Friday, October 31, 2014
Hawaii media fail to warn of measles risk
by Larry Geller
There are compelling reasons to get vaccinated against measles, but for some reason local media (Star-Advertiser, KHON, KITV…) have not mentioned any of them. A column in Civil Beat does mention the dangers of contracting media, but you have to scroll quite a bit down to get to it. The article is about the possibility of placing new restrictions on world travelers.
Here’s what I have not seen that I think the public ought to be told about:
Possible complications of measles are pneumonia, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), ear infections, diarrhea, seizures, and death. These complications are more common in children under age 5 years and adults over age 20 years.
Measles can be prevented with vaccination.
[Hawaii state Dept. of Health, Immunization Branch – Home]
Ok, but how common are complications? The CDC has much more:
About 30% of measles cases develop one or more complications, including
- Pneumonia, which is the complication that is most often the cause of death in young children.
- Ear infections occur in about 1 in 10 measles cases and permanent loss of hearing can result.
- Diarrhea is reported in about 8% of cases.
These complications are more common among children under 5 years of age and adults over 20 years old.
Even in previously healthy children, measles can be a serious illness requiring hospitalization. As many as 1 out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, and about 1 child in every 1,000 who get measles will develop encephalitis. (This is an inflammation of the brain that can lead to convulsions, and can leave the child deaf or mentally retarded.) For every 1,000 children who get measles, 1 or 2 will die from it. Measles also can make a pregnant woman have a miscarriage, give birth prematurely, or have a low-birth-weight baby.
[Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Complications of Measles]
Other cities where measles outbreaks have occurred vary in their news coverage. But here in Hawaii, this is all that the public is given:
What are the symptoms of measles?
The symptoms of measles generally begin about 14 days (range 7 to 21 days) after a person is infected, and include:
- Blotchy red rash
- Runny nose
- Red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis)
- Feeling run down, achy (malaise)
- Tiny white spots with bluish-white centers found inside the mouth (Koplik’s spots-not always present)
That’s not the whole story. Runny nose doesn’t sound that bad, and even the possibility of tiny white spots may not motivate parents who are uncertain about vaccination to take their kids in for the jab.
The vaccine-deniers have had their success. Measles should have been gone by now, but thanks to quacks and their ability to spread misinformation via the Internet, vaccination levels have dropped in many areas to the point where both children and adults are at risk. Measles is also brought in by overseas visitors, but it can take hold only when the local population has a less-than-adequate level of vaccination.
So come on, Star-Advertiser, let’s have the complete story on measles. Same for the rest of you media, too.
Nate Silver predicts an 18.0% margin of victory for Ige with a 97% chance that he will win
The predictor-in-chief has finally spoken, releasing his forecast for each state's gubernatorial elections just today.
Silver gives it to Ige with a 97% chance. So to the other guys: stop calling me in middle of dinner. Quit killing trees for mail ads that won't work anyway. You’ve had it. It’s over.
Here’s a snip from his chart of national races:
[fivethirtyeight.com, FiveThirtyEight’s Gubernatorial Forecasts: A Lot Of Really Close Races, 10/31/2014]
You must remember Nate Silver—he has demonstrated incredible accuracy in the past. From the Wikipedia page about him:
The accuracy of his November 2008 presidential election predictions—he correctly predicted the winner of 49 of the 50 states—won Silver further attention and commendation. The only state he missed was Indiana, which went for Barack Obama by one percentage point. He correctly predicted the winner of all 35 U.S. Senate races that year.
In April 2009, he was named one of The World's 100 Most Influential People by Time.
We’ll see how accurate he is for Hawaii. It’s possible that Silver might revise his chart as election day approaches. But 97% does sound conclusive, doesn’t it?
Thursday, October 30, 2014
First case of police profiling of homeless reported in paper
by Larry Geller
The first indication that the Honolulu Police Department is indeed profiling homeless people for selective enforcement of the city’s new sit-lie ordinances appeared in an article buried deep in the paper this morning.
A houseless person sitting on a bench at a bus stop was singled out (profiled) by police and ticketed.
The so-called sit-lie law, which took effect Sept. 16 and which patrol officers began enforcing Oct. 8, bans people from lying down or sitting on public sidewalks in the Waikiki Special Design District, defined as the area bordered by Ala Wai Canal and Kapahulu Avenue.
Michael Natividad, the man cited, used his cell-phone to record the incident on video. In the video, two officers tell him he is being cited because "the bench is part of the sidewalk."
[Star-Advertiser p. B4, Sit-lie ticket given in error, police say, 10/30/2014]
Aside from the serious issue of why a police officer who would consider a bench “part of the sidewalk” is employed by HPD in the first place, this reported incident represents a clear case of profiling. HPD was not reported to have cited anyone else for sitting on the bench.
Mr. Natividad was clearly chosen by police on the basis of his appearance. In other words, the city’s law was selectively applied to a homeless person while not enforced against others who used that same bench at the same or other times.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Hawaii’s low voter turnout: Apathy, or simply leading the trend?
by Larry Geller
Here’s a claim that Hawaii might reasonably make for national leadership: It’s at the head of the pack in the current trend for lower and lower voter turnout.
An article in yesterday’s Star-Advertiser reports that Hawaii is 49th out of 50 states and DC in political engagement, and credits that to “apathy.”
The source of their data (see below) notes that due to declining voter turnout, “the United States of America might soon rename itself the United States of Apathy.”
Perhaps they are right, but perhaps not. I’ve noted before that it’s easy to describe non-voting as apathy. But on what evidence?
Hawaii could simply be more advanced than the other states in this regard—that is, ahead, not behind the pack.
We’re always looking for a way to establish our leadership, to be noticed out here in middle of the Pacific. Perhaps this is one way.
Actually, those who have requested absentee ballots in Hawaii vote at a high rate by state or even national standards. Now, does that mean that they are less apathetic, or simply looking for the most convenient way to cast their vote? That could be laziness as well, couldn’t it. In other words, we know that absentee voters aren’t by and large absent, in fact one might say that they are very present. So they are simply making their voting routine more efficient by having ballots mailed to them, to be returned postage-free, with no parking problems or standing in line.
The Star-Advertiser article references this undated page on wallethub.com: 2014′s Most and Least Politically Engaged States. Check it out, there are enough graphs and charts to demonstrate that the author is very politically engaged anyway.
Although the Wallethub article attributes the decline in voter turnout to apathy and a lack of civic education, it also references What Affects Voter Turnout Rates (Fairvote.org). There seem to be influences that cannot be dismissed as simple “apathy.”
I don’t know why so few people here vote. I consider casting my vote to be a small thing I can do to try and influence government policy. But others may simply think, “What does it matter if I vote or not?” And that is perfectly valid. In fact, it may not matter. They could be on to something, give them credit for not wasting their time.
Hawaii chugs along. The potholes don’t get fixed, the condos rise from Kakaako. If developers and corporations are pulling the strings of government, it truly may not matter much who sits in a legislator’s seat. Senior citizens get killed in record numbers crossing the street regardless of who is in charge.
I’ve noticed that the executive branch, whether at the state or county level, often has disdain for the very public that put each of them in office. Public hearings required by law are held, but nobody is listening. The state agencies do whatever they want anyway, ignoring public input. Instead of working with the community to (for example) create housing for low-income or homeless individuals and families, government drops a bomb on Chinatown, or at least that’s how it might be felt. Surprise. We’re putting a low-income development in your back yard. Or here is a new city dump we’d like you to accept, or a wastewater treatment plant next to your school.
Regardless of who is in charge, who won the election, the people are treated as a problem. Citizens get in the way of government. We are pesky folks, not respected voters.
Of course, when the public does make itself heard, politicians listen. But mostly, people just seem to take what is dished out to them. They don’t march much. Protests are short-lived if they happen at all. We are not apathetic, though, as the push for marriage equality and the current struggle for GMO regulation show.
Without a proper study, I have no idea if I am headed in the right direction. I’m only trying to show that there could be reasons for not voting, perfectly valid ones. Instead of complaining, the newspaper and others might fund a study, perhaps, and gather some meaningful data.
Look, it could simply be “resilience.” Yeah, we pull through. We take what is dished out to us and survive despite it all. Voting has nothing to do with this, it doesn’t change a thing.
I often wonder why people don’t protest HECO’s electricity rates—we are paying about three times the national average, and the utility is clearly going slow on knocking down the price. While the newspaper likes to claim we are “leaders” in solar technology, actually, we were so far behind that when prices for panels dropped and the tax credits were created, we raced to catch up. The high growth rate in solar installations is simply that catch-up from behind, not something to crow about. And if you read the papers, that growth has stopped anyway.
Yet there are no pickets surrounding HECO headquarters on Ward Avenue.
We pull through. We pay and we survive to pay another day.
We are resilient.
We stay and hope for a better day, waiting for public officials to do their jobs the way we wait for shameless husbands to come home and suddenly love us.
But day after day, those who are supposed to support us steal our wallets instead.
[Rappler.com, The problem with Filipino resilience, 10/30/2014]
That’s a great article on resilience, which may apply in part to Hawaii.
Rather than “the audacity of hope,” the article describes the futility of hope.
Yet the Filipino people pull through. So do we in Hawaii, where the cost of living is among the very highest in the country. It’s tough. Even though we can vote out a legislator or even a governor, what difference does it really make?
The vote is a very poor change agent.
Whether or not we vote, our situation is not likely to improve.
So why vote? I’ve nearly convinced myself. Nearly.
Suit alleges constitutionally guaranteed Hawaiian language education is unavailable on Lanai
“The Department of Education has a constitutional mandate to establish a statewide public school system that consists of, among other things, a comprehensive Hawaiian education program consisting of culture, history and language," Chelsa-Marie Kealohalani Clarabal says in her Oct. 24 complaint against the state Board of Education. "Nevertheless, children on Lanai, an isolated, rural community do not have access to such a program.
by Larry Geller
Courthouse News Service described a lawsuit filed in Hawaii's First Circuit Court at Mom Demands Hawaiian Language Classes (Courthouse News Service, 10/29/2014).
There is one elementary school on the island, and apparently a Hawaiian-language education is not possible.
The 15-page complaint alleges widespread violations of education standards on Lanai, including lack of teachers competent in Hawaiian and severe understaffing. Clarabal claims at least one of her children was "reprimanded" by her teacher for doing written assignments in Hawaiian.
For details, please read the article at the link.
Jury deliberating case against man photographing cops
by Larry Geller
Update: at 1:30 p.m. HST, the tweet came in: Not Guilty. This is after a 25-hour trial and 5 hours of deliberation, including one juror excused because of fear of retaliation.
I’m checking Twitter every few minutes to see what happens in Austin Texas (isn’t technology wonderful?) in a case that went to the jury this morning. I learned about it on today’s Democracy Now. The final segment described the trials of Antonio Buehler, who was photographing a woman crying out for help during a DUI arrest.
A cop came over to him and ordered him to put his hands behind his back, which of course meant that he couldn’t video what was going on. Today’s trial will determine if Buehler is convicted on a petty misdemeanor charge of "failure to obey a lawful order," but effectively, it is about whether he has the right to photograph police activity.
Hawaii has had its own incidents (for example, here) (more here, here and here) that didn’t get onto Democracy Now even though the police victim (the photographer) was severely beaten, and the police caught in a big lie.
To watch the complete segment on Democracy Now, click here. A full transcript is included.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Voter challenges Calvin Say’s use of campaign funds to pay legal expenses in residency challenge
by Larry Geller
Nancy E. McGee, who identifies herself as a voter in House District 20, reports that she filed a complaint today with the Campaign Spending Commission challenging former House Speaker Calvin Say’s use of “over $60,000” of campaign funds to pay his legal costs in defending against challenges to his residency in the district he represents.
In a statement released via email, McGee explained, in part:
As a voter in District 20, I am outraged that Calvin Say has used tens of thousands of dollars of his campaign funds for personal use by paying his personal attorneys to defend his spurious claim to legal residency.
The use of campaign funds for this personal purpose is illegal and against the spirit of our state's campaign financing system.
His requests to the House of Representatives to pay his personal legal bills to defend challenges to his residency were denied on May 15 because the House deemed it not connected to his duties as a House member.
The complaint itself cites statutes and administrative rules that regulate the use of campaign funds and prohibit their diversion for personal use. It holds that Say’s use of campaign funds to defend against the legal action is not related to his duties as a member of the House.
Usurping office is not a duty of an office holder just as bribery is not a duty of office while it can only occur if someone is possessing office. Paying attorneys to defend the usurpation, like bribery, cannot be characterized as "ordinary and necessary" expenses incurred in connection with those duties.
Say's request to have the House defend him were declined because the House deemed it to be personal and having nothing to do with his performance of his official duties.
Should the complaint prevail, it does not put Say’s seat in jeopardy, but could result in repayment of amounts deemed to be illegal, and could involve penalties. The Commission would have to verify that amounts paid by the campaign to the law firm of Kobayashi Sugita Goda were in fact used for his defense against the state court cases.
A copy of the complaint can be downloaded here (pdf).
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Professor Noam Chomsky at the UN on Israel/Palestine
Many of the world’s problems are so intractable that it’s hard to think of ways even to take steps towards mitigating them. The Israel-Palestine conflict is not one of these. On the contrary, the general outlines of a diplomatic solution have been clear for at least 40 years. Not the end of the road—nothing ever is—but a significant step forward. And the obstacles to a resolution are also quite clear.—Professor Noam Chomsky
by Larry Geller
Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman moderated an important session held in the hall of the United Nations General Assembly last week, at which MIT professor Noam Chomsky spoke before an audience of 800 people, both ambassadors and the general public.
The occasion was the 365th Meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
Today’s program featured two edited segments, both accompanied by full transcripts. The second one has some remarks by Professor
Supporters of the BDS (boycott, divest, sanctions) movement may want to skip to the very end of the transcript of the second part for Prof. Chomsky’s comments on the movement.
Alternatively, a video of the entire session (one hour, 48 minutes) can be found on the United Nations website here. The video is very clear—a better view, certainly, than any of the attendees actually had.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Hawaii Red Cross closes shelter, dumps homeless couple out onto stormy streets
by Larry Geller
Homeless advocate Kathryn Xian searched the streets, back and forth, in the heavy rain until she located a houseless couple who had been thrown out of an emergency shelter without a place to go and without transportation—by Hawaii Red Cross staff who were operating the Farrington HS shelter.
She found them, huddled under makeshift shelter, trying to stay dry, and took them off to safety.
It was a dark and stormy day. Hurricane Ana was retreating but not gone. She drenched Oahu with rain as she made her way toward Kauai and Niihau. Weather reports warned that thunderstorms and winds were possible until Ana was gone.
By no stretch of the imagination was the storm over. Flood warnings continued through the day until 8 p.m. HPD reported ponding on streets and warned motorists to avoid already flooded roadways.
Despite the bad conditions, the city Department of Emergency Management ordered the shelters closed. Dutifully following orders. the Red Cross staff at Farrington apparently evicted the homeless couple.
In response to a Disappeared News request for comment on Monday, this was received Tuesday morning:
Based on the weather information available at the time, a collective decision was made with city and county officials to close the shelter because the main threat from Hurricane Ana was believed to have passed. We greatly regret that the couple did not have shelter from the rain caused by the storm. The evacuation centers are meant to provide safe haven for anyone seeking shelter from life threatening disasters.
Hawaii State Chapter, The American National Red Cross
Whether the shelters should have been closed or not is a peripheral issue here. How a staff charged with caring for those in need can put a homeless couple out on the street without assistance in a storm is something I did not expect from the Red Cross.
Before the next storm, perhaps the Department of Emergency Management and the Red Cross might get together on a protocol to prevent this from repeating in the future.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: ISIS: Negotiation, Not Bombing
The historical-cultural-political position of ISIS and its successors is strong; the West is weak, also economically. The West cannot offer withdrawal in return for anything as it has already officially withdrawn. The West, however, can offer reconciliation, both in the sense of clearing the past and opening the future.
ISIS: Negotiation, Not Bombing
13 October 2014
by Johan Galtung, 13 Oct 2014 - TRANSCEND Media Service
More senseless bombing of Muslims, more defeats for USA-West, more ISIS-type movements, more West-Islam polarization. Any way out?
“ISIS, Islamic State in Iraq-Syria, appeals to a Longing for the Caliphate” writes Farhang Johanpour in an IPS column. For the Ottoman Caliphate with the Sultan as Caliph–the Shadow of God on Earth–after the 1516-17 victories all over till the collapse of both Empire and Caliphate in 1922, at the hands of the allies England-France-Russia.
Imagine the collapse of the Vatican, not Catholic Christianity, at the hands of somebody, Protestant or Orthodox Christians, meaning Anglo-Americans or Russians, or Muslims. A center in this world for the transition to the next, headed by a Pope, the apostolic successor to The Holy Spirit, an emanation of God in Heaven. Imagine it gone.
And imagine that they who had brought about the collapse had a tendency to bomb, invade, conquer, dominate Catholic countries, one after the other, like after 2 Bush wars in Afghanistan-Iraq, 5 Obama wars in Pakistan-Yemen-Somalia-Libya-Syria, and “special operations”. Would we not predict  a longing for the Vatican, and  an extreme hatred of the perpetrators? Fortunately, it did not happen.
But it happened in the Middle East: leaving a trauma fueled by killing hundreds of thousands. The Sykes-Picot England-France agreement of 16 May 1916 led to the collapse, with their four well-known colonies, the less known promise of Istanbul to Russia(!), and the 1917 Balfour declaration offering parts of Arab lands as “national home for the Jewish people”. Johanpour quotes Churchill: “Selling one piece of real estate, not theirs, to two peoples at the same time”.
The Middle East colonies fought the West through military coups for independence; Kemal Atatürk was a model. The second liberation is militant Islam–Muslim Brotherhood, FIS-Federation Islamique de Salvation in Algeria, etc.–against military-secular dictatorships. The West prefers the military; order against history.
The longing cannot be stopped. ISIS is only one expression, and exceedingly brutal. But, a damage and destruction by Obama and allies will be followed by a dozen ISIS from 1.6 billion Muslims in 57 countries. A little military politicking today, some “training” here, fighting there, bombing all over, are only ripples on a groundswell.
This will end with a Sunni caliphate sooner or later. And, the lost caliphate they are longing for, had not Israel been awarded a “national home”. This is behind some of the US-West despair. Any solution?
The way out is cease-fire and negotiation. Under United Nations auspices, with full UN Security Council backing. To gain time, switch to a defensive military strategy, defending Baghdad, the Kurds, the Shia and others in Syria and Iraq. Problematic for the USA, so maybe some other members of the coalition can do better, leaving Baghdad to the USA. After all, the US embassy there must be very attractive as a Caliphate See.
The historical-cultural-political position of ISIS and its successors is strong; the West is weak, also economically. The West cannot offer withdrawal in return for anything as it has already officially withdrawn. The West, however, can offer reconciliation, both in the sense of clearing the past and opening the future. Known in USA as “apologism” a difficult policy to pursue. But the onus of Sykes-Picot is for once not on the USA, but on UK-France. Russia dropped out after the 1917 revolution, but revealed the plot.
Bombing, an atrocity, will lead to more ISIS atrocities. A conciliatory West might change that. An international commission could work on Sykes-Picot and its aftermath, and open the book with compensation on it. As a principle; the West cannot pay anyhow.
Above all, future cooperation. The West, and here USA enters, could make Israel return the West Bank, except for small cantons, the Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital–or else!–sparing the Arabs and the Israelis horrible long-lasting warfare.
This would be decency, sanity, rationality; the question is whether the West possesses these qualities. The prognosis is dim.
There is the Anglo-American self-image as infallible, a gift to humanity, a little rough at times civilizing the diehards, but not weak. If not an apology, at least they could wish their own policies in the region since, say, 1967, undone. No sign of that.
So much for the willingness. Does the West have the ability? Do they know how to reconcile? After Portugal and England conquering the East China-East Africa sea lane around 1500, ultimately establishing themselves in Macao and Hong Kong, after the First and Second Opium wars 1839-1860 in China, ending with Anglo-French forces burning the Imperial Palace in Beijing, did England use the “hand over” of Hong Kong for reflections on the past? Not a word from Prince Charles.
China could have flattened those two colonies–but did not. As Islam has retaliation among its values, the West may be in for a lot.
Slavery, colonialism, imperialism. My country, Norway, accused by Caribbean countries of complicity in slavery, is now joining; it is the fourth war since 2001. Yet the tiny opposition has no alternative.
Le Nouvel Observateur lists “groupes terroristes islamistes” in the world: Iraq-Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Libya, Algeria, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Indonesia, Philippines, Uzbekistan, and Chechnya. The groups, named, grew out of similar local circumstances. Imagine they increasingly share that longing for a caliphate; the Ottoman Empire covered much more than the Middle East, way into Africa and Asia. And more groups are coming. Invincible.
Imagine that Turkey itself shares that dream, maybe hoping to play a major role (the Prime Minister, Davutoglu, was in his past a superb academic, specialist on the Empire). Could that be the reason for Turkey not really joining, as it seems, this anti-ISIS crusade?
The West should be realistic, not “realist”. Switch to rationality.
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.
Monday, October 13, 2014
Two stories about Duke Aiona better than one
by Larry Geller
The two Republican candidates for governor and lieutenant governor addressed their constituent base at a meeting on Friday. I wasn’t there, but felt well informed by two articles covering the event. They are very different and complement each other.
All good things must come to an end. In a newspaper, that’s usually when the story hits the bottom of a printed page. So an on-line report can often have more detail than a traditional, print story.
At the same time, a print reporter must craft the article more carefully, given that the word count is limited. Here’s where experience and skill pay off.
This is a case where I am glad to have both articles.
Chad Blair , in his Civil Beat article, Chad Blair: Faith and Politics, Aiona and Ahu, at the Blaisdell (Civil Beat, 10/13/2014) carefully developed how gubernatorial candidate Duke Aiona and his running mate, Elwin Ahu, were nourishing a populist campaign, particularly among religious voters.
The Star-Advertiser report on the same meeting appeared in their Sunday edition, so I had read that one first. Even as I scrolled through Blair’s account this morning, the lead paragraphs of reporter Derek DePledge’s account echoed in my skull:
Former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona pulled out a worn, pocket edition of Gideon's New Testament and read a verse that reminds him of his "spiritual rock."
The Republican candidate for governor, speaking at a revival-style "We Believe" rally on Friday night at the Blaisdell Center, was not talking about God. He was talking about his wife, Vivian.
"Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands," Aiona read from Peter, playfully apologizing to his wife. "That even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives." He read that passage again for emphasis. "When they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.
"Do not let your adornment be merely outward -- arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel -- rather let it be the hidden person of the heart."
"That's my wife," Aiona said. "Her heart."
[Star-Advertiser p.1, Aiona campaign aims to win religious voters, 10/12/2014]
The on-line Star-Advertiser article is paywalled, but if you have access to the Sunday paper, check it out.
I suppose at some time and some place, praising one’s wife for being submissive and chaste would be a plus. Today, that might fly in Saudi Arabia (among the men, anyway). In the Hawaii of 2014, should Aiona be applauded for publicly espousing these beliefs, or should he be criticized?
Even among the male and female audience members there must have been more than a few who would not sympathize with Aiona’s view of inequality of the sexes. At least, I would hope so.
In any case, DePledge nailed it right at the top of his article. It was easy to build on that, or rather, Aiona’s statement cannot help but dominate anything that followed. Perhaps that happens only if Aiona’s statement triggers one’s hot buttons. That’s what happened to me.
The two stories together raise some questions that will probably remain until election day—for example, does the evangelical segment of Hawaii’s religious community really want payback for the special session that brought marriage equality to the state? At present, since the US Supreme Court refused to consider the various state appeal vying for its attention, somewhere around 30-35 states now recognize or are on the verge of recognizing same-sex marriage, and it is recognized at the national level. There’s no going back.
The religious community itself is not at all unified in opposition to marriage equality. Last night (Sunday), the Interfaith Alliance of Hawaii held its annual award ceremony. The second of several awards was given to Equality Hawaii.
News coverage of the competing protests at the State Capitol during the course of last year’s special legislative session noted that each side behaved civilly toward the opposition. This is Hawaii, and we do that. One side had to emerge victorious. Both sides left the Capitol peaceably.
As the opponents of same-sex marriage returned to their daily lives, have they remained obsessed with their loss and are they still contemplating revenge?
Voters would be wise (don’t laugh) to make their choice for governor based on the strengths each candidate would bring to the office. Even if Aiona should be the choice, he can’t reverse marriage equality at this point.
Nor can he turn Hawaii into a “Christian state.”
Since both men and women vote, I wonder how how many accept Aiona’s concept of a good wife? The story as reported by Derrick DePledge says a lot about the man. Perhaps enough for many. We shall find out on election day.
Incivility at Civil Beat?
by Larry Geller
A snip from the middle of a column written by Peter Carlisle on today’s Civil Beat website that I found difficult to read:
… Or are Dennis Francis and his Editorial Board lost in Never Never Land? Or, more frighteningly, have Zombies been feasting on their brains?
How is it that Francis disregarded the opinion of his paper’s expert on political matters, Abercrombie’s litany of gubernatorial inadequacies, the many times he stuck his foot in his mouth up to the kneecap and the judgment of the people expressed in the poll?
It seems to me Dennis Francis and his Editorial Board did little to understand more clearly why the voters were so frustrated with Gov. Abercrombie.
[Civil Beat, Peter Carlisle: Should the Star-Advertiser Be Endorsing Candidates?, 10/3/2014]
Zombies feasting on their brains? How does he know whether Francis and his editorial board understood or did not understand anything? Why should a poll determine an endorsement?
And the argument that Carlisle makes, that a newspaper should not endorse political candidates, seems strange to begin with. That’s what newspapers do. And they do it without opening up their methodology to public scrutiny.
Endorsements are most valuable when the editors explain their reasoning, as they did in endorsing Neil Abercrombie for re-election, and as they have done in the past. Voters obviously didn’t agree this time, but the editors made their case.
Carlisle’s column left me wondering—not only about the propriety of his attack, but whether the Civil Beat editors took the day off this Columbus Day holiday. Surely there are standards for accepting contributed material, and I wonder if they would consider this column to fit their standards.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
Typhoon Vongfong to hit Fukushima Daiichi on Tuesday
Patrick Cockburn: US plan to “degrade and destroy” ISIS in ruins
So what’s really going on over in Syria and Iraq? Are we “degrading” ISIS, or what?
Read this article by Patrick Cockburn:
War against Isis: US air strategy in tatters as militants march on
World View: American-led air attacks are failing. Jihadis are close to taking Kobani, in Syria – and in Iraq western Baghdad is now under serious threat (The Independent (UK), 10/12/2014)
America's plans to fight Islamic State are in ruins as the militant group's fighters come close to capturing Kobani and have inflicted a heavy defeat on the Iraqi army west of Baghdad.
The US-led air attacks launched against Islamic State (also known as Isis) on 8 August in Iraq and 23 September in Syria have not worked. President Obama's plan to "degrade and destroy" Islamic State has not even begun to achieve success. In both Syria and Iraq, Isis is expanding its control rather than contracting.
How bad is it really?
The battle for Anbar, which was at the heart of the Sunni rebellion against the US occupation after 2003, is almost over and has ended with a decisive victory for Isis. It took large parts of Anbar in January and government counter-attacks failed dismally with some 5,000 casualties in the first six months of the year. About half the province's 1.5 million population has fled and become refugees. The next Isis target may be the Sunni enclaves in western Baghdad, starting with Abu Ghraib on the outskirts but leading right to the centre of the capital.
You may have a hard time learning all this from MSNBC, CNN, Fox, or even NPR. Check out the article.
There is also an explanation of the fix that Turkey finds itself in.
Be the first on your block to understand what is really happening, in contrast to what the retired military talking heads are saying on cable TV.
Friday, October 10, 2014
9th Circuit declares Hawaii case challenging gay marriage ban as moot
by Larry Geller
In a strange case that split the Hawaii state government, Governor Neil Abercrombie refused to defend the state’s amendment related to gay marriage. At the same time, the Department of Health chief, Loretta Fuddy, proceeded with the case.
Courthouse News Services reported this afternoon:
On Friday, the panel declared the case moot - noting that the gay and lesbian plaintiffs had already married their partners and got "everything they hoped to achieve."
The judges added that other lawsuits challenging Hawaii's marriage equality law already in the pipeline "do not defeat mootness" in this case.
Poor public administration is nothing new for Hawaii
“Life in Hawaii has become tremendously more difficult,”
Mazer says. “The stress of no affordable housing, out-of-control
development, increasingly bad commutes and a weak education
system all bear themselves out in homes across the Islands and affect
the kids. We're looking at a changing and declining way of life, not
just an insufficient system.”—former DOH Child and Adult Mental Health Division director Neal Mazer, quoted in Criminal Neglect (Honolulu Weekly, 4/28/1993
All this represents a failure of public administration that continues today.—me
by Larry Geller
Let’s see… Neal Mazer said that in 1993, or 21 years ago.
Today, there’s still a dearth of affordable housing.
Development is still out of control.
Commutes are so bad that Honolulu now ranks among the worst nationally.
Our educational system is still weak.
That the same statement can be made 21 years later is disturbing.
The pull-quote was snipped from an article describing Hawaii’s refusal to provide special education services to its school children. It was published before the Felix lawsuit, and suggested that some kind of legal action was likely, either via the Department of Justice or a local suit that would force the state to come into compliance with the law. Twenty-one years later, there is talk among parents that perhaps another “Felix” lawsuit would be timely, because in its heart, the Department of Education still resists having to provide federally-mandated services to many of the children.
Coming back to the present time, the problems cited by Mazer are not only still with us, but they have taken their toll. The streets are now home to thousands of individuals and families who could not make ends meet—and who might not be there had we begun to work on the affordable housing issue 21 years ago.
Many of the street houseless also have mental health issues. At least some of those used to have housing and were maintained with the help of Department of Health services which were then cut. Without supports, they ended up on the street, and many died. There is sworn testimony given to the Legislature in 2010 that fingers DOH cuts as likely responsible for a 36% increase in deaths among adult mental health consumers due to all causes one year over another. The video at the link describes some of the service cuts.
There is still no affordable housing, and Housing First has yet to happen. The city thinks it can erase its problem by criminalizing homelessness and sweeping people onto a hot asphalt tented camp on remote Sand Island. That hasn’t worked elsewhere and won’t work here.
While the clock can’t be set back 21 years, we can take a lesson from those dark days. Special ed services were in bad shape in large part because the Legislature refused to fund them. Similarly, our roads (state and city) fell into disrepair due to lack of funds. I hear a broken record playing: both DOE and UH buildings and facilities have a huge repair backlog because money was not spent when needed. And of course, the increasing number of homeless people on the streets is due to neglect, continuing even today, to allocate sufficient funds to resolve the problem.
Another thing that doesn’t change is that citizens are kept in the dark about the ongoing neglect until something builds to a crisis and pops out on a front page. That’s how we found out about the repair backlogs—they became huge and newsworthy.
That’s how we also learned about the yearly record number of senior traffic deaths. Sadly, though the carnage continues, it’s no longer newsworthy and so nothing is ever done about it.
Everyone knows traffic in Honolulu is bad, but it became news only when we hit the record books.
The number of homeless on the streets increased year after year, and nothing was done, but it finally broke into the news and so we have a “crisis.”
Native Hawaiians continue to die while on the waiting list for Hawaiian Homeland tracts that are rightfully theirs. This issue has persisted at least since statehood, and the state continues to contest the Kalima lawsuit, filed in 1999, that would resolve some damage claims against the state for its breach of trust. Once again, instead of doing the right thing, the state seems to be pushing the costs to fix the problem off onto future generations.
All this represents a failure of public administration that continues today. It is also a huge waste of taxpayer money to fail to provide services in a timely way or to perform repairs as needed. All of this neglect is by choice, and that’s important to understand. And as we learned from financing the costs of the Felix lawsuit that dragged Hawaii into compliance with federal law, the belated fix is far more costly than simply doing what is right in the first place.
Why don’t we change? Why not budget for repairs as a condition of funding new buildings at UH, as one example? No guaranteed repair funds, no buildings. Simple (maybe). Why not budget for enough Housing First to substantially assist houseless families, instead of a minimal amount that may not be effective?
There’s a new governor coming in before year-end. Perhaps we can get some sense of which of the candidates, if any, will work to reverse these patterns of neglect for the benefit of all of us.
Thursday, October 09, 2014
Hawaii’s campaign spending law went to the 9th Circuit one year ago today and is still there
by Larry Geller
I guess the 9th Circuit judges have much on their plate these days.
Yamada v. Snipes was heard in District Court before Judge J. Michael Seabright and was styled Yamada Et Al. v. Kuramoto Et Al, also referred to as the A-1 A-Electrician case. Of course, it derives ultimately from the Citizens United decision of the US Supreme Court.
For background on Yamada v. Snipes, see Hawaii’s campaign spending laws go before the 9th Circuit in Honolulu on Wednesday (10/7/2013).
Attending the hearings impressed me with the value of competent and experienced council in sorting out matters of any complexity. Too bad that the District Court audiences were not packed with UH law students, they would certainly have learned something.
The 9th Circuit hearings were actually held at the UH law school, but it was a different ball game though still very worth attending.
Thanks to attorney Randy Elf for keeping me informed of the progress of this case.
Are we getting the truth on ISIS? Probably not much more than usual…
“ROBERT PARRY: Well, there’s no question that [Iran-Contra] was one of the most important stories of the 1980s and really the 1990s, when you get to the end of this and the CIA confessing. But it’s also a story about the failure of the mainstream press that extends to the present, goes through the Iraq War, the failure to be skeptical there, and goes right on to the present day. So it’s not an old story; it’s very much a current story.”
by Larry Geller
We can learn what to expect from today’s news coverage of the renewed US involvement in the mid-East by reviewing how badly the press has served us when critical national issues confronted this country in the past.
What is Robert Parry talking about in the pull-quote above?
NERMEEN SHAIKH: A new film out in theaters this week tells the story of one of the most maligned figures in investigative journalism: Gary Webb. In 1996, Webb published an explosive series in the San Jose Mercury News titled "Dark Alliance." It began, quote, "For the better part of a decade, a San Francisco Bay Area drug ring sold tons of cocaine to the Crips and Bloods street gangs of Los Angeles and funneled millions in drug profits to a Latin American guerrilla army run by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency."
[Democracy Now, "Kill the Messenger" Resurrects Gary Webb, Journalist Maligned for Exposing CIA Ties to Crack Trade, 10/9/2014]
It’s impossible to condense this story into a nutshell (please click the link, or better yet, see the movie if it should play nearby). The Democracy Now segment is, of course, about a reporter who researched and broke the news of the Iran-Contra drug trade, even posting it on the Internet, which had not been done yet at that time. It’s also about how the mainstream press turned against him. Ultimately, Gary Webb committed suicide as his colleagues refused to support him.
The drug trade was not just something “out there” someplace. The trafficked drugs were part of an epidemic that devastated neighborhoods in this country. Often that part of the Reagan-era conspiracy is omitted when Iran-Contra is described in the media.
The CIA later admitted what it had done. Yet:
ROBERT PARRY: The New York Times, they do a story that is half kind of mea culpa, we should have done more with this, it was worse than we thought, and half Gary Webb’s still an idiot. The Washington Post waits several weeks and does a rather dismissive article. And the L.A. Times never reports on the CIA’s findings. So even though Webb was proven correct, he’s still considered a flake who got a story wrong.
Sadly, the national press we are supposed to rely upon deliberately chose to mislead its readers, to lie to them and instead protect the government. Yes—even when the CIA admitted what had been reported, these three newspapers chose the dark side.
If you crack open most any copy of the Star-Advertiser, you’ll note their reliance on stories syndicated by those same three newspapers. In middle of the first section of each daily paper are several pages of outsourced national and world news in addition to the bylined featured news articles. These days, that’s the norm—a local or regional newspaper is not going to have a Baghdad bureau, or even a Washington bureau nowadays. So they need to get that news from someplace.
And unfortunately, we can finger those same “leading” newspapers for cheerleading this country’s invasion of Iraq, and as Robert Parry suggests, we may not be able to trust them as the US goes into another phase of prolonged warfare against ISIS or ISIL or the probably fictitious Korasan Group or whatever.
In fact, the earlier segments on the same program already provide information that you may see only in the alternative press. Who are we really supporting in Iraq? Is our bombing going to work? How come Kobani is falling to ISIS? Who is ISIS anyway, and why are they advancing so smoothly and rapidly? Check out today’s program the answers are there.
From the website:
I suggest that by watching today’s Democracy Now (10 pm on `Olelo tonight on Oahu, or at democracynow.org on the web) you will learn much more about the US bombing campaign against ISIS, who we are and are not assisting, and yes, whether this bombing is successful so far. Reports on Democracy Now often include interviews and statements from reporters who are or have been there, whether it’s Iraq, Egypt or other hot spots, rather than the talking head retired generals who seem to populate national TV news.
You’ll also learn a little more today about the CIA and the sad condition of the free press in this country—which may influence how you trust government statements or how you view stories on ISIS that will appear in the mainstream news going forward.
Ok, if you like, you can watch the program right here. Click the thingy at the lower right to make it larger. A full transcript is on their web page each day.
The original content of the Democracy Now program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Civil Beat must read essay: We Need Police Accountability in Honolulu
In a hearing at the state capitol on Sept. 30, representatives of the local Domestic Violence Action Center revealed that 38.7 percent of murders in Hawaii between 2008 and 2012 were related to domestic violence. This is more than double the national percentage of 16.3. And in 2010, domestic violence accounted for half of all murders in Hawaii.
We analyzed media reports of shootings by HPD from June 2010 through August 2014, and we found 22 incidents in which police shot their weapons during this 50-month period. Eleven of those shootings were fatal. This is a per capita fatality rate of 2.7 persons killed per million population per year, which is almost four times higher than the national average of 0.7 “justifiable killings” by American police in 2012.
Of 512 HPD disciplinary cases between 2000 and 2012, only 33 resulted in criminal conviction (6.4 percent), and only five of those led to the dismissal of officers. Many of these cases involved serious felonies such as sexual assault and domestic violence. Would you be able to keep your job if you were convicted of a serious crime?
This Civil Beat article is a must read (thanks for pointer by Kat Brady!):
We Need Police Accountability in Honolulu (Civil Beat, 10/6/2014) by David T. Johnson Meda Chesney-Lind and Nicholas Chagnon.
It’s an article that should appear in a newspaper, but won’t, because of its length, at least. A website doesn’t have that limitation.
You need to read it.
And you know what I’m going to say next: we, the people, have to get up off our okoles and do something about the city’s failure to control the HPD..
Monday, October 06, 2014
Kat Brady’s notes from the 9/30 legislative briefing on the Officer Cachola video and domestic violence
The link below will get you a copy of Kat Brady’s notes from the September 30, 2014 legislative information briefing on police handling of domestic violence.
Anyone interested in police reaction to the the alleged domestic abuse case involving Sgt. Darren Cachola, including the disposition of the officers who did not file the required report might want to skim through these notes.
Thanks to Kat for making her notes available.
Sunday, October 05, 2014
Thank goodness for great bloggers as Hawaii’s newspaper monopoly extends its reach to the Big Island
by Larry Geller
When Oahu Publications announced that it purchased the two Big Island dailies, West Hawaii Today and the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, from Stephens Media, I felt a spark of appreciation for Hawaii’s alternative news bloggers (here on Oahu, Ian Lind and Henry Curtis, for example).
Even Civil Beat doesn’t go as far as these unpaid writers in digging through the obvious to reveal the essential.
Oahu Publications, best known as the owner of the Star-Advertiser, also owns The Garden Island newspaper on Kauai. And now the two Big Island dailies.
That leaves only Maui (the Maui News) blocking a complete state-wide takeover of our daily news. [I emailed the Maui News but didn’t expect and didn’t receive a reply as to their status. Is Oahu Publications looking for a complete statewide monopoly? Shudder.]
Monopoly means little or no competition. It means editors don’t have to demand better of their staff. It means that readers, who have no choice, are no longer the target audience—pleasing advertisers who create the profit and politicians whose agendas the news organization wishes to further become priorities. But news? Who’s going to complain (well, besides the bloggers)?
How is a reader to know that they have been given only part of a story?
Here's a snip of the front page of the Wednesday, October 1 newspaper. Note the headline in big, black, bold letters: HPD CASE PUTS CHIEF IN HOT SEAT AT CAPITOL. You’d think it was a case of Ebola or something to merit that unusual screaming headline.
The story itself was important, but that wasn’t the story. All you might discern from the front page is that the HPD is always trying to improve.
The story that perhaps most readers and certainly concerned citizens were waiting for was whether the officer caught on video in an apparent violent confrontation with a woman was going to face charges, and what will be done with regard to the officers who showed up but failed to file the required police report. The news (revealed on the continuation page) was that no charges will be brought and we don’t know if anything has or will be done about the failure to file reports.
A monopoly can get away with that. There’s no other paper out there trying to do better.
And speaking of Ebola, this monopoly is spreading in Hawaii faster than the actual virus ever will. Which is more dangerous? We now have one confirmed case on Oahu, one on Kauai, and two on the Big Island. Where’s the antidote?
Well, there is no good alternative, but we do have some exceptional bloggers.
Check out Henry Curtis excellent coverage of the same legislative meeting, State Legislators grill Honolulu Police Department on Domestic Violence procedures , posted today (Ililani Media, 10/5/2014). It’s a fine example of reporting, and because it is a blog, has space to give the subject the attention it deserves. Plus, it contrasts in detail what we’ve see in HPD’s handling of domestic violence situations with another location that does much better. Henry’s readers know that we can do better.
If we are to bring about change, we need to know these things.
If you still have Wednesday’s paper, contrast the printed story with Henry’s.
Henry Curtis usually writes about energy and the environment. His articles reveal what we need to understand if we are to eventually drive down the obscenely high cost of electricity in this state. Yeah, it’s another monopoly situation, and again, we are the losers unless we learn and then work for change.
Meanwhile, one of the latest articles posted on Ian Lind’s blog demonstrates why his dedication to investigative reporting is so rewarding to readers. In a way, I hate to say this, I’m glad he doesn’t work for the newspaper, but of course that is a very selfish viewpoint. But would he be allowed to print, for example, Reporter snagged in ongoing city ethics probe (ilind.net, 10/3/2014)? Or, Is ‘ohana housing the way to address the crisis in affordable housing? (ilind.net, 9/30/2014)?
The snagged reporter is former citycouncilmember Nestor Garcia, who was named by Romy Cachola as one who allegedly committed the same kind of ethics violations that Cachola was accused of and settled by paying a record large fine.
As Ian notes, not only did KHON avoid mentioning the situation one of its own reporters seems to find himself in, but other media have avoided identifying the alleged miscreant as a reporter as well.
Because Ian’s second article mentioned above, removing the restrictions on ohana housing, could hurt developers, would the daily newspaper even go there?
Or what about Gathering of religious conservatives poses risk to Aiona campaign (ilind.net, 9/29/2014)? A newspaper benefits from campaign ads (though TV really rakes in the moola), so this kind of expose likely won’t be covered by the commercial media.
Ian’s net is cast widely and his catch is rich. Reading Ian’s work in comparison to what usually passes for news in this town is like eating a nourishing dinner in place of a visit to a fast-food joint.
Even Civil Beat enjoys a kind of monopoly by virtue of its size and funding, and sometimes it shows. The only example that comes to mind immediately is not a strong one, but by way of illustration—neither the newspaper nor Civil Beat reported that Board of Education head Don Horner was criticized at his confirmation hearing for shutting out students, parents and teachers by rescheduling BOE meetings for a time when none of those principal stakeholders could attend.
Under Horner’s leadership, meetings were moved to daytime working hours. Even the student representative had trouble with it, and parents can hardly be expected to give up half a day or a day’s work for a measly two minute audience before a board whose members often looked bored with the whole thing anyway.
Instead, only the objections to Horner’s religious affiliations got the news spotlight. Even his shrugging off of responsibility for schools giving discounted rates for church use of their facilities was left unexplored.
In fact, some changes were made to the BOE agenda to resolve the complaints, to Horner’s credit. It’s not perfect yet, and the current board is not going to hear the complaints that could be presented to the elected board because they will only hear matters on the agenda, and only for a severely limited time.
I don’t know that on-line competition would bring better reporting, and this is a small town, after all. Another billionaire is not likely to feel we need a Civil Beat clone. Besides, they do make a tremendous contribution in many ways, and we badly need them. Unfortunately, they are not a printed newspaper.
So again, good that we have dedicated bloggers, even if their audience is small in comparison to the big guys.
Who will be next to complain about low voter turnout?
by Larry Geller
There are many things one can count on in Hawaii. Coco Puffs from Liliha Bakery. Low voter turnout. Warm ocean water even in winter. The best papayas in the world. Low voter turnout.
I can’t wait for the next newspaper article or the next advocacy campaign to either lament how few of us vote or proposing to change the dismal numbers. These campaigns don’t work. Why don’t we step back a second before either complaining or doing something ineffective, and examine the situation?
Look, there are some things we can influence, if we got together (which I’ll get back to in a moment). We could cut our cost of electricity that’s a drain on everyone’s pocketbook. We could enforce traffic laws and reduce the human sacrifice among elderly pedestrians. We could create an amazing amount of affordable rental housing.
Any of those things may be easier, and much more important to do, than to obsess about the low voter turnout.
Although there is a widespread belief that uneven voter turnout leads to biased outcomes in American democracy, existing empirical tests have found few effects.
[Amazon.com, America's Uneven Democracy: Race, Turnout, and Representation in City Politics, 2009]
More from the book (citation omitted):
What do we know about voter turnout and its implications for American democracy? Despite an almost universal belief among political actors that turnout matters, analysis of existing empirical research provides little evidence to indicate that turnout is a critical factor in the American political arena. In fact, a rather extensive empirical literature strongly suggests that raising or lowering turnout would do little to change the face of American democracy. Higher or more even turnout would not produce new winners. With lower turnout, there are no big losers. As one scholar of American elections put it, “most electoral outcomes are not determined in any meaningful sense by turnout and are not likely to change through even highly implausible levels of voter mobilization. It appears that nonvoting does not as a rule make much of a difference to election outcomes”
The takeaway here is that, in the absence of empirical tests done here in Hawaii, we just don’t know what a low voter turnout means. Until we learn otherwise, I for one can accept the thesis that it doesn’t matter at all, at least with regard to election outcomes.
Unlike most urban centers on the Continent, low voter turnout may not have the effect of disenfranchising a minority. Honolulu is very different from, for example, Chicago. But again, that’s only speculation on my part.
At the risk of throwing out yet another unsupported theory, I suggest that “low participation” should be of more concern. It’s not just participation in the vote—it’s low participation in most any civic activity. It may be all one fabric.
Perhaps someone at UH will venture outside the ivory tower to do a proper study one day, either on voter turnout alone, or on civic participation in general. Yes, we also have an issue with academic participation in our community. Where are these studies when we need them?
Money doesn’t always buy votes here or elsewhere, though it certainly helps. The most recent example is the stunning defeat of our well-financed incumbent governor Neil Abercrombie. Despite our usual low election participation rate, the people spoke.
Voting is a kind of poll, after all
Call it a poll or sample rather than an election, if you like. The people were polled, Abercrombie lost. Democracy worked.
As long as the poll generally represents the thinking of the larger population, who cares? A higher participation rate may not have changed the outcome. Or it may have, but not likely. If the poll is conducted properly, it’s assumed to be valid.
Low participation is often frustrating and needs to be examined. Each election, many politicians run unopposed. How come?
It’s hard to motivate competent individuals to participate on boards or commissions. We can be grateful for those who do choose to participate, but why are they so few?
Where are Native Hawaiians at almost any meeting on any subject in Honolulu? C’mon, think about that one. Why is it ok that it is ok with us if they are absent?
[Example: I attended a meeting in a room at the State Capitol several years ago. The subject was microfinance, and how a particular flavor of it could benefit marginalized communities in Hawaii. The focus was on Native Hawaiians and how microfinance might improve their lot. I looked around. There were legislators, community leaders, and miscellaneous others in the room besides the outside visitor-presenters. But at least not apparently any Native Hawaiians. I asked, and there were none. I asked why the meeting was being held at the Capitol instead of out in the community that could benefit from hearing the presentation. Silence. I was suddenly very unpopular. But this suggested to me that what can be described as “lack of participation” may be an even larger issue of an endemic culture of mutual exclusion.] [(sigh) why are things so complicated? Where are the “easy answers?” we’d prefer to have?]
What I think we lack is a picture of ourselves—a selfie—that we could study, admire and criticize.
I take that back, though. We’ll only see what we want to see. It’s time to visit a shrink. This is not a do-it-yourself project. We could use an analysis by trained political scientists or sociologists that would give us guidance to improve. I submit that low voter turnout is only a symptom of something else that we could learn more about.
But besides Coco Puffs, another thing we can count on is the lack of participation of UH academics in our civic life. There are answers, but to find them, someone with the ability to come up with them has to ask the questions, do the study, and emerge from Manoa long enough to explain to us their findings.
Friday, October 03, 2014
“Intrusion on seclusion”–do robot drones have rights? Can they be shot down by neighbors?
by Larry Geller
Ok, so a man was arrested in New Jersey “after police say he shot down a neighbor’s remote control drone.”
It had to happen one day. Perhaps it has happened before, but here is a documented instance of a drone being shot down even though it was over a neighbor’s property.
A New Jersey man was arrested after police say he shot down a neighbor’s remote control drone.
According to investigators, officers with the Lower Township Police Department were called to a home in the 1000 block of Seashore Road on September 26th to investigate the report by a resident that his remote control helicopter (drone) was shot down.
[CBS Philly, New Jersey Man Accused Of Shooting Down Neighbor’s Remote Control Drone, 9/30/2014]
These things get complicated very quickly. There’s some discussion in this Washington Post article:
A paper referenced at the end of the Washington Post article is interesting in its own right: Self-Defense Against Robots. The link is to an abstract, but the full paper can be downloaded from there. It includes an intriguing closing discussion: Robot Rights Against People (starting on page 59). Sure, as the paper notes,
At present, however, the idea of“robot rights” is in fact only a proxy for “robot‐owner’s rights.”
But the discussion extends to
Perhaps someday robots will achieve or simulate sentience to the point where society recognizes them as legitimate holders of some bundle of rights, be it those held by animals, or citizens, or something in between.
It’s all an interesting read, from the short CBS article through to a futuristic discussion of potential conflict between human and robot rights and privileges.
Note that in February, 2013 I asked: Does the 2nd Amendment give citizens the right to shoot down drones that are spying on them? (2/23/2013). Perhaps we’ll have an answer soon.
See also Disappeared News articles on drones over the years.
HPD may be given accelerated access to Fort DeRussy beach to sweep away homeless campers
by Larry Geller
Although an article in this morning’s Star-Advertiser indicated that it could be weeks before the Honolulu Police Department is given jurisdiction to enter and sweep the homeless off of the Fort DeRussy beach (currently under state control), the Board of Land and Natural Resources appears to be considering a speed-up option.
Although issuance of a revocable permit for beach management could take time, the BLNR will also consider
Authorizing the issuance of an immediate management right-of-entry to the City and County of Honolulu over the subject area…”
Related: Waikiki Homeless Migrate to Airport, Fort DeRussy Beach (Civil Beat, 10/3/2014)
BLNR vs. the homeless-next week’s agenda includes two anti-homeless items
by Larry Geller
The Board of Land and Natural Resources posted an agenda this afternoon which includes two items impacting houseless citizens of the state.
The first item is a denial of Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery’s application for a contested case hearing to challenge the BLNR’s approval of the use of a Sand Island site for a tented camp for the homeless displaced by enforcement of the city’s new sit/lie ordinances, and the second begins the process of allowing the Honolulu Police Department to exercise jurisdiction over the state-controlled Fort DeRussy Beach where some people have been camping overnight. Background: see: Waikiki Homeless Migrate to Airport, Fort DeRussy Beach (Civil Beat, 10/3/2014)
1. Denial of Request for Contested Case Hearing by Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery Regarding Petition for Contested Case Hearing Regarding Issuance of Direct Lease and Immediate Right-of-Entry to the City and County of Honolulu for Temporary Mobile Access to Services and Housing (TMASH) for Housing First Transition Purposes, Sand Island, Honolulu, Oʻahu, Tax Map Key: (1) 1-5-041: Portions of 130 and 334, together with rights of access and utility easements.
4. Amend Prior Board Action of December 9, 2010, Item D-6, Cancel Governor's Executive Order (GEO) Nos. 1330, 1786, and 1795, and Reset Aside to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation for Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor, Beach Control and Related Purposes, Kewalo and Kalia, Waikīkī, Honolulu, Oʻahu, Tax Map Keys: (1) 2-1-58: Various, (1) 2-3-37: Various, (1) 2-6-01, 02, 04, 05, 10: Various, and (1) 3-1-30, 31, 32: Various. And
The Amendment is Regarding the Issuance of Revocable Permit to the City and County of Honolulu for Beach Management Purposes over Fort DeRussy Beach.
The reason for the recommendation to deny the petition for a contested case hearing by PASS is given as “due to lack of right to a contested case hearing.”
If the board agrees, then the lease and right-of-entry will be issued as per the conditions at their September 12 meeting. See: Board of Land and Natural Resources approves city’s Sand Island homeless camp subject to list of conditions (9/12/2014)
Thursday, October 02, 2014
Parents: Teens suffering head injuries at risk for risky behaviors
by Larry Geller
As the stories of football player violence unfolded, we asked:
Can a violent brain be turned on and off? (9/17/2014)
Parents ought to at least consider the potential life-long danger to their children if they allow them to participate in sports where head trauma is a real possibility.
Head Injuries May Raise Chances of Risky Behavior by Teens (HealthDay, 09/30/2014)
Both boys and girls were more likely to smoke, use drugs, drink alcohol and get poor grades after they endured a blow to the head that knocked them out for longer than five minutes or landed them in the hospital for a day or more, the study found.
It’s important to read the whole article, but one more snip to encourage you to go there:
Boys were three and a half times more likely to have bad grades, three times more likely to need medical treatment for a physical injury and twice as likely to use pot, compared with other boys who hadn't had a brain injury.
Meanwhile, girls were nearly four times more likely to have bad grades and three times more likely to smoke, compared to girls without a brain injury.
Female teens were more likely to engage in a wider range of risky behaviors following a brain injury than males….
The article does raise the question of causation vs. correlation, which is why it is best to check out the complete article and form your own conclusions.
Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: The Environment: Very Holistic, Very Dialectic
… re-search, re-think, re-act; not one factor, CO2, and one problem, warming. There is more in the world. Move forward with good, proven examples, not with a “multilateral consensus” reflecting power structures and vested interests more than a complex reality.
The Environment: Very Holistic, Very Dialectic
29 September 2014
by Johan Galtung, 29 Sep 2014 – TRANSCEND Media Service
“Trees won’t save the planet” is the title of an article in INYT (21-22 Sep 2014) by Nadine Unger, professor of atmospheric chemistry at Yale University. Her thesis: The conventional wisdom–that planting trees serves carbon capture–is wrong; it is all much more complex.
Photosynthesis is only one factor. Another factor for global warming is how much of the solar energy is absorbed by the earth’s surface and how much is reflected. Trees, being dark, absorb; the net balance may be chilling in the tropics and warming elsewhere.
But there is more to it. Trees emit VOCs, “volatile organic compounds”, for their own protection. Mixing with pollution from cars and industry “an even more harmful cocktail of airborne toxic chemicals is created”, producing methane and ozone. Research at Yale seems to indicate that this affects global climate on a scale similar to surface color and carbon storage capacity.”
Trees and soil also breathe oxygen and release CO2. The Amazon forest produces oxygen during the day and reabsorbs at night; a closed system. Moreover, eventually trees die or burn and “the carbons finds its way back into the atmosphere”.
The old story. Search for one factor causing an evil–like CO2 causing global warming–and act to remove that one cause; the present mainstream dogma. But research points at many other factors involved and they may all be ambiguous. Yin-yang in other words, forces and counter-forces, and holism, expanded visions. A daoist vision.
So let us move East, to a retired professor of natural resources at Nagoya University in Japan, Kunihiko Takeda. And to professor in geophysics Shigenori Murayama at the Tokyo Institute of Technology who has very similar views (Google both of them.) Summers will be hotter, winters colder. Net balance?
Some key points from Takeda[i]:
- Meteorologists tend to predict global warming, geophysicists global chilling; the meteorologists may have dominated the discourse.
- Thermometer readings are from 1880, for a long time in advanced countries and urban areas only; this may have biased the conclusions.
- Urban areas absorb more heat from the sun due to concrete and waste, also from cars-industry; level of urbanization a key factor.
- Climate change as warming was 0.3C in the past 100 years, on the average, attributable largely to urbanization; not to CO2 alone.
- Warming of the land and the ocean will heat the atmosphere; warming of the atmosphere has little effect on the ocean.
- Urban-rural gap is increasing–Nagoya, Naha (Okinawa), Singapore up to 38, 34, 32C; Japan, surrounded by sea, on the average, not.
- Waste recycling-garbage sorting mostly irrelevant, only at most 2% recycled; polyester eco-shopping bags consume more resources.
- The 1988 hypothesis of global warming due to CO2 was disproved in 2009: South pole ice increasing, North pole not decreasing[ii].
- CO2 is essential for life; lack of CO2 may be the end of life, also human; reducing the emission may accelerate the ending of life.
- Heating good for humans who fit well with warm climates, also good for rice production and food in general.
- Global chilling is the problem because it becomes more difficult to survive, lower food production, humans less adaptable.
- The water level may go up 6 meters in 3,000 years; better focus on the concrete problems like flooding of very low islands today.
- Be aware of vested interests behind Club of Rome and others in shifting the discourse from domestic-global society to environment.
- Be aware that the West wants energy resources for business and military and tries to control the CO2 emissions of China and India.
- Be aware that there is much money in the mainstream approach and in the IPCC-Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; also that scientists may go where the money is located.
- Be aware that some data may even be false, faked or at least questionable–Climategate.
- Be aware of the vested interests of eco-business and the eco-movements in the CO2 hypothesis and the recycling hypotheses.
This author is not in a position to take a stand for or against the CO2 hypothesis, or what is better for life, warming or chilling relative to the present level. The position taken here is in favor of more complex and particularly more dialectic views: there may be more to it, action generates re-action. For views in favor of the mainstream see http://www.realclimate.org, for skeptics see http://www.sepp.org.
Maybe Takeda underestimates the dangers of warming. But a striking point in his analysis is the role attributed to urbanization. Or concretization, covering soil with concrete, settling on top of it in huge mega-congregations with waste as lifestyle.
De-urbanization would be a consequence of Takeda’s points. Some of this may be happening in some places; people moving into smaller, more village-like communities, decentralization of administration made possible by the Internet. Leaving more to nature’s wisdom than to the human lack thereof, and particularly to the market’s lack thereof.
In 1972 when “limits to growth” became mainstreamed, I warned against the missing class perspective within and between countries[iii]. Nothing new about depletion and pollution. The West had been depleting resources of the colonies for ages, and working-class districts had always been polluted. Novelty was middle and upper classes in middle and upper countries being hit. Like wars not hitting only women, children and periphery countries, but right at the center of the Center, the West.
Conclusion: re-search, re-think, re-act; not one factor, CO2, and one problem, warming. There is more in the world. Move forward with good, proven examples, not with a “multilateral consensus” reflecting power structures and vested interests more than a complex reality.
[i]. I am indebted to Fumiko Nishimura for making this available from Japanese.
[ii]. This author has been skeptical because of the absence of confirming laboratory simulations like the simulation of the aurora borealis, the northern lights.
[iii]. “Limits to Growth” and class politics, JPR, X (1973), 1/2, pp. 101-114. Also in: Essays in Peace Research V, pp. 316-333.
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.
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