As has become its pattern in recent months, the County Council sparred with Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho — this time over her derailment of Teen Court. Except yesterday Councilman Mel Rapozo was emceeing the show. Which is why Shay got to deliver a few long-winded repetitive rants, and rebut everyone twice — and two recesses were called to shut Councilman Tim Bynum up.
But then, I guess we shouldn't be surprised at Mel's overt bias toward Shay. After all, he knows which side of his bread is buttered — literally and figuratively.
I find it quite curious how Shay and her first deputy, Jake Delaplane, always move as a unit, like a ventriloquist and her dummy. Do you suppose she keeps him in a box at the foot of her bed at night? It would be humorous if he weren't pulling down a six-figure salary as her handmaiden.
Don't get me wrong. There were amusing moments. Like when Mel, who has actually earned kala from the OPA, tried to make like County Attorney Al Castillo had a conflict because he once served as a volunteer judge for Teen Court.
And I loved the part where Shay claimed she was the only prosecutor in state to start a diversion program. Gee, I distinctly recall her trying to blame former Prosecutor Craig DeCosta for starting the diversionary program that got her in trouble.
Mostly, though, I just felt sad, thinking of all the people — kids and adults alike — who have been, to borrow the words of Herman Hesse, “crushed beneath the wheel” during Shay's “leadership” of the Office of Prosecuting Attorney. Btw, the OPA has a brand new website. But just like the old one, the VISION link is dead. Nuff said....
Personally, I love the concept of diversionary programs. All but the most violent offenders should be diverted out of the American judicial system, which is so systemically sick it incarcerates a greater percentage of its population than any nation in the world.
But when I heard them promoting Keiki POHAKU as a way to clear charges that could keep kids out of the military, well, then I started thinking maybe that particular diversionary program isn't such a benevolent thing. After all, it's a lot cheaper to turn kids into cannon fodder for America's endless wars than it is to incarcerate or — God forbid — rehabilitate them. That's why I felt a little sick when I heard Councilman Dickie Chang, who admitted he'd never actually been in the military, talk about how drill sergeants can make kids grow up fast. Yeah, and so does the bloody combat that so often follows the indoctrination and dehumanization of boot camp.
Speaking of which, I was sent an interesting article about how a recent study found that soldiers with low levels of omega-3 fatty acids are at a greater risk of suicide. The findings prompted the Army to consider that “a simple nutritional intervention” could help reverse that trend. Uh, how about just bringing the troops home?
Meanwhile, an article in The Independent reports on a new study, published in the Environmental Contamination and Toxicology bulletin, that shows a link between the Western military invasion of Iraq and an increased rate of birth defects in that nation:
High rates of miscarriage, toxic levels of lead and mercury contamination and spiralling numbers of birth defects ranging from congenital heart defects to brain dysfunctions and malformed limbs have been recorded. Even more disturbingly, they appear to be occurring at an increasing rate in children born in Fallujah, about 40 miles west of Baghdad.
There is "compelling evidence" to link the increased numbers of defects and miscarriages to military assaults, says Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, one of the lead authors of the report and an environmental toxicologist at the University of Michigan's School of Public Health. Similar defects have been found among children born in Basra after British troops invaded, according to the new research.
The latest study found that in Fallujah, more than half of all babies surveyed were born with a birth defect between 2007 and 2010. Before the siege, this figure was more like one in 10. Prior to the turn of the millennium, fewer than 2 per cent of babies were born with a defect. More than 45 per cent of all pregnancies surveyed ended in miscarriage in the two years after 2004, up from only 10 per cent before the bombing.
American forces later admitted that they had used white phosphorus shells [in Fallujah], although they never admitted to using depleted uranium, which has been linked to high rates of cancer and birth defects.
But then, the military has a longstanding pattern of denial when it comes to toxic depleted uranium (DU). Tthe Army for years denied that it had ever used DU here in Hawaii — until its presence was inadvertently confirmed in emails that Earthjustice subpoenaed in its lawsuits over live fire training at Makua. As a result of citizen pressure, the Army applied for a federal license to possess the DU in Hawaii and elsewhere.
However, as I report in the Honolulu Weekly, the Army is now four years into the process and it's still denying it needs such a license. But if it must have one, it wants no conditions attached, such as air monitoring, as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed.
Just something to keep in mind as the military continues to expand its presence in Hawaii and perpetuate the fiction that it's a good neighbor as it conducts live fire training exercises on Oahu, Big Island and Kaula islet, off Kauai. Moderns munitions are the deadly gift that just keep on destroying, long after the bombs have been dropped and the "good guys" go home.