Friday, February 20, 2015

Musings: Believe It or Not

As the Hawaii Lege diddles, the state continues to export $4 billion annually to buy energy and another $3.13 billion for food — much of it to power the totally unsustainable tourism industry.

Add them both together, and you can see why the state is broke.

Yet the Lege is still afraid to make marijuana legal, even though a status report on the first year of legalization in Colorado shows “tax revenue from retail marijuana sales amounted to $40.9 million between January 2014 and October 2014, not including revenue from medical marijuana and licenses and fees.” It also saved millions by not prosecuting folks for marijuana possession and cultivation. Traffic fatalities and violent crime continued to decrease, and some 16,000 people were licensed to work in the industry.

Meanwhile, the House Agriculture Committee, whose members include Kauai Reps. Derek Kawakami and Jimmy Tokioka, has deferred HB 1514 requiring pesticide disclosure and buffer zones around schools and other “sensitive areas.”

The Center for Food Safety denounced the action under one of its usual sensationalistic headlines, which are always intended to foment fear and raise cash: “House Agriculture Committee Jeopardizes Public Health by Delaying Action on Pesticide Buffer Zone Bill.

They're further upping the fear ante with the new Protect Our Keiki website, which includes graphics like these:
But at least they've backpedaled to “potentially impacted,” since even pesticide drift tests conducted on Kauai by the anti-GMO Hawaii Seed didn't find anything of note.

These bills — Senate versions are still alive — are clearly an attack on agriculture. Though supporters claim it's all about pesticides — and now all about keiki and kupuna — they're written in a way that applies only to the biotech seed companies.

Curiously, everybody is always mum about the pest control and termite treatment guys. Like they aren't applying restricted use pesticides inside buildings, near schools and within residential neighborhoods.

Folks may not like the seed companies, but they're far and away the biggest sector of Hawaii agriculture. Until something better comes along — like those organic communes that some people dream of — they're the only thing standing in the way of more development.

Yet Sen. Laura Thielen, who supported the anti-ag SB 793, showed just how clueless most lawmakers are when she exclaimed, “I had no idea that the island had gotten to that point,” after learning that only 67,000 acres on Oahu, or 17.5 percent of the land, is classified as usable ag. The rest has been developed.

Pretty shocking for someone who used to be head of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, and now chairs the Senate Water and Land Committee. Wake up, gurl.

Also shocking was this report on Councilman Gary Hooser's behavior at the House committee meeting, which was left last night on a comment on a recent post, and confirmed this morning:

at today's pesticide buffer zone bill hearing before the house ag committee, hooser rudely directs ag chair tsuji to let the neighbor island guys outside the conference room to testify. ag committee member tokioka goes on to tell hooser, "relax gary we got this." hooser replied, "BITE ME!" in amazement tokioka asks "what did u say?" hooser replies, "BITE ME, JIMMY!" damn, that hooser lost his marbles

Wow. Such wildly inappropriate behavior, especially when Gary is presenting himself as a representative of the Kauai County Council.
Joni Kamiya-Rose, on her Hawaii Farmer's Daughter blog, wrote of her experience in attending the hearing:

As I pushed my baby of 8 weeks in his stroller towards the handicap ramp, I noticed a slender, dark haired guy walking up also. He carried his backpack slung over his shoulder and leisurely puffing on a cigarette as he walked. As I got closer, he stopped at a nearby planter to put out his cigarette. I recognized him as Dustin Barca, the former Kauai Mayoral [anti-GMO, anti-pesticide] candidate.

The best part of the hearing was hearing Dustin Barca go on about toxins and the horrible corporations. He even talked about the cigarette companies and their evils. It’s weird because I just saw him smoking some corporate grown tobacco and inhaling toxins. I had to scratch my head thinking about that.

Which leads us to an interesting piece from PBS Newshour on why people's beliefs aren't influenced by science. It includes interviews with Pew researcher Cary Funk and Washington Post reporter Joel Achenbach, who wrote the March National Geographic cover story on GMOs, vaccines and climate change.

Achenbach: Everything is contested now.

I think one of the differences today is just the Internet. It has changed the whole information universe. It’s democratized, small-D, information out there. There are fewer sort of gatekeepers of knowledge.

Instead, people go out and seek information, and they often find what they’re looking for that reinforces their belief. The Internet, you know, it doesn’t facilitate consensus, as anyone has noticed who’s gone on the Internet. Instead, it creates these sort of filter bubbles, these rabbit holes, these echo chambers. And these communities of sort of alternative knowledge develop that are often in opposition to the scientific mainstream.

I think that there are people who are demagogues in the media world that benefit from, you know, dividing and conquering. They want to have people who — they want to say, trust only me on this issue.

I think the stakes are large for all of us in this more technological, engineered world, where we need to get this stuff right....

20 comments:

Chuck Lasker said...

Hooser should have been censured for such behavior, removed from the room. Was Gary officially representing the Council? If so, by what means and with what authority? Were there other Kauai Council members, or just Gary, and if not, why not?

Anonymous said...

Da Hoos hits a new low

Brian C said...

Thanks, Joan, for your continuing coverage of these issues. I too have been disturbed by all these folks who instantly become "google scientists" because they googled their pre-conceived point of view, find someone with a point of view who agrees with theirs, and suddenly become experts with so-called scientific evidence, which usually is not scientific at all. Also, the bit about Barca smoking cigarettes and then testifying about the evils of big businesses and toxins is priceless. Keep up the good work. Maybe the citizens of Kaua'i will soon have enough of Hooser and Barca and their lot and vote them out or keep them out of office at the next election.

Anonymous said...

If Gary hadn't let his ego take over he'd still be in the Senate instead of ranting from the sidelines as a washed up nobody

Renee Kester said...

Wow, so spot on. How sad that Hooser's conduct is not surprising. This is just an embarrassment to legitimate lawmakers everywhere.
I especially like the last portion of your post about confirming biases on the internet. With the access to information like no generation before us we seem to be loosing critical thinking skills at an alarming rate. How ironic. How scary.

Lorie said...

There was deplorable behavior from the anti crowd yesterday...Gary has been submitting testimony on Council letterhead and showing up with as his one man council crusade.

As an interesting side note that group of people Hoosier wanted to testify early were all scheduled back to Kauai on the last flights; which Hoosier knew since they it appeared they were traveling together last night. They did manage to stop enroute to the airport for drinks at a local establishment, non organic and not gmo free. Alcohol must have calmed their tears and fears for they consumed alcohol made with food and crop agriculture products. Even their staring did not stop our small gathering.

Anonymous said...

Hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Anonymous said...

Putting his cig butt out in a planter? gross! No aloha aina there.

Anonymous said...

So who is footing the bill for Hooser's inter-island travel? If he is traveling on behalf of his nonprofit, then that is appropriate--except he's lobbying! If Kauai taxpayers are paying the bill, that ain't right. This inquiring mind wants to know. Public Records Act request, Joan?

Joan Conrow said...

I will request his Council travel records.

It sure looks like Gary is functioning as an unregistered lobbyist for his HAPA group.

Anonymous said...

Also, he is still using the County of Kauai letter head to submit testimony and then traveling over and submitting in person. So who exactly is he representing?

Anonymous said...

or is gary functioning as an unsolicited solicitor for the council and if so, did i miss the vote that gave him the go ahead to represent the council at the leg? Are these bills in the council's legislative package for the year?

Anonymous said...

Hawaii could make so much money legalizing cannabis. the tourists would LOVE it like back in the day.

Anonymous said...

Gary fits in more with his new group than the council or the leg. talk about squandering your credibility...

Anonymous said...

Love the part about Dustin. What a phony hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

Did you grasp the import of your quote from Joel Acenbach (WaPost)?
He is essentially complaining that the internet democratizes information due to the lack of gate-keepers to prevent a bubble of knowledge in opposition to scientific understanding. In other words he is a shill for Obummer's effort to "regulate" the internet.
Wow, Joan, that really got by you.

Hooser the Loser will soon be in the dustbin of history. JoAnn will fail in her attempt to rule by progressive fiat. We are but small fish in a vast ocean, the tides of which will soon (rant!)

We need to keep our eyes on the beanball that will hit us so hard in the head that fireplaces won't even be in the conversation.

Joan Conrow said...

Just because someone voices an opinion different than your own doesn't make them a "shill" for someone else. And perhaps your conspiracy radar is more finely tuned than mine because no, I didn't think that was what Acenbach was advocating.

Ed Coll said...

Achenbach opined- "I think that there are people who are demagogues in the media world that benefit from, you know, dividing and conquering."

Achenbach blames individual demagogues and people get upset that Brian Williams lied about being shot at.

The problem is not individual demagogues but mass media itself.

In the market for eyeballs, mass media seldom misses an opportunity to misinform the public and create controversy by ginning up a climate of fear by fabricating folk devils and a moral panic amidst a crisis.

The Disneyland measles outbreak provides the most recent example.

Media outlets from Fox to NPR spread a rumor that the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a bulletin advising parents not to take children to “measles parties” to intentionally infect their children. Supposedly, these parties are being thrown by anti-vaxers to give their children “natural immunity.”

No such bulletin was ever issued by the CDPH and according to the respected debunking site Snopes.com here is what really happened:

“… a California health official explained to us that before the rumor circulated, a news outlet called to inquire whether the department had received any reports about measles parties. When a representative stated no such reports had been received, the reporter asked about the agency’s position on measles parties and was (predictably) told public health officials advised against them.”

This CPDH response to these nonexistent measles parties was morphed into a “bulletin” giving credibility to a false rumor created and spread by the media outlets themselves. Time, Salon, ABC News, LA Times, and Washington Post, to name just some, are all still actively spreading the rumor. None have retracted the story yet.

Perhaps the broadcast outlets intentional spreading of this false rumor shows the scant regard they hold for their public interest obligations.

Don't hold your breath for a retraction.

Anon 11:13 has a point in that Achenbach blames democratization of the internet and demagogues when the problem is systemic in the media itself and has been a problem before Obama was elected or the internet existed for that matter.

kimo said...

The free reign of info has resulted in a lot of misinformation. It is a good thing to have all this information available to us, but it means we have to sift through a lot of bs to get real facts. Most people will be lazy and choose stuff that already fit their interests.

Anonymous said...

These people would have no problem sending those who don't agree with them to "reeducation camps". I'm surprised that they are allowed to intimidate people at the Capitol even though we saw them do it at the County Council. You would think that a complaint or two would put an end to this bullying but it's even happening to legislators themselves as witnessed by Gary's behavior.