Sunday, September 30, 2007

143. More UP THE DOWN STAIRCASE photos

The show UP THE DOWN STAIRCASE got better and better with each performance (starting Friday evening, continuing with a Saturday matinee, and ending with Saturday evening).

Here are some photos backstage, set and in performance on Saturday. (Some Friday photos are in the prior post.)

If you want photos, feel free to copy any, but please remember the limits placed on their use by the creative commons license (info in sidebar). I also have more photos than what are shown here, so if you don't see the one you want, or would like something in particular, feel free to contact me (info in profile).


And then on-stage:

Kudos again to the hard-working students, who learned something from putting on this play and had fun in the process. And thanks to all who came to see the show.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Student actors and actresses, student directors, student set designers, student artists, student costumes--UP THE DOWN STAIRCASE is an entirely-student show. And it's fun!

Friday's audience was mostly students, too! The tightly-scripted show is guaranteed to get laughs, but also explore the difficulties of teaching and learning when life is happening all around.

Kudos to all who participated. And break a leg on the 1:30 PM and 6:30 PM Saturday shows.

Monday, September 24, 2007

140. On Editing and Censorship

There's a small blog scuffle among a few Saipan bloggers about editing and censorship.

Personally, I don't have a problem with bloggers moderating comments before they're posted on the blog. Mainly I view a blog as a personal bulletin board or something like that, sponsored by the blogger. If comments are deleted, the commenter is free to find his or her own little corner of the blogosphere and post the comment unfettered in all its glory. (Subject to laws about pornography and libel and such.)

But there's an interesting side to this "editorial" policy, one that all bloggers should think about at some time in their blogging career. And that side relates to honesty. When does editorial policy change the landscape so much that it becomes dishonest?

If you only post the comments you like, do you give a false impression about the world in which you live? And is that really a helpful thing?

I anticipate someday having to delete someone's comment. I'd like to figure out ahead of time what standards I'll use to reach that decision, so I'm taking suggestions. I'd like my decision, when the time comes, to be principaled and not just personal or reactionary (well, I can hope). I'd like it to still leave an honest picture.

Even if others disagree with my opinions, and call me a liar and other catchy names, I'm still trying my best to be honest, to give truthful opinions about concerns I have, to rant and drone with integrity. So if I ever do anything like this, hunt me down and expose the lie.

139. Myanmar--Excuse me, Burma Monks in Protest

I'm posting this just because I can. I heard about this on NPR--monks protesting in Myanmar (Burma) about the repressive government, protests triggered by a raise in fuel prices.

I think it's a protest against an insensitive government that ignores the poverty of its people. And to my mind, it's beautiful.

EDIT: The name of the country is explained at Middle Road. And there's more info here .

Thursday, September 20, 2007

138. Why You Should Vote NO on the Saipan Casino Act.

I'll skip the arguments against casinos in general--the invitation to organized crime, the effect on morality and the family, the cost in social and safety terms, etc. Even if you think casinos are the quick fix that Saipan needs for its economy, you should vote NO on this Saipan Casino Act.

The Act's design does not contribute to its goal.

1. The goal is to attract tourists and boost the economy. The act creates a monopoly for casino operation. There will be no competition, no other investment companies raising the bar for better, cleaner, prettier casinos. One investment company will get the one and only license available to operate casinos in Saipan. In the states, Indian casinos get a monopoly on their reservations, but ONLY IF the state allows investment by anyone in casinos that operate in the state. There's no state-wide monopoly. (Indian Regulatory Gaming Act.) Competition fosters better services. If the purpose is to attract tourists, we would need the best services, the ones created by competition.

The act gives more in CNMI-funded benefits than it gets.

2. The money to be generated by fees and permits ($550,000 per annum) will be needed for the cost of the new regulatory commission created. (per annum--$336,000 for 7 commissioners; approx. $100,000 for the executive director and treasurer; approx. $100,000 for support staff, legal and computer/technical services; approx. $14,000 for power, water, telephone, internet, supplies like paper, pens, printer ink cartridges; and nothing for furniture and capital assets, space rental & maintenance, insurance, alarm systems, etc.).

3. The money to be generated by the gross revenue tax is less than the value of the public land lease given. The act says that MPLA has to lease public land to the casino for $1.00 per year. In the past, MPLA and its predecessors set rents for public lands at a percentage of gross revenue, and set those rents at a much higher rate than 1%. So the gross revenue tax is really just a cheap rent for the public land.

4. There's really nothing more for the public that the act generates, except fines and penalties.

5. The salaries/money for the commissioners, executive director, treasurer, and staff comes from the casino that they regulate. And under the act, these officials are allowed to have shares in the casino. How independent will such a regulatory commission be? How many fines and penalties are likely to generated?

The Saipan Casino Act violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the CNMI's equal protection clause, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Act.

6. The Investment Corporation must be owned solely by persons of Northern Marianas Descent (NMDs), meaning only NMDs can hold shares in the company, and act as its officers and directors. The Commissioners must be NMDs--with a guaranteed majority of Chamorros on the Commission. This discriminates against U.S. citizens and foreign investors who are not NMDs. It even discriminates against Carolinians among the NMDs. This is unconstitutional.

7. The executive director and treasurer must be NMDs. The Casino must give a hiring preference to NMDs (not resident workers, just resident NMDs). The Casino must give a management/training preference to NMDs. All of this discriminates in employment based on ethnicity and violates both U.S. and CNMI constitutions and the EEO act.

8. The money generated by the act, if there is any in excess of the costs, shall be subject to appropriation by the CNMI Saipan Delegation of the legislature, but there are restrictions on the appropriation: if the money is put toward social programs, the programs can only benefit NMDs. Scholarship money--only for NMDs. Elderly benefits--only for NMDs. Utility assistance--only for NMDs. This discriminates based on ethnicity and violates both the U.S. and CNMI Constitutions.

Why do we want a law that excludes lawful citizens and discriminates against them? When our Chamorro and Carolinian citizens go to the states, we don't want them to be discriminated against--we'll count on that equal protection guarantee for fair treatment. Why should it be different here? Why do we think a big, fat special interest law is the ticket to our improvement?

We don't.

Even if you think casinos are the wave of the future for Saipan, the initiative on the November 2007 ballot will only cause problems. Vote No on the Saipan Casino Act.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


More than 40 students from Saipan area middle schools and high schools are staging the classic school drama, UP THE DOWN STAIRCASE. The play is set for 9/28 at 6:30 PM and Saturday 9/29 at 1:30 (matinee) and 6:30 PM at the Multi-Purpose Center. This is an entirely student run production-from directing to acting to costume and stage set design to tech crew. Our students learn a lot from this cooperative artistic endeavor and they do a great job with production values.

And you can't beat the prices. :-)

Hope to see you there.

Friday, September 14, 2007

136. Kudos to Pete A for his stance on the CNMI's Federalization and other thoughts.

The governor has called on Pete A. to retract his support for federalization of the CNMI immigration. I say--Pete A.--right on.

My very first blog post was about the minimum wage and federalization. I tackled both issues, which are related, like two sides of the same coin.

Since I wrote that blog post, we've gotten a small minimum wage increase of $.50 per hour, so our workers now earn $3.55. Next year, the U.S. law provides that there will be another $.50 increase here, unless forces against it manage to interrupt the law's application (always a possibility). Meanwhile the U.S. got a bigger minimum wage increase, so the gap between job pay here and in the U.S. continues to widen. I'm not happy with the minimum wage increase--I think it was too small and spread out over too much time. And it was designed to give ammunition to those who will say how raising the wages has caused businesses to fold, hurting the economy, without any appreciable increase in benefits. Well, consumer spending can hardly go up with such a small-scale increase. I think this wage increase was designed to fail, not succeed. As I said, I'm not happy.

Federalization of our immigration was on track, too, but seems to be getting derailed. I am very proud of Pete A. for sticking to his guns about what the people here really want. I WANT FEDERALIZATION NOW.

The CNMI has lost its ability to take care of immigration. We have a huge backlog of cases awaiting hearings or decisions. We're seeing human trafficking-foreign women tricked into accepting jobs where they are locked up except when they're dancing nude and serving ladies drinks. We have aliens murdered in the CNMI and a DPS that is over-taxed and unable to solve the murders.

We need help.

I'm tired of hearing U.S. citizen spouses threaten their alien spouse with divorce and automatic deportation as a means of family control and domination. Our laws don't call for any requirement of people getting married to provide for permanent residence for their spouses.

I'm disgusted that we have an alien here who applied for refugee protection and who is still waiting for a decision more than a year after having a hearing. You know--justice delayed is justice denied.

I find it frustrating that we have difficulty addressing human trafficking because of the problems with the fit between U.S. law and CNMI's immigration role.

We don't need control of immigration to be "self-governing." We elect our leaders. Our congressmen make our local laws. We can participate in a federal system, where the federal government handles issues of national concern like foreign relations and immigration and the local government handles issues of local concern like crime and public services. There's nothing demeaning about such a federal system.

The CNMI doesn't have enough money. Our CUC is in a sorry state. Our public schools are understaffed and under-funded. We don't have enough money for doctors and blood and all that we need for health care. Our police officers are underpaid and overworked. Our roads need fixing. We can't even take care of the stray dog population or copper wire thefts. Why do we want to keep pouring our CNMI dollars into an immigration system that only benefits a few businessmen and exploits other human beings? Why do we want to embrace a system that has forced our U.S. citizen population to head to the mainland in droves so they can get decent jobs rather than compete here against unlimited numbers of aliens willing to take the pittance offered as a salary?

We need federalization of our immigration. We need it now. Actually, we needed it yesterday, last month, last year, last century. But we still need it--NOW.

135. More UNICEF News

While there's a dust-up at Middle Road about the state of health care in the CNMI, there's also important news about the global situation. From the New York Times:

Published: September 13, 2007
For the first time since record keeping began in 1960, the number of deaths of young children around the world has fallen below 10 million a year, according to figures from the United Nations Children’s Fund being released today.

It's almost unbelievable that more than 10 million children per year every year since 1960 have died until now. UNICEF deserves our support for its tremendous effort and success. You can read the full report mentioned above here.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

134. A Chance for Students to Think Globally

I love UNICEF. I love the importance it places on children around the world. I love the work it does. And I love the campaigns it sponsors that promote children's involvement in world issues. My favorite is their Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, but here's another that promises important benefits to the students who participate.

The letter they sent to me explains it all:

Dear Jane,

As you know, UNICEF is guided in its work by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Below is an opportunity from a friend of UNICEF. The campaign to ratify the CRC in the US has developed a youth essay contest, with cash prizes.

Youth Essay Contest

The Campaign for U.S. Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) invites youth throughout the U.S. to participate in its first nationwide Essay Contest. The contest is sponsored by the Campaign's Youth Outreach Committee and will run for the entire month of September. Additional information on the contest is contained in the CRC Essay Contest Guidelines. Essays must be typed directly into the CRC Essay Contest Application and submitted, as an email attachment, to by October 1, 2007.

Essay Contest Highlights
Purpose: The purpose of the contest isto raise awareness of the Convention on the Rights of the Child among youth, to engage youth in thoughtful reflection on the possible benefits of U.S. Ratification of the CRC, and to provide youth with the opportunity to express and share their thoughts on the CRC and possible benefits of U.S. ratification.

Eligibility: The contest is open to the following:

Category 1: Middle school students (Grades 6-8)
Category 2: High school students (Grades 9-12)

Three winners will be selected from each category.

First Place: $250
Second Place: $150
Third Place: $100

The top six winners will also receive a Certificate of Achievement signed by the Chair of the Campaign and have copies of their winning essays distributed during the November 16, 2007 CRC Nationwide Briefing Days (see Campaign Events for more details).

Along with the top six winning essays, another 14 essays (seven from each age category) will be selected to be incorporated into a CRC Youth Essay Booklet. This booklet of 20 essays will be available for download from the Campaign̢۪s Web Site.

Essay Topic: Applicants are asked to answer one of the following questions:

How could U.S. ratification of the CRC benefit children in the U.S.?
How would U.S. ratification of the CRC impact the global community?

Essays are to be no longer than 500 words and must cite at least three reference sources.

For more information, please visit UNICEF Student Essay Contest.

Thank you for your support and all you do to help UNICEF save kids' lives!

Copyright © 2007 U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 333 East 38th Street, New York, NY 10016.
All rights reserved.

I hope that middle school and high school teachers will consider this opportunity for their students. It would take work--research, thinking, writing--but it could also be enriching and possibly fun.

Friday, September 7, 2007

133. an Interesting Story

Here's an interesting and funny story from Arin Greenwood. That woman can write! And it's also instructive if you're thinking of leaving Saipan.

Arin's Scam Story.

Thanks, again, to Dan MacMeekin

Thursday, September 6, 2007

132. A Contest to Check Out.

Since I have an occasional educator stopping by, I thought I'd pass this on--from Fuse 8"

"Now that kids are back in school, thoughts are beginning to turn to
fall--bright leaves, corduroys, apple cider, and everyone's favorite orange fall
symbol ... pumpkins! In celebration I am running a contest on my website: The winner will receive an autographed copy of my middle grade novel, ME AND THE PUMPKIN QUEEN, along with 10 Atlantic Giant pumpkin seeds (the kind used to grow monstrous 1,000 plus pound pumpkins and which my main character is quite fond of). The winner can try to grow his or her own championship pumpkin or keep the seeds as a unique souvenir. Contest rules can be accessed on my homepage under News." Seems to me that youse teachers out there would do well to have your kids participate in this. It's too late to plant pumpkin seeds now but future classes might appreciate a teacher who tends to gigantor orange creatures.

Looks worthwhile. I'd like to see some of those giant pumpkins growing in
Saipan. After clearing agricultural inspection, though.

Monday, September 3, 2007

131. Easy Ways to Make a Difference

Here are two easy ways to make a difference, using the internet.

1. Click on the donate food button at every day. While you're there, go to to the breast cancer, literacy, rainforest and other sites and click on their donate buttons, too. It costs you nothing, but sponsors donate for each click realized. Of course, if you want to click on the sponsors and visit their sites, or purchase through them, all the better.

2. Use instead of google for your searches. Be sure to identify your charity before you search. For each search you do, a penny will be donated to the charity. Doesn't seem like much? Imagine 10,000 searches a day from around the world. Imagine a million searches a day. You get the idea. This is the power of concerted action, where individually what we do is very small, but on a larger scale, it makes a difference. And thank the advertisers who support the site.