rainwater runoff from the airstrip. The water -- complete with bird droppings and whatever else has landed on the tarmac -- is funneled via pipes to earthen storage reservoirs. From there, it gets filtered and treated and pumped to people down the atoll.

During a normal week the water only flows for 12 hours. In prolonged droughts, which are almost certain to happen in 2016, the reservoirs can get depleted to the last drop. The country can hold on for only a few months without rain. Thirsty Marshallese, many of whom rely on their own much smaller rainwater catchment containers, won’t have anything to drink or wash with. Dehydration, starvation, malnutrition and disease have been known to follow. Crops fail. Sensitive groundwater reservoirs become contaminated.

This is a bleak outlook for a vulnerable country in the remote Pacific, halfway between Hawaii and Australia. The Marshall Islands are a heavenly chain of white sandy beaches and coral reefs, but they are paradoxically one of the most inhospitable and challenging places to build a nation. Climate change will have numerous, complicated effects here. Access to freshwater, already in limited supply on the archipelago, is likely to become the most serious issue.

"It can become very complex very quickly," Bill Shuster, a research hydrologist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, told The WorldPost. "Nothing really prepared me for how closely connected everything is, how tightly coupled public health is to rainfall."

As the world enters the age of climate change, the tiny islands and atolls that make up the Marshall Islands are on the front lines. Here on the capital island, the Majuro Water and Sewer Company is already preparing for droughts that are predicted to be more intense and longer-lasting than what the country has seen before. Distant outer atolls are even more at risk than Majuro, the largest and most developed island. Some of the outer landmasses are so tiny and remote that only a few people live there. Many rely entirely on rain or imported bottled water.

“Before I came here, I’d never seen anything like this,” said Allen Gale, an Australian adviser to MWSC, which is the sole official gatekeeper of the water supply on the capital atoll. “It’s a tough life.”

The seven reservoirs near the airport hold about 34 million gallons total, according to Gale. MWSC gets about 140 million gallons of water off the runway each year. To give a sense of how little water that is, New York City withdraws nearly 9 billion gallons of water from its environs each day. That's about 1,100 gallons per person per day, compared to Majuro's 14 gallons.

Only about one-quarter of the people on Majuro are connected to the municipal water supply from the airport, however. The vast majority of people rely on rain, collecting it off the roofs of their homes. The rainwater trickles down gutters and into drums that hold 1,500 gallons at most. For most people on the island, this is their sole source for everything freshwater is used for -- drinking, cooking, washing, cleaning. Each household has, on average, six to eight people to hydrate. During a drought, the drums can hold out for a month, maximum, at which point only the municipal supply remains viable.

This precarious situation is why Alington Robert, a longtime manager at MWSC, gets on the radio every Thursday evening and encourages his countrymen to connect their households to the more reliable and resilient municipal supply. Some years, like this one, he warns them to do what they can to prepare for drought.

Water scarcity is a perpetual worry in the Marshalls. The northern atolls get less than 50 inches of rain every year, according to a 2013 Australian government report. Atolls to the south get about double that. Bad droughts seem to be happening more often these days, a combined result of climate change and normal atmospheric oscillations. According to the latest climate change forecasts for this part of the Pacific, the Marshall Islands on average will get more rain in the coming decades, not less -- but they'll also get hotter temperatures, rising seas and longer and more intense droughts.
Only Majuro has a catchment system as sophisticated as the airport runway. Many other islands -- and actually, much of Majuro as well -- rely on underground water reservoirs that geologists call lenses. Shaped like the front of an eyeball, freshwater lenses are fed by rainwater and lie just below the surface of some atoll islands -- but only the bigger ones, as Curt Storlazzi of the U.S. Geological Survey explained.

“The islands have to be wider than a few hundred meters to sustain a freshwater lens,” Storlazzi told The WorldPost. “Otherwise there’s just not enough surface area of the island to catch enough rain for freshwater to accumulate.”

Freshwater lenses are extremely sensitive and constantly shifting. They are often depleted during the dry season, getting so brackish that they can become undrinkable. When rain finally comes, it replenishes the lens, filtering down through the sandy soil and into the porous coral rock that forms the base of the atoll. The thickness of the lens depends on the size of the island, the amount of rainfall and the height of the ocean. As you go deeper, the water gets more and more saline. Eventually, it becomes pure seawater.

“If you were to put a well down, you’d get freshwater,” Storlazzi said. “But it’s a limited resource. That resource is tied to rainfall. If rainfall were to decrease in the future, that freshwater lens would not be replenished as frequently and [would] become thinner.”

Climate change poses a unique risk to islands that rely on freshwater lenses. In other vulnerable parts of the world -- Miami, for instance -- rising sea levels can lead to dangerous and damaging floods. But on an atoll island, rising sea levels threaten the survival of everything that lives there -- people, animals and crops. Humans can't really live in a place where the access to freshwater is unreliable.
As ocean levels rise, overwash events -- where seawater flows over the surface of an island and seeps into its freshwater lens -- will become more common. Storms are another cause of flooding, and as the height of the ocean increases, smaller and smaller storms can cause the same amount of flooding that the bigger, rarer storms do now. It can take months, even years, before the freshwater is suitable for drinking again. Even Majuro's airport runway is vulnerable.

"If we get overtopping, where saltwater gets into our catchment, we have to dump [the freshwater] out into the lagoon," Gale said. "As climate change comes in, it’s going to increase that danger."

Securing a reliable water supply in a more extreme climate is going to be a huge challenge for residents of the outer islands in the Marshalls -- one that perhaps will prove insurmountable in the coming years. Out there, during drought, if the freshwater lens gets too saline to drink, it can take days for help to arrive.

One island on Maloelap Atoll, about 115 miles north of Majuro, appeared to be particularly vulnerable when Halston deBrum, MWSC's operations manager, went to check on its freshwater situation not long ago.

“There is almost no land at all," he said -- so, very little groundwater. "It was just hand-dug wells. These kinds of communities are very, very reliant on rainwater. If they go two or three weeks without rainwater, they have to search within the atoll for other sources of water."

"[They] can’t drive," deBrum added. "They go on a boat -- from their island to another and another.”
When things get really bad, MWSC, alongside the Marshallese government and international aid agencies, rushes solar-powered portable desalination machines to the outer islands, some of which are over a day's journey by boat from Majuro. MWSC has 15 such machines, each of which produce about 360 gallons of water per day. There are far fewer machines than there are remote outer islands.
"It makes me nervous, yes," said Joseph Batol, the head of MWSC. "Climate change here is real."

Not-So-Comforting-Apologies

This image is taken from the play Pågat, written by myself and Victoria Leon Guerrero and directed by Michelle Blas. The play was performed at UOG in the Spring of 2014 and received a great deal of attention from the local community. The choreography for the play came from Master of Chamorro Dance Vince Reyes, who has been touring the world recently as a prominent Chamorro folk artist with his group Inetnon Gefpago. This image in particular comes from what he calls the silhouette dance, which was performed to the tune of "Safe and Sound" by Taylor Swift, except sung in Chamorro. It portrays a Chamorro woman during World War II being beaten and raped by a Japanese soldier. She is able to endure however through the help of other women, who support her. The issue of comfort women and sexual violence on Guam has always been something on the edge of my academic consciousness, as during my oral history research it would also pop up, albeit in vague and impossible to pursue ways. It was a given that things happened, it was part of the tapestry of suffering, but few people would ever discussion specifics or name names or try to use their words or their memories in order to give that violence form again. I have been thinking more and more about this issue because i nobia-hu Dr. Isa Kelley Bowman has been conducting preliminary research into the silences involved. It is with her in mind (and the recent announcement of a possible compensation and apology package from Japan to South Korea) that I wrote this column for the Guam Daily Post.

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


“Not-So-Comforting Apologies”
by Michael Lujan Bevacqua
The Guam Daily Post
December 30, 2015

After years of denials, Japan and South Korea appear close to making a deal over apologizing for the comfort women issue from World War II. Money is being promised, although to give a sense of how late this, estimates show that there might have been as many as 200,000 Korean comfort women (although these estimates vary due to records being lost or destroyed.) The Associated Press reports that there are only 46 left alive today.

This potential deal comes after a number of quiet, but embarrassing protests against Japanese denial of their history of sexual slavery. In 2011, a statue of a young Korean woman sitting next to an empty chair was erected across the street from the Japanese consulate in Seoul. Korean women comprised the majority of those used by the Japanese for sexual slavery. The statue was meant to symbolize the untold number of Korean women who wanted for apologies or reparations from Japan over their mistreatment. The Japanese government complained ferociously about how embarrassing this statue was. Earlier this year, prior to a visit to Seoul by Japanese Prime Minister Abe, two more statues appeared in a park, one symbolizing Korean comfort women, the other Chinese. Since the early 1990s, this issue has been prominent and sometimes strained relations between Japan and South Korea. In 1965, the two countries signed a treaty that was meant to put an end to any reparations claims related to World War II. For the past two decades, more and more women have come forward to share their stories of being sexual slaves for the Japanese military, refusing to allow the issue to disappear. The timing of the apology is intriguing, as Abe’s government seems more interested than ever in finding ways to revitalize the faded militaristic past of Japan.

But the issue of comfort women during World War II is far greater than just an issue between these two nations. It is a terrible history that brings together women from a number of countries and islands, the Philippines, Chuuk, Okinawa, Indonesia, Taiwan, Burma, and the Marianas.

Local history textbooks regularly mention the issue of comfort women on Guam during World War II, but scarcely provide any details. The Guam Legislature has approved a number of resolutions calling upon the Japanese government to apologize for their “vicious coercion of young women into sexual slavery and for their cruelty towards the people of Guam during its occupation.” The sexual violence that Chamorro women endured remains one of the most public secrets from that time period. It is something that all take for granted and know happened in various forms, but it remains a taboo subject, something better not spoken of or investigated.

But in the messy mire, what we commonly find is that the issue of comfort women in Guam is largely obscured by misconceptions or the larger specter of sexual violence during the Japanese occupation. The various ways in which women were victimized leads to some ways, which represent far complicated or difficult histories go unspoken and lost.

When I was conducting my research on World War II about 12 years ago, I interviewed more than 100 survivors of “I Tiempon Chapones.” As of today, the majority of those I interviewed have passed on, and I feel grateful to have spent time with so many. sitting at their kitchen tables, their outside kitchens, or meeting them for coffee at Hagatna McDonald’s to hear their stories.

When I would broach the topic of comfort women, it was clearly something that was very difficult to discuss. But even in this difficulty, there were problems of definition. When I asked one woman about her knowledge of comfort women on Guam, she said her mother had been one of them. Noting that this was a rarity, as people tended to speak generally about comfort women, knowing of their existence, but also careful never to be too specific, to name any names, I seized this chance to learn more about the life of Chamorro comfort women. But when she described her mother’s experience, she had been raped by a Japanese soldier at their ranch, I realized she had misunderstood what it meant to be a comfort woman.

Sexual attacks on Chamorro women were all too common during the occupation. Families took care to hide the young women in their family, or alter their appearance in ways to make them less “appetizing” to your average soldier turned rapist. In other instances, women felt compelled to be “friendly” to Japanese soldiers or officers in order to obtain favors or protection for their families. They became girlfriends or mistresses to the Japanese troops, something which made sense in the heat of war, but afterwards became an almost unmentionable act.

This everyday coercion and violence that Chamorro women felt obscures the ways in which Guam was incorporated into the comfort women system. The rapes or the abuse was horrific, but the comfort women represented a more naturalized form of sexual oppression, where women were recruited to be part of a system whereby they would regularly serve the “comfort” of soldiers. The random acts of sexual violence represent one traumatic aspect of war, the comfort women represent an entirely different form of trauma, which can’t be accounted for in random or calculated acts of sexual violence. The comfort women system used by the Japanese military in Asia and the Pacific, was a system of sexual slavery, a massive human trafficking operation. It speaks to something beyond the character of individuals soldiers or commanders, but to the Japanese nation and its treatment of human beings, especially those it deemed as inferior.

It remains to be seen how this apology and this reparation process for South Korea might affect the Chamorro struggle for apologies or restitution for their suffering during World War II.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Para i Finakpo', i Tinituhun

Thought it would be nice to end the year with a reference to what is considering to be the beginning of the Chamorro people, namely Fouha Bay, where most consider the Chamorro creation story to be set. Here is some information on it, placing it in both a historical and contemporary context and briefly how it connects to an upcoming project my family will be published.

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

Fouha Bay/Laso' Fouha
The Birthplace of Chamorro Civilization


There are several creation stories for Chamorros. Some deal with Magellan getting lost, others with Marines hitting beaches, and then there are those which imagine the beginning with snakes tempting fruit aficionados in paradise. One creation story that is achieving more and more prominence is the tale of Fu’una and Puntan, which is partially set in the village of Humatak, and it is also the setting for a comic that I have been working on with my brother Jack as part of our Guam Bus creative plans. 

For those unfamiliar with Puntan and Fu’una, like any story that could be thousands of years old, you will have different versions. Most all of these versions involve two figures: Puntan and Fu’una, a brother and a sister. Puntan gives up his body parts in order to create the sky, the ocean, and the island of Guam (and all the Marianas). Fu’una gives up her energy in order to give life to the islands and create Chamorros. Fouha Bay was considered to be a sacred place in ancient times because of its relationship to this story. A large rock there, Laso Fu’a, is supposed to be the body of Fu’una. Chamorros from the inhabited islands would gather in the area each year in order to honor their ancestors, most importantly Fu’una and Puntan.

We can sense the sacredness of the place, because even the Spanish who came to convert Chamorros and colonize them recognized its religious significance. This is important, because the priests were committed to doing away with most of the religion of the ancient Chamorros, finding ways to subvert it and make it become subordinate to the new Catholic faith. But Fouha Bay in Humatak was noted for being a place where Chamorros from villages around the entire island and from other islands in the Marianas would gather to recognize their shared spiritual roots.

For hundreds of years during colonization, Chamorros no longer made pilgrimages to Fouha Bay to honor Fu’una, but you can still trace a continuity of belief. During the Spanish and early American periods, for example, Chamorros would still make regular stops at Fouha Bay on their way to fiestas in the south. The area was known to have powerful spirits. Even if people no longer told the stories of Fu’una and Puntan, they still acknowledged the great supernatural power of the place.

In February 2014, a group of artists and activists held a lukao or procession to Fouha Bay in attempt to reconnect to this place and the power it once held in Chamorro life. Those who joined the lukao brought with them wishes for the new year, along with offerings such as rice, jewelry, or fruits, for their ancestral spirits. A ceremony was held beneath Fouha Rock, with all present gathered in a circle. Another lukao was held in 2015, with plans to make it an annual event, once again.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Our Voices, Our Stories, Our Ocean

Our Voices, Our Stories, Our Ocean
Pacific Literature Conference
May 13-14
University of Guam, Mangilao, Guam


Call for Papers and Presentations

Description of conference and its purpose
Pacific voices and stories have been marginalized in educational spaces throughout the Pacific for too long. However, with the emergence of contemporary Pacific literature since the 1970s, stories and perspectives on Pacific lives have been included in school curricula throughout most of the region (with less prominence in Micronesia). Thus, Our Voices, Our Stories, Our Ocean Pacific Literature Conference aims to provide a venue for Pacific writers and voices to increase awareness about Pacific literature for Pacific educators, students, and writers on Guam and throughout the region.

Moreover, because this conference will take place just two weeks before the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts (FESTPAC) on Guam, the conference’s steering committee encourages participation in this conference so that those in attendance can gain more knowledge about the literature, cultures, and histories of the Pacific Islands that will be celebrated at FESTPAC.

Papers and Presentations should address one of the following six themes: 

Exploring Pacific Literature: What is Pacific Literature? Who are prominent Pacific writers? What different genres of Pacific literature exist and how are they used to represent Pacific voices and stories? 


Teaching Pacific Literature: Why teach Pacific Literature? How can Pacific Literature be used in the classroom (may include how it has already been used in the classroom)? How is Pacific Literature cross-discipline (able to be used in different subjects)? 


Writing Pacific Literature: How can the creation of Pacific Literature be fostered in the classroom and in the broader community? How can Pacific writers publish their work? What is the power and relevance of encouraging Pacific research and writing? 


Accessing Pacific Literature: Where can Pacific Literature resources be found? How can Pacific Literature be made more easily accessible and available to educators, students, and the broader community? 


Communicating Pacific Literature: What role does the oral tradition play in Pacific Literature, including non-written genres (e.g., film, podcasts, songs)? What is the importance of native languages, dialects, and other modes of communication (orality, literacy, silence, and communicative competence) in different Pacific cultures and their literatures? 


Identifying Common Themes in Pacific Literature: What themes emerge in Pacific Literature? How do Pacific writers explore topic areas including: socio-cultural (culture, heritage, history, identity, and family and other relationships); socio- political (colonization, militarization, Westernization, decolonization/self-determination, independence, and post-colonization); and environmental (sustainability, climate change, and rising tides)? 


Please email presentation abstracts (of no more than 150 words) to ouroceanvoices@gmail.com by December 30, 2015 (Chamorro Standard Time).

Note: Registration for the conference will occur at a later date. 
Please direct all questions to the Our Voices, Our Stories, Our Ocean Pacific Literature Conference Project Director, Kisha Borja- Quichocho at kquichocho@triton.uog.edu. 
Other Project Scholars and Steering Committee Members include: Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero (University of Guam), Dr. Unaisi Nabobo-Baba (University of Guam), Dr. Craig Santos Perez (University of Hawai`i-Mānoa), Kenneth Gofigan Kuper (PhD candidate, University of Hawai`i-Mānoa), and Vito Calvo, Jr. (Guam Community College). 


This project is supported by the Guam Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Puntan Dos Amantes

This version of the classic Chamorro legend comes courtesy of the Chamorro Studies Division of the Guam Department of Education:

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


Puntan Dos Amåntes

Åntes na tiempo giya Hagåtña, guaha un sotterita ni’ gof bunita ya todu ha’ gumaiya. Malago’ si nanå-ña yan tatå-ña na siha u inayeki un rikon taotao para asagua-ña.

Lini’e i sotterita ni’ un sindalon Españot ya malago’ na u inasagua. Ha ufresi i sainå-ña meggai na salåppe’. Sigi kumåti i sotterita annai ma sangåni na ayu na taotao para asagua-ña.

Duru sumospiros i sotterita. Tåya’ mas guinaiyå-ña na i lahen Chamorro ni’ sumåsaga gi sengsong. Sinangani as tatå-ña para u maleffa ni’ lahen Chamorro sa’ popble. Tinago’ as nanå-ña na u fanosge sa’ agupa’ ha’ para u asagua. Esta ma disidi na para u asagua yan i sindålun Españot.

Annai maigo’ i dos saina, malågu i sotterita yan i guinaiyå-ña para u attok gi liyang giya Tomhom.

Pumåra i dos un råtu gi halomtåno’ para u deskånsa sa’ mampos yayas. Ginen i chagogo’ ma hungok i essalao-ñiñiha i sindålon Españot. “Espiha kao gaige i dos guihi guatu!”

Malågu chaddek i dos lao ai sa’ måtto gi ladera. Umatoktok i dos.

Ti malago’ i dos umasotta. Ma godde’ i anåkko’ gapotulon-ñiha pues umañangon i dos, “hu guaiya hao.” Tuma’yok påpa’ gi taddong hånom.

Annai manmåtto i sindålu gi kantit ya ma atan påpa’ i hanom ma li’e’ i figuran dos taotao na uma’atoktok gi taddong tåsi.

Meggai sumåsangan na guaha na ma hungok buruka gi papa’ padiron lao siña ha’ lokkue’ ginen i napu kontra i acho’.

Hayi i Mas Paire na Presidente?

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Cultural Integrity and Pacific Representations


Earlier this year, as part of the annual Guam International Film Festival or GIFF festivities, longtime juror and supporter of the festival Tom Brislin, who is a professor of film at University of Hawai'i, Manoa gave a presentation on the need for Chamorros to join the larger conversation in the Pacific about preserving cultural intellectual property and also developing an infrastructure to help make future film project in the region more accountable to the lands and the lives of which they are making use. He referred to a number of issues in Hawai'i, New Zealand and Australia, where traditional culture was being snatched up and copyrighted by corporations such as Disney, and how the cultures of the Pacific continued to be portrayed in racist and orientalist ways, which can end up teaching those inside and outside of the Pacific terrible lessons. I really enjoyed his presentation and I'm hoping some students caught onto the conversation he was attempting to start locally.

Below is a column he wrote for the Pacific Daily News, prior to GIFF and his presentation.

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

Preserve Cultural Integrity
by Tom Brislin
Pacific Daily News
9/12/15

Along with ancestral lands, Indigenous intellectual property has been appropriated by colonizing dominant cultures and in most cases placed in “public domain,” allowing it to be commodified at the expense of, and at a loss to, the original authors. While filmmakers would go through extensive negotiations and payments for the rights to a piece of copyrighted Western music as simple as “Happy Birthday,” they could freely pluck a traditional Kantan Chamorita without a single thought toward clearance or royalty. Because such songs, chants, dances, myths and legends are not in “fixed form,” have no definitive or registered single or group authorship, and often are of indeterminate age, they are relegated to common ownership: What was yours is now ours. What you created, we will profit from.

Along with commercialization, the representation of indigenous or local cultures too often is seen through a distorted lens that reflects, at best, stereotypes, and at worst racism as seen in the reactions to portrayals of Hawaiians in films as diverse as “Lilo and Stitch,” “50 First Dates,” and “Aloha;” Southeast Asians in “No Escape;” and Native American actors walking off the set in protest over Adam Sandler’s western parody “The Ridiculous Six.” Guam has experienced a similar mixed bag of on-screen representation.

Western law abrades indigenous customs with the same force felt in the conflict of values between individualist vs. collectivist cultures. But culture is not so easily codified. While contemporary law, led by the First Amendment and copyright, grants “the right to do,” filmmakers still need to consider what is the right thing to do, and what is the right way to do it.

In pondering the development of a film industry, Guam media and policymakers can vigorously discuss not only viable investments in industry infrastructure, but also necessary investments in preserving cultural integrity. Quasi-autonomous agencies such as film commissions can serve outside production companies as a one-stop shop in securing locations and permits, while they serve the island economy promoting local providers in technical filmmaking and support services, such as camera operators, sound technicians, electricians, equipment rentals, costumes, props, transportation and craft services (food and beverage).

Provide education

Just as importantly, a film commission or similar agency can ensure that outside production companies become familiar with and respect local customs and traditional practices. It can create educational videos, link cultural consultants to productions, provide checklists of cultural considerations, and encourage contributions to island media education through internships or direct donations to university, community college and high school programs.

Similar advances in cultural cooperation have been spearheaded by Maori, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander filmmakers with production companies coming to New Zealand and Australia. They provide guidance in how to educate and encourage cultural knowledge and acknowledgment of cultural and creative practices as an integral, and perhaps contractual, part of the production process for offshore companies.

As Guam debates its political identity through evolving modes and processes of self-governance, and celebrates its cultural identity through the Guam International Film Festival (Sept. 26-30) and next year’s Festival of Pacific Arts, an opportune time arises to contemplate how to preserve cultural dignity, protocols, respect, representation, and authorship while encouraging the development and expansion of an industry grounded in both art and commerce, and where cultures regularly meet on and off screen.

Chamorros and other Pacific islanders are inherent storytellers. When they intersect and interact with the film industry, it is the bringing together of tremendous story-telling cultures. Each has its own protocols and customary ways. They need not be defined by conflict to have a good story ending.

Tom Brislin, a University of Hawai’i associate dean and professor of media studies, will explore this topic in a master class, part of the Guam International Film Festival, at 11 a.m. Sept. 29 in HSS Room at the University of Guam.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

End of the Year Dreams


Click here to DONATE to support the website Common Dreams!

Here is a sampling of the type of news you can find there. It has been a main source of information for me since ever since. Here is a sample of the news you can find there from just the past week. 


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


Published on
by

'Whatever It Takes': Okinawa Sues Tokyo in Effort to Block US Base

Prefecture's governor vows to take anything necessary to block construction of American military camp
by
 
Okinawa officials on Friday filed a lawsuit against the central Japanese government in a new bid to block the slated construction of a U.S. military base in the prefecture's Henoko region.
"We will do whatever it takes to stop the new Henoko base," Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga said during a press conference Friday. "Okinawa's argument is legitimate, and I believe that it will be certainly understood."

Residents and officials charge that the Japanese government's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism illegally intervened in Onaga's order earlier this year that halted preliminary work on the base. The prefecture said that the ministry acted unlawfully when it suspended Onaga's permit cancellation for work needed to move the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to its slated spot in Henoko.

The legal challenge is the latest effort to block the continued militarization of the southern Japanese island, which has long served as home base for more than half of the 50,000 American military service members in Japan, as well as over two-thirds of U.S. bases in the country. In late October, hundreds of Okinawa residents, largely elders, linked arms and physically blocked vehicles transporting building materials to the base.

"Don't the people of Okinawa have sovereignty?" one protester, 70-year-old Katsuhiro Yoshida, told Japanese paper The Asahi Shimbun at the time. "This reminds me of the scenes of rioting against the U.S. military before Okinawa was returned to Japan (in 1972). Now we are facing off against our own government. It is so contemptible."

Residents have long expressed anger and frustration over the crime and pollution they say comes along with the presence of foreign troops.

"Democracy and local self-determination in Japan are in severe condition," Onaga, who was elected on an anti-base platform, said Friday. "We want the rest of the world to know how the Japan-U.S. security treaty is affecting us."

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

War is Over! - If You Want It: Christmas Celebrates Nonviolence

Published on
by

“And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?” That’s the question which John Lennon puts to us in his famous Christmas song. In the chorus, he gets right to the point, to the heart of Christmas: “War is over, if you want it.”

For some, that might seem like a leap of faith, but I think John Lennon’s theology was better than most. If you want to celebrate Christmas, he says, work for the end of war and the culture of war. Spend your life pursuing a new culture of peace for everyone.

Christmas celebrates the birth of the most active person of nonviolence in the history of the world, as Gandhi once described Jesus. In the Gospel account of Jesus’ birth to homeless refugees, angels announce to poor shepherds the coming of peace on earth. He grew up to become a great peacemaker, a nonviolent activist who denounced war and systemic injustice and offered the gift of peace to everyone near and far.
The life of Jesus is a record of pure, radical nonviolence, like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught the methodology and vision of nonviolence--“Offer no violent resistance to one who does evil,” “Love your enemies,” “Hunger and thirst for justice,” “Blessed are the peacemakers.” He formed a community of nonviolent resisters and organized a grassroots movement of nonviolence to disarm everyone. He led his campaign of nonviolence from the countryside to Jerusalem where he engaged in dramatic nonviolent civil disobedience and was immediately arrested and killed. But he lived on in the community and the movement, and that creative nonviolence continues today.

To claim the name of Christian is to be a practitioner of Gospel nonviolence. To celebrate the birth of the nonviolent Jesus is to do our part in his ongoing grassroots movement of nonviolence to welcome the gift of peace on earth. “War is over,” Jesus announced. “Peace is yours, if you want it. Get involved and join the movement of nonviolence.”

To be a Christian is to renounce every trace of violence and carry on Jesus’ grassroots movement of Gospel nonviolence. It is to see life through the eyes of peace, and the nonviolent struggle for peace on earth. It means renouncing our own violence and our complicity in the culture of violence. We get rid of our guns, stop supporting the military, serve the poor, welcome the refugee, advocate for justice, and work for disarmament. It means upholding a whole new vision of shared humanity, a whole new world of nonviolence.

What’s so interesting is that more than a hundred years ago, Gandhi discovered that every religion is rooted in nonviolence. He realized that nonviolence lay at the heart of Hinduism. With his friend Abdul Gaffer Khan, he learned that nonviolence was central to Islam. His Jewish friends taught him that shalom/nonviolence was key to Judaism. Buddhism, he saw, places nonviolence in the air we breathe. And he began reading the Sermon on the Mount every day and found there what he considered the best blueprint of nonviolence ever written.

We all need to rediscover the nonviolence at the heart of every spiritual tradition. That will help us discern the prejudice and false claims we hear these days. It will also help us pursue a new culture of interfaith nonviolence.

But Christians first and foremost need to rediscover their nonviolence. We have not just ignored the nonviolence of Jesus; we have outright rejected it and mocked it. In its place, we have created cults of violence that have nothing to do with the nonviolent Jesus. In the name of the false gods of war, we justify
Each year, Christmas invites Christians to reject violence and war, to break with the betrayal of past Christian history, and to start over again on the journey of nonviolence in the footsteps of the nonviolent Jesus.

Christmas is a celebration of nonviolence, pure and simple. It invites us to repent of violence and choose once again Jesus’ way of nonviolence. It summons us to name warfare as obsolete and get on with the work of practicing nonviolence in our personal lives; joining the global grassroots movement of nonviolence for disarmament and justice; and institutionalizing nonviolent conflict resolution.
Christmas calls us to a high ideal: the abolition of war itself, and along with it, the abolition of poverty, corporate greed, racism, executions, empire, fascism, nuclear weapons, and environmental destruction. This goal is achievable, if we want it.

That’s the message of Christmas. Peace is ours, if we want it. John Lennon was right. So were Gandhi and Dr. King. We, too, can side with the voices and visionaries of peace and do our part to hasten the abolition of war and injustice and the coming of a new world of nonviolence.

That’s a goal, a vision, a way of life worth celebrating.

 *******************



Published on
by

The Trans-Pacific Trade Scam

Despite what President Obama says, the TPP does indeed create a corporate end run around our laws.

Last spring, President Barack Obama got downright crabby about people criticizing the mammoth Trans-Pacific Partnership he’s trying to sell to Congress and the public.

More and more Americans are learning that the TPP would undermine America’s very sovereignty, giving multinational corporations direct access to secretive tribunals that could roll back any consumer, labor, or environmental laws that global corporate giants don’t like.

Yet an irked Obama denies that this is true: “They’re making this stuff up,” he cried. “No trade agreement is going to force us to change our laws.”

Perhaps he was misinformed. Perhaps he hasn’t actually read the deal he’s pushing. Or — dare we say it? — perhaps he’s lying.

In unmistakable language, the TPP does indeed create the private, corporate-run mechanism for changing our laws. Moreover, surely Obama knows that foreign corporations are already doing this indirectly.

Through little-known provisions in past trade scams, powerful corporations in other countries have pressured their governments to challenge our laws in similar tribunals.

From Canada to Malaysia, many countries have — on behalf of their corporate powers — successfully forced Congress and U.S. agencies to weaken or eliminate everything from environmental protections to consumer right-to-know laws.

In fact, this very year, Obama’s own administration has been told by the World Trade Organization that it must alter or repeal America’s laws on labeling foreign agricultural products.

This TPP flimflam would elevate profiteering corporations to the legal status of sovereign nations, empowering them to sue directly in rigged corporate courts “to force us to change our laws.” Obama knows this—and if he doesn’t, he should.

Either way, it destroys his presidential credibility and moral authority to keep pushing this giveaway of our people’s sovereignty.

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be - consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.

 
*************
 

Happy Holidays, Super PACs: FEC Removes Yet Another Block Against Dark Money

Published on
by
 
Little-noticed rule allows candidates to solicit money for super PACs as long as it's done in a small meeting
 
The Federal Elections Commission (FEC) has quietly released a new advisory opinion that will make it even easier for candidates and their staffers to solicit for super PACs donations.

The opinion states that candidates can ask for funds from donors as long as they are meeting in small groups—as small as three people, according to the Washington Post, which first reported on the story Thursday.

In addition, campaign staffers and consultants will be allowed to solicit large donations for a super PAC as long as they make clear they were not directed to do so by the candidate, the Post's Matea Gold reports.

Gold continues:
Federal candidates are still not permitted to explicitly ask a donor to give more than $5,000 to a super PAC. But the latest decision means that an elected official or candidate can meet privately with just one wealthy donor and one super PAC operative to discuss fundraising for the group, said Ellen Weintraub, one of two Democrats on the six-member panel who opposed loosening the rules.
All that is required under the guidelines is a written invitation, a formal program and a disclaimer that the candidate is appearing as a “special guest” who is not soliciting large checks.
 
 
The new rules further blur the lines between candidates seeking public office and the private entities that fund their election campaigns, removing yet more safeguards against political malfeasance and raising new transparency concerns. According to the Postthe opinion came in response to a request from two Democratic super PACs, including one with ties to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev).

"This is actually very dangerous if you’re worried about corruption, the notion that these kind of small back-room meetings can take place," Weintraub told the Post. "The fewer people you have in the room, the fewer protections you have against something unsavory happening."

FEC's opinion, largely unnoticed since it was offered in November, comes after years of criticism from throughout the progressive sphere over the agency's weak enforcement of campaign finance rules that have become precious since the Supreme Court in 2010 ruled in favor of corporate dark money interests in Citizens United v. FEC. In October, a coalition of activists and organizations released a letter slamming the agency's weak enforcement of those rules and calling on commissioners to simply do their jobs.

"Today's flood of dark money in federal elections via both electioneering communications and independent expenditures is almost wholly the creation of the Federal Election Commission and the Commission should take responsibility for correcting this problem," the letter stated.

The cost of the 2016 election cycle is expected to top $10 billion. The coalition, which includes Public Citizen, Friends of the Earth, and the Center for Media and Democracy, called on the FEC to, among other things, "update its coordination rule to ensure that unregulated super PACs and other outside electioneering groups are truly independent of candidate and party committees."
 

Friday, December 25, 2015

"Merry Christmas in Chamorro" from Pale' Eric

So many people ask me this each year, I decided to post a reply from Pale' Eric Forbes from his blog four years ago to save me time. One of these days, I'll make a post of my own and add some other options to the list.

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

http://paleric.blogspot.com/2011/12/how-do-you-say-merry-christmas-in.html

Thursday, December 22, 2011
HOW DO YOU SAY "MERRY CHRISTMAS" IN CHAMORRO?
SHORT ANSWER

Felis Påsgua

or

Felis Påsguan Nochebuena

or

Magof Nochebuena


LONG ANSWER

First of all, not all cultures have an old custom of using specific greetings for special occasions.  The phrase "Merry Christmas" is an American/British custom.  The phrase appeared in some English writings many hundreds of years back, but didn't become popularized till Christmas cards started using them in the early 1800s.  In times past, "merry" meant "pleasant" or "agreeable."  But it also can be understood to mean "tipsy" or "drunk," and that is why, it is believed, many in England prefer the phrase "Happy Christmas."  This is what you hear a bit more in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

"Christmas" itself comes from the phrase "Christ's Mass."  Back when England was Catholic, some feast days were named after the Mass of that day's feast.  So, on the feast of Saint Michael, they celebrated Michaelmas.  On the feast of the Purification, when candles were blessed, it was Candlemas.  On the day of Christ's birth, it was Christmas.

Now the Marianas were influenced by Spain and its customs, and the Catholic religion.  What we call Christmas in English is called the feast of the Nativity of the Lord in the Catholic Church.  "Nativity" is a fancy word for "birth."

"Nativity" in Spanish is Natividad.  Applied to Christmas, it is simply Navidad.  Thus you have heard of Jose Feliciano's famous song Feliz Navidad (Merry Christmas).  Feliz means "happy" or "merry."

But an older name for the feast of the Birth of Jesus is Pascua.  Pascua is the term for one of three great events in the religious calendar : the Birth of Jesus, the Resurrection of Jesus and finally the coming of the Holy Spirit or Pentecost.  All three feasts are considered pascua.

In order to distinguish these three, Christmas became known as Pascua de Nochebuena; Easter as Pascua Florida (or, "Flowery Pascua" on account of the Easter flowers that come out in spring) and Pentecost as Pascua de Pentecostés.

Nochebuena literally means "good night" and refers to December 24th, Christmas Eve, when the Birth of Jesus is first celebrated in church.

Believe it or not, despite all this linguistic technicality that may have you scratching your head, if indeed you are still reading, many man åmko' knew all of this! They were well-trained.

OK, now pascua became påsgua in Chamorro.  So what is Feliz Pascua in Spanish becomes Felis Påsgua in Chamorro.  You can add Nochebuena in there, too, to make it clear (remember, for the Spanish and the man åmko' Chamorro, there are three pascuas).  So, Felis Påsguan Nochebuena.

As an alternative to all this, I lean toward Magof Nochebuena.  This phrase keeps Nochebuena to denote Christmas, but uses magof instead of felis.  Magof is pure Chamorro and means the same thing as felis, which is "happy."  One could also say I suppose Magof Påsguan Nochebuena, but I think the shorter version accomplishes the same task.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

Don't even ask me to translate that (to me) unsavory surrogate, else I will ask you to what holiday you are referring.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

How Guam Stole Christmas

I collect Guam mentions from national and international media and this one has to be one of the more interesting ones I came across this year.

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

How Guam Stole Christmas
by Kimberly Robinson
http://www.bna.com/guam-stole-christmas-b57982065502/
December 23, 2015

Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot ... But the Guam officials sued in this Ninth Circuit case, did NOT!

On (the eve of) Christmas Eve, they asked the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and revive their expedited tax refund process that was struck down by the Ninth Circuit in the summer season.
Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.

It could be that their heads aren’t screwed on just right.

It could be, perhaps, that their shoes are too tight.

But some think that the most likely reason of all … is that the officials wanted to keep expediting their own refunds while making the majority of Guamanians wait months or even years for their windfall.

Here’s what the Ninth Circuit had to say when it enjoined the U.S. territory from carrying out its expedited refund program:

“Like many state, local, and territorial jurisdictions, Guam has struggled for years with chronic budget deficits. Guam settled on a unique solution to its financial problems: It refused to refund over-withheld income taxes, using the money to fund government spending. Confronted with meritorious and uncontested claims for tax refunds, Guam did not issue the refunds, often for several years at a time.”

“Apparently recognizing that some Guam taxpayers desperately needed their excess tax payments — to which the Guam government has no legal claim — Guam established an ‘expedited refund’ process. Purportedly, taxpayers facing, for example, medical or funeral expenses, would move to the front of the line and be granted refunds without waiting for Guam to make good on the huge backlog of claims. In practice, the expedited refund process was effectively standardless, and it devolved into arbitrariness and favoritism.”

That sounds pretty grinchy, Guam!

Quoting the district court below, the Ninth Circuit went on to say that the expedited process was “opaque and tedious. Guam did not ‘formally approve or reject requests for expedited refunds,’ so some taxpayers stood in line at [the Department of Revenue and Taxation’s] offices day after day to check on the status of their refund requests. In practice, to obtain an expedited refund, a taxpayer would often need to ‘persuade one of a series of public officials to include his or her name on a list,’ given to DRT, resulting in expedited refunds for those with the right political connections. DRT employees also successfully expedited their own refunds, and those of family and friends, often without filling out the purportedly required form, submitting supporting documentation, or visiting the DRT.”

The Ninth Circuit said this process violated equal protection because the burden “fell most heavily on taxpayers of limited means, while expedited refunds were available to those with personal or political connections.”

The Ninth Circuit also required Guam to pay back all meritorious refunds within 6 months.

In rejecting Guam’s assertion that the 6-month deadline was too short, the Ninth Circuit said it “thoroughly” disagreed. “These tax overpayments were never Guam's to begin with, and it has no legal claim to them.”

“If anything, allowing Guam six months to honor refund requests it has determined to be valid and not subject to audit or investigation is more solicitous than necessary to Guam's concerns,” the Ninth Circuit said.

Guam has now asked the Supreme Court to put that ruling on hold while it appeals the case to the high court.

Much of Guam’s argument centers on whether the defendant officials are “persons” for purposes of 42 U.S.C. §1983, which allows some governmental officials to be sued for constitutional or statutory violations.

The request went to Justice Anthony Kennedy, the circuit justice for the Ninth Circuit. He didn't ask for a response until Jan. 6, probably so he could take some time to enjoy his roast beast.

The application is No. 15A663, Territory of Guam v. Paeste.

To follow along with the latest developments in this case and others at the U.S. Supreme Court, take a free trial to United States Law Week.

 
 
KIMBERLY ROBINSON
Kimberly Robinson is a legal editor for U.S. Law Week and the publication’s lead reporter at the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to joining Bloomberg BNA, Kimberly practiced with the law firm of Morrison & Foerster LLP, where she specialized in privacy and consumer protection issues. She received her J.D. from Columbia University and a B.S. from Arizona State University. You can e-mail Kimberly at krobinson@bna.com, or follow her on Twitter @KimberlyRobinsn.

Language Life and Death

-->
So much of the problems with saving dying languages is that people don't understand how languages live and die. They make assumptions about what makes a language necessary or valuable or what might be killing a language or keeping it alive, and often times those interpretations feel real, but actually bear little connection to reality. People fear that certain things which don't actually threat languages are holding knives to the throats of the language. People who have the abilities to save the language, wait passively for Superman or Maga'lahi Hurao to appear to give them salvation in the form of a curriculum or an app. This is, one of the biggest frustrations of my life recently, is struggling to find ways to revitalize the Chamorro language, but bumping up against so many stubbornly held misconceptions, which have to be challenged, or at least disrupted slightly for any language resurgence to take place. People become too obsessed, conveniently so, with the idea that it is all someone else's responsibility and surely not theirs.

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

Life or death for languages
December 23, 2015
Can languages be resurrected from the (almost) dead? Or is it fine for them to follow in the footsteps of some other languages and die a “natural” death?
Keywords: Culture, History, Language
Science Nordic

All languages evolve and change. Some merge, and some split into distinct dialects or even separate languages. And in this evolutionary process, some languages die out.

How do languages die?

“A language has to be spoken by young people, preferably across several parts of their lives, to remain a living language,” says Øystein A. Vangsnes. “Children have to learn it as they grow up and use it in their daily lives,” he says.

When this no longer happens, individuals lose their mother tongue competency. Fewer and fewer people use the language, until no one is speaking it in their everyday lives. Then it eventually dies out.

Vangsnes is a language professor at the University of Tromsø, Norway's Arctic university. He has researched the Pite Sami language, which lost its last native speaker in Norway sometime in the 1960s. Only around 30 people still speak this Sami language in Sweden.

To revive or not to revive?

Can we prevent small languages from disappearing before it gets to that point? Or should we come to terms with the fact that languages will die, as they have done throughout history?

Vangsnes says that depends on how the language is lost. It’s one thing when languages change over time, and another when a minority group is deprived of their language.

Several factors must be present to keep a language alive, he says.

For one, society at large needs to help by saying that the language is important, and encourage its use in natural contexts. “Learning a language in school or as an adult isn’t the same,” says Vangsnes.

Languages can be lost when parents don’t pass them on to their children or don’t recognize the importance of their own language.

“Language is a very important expression of culture. If you lose it, you lose part of your culture and identity,” Vangsnes says.

Use language at many levels

The more places people use a language, the stronger a role it plays. Children will only continue using the language if they have enough opportunities to speak it. A home language that only the family speaks is more endangered than a language that is used in the community, and a regional language has even more influence.

“And if the government intervenes and designates it as an official administrative language, that can give it status and make more people want to use the language,” says Vangsnes.

He gives Wales as an example. Welsh had low status and was little used, but now people have regained their pride in the language.

Visibility is important, and signs have high visibility. Signs in the Sami language have for years caused debate in Norway’s Nord-Norge province. They have great symbolic importance, says Vangsnes.

Write it down

The written word is vital for communication in our day and age. Books can help children learn the language. A written language helps keep it alive and signals its status.

Lack of a written language has been one of the problems facing the Pite Sami language. Only recently has a group that speaks this little language collected words and written them down. Researchers have made an electronic dictionary available.

But it may be too late for the highly endangered language. Last century’s government Norwegianization tactics, forcing the Sami to speak Norwegian, hit the sparsely spoken languages the hardest. Swedish Sami peoples were similarly affected.

The forced relocation of Sami in the early 1900s was another death knell for the language, because the more widely spoken Northern Sami exerted pressure on small languages like Pite Sami. The authorities also closed the borders so herders could no longer wander freely with their reindeer between Norway and Sweden, says Vangsnes.

Rising from the dead

It is inevitable that languages die out, according to Vangsnes. The biggest languages dominate.

“Languages don’t have static sizes. Some die, others live on in new forms,” he says.
But sometimes it’s possible to revive a language that has been absent from everyday speech. Hebrew is an example.

It had no more native speakers and existed only as Judaism’s sacred language. When the state of Israel was established, Hebrew became an official language there and now it has millions of “first language” speakers.

Number of languages growing

“We study extinct languages to find out what words people used in the old days and how language evolved. For example, nobody talks Gothic anymore but we use our knowledge about it to understand how modern Germanic languages have evolved,” Vangsnes says.

So even if Pite Sami dies out, as pessimists predict, the language glossary that has been created will live on as a cultural monument and will be useful in research, he says.

UNESCO has recorded the disappearance of at least 230 languages since the 1950s. And yet the number of languages is actually growing in scientists' databases, with over 7,000 registered in the world as researchers become aware of more languages. Researchers also use new knowledge to define as separate languages what previously were considered dialects.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Research Paper Buildup

-->
 According to my tracking statistics for this blog, a large number of people visit one of these pages based on searches related to Guam and its military buildup. My assumption is that some of these people are journalists looking into the issue, a few more may be scholars, as my blog has been quoted in several dozen academic publications on the topic. The majority are students working on research papers, either in Guam or elsewhere about the major concerns for the military buildup and putting together pro or con arguments. In the spirit of this Christmas and future Christmases, I thought I'd post a couple more articles to help those with future research paper needs. These are a few articles that I've used in papers or presentations to make certain important points.

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

DEIS rouses youth activism
Monday, 11 Jan 2010 05:02am
Marianas Variety
By Zita Taitano

DYNAMIC young community voices are starting to rise above the public complacency toward the military’s voluminous draft impact study to give new breath to vital concerns of family, community and employment. 

More than 500 island residents turned out to the University of Guam Fieldhouse in Mangilao on Saturday for the second in a series of village presentations of the military draft impact statement.

The military buildup will attract 30,000 more jobs, but what they don’t want us to know is our people will only fill less than 20 percent of those jobs, Melvin Won Pat Borja, one of the organizers of the new group called We Are Guahan, founded by emergent young activists. “But this is not about jobs, or culture or money. This is about community. This is about our family.”

Scion of the of the storied Won Pat clan, the 28-year old further compelled the attention of the young adults in attendance by attesting to the rights of the future generations to be able to live free on their native island and without feeling oppressed.

“You are not alone. We must be united. We must never be silent!” he proclaimed. “I think in the past the larger community has been misrepresented as being in full support of this buildup. I think a lot of our people have been misled into believing the general population is in full support of this move.”

Won Pat Borja said it is clear the community is starting to coalesce and take note after observing the hearings this past Saturday and last Thursday.

“There’s been a lot of individuals from the community who have been coming out to speak out against this move and really voice their opinion,” he said.

Right before the hearing, members of the Taotaomona Native Rights group and We are Guahan walked in behind Danny “Pagat” Jackson and his wife Josephine Jackson as their grandson Cason Jackson sang Fanohge Chamorro.

Joint Guam Program Office is organizing the series of public hearings. They allowed others to provide their perspective on the military buildup as well, so long as they did not speak for more than three minutes.

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

EPA sharply criticizes military's Guam plan
by Audrey McAvoy
AP
February 25, 2010

HONOLULU—The Environmental Protection Agency is sharply criticizing the military's plan to move thousands of Marines to Guam, saying its failure to plan for infrastructure upgrades would lead to raw sewage spills and a shortage of drinking water.
Further, the agency said the military's plan to build a new aircraft carrier berth at the U.S. territory's Apra Harbor would result in "unacceptable impacts" to 71 acres of a high quality coral reef.
The EPA outlined the criticisms in a strongly worded six-page letter to the Navy regarding a draft environmental impact statement by the military.
"The impacts are of sufficient magnitude that EPA believes the action should not proceed as proposed and improved analyses are necessary to ensure the information in the EIS is adequate to fully inform decision makers," the EPA said.
The military's Joint Guam Program Office said it was evaluating all comments it received on its environmental study and was committed to working with the EPA and other federal agencies to find solutions.
"The issues raised by EPA regarding the potential impacts to Guam from the military buildup are consistent with what we have heard from Guam's leaders, local agencies and the public," the military office said in an email statement to The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The military plan includes moving 8,600 Marines, and 9,000 of their dependents, to Guam from Okinawa, Japan. Washington and Tokyo are jointly paying for the transfer, which is designed to reduce the U.S. military's large footprint on densely populated Okinawa.
The letter said that at its peak, the change is expected to boost the Pacific territory's population by 79,000 people, or 45 percent, over the island's current 180,000 residents. The figure includes large numbers of construction workers that will have to move to Guam to build the new facilities.
The EPA's letter, dated Feb. 17, was first reported by the Pacific Daily News on its Web site Thursday Guam time.
Specifically, the EPA said the military's plan would lead to the following problems:
-- A shortfall in Guam's water supply, resulting in low water pressure that would expose people to water borne diseases from sewage.
-- Increased sewage flows to wastewater plants already failing to comply with Clean Water Act regulations.
-- More raw sewage spills that would contaminate the water supply and the ocean.
Regarding coral reefs, the EPA said the military underestimated the effect the aircraft carrier berth would have on a resource that currently provides essential habitats for fish and endangered sea turtles and that supports commercial and recreational fishing.
--------
On the Net:
EPA National Environmental Policy Act page for the Department of Defense: http://www.epa.gov/region09/nepa/dod.html

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails