Friday, October 31, 2008

Musings: Suck-Ups and Scary Stuffs

The sky was just turning yellowish pink around the edges when Koko and I set out walking this morning on soil that had been quenched and replenished by the recent heavy rains. After two days of near lock down, Koko was frisky and rarin’ to go, lunging at trucks and whining at the yards of her dog friends in an attempt to entice them out for a sniff fest.

But we encountered only a shama thrush engaged in the high-risk behavior of pecking at something in the street, which was already littered with the blood, guts, feathers and flesh of numerous chickens, toads and other unidentifiable creatures. Rainy days take a heavy toll on wildlife.

Folks are thinking the bell may soon be tolling for Hawaii Superferry, now that the state Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for 9 a.m. Dec. 18 on whether Act 2 — adopted in a special session of the Lege so the boat could run prior to conducting an environmental assessment — is unconstitutional special legislation.

My own guess is that the Alakai, sinking under the weight of low ridership and high expenses, won’t be long for Hawaii. HSF and Austal have done what they intended to do — prove the boat can run in rough waters, albeit with a high puke factor — so I’m betting that as they negotiate a contract with Uncle Sam for the recently completed second ferry, they’ll make it a two-fer deal.

Meanwhile, other folks are wagering that the next job held by Gov. Lingle — still on the road for McCain, where she’s blaming Dems for the economic problems — will be at JF Lehman Co., the big bucks behind the HSF (aside from taxpayers). That would give her two years in the board room of a high profile company to raise the outside money she needs to run a Senate campaign in 2012. That scenario sure explains her major suck-up to Superferry.

In national elections, I got an email from a friend in the swing state of Colorado who has been campaigning hard for Obama. She wrote:

I'll be glad when it's over; I've been way too anxious the last few weeks. I've heard the same thing from a lot of my volunteers. The thought of McCain/Palin winning is too scary to contemplate and no one trusts the GOP not to pull some shit! I must think positively!!!

I think a lot of people are wondering what dirty tricks the GOP has up its sleeve, aside from the ongoing legal challenges of voter registration and vote flipping on electronic voting machines.

In local elections, The Garden Island is running another one of its meaningless on-line polls that shows JoAnn beating Bernard, with 52 percent of the vote. Let's hope this is one time when it's accurate, because the thought of Ian Costa continuing as planning director is too loathsome to imagine.

In an effort to be a well-informed voter, I finally got around to reading all the proposed county charter amendments. While some sound good in principle, the way they’re likely to play out on Kauai is a different story.

Take the idea of creating a new position of county auditor. Yeah, it would be great to have more oversight of county funds and functions. But in reality, it would just turn out to be another high-paying county job given out as a political favor to someone who doesn’t do anything.

You know, sort of like the County Attorney, who doesn't bother to attend county meetings. I thought of that when reading a story about the planning commission’s decision this week to reauthorize permits for those two controversial, unneeded and unwanted resort projects that would add 547 new units to the already maxed-out Waipouli area. The article stated:

Still, Chair Steven Weinstein, who voted against the permit when it was originally approved by the commission, said he believed it was too late to revoke the permit and instead encouraged fellow commissioners, including troubled neophyte Herman Texeira, to consider only the amendments before them.

Now, we have members of the public and an attorney for Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. telling the commissioners they have more options than they realized, yet Weinstein is going by what he believes. Where was the county attorney assigned to the commission? Why not ask him or her for legal advice instead of relying on Weinstein’s opinion?

Anyway, since it’s Halloween, I’ll leave you with this graphic, created by a friend of KauaiEclectic. Oh, and guess what the most popular mask is this year? Sarah Palin. Yes, who is behind that carefully constructed fa├žade?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Musings: Re-Establishing a Presence

Rains kept moving through this morning, keeping my bedroom dark and the temperature cool, scuttling plans for a walk and repeatedly lulling me back into the pleasant land of dreams. And then suddenly I awoke, clear and full of energy and ready to move forward and respond to the demands of the day.

That's the same kind of energy that's going to be present up at Naue this Saturday, where the ongoing concern and respect for iwi kupuna — the bones of the ancestors — and the Hawaiian culture in general will be highlighted through a ceremony that will start at Naue and end at Ke`e.

The purpose is to bring the issue of Hawaiian burials into public attention, educate youth and non-Hawaiians in proper cultural protocol and re-establish a cultural and spiritual presence at Ke`e.

It will begin at Naue at 6 a.m. with the traditional hiuwai, or purification ceremony, with ho`okupu, or offerings, made to the kupuna who have been laid to rest there. Only traditional offerings — salt, lei made without string, native plants — should be brought.

Aunty Louise Sausen, who is helping to organize the event, also wants to line the street in that subdivision with flowers to bring attention to the other burials that have been discovered there, besides those at the Brescia property. For that activity, modern lei and tropical flowers will be accepted.

Then participants will march to Ke`e, stopping to sing to kupuna who are buried along the way, so as to make the younger generation aware of where these burials are located, she said.

At Ke`e, ceremonies will begin at noon with the blowing of the pu. Participants are asked to bring pohaku “because the Kupuna Council wants to make sure certain areas are blocked from people entering,” Aunty Louise said. “There’s been a lot of desecration going on. It’s a state park, so people think they can niele (snoop) around and go anywhere. These things have to stop. We need control.”

My friend Ka`imi Hermosura, who is among those restoring the lo`i at Ha`ena with Hui Maka`ainana o Makana, said the ceremony at Ke`e will be “all about restoring the energy, making it living.”

He and some of his friends and relatives — young men born and raised in Wainiha and Ha`ena — have been doing extensive caretaking work at Ke`e, as well as educating visitors about the high cultural significance of the area, which has burials, a heiau dedicated to Laka and other ancient features.

“This is a younger generation stepping up to the plate,” Aunty Louise said. “A lot of our young men are feeling displaced and this is a pu`uhonua (place of refuge) for these boys. It’s a very sensitive cultural area.”

I’ve been up to see the work that Ka`imi and “the boys” are doing and also wrote an article about it for Kauai People. It’s really inspiring to witness what they’ve accomplished, much of it by hand and all of it volunteer. These are young men who grew up fishing and hunting and living off the land, and they’ve seen their neighborhood change radically in their short lives. But rather than get pissed off — well, there’s a little bit of that — they’ve put their energy to positive use re-establishing a cultural presence among the hordes of tourists and luxury homes.

Anyway, if you’re like most Kauai residents, you probably avoid Ke`e like the plague. But this Saturday, you might want to venture up there mid-day. It’s not a protest or a demonstration, but a gathering with a spiritual and cultural essence. Bring a potluck dish and a pohaku and join in. It’s open to everyone, and I’m sure you’ll leave feeling better than when you came.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Still Ferry-Free

It looks like the tanking world economy is going to keep Kauai ferry-free for at least another year, according to a breaking story in today’s Advertiser.

Apparently, HSF has finally sobered up and realized that since it’s already bleeding cash with the Alakai, it doesn’t make sense to gouge the wound deeper by adding the second ferry, which is now pau and under going sea trials.

According to the article:

The company will look at short-term opportunities for use of the ship prior to its induction into service in the islands.

Gee, I wonder what those might be — especially since this new ferry is outfitted with all the equipment needed to make it suitable for military operations.

The article goes on to dutifully report the usual self-serving shibai we’ve come to expect from HSF:

Hawaii Superferry President and CEO Tom Fargo the company remains committed to serving the people and businesses of Hawaii.

"Postponing the introduction of our second ship will defer over $10 million in start-upcosts and enable us to maintain our sound financial position," Fargo said. "Given today's economic uncertainties, this decision is both prudent and provides us with additional time to develop this market, while continuing to grow our successful Oahu and Maui service.

Fargo said the company still intends to go forward with the long-term plan to expand service to the Big Island and Kauai. The company had planned to start with Kauai earlier but faced opposition from residents there.

Indeed it did — and still does. heh heh

Meanwhile, Dick Mayer of Maui noted that Tuesday travel will no longer be offered after Nov. 4, and that no reservations are being accepted at all after March 15.

On this very rainy day on Kauai, it seems that every cloud does indeed have a silver lining. Mahalo to the anonymous reader who brought this to my attention.

Musings: Terror By Any Other Name

The world, or at least my small part of it, is muffled today. Human sounds are squelched by a thick layer of clouds, but bird song, happily, still comes through loud and clear.

Syria is, quite rightly, loudly condemning America’s helicopter raid within its borders, which left eight people dead in a strike on not a known or convicted terrorist, but a suspected al Qaeda facilitator.

But America, as usual, doesn’t seem to hear.

Syrian Embassy spokesman [Jihad ] Makdissi said the United States cannot take matters into its own hands.
"They should come to Syrian authorities and share their information instead of applying the law of the jungle," Makdissi told the BBC.

Sunday’s cross-border raid is a continuation of our current U.S. policy to commit terror in the so-called “war on terror” by using special operations forces to carry out assassinations. It`s yet another example of our “do as I say and not as I do” approach to foreign policy.

Because, of course, if such a thing had happened in this country, we’d already have dispatched the fighter jets to blow the perps away, along with a number of civilians and city blocks for good measure. Somehow we just don’t catch the hypocrisy.

The incident reminded me a conversation I had the other day with two Rastafarian friends, one of them a priest and reggae musician just back from the U.S. Virgin Islands. We were discussing the system of rule within the Virgin Islands, a U.S. protectorate, and how reluctant America is to give up its empire.

We just can’t imagine that folks wouldn’t be universally thrilled at the chance to live under the wing — or boot — of Uncle Sam. Those who resist, such as the Iraqis and Afghanis, are viewed, as one person noted in the comments section of a previous post, as “ungrateful Shites.”

What’s the matter with them? Heck, we’re killing people all over the world to spread American democracy!

Our conversation reminded my Rasta friend of an encounter he’d had in a Georgia waffle house recently, when he and his reggae band were traveling through the South after a gig in the North.

“We were sitting around, talking consciousness stuff like this, when a guy walked up and said, ‘It’s America, nigger, love it or leave it.’ And we said, well, we are in a waffle house in Georgia.”

I wasn’t sure what troubled me most: the racist nationalism expressed by the waffle house patron, or my friend’s acceptance of such things as the norm, something to be expected if one is an African American in certain places within the U.S.

Even though a black man is running for president, racism is alive and well in America, as evidenced by the report of a foiled skinhead plot “to go on a national killing spree, shooting and decapitating black people and ultimately targeting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.”

Now that's some terror for ya.

It’s not just African Americans who are at risk for such terrifying incidents. In Mesa, Arizona, recently, 30 sheriff’s deputies and 30 “volunteer posse” members — all armed with semiautomatic weapons — conducted a 2 a.m. raid on the town’s city hall and library to arrest 16 janitors. Can you imagine the terror the janitors must have felt when that crowd of hooligans burst through the door? Regardless of how one feels about immigration, actions that are intended to evoke terror are terrorism, and should be viewed as such.

But in America, the terrorists are always somebody else, out there. We refuse to see the terror we’ve inflicted on so many people, whether they’re in Middle Eastern villages, the cells of Guantanamo Bay, the meat-packing houses of the Midwest, the race-based traffic stops of our own inner cities, the jungles of Southeast Asia.

And until we recognize, and rectify, our own propensity toward terrorism, we shouldn't be too surprised if others want to terrify us. It's the old what goes around comes around law of nature.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Musings: Political Talk Story

The sky was a brilliant blanket of stars last night and that clarity persisted until morning, when Koko and I went walking beneath a sky that was blue in the center and soft pink along the edges. I ran into farmer Jerry almost immediately, and he pointed out the thinnest thumbnail of moon in the eastern sky, waning to a place of newness tomorrow.

Every crevice and jagged peak of every mountain was visible, and as I gazed upon Waialeale, which usually seems to be flat-faced, I realized a bowl has formed on its eastern side, which makes sense, considering how much water has poured down from that summit.

But none was flowing today, only mist lakes floating in distant pastures. The nippy air had prompted Jerry to bundle up in a flannel shirt, and my neighbor Andy had gotten a late start, saying it was just cold enough to make him want to linger in bed.

With both, the conservation turned to politics, which seems to be the favored topic of discussion with nearly everyone I encounter, even more than the economy. Andy was surprised that Rep. Mina Morita had appeared in an ad endorsing Derek Kawakami, who I happened to see at shopping at the Kapaa Big Save yesterday.

He and his wife were decked out in their red and gold Kawakami shirts, and he greeted everyone, including me, as he pushed his cart through the aisles. He’s better looking in person, more alert. He tends to look sort of sluggish in his photos.

Later, I mentioned seeing him to a friend, who said that another friend had told him that the Kawakami campaign was passing out tongs during its door-to-door canvassing, and nice ones, too. But he didn’t have any on him at Big Save.

I said I was favorably inclined toward Kipukai Kualii, whose dad was hanaied by the Corr family in Hanapepe, whom I like, and my friend said, yeah, but isn’t his campaign all about gay rights? I said no, I’d never heard a word of that. And why would that even be an issue for someone running for Counci, and who was spreading these homophobic rumors, anyway?

The conversation then turned to Lani Kawahara, and he said he’d liked her initially, but read that she favored the Superferry if they talked to the community, so that had turned him against her, and I said, I’ve got news for you, even JoAnn Yukimura is now supporting the Superferry.

Nah, he said, no way, and I said, yes, it’s true, so long as all the environmental concerns are addressed, but you know they never they can be, even if the EIS claims they can, so what does her position really mean, anyway?

He was even more surprised by the ad that showed Jimmy Nishida, a mutual friend and former JoAnn supporter, endorsing Bernard Carvalho with the words: “Bernard is a person you can trust to keep his word and follow through.”

“Maybe he trusts him but he’s not going to vote for him,” my friend ventured, and then it was my turn to say nah, no way.

Jimmy’s endorsement had also caught the eye of another mutual friend, and longtime JoAnn supporter, who I ran into on the mountain trail on Friday. He wasn’t surprised, noting only that “for a non-aggressive person, JoAnn sure has made a lot of enemies.”

Tis true. A lot of her supporters aren’t as wholehearted as they used to be, and some, like Jimmy, have jumped ship completely. I find that I’m uneasy with Bernard’s lack of experience, yet also uneasy with JoAnn’s experience. I’ve seen her in action, and it wasn’t always pretty.

Having someone I like and respect, like Jimmy, come out in favor of Bernard has given me pause, made me wonder what I've missed in my assessment, just like Mina’s endorsement of Derek, who I was prepared to write off. And several friends have asked for my opinion on candidates and ballot measures, which I know they’ll take seriously.

It struck me that these types of personal connections influence elections far more than campaign signs and debates and bumper stickers, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Even if you try to be informed, what do you know about most of these people, anyway?

I read all the candidate statements submitted to Kauai People, and most of them sounded good, and surprisingly similar. Candidates can, and do, say anything, and the rumor mill further clouds the waters. So when it comes time to choose, if we’re uncertain, we turn to those we know and trust: our family and friends.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Musings: Role Models

This latest piece of crock from the GOP campaign really makes you wonder about McCain’s grasp on reality. First, there’s his bold prediction, uttered as polls show him trailing Obama by 13%:

"This is going to be a very close race, and I believe I'm going to win it," he said. McCain said he's been heartened by the size of the crowds and the level of enthusiasm at his events.

Gee, kinda reminds me of W, who only spoke to crowds where even those with nay-saying tee-shirts were ejected. But then, maybe old John knows something we don’t about how the election fix is already in…..

Next, McCain shifts into classic denial and projection:

He also dismissed criticism about the Republican Party spending $150,000 on her [Palin’s] wardrobe at high-end retailers.

"She lives a frugal life, she and her family are not wealthy, she and her family were thrust into this," McCain said. "She is a role model to millions and millions of Americans."

He continued to paint Obama as a big-spending liberal.

First, I read that the Palins were worth more than $1 million. Now compared to McCain’s wife, that may seem not wealthy, but compared to most of us, it is.

Second, I don’t care whether you’re a liberal or a conservative, if you’re spending $150,000 on clothes — especially a wardrobe that will be out of style next season — you’re not frugal, you’re a big spender.

Couldn’t they get one of those TV make-over shows to take her on? Surely a run through the racks at Ross and Payless Shoes would have endeared Palin even more to those "real Americans" she professes to represent.

But mostly I'm wondering, is that really the kind of role model we want in the White House, someone who is spending money she doesn’t have on fancy clothes, just so she can appear to be someone she’s not?

I mean, isn’t that precisely the kind of thinking/spending that got us into this financial mess?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Musings: Magical Thinking

While walking up the mountain trail about sunset time last evening, with Koko running fast and free, birds singing gleefully all around, shafts of sun shining on the jagged Kauai peaks and the ferns and grasses blanketing the Earth in green, I figured out one of the things that’s wrong with the world:

Humans make far too many important decisions behind closed doors. And I’m not talking about the ones that are deliberately slammed to exclude us lowly humans from the back room wheelings and dealings, but the ones that regularly and consistently shut out nature — the real world, the place you can’t reduce, with any justice, to a video clip or a piece of a paper.

So many meetings — nearly all, it seems — are held in climate-controlled rooms where you never feel the breeze or hear an animal sound or sit with your back pressed against a tree or squint your eyes against the light. And that’s why we repeatedly make wrong decisions, because we forget so much of what’s around us, what supports us. In our insular little conference rooms and meeting halls it becomes all about us, and the heck with nature.

For example, you would not applaud the state’s new energy plan, which calls for, among other things, “sending wind energy from Maui, Lana'i and Moloka'i to O'ahu via state-of-the-art undersea cables,” if you had ever walked among the pohaku at Lanai’s Keahiakawelo — Garden of the Gods. The silence and splendor of this sacred wilderness would be destroyed forever by the wind farm that Castle & Cooke plans there.

And why? So Oahu, primarily, can continue to suck down electricity excessively. The entire time I was in Honolulu I was cold, except when I was walking and in my own hotel room, where I used no AC. Every building was cooled to an extreme, its chill often extending into the street. Yet when I skimmed through the energy plan, while I saw plenty of glitzy and expensive new technology, I did not see one word about conservation. Isn't that where it all should start? Cut to the bone, and then see how how much energy we really need?

I’m so tired of hearing about “green energy” when the truth is, the only “green energy” is the energy you don’t use. Otherwise, it ALL has an impact, primarily on the earth we are supposedly trying to save before our asses can no longer survive on it.

Later, I was reading a New Yorker brief entitled ”Wiz Bucks, that made this very astute observation:

Over the past thirty years, Wall Street has honed the art of creating and selling financial products with an increasingly tenuous connection to reality. It has been an extraordinarily creative period—a modernism of money, with an equivalent trend toward abstraction. Relatively simple derivatives evolved into ever more arcane contrivances. The risk and the leverage piled up, and, in the short term, the billions rolled in. This is over now.

One problem is that the contrivers mistook their art for a science. A pre-modern money manager explained last week, “They looked at it all as a science experiment.” They tested each new product—each hypothesis—against a bunch of historical precedents, running computer models to see how the product would fare under the conditions of various bygone catastrophes. “The problem was, they didn’t have any historical precedent for when it all melts down. The historical precedents they used are not relevant.”

In fact, it wasn’t science at all. It was more like what anthropologists and psychologists call magical thinking—the tendency to believe that wishing it so makes it so.

It struck me that this sort of thinking applies as well to our quest for alternative energy. If only we can get the wind, solar, geothermal, etc. up and running, we won’t have to make any fundamental changes in our wasteful society. Meanwhile, we’ve tapped into the magical thinking that all these alternatives won’t produce any waste or toxins, or demand any extractive processes from the Earth, in their manufacture, transport and inevitable retirement.

This sort of thinking also seems to explain our fascination with genetic engineering, our bizarre acceptance of the idea that we can create these new patented life forms and release them out into nature with no consequences. In truth, folks, this is another giant science experiment. And just like what’s happening with these new forms of failing financial products, we won’t have any idea what to do when it all goes wrong and the dominoes start falling.

But when you really look at all these schemes, there’s a common thread running through that isn’t at all magical. In fact, it’s one of the vices oft-cited in religious doctrines, and that’s greed. No matter how much folks try to put a green or humanitarian spin on it, it all comes down to one thing: the desire to make not just a profit, but a killing, with no desire to accept responsibility for the true costs.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Musings: Big Time Bungler

A swirl of gray clouds and a few drops of fat rain greeted Koko and me this morning as we took a slow, sleepy, short walk. We're generally on the same energy wave length — until chickens come into the picture. Then she becomes a little brown rocket at the end of the leash, and she’s not satisfied until her lunging sends them scurrying for cover.

I can’t help but take a certain satisfaction in seeing someone like Alan Greenspan knocked off his pedestal. For years he enjoyed God-like status, with all the perks and fawning and fat salaries that accompanied it.

Now it’s clear — and even he’s admitting it, kind of — that he bungled big time. According to a Reuters article:

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told Congress on Thursday he is "shocked" at the breakdown in U.S. credit markets and said he was "partially" wrong to resist regulation of some securities.

"Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder's equity -- myself especially -- are in a state of shocked disbelief," said Greenspan, who stepped down from the Fed in 2006.

That’s the problem. Those who are so wrapped up in the financial system, like Greenspan, can’t see that it’s built largely upon greed and deception. That’s the Achilles heel that trips it up every time. When the getting is good, that’s all that matters. There’s no responsibility to anyone but one’s own personal fortune-making. Then average Americans see the insiders raking in the dough and they, in their usual sheep-like fashion, also want to gorge at the trough.

And so it goes: boom, bust, boom, bust, until finally we get this giant kaboom!

The article continues:

While Greenspan was once hailed as one of the most accomplished central bankers in U.S. history, the low interest rates during his final years at the Fed have been blamed for fueling the housing bubble and eventual crash that touched off the current financial crisis.

His strong advocacy for limited regulation of financial markets has also been called into question as a result of the crisis.

So now the question becomes: if someone “once hailed as one of the most accomplished central bankers in U.S. history” can make this kind of mess, what’s the likelihood that a person chosen as Treasury Secretary by President Bush has the brains and integrity to clean it up?

But as the old saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining. The last time I filled gas, two weeks ago, it was $4.51 a gallon. Now, thanks to oil prices that have been forced lower by the recession, it’s down to $3.80. And for the average consumer, that’s a lot more meaningful than a $750 billion bailout.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Musings: Imagining the Unimaginable

I had dinner with several friends last night, and before the meal one couple sang a lovely Maori children’s song. Afterward, the husband translated it, and one line has stayed with me: “Illuminate the lantern in my heart; make me a brilliant star.”

It seems that pretty much sums up our purpose here on Earth.

We got to talking around the table about the prospects for social and political change, and the man who had translated the song recalled as a child looking at a 1913 atlas of the world that had been his father’s. The map of Africa, he said, was entirely comprised of colonies held by every major nation in the world. And over the past century, all that has changed.

Yes, all the so-called civilized nations have given up their colonies — except the U.S. It’s still clinging to Puerto Rico and all its little colonies in the Pacific, most notably Hawaii. I know some folks don’t view it like that, but then we’ve also got Holocaust-deniers and people who believe that we went into Iraq to impose democracy. So go figger.

Anyway, one of the comments left on Monday’s post asked:

Could anyone describe the scenario of a suceeded Hawaiian state. 
Leave off the ideals, just describe how this takes place in real time.
 What happens socially, politicaly, economically and physically to the one million people of this state?
Do we all return to our ethnic homelands?

Well, Anonymous, this little scenario might make it more understandable:

Two weeks from now, you rise and check the news only to discover that by a process of (choose at least one) mass election fraud, Supreme Court corruption, declaration of martial law, the GOP still controls the Oval office. Worse, Sarah Palin is poised to assume the Presidency. (Be sure to click on all the items in the room for the full effect of the horror.)

You mind lurches from thoughts of suicide to revolution to emigration, when suddenly it hits upon the answer: decolonization! That’s right. You’re in living in Hawaii. You don’t need to leave the U.S., the U.S. can leave Hawaii. Simply pledge allegiance to the Hawaiian nation and pay your taxes to the Hawaiian government, rather than the state and feds. You can petition for citizenship, or get a green card to maintain residency, just as is done in every other modern nation. Nobody has to return to their ethnic homeland; services continue uninterrupted. In short, life goes on, with new folks in charge. And if you don’t want to be part of the Hawaiian nation, well, you’re free to leave.

Think of it like moving to Canada, New Zealand, Fiji, without having to pack.

Yes, I know this is simplistic — intentionally so. But what I’m saying is, we’ve got plenty of decolonization models to follow. It’s not some impossible, unimaginable process.

John McCain apparently finds it unimaginable that he has black relatives. Under the subject line “something I didn’t know,” John Tyler sent a link to something I didn’t know either: McCain’s family owned slaves, and he’s got a black ohana. But he’s blown them off, and they’re voting for Obama.

In local elections, Andy Parx has been trying to get an answer to a question that has puzzled many Kauai voters, including myself: just how did Dickie Chang manage to get Walaau, the title of his TV show, after his name on the ballot?

I’m sure that many candidates would find it useful to have a little clue word printed next to their name to help voters distinguish them in the crowded Council pack. You know, like “librarian,” next to Lani Kawahara, or “Jabba da Hut” next to Ron Kouchi. But wouldn’t that give them an unfair advantage?

In offering an explanation to Andy, Dickie reportedly claimed that, “Everybody knows me as ‘Mr. Wala`au.’” While I find that assertion questionable, even more troubling was the rest of Dickie’s answer:

Chang said “it wasn’t my idea- I wasn’t the one who said how to put my name on the ballot”, although he declined to say who did.

“I just filled out all the papers they told me to” at the elections office, he said.

Now that’s the kind of leadership that will fit right in on the Council. Go Dickie!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Musings: Blunderings

The air had that wintry nip when Koko and I headed out in the colorless time just before sunrise, the grass sparkling with the remnants of last night’s rain. It could have passed for frost, except my feet, in rubber slippahs, knew better.

Garbage cans lined the street, the relentless Tuesday morning reminder of our great throw-away society, which always makes me feel a bit glum. But then a shama thrush, with its rust-colored breast and shiny black coat, flitted on to my mailbox, then my trash can and sang a few notes of beauty before retreating to the mock orange hedge, its tail flashing white in flight.

Spirits thus lifted, I was able to endure a peek at the headlines of my neighbor’s paper, where I learned that Gov. Lingle is defending her unconscionable decision to cut funding for the state’s universal health insurance program for children.

Lingle told reporters an alternative to the "Keiki Care Plan," called Children's Plan, will be sufficient even though parents will be charged $55 a month for each child who is enrolled. The Keiki Care Plan cost the state about $50,000 a month and was mostly free to families.

Now, $55 a kid might not seem like much to someone who is childless and earns what she does, but to families on the lowest end of the economic spectrum, it might as well be $550. Surely the state could cut $50,000 a month from the tourism promotion budget. Or better yet, why not raise the rents on the military? Don’t you think the Navy would pay more than its current $187 per year for PMRF? And if the military can’t afford the rising rents, well, then it could move to Las Vegas and Okalahoma and Texas, like the Hawaiians who have already been squeezed out.

As many predicted, it didn’t take long for the rapidly eroding eastside shoreline to start squeezing out that ribbon of coastal concrete known as The Path.

Yes, in typical Kauai County fashion, one blunder has been made atop another, and the blundering is poised to continue. First, the county built a seawall behind Pono Kai without a permit. Now — surprise! — the coastline is eroding around the seawall. This tends to occur around “shoreline hardening” projects, which is why they’re discouraged and permits are required.

After searching for a solution for more than a year, [County Engineer Donald] Fujimoto told the Kaua‘i County Council last week that the only feasible option is to build a new revetment behind the existing one.

This will entail ripping up a portion of the coastal path that the county completed last year. Due to space constraints created by an abutting private property, the path will likely be redesigned to run on top of the new seawall, Fujimoto said.

Let me get this straight. It didn’t work the first time, so let’s do it again at a cost of at least $2 million. OK, sounds like a plan.

Interesting, how in a bit of campaign fluff deposited in my mailbox yesterday, Bernard Carvalho takes credit for leading the county task force assigned to completing the Kapaa to Kuna Bay portion of the path.

Yet the Garden Island article on the seawall notes:

Council members Mel Rapozo and Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho said last year they cautioned the late Mayor Bryan Baptiste’s administration to wait until the revetment issue was resolved before constructing the next phase of the coastal path from Lihi Boat Ramp to Kealia.

Hmmm. This boondoggle doesn’t seem to reflect too well on Bernard’s already meager managerial skills.

I was actually starting to feel a bit kindly toward Bernard until I got that campaign flyer and noticed that among his “accomplishments,” which totaled all of six and included cleaning up Black Pot and Hanamaulu beach parks (BFD), he took credit for expanding bus service and initiating 10 affordable housing projects currently in progress.

Now how, pray tell, could the head of parks and rec have done that? It’s one thing to have limited experience. That’s understandable for someone who isn’t a career politician, and it’s OK. But to feather your cap with made up stuff, well, that’s pretty lame, Bernard. Perhaps he'll clear his conscience in confession at St. Catherine's, where he's a pastoral council member and past president of the parent-teacher guild. Oh, and don't forget he was also past president of the Kam Schools Assn. of Kauai. Wow, Bernard, your "commitment to community" is certainly impressive.

There’s something else that really bugs me about Bernard — besides the photo of him playing in some long ago Hula Bowl game on his most recent election flyer — and that’s the glaring dearth of haoles in any of his campaign literature.

I’m sure he doesn’t need, and maybe he doesn’t even want, our vote. But most politicians attempt at least some semblance of inclusiveness in choosing photos that show them interacting with the ethnically diverse members of our community.

His slogan may be “Together we can!” But the real message of his campaign is: “Locals only.”

Monday, October 20, 2008

Musings: Never Too Late

The moon, just slightly fuller than half, was directly overhead in a patch of blue within a sky of quilted gray that soon enveloped it, too, when Koko and I set out on this breezy morning.

As we walked, I detected two distinct vibrations of sound — chirping crickets and buzzing bees — that were audible even through the cacophony of crowing roosters. Koko, for her part, focused on scents lurking in the grass and dead things in the street.

I found a small bird’s nest beneath a stand of ironwood trees, and was carrying it, cupped in one hand, marveling at its intricate construction, when we ran into my neighbor Andy and his dog, Momi, an encounter that never fails to thrill Koko — and me, to a lesser degree.

We talked about my trip to Honolulu, which was taken up with research into Hawaii’s fisheries and an interview with the Rev. Kaleo Patterson, a former Kauai resident who is continuing to work on nonviolent approaches to social change through the Pacific Justice & Reconciliation Center.

I was working on a story last night about Kaleo and his explorations into indigenous peace-making initiatives, including the Hawaiian practice of ho`oponopono, so regrettably was unable to attend “The Queen's Women,” a play that re-enacts a meeting about the Kue, or "monster," petitions, which were signed by nearly every kanaka maoli to protest America’s annexation of the Hawaiian Islands.

People don’t seem to realize that Hawaiians never did support America’s theft of their kingdom, and 115 years later, that sentiment is still very much alive.

The federal and state governments obviously find that rather threatening, and I was interested to learn from Kaleo that the state has its own little “Secret Service,” a group that monitors Hawaiian activists and their activities. I wonder if it’s comprised of bruddas, in the usual attempt to pit Hawaiians against Hawaiians, or if it’s staffed by non-Hawaiians who don’t give a rip about the injustice that was committed.

I’m always struck, in video footage I see, by the faces of local cops when they have to participate in actions against Hawaiians. It’s obvious that they don’t relish the duty. In one video, I saw several cops wiping tears from their eyes as they walked through Brescia’s land at Naue, where each burial was identified by a little tiki torch. And in the film “Noho Hewa,” their expressions were grim and their actions were very gentle as they arrested houseless Hawaiians living alongside the road on Oahu. Kaleo said that during the Star Wars protests out at PMRF in the early 1990s, Kauai cops participated the first day, then refused to return for the second round of action, requiring the navy to bring in MPs from Schofield to execute the dirty deeds.

Obviously, many local cops recognize this kind of stuff for the travesty that it is. I mean, arresting Hawaiians for objecting to launching rockets from a sacred burial dune, or for being without houses in their own homeland? How bogus is that? How can the state in good conscience criminalize homelessness, anyway, especially when it’s caused by the state’s own economic policies, which favor the rich who are rapidly displacing the poor, a disproportionate number of whom are Hawaiians?

In researching my piece on Kaleo, I came across an article he’d written for the New Internationalist back in 1993, following Iniki, in which he talked about how tourism and militarism have adversely affected Hawaiians.

In the 15 years since it was published, both have only gotten more entrenched, with tourism morphing into even more insidious forms: the proliferation of vacation rentals in the conservation district and luxury estates that are sprawling over coastal ag land. Both types of construction frequently disrupt burials.

“Noho Hewa” included footage of the many burials that were disturbed in building the Hokulia golf course and estate homes on the Big Island. And if that’s not bad enough, burials that are preserved are turned into marketing tools, offering the clueless a chance to feel like they’re really getting close to "Hawaiian heritage."

When I was in Honolulu, I had dinner with a man who attended Kamehameha Schools for nine years, during the 1970s, yet learned virtually nothing about his culture. As we talked about “Noho Hewa,” he gave the responses I frequently hear from Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike: “Isn’t it too late to get the land back?” and the kicker, “This is too depressing.”

Yes, it is depressing, but only if one resigns oneself to accepting this injustice, to believing that it is too late, and that nothing can change. I’ve come to believe that it doesn’t matter what form sovereignty ultimately takes, or how it all shakes out for non-Hawaiians.

The first step is to make things pono again, to acknowledge the wrong that was committed when the U.S. overthrew the monarchy — as was done in the 1993 Apology Resolution, Public Law 103-150 — and take concrete, good faith steps to begin the process of reconciliation mandated by the resolution.

Once that’s done, and I’m not talking about the rip-off known as the Akaka Bill, then the rest of the solution can fall into place.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Musings: Wise Up

Murky skies greeted me this Honolulu dawn as I prepared to return to nani Kauai, more appreciative than ever of the little gem that I call home. Had a couple of conversations with Koko while I was away; she didn’t speak, but the friend who is watching her said her tail wagged madly when she heard my voice on the phone.

I’m still hearing some of the compelling words that were uttered on ”Noho Hewa,” the powerful film by Anne Keala Kelly that I watched at the Dole Cannery theatre as part of the Hawaii Film Festival yesterday afternoon. They were words that often brought tears to my eyes, words that opened my heart and mind.

I’d very much wanted to see it, then as so often happens when things are meant to be, Ikaika Hussey, the publisher of The Hawaii Independent, who I planned to meet with, anyway, said he was going, so I got to tag along.

If you don’t know much about what’s really going in Hawaii, then this is a movie you need to see to wise up and advance your education. If you do know, it’s worthwhile viewing to be reminded of why this struggle is so important.

Kelly, a journalist and filmmaker, touches upon all the issues currently impacting Native Hawaiians: burial desecration, the influx of high-end development, homelessness, environmental degradation, tourism, the Akaka bill, the ignorance and insensitivity of so many who come here and most of all, the intense military presence in the Islands.

I’ve always known that Hawaii is the most heavily militarized state, but this film put that presence in the context of the oppressive foreign occupation that it really is and does an excellent job of portraying what it’s like to live as a colonized people in your own homeland.

If you’re in Honolulu, you can see it for free at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, and I strongly urge that you do.

As Kelly said: “It’s important to see it on a big screen because these issues are always made small. They’re trying to make us invisible.”

What's really remarkable is that America hasn't succeeded.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Musings: Keep Moving

An elevator traveling up the side of a nearby building reflects the rising sun, sending periodic flashes of rosy light into my hotel room. The low rumble of buses replaces the usual morning bird song.

But I’ve seen the big moon rise two nights in a row, sparkling down on dark water, and last night’s sunset at Ala Moana beach park was a extravaganza of orange and pink that faded to showcase Venus.

Yes, I’m here in the Big City, where I’ve been for the past couple of days, so I haven’t had time to blog. It's all go-go-go.

I don’t really mind spending a few days in Honolulu, although my eyes always feel gritty. It’s an opportunity to reflect on my own life and human existence, because so many people do live in urban areas.

Mostly I’m astounded by all the stores. It’s easy in a city to realize that consumer spending drives America’s economy. For me, though, it amounts to serious overload, a reminder of how easy it is to get caught up in that drive to have more.

Never much of a shopper, I ventured into Ala Moana Shopping Center yesterday and was quickly overwhelmed by “too much” – too many choices, too many people, too much noise, too much stimulation. Although briefly tempted by a pair of Cole Haan shoes, I rightly reasoned that I’d have little opportunity to wear them and justify such an expensive purchase.

I left without buying anything, partly because I didn’t really need anything and also because I was thinking of the small businesses that struggle to make it on Kauai. While a lot of people come to Honolulu solely to shop, I felt like I should try to spend my money at home. Those are the guys who are there day in and day out when we need them.

It also seems there’s a lot more ethnic diversity here, with folks speaking languages other than English, and restaurants that reflect that mix. I’ve enjoyed that, but not the overall crush of people. Where do folks go to get away from it all, be alone here?

I saw one woman living, pretty well camouflaged, in a cardboard box in an alleyway. Our eyes met and she nodded, aware that I’d spotted her, and I smiled back, while wondering how she managed her rough existence, or the old lady moving very slowly and deliberately down the sidewalk, dragging a couple of carts.

Those sorts of sights trouble me in a city, along with the way that pedestrians and motorists don’t even seem to notice, as if it’s just part of the urban landscape. But while I observed, I kept moving, too.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Musings: Questionable

Few sounds are more welcomed than rain pounding on the roof, dripping on the ti, bouncing off the banana leaves, and that’s what I awoke to this morning.

The moon, which rose full and jack-o-lantern orange through last night’s high clouds and haze, was nowhere to be seen, and the sun was but a slight smudge of pale pink in the east when Koko and I slipped out for a short walk among plants and soil that were fully quenched.

When you get right down to it, that’s the only kind of bounty that really matters, yet most of our focus lately has been on the other kind, the human-created kind, which Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke cautioned “won’t rebound quickly,” despite a massive infusion of government aid.

The talk was all about money when I took Koko to the vet yesterday, where the desk clerk and several customers were in a heated discussion about the growing disparity between Kauai’s super-rich and everyone else. They were all locals, and they weren’t concerned so much about the economy in general as getting squeezed off the island in particular.

One woman said a realtor had told her: “Forget the millionaires, now Kauai’s attracting billionaires.” Another cited home prices at the new Kukuiula subdivision in Poipu that start at $1 million, asking: "Who can afford that?"

They were particularly upset that the county has failed to provide any new programs or facilities or activities for youth and teens, despite getting so much more money in property tax revenues.

I just observed it all, Koko on my lap, and was struck by how they bonded over their rejection of the class-consciousness that is starting to become more prevalent on Kauai. Hmmm. Maybe it’s no longer fashionable to be a conspicuous consumer.

I read a short article on billionaire Warren Buffet in “The Week” last night that noted he’s fond of saying: “You want to be greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy.” Suddenly I understood why I’m not rich. I always thought the goal was to avoid both fear and greed.

When it comes to greed, I often think of Joe Brescia building his spec houses over burials at Naue. There he is with his millions, and meanwhile, the Hawaiians who are protesting it are scrimping along. One of them, Andre Perez of Oahu, who was arraigned on Kauai yesterday on trespassing charges stemming from an Aug. 7 protest at the site, noted the contrast in a Monday email:

I heard that the Noho Hewa video was shown at the film festival tonight and that it was pretty good. I had mixed feelings cause I wanted to go but was $10 and bread is kinda tight right now.. I couldn't help contrasting these thoughts- I like watch dis video about Hawaiian resistance but at the same time no can go cause gotta save money and gotta get up early for court on Kauai. Basically, no can watch the video about the struggle cause of the struggle. Fuck up.. BUT- we will continue to persevere - ONIPA'A!

Speaking of perseverance, those fighting the Superferry in court – in particular, the way a special law was passed to allow it to sail without first having the EIS required by another law — will have another chance to be heard.

The Honolulu Advertiser reported last night:

The Hawai'i Supreme Court today agreed to hear an appeal seeking to invalidate a state law that allowed Hawaii Superferry to begin operation last year without an environmental impact statement.

The court said it was transferring the case from the lower Intermediate Court of Appeals and would schedule oral arguments because it involves a matter "of imperative or fundamental public importance." A date for arguments was not announced.

The Sierra Club, Maui Tomorrow and the Kahului Harbor Coalition requested the transfer as part of their appeal of a Maui Circuit Court ruling in November that upheld the new law known as Act 2.

The last time the three groups were allowed to present oral arguments before the Supreme Court, they won an uncommonly swift judgment that brought a halt to Hawaii Superferry service.

In an update of the story this morning, the paper reports:

Wailuku attorney Isaac Hall, representing the Sierra Club, Maui Tomorrow and the Kahului Harbor Coalition, said "it's encouraging" the court accepted the case on the grounds that it involves an issue of importance and at the discretion of Chief Justice Ronald T.Y. Moon.

"If the court rules that Act 2 is unconstitutional, then the injunction should be reinstated until a real EIS is done pursuant to Chapter 343," Hall said.

The comments that followed the story included the familiar whining about how no one has fussed over the environmental impacts of other ships and the usual cheap shots at Isaac Hall.

But “sweetleaf” did raise a good point:

One would think that a "$250 million enterprise" would take the time to time to read the rules first. Of course it's gonna come back and kill em... what a costly mistake.

As did “flyin bob":

Why is the DOT doing the EIS and not a private company that would normally do it, and WHO is paying for the EIS?

Good questions. Maybe they could forward their queries to Gov. Lingle. Oh wait, she’s on the campaign trail for McCain, whose national security adviser and campaign contribution “bundler” is Superferry investor and Board Chairman John Lehman.

Any more questions?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Musings: Manna and Mana

I almost rolled over and went back to sleep, but the slightest glimmer of pink light filtering through the window pulled me up and out into a morning that prompted both farmer Jerry and my neighbor Andy to remark upon its beauty when Koko and I encountered them as we walked along the road.

In the east were mackerel skies, brushed with broad streaks of vibrant coral, as silvery-white mist huddled above a lush pasture soaked by last night’s frequent rains. The air was chilly enough to make me shiver in my sweatshirt, and Waialeale, bare and bold, flushed first lavender-pink, as the sun emerged, then green, as it rose higher.

It was a continuation of the splendor I’d witnessed the day before, sitting in the long golden rays of a lowering sun, the air heavy with the scent of hinano — hala flowers — watching rainbows flying off the backs of big North Shore waves, dark squalls along the horizon transformed into what my friend termed “rainbow columns.”

Driving home, beneath a fat moon encircled by a ring, I was called to a favorite quiet spot inhabited by pohaku where I received, for lack of a better phrase, a spirit infusion.

It was a much different energy than the cash infusion that governments around the world are pumping in to the financial markets to keep the material world going. And the great god Dow Jones was appeased and rewarded his followers with manna. I know you can’t take mana to the bank, but I find stockpiling it to be far more rewarding.

A persistent AP reporter got his reward when he bagged the interview we’ve all been breathlessly waiting for: Levi Johnston speaking out about what it’s really like to be marrying Gov. Palin’s daughter.

I’ll give you the highlights: he dropped out of high school to get a job to support his pending family and tattooed Bristol’s name on his finger so he wouldn’t have to bother about a ring. Oh, and he didn’t get around to registering, so he won’t be able to vote, but he’s still rooting for his future mother-in-law.

Now a real scoop would have been discovering he was an Obama supporter.

Meanwhile, his future mother-in-law is busy making like ”troopergate” was no big deal, blaming it all on partisan politics as she “she glossed over the findings that she had broken ethics rules, which amounted to an abuse of her office.”

Now, that’s not a great start for a possible future President, who is at least supposed to wait until he/she gets into the Oval Office before they start abusing power.

Even more troubling is another sort of abuse of power, and that’s the hate mongering and rabble rousing at which this self-described pit bull is so adept. It’s a strategy that’s prompted lifelong Republican, Frank Schaeffer, to equate McCain/Palin rallies with “lynch mobs:”

“John McCain: If your campaign does not stop equating Sen. Barack Obama with terrorism, questioning his patriotism and portraying Mr. Obama as ‘not one of us,’ I accuse you of deliberately feeding the most unhinged elements of our society the red meat of hate, and therefore of potentially instigating violence.

“At a Sarah Palin rally, someone called out, ‘Kill him!’ At one of your rallies, someone called out, ‘Terrorist!’ Neither was answered or denounced by you or your running mate, as the crowd laughed and cheered. At your campaign event Wednesday in Bethlehem, Pa., the crowd was seething with hatred for the Democratic nominee—an attitude encouraged in speeches there by you, your running mate, your wife and the local Republican chairman.

This would be troubling no matter who is running, because more hate is one thing we definitely don’t need. But given the sort of institutional and mob violence that has been directed at African-Americans, it’s even more alarming.

The question now is whether McCain and Palin want to — or even can — raise this particularly ugly vibration.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Musings: Act Local

Walking through the neighborhood in the usual quiet of a Saturday morning, with chickens and bird song and barking dogs providing the bulk of the background noise, it seems impossible to believe that the human part of the world is so precariously poised.

On the one hand, we have President Bush — never a reassuring or credible presence —telling folks there’s no need to panic and the government’s big action was big enough to stem the crisis.

And on the other, we’ve got the very same government calling international meetings to save the world from economic collapse as Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson delivers such unsettling comments as:

"This is a period like none of us has ever seen before," declared Paulson at a rare Friday night news conference.

If none of them have ever seen anything like this, how can they be so certain they’ll be able to “fix it?”

A friend just back from an Indonesia vacation told of watching the world news — “They even have Al Jezeera broadcasts,” he marveled — at a surf camp there, and seeing well-heeled surfers from Brazil, Australia and Europe digest reports of America’s financial woes spreading across the globe, causing their own investments to nose dive.

It’s kind of like the 21st Century equivalent of the venereal and other diseases that infected vast numbers of unsuspecting persons at the onset of colonialism, causing entire civilizations to collapse.

My favorite comment of the week came from Bush:

"In an interconnected world, no nation will gain by driving down the fortunes of another.”

Since when? Isn’t that the basis of all the war-mongering that made the 20th Century the bloodiest in human history? Isn’t that why the World Bank has crushed the economies of developing nations with debt? Isn’t that the purpose of NAFTA and other trade agreements?

Meanwhile, Larry Geller at Disappeared News is wondering, where’s the public outrage over the meltdown?

I think a lot of folks are numb, or just don’t know what to think. Then there’s a sizable group that figures the government will fix it, because that’s what the government keeps saying it’s going to do.

And then there’s the misplaced outrage, like the anger expressed toward the Dems at recent GOP political rallies. That leads me to my second favorite quote of the week:

“I’m mad; I’m really mad!” the [Republican] voter bellowed. “And what’s going to surprise ya, is it’s not the economy — it’s the socialists taking over our country.”

Ironically, he was referring to Obama, not Bush, the President who orchestrated the biggest government intervention in the financial sector in history, and whose Treasury Secretary is now talking about nationalizing banks.

On a local level, I haven’t seen any outrage or even much overt concern, although folks are definitely aware of what’s happening. A friend who works construction said some guys are really crying because work has dried up, although it hasn’t for him, while another reported that North Shore condos aren’t selling, with some on the market for over 700 days. Meanwhile, a local charity cancelled a planned fundraising ball because it feared the tickets were too pricey.

So things are obviously decelerating on Kauai, but some people are viewing it like a hurricane, without the damage, imposing a slowdown that’s somewhat welcome after the frenetic activity of the past six years. All of a sudden it’s possible to easily make a left turn onto Kuhio Highway in Kapaa in the middle of the day because the traffic has eased. And folks opposed to the massive Kukuiulua development in Poipu are smirking as it stalls out just as it’s coming on line.

I don’t know if this attitude will persist if things get worse, but Kauai has weathered tough times in the past, in large part because there’s still a sense of caring here. Despite our differences, folks are generally willing to help one another, local-style.

That makes me think of an exchange I witnessed the other day while sitting with some guys at a picnic table by the beach at Pine Trees in Hanalei. A Lakota named Black Fox came by and joined us. He got to talking and said he’d met a girl who asked him: “Are you a local?”

He had replied, “I don’t know,” which set us all to laughing and prompted one of the guys, from a North Shore Hawaiian family, to say: “There’s no way to tell by looking who’s local in Hawaii. It’s, do you act local?”

And on Kauai, fortunately, a lot of folks do.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Musings: The Sky is Falling?

My alarm clock today was Koko, flying out of bed, small feet narrowly missing my head, intent to get outside where a chicken was making a particularly blood-curdling cackle.

By the time I indulged her, having had to first write down a dream, brush my teeth and get dressed, the chicken was nowhere to be seen or heard, but another soon came rocketing out of the bushes, running for its life, or so it seemed from its loud and frantic cries, which had Koko tugging sharply on her leash and even roused the neighbor’s cat from his sunbath and sent him off in hot pursuit.

I would have thought that discretion would have more surely guaranteed safety, but instead it was if the chicken was putting itself in greater danger by crying out, “look at me, look at me, I’m in trouble.” It was not unlike the headlines on the neighbor’s morning paper that screamed: Economic Meltdown, followed by bold print announcing the IMF prediction that the world economy will slow dramatically, led by the U.S.

It wasn’t until the fifth paragraph that the story reported:

The IMF's projection was made before the Federal Reserve and other major central banks from around the world slashed interest rates Wednesday in an attempt to prevent a financial crisis from becoming a global economic meltdown.

So we still don’t really know how this whole thing will shake out, but folks are bailing like mad to keep the boat afloat and the fear alarm is ringing madly.

It made me think of a comment that farmer Jerry made the other day about how the baby boomers — and he’s solidly one of ‘em — mistrusted government and the system, and now it’s obvious that they were right. Because they’re the ones who are gonna get screwed as their retirement funds evaporate in this volatile market.

And that got us talking about what lured the once distrustful baby boomers to Wall Street, a place they once viewed as the evil spawn of the industrial-military complex, the dreaded domain of the suits? What got them speculating on real estate, when they once talked about living off land held in common ownership?

The answer, it seems, is the desire for security. Somehow even the free-wheeling, free-loving boomers got caught in that trap, which so often causes people to abandon their best interests and stay in bad marriages, bad jobs, bad investments, fervently holding on to the hope — the myth — that somebody or something’s going to take care of them.

That’s an attitude that folks had better snap out of quick, according to author Naomi Klein [correx: Naomi Wolf], who is now sounding the alarm that the government essentially staged a coup when it sent armed troops to patrol American streets. In a YouTube interview, she makes some pretty compelling arguments about how the nation is sliding into facism.

Among them are the mass arrests of immigrants, which she called practice for large-scale detainments, threatening Congress with martial law if it didn’t pass the bailout bill, the recent arrest of journalists (ahem) and fine print buried in the bailout bill that gives the Prez total authority over $1 billion. And now he has own personal army, as he has sole control over the 3,000 to 4,000 troops now training for domestic operations in America.

In a Democracy Now! interview, Army Col. Michael Boatner claimed the troops won't be used for law enforcement:

The primary purpose of this force is to provide help to people in need in the aftermath of a WMD-like event in the homeland.

And even though the 3rd Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat unit has spent three of the last five years in Iraq in counterinsurgency operations, and will be armed with Tasers and rubber bullets, Col. Boatner assured us they won’t snap in domestic situations:

So, I would say that our soldiers are trustworthy. They can deploy in the homeland, and American citizens can be confident that there will be no abuses.

There’s quite a lot more to the interview, including the fact that every member of the National Governors Association signed a letter that said, “This provision was drafted without consultation or input from governors and represents an unprecedented shift in authority from governors…to the federal government,” so I’d encourage you to read it, and also watch Naomi’s video and make up your own mind about what’s going on in America.

It seems so far away, but let’s not forget that Hawaii is the most heavily militarized of all the states and the only one to have experienced martial law.

I’ll leave you with this olelo noe'au, which was sent to Andre Perez of Oahu when he turned himself in yesterday on a trespassing warrant stemming from the Aug. 7 protest at the Naue burial site:

Eku mai la mamua ka `ino -- said of one who is courageous and stands firm amongst the forces before him.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Naue Overview

The Hawaii Independent, a well-done — and very welcome — alternative news website put together by Ikaika Hussey, Chad Blair and others, has posted an article I just wrote that lays out the chronology and issues of the Naue burials debate. As I researched and wrote the piece, I was amazed at all the twists and turns this story has taken. You can read it here.

Musings: Twitterings

The world, at least the part of it that I occupy, is all a twitter this morning, and it’s the good kind, the kind made by birds as they fly about, searching for bugs and worms in the wet grass, establishing territory, perhaps courting, doing whatver they need to survive, and all the while singing.

It’s very different than the decidedly joyless twitter that presents itself over the Internet, reflecting the self-inflicted concerns and cares that dominate human existence, causing me to wonder — again — just how it is that we’ve gotten so very out of touch, when we’re supposedly more connected than ever.

It’s not unlike the Twitter feeds found on some websites, that tell us what the poster was doing two minutes, 12 hours, before. We have all the mundane details these days, yet we’re missing the big picture.

I used to think that people just had to be taught how to see the big picture, or that they simply hadn’t been exposed to the advantages of that kind of thought. Now I’m beginning to think it’s more an issue of mass denial, aided by media-created mass distraction.

Rolling Stone summed up that dynamic particularly well in an article about Sarah Palin:

Here's the thing about Americans. You can send their kids off by the thousands to get their balls blown off in foreign lands for no reason at all, saddle them with billions in debt year after congressional year while they spend their winters cheerfully watching game shows and football, pull the rug out from under their mortgages, and leave them living off their credit cards and their Wal-Mart salaries while you move their jobs to China and Bangalore.

And none of it matters, so long as you remember a few months before Election Day to offer them a two-bit caricature culled from some cutting-room-floor episode of Roseanne as part of your presidential ticket. And if she's a good enough likeness of a loudmouthed Middle American archetype, as Sarah Palin is, John Q. Public will drop his giant-size bag of Doritos in gratitude, wipe the Sizzlin' Picante dust from his lips and rush to the booth to vote for her. Not because it makes sense, or because it has a chance of improving his life or anyone else's, but simply because it appeals to the low-humming narcissism that substitutes for his personality, because the image on TV reminds him of the mean, brainless slob he sees in the mirror every morning.

Most people don’t want to look much beyond their own reflection, because if you’re looking at the big picture right now, it’s pretty darn sobering.

New Dimensions has a program on that topic, which you can listen to for free through tomorrow (and I really hope you do), entitled ”Going Green is Not Enough.” In it, author and permaculture expert Chuck Burr exposes the fallacy that solar and other feel-good measures are going to resolve the energy crisis, or any of the other problems currently facing us.

The crux of the matter, as Burr lays it out, is that humans evolved in tribes that inhabited bioregions whose resources kept their populations in check. But oil changed all that, resulting in a population boom that we know isn’t sustainable and giving rise to a bizarre economic system known as “world trade,” which consumes unimaginable amounts of resources shifting goods from one bioregion to another.

This oil-fueled gorge-a-thon can’t go on forever, and Burr says what’s needed, besides one-child families for a few generations to get the population down, is a shift toward that old tribal approach of living sustainably within our bioregions.

It’s certainly nothing new, neither the concept nor talk about it, but I just don’t see any significant movement in that direction. It seems we might have a chance for such an approach here in Hawaii, with our relatively small population, large amounts of open land, ample water and marine resources that haven’t been totally plundered. We’ve also got at least fragments of the indigenous culture left, with its vital knowledge of how such a life was lived not so very long ago.

Yet aside from the state contemplating an ahupuaa approach to land and resource decision-making, and a handful of folks saying we've got to start growing our own food, nothing really concrete is happening. And if we can’t do it here, which I believe is still possible, how in the world would such a shift be carried out in large urban areas?

Meanwhile, our species seems to have misplaced or forgotten the basic consciousness needed to move us there. So many people still subscribe to the theory of pillage and plunder when it comes to nature. If we haven’t yet mastered the basics — take care of the earth and it will take care of us — how are we going to move on to more advanced concepts?

There’s something else missing, too, and that’s the heart energy. LightLine sent around an email yesterday with a link to a YouTube video about an Australian medium’s prediction of a major extraterrestrial visit next Tuesday. It seems they’re coming to help free humans from the grip of dark energy.

I checked out the video, which featured medium Blossom Goodchild, but what really struck me were the comments that had been posted. Regardless of what one thinks of UFOs or space visits or mediums, Blossom was very clearly delivering a message of “choose love.”

And people didn’t want to hear it. Some were linking her with Hitler and various cults, others were saying they’d make it their life’s mission to expose her; most were abusive and hateful. But the saddest were the comments left by those who chastised Blossom for failing to take seriously the grave consequences of offering people hope that would inevitably be dashed. Wow. That spoke volumes to me.

As I wrote this, I conversed with a shama perched on the poinsettia bush outside my front door. It would whistle, then pause, as I repeated what I’d heard, the best I could. But I couldn’t keep up, as its warbling lyrics grew increasingly complex. And soon it lost interest in my flawed twitterings, and flew away.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Musings: The FUD Effect

I was rather spacey when Koko and I went out walking this hazy, humid morning, having just emerged minutes before from a vivid dream where I was staging a production of “Wizard of Oz” with about 50 inner-city high school students who were grinding crayons into the floor and mixing cement in a sink, among other antics.

Where does this stuff come from? I asked farmer Jerry, whom I encountered on the road for the first time in a long time, but he had no answers, only laughter, which is always a good way to start the day.

My neighbor Andy offered up both laughter and answers, although not to the dream question, which I didn’t ask him, but to what’s next in the Presidential campaign now that Palin has been pressed into service as an attack dog? It seems she's now busy spreading half-truths about Obama’s association with former Weatherman Bill Ayers.

I guess since she doesn’t have any credibility to begin with, the campaign figures they’ve got nothing to lose to set her loose lying. At least the press is calling her on some of her shibai, although whether that gets through to American voters, whom blogger Andy Parx aptly described as “too stupid to live” is another question.

“Well, Obama can always bring up the Keating Five ,” Andy said, in reference to McCain’s role in the savings and loan scandal of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. And voila, when I returned home and scanned the news, sure enough that’s exactly what he’s doing.

The politicos work fast. They’ve already created a website with a YouTube clip and text that notes:

The Keating scandal is eerily similar to today's credit crisis, where a lack of regulation and cozy relationships between the financial industry and Congress has allowed banks to make risky loans and profit by bending the rules.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that:

Seven aides to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin have reversed course and agreed to testify in an investigation into whether the Republican vice presidential nominee abused her power by firing a commissioner who refused to dismiss her former brother-in-law.

Guess everybody’s dirty laundry is going to get a good airing, what with the election less than a month away and Obama leading in the polls. As Andy and I agreed, the campaign is only going to get nastier.

Just like the financial news. Seems like the economy is tanking despite the big bailout, which if I recall correctly, was supposed to make everything rosy again. Instead, the stock market continues to plunge and the rest of the world has gotten a serious case of the jitters. And horrors, now Americans have even stopped shopping, which the NY Times says all but guarantees “that the economic situation will get worse before it gets better.”

I find it fascinating that so many people seem to understand that everything is connected in regard to the financial markets, but then they have a big disconnect when it comes to applying that interrelatedness to anything else, like the environment and social issues.

It’s so hard to know how much of this current “economic crisis” is real and fixable, and how much is manufactured fear-mongering hype exacerbated by the usual media feeding frenzy. Yesterday, I interviewed Ira Rohter, a UH political science professor who helped found Hawaii’s Green Party. He was talking about how people can deliberately create a FUD effect — fear, uncertainty and distortion — to confuse voters, and while he wasn’t referring to the financial situation, it certainly seems applicable.

I think the best thing to do is hang tight and remember my favorite bit of roadside graffiti, spray-painted on a concrete block along Kuamoo Road. It says, simply: NO FEAR.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Musings: Polls and Hypocrisy

The days are definitely getting shorter, which means no more heading to the beach for a swim at 6 p.m., although I did see a wedge of moon in the west at about that time last night, and Koko and I were well along our walking route this morning before the sun rose — a sphere of muted, soft gold.

It was still and humid, the pavement stained purple from fallen java plum, and Waialeale was adorned with clouds in three layers of color — pearl white, dove gray and apricot — that were rapidly turning charcoal about the time we ran into my neighbor Andy, walking two dogs.

It’s always such a pleasure to see the joy that dogs get from being out in the world, and their antics helped keep things light as our conversation touched on weightier matters that dogs have the good sense to entirely avoid, like the failings of human communication, politics and Hawaiian rights.

The latter two came up in a phone call I received Friday night from SMS Research on Oahu, which was conducting a poll of Kauai voters. The pollster didn’t want to know much, just my opinions of mayoral candidates JoAnn Yukimura and Bernard Carvalho (snore), whether I thought Kauai was better or worse now than five years ago and whether I thought it would be better or worse five years in the future (worse, unfortunately, on both counts) and my thoughts about having a Constitutional Convention (we don’t need one.)

And then he said he had another question about the Con-Con, and asked which statement I agreed with most: that it was time to re-examine the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and other Hawaiian programs, or the Hawaiian part of the Constitution should be left alone.

I answered “the latter” as the red alert flag raised and it became clear to me that Hawaiians are the ones with the most to lose in this push for a Con-Con, which has been endorsed by Gov. Lingle, Lt. Gov. Aiona,, Honolulu City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle and others sympathetic to the rigid philosophies of the GOP.

The pollster had no interest in my opinion on any of the other hot topics that could be floated at a Con-Con — local school boards, same sex marriage, banning abortion, a new Department of Energy. Only the Hawaiian issue was of concern.

It doesn’t seem that this is the time to be re-examining OHA or any other Hawaiian entitlement programs now that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of whether the state should be allowed to sell or transfer the so-called ceded lands that originally belonged to the Kingdom of Hawaii. Let’s get the core issue settled before we start dismantling anything.

The pollster then asked which statement I agreed with most: $6 million is too much to pay for a Con-Con when the state has other needs, or a Con-Con is so important it should be held at any price. Any price? I don’t think so. But then, even $6 million is a lowball figure, according to the Legislative Reference Bureau, which estimated it would likely cost between that and $41.7 million.

In national elections, I was interested to read a revealing New Yorker article about Cindy McCain last night that depicts John McCain as pretty clueless. Seems he didn’t even know his wife was addicted to pain meds that she illegally procured through falsified prescriptions, had taken flying lessons and bought a plane or was planning to adopt a child until she showed up with the kid.

Reading it made me wonder, if he doesn’t know what’s happening in his own home, how is he going to keep an eye on his Administration, much less the nation? We’ve already had two checked out Presidents — Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush — and we don’t need another.

The article also exposed the Republican hypocrisy when it comes to the conservative social agenda they want to force on the rest of us. There she is, attending a Baptist church that is opposed to abortion and believes homosexuality is a “life issue,” like materialism, yet she and John started up their relationship while he was married to another woman.

In a continued perversion of the GOP’s so-called family values, she essentially raised the kids in Phoenix while McCain spent his time in D.C., prompting her to refer to herself as a “single mom” and note while on the campaign trail in 2000: “I’ve never spent this much time with my husband.’’

And while the Bush Administration was busy throwing folks in jail for smoking pakalolo — marijuana arrests reached an all-time high of 872,720 in 2007 —Cindy inherited the fortune, estimated at $100 million, that her family amassed selling beer to the masses.

Go figger.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Musings: Walk Softly

Few things are more delightful than walking on a carpet of flower petals, which has been the case in my yard lately with the mock orange hedge blooming profusely and dropping its white blossoms onto the lawn enmasse.

It’s pleasing to both the bees, and me, although Koko took far more pleasure in the screeching chickens that worked her into a frenzy of thwarted chase during our short walk this wet morning, as small patches of sunlight peeked through puka in an otherwise gray sky.

I observed a few pinpoints of light at yesterday’s otherwise dark Burial Council, which turned into nearly five hours of impassioned, intense testimony that made it difficult to stay and impossible to leave. In the end, the matter of whether Joe Brescia should be allowed to build his oceanfront house at Naue atop burials that are encased in concrete was deferred to the Council's November meeting.

I’ll start with the most inane quote of the day, which was uttered by Pua Aiu, administrator of the State Historic Preservation Division, when several people asked why men with guns were in the room. She replied that she had requested DOCARE officers because of “unruly meetings in the past” and noted: “They come with guns. That’s how they come equipped.”

As Sharon Pomroy wryly observed, standing up and holding the traditional wood staff carried by Hale Mawae: “Guns are here because there’s a Hawaiian with a stick in the room.”

At the request of Chair Mark Hubbard, the three state enforcement officers did leave the Council Chambers and spent the rest of the day hanging out in the heat and humidity on the front steps of the Historic County Building. Some Kauai cops also showed up because people had called them to complain about the DOCARE officers. It was not only an utter waste of da guys with guns’ time and taxpayer money, but a tragic commentary on the climate of fear that seems to pervade the state when it comes to Hawaiians and their issues.

The last time I saw armed officers at a meeting was when Office of Hawaiian Affairs hit the road to explain to folks why its proposed settlement with the state was such a good deal. Strange, that the two state agencies that deal most closely with Hawaiian issues are so quick to call in the guns. Could it be because they know best how badly the kanaka are getting screwed?

As Tracey Schavone, who is not a kanaka, noted in her testimony to the Council: “It’s very disturbing to think, this is a Hawaiian issue, and oh my god, they think they need to have guns in the room.”

Yes, at times passions did run high and some of the speakers refused to obey the chairman’s three-minute testimony limit, but the worst thing that happened were some raised voices, and surely we can all handle that without armed intervention.

What mostly struck me about the meeting, though, was how this entire process is so anti-Hawaiian. The whole business of digging up burials and numbering them and discussing them in public is antithetical to the Hawaiian culture, as are burial treatment plans and such “preservation” methods as concrete caps and jackets.

Then there’s the business of proving that one is a lineal descendant in order to have access to burials. That process requires kanaka to write down their geneaology, which is then verified by a state geneaologist and becomes public record. As Jeff Chandler, a descendant of the Naue burials who has balked at the application process, explained at yesterday’s meeting:

“My family geneaology is kapu. It is not to be written down to be passed on to those it doesn’t belong to. The state’s idea of geneaology is not cultural practice.”

If the Burial Council needs to know his family’s geneaology, he said, he would bring in his nephew to recite it in Hawaiian, which is the only way it is supposed to be shared.

At the meeting, I was sitting next to Keala Kai, whose grandfather once owned land not far from the Brescia property, but was forced to sell it decades ago because of the rising taxes. He recalled childhood days spent on to the land, which the family used as a campsite for summertime fishing trips. They always followed the same paths to the beach, he said, and didn’t go off messing around in the bushes. They were especially careful of where they went to the bathroom, and his uncle had planted large trees in some spots to protect the burials and make sure nothing was built over them.

Keala said his grandfather always told him: “Walk softly, boy, get plenty ohana around here.”

And that, in short, is what's wrong today. The people who knew enough to walk softly, the people who co-existed with the remains of their ohana, have been largely displaced from the land, primarily due to economic reasons. What followed was wholesale desecration, including entire sand dunes dug up and replaced with resorts, until the Hawaiians finally reacted at Honoakhua, Maui and said: "Enough."

So the state, which view resources as commodities, created a process that allows the desecration to continue, so long as you have the proper permit. And the kanaka, meanwhile, have to jump through state-created hoops that are designed to deter them in order to gain formal access to the burials that they previously lived with in a natural, informall way.

It’s pretty disgusting, and distressing, when you look at the big picture. But after the meeting, when I was talking to some folks outside in the parking lot, one friend summed it up perfectly. Gesturing to the historic county building, he said, “You can’t be expecting justice in there. It’s set up for the perpetuation of commerce, and the protection of private property.”

So if the kanaka cry and raise their voices and pound their staffs and get a little bit loud and emotional at a meeting called to determine whether a vacation rental spec house should be built atop a cemetery, well, maybe now you can understand why.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Musings: Creepy Creeping Facism

I had the pleasure yesterday of visiting Limahuli, a journey that took me through some of the most beautiful scenery on Kauai, which is saying a lot, on a lovely day with sunshine and brief rains and aqua-colored water with a nice little swell.

Yet even as I passed dramatic mountain ranges and dropped into verdant valleys, skirted taro fields and crossed rivers and streams, drove narrow roads that hugged the coast, I couldn’t help but feel that I was traveling through a corridor of death.

Why? Because the entire route had been sprayed with herbicides, leaving a swath of dead, brown vegetation on both sides of the road. When is the state going to end this barbaric practice? Not only is it harmful to all life, it looks like hell, which just doesn’t make sense when tourists are spending large to come and look at our pretty scenery.

The practice seemed all the more ludicrous following my interview at Limahuli with garden director Kawika Winter, who was telling me about the garden’s ahupua`a project, which is built around the ancient understanding that the land, the people and the sea are all inter-related and connected.

As I drove home, I recalled Kawika's words and thought, yes, and we wonder why the reefs are trashed when we habitually spray poison on the land, right up to the edge of the Hanalei River, and along all the guardrails of the bridges that cross numerous streams.

There’s so much in Hawaii’s past that could help us solve today’s problems. I only hope we start to tap into it before it’s too late.

Heard on Free Speech Radio news yesterday that the Bush Administration has begun tapping the military
to patrol U.S. streets. In what was the creepiest and most alarming news I’d heard in a while, the report stated:

Beginning today, October 1st, a U.S. military brigade will start its first permanent domestic tour of duty. The 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team will be employed by the US Northern Command to patrol US streets and provide security for convoys during man-made or natural disasters.

The report goes on to state that several U.S. cities have been subjected to “urban guerilla training exercises” in recent months, including one in downtown Portland (of all places) where the mayor granted the military permission to conduct exercises on downtown streets, including one that involved live ammunition.

The troops — fresh from active duty in Iraq — are under the Northern Command, which was created by Bush in 2002 to “defend the homeland in times in terror.” And while Title 10 of the U.S. code prohibits the military from making arrests or carrying out policing activities except in times of national emergencies, it seems a “national emergency” has been in effect since just after 9-11 — and renewed each year by Bush.

According to the broadcast, the idea of using military troops in domestic situations actually dates back to 1999, two years before the World Trade Center went down, when a Department of Defense report called for developing “an offensive and defensive domestic military plan” in which it takes the lead.

Although civil liberties groups have objected, the military’s response is that it’s not their concern to consider the constitutional issues involved in these activities. They’re “just following orders.”

A Portland resident, however, said it seems like “another creeping step toward facism," and I must say, I agree.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Musings: Continuing the Charade

The other day I was telling one of my sisters about how the police questioned and nearly arrested me — and did arrest others — all because of a peaceful protest by cultural practitioners at the Naue burial site. Her reaction was one shared by many: “What an incredible waste of police resources.”

It’s not just the cops, but the prosecutor’s office and district court that are wasting precious time and money on a case that arises, ironically, from the state’s own failure to properly care for the iwi kupuna, the ancient bones, it is mandated to protect.

Meanwhile, the original perpetrator of this mess, Kauai district archaeologist Nancy McMahon, continues on in her present state job, undisciplined and unpunished, even though the court found that McMahon failed to meet her professional and legal responsibilities when she approved the final Burial Treatment Plan (BTP) for the project without first consulting the Burial Council, lineal descendants, Hawaiian cultural groups and even landowner Joe Brescia.

Worse, McMahon is obviously unrepentant, as evidenced by the supposedly revised BTP that she will take to the Burial Council for its review at 9 a.m. tomorrow — an action that was ordered by the court.

Although Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe clearly stated in issuing her ruling that the Council might decide to exercise any number of options, including removing and reinterring the burials that are beneath the house and driveway, removing the concrete “jackets” that were placed on the bones and providing access for those who wished to visit the burials, not one of these options is so much as mentioned in the revised BTP.

Instead, it merely recounts what was done to the iwi under McMahon’s previous BTP — the one she adopted unilaterally and illegally, and now expects the Burial Council to merely rubber stamp in typical after-the-fact-permit fashion. OK, problem solved. Next!

As for consulting with Hawaiian groups and lineal descendants, as the court also ordered her to do, last I heard McMahon was trying to pull together a meeting this past Sunday with several local kanaka who have been strongly opposed to building a house atop the burials. She even went so far as to ask one of them to invite someone from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to attend.

Come on! What kind of half-baked, rush job consultation effort is that? It’s obviously the kind you stage when you’re hoping no one will show up and voice objections, or when you’re trying to push something through at the next meeting rather than take the time to do it right.

And then there’s the little matter of deputy attorney general Vince Kanemoto, who still has not explained how he can properly and ethically serve his two masters: the State Historic Preservation Division, which includes McMahon, and the Burial Council. The two parties do not have the same objectives, legal responsibilities or interests, and it became quite clear in the recent court proceedings that Kanemoto, who is supposed to advise the Burial Council on all its legal options and make sure McMahon follows the law, failed in his duties, as well.

It remains to be seen whether the Burial Council will go along with McMahon's charade or impose other conditions on the project. I know one woman has been delivering DVDs of Judge Watanabe's ruling to Council members so they can see for themselves what really went down.

While SHPD continues on, unfazed by the court’s rebuke, citizen groups are taking other steps that may ultimately prove more effective. Malama Kauai and the Kauai Public Land Trust have teamed up to raise money to buy Brescia’s oceanfront cemetery, which has at least 30 burials and concrete foundation pilings that were hurriedly poured so as to make it difficult to stop the project before the lawsuit was heard.

And my North Shore kanaka friends tell me they are planning a Nov. 1 ceremony that will involve people from throughout the Islands in building an ahu, or altar, at both Brescia’s property and Ke`e, similar to what was done at the University of Hawaii to protest GMO taro research.

That sounds like a good idea. The protection of iwi kupuna is, after all, a spiritual and cultural struggle, so it makes sense to emphasize that aspect — especially since it’s become obvious that the law, as currently written and followed, has serious shortcomings and SHPD hasn’t learned anything from all the trauma and drama at Naue these past many months.