Sunday, October 28, 2012

Not Screwing Around

I'm not sure if he's doing it as an American citizen or a member of Congress or both, but today Delegate Gregorio Camacho 'Kilili' Sablan called for the United States Justice Department to investigate federal crimes allegedly committed by the Fitial Administration.

Kilili and a growing number of American citizens are calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to "Demand Federal Action to Root Out Corruption in the NMI." From the petition:
As part of the American political family, the people of the Northern Marianas expect the full protection of federal law, specifically we expect the U.S. Department of Justice to take aggressive action against public corruption in our islands.

But we have been disappointed.

We do not understand how the U.S. Attorney can sit idly by, when day after day our news media report on the abuse of office by elected officials in the Northern Marianas:

· Police officials and higher-ups appear to have used their authority to obstruct justice, facilitating the escape of Attorney General Edward Buckingham to avoid charges of public corruption.

The U.S. Department of Interior Office of Inspector General found that Mr. Buckingham may have violated CNMI ethics laws in approving a contract for management of federal Recovery Act funds.

· The U.S. Office of Special Counsel found that Mr. Buckingham may have voilated the Hatch Act by using government time, personnel, and other resources for political purposes related to a federal election.

· A federal prisoner was released from prison without court order allegedly to meet with Governor Fitial for purposes of giving him a “massage.”

· Federally funded employees of the Northern Marianas government have lost their jobs or been threatened with reprisal for exercising their right to support candidates for public office on their own time and using their own resources.

· The terms of federal grants regarding staffing are ignored, further increasing the power of local government officials to create a climate of fear and tighten control over employees’ freedom of political expression.

Meanwhile, requests from the public and from elected officials in the Northern Marinas for action by the U.S. Department of Justice in our islands to date seem to fall on deaf ears. Perhaps, this is because the Northern Marianas still lacks its own U.S. Attorney, for whom law enforcement in our islands would be the priority, not an afterthought.

We, the undersigned, therefore, petition U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to take positive and public action to assure the U.S. citizens of the Northern Mariana Islands that federal law will be fully enforced in our islands. We demand that he use his authority to investigate thoroughly the all too apparent corruption in our local government and bring to justice those who abuse the public trust.
To quote the Vice President, this is a big fucking deal.  A member of Congress is calling on the Attorney General to investigate a sitting American governor.  This does not happen very often.

Calling this an election year stunt trivializes the situation.  Kilili is expected to wipe the floor with his Republican challenger and does not need to burn the political capital in order to win reelection.

Waiting for Hurricane Sandy

NOAA has the most up-to-date information when typhoons hit Saipan.  The newspapers only publish every 24 hours on weekdays and if the storm comes over the weekend, you're screwed.

Life in the mainland is completely different.  Every news outlet from TV, radio, and Internet have morphed into Your Storm Center For the Latest News.

It looks like there is a good chance work will get canceled tomorrow.  I had better go get more beer, I just hope there is some left.  As of yesterday, every can of tuna, soup, vegetables, and bottle of water had been sold in all of Northern Virginia.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Little Pink Riding Hood

Last weekend Edz and I went hiking on Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park.  Photos are posted to Facebook.

Yes We Can Again

Last week Edz and I went to an Obama rally in Fairfax.  We heard the first utterance of Romnesia, which I'll savor for years if Romney wins.  I posted photos on Facebook, including closeups of the President.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Republican Corruption in the Islands

During the two years he was secretary of Commerce, Michael Ada managed the commonwealth's grants and projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. But last August, he told Gov. Benigno Fitial (R) that he intended to leave government, kick-starting discussions that led to the two developing a private contract for Ada's not-yet-formed company to manage the ARRA projects of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).

Five days after Ada resigned as Commerce secretary, the government awarded the contract to his new company, Integrated Professional Services. Ada and his business partner did not obtain a business license until the next day; the day after that, the new company received a $78,418 check.

"Ada used information not generally available to the public for his own economic benefit. Only Fitial and Ada knew of the possibility of privatizing CNMI ARRA management until after they agreed to the framework of the deal," according to the report. "The ARRA management contract was never advertised, and the public did not know of the privatization of ARRA management until after IPS was awarded the contract."

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Thanks, Sir Richard

Sir Richard Branson and the Ocean Elders want your thoughts on the top 10 countries protecting and destroying the ocean.  I know my readers are dying to hear my opinion (both of you).  Palau will probably get the top spot, with the rest getting mixed reviews.  And I've got some thoughts on the flip side, but probably shouldn't post them on the Internet.

My favorite part of his blog? He posts a Pew Environment Group video about the Micronesia Regional Shark Sanctuary! I was in Saipan last June for a public showing of the whole movie Sanctuary: Last Stand for Sharks at American Memorial Park.  Thanks, Sir Richard!

Share for Manta Ray Protections

Brazil, Ecuador, and Colombia have put forth a proposal to list manta rays at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.  If successful, governments will have to manage the trade of these charismatic animals.  Want to show your support?  Post this photo to Facebook and Twitter.  You can Pin it, too.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Lib, Namu, Jabwot, and Ailinglaplap

I was in Pohnpei two weeks ago attending the WCPFC TCC (Google it if you really want to know).  I took the Micronesia Island Hopper home and on the leg between Kwajalein and Majuro noticed some islands out the starboard window.  These are four islands that I am pretty sure I will never visit; and they are probably islands you will never visit, either.  I took some photos out the window and I think they are worthy of sharing.

I saw the first island while we were flying into Kwajalein and then again when we were taking off.  Lib is less than 1 square kilometer in size and has a population of about 100.

Closer to Majuro I saw two atolls out the window.  Four of the 54 islets of Namu atoll are inhabited.  800 residents lived there in 1998.

Jabot and Ailinglaplap
Then as the sun was setting, we flew past an atoll and an island.  Jabot is the small rocky island in the foreground and Ailinglaplap is behind it.  While only about 100 people live on Jabot, Ailinglaplap is home to 2000 residents.

And for now, that is all I know about these islands.  They are dots seen from an airplane window.  Maybe one day I will visit, but I doubt it.