Monday, November 23, 2015


Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: Violence In and By Paris: Any Way Out?


Violence In and By Paris: Any Way Out?

Johan Galtung, 23 Nov 2015 - TRANSCEND Media Service

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

The atrocity in Paris seems to trigger the word “terrorism” with a higher frequency than ever, in the media, from the politicians. Doing so, they sign their intellectual capitulation: trust me, I am not going to try to understand anything. Watching politicians on 56 US TV channels in Georgia there was not a single word analyzing why?; like underlying conflicts and traumas. Nor conciliation and solution. Only a description of what?, the horrible violence. And what to do: more violence, war. With a question mark though: Will it work?

The whole Western world was living up to the old French saying    Cet animal est très méchant, quand on le bat, il se defend. (That animal is very vicious, when you beat it, it defends itself). Look at centuries of French/Arab-Muslim relations and find one-way beating, killing, conquest, colonialism, exploitation, France using them in wars against Turkey and against Germany promising freedom and breaking their promises, raw post-colonial colonialism, no respect for their wishes to be the masters in their own house, like now in Mali.

Using them for menial jobs in France, if they speak French. At the bottom of society, shocked when the French school system treats them equally and they climb upwards, like African-Americans when they gained access to the US school system. And eventually to US society, after a century of Jim Crow and the civil rights movement.

France is now in that phase. Do not assume that 350 million Arabs-1,650 million Muslims will take more beating hands down. Read the most belligerent of national anthems, the horrible Marseillaise, admonishing the French to hate foreign intruders “coming into our midst to cut the throats of (y)our sons and consorts–March, march, let impure blood water our furrows”. Watch the French elite of “énarques”, difficult to match in patriotic self-righteousness.

And you get a France with a president declaring war.

Treat what happened as a war and for sure you get one. With the polarization in the term “terrorism”: you are evil with a project of more evil, to talk with you is useless; crush, beat, eliminate.

And with escalation, in, and by, Paris. But watch out: there is not only destructive power, D, involved, with France having more than the other sides. There is also vulnerability, V, with France, USA etc. being many times more vulnerable. Multiply the D of one side by the V of the other sides (in plural): who is stronger? Meaning: the more destructive power one side has and the more vulnerable the other–the stronger the former.

The other side shouts “Allah is Great”, making individuals small, those they kill, and those who kill themselves with suicide vests. But so does la grande France, calling the citizens “to war, to form their battalions” against those who “would make laws in our courts”. Not so easy to find verses in the Qur’an fully matching the Marseillaise.

Any way out? On 28 October, before Paris, Tony Blair apologized for the 2003 Iraq invasion he repeatedly had said he would do again.

Why, how did it happen? Maybe his left arm was twisted by his successor as leader of the Labour Party, and his right arm by the UK prime minister, Cameron. Why? Because they feared Paris in London, and swallowed the bitter pill of apologizing for a stupid and criminal war in Iraq thousands of times more atrocious than Paris.

Could Hollande (be twisted to) do the same? Maybe not. But there might be a way out more palatable to French self-righteousness: an international commission acceptable to all sides to assess the relation, past, present and future–de-polarizing and de-escalating while waiting for its conclusions (which might take some time).

In law an illegal act is detached from its context, including history; in reality the context matters more and finds its willing executioners. Kill one, Belgian or not, related to ISIS or not, and the shadows of history will mobilize and hide dozens of others.

The problem is not to explain what happened, but why not earlier.

And that goes also for 9-11 in New York-Washington, for 07-07 in London, for 11M in Madrid. Millions had been victims of aggression by those present or former big powers. Why did they not “blow back” as CIA calls the “unintended consequences” of their unbelievably long list of aggressions? Could it be because they are less violent than the West, that frustration has to accumulate for a longer time and be at the level of Western state terrorism exceeding the needle-pricks of terrorism 99:1? And that the West, stupidly, assumed that their violence has had a preventive, pre-emptive, effect, that “it works”?

And then that whole badly constructed intellectual edifice collapses because non-Western victims have reached the tipping point, cannot take it any longer, and fall down on the violent side. And the West counts its victims–publishes their names and the perpetrators’ while keeping both anonymous when the West does the killing–stupidly concludes that what is needed is not less, but more violence. For individual and general prevention to work.

I have a dream. Like an American from Atlanta, Georgia, MLK Jr.

Imagine West and Islam focusing not on the worst, like Western violence for prevention and Islamic for retribution, but on the best. Like the capacity for innovation and freedom in the West, togetherness and sharing in Islam. Imagine them dialoguing publicly at a high level “how can we learn from each other”? How to get more diversity into Islam, more freedom for different interpretations? How to bring more togetherness into the West to overcome loneliness, and more sharing–of wealth, knowledge, any resource–to overcome inequality–both anomalies being rampant? How can we reconcile the Islamic utopia of a world ummah, the community of the believers, dotted with countless local authorities based on the mosque and the shariah court, with the Western utopia of a world government, dominated by the West?

Morale: start working. Do not waste time on stupid violence-war.


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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Friday, November 20, 2015


MintPress News: Migrant Crisis & Syria War Fueled By Competing Gas Pipelines

This article by Mnar Muhawesh in MintPress News cannot really be snipped. It is so much more than a short excerpt can convey. Read it at the link below. Besides, you’ll want to see how the statements in the snip are supported. It is exceptionally well written.

So, let’s get one thing straight: This is not about religion. It might be convenient to say that Arabs or Muslims kill each other, and it’s easy to frame these conflicts as sectarian to paint the region and its people as barbaric. But this Orientalist, overly simplistic view of conflict in the Middle East dehumanizes the victims of these wars to justify direct and indirect military action.

If the truth was presented to the public from the perspective that these wars are about economic interests, most people would not support any covert funding and arming of rebels or direct intervention. In fact, the majority of the public would protest against war. But when something is presented to the public as a matter of good versus evil, we are naturally inclined to side with the “good” and justify war to fight off the supposed “evil.”

The political rhetoric has been carefully crafted to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable. Ultimately, no matter the agendas, the alliances or instability brought on by foreign meddling, the calls for freedom, democracy and equality that erupted in 2011 were real then and they’re real today. And let’s not forget that the lack of freedom, democracy and equality have been brought on more by foreign meddling to prop up brutal dictators and arm terror groups than by self-determination.

[MintPress News, Migrant Crisis & Syria War Fueled By Competing Gas Pipelines, 9/9/2015 and updated]


Military Intervention Is the Problem, Not the Solution

cc-logoThe article below is reproduced without change under a "Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives Work" license.

Military Intervention Is the Problem, Not the Solution

The Islamic State's latest atrocities are a calculated effort to bring the war in Syria home to the countries participating in it.

By Peter Certo

A café. A stadium. A concert hall. One of the most horrifying things about the murderous attacks in Paris was the terrorists’ choice of targets.

They chose gathering places where people’s minds wander furthest from unhappy thoughts like war. And they struck on a Friday night, when many westerners take psychic refuge from the troubles of the working week.

The message was simple: Wherever you are, this war will find you.

The same could be said for the 43 Lebanese civilians murdered only the day before, when a bomb exploded in a crowded marketplace in Beirut. Or for the 224 vacationers who died when their Russian airliner blew up over Egypt a few weeks earlier.

The Islamic State, or ISIS, claimed responsibility for each of these atrocities. But that’s not the only thing they have in common. In fact, all of them occurred in countries whose governments — or, in Lebanon’s case, a powerful militia — have gotten involved in Syria.

Russia started bombing ISIS targets and other Syrian rebels last month. Hundreds of Lebanese Hezbollah fighters have fought and died defending the Syrian regime. And France was the first country to join the Obama administration’s war on ISIS last year.

Indeed, scarcely a month before ISIS attacked the French capital, French planes were bombing the Islamic State’s capital in Raqqa, Syria — dropping bombs that “did not help them at all in the streets of Paris,” as a grim communiqué from the terrorist group gloated afterward.

These horrific attacks on civilians are part of a calculated effort to bring the war in Syria home to the other countries participating in it. And our bill could come due next.

Washington’s funneling millions of dollars’ worth of weapons to its proxies in Syria. It’s dispatching special forces to “advise” an array of the Islamic State’s enemies. And in an air war totally unauthorized by Congress, U.S. warplanes have launched thousands of strikes on alleged ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria since 2014.

But you can’t simply bomb extremism out of existence. And as governments from Moscow to Paris to Beirut are learning, you put your own people’s lives on the line when you try.

Military intervention has succeeded mightily in breaking things and killing people, but it’s done nothing to wind down the greatest factor fueling the rise of ISIS: Syria’s wider civil war. An international arms embargo and a deal between the Syrian regime and other rebel groups — jobs for diplomats, not drones — would go much further toward curtailing the threat of ISIS.

Yet France has responded to the carnage in Paris by pounding Raqqa with yet more air strikesreportedly bombing medical clinics, a museum, and a stadium of its own, among other targets.

Leading U.S. presidential candidates aren’t proposing anything smarter.

Hillary Clinton declared that ISIS “must be destroyed” with “all of the tools at our disposal.” Ted Cruz called for “overwhelming air power” and condemned the Obama administration for having insufficient “tolerance for civilian casualties.” Ben Carson called for “boots on the ground,” while Donald Trump swore he’d “bomb the s— out of” ISIS-controlled oil fields and hand them over to ExxonMobil.

Virtually all GOP contenders, along with a gaggle of Republican governors, agreed that they’d close the door to Syrian refugees, too — as though they can evade the consequences of war by making life more miserable for the innocent people fleeing it.

None of this bravado makes me feel safer here in Washington, where ISIS threatened more Paris-style bloodshed in a recent video. When I imagine those cold-blooded killers running roughshod through the bars, restaurants, and concert halls my neighbors and I frequent, my stomach drops.

But that’s the lesson, isn’t it: When your government answers every problem in the world with military force, war begets war. And eventually there’s nowhere left to hide from it.

Peter Certo is the editor of Foreign Policy In Focus and the deputy editor of OtherWords, a non-profit editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies.
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Thursday, November 19, 2015


Federal court order may effectively stop homeless sweeps in Honolulu at least temporarily

During sweeps of Kaka'ako homeless persons, the City seized and disposed of over 134,000 pounds of property while storing for retrieval only 8 small containers of property. The City has admitted that it has allocated only about 1,000 square feet of space to store all property taken under the Ordinances – clearly insufficient for the personal possessions of the hundreds of persons and families displaced by sweeps.—from ACLU press release 11/19/2015

by Larry Geller

City's container for colostomy bags[5]_thumbThe garbage trucks were ubiquitous at every sweep. At Thomas Square, the City even brought front-loaders which it parked on the sidewalk near the tents, ready to scoop up personal belongings and dump them into the compactor to be destroyed.

Yet in the case brought against the City by ACLU and Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing, the City lied and testified that it did not destroy personal property. See: ACLU files new motion to stop Honolulu’s illegal destruction of property during sweeps of homeless camps (11/4/2015).

front loader

Today the ACLU announced that a settlement resulting in a court order had been reached. The order is attached below, or you can download a copy of the pdf file.

City will likely have to halt sweeps because of lack of storage capability

The court order does not prohibit the City from performing sweeps, but it will seriously cramp their style because they have insufficient place to store the personal property of anything beyond a small-scale sweep.

It’s one thing to throw tents and other property into garbage trucks and cart it away and another to provide storage space and make it possible for people to easily retrieve their property. As the City applied its ordinances, even the little property that it did store ended up disposed of because of the near-impossibility of retrieval. See the snip of the court order for a partial list of property that the City must now store—which, I must add, it should have been storing all along—countless people have been severely impacted by the City’s illegal destruction of their property.

So until the City provides storage space and implements a streamlined procedure for reclaiming property, most likely it cannot continue its sweeps.

If the City violates the court order, it could be held in contempt of court.

From the ACLU press release:

Kristin Holland, Of Counsel with Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing said: “We are glad that this agreement will require the City to follow the law while the case moves forward and as Hawaii’s lawmakers find ways to meaningfully address the crisis of homelessness. This case is not about people's ‘right’ to live on sidewalks and no one is seeking to force the City to store trash or hazardous goods – there is no such right or obligation. It is about illegally taking and destroying personal possessions, the constitutional right of everyone to reclaim property seized by the government, and the right to challenge that seizure. These rights apply to everyone equally, rich or poor.”

Here’s a snip from the court order. To read more, view or download the document below.

Except as set forth below, Defendant City and County of Honolulu and anyone acting on its behalf (“City”) shall not immediately dispose of any property that would constitute a “sidewalk-nuisance” pursuant to the Sidewalk Nuisance Ordinance (“SNO”), Revised Ordinances of Honolulu (“ROH”) Section 29-16.2, or that would constitute “Personal Property” pursuant to the Stored Property Ordinance (“SPO”), ROH Section 29-19.2. The property to which this stipulation applies includes, but is not limited to, tents, tarps, children's toys, suitcases, laundry baskets, shelves/crates, backpacks, baby strollers/cribs, air compressors, recreational items like surfboards, bicycles, clothing, bedding, coolers, household goods, and furniture. Any property that is impounded must be stored for no less than 30 days pursuant to the SNO or SPO.


Download 20151116 Martin v. City and County of Honolulu - Order from Disappeared News


Compassion deficit in Hawaii’s state legislature

We reject the idea that constantly having one’s few belongings taken has anything to do with compassion.—
Civil Beat editorial 11/19/2015

by Larry Geller

JordanState Rep. Jo Jordan, whose district includes Waianae, has her eye on the site for a project that she says would have “educational components.” But she won’t give further details or say whose project it is. Meanwhile, though, she’d like to find ways to get the residents of The Harbor to leave of their own accord.

“I truly think that compassionate disruption is a good tool,” Jordan said. “If we continue to do the compassionate disruption, maybe something would trigger in the individual to say ‘I’m tired of moving, I’m tired of losing all my personal belongings constantly.’”

[Civil Beat, The People Of The Harbor Deserve A Dignified Way Forward, 11/19/2015]

See Civil Beat’s website for more on The Harbor and what it is that Rep. Jordan wants to destroy.

There is some talk about setting up temporary camps, temporary shelters, or even trailer camps to accommodate some of Honolulu’s rapidly growing homeless population. So here you have a community that has already taken steps to provide some quality shelter for themselves and are apparently maintaining their environment in good condition. This is not a tent city such as was set up in Kakaako by people desperate to escape Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s perverse application of “compassion.”

Caldwell’s (and apparently Jordan’s) version of “compassion” may soon be debated before a federal judge. The lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Hawaii and Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing is just completing a series of status conferences that will determine when their motion for a restraining order against the City’s confiscation of personal property will be heard. The judge will decide on constitutional grounds, of course, but as to the morality of “compassionate disruption,” you can be the judge.

So State Representative Jo Jordan wants to trash the personal belongings of the families living in an ad hoc community called The Harbor and clear them out, to who knows where, for a purpose she won’t state. She just wants them disrupted.

First of all, she will be working against state policy which is designed, if you can call it that, to reduce the number of unsheltered homeless. I’m not sure if The Harbor counts as “sheltered” homeless or not, but kicking the residents out of their dwellings and onto the street somewhere seems wrong every which way.

Here is where I think it’s appropriate to invoke a moral argument as well. Civil Beat’s editors might be reluctant to frame it this way, but I have no trouble describing Jordan’s proposal to seize these family’s property and dump them onto sidewalks somewhere as immoral as I understand the concept.

Although morality doesn’t depend on a religious-based argument, religion of course has had much to say on the subject of compassion. Here is a recent tweet reacting to Republican state governors refusing to admit Syrian refugees that would apply as well to those perpetrating “compassionate disruption” in Honolulu. So far at least 4,700 people retweeted it and 5,300 people “liked” it:


Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Don’t miss this November 23 Program: Henry Curtis: "Should HECO be converted into electric cooperatives?"



Download the latest Kokua Council newsletter
here (pdf).
Get your copy today.


Monday, November 23, 2015

11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Miyama Main Hall, Harris United Methodist Church
Nuuanu Ave. and South Vineyard Blvd.
Ample parking - driveway off Nuuanu Ave.


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

11:55 Welcome, Introductions and Remarks

12:00 Program: Henry Curtis: "Should HECO be converted into electric cooperatives?"

Henry Curtis is Executive Director & Vice President at Life of the Land Hawaii, a Hawaiibased, Hawaii-focused environmental and community action group founded in 1970. Website:

1:00 Adjourn

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Hawaii pay attention: ISIS is targeting tourism

Now, they move to the second stage, which is to take revenge. And that’s why we see this eight people, eight people, a very organized cell, to attack six positions, six places in Paris in the same time, the same night. It means they are lethal, they are dangerous. And this kind—these attacks is one of four attacks which took place by the Islamic State. The first thing was in Tunisia in a resort, where about 40 people were killed. And then, you know, this—the downing of the Russian tourism aircraft—224 people were killed—to destroy the tourism industry in Egypt and in Tunisia. Now they are attacking the tourism or the jewel of the crown of Europe, which is Paris, where $70 billion, actually, the revenue of the tourism industry for France. So they know what they are doing.--Middle East journalist Abdel Bari Atwan in Democracy Now interview

by Larry Geller

RefugeesGovernor Ige, agreeing with other Democratic state governors, announced that Hawaii would welcome Syrian refugees.

If there is a threat to Hawaii, it is not from refugees fleeing oppression.

Which is not to say that there is no threat.

The Republican governors’ statements that they refuse to settle refugees are largely grandstanding for their base anyway, since the federal government controls immigration and immigration policy. The worst they could do would be to withhold benefits at least until the courts catch up to them.

The refugees are fleeing the same tyranny and terror that has played out most recently in the horrific Paris attacks. Refugees are not the problem, they are victims. At a deeper level, the US bears considerable responsibility for the present state of affairs in the Mid East. So Ige’s statement is both fair and compassionate.

ISIS changing strategy toward revenge is the threat

Today’s edition of Democracy Now is well worth watching. See the video or read the transcript here.

The segment, after the headlines is the first of a two-part interview with Middle East journalist Abdel Bari Atwan that explains a great deal about ISIS and their current strength and strategies—an explanation that does not appear in the mainstream media. For one thing, the MSM seems not to want to admit that ISIS is in fact a state, with an army, police, borders, oil sales, etc. To describe them as an al-Qaeda on steroids is to mislead readers.

If the observations in the interview are correct, ISIS has moved to a strategy of targeting tourism in the West. If there is a threat to Hawaii from ISIS it could be because our economy is so heavily based on tourism that we might be in terrorists’ crosshairs.

Today’s segment is important—please click over to view it. I’ll close with just one snip, to illustrate the description of ISIS that can rarely be found elsewhere:

And you cannot actually avoid—you don’t defeat it by saying, "It is Daesh, it is not Islamic State." It is Islamic, and it is a state. When I say Islamic, they are adopting the worst interpretation of Islam, Wahhabism, which was originated in Najd in Saudi Arabia. And it is, you know, a state, because it has all the terminology, all actually the description of a state. They have an army, they have a police, they have an administration, they have a cabinet, they have their own currency, they have their own flag. They have 9 million or 10 million carrying their citizenship, whatever. They have their own border until now. And they are dealing with the neighboring countries. They are selling oil to Kurdistan, north of Iraq. They are selling oil to Turkey. They are selling oil even to Europe. So, people would say, "No, no, they are not a state." OK, good luck to you. But it is a state, and it is Islamic, whether we like it or not. You know, this is not a good beginning, actually. If you want to understand this state or this phenomena, this terrorist organization, this is not a good beginning. We have, actually, to be truthful. We have to be truthful to ourselves. We have to understand this phenomena, terrorism—…—terrorist phenomena.

Let me add that it would pay for us here in Hawaii to understand their strategy, because our entire economy may depend on it.

Update: for those still critical of Gov. Ige’s welcoming of Syrian refugees, Gene Park observed in a tweet:

Waikiki wall

“Hey Hawaii, it's easier for a terrorist to enter as a tourist than as a refugee. But I don't hear any calls to close up Waikiki.”

Monday, November 16, 2015


Dillingham power lines are and were a known obstacle that Rail would have to deal with

The decision [on a rail route] capped a wild week of political maneuvering as supporters of other paths scrambled for votes, and angry constituents bombarded council members with phone calls and e-mails.

by Larry Geller

Should it really be a surprise that putting an elevated train through Dillingham Boulevard is going to be a huge problem and expense?

Here’s an image that I posted in 2008:


Dillingham Boulevard itself isn’t very wide. When the route was chosen (more on that below) it certainly was known to everyone that the various high- and low-voltage lines and poles as well as the telephone wires and all the rest would have to be dealt with. The costs should have been figured in and plans made to complete the work.

20151116 SASo this morning’s front-page story and huge, space-eating picture should not have been necessary. Nor should a headline be needed reporting that “Power lines could snarl rail work.”

In an alternate universe (that is, any other universe but ours) either this would have been accounted for or a different route chosen.

So how was Dillingham Boulevard chosen, anyway?

Not to suggest that there is no sense to the route, but at the same time, remember that the chosen rail route was not a result of citizens getting together to plan their urban environment, part of which would be choosing preferred transit routes and modes. No, none of that happened. Instead, the route was a political choice, made by politicians whose campaigns, we should have known, were funded by development interests. See the recent story, Culture of corruption deeply entrenched in Honolulu City Council (10/27/2015) for how it works.

Here’s a better illustration, from a 2007 newspaper story. Note that urban planning had nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with how decisions were made:

Voting in favor of the route last week and yesterday were Cachola and council members Todd Apo, Nestor Garcia, Gary Okino and Rod Tam.

Voting in opposition were Donovan Dela Cruz, Charles Djou, Ann Kobayashi and Chairwoman Barbara Marshall.

The decision capped a wild week of political maneuvering as supporters of other paths scrambled for votes, and angry constituents bombarded council members with phone calls and e-mails.

Apo had tried to steer the route back to Hannemann's original proposal of going past the airport by tacking on promises that later links to Salt Lake and UH-Manoa would be top priorities.

Djou, Garcia and Tam joined him yesterday. But the vote fell short when Okino, who had come up with the Salt Lake compromise last week, refused to abandon that route.

Doing so would have stabbed Cachola in the back, and someone else would then almost certainly have switched his or her vote to kill the route anyway, Okino said.

"Obviously, the airport is the better route, but this is political reality," Okino said. "I think we got the best of what we could have gotten."

Cachola said he was "ecstatic" that the Salt Lake route had held up despite the attempts to alter it.

"I'm on cloud nine," Cachola said. "Salt Lake is the best route, for the greater good."

He said an airport link should be built only if the system is later extended into Waikiki.

[Honolulu Advertiser, Vote clears way for initial transit work, 2/28/2007]

An even better illustration of the universe we inhabit in Honolulu is this snip, in which a train stop in flooded Mapunapuna is pushed by Romy Cachola, unabashedly acting in favor of development interests:

Transit stop sought for Mapunapuna

Landowner says rail stop there could spur redevelopment in area
A train station could help redevelop the area for increased industrial, commercial and residential use, according to Reit Management & Research, which manages 150 acres of Mapunapuna land for Massachusetts-based HRPT Properties Trust. [Honolulu Advertiser, 5/14/2008]

At least this article is honest about the push for development. Doesn't "REIT" usually mean "Real Estate Investment Trust?"

I wrote at the time:

As it is now, we, the people, are paying taxes for a transit system that is being built to satisfy the interests of developers. Yup, we pay the excise tax, they profit from it.

Is it fair that we pay Mufi's train tax in the supermarket so that a Massachusetts investment firm can make a big profit from our transit system??

Only the public is repeatedly surprised

I wrote in a 2008 article that voters, that is, citizens of Honolulu, have been completely left out of transit planning:

This is what happens when developers and development are the prime movers for a public works project. Yes, what we have is not "Transit Oriented Development." It is more accurately "Development Oriented Transit."

There will certainly be more surprises (for the public) down the road. HART and the city administration will not be surprised—their challenge is to push the project forward when the obstacles that they already know about come to be revealed. Yes, they knew about the Dillingham Blvd. wires. And they know how bollixed up traffic will be in the whole area when they get started with their construction there. Dillingham Blvd. is not very wide. In any case, the wires need to be dealt with, and there is also a HECO substation there, a wiring nightmare.

One of the coming surprises may be that there will not necessarily be a boom in truly affordable housing as a result of fictional “transit oriented development.” It could happen, but left to themselves, developers (and their handmaidens on the City Council) will choose the most profitable use of the land.

As usual, I would love to be proven wrong.

Friday, November 13, 2015


Reporter defends Iowa as a smart state, but ranks Hawaii as the dumbest

Iowa is the eighth-smartest state, behind, in order: Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Kansas and Vermont. Donald Trump's home state of New York came in 17th. The bottom five states were Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Nevada and, in the 50th spot, Hawaii.—one reporter’s ranking of state “smartness”

by Larry Geller

Ouch. That hurt. Who wants to learn that the state they live in is the least smartest state in the country?? It must be really tough to be the least smart kid in a class, or on a team that just never can win. What do you do??

It’s fair to question the reporter’s methodology in this Washington Post story written to challenge Donald Trump’s remarks about Iowa. On the other hand, Hawaii became collateral damage as he ranked the states according to his own measures, which were:

  1. IQ, as estimated by Virginia Commonwealth's Michael McDaniel in 2006
  2. 2015 SAT scores, compiled by The Post
  3. 2015 ACT scores, via the company that administers the tests
  4. The percentage of college graduates in the state, compiled by the Census Bureau

[Washington Post, Actually, Mr. Trump, Iowa is one of the smartest states in the union, 11/13/2015]

Without validating the reporter’s conclusions, this could explain much. Honolulu’s rail plans, for example.

On the other hand, I want to say up front that we are also among the smartest of states. Since 1974 we have had our Prepaid Health Care Act, providing healthcare to the maximum number of our people, at a time when Obamacare wasn’t even a gleam in Romney’s eye. The PPHCA was the first in the nation to set minimum standards of health care benefits for workers.

We are smart enough to be one of only two states that refuse to legalize gambling (though keep an eye on some of our dumb legislators this session who plan to introduce gambling bills…).

But still …

Covering prime farmland and increasing the number of cars on already jammed highways, is not smart.

Maybe we are kind of dumb. Not you, dear reader, not you. Discerning readers of Disappeared News are all ckearly above average.

Just ponder the implications of the Washington Post article. How does one react to being included in a “lowest” ranking? Ask schoolkids to try harder? Find a coach to fire? Wait—we keep doing that and end up looking really dumb.

The local news these days is full of so much that might support the reporter’s inadvertent case against our collective state intelligence.

Like, sweeping homeless encampments instead of building places for people to live. Not smart.

Like, giving up federal money (free money!) when our budget is so tight, simply because we don’t know how to spend it. Even state officials admit we are too dumb to spend free money and could lose many millions of it. No, they didn’t put it exactly that way, but close enough. We’d be stupid to let that happen. Are we going to let that happen??

As to rail, our City government doesn’t seem competent to either pick the best system for Honolulu or to build it within our ability to pay.

Think: had they chosen a system that would start in Waianae and branch off to the University of Hawaii and Waikiki, people could actually get from where they live to where they work or study. And retail would flourish along Farrington Highway, making it less necessary to come into town for many. The system they are building is so expensive it will never go there.

Honolulu’s “urban planning” and its transit plan in particular do not derive from citizen participation, and we’ve been short of visionary leadership as well. Whatever developer wants to pave over farmland gets the green light to do so. The current dispute over whether rail should proceed is only possible because it is a fight among politicians and ideologues. Before this phase of the battle, the City Council wavered over the route (Salt Lake, Nimitz, Dillingham, etc.) based on the whim of city councilmen, not as a result of careful and inclusive urban planning. Pure politics. Little common sense.

If someone living out west in Waianae needs to get to a job in downtown Honolulu or in Waikiki, they’re stuck, the train will never go there. Nor will retail and small business spring up along a transit right-of-way, because no transit is planned for them. It’s the ‘60s thinking—get into a car. This has not worked for some time, and as noted by Honolulu’s designation as the worst traffic-congested city in the country, there’s no relief in sight. More development over previous farmland simply means more cars. You’d think we’d learn.

[Portland: A city that didn’t build a single, short elevated train line—and prospered, 5/28/2012] [includes video]

Well, look: We believe our government leaders should be self-selected from the general population. We don’t require IQ tests to qualify for elected office. This would apply anywhere in the country, of course. At the same time, no IQ test is required to vote. So we really can’t blame those we put in office when we’re responsible.

So while I bristle at the Washington Post ranking of Hawaii as the least smart state, I wonder if it might explain some things, sad to say.

Thursday, November 05, 2015


Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s “compassionate disruption” revealed to be illegal and cruel abuse of the most vulnerable

by Larry Geller

The ACLU motion for a temporary restraining order against the City has documented for the court what this and other on-line sources have long reported: Honolulu’s actions against its homeless citizens amount to cruel exploitation rather than “compassionate disruption,” Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s favorite euphemism for his administration’s vendetta against those forced to live on the streets.

The motion is specifically aimed at halting the wanton seizure and destruction of personal property including ID and medicines.

One witness described, in her deposition, the nighttime terror raids staged against sleeping homeless people as City workers, along with the Night terror raidHonolulu Police Department, went around “waking people up in the middle of the night, and destroying property they owned.”

The HPD has employed the same “terror tactics” that US special forces were hated for in Iraq and Afghanistan—the dead-of-night raid.

Caldwell cannot say he is unaware of these unconstitutional and malicious night raids—his own appointee, Jun Yang, Executive Director for the Office of Housing, has been caught on video attending night raids. See, for example: On the sidewalk with Jun Yang, Honolulu Office of Housing (7/25/13 raid), posted on YouTube by Doug Matsuoka.

Most raids, day or night, remain undocumented. When police come by at 3 or 4 in the morning with lights, garbage trucks and undoubtedly much noise, the only thing to think about is survival and preserving what one can of essential possessions. There’s no opportunity to find and use a camera while one’s stuff is being carted off.

Compounding Caldwell’s cruelty, city workers often seize possessions without consideration of the danger or damage they are causing. An example from the ACLU document:

For example, the City took bedding, a cart,and a backpack containing heart medication from a 75-year-old man. The City refused to allow him to keep it.

The ACLU argues that the City is violating its own ordinances by destroying, rather than storing, personal property. Again, aside from the evidence presented to the court along with this motion, the City’s actions have been very well documented in articles posted on the Web. For example, what storage did the City provide for medicines, including colostomy bags, during a raid on Piano Park? A garbage truck.

Yes, that’s a garbage truck below, parked on S. King Street during a raid at City's container for colostomy bagsthe spot near “Piano Park” where the colostomy bags were taken. Others reported seizure and destruction of personal possessions including ID and medicines. No due process, just seize and dump.

One possible outcome of a successful decision in federal court is that the City would be enjoined against destroying personal property without due process (of course, a judge could decide something else). If the City cannot destroy personal property as it routinely does now, it would either have to cut back on the raids or greatly expand its capacity for bin storage.

Meanwhile, the main trial will proceed, regardless of the outcome of this motion.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015


ACLU files new motion to stop Honolulu’s illegal destruction of property during sweeps of homeless camps

Mr. Garo was homeless and living in Kakaako during the November 13, 2014 sweep. He was prohibited from taking any papers from inside his tent by a policeman. He had a clean tent taken from him, various forms of identification, and cash. After the City took his identification, Mr. Garo was unable to travel to the Big Island in time to see his ailing father, who died within a week of the sweep.—from ACLU/AHFI motion to federal court re Honolulu sweeps of homeless encampments

by Larry Geller

The federal court denied the ACLU’s initial motion for a temporary restraining order when the City denied plaintiff’s allegations that it destroyed personal property instead of storing it. The ACLU has retrenched and filed a new motion yesterday.

It vigorously gathered evidence, both old and new, and deposed witnesses and state workers. Two media professionals monitored the Kakaako sweeps and produced an abundance of photographic and video evidence that—in my words—show that the City lied to the court.

So with many new arrows in their quiver, the ACLU and Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing have filed a fresh motion for a TRO, a motion to move up a hearing on it, and another to withdraw their prior motion.

We’ve reported here (as have many others) that despite hearing testimony to the City Council, for example, that City workers do not destroy personal property, that it is stored, City Council members chose not to question the City on this as they debated new punitive ordinances. The new ACLU motion and supporting exhibits provide ample evidence that City Council members allowed themselves to be mislead. Let’s see if a judge agrees. Our daily newspaper has also avoided reporting on this contradiction, which must be a deliberate omission.

A full copy of the motion is posted at the end of this article and can be downloaded as well.

Some snips to reveal the City’s treatment of its most vulnerable 

Here’s a snip excerpting the deposition of a former city worker who was forced to destroy personal property at the order of her supervisors:

Q. To this day does this enforcement action make you sad?
A. Yes.
Q. Why?
A. There were quite a bit of children, their toys and stuff, and it just wasn't a good day.
Q. Did you throw kids' toys away?
A. Well, if the supervisor said so, yes.
Q. So do you remember, did you throw kids' toys away?
A. I remember some, yeah.
Q. And what did you think about that?
A. I didn't like it.
Q. Why not?
A. They're children.
Q. You felt like they should be allowed to keep their toys?
A. Yeah.
Q. What did you want to do instead?
A. Wanted to give it to them.
Q. But your supervisor said no?
A. It's his decision, so…

A. They could have gave it to the kids, they could have allowed them to take it.
Q. Were the kids asking to take their toys?
A. They were crying

I imagine Mayor Caldwell would consider this to be just an example of his “compassionate disruption.” But that City worker might not agree. She quit her job:

Ms. Ponte testified extensively about how participating in the sweeps made her feel bad. She testified about how other sweeps included waking people up in the middle of the night, and destroying property they owned.  Feeling bad about participating in these sweeps was a reason why she decided to leave the job. As she put it: "I just couldn't do it anymore."

Videos of nighttime raids have appeared on Disappeared News and other blogs. Now the evidence is before a court of law.

Reading on, it gets worse:

… the City took bedding, a cart, and a backpack containing heart medication from a 75-year-old man.The the City refused to allow him to keep it. She observed the City throwing away bedding, clothing, toys, tarps, and other items. The City threw away items when people were not present (and therefore could not have consented to their destruction). During one sweep conducted at 3:00 a.m., City officials ordered her (and many homeless individuals) not to take any property, but rather to leave the property so that the City could seize all of it.

Clintonesque twisting of language

Ross Sasamura, who has testified to the City Council and in an earlier (de)Occupy Honolulu case, may have a Bill Clinton complex, as evidenced by his deposed statements (a small snip):

Q. Okay. So, is it correct then that in any enforcement action the DFM [Department of Facilities Maintenance] has never destroyed a tent? Is that your testimony?
A. To my knowledge, we don’t destroy tents. We don’t destroy items. And I believe my testimony was that we dispose of certain things.
Q. Oh, I see. So you’re drawing a distinction between the word destroy and dispose of. Is that what’s going on here?
A. That’s been my testimony.

The City’s defense of its prior testimony is, on its face, ridiculous. It is particularly unreasonable given what happens after something is “disposed of.” As Mr. Sasamura testified, when the City disposes of an item in a SNO or SPO sweep, the item is literally incinerated.  Yet, according to the City, that does not constitute “destruction” of the item:

Q. Okay. Would—when a tent is processed and turned into energy, is there anything left of the tent after that happens?
A. There is ash.
Q. Okay. So, taking a tent and turning it into ash, would you agree that that’s—that would constitute destruction of the tent?
A. No I would not.

The City’s other TRO declarant also denied that incinerating something would constitute “destroying” that object:

Q. What would you have to do to destroy an item?
A. What would I consider would be destroying an item? Breaking it apart in anger.
Q. Burning it up, would that be destroying it?
A. No.
Q. No. But when you put something in the refuse truck, that would be disposing of it?
A. Correct.
Q. Anything else other than breaking something apart in anger that would be destroying something?
A. Not in my definition.

As we’ve pointed out, when the handle on a dump truck is pulled, a blade comes down and begins to scoop up and compact the refuse so that it fits into the truck. So actually the destruction begins immediately.

City routinely seized and destroyed ID

Mayor Caldwell’s people demonstrate their “compassion” in strange ways. Citing a UH study conducted in early 2015 (again, a short snip):

The amount of personal property lost during the sweeps can only be described as shocking. Over 50% of those surveyed had lost identification during sweeps. (Id. at 22.) Only 16% of those who had lost identification were able to retrieve it. Nearly half reported that their identifications were thrown away. The individuals surveyed lost other critical items as well: 43% lost clothing during sweeps, and 40% lost tents.

And finally (for this article), the motion took a look at the recent Kakaako sweeps, noting that the City stored only eight bins of property while carting away 52 tons of material. This looks like a clear violation of the city’s own ordinances.

The short motion can be downloaded here. Below is the longer memo in support of the motion.

Download 20151103 ACLU_AHFI_memo in Support of Motion from Disappeared News


Veteran still homeless after breast cancer surgery—can’t anyone help her? (re HPR News report)

by Larry Geller

I heard this news report by HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka last night:

Navy veteran Tina Quizon is homeless and recovering from breast cancer surgery.

O’ahu Social Service Providers say they are on track to end Veterans Homelessness by the end of 2015.   But as HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports, not all eligible veterans are being helped.

This should not be allowed to continue!

Can’t anybody intervene either with the VA or on the Governor’s “leadership team” to show a little leadership in this case?

I want to hear another news clip from HPR reporting that this veteran has a roof over her head while she recovers from surgery and radiation.

Monday, November 02, 2015


Ethics Commission was not making a rule for the teachers

Consideration of whether stipends paid to teachers from non-Department of Education entities are consistent with the State Ethics Code; consideration of staff recommendation to issue guidance to the Department of Education regarding the application of the State Ethics Code to such stipends.—portion of Agenda of the Oct. 29 meeting of the State Ethics Commission

by Larry Geller

What ruleThe October 31, 2015 Star-Advertiser headline is wrong, even if you can figure it out. The story itself is wrong. And it’s unfortunate that readers are led astray—the paper needs to make amends.

There’s no “rule” and none is proposed

As the pull-quote indicates, the purpose of the agenda item for last week’s Ethics Commission meeting was to determine if stipends that teachers are apparently receiving are consistent with the state Ethics Code.

What is the Ethics Code? It is a long-standing state law: Hawaii Revised Statutes, Chapter 84, Standards of Conduct. Hawaii’s ethics code is binding on all state elected officials and employees.

Like any other law, those subject to it are expected to understand and obey the law.

Just as the police are charged with enforcing the traffic laws, an ethics commission is there to enforce the ethics code.

Sometimes, as appears to be the case in this situation, a long-standing practice is suspected of being contrary to the law. That’s why this situation with teachers’ outside pay was on the agenda for consideration.

Though it may be a long-standing, established practice, no matter.

Suppose you’ve been jaywalking almost every day from your driveway in middle of the block to the bus stop directly across the street. Even though you have done it for years, one day you get pinched. It doesn’t matter to the cop that you always do this, and it won’t matter to a judge if you choose to contest the citation.

Same here.

What does it mean to “issue guidance?”

If the Ethics Commission is contemplating “issuing guidance,”  that’s part of their role to educate the public, spelled out right at the top of Chapter 84. The idea is to provide information so that the teachers can find an alternative way to perform the activity in question, if there is a way, or else stop the illegal activity, if there isn’t. Ethics commissions are there to encourage compliance, not to pounce on people with fines. The Commission staff did make suggestions for alternative ways that the stipends might be handled.

The teachers can review the law and the suggested alternatives and perhaps other options and see what they want to do. They can also wait for the guidance, if the Commission decides to issue it.

The Ethics Commission is still working on the question, which is incorrectly described in the article as a “measure.” The legislature passes measures (bills), the Commission does not make laws. There is no new “measure” that the teachers have to wait for. They and the DOE can start right now to figure how they will come into compliance with the law.

The way the news coverage of teachers’ ethics issues has gone, the Ethics Commission has been made out to be a bunch of meanies. That’s why it is important that the newspaper educate itself and report accurately.

Are rules first required to issue guidance?

The article reports that attorney Colleen Hanabusa believes that the Commission is “violating due process in issuing ethics guidance without opening the process up to the public by way of a formal rule-making process.” She’s an attorney and I’m not, but still, I could not find cases where courts have required rules to be in place for the Ethics Commission to either issue guidelines or advice or to enforce an existing law. And the legislative history, as far as I understand it, agrees.

There have been hundreds of opinions or guidelines issued so far over the years.

Perhaps Hanabusa would prefer that the teachers now receiving outside payments should simply be dragged into court? Then a judge would decide whether they have broken the law or not. Much better this way.

An article on Friday by the same reporter on the Commission is similarly problematic. For example, it uses language such as “pass guidelines” which again characterize the Commission as a law-making body, which it isn’t. That’s another article—sticking  with the teacher issue, there is no “rule” proposed, and someone might sit down with the reporter and review what actually took place at that meeting and how best to report it.

And then how to correct the record—if a newspaper is the “first draft of history” it needs to be more careful.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Culture of corruption deeply entrenched in Honolulu City Council

…Transparency exposes what is wrong, but offers no right. Punishment may serve prevention, but outsmarting Rule of Law may also become a national sport, like tax evasion. Moreover, corruption may be seen as legitimate in a culture of corruption.

by Larry Geller

The pull-quote is snipped from the previous article, Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: Corruption: Theory, Prognosis, Solutions? (10/17/2015). Arguably, Hawaii has exactly this: a culture of corruption.

What I have in mind is the Honolulu City Council re-vote on rail issues. Dr. Kioni Dudley made a good case that members of our City Council are hopelessly corrupted by the money they have accepted from rail/development interests (note: I have not verified the numbers):

Ann Kobayashi got 43%  and Joey Manahan got 46%, far too much to pass up next time by voting wrong.  Trevor Ozawa was next at 57%.

Carol Fukunaga collected 40% of her campaign contributions from the construction community.  But recent research uncovered the fact that PRP spent a separate $86,000 on advertising in order to get her elected, bringing her total support from construction to $190,565 and her percentage up to 57%.

Council Chair Ernie Martin came in at 59%, but that represented $258,000, certainly a big enough hunk of cash to assure he would do anything needed.

Stunning as it might be, nearly three quarters of the campaign contributions--72%-- collected by Ron Menor, Ikaika Anderson, and Kymberly Pine came from developers, builders, unions, and others in the construction community.  Three quarters of their campaign chest!  Could they possibly vote against any project?

In addition, during the last four months of Ikaika Anderson’s campaign for Congress in 2012, his campaign manager was hired and paid a salary by PRP for a job as their Government Relations Manager.  She still holds this position and regularly sends testimony from PRP asking the council to support various projects.

Kymberly Pine also had marvelous additional help from PRP who paid for three mailings at roughly $30,000 each to get her elected.  That $90,000 raised her percentage of money spent by builders for her candidacy to 82%!

All this on-the-take is topped by the case of freshman council member Brandon Elefante.  Elefante collected $13,000 from ordinary people.  He received almost twice that much from builders and unions.  He then allowed PRP, in their new disguise as Forward Progress, to spend another $105,000 to secure his victory.  Having brought in only $13,000 from local citizens, he won with $130,000, ten times as much.  His percentage of indebtedness to entities who will profit directly from approval of Rail: 91%.

None of these contributions broke the law.  But they obviously created a MAJOR conflict with the public’s interest.  The contributions were also so great, and the indebtedness so deep, that it was, AND IS, impossible for any council member to vote against ANY project the building community wants.

[Op-Ed: Honolulu City Council Revote on Rail a Mockery, 10/14/2015]

Given the extent that, according to Dudley’s research, these citycouncilpeople are beholden to those who have so generously financed their campaigns, it doesn’t matter how many times they re-vote on rail or development issues. Each vote is equally and irredeemably corrupted by the money.

About the only remedy, and it won’t happen, would be for these politicians to return the contributions and announce publicly that their loyalties rest with the people they were elected to represent, not with corporations able to spread out the money on the table.

I suppose Galtung’s solution might work—positive ways to integrity—but only if we work on getting there. In Hawaii that will be a lot of work because the culture of corruption is very deeply entrenched here.


Public official accepting bribe in a snip from a Mito Komon program, a popular Japanese period drama that ran for many seasons. Bribery was a common theme—because there was also a culture of corruption in Japan (and still is!). In the next frame, the public official notes how satisfyingly heavy the box is. All this, observed by a ninja hiding above in the ceiling.


Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: Corruption: Theory, Prognosis, Solutions?

Transparency exposes what is wrong, but offers no right. Punishment may serve prevention, but outsmarting Rule of Law may also become a national sport, like tax evasion. Moreover, corruption may be seen as legitimate in a culture of corruption.

Corruption: Theory, Prognosis, Solutions?

Johan Galtung, 26 Oct 2015 - TRANSCEND Media Service

L’Alfàs del Pi, Alicante, Spain

Our focus is on transactions: I give something to you, you give something to me. The double flow of which lo social is made.

We then limit the focus to economic transactions, of factors of production–resources, labor, capital, technology, administration–and products–goods, services. The public sector may control the factors; extraction-production-distribution-consumption is done by the public or private (or both) sectors, depending on the type of economy. In modern economies a money flow will be part of economic transactions.

And we generalize (Felipe Briones) to transactions of any kind:

In all cases, the power moved from decision-makers to money-holders.

Limited or general, transactions tend to be complex: multiple double flows, triple, quadruple; more or less interconnected, etc.

The definition of corruption rests on a distinction between open and hidden transaction aspects, “above and under the table”, when the hidden is also illegal or at least illegitimate. Much is hidden, and explored by social scientists, e.g., as “latent functions” (R. K. Merton), but not illegal-illegitimate. We may include intent; but it is as difficult to prove as it is easy to hide behind “not intended”.

From this definition follow two ways of fighting corruption:

The media feed on this, the higher up the corrupt, the better.

Necessary, but insufficient. Transparency exposes what is wrong, but offers no right. Punishment may serve prevention, but outsmarting Rule of Law may also become a national sport, like tax evasion. Moreover, corruption may be seen as legitimate in a culture of corruption.

The Market culture, or Market cult, in extremis, is that culture:

The five justifications of corruption and embezzling funds for the disadvantaged have a right wing color: increasing verticality-inequality by rewarding those already rewarded at the expense of those who are not, and seeing democracy as lawlessness with no strong hand.

Take two famous cases from the two party columns of the Spanish system, so far incapable of handling corruption: Rafael Blasco, a PP politician (Valencia) and Luís Roldán from PSOE with a distinguished career as head of the Navarra province government and as the first civilian to head the Guardia Civil, the state police. Blasco was recently condemned to six years in prison; Roldán was imprisoned 1995-2005, for ten years. They enriched themselves considerably through corruption as defined above. And they embezzled funds destined for the disadvantaged: Blasco funds for a hospital in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and other Third World development projects; Roldán funds for the orphans of state police officers. They enriched the rich and impoverished the poor; but more so PP more to the right than PSOE.

Which one is stronger, Rule of Law culture, or Market culture?

Prognosis: corruption will increase as long as the Market culture becomes stronger, probably still for some years. But Market culture “raw capitalism” is today strongly challenged, in two different ways.

First, by other values than economic-capital growth: human growth through human dignity, nature growth through sustainable environment.

Second, by reversing the inequality trend between and within countries, both to decrease the social distance between the top and the bottom and to alleviate the suffering at the bottom. Two tasks.

With these new cultures the corruption culture will decrease.

Spain is high on corruption but also on alternatives. Mondragon in País Vasco is a world center in theory and practice of cooperatives (as opposed to companies); Marinaleda in Sevilla province famous for turning a municipality into a social democratic cooperative.

Alternative structures are also necessary. Fredrik Galtung found the anti-corruption approaches too negative and reminiscent of police inquiries and switched to positive integrity*: doing business legally and legitimately and do so well, even better. Avoiding the forbidden by focusing on the permitted and prescribed (focused less on violence and more on conciling traumas, solving conflicts, and on positive peace between the parties, as his father does). We should provide corruption cases to illustrate what might have been done, not only what was done.

In addition, perhaps redesigning economic transactions? Maybe more cooperation, less competition? Joining expertise to solve problems of humans and nature, rather than capital, growth? Social responsibility not only singly, but also jointly? Maybe closer relations between producers and consumers, in dialogues about the products? Examples:

Asking people about the computer they want, a frequent answer is, “one that saves automatically; erasing I’ll take care of myself”.

Asking people about the car they want, a frequent answer is, “safe, rounder with a thick rubber belt, upholstered, maximum speed = maximum permitted speed.” Like Tivoli cars. Who dares produce them?

Conclusion: add to transparency and punishment the positive ways to integrity, making large-scale corruption a sad, but a short episode.


* Website:


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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Monday, October 26, 2015


Legislative caucus writes to Governor asking for his promised intervention as the Dept. of Health fails to obey the law on posting long-term care home inspection reports

Keith Ridley of the Department of Health Office of Health Care Assurance indicated in phone conversations and in an interview with Civil Beat that no further reports will be posted due to lack of resources.

The Legislature authorized $148,000 for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 for two positions in the DOH, but neither position was hired. The appropriation was not renewed in the next budget and the positions remain unfilled.

As senator, you voted in support of HB120 (2013) which became Act 213. When campaigning for governor, you indicated that you would ensure the deadline was met. Civil Beat reported on September 13 that your office insisted that "the issue will be resolved soon."—
Letter from Legislative Kupuna Caucus to Governor David Ige

by Larry Geller

Despite a law passed in the 2013 Legislative session requiring the Department of Health to post long-term care home inspection reports on their website starting January 1, 2015, the DOH has not done so. At first they posted a small sub-set of the reports and then stopped completely.

At its last meeting, the members of the of the Legislative Kupuna Caucus, which is made up of social service agencies, advocates and concerned individuals, decided to write a letter to Governor David Ige asking him to make good on his promise to intervene.

The letter was delivered to the Governor on October 20. A copy is reproduced below.

To reiterate why Act 213 is critical to the hundreds of families searching for placement for loved ones, it is only necessary to describe the situation prior to passage of the law, which unfortunately continues to this day.

Then and now, a person suddenly faced with the need to place a spouse or relative in a long term care facility must write a letter to the Office of Health Care Assurance specifying the facilities under consideration, and then wait for a state worker to manually pull the files, redact the names, make copies, charge for the copying and notify the requestor that the information is available.

The process may take 10 days to a couple of weeks and the family must pay for the reports. The law removed this requirement and expense by providing a simple, cost effective solution to the problem that is already in effect in many other states: Inspection reports posted on the Web that may be reviewed immediately, with no delay, and at no cost to families.

When the need is immediate, 10 days to a couple of weeks is too slow and is unacceptable. It's also costly for the family and the State if a hospital patient refuses to move until there is some information that assures they will be transferred to a new home that is safe and has a history of providing good care.

Download 20151020 Care Home Inspection Letter to Gov. Ige

Friday, October 23, 2015


Breaking: Kauai County Council votes in favor of ignorance, prohibiting themselves from asking questions

In a 4 to 2 vote (CM Chock was absent), a majority of the Kauai County Council changed its own internal rules to prevent any Councilmember from asking questions of the public when they testify.  If Chair Mel Rapozo permits, Councilmembers may ask testifiers to repeat or restate their position, but no questions pertaining to the substance of the testimony shall be permitted from this day forward.—Kaui County Councilmember Gary Hooser

by Larry Geller


The Kauai County Council can be amazing at times.

For example, in 2013 they led the rest of the country by passing legislation to protect citizens of Kauai against the harmful effects of pesticide use on the island:

The Kauai County Council voted 6-1 to approve an amended bill that calls for mandatory disclosure of pesticides use and genetically modified crops by large agribusinesses on the island.

The bill requires disclosure of pesticides and GMOs by large agri-businesses. It also calls to implement buffer zones near schools, dwellings, medical facilities, public roadways and waterways. It takes effect in nine months.

[Star-Advertiser, Kauai Council passes anti-GMO, pesticides bill after long hearing. 10/16/2013]


And now this:

#youcan’tmakethisstuffup – The Kauai County Council passes new rules prohibiting Councilmembers from asking testifiers questions of substance.

Yes, that’s right, in a 4 to 2 vote (CM Chock was absent), a majority of the Kauai County Council changed its own internal rules to prevent any Councilmember from asking questions of the public when they testify.  If Chair Mel Rapozo permits, Councilmembers may ask testifiers to repeat or restate their position, but no questions pertaining to the substance of the testimony shall be permitted from this day forward.

For the record, no one testified in support of the measure and the handful of testimony that was presented from the public all opposed the Resolution and resulting Rule changes.

[Gary Hooser’s Blog, #youcan’tmakethisstuffup…, 10/23/2015]

In our system of government, lawmakers are self-selected from among the general populace. They need bring no special expertise to their office. This means they depend on others to guide their decisionmaking.

So look what the Kauai County Council has done: they’ve handicapped their ability to make sound decisions.

Even in the Confucian era in China, when Chinese officials were selected from a small group of highly educated scholars, these officials understood that they needed to consult others in order to lead effectively. For example this, from the Wikipedia:

The district magistrate, who by regulation was not allowed to serve in his home district, depended on local gentry for advice and for carrying out projects, giving them power to benefit themselves and their clients.

Gary Hooser indicated that the Kauai County Council passed this new retrograde rule change despite universal testimony against it. [Correction: per comment below, there was one testifier in favor.]

One wonders either what they were smoking, or whether they passed Civics 101 in school when they were little.

Unfortunately, since this is not ancient China and we don’t expect our leaders to even be educated, much less pass examinations before taking office, we have to expect behavior like this from some of them.

Finally, I need to say that I’m not completely surprised. Someplace on a hard disk yanked out of a now-dead computer I have an old video which appears to show Kauai Council members debating whether they will follow the Sunshine Law or not. That’s right, debating whether they’ll break a law. On video. So go figure.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Breaking: ACLU complaint ends discrimination at City’s Sand Island shelter facility

by Larry Geller

It’s considered bad journalism to run press releases. Well, ok. Here’s a press release. It’s an important story and is well written. When you read this story in print or on the web tomorrow, see how much of this mainstream journalists have simply used anyway, or struggled to look like they didn’t.

I can’t explain it better. And I have to finish up some other work, so will take a shortcut here.

Note in the last paragraph (City cannot discriminate against recent arrivals in its “Housing First” placements) what a quandary the City will find itself in if it does not have a program to develop gobs of affordable housing: indeed, people may flock to Hawaii to take advantage of so-called “Housing First” opportunities. With no program to produce the tens of thousands of units of truly affordable housing needed for current Hawaii residents, could the City’s feeble program be swamped by outsiders? This has been a fear all along, and certainly should be discussed.

ACLU Complaint Leads to Change in Sand Island Shelter Rules City reverses course, says that survivors of domestic violence and persons with mental illness may access shelter

In response to a complaint from the ACLU of Hawai‘i and the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, the City and County of Honolulu (“City”) has reversed course on discriminatory rules at the proposed Sand Island homeless facility.  Contrary to its prior plan, the City has now agreed that individuals fleeing from domestic violence or coming from a mental health facility may seek refuge at the facility, eliminating discriminatory practices that violated federal and state law. 

ACLU of Hawai‘i Legal Director Daniel Gluck said, “As Hawai‘i observes National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and considering the extra vulnerabilities of domestic violence survivors also experiencing homelessness or extreme poverty, the City’s reconsideration of this policy is especially timely.

The Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, among other federal and state laws, prohibit housing discrimination against women, who make up the vast majority of domestic violence survivors, and people with mental health disabilities.  Given that mental illness and domestic violence are often contributing factors leading to homelessness, these persons equally deserve access to City programs offering housing and services.”

“Cities should extend housing supports to domestic violence survivors, rather than compound their trauma by denying emergency shelter,” said Sandra Park, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU Women’s Rights Project.

This is not the first time that the City agreed to change discriminatory policies in response to an ACLU complaint. Earlier this year, the City modified plans for its “Housing First” program with the Institute for Human Services, which originally sought to deny services to homeless persons who had recently arrived in Hawai‘i. The ACLU alerted the City that these exclusions would violate the Constitution (because government services must be available equally to all legal residents, regardless of when they arrived), and the City modified the policy to ensure equal access to all homeless individuals.


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