I didn’t know which way to look when Koko and I went out walking this morning. In the east, the sky was erupting in a blaze of orange and pink streaky clouds that cast a golden glow over the landscape. In the west, Waialeale was flushing purple, her notched summit clearly revealed in all its glory. And in between, tiny pockets of the season’s first mist drifted ghostlike through low spots in the pasture land.
Ah, September, one of the finest months of the year. And now the north swells have kicked in again. I got a taste of the big surf on Sunday, then last evening sat at sunset in the salt spray haze, the colors all softened, the sea foamy and alive with movement. Then I came home and ate some koshibi that a friend’s brother had caught just that day in the waters off Niihau.
It’s a favorite fishing spot for a lot of folks, including, apparently, the Kauai Fire Department. As The Garden Island reports today, KFD’s rescue boat was caught on video camera with those aboard, including supervisors, fishing and diving near the so-called "Forbidden Island." We’re told that some sort of disciplinary action was taken, but the details weren’t provided, since it’s a a “personnel matter.” That’s true, but it’s also a misuse of county funds and equipment issue, and the taxpayers have a right to know if those involved got more than the “good scolding and a stern admonition not to do it again” that Keith Robinson suggested.
What I found most amusing, however, is how Keith Robinson has suddenly turned into a monk seal champion now that he’s found the animals might be useful in trying to keep people away from Niihau. He’s quoted in the paper as saying:
The fishermen have started landing on Ni‘ihau and fishing in monk seal haul-out places without concern for nursing seals and pups, he said.
“We also started to find the dead carcasses of monk seals along the shorelines, something that had never happened before,” he said.
So far, two seals have been found at Niihau. One was at the same time Navy contractor DARPA was doing its top secret experiment, which coincided with the big unexplained fish kill. The other was this summer, right after RIMPAC exercises.
If Keith is so worried about protecting the monk seals and the purity of the waters around Niihau, he might want to consider kicking out the Navy. As for his contention that the Robinson family owns the waters surrounding that island and “has never renounced that claim,” does that mean he’s a supporter of Hawaiian independence, too? ‘Cause ya know, Keith, they’ve never renounced their claim to the archipelago, either.
Meanwhile, a friend just called to say he'd heard a report on KONG that DLNR had issued a statement saying it had not yet completed its clean up of Kalalau. "Sure sounded like a response to a blog post," he noted.
In other news, CNN has an guest opinion today about the failed war on drugs and marijuana, with the director of the Drug Policy Alliance reporting:
Even though police made more than 850,000 marijuana arrests last year, a recent government report shows youth marijuana use increased by about 9 percent.
He goes on to note that "76 percent of Americans recognize the drug war has failed; millions are demanding change."
Drug use is so widespread the FBI changed its policy of not hiring people with a history of illegal drug use because the policy disqualified so many people that it could not fill its law enforcement positions.
The racial disparities are appalling. As Michelle Alexander so eloquently shows in her new book, "The New Jim Crow," a drug conviction automatically makes a person a second-class citizen who can be legally discriminated against in housing and employment, denied school loans, and barred for life from serving on juries, accessing public benefits and even voting. While African Americans make up only about 13 percent of the U.S. population and about 15 percent of drug users, they make up about 38 percent of those arrested for drug law violations and a mind-boggling 59 percent of those convicted for drug law violations.
Support for marijuana legalization is growing, and not just in California. Legalization will happen. It's just a question of how many lives and tax dollars will be wasted before it does. Some vested interests, of course, will fight change until the bitter end.
Ain't that the truth – in more ways than one.