The world started out black and hazy and dense with stars when Koko and I went walking this morning. And then the sun began to nose up over the horizon, and suddenly everything from mauka to makai was enveloped in a rosy shimmer.
Not so rosy is the ongoing economic news, unless, of course, you’re a defense contractor. It seems we’ve got plenty of money for war, with the Senate approving a $626 billion military and war funding bill. (Let's be realistic here, and stop calling it "defense" spending.)
Meanwhile, in the penny-wise, pound-foolish tradition of the feds, post offices are shortening their hours in an effort to save money.
On the home front, state workers are agreeing to a total of 42 furlough days this year and next, along with the prospect of more layoffs. But even though I read through the entire Advertiser article, I never did see anything about how much money the furloughs are actually expected to save. There was only this lone, vague paragraph:
The furloughs would reduce the state's labor costs and ease an estimated deficit of about $1 billion through June 2011.
Surely the guv must have some idea.
I’m wondering if the NATO troops that used depleted uranium shells during the 1999 bombing of Serbia — a military operation dubiously named “Merciful Angel” — had any idea of what the toxic effects might be 10 years down the line. Russia Today is reporting:
[M]ilitary experts from Belgrade have registered an increased radiation level and claim the area is highly contaminated.
Besides reports of increased human cancer rates, especially among young people, there are also reports of animals being born with abnormalities, such as extra limbs and two heads.
Our nature is sick. And certainly – it has to do with depleted uranium usage,” says Miodrag Milkovic, a veterinarian.
While we’re on the topic of bad things happening to animals, the Kauai prosecutor’s office can’t be happy to learn that Blaine Jacintho, the Puhi man accused of animal cruelty, is requesting a jury trial. Prosecutors previously failed to convince a jury of wrongdoing in the case where another Puhi man was accused of deliberately running over a cat.
Changing the subject entirely, I’ll be delving into the issue of water — who has it, and who wants it — on Thursday’s Out of the Box radio show on KKCR. It runs from 4 to 5:30, and you can listen on-line. Farmer Jerry Ornellas, who is very akamai about Kauai’s water issues, will be my guest in the studio, and Earthjustice attorney Isaac Moriwake, who has been litigating the precedent-setting case over water use on Maui, will call in. We'll be taking calls from listeners, so if you've got a question during the show, dial 826-7771.
Water is probably the most critical topic, and it’s going to be a major factor as Kauai identifies its Important Ag Lands, since water availability is one of the criteria for such a designation. If you’re interested in a little background on the IAL study, as well as the process that will be followed, check out my article in The Hawaii Independent.
I must say, while I initially was excited about the IAL study, I’m now doubting it will have much impact in preserving ag land on Kauai. Another criteria for IAL designation is land that is already being used for ag. And when you consider that of the 150,000 acres of land zoned for ag on Kauai, only about 5,000 acres are actually under cultivation — and much of that is seed corn and GMO crops — it sure narrows the field. It kinda makes you wonder if, when the dust settles after the fight to keep acreage out of the IAL classification, we’ll be growing diversified crops or the far more lucrative gentleman’s estates.
Speaking of dust settling, and water, if you’re up at 1:30 a.m. Friday morning and have a small telescope, you, too, can witness the Earth attacking the moon in a quest to find water. As the Star-Bulletin reports:
Tony Colaprete of NASA's Ames Research Center in California, the principal investigator for the mission, said in a telephone interview with the Star-Bulletin two years ago that the 4,500-pound rocket will strike Cabeus crater near the moon's south pole at 5,600 mph, making a hole about the size of a tennis court. "It will be like a small SUV moving at twice the speed of a rifle bullet," he described.
The impact of the Centaur rocket is expected to throw a cloud of debris more than three miles above the lunar surface that will be illuminated by sunlight and should be visible from Earth.
Ain’t that swell! And just the other day, I was reading — and I wish I could remember where — that when you consider all the grand names given to the moons of other planets, it’s rather odd that we’ve never given our own moon a moniker. Hmmm. Maybe after Friday's mission we should start calling her Dusty.