Orion, Triangle and Pleides were marching toward Makaleha when Koko and I went out into the night and gazed up at the starry sky, which by morning was dotted instead with streaks and puffs of clouds, some tinted pink, others pale orange or gray.
We ran into my neighbor Andy, who also was not planning to take his dog on this morning’s Kauai Humane Society-sponsored walk on the Path — or rather, that small portion of the Path where canines are allowed. I heard the walk being billed on the radio as a statement of the people’s rights, a strong voice for beach access, but the logic for such claims escaped me.
Having to obey a whole host of rules to use an area that previously was unregulated doesn’t seem to be an expansion of the people’s rights, and since you can’t legally stray more than 10 feet on either side of the Path with a dog, it actually works to hinder access to the beach itself. You can look, but you can’t touch.
Scientists are trying to get a closer look at what monk seals do when they’re not lying on the beach. And why? So the Navy can determine just how much they can harass the critically endangered creatures with sonar and other military training exercises without being sued under the Endangered Species and Marine Mammal Protection acts.
The Navy is paying for NOAA to do the research, which seems to create a conflict of interest, seeing as how NOAA is also the regulatory agency for Navy activities that affect marine life. And in the past, we’ve seen NOAA cave in to Department of Defense pressure when it comes to sonar use. It also raises the question of whether the study, which emphasizes the seals’ range and dive depths, two questions critical to sonar use, was designed primarily to satisfy the Navy, rather than to generate data that could enhance the survival of the species.
Because much as scientists love to glue on transmitters and affix tags and bands, we don’t really know how these devices affect the animals. Just check out the picture that accompanies The Advertiser story. The caption states the seal is “oblivious to the transmitter on his back,” but even if that were the case when the photo was taken, I’m quite sure it no longer will be the minute he rolls over.
It is obviously disturbing, in an alien abduction sort of way, to capture, immobilize and tag any animal, so if you’re going to traumatize them, it should be for a really good purpose. And in my book, that doesn’t include having the government spy on seals to help pave the way for sonar training.
Save that for us humans, who have unwittingly allowed the government to track our every move through the ever ubiquitous cell phone. As Steve Chapman notes in The Chicago Tribune:
For years, the cops may have been using it to keep close tabs on you without your knowledge, even if you have done nothing wrong.
They don't have to get a search warrant — which would limit them to situations where they can show some reason to think you're breaking the law. All they have to do is tell a judge that the information is relevant to a criminal investigation and send a request to your service provider.
This does not appear to be an uncommon event. Al Gidari, an attorney for several service providers, told Newsweek they now get "thousands of these requests per month."
Oh, and the data are not limited to your movements today or in the future. The government can also see records of where you've been in the past.
Or as Damien Marley sings:
So beware of them cellular and pager. ‘Cause as I see them I see danger.
I see danger in plans for the military, which already controls extensive acreage in Hawaii, to encroach onto even more land through its new demand for biofuel crops and some 6 million square feet of solar panels.
The Navy and Department of Agriculture have already signed an agreement to expand use of renewable energy sources, using Hawaii as the testing ground, which had DOA’s Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan crowing:
”This charter partnership, under the agreement, gives us the chance to tap the under-utilized agricultural potential of Hawai'i," Merrigan said at a news conference.
So instead of actually growing crops to wean our dependence on imported food, Hawaii’s farm land will be used to further entrench the military’s presence in the Islands and its wasteful, destructive and deadly activities everywhere.
And it’s not just land they be needing, but water. Just two days after The Advertiser printed its glowing account of the Navy's hearty appetite for alternative energy and biofuels, it published an editorial saying that the state Commission on Water Resource and Management should favor A&B’s Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar over kalo farmers in deciding the allocation of water from Nā Wai Eha, “the four streams” of west Maui.
To bolster its stance, it referenced an alliance that had been formed just the day before:
But the death of sugar isn't something new and HC&S has been slow to transition toward new crops, and less thirsty ones. That's why yesterday's announcement of an alliance among HC&S, the Department of Energy and the Navy for biofuels production is so encouraging. Receiving adequate water from the commission should be seen as a commitment by HC&S to agriculture, and the federal dollars will help support its fulfillment.
I’m sure the timing of this alliance, orchestrated by good old Sen. Inouye as CWRM deliberates in the Nā Wai Eha case, is merely a coincidence, just as it’s a coincidence that once again the plantations and the military that helped to cement their power have joined forces, supposedly for the public good.