In the news, various stories caught my eye, like how Europe is successfully beating back GMOs. Chemical giant Monsanto announced that it has no plans to seek European approval of its new genetically engineered seeds, due to stiff public opposition and low farmer demand. Syngenta, DOW and BASF have already pulled out of many markets in Europe, where GMO labeling is required.
Now do you understand why the chemical companies are fighting tooth and nail against GMO labeling in the U.S.? Labeling hurts their bottom line.
Meanwhile, the USDA is still trying to figure out how Monsanto's Roundup Ready wheat, which was grown experimentally in Hawaii and elsewhere, but never approved for market, ended up on an 80-acre farm in Oregon. In response, South Korea and Japan have halted some U.S. wheat imports and Monsanto saw its stock prices fall Friday due to "concerns over Monsanto's inability to control its non-authorized genetically-engineered product." Hello! That's what we in the test zones have been worrying about all along.
Something else caught my eye, the comment from Kauai Visitor Bureau director Sue Kanoho, as reported in The Garden Island:
Kanoho expects strong summer months, with an additional 25 percent more visitors during June, July and August.
Wow. So do you think the park toilets can really handle 25 percent more flushes, 25 percent more demand for the already scarce TP? Can our trails really handle 25 percent more hikers? Can the firemen and lifeguards handle 25 percent more rescues? Can the landfill handle 25 percent more trash? Can our dying reefs handle 25 percent more sewage effluent from the vacation rentals on cesspools, 25 percent more sunscreen from the slathered tourists?
We'll never know, because all attempts to quantify any impact of tourism have been thoroughly and successfully quashed. So bring 'em on, as many as can buy tickets and the airlines can carry. Grab the cash while the getting is good, and worry about the impacts later. Or not.
Another article caught my eye, the one about a federal judge ordering Google to comply with the FBI's warrantless demands for information through so-called “national security letters.” Using these secret letters, the agency can collect all sorts of private data without saying why, thanks to the unpatriotic Patriot Act.
In another blow for privacy, the Supreme Court has ruled that cops can take DNA samples from people arrested for “serious” crimes under the rationale that it's akin to taking fingerprints. Mmmm, not quite. Even conservative Justice Antonin Scalia “got it” with his dissent:
The Court disguises the vast (and scary) scope of its holding by promising a limitation it cannot deliver. The Court repeatedly says that DNA testing, and entry into a national DNA registry, will not befall thee and me, dear reader, but only those arrested for “serious offense[s].” I cannot imagine what principle could possibly justify this limitation, and the Court does not attempt to suggest any. If one believes that DNA will “identify” someone arrested for assault, he must believe that it will “identify” someone arrested for a traffic offense. This Court does not base its judgments on senseless distinctions. At the end of the day, logic will out. When there comes before us the taking of DNA from an arrestee for a traffic violation, the Court will predictably (and quite rightly) say, “We can find no significant difference between this case and King.” Make no mistake about it: As an entirely predictable consequence of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national DNA database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason.
And finally, in The Garden Island's well-done piece on the demise of Coco Palms, the words of smarmy developer Patrick Duddy caught my eye:
Duddy said Kauai has a reputation of being difficult, and some of his “very good friends” who are building on the island are having similar problems. He said he is going to take his money and build somewhere else.
“I had good intentions, I was going to invest a substantial amount of my inheritance in there,” said Duddy, adding he had $3 million of his own money and $15 million from his partners in the deal.
Duddy said he and Kusaka worked diligently to build a historical cultural center at the new Coco Palms. Duddy said he would have dedicated a park in the back of the property and was going to “take control of the beach” and spend about $800,000 widening it [WTF?] by the Sea Shell Restaurant.
“The people of the island should know, they just lost out on a good deal,” Duddy said. “I will never, ever build on Kauai. I will never. And I’m part of a huge hotel chain that is moving forward right now.”
Yeah, well, goodbye, and good riddance. And as my daddy used to say, don't let the screen door hit you in the ass on your way out.