Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Musings: What If?

The sky was multiple shades of gray when Koko and I went walking this morning, and though the sunrise created a hot pink flash on the horizon, the cloud bank quickly snuffed it out in an ongoing intolerance of sunshine.

Koko was snacking on grass at the roadside salad bar when farmer Jerry stopped by to chat. It seems the East Kauai Water Users Cooperative is getting requests for some hydro projects, which currently aren’t allowed under its agreement with the state. But the board is going to review its policies and see if hydro can be accommodated in its system.

I noticed in the most recent issue of KIUC’s magazine that the Wailua Falls hydro project is listed under future power-generating projects, although permitting and environmental issues were cited as a potential obstacle — just as they have been for the past 20 years.

Koko’s whining signaled the approach of my neighbor Andy, so Jerry headed off to work and Andy and I continued on along the road together. We got to talking about Coco Palms, and Andy said he had submitted a letter to the planning commission opposing the developer’s request for a two-year extension of his permits.

The county is looking at giving the Maryland-based developer a six-month extension, during which time he’s supposed to clean up some of the mess that he hasn’t cleaned up thus far, even though his permit conditions required it. And if he does, he’ll get the rest of the extension he’s seeking.

So how many chances does a guy get? I asked.

Really, answered Andy. What kind of parents are we?

Sigh. What if the planning commission actually said no once in a while?

Meanwhile, the developer is proposing such extensive changes — selling the Seashell restaurant, turning the coconut grove over to the state, building a hotel instead of time shares, keeping buildings that were proposed for demolition — that Andy and others are arguing the project no longer resembles the one that was originally approved, and so should go through the process again.

He suspects the developer has run out of money and is just trying to get the permit extension so he can sell the project. Because without permits, that wreck ain’t worth much.

I heard the money also ran out for one of two developers who last year got approval to build timeshare resorts near Coconut Marketplace. The developer of the project that was going to be on the highway, where all the coconut trees are, was served with a non-judicial foreclosure by its bank. So it looks like we’ll be saved from that bit of very bad planning.

Hey, what if the foreclosing bank decided to fire sale it to the trust for public land or something, seeing as how the resort business is kinda flat these days?

The other developer, however, is still alive and kicking and fighting a demand to do an Environmental Assessment for his project. That case goes to trial in a couple weeks.

Speaking of court, a friend recently stopped by the Lihue courthouse to file a paper. It was her first visit to Babylon, and she called me from its cavernous depths, her voice reflecting both shock and awe.

“How many people do they plan to incarcerate?” she asked. “Is this a vision here? What if they put all this money into community-building instead of locking people up?”

What if? And what if they started locking up the really bad guys, the ones who do stuff like plan torture and mass murder for personal and political gain, rather than just the small time ice-addicted burglars and check forgers?

It seems a case is building for doing just that. A new report by the Senate Armed Services Committee turns up more lies by top Bush officials, who claimed they only tortured terrorists when they wouldn’t talk. But they actually began developing the torture program in December 2001 — well before any al- Qaeda suspects were caught and also prior to receiving legal approval by the Justice Department.

As Democracy Now! reports:

In a statement, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Carl Levin said the new evidence provides a direct line from top Bush officials to abuses at prisons such as Abu Ghraib. Levin said, “Senior officials sought out information on, were aware of training in, and authorized the use of abusive interrogation techniques…[They] bear significant responsibility for creating the legal and operational framework for the abuses.” Levin went on to call on Attorney General Eric Holder to establish a high-level commission to investigate high-level Bush officials.

After a bit of disheartening flip-flopping, Obama is now sounding like he might just look favorably upon such a review:

“For those who carried out some of these operations within the four corners of legal opinions or guidance that had been provided from the White House, I do not think it’s appropriate for them to be prosecuted. With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say that that is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general within the parameters of various laws, and—and I don’t want to prejudge that. I think that there are a host of very complicated issues involved there.”

Yes, it does get complicated when the highest officials of the previous administration are held accountable for illegal and despicable actions. But it’s even more complicated to try and explain why they should be allowed to literally get away with murder while political prisoners like Mumia Abu Jamal sit on death row.

I mean, what if there really was justice for all?


Anonymous said...

Mumia Abu Jamal

-- that is the guy who was found to have shot that cop in the back of the head? wonder what the evidence was to support that

Anonymous said...

In his version of events, detailed in a sworn statement almost 20 years afterwards, Abu-Jamal claimed that he was sitting in his cab across the street when he heard shouting, then saw a police vehicle, then heard the sound of gunshots. Upon seeing his brother appearing disoriented across the street, Abu-Jamal ran to him from the parking lot and was shot by a police officer. The statement fails to explain the murder weapon that was found next to Abu-Jamal at the crime scene nor the corresponding firearms shoulder holster he was found to be wearing at the scene at the time of his arrest.

Anonymous said...

like cops never plant evidence. ya can't believe everything ya read on wiki.

The policeman was killed with a 44 caliber gun. Abu-Jamal's gun which he was licensed to carry as a night-time taxi driver, was a 38 caliber.

Anonymous said...

"The policeman was killed with a 44 caliber gun. Abu-Jamal's gun which he was licensed to carry as a night-time taxi driver, was a 38 caliber."

That's a long ago discredited lie. The shattered bullet taken from the cop was a 38. Do more reading. And don't just read one side.

Anonymous said...

eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable, but physical evidence does not lie (yet can get planted i guess)

April 22, 2009 11:58 AM

Anonymous said...

To refer to Mumia Abu Jamal as a 'political prisoner' is just silly and makes it impossible to take her post regarding the individuals involved in the 'torture/interrogation controversy seriously --he was tried (based in part on eyewitness testimony and a confession heard by two individuals (one a hospital employee where his wounds were being treated)--the conviction has been upheld by appeals courts all the way up the ladder (including the Supremes). Find some other radical chic cause to fuss about, please.

Anonymous said...

To refer to Mumia Abu Jamal as a 'political prisoner' is just silly and makes it impossible to take her post regarding the individuals involved in the 'torture/interrogation controversy seriouslyAgreed. It would be one thing to express doubts about the case, but uncritically parroting the Mumia-as-political-prisoner fable reveals that a person's skepticism is selective and driven by ideological considerations. Better for a writer's credibility to note the controversy than to buy hook, line and sinker the most fantastic and unconfirmed claims of one side of the controversy.

Anonymous said...

the hospital confessions are a long discredited lie. do more reading and not just one side. a new trial is needed to bring out all the facts.

like i said, don't believe everything ya read in wiki.

April 22, 2009 1:42 PM

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 1:42--not going to get in a prolonged debate with you, but it's not just 'Wiki'--NBC Philadelphia and CNN report can try to discredit the two officers, but the same confession was also noted in the hospital records that day by a staffer....better not to focus on some chic cause drummed up by those with agendas as opposed to those causes/people doing real good things like Craig Watkins and the Texas Innocence Project....

Anonymous said...

guess ya missed the part where the doc said he was unconscious and couldn't have confessed. wanting justice for mumia takes nothing away from craig watkins etc so what's it to ya?

April 22, 2009 11:58 AM

April 22, 2009 9:22 PM

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 1:42--'ya' need to provide some cites or disinterested reports (not from some 'free m.a.j.' site, but from a reasonably credible news organization)....otherwise it is really hard to take your claims seriously. The guy is in jail, will stay closed, move along to the next cause, hopefully more worthy...