Thursday, August 18, 2016

 

Justice Department to end use of private prisons—when will Hawaii do the same?



“This is a huge deal. It is historic and groundbreaking,” said David Fathi, director of the ACLU National Prison Project. “For the last 35 years, the use of private prisons in this country has crept ever upward, and this is a startling and major reversal of that trend, and one that we hope will be followed by others.”—
quoted in Washington Post article


by Larry Geller

Various news outlets reported today that the Justice Department will end its use of private prisons.

wapoDeputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision on Thursday in a memo that instructs officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or “substantially reduce” the contracts’ scope. The goal, Yates wrote, is “reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons.

[Washington Post, Justice Department says it will end use of private prisons, 8/18/2016]

This does not affect other federal agencies, for example ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), but it is a beginning.

Now, when will Hawaii follow suit?

Former Governor Neil Abercrombie announced his intention to stop using private prisons on the Mainland, but did not follow through:

Ige’s predecessor, Neil Abercrombie, was a former probation officer who said bringing back Hawaii prisoners was one of his top priorities.

“It is dysfunctional to send people out of the state. It costs money. It costs lives. It costs communities. It destroys families. It is dysfunctional all the way around — socially, economically, politically and morally,” Abercrombie told reporters in December 2010.

[Civil Beat, Ige: Number of Hawaii Inmates Imprisoned in Arizona Will Go Up Before it Goes Down, 8/3/2015]

mjThe DOJ decision follows the publication of an extensive exposé of conditions in private prisons conducted by Shane Bauer for Mother Jones. He spent four months working as a prison guard at Winn Correctional Facility a CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) prison in Louisiana. Read the Mother Jones article here.

dnA Democracy Now interview is here.

See also the ongoing Civil Beat series, Hawaii Behind Bars with articles by reporter Rui Kaneya. Particularly troubling is that Hawaii prisoners are being subjected to “valley fever” in Arizona and reportedly not receiving proper treatment. The disease can be and has been fatal.

But that is only one of many abuses, including and especially the separation of inmates from communities that help them make a successful re-entry to society at the end of their sentence, and the devastating effect on their children and families:

Kat Brady, a Hawaii-based prisoner advocate, decries her state’s practice of shipping their prisoners to Arizona, stating that “our people have been moved around like chess pieces, sold to the lowest bidder, in essence. I hear the anguish of families, of children who miss their daddies, of wives struggling to keep their families together and the desperation of people trying to locate their loved ones.”

[Prison Legal News, Study Details States’ Abuses of Out-Of-State Prisoner Transfers to For-Profit Prisons, 11/10/2015]

What to do with the prisoners? Brady suggests  reducing offenses that put people in prison in the first place. Too many of our state prisoners should not be in prison to begin with, and reducing their number would clearly reduce chronic overcrowding and the need to ship prisoners to private facilities on the Mainland.



Monday, August 15, 2016

 

Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: Money, Economy, Economics


 

Money, Economy, Economics

15 August 2016

Nº 442 | Johan Galtung, 15 Aug 2016 - TRANSCEND Media Service

Money is the key: that genius innovation for storing general value and exchanging specific values according to price.  Not strange, that heads of state had their faces imprinted on coins and bills.

But not on cents and euros.  The EU is faceless.  Brexit is not.

Coins and bills are fading; not money, capital, and its growth. Look at The Richest Man Who Ever Lived: The Life and Times of Jacob Fugger by Greg Steinmetz, brilliantly reviewed by Martha Howell (TNYRB, 7 Apr 2016).  Born in 1459, in that pivot German city Augsburg, he died in 1515, and here is how he used the system:

“Fugger expanded his business from trade and used his ability to provide ready credit in order to secure rights to productive assets, such as mines that reliably yielded returns over considerable periods of time.  He made princes, in this case the Habsburgs dependent on his money.  He financed their elections to the sponsorship, extended loans to pay their armies, and bribed their enemies to keep them at bay.”

Sounds familiar? Half a millennium ago. Solid. There is more to it:

“-wealth was made not in production as Marx thought but in “arbitrage”  trade, where goods like silks and pepper, gold and silver, furs and wax, were bought cheap and sold dear. -wealth came from long distance trade, and the longer the distance traveled, or the more difficult the journey, the more mysterious the origin, the more rare the goods transported, the more exotic or the more vital to rule the products supplied, the greater the chance for profit”.  Like David Ricardo.

The quip about Marx is important.  His brilliant analysis of means and modes of production, with exploitation of the body and alienation of the soul, focused only on production, not on “trade” or new means of transportation-communication, as important as new means of production.  They invent new products, like computers, but trade in the chain from producers to end consumers often fetches more profit[i].

Even if Marx missed that point[ii], Fugger did not.  He settled on pepper, and became richer than the Medicis, Rothschilds, Rockefellers. Considerable risk-taking, gambling, speculation, were parts of it.

What corresponds to pepper today?  Drugs, for deeper tastes.  Making drugs illegal increases risks and hence the price. If demanded, products from Moon-Mars-Venus would fetch even higher prices.

What is new is on the money side: processing money into financial objects at ever-higher complexity, derivatives, with enormous amounts to gain and lose. No investment, no contact with the real world, only with the virtual finance economy world, speculating also with other people’s money, often ruining them. Fugger would have joined with enthusiasm, like the (Spanish)-Portuguese-Dutch-English; “invariably aided by ruthless exploitation of human labor and natural resources”.  Capital grows, many humans and much nature deteriorate; then as now.

The real economy extracts resources from Nature, processes them through Production, distributes to Consumption through trade, sending waste from production and consumption back to nature.  An astounding amount and variety of products–goods and services–available on the market on a demand-supply basis to those who can afford the price. But  there is no built-in protection and enhancement of humans and nature, only of capital. Hence, the term capitalism–as opposed to humanism, naturism, or a mix of the three–for that economy is entirely correct.

The not built-in must come from the outside. States, which helped Capital work the way it does, may come to the rescue.  The State can regulate Capital, and be deregulated, like before the 2008 crisis[iii].  Limitations on capital flowing abroad can be lifted: “international capital flows are now more than 60 times the value of trade flows”[iv].

Civil Society can boy/girlcott, and establish alternative economies[v].

That an inequitable system produces inequality, now[vi], as between Fugger and his peers, and the rest, is small wonder.  The history is called modernity. The sociology is called class. The geography of “ruthless exploitation of human labor and natural resources”, by the companies and warships of the states mentioned, spells colonialism; in the Americas where the indigenous almost disappeared, in Africa with rampant slavery, and in Asia.  The situation is now improving many places[vii]; not because the economy changed, but colonialism did.

A social science with data and theories about how that economy works would be economics, or “capitalistics” rather.  Marx did that, predicting its demise. The economy had obviously gone, was, wrong[viii].

Economics also went wrong[ix] as mathematized, contradiction-free virtual real economy, latent with a manifest equilibrium in its womb. Not Aristotelian statics with things in natural places; but Galilean-Newtonian dynamics with static laws.  Balances: “willing buyer-seller” (no side-effects), demand/supply (but demand/supply-driven economies), Smith’s invisible hand turning egoisms into altruism (but not yet).

Enters daoism: in balance there is imbalance, and vice versa, forces and counter-forces, contradictions.  The West needs more daoist thought and less modeling frictionless mechanics and virtual economies on each other[x]  The sciences of politics and society were more open to change and alternatives, not trying to canonize any present version like economics did.  Why?  Because domestic and global elites found alternatives meeting their interests whereas economics already did?

Companies-states were bodies, capital the position, its growth  was the distance covered, rate of growth the speed, maybe accelerating, A. By laws of nature, bodies move and companies-states accumulate capital. To accelerate from feudal statics takes entrepreneurial force E=MA; M being the levels of inertia of the company-state, to be overcome.

Beautiful, but celestial bodies either move in circles-ellipses like planets and satellites, or linearly, like meteorites with a crash and a crater, hole, like for the pensioners whose savings disappeared. That in a finite world linear growth ends as if that has not sunk in.

An “economics” only for the quiet, balanced is like a meteorology for calm and breezes, not for gales, storms, let alone hurricanes. Beaufort 0-6 at most, not 7-12.  We would not accept that meteorology.

The remedy? An economy centered on meeting basic human and nature needs, and empirical-critical-creative economics exploring how to do it[xi].

NOTES:

[i]. A personal example: As an author, I may get 13% from the sale of my books; the shop selling them 40%.  Cut out the shop and Amazon accumulates the money.  Cut out printed books–

[ii]. Marx did it his way in “On the Jewish Question”, linking capitalism to Judaism and the overthrow of capitalism to “the emancipation of mankind from Judaism”: “The Jew–has acquired financial power–insofar as through him and without him money has risen to world power and the practical Jewish spirit has become the practical spirit of the Christian peoples. The Jews have emancipated themselves to the extent that the Christians have become Jews”.  Michael Walzer, reviewing David Nirenberg Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition in TNYRB 20 March 2013 debunks Marx and others with a dialectic approach to Judaism and Jews, but the point here is Marx’ view, not Walzer’s.

[iii]. See Paul Krugman–admitting he did not foresee 2008–reviewing Mervyn King, The End of Alchemy, Norton, in TNYRB 14 July 2016.

[iv].  J K Sundaram, “Illicit Financial Flows”, english@other-news.info 29 Apr 2016; “end up in–US and the UK /and/ tax heavens”.

[v].  Barbara Harris-White, “Poverty and Capitalism”, Economic and Political Weekly, 1 April 2006, discusses 8 processes–and counter-processes–mitigating poverty; having in common that they have to come from outside the capitalist system.  The same applies to the “15 Roads to Equality” by Norwegian economists discussed in Klassekampen October 2015.  However, for the 23 to be “built into the economy” the economy has to have another focus than capital growth.

[vi].  And it is getting worse in the US economy: “–the poorest of the poor were a lot worse off in 2012 than in either 1996 or 1998.” Christopher Jencks, TNRYB 9 June 2016, reviewing K J Edin and H L Schaefer, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, Houghton Mifflin.

[vii]. J K Sundaram, “The Geography of Poverty”, english@other-news.info 30 June 2016.

[viii].  Edmund Phelps “What Is Wrong with the West’s Economies?”, TNYRB, 13 August 2015: lack of justice; Bentham’s maximizing “sum of utilities” by redistributing from high to low, Rawls’ taxes and subsidies “to pull up people with the lowest wages”.  But rather than abstract “lack of justice–meaning what?–the simple answer is “concrete suffering of humans and nature”.

[ix].  In “What’s the Matter with Economics?”, TNYRB, 18 Dec 2014 Alan S. Blinder–mainstream economist and textbook author–argues against Jeff Madrick Seven Bad Ideas: How Mainstream Economists Have Damaged America and the World, Knopf; also see the follow-up exchange in TNYRB 8 Jan 2015.  The Seven ideas are major doctrines by economists, No. 1 “the invisible hand”.      The book is reviewed favorably by Paul Krugman, “The dismal science of economics”, INYT, 27-28 Sep 2014: “Hardly any economist predicted the 2008 crisis”-“Economists presented as reality an idealized vision of free markets, dressed up in fancy math that gave it a false appearance of rigor”.

Also see Krugman’s review of R B Reich, Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few, Knopf, in TNYRB 17 Dec 2015; a more dubious thesis.

[x].  Joel Kaye, A History of Balance, 1250-1375: The Emergence of a New Model of Equilibrium and Its Impact on Thought, Cambridge University Press, argues that the economy and the role of money inspired mechanics rather than vice versa.

[xi].  For an effort, see this author’s Peace Economics, Transcend University Press, 2012.

________________________________________

Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment and rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He has published 164 books on peace and related issues, of which 41 have been translated into 35 languages, for a total of 135 book translations, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

 

It’s time to pay attention to what Trump is doing, not just what he tweets or says


by Larry Geller

The twittersphere and the commercial media seem mesmerised by whatever Trump tweets or says. It seems all to easy for him to get attention. But like a master magician, much of what we hear or see is misdirection.

It’s about time that he is given the serious analysis that a presidential candidate should receive. Fortunately, there are two programs, available as broadcast or as podcast, that provide much of the needed scrutiny.

While tweets argue over Trump’s alleged suggestion that Clinton be assassinated, another matter is getting little attention: Who are the “advisors” Trump is putting in charge of his policy?  I put the term in quotes because it is interesting to swap the term with “donors.” Should he become president, I wonder how much it will take in contributions to be appointed to his cabinet.

For better analysis than one can find in a daily paper, watch or listen to Democracy Now (on `Olelo at 11 p.m. repeated the next day at 7 a.m.) or on the web at democracynow.org .

On this spacific issue, and regularly on all aspects of the election, I’ve been enlightened by Greg Palast’s regular conversations on Flashpoints, a long-running and popular program on KPFA which is available also as a podcast. The episoe feed is here.

Flashpoint host Dennis Bernstein interviewed Palast on the August 10 program on Trumps choice of economic advisors. The segment begins at the 29 minute point. The link to this program is here. Just move the slider forward to 29.

Much of the same material is in an interview titled Trump Economic Advisor Took Billions In Auto Industry Bailout on YouTube. It has the advantage that you get to “meet” Greg Palast visually, and yes, he always wears that same hat. I met him once in New York many years ago. I can’t say it was actually the very same hat, but it could be… nevermind. Here’s the video. I preferred the Flashpoint interview, but if you really must have video, try this:

 

 

Check the Flashpoint feed for more interviews with Greg Palast.Palast also has a website here. I greatly admire his style—he never, never pulls his punches.



Friday, July 29, 2016

 

Hawaii Department of Health fails to notify public of Hepatitis A risk from consuming Costco baked products


by Larry Geller

Hepatitis_A_virus_02Anyone consuming baked products sold by the Hawaii Kai Costco store mid to late June was at a small risk of contracting Hepatitis A because an employee tested positive for the disease—yet the Hawaii Department of Health chose not to issue a public notice. As a result, many consumers of the potentially infected products were not notified.

Costco is capable of notifying anyone who bought the products and did so, but it cannot warn those who consume the products at church or business meetings, for example.

Costco baked products are a quality choice for many organizations that bring them to meetings for attendees to consume. Costco breads end up in sandwiches. Some retailers even buy at Costco and re-sell the products.

Costco baked products appear at parties, weddings, in office break rooms and at meetings. Restaurants and food trucks may use them.

None of those who consumed potentially infected products who were not the original purchasers were warned because the DOH declined to issue a public notice.

Media erroneously reported that:

If you don’t receive a phone call or letter, you are not affected.

[KHON, Hepatitis A confirmed in bakery worker at Hawaii Kai Costco, 7/28/2016]

Yes, the risk is low, but no, that doesn’t excuse DOH given the widespread use of these products by other than the original purchasers.



Tuesday, July 26, 2016

 

Reluctant but determined: Kokua Council files suit to compel the Hawaii Department of Health to post long term care home inspection reports


by Larry Geller

Let me disclose at the top of this article that I’m writing about something that I helped to instigate. I’m past president and a current board member of Kokua Council. What I’d like to emphasize here is that Kokua Council’s legal action was undertaken with great reluctance. I’ll explain a bit below.

And who is speaking here? Me. I cannot undo being a board member, but I am also a concerned citizen who happens to have a blog.

First I’d like to refer you to media coverage of yesterday’s press conference. Both Civil Beat’s Nathan Eagle and the Star-Bulletin’s Sophi Cocke have covered the issue quite well. The Civil Beat article, Advocates For Elderly Sue State Over Inspections Of Care Homes  (Civil Beat,7/25/16) is not paywalled so you can easily check it out. If you are a subscriber to the newspaper, please see Group sues over care home inspections (Star-Advertiser,7/26/16).

Also please spend just a few minutes listening to Beth-Ann Kozlovich’s interview of me on The Conversation (Hawaii Public Radio, 7/26/16) this morning.

A copy of the complaint is on the Kokua Council website here.

Reluctant but determined

Now, the lawsuit was filed because Kokua Council believes that the Hawaii Department of Health is breaking the law by not posting inspection reports of long term care facilities—as required by Act 213 (2013). And even for those reports that have actually been posted, many are so heavily redacted that the information the public is entitled to view according to Act 213 has been replaced with black boxes. DOH had 18 months lead time before they had to start posting, but were absent at the starting gate.

Beth-Ann said:

You would think that posting care home inspections online would have been easy.

Yeah. Someone emailed me that high school kids could do it. In fact, the Legislature apportioned $148,000 for two positions and support equipment but the DOH did not hire those people.

And the redactions! Part of the lawsuit demands that the redactions must be removed. See the pictures in the Civil Beat article for examples. What is typically redacted are the “findings”: exactly the information that is needed and that the law was intended to provide.

Cheeseburger redactedSuppose you ordered a cheeseburger, paid for it and took it back to your seat to eat, only on unwrapping it you find that the meat patty had been redacted out of your sandwich…  that’s basically what has happened to many of the posted reports.

Of course, I’m talking about a serious matter, which is why the lawsuit was filed.

A family needing to place a loved one in a care home needs to have the information as soon as possible to make a placement decision. Waiting 10 days or more to get reports from DOH, which is what the law is supposed to eliminate, doesn’t work for most—the decision must be made on very short notice. A hospital may be pushing the family because it needs the bed for someone else. By the time reports are manually delivered, the patient may have been placed, or the bed is no longer available at the facility.

I said also that it was filed reluctantly. We tried a public records request in 2015 which did not succeed. On December 14, 2015, when only three reports on Adult Residential Care Homes had been posted out of a total of almost 500 homes, our attorney wrote a public records request bristling with citations and carefully describing what we were looking for. It was equally futile. DOH broke the sunshine law by not replying within the required time period.

The legislative Kupuna Caucus wrote a joint letter to Governor Ige in October, 2015.

In short, nothing worked. So yesterday an action was filed.

It’s not just a senior issue, by the way. Anyone might be involved in (say) a traffic accident and need to recover in some kind of facility. Or a caregiver might quit, leaving a family looking for a placement. Or someone may need to be in a home due to disability.

Having access to inspection reports is necessary to make a placement decision, and also to hold the long term care homes to basic licensing standards. Nursing home reports have long been posted due to federal requirements, and it works.

But there are other aspects of protection not involved with this lawsuit. For example, the need for unannounced inspections on the part of DOH. They can begin those today, it’s at their discretion. Unannounced inspections save lives and are the best way to identify violations.

A final concern is the evisceration of the Long Term Care Ombudsman office under DOH. There is now only one person in that office—the Ombudsman Specialist position has been eliminated. The one person is responsible for handling complaints for 1,702 facilities and 12,340 residents statewide. He would have to make about 28 or so visits a day just to meet the requirements.

The office should have at least six ombudsman, and should have been moved out of DOH according to federal rules that became effective July 1, 2016. Hawaii had plenty of warning about the coming rule change. Why does the office have to be moved elsewhere? Because DOH has a conflict of interest in that it licenses the same facilities it then inspects.

So that’s how the lawsuit came about. Will it be the end of the story? Not until DOH protects seniors and other long term care residents as the law requires.

Advocates are concerned and determined to see that this happens.



Monday, July 25, 2016

 

Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: The US Nominations



The election campaign started long before the nominations were over and the foretaste is bad.  One thing is the candidates fighting; another, the burning issues for the USA and the world. They may both be right when certifying that the other is unfit for the presidency.



The US Nominations

25 July 2016

Nº 439 | Johan Galtung, 25 Jul 2016 - TRANSCEND Media Service

The US mountain, so rich in human talent, labored and produced the two dwarfs for the huge job. A radical Republican strongman[i]and a conventional Democrat, disliked by 62% and 67%–bad for electing the president of a country that still puts some stamp on the world.

Trump challenged, successfully, the Republican machine.  The Democratic machine got a Hillary who challenged absolutely nothing. In both parties, in the name of unity, a veil was drawn over these basic US conflicts today, not between the parties, but within.  Cruz did not give in, Sanders did–maybe bribed by some verbal rephrasing.

So there they are.  Trump has his base in the vast WASP, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant middle class middle-aged who used to rule the country[ii], promising to make America–meaning WASP–great again.  Hillary has her base in that other Democratic Party, the Southern Democrats, in older people and the groups traditionally voting Democrat–Blacks, Hispanics, cultural minorities, women and much of labor– greatly aided by that wasp, Trump, stinging all of them.

Younger people may abstain. So may many, even most, in the choice between a less war-and-market Republican and a market-and-war Democrat willing, on sale for more wars. Add the careers of these big Egos: one a businessman wrecking others, the other wrecking state secrets.  “Stop him by all means” and “Lock her up” become mantras heard often.  The high dislikes are well rooted. BUT, there is a difference: there is also much enthusiasm for Trump; none, it seems, for Hillary.

The election campaign started long before the nominations were over and the foretaste is bad.  One thing is the candidates fighting; another, the burning issues for the USA and the world. They may both be right when certifying that the other is unfit for the presidency.

But that is still personal, ad hominem, cutting huge political cakes along personal lines.  How about the issues facing the USA?

Take the issue-complex “speculation-massive inequality-misery”. 1% vs 99%. Traditionally, causes for the Democrats. Sanders got at it; but his proposals were unclear or missing.  Here some policy staples that the Democrats missed: separating investment and savings banking; holding Capital responsible for failures, not drawing upon State = tax-payers’ money; attacking inequality by illegalizing companies with the CEO:worker salary ratios way above, say, 10; lifting the bottom of US society with credits for the basic needs focused cooperatives.

How could Democrats justify such policies? Through Human Rights:

Universal Declaration 10-12 1948   Economic-Social-Cultural 16-12 1966

12: right to home and family       6: right to work to gain a living

13: freedom of movement            7a: with a decent family salary

17: right to own property          7d: rest, leisure with remuneration

18: freedom of thought, conscience 11: food, clothing, housing

19: freedom of opinion, expression 12: physical and mental health

20: freedom of peaceful assembly   13 education understanding tolerance

21: right to take part in government, directly, indirectly  16a: right to take part in cultural life

What a marvelous collection of rights and freedoms! Democrats should not forever be accepting the US non-ratification of ESC human rights.

Trump, eager to make his middle class great, may actually do some ESC at the expense of UD to protect them from “trade” with loss of jobs from above and the threat of revolution, with violence from below that has already started, along racial lines, initiated by the White police.

Take the issue-complex “foreign policy-war”.  “An isolationist Trump could save American lives”[iii] (and many more non-American lives).  But doing so to save money is not good enough; take the issues head on. “Clinton and Trump jostle for a position over North Korea”[iv] is more to the point: Trump is open to negotiate directly with Kim Jung-un, Hillary sticks to conventional isolation-sanctions-multilateralism. Trump might become the first US president to take North Korea on the word: “peace treaty-normalization-a nuclear-free Korean peninsula”. Hillary’s line leads nowhere. What is missing is an open debate on the two untouchables: US foreign policy and the US right and duty to war.

The “less-than-Third World” infrastructure” has been mentioned.  However, how about the suicide and homicide rates?  Not only the easy gun access aspect, what it says about demoralized US society?  How about the shortening of lives due to deteriorating living conditions?  How about the climate and the environment, specifics, not generalities? How about the whole American dream or dreams becoming exactly that, a dream only, dreamt in the past?  Trump has a new dream for his chosen people, greatness, Hillary’s dream is status quo since nothing has gone wrong.

And to that we may add: how about US democracy? Does it exist?

“Clinton did not run a clean campaign, she cheated. Caucus after caucus, primary after primary, the Clinton team robbed Sanders of votes that were rightfully his.  Here is how.  Parties run caucuses.  States run primaries. The DNC controlled by Clinton allies like Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz[v]. Democratic governors are behind Clinton: State election officials report to them.  These officials decide where to send voting booths, which votes get counted, which do not.  You thought this was a democracy?  Ha.”[vi]

The details make the “Ha” an understatement.  And that in a country so bent on lecturing to others on their lack of democracy. Forget it. Even so, Sanders won 22 states; had basic rules been respected, he would have made a majority of states even if Clinton had delegate majority.

“The world is watching US elections,” CNN says with nationalistic pride. In disbelief and dismay, waiting for guidance beyond mutual name-calling. They may be dwarfs relative to a giant job.  But nobody is born a president; they are made by the campaigns and on the job.  So far, the impression is that Trump learns more than Clinton, testing out new ideas well before he can put them into practice. Because he has more to learn, having no experience? Yes, he has a lot to learn.  But her “experience”, in killing? In not solving conflicts? Maybe she has a lot to unlearn.  Any evidence she does that?  None whatsoever.

This gives an edge favoring Trump.  We know what to expect from Hillary; not from Trump. On the two huge issue-complexes mentioned above, Hillary spells status quo, Trump not.  Trump is gambling on his own–proven to be very high–persuasion capacity.  Not quite hopeless.

NOTES:

[i]. J. R. Hibbing and E.Theiss-Morse, in an article in Washington Post, make the point that “A Surprising amount of Americans dislike how messy democracy is. They like Trump.”, english@other-news.info, 17 May 2016. In their study 60 percent believed that “government would work better if it were run like a business”.

[ii]. Bryce Covert, “America was great, again”, INYT 17 May 2016: “Donald Trump’s campaign promise is appealing because it promises–to make the country great again for the people who had it pretty great in the first place”.

[iii]. Dough Bandow, Japan Times, 31-05-2016.

[iv]. INYT, 20 May 2016.

[v]. Now dismissed because of an e-mail scandal.

[vi]. Ted Rall, “Clinton beating Sanders by hook and by crook”, Japan Times, 05 July 2016.

________________________________________

Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment and rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He has published 164 books on peace and related issues, of which 41 have been translated into 35 languages, for a total of 135 book translations, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

 

Monday program on affordable housing—come on over


 

Kokua Council is holding a lunchtime meeting on Monday, June 25 that may interest anyone concerned with housing or homelessness in Hawaii. For one thing, the speakers understand affordable housing, and as you know from reading Disappeared News, many of our leaders and our print media do not.

The announcement is below. There’s plenty of parking. Harris Church is very near the H-1 exits and close to downtown. Stop by. There’s even an optional pizza lunch. Or bring your own brown bag. Ask questions. Get answers.


 

PLEASE JOIN US FOR LUNCH

Monday, June 25, 2016:Understanding Affordable Housing

Miyama Main Hall, Harris United Methodist Church
11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Nuuanu Ave. and S. Vineyard Blvd.−Ample parking−driveway off Nuuanu Ave

Agenda:

11:30 Luncheon (optional): Various Pizzas, Salad, and Dessert—$5.00 Donation

11:55 Welcome, Introductions and Remarks

12:00 Program: Diane Terada and Rona Fukumoto: “Understanding Affordable Housing”

Diane Terada is Division Administrator of the Community & Senior Services (CSS) Division of Catholic Charities Hawaii (CCH). Rona Fukumoto is Division Administrator of the Housing and Referral Programs (HARP) of CCH.  They will describe the housing needs of seniors and the challenges seniors face in finding affordable rental housing, homeless issues, and the work of CCH’s Development Corporation which is currently building senior affordable housing in Mililani.

1:00 Adjourn



Tuesday, July 19, 2016

 

Voters win ballot shortage case against the Hawaii Office of Elections


by Larry Geller

You may recall the news coverage: first there was a shortage of ballots in the 2012 general election, then voters were provided with incorrect ballots. Many left without the opportunity to vote in at least 24 precincts.

Attorney Lance Collins filed suit on behalf of the Green Party of Hawaii and seven individual plaintiffs seeking to prevent another election from being held until the state Office of Elections properly developed rules in accordance with the Hawaii Administrative Procedures Act. The lawsuit stated that 57 voters were denied their right to vote as a result of the shortage of ballots

The state held that the number of ballots printed was a matter of “internal management” and did not require rules under the HAPA.

The Supreme Court disagreed, overruling the district court and the Intermediate Court of Appeals, holding that “internal management” is a very limited exception that cannot be used when the regulations “affect private rights or public procedures.”

The outcome of this case may affect other situations where a state agency relies on an “internal management” argument and ignores that their procedures affect private or public rights. A small snip from the opinion illustrates this:

Even assuming that the procedure only concerned internal management of the agency, the method used by the Office of Elections would have a direct impact on the right to vote, including the private right of voters to have their votes counted.

In his oral argument, Collins explained that the purpose of the HAPA is to reign in an agency’s unbridled discretion. This is a lesson that he has tried to teach the Office of Elections before, as in the case Babson v. Cronin which related to the use of electronic voting machines in an insecure fashion and in the absence of rules regulating their use.

There were hints of how the court might rule in their questions during the oral arguments in May:

What does it take to affect people? We had people whose votes weren't counted. And according to you, that doesn't affect people's right to vote.—Justice Richard Pollack

and

This is the constitutional, fundamental right to vote that is being denied. This is not the right to paper clips.

Does the record reflect how much money the state saved by denying these people the right to vote?— Justice Sabrina McKenna

Attorney Lance Collins said this morning:

This clarification strongly supports the purpose and intent of the Hawai'i Administrative Procedure Act – which is to provide openness and transparency in government.

As a result of this court decision (and thanks to the Green Party, the other plaintiffs and public interest attorney Lance Collins), it is likely that there will be enough ballots this election season that each voter’s rights will be protected.



Saturday, July 09, 2016

 

Ate at Wendy’s recently? There was a data breach, you better check if you charged it


by Larry Geller

According to the Wendy’s website, Honolulu Wendy’s was affected by a data breach 12/2/2015 - 6/8/2016. Did you charge a meal within that time frame? Read on.

WendysHere’s the story: Wendy's revises data breach figures; over 1K locations compromised by POS malware

Here’s their web information (it might have said, “we’ve been hacked”, but instead it says): Updates Related to Investigation of Unusual Payment Card Activity at Wendy’s

A bill introduced in the 2016 Hawaii legislature intended to hold companies responsible for their neglect leading to data breaches never even got a hearing. The only recourse often is a lawsuit, which is difficult and expensive to do. Also, class action suits often leave little compensation for the class plaintiffs.

From the above story:

Wendy's is already the subject of multiple class-action lawsuits filed on behalf of affected cardholders and the financial institutions that issued payment cards to them. Cybersecurity reporter Brian Krebs had reported earlier this year that financial losses to credit unions from the Wendy's breach is on pace to surpass damages incurred from the high-profile Target and Home Depot breach incidents.

Wendy's is offering one year of complimentary fraud consultation and identity restoration services to all potentially impacted customers, the company stated.



Tuesday, July 05, 2016

 

Press release announces groundreaking new birth control bill just signed by Hawaii governor


It’s supposed to be bad journalism to run a press release. Heck with that, I don’t have time to fake a story. Here is an important press release from Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii that just arrived in the Disappeared News inbox.

The Governor’s signing of this bill puts Hawaii first in access to birth control. Read about it below, and don’t miss the info on an app for your smartphone.


 

Governor Ige Signs Groundbreaking Birth Control Access Bill Into Law

Planned Parenthood Praises Ige and Legislative Leaders for Championing 12 Months of Birth Control

HONOLULU – Today, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii (PPVNH) celebrated Governor David Ige’s signing of Senate Bill 2319, a groundbreaking bill that will dramatically expand access to birth control in Hawaii. SB 2319 makes Hawaii just the first state in the country to require all public and private insurance providers to cover 12 months of birth control at a time, meaning that women will only have to pick up their prescription once a year.

“We are proud to support this commonsense solution to reduce barriers to birth control in Hawaii. At a time when politicians nationwide are chipping away at reproductive health care access, Hawaii is bucking the trend and setting a confident example of what states can do to actually improve access. Everyone deserves affordable and accessible birth control that works for us, regardless of income or type of insurance,” said Laurie Field, Hawaii Legislative Director for PPVNH. “We thank Governor Ige and the sponsors of SB 2319 for taking a stand on reproductive health and rights in Hawaii.”

Consistent access to birth control gives women the ability to control when and if they have children, giving them more career and education opportunities, healthier pregnancies, and making them less likely to depend on government programs. Today, most women have to refill their birth control every month, which is a burden for many and leads to inconsistent use, and accounts for 43 percent of all unintended pregnancies. Women without reliable access to transportation or living in rural areas have more barriers to dependable access to birth control, leaving them at a greater risk for unintended pregnancies. By requiring that women get 12 months of birth control at a time, Hawaii will take a substantial step towards reducing barriers to birth control access and decreasing unintended pregnancies.

“To be truly accessible, birth control must be affordable. The passage of this bill makes that possible. Women should be able to access affordable birth control without unnecessary hurdles such as extra charges or unnecessary time restraints. Many women, especially low-income women, women in rural communities and women of color face barriers that make it challenging to get the prescriptions they need. We are proud to be the first state in the country to offer 12 months of birth control and expand women's access,” said Senator Rosalyn Baker, Senator Laura Thielen and Representative Della Au Belatti of the Women's Legislative Caucus.

This is the second time in the past month that birth control access was improved in Hawaii. In May, Planned Parenthood launched an innovative app allowing women anywhere in the state to securely speak to a provider and receive prescriptions to hormonal contraceptives that are then discretely shipped to their home address. Together, SB 2319 and the Planned Parenthood Care app have given Hawaii women significantly greater access to birth control in 2016, putting our state on the forefront of reproductive health nationwide.

Monday, July 04, 2016

 

Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: Russia and China Right Now–?


 

Russia and China Right Now–?

4 July 2016

Nº 436 | Johan Galtung, 4 Jul 2016 - TRANSCEND Media Service

The background is the two major communist parties in the world.    Russia Communist Party-Bolshevik made the November 1917 revolution; from 1922 the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, CPSU(b). CPC, the Communist Party of China, now celebrating its 95th anniversary, made the 1 October 1949 revolution. World-shaking events; in the world’s biggest state in area and in the world’s biggest state in population.

The revolutions cut into the modernity contradictions in the State-Capital-People triangle by conquering State-military and police.  Two lasting achievements of CPSU(b): State Planning of the economy–maybe five years at the time, pjatiletka–now found in most countries; and lifting some bottom up to meet basic needs, surprisingly quickly. But CPSU(b) exercised gross structural violence in the countryside. And CPC, imitating CPSU(b), made the same mistake to start with.

Then they became different.  Russia got stuck with the Party on top of the State, for some people, but not by the people.  CPC, like CPSU, did not-and still does not-permit FAFE, fair and free elections at the national level.  But China gave People a voice in the 70,000 People’s Communes, helping them lift themselves up when in misery.

China did not see State and Capital as either-or; like Bolshevik Russia opting for State through expropriation, and neo-liberal USA for Capital through privatization, manipulating and spying on the People.  China opened for the neither-nor local level, for the compromise of some welfare state, and for the both-and of their capi-communism.

This intellectual-political flexibility, rooted in daoist holism and an unending force-counter-force dialectic, not in Western faith in a final state, Endzustand, opened for two very different “communisms”.

How are they doing these days, those two communist parties?

The Russian party is out for the time being; in came capitalism.  But over and above that discourse looms the history of a huge Russian Orthodox empire attacked by Vikings, Mongols-Tatars, Turks, Napoleon and Hitler, Catholic Christianity, and Cold Wars with extremist US evangelism, now over Ukraine too.  Yeltsin–hated by Gorbachev (INYT, 3 Jun 2016)–gave the West what they wanted.  Popular Putin tries to build autonomous Russia without Western-capitalist imperialism, probably successful in the longer run. However, in Russia the long run is very long.

Not so in China.  Zhou Enlai formulated the goal as a “modern socialist state by 2000”, meaning growth and distribution, and CPC did centuries of Western history in decades, passing traditional Russia. Goal: a “moderately prosperous society” (Xi’s New Year speech 2016); killing the corruption that could “lead to the collapse of the Party and the country” (Xi Jinping, The Government of China, Beijing, 2015)

The two Bigs are encircled by a common enemy, anti-communist USA.  Working on togetherness, Soviet Union collapsed. China went ahead with Russia and the border republics–Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan–the Shanghai 5 from 1996, celebrating its 20th anniversary.  In addition, expanded to SCO-Shanghai Cooperation Organization, in 2001, with Uzbekistan. Pakistan and India just joined rapidly expanding, with dialogue partners and observers, much beyond NATO.

They also have their own projects. For Russia: EU, Eurasian Union, and the global BRICS. For China: a global-Asian economy, AIIB, Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank. Both benefit from BREXIT weakening the USA for losing its “direct link to the Continent” (INYT, 30 Jun 2016), by EU losing England, UK losing Scotland-Ulster. China’s South China Sea imperialism, mainly against US aircraft carriers, is winning without firing a shot.

Putin “could have overrun Georgia–annexed Eastern Ukraine, if not the entire country–made no move against the Baltic states” (Doug Bandow, Japan Times, 4 Jun 2016). Russia more political, also in Syria; China more economic, with “Made in China” on the vast Silk Road infrastructure (Yuwu-Madrid!); both more subtle, making more friends. And USA-West desperate, less subtle, bombing, making more enemies.

The West hopes for a split between the two. Any basis for that?  Chinese see Russians as lazy drunkards-Russians see Chinese as hordes; Russian prostitutes in China, and Chinese farmers in Far East confirm.   Something more territorial, like the “stans”? Since 2009 with China as major investor? (Jack Farchy, Financial Times, 25 Oct 2015). Both-and, China developing, with Russian security?  However, the Silk Road is much older than the Russian Empire.  So is the Silk Lane.

          How about warfare in general in the Russia-China-West triangle?

Russia conquered more than 2 million km2 from the Ching dynasty–the southeast of Russia Far East with Khabarovsk and Vladivostok–the Nerchinsk 1689 and Peking 1860 treaties. There were border skirmishes in 1652-1689 and in 1969. They more or less settled that when building the Shanghai 5 and SCO. Joint ownership?  China never attacked Russia.

West attacked Russia across the Catholic-Orthodox faultline in Europe from 395 to 1054: Napoleon, the Crimean war, WWI, WWII-Hitler; and Cold Wars I and II. When Russians ask “whence the threat comes?”, the answer is clear, “the West”.  Russia counter-attacked, but withdrew.

West attacked China in the First and Second Opium Wars; with the Anglo-French attack in 1860 looting and burning the Old Summer Palace. China never attacked the West.  Russia was West but is now a friend.

EU-USA also have to change their policy. The US Center for Citizen Initiatives had this July a citizen diplomacy delegation to Russia, could have been China. Reflections by David Hartsough (http://ccisf.org/):

_____________________________________

Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment and rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He has published 164 books on peace and related issues, of which 41 have been translated into 35 languages, for a total of 135 book translations, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 4 July 2016.

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

Sunday, July 03, 2016

 

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


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

by Larry Geller

Cannon on the steps of Iolani palace[3]

Cannon on the steps of the occupied Iolani Palace


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bribe_thumb3[2]

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

Debate_thumb2[2]

Each article is much longer than the snips above. It would be worthwhile to skim the New York Times for a complete account of the Congressional debate. No doubt this has already been done. If not, the articles are available on-line for the harvesting..

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

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

 

 


Monday, June 27, 2016

 

Feds want to arrest a tugboat in Hawaii


by Larry Geller

Yes, a ship can be arrested. It happens all the time.

According to this report from The Courthouse News Service, Feds Demand Tug After Costly Harbor Mishap (6/27/2016), the tug Maulani was involved in a mishap while towing the SBX-1 radar dome through Pearl Harbor. The allegation is that the tugboat caused an incredibly expensive communication cable outage when its towing cable dragged the bottom. Bad tug. So the feds want to see it pay the penalty.

You may have seen the radar dome as you drive along the coast—it spends most of its time not watching for North Korean missle tests as it was designed to do, instead whiling away its time in balmy Honolulu. As you may have guessed, it doesn’t really work despite its $2.2 billion price tag.

Here is a pic of the dome as it was towed into Pearl Harbor one day (see: Watching You Watching Me, 5/31/2008).

RadarDome

For the complete story, please click on the link above. The article is well-written, clear, and has juicy details of the incident and some background on the SBX-1.



Sunday, June 26, 2016

 

Nigerian prince learns Hawaiian



Makemake au e relocate i ko oukou aina a me koʻu hopena makua kāne dala, a i ke koena o ka $ 3.5 miliona dala i loko o kona kapa hoike. … Pela kaʻu mea i keia mea o koʻu kumu no ka contacting ia oukou pela oukou e kokua mai oe iaʻu e hoolilo i ka kala iloko o ko oukou mooolelo pela au i hiki mai ai i ko oukou aina, e noho ilalo, a hoomau i koʻu hoʻonaʻauao, oiai oukou e kokua mai oe iaʻu i ke kālele 'i ke kālā.

(I want to relocate to your country and my late father funds, and the remainder of the $ 3.5 million dollars in its report. My late father Mr. David Dodo, ua'apu poisoned to death on the 21 July 2015. … So my thing is my reason for contacting you so you will help me to make the money in your account so I come to your country, to sit down and continue my education, while you help me to invest the money.) (Google translation)


by Larry Geller

I often wonder what the token Hawaiian language column that appears weekly in the Star-Advertiser means. Sadly, though I have lived here so many years, I cannot read it.

But actually, I can now… Google Translate includes the Hawaiian language.

I was put to shame actually by one of those “Nigerian prince” emails that popped into my inbox yesterday. A snip of it is in the pull-quote above.

Obviously, the Nigerians (or whoever they are) feel the necessity to communicate with people who live in Hawaii in their own language. This kind of makes sense, I suppose, in a Nigerian prince sort of way. Although the spams you and I generally receive are in English, no doubt they send German-language spam to Germany, Spanish-language spam to Venezuela, and so forth. So of course they should send me an email in Hawaiian. Some algorithm they use has put emails togther with their location.

Am I supposed to believe the email is genuine because for some reason this Nigerian girl speaks Hawaiian? It’s the same crappy email I get in English, but somehow I never questioned how it is that all these rich folks in Nigeria speak English. After all, everyone in the Prince Valient comic speaks English, as do the  fish in Sherman’s Lagoon. Prince Valient speaking anything but English would be weird.

But now there is a new question: just why is there a column in the Star-Advertiser in Hawaiian? There used to be real Hawaiian-language newspapers in this town. I am not suggesting it should not be there, but it does raise the issue of tokenism. Why? Because if it were important, the paper would translate it so I could actually read it! And how many news articles does the paper translate into Hawaiian? Hmmm?

Try giving testimony at the Legislature in one of the state’s official languages—Hawaiian—and of course they will not understand a word of it. The legislators sit poker-faced and listen but comprehend nothing. When this occurs, I do understand that an important point is being made. But a regular column that, face it, very few readers can actually read, is problematic—because the paper could translate it but doesn’t.

If what is written in the paper in Hawaiian was at all important to the editors they should have provided a parallel English translation. Without it, it’s something like that testimony at the Legislature.

Well, with Google now accepting Hawaiian-language text, it’s up to me to grab the next column, let the technology work, and read the message it is trying to convey.


Well, after writing the above, I went to the Star-Advertiser website. Since I am a subscriber, I can read the op-ed Kauakukalahale myself.

I plugged it in to Google Translate.

What critical local issue is being discussed? Rail? The failure of Hawaiian Homelands? No… it’s about… get ready for this …

Problems with the translation of English into Chinese at a Disney park in Shanghai.

Maybe I don’t need to read these columns after all. The Nigerian prince email was about as relevant.



Saturday, June 25, 2016

 

Did Speaker Souki have to “dance” around his condemnation of Mayor Caldwell’s leadership at Caldwell’s fundraiser?


by Larry Geller

First, Speaker of the House Joe Souki blasts Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s leadership:

Honolulu Star-Advertiser transportation reporter Marcel Honore reported last week that HART has already spent $96.6 million in design work and property acquisition for those four final and mostly-likely-never-to-be-built rail miles.

“This screws it up royally,” said Speaker of the House Joe Souki, one of the Legislature’s biggest rail supporters.

“For both mayor and Council, it shows that both don’t have the bravado to be a leader,” said Souki, who offered this advice: “Find the money, the money is there.”

[Star-Advertiser p. E1, On Politics: Mayor’s race is important, but rail transit is more so, 6/19/2016]

Then he sponsors a fundraising reception for Caldwell:

fundraiser

Go figure.

Terrible puns:

I would have loved to see how Souki and Caldwell danced around each other after Souki’s earlier remark about Caldwell’s leadership ability, or rather, the lack thereof. Odori-ko  (踊り子) means “dancer” in Japanese.

But Odoriko is also a limited express train service in Japan operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East), which runs between Tokyo and Shizuoka Prefecture. The Japanese train has been running since October 1981. Honolulu’s train, now to be limited to stopping at Middle Street, may begin running … when?



Sunday, June 19, 2016

 

Did FBI encourage Omar Mateen to carry out a terror plot?



While the full extent of Mateen’s contact with the FBI is unknown, it is clear that it extended into the realm of planning a bogus terror attack. The question now is whether manipulation by a FBI informant had any impact on Mateen’s deadly decision.

“The FBI should scrutinize the operating procedure where they use undercovers and informants and pitch people to become informants,” said Rowley. “They must recognize that, in this case [with Mateen], it had horrible consequences if it did, in fact, backfire.”—Alternet


Read the article on the Alternet website:

Before Omar Mateen Committed Mass Murder, The FBI Tried To 'Lure' Him Into A Terror Plot: New revelations raise questions about the FBI’s role in shaping Mateen’s lethal mindset (Alternet, 6/19/2016)



Friday, June 17, 2016

 

Your front-row seat at the Ninth Circuit GMO/pesticide hearings that may have national implications (videos)



The implications of the court's ruling or rulings in this case will be vast.—
Courthouse News


by Larry Geller

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, meeting Wednesday in Honolulu, heard four cases challenging the Hawaii state court rulings striking down three counties' ordinances seeking to regulate the use of pesticides and GMO crops. Videos taken by the court are posted below for convenience.

The Courthouse News service has posted an excellent summary by reporter Nicholas Fillmore. See: Ninth Circuit Digs In on Hawaii GMO Rules (Courthouse News Service, 6/17/2016). The article appears to be a very complete summary of the courtroom action--check it out. The reporter concludes:

After more than three hours of testimony, Judge Thomas thanked the audience and thanked the lawyers for their interesting arguments on issues of such importance.

The Ninth Circuit is the biggest federal appeals court in the country, covering Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

The implications of the court's ruling or rulings in this case will be vast.


15-16466 Alika Atay v. County of Maui

Published on Jun 16, 2016

Alika Atay and other ballot proponents of a Maui ordinance which establishes a temporary moratorium on the cultivation of genetically engineered organisms, appeal from the district court's summary judgment in an action challenging the ordinance


15-15246 Robert Ito Farm, Inc. v. County of Maui


Published on Jun 16, 2016

Appeal from an order denying intervention in an action brought by Monsanto Company and others challenging a Maui ordinance prohibiting the cultivation of genetically modified organisms pending further review.



14-17538 Hawai'i Papaya Industry Assn. v. County of Hawaii

Published on Jun 16, 2016

An appeal from the district court's summary judgment and permanent injunction against enforcement of Hawaii County Ordinance 13-121, which governs testing and cultivation of genetically engineered crops.


14-16833 Syngenta Seeds, Inc. v. County of Kauai

Published on Jun 16, 2016

The County of Kauai and others appeal the district court's order entered in favor of Syngenta Seeds, Inc. and others in an action challenging Kauai's County Ordinance 960 which regulates pesticides and genetically modified organism crops.




 

Mayor Tam officially opens Honolulu’s new elevated ice skating rink


by Larry Geller

Skating rinkAPRIL 1, 2018 (HONOLULU)—Eager crowds lined up this morning at the turnstiles all along the route of the new Honolulu Elevated Ice Skating Rink awaiting the former rail line’s reincarnated grand opening.

Honolulu Mayor Tam, elected some say on the basis of his suggestion to refrigerate the already frozen Honolulu rail line and turn it into a profitable tourist attraction, officially opened the skating rink as man-made snow sprinkled the assembled guests and press corps.

“This will not only be recognized by Guiness as the world’s longest artificial skating rink, but it will qualify Honolulu to bid on the 2022 Winter Olympics.”

Tam also announced the awarding of concessions to local businesses to rent skates, protective knee pads and helmets to tourists and to daily commuters (with a Kamaaina discount). Other vendors will offer snacks and souvenirs.

The estimate that commuting to town via ice skates would take less time than waiting for a train will be tested for the first time as skaters lined up for an inaugural race from East Kapolei to Middle Street. The winner will be awarded a lifetime supply of shave ice.

When the opening bell sounded, crowds rushed onto the slick surface. Most were first timers who found that ice skating is not as easy as it appears on the TV screen, and casualties were reported within minutes of opening. Mayor Tam indicated that he would prefer to watch rather than step out on the ice.



Thursday, June 16, 2016

 

Based on this Courthouse News article, the Honolulu Zoo should be audited then closed



Among various concerns for the elephants, the  [Association of Zoos and Aquariums] criticized the zoo's limited shade, brackish pools and untested chlorine levels in the pools.

Meanwhile rocks in the yard could hurt the animals' feet and pose problems if the elephants threw them, according to the report.

"Of course the AZA had a major problem with the elephants," [Former chief of the Zoological Society Catherine] Goeggel said. "Lack of water. No enrichment. This barren, sad exhibit."
  
Goeggel noted that "the elephants were recently found playing with a car battery that got in there somehow, or they unearthed."


by Larry Geller

I have not seen a better compendium of reasons for first auditing then shutting down the Honolulu Zoo than this Courthouse News article by Nicholas Fillmore. Please read it.

… Goeggel noted that "several of the keepers at the zoo came from Las Vegas, where the animals do shows."
     "I was watching them put the animals through their paces, and it reminded me of the circus," she said. "They had the animals doing tricks, basically, with use of an 'ankus,' this nasty bull hook they use in the elephants tender spots, in the armpit, behind the ears."
     Goeggel worried that things will get worse if the zoo gets a bull elephant.
     "When they're in musth they're uncontrollable," she said.

[Courthouse News Service, More at Stake Than Money for Honolulu Zoo, 6/16/2016]

Why an audit? The article mentions that only a small part of the funding actually goes to the zoo. If true, all the more reason to shut it down, but the numbers should be established first by a competent and independent audit.

It’s not just the AZA criticism that begs for shutting down this facility. The article concludes with this report:

… the Honolulu Zoo scored poorly as well with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA reports have flagged rusted metal, flaking paint, inaccessible areas and a moldy, wooden nesting box as posing significant dangers to animals.

There’s much in this report that is shocking. After reading it, think if you want to weigh in somehow on this issue. If we the public don’t care, who will care for the animals?



Tuesday, June 14, 2016

 

Democracy Now: The connection between mass killings and domestic violence



ThinkProgress reports that between 2009 and 2012, 40 percent of mass shootings started with a shooter targeting his girlfriend, wife or ex-wife.

Last year alone, nearly a third of mass shooting deaths were related in some way to domestic violence.


by Larry Geller

Related: In Orlando, as Usual, Domestic Violence Was Ignored Red Flag (Rolling Stone, 6/13/2016)

For the final segment of today’s Democracy Now (tonight or tomorrow morning on `Olelo or on the web here) Amy Goodman interviewed journalist Soraya Chemaly, the author of the Rolling Stone article linked above.

[Amy Goodman]: We turn now to this often-overlooked connection between domestic violence and mass shootings. ThinkProgress reports between 2009 and 2012, 40 percent of mass shootings started with a shooter targeting his girlfriend, wife or ex-wife. Just this month in California, a UCLA doctoral student gunned down his professor, prompting a lockdown on campus. But first, Mainak Sarkar allegedly killed his estranged wife in Minnesota, climbing through a window to kill her in her home, and then he drove thousands of miles to California and killed his professor. Last year alone, nearly a third of mass shooting deaths were related in some way to domestic violence. And the majority of mass shootings in this country actually take place inside the home. Just this past weekend, as national attention was fixed to the massacre in Orlando, a man in New Mexico allegedly gunned down his wife and their four daughters.

[Democracy Now, When It Comes to Orlando Massacre, Domestic Violence is the Red Flag We Aren't Talking About, 6/14/2016]

Time for a discussion is limited in a short video/radio segment, but there is an implicit call for action. My interpretation: police departments should spend less time spying on mosques and Muslim communities and more time refining their response to domestic violence incidents.

Unfortunately, as the interview mentions, police intervention is not an option for many abused spouses. This subject deserves far more attention no matter where we live. One last snip from the Democracy Now interview transcript:

Soraya Chemaly]: … With domestic violence, we tend to think still that it’s private, very often separated from the way we think about public violence or terrorism. And if we consider, however, the connection between institutionalized and state-sanctioned violence—and in this instance, I’m actually explicitly talking about extremely high levels of domestic violence in our policing communities; some estimates of self-reported domestic violence put that number at about 40 percent of policing communities—you begin to see the overlap between private behavior and public behavior, and then the implications in terms of state action or inaction. For many people who are suffering from domestic violence, going to the police is simply not an option, either for matters of their community and race or gender and sexual identity, but also simply because they feel that they don’t have faith that when they go to the police, that as an institution it will be supportive. And so, until we better address domestic violence in policing communities itself, it’s very difficult to say that the police are an active resource in these situations. They understand the violence, for sure. But the question is: How do they respond to it?

Police are under scrutiny as protests continue across the country against police violence, even if our local newspaper fails to report on it. Is this mention of domestic violence in “40 percent of policing communities” part of a larger and more pervasive issue that cries out for reform?

This is an important program, but it also calls for a community response and a focus on recognizing and remedying domestic violence.



Monday, June 13, 2016

 

Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: Japan Right Now–And the USA



Except for a dark shadow, all is normal in the land of Japan.



Japan Right Now–And the USA

13 June 2016

Nº 432 | Johan Galtung, 13 Jun 2016 - TRANSCEND Media Service

Except for a dark shadow, all is normal in the land of Japan.

The local levels function very well with diligent Japanese working together to lift them up.  Except for those with nuclear power plants, particularly one of them, on the coast, hit by a tsunami.  Except too for rural communities laid waste, people aging, leaving, empty villages, hit by having to import rice instead of cultivating it.

Ride the trains, walk the streets with the Japanese; as brisk and busy as ever.  A little older, more canes, fewer bicycles, more cars, better streets and roads, cars run faster.  In addition, a little fatter, sharing aging and putting on weight with developed societies all over.

Missing are older ladies on bikes navigating the narrow streets with elegance, skirting pedestrians by a centimeter or two–bikes ride on sidewalks in Japan not on the streets–heads high, unperturbed.

Not missing are school classes of lovely children following the teacher with a flag–the small girls being as sweet as anywhere in the world or more so.  Judging by their faces the future looks bright.

Tokyo has modernized almost to the extreme. From a concoction of villages with scattered houses of all shapes and colors to a megalopolis of skyscrapers.  Totally void of any charm, but mega-modern.  We all pray they can stand an earthquake or two.  There was a small one during the night; maybe just informing us all that “we are still here”.

Restaurants are filled to the brim, food as delicious as ever.  Plus a more recent phenomenon: tables just for women, or having the room that evening, joking, laughing, self-assertive, accompanied by no males.  Next, tables only for children; accompanied by no parents?

Ancient Japan shows up as temples and shrines and gardens, as beautiful, as spiritual as ever.  It is all there, to our delight.

But under the shadow of the relation to the USA, occupied for 70 years, a colony, micro-managed in the smallest detail and spied upon.

The leading author and politician, governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, caused a major stir in 1989 with his book, The Japan That Can Say No.  But very few say no.  They do not say yes either, they may prefer not to know.  Or deep down to suffer from a servility that may one day explode in a burst of anger and violent revolt.  How come?

One interpretation: the USA-Japan war from 7 December 1941 Pearl Harbor till the Instrument of Surrender 2 September 1945 ended with not only military but spiritual defeat. After the Meiji Restoration Japan had constructed a state Shintoism using Western Christian models with a divinity, the Sun Goddess, bestowing divinity on her offspring, the emperors.  However, she was defeated by a Western rex gratia dei–emperors, presidents, PMs by the grace of God. Defeated by FDR-Truman by the grace of a US God that proved stronger than Amaterasu-o-mikami. That God resided in Washington DC, USA.  The theory explains not only the submission, but also the strong desire to learn and internalize things American; to be one with those higher and victorious forces.

Another interpretation is more geo-political, realist.  It would pick up how USA-FDR decided long before Pearl Harbor to defeat Japan, having watched Japan imposing itself on the Ching dynasty 1894-1905, Russia 1904-05, then growing economically and expanding territorially; very far from just being “opened up” by a Perry to trade with USA. This is the story of provocations, preparations for war and more importantly for occupation of Japan, showing how some were warned and some not–like the commander of the fleet in Pearl Harbor who was sacrificed with a fleet with the youngest ship being 27 years old and no aircraft carrier–to prove to the world that Japan had attacked.

The two theories do not exclude each other; in fact, they support each other.  At the level of geo-politics, Japan fell into the well-prepared trap, was not only defeated but also genocided; at the spiritual level Japan underwent a conversion that made the defeat acceptable.

More than that, maybe even desirable.  If the USA is really as so many Americans believe a chosen people directly under God, superior to Japan as proved by the war contest, by how that war came about, submission, even servility, under such power follows.  Moreover, if USA is threatened by Satan’s forces–as it looks right now–it becomes not only a duty but also an honor to be called upon to share the burdens as “collective self-defense”, shoulder to shoulder, around the world.

The USA has become a Patron, a Lord, Japan a dependent vassal.

As such, the USA has not only the right but also the duty to impose itself on Japan, including micro-managing and spying.  By doing so on Japan, not a small power itself by any means, USA confirms its divine status–the Americans call it “exceptionalism”–and Japan’s closeness to Higher Forces.   Like Archangel Gabriel, who carries out the Father’s will–or like the Son called upon to “judge the living and the dead”?  Under, yes, but to be under the Highest does not mean to be low.

To reduce USA to a geo-political power-greedy state reduces Japan  not only to a defeated outcast in this world, but to a Japan so stupid as to have fallen into the Pearl Harbor trap, and on top of that to be duped into de facto colonization and accepting it.  There will be very strong forces of denial from the top of the major ministries (finance-foreign-defense), themselves conveyors of the US demands on Japan and the vehicles of their realization.  A hard battle due to come.

However, demystification of USA-Japan relations is bound to come.  But only from the source acceptable to “The Japan that Says Yes” (yes-yes-yes-yes–): from the USA itself.  From a USA losing one war after the other since Korea 1953, a USA of war fatigue, for whatever reason.  To a Japan deeply worried about Trump not only for pulling troops out leaving Self-defense to Japan itSelf, but for becoming Great alone, not bestowing indirect greatness on others.  Making Japan ordinary.

We will see.  Probably quite soon.  And hopefully nonviolently.

______________________________________

Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment and rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He has published 164 books on peace and related issues, of which 41 have been translated into 35 languages, for a total of 135 book translations, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2016

 

Civil Beat goes non-profit


by Larry Geller

This isn’t disappeared news—by 7 a.m. this morning at least four email announcements appeared in my inbox. You probably received some as well. No? How come?

Read: Civil Beat: Finding Our Place In Hawaii’s Media Landscape (Civil Beat, 6/8/2016)

Civil Beat has applied to become a 501(c)3 non-profit and will be accepting donations to keep running. What does this mean? It’s time for congratulations, but also for some concern.

Suppose they don’t take in enough to cover operating expenses? This is a problem plaguing many Hawaii non-profits. It’s a new ballgame for Civil Beat.

Will Pierre Omidyar continue his support? Omidyar is also the driving force behind The Intercept. Will he be shifting his attention more to that platform?

We shall see. Also, we’ll be able to see their 990 form eventually to learn how they’re doing.

My concern is only that Civil Beat continue and prosper. We badly need the kind of journalism they have exemplified over the past six years.

Good luck, Civil Beat!


Update: in my original post I forgot to mention that the Civil Beat paywall has been taken down. Fantastic. I hate paywalls. But on the other hand, I hope the revenue that subscriptions brought in will be replaced.

Going non-profit may be risky in a town where the cost of living is so high and income so low…  there is not much left for many families to donate to the best of causes. So my fingers are crossed hoping it works out—for them and for all of us who need the quality journalism that democracy depends upon.



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