The rain came heavily in the night, but before it did I had the good fortune of being outside, where I could see Jupiter, Pleiades, Triangle and millions of stars I don't know burning white against a background of endless black.
It's the time of year when white things bloom and fruit: snow bush, pungent noni, naupaka berries, spicy mock orange, musky hinano hanging from hala. It's also the time when workers all around the island, as I observed yesterday, are roping off sections of parking lot that will soon hold imported Christmas trees. A Salvation Army volunteer was already soliciting contributions to the kettle in front of the Big Save in Eleele.
I was out at Kekaha recently, and shocked to see that the Navy still has a miles-long stretch of sandy beach — you know, the land that unquestionably, absolutely for sure belongs to the public, all the way up to the highest seasonal wash of the waves — closed off in front of PMRF.
It's been 10 years since 9-11, and coastal military installations all around the nation have reopened the beaches that front their bases, but for some reason PMRF is still excluding us from our public beach.
“I thought the Navy reopened all this,” I said to the westside friend who had taken me down to that stretch of sand. “Why aren't you guys fighting against the closure?”
“We have been,” he said. “We fought for a long time and they finally reopened part of it. But I think people just got burned out.”
It seems there's another dynamic at work. The base, like the GMO seed companies, is a big employer on the westside, so a lot of folks don't want to speak against it. What's more, some of the local guys who work there apparently have developed a syndrome known as identification with the aggressor, and have tacitly endorsed the closure as a way to keep haole surfers out.
All I saw that evening were local fishermen, who had to turn around at the place where an armed civilian guard sits, 24-7, watching DVDs in an SUV and telling folks who don't already know that the beach is closed, so beat it.
How can PMRF justify this closure? The guys I know who work on the base tell me there's really nothing that sensitive going on there. If that's true, then why close the beach? Equally disturbing is the lack of enforcement action by the State of Hawaii, which leases the land to PMRF. How can the state justify this closure?
Some may dismiss the public's loss of the beach between Kekaha and Polihale as no big deal. After all, there's still plenty of sand on either side and folks can access some points if they get a pass to get onto the base. But it's very important to pay attention to this blatant and ongoing land grab.
As I reported in a 2007 article on the military's plans for PMRF — an issue that escaped the attention of many Kauai activists, who were instead obsessed with the Superferry — the Navy intends to ooze far beyond the boundaries of PMRF:
Future plans call for extending military activities well beyond the boundaries of the 1,800-acre base. The Navy also wants to test unmanned boats at Kaua’i’s Port Allen and Kikiaola Harbor, install a new antenna at Makaha Ridge, enhance its fiber optics infrastructure at Kokee State Park and add an underwater training area off Niihau.
As the Navy starts stretching out its tentacles, what other accesses and public lands might be lost, temporarily or permanently, on the westside?
While we're on the topic of the Navy, you might be interested to know that it wants to buy the two fast ferries that Austal built for Hawaii Superferry. Well, surprise! surprise! surprise! As the Virginian-Pilot reported yesterday:
The Navy "is working with the U.S. Maritime Administration to permit the transfer of the two high-speed vessels, formerly Hawaii superferries, into the naval service of the United States," Lt. Cmdr. Alana Garas, a Navy spokeswoman, said Friday.
The Maritime Administration took the ferries, the Alakai and the Huakai, in July 2009 after a bankruptcy judge ruled that the owner - Hawaii Superferry Inc. - could abandon them to lenders, who at the time were owed nearly $159 million.
And finally, I'm always blown away by America's blatant hypocrisy, as in the warnings issued to banks in an effort to enforce compliance with sanctions against Iran. As Reuters UK reports:
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said any bank that deals with Iran's central bank or other financial institutions runs the risk of supporting Iran's "illicit activities" such as its alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons, support for terrorism and efforts to evade sanctions.
Ummm, let's not forget that the U.S. is the only nation that has ever used nuclear weapons against another country and our reliance on unmanned drones in nations where we are not even at war can most certainly be defined as terrorism — especially by the civilians who are so frequently targeted.
But looking past all the sanctions and saber rattling, is Iran's so-called race to build a bomb even real? As journalist Seymour Hirsch noted in a recent Democracy Now! Interview:
It’s just this—almost the same sort of—I don’t know if you want to call it a "psychosis," but it’s some sort of a fantasy land being built up here, as it was with Iraq, the same sort of—no lessons learned, obviously.
I can tell you, there's not much you can do in Iran right now without us finding out something about it. They found nothing. Nothing. No evidence of any weaponization. In other words, no evidence of a facility to build the bomb. They have facilities to enrich, but not separate facilities for building a bomb. This is simply a fact. We haven’t found it, if it does exist. It’s still a fantasy. We still want to think—many people do think—it does.
He then goes on to tell how the only thing that's different is there's a new head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, a guy the U.S. pushed hard to put in place, and since he shares our views about Iran, voila, he releases a report to that effect.
It's called propaganda — you know, the same thing we're always accusing other nations of doing — and it has one purpose: to feed that militaristic ooze.