Sunday, May 19, 2013
Better security at UH? Hope springs eternal
by Larry Geller
The headline in the May 1 issue of Ka Leo, the University of Hawaii student newspaper, is Admin looks at increasing campus police, surveillance (Ka Leo, May 1, 2013) was like déjà vu all over again, and again, and again. Where I have I read about UH increasing campus security?
Well, for example, in this August 27, 2005 article: UH vows to create rape-free campuses (Star-Bulletin).
University of Hawaii interim President David McClain is pledging to increase security systemwide over the next two years to make the institution's 10 campuses "rape-free zones."
When I was a student there in the 1990’s, I commented to security about the deep darkness round Moore Hall. It was a wonder, I thought, that a reputable security department would leave such a large area unlit except by moonlight. But that’s the way it stayed. Thefts of mopeds and even cars from UH parking lots were nothing unusual even then.
Here’s a October 13, 2008 article: UH students call campus security inadequate (HawaiiNewsNow).
Three mopeds and a car have been stolen on UH's Manoa campus in the last year and that's just from her family and boyfriend. Calah's moped was stolen Sunday.
I wrote a letter to the editor of Ka Leo ‘way back in those pre-internet days of the 1990’s when the newspaper published an article on the theft of mopeds. Why, I recall that I wrote, won’t the university install some CCTV cameras along with signs indicating that the parking lot in question was under video surveillance? As I recall, nothing was done. But fast forward to 2013, it may be that UH is discovering CCTV, even if a bit late:
Although he acknowledged that the use of cameras would likely raise complaints about civil liberties violations and other privacy issues, the chancellor maintained that such a tool is necessary as well as useful, citing cameras that were used to capture the recent bombings at the Boston Marathon.
I revisited abysmal UH security in a 2012 article, and have been posting variations of this photo since at least 2010. It’s a phone in parking lot C at Kapiolani Community College (part of the UH system) which says “Call Box” but there has been no working phone in it (I haven’t checked in a couple of months). I wrote:
Imagine it’s late at night. A young female student parts from her friends and heads towards her car. She notices shadowy figures following her. So instead of going to the car, she heads instead for the emergency call box. That’s what it’s there for, right? To get help when you’re in trouble.
She breaks into a run and a cold sweat. They’re gaining on her.
Reaching the call box, she goes to… pick… up… the… er,… phone…
That’s what could happen as a result of this bit of neglect, this emergency phone that never gets fixed
Security knows about this. Occasionally they come by the KCC Farmers Market in a little golf cart, and I’ve pointed it out.
Let me emphasize that if there were no callbox sign there, no one would run toward it only to discover that there’s no phone there. But KCC, part of the UH system, has left that sign showing the whole time. It could cost someone her life.
Long story short, if security is finally improved, great! On the other hand, I’m not holding my breath. Security, along with routine maintenance, has been badly neglected for so long… .
Friday, May 17, 2013
(de)Occupy hearing confirms that court order will require City to follow the law and cease destroying property
by Larry Geller
As expected, Judge J. Michael Seabright instructed the attorneys for (de)Occupy Honolulu and the City and County of Honolulu to draft the wording of an order that will address plaintiffs' as-applied challenge to the city’s stored property ordinance but does not address the constitutionality of that ordinance. The order will to hold the City to complying with the law and not disposing of or failing to return seized items. Other matters will be left to trial.
The order, expected to be completed and signed next week, is similar to the order currently in force that prevents the City from seizing and destroying property. An additional section will deal with procedures for reclaiming property from the City.
Based on assurances given by City attorney Ernest H. Nomura during the hearing, the City will not impose fees for reclaiming property even though the ordinance allows for a $200 charge to be made. Accordingly, the Court did not have to consider questions around due process or its constitutional basis in the Fourth Amendment. After the hearing, plaintiff attorney Richard L. Holcomb confirmed that if the City should begin to assess fees, he would bring that back to the Court.
Attorney Richard L. Holcomb answers press questions outside of the federal courthouse in Honolulu after this morning’s hearing on the lawsuit brought by (de)Occupy Honolulu against the City and County of Honolulu. Plaintiff attorney Brian J. Brazier was also present but behind the cameras.
Mr. Holcomb confirmed that the Court was informed Wednesday that no fees would be imposed to retrieve seized items, so there won’t be a need to include that in the court order. I asked if the City’s attorney can bind the City Council to that, and he replied that if the City started imposing fees, plaintiffs would quickly be back in court. When asked about the fee included in Bill 7, Mr. Holcomb replied that they would be addressing Bill 7 at the appropriate time.
Attorney Brian J. Brazier confirmed that the court order will prevent the City from wheeling up a garbage truck and just dumping property into it.
Catherine Russell outlined some of the actions that (de)Occupy has been engaged in, including against Monsanto and for the homeless. Christopher Smith spoke in part about how the City would go through people’s belongings with bolt cutters in the process of destroying them.
KITV: “The story behind the deOccupy Honolulu movement”
by Larry Geller
It’s good to see an interview in the mainstream press that gives the (de)Occupy protesters a chance to explain their campaign. Check out KITV’s interview posted on their website: The story behind the deOccupy Honolulu movement (KITV, 5/16/2013) (includes video).
From the interview:
We asked deOccupy protester Cathy "Sugar" Russell why she lives on the streets in tents.
She responded, "I'd be doing this anyway. I don't have a job. I'm stuck living on the streets. I just do it more publicly to give light to the crisis."
That crisis -- what Russell calls the "houseless issue." The roughly two dozen deOccupy protesters have spent the last year and a half in and around Thomas Square to make the plight of the homeless more public.
I suspect that it has been the (de)Occupy encampment that has forced the city to (finally) begin to take seriously the need to provide assistance to those living outdoors instead of campaigning to punish them.
And no matter how many planters the city brings in, they're staying put.
Later in the video, (de)Occupier Christopher "Nova" Smith reported that he would rather live in his home, but he stays with the encampment because he “can't deal with seeing a government that's so willing to violate people's civil rights.”
The City, it seems, questions the motives of the protesters. A Civil Beat article quoted Honolulu Corporation Counsel dissing them as “recent Mainland transplants” although presumably they have no objection to “recent Mainland transplants” who live in Kakaako condos.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Media push for deficit reduction as revenues peak, deficit dives
by Larry Geller
Washington and commercial media still want to cut Social Security and shred the social safety net even though, in the month of April, the federal government reported its highest budget surplus in five years.
The United States posted its biggest monthly budget surplus in five years in April, the Treasury Department said on Friday, adding that revenues are running at a record high so far this year thanks to higher taxes and an improving economy.
[Reuters, April budget surplus is biggest in five years, 5/10/2013]
According to the article, the Treasury reported last month’s surplus as $113 billion, the highest since April 2008. But this surplus is not something new—the surplus in April 2012 was $59 billion.
In other words, as Republicans and President Obama seek to slash funding for programs affecting the most vulnerable, the deficit is diminishing without those draconian austerity measures. In fact, Reuters reports that the deficit decreased 32% from the corresponding period last year. The same article reports that tax revenues, $1.6 trillion this year, are a record 16 percent higher than last year.
This is precisely the time when government should be investing in job growth, not “sequestration” and other severe austerity measures that will take wages and money out of the economy. Investing in job growth now should yield even higher revenues in the future and further reduction in deficits.
Conservatives and the conservative news media haven’t noticed this, however, and have maintained a drumbeat for austerity. “Sequestration,” which was supposed to be so bad that it would never happen, fits their program perfectly. If Obama offers additional cuts, including reductions in social benefit programs that have nothing to do with the deficit in the first place, the combined effect would push towards recession and increased deficits, not deficit reduction.
But then, when conservative media talk about deficit reduction, what do they really mean? Romney got caught explaining his thinking in a smartphone video, so we should not be surprised to learn that the agenda hasn’t changed, just the words used to further it. The argument de jour is deficit reduction, but the menu hasn’t really changed in a decade at least.
"While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling." - Sen. Bernie Sanders
“Subverting the public interest” and wasting taxpayer money make headlines but likely won’t be fixed
“The eventual amount paid for the construction of one individual field office was nearly $1 million, almost 30 times the amount we estimated it should have cost.”
by Larry Geller
Heck, who cares, it’s only another $1 million of taxpayer money. In this town, a million wasted here, a million wasted there, it’s just part of a day’s work.
cyn·i·cism (sn-szm) n. 1. An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others: the public cynicism aroused by governmental scandals.
An auditor’s report of massive waste in the State Department of Transportation made the front page of today’s Star-Advertiser.
The audit report itself is good reading and is available here.
The report and story came out just as I was penning a short account of Friday’s community meeting on Thomas Square, which had a sub-theme of waste of taxpayer money and incompetent management of the park by the City.
On reading the Star-Advertiser story I was wondering a couple of things:
1) What is the responsibility of the Governor and department leaders for ensuring competent management and stewardship of taxpayer money?
2) Will heads roll? (Probable answer to this one: no, because waste of money is nothing unusual here, and performance standards are abysmally low.)
3) Is the supply of taxpayer money really so unlimited that both state and city governments can throw away so much of it without consequences?
4) Do they ever fix leaks in state or city toilets, or fix dripping faucets?
Here’s a little more from the page on which the above pull-quote was taken:
Persistent mismanagement resulted in delays and cost overruns
Airports is also unwilling or unable to properly administer and manage contracts that it oversees directly. Again, we found a persistent overreliance on and accommodation of contractors, which often resulted in cost over-runs, time delays, and procurement violations. For instance, Airports did not procure a new security contract in a timely manner, allowing the original contract to be extended three times, exceeding the original contract term limit by 16 months and $37.7 million. In addition, Airports failed to do a cost analysis for the construction of field offices for projects at the Hilo, Lihu'e, and Kahului airports. The eventual amount paid for the construction of one individual field office was nearly $1 million, almost 30 times the amount we estimated it should have cost.
Either “unwilling” or “unable” to “properly administer and manage contracts that it oversees directly” should be cause for an immediate overhaul in the Department of Transportation. Surely, there must be managers in Hawaii who are “willing” and “able” to do the job they are paid to do. So add in the salaries of the current bureaucrats to the bucket of waste that the state is tossing out.
And then there is this on subverting the public interest:
Here’s a snip from that section, with my emphasis added:
The expenditure of public funds comes with an obligation to protect the State’s interests and ensure best value, as well as to foster public confidence in the integrity of the procurement process. Consistent with the intent of the Hawai‘i Public Procurement Code, state agencies must assure fair and impartial access to government procurement and encourage full and open competition, which should result in economic benefi t to the State. However, we found numerous procurement violations and instances of non-compliance throughout the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) divisions. In addition, procurement policies and procedures were not consistent among divisions, and a lack of procurement training and monitoring of compliance were department-wide concerns.
Especially troubling was the pattern of recurring violations and questionable practices we found in the Airports Division (Airports), which in fiscal years 2009 and 2010 accounted for approximately 30 percent of the department’s total procurements of $417 million of goods and $467 million of services. This pattern of impropriety—in some cases persisting for several years—demonstrates Airports’ overreliance on contractors, outsourcing significant decisionmaking responsibilities to them while excessively accommodating their needs. Compounding these significant deficiencies was Airports’ inability or unwillingness to properly plan, oversee contracts, and monitor the work performed under those contracts, resulting in excessive delays, increased costs, and numerous procurement violations.
Yes, a state agency has been accused of subverting the public interest, with numbers to back up the accusation. Will anyone be fired for subverting the public interest? You’d think so, but it’s unlikely.
I can tell you from my experience at General Electric, this would not have been allowed to happen in a private company, and if it somehow did, there would be a massive reaction to the failures.
But this is Hawaii, not GE. It’s just standard operating procedure. We can expect there will be another audit report like this one, then another, it just goes on and on.
We know that this is not the only instance of state failure to properly administer the public funds it has collected from each of us. Nor is the mismanagement limited to government alone. A case in point: the University of Hawaii repair backlog, described in the newspaper as a “stunning” $461 million.
If the President and leadership of UH is being held accountable for wasting money, shouldn’t our Governor be held to the same standard?
We know that the Department of Education has it’s own, perhaps equally “stunning,” repair backlog.
Which brings us to the condition of Thomas Square Park and the City’s willingness to waste money on raids and planters instead of grass seed. Ok, let’s leave that to the next article. In the meantime, have a look at that audit report, or the newspaper article if you have it.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Only Honolulu taxpayers will be able to stop the expensive raids on the homeless
by Larry Geller
Repeated raids on homeless street encampments in Honolulu have cost taxpayers something in excess of $1 million, a figure arrived at by multiplying the count of known raids by the Mayor’s estimate of $15,000 each (see: Mayor admits huge waste of money in homeless raids, 4/3/2013). A preliminary injunction, expected to be ordered after a hearing this Friday in federal court, is not going to stop the raids.
Only taxpayers, if they are fed up enough, can do it. Both the City Council and the Mayor seem wedded to their concept of confiscation, storage and return of property at public expense. Despite the punishment this inflicts on those forced to live on the sidewalks, the judge is not likely to rule that the City’s ordinances are unconstitutional.
Of course, the growing expenditure does nothing to help people on the streets.
But the cost doesn’t come out of the pockets of City Councilpeople or the Mayor. They take it from our wallets and purses. Or from our kids’ college funds.
At most, the portion of the ordinance requiring that individuals must pay to reclaim their property could be enjoined. Otherwise, it’s all the illegal destruction that the parties have already agreed must stop that will be the meat of the court order.
Following the status conference discussion last Friday, we can also expect that Judge J. Michael Seabright will issue an order on the City’s motion to dismiss. That could be limited to the punitive damages claims and the liability of defendants named in their individual capacities.
Otherwise, the litigation will presumably proceed. Friday’s hearing is but one step on the path to trial.
There could be other grounds for challenging the City’s punitive ordinances, but that would take another action in another courtroom.
Monday, May 13, 2013
What is a preliminary injunction?
by Larry Geller
See: Breaking: City to be enjoined by federal court on (de)Occupy raids, (5/10/2013).
It would be foolish to speculate on what might happen in the May 17 hearing in federal court in the case that (de)Occupy Honolulu has brought against the city. We know that the plaintiffs have been asking for an order to stop the city from seizing and destroying their property, but we don’t know what was agreed in Judge Seabright’s chambers on Friday. We do know that the attorneys are to work together before the hearing on the wording of a stipulated preliminary injunction.
We don’t know what the scope of a potential injunction might be. It could be very narrowly limited to “stop throwing things into the garbage trucks!” as a guess. Or the injunction might simply prevent the City from enforcing its newer ordinance, which denies the victim of the raids the opportunity of due process.
Instead of veering off into speculation, I’d just like to explore what is involved when a federal judge in the 9th Circuit issues a preliminary injunction.
I’m not an attorney, but my understanding is that the court will apply a four-prong test that goes something like this: (1) Plaintiffs have to show that they will likely succeed on the merits, (2) that they will suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, (3) that the balance of equities tips in their favor, and (4) that the public interest would not be adversely affected by an injunction (alternatively, that an injunction would be in the public interest).
Although district judges have great discretion in determining whether to issue a preliminary injunction or not, there are standards of review that apply within each circuit.
First, injunctive relief is not routine. It is an extraordinary remedy granted only when the plaintiff has made a clear showing that such relief is necessary. This requires not only evidence convincing to a judge but expert presentation on the part of the attorney. But again: the merits of the case have not been tried at this point. Injunctive relief, if it is granted, is only the first step in a longer process. In our system of justice, with overloaded courts, a trial on the merits of a case could stretch out for years.
Looking at the (de)Occupy case against the city, Judge Seabright has had a chance to review as many of the videos and depositions filed so far as he feels necessary, so he can likely form an idea of whether the plaintiffs might prevail ultimately.
That’s only the first of the four prongs, and it doesn’t imply that plaintiffs actually will succeed at trial.
The “harm” can’t be theoretical, it has to be concrete.
As to the balance of equities (or balance of hardships, perhaps), I’m very interested to see how the judge might weigh the harm to the plaintiffs vs. the harm to the city. The judge must weigh the damage to all parties and balance their individual interests. As an observer, I’ve thought that decisions on the balance of equities are something of an art, but when the orders are published, they often bristle with enough citations to demonstrate that they are based on solid precedent.
As to the public interest, it could be instructive to see what the court has to say about that, and what the judge might say about the public consequences of the injunction.
The hearing that could determine if an injunction is issued will be held at 9 a.m. on Friday, May 17, in federal court in Honolulu. There are plenty of seats available for observers—just leave time to get through security.
Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: Meanwhile, Manchester United
Meanwhile, Manchester United
13 May 2013
by Johan Galtung, 13 May 2013 - TRANSCEND Media Service
It usually came at the end of BBC broadcasts: now Sir Alex Ferguson is up front, main headline on the International Herald Tribune, first page. Truly impressive, 27 years as Man U coach and manager, sorry CEO; this is now a business enterprise owned by the Glazer family in Florida and the news of his retirement shock its shares at the New York Stock Exchange. Where have all the sports gone–.
Up comes the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, with mainstream press harking back to years of greatness centered on strong personalities. She was with Ronald Reagan part of the mid 1980s counter-revolution, breathing short term life in stagnant economies through privatization, busting trade unions, deindustralizing, laying regions of their countries waste, crippling welfare states–”Rust in Peace” they say. When accused of selling the family silver by privatizing, she said: Yes, back to the family! Where has all the silver gone–.
But she kept the Kingdom United by letting a hunger striking Irish freedom fighter die in prison, and, like Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher showed the colors and sent the army for some islands, Malvinas-Falklands for Thatcher (over Reagan’s mild protest, Monroe territory), Grenada for Reagan. Where have all the empires gone–.
Up comes another ghost from the past, Hillary Clinton, possibly US presidential candidate in 2016; a much adored Secretary of State. Stephen Zunes (truth-out.org, 23-02-13) about her legacy: “supporting autocratic regimes and occupation armies–undermining arms control and defending military solutions to complex political problems–outspoken supporter of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, lied about Iraq’s military capabilities–unleashed repeated attacks against the United Nations, opposed restrictions on land mines and cluster bombs–pushed for stronger US support for pro-Western dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain–.” Where have all these dictators gone–.
Understandable. Given the problems of the day, yesterday’s problems dwindle, yesterday’s messengers loom high. Consider this:
Sexual harassment in the US armed forces: 70 a day, 26,000 a year; they certainly need drones. Where have all the soldiers gone–
Austerity measures: the GDP-Gross Domestic Product growth rate stays at a sluggish 2%, unemployment at 8%, rich people are also demoralized, sitting on liquidity; reducing fiscal debt is used for the golden opportunity to cripple the welfare state further. Where have all the liberals gone—
Boston: terrible, atrocious, our hearts reach out for the bereaved. And they are countless in the countries hit by US-led coalitions in Muslim countries, by drones, by SEALs, by execution, and just as human as those watching a peaceful marathon; as Noam Chomsky (Nationofchange/Op-ed, 06-05-2013) and Richard Rubenstein on his blog point out. Moreover, there is a feeble-minded intellectual mistake at work here, seemingly beyond repair: yes, the enemy of my enemy may be my friend in some context, but not in another. People in North Caucasia have problems with Moscow, so does USA; people in North Caucasia are Muslim and may feel compassion for their brothers and sisters murdered–the USA does not. So they resort to all kinds of psychologisms, early childhood etc. to protect themselves against simple insights. Where has all the common sense gone–.
Libya: a strip of land similar to where the Italian, French etc. invaders-colonizing Africa come from, the rest Berber-Tuareg with their world views and Islam suppressed, attacking a consulate-embassy possibly also a CIA detention center to liberate their friends on 11 September 2012 (when Ambassador J.C. Stevens was killed), having attacked the ICRC-International Committee of the Red Cross 1 km away on 22 May: “the ICRC must take down their flag with the red cross/our italics/Libya is an Islamic State” (letter to Hillary Clinton from the US Congress 02-10-2013), twisted into a security and impeachment issue. Where has all the empathy gone–.
The biggest arms exporters: the G5+1(Germany)-1(China) account for 75% (Development + Cooperation, Vol 40 2013 No.2): USA and Germany to South Korea, Russia to China and India, Germany and France to Greece (that, weapons, they can afford), UK to Saudi Arabia and USA, keeping the world dangerous, armed to the brim. France has reduced the percentage of the economy devoted to the military–”defense” writes Le Monde 30-04-13–from 5.44 in 1961 to 1.5 for 2014 and 1.3 for 2025). The UN General Assembly failed to “approve the first-ever effort to regulate the enormous global trade in conventional weapons, for the first time linking sales to the human-rights records of the buyers” (IHT 01-04-13). No consensus as Iran, North Korea and Syria “contended that the treaty had been structured to be unfair to them”. Internal armed suppression matters, it is important, but even more so is linking trade to use in wars, given that UN Member States are prohibited from going to war against each other (Charter, Article 2.4). Where have all the arms gone–.
The general, well-known, answer to the nine slightly rhetorical questions starting with “Where have/has” is: to the graveyard every one. But not the arms as they are used rather to produce corpses for graveyards; empathy, common sense and the liberals hopefully not. Many soldiers, dictators and empires, for sure. The silver and the sports may be recovered.
However, the basic points made is the contrast between nostalgia likened to some heroes of the West and the reality of their business, their economy-politics, the utter demoralization, the lack of opposition to policies of self-destruction, the primacy of force over common sense and solutions right around the corner, for those who venture that far.
Back to Man U. There is much beauty in that, found in UK, USA. But then do not deny it to others, like Workers United = trade unions (yes, there was abuse as in Business United, aka Reagan-Thatcher), Former Colonies United, Poor United, by helping them. Another word is solidarity, a winning formula. Meanwhile, Solidarity United–.
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.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Complete Streets Honolulu: the reality
by Larry Geller
I visited the Complete Streets demonstration this afternoon. Cooke Street was closed off from traffic and host to several installations along its length starting from Ala Moana Blvd. It’s important that this was done, and the event (which includes much more than just this street demo) looked like a lot of fun for kids and families (see below my rant for some of the fun).
The first thing I noticed was this bike lane marker. Next to it is a strip of white paint with little square reflectors embedded in the surface. Behind it is what I think is called a “bulb-out.” In the intersection at the far left is a little roundabout. Fine so far.
Across the street the bike lane is the same as the parked car lane, though. The bike lane is not continually marked or protected at all (see the Chicago example below). As to the bulb-out, I’m sure it has its uses. There are similar things along the Ala Wai, and I understand residents objected to them. I remember that they impacted parking, which was in high demand, but perhaps there were other objections.
This is the video I originally posted in 2011 showing how Chicago was beginning to install bike lanes. It’s obvious that they’re serious about it. We’re not.
Without much ado, they provided safe bike lanes. Imagine that. Why not Honolulu, with great weather year-round? What’s wrong with us? Check out the video and the website that posted it.
Video by Elizabeth Press. Creative Commons license 3.0. Originally posted to streetfilms.org.
(click the thingy at the bottom right for full screen)
At one street corner there were posters explaining the Complete Streets concept. I can’t wait for us to get there. I’ve added some commentary of my own to two posters below, because I think we are far, far away from implementing the ideal pedestrian- and bike-friendly environment that advocates have pushed for all these years. Yes, there is an ordinance now, but no, the City isn’t rushing to implement it. Nor have they internalized the community consultation that should guide their actions (as evidenced, at least, from the sidewalk narrowing at Thomas Square and the inadequate response to Honolulu’s pedestrian death toll).
The two posters and my response to what the City actually does (keep in mind that the Complete Streets ordinance, 12-15, is already in force):
Speaking of sidewalks, stepping back and right around the corner from my first pic of the bike lane above, is an example of the light poles that the City has installed smack in middle of the sidewalk on Ala Moana Boulevard. The electric pole behind it is actually quite close, as you can see from the guy wire with yellow protector sleeves.
Note also that the design chosen for the base of the pole is particularly wide. There are better choices if one cares about pedestrians. Does this light pole beautify Ala Moana Boulevard? I don’t think so.
From the Complete Streets ordinance:
Under this policy, the city hereby expresses its commitment to encourge (sic) the development of transportation facilities or projects that are planned, designed, operated, and maintained to provide safe mobility for all users.
The installation of light poles in middle of the sidewalk does not provide “safe mobility” for anyone, but in particular is a challenge to those in wheelchairs or scooters.
Speaking of wheelchairs, here’s the same pic of that corridor along Beretania Street fronting Thomas Square that I’ve run before. One would not want to be in a wheelchair entering at one end if another wheelchair user had entered at the other.
Ok, I said there was fun. First, I noticed that there were public toilets (portapotties) installed in a couple of locations. Not exactly fun, but a pleasure. Perhaps a measure of the level of civilization of a city is recognizing that people need to have access to public toilets and then providing them as appropriate.
There was a tent where bicycles were loaned for free—just leave an ID and credit card. What a great idea, considering that visitors typically arrived by car or bus. There were several other tents: AARP, The Outdoor Circle, Fisher Hawaii, just to name a few.
A bicycle shop displayed a rack of bikes out front. One had a price tag of $579 dangling from the handlebars. Yikes. When I was a kid I think a bike went for $30 or something like that. Those were the heavy ones. A 3-speed “racer” could cost more, but not $579.
Walking up the street I was passed by this “bar bike” zipping along. There’s a counter down the middle—patrons sit on both sides of the counter, order a drink, and operate the pedals as it zips along. A true alcohol-powered vehicle, and it was moving at a good clip.
There were food trucks. There was some outdoor chess:
The street in front of Taste Table on Auahi St. was converted to an al fresco dining room. We could use more of that in Honolulu, considering the great weather. Each table was set with wine glasses and a bottle of wine.
One last pic. I actually took this one in town, at a bus stop. This guy seems to have been waiting for a long, long time… and he was thoroughly plastered.
(artist Jodi Endicott, June 2000)
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Civil Beat: Annie Koh on “A Park is for the Public—Unless They are Homeless”
“When the most vulnerable (e.g. homeless) or the most outspoken (e.g. (de)Occupy Honolulu) are ejected from our definition of the public, how we define democracy is sorely limited. When our belief in what tourists want overrides the very real needs of human beings, how we regulate public space is operating from deeply flawed assumptions.”
by Larry Geller
I’ve read Annie Koh’s A Park Is For The Public — Unless They Are Homeless? (Civil Beat, 5/10/2013) a couple of times. It is an eloquent essay on how the homeless have come to be viewed in Honolulu and how they deserve to be viewed.
Without patronizing the homeless, Koh (@spamandkimchi) has endorsed their status as fellow citizens of our fine city.
This essay could be a lesson in compassion for our civic leaders who have demonstrated nothing but intolerance for those so much less fortunate than themselves.
But enough from me. Please click the link and read this well-crafted article. I’ll hold my own thoughts for another time.
Friday, May 10, 2013
Breaking: City to be enjoined by federal court on (de)Occupy raids
by Larry Geller
As a result of a status conference held this morning in Judge J. Michael Seabright’s chambers, an agreement has been reached in which the attorneys for (de)Occupy Honolulu and for the City and County of Honolulu will work together on the wording of a stipulated preliminary injunction based upon plaintiff’s challenge to the city’s ordinance. An evidentiary hearing will not be necessary.
More details will be available at the May 17 hearing in federal court. This report is based on the court’s posted summary of the outcome of the status conference.
It is possible that the stipulation will apply only to what has been described as illegal destruction of property, or it could be wider. The clerk’s report referred to an injunction “addressing Plaintiffs' as-applied challenge to the ordinance,” rather than to the ordinance as a whole.
The judge also asked to be optionally briefed by both parties on whether the ordinance’s fee requirements violate due process.
This refers to a fee required to be paid to retrieve items picked up from the streets by the City. The fee ($200) may routinely exceed the value of the items confiscated, and in any case may violate due process.
Decade passed before a Hawaii court found DHHL breached its trust obligations to Native Hawaiians
“The court, having concluded this five-week trial from 8/4/09 through 9/11/09 and having considered the trial evidence and arguments of counsel, determines that Plaintiffs proved by clear and convincing evidence breaches of trust by the Defendant State of Hawai'i ("State") and Defendant Department of Hawaiian Home Lands ("DHHL") during the claims period (August 21, 1959, statehood, through 1988) and that said breaches were a substantial factor or legal cause of eligible Native Hawaiians not being placed on the land in further breach of trust obligations as alleged in the waiting list subclass bifurcated trial.”
by Larry Geller
An historic and hard-fought legal action capped by a five-week trial concluded in November 2009 that the State of Hawaii and the Department of Hawaiian Homelands breached their trust obligations to Native Hawaiian beneficiaries. The damages/compensation phase of the trial, Kalima vs. Hawaii, continues before a different judge. The most recent hearing was held on March 25, 2013.
The legal action was initiated in 1999. During its long course, the hair of the two plaintiff attorneys turned grey, and class members have passed away waiting for its conclusion. The judge who issued the decision has retired. Apparently, the concept of speedy justice does not apply to Native Hawaiians in Hawaii.
As the series of three articles appearing this week in the Star-Bulletin demonstrated, DHHL is still failing to fulfill its obligations to efficiently and expeditiously place beneficiaries on the land that is supposed to be theirs. Unfortunately, the articles are trapped behind the Star-Advertiser’s paywall. Also, the reporter did not address the liability that the State faces as a result of the Kalima trial nor the mismanagement of the trust that was uncovered and documented as the lawsuit advanced.
From a Disappeared News article in 2009:
The Hawaiian Homelands Trust is an obligation that Hawaii assumed as a condition of statehood. This trial covered a limited time period of 1959 (statehood) to 1988 and asked for compensation for losses resulting in delays in awarding homesteads.
The attorneys represented 2,700 beneficiaries, many of whom were young applicants but are now senior citizens. Over the 30 or more years since they may have applied for a homestead or for agricultural or pastoral land, some have passed away.
Members of the plaintiff class originally filed claims 1991 with an administrative panel charged with compensating them for their losses, but when that went nowhere and the state shut down the panel, the lawsuit was filed. It made it all the way to the Supreme Court, where the state argued that claims could not be brought against it.
The Supreme Court ruled that indeed claims could be brought, and sent it back down to the Circuit Court for trial. Judge Eden Elizabeth Hifo ruled yesterday that the state was liable for breaches of trust in failing to award homesteads promptly.
[State will be liable for monetary damages after Hawaiian Homelands trial, 11/9/2009, includes audio clip]
Attorney Carl Varady answers media questions. Next to him is attorney Thomas Grande (9/4/2009).
As a result of the decision by Judge Eden Elizabeth Hifo, the State will be required to pay compensation to the class beneficiaries. Hearings on the compensation model are currently underway before Judge Virginia Crandall.
A detailed history of the case, including the current status of the compensation phase, is maintained by attorney Tom Grande here. The web pages include links to documents in the case. I’ve included Judge Hifo’s decision below—it could usefully have been included in the Star-Advertiser series and demonstrates that the incompetent leadership of DHHL is nothing new. For example:
Mr. Rodney Lau credibly testified that financial records of DHHL for the years June 1962 to 1972 were not available, clearly not auditable, and that period was not accounted for. ... "accounting system and internal controls . . . were wholly inadequate" for period July 1, 1962 to June 30, 1972;
Judge Hifo’s conclusion is clear:
NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ADJUDGED
That Plaintiffs have proven by clear and convincing evidence breaches of trust by Defendants State and DHHL during the claims period and that the individual and/or cumulative effects of such breaches caused by acts or omissions by employees of the State in the management and disposition of trust resources were a legal cause of harm to the Plaintiffs herein which are compensable as defined by Sections 674-1, -17 of Hawaii Revised Statutes, thus necessitating further proceedings to determine the amount of damages, if any, each subclass member proves s/he sustained as a result of the breaches during the claim period.
Sadly, class representatives have passed away as justice in this case plods slowly along. When the trial is ultimately concluded, the State will have a bill to pay. But as the newspaper series attests, the trials and tribulations of Native Hawaiian beneficiaries continue in the present.
The document below is an OCR copy and may contain errors. Do not rely on this copy.
Thursday, May 09, 2013
Caldwell announces bupkis for his long-awaited homeless program
by Larry Geller
Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s Housing First plan to address homeless issues calls for 25 “chronically homeless” people to be placed in housing units across Oahu by the end of 2014 and then place an additional 50 people in 2015, according to a plan obtained by the Star-Advertiser.
[Star-Advertiser, Caldwell's project to house chronically homeless, 5/9/2013]
Caldwell’s plan will benefit only 75 people? What do the rest get? Planters?
There were an estimated 4,353 homeless residents of Oahu in January 2012. The Star-Advertiser story alludes to 505 chronically homeless, who will be the ones apparently qualifying for the insignificant number of available slots.
The administration wants only one full-time position and an additional $150,000 in the operating budget for the 2014 fiscal year.
There is a Yiddish word for this that was popular when I lived in New York: bupkis, politely: “absolutely nothing; nothing of value, significance, or substance” but understood also to mean small, round goat droppings.
massive commitment to what Mayor Caldwell has already admitted his administration spent in a futile (and continuing) attempt to dislodge the homeless from the sidewalks, where they were forced to pitch tents because other options have been taken away from them:
The law we are working with today, the Stored Property Ordinance, is a first step. But, the public should know that every time the Department of Facility Maintenance removes property from the sidewalks, it costs around 15,000 dollars for two days of work – one day to tag and the next day to remove. In the last SPO round, the city picked up 3.1 tons of property from the sidewalks in areas including Kalakaua Avenue and Thomas Square.
[Civil Beat, Full Text Of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s Inaugural State Of The City Address, 4/3/2013]
Let’s do some math. By now, the city has conducted more than 60 raids to pick up property from the sidewalks. The raids have hurt those living on the streets, of course, but they have not removed them from the Mayor’s sight. So 60 x $15,000 is $900,000. This does not, of course, include the cost of the Mayor’s planter blitzkrieg around Thomas Square.
Bottom line: around a million dollars was wasted to punish the homeless and all the city will spend to help a tiny fraction of them is $150,000 for 2014.
Repeat after me: bupkis.
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
LNG and CEO Compensation top issues at HEI's Annual Meeting
City planters appear to violate Ordinance 12-15, “Complete Streets”
by Larry Geller
From a City website:
MAKING STREETS SAFER FOR PEDESTRIANS AND BICYCLISTS
Six years after the voters approved an amendment to the City Charter making it a priority for Honolulu to become a pedestrian-and bike-friendly city, the Council enacted a “complete streets” ordinance (Ord. 12-15). The ordinance requires that facilities and features that promote travel by pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and persons using assisted mobility devices be considered whenever a road is constructed, reconstructed, or maintained by the city.
The ordinance clearly applies to sidewalks and to the planters that the City has installed along Beretania Street.
The ordinance states that one of its objectives is to:
Protect and promote accessibility and mobility for all
but the location, narrowness and length of the corridor created on Beretania Street creates a hazard not only for wheelchair users but for bicyclists and pedestrians sharing the corridor with bicyclists or wheelchair users, particularly if another bicycle or wheelchair is coming from the opposite direction.
From the ordinance it is clear that sidewalks and plantings are covered:
“Complete streets features” include, but are not limited to, sidewalks, crosswalks, accessible curb ramps, curb extensions, raised medians, refuge islands, roundabouts or mini-circles, traffic signals and accessible pedestrian signals such as audible and vibrotactile indications and pedestrian countdown signals, shared-use paths, bicycle lanes, paved shoulders, street trees, planting strips, signs, pavement markings including multi-modal pavement striping, street furniture, bicycle parking facilities, public transportation stops, and facilities including streetscapes, dedicated transit lanes, and transit priority signalization.
The ordinance also describes solutions that would be determined by stakeholder involvement, but it’s not clear from reports and statements which, if any, stakeholders were consulted before the Beretania Street planters were installed.
An article in yesterday’s Star-Advertiser reports that planters will be installed around the periphery of Blaisdell Concert Hall but does not specify whether they will be on the grass or on the sidewalk.
Severely restricting sidewalk width does not appear to be a viable solution to the City’s inability to deal with homelessness. It could also subject taxpayers to bearing the cost of liability settlements for anyone injured while trapped in one of the lengthy corridors who is hit by an oncoming bicycle or wheelchair or who falls or is pushed against one of the planters.
If bicyclists are forced into the busy street because they cannot use the sidewalk, not only are they subject to injury, but traffic on the streets will be restricted in order to allow bicyclists safe passage.
Afterthought: After posting this, it occurred to me that by blocking visibility and access, the planters may make it possible for all kinds of crimes to be committed behind them, and they also would block ambulances and first responders.
Monday, May 06, 2013
Distruptive technology—plastic gun data files posted today
by Larry Geller
This is a firearm that even the NRA may not like. Why? Because the gun manufacturers who fund the NRA have nothing to do with it.
As promised, the website Defcad.org posted the data files for building a plastic gun today. The web page includes a picture and a short YouTube video. Watch the video and be afraid. Very afraid.
If it works, a usable gun can be mass-reproduced in a garage using only a 3D printer. (See: Game changer: Plastic, home-made guns would stymie gun control laws even if we had them, 5/5/2013.) No pesky background checks will stop the do-it-yourselfer. Nor will gun control laws, even if Congress were inclined to pass any.
The TSA won’t like it, because if it is assembled without the optional piece of metal, it could go undetected by an x-ray scanner. That remains to be seen. Although plastic, it is a pretty large hunk of plastic and might show up.
Parents won’t like it, because any kid dumb enough to make one and try it out could get himself blown up.
Watch out on Halloween if a wee militia shows up at your door brandishing plastic “toy” guns.
In fact, no one is going to like this thing. Yet if it works, it could proliferate.
Even if it doesn’t work all the time (that is, blows up people shooting it), this could be the proof-of-concept that encourages others to try their hand at 3D printing for evil purposes. If this one is only a moderate success, better models will come along.
Cathie Black email quest was a good example of a freedom of information fight
by Larry Geller
It was a David vs. Goliath story—Intern vs. Mayor: Battle Bares Bloomberg’s Argument for Secrecy (ProPublica, 5/6/2013) relates how a $300 a week blogger for The Village Voice newspaper took on the world’s richest politician, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and wrested from hizzoner a series of emails related to the appointment and hiring of schools chancellor Cathie Black.
The emails themselves are not terribly interesting, especially to those of us reading them from far away. It’s the struggle to keep public records accessible to the public that is remarkable, and the blogger, Sergio Hernandez, deserves credit for lining up the support (including legal support) that ultimately did the trick. Hernandez does know something about shaking loose government emails—see his article A Reader’s Guide to the (Still Coming) Sarah Palin Emails (ProPublica, 6/10/2011). Anyone involved in a contentious battle over public records might learn from his examples.
The emails reveal how Oprah Winfrey and other celebrities were recruited to help slide Cathy Black into office as chancellor of the New York City school system. Ho, hum. Except that it didn’t work in the end, and Black resigned. Still, was this worth fighting for all the way up to New York’s highest court? Yes. Now no city email is safe, which is how it should be. Except in certain cases, the New York public should have improved access to the workings of its government.
We might also be interested in the story of Cathy Black’s appointment because Ms. Black has a counterpart here in Hawaii. Kathryn Matayoshi similarly has a business background rather than educational credentials, yet she still presides over Hawaii’s entire school system (see: A tale of two Cathies—New York parents rejected a school chancellor with no educational background, Hawaii parents did not (5/5/2013).
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has something of a counterpart in businessman Don Horner, who heads the Board of Education, though he’s presumably not in Bloomberg’s income class. Check out his bio here.
Star-Advertiser story links to purloined HPD data
by Larry Geller
It’s bad enough that hackers were able to break into an HPD computer system and take away names, emails and passwords of both HPD officials and users of their alert system. See the Star-Advertiser breaking news story: HPD alert system hacked, user emails and passwords compromised (Star-Advertiser, 5/6/2013).
For some reason, the paper decided to also post links to where readers can go to see the data themselves.
They didn’t have to do that for the news story. I believe most publications would omit that kind of information. They could have reported the story without doing the hackers any favors.
In just three clicks from the S-A story I had a list of emails and passwords on my screen, including the HPD chiefs office, community affairs, special duty officers, narco, etc. Now, I’m sure that HPD has already changed the passwords, but it’s always possible to send to the email addresses anyway. In other words, the S-A has likely made a bit of mischief possible that could have been avoided simply by not linking to the hacker sites.
I’m going to let them know that perhaps they should update their article by taking out those links.
Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: An Octagonal World
“The USA obviously tries to thwart Latin-American/Caribbean autonomy as they did with interventions and selective killing, France-England-Italy try to reconquer Africa, and Japan want an upper hand in East Asia. They will not succeed: Latin American integration has come too far. Africa will recover with Islam, and Abe cannot base massive export on countries Japan brutalized without entering a reconciliation he does everything to avoid.”
An Octagonal World
by Johan Galtung, 6 May 2013 - TRANSCEND Media Service
Let us try a look at the world from above, right now. There is so much drama unfolding. Is there a Big Picture? Of course there is, we all have one, so here is one effort, The Octagon, like this:
Eight big states or regions: USA, Russia, India, China, OIC (the 57 Muslim countries), EU (27), Africa (AU, African Union, 54 countries) and CELAC, Latin America and the Caribbean, 33 countries). We might add Israel and Japan to the USA if the criterion is willingness to go to war with and for the USA–but Israel wants the USA to fight its wars, and Japan, even with Japanese hawks more than willing to join the nuclear club, is still bound by the constitution depriving Japan of the right to war. So they work for a new constitution with an emergency article that could justify a military take-over. Ominous. Hopefully Germany does not follow suit.
The eight certainly differ in level of integration: clockwise from the USA very high for the first four big states, very weak for OIC, high for EU but torn between the German creditor and the debtors, very weak for Africa, medium for CELAC but coming quickly. But the weakest compensate with numbers: OIC well above 1.6 billion, Africa above 1 billion, like India and China; whereas USA and EU are small, below half a billion; like Russia.
From an economic point of view USA-EU are in a strange economic crisis of their own making, badly served by that fake science called economics–read capitalistics–whether by the Black-Scholes equation for the “right” price for derivatives forgetting the range of validity, the wrong “findings” about the impact of a shrinking public sector on the private sector, and the Ramsey-Rogoff scandal about relations between debt and growth; leading to speculation, crash and austerity policy. But, even if economists are paid to serve the top 1 percent and focus on the economy as system, not on the livelihood at the bottom, politicians are not forced to pick their advice unless paid by them to do so. Economists will hardly learn from this, being rigid intellectually, but politicians may learn not to take them seriously.
There is an outer circle–BRICS–with the comparative advantage of relying less of neo-classical economics. Harvard’s Business School is said to have killed much of the blooming 1970s Japanese economy; now like USA and England printing money; BRICS is taking money. But, looking at the figure there is a gap: no major Muslim Economy. Saudi Arabia would make it BRICSS, same pronunciation; also like China among the top creditors. But the story is clear: the West–USA-EU–against the Rest. 37% of the world population live in the IC part of BRICS; 60% in Asia; are young populations eager to produce and consume, USA-EU-Japan–the old Trilateral–are aging, consuming health insurance.
What does this look like from a more military point of view?
The USA obviously tries to thwart Latin-American/Caribbean autonomy as they did with interventions and selective killing, France-England-Italy try to reconquer Africa, and Japan want an upper hand in East Asia. They will not succeed: Latin American integration has come too far. Africa will recover with Islam, and Abe cannot base massive export on countries Japan brutalized without entering a reconciliation he does everything to avoid.
We sense three military bands across the Octagon.
Down there in the South is the Non-Aligned Movement, NAM, wisely keeping off and out, low on military expenditure, by and large.
In the temperate middle we find the old NATO expanding, tying it with the US-Japan AMPO system, also expanding, led by the giant on printed clay feet, the US military budget (with the French, wisely, shrinking its budget). Big Bang Bases, more Buck than they afford.
To the East we find the rapidly expanding Shanghai Cooperation Organization, SCO, that the West officially refuses to accept as a fact–with the Russia-China-Central Asia Muslim core, and India, Pakistan and Iran as observers. RC from BRICS, may expand to its acronym neighbors. Confrontations over Syria-Iran and in East Asia.
Now, how is this going to evolve politically? Can the West, challenged from the South and from the East, move from a reactio trying to reinvent the past, to a proactio? What would it look like?
Very easy and very unlikely. USA welcomes CELAC on equal terms, and EU lets Africa be Africa–USA industrializes and EU agricultarizes for more self-sufficiency; trade between equals, intra-sector not inter-sector. Japan does the same for East Asia. USA sheds half of the bases and half of the military budget in this administration and the next. China gives up its maritime imperialism, harking back to “When the World was Asia, 500-1500 AD, and forgives 50% of the US debt in return for 50% disarmament–pledging to stick to its policy of no military intervention. SCO cooperates, peacefully. The West switches to spiritual, cultural growth and a decent level of equality, refreshed its democracy by controlling bankocracy and technocracy.
Prognosis: like horses the West runs into the burning stable, gets badly hurt, and spends the 21st century sinking into oblivion; following the first decade of self-demolition, using fact-denial as a guide. Tragic, though. We prefer Plan A above.
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 L
Sunday, May 05, 2013
A tale of two Cathies—New York parents rejected a school chancellor with no educational background, Hawaii parents did not
by Larry Geller
New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg appointed Cathy Black as school chancellor in 2010 even though she had no suitable credentials. She was a publishing executive with no experience in education.
New York parents revolted, and she was booted out of there.
Kathryn Matayoshi was also appointed in 2010, by Hawaii’s appointed Board of Education. The BOE has a decided business background itself, and it appointed a person in its own image. Matayoshi is an attorney, who served, for example, as executive director of the Hawaii Business Roundtable. Like NYC’s school CEO, she also lacks credentials in the field of education.
Cathy Black was booted out, but Kathryn Matayoshi is still in office.
The tale of the NYC Cathy is alive again as a court ordered some of Mayor Bloomberg’s emails to be released publicly after a long struggle.
Now here's a NY Post editorial from this weekend after the Cathie Black emails were released and revealed her to be as clueless about education and unqualified for the job as her critics said she was.
[Perdido Street School, A Tale Of Two NY Post Cathie Black Editorials, 5/5/2013]
That article will take you into the heart of the New York issue, including a description of the psyops strategy intended to slide Black into office:
They courted celebrities such as fashion designers Donna Karan and Diane von Furstenberg. They tried Caroline Kennedy, who wisely didn’t respond. “Would we want ivanka trump?” wondered Black in one e-mail. The jewel in the crown was Oprah, who sang Black’s praises in a newspaper interview and sealed the deal.
[New York Post, The Oprah network, 5/4/2013]
I was aware of the two Cathies similarity when they both were appointed. But did anyone but me care that our new schools superintendent was just as unqualified as New York’s Cathy Black? It didn’t seem so at the time, and it doesn’t appear so now.
Game changer: Plastic, home-made guns would stymie gun control laws even if we had them
“On May 1st, Wilson assembled the 3D-printed pieces of his Liberator for the first time, and agreed to let a Forbes photographer take pictures of the unproven device. A day later, that gun was tested on a remote private shooting range an hour’s drive from Austin, Texas, whose exact location Wilson asked me not to reveal. The verdict: it worked.”
by Larry Geller
Standby for trouble.
Since it was founded last August, Wilson’s group has sought to make as many components of a gun as possible into printable blueprints and to host those controversial files online, thwarting gun laws and blurring the lines between the regulation of firearms and information censorship. So far those pieces have included high capacity ammunition magazines for AR-15s and AK-47s, as well as an AR lower receiver, the body of that semi-automatic rifle to which off-the-shelf components like a stock and barrel can be attached.
Those early experiments have made Cody Wilson into one of the most controversial figures in the 3D printing community.
[Forbes, This Is The World's First Entirely 3D-Printed Gun (Photos), 5/3/2013]
So to heck with the Second Amendment. The First Amendment would seem to guarantee any American (of any age!) the ability to read how to make a gun out of ABS plastic that will pass through metal detectors. Kiddies, if your parents don’t own a 3D printer yet, perhaps someone in your neighborhood does have one.
The way it works, by the way, isn’t rocket science. A relatively small computer file contains the directions to make the intended item. That file is sent to the 3D printer in the same way you might print a document from your word processor. The printer, loaded with ABS plastic, begins to operate. Since it is laying down a 3D object, it takes some time, but there’s no need to stand around watching. Come back later and your project is complete, in all its 3D glory. Want another? Just print the same data file again. Piece of cake. Does your friend want one? Easily done.
The gun control stalemate in Washington is certainly contemptible, but what if a law wouldn’t matter anyway … ? The Forbes article describes a first attempt at making a printable, plastic gun, and although we have nothing yet to indicate that the device will be long-lasting or effective, or that it won’t blow up in a user’s hands, it’s at least a proof-of-concept.
Printing guns locally could also be a game changer for gun manufacturers. It may affect their product lines, pushing them toward the larger, more deadly items. Meanwhile, plastic guns would evolve. I can even imagine custom decorated guns. A Hello Kitty design as a present for mom? Easily done. A special Davy Crockett model for the kid brother? Why not. It could get ugly very quickly.
In this country or elsewhere, should home-printed guns become feasible, we are going to see many, many more people killed by gun violence.
3D printers are poised to proliferate
These two photos are several years old. Current models, whether commercial or make-it-yourself, are much more professionally designed. I included these two photos to give an idea of the accessibility of the process. We’re talking hundreds of dollars for a home-use printer (that probably can’t make a gun today, but might be able to do it tomorrow…). That’s hundreds, not tens of thousands of dollars.
I would love to have a 3D printer—just to replace some of the cheaply-made items that have broken around here. I could make replacements by myself. There are even 3D scanners that can help make an exact copy. A 3D printer can even make objects that have moving parts. Try googling for more information.
I could try my hand at making some 3D art. And I promise, no guns. But others may be intrigued with the power to make their own firearms, or to start a home gun-printing business, legal or not legal.