Friday, July 29, 2016

Musings: Birds of a Feather

Turns out little Miss No Class with her finger in the air, Chelsea Lyon Kent, the woman who experienced brief notoriety flipping the bird at the DNC, works for none other than Councilman Gary “Bite Me” Hooser.
My, my. Birds of a feather do flock together.

But it's just a total coincidence that Kent and Baby Hoos (Dylan), were standing right next to each other on the DNC floor, and giggling about her cheap stunt. Uh huh.

Curious, how the Hooser men seem unable to take any responsibility for their behavior, or their associates.

Which leads us to Daddy Hooser's pal over on Maui, Rep. Kaniela Ing.

First, Ing has an uninsured vehicle. Then, when he's cited for that violation, he blows off a Feb. 18 court appearance with the lame ass excuse that he was in Honolulu and gets a lot of mail at his Maui address so he didn't happen to notice the summons.

Really? He hasn't caught up with his mail in six months? Ing also claimed, according to the Maui News, that he paid a fine for the ticket but didn't realize a court hearing had been set.

Hey, if he's truly that checked out, ya gotta wonder if he's qualified to serve in the Lege.

Then when Ing gets popped for contempt of court, and his transgressions become public in the form of a warrant for his arrest, he comes up with the cockamamie tale that he was originally cited while fixing his inoperable car on the street outside his Kihei home.

Truly? You expect us to believe that? Especially when the police report says he was ticketed while turning onto South Kihei Road from Welakahao Road in Kihei. Ing also reportedly had an expired safety sticker and the vehicle tax was delinquent, but he never got busted for that.

Maui News reports:

Separate from the no-insurance citation, court records show Ing's car was ticketed for delinquent vehicle tax and no current safety check five times from Nov. 19, 2015, to May 19. Fines of $140 for each of the five times the car was ticketed are still due, according to the court records.

His excuse?

Street parking is not allowed on this island, but in some neighborhoods the cops don't really enforce it. Our neighborhood is one of those where they didn't and all of a sudden they did.

Even though that is no excuse, it doesn't explain why he's never paid the fines.

Returning to the Maui News:

After reading about Ing's account of the no-insurance citation, "the officer who issued him the citation is very disappointed and looking forward to going to trial, when the accurate depiction of what happened in that encounter will come out," said Barry Aoki, Maui Chapter chairman of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers.

Sadly, his outing isn't likely to happen before the primary.

What's interesting about the Ing case, besides the blatant shibai, is how his followers — many of them seeking every opportunity to stick it to HC&S and Monsanto for real and imagined transgressions— are defending him. He's a victim, they say. He's being set up by his evil opponents.

Uh, what's wrong with just taking responsibility like a grown up?

Then there's another of Hooser's buds, Sen. Russel Ruderman, over on the Big Island. Civil Beat tells us that Ruderman wants to continue working at the state level to "help Hawaii produce more of its own food locally."

But then it shows us a picture of him standing in the produce aisle of one of his organic grocery stores, which is loaded with imported apples and pears.

If he's so big on local food, why not buy fruit solely from Big Island growers?

Councilwoman Margaret Wille, Hooser's equivalent on the Big Island, weighed in on the Senator's behalf in the comment section:

Ruderman listens to all and is not a pawn of the ol’ boy network. He seeks substantive improvements in many areas and is a star voice when it comes to protecting diversified indigenous agriculture – and not allowing the state to be taken over by GMO corporations and their allies.

Yeah, he's too busy letting it be taken over by Center for Food Safety, Earthjustice and the mainland-funded anti-GMO movement — even as Ruderman and Wille stick to the fairy tale that they're supporting “home rule.”

Meanwhile, Ruderman took money from the A&B PAC and Hawaii Association of Realtors. No old boy connections there. Nope. Not a one.

These people are such phonies.

Ruderman also pats himself on the back for “voluntarily” instituting a $10 minimum wage at his stores. Gosh, how big of him. The richest man in the Lege is actually kicking down 10 whole dollars an hour to his workers. You don't get much more magnanimous — or progressive — than that.

I wonder how many are on part-time, so he can stiff 'em on health insurance.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Musings: Simply Grateful

While America is obsessed with the upcoming election, climate change is already disrupting lives around the world.

According to the Oslo-based Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC):

On average, 26 million people are displaced by disasters such as floods and storms every year. That's one person forced to flee every second.

Disasters displace three to ten times more people than conflict and war worldwide.

And that number is expected to climb as the impacts of climate change bring more frequent and severe weather events.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is predicting the world will be grappling with some 200 million environmental migrants by 2050, as people — many of them now living in coastal areas — move within their countries or across borders.

As William Lacy Swing, director general of the International Organisation for Migration, warned:

“It is quite clear that we will have more and more conflicts over shortages of food and water that are going to be exacerbated by climate change.”

But no worries, that won't be an issue in Hawaii. Just ask the folks at Maui's Living Aloha magazine. Tucked in amongst such headlines as “Malama Da Aina” — uh, I gotta tell you folks, there ain't no "da" in Hawaiian — was this observation:

When demand and supply rise for local food, people will hear how lucrative and simple growing food is and a new wave of gardeners and farmers will start popping up to meet the demand.

Oh, yes. It's so lucrative — just ask the many farmers who are forced to hold jobs outside the farm.

And so simple. Especially when it's being done solely by people with hand tools, as depicted in a graphic in the magazine:
But apparently not so simple that the talkers are actually doing it.

A friend who grew up on a farm was visiting recently, and I was bemoaning some weird rot that was destroying my carefully tended pot of banana peppers. 

“Just imagine you had a whole field like that, and you owed money it,” she said. “That's what farmers face.”

They also face a helluva lot of flack from people who know nothing about ag.

A reader yesterday sent me a link to an article about how the EPA wants the Department of Health to post a sign at the south side's Waiopili ditch stating the water does not meet recreational standards. The email included the message: The dairy takes a hit.

Of course, the pollution at Waiopilli ditch — it is not a stream —has nothing to do with the proposed Mahaulepu dairy, since it has yet to introduce a single cow. But dairy opponents will use the high enterococcus bacteria count to rally against introducing any other potential source of contamination to the area.

In addition to posting a warning sign, the EPA “strongly advised” the state to take other protective measures, such as “limiting access.”

The state should advise people about polluted water, though it should not limit access to beaches. What bothers me is when these issues are pursued selectively due to anti-ag or anti-development sentiments.

We all know that many Kauai streams — Hanamaulu, Nawiliwili and Wainiha among them — have suffered similar problems for decades now.

But Surfrider, though pushing for sign posting for years, has gone to the mat only on Waiopili. Why? Because it opposes the dairy.

Ironically, billionaire Pierre Omidyar is funding both the Ulupono Initiative, which is creating the dairy as part of its effort to increase the local food supply, and Surfrider, which is trying its damndest to destroy the dairy.

I wonder how that's gonna shake out.

Meanwhile, despite intense opposition to GMO crops — and the Hawaii seed operations that support them — they've been widely adopted by farmers in the U.S. since their commercial introduction in 1996.

According to a new report by the USDA, herbicide-tolerant (HT) traits are found in 94% of America's soybean production; HT and insect-resistant varieties account for 93% of the cotton acreage, and 92% of all corn is GE.

The U.S. accounts for 40% of the 179.7 million hectares of GE crops planted worldwide.

Though activists are quick to dismiss commodity crops, they comprise the foundation of America's food supply. And farmers in the Midwest are already feeling the effects of drought and high temperatures, which reduce yield.

It's easy to indulge in the luxury of squabbling over GMO vs organic when you're well-fed and affluent. But given the painful realities of climate change and a growing population, it's not unrealistic to think we may soon see a time when even spoiled Americans are simply grateful to have food.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Musings: That's Their MO

So today we have Dylan Hooser in The Garden Island talking about what an honor it was to represent Hawaii at the Democratic National Convention, yada, yada, yada.

Meanwhile, he's prominently featured in a news clip with Chelsea Lyons Kent, who is standing next to former Gov. John Waihee, and behind Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono, flipping the bird as delegate votes are announced for Hillary Clinton.

Dylan laughs and smirks at her gesture, like a kid who has just seen someone throw a spitball at the teacher.

Wow. Immature, much? Talk about sore losers among the Bernie brigade. Where's your dang “shame” banner when we really need it, Dylan?

Kent lost her DNC credentials when she refused to apologize for her childish act. According to an email from Hawaii State Chair Tim Vandeveer:

After consulting with the party leadership that was gathered on the convention floor, I made the decision to revoke this member's floor pass for the evening and provide her an opportunity to apologize for her actions in exchange for being allowed to attend the rest of convention. She was unwilling to do so. Therefore, her floor credentials have been revoked for the duration of convention and she will no longer be a part of our delegation.

Delegates of both campaigns have expressed their shock and disappointment at the incident and have asked me to stress that this in no way reflects the sentiments of the rest of our delegation, regardless of their candidate affiliation. This incident notwithstanding, we have had an excellent convention thus far.

Kent used GoFundMe to raise money for her trip to the DNC, but from the recent comments left on that page, it appears her actions have generated blowback:

Neil Carmody: What a shameful disgrace you are! You should return every dime and go back to wherever your no class I joke came from. AUWE!

Anna Peahu: You're an embarrassment. You don't deserve a single cent raised on GoFundMe. Do the right thing. Refund everyone their money and apologize. You're a disgrace!

Reinaldo Pacheco: You just wasted 85 people's money and embarrassed a state you aren't even from. Keep your disgraceful actions away from Hawaii.

Kent's obscene gesture reflects poorly on the Aloha State, but mostly on her, and also Dylan, was was fully aware of what went down, and even bragged about — wow — getting on TV:
So these punks are the “seeds of the revolution?” Their juvenile behavior is reflective of what Dylan described as “our progressive values?” 

As I've pointed out repeatedly, none are so regressive as the new “progressives," like Kent (in the middle) and her fellow anti-GMO activists, who have been pulling cheap stunts like this for a while now:
And few are more hypocritical, as evidenced by Dylan's quote in the paper:

“It's not about unity. It’s about respect and patience with each other.”

Yeah, tell us all about that respect, Dylan. But then, what do you expect from a guy whose father, Councilman Gary Hooser, has twice told other elected officials to “bite me” when he didn't get his way? 

As the old saying goes, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

In other news, Earthjustice is back on the money trail, suing the state health department and Agribusiness Development Corp. over a westside ditch. Of course, there are lots of questionable waterways on the island. But Earthjustice likes to sue government entities. That way it can collect its $650/hour fee — even if it does not fully prevail in the legal action — from the taxpayers.

As ADC's Jimmy Nakatani previously explained, the agency didn't renew its National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit because the health department wants it to work out a memorandum of understanding on water monitoring instead.

And as he also previously explained, ADC is continuing do water monitoring, just as it did under its NPDES permit.

Earthjustice knows this. But that doesn't stop attorney Kylie Wager from making stuff up:

It’s bad enough that ADC thinks it’s above the law. It’s even worse that the Hawaii Department of Health, the agency charged with enforcing the law, is giving ADC a pass, leaving communities and visitors at risk.

So do attorneys have to take special training in inflammatory rhetoric in order to work for Earthjustice? Or do they just pull it out of a can?

This lawsuit is simply another way to smear the seed companies and mess with westside ag. Because Earthjustice is not seeking anything more than what is already in the works: Monitoring and permitting.

But hey, if EJ can sling a little mud at "big ag" and make a little dough in the process, mo bettah. Because that's their MO.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Musings: Love-Hate, Good-Bad

The hate mail has been intensifying of late, which I always take as confirmation that I'm on the right track.

Still, I did take to heart the words of one critic: "How about one positive story?"

Hey, I can do better than that. I've got at least four. So here goes:

The Philippines Supreme Court today reversed its earlier ruling banning field trials of GMO talong, also known as Bt brinjal, or eggplant. Field trials are part of the deregulation process that determines whether a crop can be legally grown.

Of course, Greenpeace, which was shut down in the ruling, likely doesn't consider this good news.

But a lot of Filipino farmers do. They've seen the success that farmers in Bangladesh have achieved growing Bt brinjal, which fetches a premium price at the market because less pesticides are used in its production. Bangladeshi farmers are also controlling the seed, just as papaya farmers do in Hawaii.

Though the Cornell Alliance for Science was the first to report on the success of Bt brinjal, you don't have to take our word for it. Even Al Jazeera found it to be true when it actually went to Bangladesh and interviewed farmers, rather than listening to the fear-mongering and mistruths spouted by arm chair activists in the West.

In other good news, the AquAdvantage Salmon, though long reviled as “Frankenfish” by misinformed activist groups like Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice, actually works to support environmental sustainability and local food production.

Why? Because it's grown in totally enclosed inland systems that can be located close to markets. This reduces the carbon emissions associated with importing tons of foreign-farmed fish, and totally eliminates the marine pollution associated with ocean-based fish-farming practices.

Here are a video and a Q&A blog post that tell more about the salmon, and the insane 20-year, $80 million deregulation process that led to its approval, making it the most intensely studied food product ever.

Of course, that's not good news to groups like the aforementioned CFS and EJ, which are making money suing the federal government over the approval process that both groups supported – indeed, demanded — until it produced results they didn't like.

Locally, the Kauai Planning Commission finally said no once and for all to the BS request from diamond broker Eddie Ben-Dor to turn his Hanalei vacation rental into a B&B. As you may recall, the planning department wasn't buying the ruse, and Eddie was even fined $3,055 for operating illegally — at a low-season rent of $5,800 per week — for several years.

But he waited six months, put his daughter on the deed and submitted a new application in her name. Once again, the commission voted to deny it.

This is great news for those who have been working to stave off the scam of pretending an illegal TVR is really a B&B in need of a permit. Though it's bad new for Ben-Dor — and all the others trying to game the system.

Meanwhile, New Zealand has launched a full-on effort aimed at eradicating invasive mammals: rats, stoats, possums and (shhh) cats. Yeah, they're kind of downplaying the cat thing because people get all emotional.

But wildlife officials and conservationists there, as in Hawaii, are well aware of how cats and other introduced mammals wreak havoc on native birds, lizards and other critters. So New Zealand plans to euthanize feral cats on conservation lands.

Could such decisive action be possible in Hawaii? It shares the same invasive species problems as New Zealand, and its native animals grew up in similar isolation, with no defense to mammalian predators.

Or will the trap-neuter-release folks like Basil Scott — close friends with Councilman Gary Hooser, btw — continue their vicious attacks on shelter director Penny Cistaro in their desperate attempt to keep their own nonprofit going?

Though a Kauai team has been working for a couple of years now on a feral cat ordinance, Scott's Kauai Ferals group is hoping to do a end-run with the help of Inge Gibson of the Humane Society of the United States.

Seems Gibson has invited Alley Cat Allies and Best Friends to help draft an alternative bill for an ordinance on Kauai to manage cats on the landscape. Or in other words, dilute and undermine the Kauai effort.

Gosh, it's so easy for the good news to careen off into bad. 

But then, as Shakespeare so astutely noted, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Still, it's hard to put lipstick on this pig, so I'll just let it rip, since it's been weighing heavily on my mind since Reuters first reported it last week: 

The earth is on track for its hottest year on record and warming at a faster rate than expected, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Thursday.

"What we’ve seen so far for the first six months of 2016 is really quite alarming," David Carlson, director of the WMO’s Climate Research Program, told a news briefing.

"This year suggests that the planet can warm up faster than we expected in a much shorter time... We don’t have as much time as we thought."
Climate change impacts. Image by Grist.

And then there was the HUGE news of 3-year-old Prince George offering ice cream to his pet dog, which some saw as an adorable sign of generosity and others denounced as "poisoning" and "animal cruelty." Some even said the toddler should be jailed. 
Yeah, it's too bad we can't just box everything neatly into good-bad/positive-negative to suit the simplistic among us. 

But life — and the crazy mix of people inhabiting the planet — are just a tad more complicated than that.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Musings: Dig In

Digging into the 2016 Kauai campaign funding reports reveals some interesting stories, which I'll be sharing over the next couple of weeks.

Let's start with Fern Rosenstiel, who is challenging Nadine Nakamura for the 14th District House seat. Fern received just eight contributions totaling $4,881.11 — the bulk of it from off-islanders.

The top giver, at $2,000, is Jeffrey Bronfman, founder of an ayahuasca church in New Mexico that ran afoul of its neighbors, who feared “hallucinogens (DMT and other chemicals) in vomitus and diarrhea containing ayahuasca would eventually enter and contaminate the groundwater and local aquifer.”

Another $1,000 came from Keely and Pierce Brosnan, whose contributions to the community have included allowing the beach to be planted, and fertilized with chicken manure, in front of their Haena TVR, and suing the late Cathy Ham Young, beloved icon of the North Shore anti-GMO crowd, when he wanted her taro patch water for his landscaping ponds.

Another $1,000 came from Kim Coco Iwamoto, a Honolulul resident who serves on the board of HAPA, the nonprofit founded by Councilman Gary Hooser. HAPA trained Fern to run for office through its Kuleana Academy. Cozy!

Only $588.11, or about 10 percent of the total raised, came from people in Fern's district, with Koloa resident and anti-dairy advocate Bridget Hammerquist throwing in $300.

So who, exactly, does Fern purport to represent?

Moving over to her pal Hooser....

While serving on the supposedly independent Joint Fact Finding Group on Kauai agricultural pesticide use, Doug Wilmore contributed $500 to Councilman Gary Hooser — the politician who introduced the failed law that led to formation of the JFFG.

Wilmore wrote a report for the JFFG on the Waimea Canyon Middle School sickenings that countered health department findings and echoed Hooser's take on the topic. After the JFFG released its report, Wilmore gave Hooser another $100. More cozy!

But most curious of all was the discovery that of the 90 total contributions Hooser that received this year, just two came from westside (Eleele-Kekaha) residents. And those were from anti-GMO activists Linda Harmon and Gordon LaBedz of Surfrider.

Compare that to the 17 donations Hooser received from people living on other islands and the mainland.

If westsiders really believe their lives and land are being systematically poisoned by the seed companies — as Hooser claims — wouldn't you think they'd be supporting his candidacy? 

Instead, the majority of his donors reside from Kapaa-Hanalei — on the opposite side of the island from the seed farms.

So is Hooser running to represent a movement, or the people of Kauai?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Musings: What's Been Lost

There was a lot of talk about perception, a divided community, inherent bias, character and credibility at yesterday's Kauai County Council meeting.

The focus was Beth Tokioka — longtime county spokeswoman who now works for Syngenta — and her nomination to the Kauai Board of Water Supply. Still, the points raised have broader implications.

Councilman Gary Hooser talked about inherent and perceived conflicts of interest as having equal value. So what are we to think of his decision to create a nonprofit — HAPA — dedicated to destroying the seed companies and advancing his version of “progressive” politics? How is that influencing decisions he is supposed to be making as a Councilman on behalf of the public good, which ostensibly includes seed company employees?

Hooser talked about the “egregious record” of Beth's employer, and how one's employer shapes one's world view. So what are we to make of his close affiliation with the propaganda-peddling, fear-mongering, self-serving, lie-telling Center for Food Safety, which gives money to HAPA?

Councilman Mason Chock spoke about transparency, accountability, steps that can be taken to build the public's trust of government. Well, then what are we to think about his sister, Malia Chun, serving as a poster child for the anti-GMO movement?

Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura, in probing whether Beth's connection to Syngenta “would taint her decision-making,” talked about “how hard it can be to take an independent stand when it goes against the majority, or the public opinion.” So what should we make of her abrupt about-face on the Bill 2491 vote as she confronted an angry mob?

Hooser said he had “great respect for the nominee,” no qualms about her character, didn't believe she would let her company tell her what to do, considered Beth “a dedicated member of the community who has served our community well.” So how can we fathom his decision to vote against her?

Was it just because, as Hooser said, “I would prefer to have a world view sitting on that board saying I want stricter testing, I want safe water?” Aside from the fact that Kauai water is clean — as Councilman Ross Kagawa noted, “This isn't Europe” — is his preference worth dragging a person through the mud, running an email blitz to stir up opposition from the mainland?

Yukimura said the mayor's nomination of Beth “wasn't well-advised” and "further divides the community."

Or perhaps it's a way to begin breaching the gap.

“If a child in school comes from a family with a bad reputation, I don't push them away,” Chock said. “I bring them in, and I care for them.”

Still, as Laurie Yoshida pointed out, “Syngenta's not on trial here.”

Just Beth — guilty as charged, according to 600+ cookie-cutter emails, two-third of them from off-island.

“People are seeing Beth as a stereotype, and they don't know who she is,” said Yukimura, with no touch of irony.

"The reality is that they don't know Beth," said Council Chair Mel Rapozo. "They have no idea what Beth has done for this community over the past three decades, and that's offensive to me."

Noted Beth: “I think it comes down to a matter of trust.”

And on Kauai, that's exactly what's been lost — shoots, intentionally destroyed — by a so-called "progressive" movement that believes it's “restoring democracy." 

Down we go, deeper into the rabbit hole... 

[Final vote: 5-1, with Hooser opposed and Yukimura silent, which goes with the majority.]

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Musings: Anatomy of a Propaganda Play

A successful propaganda campaign depends on controlling the narrative, and Hawaii anti-GMO activists are very wise to this trick.

Which is why they began their efforts to influence public opinion in the Islands and beyond with a series of carefully constructed articles, written and financed by anti-GMO sympathizers.

I first wrote about this initiative back in November 2013:

The Media Consortium has launched a “two-year collaborative project involving ten news organizations that will send reporters to Kauai to cover issues regarding pesticide-based pollution, GE food, corporate influence and other important topics,” according to an announcement by the Food Integrity Campaign.

It's sponsored by the Media Consortium, whose website maintains: 

Millions of Americans are looking for honest, fair, and accurate journalism-we’re finding new ways to reach them.

Turns out, though, that the reporting was neither fair nor accurate — and certainly not honest. Unless you believe it's OK to pay a supposedly independent journalist to tell a certain sort of story.

Which brings us to the Inter-Nation Cultural Foundation, a Kauai nonprofit created and bankrolled by anti-GMO advocates Shirin and Ken Hunt. In its 2014 tax return, it discusses spending $37,402 to support “The World is Watching — Kauai Media and Journalism project.” The return states:

With the help of our supporters and contributing journalists, we achieved the following:

Formed partnership with the Media Consortium; island visits and reporting by Truthout, Yes! Magazine and Earth Island Journal; published first round of articles shedding light on pesticide issues facing Kauai; published seminal article (The Kauai Cocktail), a data-supported expose on pesticide as part of a coordinated release with Grist, The Nation, Truthout and several participating NGOs.

The Kauai Cocktail was written by Paul Koberstein and published in the Cascadian Times. Rife with speculation and factual errors, it included such bizarre and unsubstantiated pronouncements as:

The four transnational agribusinesses that are experimenting with genetically engineered crops on Kaua`i have transformed part of the island into one of the most toxic chemical environments in all of American agriculture.

For the better part of two decades, Syngenta, BASF Plant Science, DuPont Pioneer and Dow AgroSciences have been drenching their test fields near Waimea, a small town on the southwest coast of Kaua`i, with some of the most dangerous synthetic pesticides in use in agriculture today, at an intensity that far surpasses the norm at most other American farms, an analysis of government pesticide databases shows.

There’s reason to believe that the chemical companies might be violating federal rules about the application of the restricted-use pesticide products on Kaua`i. The rules are supposed to ensure that the pesticides do their damage to bugs and weeds, not kids.

In Waimea’s gusty climate, it’s a rare day when Lorsban and the other heavily-used toxic chemicals can be applied to the test fields without the wind blowing them right into somebody’s face.

Despite its errors and outrageous statements — or perhaps because of them — this article was picked up and repeated ad nauseum on social media and in the “alternative press,” thus establishing a totally skewed version of reality on Kauai. Koberstein's article was also featured in several anti-GMO videos, providing a veneer of credibility, as if a legit news outfit had actually done the reporting.

Koberstein helped to establish this false narrative in follow-up stories for the Cascadian Times and Truthout, citing his original piece to “document” his claim that seed company practices were harming Kauai people, pushing native flora and fauna toward extinction and poisoning kids.

His misleading articles were reprinted in the Hawaii Independent, which is owned by Ikaika Hussey, board member of the anti-GMO HAPA, as well as Grist, Earth Island Journal and The Progressive, giving the Hunts a bigger bang for their funding buck and further spreading the false narrative. So much for “independent” reporting.

The Foundation also gave $22,500 to Ohana O Kauai, the group founded by Dustin Barca and Fern Rosenstiel (now a state House candidate), in 2014. The money was used for outreach to “educate” people about the “many health problems” being caused by spraying “toxic pesticides near hospitals and schools.”

I keep wondering when Fern, who is running on a transparency in government platform, will disclose how much money Ohana O Kauai took in, and where it went.

The Inter-Nation Cultural Foundation gave $3,423 to Kauai Rising, also for GMO outreach, and $1,141 to help Change for Balance produce “Aloha Warrior,” a documentary of Barca's “efforts to fight off the 5 biggest argochemical companies in the world from invading his island and their natural resources.”

The video includes Barca's usual shibai, as well as his wife spouting such nonsense as “corn is super GMOed, even if it's organic.”

Oh, just as an aside, here's an example of that "warrior's" most recent show of “aloha”:
Yeah, watch our for those "wolves in sheets clothing." One of 'em might be Barca. Or the decidedly more tolerant KKK.

In closing, even though we're often told the Hawaii anti-GMO movement is “spontaneous” and “grassroots,” and it's generating media coverage because it's such a pono cause, the reality is quite a bit different. It's all staged. It's all orchestrated nationally with local pawns paying, and being paid, to play along.

And once again, we see a nonprofit group blessing us with the charitable activity of propaganda in exchange for its tax-exempt status.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Musings: CFS Steps Up Attack on Water Board Nominee

The mainland-based Center for Food Safety has intensified its efforts to build opposition to Beth Tokioka's nomination to the Kauai Board of Water Supply.

The anti-GMO advocacy group sent out an email blast to its list yesterday, urging people to submit testimony against Beth's nomination prior to Wednesday's Council vote. CFS is opposing Beth solely because she works for Syngenta.
The blast generated more than 300 emails -- update: it's now over 500 -- against Beth, many of them by people who live on other islands and the mainland.

Each email was identical, though the first batch misspelled Council Chair Mel Rapozo's last name.

Meanwhile, in a spontaneous show of support, Kauai residents were sending in emails endorsing Beth's appointment to the Board, which is charged with drilling wells, running pumps, purifying water and operating a distribution system.

The attack on Beth raises two key questions: Does one lose the right to engage in public service — the position is unpaid — simply because one works for a seed company? And should that overshadow all of the other experience and skills one can bring to service?

The campaign also underscores the cozy relationship between CFS and Civil Beat, which yesterday printed an article highlighting concerns that CFS and Earthjustice had about the appointment. Prior to the article, the Council had received no comments against Beth, and 18 in her favor — more than had been submitted on behalf of any other candidate for a county board or commission.

This is the second time that a Civil Beat article or editorial has appeared just hours before CFS launched a direct action. Previously, CB published an editorial endorsing the recommendations of the Joint Fact Finding Group on pesticides the same day that CFS had scheduled a press conference and meeting with the governor.

The editorial board includes Civil Beat founder and benefactor Pierre Omidyar, who has donated money to CFS.

Meanwhile, CFS is also picking up its advocacy efforts on behalf of a slate of candidates it endorses, including Fern Rosenstiel, a candidate for the state House. CFS has been organizing phone banks to call voters on all islands, though its tactics alienated at least one resident.

A North Shore woman reported receiving a call from an unidentified man who asked if she supported sustainable food supplies. When she said she did, the caller said there was one candidate running for State House in our area who supported sustainable food supplies and that was Fern. The woman replied that what the caller was saying was untrue, as the other candidate, Nadine Nakamura, also supports sustainable food supplies and he shouldn't misrepresent the facts. The caller then laughed and hung up.

It's not surprising that CFS is employing a disinformation strategy, since that's long been the group's stock in trade. It has characterized its entire approach to GMOs, and most especially its efforts to pass anti-GMO legislation in Hawaii.

Still, it is rather ironic that CFS has been pushing anti-GMO legislation in Hawaii under the call for “home rule.” Given its recent actions, it seems CFS defines home rule as meaning a Washington, D.C.-based group should be able to meddle in local politics and dictate who serves on county boards and commissions thousands of miles from its headquarters.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Musings: On Water, Egos and Food

In his typical smarmy fashion, Councilman Gary Hooser said nothing critical to Beth Tokioka's face when she appeared before the Kauai County Council regarding her appointment to the Board of Water Supply.

Indeed, he lauded her many years of public service.

And then he turned around and complained to Civil Beat

“I think appointing a representative of Syngenta to this particular position is insensitive and shows poor judgment.”

And its typical smarmy fashion, Civil Beat asked Ashley Lukens of Center for Food Safety and Paul Achitoff of Earthjustice to weigh in.

Why, pray tell, should either of those Oahu residents have any say in who serves on the Kauai water board? Especially since they're avowed enemies of the GMO seed companies, and are involved in litigation against Beth's employer. 

Though reporter Anita Hofschneider included comments from non-residents eager to advance her smear job, she failed to report that 18 Kauai residents submitted testimony in support of Beth's appointment, including Dr. Daleep Bal, the Kauai District Health Officer. Not one person is on record in opposition.

As Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura observed at the July 6 Council meeting:

“I don't think we've ever gotten as many letters of support for a nominee as we have for you. I think that's a real testimony to the level of support that's out in the community for you.”

It's so ironic to see Civil Beat printing quotes about how a “perception of a conflict is a problem” when it refuses to acknowledge that its own funder and founder, Pierre Omidyar, is also funding the Hawaii Center for Food Safety. Indeed, it's actually deleted every comment I've left pointing out that very real conflict.

But then, the financial connection does helps to explain why Civil Beat goes out of its way to quote CFS and keep the group in the limelight.

Beth's appointment will come up for a final vote on Wednesday. Since Civil Beat sat on the story for a week, its publication today appears timed to generate opposition.

Also on the Council agenda is a request for yet more legal fees. Seems the mayor isn't willing to accept the Intermediate Court of Appeals ruling that authority to discipline the police chief lies with the police commission, not him. 

He's seeking $30,000 for special counsel to pursue an appeal to the Hawaii Supreme Court. Another $15,000 would be allocated to represent the chief and police commission.

Do the taxpayers really want to bankroll this expensive game of egos?

And finally, though I was glad to see Dr. Lee Evslin offer some sound healthy-eating tips — cut down on sugar and refined foods — in his new column, he made several dubious assertions. Since The Garden Island inexplicably disabled comments on his column, I'll address them here.

Evslin wrote:

Pesticides in our food is a new and perhaps frightening line of research. If we take children, test their urine for pesticide metabolites and then put them on an organic diet and check them again, the level of pesticides in their urine drops dramatically and quickly.

In fact, the key study done on this topic included this caveat:

Children and their families participating in this study do not reflect the general U.S. population, and therefore no attempt should be made to extend this conclusion to other children.

Furthermore, the study looked only for synthetic pesticides, and not for the pest control products used on organics.

In head-to-head comparisons, natural pesticides don't fare any better than synthetic ones. When I compared the organic chemicals copper sulfate and pyrethrum to the top synthetics, chlorpyrifos and chlorothalonil, I found that not only were the organic ones more acutely toxic, studies have found that they are more chronically toxic as well, and have higher negative impacts on non-target species.

And in any case:

Almost all pesticides detected on foods by the USDA and independent scientific studies are at levels below 1% of the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) set by government regulators.

Systematic reviews of dietary pesticide exposure all come to the same conclusion: that typical dietary exposure to pesticide residues in foods poses minimal risks to humans.

As a detailed study in the Journal of Food Science noted:

"from a practical standpoint, the marginal benefits of reducing human exposure to pesticides in the diet through increased consumption of organic produce appear to be insignificant."

Evslin also wrote:

If it fits into your budget, buy organic dairy, produce and bread. The more organic we buy, the more it is produced and the cheaper it gets.

Though the sale of organic food has skyrocketed in recent years, prices have not declined and remain high. Why? It's more expensive to produce organic food, and consumers like Evslin are willing to pay a 10-40 percent premium for a product that offers no real advantages over its conventional counterpart. In other words, they're paying for marketing hype.

Evslin also wrote:

Eat much less bread. [T]he wheat for the bread is often sprayed with pesticides right before harvesting.

This claim, which first surfaced on a pro-organic blog, was deconstructed on the myth-busting Snopes site, with additional insights offered by a Canadian wheat farmer.

Evslin is, of course, free to believe what he wishes. But his column bothered me because it confirmed the biases that Evslin brought to his role on the Joint Fact-Finding Group for pesticides, which resulted in deeply flawed recommendations.

Furthermore, it needlessly incites worries among parents who are unable to afford organics.

On an island where one in five residents lack sufficient food, it's the epitome of elitism to preach the organic sermon. The message should be: eat lots of fruits and veggies, regardless of the source.