Sunday, April 08, 2007

Thank you, can I have another?

Dengre just published another verbal spanking of the CNMI...well, not the whole CNMI, mostly just Froilan (a Democrat) and Ben (a Covenant Republican) and their disgraced buddies Tom and Jack (everyone's favorite Republican felons).

I have to admit that I find a lot of Dengre's statements outlandish at first. For example, I took issue with his claim that the CNMI is a center for gun smuggling. I called shenanigans.

Many types of firearms are illegal here, so I assumed it would be difficult to get the guns here, making gun smuggling difficult, if not impossible. Then he sent me a link that discussed gun smuggling in the CNMI:
"In addition, he [Lt. Gov. Villagomez] said the CNMI government has worked with federal agencies in numerous investigations and criminal prosecutions dealing with matters such as alien smuggling, international firearms trafficking, and human trafficking."
Damn it!

Say what you want to say about what Dengre has to say, but he's pretty thorough. For example, he found a 2002 Security Report released by the US Attorney for Guam that names the Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino as a potential "international center for money laundering":
"Unfettered access into the C.N.M.I and the presence of an unregulated international gambling casino on Tinian, allow for the perfect venue to launder illegal funds, regardless of their source. This situation is further compounded by the lack of any civil or criminal revenue enforcement by the territorial government or sufficient Federal assets to continually scrutinize banking and money handling businesses. (snip)

The P.R.C. has built and currently operates a 600-room hotel and international gambling resort on the island of Tinian in the C.N.M.I. This facility has been in operation for approximately three years. Federal officials indicate that it has-never enjoyed more than a 20 percent occupancy rate and is believed to be a "marker" for mainland China with involvements in international money laundering operations."
I'm sorry, you just don't find stuff like that in your daily newspaper (although we should). It takes some research. A lot of research.

Although I can't be sure of all the things that go on in the CNMI Halls of Power, I wouldn't be surprised if most of Dengre's accusations turn out to be true. He paints with a donkey-tailed brush, but if you can stomach the accusatory tone of his writing, you might start to see that, holy shit, this guy knows what he's talking about.

For the most part...

I see two major problems with Dengre's diaries. First, he lacks local knowledge and, second, he relies on the online versions of the Saipan Tribune and the Marianas Variety for local news.

He quotes both papers as if they were the New York Times. That's not a good idea.

Dengre, do you know that frequent letter to the editor writer, Holani Smith, does not exist? And do you know which local reporters are notorious for getting most of their facts totally screwed up? Of course not. You don't live here.

Also, there are things that go on here that don't get reported in the newspapers. The example that comes to mind is what most locals (Chamorros and Carolinians) think really caused the recent tragedy at Forbidden Island. Stuff like that will never make it's way into print.

Still, I admire what you do. Many people are afraid to speak up about some of the injustices that go on here. This is, after all, an island where saying the wrong thing to the wrong person can get your extended family members fired.

...and thanks for taking the time to write about some of the good things going on in the CNMI.


Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

Dengre, kind of like Michael Moore, sometimes employs the inflammatory tactics the Republicans have used for years. I can understand that because you can't bring a knife to a gunpoint, which the Democrats have done for years. The forced prostitution thing is exaggerated. There is prostitution here, like everywhere, but I don't think these people have a gun to their head or anything to do it. They do it out of economic desperation as you see in the Philippines, China, etc. I don't think the leadership is ambitious enough to be as evil as they are painted by Dengre. Easily manipulated, corrupt, yes, but I seriously doubt they have the foresight to unhatch and keep secret all these nefarious plans.

I also think Dengre gets an amazing degree right for someone who hasn't been here.

The Saipan Blogger said...

I think one of the lessons we can gleam from Dengre, his Diary, and other diaries and blogs like it, is that this "federal takeover" isn't necessarily coming from the "liberal democratic congress." True, George Miller receives 2/3 of his PAC money from Labor Unions, but there is a ground swell of mainland grassroots support to push through reforms in the CNMI.

This isn't about pay back for some personal problem Miller has with the CNMI. This is about correcting what thousands of people in the mainland perceive as an injustice.

After all:

The arc of the universe bends slowly, but it bends towards justice.

Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

Given also the enormous influence of corporations, and the growing gap between rich and poor, a little research on that one is mind blowing, who cares if he receives 2/3 of his money from labor. George Miller is a popgun versus the fight the middle class is up against. If the hard right looked at Saipan, and looked at the total cultural acceptance and exploitation of welfare, it would hardly be called the "petri dish of capitalism" as Tom DeLay said.

Rox said...

Hey Angelo, Im interested to know what the "real" reason behind the drownings is thought to be. Please e-mail me! By the way great blog I read it daily at work!

SPN Lifer said...

Several more instances where, at first blush, Mr. Dengre appears to "get it right" are actually examples of the perceptual mistakes that can creep into mainland public opinion when viewed through press coverage of the CNMI wholly dominated by outsiders, whether by "parachute journalists" or local "non-resident" reporters.

For instance, the "international firearms trafficking" did not occur in the CNMI and is nothing to be ashamed of. It is one of many examples (another noteworthy one being the Tinian boat people camp in 1999) of CNMI local immigration control being used as a buffer zone or form of "defense in depth" to strengthen federal immigration. In that case, the bad guys were unaware that the CNMI was under federal law enforcement jurisdiction, and undercover agents were able to persuade the bad guys to come here to consummate a "deal."

Likewise, the alarmist U.S. Attorney’s report referring to "potential" threats of various sorts was written by a PHYSICAL security specialist from the Eastern District of Virginia shortly after 9/11, at the direction of U.S. Attorney Fred Black who held the view that the CNMI was incapable of running its own immigration. The events of the past five years have demonstrated that the CNMI is at least as capable as the federal government of running an effective border control system.

Process Observer said...

I'm wondering if the CNMI Halls of Power are similar to the Hall of Justice, and who are it's Wonder Twins? "Shape of... a bottomless slot machine, form of... no free drinks!"

dengre said...

Thanks for the critique.

I wouldn't say I view the Saipan Tribune as the NYT. I tend to think of it more like reading the Soviet era Pravda. A party newspaper always contains hidden information.

The MV is a long time local paper. It is small and it suffers all the pluses and minuses of the form. Similar papers are everywhere.

These are some sources I use. Lately I have been able to augment them by reading the CNMI blogs. Great stuff is being done and I've changed my mind more than a few times because of them.

Cheers and please keep the critique coming...

The Saipan Blogger said...

No problem.

We actually spent a good deal of time discussing you in our blogger meetup today. You came up several times.

Some of us agreed that your recent post about the worker who set himself on fire was excellent.

We also talked about you in terms of what we are trying to do with the We Love Saipan Network. We were being interviewed by a writer about the phenom of the "saipan bloggers" and we basically said that we're not trying to paint a rosy picture of Saipan.

We're trying to paint an honest picture of Saipan. That's why many of us bloggers link to you and discuss you.

Keep doin what your doin and we'll keep doin what we're doin.