Hercules aircraft are parked on the tarmac at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan on Okinawa.(Reuters / Issei Kato)
Residents of Okinawa are concerned about the US military presence on the island, and the increasing crime rate linked to that, as well as the enormous impact on local wildlife, Conn Hallinan from Foreign Policy in Focus told RT.
Takeshi Onaga, former mayor of Okinawa's capital city Naha, answers questions after casting his ballot for the Okinawa gubernatorial election at a polling station in Naha, Okinawa prefecture, on November 16, 2014.(AFP Photo / Toru Yamanaka)
The Japanese prefecture of Okinawa has elected a new governor Takeshi Onaga who is strongly opposed to the US military being on the island. Okinawa has been home to the American military since 1945, with around 26,000 troops there at the moment. There is a widespread local hostility to the American military, along with complaints of a greater accident risk, more noise, and a growing crime rate.
The main controversy now is a plan to re-locate the Futenma air base to Camp Schwab in Henoko which was approved by previous Governor Nakaima. Onaga has promised to veto the landfill work needed for the new base to be built and insisted the base should be moved away from Okinawa.
RT:Can those living on Okinawa be 100 percent sure there will be no US base relocation while Takeshi Onaga is in office?
Conn Hallinan: I don’t think so. The governor can slow down the process; it’s filing a lawsuit on environmental issues and urban impact issues. But he is the governor of a province and if the Abe government in Tokyo insists that this base is going to be built or it’s going to be relocated, the governor can’t really stop it. It doesn’t mean that it is going to be easy to build the base but the final decision rests with the Abe government in Tokyo.
RT:What are the main arguments against the presence of the US military on Okinawa?
CH: There is a series of arguments and that kind of depends on who you talk to. Local residents are very concerned because they feel like they have the bulk of the American bases in Okinawa – about 26-27 thousand military personnel. There are several large bases; there is a lot of pollution. The military is pretty sloppy when it comes to environmental impact and a lot of stuff, that is the pollutants, is very dangerous stuff. There also have been crime rates; there were a couple of rapes. It’s just these very small urban areas, larger urban areas which these bases are right in the middle of; there have been several plane accidents and things. Residents are just very tired of the presence of the American military. Environmentally, the area where they are going to build a base in will have an enormous impact on the local wildlife particularly. The dugong, which is a sea mammal and this, is the area where it breeds and it’s an endangered species.
RT:What influence could the stance of Okinawa's new governor have on Japan's relations with US, considering the US is now pivoting towards Pacific?
CH: I think it is going to have a great effect. It’s really sand in the gears. Okinawa is an enormously important base for the US, in fact, it’s the single most important base in Asia, it’s even more important than bases in Japan in part because of the location where Okinawa is. It was critical for the Korean War, it was critical for the Vietnam War. The “Asia pivot” very much depends on Okinawa; there is only so much hardware you can put in the place like Wake or a place like Guam. So Okinawa is critical here. The fact that the Okinawans don’t want this base here just sort of raises serious political questions about the whole idea behind the pivot. It also increases tensions, certainly, with China.
AFP Photo / Torsten Blackwood
RT:How likely is it that Tokyo could press Onaga to continue the relocation of the base on the main island?
CH: They can force it if it comes to that. They can force the base to be built. I don’t know exactly how they would do that. Okinawa is the poorest provinces in Japan, Okinawans very much feel that they have been discriminated against; they’ve borne the brunt of the American military forces. They are sick and tired of it. The vote wasn’t even close, it was overwhelming, and it was close to 4 to 1 for the election of this governor. The Abe government can force the base to be built but if I were them I wouldn’t try doing it because Okinawans are staunch. I think you are going to see a lot of demonstrations, civil disobedience; it’s going to be a mess.
An incumbent lawmaker up for re-election in Virginia said Tuesday that his constituents are complaining that polling machines at nearly two dozen locations across the state have been acting irregularly on Election Day.
At a Tuesday morning press conference, Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Virginia) expressed concern after reportedly hearing from 25 people already that day that voters experienced issues when trying to cast ballots for the incumbent in the state’s Second Congressional District — a region that includes the cities of Virginia Beach, Accomack and others.
“We have received numerous, credible reports of poll machine irregularity at voting precincts in Virginia’s Second Congressional District. This is very troubling. It is critical that every voter verifies the final summary page before pushing the ‘cast ballot’ option,” the congressman’s office said in a statement.
Watch the Video and decide for yourself. SiNeh~
“We know it's going to grow through the day,” the Huffington Post quoted Rep. Rigell as saying during an impromptu Election Day press conference Tuesday morning. “That is not an anomaly, that's a pattern, in each and every case it's going against us and in favor of our challenger."
According to Rigell, constituents complained that they were having difficulties voting for the incumbent, and that polling machines across the Second District were accidentally casting ballots for the challenger, Democrat Suzanne Patrick. Rigell’s office has since released video evidence allegedly showing the anomaly as it occurred when a Virginian attempted to cast a vote early Tuesday at a polling place in Virginia Beach.
Additionally, the Republican Party of Virginia wrote a letter to the state’s Department of Elections early Tuesday as reports of faulty machines piled up. “Voters have difficulty selecting the candidate of their choice using the touch screen because the screen's touch sensor is not properly aligned with the text that appears on the screen,” the letter reads.
According to the Virginian-Pilot, however, complaints could very well be overblown. Donna Patterson, the voter registrar for Virginia Beach, downplayed the reported irregularities to the newspaper and said, “To be honest with you, we've had more calls from Rigell's office than from voters.”
Meanwhile, the Suzanne Patrick campaign released a statement of its own to the media saying reports of improperly working machines have been rarely seen on their end.
Still from YouTube video
“Virginia has elections every year and we trust that the Department of Elections is doing everything it can to ensure accuracy during the voting process,” said campaign manager Michelle Gajewski. “We will, of course, work with election officials to ensure this accuracy. Our campaign has gotten a very low and limited number of reports about difficulties casting ballots today. In all cases, the problem was resolved quickly and the voter walked away satisfied that each had cast his or her ballot successfully.”
Previously, however, concerns have been raised elsewhere in the United States over reports that electronic voting machines similar to the ones being used in Virginia are capable of being compromised.
“It’s a classic attack on security devices,” Roger Johnston of the Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne National Laboratory told Popular Science for a report in 2012 about an exploit that effected certain machines.“You implant a microprocessor or some other electronic device into the voting machine, and that lets you control the voting and turn cheating on and off. We’re basically interfering with transmitting the voter’s intent.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (Andy Jacobsohn / Getty Images / AFP)
Will the White House soon host another President Bush? According to family members, Jeb Bush — a son of former president George H.W. Bush and the brother of the current president’s predecessor, George W. Bush — is eyeing the oval office.
With the 2016 presidential election now nearly just two years away, potential candidates are becoming increasingly pressured to announce once and for all if they’re willing to throw their hat into the race. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush has long been rumored to be considering a run in 2016 under the Republican Party ticket which, if successful, would make him the third Bush to win a presidential election in 30 years. Now, two of his sons are lending credence to those rumors by telling the media that the odds are better than ever that Jeb Bush will run in 2016.
"I think it's more than likely that he's giving this serious thought in moving forward ... that he'll run," son George P. Bush told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.
“No question,” Jeb Bush Jr., another son of the former governor, added to the New York Times, “people are getting fired up about it — donors and people who have been around the political process for a while, people he’s known in Tallahassee when he was governor. The family, we’re geared up either way.”
Additionally, Jeb Jr. added to the Times for an article published on Sunday that his mother, Columba Bush, has given Jeb Sr. her go ahead to pursue the White House. And according to one “family insider” quoted anonymous by the Times’ Peter Baker, George W. Bush — or “Bush 43,” as he’s often called to differentiate himself from his father, George H.W. Bush, or “Bush “41” — wants his brother Jeb to enter the race.
“The one person who is really, really trying to get Jeb to run is George W.,” the source told Baker. “He’s talking it up all the time.”
“The family will be behind him 100 percent,” George P. Bush, Jeb Bush's eldest son, added during the ABC News interview over the weekend.
Should Jeb Sr. embrace his family’s urges and formally announce his intent to run for president, then he is expected to get a type of boost that other GOP candidate could only hope for: along with the direct familial links to two former presidents, a Bush 2016 campaign will also almost certainly gain the support of the Washington elite that worked with both of those administration for a combined 12 years in the White House. In the Sunday article published by the Times, Baker wrote that the “Bush clan” extends beyond just common kinship, and includes decades’ worth of high-power shot-callers equipped with not just the influence, but also the monetary means that could make securing the GOP ticket, and even the White House, easier to accomplish when compared to other potential contenders.
“And then there is the larger Bush clan, the vast constellation of friends, advisers, strategists, pollsters, fund-raisers, donors and supporters assembled over several generations in public life,” Baker wrote. “With Jeb Bush, the former two-term governor of Florida, comes one more chance to reach the top. ‘They’re like horses in the stall waiting for the gate to break,’ said one family insider who has known Jeb Bush for decades and like others did not want to be named. ‘They’re all jumping up and down.’”
That isn’t to say, however, that a Bush ticket in 2016 will have the full support of the GOP. Other Republicans have been hesitant to formally announce their interest in the next presidential race, and Hillary Clinton — long rumored to be the Democratic Party’s likely pick to try and preserve the White House for the left — has all but confirmed as much. Nevertheless, Boston Globe columnist Kimberly Atkins argued on Monday this week that Jeb Bush leaves more to be desired, as far as some Republicans are concerned.
“Many Republicans, especially conservatives in crucial early voting states such as Iowa, shudder at the idea of the type of comprehensive immigration reform that Bush advocates. Others bristle at the mere idea of Common Core in their kids’ schools, another policy Bush backs. Many remain irked at his refusal to sign a no-new-taxes pledge. Still more must hold their noses before the idea of another Bush in the White House is even palatable,” Atkins opined. “But smart members of the GOP will keep their eye on one overriding fact: Bush gives the party its best shot at beating Hillary Clinton.”
Jeb Bush Sr., 61, served as the governor of Florida from 1999 through 2007. His son, George P., previously told the media that he wanted to see his father on the 2012 GOP presidential ticket that was eventually won by Mitt Romney.