Wednesday, January 31, 2018

 

Spectrum’s plan to move `Olelo and Capitol TV channels into upper digital oblivion will affect seniors most


by Larry Geller

I learned quite a bit as a board member and past president of a senior advocacy organization (Kokua Council): many elders don’t tweet, many don’t access the Internet very much or at all, and some still have flip phones.

This will change as the generations advance, but it’s where we are now.

And those who want to stay active politically in Hawaii depend on the public access channels for information and to monitor legislative hearings.

Now it seems that Spectrum, which gobbled up Oceanic Time Warner, wants to snatch the analog `Olelo channels (including Capitol TV) and banish them to upper digital assignments with new numbers.

2018-01-31 15_56_36-HMS, HMS_CPH_PSM, HMS_CPH 1_31_18 Ch55Capitol TV broadcasts are listed on the state capitol website (here) and many people, particularly those who live far away or who have mobility issues, depend on these broadcasts for information on what our lawmakers are up to.

In the past it was a rule (federal?) that the public access channels had to be available to the lowest tier of subscribers. That’s still analog—those who have one or more TVs without digital access. These days Spectrum is still subject to regulation, but whether the regulating body, the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA), will stick up for cable users is not known. At least they should hear the voices of the users on this plan.

The issue is on the next agenda and public testimony is accepted in person or via email.

The meeting is Friday, February 2, right in the magical “news hole” of 5 p.m., the time when politicians release statements they don’t want to see in the next day’s paper. In Hawaii it’s pau hana time on an Aloha Friday. I suspect they hope few people will show up.

I’d rather be elsewhere, but I’m going to the meeting to urge that the DCCA not allow the cable channel move. Won’t you join me?

Written testimony can be sent to DCCA Cable Television <cabletv@dcca.hawaii.gov>.

If you didn’t know about this change, you’re not alone. It could start as early as February 6. I have not been notified by Spectrum but did see an op-end in the Star-Advertiser (which is locked behind their paywall, sorry).

I did call Spectrum and learned that digital adapter boxes will be required for TVs that do not already have them. Here’s where many older people will get cut off. Most of us will have no trouble installing the boxes, but some people will not be able to cope. Imagine grandpa or granny, who do not yet even have a cell phone, wielding a wrench and arranging one more electrical power connection. They may not even have that wrench.

Or granny or grampa can pay $49.99 for installation.

Undoubtedly, some viewers will choose to just do without.

Spectrum could (and should) just leave the channels where they have been for around 20 years.

If you think the channel move is wrong, send a comment to DCCA Cable Television <cabletv@dcca.hawaii.gov> before the hearing. If you can, come down to the meeting location (see agenda) and weigh in personally.

Oh… I nearly forgot. In the future Spectrum could begin to charge for the digital adapter boxes. Isn’t your cable bill already creeping up a few bucks every so often? If they can charge, they will, and older folks are often on a fixed income.

Your voice can make a difference. Please send an email or come to the hearing if you can.



Monday, January 29, 2018

 

Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: Meanwhile, Around the World



Meanwhile, Around the World

29 Jan 2018

galtung_side#519 | Johan Galtung – TRANSCEND Media Service

Nobody less than Lawrence Summers writes (WP 11 Dec 2017): “Don’t Expect the Economy’s Sugar High to Last” in spite of economic growth of 2.3% and stock market rise by more than 25% after election and the tax cuts.  Where workers’ take home pay is concerned, there are two missing measures: raising productivity and raising equality.

David Leonhardt (NYT 8 Sep 2017) “A Broken US Economy in One Simple Chart”: the poor and middle class annual income growth dropping from 3.5 to 1.2%, with the “very affluent” (0.001%) rising from 0 to 5.5%.

One thing is wealth, another is life expectancy: Japan and Spain are Nos. 1 and 2, Norway No. 14, USA No. 25.  No doubt the Japanese diet based on le cru, not le cuit, and the Spanish Mediterranean diet, also based on the sea, the plains and the mountains, play major roles.

That leads to the “Hartford Aging Index” based on productivity, well-being, equity, cohesion, security, with 18 top countries on each.  If we add the ranks on those five dimensions Norway scores 23, Spain 29, Japan and USA both 42.  Sorry for being personal, but it looks good for a Japanese-Norwegian couple living in Spain.  Please join, at least as tourists, Spain being No. 1 in tourism as part of GNP.

Also on a personal note: it was drawn to my attention that the concept of structural violence—I introduced in 1965 to show racial violence in “Rhodesia” even if there had been no direct inter-racial murder since domestic independence 1923–scores 1.4 million hits.

The concept seems to have fallen on fertile soil. It makes the world look different when properly understood: violence with no subject, but with zillions objects, starving, dying for lack of care.

A small but important signal from La Nucia, neighbor municipality to Alfàs del Pi in Spain: no more permits to build new houses for some time. La Nucia wants to stop growing.  30,000 inhabitants in 2030 is the limit; with no limitation on restoration, beauty, art, well-being.

“Outlawing war? It actually worked”, an article by Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro (NYT 5 Sep 2017) refers to the 1928 Kellogg-Briand pact that brought “an end to the right of conquest and changed the way states behave”. The pact did not abolish war but tried to make it illegal–except for self-defense, a concept that can be stretched–making war for conquest a crime. Like slavery, like colonialism.  And yet their countries engage in warfare, France in Africa, USA all over.

The pact should have brought in its wake a flood of court-cases.  It did not, but that is now coming with the ICC.  High time.

Somehow Israel always comes up, one way or the other. Not always as Israel vs Palestine but, for instance, as “American Jews vs. the Israeli government”, by Richard Cohen (WP 6 Dec 2017). He points out how Jewish students on US campuses often play a leading role in the criticism of Israeli conquest-colonialism in general and its treatment of Arabs in particular, finding it increasingly difficult to support Netanyahu policies.  Their sharp critique is joined by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak recently calling “the Netanyahu government ‘irrational, bordering on messianic'”. The critics will team together.

Sooner rather than later that will have an impact on US policy, and with that on the test of the West.  But the US bipartisan policy fact is today treating almost all of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, followed by its client state Saudi Arabia.

However. That policy is obviously based on somebody–guess who!–having been able to manipulate president Trump with unlimited appetite for headline-causing sensations.  Gone Trump, gone that policy.  And that may happen sooner rather than later with Trump’s “America First” shedding international treaties, in fact making “America Last”, less and less being invited to participate.  Others do not follow Trump, but stick to old agreements and make new ones. The more Trump the more self-inflicted US isolation.  But a saner USA will be welcomed back.

Meanwhile, meanwhile what?  The rest of the world, some 95%, is too small to attract much Western media attention.  Like the 24 November 2017 talk by Li Hui, the Chinese ambassador to Moscow–from the biggest in population to the biggest in territory–downloaded from RIAC, the Russian International Affairs Council.  His headlines convey a lot:

And the talk ends with “aligning Belt and Road initiative with the Eurasian Economic Union”.  Quite a lot.  Better read the talk.

China, whatever its basic motives, expands its model in circles centered on its capital–like it did for millennia–with some kind of partnership the West needed centuries to develop.  Even among Western nations and states; EU is still heavily France-Germany dominated.

What else?  Kashmir again: 225,000 km2, with India dominating 101,000, Pakistan 86,000 and China 38,000 km2. An overriding KAFTA, Kashmir Area Free Trade Association, could move toward independence.

The major issues, nuclear war and rampant inequality are explored by Russell Goldman, “There is No Button” (NYT 3 Jan 2018) and Roberto Savio, “Of Billionaires, Fiscal Paradises, World Debt, and the Victims.  Goldman’s point: Trump, Kim Jung-Un can order nuclear strikes alone; decision-sharing indispensable. Savio’s points: the 500 US richest grew 2017 23% to 5 trillion (US budget 3.7 trillion) taken from the rest as no more money is printed. China now tops USA in billionaires. World debt is 226 trillion-3 times global annual output. The poor pay.

Norwegian parliament 5 Dec 2017 on the Nobel Peace Prize: not on peace of which with one exception they know little, but nomination to the prestigious committee.  Miracle: sometimes the prize makes sense.

________________________________________________

Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of TRANSCEND International and rector of TRANSCEND Peace University. Prof. Galtung has published more than 1500 articles and book chapters, over 500 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service, and more than 170 books on peace and related issues, of which more than 40 have been translated to other languages, including 50 Years – 100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives published by TRANSCEND University Press. More information about Prof. Galtung and all of his publications can be found at transcend.org/galtung.

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

 

Maui Environmental Court rules in favor of Native Hawaiian waterman and against the state Board of Land and Natural Resources


The following is from a statement by attorney Lance Collins, representing Native Hawaiian fisherman Malama Chun. An OCR copy of the judge’s order is here. Note that the OCR process may introduce some errors.

Wailuku, Maui –  Maui Environmental Court Judge Joseph E. Cardoza ruled in favor of Native Hawaiian waterman Malama Chun and against the state Board of Land and Natural Resources regarding his petition challenging DLNR's Division of Aquatic Resources practice of issuing licenses to foreign fisherman who have been refused permission to land in Hawai'i by U.S. authorities and have been ordered deported.

The BLNR had denied the petition on the grounds that Chun lacked standing to file the petition. The Court reversed that decision, finding he had made a sufficient case to establish standing and remanded it back to the BLNR to decide the merits of Chun's petition.

State law restricts the issuance of commercial fishing licenses to persons “lawfully admitted to the United States.” Foreign fishermen working in the longline fishing industry are refused permission to land in the United States by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and are also ordered deported. However, using a loophole, they authorize the fisherman's boat captain to hold the fisherman's passport and the deportation order and allow the boat captain to determine when the deportation is to occur. To enforce the deportation order, the piers at which the fishing boats dock are heavily militarized and access is restricted.

Malama Chun said, “I would like to express my gratitude to the Environmental Court for upholding my civil rights. I hope the Land Board will do the same for these less fortunate fishermen on these boats.”

Chun's attorney, Lance D. Collins, added: “The statute is clear. The practice is illgeal. We look forward to a timely decision on the merits by the Land Board according to law.”

The Court had previously denied the Hawaii Longline Association's attempt to intervene in the case.



Sunday, January 21, 2018

 

Hawaii Emergency Management declined to dedicate a Twitter account for emergency notifications


by Larry Geller

Kokua Council’s November 2017 meeting was on the subject “Disaster preparedness—can we protect our seniors?” The panel never got around to that topic, instead holding a typical “organize your emergency kit” presentation.

At the end there was space given to questions from the audience. I asked Vern Miyagi why HEMA did not have a Twitter account dedicated to emergency notification.

If they did, and if they publicized it, people across the state could follow the account and have the messages sent to their smartphone or handset. Yes, even the older technology is capable of receiving SMS (text) messages.

While there is no substitute for HEMA sending a proper cancellation notice after a false or real alert (say, if the missile misses or if it is blown up in flight), a widely followed Twitter account can reach many people. And those people can spread the word to neighbors, for example.

Miyagi said they have a Twitter account. To that, I countered that it is useless for the purpose because they are using it for all manner of frivolous messages.

I don’t want all the “Happy Aloha Friday” messages sent to my phone. Only the emergency messages, please.

HEMAtweet
HEMAtweet1

Caldwell nixes Nixle notification service

As long as you’re here – did you know that Honolulu Mayor Caldwell has removed the island from the Nixle warning system? That system also could have been used last Saturday to let people know about the false missile alert.

From a Wikipedia page:

Nixle offers free and paid notification services for local police departments, county emergency management offices, municipal governments and their agencies within the United States. The Nixle service allows government agencies to send messages to local residents via phone, email and web. Information is delivered almost instantly. Nixle serves government agencies and organizations in all 50 states. By June 1, 2017 over 8,100 government agencies and over 3,000,000 subscribers were registered to use the Nixle location based service.

I think you see what I mean.

Miyagi didn’t. They still don’t have an account dedicated to emergency notification.

My suggestion is not perfect, it’s not intended as a cure-all. But it is very easy to do. Real easy. Then they can publicize it. They can use their existing account to spread the word. They can create public service messages. Newspapers will report the account to readers, as will the local cable TV news and radio news and talk shows.

Now, especially, after the false alarm last weekend, people might flock to follow a dedicated emergency account.

But Hawaii EMA just doesn’t get it. I don’t think they understand.

So let’s not fire the operator who “pushed the wrong button.” Let’s replace anyone in management who is found not competent to hold the position.

Cancelling a missile alert should not be rocket science.

 

What was MSNBC doing in the bunker before the Hawaii missile scare?


by Larry Geller

What was an NBC news crew doing at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency on Friday and perhaps Saturday, the day of the false nuclear missile alert?

What was their interaction with the computer operator, and could it have contributed to the “human error” that resulted in widespread panic in Hawaii?

An NBC "Left Field" camera crew was present at the Hawaii Civil Defense Diamond Head bunker on Friday morning and perhaps on Saturday, the day of the false nuclear attack warning. I tried to get more information. NBC, however, at least those I queried, did not respond.

Jacob Soboroff on the beachMSNBC producer Jacob Soboroff spilled the beans during his report via cellphone during the panic on Saturday. He mentioned the “Left Field” visit during his report.

There’s no doubt that the crew visited HEMA on Friday, the day before the alert, because videos are still on the web of their report. Here’s a screen cap of one:

InsideYou can even see what may be the now infamous Post-It sticky with HEMA’s password on it – look at the lower screen, second from the right. There it is, at the left corner of the screen.

As Hawaii News Now noted, there should certainly not be a password visible when a news crew is present. Or at any other time, of course, but that’s an illustration of how computer savvy the HEMA folks may be.

Password

There is no way, without an investigation, to know what the interaction between the news crew and HEMA staff might have been. What might HEMA have changed or modified for the interview? As the state reacted to news reports, it turned out that it had faked not one but two screen shots of the computer system menu that was involved in the incident:

screen fake

Were one or both of these created to show to the camera crew? Curious minds want to know. Was the alert software modified for a demonstration?

When I learned from a tip that a news crew may possibly have been present in the command center, I tried to learn more. I was not successful, so it is possible that there is no news here, nothing of concern. But I am chagrined that NBC ignored my inquiries.

I did what I have done before when I wanted to contact a news team or reporter when there was no email available—I emailed NBC’s media office for assistance on Monday. But after a bit, there was no reply, so I called them only to get a voice mail message.

Ok, it was a holiday. So I called again on Tuesday, asked my question, and did not get help—they advised me to email. So I emailed again. No reply. I also sent a message via the Signal app to their tip line, which is always monitored. Again, no reply.

Now, Disappeared News is just this little blog. If a professional journalist had been asking, perhaps NBC would have responded.

Most likely there is nothing interesting in this, but it would have been reassuring to get some reply from NBC. As this incident is investigated by various state and federal agencies it would not hurt to check if HEMA might have been showing off for the camera crew, for example, and in some way set themselves up for the false alarm incident. Remember, they gave more than one version of what their menu looked like, by way of explanation for the “human error.” We need to know why there were multiple versions of this menu.

As to the “human error,” the death threats the operator has received and the calls for the employee to be fired, I think it’s been established by now that the design of the emergency alert system and its supervision by Hawaii EMA management was totally defective. What is dismissed as “human error” is very often defective design.

I can add to that my evaluation that the lack of a quick and easy way to send a cancellation message was a failure we should be concerned about if we care about our state government’s apparent inability to create modern computer software systems. Suppose a missile was launched—and blew up enroute. Suppose it landed way off target. Suppose it was a false alarm from the get-go. You’d think the system could routinely handle those and other situations by transmitting the cancellation. But no.

Finally, I’m also mildly curious why some NBC reports formerly available on the web can no longer be accessed. Here’s one that I googled again just before writing this article:

Google hit

When I clicked on the link, I found that it is no longer publicly available:

Not authorized

Why?



Monday, January 08, 2018

 

Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: American Diplomacy with North Korea and Vietnam



American Diplomacy with North Korea and Vietnam

8 Jan 2018

#516 | Johan Galtung – TRANSCEND Media Service

Foreword to Michael Haas’ Book

pic-Johan-st-gallean-2016-150x150What is that American Diplomacy, after US bombing killed 3,5 million in Pyongyang in 1952 and the US Army killed 3 million in Vietnam from 1961 (Kennedy) to 30 Apr 1975 (Ford)?  Softer?

This very rich, well researched book by Michael Haas–a senior, major US political scientist–gives detailed “softer” empirical, factual answers in Part II.  Indeed, highly recommended.

In this foreword, however, I will explore US deep culture implications for US foreign policy, close to “American Diplomacy”.

The US self-image as successor to Israel as MFN–most favored nation–by God, with Chosen People-Promised Land, CPPL, status, is from 1620, on Mayflower. Since about Year 70 Israel clearly no longer enjoyed CPPL status; that was under King David and under King Solomon.

The position as CPPL was empty, may those with credentials apply. Puritan Pilgrims from East Anglia via Leiden in Holland, did, and according to themselves successfully so. London, with no chosen people but command of the Promised Land was beaten in a War of Independence 1775-1812 for Promised Land for Chosen People, ushering in 141 years of wars for “unconditional surrender”. The USA looks invincible.

Till 1953. The Korea war 1950-53 with a Uniting for Peace UN mandate ended not with victory but cease-fire, armistice, DMZ; strongly resisted by Northern Korea and China. The war in Vietnam 1961 till 30 April 1975 ended with the US Army withdrawing unconditionally.

Four stages can be recognized in this very recent history:

  1. French then Japanese colonization of Vietnam, Japanization of Korea;
  2. Defeat of Japan, Vietnam back to France, Korea divided USSR-USA;
  3. Nationalisms in both against France and USSR-USA, for independence;
  4. USA belligerence against that; keeping South Korea, losing Vietnam.

The role of “American Diplomacy”?  To justify US warfare, and, if it does not work, to justify “softer approaches”, like negotiation.

The role of “American Democracy”?  A real life story about that.

Dennis Kucinich, House Representative (D) from Ohio before he was gerrymandered away–another aspect of US democracy, FAFE [Free And Fair Elections] in practice–called a meeting in his office suite in the building across the street from the US Congress. I was asked to tell some representatives about a meeting with leading Taliban in Afghanistan.  To them, the problem was the 1893 Durand Line between the British empire–now Pakistan–and Afghanistan, cutting in two the lands of the biggest nation without a state, the Pashtuns.  Making Pashtuns and Taliban almost synonymous.

Solution: eliminate that line; create a Central Asian Community, border-free, with Afghanistan-Pakistan inviting the other “stans”, Iran, Assad-Kashmir; all in Afghanistan and Afghanistan in them.

A Representative said: “Taliban may think like that. But I am an elected representative in US democracy. The people elected me for this–he made the V sign–then we will tell them what the solution is.

A decade later the USA is still fighting, with NATO allies, for a victory and solution in Afghanistan they will never obtain, because:

This unequal fight may tempt some in USA to use nukes against a very invulnerable country, leading to revenge in vulnerable USA.  The outcome will be more isolation, decline and fall of the US Republic.

That process has already started, as witnessed by the many major conferences to which the USA is no longer invited. The ball is in other courts: in Russia, India, China–in BRICS in general.

“American Diplomacy” seams to go through four stages:

  1. Telling other states what to do; if they comply, that is.
  2. If they do not comply, attack them as anti-American enemies.
  3. If winning, see to it that they comply and reward the compliers.
  4. If not winning, try “softer approaches”, negotiation, diplomacy.

What will happen if US thinking about North Korea and Vietnam is at the same level as for Afghanistan?  CIA?  “Central” no doubt, and “Agency”, but how about the “Intelligence”?  USA withdrew badly wounded from Vietnam and is now heading for the same in Afghanistan.

North Korea: there seems to be a stalemate, with 8 million or so in and around Seoul being as hostages to North Korean artillery should there be a US attack.  North Korea will not launch a first strike, but they want to show USA-Japan-the World that they are equal to USA in offensive capability with an invulnerability of force and value–people–unmatched in human history. Mantra:  “1952” NEVER AGAIN!

Peace is around the corner if American Diplomacy were able to think-speak-act peace. Take North Korea on their word. Ask them for the details of converting an armistice to a peace treaty; of normalizing diplomatic relations with Seoul-Tokyo-Washington; of an UN-inspected nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.  And then: Negotiate.  Much “American Diplomacy” is used to fight this; USA wants to control South Korea.

Vietnam: the US defeat was total as opposed to in Korea; there will be no war in the foreseeable future in spite of theories about how that unwinnable war could have been won.  But there was some basis for the imposed division between North and South Vietnam; how Vietnam overcame it may teach a USA divided North-South some lessons.  Vietnam improved its karma with USA; USA may learn to improve its karma with the world.  Peace is around the corner.

Conclusion: the general problem is a US deep culture as Chosen People with a Promised World.  Time has come, USA, to become normal.

________________________________________________

Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of TRANSCEND International and rector of TRANSCEND Peace University. Prof. Galtung has published more than 1500 articles and book chapters, 500 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service, and more than 170 books on peace and related issues, of which more than 40 have been translated to other languages, including 50 Years – 100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives published by TRANSCEND University Press. More information about Prof. Galtung and all of his publications can be found at transcend.org/galtung.


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Monday, January 01, 2018

 

Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: Two Ways of Being Western: Christianity and Science



Two Ways of Being Western: Christianity and Science

1 Jan 2018

pic-johan-hd-class#515 | Johan Galtung – TRANSCEND Media Service

Farewell Seminar SCAR, George Mason University, Arlington-VA 6 Dec 2017

Two basic institutions in Western history and individual lives: Christianity offering Salvation to those following Laws, Commandments, and Science offering Truth to those who believe in scientific laws.

After Enlightenment ushered in a godless world, one is waning and the other vexing, seen as antithetical to each other. Is evolution being contested by “intelligent design”? By “diversity and symbiosis”? Neither one nor the other?  Or both? We do not know, nor do we come to grips with evolution beyond homo sapiens. Neither did Christianity.

But we are used in history to successors carrying the imprints of predecessors, and vice versa.  We are used to plus ça change plus ça este la même chose (the more it changes, the more it stays the same). And the more intended Italian cambiamo le cose affinche se mantengono le stesse (we change the things so that they remain the same).

Christianity and science have both been marked (and marred) by the heavy institutionalizations known as churches and universities. They are certainly Western in the sense of carrying the trade mark of competitive individualism: to bishop-archbishop-cardinal-Pope in one, to professor-dean-rector-Nobel in the other.  But that is not our focus, however Western. Our focus is how they both relate to Time.

Western time is often seen as linear or curvilinear upwards, progressing, even exponentially, or logistically petering out. However, for Western history this is much too simplistic. There are declines with falls, and discontinuous jumps, upward or downward. Western history is dramatic, with Antiquity and Modernity being so similar and different from the “Middle Ages” that we have used the term “Occident I” for the former and Occident II for the latter.

The task is now to spell out some time aspects of the predecessor Christianity, and then show how Science followed in its footsteps.

One way is to postulate a Western Time with six recurring phases:

  1. Normality
  2. Decline and Fall
  3. Awakening
  4. Progress
  5. CRISIS: make it (normality) or break it (decline and fall)
  6. If “make it:” new decline and fall; if “break it” new awakening.

And so on and so forth, as long as West exists, because:

          Western time is finite; it has a beginning and an end.

Other civilizations postulate time from eternity to eternity, also Hinduism with its complex recurring patterns and some similarity to the West.  Not strange, given the Indo-European meta-civilization.

Science followed the Christian universe; Creation beginning with a Big Bang beginning, and like Christianity did not answer in which universe the Creation or the Big Bang took place. Ex nihilo?

Science followed the Christian Armageddon ending with a 2nd Law of thermodynamics conversion of big bang energy to entropy, chaos.

There is no final, definitive “Christianity”, but Christianities in accordance with Western Time: of the Gospels, of St Augustine, of St Thomas Aquinas, of Luther-Zwingli-Calvin-Anglicans &c, evangelists including the US National Evangelism (like the First Baptist church).  Each was-is tapped to exhaustion for its salvation potential.

The Catholic-Orthodox gap was bridged by Pope Francis-Patriarch Kirill at the expense of deepening the gap to US-UK-Nordic evangelism, deepening Anglo-America/Russia rifts in circles of mutual causation.

Science followed suit, changing paradigms for thought-discourses for speech (Thomas Kuhn), tapping to exhaustion their truth potential. From Aristotelian stasis with everything in places commanded by nature to Galilean dynamism according to laws of nature; from 3-dimensional space in time to einsteinian 4-dimensional spacetime; from continuity to planckian discontinuous quantum jumps (Einstein protest:  Natura non facit saltus); from Euclidean points-planes-spaces to strings. There will be more, also as West opens up for other civilizations.

Then, exploring science for deeper understanding of Christianity.

Science has produced many laws of the Y=f(X) type, like s=1/2gt2, with chronological time as variable and g as parameter, also variable. The number of parameters knows no limits, some known, others unknown, still others unknowable, beyond limited human comprehension.

Science tries to beat the parameter tyranny by locking two of them in the standard context of [0C-760mm].  Chlorofluorocarbons, CFCs, close to that are non-toxic, inflammable, ideal for fridges.  Released into the ozone layer they are broken down by ultraviolet radiation, freeing chlorine to make holes in the ozone layer; the planet–with humans in it-is seriously damaged by that radiation.

That raises the question of a “normal” context for the Creation. It must be in God, and we get a glimpse in Genesis 1:30: God was a vegetarian. He created animals and humans, and they should all be herbivorous, not carnivorous. In other words, God defined a normalcy for humans and other animals. Animals basically obey God’s intent. Judaism-Christianity-Islam share Genesis, so all believing Jews, Christians and Muslims should be vegetarian. They are not.

The point is the idea of normality for Christianity and science.  God could have been different.  So could [0C-760mm].  Christianity and science, both, could have been different.  We have made choices.

We got from those two a salvation with no truth to it, and truth with no salvation in it. Fortunately there is more to Western reality.

People create salvations and truths by choosing countless values-goals, and building NGOs for their realization.  Like TRANSCEND, for peace as salvation from violence, pursued pragmatically-empirically.

But we are not limited to empirical reality. Between that and unreality are potential realities to be created.  By humans, as gods.

The strength of the West lies in that multiplicity of the goals pursued in a pluralistic society.  May it long last.

NOTE:

* I am grateful to Hajo Schmidt for a critical-constructive reading.

_________________________________________________

Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of TRANSCEND International and rector of TRANSCEND Peace University. Prof. Galtung has published more than 1500 articles and book chapters, 500 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service, and more than 170 books on peace and related issues, of which more than 40 have been translated to other languages, including 50 Years – 100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives published by TRANSCEND University Press. More information about Prof. Galtung and all of his publications can be found at transcend.org/galtung.

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Saturday, December 30, 2017

 

Sea level rise vs. the Honolulu rail project—what a new report portends


by Larry Geller

A Star-Advertiser story (paywalled) this morning (12/30/2017) announced the release of the Hawaii Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report.

Expecting grim reading, I was not disappointed. From the news article:

With 3.2 feet of sea level rise, Oahu stands to potentially face $12.9 billion in structure and land loss; the displacement of 13,300 residents; and the loss of 3,800 structures, including hotels in Waikiki, and 17.7 miles of major roads due to flooding.

The beaches and hotels at risk are already there, and they will have to deal with a new reality creeping up on them. All of Hawaii will have to deal with the spectre of a dying economy due to greatly reduced tourism as Waikiki is gradually washed away.

What separates Hawaii from some other Pacific island nations known for trading with stone money is that we have had, so far, a booming hospitality industry. With hotels flooded and beaches washed away, we could be headed for a real wipeout.

We do, however, have a choice about how we plan and execute new development. It’s not rocket science, and we didn’t have to wait for this new report to reveal the hazards of ignoring climate change (see: Welcome to Honolulu 2050, Venice of the Pacific, 9/20/2015).

Nor do we have to wait for 3.2 feet of sea level rise—the website has a helpful visualization tool which can be set for 0.5, 1.1, 2.0 or 3.2 feet of rise.

New Yorker climate change cover 20150706[8]The first question that came to mind as I read the newspaper article was what will become of Honolulu’s fearfully expensive rail project. Will some of the stations be standing over flood waters? (In New York City, the answer is likely yes, since many stations are close to the water line. But our rail line is not yet complete.)

Cranking up the report’s visualization tool, it appears that no station will be threatened by the ocean even with a 3.2 foot rise over the present.

But wait: the tool also has a layer illustrating flooding. The potential flooding area exists today, but flood events will be more frequent and more threatening as the seas rise.

Here is the blank map from the report website for Ala Moana:

map1


Next is the same area but with the Flood Hazard overlay turned on:

map2


The flood zones are derived from FEMA data. It’s not clear, and perhaps not yet known, how often the hazard area will be flooded. But kiss the Ala Moana rail station goodbye when the floods happen.

Here is the same area with the 2 foot rise economic loss layer activated. Note that the Diamond Head side of Ala Moana Center is pretty much wiped out economically. What this means for the station, I don’t know, but why have a station there if the destination will no longer be desirable?

map4 economic loss 2 ft

Note also the potential loss of those pricey condos facing the ocean on Ala Moana Blvd.  Sorry, snowbirds.

Even the economic loss at 1.1 foot of sea level rise would have some impact according to this overlay:

map5 economic loss 1.1 ft


Moving on now to Pearl City, where another rail station is to be located:


map6 Pearl City

The rail station is planned for Kam Highway near Kuala Street, just to the left of where it says Pearl City on this map.

Here’s the flood zone map for the same location:

map7 Pearl City flood zone

The rail station is just inside the edge of the flood zone. But remember: this is today’s data. The zone is not going to shrink.

The station is just at the edge of an area marked for economic loss – even for as little as a 0.5 foot sea level rise. The loss area increases as the higher level overlays are selected. Check it out.

Certainly, predictions are better crafted by the experts. We, the taxpayers, who are being made to pay for this project, have an interest in hearing, from a neutral source, what the projected effect on so-called “Transit Oriented Development” will be as the sea encroaches on Oahu.

I don’t know the implications of siting a rail station at the very edge of what is to become an economically blighted area, but I think it’s safe to say that developers are not going to be willing to build any “affordable” or any other housing there.

Friday, December 01, 2017

 

Kaimana Beach banner challenges slave-like conditions in Hawaii’s longline fishing fleet


by Larry Geller

Kaimana Beach Banner 20171130
( courtesy photo via Dylan Bedortha )

The Turtle Island Restoration Network and Ocean Defenders Alliance placed a banner on Kaimana (San Souci) Beach yesterday morning to call attention to the plight of foreign fishermen in Hawaii’s longlines fishing fleet. The banner was still there this morning.

Kaimana Beach is the site of the grounding of the Pacific Paradise, a Hawaii-owned fishing boat that grounded under strange circumstances on October 11. The wreck is still on the reef where it endangers swimmers, may be leaking fuel oil, and has destroyed a substantial amount of coral.

IMG_20171201_104111

The boat included 19 fishermen from Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines and Kiribati and an American captain. No one on the ship called for help when the ship ran aground in the night. The wreck was not discovered until daylight the next day.

Civil Beat reported that the rescued crew members were taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and then released to the boats that had contracted for their labor.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources will next issue fishing licenses to the men—in violation of Hawaii law, which prohibits the issuing of licenses to those not in Hawaii and is the root of an ongoing legal challenge. Without even the requirement that the men be able to read the contracts they will sign they will work confined aboard the other fishing boats for the duration of their contracts with the owners.

Salvage has proven difficult and the ship remains an eyesore and potential hazard off the popular swimming beach.

The wreck and the banner serve as reminders that Hawaii seafood is being caught not by local fishermen concerned with conserving the ocean’s limited resources but by exploited foreign labor often paid starvation wages and working under abusive conditions.

See: Hawaiian seafood caught by foreign crews confined on boats and articles in Disappeared News.

 

Maui judge Joseph E. Cardoza blocks Hawaii Longline Association from intervening in lawsuit challenging licensing of foreign fishermen


by Larry Geller

Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) denied without public hearing a petition filed by a Native Hawaiian waterman challenging the state's issuance of fishing licences to foreigners who cannot land in Hawaii. The petition was filed in April 2017 and ignored by DLNR until prompted in July, whereupon they denied the petition without a public hearing. The denial was appealed to the Environmental Court on Maui (see: New complaints challenge human rights abuses in Hawaii's fishing fleet).

Attorney Lance Collins issued the following information this afternoon following a ruling by an Maui Enviornmental Court Judge:

The Hon. Joseph E. Cardoza, Maui's Environmental Circuit
Court Judge, yesterday denied the Hawai'i Longline Association's request
to intervene in a lawsuit filed by Native Hawaiian fisherman Malama Chun
challenging DLNR's Division of Aquatic Resources' practice of issuing
licenses to foreign fisherman who have been refused permission to land
in Hawai'i by U.S. authorities and have been ordered deported.

State law restricts the issuance of commercial fishing licenses to
persons “lawfully admitted to the United States” Foreign fishermen
working in the longline fishing industry are refused permission to land
in the United States by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and are also
ordered deported. However, using a loophole, they authorize the
fisherman's boat captain to hold the fisherman's passport and the
deportation order and allow the boat captain to determine when the
deportation is to occur. To enforce the deportation order, the piers at
which the fishing boats dock are heavily militarized and access is
restricted.

Malama Chun petitioned the Board of Land and Natural Resources seeking
an order stopping the Division of Aquatic Resources from illegally
issuing permits. That request was denied and Chun appealed to the
Environmental Court.

Oral arguments will be held on December 13, 2017 at 10:00 am in
Wailuku.

See also New complaints challenge human rights abuses in Hawaii's fishing fleet for information on a complaint filed with the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.

The plight of foreign fishermen in Hawaii’s longline fishing fleet was first reported by the Associated Press on September 8, 2016 (see: Hawaiian seafood caught by foreign crews confined on boats or Like Hawaiian seafood? Here’s who’s catching it). The AP reporters have received a Pulitzer Prize for their work exposing human rights abuses in the fisheries that supply America’s supermarkets and restaurants.



Monday, November 27, 2017

 

Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: Meanwhile, Around the World



Meanwhile, Around the World

27 November 2017

galtung_side#509 | Johan Galtung – TRANSCEND Media Service

Trump is trumping himself by making America Last, not in the sense of long-lasting, but in the sense of going down. There is something to learn for those receptive to learning, and Islam puts it forcefully: togetherness, and sharing. We would add: as equally as possible. But Trump politics is the opposite of that, and the price is increasing. And so is today also much of Muslim politics, to their detriment.

Basic question: What does it say about USA that they elected him?

But look at the fate of empires. With today’s accelerating history their lease on time will shorten dramatically. In the Trump-USA case the nuclear button looms large when everything else becomes small, shortening for all of us. But his finger is not the only one.

To the prediction, long time ago, of the decline and fall of the US empire (system of client states), we now have to add the decline and fall of the US Republic itself. One aspect is its inability to face the situation seriously, demanding of everybody the best of their thought, speech and action. One would expect in major bookstores like Barnes & Noble an array of books dedicated to that. Not at all. Or in the print, listen and viewing media. Very little, if at all.

Another aspect is what we find: sports, arts, sex, Christianity. Worthy topics, but given the context they look like escape mechanisms, like ways of not having to face reality. And there is very much of them, the media are filled to the brim. Much of the sports and arts produced presently is superb, enriching producers, distributors and consumers alike, softening life in crises. But not solving them.

However, many well educated young people leave desk and counter jobs in favor of field jobs in the enormous, rich, US countryside, in agriculture. Americans are innovative; hopefully they will go for cooperatives with sales points and culture in small communities, enriching rural USA while ensuring for themselves the basics for life.

Wake up USA, face reality lest reality will crush and crash you.

Las Vegas was the 273rd mass shooting in 2017. But Americans are not likely to give up their guns as Gary Younge argues (The Guardian, 10 October 2017); the National Rifle Association uses increasing US violence as argument for their own against “terrorists, home invaders and drug cartels and carjackers and knockout gamers and rapers”.

The Global Terrorism Index 2017 shows a decline in 2017, 22% fewer deaths — 77 countries — than in the peak year 2014. But state terrorism, from the air or by sharp shooters, is not reported in this one-sided study, and they cause each other. Wake up, do a better job.

The most populous USA, China, India, Indonesia retain death penalty against Article 3 of the Human Rights Declaration, says Federico Mayor Zaragoza [http://www.other-news.Info/2017/10/death penalty-a-fatal-inhuman-practice-without-any-deterrence effect]. Big states lead to big power; make them smaller, respecting human rights.

Europe. Some Catalans demand independence; but more autonomy in financial matters helped in Germany (Bavaria), UK (Scotland), Belgium (the Flemish, the Walloons), Denmark (Faroe), Italy (South Tyrol, Lombardia-Veneto)–Rick Noack, The Washington Post 10-10-2017.

China. An effort to summarize recent trends, based on “In China, A New Political Era Begins”, Matthew Massee, Daily Digests 20-10-2017.

History has stored many centenaries in this year 2017: like both Luther and Lenin, the Protestant and Bolshevik revolutions, competing for their hallelujahs. The Balfour Declaration of 1917, establishing a “national home” for Jews, solving internal problems and pressures at the expense of Arabs-Palestinians. The Anglican Church may have hoped that more Jews in The Holy Land would accelerate the Second Coming of Messiah. It certainly did accelerate a lot, but apparently not that.

Not only acting and speaking, thinking matters; and for that concepts matter. Like the old war-horses justice, security, balance of power standing for punishment, preemptive warfare, domination. But if they becomes peace horses, if they stand for restoring a person, defensive defense, and balance of peace: equity and empathy both ways.

How about the concept “structural violence”–inspired in 1965 by “Rhodesia” boasting “peace” with no direct racial violence since 1923 domestic independence–with black life expectancy half of the white? To take half the life away, even if slowly, is that “domestic peace”? There was a conceptual void, crying for a word with “violence”. “Structural violence” did the job with 1.4 mio hits; but “solution orientation” has only 241,000. Evidently, there is work to do!

“Structure” stands for patterned interaction“, and “violence” for insults to basic human needs, survival, wellness, freedom, identity. The most obvious case is a hierarchy with different levels of living high up and low down; life expectancies will tell us how different.

Some people refer to this as “social injustice”. But “structural violence” indicates a way out: change structure to structural peace. And for that some structural literacy is needed: for polyarchy adding horizontal interaction (India, Japanese companies), for equiarachy only horizontal, and anarchy, no interaction, isolated individuals.

We need a word for linking presidential and state narcissism and paranoia by elections. Is the word democracy? Or democrazy, rather?


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of TRANSCEND International and rector of TRANSCEND Peace University. Prof. Galtung has published more than 1500 articles and book chapters, 500 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service, and more than 170 books on peace and related issues, of which more than 40 have been translated to other languages, including 50 Years – 100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives published by TRANSCEND University Press. More information about Prof. Galtung and all of his publications can be found at transcend.org/galtung.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

 

Star-Advertiser columnist documents reasons why tech firms generally must (I repeat, must) flee Hawaii


by Larry Geller

It feels great to be validated from time to time. I’ve been pressing on this issue since 1989 and in this blog for more than a decade. It seems obvious to me: Tech firms almost inevitably find they have to relocate in order to succeed.

As a result, our state government spends a fortune promoting “high tech” only to see successful firms (or firms that want to be successful) pull up stakes and head to the Mainland.

And that’s just what those firms should do.

20170725 B4

Usually I write something like this: “One day the bean counters will come knocking at the CEO’s door and let him know that it is not in the stockholder's interest to keep the operation in sunny Hawaii.”

Of course, that applies also to privately held operations. It doesn’t matter how much the founder likes surfing, hiking or snacking on our wonderful mangos or lychee.

That knock will inevitably come.

In today’s Star-Advertiser (paywalled) Mike Meyer relates in his Tech View column how a startup thrived after moving to San Francisco in 2015. A snip from his column:

Q: Does the San Francisco Bay Area make sense for local companies that have decided to make the move to the mainland?

A: If you are a B2B SaaS (software as a service) startup like we are, then yes, without a doubt.

Q: Can you provide some metrics as far as growth and sales that have occurred after your move?

A: Our staff grew from three to 12, and we’ve gone from six to 700 customers since moving to S.F.

Hawaii does have some financing options, but the article points out that there are more in SF. Even if a startup is backed by a Hawaii venture capitol company, the funders will expect their investment to succeed, basically. If that means the startup moving to the Mainland, then the funders will at some point push for that. So Hawaii backing doesn’t mean the entrepreneur is going to be able to enjoy surfing here forever.

Customers, suppliers, engineers, scientists, and a robust support structure are there, not here.

There’s not much to be done about Hawaii’s isolation. Nor is Hawaii unique. I imagine a tech startup in the middle of Wyoming faces similar prospects—move or stagnate. Move or close up. Wyoming probably has a lower cost of living, though. Our high costs work against tech companies remaining or relocating here.

One thing I learned from the article: Hawaii is a great place “to develop code in relative secrecy.” Ok. That might also apply to Wyoming, though.

Poor tech opportunites impact our public school and college graduates as well. STEM programs are great, and certainly, every student is entitled to have the best education. Those who become enthusiastic and those who excel in science and maybe graduate at or near the top of their class face pressure to move to the Mainland for job opportunities—shattering the strong cultural preference to keep families together.

Sure, there is some high-tech here. No contribution to our economy should be discounted. But the basic impediments remain.

And no matter how good our educational system might become, or how much we can improve venture capitol opportunities, the knock will still come one day on each door.

I often add to my many articles that there does not seem to be a solution in sight. Islands in middle of the ocean usually don’t do well. Maybe they have guano, but that doesn’t last long.

So thank goodness we have a thriving tourism industry. Or we’d be trading stone money for those mangos and lychee.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

 

New complaints challenge human rights abuses in Hawaii's fishing fleet


An AP story is making its way around the world, reviving the as-yet unresolved issue of human rights violations aboard ships in Hawaii's longlines fishing fleet.

The story reports that a complaint has just been filed with the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.

Simultaneously, an agency of the Hawaii State government has denied without public hearing a petition filed by a Native Hawaiian waterman challenging the state's issuance of fishing licences to foreigners who cannot land in Hawaii. The denial will trigger an immediate court action.



The following snip is from an article in the Bangkok Post:

Turtle Island Restoration Network told The Associated Press on Wednesday that they filed the complaint last week with the Inter-American Human Rights Commission. The filing asks the panel to determine the responsibility of the US for human rights abuses against foreign workers in Hawaii's longline fishing fleet.

An Associated Press investigation into the seafood industry revealed that hundreds of men are confined to Hawaii boats that operate due to a federal loophole that exempts the foreign fishermen from most basic labour protections.

Many come from impoverished Southeast Asian and Pacific nations to take the jobs, which can pay as little as 70 cents an hour.

The fleet catches $110 million worth of luxury seafood annually.


Today attorney Lance Collins issued a press release regarding the dismissal of a petition filed with the Board of Land and Natural Resources on April 12 (see below). Not only did the BLNR delay responding for three months, but they also issued their denial without holding the customary public hearing.

Collins announced that the denial will be appealed immediately to the Environmental Court on Maui.

It is fair to say that the issue of human rights violations uncovered by an AP investigation published September 8, 2016 will stay in the public eye worldwide until the state government takes effective action to end the abuses. At the root of the problem is the illegal issuance of fishing licences by the state to foreign fishermen who are not allowed to set foot in the state.





Press Release 7/20/2017

The Board of Land and Natural Resources denied Native Hawaiian waterman Malama Chun's petition seeking to stop the Department of Land and Natural Resources from issuing commercial fishing licenses to non-resident fishermen who are confined to boats at Honolulu and Hilo harbors when at port. The Board refused to address the substantive issue of its Division of Aquatic Resources illegally issuing commercial fishing licenses to non-resident fishermen who are not legally allowed to enter the United States and as a consequence of their status are held in prison-like conditions on their boats while docked in Honolulu and Hilo. The Board also did not hold a public hearing to deny the matter – going against its traditional custom of making its decisions at public meetings.

On April 12, 2017, Malama Chun, a Native Hawaiian waterman, who fishes, filed a petition with the state Board of Land and Natural Resources challenging DLNR's Division of Aquatic Resources practice of issuing licenses to foreign fisherman who have been refused permission to land in Hawai'i by U.S. authorities and have been ordered deported.

State law restricts the issuance of commercial fishing licenses to persons “lawfully admitted to the United States” Foreign fishermen working in the longline fishing industry are refused permission to land in the United States by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and are also ordered deported. However, using a loophole, they authorize the fisherman's boat captain to hold the fisherman's passport and the deportation order and allow the boat captain to determine when the deportation is to occur. To enforce the deportation order, the piers at which the fishing boats dock are heavily militarized and access is restricted.

Chun said, “The members of the BLNR must have been too ashamed to make their decision at a public meeting. The situation is bad for these fishermen and its bad for Hawaii's people. And I know in their hearts they know its wrong which is why they didn't give us a public hearing before deciding.”

Chun's attorney, Lance D. Collins, added: “The Board's claim that Mr. Chun has no interest in their illegal issuance of commercial marine licenses is not only erroneous but absurd. We will be appealing this decision to the Environmental Court immediately.”


Sunday, July 16, 2017

 

Hawaii might look to Europe for offshore wind power innovation


A recent issue of the IEEE Spectrum featured an exciting article for those impatiently waiting for offshore wind power to become practicle: For the First Time, Offshore Wind Power Will Be Profitable Without Subsidies".



Europe’s offshore wind power industry recently achieved a major milestone: three projects to be built without government subsidy. Bent Christensen, who is responsible for energy-cost projections for Siemens’s wind power division, credits industry-wide cost cutting that has outstripped expectations. “We’re three to four years ahead of schedule,” says Christensen.


Part of the cost breakthrough is due to recent innovations in power transmission technology.

Hawaii cannot count on local development to make offshore wind power feasible. Staying in touch with European leaders may work well for us and help reduce the outrageous rates we pay for electricity at present.


Tuesday, July 04, 2017

 

Hawaii should fear a "knapsack" attack more than a N. Korean ICBM


It's July 4th. While looking forward to today's hotdogs and tonight's firework celebration, at the same time our Twitter feed shouts out ominous reports of North Korea's latest test firing of an ICBM:



In Hawaii we probably should be worrying about our vulnerability as a future missile target. We should, however, also be concerned about a more immediate potential threat: conventional targeting of tourist or military facilities in conventional terror attack.

Do you think it couldn't happen here?

Watch the sky tonight, particularly if you live on the upper floor of a condo or anyplace high over the city. I'll bet there will be plenty of illegal aerials, as usual.

Even though they have long been outlawed there seems to be no way to stop them.

Clearly, it's pretty easy to bring them in. Your neighbor may be buying them and then shooting them off each year with impunity.

We can't keep them out it seems.

This inability to keep out explosives could be a more immediate threat than expecting a N. Korean atomic bomb to be launched in our direction one day.

Tourism clearly is a common terrorist target, as we all too often read in the news. Terrorism is aimed now at innocent gatherings of civilians and at places popular with tourists. ISIS leader Al-Baghdadi declared a jihad against tourism. It works very well for the evildoers, who seek the media attention the attacks bring even more than the death toll they can achieve.

Professor Johan Galtung named what I am describing as "knapsack" attacks. That is, someone brings the material into Honolulu and then uses it to blow something up.

The lesson from the repetitive display of illegal fireworks is that this may be very easy to do.

The targets might be malls, PXs, Waikiki beaches or hotels, or Chinatown nightclubs or gatherings.

Any such incident would likely have a lasting impact on tourism, the driver of the state's economy.

A "knapsack" attack is very low-tech and doesn't risk nuclear counter-attack. Why anyone would concentrate on developing and then dropping a missile on us escapes me, to tell the truth.

What to do about this? I suggest we begin talking and not just waiting for it to befall us.


Monday, July 03, 2017

 

Repost 2017: 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[3][6]

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:

Bribe_thumb3[2][4]

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:

Debate_thumb2[2][8]

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. No doubt this has already been done. If not, 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.





Thursday, June 29, 2017

 

Homelessness crisis: Let's stop using the bogus term "affordable housing" and say instead (for example) $800/month rent


Honolulu is making little to no progress in solving its chronic housing shortage--a problem which has been recognized in the press as a crisis at least since 2003. It's time we pushed our elected leaders to commit to firm plans for creating the 20,000, 24,000 or 60,000 rentals that will be needed according to the time frame and who is expounding on the subject.

Waiting for Santa Claus to fly over the Honolulu rail route one day and deliver "affordable housing" does not qualify as a viable plan.

Newspaper articles equating 140% of AMI (Area Median Income) as "affordable" are counter-productive when homeless or near-homeless need housing at 30% of AMI. The lack of journalistic honesty takes pressure off of our elected officials (City Council and state government) to develop concrete plans. Government lets the crisis slide along, and instead put its energy into the gentrification of Kakaako and Waikiki. That of course benefits mainly the ultra-rich and the Whole Foods-type of merchants that the well-off need to enjoy whatever number of months they actually stay in their expensive condo apartments.

I suggest re-starting the dialogue and never mentioning the word "affordable". The word has no meaning without a frame of "affordable for whom." In truth, housing is needed across a broad spectrum of monthly rental rates. Why not talk about the need for and availability of $800/month apartments, $1,000/month apartments, $1,800/month apartments, and so forth? People seek housing according to what they are able to pay.

In the face of competition from those with generous military housing subsidies and the burgeoning Airbnb-type of vacation rentals, the low- and medium-range of rentals will continue to fail residents who are trapped by the low paying jobs prevalent in Hawaii.

In the absence of adequate Section 8 housing and some form of rent control, the best-laid plans, even if they existed, would fall short.

But there is no plan to resolve what is arguably the worst crisis of homelessness since the Great Depression. Rents continue to rise and wages continue to stagnate. Other costs of living increase inexorably as well. Much of our population lives on fixed incomes. There need for realistic plans at a scale that has a chance to make a meaningful difference. Neither our city nor our state have promulgated plans that their constituents can hold them to.

It's important to acknowledge that the housing crisis was recognized at least as far back as 2003, with several newspaper articles at that time calling for action. Yet none was forthcoming. Here's an article from November 16, 2003:


Just as the rail project is viewed by many as a con against the public perpetrated by citycouncilmen beholden only to the development community who pay the largest share of their campaign contributions, the concept that "Transit Oriented Development" will provide much in the way of low-income rental units is also a con.

Bullet points on a PowerPoint slide do not amount to an actual "plan". A plan typically has a budget, personnel assigned or need recognized, a timeline, etc. All measurable, of course, so those in charge can be held accountable to it.

There is no Santa Claus. The hoped-for housing that's needed will have to depend on the ingenuity and dedication of urban planners working for the people instead of wishing for progress led by developers and their agents in city government. So far, government shows no signs of delivering.

The media could fulfill an important role, if it were also dedicated to the needs of newspaper readers instead of newspaper advertisers. They could document how many housing units are needed in each rental bracket and give up on the bogus "affordable" narrative that currently dominates articles.

We need to get all hands on deck to solve this so-far intractable issue.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

 

Honolulu Star-Advertiser publishes illegal vacation rental how-to article


IMG_20170621_135230

Wednewday’s Star-Advertiser front page is dominated by a pretty useless full-page graphic that illustrates the easy profits to be made in Hawaii's vacation rental business. If, as is likely to happen, this presentation encourages more homeowners and renters to tap this extremely lucrative (though illegal) source of income, the pool of affordable rental housing in the state will be further reduced.

Yes, this is news. The presentation, however, crosses a line into promotion. Tenants cash in despite risks (Star-Advertiser p.A1, 6/21/17) only vaguely suggests, in its closing paragraph on an inside page, that this popular practice might be problematic. Nowhere does the article state that the proliferation of these short-term rentals is a contributor to Hawaii's chronic housing shortage and the growing homelessness crisis.

Of course short-term rentals (think, for example, of those arranged via Airbnb) are usually illegal here, but right at the top of the page is data reporting that fines levied so far this year total only $2,000. The third paragraph states that profits from renting to vacationers can "fetch upwards of $1,000 a week."

Also on the front page is a list describing the size of this business ("the alternative accommodations industry"): $1.4 billion in household income and 34,000 jobs.

Clearly, enforcement is effectively nonexistant. Profits are high. Risks are low. The article can't fail to attract the attention of renters and homeowners curious about how to make money through on-line services such as Airbnb. It mentions five ways to post a listing. It demonstrates that the risk of getting fined is close to zero. No specialized degree or qualifications are needed to make big bucks. Lots of people are already doing this. Sounds worth trying, right?

There is no context or perspective on benefits or harms to our economy or quality of life.

As an article in the Local section, this topic would make more sense. It's not "front-page" news because the societal impact is omitted. What's left is an effective promotion for an industry that demonstrably harms state residents while primarily benefiting out-of-state special interests.



Sunday, May 14, 2017

 

Eight months after the AP revealed slave-like conditions aboard boats in the Hawaii fishing fleet, no fix is in sight



In September, an extensive Associated Press investigation detailing poor labor conditions aboard Hawaii longline vessels that catch ahi and swordfish sparked national attention and public outrage….But eight months later, little appears to have changed when it comes to protecting the foreign fishermen who can’t stray from their American boats docked at Honolulu Harbor without risking deportation.
Star-Advertiser, 5/14/2017


by Larry Geller

Time marches on (see: Three months after the AP revealed slave-like conditions aboard boats in the Hawaii fishing fleet, no fix is in sight, 12/7/2016).

In truth, nothing has changed to protect the foreign fishermen whose plight was described in the September 2016 Associate Press stories.

(See these AP stories for background)

From today’s article:

The foreign longline fishermen exist in a sort of legal purgatory. While they are legally employed by U.S. vessels, they aren’t actually allowed to step foot on U.S. soil and aren’t afforded the labor protections of American workers.

While locals and tourists at restaurants like Nico’s off Pier 38 dine on the fresh ahi caught by foreign longliners, the fishermen remain confined to their boats just yards away.

[Star-Advertiser p. A1, Isles’ longline industry little changed after investigation, 5/14/2017]

2017-05-14_160642

Today’s story revealed that Whole Foods, which had discontinued buying fish from the Hawaii Fish Auction when the abuses were revealed in September, resumed buying the fish in late December.

So much for retailer pressure on the industry to end the abuses.

The concerns expressed initially by our Congressional delegation have gone nowhere.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources heard a petition to change their rules, but denied it.

Bills introduced in the state legislature to prevent licensing of foreign fishermen did not succeed. In fact, there is already state law prohibiting the issuance of fishing licenses to fisherman who cannot legally land in Hawaii, but DLNR refuses to enforce it.

Most recently, a new petition has been sent to the Bureau of Land and Natural Resources in April. Although they are required to hear it, so far they have not scheduled it on a hearing agenda.

The “self-regulation” of the industry described in news articles is effectively non-existent because the document that the fleet operators created and describe as a “contract” is not, in fact, the fishermen’s labor contract, and it is unenforceable—the fishermen have no means to enforce it.

So it’s now eight months after the original AP stories spread around the country and around the world, and nothing has changed in Hawaii to end the abuses.



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