The sky was a mosaic of gray, patches of clouds pieced together with white, blue, a few streaks of gold, when the dogs and I went walking this morning. It's the time of year when the days stretch long, when I can walk out my door and catch a whiff of some fragrant something in bloom somewhere, and the bird song is loud enough to muffle the cacophony of crowing.
As I spent some time in the garden at the end of yesterday, digging and weeding and pruning, in anticipation of planting under this Cancer moon, I was struck by how much it produces with relatively little effort, at least on my part. The sun and rain do most of the work. And that got me thinking about abundance, and what the term really means, especially after hearing a talk by Ervin Laszlo, in which he says we are already using resources at the rate of two and a half worlds, though we've only got one. So clearly our level of consumption is driven by distorted concepts of abundance, knocking everything out of whack.
I recalled an article I'd read that stated baby boomers need to have $900,000 saved to maintain a “comfortable life” through retirement, and I thought of how far-fetched that is for 99 percent of the people I know. And I wondered if that reality might cause us to rethink our definition of a “comfortable life” in something other than economic terms, prompt us to reassess what we believe we're entitled to. Will it inspire boomers to revisit their hippie roots, come together in communes to reduce living costs? Will it lead to a de-emphasis on militarism so we can fund a single-payer health care plan and other social programs to serve the growing numbers who need a safety net? Or will it feed the next wave of colonialism as American retirees flood “third world” nations where their Social Security checks have more buying power?
Just something to think about. Gardening does that to me.
Moving into local issues, Charter Commissioner Jan TenBruggencate called to say he objected to my suggestion that the Commission choked under pressure and so nixed a proposed charter amendment aimed at clarifying whether the Mayor can suspend the police chief. Jan said he voted no because he doesn't believe any clarification is needed. "There's something broken here, but it's not the charter," he said.
But will the brokenness be fixed by the court, when the Police Commission asks it for a ruling on the matter? And if it's determined the mayor acted improperly, are there ramifications for that action, other than a political black eye that likely will be healed by the next election, or the possibility of a lawsuit brought by the chief?
Just like will there be any ramifications for the actions that led to the suppression of evidence in the cocaine smuggling case against two Gas Co. and Young Brothers employees? The Garden Island finally reported the story, a whopping 20 days after I broke the news, but in stating that “the decision came down to the credibility of witnesses” it missed the salient point: cops lied to get a search warrant.
The same reporter also managed to both bury and miss the news about the prosecutor's alleged POHAKU improprieties, even though Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura essentially handed him the story. Interestingly, I noticed that particular article didn't even make it into the lineup available via mobile devices, though one could read about such burning issues as pineapple upside down cake day.
Then for two days running, the paper published stories and photos prominently and positively featuring Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho. To read them, you'd think it was all good, with no scandals plaguing her office.
I was especially amused to read the piece that starts out: “Kaua‘i Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho has a vision of Ka Hale Maka‘i O Kaua‘i, the home of the Office of Prosecuting Attorney, the Kaua‘i Police Department and the Kaua‘i Civil Defense, becoming a center of healing.”
Because if you go to the Office of Prosecuting Attorney website, you will find that the vision page is blank.
Which is not to say the paper should bash her, or engage in what some in the comment section of this blog have termed a witch hunt, but it really does voters a disservice to totally sweep this stuff under the rug in an election year.
And then I realized, oh, the newspaper is actively propping her up, just as it continues to perpetuate the fraud that the Kauai Independent Food Bank is a viable entity. And then what do I find in the paper today? Another article about KIFB. Sadly, you can't make this stuff up.
Smart meter opponents have made up their their own opt-out form, but KIUC isn't accepting it. Though CEO David Bissell said the utility won't force anyone to take a smart meter “at this time,” it isn't going so far as to let folks submit a form that states their rejection is the final word on the matter, and the cost of the unwanted meter will be rebated to the member's account.
While many of the concerns raised about smart meters have focused on health issues, others worry about its implications for privacy.
Of course, if you've been following a series of shocking programs broadcast on Democracy Now! over the past week you'll have learned the government has already spent billions to invade our privacy. According to former National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney, domestic surveillance is expanding under the Obama administration:
Actually, I think the surveillance has increased. In fact, I would suggest that they’ve assembled on the order of 20 trillion transactions about U.S. citizens with other U.S. citizens.
That includes almost all of the emails sent and received from most people living in the United States, as well as phone records and other personal data.
Meanwhile, Congress is considering CISPA, a bill drafted by a former FBI agent that will create, according to Michelle Richardson of the ACLU, “an exception to all existing privacy laws so that [cyber] companies can share very sensitive and personal information directly with the government, including military agencies like the National Security Agency. And then, once the government has it, they can repurpose it and use it for a number of things, including an undefined national security use. The violations of privacy are just amazing.”
We've all bought into the computer age, which is oh-so-handy for researching and reaching out to friends and buying stuff anywhere in the world. But it also gives the government an unprecedented ability to track our every move, compile vast amounts of data on every aspect of our existence. And according to those in the know, it is.
The question is, why? Just what does it plan to do with all this stuff?