Tuesday, November 24, 2009

H.R. 3940 - Education for Self-Government on Guam

A few weeks ago I posted this article on Congresswoman Bordallo's efforts to get some education for self-government funding for the people of Guam. I'm delighted to report that her efforts - with the support of virtually every Chamoru rights group on Guam - have paid off, in the form of H.R. 3940.

The bill evidently made its way out of the House Committee on Natural Resources by unanimous consent. According to Congresswoman Bordallo, "The full committee’s approval of H.R. 3940 signals that political status education for non-self-governing territories is a priority for the committee that has jurisdiction over the territories."

More information on H.R. 3940, including joint testimony in support of the legislations, can be found here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

So far as the Obama Administration is concerned, “Change” doesn’t apply to Okinawa.

Douglas Lummis (a political scientist living in Okinawa and the author of Radical Democracy) recently published this excellent article on the proposed military realignment in Okinawa and Guam. Many of us have been wondering - with an increasingly sinking feeling - what, if anything, Obama will do to 'change' what is to the Okinawans an untenable situation. It looks from Lummis' article like the answer is "not much."

Yes We Can (But We Won't): Obama, Hatoyama and Okinawa

Thursday, November 12, 2009

GHC Comes to Vancouver

I finally had the pleasure today of meeting Kimberlee Kihleng -- Executive Director of the Guam Humanities Council. We've actually been working together for over four years now, but since I haven't been back to Guam in all that time, Kimberlee finally came to Vancouver to see me. (Actually, she came here to see her sister, who runs the Vancouver Art Gallery. But she was nice enough to invite me out for tea.) :)

One of the things we discussed was bringing The Insular Empire to Guam for a premiere screening in the spring, as part of the GHC's NEH-funded civic engagement program around the impending military buildup. According to Kimberlee, "the purpose of the project is to allow Guam residents at the community level the opportunity to discuss the impending expansion and its implications in a meaningful, non-confrontational way through the use of "texts", i.e., poems, excerpts from short stories and essays, and film. With the project, we want to provide a space to encourage residents to talk with each other openly and reflectively about the buildup so they can be better informed and more civically engaged."

(Now of course, IMHO, giving the good folks of Guam a vote in Congress, or at least giving them some say in how, when, and if the buildup occurs, would be a better idea... but the NEH doesn't fund that sort of thing. So I guess you have to just take what you can get.)

The GHC is planning on screening The Insular Empire as a part of this project, and they are inviting me and some of the film's participants to Guam to speak with audiences there. I really am honored to be included in this project, and I can't wait to finally bring the film back to Guam!

Friday, November 6, 2009

US Base Feud Hits Nerve Ahead of Obama Visit

Check out this recent Reuters Article on the Okinawa-Guam base realignment.

For those of us interested in the US military buildup on Guam, it's interesting to see how the planned realignment affects larger geopolitical affairs. Come to think of it, Guam has been a lynchpin in large geopolitical affairs for centuries... and STILL it gets only the tiniest mention. (one word, actually, in the Reuters article). Of course the article doesn't say much about Okinawa, either...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New PBS Trailer

We've cut a spanky new trailer for PBS... check it out!

Bordallo Asks Congress to Fund Guam Self-Government Education

The Overseas Territories Review blog recently posted this article on a bill by Guam's non-voting US Congressional Delegate Madeleine Bordallo. The bill would "authorize the Secretary of the Interior to extend grants and other assistance to facilitate a political status public education program on Guam."

O-kay... sounds like a good idea (if a hundred years late)... but my first question is: why now? Ms. Bordallo has been in Congress for a long time, and Guam has needed an education for self-government program since, well, since 1898. Why is the good Congresswoman putting this on the table now?

Hope Cristobal (Sr.) has a possible explanation:

"This could be very likely part of the "unified Guam" campaign to keep the restless natives calmed before the military bases expansion begins in 2010..."

Aha. Bordallo has always been very pro-military. But still -- maybe this is a good thing? Guam could sure use a political education program. How much does one cost, anyway?

"I believe the Congresswoman is asking for an allotment of about $300,000, not much compared to what Guam spent for the Guam draft commonwealth act that was turned down by Congress Oct 1997."

Monday, November 2, 2009

PBS National Broadcast - At Last!

Some good news to report: last week, NETA agreed to pick up The Insular Empire for a national PBS feed. What this means is that sometime in January or (more likely) February, 2010, The Insular Empire will go out on NETA's satellite feed to most of the PBS stations in the American Public TV system.

However - and this is where you, dear reader, fit in - it's up to the individual stations whether or not they choose to grab the show and air it. So if we want this film to have a truly national broadcast, it's going to be up to us to make sure it happens - by letting our PBS stations know that we want to see The Insular Empire on Public TV. As soon as I have a feed date from NETA, I will be posting a letter here that you can print out and send directly to your PBS stations, telling them about the show and urging them to air it.

So stay tuned for more info to come...

Thanks, Si Yu'us maase, and Olomwaay for your continued support!