Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Mark your calendar: Kokua Council’s August 25 Program: Current Trends in Elder Abuse—Making Your Advocacy Count


If this is an area you are interested in, please come on over.

Monday, August 25, 2014

11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Miyama Main Hall, Harris United Methodist Church

Nuuanu Ave. and South Vineyard Blvd.

Ample parking - driveway off Nuuanu Ave.



11:30 Luncheon (optional): Various  pizza, Salad, Dessert—$5.00 donation


11:50 Welcome: Introductions and Remarks, Larry Geller, President


12:00 Program:  “Current Trends in Elder Abuse—Making Your Advocacy Count

Guest Speaker: Scott Spallina, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Elder Abuse Justice Unit, Department of the Prosecuting Attorney, City and County of Honolulu. We’ll get current background on elder abuse in Hawaii and move towards a discussion of how to combat abuse through better advocacy.

Scott Spallina is the Supervisor of the Elder Abuse Justice Unit at the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney in Honolulu. Scott established the Elder Abuse Justice Unit in 2008, at the direction of the then Prosecuting Attorney Peter Carlisle. The goal of the unit was and still is to “enhance awareness, prevention, and prosecution of crimes affecting the elderly” in Hawaii. The current Prosecuting Attorney, Keith Kaneshiro remains committed to fighting elder abuse and improving the quality of life for all seniors in the State of Hawaii. He has expanded the unit to three additional attorneys, two staff members and three law clerks. During his 19-year career with the Prosecutor's Office, Scott also headed the Domestic Violence Branch.


12:30 Questions and Answers

1:00   Adjourn 


Another good reason to push for GMO labeling: Fake DNA Frankenfood will be next on our plates

What could possibly go wrong with vanilla flavoring brewed by DNA-manipulated yeast? Well, like genetic engineering, synbio falls into a regulatory void that often allows products to go from lab to grocery store with little or no oversight. Evolva's vanillin and resveratrol will likely sail through the Food and Drug Administration's approval process—and end up in your food without any special labeling—because they are versions of already-existing compounds and thus have "generally recognized as safe" status.

by Larry Geller

And what could possibly go wrong with creating glowing trees to replace streetlights?

Synthetic biologists also aim to conjure up self-growing buildings, streetlight-replacing glowing trees, and medicines tailored to your body's needs. No wonder the market for synbio is expected to reach $13.4 billion by 2019.

[Mother Jones, Now Your Food Has Fake DNA in It, 8/20/2014]

“Synbio” is supposed to sound better than “Frankenfood,” unless, of course, you know that’s what it means.

Check out the article. It appears that “synbio” vanilla is here, and could be appearing in food soon.

Next up: a better-tasting version of stevia, a natural, low-calorie sweetener that the soda industry hopes can replace synthetic chemicals in diet sodas.

As the article points out, the products targeted are currently grown the old-fashioned way by farmers, mostly in the global South. If factories in the North are churning out the stuff they used to grow, what will they do for a living?

Since consumers in this country haven’t yet won the war to have GMO foods labeled, there likely won’t be labeling required for Frankenfoods, either.

Unless we get our act together real soon.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


From #Ferguson to mass movement? It will take a visionary leader

"In order for a real change to occur there has to be a deeply motivated population, and that means that the deep psyche has to be involved. It's there that the creative ideas come from, in very symbolic terms at first, just images. But they have a lot of energy in them and a lot of persuasiveness, and when people hear a visionary leader when it's time for one of these revolutionary changes, there is a sort of mass movement that sweeps through a population." --John Weir Perry 

by Larry Geller

I’ve been following events in Ferguson, Missouri closely because I think they have the potential to begin a badly needed process of change in this country.

Potential is one thing, but understanding how change takes place and perhaps working to push the process along (if that’s at all possible) is another. Mostly, one-off events are relegated to history, and the mythology is distorted by the storyteller to suit whatever political needs suit them.

So I turned to the best source for thinking on visionary psychology that I know of, the late psychiatrist John Weir Perry. I’m a great fan of his book The Far Side of Madness and met him in person one day in Oregon, at a lecture on interpreting children’s drawings, of all things.

I think the roadmap is in the pull-quote above. Now, whether there is such a leader in the wings or not, I don’t know, but the “deeply motivated population” may be in place.

So how to influence the process? Perhaps by finding, identifying, or even creating the visionary leader.

Hint to all you Jungians out there: perhaps this is your mission, if you care to accept it.


#Ferguson: America’s wars come home

Middle East

Egypt calls for US restraint over Ferguson

Report says Cairo "closely" following US protests and calls on Washington to observe "international standards"—headline in Al Jazeera English news

by Larry Geller

What? Egypt is calling on the US authorities to show restraint in dealing with protestors?

This is a story tailor made for newsman Jon Stewart, who plays a comedian on TV on the Daily Show.

As the Al Jazeera article notes,

A report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) last week accused Egyptian security forces of systematically and deliberatly killing protesters at a sit-in at Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya square in August 2013.

Up to a thousand supporters of the former president, Mohamed Morsi, were killed in the clashes according to HRW.

[Al Jazeera, Egypt calls for US restraint over Ferguson, 8/19/2014]

This was a reminder, though, that there is more news in the world despite our fixation on events in Missouri: Israel is bombing Gaza again, the whole Ukraine scene is playing out, ebola is taking its toll, Syria is still aflame, warplanes are bombing Libya, and more (flash: ISIS just beheaded journalist James Foley!)… too much, in fact, to fit on the limited number of pages in our daily paper even if reporting on world events were a priority for them.

In fact, with regard to events unfolding in Ferguson, a newspaper is next to useless unless they carry lengthy, in-depth followup articles. Our daily paper was going to print last night even as events were unfolding in Missouri. The small amount of space that will be allocated to Ferguson tomorrow won’t get close to the coverage available on-line from major news outlets and social media.

This just in: another black man has been shot dead not far from Ferguson. The story is till unfolding, check your tweets or the breaking news app on your phone.

Democracies: Peace at home, war overseas

Renowned peace researcher Johan Galtung has held (and this is very paraphrased) that democracies (compared with other forms of government) may be peaceful at home, but are not necessarily better in their foreign policies, and particularly not where peace is concerned. This has certainly been the case with the US, which has supported dictators (e.g., the military-controlled government of Egypt) or highly oppressive regimes (e.g., Israel) and involved itself in almost continuous wars while maintaining peace at home.

Galtung would probably correct me, pointing out the extensive institutional violence internal to democracies. We are seeing that institutional violence play out in Ferguson, Missouri. While white people may be able to enjoy domestic “peace,” there is no peace for black people in either the north or the south of this country.

Geo 2As this Twitter map of hashtag #Ferguson illustrates, the world is on to this now, if they weren’t already.

#Ferguson is an occasion when issues of racism, police violence and lack of accountability for their murders, and the militarization of police forces nationally, can perhaps be discussed. Will the discussion take root? Who knows. The next major storm or sports event could chase Ferguson off the front pages.

Meanwhile, though, an important conversation has indeed begun. Example:

War culture

MorePolice violence in the United States should not surprise anyone. In Ferguson, Missouri, we have witnessed the use against US citizens of Iraq-tested war technologies. On August 17, 2014, a police force using armored vehicles and military tactics fired rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at peaceful protesters who had been demanding justice against Darren Wilson, a killer cop who took the life of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.

[News Junkie Post, The US War Culture Has Come Home to Roost, 8/18/2014]

Who knows if the conversation will continue (check Democracy Now, though, to see). Or stay tuned on Twitter. You don’t even have to have an account to follow the news, though it helps.

And who knows if Florrisant Ave (360 degree panorama at link) will become the next Tahrir Square… it doesn’t quite have the correct ring to it. For now, though, it’s all we have.

Monday, August 18, 2014


The world watches the US embarrass itself in #Ferguson, Missouri

Twitter compiled every geotagged tweet that mentioned Ferguson and plugged them all into one map. What begins as an area tragedy in the Midwest on Aug. 9 evolves into a national news story by Aug. 11. If the blips are any indication, Ferguson was a trending topic in North America and Europe for most of the week, and a topic of conversation across every continent on the planet.

by Larry Geller

Everyone is watching #Ferguson, from everywhere. Even little ‘ol Hawaii lights up on the map:

Geo 2

I’ve watched several different live streams this evening—one was broadcast quality. It was like being there. But it stayed far from the action. Another was an amateur journalist who (unlike the pros) didn’t hang out behind the yellow tape with his expensive camera on a tripod—he ventured out with his smartphone, hung out with the protesters, and experienced live ammunition whizzing over his head.

Live smoke projectiles in streetLive smoke projectile landed in street

Even without watching a livestream, you can be connected just by watching tweets. These are from right now, half an hour ago, actually, since I had to take a snip while writing this:




There’s an opportunity for change in the air… the militarization of the American police force—and their endemic racism—are on display for the world to see. Perhaps there will be change. One can hope.

Needless to say, there's nothing to be proud of here. Michael Brown's death, and the events that have followed, brings shame to the nation. It may be the fact that the United States so consistently fails to live up to its lofty ideals about justice and freedom when it comes to its African American population that makes it a story that's compelling across the world.

[Citylab, Twitter Made an Amazing Map of Twitter Going Nuts Over Ferguson, 8/14/2014]


Sign petition to block criminalization of homelessness in Honolulu

The message below is from Kathryn Xian. Please consider signing the petition at the link provided.

Aloha, Friend:

Please sign and share widely: The City and IHS seek to criminalize displaced families and houseless persons in Waikiki and island-wide. Let's unite and help stop this new form of unjust internment of the extreme poor.

Once again Honolulu's City Council seeks to pass bills which would criminalize sitting or lying down on the sidewalk, disproportionately affecting displaced families and other houseless persons. The sidewalks are the only public place left for displaced persons to legally exist.
Mayor Caldwell and Connie Mitchell of IHS have publicly stated that the homeless need to be "dis-incentivized" from living on the streets. But the City has not provided adequate housing or public restrooms to accommodate the growing number of people in poverty. And, IHS does not have adequate bedspace available for the entire population, and many choose not to accept shelter at IHS for very valid reasons, such as bed bugs, cruel treatment, and high fees ranging from $90 to $400 per person/month.

Please share this!


Kathryn Xian
Executive Director
Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery (PASS)
a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization


For Furguson coverage, visit or watch on `Olelo

by Larry Geller

The best daily coverage I’ve seen of the ongoing rebellion in Furguson, Missouri has been on Democracy Now. Pick any recent program from their website. Today’s is excellent.

I’ll have to admit that I did not know that Dred Scott is buried down the same street where the current protests are taking place. That was the subject of the final segment of today’s broadcast. It was noted that at this time,, our current Supreme Court is rolling back civil rights and voting protections.

The world is watching Flurguson, and they are also watching Democracy Now along with Twitter and the major international news organizations. Racism in this country is on display. Amnesty International has dispatched 13 observers and Obama spoke today about the situation. Attorney General Holder will be there on Wednesday. Even UN Secretary-General Ban K-moon (remember him?) expressed concern for the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.

DN Dred Scott

Dred Scott decision

Each broadcast reveals more about the institutional racism in Furguson. It’s no longer only about the murder of one black man.



Warrior cops

Maybe Ban Ki-moon has a point. Here are tweets hot off the screen:


Press freedom


Just some more tweets:



Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Mental Health America Hawaii releases its Human Services Directory

by Larry Geller

The timing is painful: we’ve just lost Robin Williams to an apparent suicide. Could he have been helped?

This morning a mass email announced the publication of Mental Health America’s updated Finding Help Human Services Directory. It’s a list of phone numbers for a variety of services, not limited to mental health. For example, they also list senior services. It’s not posted on their web page yet, apparently, so get your copy from the link above. A valuable contribution.

MHA-Hawaii also accepts donations here.

I hope this could turn into a phone app one day, so that smartphone users could just press a button to find out where to find or get help. It would be relatively simple to do, given the tools available these days for writing simple apps.

Monday, August 11, 2014


Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: Needed: Regime Change in Israel

Like Rabbi Michael Lerner, my non-Jewish heart is also bleeding for Judaism and the Israel that could have been. The present regime is a traitor to both, driving into the abyss. Yet they have parliamentary and democratic, voter, support? Except that parliaments are not infallible, democracies can be wrong; even more so if the people think they have a divine mandate….

Needed: Regime Change in Israel

11 August 2014

by Johan Galtung, 11 Ago 2014 - TRANSCEND Media Service

Like so many, like millions, this author’s heart is bleeding for the killed and bereaved in Gaza–so disturbingly similar to the Warsaw ghetto in 1943. With Arab and Western governments doing nothing; like the Red Army. But the latter was heading for Berlin. And the West uses Ukraine as a distraction, trying to hit Moscow.

Like Rabbi Michael Lerner, my non-Jewish heart is also bleeding for Judaism and the Israel that could have been. The present regime is a traitor to both, driving into the abyss. Yet they have parliamentary and democratic, voter, support? Except that parliaments are not infallible, democracies can be wrong; even more so if the people think they have a divine mandate. England, the mother of parliaments–once thought it had; colonized 25% of the world and is now hanging on to the “united kingdom”. The USA still feels covenanted to the Lord but is lording over less and less; Japan suffers from similar Sun Goddess delusions.

So does the present Israeli regime, but there is enough sanity left. By “pathology” it is meant not only the megalomaniac-paranoid component but the deficient sense of reality. Particularly:

Pathology 1: The delusion of victory being feasible, destroying tunnels, rockets and hard core Hamas. Finite goals, reachable. But this is autistic actio with no sense of reactio. Kill one Hamas, produce ten. Rule over ruins of mosques and UN schools and children’s corpses in Gaza and occupied West Bank-East Jerusalem moves, inside Israel moves. Floods of tears, grief and hatred, and strong forces rejecting the tamed Arab state system now fight for an Islamic State. An Ottoman caliphate with no special role for Turkey and Istanbul?

And sooner or later pressure inside Western countries to withdraw ambassadors from Tel Aviv, like the UN recognizing Palestine, step up BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions). Down the road: US ire overflows, “Israel: you have become a liability”. Like Philippines, South Africa. And asylum in the USA.

Pathology No. 2: imputing symmetry to conquest-colonialism. Throughout history the conquered-colonized resist, fight back, for freedom; Palestine is no exception. To see Hamas just as a belligerent with rockets, as the real enemy to be defeated, is the delusion of all terrorists, state like Israel or non-state: “If you only get rid of what we hate terrorism will stop”.

To the contrary, the terrorized turn against the terrorists instead–later on maybe settling some political accounts. True, the wisdom of fighting a militarily very strong regime with military means can be doubted, however psychologically understandable, but who are we to judge? Norway occupied by the hated Germans also combined violence and nonviolence. The German regime collapsed, a new Germany emerged.

Pathology No. 3: to believe that at the end of this expansionism “secure and recognized borders” are waiting, and hence “peace”. From the Nile to Euphrates, the Genesis promise, involving 9 states by the present map, with Y-h as guarantor? Face it, the regime prefers expansion to security, and may end up with neither one, nor the other.

The obvious alternative, 1-2-6-20 may not be available forever:

1: A Palestine fully recognized, also by Israel;

2: A 1967 two-states nucleus for sustainable peace, with some swaps, and Israeli cantons in sacred places on the West Bank, and Palestine cantons in Northwest Israel where most of the Nakba took place;

6: A six-states Middle East Community of Israel with its five Arab neighbors–Lebanon-Syria-Jordan-Palestine recognized-Egypt. Model: the six-state Treaty of Rome European Community of 1 January 1958.

20: An Organization for Security and Cooperation for West Asia. Model: OSCE for Europe, related to the Helsinki 1972-75 conference, with the neighbors of the five neighbors and some of their neighbors–also with Iraq-Syria, IS(IS), Kurds on the agenda. Initiative: UN.

In short: security through peace, not the delusion of the opposite.

There is nothing anti-Israel in this. Israel as a state with Jewish characteristics–not a “Jewish state” (read: only for Jews) is there, learning how to live in peace with others. True, it is Buber, not Jabotinsky–the latter leads but to the Wall and to:

The Underlying Pathology: Displaced aggression against the Palestinians. To dump the bill for European, particularly Nazi-German atrocities at the feet of the Arabs, particularly the Palestinians, instead of carving out an Israel on German lands is bad enough. But there is historical legitimation for a Zion-Israel in the Middle East, like the pre-1967 accepted by most. Horrendous: to do to the Palestinians, step-by-step, escalating, what Germans did to Jews. Proving “manhood” or whatever on somebody weaker than themselves. The Warsaw ghetto was emptied; there are voices for an empty Gaza. The genocide on top of the sociocide is already there in the killing of children and women. Nobody believes the IDF to be bad at targeting.

The many steps of Nazi atrocities not trodden by this ill-conceived scenario should not be used to legitimize the steps taken. Just like belligerent cannot hide behind “we did not use nuclear bombs”, the present regime cannot hide behind “no gas chambers”.

That pathological regime has to yield to sanity. In my own numerous visits to Israel, talking about 1-2-6-20 (six visits from early 1971), Israeli women have invited me to contemplate their situation, caught between the definition of a Jew as born by a Jewish mother and the way they are treated by the religious aspect of Zionism, orthodox zionism (not reformed). Make no mistake, they favor an Israel with Jewish characteristics, but distance themselves enough from the four pathologies to constitute a solid basis for an alternative. Very, very many men will join them. Look at statements from the “secret” agencies and army leaders themselves these recent years, much stronger than anything said above. My intuition tells me that some of them may even be preparing a regime change.

Not even the USA can force change upon Israel. Antisemitism certificates will be issued, history will be invoked. But everything has its limits. And the present regime has overstepped theirs.


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He is author of over 150 books on peace and related issues, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 3.0 United States License.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Video: “This Land Is Mine” by Nina Paley

As cartoonist Nina Paley says on her website,

Due to horrific recent events, This Land Is Mine has gone viral again.

Click thingy near bottom right for full-screen. For a guide to who is killing whom in the video, click the above link.


This Land Is Mine from Nina Paley on Vimeo.

Monday, August 04, 2014


The missing absentee ballots—is a vendor responsible?

by Larry Geller

It took a few phone calls, but I learned today that there is a vendor involved in the mailing of the absentee ballots to voters who requested them. So if a person did not receive their ballot, it could be a problem with this third-party arrangement.

The story is not yet complete—I hope the City Clerk’s office will be able to investigate and provide more information. I left my contact information in case they do investigate. But here’s what I learned so far.

We went to Honolulu Hale to vote in person because our ballots have not arrived. The clerk added us to a list of absentee ballot numbers that would have to be cancelled in the computer because of the in-person votes.

Now, the reason people voted in person is not known specifically—for example, someone could have spoiled their ballot. Most likely, though, as I found out separately, some people just never got their absentee ballots. The clerk at Honolulu Hale told me that several people reported to him that they had not received their absentee ballots.

It’s probably hard to say how many people did not receive ballots. Sure, the vast majority of voters got theirs promptly. And how many times does the US Post Office go wrong? Really, the percentage must be negligible.

So there should be some investigation to estimate just how many ballots were not delivered. Is there a shoebox someplace with yet unmailed ballots?

The City Clerk’s office is responsible for mailing the ballots. They, in turn, hired a vendor, named as EMSS. Our ballots were mailed (or should have been mailed) by the vendor at the end of June or by early July. Today is August 4, that’s too long to wait.

Knowing how the universe works, having written and posted this article, our ballots will arrive in the next mail. Still, it’s August 4, many people can’t get over to Honolulu Hale to vote in person as we did because they can’t get away from work.

As to requesting that a duplicate ballot be mailed to us, at this point I don’t even know if I have faith that the mailed-in ballots would be properly counted. I hope there’s no vendor involved in that process. So we went in and voted in person, but we should not have had to.


Be a proxy for the OHA vote

by Larry Geller

I personally don’t believe that non-Hawaiians should vote for OHA representatives, but that’s the way it is.

So each time, I ask for advice from Native Hawaiians whom I trust, and use that for guidance.  In a sense, doing this amplifies their vote. So I kind of make myself a “proxy” instead of choosing by myself.

If you feel similarly, try it. Ask.

Of course, you still have to choose if you get several conflicting recommendations…

I thought I would post the recommendations I received here, but I’m somehow not completely confident about doing that, so please ask someone on your own.

Sunday, August 03, 2014


Disappeared absentee ballots? Did anyone else not get their Hawaii absentee ballots yet?

by Larry Geller

It’s very rare that the US post office loses anything. but neither of us here at disappeared news land have received our absentee ballots in the mail. The County Clerks office advised on the phone that they had been mailed, so where are they?

When I called on two different occasions, I got two slightly different answers—one was mailed “early July” and the other was “by July 18th.”

Either way, as of yesterday, they have not yet been delivered.

Were they indeed sent?

Is there anyone else out there who has not yet received a ballot? Which island are you on?

Thursday, July 31, 2014


UH digs into the garbage can, fires Apple


by Larry Geller

Well, perhaps, but no need to be surprised.

All this said, it’s rather amazing, in the dead of summer, how many students and faculty members you can find who have been appalled at the amateurish way Bachman Hall has managed to do this.

[Civil Beat, Community Voice, Bachman Hall Bumbling, 7/31/2014]

University, heal thyself. It can be done.

What is taught at the business school can be applied to management of the university itself.

I’ve previously written about the “garbage can model” of management that seems to fit UH (as well as some other mid-level colleges and universities, but not the top schools, which have figured out how to manage themselves):

Why “garbage cans”? It was suggested that organizations tend to produce many “solutions” which are discarded due to a lack of appropriate problems. However problems may eventually arise for which a search of the garbage might yield fitting solutions. A snip from a glossary of terms:

… Organizations operate on the basis of inconsistent and ill-defined preferences; their own processes are not understood by their members; they operate by trial and error; their boundaries are uncertain and changing; decision-makers for any particular choice change capriciously. To understand organizational processes, one can view choice opportunities as garbage cans into which various kinds of problems and solutions are dumped. The mix of garbage depends on the mix of labeled cans available, on what garbage is currently produced and the speed with which garbage and garbage cans are removed.

[ Economic Geography Glossary]

The situation preceding Apple’s firing as described in Ian Lind’s UH freeze may stem from “do whatever it takes” order to fund Cancer Center (, 7/31/2014) and in particular in the article he references in the Hawaii Independent, Apple cored: business as usual at UH (Hawaii Independent, 7/29/2014) is a perfect demonstration of uncertain and changing boundaries.

If the university administration had well-established procedures and policies that they could rely upon, there would be some resistance to manipulation by influential state senators, for example, as alleged in the Hawaii Independent article.

Now, if the affairs of the Cancer Center are important to Hawaii, involvement of stakeholders (including legislators) does not seem inappropriate. But follow the narrative in the article—if there are outside forces “pulling [UH president] Lassner’s strings,” and all he has to guide his actions is a dip into the garbage can, then management of UH will always be subject to the strength of outside winds and political storms.

Policies and procedures found in the garbage can are there for a reason.

But the Legislature can fulfill a more important function if it wishes. As I wrote in a Star-Advertiser Island Voices op-ed after the inquisition conducted by the Special Committee on Accountability hearings led by state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim after the “Wonder blunder” incident (Legislative interference threatens long-term viability of UH, Star-Advertiser, 10/22/2012):

Instead of placing blame, it would be far more productive for the Legislature and other concerned individuals to offer assistance to UH with an aim to strengthening its internal governance so that a similar incident is less likely to happen in the future. The university has structural management issues that go far deeper than current or future leadership can likely deal with. What might help would be a makeover by organization development professionals.

While a university does not operate exactly like a corporation, it is possible to put in place structures of management that enable the organization to avoid compounding problems that inevitably occur. The operation of the UH with its many inter-departmental communications problems and uncertain boundaries of responsibility is characteristic of the so-called "garbage-can" model of organization. This needs to be replaced.

If the special committee convenes again, it would be refreshing — and a service to present and future UH graduates and to the state economy — if the committee would replace its current star-chamber tactics with a sincere offer to help.

Bottom line (a useful management cliché), it will be one thing after another at UH until internal processes are strengthened. That can begin at any time, even now, even under UH’s current leadership. Perhaps with some help, but one way or another, they need to start down a path that will lead to strength and confidence in the organization’s leadership.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Flashback to “high-tech” Hawaii

by Larry Geller

And I thought Hawaii was a data processing backwater. Well, it may help to know that it’s not just our state government that is mired in the computer dark ages. Sit down before reading this.

John Oliver was astonished at how backward the US government’s atomic bomb launch system computers still are. Here, in a snap from Sunday’s show, vlcsnap-2014-07-29-09h51m54s196he appears surprised that our government is still using 8” floppy disks.

That is amazing.


Flashback to technology shock in Hawaii

The first real computer we owned was an NEC PC98, which came with an 8” hard drive, an 8” floppy drive, and a dual 5 1/4” floppy disk drive. The whole kit was quite an investment.

As I recall, the capacity of the 8” floppy was 1 megabyte, double sided (?). Yes, megabyte. One of them. Not gigabyte. Megabyte.

The capacity of the hard drive was all of 5 megabytes. Yes.

And that was in the early 1980’s I think, or maybe a bit earlier.

Now, we shift to Hawaii.

When we arrived in 1988 and I reported to the office for work, they had an IBM PC with two floppies. You put the operating system in one and the data in the other. I can’t recall if they also had a single-floppy IBM PC. At that time, we had a 6 megahertz PC AT clone at home with hard drive and all the works.

But the government business development agency, DBED (no “T” yet), was touting Hawaii as the “center of the Pacific” for high-tech. Sheesh.

All this makes me wonder if there are still any 8” floppies in our state government computers. Probably not, because another thing I discovered shortly after arrival is that there seemed to be a kind of maintenance gap. Things were budgeted for purchase but no money allocated for repair, and often treated badly.

As an example, the Department of Health was running its computers not in racks or on tables but on the floor, where of course they collected dust and dirt and overheated. At least, that was one of the excuses given for DOH’s plan to close the Diamond Head clubhouse—they needed the space for the computers. It took 300 concerned people working together—and a phone call from Gov. Cayetano—to get that plan scotched. DOH was somehow unwilling to buy shelves or tables and get those computers up off the floor.

We still have catching up to do, as evidenced by news stories highlighting system failures in the tax office, for example. But from John Oliver’s Sunday night segment, it seems that the US government hasn’t bothered to catch up, putting our lives at risk since Oliver was describing our atomic bomb delivery system. Yes, atomic bombs that could be launched by a computer system still using 8” floppy disks.

But hold on—it could be worse. They could try to update the system, and then we’d all be in trouble. Maybe it’s better just left alone.

Friday, July 25, 2014


Settlement reached in (de) Occupy Honolulu suit against City and County of Honolulu

by Larry Geller

A settlement agreement was filed today in federal court in the case of (de) Occupy Honolulu vs. the City and County of Honolulu, over the alleged illegal seizure of personal property by the City.

As with many similar agreements, there is no admission of wrongdoing.

Reading the agreement brings no sense of the magnitude and expense of the actions it disposes of.

The City conducted approximately 60 raids on the encampment located on the 20130502_173035_thumb1sidewalks around Thomas Square Park, ultimately blocking off the sidewalk by restricting its width with concrete planters on both Beretania St. and S. King St. from Ward Avenue to Victoria St.

garbage truck[4]Numerous photos and videos documented raids at which the City disposed of personal belongings into garbage trucks, in violation of its own ordinances. During the course of the lawsuit, although the city continued to bring garbage trucks to the raids, it could not use them without violating court orders.

Although there is no admission of wrongdoin, the agreement calls for a payment of $1,000 to be divided among the individual plaintiffs and the return of their property held by the City, and allows for the possibility of payment of attorneys’ fees, subject to court approval and appeal.

While $1,000 is not a considerable sum, the attorneys put in many hours of work on this case, and at prevailing rates, their fees would greatly exceed the value of the settlement.

Who “won?” You figure it out. The repeated raids made little sense and cost taxpayers far more than the litigation.

Perhaps, now that the case has settled, since Thomas Square is a historic location, a brass plaque might be affixed to one of the planters explaining to future generations that this Honolulu “Stonehenge” was erected in frustration after a punitive, arguably illegal, and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to dislodge what was at that time likely the longest Occupy encampment still standing in the country.

A copy of the agreement appears below. This is an unofficial copy, do not rely upon it.

Download: Settlement Agreement: (de) Occupy case against Honolulu city government from Disappeared News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Mark your calendar: July 28: Measuring Social Change: Some Ideas and Discussion

Find out how to make your own advocacy more effective, and how to demonstrate that it makes a difference

Kokua Council monthly meeting
Monday, July 28, 2014

11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Miyama Main Hall, Harris United Methodist Church

Nuuanu Ave. and South Vineyard Blvd.

Ample parking - driveway off Nuuanu Ave.



11:30 Luncheon (optional): Various Subway Sandwiches or pizza, Salad, Dessert—$5.00 donation


11:50 Welcome: Introductions and Remarks, Larry Geller, President


12:00 Program: Measuring Social Change: Some Ideas and Discussion”

Guest Speaker: Darlene Rodrigues, Community Grants Program Coordinator, Hawai‘i People's Fund

Organizations such as the Kokua Council are striving to make positive differences in the lives of seniors and others in Hawaii. How do we measure social change and improve the effectiveness of our advocacy? How do we know if we are making a difference?


12:30 Questions and Answers

1:00   Adjourn 

Wednesday, July 09, 2014


Ian Lind discovers yet another defective financial disclosure, this one at the top level of state government

by Larry Geller

Ian Lind dissected the latest financial disclosure form submitted by Governor Abercrombie’s chief of staff, Bruce Coppa, in an article posted yesterday: Conflicts can lurk among undisclosed clients (, 7/8/2014).

Who is Bruce Coppa?

Bruce Coppa is Governor Abercrombie’s chief of staff. In that position, he also holds the title of administrative director of the state. He’s the top appointed administrator in the executive branch.

And what’s of interest in his filing?

Ian’s eagle eye noted that this disclosure form indicates a sharp increase in high-end real estate sales, even while Coppa was serving in this key role in state government. On his financial disclosure form Coppa entered an “E” in the income category for Hawaii 5-0 Properties, Inc.

That “E” represents a sum of at least $50,000 but less than $100,000. That’s an increase from the $25-49,999 that Coppa reported from real estate sales over the past two reporting periods.

But Ian also reported that Coppa failed to disclose his state income on the form.

At the bottom of the form is a signature block

Coppa Form

CERTIFICATION: By checking this box or signing your name on this form, you signify and affirm that you are the person whose name appears as the "Filer” above and the information contained in the form is true, correct and complete to the best of your knowledge and belief. You further certify that you understand that there are statutory penalties for failing to report the information required by Hawaii law.

Now, readers of Disappeared News may remember that two years ago Ian reported that Senator Clayton Hee had filed a series of false disclosure reports—see: Politically powerful state senator files false ethics reports (, 5/21/2011). And then, some months later:

The State Ethics Commission was “troubled” by Senator Clayton Hee’s filing of inaccurate or incomplete personal financial disclosure statements over a period of five years or more, but took no further action against the windward Oahu senator.

[, Senator Hee escapes ethics penalties despite commission concerns, 10/22/2011]

At first, the Ethics Commission replaced the erroneous filings with amended filings, which effectively obscured the issue, but soon posted both the originals and the amended forms. No further action appears to have been taken, so far as the penalties, at least.

Several months later, I posted three more situations (no doubt there are more, this was just intended as a sample) of disclosures which omitted income or even mentions of employment.

Three more

Noting the silence from the Ethics Commission, I checked their web page at intervals and posted articles noting that no amended forms had been filed.

So we have a law that is intended to produce transparency in government and act as a watchdog against abuses--which can simply be ignored. In other words, de facto, no transparency.

Ian was left to wonder in his current article:

I have to wonder when Hawaii’s top administrative officer finds the time to not only continue, but apparently expand his personal real estate activities?

And, yes, I do wonder about whether any of the business steered his way creates potential conflicts of interest?

What else might be omitted in financial disclosure forms, given that the filers do not have to fear penalties for not reporting? We don’t know. These are Rumsfeld’s “unknown unknowns” and they are possible because accuracy in filing disclosure forms seems not to be effectively enforced.

I know I’m not making friends over at the Ethics Commission by pointing out these issues. I also am aware that they may not have the budget to do all that is expected of them. On the other hand, letting another politically powerful officeholder escape the Commission’s authority would demonstrate that its authority is ineffective.

Does the statute need repair? Is there any reason why it is not being enforced? Where is the Commission statement on this? Isn’t some reaction to its inaction called for?

Nevertheless, we have a statute and officeholders are subject to it: “You further certify that you understand that there are statutory penalties for failing to report the information required by Hawaii law.”

But the message is that unless caught by a blogger, no one will know about what has been intentionally or unintentionally hidden from the public, and even if caught, it really doesn’t matter at all.

So Ethics Commission, Ian’s done the sleuthing, now over to you.

Monday, July 07, 2014


Troubling questions plague Honolulu's rush to criminalize homelessness

By H. Doug Matsuoka

[The criminalization bills in this post are up for second hearing on Wednesday, July 9, 2014, on the 2pm agenda. The hearings will be on the campus of Windward Community College at Hale Akoakoa.]

The Mayor's Message:
On June 12, 2014, Honolulu's Mayor Caldwell sent a message (MM58) to the Honolulu City Council along with drafts of two proposed ordinances. These drafts were immediately introduced by Council Chair Ernie Martin and scheduled for the first of three required public hearings only 14 days later, on June 26.

"With the Council's support, I anticipate that together we can make significant improvements for our Waikiki businesses, workers, and visitors." Honolulu's residents, the general public, and the homeless — all constituents of the City & County of Honolulu — are notably missing from the list of beneficiaries.

The Bills:
Bill 42 is the "sit/lie" bill making it a crime to sit or lie down on the sidewalk in Waikiki. Bill 45 extends this island-wide. Violators will face up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. If you are camping out in line for the new iPhone, you are exempt. I'm not kidding.

Bill 43 makes it illegal to pee or poo in public in Waikiki, and its counterpart Bill 46 extends that island-wide. To help force the issue, the Mayor has been closing public restrooms early. The criminalization of those literally "without a pot to pee in" strikes many people as unfair, unconstitutional, mean, and idiotic. Indeed the testimony submitted in writing and at hearing was overwhelmingly in opposition to these bills.

The Problems and Unanswered Questions:
Here are a few highlight testimonies that bring up major problems with these bills:

Councilmember Breene Harimoto is on record opposing this sort of criminalization of homelessness and his testimony on June 26 articulates his objections. (Harimoto will be leaving the Council for the State Senate this coming January as he is running unopposed for the seat vacated by David Ige who is candidate for Governor.)

Harimoto: "The fact of the matter is that the homeless issue didn’t happen overnight. This situation has been brewing for years — I would say even decades. And it’s reached a crisis situation. And here we are today trying to find a quick fix. I think we’re fooling ourselves to think that we can solve this by making this law."

Activist Kathryn Xian found major flaws in the Mayor's ad hoc effort:

Xian: "If you want to help the homeless, this is not part of a comprehensive plan. You have models for comprehensive plans that have been proven to work. Criminalizing the homeless is not part of a comprehensive plan. It is unconstitutional. It divides our community between rich and poor."

The sit/lie bills are practically clones of last year's Bill 59, which was the first proposed ordinance to so directly and blatantly violate King Kamehameha's Kanawai Mamalahoe (Law of the Splintered Paddle). What makes this notable is that Kamehameha's law is enshrined in the Hawaii State Constitution and is well known to the public as a principle means of protection from the abuse of power. It literally grants safety to those who "lie by the roadside." (See my post discussing this in relation to last year's Bill 59).

The City's Corporation Council has signed off on the legality of these proposed ordinances, yet last two year's sidewalk ordinances are still subject to Federal Court proceedings.

Activist and Hawaiian cultural practitioner Laulani Teale quoted Hawaii attorney Derek Kauanoe's research on the subject.

Teale quoting Kauanoe: "Honolulu's several anti-homeless ordinances helped rank our city among the 'meanest to the homeless' by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. This is precisely the type of government conduct the Law of the Splintered Paddle was intended to protect people against."

Councilmember Kymberly Pine couldn't vote for previous bills that so literally violated Kamehameha's law. Here's her testimony against last year's Bill 59:

Pine: "I have a strong objection to the term 'lying down.' It's just something my district would not support as my district does interpret Hawaiian law very seriously. We do have the largest Hawaiian Homes population and the terminology 'lying down' does violate their belief of what the constitution is."

How will Councilmember Pine and the rest of the Council resolve the issues that plague these criminalization bills? Bill 59 was deferred by public outcry. Yet that bill was resurrected by the Mayor in Bills 42 and 45.

I plan to be at the hearing on July 9 to lend my presence against these bills. On the next page are links to the bills and othe relevant info. Hope to see you there.

H. Doug Matsuoka
6 July 2014

Makiki, Honolulu

Links and info on next page:

Read more »

Sunday, July 06, 2014


Disappeared: Honolulu City Council hearing videos

By H. Doug Matsuoka

If you want to catch the Honolulu City Council hearings you could always count on the hearing videos being mounted within minutes at the Council's citizen page ( No longer. The last video mounted is of the May 28, 2014, Budget Committee meeting.

This made it difficult for me to find out what happened at the June 26, 2014, Planning and Zoning Committee hearing where the newest slew of bills criminalizing homelessness were to be heard after being rushed through first hearing that very morning. The video wasn't mounted, and I noticed nothing mounted since May 28.

The DVD I requested was delivered a couple of days later, but this sort of disappearing act doesn't speak to the transparency in government issue very well, does it?

Since the Council didn't post a video, I guess I'll do it here as a public service if you want to watch the whole 3.5 hearing. Else I'll have excerpts and something to say in a few hours.

In the meantime, why not email your Councilmember and demand that hearing videos be posted immediately after the hearing.

Stay tuned for some excerpts regarding criminalization of the homeless...

6 July 2014

Makiki, Honolulu

Friday, July 04, 2014


Repost: History that should not—and will not—disappear: July 4, 1894, illegal overthrow of Hawaii completed

President Cleveland further concluded that a "substantial wrong has thus been done which a due regard for our national character as well as the rights of the injured people requires we should endeavor to repair" and called for the restoration of the Hawaiian monarchy.

by Larry Geller

Cannon on the steps of Iolani palace

Cannon on the steps of the occupied Iolani Palace

On July 4, 1894, the Republic of Hawaii was declared, with Sanford B. Dole as president. The illegal overthrow of the independent nation of Hawaii was complete.

Yes, although your daily paper may want you to forget this, it is history that should not be ignored. There’s even a federal law confirming the truth of the history they refuse to print.

From the Apology Resolution, United States Public Law 103-150:

Whereas, in a message to Congress on December 18, 1893, President Grover Cleveland reported fully and accurately on the illegal acts of the conspirators, described such acts as an "act of war, committed with the participation of a diplomatic representative of the United States and without authority of Congress", and acknowledged that by such acts the government of a peaceful and friendly people was overthrown... President Cleveland further concluded that a "substantial wrong has thus been done which a due regard for our national character as well as the rights of the injured people requires we should endeavor to repair" and called for the restoration of the Hawaiian monarchy.

Whereas, the indigenous Hawaiian people never directly relinquished their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people or over their national lands to the United States, either through their monarchy or through a plebiscite or referendum.

A treaty of annexation was never passed by Congress, and President Grover Cleveland withdrew the treaty. Then on this day in history…

On July 4, 1894, the archipelago's new leaders responded to this rebuff by proclaiming a Republic of Hawaii, with Sanford Dole as president. Under its constitution, most legislators would be appointed rather than elected, and only men with savings and property would be eligible for public office. This all but excluded native Hawaiians from the government of their land… [From Overthrow, a book by Stephen Kinzer]

What was the motivation? Need you ask? Why is the US in Iraq?From the Washington Post review of Overthrow:

As Stephen Kinzer tells the story in Overthrow, America's century of regime changing began not in Iraq but Hawaii. Hawaii? Indeed. Kinzer explains that Hawaii's white haole minority -- in cahoots with the U.S. Navy, the White House and Washington's local representative -- conspired to remove Queen Liliuokalani from her throne in 1893 as a step toward annexing the islands. The haole plantation owners believed that by removing the queen (who planned to expand the rights of Hawaii's native majority) and making Hawaii part of the United States, they could get in on a lucrative but protected mainland sugar market. Ever wonder why free trade has such a bad name?

The road leading up to the declaration of the Republic of Hawaii was rocky, and can’t be summed up in a short blog article. Did you know, for example, that a US Senate investigation revealed that a bribe had been offered to Queen Liliuokalani to turn against her people and support the Republic? This snip is from a New York Times article on the Senate investigation, dated 1/29/1894:


The declaration of the Republic was not a single, static event. There was considerable debate in Congress on resolutions condemning the overthrow and proposed annexation. For example, this snip from the 1/25/1894 New York Times will give you an idea of the complexity that we lose in simplifying Hawaii’s history:


Each article is much longer than the snips above. It would be worthwhile to skim the New York Times for a complete account of the Congressional debate. The articles are available on-line for the harvesting..

If you’re not familiar with Hawaiian history, beware of websites that work hard to re-write it. The true picture of the overthrow is not pretty, nor can the acts of the US government be justified or whitewashed. Google cautiously.

Let your children know that there is more to July 4 than barbeques and fireworks. It is a holiday that tears people apart here in Hawaii. See how you can work this history into your celebrations and festivities, so that it will never disappear.


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