It came as no surprise to learn that contempt of court, domestic violence and substance abuse are the top three crimes on Kauai.
But what do those stats, which speak to anger, depression, alienation, addiction, poverty and a lack of personal responsibility, say about the true state of our island? Especially since they stand in such sharp contrast to the popular image of Kauai as “paradise.”
Most troubling was Prosecutor Justin Kollar's shocking revelation that his office receives more than 500 domestic violence cases a year, with the majority involving alcohol or drug use. Sadly, many of the adults now abusing family members, drugs and alcohol were themselves victim of abuse.
In short, a helluva lot of folks are hurting on this little island, a tragic fact that's forgotten as people and politicians bicker about barking dogs, chimney smoke, traffic, TVRs and pesticides. Activists are totally freaked at the mere prospect of being exposed to ag chemicals, but say nothing about the real and documented harm being inflicted daily on folks by drugs, booze and their most intimate associates.
Though these cases are tallied as crime stats, they're not going to resolved by enforcement or incarceration. It's all about prevention, education and treatment at a personal and community level — something that's going to require a serious re-ordering of priorities.
On a brighter note, Lee Cataluna had a lovely piece on the HC&S workers in the Star-Advertiser this weekend. My favorite lines:
In today’s Internet-educated but misinformed world, people think of plantation workers as unskilled, mistreated and stuck in terrible jobs. That is not true, particularly in areas like the machine shop. Here, they are as skilled as surgeons and as courageous as warriors.
Speaking of Internet-educated but misinformed, three scientific papers that reported harmful effects to animals fed genetically modified (GM) crops are being investigated for data manipulation.
Italian Senator Elena Cattaneo, a neuroscientist at the University of Milan, found what appear to intentionally manipulated images. University of Georgia plant geneticist Wayne Parrot also spotted the doctored images, as well as one used in a 2006 paper. An investigation is under way, with results due out later this month. As Catteneo noted:
The case is very important also because these papers have been used politically in the debate on GM crops.
Then I saw this, posted by the Executive Director of the Pesticide Action Network on the group's website. following her participation in the so-called “Food Justice Summit” in Hawaii:
Five of the world’s six largest genetically engineered (GE) seed and pesticide corporations field-test new GE crops on Hawai'i farmland. These seeds, often designed for use with specific pesticides, require repeated applications of harmful pesticides like atrazine, paraquat and chlorpyrifos. Farmworkers and residents of communities adjacent to the GE test fields — children, especially — are most at risk for health harms from drifting pesticides and contaminated water.
I went on a “toxic tour” of Waimea, on the west side of Kaua’i, and was stunned to see how close people’s homes are to some of the highest concentration of restricted-use pesticides in the whole country.
This is the kind of propaganda that is being intentionally disseminated about present-day agriculture in Hawaii, where there has in fact been no documentation of “drifting pesticides” or “contaminated water.” But through the use of manipulated language — “most at risk” — she creates fear without actually verifying any harm.
The group also published a statement on the Summit, which includes some blatant lies:
These corporations are holding Hawaiʻi’s people hostage. [They] divert and contaminate this most precious and important common resource, leaving quality agricultural lands and key habitats without a source of water. Parts of the archipelago are sprayed as much as 250 days per year, or seven out of ten days year round. Companies have fought even basic notification rules so that families and schools are unable to protect their children from regular chemical exposure.
Come on. We have been over this same ground so many times, and all of these points have been shown to be false. Yet still these groups continue to perpetuate them. The statement concludes:
The fight to end the overuse of chemical pesticides and their increasing promotion through genetic engineering begins in Hawaiʻi, and extends around the world.
Now do you see what's at stake in the Islands, and how these groups will stop at nothing to achieve their goals?
Meanwhile, the lowly mosquito is gaining more attention with the “explosive” spread of the Zika virus in the Americas. As Jan TenBruggencate reports on his Raising Islands blog, the virus can be carried by the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, and Hawaii has both.
A reader sent a link to a Reuter's article on how genetically modified mosquitoes are helping to reduce mosquito populations in Brazil with the comment:
Possibly of interest to who are against certain things however would like protection from other things.
Indeed. Insecticides are the primary tool used worldwide to knock back mosquito populations that carry such diseases as Zika and dengue. But researchers with Oxitec have modified the Aedes aegypti mosquito so that males die before reaching reproductive age. End result: fewer mosquitoes, reduced pesticide use.
These GM mosquitoes have proven successful during field trials in Brazil, though anti-GMO activists have rallied to prevent such trials in Key West, Fla. However, as Slate reports, while the transgenic mosquitoes are good at suppressing the wild population, they don't eradicate it entirely. The author of the piece, science writer Daniel Engber, advocates eliminating the disease-carrying strains completely by employing various biotech techniques now under study:
We’ve wiped out lots of species in the past, of course, through our blithe indifference to the natural world. It’s tragic that we have no more passenger pigeons, or Tasmanian tigers, or quaggas. But the sky has not (yet) fallen. No one bit their nails when we cleared the world of polio and rinderpest. Should mosquitoes get special treatment just because they’re insects?
Despite disease fears, Engber's idea isn't getting much traction from researchers. He quotes Oxitec field manager Andy McKemey as saying:
“I am enough of an ecologist to be queasy about the idea of eliminating a species.”
Even if it is a mosquito.