Tuesday, April 27, 2010

American Citizens Under Threat of Destruction

Idyllic Pacific island paradise sacrificed to the questionable needs of the U.S. Military is nothing new - ask the former residents of Bikini Atoll.

Department of Defense squandering tens of billions of dollars on a dubious project is also nothing new.

Even American citizens getting bulldozed by uncaring bureaucrats is, tragically, still not new.

But hitting all three in one giant boondoggle? Now that's a hat trick.

Koohan Paik in The Nation explains:

The centerpiece of the Guam Buildup is the transfer of about 8,600 marines from Okinawa. When you add their families and construction teams, including entire low-wage crews from the Philippines and Micronesia--there goes the "jobs bonanza" locals were promised--the expected influx will be 80,000 more people on Guam. The island, about half the size of Cape Cod, has a population of about 178,000. The people of Guam, whose largest ethnic group are Chamorro (37 percent of the population), followed by Filipino (25 percent) and then statesiders (10 percent), doubt their island has the carrying capacity to absorb a 50 percent population surge.

In November the Defense Department released a mandatory Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) assessing the buildup's effects. It elicited the most blistering responses ever to come from the Environmental Protection Agency, newly resuscitated after the Bush years. The EPA gave the DEIS its lowest possible ranking for proposing entirely ineffective mitigation actions. The agency further enumerated a litany of ecological catastrophes. Hundreds of acres of jungle and wetlands habitat will be covered with concrete and tract developments in order to house tens of thousands of newcomers. There will be massive raw-sewage spills and a shortage of drinking water. The Navy's plans include the destruction of seventy-one acres of an exquisitely healthy coral reef, home to at least 110 unique coral species, in order to build a berth for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which transports eighty-five fighter jets and 5,600 people.

Meanwhile, the Army wants to turn a pristine limestone forest that stretches from the hills to the sea--site of a prehistoric village that is listed with the National Registry of Historic Places--into a shooting range. In addition, it wants to build ammunition storage bunkers in wetlands areas. The Air Force hopes to build a missile defense shield, as well as hangars, airstrips and helicopter pads, turning Guam into the planet's premier parking lot for billion-dollar fighter jets, helicopters and drones.

The DEIS provided no adequate alternative actions to any of these problems. Nor did it mention that dredging the reef will dislodge radioactive sediment that accumulated during the 1960s and '70s when ships traveling from atomic test sites in the Marshall Islands came to Guam to be washed down at Apra Harbor.


Carmen Artero Kasperbauer, a Chamorro elder whose family's land is now part of an air base, told the military daily Stars and Stripes, "We hate being possessions to the federal government. That's why people are angry." But Kasperbauer, like most Chamorros, doesn't direct her anger at the troops. "I'm not talking about the uniformed military. We love the uniformed military. Our son...helped liberate the Kuwaitis. But he can't help liberate me."

Increasingly, Guam residents are discussing the urgency of political self-determination. "We're being moved back and forth across a chessboard by two countries: one that once occupied us [Japan] and one that currently does," pointed out university instructor Desiree Ventura, author of the popular blog The Drowning Mermaid. Clearly, the need for sovereignty is more dire than ever, exposing the real question at hand: is President Obama ready to release Guam's people from their colonized status?

Read the whole thing.

Then call or write your members of Congress and tell them to stop the destruction of Guam.

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