A starry Scorpion was hanging in the southeast, and what I believe was Mars was glowing reddish in the west, when Koko and I set out walking this morning. At the end of the road we encountered an escapee from the adjacent pasture grazing on the soft grass of a vacant lot. I couldn’t tell, in the darkness, whether it was a steer or a bull, but when it started to approach us, Koko and I decided we’d better beat it.
On the way back, we ran into farmer Jerry, who was headed in to the experimental station to check on things, even though he’s on furlough. Jerry mentioned he saw what he thought was a large flock of parrots flying overhead last evening, and said they’ve apparently done a lot of damage to corn, lychee and other crops on the southside. He also said he’s been appointed to the county’s Important Ag Lands panel, so we know there will be at least one person with a passion for farming involved in the process of designating the prime ag lands that should remain undeveloped.
Not that it necessarily matters, if you’re just going to condemn them for a new dump, as is proposed for A&B’s important ag lands in Kalaheo — the first and only designated in the entire state.
It was such a gorgeous morning that when I ran into my neighbor Andy, I turned around and walked with him as the sun rose fiery red behind the Giant and cast Waialeale, which was partially cloud-draped, in shades of green. That mountain never ceases to fascinate because it not only changes color, but sometimes appears flat-faced and at other times multi-dimensional, as was the case this morning, when the bowl that holds all the waterfalls — dry now, in this long spell without big rain — was clearly revealed.
We both reported receiving calls last night from the Hooser campaign, wondering if we were planning to attend his February birthday celebration-fundraiser, which we were not, primarily because it’s in Honolulu. And we both agreed that much as we like and strongly support Gary, we really wished he would give up his run for governor-in-waiting and return to the Lege. When you consider who might be elected to his seat, losing him in the Senate would be a real setback for Kauai.
The 9th U.S. . Circuit Court of Appeals dealt the cops a little setback this week when it ruled that police “need reasons to believe a suspect is dangerous before firing a Taser and can't use their stun gun simply because the person is disobeying orders or acting erratically,” according to a report on SFGate.com
The ruling opens the door for a California man to sue a cop who Tased him during a traffic stop, causing the man to fall and break four front teeth, and visit a hospital to have the electric dart removed. Kind of heavy for a seat belt violation. The article also reported that “Amnesty International says 334 people died in the United States from 2001 to August 2008 after being hit by Tasers.”
Meanwhile, CNN is reporting that the U.S. and Yemen are looking at sites for a potential retaliation strike in the aftermath of the failed Christmas Day airline bombing:
This is part of a new classified agreement with the Yemeni government that the two countries will work together and that the U.S. will remain publicly silent on its role in providing intelligence and weapons to conduct strikes.
Oh, good. Another secret war.
And apparently it's a go, because BusinessWeek reported that Yemen has vowed to strike Al-Qaeda “hideouts” there.
But a New York Times article indicates that failed bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was radicalized not in Yemen, but Britain, “a nation of deep Islamic ferment.” Gee, that does complicate matters a bit, since it's not quite so easy to carry out "retaliation strikes" there.
Democracy Now! has a good piece on how Obama has handled the case, as well as the media coverage. It included clips from people like former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge, who is arguing that Abdulmutallab shouldn’t get the full range of protection afforded by America’s criminal justice system, and Pat Buchanan, who was advocating withholding pain meds from the badly burned man to make him talk more. It seems unbelievable we're still having these discussions, and that's partly because the people who carried out the tortures and secret renditions and other lawless acts during the Bush Administration were never brought to justice.
Still, as journalist Spencer Ackerman noted on the Democracy Now! report:
But if there’s anything encouraging about the way Obama and the administration is handling it, it’s that his first instinct and the Justice Department’s first instinct was not to declare him an enemy combatant, was not to take him to some prison overseas, was not to say that he couldn’t be tried in the normal justice system, but to actually have FBI officials on the scene conduct an investigation of him, to question him, to extract information from him, and then to bring charges against him, when it was clear that information leading to a prosecution was in evidence.