Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Guam's support of a Nobel Peace Prize for Trump isn’t about Trump

A Nobel Peace Prize for President Donald Trump? I can honestly see Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo making a tactical decision to sign a letter – along with six other Republican governors – to support a Nobel Prize for Trump for his efforts on North Korea.

For sure, Trump and the South Korean leadership has made progress. North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, seems interested in achieving something. But achieving what? There is a lot of uncertainty ahead.

When Guam was under missile threat from North Korea, Calvo took the opportunity to tell people about Guam. That was to Guam's plus. A lot of people have no real understanding about Guam and its relationship to the U.S. Calvo made effective use of the national stage.

But signing this letter seems to carry the rah-rah Trump campaign a little too far. Maybe signing the letter was calculated.

Guam is highly dependent on the federal government and you don't want to get on Trump's bad side, especially if you have zero political clout in Washington.

But backing Trump for a Nobel Peace Prize? Maybe Calvo genuinely believes Trump deserves it. But based on what, exactly? All we have is a tentative meeting ahead and a reduction in tensions that can easily dial up.

The real reason I suspect Calvo signed that letter is because the federal government has enormous control on Guam and the region.

Will Trump proceed with plans to turn beautiful Pagan Island into a military bombing range?

Will Trump bring the military build-up to Tinian?

Will Trump escalate Guam's military buildup and bring environmental ruin?

Does Trump even care about Guam? I suspect this is what worries Calvo.





Monday, May 21, 2018

Guam, ban the plastic bags!

Washington DC imposed a 5 cent fee on plastic bags in 2010. A few years later, a survey was taken to assess the impact. Source: District Dept. of the Environment















Guam should be credited for considering a ban on plastic bags. It doesn't need the blight.

In Washington DC they took a middle-of-the-road approach and imposed a 5 cent fee on the bags. The idea was to discourage their use. It seems to be working.

A lot of people can afford the 5 cent fee, but the fee was also coupled with awareness about the impact of the bags on the environment. It took effect in 2010, and since then surveys find that 80% of DC residents are using fewer bags. Environmentalists have reported a positive impact on the local rivers.

A ban is more extreme, but in Guam's case it's the best course. This is one of the most beautiful places in the world, but it's going to be stressed more than ever in the years ahead.

The military build-up will stress on all aspects of the island's environment. Banning the plastic bag is a way of fighting back and taking control. Hopefully the military exchanges will act in a similar manner, if they aren't doing so already.

People will complain, for sure, but they will adapt.

The Change.org petition makes a compelling case for action.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

PSA: March for our Lives


This is the most important thing to happen in some time. The students who are organizing this are truly the best we can be, and deserve tremendous credit. Congress has failed to deal with anything related to gun control. It couldn't even bring itself to ban bump stocks. Inaction translates to disregard for the lives of innocents.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

B-2 bombers on Guam and the real Duty to Warn


Business Insider recently published a story with an alarming headline: “US stealth bombers in Guam appear to be readying for a tactical nuclear strike on North Korea.”  Well, no.

The U.S. deployment of B-2 bombers to Guam signals nothing. The U.S. has deployed B-2 bombers to Guam for years. Andersen Air Force Base is only base in the Western Pacific capable of supporting large bombers, such as the B-52.

The Business Insider story doesn’t back up the flame-bait headline, because it can't. President Donald Trump’s strategy on North Korea is unclear. But if you want insights into what Trump might do please read “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.”

This book is a collection of essays by 27 psychiatrists and mental health experts. This community follows the Goldwater Rule, a professional guideline that prohibits mental health professionals from diagnosing a public official without examining the person. But with Trump, a counter-movement has emerged called “Duty to Warn.”

“Duty to Warn” argues that psychiatrists already have a responsibility to alert authorities if a patient informs them, for instance, of a plan to commit a violent act. The psychiatrist believe they have a similar duty about Trump because his behavior is putting the nation at risk. The authors president a formidable case against Trump as unstable. 

The consensus view on North Korea is any military action will be horrific and will risk nuclear confrontation.  What really scares is the possibility that Trump will goad North Korea’s leader into doing something reckless -- something that gives U.S. a thin reason to take military action. This administration may be hunting for justification. 

If not for North Korea, a leading area of concern might be China's island and military base building in the South China Sea. An excellent book on that risk is “Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap,” by Graham Allison.

Sending some B-2 bombers to Guam tells us nothing about Trump or the U.S. plan, if there is one. But the real danger here isn’t North Korea or China. It's our leadership and its very real potential for bad decision making. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

America's day begins on Guam, and so does the government shutdown

Photo: "Area Closed For Turf Restoration" by Patrick Thibodeau, 2017 

If you're reading this right now, it's Sunday, about 6 p.m. or 1800 hours Eastern. It's 9 a.m.  Monday, on Guam, the place where the government shutdown begins in earnest.

Guam has about 4,000 federal civilian workers, which makes up about 6.5% of Guam's roughly 64,000 civilian workforce.

Guam is known as the place where "America's day begins," because of its location in the Pacific. It's the first part of America to see the start of the new day.

But for our purposes, this is also the place where the federal government shutdown impact truly begins.

The government shutdown has been affecting jobs on Guam since the shutdown began Saturday, Eastern Time. But Monday is the day that the impact will be felt.

It's not fully clear what federal services will be impacted on Guam. The PNC has a rundown of what's known so far.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The one benefit of Trump's fire and fury

President's Trump's threat to deliver "fire and fury" to North Korea does have one benefit for Guam. Namely, people are learning a few things about the island.

Many of the news stories point out that, yes, Guam is a part of the United States, its people are U.S. citizens, and some even note that a high percentage of them have served in the military.

Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo is making the best of it.

Calvo was on the Tucker Carlson show on Fox. He voiced support for Trump's fire and fury comment, but also took this as an opportunity to point out that Guam is no different than Honolulu or the West Coast, according to a report in The Hill.

People in the states are largely uninformed about Guam. Many don't realize that it's part of the U.S., and few are aware of Guam's status as a territory.

Most do not know that Guam is a legacy of American colonization. Guam never had a choice in this decision to become part of the U.S.

America needs to know more about Guam. It's people can't vote for a president and it's representative in Congress is non-voting. The island -- because of its status -- fights to be heard in Washington.