A Few Photos From Guam

…where America’s day begins.

Guam 2019


A few photos from my recent trip to Guam, if you are curious.

The URL to the Flickr album is here:https://flic.kr/s/aHsmERFABR, and I think this URL takes you directly to the slide show option.

I have processed about 50% of the photos, I expect I’ll finish going through the good and moderate images before the year is over. Who knows, I may feel a burst of energy and add dozens before you happen to look again.

Swim At Your Own Risk was uploaded to Flickr

No Lifeguard On Duty, Salungula Pool, Inarajan, Guam

embiggen by clicking

I took Swim At Your Own Risk on June 25, 2019 at 07:56PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on July 08, 2019 at 11:51PM



Going to Guam in a few days, if United Airlines doesn’t re-route me to Guatemala by mistake. Time zone changes as drastic as this (plus 15 hours, per my iPhone’s clock) are weird. Should I be sleeping now? Or getting up for the day?

The flight itself is quite a sojourn, I leave at 6:40 or so, and even in the best of times, travel to the airport takes about 30 minutes.

In other words, I’m already cranky and I’m not leaving for a few days.

Am so looking forward to seeing the Queen of Guam though, it’s been too long. For all of the 21st century’s shrinking of the planet, Earth is still a big place.

Per WebMD, I should be attempting to live on Guam time already, that’s probably impossible however.

Ted Cruz launches Guam ground game as consultant is sent to tiny island | US news | The Guardian

Sunset on Guam
(photo by Yuki Yaginuma, used under Creative Commons license. )

Can someone punch this Dennis Lennox guy in the face, and tell him to pass it along to Ted “Calgary” Cruz?
Earlier today…

The Cruz campaign has dispatched political consultant Dennis Lennox to Guam to organize in advance of that island’s GOP caucuses. The decision to send Lennox, a former county drain commissioner in his native Michigan, to Guam represents the most zealous outreach of any presidential campaign to the US island territory located nearly 8,000 miles from Washington DC, in bid to scoop up nine delegates from US island territory

Ted Cruz launches Guam ground game as consultant is sent to tiny island | US news | The Guardian

Reading Around on August 24th through August 25th

A few interesting links collected August 24th through August 25th:

  • Guampedia: Get Involved – Guampedia, Guam’s online encyclopedia, is striving to help preserve and promote Guam’s history and culture and help educate children, residents and visitors alike … but we need your help.
  • Placid Beneath Warm Sun -oil.jpg
  • Paragraphs! – Back in the days of old, when men were men and computers didn’t yet rule the earth, stories couldn’t be edited merely by hitting the delete key a few times. So when copy needed to be cut to fill a particular space, it was convenient for every sentence to be its own paragraph. That way, you could cut any single sentence you wanted, join up the copy, and you were done. You always knew exactly how many lines you were saving and it was simple to make the cut without resetting the entire piece.

    Electronic typesetting makes this unnecessary, of course, but there’s another advantage to this custom: it adds a bit of white space to the page. Newspapers that don’t do this end up looking gray and intimidating. So the custom stays.

  • Radley Balko Comments on CNN’s Unattributed Use of His Reporting – City Desk – Washington City Paper – CNN recently did to criminal justice reporter Radley Balko, who lives in Northern Virginia, what Gawker supposedly did to Shapira, except it failed to give any credit where much credit was due.
    Balko (who I worked with at Reason) has spent several years reporting on Steven Hayne, the Mississippi medical examiner whose shoddy work has led to the incarceration of several known innocents. Over the last three years, Balko has cultivated sources, reads hundreds–if not thousands–of pages of documentation incriminating Hayne, and, as a result, has broken every single piece of major news about the medical examiner.

    But you wouldn’t know any of that if all you had for reference was the AC360 special about Hayne, which piggy-backs almost exclusively on Balko’s reporting without every hat-tipping or acknowledging his work. (Techdirt reported that “sources quoted by CNN told Balko that CNN claims it found them via his articles.”)


Grandpa Joe Murphy RIP

My aunt Shannon’s published obituary of my grandfather Joe Murphy, who died as I was en route to my other grandfather’s death bed1. Two deaths in one day, on opposite sides of the earth. Yikes. Grandpa Joe, being a Murphy2, won this particular race.

King and Queen of Guam walk on thin ice of modern life

[seen here on an Alaskan glacier]

Joseph Charles Murphy, born Feb. 23, 1927, in Appleton, Wisc., died at the age of 81 yesterday at his home in Yona, Guam. He had been ill for the past month with pneumonia, complicated by diabetes and heart disease.

He died in his sleep at his home above the Ylig Bay in Yona, just as he had wished.

He is survived by his wife, Marion Murphy, seven children, 25 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren. His children are Colleen, Maureen, Shannon, Timothy, Erin, Megan and Joey. One daughter, Kerry, predeceases him. Many of his children live in Guam, while others live in Oregon, California and Texas. He was a father figure to many other youth who came into the Murphy household, one way or another.

Murphy grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, joining the Navy at age 17 during World War II. He met Marion when he was on home leave, as they were from the same town. They wrote to each other for a year, and then World War II was over and he went home to finish high school with her. They eloped on the night of their high school graduation and were married for 62 years.

He earned a degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and worked as a journalist ever since. Murphy worked as a reporter, editor and columnist in Wisconsin, Oregon and California before taking a job in Guam in 1965.

Murphy arrived on Guam Dec. 8, 1965, which is Our Lady of Kamalen Day, celebrated with a procession through Hagåtña. He always joked that at first he thought that procession was a welcoming parade just for him.

After relocating his large family here a few months later, he said he had found his place in the world, as everyone had large Catholic families, just like him.

Guam was good to him. At first he ran the then-Guam Daily News, owned at the time by Publisher Joe Flores, pretty much by himself. He covered local news and wrote editorials and the daily column “Pipe Dreams” and put together the national and international news seven days a week.

A businessman from Hawaii, Chin Ho, bought the paper in 1970 and then resold it to Gannett Inc. a year later. With a new, larger staff, Murphy became the editor, continuing to write his daily “Pipe Dreams” column and a daily editorial.

He documented the early days of tourism, watching Guam change from a sleepy military outpost with a population of about 60,000 to an international tourist destination with a population of 165,000 today. He loved to write about new development, the economy, innovative ideas and politics. In 1981, the Daily News gave him a year to travel around the Pacific and write about other islands.

He coined the phase “Only on Guam” as an occasional item in his column — poking fun at the idiosyncrasies that make Guam such an interesting and unique place in which to live. Those “items” were published into two books: “Guam is a Four Letter Word” and “Son of a Four Letter Word.”

Murphy loved adventure and took advantage of offers to try things and write about them. One Liberation Day, he parachuted from a helicopter on a bet, breaking his leg in the process. He went to the depths of the sea on a Navy submarine ride and rolled and dived with the Blue Angels and on the Christmas Drop to Micronesia. He also traveled by ship or on small planes to many islands in Micronesia for graduations and other news events.

Murphy retired as editor of the Pacific Daily News in 1988, but continued to write his column, which changed names from “Pipe Dreams” to “Murphy’s Law” after he quit smoking.

He and his wife, Marion, traveled the world. After raising their children, the Murphys went to China the first year it was open to Westerners, to Europe and Asia, traveling around the world at least twice. He loved to learn about history, geography, culture and politics, always looking for new ideas that might work on Guam, his beloved home, and shared those thoughts in his column in the Pacific Daily News.

He was a great believer in equality, pushing his daughters as well as his sons to find their passions and excel in life. He thought highly of island peoples as well. He and his wife passed their attitudes about islanders to their children, and they now have dozens of grandchildren and great grandchildren of Chamorro, Filipino, Palauan and Chuukese decent.

Murphy always kept a pen and paper with him to jot down notes for his column and wanted to write until the end. He left a legacy of writers, both among his own children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and many others who were inspired by his words and actions to become journalists.

Shannon Murphy is a former editor of the Pacific Daily News and daughter of Joseph Murphy

[From Murphy documented Guam | guampdn.com | Pacific Daily News]

My plan is to go to Guam in March to visit and mourn and celebrate my grandmother’s 80th birthday, but have a minor issue with getting a passport still.

Guam 1971

  1. Grandpa George died later in the same evening, never regaining full consciousness, but we all said goodbye, and watched his last breaths []
  2. the Murphy clan is famously competitive, everyone of us wants to come out first in any particular race or contest. For instance, putting together puzzles was always delayed, everyone hid one piece so they could put the last one in. One time I stuck a puzzle piece in my back pocket, and washed it! []

The Guam Option

I remember my grandfather, Joe Murphy, while still editor-at-large of the Pacific Daily News, oft telling the story of his failed attempts to sell an article about the Kurds being airlifted to Guam during the Clinton administration, and my grandfather’s disgust because no major media outlet was interested in the story. Maybe George Packer read it?

Kurds in Guam

[Kurds being processed at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, 1996]

In the fall of 1996, the U.S. military evacuated more than six thousand Iraqis—Kurds and others who had worked with American agencies in the north, and whose lives were directly threatened by Saddam’s army—halfway across the world to Guam. There they were screened, processed for asylum, and assigned sponsors in an effort that involved more than a thousand American soldiers and civilians. Almost all of the evacuees ended up Stateside within seven months. Major General John Dallager, the Joint Task Force commander of Operation Pacific Haven, said, “Our success will undoubtedly be a role model for future humanitarian efforts.”

Undoubtedly. Major General Dallager didn’t count on the moral abdication of the Bush Administration in the face of a similar but much larger and more compelling humanitarian crisis. Recently, some conscience-stricken American officials have privately begun to ask why the model of Operation Pacific Haven can’t be emulated today. Flying Iraqis to Guam would solve every problem, real and invented, that the Administration claims is holding up resettlement: the inability of Homeland Security interviewers to meet with refugees in Syria; the near-impossibility of Iraqis getting into neighboring countries; the supposed security concerns that prevent the U.S. from screening Iraqis inside Iraq. With the Guam option, none of this would matter.

[From The Guam Option: Interesting Times: Online Only: The New Yorker]

Sinajana Guam 1945

[Sinajana, Guam in 1945 ]

Mr. Packer wants President-elect Obama to at least consider the Guam option for Iraqi refugees:

I know Iraqi refugees are somewhere around 87th on anyone’s agenda. I know I should be writing about Gaza or economic stimulus—another day. But today, let me call your attention away from those pressing matters to a new report, scheduled for release on Monday, by Natalie Ondiak and Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress (soon to be the Obama Administration’s Heritage or A.E.I.). It’s called “Operation Safe Haven Iraq 2009,” and it’s a detailed proposal for an airlift of the tens of thousands of Iraqis who have worked with Americans there and whose lives are in danger, in perpetuum, as a result.

The report establishes the rationale for such an operation, familiar to readers of this blog (where the “Guam option” was first proposed over a year ago). It also lays out, in the careful manner of Washington think-tank papers, the steps that the new President would need to take, to wit:

1. Appoint a White House coordinator
2. Review current efforts
3. Finish background checks of qualified Iraqis
4. Begin a four-to-eight-week airlift, probably to Guam
5. Make sure all government agencies—State, Homeland Security, the military—work together
6. Resettle eligible Iraqis here after they’ve been “processed” outside the country

[From Obama’s Guam Option: Interesting Times: Online Only: The New Yorker]

Alaska and Russia

This might be the funniest1 talking point I’ve seen in years.

According to the Republican Party, Sarah Palin has foreign policy experience because Alaska is so close to Russia. Uhh, yeah, I guess it does border on the eastern tip of Siberia.


By this reasoning, I am an expert on Japan2 because I lived in Guam for six months, even though I was only ten!

  1. albeit unintentionally funny []
  2. perhaps I should claim foreign policy experience regarding North Korea, that’s more sexy []

Guampedia Missionaries

Missionaries for good, for the spread of knowledge, we hasten to add, not zealots…

Shannon Murphy and her staff of two are practically missionaries. But it isn’t religion they’re hawking. Instead, the trio is spreading the good word about Guam and behind them are more than a hundred others following in their path.

To deliver their message, Murphy and company are relying on the Internet and the Guam Humanities Council project Guampedia, an online encyclopedia about the island.

“We think it will make for a better understanding about the depth and history about the people here,” says Murphy, Guampedia’s managing editor who holds a hefty passion for Guam and its people.

[From Sharing Guam: Guampedia aims for understanding of island | guampdn.com | Pacific Daily News]

The federal government can be a positive factor in people’s lives sometimes:

The Council jumped on board with the project in the year 2000 when the National Endowment for the Humanities began offering grants to create online encyclopedias around the country.

“We had to spend two years developing the content, figuring out what kind of software,” Murphy says. “We had to hire someone to do all the software and do all the programing.”

As an aside, these sort of federal grants are anathema to Republicans like John McCain. He considers them waste, but happily throws away billions in tax-payer dollars for oil corporations.

Anyway, congratulations to Guampedia for a successful launch, we look forward to watching their continued growth. The Guampedia is one of the first National Endowments to actually get off the ground (fourth to start, per Shannon Murphy), many states considered the work a bit too challenging to tackle, at least at first. Now, if only the Guampedia could add an RSS feed of new content…

Here was a television interview on the topic from last week, including statements from my aunt Shannon :

The video clip includes Guam commercials, so you can feel like you are actually watching Channel 8 KUAM on Guam, plus a flashing error message about “No disc”.

Guam 1974 redux

Our far-flung correspondent1, Shannon Murphy, adds some corrections to the record re: Roger Gale’s article excerpted in Guam in 1974.

Spain first occupied the Marianas (named after Queen Mariana), to include Guam, in 1668. Legaspi claimed the island in 1565. So that means the Marianas have been colonized for 443 years if you go by Legaspi or 340 years if you go by when the Spanish first settled there – not 250. The US took Guam from Spain during the Spanish American War in 1898, so its been under American rule for only 110 years, minus the 2 and a half years of Japanese occupation during World War II.

Guam changed the most just after World War II then any time during Guam’s history as the island was badly bombed and then 150,000 American military occupied the island for three years or so making it a staging base for the planned attack on Japan and Asia. The villages were destroyed and then relocated, much of the land was seized (by writ of eminent domain to non- U.S. citizens) and the bases were built. The 22,000 Chamorros on the island were marginalized to the military mission. They had no rights and no voice and those who survived a brutal Japanese occupation (the Japanese punished them for being loyal to the Americans) were sickly and starved.

[The United States military] built something like 6 runways, 6 field hospitals, filled in land to make a better harbor and port, built hundreds of quonset huts all over the island. Then they dropped the bombs on Japan (taking off from next door Tinian) and the war was over.

“We Fought the Navy and Won: Guam’s Quest for Democracy (Latitude 20 Books)” (Doloris Coulter Cogan)

Doloris Coulter Cogan’s book has been highly recommended if you are interested in this history. From the blurb:

We Fought the Navy and Won is a carefully documented yet impassioned recollection of Guam’s struggle to liberate itself from the absolutist rule of the U.S. Navy. Doloris Cogan concentrates on five crucial years, 1945-1950, when, fresh out of journalism school, she had the good fortune to join the distinguished team of idealists at the newly formed Institute of Ethnic Affairs in Washington, D.C. Working as a writer/editor on the monthly Guam Echo under the leadership of the Institute’s director, John Collier, Cogan witnessed and recorded the battle fought at the very top between Collier (assisted by former Secretary of the Interior Harry L. Ickes) and Navy Secretary James V. Forrestal as the people of Guam petitioned the U.S. Congress for civilian government under a constitution. Taken up by newspapers throughout the country, this war of words illustrated how much freedom of the press plays in achieving and sustaining true democracy.

Part of the story centers around a young Chamorro named Carlos Taitano, who returned home to Guam in 1948 after serving in the U.S. Army in the Pacific. Taitano joined his colleagues in the lower house and walked out of the Guam Congress in 1949 to protest the naval governor, who had refused their right to subpoena an American businessman suspected of illegal activity. The walkout was the catalyst that introduced the Organic Act of Guam, which was signed into law by President Truman in 1950. Many other Guamanians, including the men and women who testified before the U.S. Congress, were involved in this historic struggle. We Fought the Navy and Won is the first book to tell their story and the first detailed look at the events surrounding Guam’s elevation from possession to territory.

Our far-flung correspondent continues:

It took another several years before Chamorros were made US citizens and then many more before they could elect their own governor. We still can’t vote for President or by a meaningful part of Congress.

All the rest of the corrections are just because this is a 30 year old article:

Our population by the last census update was 162,000.

The military gave some “excess” land back in the 90s so now they only have about 1/4 of the island, rather than 1/3. They might take some more again though.

We have our new airport and lots of airlines now.

The Political Status Commission isn’t doing anything anymore. Sen. Frank Lujan died already as have others who spoke up so well. Most people now have accepted the status quo and are just trying to figure out how to make this all work out. We don’t believe there is anything we can do about the military build up here. Many people welcome it, seeing it as an opportunity to make some money.

Your last paragraph was right on – Guam is an occupied territory. Chamorros (they don’t call themselves Guamanians anymore as that was an American idea to give them a new name to differentiate themselves from Chamorros who were considered a thing of the past!) are a minority in their own home due to US immigration policies which they have no control over. We are nowhere near getting a new political status.

There is a cool group of Chamorro graduate students who are trying to raise awareness and wake people up at http://famoksaiyan.blogspot.com/

Also the PDN is not owned by foreigners but by Gannett Corp. But if the point is that it is not locally owned you got it! There is another paper and two TV news stations that are locally owned though. But the PDN is the big news organization.

Thanks, Shannon, for the informative, brief history. Care to fact-check this anecdote too?

  1. borrowed title from the New Yorker I think, always wanted to use it []

Guam in 1974

Today’s tiptoe through history1 comes from an article published in The Nation, October 26, 1974 by Roger Gale.2 I wonder if America’s newest colonial acquisition, Iraq, will have a similar trajectory as Guam did?

I realize most of you are not very interested in Guam, but I am. Avert thy gaze if you are feeling hurried and pressed for time. I won’t reproduce the entire article this time, but I have the PDF if you want a copy.

Guam 1971

First a little background:

Although a speck on the world map, Guam may soon become the hub of America’s presence in Asia. Most distant of all American colonies, the island’s economic potential is now being recognized for the first time. It is within 1,500 miles of both Tokyo and Manila, and is fast becoming part of the Asian economic orbit after long years of isolation and secrecy imposed by the American military. Guam has probably changed more in the past five years than in the 250 years since the Spanish seized the island. A sleepy port of call since it became an American colony during the Spanish-American War, it is experiencing an astounding annual growth rate of more than 25 percent. More than a dozen hotels have transformed – once tranquil Tumon Bay into a junior Waikiki; the newest of them is the tallest building between Honolulu and Manila. More than 6,000 new homes have been completed in the past Jour years alone.

Tourism, almost all of it from Japan, has become Guam’s most visible industry. Last year, 240,000 tourists visited what is now Japan’s most popular “Caribbean” island; it was the destination of almost a third of Japan’s world travelers. Five years earlier, only 3,500 tourists had stopped at Guam.

and the problem:

But despite the sudden tourist boom, the U.S. military, hidden behind its fences, is still the mainstay of the economy. It employ more people and buys more services than does any other activity on the island. According to Navy figures, the $171 million it spent last year constituted a full, one-quarter of the island’s’ economy. It was only a few years ago that the Navy relinquished control of the island’s power, phone and water systems. Until 1963, in fact, permission from the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington was needed to visit the security-conscious island. In the past decade, especially during the war in Indochina when B-52s flew bombing missions from Guam, the military presence has grown immensely, but security has become less of a preoccupation.

Although Guam is the Navy’s largest home port and will grow even larger next year when six new destroyers are transferred to the island, the military now has a rival for economic predominance on the island. Like the military it does not wish to advertise its presence, but in the past few years investment and land speculation have become a major industry on tropical Guam. A free port, with casual accounting practices, Guam has become a haven for excess Japanese yen and since Nixon’s visit to China, for insecure New Taiwan dollars. Because large contracts are becoming scarce in Vietnam, South Korea’s largest construction firms have moved their major foreign operations to Guam. As a result of all this new money, between 1972 and 1973 bank deposits rose a phenomenal 300 per cent and recorded loans increased almost 700 per cent.

With a population of 105,000 and a density per square mile of 500, Guam’s potential for capital-intensive growth is incalculable. Something more than one-third of the 206 square- mile island is in U.S. military hands so land prices in prime areas have shot up to as high as $1 million an acre. Speculation in tract homes still to be built by Kaiser Industries or by one of the Korean construction firms, has raised the cost of the average two-bedroom house to about $50,000.

The military has returned a few small parcels of land in the last year but, as one Guamanian pointed out when the Navy announced its latest offer, “What a joke! The Navy is leasing our own land back to us so we can construct a school for military dependents.” At the same time that it is returning small parcels of land, the Navy is moving to buy Guam’s last undeveloped shoreland for a $250 million ammunition wharf.

and no wonder why Jack Abramoff wanted to do business on Guam with his buddies in the Bush Adminstration, creating clothing sweatshops.

Guam is also a free port and therefore attractive to producers, and retailers of high-cost, low-weight goods like watches and cameras. Watches, which are partially assembled in a number of small factories on the island, can be imported into the United States at reduced tariff rates. In the future, it’s location at the “mouth'” of Asia will be a more important factor in Guam’s growing role as a transshipment point to and from the U.S. mainland. Because Guam’s economy is almost all “store-bought,” with agriculture nearly nonexistent, ships now return to the West Coast almost empty.

As an air hub, Guam has’ grown in five years from a one airline island to being served by six regularly scheduled airlines and a number of charter and transient aircraft. A new $25 million air terminal is in the works. Guam is already the world’s biggest cable crossing, and a new trans-Pacific cable now being laid will make it still more important in this respect. The island is also the “Communications Area Master Station” for the Pentagon, coordinating all military communications in Southeast Asia, Japan and the South Pacific.

Although the local labor supply is small and fully employed by the military and the government of Guam, cheap nonunionized labor from the Philippines and Korea3 is easily imported. Receiving the minimum wage (a good part of which has to be sent home to their families) and living in military-style barracks, workers are hardly in a good bargaining position.

In addition to all these attractions, Guam is virgin territory in an area that is being picked over and ripped off by multinational corporations based in Japan and America.

King and Queen of Guam walk on thin ice of modern life
and of particular interest to me:

This year Guamania’ns became a numerical minority on their own island. If you count “stateside” Americans as foreigners, as the natives do, there are almost as many aliens on Guam as in Hawaii, where the population is eight times larger. The scheduled 20 per cent increase in military personnel and the continued influx of Asians means that in the next three or four years, more than two-thirds of the island will be populated by foreigners.

Even when Guamanians were in the majority, control of the island had long since passed from their hands. Joe Murphy, editor of Guam’s Pacific Daily News, estimates that 70 to 80 per cent of the island’s businesses (including the newspaper) are foreign-owned and that considerably more than half the island’s land is either leased or owned outright by non-Guamanians. But the sudden realization that they no longer even form the majority of the population has provoked the most vociferous reaction’ on the part of Guamanians since the bloody Spanish conquest of the island.

The legislature-has also created a Political Status Commission which inspired a series of hard-hitting newspaper columns on Guam’s colonial status. Sen. Frank Lujan, chairman of the commission, says the people of Guam have been kept dependent by a series of “colonial myths” which have led Guamanians to believe that they have no choice but to remain in the American political orbit. The Pacific Daily News refused to run any more columns on the subject after the publisher reportedly deemed them “anti-American.”

I haven’t been to Guam since 1997, so perhaps my information is out of date, but seemed like these same issues exist. Tourism, especially Japanese tourism, is still huge, the military is slightly antagonistic towards the rest of the island, and Guam is an occupied territory without representation in Congress.
—Update – Our far-flung correspondent adds some much-needed corrections to the story. Check it out.

  1. I had fun with yesterday’s blog from history []
  2. never heard of him, actually, but he was the director of Friends of Micronesia in Berkley, California, and a former chairman of the Department of Political Science at the University of Guam. []
  3. and Saipan []

Northern Marijuana Islands

Is there a joke here? Probably not: I lived on Guam (which is part of the Mariana Islands in fact if not in political jurisdiction) for 6 months – the amount of cannabis plants growing everywhere was amazing. Hard to eradicate a weed from a jungle. Maybe why Jack Abramoff and Frank Black paid so much attention to the island chain….

Pacific island in spin over planned pro-marijuana conference – Yahoo! News :
A proposed pro-marijuana conference to be held in the US-administered Northern Mariana Islands has led to a bizarre row among local legislators.

Opponents of the conference of Californian-based activists advocating that marijuana should be legalised have suggested the territory should be renamed the Northern Marijuana Islands.

But the cash-strapped government says the conference would be a boon for the sagging tourism industry.

“We welcome anybody who wants to hold a conference here, whether it be to discuss marijuana or not,” government spokesman Charles Reyes said Thursday.

“We want to attract conferences in the Northern Marianas because conferences are good for tourism.”

Marijuana is a popular if illegal drug in the Northern Marianas where there are regular seizures of plants.