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, he 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 sidewalks 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.
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.
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
Kokua Council monthly meeting
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
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 (ilind.net, 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
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 (ilind.net, 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.
[ilind.net, 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.
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
[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.
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
Links and info on next page:
Read more »
Sunday, July 06, 2014
Disappeared: Honolulu City Council hearing videos
Friday, July 04, 2014
Repost: History that should not—and will not—disappear: July 4, 1894, illegal overthrow of Hawaii completed
by Larry Geller
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.
Tuesday, July 01, 2014
Will proposed punitive laws make it illegal to sit while nursing a baby on the sidewalks of Honolulu?
by Larry Geller
One last thought on the nursing one’s baby issue.
If the Honolulu City Council passes its punitive ordinances as expected, it will become illegal in Honolulu to sit down on the sidewalk and nurse a baby, or just carry an infant, for example. Mothers will have to stand up.
Of course, a new law will be enforced selectively against the homeless, that’s the motivation for these laws in the first place.
Since most people have smartphones with cameras, I hope that there will be video documentation when HPD puts the cuffs on a mom holding her infant on her lap on the sidewalk.
Thank you, City Council, for being such caring and thoughtful human beings.
Update on nursing controversy at IHS
“In Hawaii, there's an expectation that you are discreet," Mitchell said. But she couldn't describe the level of exposure because she hasn't seen Penley nursing.
by Larry Geller
A story posted on the Star-Advertiser website, Honolulu shelter will allow mother to nurse openly (Star-Advertiser, 7/1/2014) sheds more light on the issue reported earlier by HawaiiNewsNow. And it’s not much of an improvement.
In Homeless vs. shelter rules—what really happened at IHS in this breastfeeding incident? (7/1/2014) I commented on reports that rules imposed by the various shelters keep people out. I assumed that it was a staff member who interacted with Ms. Penley, but of course we don’t know what was said. The Star-Advertiser story confirms that it was a staff member, anyway.
What we do know is that IHS executive director Connie Mitchell, according to the the pull-quote above from the on-line story, despite the controversy, had not yet herself seen this mother nursing. You’d think she’d check this out.
Hypothetical: a blind man with a service dog enters a restaurant. The restaurant owner thinks that customers will be bothered by seeing a dog in the restaurant, so offers the blind man a seat in a separate room away from the main dining room.
Is that legal? Is that right?
Next: Hypothetical: a woman chooses to breast feed her infant in a homeless shelter in Honolulu. Like the restaurant owner, those who run the facility think people will be bothered at the sight. So she is offered a room separate from everyone else.
The two are not quite the same, but the question is similar. There are laws that apply, and that make the activity legal. Is it right for IHS to separate someone from everyone else?
Hobby Lobby may permit new options for religious fanatics of all stripes and then some—let the craziness begin
How would conservatives and their agents respond if a company with Islamic beliefs (however defined) decided to impose its religious values on white, Christian, American employees?
Sharia hysteria would spread in such a way as to make the present day-to-day Islamophobia of the Right-wing echo chamber appear benign and muted by comparison.
This argument is popping up all over the web, it’s not exactly “disappeared news.” But check out this article if you like, I think it covers a lot of ground.What if a Muslim Company Used the 'Hobby Lobby' Decision to Impose Its Values on White Christians? (dailykos, 6/30/2014)
Maybe I should start a new religion—one that doesn’t believe in the existence of the Supreme Court. Then do I get to ignore its rulings?
Vancouver charity tries innovate approach to temporary shelter problem
The news: A Vancouver charity, RainCity Housing, is converting city benches into pop-up shelters for homeless people. And by giving homeless people in this rainy city some dry coverage and a place to rest.
These benches would have not been allowed to be placed there without the approval of the City of Vancouver, who have vowed to end homelessness in it's city by 2015 and has been promoting projects such as this and many other to try and achieve that goal. These types of initiatives don't happen without some political will behind them and the city of Vancouver has made some big efforts to curb homelessness.
by Larry Geller
The daytime city bench uses UV rays from sunlight, so the bench reads, "This is a bench." Then at night, glow-in-the-dark wording appears, saying, "This is a bedroom," and drives people to the RainCity website.
[News.Mic, Here's How Vancouver Responded to London's "Anti-Homeless Spikes", 6/29/2014]
Visit the website for more pictures of these benches.
Look, I don’t know if converting benches to shelters at night is a good idea or not. The point is that Vancouver appears to be working on solving the problems its homeless residents face.
Honolulu is not.
In Honolulu, homeless people themselves are viewed as the problem.
I thought the innovative bench idea was very clever. It also helps set the tone of public discourse if people see that something positive is being done.
In Honolulu, both the City Council and the Mayor believe that criminalizing the houseless is a productive approach—it’s sad that cruelty and punishment is the best they can come up with. The city’s approach finds resonance in much of the commercial media which emphasize complaints over evaluation of the city’s approach in comparison to other cities working in the same issue.
The state is not much better. Recently in the news again: a state legislator wielding a sledgehammer that he charged to his state expense account:
[Pat Saiki, chair of the Hawaii Republican Party] identified Rep. Tom Brower as among the worst offenders for buying a sledgehammer to destroy shopping carts being used by homeless people.
Brower did indeed buy the sledgehammer with his allowance, claiming the $37 expense as an office supply. He was reimbursed for the expense Nov. 15, but he submitted a repayment to the House on Nov. 19 after receiving so much public backlash over his stunt.
[Civil Beat, Ethics Commission Tells Lawmakers How They Should Spend Allowances, 6/19/2014]
Until Housing First is up and running and people have a place to stay, and until Honolulu accepts that public toilets are a public service and necessity the city should embrace, passing laws designed to punish is simply inhumane.
It’s also poor civic management, and a waste of money, since providing the housing as soon as possible is less costly than what the city plans.
Good luck to Vancouver.
Homeless vs. shelter rules—what really happened at IHS in this breastfeeding incident?
Hawaii's law is clear:
It is a discriminatory practice to deny, or attempt to deny, the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of a place of public accommodations to a woman because she is breast feeding a child.
Mitchell says Penley was offered a place to go but she refused.
"We have offered her three different places that are air conditioned and I would think that that would be a much more comfortable place for her to be breast feeding," said Mitchell.
by Larry Geller
The devil is in the details, no doubt, but a common controversy has been brought to light by the Hawaii News Now story from which the pull-quote above is snipped, Homeless mother fights to breastfeed in public, (hawaiinewsnow.com, 6/30/2014).
The issue is rules, rules that discourage or prevent homeless individuals and families from seeking cover at temporary shelters.
Probably there was a conversation between a staff member and Ms. Penley, the nature of which we can’t know. What seems likely is that Ms. Penley was asked to move, to get out of view of others, in apparent violation of the law. Again, we don’t know what the conversation was about.
Check out the video at the above link, though. It appears that IHS was trying to create or enforce yet another restrictive rule, a subject which several homeless people have raised with me with regard to other shelters (not IHS).
An explanation posted to IHS’s Facebook page did not help and drew critical comments of its own:
Today, IHS received a flurry of complaints in response to a story that ran on Hawaii News Now. We recognize it is a discriminatory practice to deny, or attempt to deny, the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of a place of public accommodations to a woman because she is breastfeeding. IHS also recognizes and takes seriously our Hawaii State Laws that allow for breastfeeding in any public or private location. IHS encourages our mothers to embrace all positive maternal health practices for a child’s well-being, including breastfeeding.
We want to make clear that Ms. Penley was not asked to leave the shelter at any time, and that she remains here receiving services. Our goal is for our guests to benefit from the multiple services we offer in order to help homeless ultimately transition into a safe home and a high-quality of life.
The statement and the video are not encouraging. It’s easy to be a couch potato critic based on reading one reporter’s story on the Internet, but I’ve heard similar.
I learned, for example, that at another shelter, apparently some homeless people have been kicked out or banned and then beaten up outside. Again, without knowing the circumstances, it’s hard to evaluate these reports, but in a climate of concern for the welfare of all of Hawaii’s citizens, including those without homes, someone would be checking on this.
See the next article for an example of a community where people care.
Monday, June 30, 2014
Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: The World Right Now: A Mid-Year Report
Watch out, a key point about ISIS–now comprising a major part of IS [Islamic State of [Iraq]]–is as a bridge over the English-French colonial divide, in favor of a Sunni Arab caliphate. Like it or not, these are very strong forces from the past in the daylight of the present. The only surprise is that it came as a surprise to the US “intelligence community”. Scrap the CIA and mainstream historians, open for a dialectic understanding, common sense, maybe for some wisdom–scarce commodities.
The World Right Now: A Mid-Year Report
30 June 2014
by Johan Galtung, 30 Jun 2014 - TRANSCEND Media Service
Time to take stock. The shot in Sarajevo 100 years ago inspires narratives of 19-year old Gavrilo Princip killing the successor to the throne of an empire and his pregnant wife as the event unleashing mutual mass murder (INYT, FAZ 28-29 June 2014). Not the empire annexing Bosnia-Herzegovina on October 6, 1908 (Art. 25 of the 1878 Berlin Congress of “great powers”). Maybe the inhabitants did not like it?
Moral of that stock-taking: watch out for terrorism, not for empires and occupation-colonialism; and protect leaders, not people.
ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, alternatively translated as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) comes up. TIME 30 June: The End of Iraq. Maybe Iraq–that highly artificial English colonial entity encasing Shia Arabs, Sunni Arabs and Sunni Kurds–never started? Like its French colonial neighbor Syria–adding Alawite Arabs, Christians, Jews and others? Ever heard about Sykes-Picot and their czarist Russian allies? Can such crimes just pass, with no counter-forces? Watch out, a key point about ISIS –now comprising a major part of IS–is as a bridge over the English-French colonial divide, in favor of a Sunni Arab caliphate. Like it or not, these are very strong forces from the past in the daylight of the present. The only surprise is that it came as a surprise to the US “intelligence community”. Scrap the CIA and mainstream historians, open for a dialectic understanding, common sense, maybe for some wisdom–scarce commodities.
After all, what was the Tutsi revolt in the center of Africa about? Stopping genocide, yes–but also about bridging the imposed English-French colonial divide. And the imposed Rwanda-Congo divide.
Watch out, Iraq-Iran. Maybe time has come for a Shia-Arab union across the old Ottoman-Persian border, down at the Arab-Persian Gulf? Nations, cultures, are stronger than territorial divides imposed by some empires–and they do not have to be Western. SSII-the Shia State of Iran-Iraq? KIIST–the Kurdistan from Iran-Iraq-Syria-Turkey?
USA-West seems to learn nothing, let us hope for the Rest.
Take Ukraine, at the border. Two nations encased in one state will make any asymmetric formulas like a president from one of them leaning only on EU-NATO-USA, or only on EAU (Eurasian Union)-SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization)-Russia, a non-starter. There are Russians all over Ukraine, not only in Donetsk–and not many Ukrainians in Russia, including Crimea.
Der Spiegel (23 June 2014) offers a more social explanation: with the emancipation of women the Soviet Union became feminist, matriarchal; time has come for Russian men to assert themselves as macho. That theory is also underlying the Yugoslav tragedies of the 1990s. But political federal solutions, leaning in both directions, with rotating or “biconsular” presidents, may come more easily than reversing machoism/machismo–maybe not only in Russia but also in Ukraine, also once a part of the same USSR-Union of Soviet Socialist Republics? Der Spiegel sociologizes a political problem; interesting, but maybe as useless as psychologizing it?
Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand. The tragic decline of a major source of peace: Buddhism, with Buddhist violence, even genocide, against Muslims; in Sri Lanka also against Tamils under the mahawansa doctrine that Sri Lanka was designated by the Lord Buddha as the home for Buddhism. Chosen People, Promised Land.
But underlying that violent Buddhism is also the striving for national unity, and in all three cases the political solutions are along federal-confederal lines. After all, out of the Hapsburg empire came 12 states, today most of them in the European Union–between confederal and federal–legitimized exactly by the doctrine of national self-determination–why should that only apply to the West?
The Korean peninsula-USA-Japan nexus. A US president could solve it: normalize North Korea with peace treaty and diplomatic relations instead of keeping it as a pretext for hawks in USA-Japan to prepare for war, and in the process making North Korea ever more pathological.
These are bad spots, but most of the world is not that bad. Take the eight poles in the Octagon World: clockwise Latin America-USA-Russia-India-China-OIC-EU-Africa.
The first five + EU are well on the road to peace with mutual rights and obligations–if not always strong on equity–at the inter- and intra- states-provinces levels. Direct violence, similar to contagious diseases, is low. The OIC and Africa are more problematic, but probably on the way. But, inter-regional?
More problematic, as for health, are structural violence and structural diseases–cardiovascular, cancers, mental disorders. Even mainstream media are today deeply concerned with structural violence, under the heading of inequality, staying away from the numbers dying (140,000/day from hunger and preventable-curable diseases, no money). Calling a country, region or the world peaceful with such atrocities of death and inequity being rampant is cultural violence.
And we should not disregard the wars and threats emanating from three particularly aggressive states buoyed by Chosen People-Promised Land doctrines: we are thinking of USA, with its ties to Israel and to Japan every day inching closer to a status as potentially belligerent, revising A9 in favor of “collective self-defense”–with the USA.
Hold up three sources of peace against that, both as absence of war and as equity (if not always so strong on harmony-reconciliation-resolution): the Islamic community, Eurasia, the Vatican. Very different they all contribute significantly to peace.
The Islamic community, the umma, is in principle stateless, submitting to peace (“islam” stands for both).
Eurasia, shaped by Russia-China, is a state system based on cooperation for mutual and equal benefit; in other words, equity.
The Vatican of John XXIII, John Paul II, and Frances is a part of the state system, deeply committed to values of peace.
Let these three peace forces blossom for amazing synergies!
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.
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 3.0 United States License.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Gerald Horne on white supremacy and geostrategy that lead to the illegal takeover of the Hawaiian Kingdom
Hawaii was a modern nation, the envy of its Pacific neighbors, with a skilled diplomatic corps with representatives in major capitals and a modern infrastructure. In 1893 as settler rule was being imposed, a Hawaiian journal boasted that “the country enjoys all the advantages of modern civilization in a higher degree than most European countries: Postal services, telegraphs, telephones, railroads and lighting by electricity. . . . In the government schools two-thirds of the children are educated in the English language and one-third in Hawaiian.--Gerald Horne, in White Pacific: U.S. Imperialism and Black Slavery in the South Seas After the Civil War, University of Hawaii Press, 2007
by Larry Geller
It was a pleasure to view Amy Goodman’s interview with historian Gerald Horne on Friday’s Democracy Now. The subject was our war of independence in 1776, which we’ll be celebrating as the July 4 holiday next weekend.
Of course, we know that the Founding Fathers were slave owners, and that the freedom they sought did not extend to their slaves. Horne holds that 1776 was in fact a counter-revolution, a conservative movement fought in order to preserve the colonists’ enslavement of Africans. In a nutshell, London was on the verge of abolishing slavery, which would have carried over to the British colonies. In reaction, the colonists set up the first apartheid state.
This may come as a surprise to non-historians and those who have not had a chance to read Horne’s many books.
It is similarly no cause for celebration in Hawaii. See: Repost: History that should not—and will not—disappear: July 4, 1894, illegal overthrow of Hawaii completed, 7/3/2011.
Gerald Horne wrote also about Hawaii and white supremacy as well as the geostrategy leading to the overthrow. Continuing on a bit from the pull-quote above:
You need to buy or borrow the book from the library to read more, but I’ll stretch a bit further, because it relates directly to the Democracy Now interview:
Nevertheless, for those who cherished white supremacy, the idea of Honolulu challenging this ideology was viewed as outrageous. This outrage metastasized into morbid concern when Hawaii not only sought a diplomatic alliance with Japan—a non-European nation whose rise challenged the very essence of white supremacy—but began to import droves of Japanese workers, permanently altering the demography of the region while compromising the white supremacists who objected to suffrage rights for these migrants and exposing the easy canard that only blackbirding could address the question of labor. That Honolulu was long on record as being opposed to this odious traffic was one more reason for white supremacists to conclude that strangling and suffocating this nation should be a top priority.
Thus, though the Hawaiian Kingdom was contemplating ambitiously extending its influence throughout the Pacific, the United States in particular was casting a covetous eye upon this strategically sited chain of islands. As one naval commander put it in the late nineteenth century, Hawaii was “second in importance to no other single point on the earth’s surface.” The “distinctive feature of Hawaii,” Lucien Young continued portentously, “is that it lies at the center of an area so great the commercial and military operations across it are practically impossible, except by using Hawaii as a coal and supply station. Eliminate Hawaii from the map, and there are scarcely any battleships in existence which can operate across the Pacific, by reason of the fact that they cannot carry coal enough.” As the United States expanded across the North American continent, this presumed asset brought a detriment in that it expanded the territory that needed to be defended, a potential danger as the nation faced European powers in the East and a rising Japan in the West. “There can be no surer defense to the Pacific Coast of the United States,” said Young, “than to prevent any other foreign country from getting possession or control of Hawaii.”
the 1852 Hawaii Constitution proclaimed in a bold challenge to its slave-dominated neighbor and chief trading partner across the Pacific, “Slavery shall under no circumstances whatever be tolerated in the Hawaiian Islands; whenever a slave shall enter Hawaiian territory he shall be free.”
Obviously, that was too much for Washington. So they did something about it.
As July 4, 2014 approaches, don’t count on the true motivations for the illegal overthrow of the independent kingdom appearing in our local newspaper. I wish it would, but that would be expecting too much from the current publishers, I’m afraid. (yes, this is a dare).
Friday, June 27, 2014
OHA’s disappeared $150 million—Native Hawaiians cheated yet again?
The settlement transfers roughly 30 acres of prime waterfront real estate in Kakaako Makai to OHA. In return, OHA will waive all claims to past due ceded lands payments. By law, OHA should receive a share of the revenue generated on lands formerly owned by the Hawaiian monarchy.—Star-Advertiser, Abercrombie to sign state's $200 million settlement with OHA, 4/5/2012
When OHA agreed to the settlement, it understood that commercial use would be the extent of any future development of the Kakaako Makai lands. It wholeheartedly accepted those lands with that understanding, and everyone was happy because peace was restored. Yet in just two years, OHA changed its mind and now wants to build residential units in Kakaako Makai. It says the only way these lands will generate sufficient revenue to fulfill OHA's fiduciary duty to its beneficiaries will be if they are allowed the "highest and best" use. But if that is the case now, wasn't that the case two years ago? If that was so, why did OHA agree to the settlement?—representative Marcus Oshiro, Star-Advertiser, 4/20/2014
by Larry Geller
So it appears that OHA knew the land it accepted in lieu of $200 million payment it was owed was not worth $200 million at all.
So then, if OHA's fiduciary duty to its beneficiaries depended on building residential condos on the land and that wasn’t possible, then isn’t it fair to say that the OHA trustees actually failed to fulfill their fiduciary duties?
Now the issue has gone quiet, at least in the media. It shouldn’t remain quiet. After all, this deal was made entirely within the state government—OHA is part of the state government. So without the ability to build condos on the land, OHA effectively let the state get away with at least $150 million of its obligation.
Hocus-pocus, look, it just disappeared.
Why condos? A building is a machine for turning land into money. If OHA can’t build, they can’t realize the value claimed in the exchange agreement.
A side issue is what the land is really worth in these times of climate havoc. So far, Hawaii has lost only a bit of sand, but the future is clear—waterfront property, particularly in a tsunami evacuation zone, is going to be very wet and perhaps not habitable at some time in the future.
Is it morally acceptable to let the state wipe out the $200 million debt it owes for the use of Kingdom land?
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Hawaii Reporter: Hawaii advocates participating in San Diego protests against giant pesticide corporations
…the Hawaiian islands are GMO Ground Zero worldwide. Over 5,000 open air agricultural genetic experiments have been performed in Hawaii, which has 3-4 growing seasons per year. A recent report in Cascadia Times suggested that these testing sites have made parts of Hawaii into one of the most toxic chemical environments in a comparison between all United States agriculture. Data suggests that use of some of the most toxic pesticides, including chlorpyrifos and permethrin, are ten times the national average. Medical doctors treating communities near fields are concerned that they are seeing elevated rates of serious illness, possibly including rare birth defects ten times the national average.
The article below is reprinted with permission from today’s Hawaii Reporter.
Statewide Protest Launches in San Diego Today Against Chemical Companies Producing Pesticide-Promoting Genetically Modified Organisms and BIO Trade Organization
REPORT FROM BABES AGAINST BIOTECH - San Diego, California - Environmental groups from across the Pacific in Hawaii and California have called a statewide protest today regarding pesticide poisoning and genetic contamination, urging residents to join a peaceful demonstration in San Diego. The worldwide resistance against the practices of the largest international chemical companies, and especially their development of herbicide-tolerant “GMO” crops and seeds, which critics say entrench a pesticide-intensive corporate-controlled food system.
The 2014 Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) International Convention, currently being held at the San Diego Convention Center, has attracted the opposition of thousands of members of environmental and consumer advocacy groups in California and Hawaii. Industry watchdogs based in Hawaii, Babes Against Biotech, marine conservation advocates Ocean Defender, legendary international surf and environmental defense group Da Hui and an organization leading multi-million participant worldwide protests, March Against Monsanto (MAM), are uniting with the initiators of Prop 37, Label GMOs (California) and local chapters MAM San Diego and Label GMOs San Diego to bring attention to this critical matter in a first amendment exercise.
BIO is the largest industry trade group in the world, and the convention is sponsored by most of the chemical corporations producing GMO foods that are responsible for genetic contamination of our food supply. Concerns are aimed specifically at the “Big 6” chemical+GMO corporations—Monsanto, Dow, DuPont/Pioneer, BASF, Bayer and Syngenta. The chemicals produced by these companies used in production of GMO crops, are linked to birth defects, cancer, nervous system disorders, ecological devastation, the death of bees and other critical species, and countless other health concerns. Widespread global genetic contamination of agricultural crops through pollen drift has led to the prohibition and rejection of GE crops in 32 countries and the labeling of GE foods in more than 62 countries.
Protesters are calling for transparency, consumer rejection of GE crops and regulatory overhaul of the chemical +GMO industry practices. While California is an agricultural center of the nation, the Hawaiian islands are GMO Ground Zero worldwide. Over 5,000 open air agricultural genetic experiments have been performed in Hawaii, which has 3-4 growing seasons per year. A recent report in Cascadia Times suggested that these testing sites have made parts of Hawaii into one of the most toxic chemical environments in a comparison between all United States agriculture. Data suggests that use of some of the most toxic pesticides, including chlorpyrifos and permethrin, are ten times the national average. Medical doctors treating communities near fields are concerned that they are seeing elevated rates of serious illness, possibly including rare birth defects ten times the national average.
California’s agricultural industry produces nearly half of all US-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables and is one of the largest consumer markets in the country. Despite the fact that 93% of US citizens surveyed want GE food labeling and the federal government has failed to enact labeling for eighteen years, the GMO food industry narrowly defeated Prop 37, a 2012 California GMO labeling initiative. Today’s protest targets companies which collectively contributed over $20 million to prevent GMO food labeling in California alone.
BIO, the organization hosting the convention, is currently suing the County of Hawaii in attempts to reverse a recent law (Bill 113) passed to prevent agricultural genetic contamination and prohibit the open air cultivation of additional GMO crops. Chemical companies Dow, DuPont/Pioneer, BASF and Syngenta, are currently suing the County of Kauai for a recently passed Ordinance 960. The law places pesticide spraying buffer zones around schools, homes and hospitals, requires the largest users to disclose pesticides being sprayed in the community and genetic experiments being performed in the open air as well as environmental and health impact studies. Monsanto has been voted“Most Evil Company in the World,” “Worst Company in 2011” and runner up for Worst Company in America.
The companies specified, have been responsible for numerous chemical poisoning incidents and superfund sites, perceived corruption regarding their undue influence over governments and financial relationships with lawmakers, habitual lawsuits against organic farmers with fields contaminated against their will by genetically engineered pollen, health and environmental hazards. Widespread international consumer rejection of GMO crops and economic implications exemplified by China’s recent rejection of over $5 billion of U.S. corn due to GE contamination, are small clues in a larger investigation of the practices of the world’s largest chemical companies and their proponents.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Santa Clara succeeds at housing its homeless while Honolulu aims for the #1 spot on the Meanest Cities list
The national 100,000 Home Campaign recently announced that it had reached its six-figure goal of helping more than 230 communities house chronically homeless Americans, including 720 people in Santa Clara County.
Jerry Jones, the Executive Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless stated in the New York Times that, “Mr. Caldwell’s ‘compassionate disruption’ was ‘a pretentious phrase to dress up an ugly policy — sending the police to round up poor people isn’t compassionate.’”
The 100,000 Homes Campaign is touting an 84 percent success rate of people not returning to homelessness and a cost savings of $1.3 billion.
by Larry Geller
An article in today’s San Jose Mercury News celebrates the success of their homeless solution, which resembles Housing First.
The idea, both nationally and locally, has become to get these most chronically homeless into housing first and then provide them with intensive support to stabilize their lives.
The 100,000 Homes Campaign is touting an 84 percent success rate of people not returning to homelessness and a cost savings of $1.3 billion.
"It doesn't just make moral sense, but it also makes business sense," said Beth Sandor, director of quality improvement for the campaign. "People understand now that this is smart because it saves money. In a place like Santa Clara County, where there is such a density of homelessness, the cost of doing nothing is just enormous."
[San Jose Mercury News, Santa Clara County's Housing 1000 focuses on chronic homelessness, 6/25/2014]
The Honolulu City Council just doesn’t get it. Tomorrow (Thursday) they will hear three bills designed to criminalize homelessness. Note that one ordinance after another has been applied first to force people onto the sidewalks and then to criminalize them for being there. Honolulu still has no alternative housing. Honolulu still has no regulations in place to stabilize or control rent increases that force people out of their homes.
From a Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery Facebook page:
"Housing first, not jail first!"
On Thursday, June 26th 2014, at 8:45am the City Council seeks to approve three bills aimed at criminalizing the houseless without any implemented alternative for housing.
Link to bills, how to submit testimony, and talking points below.
WHEN: Thursday, June 26th at 8:45am
WHERE: Honolulu Hale 530 South King Street, 2nd Floor City Council Hearing Room.
DEADLINE TO SUBMIT TESTIMONY IS WEDS 6/25/14
Honolulu’s plan is both cruel and unworkable. It is a huge waste of taxpayer money and runs the risk of damaging the crucial tourist industry.
The City Council has ducked the housing cost issue that afflicts more and more residents each year. Increasing poverty means more people on the streets—children, families, the chronically homeless. Cruelty and punishment won’t solve the problem, and if Honolulu does make #1 on the Meanest Cities list, that won’t help tourism either.
Monday, June 23, 2014
Comments on NY Times story on homelessness in Waikiki better than the article itself
Honolulu 1 hour ago
The island needs more housing. Approval of major construction projects, new hotels, and ocean front condos for the rich without concurrent plans to build sufficient housing for average people has driven up housing costs to near the highest in the nation. The average rent in Honolulu, including utilities etc, is roughly equal to the after-tax per capita income. High housing costs are squeezing the weakest onto the street, and all the current proposals focus on the symptoms rather than addressing the root causes.
Laura QuickfootIndialantic,FL 2 hours ago
"Mayor Kirk Caldwell, a Democrat.......?".
As the difference between Repubs and Dems keeps getting, getting smaller and smaller, Mayor Caldwell states, “It’s time to declare a war on homelessness."
Great. Declaring yet another war is all we need.
As Jerry Jones, of the National Coalition for the Homeless states:
“Have we gotten so far out of touch with reality that our first reaction to people experiencing destitution is that it spoils our view of the beach?”
What is the point of paradise if we declare war when we should be declaring peace?
Kansas 2 hours ago
If this is Hawaiian compassion, I guess I don't need to include Hawaii on my bucket list.
by Larry Geller
I almost never read comments attached to newspaper articles, but this New York Times article was so much Caldwell Kool-Aid that I thought I would see if there was any sane reaction to it. There was.
See: New York Times, Honolulu Shores Up Tourism With Crackdown on Homeless, 6/22/2014.
Sadly, it’s a pretty shallow job of reporting.
One commenter set the record straight with a couple of citations
T. Paul Gallagher
Ma'ili 33 minutes ago
This from the same guy that is behind a $142 million sale of 12 affordable housing buildings in downtown Honolulu... to a private developer.
“We cannot let homelessness ruin our economy and take over our city.”
Hawai"i Visitor Arrivals: ON PAR with pre-crisis levels
Hawai'i Hotel Room Rates: Circa 20% ABOVE avg. pre-crisis rates.
"many of the homeless are people who were drawn here from the mainland."
What is not said; an enormous number of the homeless are Hawaiian. This is an issue that is far from exclusive to downtown or Waikiki. The quoted number of 6,335 homeless is waaaaaay understated.
"“We haven’t eliminated the visual impact of homelessness,
When visitors come here, they want to see their paradise. They don’t want to see homeless people sleeping in parks or on sidewalks or on the beach.”
It's funny, most local people discuss homelessness expressing concern for the actual people and our root causes. Silly really. We should have just been concerned about the "visual impact."
So, who exactly are your constituents Mr. Mayor? Tourists certainly can't vote for you. Are there maybe other constituents that have "interests" in Waikiki and/or downtown?
Mr Mayor, on a $ weighted basis, exactly what % of corporations in Waikiki are Hawai'i domiciled?
National aspirations or just funding concerns?
I do think it’s fair, though, to be concerned that the out-of-control development boom combined with inaction to the growing poverty level (as evidenced by the number of people living on the streets) could impact tourism in the future.
A “war on homelessness” fought in public view in Waikiki could, in fact, trigger negative articles about Hawaii. Then the downward spiral begins.
The commenters are probably a cross-section of some sort of NY Times readers, and while some are trolls, some are perceptive. The trolls won’t come here anyway. Those with compassion may begin to avoid Hawaii. They google before they leave, they’ll read about the City’s raids and police actions.
Unless the City and State take effective action to reduce the causes of poverty, implement Housing First and other evidence-based programs, and take measures to keep people already housed in their homes, it will be our government leaders that will be responsible for any falloff of our tourist-based economy.
Some of the comments make that perfectly clear.
As to the tourist industry itself, some of those hotel owners might pull out their checkbooks and begin contributing to the solution. If they can afford to construct giant towers, they can also afford to build some Housing First units, wouldn’t you think?