It’s been my experience that the hour just before dawn is not the darkest, but the coldest, and the thermometer in my house read just 60 degrees when Koko and I slipped out for our walk this morning. Last night’s golden sliver of a moon had long since set, but Venus and Jupiter were still holding forth in a star-choked canopy that was starting to smolder smoky coral in the east.
We were just returning as the sun began to rise, tinting the streaky clouds pink and adorning the clear summit of Waialeale with rose-colored shafts of light. There was nothing to be said but wow, and mahalo ke Akua, with the birds adding their own exuberant refrain.
I had to get cracking on a story due today — and now, happily, filed — about growing genetically modified crops in wildlife refuges. It’s an issue that has implications for our own local debate, as about 40 percent of the state’s taro crop is grown in the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge, according to the feds. I’ll post a link to the story when it’s published on Wednesday.
It’s always interesting to see the “official” responses that my GMO stories get. The pro side loves to accuse the anti side of distorting facts — indeed, that’s the most common criticism leveled at them, aside from engaging in fear-based rhetoric.
So I was amused to read the response to my recent story on GM crops in Hawaii from Alicia Maluafiti, director of the biotech industry’s Hawaii Crop Improvement Assn., in which she — you guessed it — distorted facts and engaged in fear-based rhetoric.
And an unidentified official/scientist from CTAHR, whose name and position were deleted from the email that was forwarded to me, criticized me for trotting out “the same old tired concerns.” So what, you gotta keep coming up with new concerns when the old ones still haven’t been addressed?
Science may (or may not) be objective, but that doesn’t mean scientists always are. How else to explain the quote — "All this violin playing about the reefs dying is just eco-terrorism.” — by Ricky Grigg in yesterday’s Honolulu Advertiser article on the dismal state of Hawaii’s reefs? Grigg also claimed that most of the damage was from natural causes, such as storms and waves, and that the outer reefs are “healthy as a horse.” Hmm. Perhaps he was referring to the four-legged skeleton I saw in a Kapahi pasture the other day.
I suppose all the other scientists could be wrong, and Grigg alone is right. Just as it’s probably only a coincidence that he so often works with developers in preparing EIS documents that assert coastal projects will have no impact on nearshore waters.
Of course, the reporter dutifully reported Grigg’s self-serving nonsense, because that’s supposed to prove he’s an objective journalist.
Talked to farmer Jerry, and he noted that Kauai Producers, which I wrote about in Saturday’s post, was involved with the farmer’s cooperative at Wailua Houselots, the first ag park created by the state. Jerry was interested to see how the company’s shift into a general wholesaler paralleled the Houselots’ shift out of agriculture and into residential development. It’s all part of a trend that began in the 1930s.
Perhaps it will take a swine flu pandemic to jolt Kauai into getting serious about solving its farming predicament. If the Mexican borders are closed, who is going to harvest all of the U.S. produce, not to mention what Mexico grows itself? Hey, maybe the anti-immigration guys could be tapped to fill the void. After a few hours of stoop labor, I imagine they’d soften their views.
They're akin to the armchair warriors who are so eager to send someone else’s kids off to die, and those who liken the torture Americans dished out to college fraternity hazing, or remain unconvinced that water boarding, sleep deprivation, prolonged solitary confinement and beatings are torture at all. Think they might change their tunes if they were on the receiving end?
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that the CIA never got around to assessing whether its harsh interrogation methods even worked, despite calls to do so as early as 2003.
The Defense Department, Justice Department and CIA "all insisted on sticking with their original policies and were not open to revisiting them, even as the damage of these policies became apparent," said John B. Bellinger III, who was legal advisor to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, referring to burgeoning international outrage.
And The New Yorker had a fascinating article on America’s domestic torture: the prolonged solitary confinement of tens of thousands inmates in U.S. prisons. Not only does such treatment cause severe psychological damage in many inmates, it makes it more difficult for them to function once they get released. As the author notes:
One of the paradoxes of solitary confinement is that, as starved as people become for companionship, the experience typically leaves them unfit for social interaction.
Sounds like a great approach — if your goal is not rehabilitation, but ensuring a steady supply of meat for the ravenous prison complex.