Garbage Warrior & the Earthship

SUBHEAD: Is it a real solution with our indigenous materials or a new Levittown made of tires and bottles?  

By Staff on 27 January 2010 review for Uniondocs,org -  
(www.uniondocs.org/garbage-warrior/)

 
Image above: Defiant artchitect Michael Reynolds in the process of building home from "garbage". From (http://thecia.com.au/reviews/g/garbage-warrior.shtml).

What do beer cans, car tires and water bottles have in common? Not much unless you're renegade architect Michael Reynolds, in which case they are tools of choice for producing thermal mass and energy-independent housing.

For 30 years New Mexico-based Reynolds and his green disciples have devoted their time to advancing the art of "Earthship Biotecture" by building self-sufficient, off-the-grid communities where design and function converge in eco-harmony. However, these experimental structures that defy state standards create conflict between Reynolds and the authorities, who are backed by big business.

 Frustrated by antiquated legislation, Reynolds lobbies for the right to create a sustainable living test site. While politicians hum and ha, Mother Nature strikes, leaving communities devastated by tsunamis and hurricanes. Reynolds and his crew seize the opportunity to lend their pioneering skills to those who need it most.

Shot over three years and in four countries, Garbage Warrior is a timely portrait of a determined visionary, a hero of the 21st century. Garbage Warrior is a feature-length documentary film telling the epic story of maverick architect Michael Reynolds, his crew of renegade house builders from New Mexico, and their fight to introduce radically different ways of living.

A snapshot of contemporary geo-politics and an inspirational tale of triumph over bureaucracy, Garbage Warrior is above all an intimate portrait of an extraordinary individual and his dream of changing the world. www.garbagewarrior.com

 
Video above: Here's a look at extreme green living, in an 'Earthship'. From (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ENIhmDskmY

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Rolling Over 65

SUBHEAD: That's officially old. It's like turning that 100,000 miles on the odometer of your car. Not a real milestone so much as another billboard along the way.

By Juan Wilson on 28 May 2010 for Island Breath -  
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2010/05/rolling-over-65.html)
 

Image above: The author ruminating in the offices of www.islandbreath.org on 5/28/10

BOOMERS
I was born sixty-five years ago (5/28/1945): That was after the first test of an A-Bomb, but before the drop on Hiroshima. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, but before the surrender of Imperial Japan. It has put me in a slightly odd no-where-land regarding the Baby Boom generation.

Technically, I was born before the Second world War was won by America, but after it was a foregone conclusion.

When I was a young man I was certainly counted a member of the Baby Boom. I was in the first generation to live in the archetypal suburb of Levittown, Long Island, amongst the GI veterans living the dream of house, car and BBQ.

Back then my generation felt that it consisted of those born between 1945 and 1950. Some have even dated the Boom back to 1943. Others have defined the span of Boomers to be those born between 1946 to 1964. What the..?

As I've aged, the Baby Boom era has gotten younger. Hell, 1964 is years after Bob Dylan started cutting albums for Columbia Records. It's after the Vietnam War had begun. I'd call those born then the V Generation, maybe. Certainly not Boomers.  

HIPPIES
The same sort of phenom happened to me regarding hipness. I am of an age to have fallen between the Beat Generation - Beatniks (coffee houses, jazz, beat poetry, marijuana) and the Acid Generation - Hippies (free-stores, psychedelic music, underground cartoons, LSD). Again, 1964 seems to be a kind of watershed.

In 1963, as Beat Generation member, I saw the original Dave Brubeck Quartet jazz ensemble... but by 1965 I had sampled Sandoz Lab LSD in a Manhattan artist's loft as an entry to the Acid Generation.

By the time of the 1967 Summer of Love in San Francisco, when mobs of youngsters (including myself) descended on the city to see what the brouhaha was all about, the residents of Haight Ashbury held a march celebrating the death of the Hippie.

 But somehow youngsters seem to have glommed onto the Hippie thing and now anyone born even into the 1980's can consider themselves in the Hippie generation. Many skipped-over identifying with the Disco scene... probably a good idea.

 EYE WITNESSES
Two people dear to me wrote this on my birthday. My son, John, said,
"I was talking to a group of 8th graders about Iraq and Afghanistan the other day and realized half way through the conversation that they had no memory of 9/11 or the early years of the Bush Administration and therefore no emotional response. It was a bit of a shocker! Luckily as a result their collective conclusion was that both wars were pointless and a waste of lives and money! Sometimes the emotional detachment time can be useful. Maybe the next generation won't have an attachment to empire and oil. "
A mutual friend, Dana, whose age falls between us, responded,
"John, that's how I feel when I mention Viet Nam. Their eyes gloss over and I realize just how old I really am."
History really begins when there is no one left who lived through the events in question. When there are no more eyewitnesses... when there are only cold artifacts. As it is, I have personally listened live to the music of 8 decades.

The 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, 00's, 10's. That means without the clawing veil of nostalgia... I've heard Lena Horn and Lady Gaga both as new and fresh. That seems incredible. How old am I? I can remember when toys contained no plastic... just wood, metal, string. I now own an iPod Touch.

 My grandmother lived from about 1890 to 1971. She visited and lived in Southwest US over several decades. On her first trip to Arizona she arrived by a horse drawn stagecoach when Arizona was a territory in Indian country. Her last departure from the bustling state was from modern Phoenix on a Boeing 707 jet.

 A single life can span seven generations and not much more. You may have been held in the arms of your great-grandmother, and hold in your arms your great-granddaughter. Their eye-witness memories of you are your extent in this world. .

BP Top Kill Suspended

SUBHEAD: Too much 'Mud' escaping, BP hopes to resume plug attempt after midnight. There's no wildlife in Pass a Loutre. It's all dead. Image above: Still from video showsattemptto plug the gushing BP oil well 5,000 feet below surface of in the Gulf of Mexico. From (http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2010/05/27/gulf-of-mexico-spill.html). By Staff on 27 May 2010 for Associated Press - (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/27/top-kill-results-awaited_n_591522.html) BP's efforts to plug its gushing oil well suffered a setback late Wednesday. The New York Times reported that the company made the decision to stop its "top kill" plug attempt because too much of the heavy, man-made mud being used to plug the well was escaping from the leak, along with a mixture of oil.

According to the Times, a BP technician said that engineers will revise their plans and hope to resume "top kill" efforts by midnight.

"Top kill" is the company's boldest attempt yet to plug the gusher that has spewed millions of gallons of oil over the last five weeks. BP hopes that by pumping mud into the well, it can overpower the steady stream of oil. The company wants to eventually inject cement into the well to permanently seal it.

The stakes are high. Fisherman, hotel and restaurant owners, politicians and residents along the coast are fed up with BP's so far ineffective attempts to stop the oil leak that sprang after an offshore drilling rig exploded April 20. Eleven workers were killed, and by the most conservative estimate, 7 million gallons of crude have spilled into the Gulf, fouling Louisiana's marshes and coating birds and other wildlife.

The top kill has worked above ground but has never before been tried 5,000 feet beneath the sea. Company officials peg its chance of success at 60 to 70 percent.

President Barack Obama said "there's no guarantees" it will work. The president planned a trip to Louisiana on Friday.

"We're going to bring every resource necessary to put a stop to this thing," he said.

Meanwhile, dozens of witness statements obtained by The Associated Press show a combination of equipment failure and a deference to the chain of command impeded the system that should have stopped the gusher before it became an environmental disaster.

In a handwritten statement to the Coast Guard obtained by the AP, Transocean rig worker Truitt Crawford said: "I overheard upper management talking saying that BP was taking shortcuts by displacing the well with saltwater instead of mud without sealing the well with cement plugs, this is why it blew out."

At a Coast Guard hearing in New Orleans, Doug Brown, chief rig mechanic aboard the platform, testified that the trouble began at a meeting hours before the blowout, with a "skirmish" between a BP official and rig workers who did not want to replace heavy drilling fluid in the well with saltwater.

The switch presumably would have allowed the company to remove the fluid and use it for another project, but the seawater would have provided less weight to counteract the surging pressure from the ocean depths.

Brown said the BP official, whom he identified only as the "company man," overruled the drillers, declaring, "This is how it's going to be." Brown said the top Transocean official on the rig grumbled, "Well, I guess that's what we have those pinchers for," which he took to be a reference to devices on the blowout preventer, the five-story piece of equipment that can slam a well shut in an emergency.

A live video stream Wednesday showed pictures of the blowout preventer, as well as the oil gushing out. At other times, the feed showed mud spewing out, but BP said this was not cause for alarm.

A weak spot in the blowout preventer could blow under the pressure, causing a brand new leak.

Gene Beck, a petroleum engineering professor at Texas A&M in College Station, said the endeavor would likely fail quickly if the mud could not overcome the pressure of the oil. "The longer it goes, maybe the better news that is," Beck said.

Frustration with BP and the federal government has only grown since then as efforts to stop the leak have failed.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, both outspoken critics, led a boat tour around the oil-fouled delta near the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Through the Mississippi's South Pass, there were miles-long passages that showed no indication of the oil, and the air smelled fresh and salty. Nearby fish were leaping and tiny seabirds dove into the water.

But not far away at Pass a Loutre, the odor wafting above the oily water was that of an auto shop.

"We have yet to see a plan from the Coast Guard, a plan from BP, a plan to keep it from coming in, a plan to pick it up," Nungesser said of the oil.

"There's no wildlife in Pass a Loutre. It's all dead," Nungesser said. .

Need to Return Plantation Water

SUBHEAD: Sugar plantation told by state water commission to restore water to Maui streams. Image above: East Maui Irrigation Company ditch at Twin Falls removes water from natural streambed. From (http://mauiguidebook.com/hikes/east-maui-irrigation-emi). By Staff on 27 May 20210 for the Associated Press - (http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9FV8GGO0.htm)

Hawaii's last sugar plantation on Wednesday grudgingly accepted and Native Hawaiian residents swiftly rejected a water commission ruling ordering the restoration of water to six East Maui streams, some of it on a seasonal basis.

The action came a day after the state's water commission voted to order Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar to return water to the streams to improve habitat for native plants and animals and to provide Hawaiians in the area with water to farm taro.

The ruling addresses a decade-long legal dispute between the plantation and Native Hawaiians living at the base of the East Maui mountains where HC&S has been diverting water for its fields since the late 1800s.

Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar General Manager Chris Benjamin called the ruling "another bite from the apple," noting the commission two years ago ordered the plantation to give up millions of gallons a day from eight other streams. He said the decision would lead to "another sizable reduction in its access to water."

Yet Benjamin said in a statement that "we appreciate" commissioners recognized that the company needed more water during the summer and allowed for a seasonal restoration of stream water.

HC&S says it needs the water to survive, warning that 800 employees could lose their jobs if it goes out of business.

Alan Murakami, an attorney for Native Hawaiian complainants, said he would challenge the ruling.

Murakami had asked the commission to restore water to 19 East Maui streams, but the panel left the status quo in place for 13 of the streams. The decision would hurt Hawaiian traditions and practices, he said.

"They will certainly have less habitats from which to gather, and estuaries from which to fish, both of which are critical to the survival of the Hawaiian culture on that coastline," Murakami said.

He accused the water commission of failing to adequately consider Native Hawaiians' rights to the water and only taking into account HC&S' arguments about the important role the company plays in the local economy.

"It's simply outrageous -- the lack of understanding of their public trust duties and the degree to which they're supposed to adhere to them," Murakami said.

The company began diverting water from East Maui to irrigate sugar cane fields in the central part of the island in 1876.

The company uses East Maui stream and well water to irrigate about 30,000 acres in the Central Maui valley. The plantation, one of Maui's biggest employers, indirectly supports dozens of vendors such as heavy equipment and fuel providers.

Native Hawaiians have relied on East Maui's streams to fish and farm taro for hundreds of years.

The commission ordered some water to be restored to Makapipi and Hanawi streams year-round.

It voted to restore some water to four streams -- Waikamoi, West and East Wailuaiki and Waiohue -- only in the wet season.

Murakami argued the company could restore more water to the streams without jeopardizing its business by lining reservoirs to prevent water seepage and otherwise reducing water waste.

The company has said it had already invested in steps to prevent water waste.

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World After Abundance

SUBHEAD: As abundance wanes and poverty spreads, we will see the rise of monasticism to preserve aspects of civilization. Image above: The Tiger's Nest monastery in the mountains of Bhutan at an altitude of 10,000 feet. From (http://www.wayfaring.info/2008/03/15/tigers-nest-monastery/). By John Michael Greer on 27 May 2010 in Archdruid Report - (http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2010/05/world-after-abundance.html) [Editor's note: We corrected reference to 2008, rather than 2007, as year of historic peak oil price of $147.30] It has been nearly four decades now since the limits to industrial civilization’s trajectory of limitless material growth on a limited planet have been clearly visible on the horizon of our future. Over that time, a remarkable paradox has unfolded. The closer we get to the limits to growth, the more those limits impact our daily lives, and the more clearly our current trajectory points toward the brick wall of a difficult future, the less most people in the industrial world seem to be able to imagine any alternative to driving the existing order of things ever onward until the wheels fall off. This is as true in many corners of the activist community as it is in the most unregenerate of corporate boardrooms. For most of today’s environmentalists, for example, renewable energy isn’t something that people ought to produce for themselves, unless they happen to be wealthy enough to afford the rooftop PV systems that have become the latest status symbol in suburban neighborhoods on either coast. It’s something that utilities and the government are supposed to produce as fast as possible, so that Americans can keep on using three times as much energy per capita as the average European and twenty times as much as the average Chinese. Of course there are alternatives. In the energy crisis of the Seventies, relatively simple conservation and efficiency measures, combined with lifestyle changes, sent world petroleum consumption down by 15% in a single decade and caused comparable drops in other energy sources across the industrial world. Most of these measures went out the window in the final binge of the age of cheap oil that followed, so there’s plenty of low hanging fruit to pluck. That same era saw a great many thoughtful people envision ways that people could lead relatively comfortable and humane lives while consuming a great deal less energy and the products of energy than people in the industrial world do today. It can be a troubling experience to turn the pages of Rainbook or The Book of the New Alchemists, to name only two of the better products of that mostly forgotten era, and compare the sweeping view of future possibilities that undergirded their approach to a future of energy and material shortages with the cramped imaginations of the present. It’s even more troubling to notice that you can pick up yellowing copies of most of these books for a couple of dollars each in the used book trade, at a time when their practical advice is more relevant than ever, and their prophecies of what would happen if the road to sustainability was not taken are looking more prescient by the day. The irony, and it’s a rich one, is that our collective refusal to follow the lead of those who urged us to learn how to get by with less has not spared us the necessity of doing exactly that. That’s the problem, ultimately, with driving headlong at a brick wall; you can stop by standing on the brake pedal, or you can stop by hitting the wall, but either way, you’re going to stop. One way to make sense of the collision between the brittle front end of industrial civilization and the hard surface of nature’s brick wall is to compare the spring of 2010 with the summer of 2008. Those two seasons had an interesting detail in common. In both cases, the price of oil passed $80 a barrel after a prolonged period of price increases, and in both cases, this was followed by a massive debt crisis. In 2008, largely driven by speculation in the futures market, the price of oil kept on zooming upwards, peaking just south of $150 a barrel before crashing back to earth; so far, at least, there’s no sign of a spike of that sort happening this time, although this is mostly because speculators are focused on other assets these days. In 2008, though, the debt crisis also resulted in a dramatic economic downturn, and just now our chances of dodging the same thing this time around do not look good. Here in the US, most measures of general economic activity are faltering where they aren’t plunging – the sole exceptions are those temporarily propped up by an unparalleled explosion of government debt – and unemployment has become so deeply entrenched that what to do about the very large number of Americans who have exhausted the 99 weeks of unemployment benefits current law allows them is becoming a significant political issue. Even the illegal economy is taking a massive hit; a recent NPR story noted that the price of marijuana has dropped so sharply that northern California, where it’s a huge cash crop, is seeing panic selling and sharp economic contraction. What’s going on here is precisely what The Limits to Growth warned about in 1973: the costs of continued growth have risen faster than growth itself, and are reaching a level that is forcing the economy to its knees. By “costs,” of course, the authors of The Limits to Growth weren’t talking about money, and neither am I. The costs that matter are energy, resources, and labor; it takes a great deal more of all of these to extract oil from deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico or oil sands in Alberta, say, than it used to take to get it from Pennsylvania or Texas, and since offshore drilling and oil sands make up an increasingly large share of what we’ve got left – those wells in Pennsylvania and Texas have been pumped dry, or nearly so – these real, nonmonetary costs have climbed steadily. The price of oil in dollars functions here as a workable proxy measure for the real cost of oil production in energy, resources, and materials. The evidence of the last few years suggests that when the price of oil passes $80 a barrel, that’s a sign that the real costs have reached a level high enough that the rest of the economy begins to crack under the strain. Since astronomical levels of debt have become standard practice all through today’s global economy, the ability of marginal borrowers to service their debt is where the cracks showed up first. In the fall of 2008, many of those marginal borrowers were homeowners in the US and UK; this spring, they include entire nations. What all this implies, in a single phrase, is that the age of abundance is over. The period from 1945 to 2005 when almost unimaginable amounts of cheap petroleum sloshed through the economies of the world’s industrial nations, and transformed life in those nations almost beyond recognition, still shapes most of our thinking and nearly all of our expectations. Not one significant policy maker or mass media pundit in the industrial world has begun to talk about the impact of the end of the age of abundance; it’s an open question if any of them have grasped how fundamental the changes will be as the new age of post-abundance economics begins to clamp down. Most ordinary people in the industrial world, for their part, are sleepwalking through one of history’s major transitions. The issues that concern them are still defined entirely by the calculus of abundance. Most Americans these days, for example, worry about managing a comfortable retirement, paying for increasingly expensive medical care, providing their children with a college education and whatever amenities they consider important. It has not yet entered their darkest dreams that they need to worry about access to such basic necessities as food, clothing and shelter, the fate of local economies and communities shredded by decades of malign neglect, and the rise of serious threats to the survival of constitutional government and the rule of law. Even among those who warn that today’s Great Recession could bottom out at a level equal to that reached in the Great Depression, very few have grappled with the consequences of a near-term future in which millions of Americans are living in shantytowns and struggling to find enough to eat every single day. To paraphrase Sinclair Lewis, that did happen here, and it did so at a time when the United States was a net exporter of everything you can think of, and the world’s largest producer and exporter of petroleum to boot. The same scale of economic collapse in a nation that exports very little besides unpayable IOUs, and is the world’s largest consumer and importer of petroleum, could all too easily have results much closer to those of the early 20th century in Central Europe, for example: that is, near-universal impoverishment, food shortages, epidemics, civil wars, and outbreaks of vicious ethnic cleansing, bracketed by two massive wars that both had body counts in the tens of millions. Now you’ll notice that this latter does not equate to the total collapse into a Cormac McCarthy future that so many people like to fantasize about these days. I’ve spent years wondering why it is that so many people seem unable to conceive of any future other than business as usual, on the one hand, and extreme doomer porn on the other. Whatever the motives that drive this curious fixation, though, I’ve become convinced that it results in a nearly complete blindness to the very real risks the future is more likely to hold for us. It makes a useful exercise to take current notions about preparing for the future in the survivalist scene, and ask yourself how many of them would have turned out to be useful over the decade or two ahead if someone had pursued exactly those strategies in Poland or Slovakia, let’s say, in the years right before 1914. Measure the gap between the real and terrible events of that period, on the one hand, and the fantasies of infinite progress or apocalyptic collapse that so often pass for realistic images of our future, on the other, and you have some sense of the gap that has to be crossed in order to make sense of the world after abundance. One way or another, we will cross that gap; the question is whether any significant number of us will do so in advance, and have time to take constructive actions in response, or whether we’ll all do so purely in retrospect, thinking ruefully of the dollars and hours that went into preparing for an imaginary future while the real one was breathing down our necks. I’ve talked at quite some length in these essays about the kinds of preparations that will likely help individuals, families, and communities deal with the future of resource shortages, economic implosion, political breakdown, and potential civil war that the missed opportunities and purblind decisions of the last thirty years have made agonizingly likely here in the United States and, with an infinity of local variations, elsewhere in the industrial world. Those points remain crucial; it still makes a great deal of sense to start growing some of your own food, to radically downscale your dependence on complex technological systems, to reduce your energy consumption as far as possible, to free up at least one family member from the money economy for full-time work in the domestic economy, and so on. Still, there’s another dimension to all this, and it has to be mentioned, though it’s certain to raise hackles. For the last three centuries, and especially for the last half century or so, it’s become increasingly common to define a good life as one provided with the largest possible selection of material goods and services. That definition has become so completely hardwired into our modern ways of thinking that it can be very hard to see past it. Of course there are certain very basic material needs without which a good life is impossible, but those are a good deal fewer and simpler than contemporary attitudes assume, and once those are provided, material abundance becomes a much more ambivalent blessing than we like to think. In a very real sense, this way of thinking mirrors the old joke about the small boy with a hammer who thinks everything is a nail. In an age of unparalleled material abundance, the easy solution for any problem or predicament was to throw material wealth at it. That did solve some problems, but it arguably worsened others, and left the basic predicaments of human existence untouched. Did it really benefit anyone to spend trillions of dollars and the talents of some of our civilization’s brightest minds creating high-end medical treatments to keep the very sick alive and miserable for a few extra months of life, for example, so that we could pretend to ourselves that we had evaded the basic human predicament of the inevitability of death? Whatever the answer, the end of the age of abundance draws a line under that experiment. Within not too many years, it’s safe to predict, only the relatively rich will have the dubious privilege of spending the last months of their lives hooked up to complicated life support equipment. The rest of us will end our lives the way our great-grandparents did: at home, more often than not, with family members or maybe a nurse to provide palliative care while our bodies do what they were born to do and shut down. Within not too many years, more broadly, only a very few people anywhere in the world will have the option of trying to escape the core uncertainties and challenges of human existence by chasing round after round of consumer goodies; the rest of us will count ourselves lucky to have our basic material needs securely provided for, and will have to deal with fundamental questions of meaning and value in some less blatantly meretricious way. Some of us, in the process, may catch on to the subtle lesson woven into this hard necessity. It’s worth noting that while there’s been plenty of talk about the monasteries of the Dark Ages among people who are aware of the impending decline and fall of our civilization, next to none of it has discussed, much less dealt with, the secret behind the success of monasticism: the deliberate acceptance of extreme material poverty. Quite the contrary; all the plans for lifeboat ecovillages I’ve encountered so far, at least, aim at preserving some semblance of a middle class lifestyle into the indefinite future. That choice puts these projects in the same category as the lavish villas in which the wealthy inhabitants of Roman Britain hoped to ride out their own trajectory of decline and fall: a category mostly notable for its long history of total failure. The European Christian monasteries that preserved Roman culture through the Dark Ages did not offer anyone a middle class lifestyle by the standards of their own time, much less those of ours. Neither did the Buddhist monasteries that preserved Heian culture through the Sengoku Jidai, Japan’s bitter age of wars, or the Buddhist and Taoist monasteries that preserved classical Chinese culture through a good half dozen cycles of collapse. Monasteries in all these cases were places people went to be very, very poor. That was the secret of their achievements, because when you reduce your material needs to the absolute minimum, the energy you don’t need to spend maintaining your standard of living can be put to work doing something more useful. Now it’s probably too much to hope for that some similar movement might spring into being here and now; we’re a couple of centuries too soon for that. The great age of Christian monasticism in the West didn’t begin until the sixth century CE, by which time the Roman economy of abundance had been gone for so long that nobody even pretended that material wealth was an answer to the human condition. Still, the monastic revolution kickstarted by Benedict of Nursia drew on a long history of Christian monastic ventures; those unfolded in turn from the first tentative communal hermitages of early Christian Egypt; and all these projects, though this is not often mentioned, took part of their inspiration and a good deal of their ethos from the Stoics of Pagan Greece and Rome. Movements of the Stoic type are in fact very common in civilizations that have passed the Hubbert peak of their own core resource base. There’s good reason for that. In a contracting economy, it becomes easier to notice that the less you need, the less vulnerable you are to the ups and downs of fortune, and the more you can get done of whatever it is that you happen to want to do. That’s an uncongenial lesson at the best of times, and during times of material abundance you won’t find many people learning it. Still, in the world after abundance, it’s hard to think of a lesson that deserves more careful attention. .

Google Phone Picks Lunchspot

SUBHEAD: Google introduces smart phone that whispers ads in your ear based on voice recognition. Image above: Still frame from Verizon TV ad of Google smart phone operating system displaying location of lunchspots options laid over live touch screen. From video in source article. See ONN video below. By Ionut Arghire on 18 May 2010 in SoftPedia.com - (http://news.softpedia.com/news/New-DROID-and-DROID-Incredible-Ads-Emerge-142304.shtml) Wireless carrier Verizon has deployed a pretty interesting ad campaign for the DROID by Motorola that it released back in November 2009, but things didn't stop there. Two new commercials have emerged for the DROID, along with a new ad for another high-end Android-based mobile phone the operator launched on its airwaves, the DROID Incredible by HTC. The video ads for the DROID by Motorola are mainly focused on the applications that are available for the device from the Android Market. Of course, DROID is a mobile phone that does offer access and support for a wide range of software solutions available for download from the app portal. While the first commercials were focused on the phone, the new ones bring the Android platform to the front, showing that the carrier is determined to support the OS in its attempt to conquer the market (check on the second and the third videos below to learn more). For what it's worth, the DROID by Motorola is already popular among users, and id requires no further presentation, yet one cannot say the same about the DROID Incredible. Although the phone registers high demand at Verizon, with stock problems reported ever since it got launched at the carrier, there are still features that customers do not know, and the newly spotted video ad is meant to shed some light on one of them. The DROID Incredible is powered by a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm, which provides both speed and raw power to users. Take a look at the first video embedded below to see what Verizon has to say on the matter. The handset can be seen in this commercial, unlike the previous one, which only named it, and enthusiasts will certainly remember the first DROID Does ads when looking at it. Hopefully, the carrier will be able to resolve the current stock issues it has with the device, so that its customers can benefit to the full from the speed it delivers.
Google, Ads & Phones Go Together Video above: Satire created by the Onion News Network. From(http://www.theonion.com/video/new-google-phone-service-whispers-targeted-ads-dir). By Miguel Helft on 8 OCtober 2007 in the New York Times - (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/08/business/media/08googlephone.html) For more than two years, a large group of engineers at Google has been working in secret on a mobile phone project. As word about their efforts has trickled out, expectations in the tech world for what has been called the Google phone, or GPhone, have risen, the way they do for Apple loyalists ahead of a speech by Steven P. Jobs.

But the GPhone is not likely to be the second coming of the iPhone — and Google’s goals are very different from Apple’s.

Google wants to extend its dominance of online advertising to the mobile Internet, a small market today, but one that is expected to grow rapidly. It hopes to persuade wireless carriers and mobile phone makers to offer phones based on its software, according to people briefed on the project. The cost of those phones may be partly subsidized by advertising that appears on their screens.

Google is expected to unveil the fruit of its mobile efforts later this year, and phones based on its technology could be available next year.

Some analysts say that the Google project’s effect on the wireless industry is not likely to be as profound, at least initially, as that of Apple’s iPhone, whose revolutionary look and features have redefined consumer expectations for mobile phones.

“The iPhone was a milestone in terms of how people use a mobile device,” said Karsten Weide, an analyst with IDC. “The GPhone, if it does come out, will help Google with distribution for their online services.”

At the core of Google’s phone efforts is an operating system for mobile phones that will be based on open-source Linux software, according to industry executives familiar with the project.

In addition, Google is expected to develop mobile versions of its applications that go well beyond the mobile search and map software it offers today. Those applications may include a Web browser to run on cellphones.

While Google has built phone prototypes to test its software and show off its technology to manufacturers, the company is not likely to make the phones itself, according to analysts.

In short, Google is not creating a gadget to rival the iPhone, but rather creating software that will be an alternative to Windows Mobile from Microsoft and other operating systems, which are built into phones sold by many manufacturers. And unlike Microsoft, Google is not expected to charge phone makers a licensing fee for the software.

“The essential point is that Google’s strategy is to lead the creation of an open-source competitor to Windows Mobile,” said one industry executive, who did not want his name used because his company has had contacts with Google. “They will put it in the open-source world and take the economics out of the Windows Mobile business.”

Some believe another major goal of the phone project is to loosen the control of carriers over the software and services that are available on their networks.

“Google’s agenda is to disaggregate carriers,” said Dan Olschwang, the chief executive of JumpTap, a start-up that provides search and advertising services to several mobile phone operators.

Google declined to comment on any specifics of its mobile phone initiative. But its chief executive, Eric E. Schmidt, has said several times that the cellphone market presented the largest growth opportunity for Google. “We have a large investment in mobile phones and mobile phone platform applications,” Mr. Schmidt said in an interview this year.

Industry analysts say that Google, which has little experience with complex hardware, faces significant challenges.

“Running a Web site and a search engine is one thing,” said Mr. Weide of IDC. “But developing a phone is a whole different game. It will not be easy for them.”

Mr. Weide added that Google’s impact on the industry will depend to a large extent on its ability to sign deals with wireless carriers that distribute hundreds of millions of phones each year and often control what software and services run on them.

Some carriers, especially in the United States, are likely to give Google a cool reception. Companies like Verizon Wireless and AT&T have spent billions of dollars building and upgrading their networks, establishing relationships with customers, subsidizing handsets and creating their own mobile Internet portals. Now they want to make sure those investments pay off, in part, through mobile advertising, and they see Google and other search engines, who are after the same ad dollars, as competitors.

As a result, most carriers in the United States have chosen to shun the major search engines for now. Instead, they have promoted the search engines and ad systems of small technology companies like JumpTap and Medio Systems, whose services they can stamp with their own brands.

Most carriers declined to comment on Google’s plans. But Arun Sarin, the chief executive of Britain’s Vodafone Group, which offers the Google service on its phones, said it was not clear what compelling functions Google would offer that are not already available.

“What is it that is missing in life that they are going to fulfill?” Mr. Sarin said. “It is not a no-brainer. You can reach Google already through a number of devices. You don’t need a Google phone to do that.”

Google’s desire to loosen the carriers’ control over their networks has hardly been a secret. The company recently lobbied the Federal Communications Commission to impose rules on any carrier who wins a coming auction for valuable wireless spectrum. The rules, which the F.C.C. adopted despite opposition from Verizon and others, require that the network using a portion of that spectrum be open to any handset and software applications from any company.

Google said it is considering bidding for some of that spectrum. But regardless of who wins it, phones based on Google’s software would be able to take advantage of it.

Google’s lobbying, as well as its work on a phone software platform that would be open to other applications, represent an effort to bring to the mobile Internet the dynamics of the PC-oriented Internet, which is free of control by network operators. Google is hoping that it can beat competitors in an open environment.

The mobile phone project at Google was built in part around Android, a small mobile software company it acquired in 2005. An Android co-founder, Andy Rubin, had founded Danger, which created the popular T-Mobile Sidekick smartphone. Mr. Rubin works at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, but another part of Google’s team is reported to be in Boston, where Android’s co-founder, Rich Miner, another veteran of the mobile phone industry, is based.

Some analysts say there are no guarantees that Google will be able to replicate its online success in the mobile world.

“The wireless market does not have the same global scale and scope efficiencies, nor the lack of transactional friction, of software on the Internet,” said Scott Cleland, a telecommunications industry analyst who recently testified before the Senate against Google’s proposed acquisition of DoubleClick.

“It is a completely different world and completely different set of economics,” said Mr. Cleland, who has opposed Google on a number of policy issues.

Microsoft, whose mobile operating system has been available for years, has distribution agreements with 48 handset makers and 160 carriers around the world. Still, only 12 million phones sold this year will be based on Microsoft’s software, giving it 10 percent of the smartphone market, according to IDC.

Microsoft declined to comment on potential competition from Google. “The market is huge, and our partners are really motivated to bring Windows Mobile phones to market,” said Doug Smith, director for marketing of Microsoft’s mobile communications business.

Mahesh Veerina, the founder and chief executive of Celunite, which makes cellphone software based on Linux, said Google’s offering was likely to be attractive to small carriers, who may see it as a competitive weapon.

But if Google-powered phones prove to be a hit with consumers, other carriers may feel pressure to follow suit, said Richard Doherty, director for the Envisioneering Group, a consulting firm.

“No one wants to be the last carrier to endorse Google,” Mr. Doherty said.

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Big Isle Land Sale on Hold

SUBHEAD: County took Hamakua land for back taxes. Market too down for resale to balance the books. Image above: View along the east coast of Big Island on the Hamakua Coast. From (http://www.lavaocean.com/NaturalWondersofHilo.htm). By Nancy Cook Lauer on 25 May 2010 in the Hawaii Tribune - (http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/articles/2010/05/25/local_news/local03.txt) With the administration giving up for now on selling Hamakua lands, one councilman wants to revoke the county's authority to do so without future council approval. Mayor Billy Kenoi announced Monday the administration has canceled a bid opening scheduled for that day and will hold off on future sales attempts until the market improves. Despite several months of advertising, a land tour with prospective buyers and several scheduled bid openings, the county received no bids above the appraised value, the minimum allowed by law. "We weren't going to give the land away and we weren't going to engage in a fire sale," Kenoi said. Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann says the council's authority to sell the land -- a controversial vote that brought many Hamakua residents out in force to oppose the measure -- came because council members were under the impression the budget couldn't be balanced without the sale. The County Council voted 6-3 in November on a resolution allowing Mayor Billy Kenoi to sell 737 acres of the holdings the county had received in lieu of taxes from bankrupt Hamakua Sugar Co. in 1994. At the time, county officials predicted the sale would bring in $8.2 million. That figure was reduced by a couple of million after appraisals came in. But the administration was able to balance this year's budget without selling the land and has put in only $10,000 in land sales in the new budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. Kenoi said he wants to retain authority to sell the land when the market improves and said he opposes the council taking away the right to do so. "I believe we need to keep all our options open," Kenoi said. .

Condos Getting in Trouble

SUBHEAD: Condominium boards on Maui are being drained as maintenance fees dry up. This will hurt tourism.

Image above: Kauhale Makai Condominium on the ocean in Kihei, Maui, Hawaii. From (http://activerain.com/blogsview/845359/kauhale-makai-condominium-kihei-maui-condominiums-)

By Harry Eagar on 26 May 2010 in the Maui News - (http://www.mauinews.com/page/content.detail/id/531847.html)

A condo owner who had his water shut off after he stopped paying common area maintenance fees said he could get by for a while, but condo associations on Maui may not fare as well.

Nai'a Properties President Penny Munroe, who has managed multifamily properties on Maui for 15 years, said two of the condo associations she works with are on the verge of collapse because so many apartment owners have fallen behind on their fees.

"I have never run into this before," Munroe said.

Munroe said the Condominium Council of Maui has been trying to educate condo associations for a year and a half about the looming financial crunch. Nai'a has insisted that its clients write budgets that anticipate uncollected debts and prepare to manage shortfalls.

Ron Wilson was featured in a story Sunday by The Maui News about condo owners who fall behind on their fees. He said his association, Kanani at Wailea, is not in danger of financial collapse but is having trouble collecting from members like him who cannot pay their maintenance fees.

Wilson's condo was foreclosed and sold at auction, although he is continuing to live in the unit until Bank of America tells him to move out.

After he stopped paying fees, his association warned that it would cut off his water if he didn't settle the debt. Wilson filled buckets and tubs with water, and his service was turned off Sunday morning.

"It's a good lesson in conservation," he said Monday. "I realized how much water you waste and how much you really need."

He said he "could hold out all summer," but since BofA will have to file notice of its takeover within a few days, the bills will then be the responsibility of the bank, which should answer at least part of the Kanani association's problems.

Associations have few options when they cannot collect, said Munroe, but she was surprised to hear that Hawaiiana had followed through on its plan to shut off water. Hawaiiana did not respond to inquiries.

Munroe is very worried that associations with big accounts receivables are going to fail. "It's going to start happening," she said. "What with the foreclosures, the filing for bankruptcy and the lease rent negotiations, people just cannot pay."

Two of her clients are very shaky, she said. The boards have done what they can to cut expenses, including deferring maintenance and cutting services.

Munroe recently attended a conference on the Mainland, where condo associations also are facing this problem, although the amounts of money are often larger in Hawaii.

"They're in the same boat," Munroe said, who met with other associations to share ideas about how to deal with the problem.

There is little precedent to suggest what options are available. As far as Munroe knows, only one condo association in Hawaii went into bankruptcy, some years back, and that was not a matter of finances.

She is also concerned about the snowball effect of condo budget cuts. It's bad enough when services are cut for full-time residents, but cutting services for units that are run as short-term rentals can drive away tourists even more.

One of the Nai'a's nearly broke clients is entirely investor-owned, all absentees, with no resident manager and no on-site presence, she said.

Boards did not expect such problems, she said, and already one board member she knows has resigned, "because he couldn't deal with it."

"We have a well-trained, large team of attorneys and other experts" on Maui who are exploring every avenue for rescuing the finances of hard-pressed associations.

Wilson said that isn't a problem at Kanani, where he was board president last year. It has 32 units, of which only three are not paying dues: his place, one that was never occupied and one that is in foreclosure but occupied by tenants.

There was no point in shutting off the water on the unoccupied unit, and it would not make sense to shut off the tenants, who are not responsible for the dues, he said. That left him.

"I'm camping out," he said. Friends have called, offering him a place to shower and tips on finding a new home.

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Quarrel over Quarry

SUBHEAD: Environmentalists charge that gravel quarries in Mahaulepu continue operation in violation of permits.

By Leo Azambuja on 26 May 2010 in Garden Island News - (http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/article_84e275ae-6894-11df-b5d1-001cc4c002e0.html)

 
Image above: Planning Director Ian Costa, on the right, sitting by Planning Commission Chair Caven Raco at commission hearing. From source article.  

[IB Editor's note: Whenever a bad planning request is to be made on Kauai, local lawyer Walton Hong will be on hand to represent Satan; and when that request is to be approved, planning director Ian Costa will be the stooge that supports it.] 

Koloa and Po‘ipu house some of the richest archaeological sites in the entire state. Despite widespread development, new sites are still being discovered there.

Malama Maha‘ulepu, a Koloa-based nonprofit, claims mining activities may be polluting the pristine waters of Maha‘ulepu Beach while damaging the area’s cultural and historical resources.

“It’s important to remember who we were,” said Stella Bridges, a lineal descendant of native Hawaiians who lived there. Hawaiians used to grow many crops there and the area is still a source of fresh water, she said.

Malama Maha‘ulepu recently asked the Kaua‘i Planning Commission to review conditional permits for the New Maha‘ulepu Quarry transferred from the original applicant, Grove Farm Company, to Jas W. Glover Ltd.

The Maha‘ulepu Ahupua‘a was once a dense ancient Hawaiian village. Later, in the plantation days, it was there that the Old Koloa Mill operated. It has reportedly been the site of mining activities since the 1950s.

It is also in Maha‘ulepu, in a cave famous for its archaeological wealth, that the endemic Kaua‘i cave wolf spider and the Kaua‘i cave amphipod thrive. Both species were discovered in the 1971, are blind and only exist in fewer than a dozen caves. A 2005 study by the state government said counts have never documented more than 30 spiders and 80 amphipods.

The Old Maha‘ulepu Quarry started functioning since the mid 1950s, said Suzanne Kashiwaeda, president of the board of directors of Malama Maha‘ulepu. She said that a 1992 testimony before the commission shows the permit had been grandfathered.

The new quarry operates about a quarter mile northeast from there. Malama Maha‘ulepu members said that one of the conditions for the new quarry’s permit was that the old quarry would cease operations two years after the new one opened.

The new quarry’s permit is on its 17th year. But to this day the old quarry is reportedly still in operation. Rocks from the old quarry are transported to the old one, where they are crushed and washed, Kashiwaeda said.

The Maha‘ulepu cave sits on the edge of the old quarry. Farther up, inside the quarry, is the Waiopili heiau.

Revise permit conditions
Kashiwaeda asked the commission to revise the conditions for the new quarry, amending it to better monitor the quarry’s activities, and expedite the Waiopili heiau restoration at the old quarry.

She also asked for site visits at the old and new quarries by the Planning Commission, the Land Use Commission, the Department of Health and the public.

Kashiwaeda showed the commission a map delineating the new quarry’s boundaries. About 42 acres are to be mined for limestone, which is the current activity; 25 acres are reserved for basalt mining; and another 41 acres are designated for operations and storage.

Malama Maha‘ulepu Board Vice President Napua Romo asked for the restoration of the Waiopili heiau, which she said was intended and promised back in 1992.

“Waiopili is more than one archaeological site,” she said, quoting a 1974 archaeological study that says the “the original setting which surrounds the site is as important as a site itself, including a pond, a spring, and a limestone cliff abutting the south side of the pond.”

Romo said the archaeologist recommended the heiau be stabilized and restored, and all quarrying operation which had adverse effects in the pond and the spring be stopped.

Jerry di Pietro, also from Malama Maha‘ulepu, showed pictures of a 2006 limestone rockslide near the cave, revealing bird footprints that are tens of thousands of years old.

Not far from there, the new quarry operators mine for the same limestone.

Kashiwaeda said that limestone was formed between 10,000 and 100,000 years ago. “All of that is being sold for roughly $56 a ton.”

Romo said some members of Malama Maha‘ulepu, plus a consultant and an archaeologist, trespassed on the property one weekend to visit the heiau.

“We wanted to find Waiopili heiau, particularly because some people said it was entirely gone,” she said.

Romo showed a 1974 picture of the heiau; compared with a picture taken recently, it suggests that only a couple rocks from the heiau remain in place.

“Since 1974 the heiau has certainly not been protected or cared for,” said Romo, adding that Malama Maha‘ulepu suggests that restoration should commence next June.

The landowner, she said, should fund a heiau restoration plan, complete with a consultant, cultural experts and community participation. She also said restoration work should be open to the public during daylight hours.

Romo said if the heiau is found damaged beyond the condition described in 1974, the responsible parties should be fined no less than $1 million. The money would be put in a trust to support the Koloa communities and nonprofits that take care of the remaining cultural sites in the area.

Commission considers taking action
The commission made a motion to initiate Chapter 12, which has the power to revoke or modify the permit, but went back and decided to first receive a report from the Planning Department.

“We have a permit with a number of conditions. We’ve heard allegations that these conditions have not been met.” said Walton Hong, Glover’s attorney. “We’ve not had a chance to respond to them.”

Hong said his client is in the process of preparing a report to be delivered to the Planning Department. Only then the department will be able to decide if there’s any merit to the permit violation allegations, he said.

“We started on it. It’s a mass of material we have to get through; it’s not just a couple pieces of paper,” said Hong, adding that he should get the report ready in 30 days.

Commissioner Jimmy Nishida reminded Hong that regardless of the recommendations of the planning director, the commission still may initiate Chapter 12.

Meanwhile, the community is seeking cooperation.

“We are lay people, we are not lawyers or planners,” Kashiwaeda told Hong, explaining that even though they have been adversaries in the past, Malama Maha‘ulepu would rather work things out.

“Our point is, we want to save the important historic, cultural sites,” she said. “If we can work together that’s what we would like to do.”

The site, however, is currently off limits to the public.

“We don’t have access to the place,” Kashiwaeda said. “We don’t have access to the information. They hold all the cards.”

After receiving the report from Glover, the planning director will decide on the next action.

“I take my responsibility very seriously, especially as a kanaka maoli,” said Planning Director Ian Costa.

“I will provide information to the commission on whether the information provided is satisfactory,” Costa said. “Depending on how that information goes, we would not hesitate to file a petition (for Chapter 12).”.

Drill-Baby-Drill Non-Moratorium

SUBHEAD: Despite President Obama’s moratorium, drilling projects are still moving ahead.
Image above: Reasonable considerations of oil resource extraction by seasoned professionals. Illustration by Mark Frederickson, From (http://www.miller-mccune.com/business-economics/pay-baby-pay-3633/). By Ian Urbina on 23 May 2010 in New York Times - ( http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/24/us/24moratorium.html) In the days since President Obama announced a moratorium on permits for drilling new offshore oil wells and a halt to a controversial type of environmental waiver that was given to the Deepwater Horizon rig, at least seven new permits for various types of drilling and five environmental waivers have been granted, according to records. The records also indicate that since the April 20 explosion on the rig, federal regulators have granted at least 19 environmental waivers for gulf drilling projects and at least 17 drilling permits, most of which were for types of work like that on the Deepwater Horizon shortly before it exploded, pouring a ceaseless current of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Asked about the permits and waivers, officials at the Department of the Interior and the Minerals Management Service, which regulates drilling, pointed to public statements by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, reiterating that the agency had no intention of stopping all new oil and gas production in the gulf. Department of the Interior officials said in a statement that the moratorium was meant only to halt permits for the drilling of new wells. It was not meant to stop permits for new work on existing drilling projects like the Deepwater Horizon. But critics say the moratorium has been violated or too narrowly defined to prevent another disaster. With crude oil still pouring into the gulf and washing up on beaches and in wetlands, President Obama is sending Mr. Salazar and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano back to the region on Monday. In a toughly worded warning to BP on Sunday, Mr. Salazar said at a news conference outside the company’s headquarters in Houston, “If we find they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, we’ll push them out of the way appropriately.” Mr. Salazar’s position conflicted with one laid out several hours earlier, by the commandant of the United States Coast Guard, Adm. Thad W. Allen, who said that the oil conglomerate’s access to the mile-deep well site meant that the government could not take over the lead in efforts to stop the leak. “They have the eyes and ears that are down there,” the admiral said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “They are necessarily the modality by which this is going to get solved.” Since the explosion, federal regulators have been harshly criticized for giving BP’s Deepwater Horizon and hundreds of other drilling projects waivers from full environmental review and for failing to provide rigorous oversight of these projects. In voicing his frustration with these regulators and vowing to change how they operate, Mr. Obama announced on May 14 a moratorium on drilling new wells and the granting of environmental waivers. “It seems as if permits were too often issued based on little more than assurances of safety from the oil companies,” Mr. Obama said. “That cannot and will not happen anymore.” “We’re also closing the loophole that has allowed some oil companies to bypass some critical environmental reviews,” he added in reference to the environmental waivers. But records indicated that regulators continued granting the environmental waivers and permits for types of work like that occurring on the Deepwater Horizon. In testifying before Congress on May 18, Mr. Salazar and officials from his agency said they recognized the problems with the waivers and they intended to try to rein them in. But Mr. Salazar also said that he was limited by a statutory requirement that he said obligated his agency to process drilling requests within 30 days after they have been submitted. “That is what has driven a number of the categorical exclusions that have been given over time in the gulf,” he said. But critics remained unsatisfied. Shown the data indicating that waivers and permits were still being granted, Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland, said he was “deeply troubled.” “We were given the clear impression that these waivers and permits were not being granted,” said Mr. Cardin, who is a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, where Mr. Salazar testified last week. “I think the presumption should be that there should be stronger environmental reviews, not weaker.” None of the projects that have recently been granted environmental waivers have started drilling. However, these waivers have been especially troublesome to environmentalists because they were granted through a special legal provision that is supposed to be limited to projects that present minimal or no risk to the environment. At least six of the drilling projects that have been given waivers in the past four weeks are for waters that are deeper — and therefore more difficult and dangerous — than where Deepwater Horizon was operating. While that rig, which was drilling at a depth just shy of 5,000 feet, was classified as a deep-water operation, many of the wells in the six projects are classified as “ultra” deep water, including four new wells at over 9,100 feet. In explaining why they were still granting new permits for certain types of drilling on existing wells, Department of the Interior officials said some of the procedures being allowed are necessary for the safety of the existing wellbore. Pending the recommendations of the 30-day safety review, the officials said, drilling under permits approved before April 20 “may go forward, along with applications to modify existing wells and permits, if those actions are determined to be appropriate.” But Interior Department officials have also explained that one of the main justifications of the moratorium on new drilling was safety. The moratorium was meant to ensure that no new accidents occurred while the administration had time to review the regulatory system. And yet, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has classified some of the drilling types that have been allowed to continue as being as hazardous as new well drilling. Federal records also indicate that there have been at least three major accidents involving spills, leaks or explosions on rigs in the gulf since 2002 caused by the drilling procedures still being permitted. “The moratorium does not even cover the dangerous drilling that caused the problem in the first place,” said Daniel J. Rohlf, a law professor at Lewis & Clark Law School, adding he was not certain that the Interior Department was capable of carrying out the needed reforms. The moratorium has created inconsistencies and confusion. While Interior Department officials have said certain new drilling procedures on existing wells can proceed, Mr. Salazar, when pressed to explain why new drilling was being allowed, testified on May 18 that “there is no deep-water well in the O.C.S. that has been spudded — that means started — after April 20,” referring to the gulf’s outer continental shelf. However, Newfield Exploration Company has confirmed that it began drilling a deep-water well in 2,095 feet of water after April 20. Records indicate that Newfield was issued a permit on May 11 to initiate a sidetrack drill, with a required spud date of May 10. A sidetrack is a secondary wellbore drilled away from the original hole. Among the types of drilling permits that the minerals agency is still granting are called bypass permits. These allow an operator to drill around a mechanical problem in the original hole to the original target from the existing wellbore. Five days before the explosion, the Deepwater Horizon requested and received a revised bypass permit, which was the last drilling permit the rig received from the minerals agency before the explosion. The bore was created and it was the faulty cementing or plugging of that hole that has been cited as one of the causes of the explosion. In reviewing the minerals agency, federal investigators are likely to pay close attention to how permits and waivers have been granted to drilling projects. Even before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the use of environmental waivers was a source of concern. In September 2009, the Government Accountability Office released a report concluding that the waivers were being illegally granted to onshore drilling projects. This month, the Interior Department announced plans to restrict the use of the waivers onshore, though not offshore. It also began a joint investigation of the offshore waiver process with the Council on Environmental Quality, an environmental arm of the White House. The investigation, however, is likely to take months, and in the meantime the waivers are continuing to be issued. There is also a 60-day statute of limitations on contesting the waivers, which reduces the chances that they will be reversed if problems are found with the projects or the Obama administration’s review finds fault in the exemption process. At least three lawsuits to strike down the waivers have been filed by environmental groups this month. The lawsuits argue that the waivers are overly broad and that they undermine the spirit of laws like the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act, which forbid drilling projects from moving forward unless they produce detailed environmental studies about minimizing potential risks.
See also: Ea O Ka Aina: Drilling Offshore - Is Obama Crazy? 4/2/10 .

Pacific Resistance to U.S. Military

SUBHEAD: From Japan to Guam to Hawaii, activists resist expansion of US military presence in the Pacific.

Interview by Amy Goodwin on 24 May 2010 for Democracy Now -  
(http://www.democracynow.org/2010/5/24/from_japan_to_guam_to_hawaii)

 
Image above: Japanese protest on US Marines presence in Okinawa this month. From (http://usmvaw.com/tag/mcas-futenma/page/2/).

In Japan, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama sparked outrage this weekend when he announced he has decided to keep an American air base on the island of Okinawa. Before last year’s historic election victory, Hatoyama had vowed to move the base off of Okinawa or even out of Japan. On Sunday, he said he had decided to relocate the base to the north side of the island, as originally agreed upon with the US.

Hatoyama’s decision was met with anger on Okinawa, where 90,000 residents rallied last month to oppose the base. A number of activists opposed to US military bases were recently here in New York for the International Conference for a Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just and Sustainable World. Anjali Kamat and I spoke to three activists from Japan, Guam and Hawaii.
Guests:
Kyle Kajihiro, Program Director for the American Friends Service Committee in Hawai’i. He helps to coordinate the DMZ-Hawai’i / Aloha ’Aina network that opposes military expansion in Hawai’i.

Kozue Akibayashi, professor and activist in Japan and with the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom and the Women’s International Network Against Militarism.

Melvin Won Pat-Borja, educator and poet from Guam and part of the We Are Guahan network opposed to the military base buildup in Guam.

AMY GOODMAN: In Japan, the Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama sparked outrage this weekend when he announced he has decided to keep an American air base on the island of Okinawa. Before last year’s historic election victory, Hatoyama had vowed to move the base off of Okinawa or even out of Japan. On Sunday, he said he decided to relocate the base to the north side of the island, as originally agreed upon with the US. The Japanese prime minister’s decision was met with anger on Okinawa, where 90,000 residents rallied last month to oppose the base.

Hatoyama explained his decision by saying, since taking office, he had learned to appreciate the role that the Marines play as a deterrent in the region, that Okinawa was the most strategic location for them. Half the estimated 47,000 US troops in Japan are stationed on the island.

Well, a number of activists opposed to US military bases were recently here in New York for the International Conference for a Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just and Sustainable World. Democracy Now!'s Anjali Kamat and I spoke to three of them. They were from Japan, from Guam and Hawai'i.
Kyle Kajihiro is the program director for the American Friends Service Committee in Hawai’i. He helps to coordinate the DMZ-Hawai’i/Aloha 'Aina network that opposes military expansion in Hawaii.

Kozue Akibayashi is a professor and activist in Japan and with the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom and the Women’s International Network Against Militarism.

And Melvin Won Pat-Borja is an educator and poet from Guam and part of the "We Are Guahan" network opposed to the military base buildup on Guam.

We began by asking Kyle Kajihiro to explain the broader context of US military bases in East Asia and the Pacific.

KYLE KAJIHIRO: I think it’s important to consider how important the Pacific has been for the expansion of American empire. And Hawai’i was one of the first casualties in 1893, when US troops invaded and occupied the sovereign kingdom of Hawai’i to establish a forward base that enabled the US to defeat Spain in the Spanish-American War and then acquire its colonies, in the Philippines and Guam and also Puerto Rico and Cuba. And that sets up another conflict with Japan during World War II, in which the United States emerges as a global power with nuclear capabilities and acquires new colonies in the Marianas, Marshall Islands and Okinawa. So we see the legacy of that history played out.

And America has always considered the Pacific, similar to Latin America, as its—you know, its own domain, its special domain. They call it the American Lake. And, you know, that’s what we’re struggling against, is that idea that, you know, the US has this dominion and without consideration for the peoples and the human rights of people in that area

So, right now, we are seeing that the Asia Pacific is even, you know, becoming more important with the rise of China, and the US sees China as its main strategic competitor. And that, I think, is a lot of what’s driving the military realignment in Korea, in Japan, Okinawa and Guam to encircle China and basically neutralize its capabilities.

ANJALI KAMAT: Kozue, can you talk about what happened in Japan last week? There was a major protest, 100,000 people in Okinawa protesting the construction of a new US military base. Explain what’s going on with Japan-US relations and with US military bases in Japan.

KOZUE AKIBAYASHI: Okinawa is a part of Japan. It’s the southernmost part of Japan. It’s a small prefecture, out of forty-seven, where US military—75 percent of US military facilities, exclusively used by the US military, is located. So there is this high concentration of US military in Okinawa, and that is why we are highlighting the problem in Okinawa.

There has been a proposal of building a new base in Okinawa, a completely new one and state-of-the-art military facility in Okinawa, which was protested by people in the community for ten years, by now. We had this regime change last year, and the new administration promised that there will be no buildup in Okinawa. However, what is going on now is that they are negotiating with the US government and saying that we cannot help building this new one.

So that is when—and this has been disclosed in the past month or so, and that is why the Okinawan people are raging against and they felt the need to express their protest against this newly built—buildup of base in Okinawa. And that is how this 90,000 people gathered at this rally. And the population of Okinawa is 1.3 million. That’s a lot of people who gathered. And there are many people who cannot express their protest or against their—their protest, because the US military has been there for a long time. The military economy is part of their life. It’s very difficult for them to publicly say no. But this 90,000 peoples rally was—showed how strong they felt.

AMY GOODMAN: Why are Japanese in Okinawa so opposed to the base there?

KOZUE AKIBAYASHI: The live very close—in Okinawa, they live very, very close to the military base. It’s not an isolated location. The military base is here, and they have to find places where they could build their houses. It affects in many ways of their lives. Noise pollution is one of them. Environmental pollution is one of them.

AMY GOODMAN: The issue of rape?

KOZUE AKIBAYASHI: Yes, yes. That’s more pervasive, but deep-rooted problem that women and children, girls, face in the vicinity. Not only the close vicinity, but the entire island of Okinawa face danger of sexual violence by US soldiers.

AMY GOODMAN: And Melvin, if you can talk about what’s happening on Guam.

MELVIN WON PAT-BORJA: Well, basically, you know, with this proposed base closure in Okinawa, the remedy to this solution is really seen as transferring the bulk of these soldiers from Okinawa to Guam. And that’s kind of where we come in. You know, there’s been a lot of debate about where these Marines should go.

And, you know, the United States’ attitude toward this is that, you know, Guam is their territory. You know, they see Guam as sovereign US soil, and it allows them freedom of action, which is one of the major pieces of—or major factors in why they chose Guam, because it allows them to basically operate without having to deal with a foreign government.

And so, they plan to move 8,600 Marines from Okinawa to Guam, plus their 9,000 dependents. They also include an Army ballistic missile defense system, which will bring an additional 600 Army soldiers. And they plan to dredge a—they plan to dredge 71 acres of coral reef in Apra Harbor in order to make room for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

They also have plans to acquire 2,200 additional acres of land, and they already own about a third of the island. And keep in mind, Guam is only about thirty-one miles long and seven miles wide in the narrowest point. Our population is a little bit over 170,000 people. And the military predicts that, at the peak year of the buildup, we will expect a population boom of about additional 80,000 people.

AMY GOODMAN: So a 50 percent increase almost.

MELVIN WON PAT-BORJA: Basically.

ANJALI KAMAT: Melvin, talk about what it was like to grow up in the shadow of these US military bases in Guam. What is everyday life like? How does it impact you?

MELVIN WON PAT-BORJA: Well, you know, the interesting thing about the base presence in Guam is that, you know, we are a United States unincorporated territory. And so, you know, we are US citizens, and I think that’s one of the major—it’s seen as one of the major differences between Guam and Okinawa. But the reality is that, you know, we essentially are second-class citizens. As a, you know, unincorporated US territory, you know, we don’t have representation in the Senate. We have a non-voting representative in Congress. We don’t vote for president. But we still fall under all US federal laws and regulations.

AMY GOODMAN: Were you ever concerned that they were going to move Guantánamo to Guam?

MELVIN WON PAT-BORJA: I mean, you know, it’s definite—really, when it comes to Guam and, you know, military strategy, you really don’t know what’s going happen. And there’s no—we really have no control over what happens.

You know, in the military’s plan, in their DEIS, their Draft Environmental Impact Statement, they basically said that, you know, other alternatives for the base relocation from Okinawa included the Philippines, Korea and Hawaii. And all three of those places said no. But nowhere in the document does it say that we ever had the opportunity to say no.

And that’s kind of—you know, that’s pretty much the climate in Guam, is that, you know, we just—we basically are forced to accept whatever it is that the United States federal government and the military decides to do.

AMY GOODMAN: How did the United States come to incorporate Guam as a territory of the United States?

MELVIN WON PAT-BORJA: Guam was purchased by the United States from Spain through the Treaty of Paris. So Guam actually was technically owned by the United States before World War II. Now, during World War II, we were—when the Americans got word that Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and that they were invading, you know, they basically left. They abandoned Guam, and we were occupied then by Japan for two years. And then the United States came back to reclaim Guam, and they basically carpet-bombed the entire island.

And more people—you know, a lot of people kind of look at the personal struggle, you know, in Guam during the Japanese occupation, you know, where we were victimized and killed brutally. You know, a lot of—even my family, my grandfather’s brother was executed for smuggling food into prison to feed their families who were starving. They made him dig his own grave and killed him. And so—

AMY GOODMAN: This was World War II?

MELVIN WON PAT-BORJA: Right, and this is during the Japanese occupation. And so, you know, a lot of folks look at this occupation as a very—it’s a very sensitive issue. And so, in a lot of ways, you know, the Americans were seen as the liberators.

But what a lot of people don’t know is that more people died in the reclaiming of Guam than in the entire two-year occupation of Guam by the Japanese. And so, you know, we have this kind of a dual identity, this sense of, you know, being an indigenous person from Guam, being an indigenous Chamorro, and having loyalty to the United States, you know? And that generation is still alive and well, you know, and there’s still a lot of folks who really feel loyal to the United States.

You know, but in a lot of ways, we don’t have the same rights as other Americans. And that’s something that’s really important in the discussion between Guam and Okinawa. You know, a lot of folks kind of see Guam as being America.

You know, when they look at the bases in Okinawa, they think, you know, this is an American problem, and these bases should be sent back to America. And so, they look then at Guam and Hawai’i as being America. And so, you know, this is the alternative. But, you know, a lot of folks don’t realize what our political status is and the struggles that we face within the political system.

And so, you know, this is not just a simple thing of saying, "OK, this is America. Let’s moves them there. You know, the people of Guam want them." You know, the reality is that there is a lot of resistance to this buildup, and it is going to impact us in so many different ways—socially, culturally, environmentally, financially. And, you know, it’s not just a simple transfer.

ANJALI KAMAT: And Kyle Kajihiro, I want to bring you back into the discussion. Talk about how this political realignment works in Hawai’i? What does it look like from there? And also, talk about the environmental impact of these bases.

KYLE KAJIHIRO: Right. Well, since September 11, we’ve had the largest military expansion since World War II. The military seized about 25,000 acres of land in order to station their Stryker brigade in Hawai’i. And these troops are being trained to deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq. So we have, you know, this dual role in Hawai’i of being a victim of the American empire and also an accomplice in the building of that empire. And so, we’re addressing both problems.

The environmental impacts of the military are enormous in Hawai’i. We have—we would argue that the military is the largest polluter, with over 828 contamination sites identified. In Ke Awalau o Pu’uloa, which is the original name of Pearl Harbor, once the food basket for Oahu, with thirty-six fish ponds, is now a toxic Superfund site.

More than 750 contamination sites. And we can’t eat from this life-giving treasure that’s there. And so, these are some of the manifestations that are not apparent on the surface. And even economically, with the economic influx that comes in, of course, certain people get paid, but others pay the price.

And it’s usually the Native peoples who lose land, who are forced out of their housing, because of the rising cost of living. And we have a growing homeless population on the beaches, mostly Native Hawaiians living in tents. Meanwhile, thousands of acres of military land are just across the street.

AMY GOODMAN: Kyle Kajihiro is the program director for the American Friends Service Committee in Hawai’i. Kozue Akibayashi is a professor and activist in Japan. She’s with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. And Melvin Won Pat-Borja is an educator and poet from Guam. He’s part of the We Are Guahan network opposed to the military base buildup in Guam.

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Hardwired to Eco-Hell

SUBHEAD: Our society is hardwired to consume its way to eco-hell. When the dust settles there will be a proliferation of local cultures. Image above: An early rail handcart coasting downhill on a long grade in the mid 19th century. From (http://www.dicksdoings.com/dicksadventures/canada.html). By Jan Lunberg on 22 May 2010 in Culture Change - (http://www.culturechange.org/cms/content/view/647/1/) As the U.S. continues the incredibly wasteful misallocation of resources known as car production and everything that goes with it, the externalized costs in terms of global warming, oil spills, and human isolation as consumers, only mount.

Who is in charge of this mad policy of ecocide? We all are, but we did elect a president named Barack Obama. He was supposed to be the answer to the blatantly destructive and incompetent George W. Bush. But Lo and Behold, Obama's allegiance proved to be the status quo. Got recession? More cars! Oil spill a la Chernobyl in the U.S. Gulf? Keep on producing cars and using oil!

So, having fooled ourselves again with an election, ignoring the warning by The Who in their landmark song Won't Get Fooled Again (1970), we look to the driver of our vehicle to see that he is a nut case with his accelerator pedal pushed to the floor. Global peak in oil supply? Pedal to the metal! What's that above him? A helicopter gunship mowing down people on the other side of the world, in the name of democracy and freedom.

Obama's calm, intelligent face, our multiracial darling Obama, is on the whole a maniacal puppet. And he’s wearing a mask, whether he knows it or not. Who or what is underneath?

Some who look beyond elections say the problem is essentially one of corporatism: that Obama is just another representative of the corporate elite, as were the Bushes, McCain and the Clintons. True, but is U.S. culture salvageable by targeting corporate rule?

The lateness of the hour tells us the answer is No. Although the modern large corporation is the most virulent form of exploitation of people and the Earth, and needs to be abolished, U.S. culture has gone way too far in its alienation, oppression and general distortion of human values to be cured or transformed by even a major reform.

What, then, are the implications for a nation and people who don’t even have a hope today of getting out from under the car (that's pinning them down on the bloody, oily pavement)? Ideally, even Tea Party activists realize that significant change or relief from economic and social pressures does not come from another election or series of elections.

What, then -- revolution? Is that the real goal of anyone wishing for fundamental change? What would this revolution entail? Would it be political, cultural, or both?

A series of goals or wishes by enough people amounts to a social movement or a coup. It has happened before, and the threat of this feels real to those who find the U.S. to still be somewhat benign. To them, the possibility of a worse form of government and loss of our already diminished freedoms looms large enough that one’s priority becomes that of somehow maintaining the status quo, while hoping for positive developments such as clean energy, an end to oil wars, and a roll-back of the Patriot Act.

However, the time for political change to re-chart the course of a nation is past. Collapse and disintegration have been assured, due in large part to dependence on cheap oil. When the dust settles there will be a proliferation of local cultures. Meanwhile, the extreme state of a society hard wired to consume its way to eco-hell is unchangeable.

This is a blind culture that cannot see its own true roots. Who came to North America to conquer and set up a foreign culture, and what was the prime objective? Sky-god fearing, private-property obsessed, master-slave opportunists: the antithesis of the indigenous nature-revering, communal, more egalitarian, diverse cultures that had found the key to surviving and thriving for a thousand generations.

This does not imply there was nothing good in the newcomers or in their exploits (Jefferson, Tom Paine, or their successors in great thought such as Thoreau and Muir). Indeed, the courageous new Americans loved their small farms, the amazing scenery, and the soul of the land that spawned perhaps the greatest new forms of music the world has ever seen.

How can the goodness of U.S. Americans and the land they inhabit (and have changed irrevocably) be safeguarded and turned into a force for positive change at a time of runaway destruction at the hands of ecocidal, greedy corporations and their tools in political power?

There is no political answer, but there is a cultural-change answer.

By abandoning a way of living that denies our true needs for healthy nature and human closeness, taking steps to conserve the land, air and water, we cannot help but find ourselves cutting the umbilical cord to the terminally ill host. What would we be losing? For one thing, car dependency: we can’t afford it anyway, financially or ecologically. We would then be looking to our neighbors and family for solutions to daily living, losing the isolation of total reliance on shopping and technology.

Organizing household and neighborhood composting, gardening and home repairs are more first steps toward restoring real community and socioeconomic resilience.

Human potential is unlimited. Those who believe deep change is not possible in the foreseeable future, while it is our only choice if we are to turn back the worst of petrocollapse that has clearly been unleashed, will be shocked by the upheaval to come in their own lives and throughout the modern world.

Such a revolution, with eventual political outcomes of a more local-based and nature-respecting basis than the conventional top-down growth-maximizing sort, is within us now, waiting to spread and flower.

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