FOR Guam Business Magazine
Last Updated: 17 May 2012
BY: Stephanie Lundberg
Official’s trips to Hawaii, Guam and Saipan expand GSA Scandal
Jeff Neely, a General Services Administration regional administrator, found himself in hot water in April after it was discovered that he (and possibly his wife) had taken several leisure trips around the country using taxpayer funds. Among those trips was a 17-day visit to Hawaii, Guam and Saipan in February, about which he wrote in an email to his wife: “Its yo birfday…we gonna pawty…[sic].”
According to an investigative report released April 17 during a congressional hearing on the matter, the trips continued even after former GSA administrator Martha Johnson was notified of possible fraud and abuse involving a 2010 GSA training conference, which ended up costing taxpayers more than $820,000. Neely cited his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination and declined to testify at the hearing.
Guam’s snake control measures make international headlines
Guam’s efforts to rid the island of its brown tree snake population made international headlines in May after the BBC News ran a story on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent airdrop of acetaminophen-laced mice in the jungle. Although the article also detailed other means of snake control on the island, the use of phrases like “toxic mouse bombs” seemed to have captured the imagination of news agencies all over: the Huffington Post, NBC Chicago, NBC Philadelphia, the Honolulu Civil Beat, and the online site Inquisitr [sic] all followed up with pieces on the now-famous airdrop campaign or linked to the original BBC story (we counted 14 articles in all after a rudimentary Google search).
In perhaps the best measure of just how much the parachuting poisonous mice seemed to have tickled the media’s fancy, Saturday Night Live’s Seth Meyer even got in a quick joke during his Weekend Update segment on May 12: “In a effort to rid Guam of the brown tree snake – which has overrun the island – officials have begun air-dropping mice laced with poison and fitted with parachutes. Because sometimes the best solution is the simplest one.”
Wait, is Cameron talking about the Trench or the island!?
Film director James Cameron made news in Guam (and elsewhere) again, although this time it was over his grasp of political geography and not about his recent deep-sea explorations in the Marianas Trench. In a confusing interview with Stephen Colbert in April, Cameron seemed to imply that Guam was a part of the Federated States of Micronesia, rather than its correct status as an unincorporated territory of the United States.
Colbert quickly countered that Guam sends a representative to U.S. Congress, and Cameron then asked Colbert if he was aware that the representative couldn’t vote. To this Colbert quipped: “Neither can Washington, D.C. Does that mean that is not in the United States? Because I agree with you there. All right, I accept your apology.”
New and upcoming books on Guam
Hunter Publishing rolled out in April a new book in its Travel Adventures series, entitled Guam & the Marianas Islands by Thomas Booth. Although the guide is relatively short (56 pages in all), it purports to tell you “everything you need to know about this amazing island – where to stay and where to eat, what to see, what to do, how to get there and get around.”
Coming November 15, Captured: The Forgotten Men of Guam by Roger Mansell and edited by Linda Holmes Goetz provides a more historical, thoroughly researched perspective on American prisoners of war captured on Guam and shipped to Japan during the Second World War. Mansell was a U.S. Army veteran who spent his later life meticulously researching POW experiences during the war. He died in 2010 before completing the book; Goetz, author of several other books on Japan’s handling of POWs, then completed and edited the manuscript, which is being published by the Naval Institute Press.
GHC screens film “Families Under Siege” for I Kelat the Fence exhibit
As part of the programming surrounding the Smithsonian Institute Museum on Mainstreet Between Fences exhibition and its related I Kelat the Fence exhibition, the Guam Humanities council held a free screening of the documentary film “Families Under Siege: Stories of Family Life in Japanese Occupied Guam” on May 10. After the screening, the audience participated in a facilitated panel discussion with panelists Carmen Artero-Kasperbauer, who is a World War II survivor and a subject of the film; Tun Jack Lujan, also a WWII survivor; and Dr. Michael Lujan Bevacqua, a historian.
Japan’s Marine Diving Magazine votes Palau as among top 3 diving destinations
In late April, subscribers of Marine Diving Magazine in Japan voted to place Palau among the top 3 diving destinations in the world, along with the Philippines and the Maldives. The news was released during the Marine Diving Fair 2012 in Tokyo, Japan, a large diving and beach resort exhibition in which 200 exhibitors from 50 countries participated and more than 50,000 visitors attended.
Palau Conservation Society launches new website and video
The Palau Conservation society announced May 9 that it had launched a new website showcasing its mission and programs. Also shown on the new website is a new video by PCS detailing the success of one of its most recent programs, a rat eradication program aimed at increasing the protection of the endangered Micronesian Megapode bird species on Kayangel Atoll. Those interested can view the new website and video at www.palauconservation.org.
Now you can have your betel nut and husk it, too
The Government of Guam has lifted a 17-year ban on the import of un-husked betel nuts from the Northern Marianas Islands, according to the Governor’s Office. Import of un-husked betel nuts, for consumption only, is now allowed in quantities of more than 50 pounds with an import permit, provided all nuts are cleaned and pest-free. Un-husked betel nut imports of less than 50 pounds may be imported without a permit as long as the nuts are for personal consumption and not resale. The import of betel nut palm seedlings is still prohibited on Guam, however.