Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, September 25th

Dental Hygiene and Fish
I read Tony Pellegrino’s column today about casinos that pay out in candy and couldn’t help but wonder if the idea was not suggested by local island dentists. I can see them being major sponsors in any such endeavor. All kidding aside, there are some commonly misunderstood details about the Casino gaming initiative coming up for a vote soon. Lets take a look at some common casino misconceptions:

Only one casino will be allowed: Not so, there can be several. All will be located inside of 200 room or larger hotels and resorts that are approved and granted rights to operate a regulated gaming operation. Only only one license will be allowed. That licensee will approve operating and development agreements with several approved casino owners and operators.

Non NMDs cannot participate in the investment or in the profits of casino gaming: Non NMDs can do so and will have many opportunities to invest if they wish to do so. Any residents or even non residents will have the chance to invest. Investment opportunities will abound. Many new casino operators will seek direct investors or offer tradable stocks in their companies. The single license and NMD only granting company is an organizational arrangement allowing the prime contractor (licensee) to be locally owned meaning much of the money will stay here for a change. Unlike foreign owned corporations and banks, which send all our money off island as soon as it is made.

The Casino Act is discriminatory or unconstitutional: Although untested in our CNMI courts, it has been tested on several occasions in US courts regarding very similar cases with Native American (Indian) solely owned casinos all across the United States. It has always been upheld as constitutional there. Why would it be discriminatory only here and not there?

Casinos on Saipan will harm Tinians chances to see their own fortunes bloom: Not so on three counts. First, like car lots and fast food restaurants that are placed in near proximity to each other, multiple casinos will draw in customers and feed off the tourist customers of each other. Second, Tinian already has several projects in the offing, two already have broken ground, and there is nothing to suggest that those projects will die. Thirdly, the considerable monies earned by taxing Saipan based casinos will be spread all around the CNMI and Tinianites will have access to those funds like all the rest of us CNMI residents. As a result, Tinians tourist traffic should go up, not down and their income from their own casinos, and indirectly from those on Saipan, will go up too.

Land will be ‘given’ to the IEI: Land, if used at all will only be loaned. Should IEI ever cease to exist, any and all lands would be returned to DLA. IEI may not need any land at all. The prime casino locations will be on larger hotel properties so IEI may not run one itself any time soon and may not need public land to do so at all.

Casino gaming sounds okay but I don’t like this particular way of doing it: This may not the best of all possible worlds but what is? Should we wait another 2 years until all the water has run out of the tub before we do something to start putting the water, and the much needed money, back in? This initiative enables us to start right away to try and heal our ailing economy with a fresh infusion of cash brought in by tourists and dedicated gamers. Many other businesses and private individuals will gain from this as the activity spills over into increased tourist arrivals and many more dollars are cycling through our economic system.
* * * *
Speaking of Tony Pellegrino and of dentists, we should thank him for investing in the technology to bring fluoridated water to us, and especially to our children here on Saipan. Tony seems to be willing to take chances and try new ventures where others fear to tread. Like an athlete that keeps on trying harder all the time, Mr. Pelligrino learns from his infrequent failures and is willing to test the boundaries of what is possible. I admire your spunk, Tony. While it may cut into the cavity drilling business of local dentists I thank you for providing my child and all the children here with fluoridated water. I bet the dentists do too.
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Fishing for compliments
Speaking of finding complimentary industries to enhance and diversify our economy here, there is one that is on the way. Fishing for bucks will be coming to the CNMI soon. Both major commercial fishing styles, long liners and purse seiners want to come into the waters surrounding the Marianas and harvest fish in great numbers.

Will the CNMI benefit from this monetary bounty or we only be stuck with the negative side of depleted fish stocks and diminishing hopes?

Thanks to rapacious greed, our friends in the US allow the CNMI to have rights to zero, nada, nothing that comes from the waters off our own shores. Some countries and territories claim 200 mile exclusion zones inside of which payment is received and jobs or fish processing concessions are received from commercial fishing or mining/harvesting activities conducted inside their waters. Other territories have 50 mile, 12 mile, 9 mile or 3 mile limits. We here in the CNMI have zero. That’s right, if commercial fishing is opened up foreign countries get the fish and the jobs and the money. The US gets a share and we get squat. Our fish supplies dwindle and we get ….nothing.

Reportedly there are at least 5 companies that want to take our fish stocks and will have no obligation to pay us anything at all for it.

Likewise if mineral deposits or other valuable items are found off our shores we currently have no rights to them or to any income derived from them.

It is imperative that the CNMI have access to income sources from it’s surrounding waters. As an Island Nation/Territory we have little land and if we have nothing from the waters surrounding us it means our future prosperity is very much restricted by US Federal whim. We should continue to lobby diligently to gain a 200 mile exclusion zone and access to all monetary gains derived from it.

On Sept 22nd. (last Saturday) a birthday passed without much fanfare: Joan Jett turned 47. She loves rock and roll. She was black hearted. 47 sounds old when you are 17..hell, 25 sounds old when you are 17. 26 years ago when she was 21 (which doesn’t sound too bad to 17 year olds cause they will be able to drink then) she ground out an anathematic hit that still reverberates the soul of rock and roll today. Guitar wailing like a lawn mower for short bursts at the end of phrases, a slow driving beat, suggestive (for then) lyrics and a gravely alto delivery made this song and that singer a classic. Happy birthday Joan Jett. Thanks Joan Jett and the Blackhearts for I Love Rock and Roll. By the way I’ve got shoes older than a 17 year old, perhaps older than a 26 year old…but none, thank goodness, that were dancing in 1960.
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Rejoice, it’s only 252 days until school is out! (more or less)
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Quote of the week:
Remember, a dead fish can float downstream, but it takes a live one to swim upstream. W.C.Fields (1880-1946)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

On the way to the Iowa Caucus

On a thread over on Jeff's blog, Angelo comments that the mention of Cuban cigars still makes him think of Monica Lewinski. His comment made me remember the above piece of lighthearted memorabilia from that bygone era.

I'm sure as US presidential election time nears, references to that old news will go hand in hand with news of Giuliani's divorces and other trivia designed to draw attention away from more meaty (sorry, couldn't resist it) issues. This and other period pieces will probably be resurrected to do duty again with the candidate roles reversed.

Issue driven or not (and they’re not), election’s here are a cakewalk in comparison to their mainland counterparts when negative campaigning is considered.

Public Awareness

ACT is sponsoring debates, or at least informal dialog gatherings in the various precincts so that voters are better informed as to a candidates stance on issues, moral character, hairstyle and whatever else causes a person to give the political nod to another person. Lets face it, the person chosen will have a fair degree of control and influence over our lives for the next couple of years so lets learn as much as we can about them. Good on ya ACT.

Too bad there is not some way to get all candidates for any given office to face the voting public simultaneously and with enough time available to go over issues and really get into detail. Maybe it should be built into the candidate requirements....get so many signatures on a petition, fill in such and such a form, get appropriate rubber stamps, pay dadada fees, appear at 2 or more scheduled debates/public feedback meetings, pat babies, kiss dogs...all mandatory.

Why not a requirement to publicly state and defend ones various positions in prescheduled public meetings?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Go see this one

The Arts Council Gallery on Capitol Hill (next to the Post Office) has some interesting items on display that are worth a side trip when you have the time.

Hour of operation are 10Am to 7PM Monday - Friday plus 9AM to noon on Saturdays.

Even though the total number of artists is down from last year, there are still interesting things to see like a variety of woven fish traps and some odd and unusual craft items.

Check it out and enjoy. By the way, most of the items are for sale so it makes for an interesting shopping venue too.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Interesting event tomorrow evening Wed., Sept. 19th

Marianas Dive & DFW Present
On Wednesday September 19th at 7PM enforcement officers from the Division of Fish & Wildlife will give a power point presentation on the rules and regulations governing our CNMI waters. This will be in conjunction with the Marianas Dive meeting beginning at 6:30 PM at Porky's beach bar behind the McDonald's on beach road. Everyone is welcome to attend this very important meeting intended to help DFW disseminate accurate and up-to-date information to everyone with a vested interest in our waters. Since we live on an island that relies on the sea for survival in so many ways this really could apply to everyone!Porky's owner Bruce Bateman has indicated all Marianas Dive members will enjoy drink specials and perhaps even get front row seats! If you've never been to Porky's it's a very comfortable and spacious bar with access to an outside seating area that over looks the lagoon. Not a bad place to spend an evening!Basic Marianas Dive membership cost only $20 annually so just the specials at Porky's is worth the fee.Just to be clear the presentation is open to everyone and does not cost a dime!Hope to see you all there!

The above was plagerized verbatim from Mike Tripps blogsite. Please send all copyright attorneys directly to Mr. S. Blogger.

Everyone welcome! Even if you are not a member the presentation should be interesting, the company stimulating and the host, well humble and brilliant.

Wednesdays are smokeless at PORKY'S so bring your smokes, but please puff on 'em outside at the Gazebo Bar or the Beach Patio.

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, September 18th

Keep Trying
It’s up to us
An historic event approaches that could change the course of the CNMI in just one day. We have a chance to stop the ten year downward spiral of our economy by our own actions. We are not at the mercy of outside events this time. This time we are in control and can help ourselves to the bounty that a booming economy brings.

The event? Our mid term elections on Tuesday, November 6th. The opportunity? Our right to vote Yes on the public initiative to use gaming, casino gaming, as our road to prosperity here on Saipan Island. By doing so we will benefit the economy of the whole CNMI. By doing so we will once again take control of our own destiny and once again march toward a bright and prosperous future.

Why Saipan? Because Saipan is where the infrastructure already exists, where the majority of tourists already come to vacation and enjoy themselves, where all our international guests already arrive at a functioning, secure airport. Where resort hotels, golf courses, restaurants, shopping and other entertainments are already in place.

Jobs can be created, hundreds certainly, and with determination, thousands perhaps. Most all of these jobs can be earmarked for our own local residents. Opportunities will abound for all residents to enjoy and take part in. The casinos that will be housed in 200 room or bigger resort hotels will need investors and our island residents whether indigenous, mainland or foreign nationals can participate fully and openly in these investment opportunities.

As written, the new gaming opportunity is patterned after the widely successful mainland US Indian (Native American) gaming systems. In this system only one license is granted and that licensee can, with strict controls in place, authorize companies to build, operate or even renovate existing hotels to house professional and well regulated casino gaming. It has one very large advantage over a multi license arrangement: for a change, much of the money will stay here in the CNMI. Significant portions of the proceeds will go into our local government coffers to benefit all islands of the Marianas and even larger shares will go into the pockets of our CNMI residents and into pre approved community programs.

Gaming generates large sums of money and does so in a relatively short period of time. We don’t have to wait for years to build new factories or wait to find new business ideas. We don’t have to wait until we can attract a clientele. The buildings, the people and the tourist customers are already here and will grow ever larger as the word gets out that Casino gaming has been added to the attractions tourists can enjoy here.

This opportunity has another advantage that bears mentioning. The poker parlors now scattered throughout our roads and villages can all be moved into the few, licensed, regulated casinos and the users targeted for casino play can be tourists and well heeled residents instead of making access easy for village residents.

A lot of money can come into our government and local business coffers quickly and a lot will be found in the pockets of our citizens from jobs and investment gains when we vote to jump start the gaming industry here in the CNMI. I urge you to vote Yes on this important initiative. Let’s use this opportunity to take control of our own economic destiny again.
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My Lai ?
Coconut wireless rumor has it that the Park Department Rangers over at American Memorial Park have the solution to the ownerless boonie dog problem. After baiting them with tasty food it is said, they round ‘em up and shoot ‘em. Yep, real guns. Clean up is something of a problem as some of the wounded got away and weren’t disposed of with the rest of the bodies.

I print this without the least bit of corroborating evidence except for ‘I heard it from someone who heard it from someone.’ So you can, and should, take it with a grain of salt. If true, maybe the mayor’s new program of building a big expensive shelter can be dispensed with and all the strays taken over to AMP for disposal and a bit of target practice. PAWs members are sure to be excited about this turn of events. If not true, I apologize in advance. (I think it’s called CYA). Sometimes rumors have a basis in fact.
* * * *
Yin and Yang
The local staff of the US Interior Department recently made a trip to Japan to hold meetings designed to increase air traffic to Saipan by helping new airlines gain approval to fly here.

Many here at MVA and elsewhere have called for increased airline seats as one key ingredient needed to improve our ailing tourism industry. This move by DOI is a little heralded but much appreciated activity and shows us the kind of positive work Interior does to enhance business and the economy here. Thanks.

I have already noted frequently that the usual business of Cohen is not so business or citizen friendly since the Democrat Party got control of the US House. He has been turned to The Dark Side and spends his time redrafting the Senate Immigration Takeover Bill at the bidding of Darth Allen Stayman. Even if he doesn’t anymore, at least his staff has our best interests at heart.
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Quote of the week:
Success seems to be connected with action. Successful men keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit. Conrad Hilton (1887-1979)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Another in the Transportation Series

Yes, here is CHC's newest, state of the art piece of replacement equipment, recently purchased from the remaining funds, after a few minor expenses, supplied as a grant from the Nigerian Department of Banking and Cultural exchange.

You will note the new dialysis machine in the background, peeking out from behind the decompression chamber and the MRO scanner. All are portable units which can be 'hitched up' at a moments notice.

A doctor is expected to be on island soon who will be able to operate this piece of high tech, life saving ambulance equipment. If some additional budget money for CHC operations does not appear pretty soon, he may be very lonely.

Friday, September 14, 2007

FITC produces a new play

Fabulous Invalid Theatre Co. Announces New Production The Fabulous Invalid Theatre Company will present a one night showing of 110 Flights, written by Nahal Navidar. 110 Flights is a two person play toiling back and forth between two drastically different perspectives after September 11th. To call it a play about 9/11 would be inaccurate. It's more so a play about a very tender human relationship tarnished by the tragedies of 9/11. Shahla (an Iranian-American psychology graduate student) is married to Patrick (an Irish-American NYC cop). The play opens as Patrick and Shahla are planning for a very happy future: having babies, planning new careers and so on. When Patrick's best friend Evan dies in the attacks on 9/11 however, their world is turned upside down. Shahla has experienced grief on this level before having grown up in the Iran Iraq war. Patrick, however, has never experienced this kind of loss and doesn't know how to deal with his pain. He begins to despise middle eastern people and place all blame for his grief on them. As the play unfolds, Patrick falls deeper and deeper into his solace leaving Shahla without any idea of how to help him. Cast:Shahla-Nahal NavidarPatrick-Brad Ruszala Show info:Saturday September 29 2007 @ 7PM American Memorial Park AuditoriumTickets $5Email

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ramblin' Man

I think Mr. Bradinthesand is far too busy with other, more important pursuits, to have time to post to his blog site. Given the same choice,,,,,I wouldn’t be typing right now. How about you?

Likewise I'm afraid Deece will never get around to giving us our WWII fix, so badly needed to keep our psychological equilibrium.

The Porky's TT (Taya Talent) ten plus one soccer team met with ignominious defeat during it's last game a couple of weeks ago. This did not stop a good deal of rampant celebration. The after game party at Porky's was, sadly, not memorialized in photographs.

Next year will be better as the playing field will be leveled talent wise by having a player draft or better yet, pick Captains then have a random lottery determine team rosters.

And speaking of parties, the Marianas Dive scuba diving promotional and just plain fun organization held a fund raiser/party/relaxation event last weekend. A good time was had by all.

A new band called FIRE SHOT played their public debut to resounding applause at Porky's during the party. They will be playing happy hours on Wednesdays Fridays and Saturdays and other random days during the week. They are good!

Welcome Brad and Jeong-ah, scuba divers from Korea, now living on Saipan! Sorry about the fuzzy photo, I may have had one extra Mojito during the photography session.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Chicken Bus

The other day my son, Alexander and I boarded the Chicken Bus for some travel down beach road and a bit of sight seeing.

Alex, just turned three, while happy to gambol about the tram while stopped is not entirely sure about spending his morning riding around on it on it. "Are you sure this thing is safe, Dad?" "Just where are the seat belts?"

We cruised down Beach road and for a change, Dad had a chance to take in the scenery instead of focusing on driving and what passes for traffic on Saipan. Meanwhile strains of a lilting Mideastern Jazz Fusion tune wafts from the overhead speakers as we watch the lagoon drift by adazzle in the morning sun.

At the end of the line we explore the Saipan Grand Hotel, noting that it is receiving a face lift since the new owners have taken over. Alexander spends his time harassing innocent aquarium fish while we wait for a short but powerful morning rain storm to pass. "Why is the water on the inside of the boat, Dad?" Dad begins by explaining the physical dynamic and subsequent advantages of keeping the water on the outside of the boat under normal circumstances and is about to launch into a description of aquaria science when it becomes apparent he would rather splash the water and work on his pescatorial herding technique.

"Don't bother me, Dad, don't you see that good looking Japanese tourist girl waving at me?"

The trip back to Garapan is relaxing and the clean rain smell and refreshing cool breeze make it a pleasure not to have windows or doors or an A/C vent blowing on us. Life is good on Saipan.

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, September 11th

I See The Light
Cultural differences
I was biking and stopped by Tanapag Beach over the weekend and saw a group of swimmers out for some exercise as a group. Twenty or so were swimming and about 10 were cheering them on and acting as moral support from the sidelines back at the beach hut. I sat and chatted with them while my son frolicked with some of their kids in the shallow waters normally utilized by my friends and neighbors from the beautiful village of Tanapag.

The conversation came around to trash on the beach when my son found an old flashlight battery on the sand. The beachside rooters were quick to condemn the tossing of broken glass and these batteries out on the beach and in the water and indicated their disgust at such behavior. Some noted that it seemed to be a lost cause trying to instill a sense of value in the cleanliness of ‘those people’s own and only resource’.

As we spoke, I couldn’t help noticing that the group of swimmers, mostly mainlanders, but a somewhat mixed group including only one or two local folks blithely swam up to the living reef just off the beach. Instead of swimming around it they climbed up and all twenty of them walked across the reef stomping the corals and smashing the delicate sea life as they went. Unbeknownst to them they were also taking a pretty big risk as there are many stone fish that dwell on that reef and to step on one brings unbelievable pain and suffering to an adult and possibly even death to a child. They were lucky. None stepped on a poisonous fish, none were cut seriously by the corals on the swim out or on their way back where their entire group once again trudged right across the reef. The sea life was probably not quite so lucky.

I learned some lessons from this. I think each of us living here can learn from others living here that have different cultural backgrounds.

I am not endorsing litter as a way to improve our ocean resources. I am not implying that swimming for your health is bad. I’m not trying to say that the ‘rooters’ mentioned above are racial bigots. I am not trying to say that the swimmers went out there with the intent to destroy part of that living coral reef. They are good folks just out for fun and some good exercise.

What I am trying to point out is that there are cultural differences among the good folks living here on Saipan and we can benefit from them. We can learn from each other and we can continue to coexist in peaceful harmony with respect for the land and the water and the cultures of the people who have lived here for hundreds, even thousands of years.

I have lived in Tanapag for several years and don’t think I have ever seen any of my Carolinian or Chamorro friends and neighbors walk on that reef. Come to think of it I have never seen any of them throw their trash on the beach either, but there is sure some litter there from time to time so someone is tossing it. Whoever you are, please stop. (I’m betting they are not Tanapaguvians).

The local Carolinian fishermen see the lagoon as a resource. A place to find food to eat and a place to bring their family to recreate and to renew their kindred spirit with the sea and the land. Haoles tend to see the lagoon as a resource for personal recreation and by extension as a tourist industry draw, or as an ecological resource. Both views can be correct, but only so long as we all protect the resource and use it wisely.

I’m headed for the beach!
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The Light House

Last week it was suggested that a casino could be opened and its profits used to provide funds for electric power and water production throughout the CNMI. If the ‘Casinos on Saipan’ election initiative is passed by the voters this coming November, one of the casinos granted permission to operate under the new licensing program could have it’s proceeds go mainly to that dedicated program.

As I understand it the one and only license will be granted to a locally owned corporation such as occurs in most Native American gaming venues Stateside. The licensee then grants permission to various groups to operate, build and/or develop multiple casinos in new or existing 200 plus room hotels.

Just think if one of those casinos granted permission to operate was owned by the companies and families who use electric power and water. It could be operated by a management company hired for that purpose and staffed by those same local power users. The result could be free power and water for all the residents and businesses of the CNMI. Jobs would be generated, pride reinstilled in our infrastructure and a cutting edge precedent set for smaller communities around the world to take matters into their own hands and let others pay for their utilities and have a good time while doing so.

It could be called the Light House Hotel and Casino. It could become a shining beacon (did he really say that?) for responsible energy use and conservation practices. A modest convention center could be built to attract groups from like minded communities to come and see our way of using the gaming business to power our homes and offices, our industry and government buildings, and our small businesses.

This could work.
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Speaking of lighthouses
Angelo Villagomez, spurred on by an envelope full of small change donated by some school children, spearheaded a crew of 50 or so multicultural volunteers to paint the Japanese era lighthouse on Navy Hill over the weekend. Thanks!

I visit there from time to time for the view and the sense of history and am always bummed out by the ever increasing layer of graffiti on the walls. These people have started the process to correct that and make it look nice again. The brigade of volunteers used paint supplied by a donation to Beautify CNMI by the Marianas Visitors Authority. Thanks to both of those groups too! The job is about half done. Please join the volunteers who will finish the job a couple of weeks from now.
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More next week about the Casino Initiative and how it might affect us if it passes.

Quote of the week: To see ourselves as others see us is a most salutary gift. Hardly less
important is the capacity to see others as they see themselves. –Aldous Huxley, novelist (1894-1963)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, September 4th

Crash in the Dark
The hole Ti bang
I attended the Amelia Earhart lecture at AMP the other evening and came away with the impression that these folks are milking a ghost cow.

While Thomas King, an archeologist of some standing was well prepared and presented his material well, there was just not much real material to present. The data was nebulous and fuzzy at best and a real stretch much of the time.

The TIGHAR group, a lost aircraft hunting society, now theorizes that Nicumaroro island in Kiribati is the lost landing place of Ms Earhart back in 1937. The problem is they have no substantial evidence to prove it. Even calling the evidence presented ‘circumstantial’ is a stretch. It consists mostly of might be’s, could have’s and didn’t finds.

I wouldn’t run out and volunteer to help fund their next $600,000 per trip venture to the tiny atoll if I were you. On the other hand I did learn something valuable from the lecture: Kiribati is not Keer-uh-bot-ee but Ker-ee-ba-she. Ti is pronounced she.

Okay, Dr. King so where is ti really?

PS: It has just been brought to my attention by an anomymouti source that the Ti in Gilbertese is actually pronounced S, just S, not SH or SHE. So the true pronunciation should be Keer-ee-bas or Kee-ree-bas. Meaning the above, already seedy (tieedy?) puns will have to be reseeded, or better yet, thrown out. Looks like its back to the Pun Mines for me. My take on the lecture, however, remains the same no matter how you say it.

Here is a link to someone with a different idea: . There may be scores of other hypotheses too, but so far, no Amelia.
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Blackjack vs Blackout

In a discussion with a candidate for public office recently, an amazing fact was revealed to me. The candidate has been canvassing door-to-door for some time and has entered and talked with more than 500 households representing more than 3000 CNMI residents. What he has found is astounding. He estimates that on average, one household in three in his election district is without electric power and by default, also without water because they cannot afford to pay. He said in some poorer neighborhoods the number is much higher, up to 90 percent without utilities.

Please bear in mind this is not a controlled, scientific survey, but a dedicated house by house straw poll. Even though we can’t deduce from these findings that all of Saipan or all of the CNMI is in such dire straights, we can and should be aghast that such deprivation exists anywhere in our Commonwealth.

Think about it for a moment. While it might be fun to go camping on Managaha over he weekend and ‘rough it’ without power and water, think how unpleasant and how unhealthful it would be to live that way all the time. Unsanitary conditions must prevail where no fresh water is available. Kids must have a difficult time doing homework in a house that goes dark when the sun goes down. Moms with newborns must have a difficult time keeping conditions sanitary. The list of negatives range from the merely inconvenient and uncomfortable to the dangerous and even epidemic producing. Disease, including the dreaded Cholera, follows those with no access to treated water sources. We all have to have water to live, so when the public utility cuts off a household’s power and water those families have to obtain drinking, cooking and cleaning water somewhere. Those untreated sources can and probably someday will, cause serious and even devastating health consequences for large portions of the population.

There are endless discussions about alternative energy and eco friendly methods of producing power. For the future those methods are something to shoot for, but right now, today, this afternoon, we had better figure out something to remedy the problem staring us in the face. It’s easy to discuss alternative energy from the viewpoint of an air conditioned meeting room filled with folks who arrived, well showered from a comfortable, sanitary house after a drive in an air conditioned car. It is pretty tough to buy a windmill generator, however, when you can’t afford to pay the $200 power bill or the $300 reconnection fee.

I don’t know about you but I think something needs to be done pretty quickly. Hopefully a dialog will begin and other possible solutions will come from responsible citizens and leadership. I don’t claim to know the only answer to this large and growing problem, but here is one possible cure:

What if a full blown casino was started, the proceeds of which were dedicated to one purpose and one purpose only. Subsidizing our public utility and its production of water and power. It is well known that casino gambling can generate a lot of cash and can do it quickly. If such a casino was started using a preexisting facility and positioned to draw primarily tourist patrons, we could generate enough money to subsidize utility payments for those too poor to afford access starting almost immediately. We could afford to buy parts, technical assistance and professional services to repair and maintain our current power generation and delivery systems over the mid term. We could make enough money to replace our aging powerhouse with a modern, high tech facility over the next few years. We could generate enough funding to buy, try and test various renewable energy systems as backups and maybe even as potential long term replacements for conventional power production. We could do all the above and more using mostly other peoples money and we don’t even have to pay it back!

I am not volunteering to head up this project myself, as I don’t look too good in orange. I’m not even sure how best to organize it. Should it be government owned and run? Should it be a private sector company? Should it be a 501C company so that all proceeds are untaxed but audited to ensure they benefit the named beneficiaries? Those questions as well as the ones relating to just who is qualified to run the business or department and just who is honest enough to oversee the whole project are up for discussion. The idea could definitely work. Every person who lives here would be benefited by such a venture. This one source of funding could ultimately pay for all the utility bills of all the businesses and individuals in the CNMI. It would provide some much needed jobs for our local citizens and would finally free CUC up to focus on generation and delivery of utility services instead of having the specter of world oil prices and budgetary shortfalls hanging over its head. Whether you like gambling or not, lets think seriously about using its proceeds to further our own ends and supply our basic needs.
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Quotes of the week:
He who dares not offend cannot be honest. -Thomas Paine, philosopher and writer (1737-1809)

If the world should blow itself up, the last audible voice would be that of an expert saying it can’t be done. Peter Ustinov (1921 – 2004)

PS: Those of you who have read this far have noticed that the Hole Ti Bang section was previously published here on the Saipanuvian in slightly different form, then again in the Tribune. Thanks to the author for allowing it to be reprinted. (:-)) Also, I suggest you click on that link in the article and go read the theory of David Billings of Australia. It has some very interesting plot twists. He may be on to something here; at least he has some interesting evidence in hand and has put together a possible and completely different version of what happened back in July of 1937.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Lagoon Aircraft Wreck Positive ID Details

Exact matches of key points have been made that make it certain that the aircraft wreckage off the powerhouse in Saipan’s lagoon is a Kawanishi H8K flying boat.

You will notice in the photos above that a piece found on the seafloor directly in front of the left wing root at the wreck site has a, now broken, plexiglass bubble centered in 2 rows of rectangular windows that exactly match the roof of the cockpit area in the top view of a restored H8K sitting in a park in Japan.

There is also an antenna seen just aft and to the right side of the cockpit bubble on the restored aircraft that exactly matches a through hull hole and mounting screw locations on the wreck. The mount hole has the same airfoil shape as the antenna.

You will also notice that the top view of the restored H8K also has, between the engine nacelles on the left wing, 4 round (painted red) access panels that correspond exactly with the same panels seen on the left wing of the wreck in the Saipan lagoon.

You will notice the remaining piece of an under wing float matches its counterpart on the restored aircraft exactly.

A row of small rectangular windows aft of and athwart the nose gun bubble match photos of the restored ship and the bubble found at the wreck site.

And finally, please note that the prop hub spinners are similar to and the 14 cylinder engines are identical to those specified for the Kawanishi H8K. The Saipan wreck is probably, but not certainly, a type 2 model H8K of which 112 were produced between 1943 and 1945. For certain it is one of the 4 H8K models.

Click on any of the images to enlarge and show more detail.

In previous posts here, here and here you can see some other photos germane to the identification. Also see photos in posts immediately below this one.

I have a lot more photos should anyone wish to research further.

Thanks go out to Harry Blalock for providing the underwater camera work on dives we made to the wreck site. Thanks also to Richard Sikel who found the top view photo on the internet that showed the matching parts evidence. Toshi, Jeff and several other folks were very helpful in the search also.

There are two monuments at the wreck site, one Japanese located near a stack of oxygen cylinders in from of the left wing and a large Korean monument located forward of the right wing. I wonder if we should add a marker with a picture of the plane as it was and a brief description of the planes specifications at the site. Dive site maps can be changed slowly as print editions are consumed and edited before new ones are printed. Dive Master orientations for their tourist and local visiting divers can be given with confidence, knowing that the wreck is indeed a Japanese H8K flying boat.

One last item: A metal tag said to belong to the wreck and removed some time ago may hold clues to exactly which H8K is on the lagoon floor. Additional wartime record searches may yield valuable information about her crew, mission, and other interesting parts of the personal story of this valiant airplane and it’s final crew.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Wreck Mystery Solved!!

It is an H8K as some surmised.
Thanks to Richard Sikel who found the top view photo I have been searching for. The photo is proof positive that we have a Kawanishi H8K (probably a 2 series) 'Emily' seaplane at the "B-29" crash site in the Saipan Lagoon.

More details to follow.

Thanks Richard!!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Location of the Aircraft Wreck

Here is a map showing the approximate location of the Aircraft wreck dive site. If I can find an online chart I will repost so a more accurate position can be shown.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Update on the Mystery Crash

Several items are leading us toward an answer to the riddle of identifying the aircraft wreck located in Saipan’s Lagoon. In previous post here, here and here you can trace some of the progress being made to make the identification.

Commonly referred to as “the B-29” dive site, it absolutely is not a Superfortress.

Recent dives with Harry have netted some of the photos seen above. Each of which needs to be matched for rivet lines, cowling ventilation holes, wing top access panel holes and other details to find exact matches.

The nose-or-tail gunner ‘bubble’ position could be from a Japanese Kawanishi H8K “Emily” flying boat used primarily for reconnaissance purposes. I have yet to come across a photo or drawing which proves conclusively that this gunner bubble configuration is from the nose of an H8K, although there are similarities. Certain window configurations and sight bubble locations are not found on any photographs of H8Ks. See photo above.

Another photo above shows a much oxidized metal identification plate in the possession of a local dive shop operator purportedly taken from the wreck site. If this provenance is correct the aircraft is definitely Japanese, unless one of the US aircraft manufacturers was using Japanese language on it’s metal part id tags. Perhaps the contents of this tag can be translated to give us a clue.

Meanwhile it may take a trip to Japan to see a restored H8K close up and make actual comparisons in order to put the matter to rest once and for all. I have researched scores of other aircraft types and ruled them out. One has to remember that in wartime, parts are scavenged off of non-working aircraft and grafted onto working models in order to keep them airborne so finding exact matches may continue to be difficult.

Additional information will be posted on this site until a definitive, provable answer is found. Please stay tuned.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Lotsa Shrimp

Olive and I went to the 'all you can eat' Saipan Sweet Shrimp event at Aqua last evening and had a good time, a good meal and good companionship. 10% of the proceeds went to Beautify CNMI and there were enough attendees to make the donation worthwhile.

I would like to do a similar event for BCNMI and invite its principals to contact me to set something up. I'm not much for field trips but could certainly volunteer a venue and an interesting fund raising event. bbateman at pticom dot com

Maybe we could do something with spotted crabs....just kidding, Bree.