Fox News Sunday Madness

SUBHEAD: Republicans say they saw the credit rating downgrade coming and this is more vindication of their action. [Editor's note: This is only the first section of Linkins' Sunday Talking Head TV Sound Off] By Jason Linkins on 7 August 2011 for Huffington Post - (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/07/tv-soundoff-sunday-talkin_n_920402.html) Image above: Top Ten conservative pundits on TV. From (http://conhomeusa.typepad.com/survey/2010/12/the-republican-grassroots-ten-favorite-pundits.html). From Fox News Sunday Hooray! Paul Ryan is here today, with his famous haircut. If you're just now joining us, in America, Paul Ryan is the Wisconsin Representative whose plan to reduce taxes is to raise them on nearly everybody, whose plan to balance the budget is to not balance the budget, and whose plan to "save Medicare" is to stop paying for it, with vouchers that diminish in value over time, relative to rising costs. Only in Washington could someone with the ambition to work little and accomplish less find a field of endeavor suited to those limitations. Naturally, he is a superstar.

Also, Tim Pawlenty is here, in one of his last ditch efforts to get someone to pay attention to him. Plus, it looks like the dregs of the Fox Panel universe are out in force today -- Byron York and Kirsten Powers And Susan Something-Or-Other will be today's troika of pundits belittling Juan Williams.

But first, here's some guy from Standard And Poors to explain how all those toxic-tranched credit derivatives and swaps from 2008 could have possibly attained a top rating from an agency whose mission it is to safeguard the global economy what the American people have done to so displease the great God Moloch.

The S&P guy says that there's been a "mild deterioration in the country's credit rating" and he doesn't expect much financial impact. Wallace points out that the Tel Aviv markets opened very badly. Should we expect the same when our markets open? The S&P guy says that the market is reacting to a lot of factors.

Who is responsible for the dysfunction? The S&P guys says that all of Congress and the White House are responsible. He says that "credibility" means that both political parties support S&P's vague notions of what "good" is. Wallace asks if that means that fiscal policy that includes entitlement reform without revenue increases would not be seen as credible? The S&P guy sort of hedges, but says that entitlements are a major source of spending, in case that's a newsflash for anyone.

He says that critics should step off, because his company is all about "making highly technical assumptions." This must be a nice job to have!

Wallace asks the S&P guy if the credit downgrade is an "effort to get their reputation back" after choking on their own dumb failure for a year while the economy collapsed in a heap. Naturally, the S&P guy says that's "completely untrue." He is very haughty about it! Even his mustache is high and mighty about it.

Should we expect further downgrades? The S&P guy says that the expectation is one of "downside," but of course, he and the other S&P high-priests will have to enter in to their Friday morning blood-orgy and read what the entrails of the dead goat carcasses they rut upon have to say about the market outlook before they make that determination.

So, now Paul Ryan will yell at the Democrats who are not invited on the show, and also there is the guy from Legg Mason, who I think is here only because he was sitting around with nothing to do now that the Legg Mason tennis tournament is winding down.

Ryan says he "more or less saw this downgrade coming" and "this is more vindication of our actions." Yes, it was those actions, debt ceiling hostage-taking that led to the downgrade. And the end result of the negotiations was massive budgetary austerity, so...what sort of vindication is being claimed here?

Wallace, feeling me, quips to Ryan, "Isn't that like a doctor saying 'I did the operation perfectly but the patient died?'" That's an almost-good analogy. The problem with it is that the doctor in that scenario is not some disingenuous hack, but is sincerely trying to save a life, and sometimes death just happens. So, it's hard to fit Paul Ryan into that model.

Wallace also points out that S&P condemned the "brinksmanship" and asks, "What about the failure to compromise?" Ryan says, everyone's to blame, but he is the least to blame, because he's the only one who has a plan for health care entitlements. (The Affordable Care Act is actually a "plan for health care entitlements." Maybe not the best! But the reason Ryan opposes it and doesn't count it as a "plan for entitlements" is because it insists on preserving them in some form, as opposed to ceasing to pay for them, and handing customers worthless chits.")

The Legg Mason guy says that the debt deal isn't so big that it will drag the economy down, but the drag is going to come from the fact that there's nothing the government can do to stimulate the economy. This seems to be true: the only bullet left in the chamber might be a QE3, but reasonable people tell me that sooner or later, the Fed's classic "even a tiny bit of inflation unleashes poltergeists" paranoia kicks in and the full employment mandate gets tossed on a fire.

So, Wallace points out that the White House wants to extend a payroll tax cut and create an infrastructure bank (public money is spend to manage an influx of private money; government involvement at this minimal level prevents the "infrastructure" created from being nothing but toll roads and "fee-for-service" things that exclude the participation of the middle and lower class) and extending unemployment benefits so that a few million Americans don't die. Ryan basically says that he would support none of those things. "It would exacerbate our debt problem." Sorry, unemployed people, but did you ever think about the problems you were causing for our elite politicians, whose children will never go wanting? Maybe you all should think about crawling off into the woods to die right now?

Who's got the better plan? The Legg Mason guy won't make it that simple: he favors both an extension of the payroll tax cut and an extension of unemployment benefits. He also agrees in principle with Ryan that long term tax reform would a useful endeavor. (Unfortunately, tax reform will now be another thing that won't be hasked out in the light of day by our sworn representatives. Instead, it's likely to be a matter taken up by the SuperCommittee.)

Speaking of! Who will be on the SuperCommittee? Ryan says he doesn't know if he'll be on the SuperCommittee.

Ryan also lies about what the White House offered in terms of the debt ceiling negotiation -- per Ryan, it was "blank check" to "big tax increase." In actuality, the guy who made the "blank check" proposal was Mitch McConnell, and the White House, most notably, offered four trillion in cuts and included changes to Medicare eligibility. Because it hurt the GOP's chances of being able to tag the White House as unserious, they rejected it, predicting (correctly, as it turns out) that the media wouldn't remember the "grand bargain" and its terms. Indeed, I seem to be one of the few people who do remember it.

(Though this week, the RNC did this Mediscare thing where they yammered about how Obama wanted to cut Medicare -- a policy position the RNC supports, so I didn't understand the negativity -- that recalled, nonetheless accurately, a plan the White House put forward. But toward the end of the negotiations, the GOP insisted that the White House never put forward a plan! No one in the media had the basic wherewithal to note these discrepancies either.)

Anyway, the Super Committee will save us, and Ryan would join, if asked, but he's not itching to join it.

Wallace asks Ryan if he'd be as open-minded to compromise as he insists the Democrats need to be, and the answer is "it depends on the spending side of the ledger," and at the very least, he seems to reject the notion of "revenue-neutral tax reform."

Legg Mason guys says that the only thing that will ensure that the very richest people in America will have "confidence" and "certainty" is for old, poor people to get sicker and poorer and die sooner than they might ordinarily have.

Paul Ryan reiterates that he won't be running for president.

But, here's someone who is running for President. Tim Pawlenty! Here is his campaign song:

This guy! I actually thought in 2008 that he might have a future in presidential politics, and it's like he's gone out of his way to chip away at my instincts. Anyway, hit us with your best shot, Tim! Tim? Tim? Can you hear what's going on? No, he evidently can't. He's sitting there with this dumb expression on his face as Wallace tries to get his attention. Man. This is not Pawlenty's fault, but this brief moment is the indelible image that sums up his entire candidacy.

After a second, we're fixed. Will Pawlenty surprise us in the Ames Straw Poll? Pawlenty says, sure but he'll be here for the caucuses! Seriously! He'll make it!

He's getting beaten in the polls by Bachmann, who's spent a sliver of the time in Iowa that Pawlenty has, and Romney, who has gone out of his way to NOT come to Iowa at all. So what gives? Pawlenty isn't worried about the "early polls."

What about all the fussing and feuding with Bachmann? Is it fair to say she's without accomplishments? (Actually, it totally is!) Pawlenty says that he's got the ability to unite people. He's been the guy who "ran an enterprise" and "accomplished things." He compares Bachmann's rhetorical flourish to Obama's suggesting that they are similarly bereft of accomplishment. Wallace asks, if that's a comparison he's making and will stand behind, and the answer of course is no, he'd rather people just learn to like him, instead of always asking him to stand behind his criticism of other people.

The Cato Institute, who have no experience running anything, think that Pawlenty is very good at running things, says Pawlenty, bringing forward an opinion of his leadership that doesn't quite align with, say, "residents of Minnesota."

I think that Pawlenty has said some of the same sentences three or four times in this interview already.

How about that credit downgrade? Wallace points out that S&P didn't like the brinksmanship or the gridlock, but that Pawlenty opposed the deal that WAS eventually struck. "Doesn't that mean that President Pawlenty would be part of the gridlock?" He says, "Absolutely not." Because he will have the "courage to lead support policies that are anathema to the people who voted for him." (Pawlenty wouldn't have that problem, of course, but it's weird to hear him define "doing whatever the House GOP wants" with "being courageous.")

Doesn't he have to finish 3rd at Ames to stay credible? Pawlenty says he just needs to "show progress" at moving from the back of the pack.

And so it's third-string panel time!

Who has the most "riding" on the debate and the straw poll? York says Pawlenty, because he was just a guest on this show, so SYNERGY. Susan-Person says that TPaw has "a better ground game," and Bachmann is newer at running for President. Wallace points out that the Ames Straw Poll is something like a big dumb game of organization, in which whoever has the best BBQ wins lots of votes.

Powers says, "Mitt Romney is the one to go after." Man, this conversation is so trenchant! Romney is the frontrunner, or something! Good to know!

Williams says that "it's going to be a rough road for Romney." Why? Because maybe in this upcoming debate, people will hit Romney. Williams predicts that "the entire target" of the debate field will be Mitt Romney. (Last time, though, it was President Obama. The only person who got slagged for not hitting Romney was Pawlenty, and that's only because CNN put them in the box together for a moment.)

Rick Perry, is he going to get in, or is he just going to get all revival tenty in Texas with people, forever? York says, "When he enters the race, we'll find out he's not every Republican's cup of tea." Sure thing, mate! Of course, we could say the same thing about everybody in the field. It won't hurt him in Iowa, however, to show "religiosity," says York.

Williams says that the downgrade will be blamed on everyone: Obama's approval rating is low. But Congress, he says, will be the biggest recipient of blame. (Of course, Congress' incumbents are good at dispersing blame across the body and getting re-elected -- if voters were to punish just 20% of incumbents, it would be a demonstration of rage with few precedents.

Wallace wonders if we're going to have another "change" election, and Susan Person says yes, probably, maybe. The economy is bad, so poor politicians!

I like how people are quick to attribute the market falloff to a single recent event, and not just assume that massive swings in the Dow won't just be a feature of the system during this period of time when the economy is totally destroyed! When the market climbed, did everyone really assume that everything was fixed? People are just strange!

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Atomic Bomb Big Lie

SUBHEAD: Sixty-six years ago the USA said Hiroshima was a military base and never mentioned a word about its lethal radiation. By Greg Mitchel on 6 August 2011 for Huffingron Post - (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-mitchell/66-years-ago-when-truman_b_920095.html) Image above: This is what the Hiroshima and Nagasaki A-bombs looked like when detonated. From (http://www.nucus.com/funzone/?p=12443).

In a piece earlier this week I mentioned the decades-long U.S. "coverup" of facts and options related to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima 66 years ago today, including the Truman White House censoring the first Hollywood movie about The Bomb. But that shaping of the full impact, and ramifications, of the new weapons -- which would continue for years -- began within hours of the first use.

On Aug. 6, 1945, President Harry S. Truman faced the task of telling the press, and the world, that America's crusade against fascism had culminated in exploding a revolutionary new weapon of extraordinary destructive power over a Japanese city.

It was vital that this event be understood as a reflection of dominant military power and at the same time consistent with American decency and concern for human life. Everyone involved in preparing the presidential statement sensed that the stakes were high, for this marked the unveiling of both the atomic bomb and the official narrative of Hiroshima.

When the astonishing news emerged that morning, exactly 66 years ago, it took the form of a routine press release, a little more than a thousand words long. President Truman was at sea a thousand miles away, returning from the Potsdam conference. The Soviet Union was hours from declaring war on Japan ("fini Japs" when that occurred, Truman had written days before in his diary).

Shortly before eleven o'clock, an information officer from the War Department arrived at the White House bearing bundles of press releases. A few minutes later, assistant press secretary Eben Ayers began reading the president's announcement to about a dozen members of the Washington press corps.

The atmosphere was so casual, and the statement so momentous, that the reporters had difficulty grasping it. "The thing didn't penetrate with most of them," Ayers later remarked. Finally, they rushed to call their editors, and at least one reporter found a disbeliever at the other end of the line. The first few sentences of the statement set the tone:

"Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese Army base. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of TNT. ...The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold. ...It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe."

Although details were modified at the last moment, Truman's four-page statement had been crafted with considerable care over many months. From its very first words, however, the official narrative was built on a lie. Hiroshima was not an "army base" but a city of 350,000. It did contain one important military base, but the bomb had been aimed at the very center of a city (and far from its industrial area). This was a continuation of the American policy of bombing civilian populations in Japan to undermine the morale of the enemy. It was also to take advantage of what those who picked the target called the special "focusing effect" provided by the hills which surrounded the city on three sides. This would allow the blast to bounce back on the city, destroying more of it, and its citizens.

Perhaps 10,000 military personnel lost their lives in the bomb but the vast majority of the dead in Hiroshima would be women and children. Also: at least a dozen American POWs. When Nagasaki was A-bombed three days later it was officially described as a "naval base." Film footage shot by the Japanese and later the Americans showing the full extent of the human damage would be suppressed by the U.S. for decades. (See some of the footage in video below or here.)

There was something else missing in Truman's announcement: Because the president in his statement failed to mention radiation effects, which officials knew were horrendous, the imagery of just a bigger bomb would prevail in the press. Truman described the new weapon as "revolutionary" but only in regard to the destruction it could cause, failing to mention its most lethal new feature: radiation.

Many Americans first heard the news from the radio, which broadcast the text of Truman's statement shortly after its release. The afternoon papers quickly arrived with banner headlines: "Atom Bomb, World's Greatest, Hits Japs!" and "Japan City Blasted by Atomic Bomb." The Pentagon had released no pictures, so most of the newspapers relied on maps of Japan with Hiroshima circled.

It wasn't until the following morning, Aug. 7, that the government's press offensive appeared, with the first detailed account of the making of the atomic bomb, and the Hiroshima mission. Nearly every U.S. newspaper carried all or parts of 14 separate press releases distributed by the Pentagon several hours after the president's announcement.

Many of them written by one man: W.L. Laurence, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times, "embedded" with the atomic project. General Leslie Groves, military director of the Manhattan Project, would later reflect, with satisfaction, that "most newspapers published our releases in their entirety. This is one of the few times since government releases have become so common that this has been done."

The Truman announcement of the atomic bombing on Aug. 6, 1945, and the flood of material from the War Department, firmly established the nuclear narrative (see much more on this in my new book, Atomic Cover-up and e-book).

One of the few early stories that did not come directly from the military was a wire service report filed by a journalist traveling with the president on the Atlantic, returning from Europe. Approved by military censors, it went beyond, but not far beyond, the measured tone of the president's official statement. It depicted Truman, his voice "tense with excitement," personally informing his shipmates about the atomic attack. "The experiment," he announced, "has been an overwhelming success."

The sailors were said to be "uproarious" over the news. "I guess I'll get home sooner now," was a typical response. (Whether the declaration of war by the Soviets might have produced surrender in a few days or weeks remains an open question.) Nowhere in the story, however, was there a strong sense of Truman's reaction. Missing from this account was his exultant remark when the news of the bombing first reached the ship: "This is the greatest thing in history!"

See also: Ea O Ka Aina: Dr Strangelove & Global Warming 2/27/11 .

Farming is a terrible idea

SUBHEAD: Evidence supports that first farmers were shorter, weaker and died younger than their wild-foraging forebears.  

By Michael Hanlon on 28 July 2011 for Daily Mail - 
  (http://hanlonblog.dailymail.co.uk/2011/07/farming-a-terrible-idea.html)

 
Image above: Illustration of hunter-gatherers in temperate climate springtime. From (http://www.dangerouscreation.com/2009/04/is-this-our-future).
 
Progress, we tend to assume is, well, a Good Thing. Things that are new, and better, come to dominate and sweep aside old technologies. When they invented the car, the horse was rendered instantly obsolete. Ditto the firearm and the longbow, the steamship and the clipper, the turbojet and the prop. It’s called the ‘better mousetrap’ theory of history – that change is driven by the invention of superior technologies.

Except it really isn’t that simple. Sometimes a new invention, even if obviously ‘better’ than what came before takes a surprising amount of time to become established.

The first automobiles were clumsy, unreliable and expensive brutes that were worse in nearly all respects than the horses they were supposed to replace. The first muskets were less accurate and took longer to reload than the long- and crossbows which had reached their design zenith in medieval Europe. The last of the clippers were far faster than the first steam packets designed to replace them.

A fascinating essay in this week’s New Scientist points out that perhaps the second-greatest human invention of all (after language), that of farming, was not immediately successful at all. In fact the big switch from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to settled farming communities 11,000 years ago in the Neolithic had more to do with the creation of new social and economic structures than increasing food supply.

It has long been realised that the advent of farming was not necessarily good for humans. Skeletal evidence tends to support the idea that the first farmers were shorter, weaker and died younger than their wild-foraging forebears.

Indeed, people have been shrinking for millennia since paleolithic times and only very recently have those in the rich world begun once again to approach the statures of our prehistoric ancestors. In his 2010 book ‘Pandora’s Seed’, geneticist Spencer Wells argues that farming made humans sedentary, unhealthy, prey to fanatical beliefs and triggered mental illness.

It is certainly true that large settled communities – possible only with specialisation of labour and organised food production – are more prone to diseases. Of course Stone-Age people got sick, but they tended not to get the plagues and epidemics that are associated with more recent history. A lot of this is speculation, but in his New Scientist essay, Samuel Bowles, describes his quantitative analysis of the relative effectiveness of foraging versus farming - in terms of which provides the most calories for the least effort.

Using a whole host of data, collected by anthropologists studying hunter-gatherer tribes and analysing the effort needed to wield replicas of ancient farming implements, he has come to the conclusion that, like the first cars, the first farmers were no better than what came before in terms of feeding the masses. Indeed, they were probably worse.

So why did we do it? Farming, Bowles points out, ushered in a new era of property rights, created huge inequalities, paved the way for a wealth-based economy, divided the sexes and led to the creation of militaries needed to defend all this. Along with farming then, we got war and crime, madness and disease, cruelty, dictatorship and religions that were all about telling us what to do rather than emphasising our links with the Earth. The writer Jared Diamond has called agriculture ‘the biggest mistake humans have ever made’ and it is tempting to see the story of the Garden of Eden and the Fall as an allegory for the descent of Man into settled barbarism.

It is a persuasive thesis. For most of our hundred-thousand-year history human beings have not lived as we live today. Perhaps a great deal of our problems, from the modern plagues of depression and anxiety, obesity and environmental issues, can be ascribed to the Neolithic Revolution. In the end, though, there was no stopping the farmers. Along with the bad stuff we also got art, medicine, science and literature – all more or less impossible in a nomadic, Stone Age society.

Cars eventually got better than horses, guns won out over longbows and steamships overtook the graceful clippers. But the success of the new is rarely as obvious, at the time, as it seems with historical hindsight. A thought that must have occurred to those first labourers, breaking their backs on someone else’s field, wondering why on earth they were doing this rather than picking fruit off a tree like their grandparents had done.

See also:
Island Breath: Is sustainable agriculture an oxymoron? 8/31/06
 Island Breath: The Garden of Eden 4/19/07

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Massive solar flare affects Earth

SUBHEAD: Solar flare is interfering with satellite and radio signals. On a scale of 1 to 5 it is probably a 2 or 3.  

By Randolph Schmid on 5 August 2011 for Huffington Post - 
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/05/solar-flares-effects-earth_n_919935.html)

 
Image above: Computer generated fractal portrait of our Sun's solar storm. From site monitoring solar activity (http://www.nicolyachristi.com/current-emf-and-solar-activity-monitor).

The impact of a series of eruptions on the sun began arriving at Earth on Friday and could affect some communications for a day or so.

Operators of electrical grids are working to avoid outages, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says some satellite communications and Global Positioning Systems could face problems.

Three solar flares erupted on the sun starting Tuesday, and the strongest electromagnetic shocks were being felt Friday by the ACE spacecraft, a satellite that measures radiation bursts a few minutes before they strike Earth, said Joseph Kunches, a scientist at NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo.

Tom Bogdan, director of the center, said the sun is going from a quiet period into a busier cycle for solar flares and an increase in the number of such blasts is expected over the next three to five years.

Solar flares send out bursts of electromagnetic energy that strike the Earth's magnetic field. The most common impacts for the average person are the glowing auroras around the north and south poles, and the researchers said those could be visible this weekend.

The magnetic blasts, which Bogdan likened to a tsunami in space, can also affect electronic communications and electrical systems. A 1989 solar flare knocked out the electrical systems in Quebec, Canada, but the current solar storm is not expected to be that powerful. On a scale of 1 to 5, he said, it is probably a 2 or 3.

But more significant solar storms are expected in the next few years, he said.

The most powerful known solar storm occurred in 1859, Bogdan said. There were not as many vulnerable electrical items then, but it did knock out telegraph services, even burning down some telegraph stations, he said.

Other serious solar blasts occurred in 1921 and 1940, he noted, and Kunches recalled one on Halloween in 2003.

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Google's self driving car crashes

SUBHEAD: Robotic Prius rear and another Prius causing five car collision. No injuries were reported

By Justin Hyde on 5 August 2011 for Jalopnik -
(http://jalopnik.com/5828101)

 
Image above: Google robot car (right) rear ended another Prius in Mountain View California. From original article.

This photo of what looks like a minor case of Prius-on-Prius vehicular violence may actually be a piece of automotive history: the first accident caused by Google's self-driving car. Whose name should the cop write down on the ticket?  

UPDATE!
Sent in by a Jalopnik tipster, the photos were snapped earlier this week near Google's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. The Prius — recognizable as a Google self-driving prototype from the roof equipment that's smaller than a typical Google Streetview image collector — appears to have rear-ended another Prius.

This is precisely why we're worried about self-driving cars. Perhaps the complicated set of lasers and imaging systems that Google chief autonomous car researcher Sebastian Thrun called "the perfect driving mechanism" thought it was just looking at its shadow.

Earlier this year, Google convinced the state legislature of Nevada to create a special license allowing self-driving cars on the state's freeways, and its been racking up hundreds of thousands of miles in California, where there's no law banning them.

Yet Google has never answered the question of who's ultimately responsible for any accidents that happen while the software controls the vehicle. There's a driver in all of Google's tests who can take control, and probably gets the ticket in this case — but Google imagines these vehicles spreading far beyond its corporate campus.

Google can't be hoping to have its software legally blamed for a slice of the traffic crashes that cost more than $160 billion a year in this country. Yet if the operators of Google's self-driving cars retain all legal responsibility, simply turning the system on would be seen in court as a sign they weren't paying attention.

Already some of the more forward-thinking technologists have questioned whether autonomous vehicles should be smart enough to sacrifice its own passengers to save other people in an imminent crash. Aside from promising the worst of a "Blade Runner" future, such thought experiments illustrate why self-driving cars will require such a huge conceptual hurdle to catch on in the United States.

The biggest battle in auto safety today involves keeping drivers focused on driving. Google's self-driving car seems like the ultimate distracted driving machine.

UPDATE #1: The boys at Business Insider received the following quote from a Google spokesperson about the accident: "Safety is our top priority. One of our goals is to prevent fender-benders like this one, which occurred while a person was manually driving the car."
Of course, how would we actually know whether it was being manually-driven at the time? Now that we've got confirmation that this was one of Google's self-driven cars, it's high time we got a closer look at the details of how they're trying to make it happen — and any evidence that this actually was being driven by a real, live human being.

UPDATE #2: 

NBC's San Francisco station spoke with a woman who witnessed the crash and reported that in addition to the two Priuses, the crash also involved three other vehicles:
Google's Prius struck another Prius, which then struck her Honda Accord that her brother was driving. That Accord then struck another Honda Accord, and the second Accord hit a separate, non-Google-owned Prius.
Striking a car with enough force to trigger a four-car chain reaction suggests the Google car was moving at a decent clip. Google says its unable to provide us with a copy of any official accident report, but that may be the only way to know what happened for sure.
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Raw milk purveyors arrested

SUBHEAD: Dairy farms have been raided, farmers arrested and fines of over $100,000 per person levied.

 By Jeff Nield on 4 August 2011 for TreeHugger -  
(http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/08/raw-milk-purveyors-arrested-bail-set-at-123000.php)

 
Image above: A herd of dairy cows. From original article.
 
In yet another example of wasted resources and misplaced priorities police in LA have raided Rawesome Foods, arresting three people in connection with the distribution of raw milk products without the proper permits.


This isn't the first time the "members only" raw food club has been targeted. Last summer Rawesome was raided by local, state, and federal authorities, with guns drawn.

Presumably the authorities weren't satisfied with the results of the raid so they spent the last twelve months collecting enough evidence to arrest club owner James Cecil Stewart. Police concurrently raided Healthy Family Farms, the source of the nefarious white liquid, where they arrested farm owner Sharon Palmer. Stewarts bail has allegedly been set to $123,000, and Palmer's to $120,000.

Farm employee Eugenie Bloch was also arrested. No word on her bail, but she has been charged with three counts of conspiracy. LA Weekly quotes the D.A.'s office, stating that the three...
... were charged in a 13-count complaint ... Palmer owns Healthy Family Farms, LLC, in Santa Paula, which prosecutors allege has operated without any type of license or permit for milk production since 2007. The business Healthy Family Farms and Palmer are charged in nine of the 13 counts. Bloch works for Palmer and is charged in three conspiracy counts. Stewart runs the Venice market Rawesome, which has been in operation for more than six years but has never had any type of business permit or license, prosecutors allege. Stewart is facing 13 counts.
In today's climate of deregulation it's hard to believe that the authorities are working exclusively in the public interest. Since Rawesome is a private club it's safe to assume that the members are aware of what they're consuming when they take home their raw goat milk, yogurt and kefir. These items and more were seized from the premises and the liquid products were allegedly poured down the drain by the police.

I'll leave the last word to club volunteer Danielle Fetzer, quoted in LA Weekly, "You sign a waiver. It's your choice."
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LUC Rescinds Lepeuli decision

SOUCE: Hope Kallai (lokahipath2@live.com) SUBHEAD: Too good to be true. The craziness goes on. Who twisted whose arm on this embarrassment. By Juan Wilson on 5 August 2011 for Island Breath - (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2011/08/luc-rescinds-lepeuli-decision.html) Image above: Beach access is under attack throughout Hawaii. From (http://beachaccesshawaii.blogspot.com/). Hope Kallai has been an activist defending access to Lepeuli Beach for years. This morning she forwarded a copy (PDF) of a letter from the Hawaii Land Use Commission Officer Director Orlando Davidson. In effect it rescinds the determination that the recently constructed cattle fence that the traditional access to Lepeuli Beach was inappropriately placed without a permit on Conservation District Land.
August 3, 2011 To All Interested Parties: RE: Boundary Interpretation No. 11 -0 1 Upon a further review of the file, it appears that Boundary Interpretation No. 11-01 was issued without benefit of a "survey map showing the locations of the shoreline as provided for in section 205A-42, HRS." Pursuant to Section 15-15-22 (b) of the Land Use Commission's Administrative Rules, "(a)ll requests for boundary interpretations involving shoreline properties shall be accompanied by a survey map showing the locations of the shoreline as provided for in Section 205A-42, HRS." The party seeking this boundary interpretation did not provide such a map. Based upon this omission, Boundary Interpretation No. I I - 1 should not have been issued. Accordingly, Boundary Interpretation No. 11 -0 1 is hereby rescinded and of no further force and effect. Should any interested party request a boundary interpretation in compliance with Section 15-15-22 of the Commission's Rules, we will undertake to process such a request as expeditiously as possible. Please contact me if you have any questions. Very truly yours, Orlando Davidson - Executive Officer Mail: P.O. Box 2359, Honolulu, Hawaii 96804 Office: 235 South Baretania Street Suite 406 Honolulu Hawaii, 95813 Tel: (808) 587-3822 Fax: (808)587-3827 Email: lucdbedt.hawaii.gov Distribution List: Rayne Regush, Sierra Club Kaua'i Group, Hawai'i Chapter Mr. Donald H. Wilson, Esq., Belles Graham Proudfoot Wilson & Chun LLP William J. Aila, Jr., Chair (BLNR)
This follows the ruling in favor of beach access just four days earlier. See below and previous article(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2011/08/lepeuli-beach-fence-in-violation.html).
July 29, 2011 To Donald H. Wilson, Esq. : Belles Graham Proudfoot Wilson & Chun, LLP Watumull Plaza 4334 Rice Street, Suite 202 Lihu’e, Kaua’i 96766-1388 Dear Mr. Wilson: RE: Boundary Interpretation No. 11-01 Thank you for your letter dated July 27, 2011 regarding the above referenced Boundary Interpretation. The goal in every boundary interpretation is to make the determination based upon the best available information. In this instance, I believe that information from the landowner can certainly be relevant and useful as stated in your letter. Accordingly you are encouraged to submit to me all information, including survey maps, topographical maps, historical information and photographs that you believe will be helpful in reexamining the correctlocation of the Agricultural/Conservation boundary. If you elect to provide this information, could you please do so in the next thirty days. In addition, could you please confirm in writing that you intend to submit such information upon your receipt of this letter. Assuming that you elect to provide additional information, I believe that it would be reasonable for the Department of Land and Natural Resources and Kauai County to hold off taking action based upon Boundary Interpretation No. 11-01 while we undertake our review. Please do not hesitate to contact me at 587-3822 if you have any questions. Orlando Davidson - Executive Officer Mail: P.O. Box 2359, Honolulu, Hawaii 96804 Office: 235 South Baretania Street Suite 406 Honolulu Hawaii, 95813 Tel: (808) 587-3822 Fax: (808)587-3827 Email: lucdbedt.hawaii.gov
Oops! Who knew? .

Salvaging Science

SUBHEAD: The time of specialization for professional scientists is about over. Once again the amateur observer to carry on the scientific tradition.

 [IB Editor's note: This is the latter portion of Greer's long current article. The first six paragraphs can be found at his website that is linked below.]  

By John Michael Greer on 5 August 2011 for the ArchDruid Report - (http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2011/08/salvaging-science.html)
   
Image above: A collection of 19th century amateur science apparatuses. From (http://www.sas.org/index.html).

It’s rarely remembered these days that until quite recently, scientific research was mostly carried on by amateurs. The word “scientist” wasn’t even coined until 1833; before then, and for some time after, the research programs that set modern science on its way were carried out by university professors in other disciplines, middle class individuals with spare time on their hands, and wealthy dilletantes for whom science was a more interesting hobby than horse racing or politics.

Isaac Newton, for example, taught mathematics at Cambridge; Gilbert White founded the science of ecology with his Natural History of Selborne in his spare time as a clergyman; Charles Darwin came from a family with a share of the Wedgwood pottery fortune, had a clergyman’s education, and paid his own way around the world on the H.M.S. Beagle.

 It took a long time for scence as a profession to catch on, because—pace a myth very widespread these days—science contributed next to nothing to the technological revolutions that swept the western world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Until late in the nineteenth century, in fact, things generally worked the other way around: engineers and basement tinkerers discovered some exotic new effect, and then scientists scrambled to figure out what made it happen.

James Clerk Maxwell, whose 1873 book Electricity and Magnetism finally got out ahead of the engineers to postulate the effects that would become the basis for radio, began the process by which science took the lead in technological innovation, but it wasn’t until the Second World War that science had matured enough to become the engine of discovery it then became. It was then that government and business investment in basic research took off, creating the institutionalized science of the present day.

Throughout the twentieth century, investment in scientific research proved to be a winning bet on the grand scale; it won wars, made fortunes, and laid the groundwork for today’s high-tech world. It’s a common belief these days that more of the same will yield more of the same—that more scentific research will make it possible to fix the world’s energy problems and, just maybe, its other problems as well. Popular as that view is, there’s good reason to doubt it. The core problem is that scientific research was necessary, but not sufficient, to create today’s industrial societies.

Cheap abundant energy was also necessary, and was arguably the key factor. In a very real sense, the role of science from the middle years of the nineteenth century on was basically figuring out new ways to use the torrents of energy that came surging out of wells and mines to power history’s most extravagant boom.

Lacking all that energy, the technological revolutions of the last few centuries very likely wouldn’t have happened at all; the steam turbine, remember, was known to the Romans, who did nothing with it because all the fuel they knew about was committed to other uses. Since the sources of fuel we’ll have after fossil fuels finish depleting are pretty much the same as the ones the Romans had, and we can also expect plenty of pressing needs for the energy sources that remain, it takes an essentially religious faith in the inevitability of progress to believe that another wave of technological innovation is right around the corner.

The end of the age of cheap abundant energy is thus also likely to be the end of the age in which science functions as a force for economic expansion. There are at least two other factors pointing in the same direction, though, and they need to be grasped to make sense of the predicament we’re in. First, science itself is well into the territory of diminishing returns, and most of the way through the normal life cycle of a human method of investigation.

What last week’s post described as abstraction, the form of intellectual activity that seeks to reduce the complexity of experience into a set of precisely formulated generalizations, always depends on such a method. Classical logic is another example, and it’s particularly useful here because it completed its life cycle long ago and so can be studied along its whole trajectory through time. Logic, like the scientific method, was originally the creation of a movement of urban intellectuals in a society emerging from a long and troubled medieval period.

Around the eighth century BCE, ancient Greece had finally worked out a stable human ecology that enabled it to finish recovering from the collapse of Mycenean society some six centuries before; olive and grapevine cultivation stabilized what was left of the fragile Greek soil and produced cash crops eagerly sought by markets around the eastern Mediterranean, bringing in a flood of wealth; the parallel with rapidly expanding European economies during the years when modern science first took shape is probably not coincidental.

Initial ventures in the direction of what would become Greek logic explored various options, some more successful than others; by the fifth century BCE, what we may as well call the logical revolution was under way, and the supreme triumphs of logical method occupied the century that followed. Arithmetic, geometry, music theory, and astronomy underwent revolutionary developments.

That’s roughly where the logical revolution ground to a halt, too, and the next dozen centuries or so saw little further progress. There were social factors at work, to be sure, but the most important factor was inherent in the method: using the principles of logic as the Greeks understood them, there’s only so far you can go.

Logical methods that had proved overwhelmingly successful against longstanding problems in mathematics worked far less well on questions about the natural world, and efforts to solve the problems of human life as though they were logical syllogisms tended to flop messily. Once the belief in the omnipotence of logic was punctured, on the other hand, it became possible to sort out what it could and couldn’t do, and—not coincidentally—to assign it a core place in the educational curriculum, a place it kept right up until the dawn of the modern world. I know it’s utter heresy even to hint at this, but I’d like to suggest that science, like logic before it, has gotten pretty close to its natural limits as a method of knowledge.

 In Darwin’s time, a century and a half ago, it was still possible to make worldshaking scientific discoveries with equipment that would be considered hopelessly inadequate for a middle school classroom nowadays; there was still a lot of low hanging fruit to be picked off the tree of knowledge. At this point, by contrast, the next round of experimental advances in particle physics depends on the Large Hadron Collider, a European project with an estimated total price tag around $5.5 billion. Many other branches of science have reached the point at which very small advances in knowledge are being made with very large investments of money, labor, and computing power.

Doubtless there will still be surprises in store, but revolutionary discoveries are very few and far between these days. Yet there’s another factor pressing against the potential advancement of science, and it’s one that very few scientists like to talk about. When science was drawn up into the heady realms of politics and business, it became vulnerable to the standard vices of those realms, and one of the consequences has been a great deal of overt scientific fraud. A study last year published in the Journal of Medical Ethics surveyed papers formally retracted between 2000 and 2010 in the health sciences.

About a quarter of them were retracted for scientific fraud, and half of these had a first author who had had another paper previously retracted for scientific fraud. Coauthors of these repeat offenders had, on average, three other papers each that had been retracted. Americans, it may be worth noting, far more often had papers retracted for fraud, and were repeat offenders, than their overseas colleagues. I don’t know how many of my readers were taught, as I was, that science is inherently self-policing and that any researcher who stooped to faking data would inevitably doom his career.

Claims like these are difficult to defend in the face of numbers of the sort just cited. Logic went through the same sort of moral collapse in its time; the English word "sophistry" commemorates the expert debaters of fourth-century Greece who could and did argue with sparkling logic for anyone who would pay them. To be fair, scientists as a class would have needed superhuman virtue to overcome the temptations of wealth, status, and influence proffered them in the post-Second World War environment, and it’s also arguably true that the average morality of scientists well exceeds that of businesspeople or politicians.

That still leaves room for a good deal of duplicity, and it’s worth noting that this has not escaped the attention of the general public. It’s an item of common knowledge these days that the court testimony or the political endorsement of a qualified scientist, supporting any view you care to name, can be had for the cost of a research grant or two.

 I’m convinced that this is the hidden subtext in the spreading popular distrust of science that is such a significant feature in our public life: a great many Americans, in particular, have come to see scientific claims as simply one more rhetorical weapon brandished by competing factions in the social and political struggles of our day.

This is unfortunate, because—like logic—the scientific method is a powerful resource; like logic, again, there are things it can do better than any other creation of the human mind, and some of those things will be needed badly in the years ahead of us. Between the dumping of excess specializations in a contracting economy, the diminishing returns of scientific research itself, and the spreading popular distrust of science as currently practiced, the likelihood that any significant fraction of today’s institutional science will squeeze through the hard times ahead is minimal at best.

What that leaves, it seems to me, is a return to the original roots of science as an amateur pursuit. There are still some corners of the sciences—typically those where there isn’t much money in play—that are open to participation by amateurs.

There are also quite a few branches of scientific work that are scarcely being done at all these days—again, because there isn’t much money in play—and their number is likely to increase as funding cuts continue.

To my mind, one of the places where these trends intersect with the needs of the future is in local natural history and ecology, the kind of close study of nature’s patterns that launched the environmental sciences, back in the day. To cite an example very nearly at random, it would take little more than a microscope, a notebook, and a camera to do some very precise studies of the effect of organic gardening methods on soil microorganisms, beneficial and harmful insects, and crop yields, or to settle once and for all the much-debated question of whether adding biochar to garden soil has any benefits in temperate climates. These are things the green wizards of the future are going to need to be able to figure out.

 With much scientific research in America moving in what looks uncomfortably like a death spiral, the only way those skills are likely to make it across the crisis ahead of us is if individuals and local groups pick them up and pass them on to others. Now is probably not too soon to get started, either.

 .

Rumsfeld torture lawsuit to proceed

SUBHEAD: A judge allows Army veteran unjustly tortured to sue former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. By AP Staff on 4 August 2011 in Huffington Post - (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/04/donald-rumsfeld-torture-lawsuit_n_917966.html) Image above: Closeup of a clueless Donald H. Rumfeld. From (http://middleeast.about.com/od/iraq/tp/abu-ghraib-complete-guide.htm). A judge is allowing an Army veteran who says he was imprisoned unjustly and tortured by the U.S. military in Iraq to sue former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld personally for damages.

The veteran's identity is withheld in court filings, but he worked for an American contracting company as a translator for the Marines in the volatile Anbar province before being detained for nine months at Camp Cropper, a U.S. military facility near the Baghdad airport dedicated to holding "high-value" detainees.

The government says he was suspected of helping get classified information to the enemy and helping anti-coalition forces enter Iraq. But he was never charged with a crime and says he never broke the law.

Lawyers for the man, who is in his 50s, say he was preparing to come home to the United States on annual leave when he was abducted by the U.S. military and held without justification while his family knew nothing about his whereabouts or even whether he was still alive.

Court papers filed on his behalf say he was repeatedly abused, then suddenly released without explanation in August 2006. Two years later, he filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington arguing that Rumsfeld personally approved torturous interrogation techniques on a case-by-case basis and controlled his detention without access to courts in violation of his constitutional rights.

Chicago attorney Mike Kanovitz, who is representing the plaintiff, says it appears the military wanted to keep his client behind bars so he couldn't tell anyone about an important contact he made with a leading sheik while helping collect intelligence in Iraq.

"The U.S. government wasn't ready for the rest of the world to know about it, so they basically put him on ice," Kanovitz said in a telephone interview. "If you've got unchecked power over the citizens, why not use it?"

The Obama administration has represented Rumsfeld through the Justice Department and argued that the former defense secretary cannot be sued personally for official conduct. The Justice Department also argued that a judge cannot review wartime decisions that are the constitutional responsibility of Congress and the president. And the department said the case could disclose sensitive information and distract from the war effort, and said the threat of liability would impede future military decisions.

But U.S. District Judge James Gwin rejected those arguments and said U.S. citizens are protected by the Constitution at home or abroad during wartime.

"The court finds no convincing reason that United States citizens in Iraq should or must lose previously declared substantive due process protections during prolonged detention in a conflict zone abroad," Gwin wrote in a ruling issued Tuesday.

"The stakes in holding detainees at Camp Cropper may have been high, but one purpose of the constitutional limitations on interrogation techniques and conditions of confinement even domestically is to strike a balance between government objectives and individual rights even when the stakes are high," the judge ruled.

In many other cases brought by foreign detainees, judges have dismissed torture claims made against U.S. officials for their personal involvement in decisions over prisoner treatment. But this is the second time a federal judge has allowed U.S. citizens to sue Rumsfeld personally.

U.S. District Judge Wayne R. Andersen in Illinois last year said two other Americans who worked in Iraq as contractors and were held at Camp Cropper, Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel, can pursue claims that they were tortured using Rumsfeld-approved methods after they alleged illegal activities by their company. Rumsfeld is appealing that ruling, which Gwin cited.

The Supreme Court sets a high bar for suing high-ranking officials, requiring that they be tied directly to a violation of constitutional rights and must have clearly understood their actions crossed that line.

The case before Gwin involves a man who went to Iraq in December 2004 to work with an American-owned defense contracting firm. He was assigned as an Arabic translator for Marines gathering intelligence in Anbar. He says he was the first American to open direct talks with Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, who became an important U.S. ally and later led a revolt of Sunni sheiks against al-Qaida before being killed by a bomb.

In November 2005, when he was to go on home leave, Navy Criminal Investigative Service agents questioned him about his work, refusing his requests for representation by his employer, the Marines or an attorney. The Justice Department says he was told he was suspected of helping provide classified information to the enemy and helping anti-coalition forces attempting to cross from Syria into Iraq.

He says he refused to answer questions because of concern about confidentiality, and the agents handcuffed and blindfolded him, kicked him in the back and threatened to shoot him if he tried to escape. He was then transferred to an unidentified location for three days before being flown to Camp Cropper.

For his first three months at Camp Cropper he says he was held incommunicado in solitary confinement with a hole in the ground for a toilet. He says he was then moved to cells holding terrorist suspects hostile to the United States who were told about his work for the military, leading to physical attacks by his cellmates that left him in constant fear for his life.

He claims guards tortured him by repeatedly choking him, exposing him to extreme cold and continuous artificial light, blindfolding and hooding him, waking him by banging on a door or slamming a window when he tried to sleep and blasting music into his cell at "intolerably loud volumes."

He says he always denied any wrongdoing and truthfully answered questions but interrogators continued to threaten him. Both sides say a detainee status board in December 2005 determined he was a threat to the multinational forces in Iraq and authorized his continued detention, but he says he was not allowed to see most of the evidence against him. Documents the government filed with the court only say he is suspected of a crime, without providing details.

.

Lepeuli Beach fence in violation

SUBHEAD: The Land Use Commission determines Waioli Corporation has placed un-permitted fence in Conservation District. By Richard Spacer on 4 August 2011 - (rspacer@yahoo.com) Image above: LUC map with highlighting, by Juan Wilson of illegal fence (red line) within Conservation District (light green area). Click to download full PDF map. Here is a package of documents regarding the Boundary Interpretation for Lepeuli just completed by the state Land Use Commission. The State of Hawaii feels the boundary is between the gradual, lateral, coastal trail and the parking lot, by the ironwood trees. Waioli attorney Don Wilson is not pleased with the interpretation. Waioli Corporation is considering their next move - to appeal or drop the matter. If it is upheld the fencing makai of the Conservation District boundary is in fact inside the Conservation District, Paradise Ranch could be ordered by DLNR to remove the unpermitted fencing AND pay fines of $15,000. per day. Fencing was installed May 21, 2011. Paradise Ranch has authority to fence in the agricultural district with the Kauai county SMA permit, but NOT to block the lateral coastal trail (Condition 6). They gave up their state CDUP permit in January at BLNR in Honolulu. So, they cannot work in the state Conservation District. Seperately, Kauai County can order the fencing removed from across the entrance to the lateral, coastal trail, irregardless of what land district it is in, as it was unlawfully installed in violation of Condition 6 of the county SMA permit under perceived authority of that permit. See also: Letter from Sierra Club to LUC (http://www.islandbreath.org/2011Year/08/110804sierraclub.pdf) Letter from Donald Wilson to LUC (http://www.islandbreath.org/2011Year/08/110804donwilson.pdf) Ea O Ka Aina: Lepeuli Beach access surprise 6/30/11 Ea O Ka Aina: Lepeuli Beach access gets hearing 6/23/11 Ea O Ka Aina: Illegal fence blocks Lepeuli Beach 6/13/11 .

KIUC Petitioners PUC Request

SOURCE: Elaine Dunbar (nunyabus@gmail.com) SUBHEAD: Update on dialog between the Representatives of KIUC Petitoners and office of Rep. James Tokioka. [Editor's note: This issue is not over. More correspondence on this subject can be read here (110804kiucpuc.pdf)] Image above: The Simpson's line up for Enron Ride. The Scummiest Guys in the Room article from (http://www.absurdandreport.com/2011/04/enron-scummiest-guys-in-room.html). By Tek Nickerson for Representatives of KIUC Petiton - KIUC held their regularly scheduled Board meeting yesterday, Tuesday, 7.26.11. In response to the Members' Second Petition and strong request for a verifiable count of signatures, KIUC simply issued a statement, defining a valid signature vs an invalid signature, plus a restatement of the count. They completely sidestepped the question about verification and that they might have a vested interest in protecting their own privacy how the determination was made on each signature. I was the only one from the public signed in to talk, which was first on the agenda. Chairman Phil Tacbian said only members could talk and they could only talk in items on the agenda for three minutes. I was called "to the stand." I introduced myself as the point person on the second petition (to recall the election). The chairman said the petition was not on the agenda, and therefore COULD NOT BE DISCUSSED, so I could not talk. I thanked him and sat down, setting my precedence for respect. (It was later explained to me that items are put on the agenda five days prior to the meeting. The agenda is posted on the KIUC web site. Since Tuesday was the sixth day after they received the petition, they CHOSE to avoid the issue by ignoring it on the agenda.) I sat and listened as each person at the table gave their report. Consulting Counsel Proudfoot reported that he advised the Board how to proceed in response to the Second Petition. Paraphrasing:
"A point of order, Mr. Chairman! Mr Proudfoot just brought the subject of the Second Petition to the table! I may now speak on the subject!" "No, you may not."
This is the second time the Chair CHOSE to be dismissive. Steve Raposo, Vice Chair and chairman of the Members Relations Committee, did not mention the Second Petition in his report. This was the third time that a KIUC elected representative chose to ignore their commitment to being open and reaching out to the public. During a break, Consulting Counsel Proudfoot approached Director Jan TenBruggencarte and me. He said he was intending to tell Jan something to tell me. Finding me pleasant and inviting his advice, he said that I could ask the Chair to wave the rule and allow me to speak. This is encouraging, especially coming from him. We showed each other we were reasonable men and could work with each other. Raposo's Members Relations report centered on defining exactly what their course of action would be for outreach with the public. After ten minutes of discussion, it was still a quandary for them what it would look like. Knowing that Raposo probably categorized me as an unreasonable obstructionist, I approached him with a suggestion. He was a bit taken aback, but he listened. I reminded him that history has taught us the approach that works under similar circumstances: the Dolley Madison solution of giving weekly parties for opposing political sides in the neutral territory of her home. I.e. Take the budget for talk-down "dog and pony shows" and apply it to island-wide regional parties, where the public is attracted first by the food and then by the opportunity to ask questions of their elected directors and opposing views one-on-one. Raposo listened. Time will tell if he is receptive to Dolley Madison's ingeniously iconic solution, used in the White House to this day. Raposo is one of the Gang of Five, who controls the direction that the board votes. (About the First Petition, he reportedly remarked that some people are only obstructionists. This is the third opportunity they passed up.) At each opportunity ANY one of the directors could have interjected an objection...and did not. The three up for re-election are Ben Sullivan, Stu Burley and Steve Raposo. Jan explained that if we vote out Stu and Steve with strong candidates, we'll have purged the Gang of Five with our own Five Alive. This is the light at the end of the tunnel. Meanwhile, sitting in the back of the room for a while was Free Flow Power representatives, Jason Hines and his assistant, Dawn. The chairman invited them to report an update on their progress. THIS WAS NOT ON THE AGENDA. Then we all took a break before they went onto Executive session. I took the opportunity to complain to Ben Sullivan that FFP should not have been given the floor, since they weren't on the Agenda. Ben said he let it go, because they wouldn't be taking a vote. That's contrary to their own rules! Thus, there is NO WAY in which the situation can be "corrected" if the Board can continue to "pick and choose" what it can do accordingly. Will KIUC consider the "possibility" of a forum approach in getting to the root of the matter discussed in a neutral venue with an opportunity for both sides of the issue to be in the planning process of determining what should be discussed and how both sides can be fairly presented? >
July 18, 2011 Kauai Island Utility Cooperative David Bissell, President & CEO T. Phil Tacbian, Board Chairman 4463 Pahee Street, Suite 1 Lihue, Hawaii 96766 Dear President Bissel and Board of Directors, KIUC members recently placed their names on a second petition under the heading: KIUC CO-OP MEMBERS PETITION TO RECALL THE BALLOTS AND REDO THE ELECTION, in response to the first petition. On July 13, 2011 through the Garden Island Newspaper we learned: “Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative on Wednesday announced that an insufficient number of valid signatures was submitted on a second petition received by the cooperative on Monday…At the completion of the verification process by KIUC and legal counsel. It was determined that of the 291 signatures submitted 185 were valid, requiring no further action by the KIUC Board of Directors,” a KIUC news release states. The statement that no further action is required by the board is the same dismissive attitude that brought about the first and now, second petition. Petitioners were surprised at the extremely high number of invalidated names reported, 106 according to your count alone. Over 2,000 members have questioned your recent decisions; in all fairness a legitimate obligation exists to follow through for these members who took the time to voice their opinion in a democratic process afforded by their KIUC By-laws, Article II, Sections 2 & 6, in accordance with the Hawaii Revised Statutes. In order for members to satisfactorily be assured that the verification process was handled in an independent and unbiased manner, we are requesting confirmation through: 1) A copy of the report with your findings that reflect a. how you conducted the verification process, b. who counted the petition names and c. if a third, independent party was involved. 2) A copy of the petition with page number and line item or checks in front of the names / signatures / addresses / account numbers that were deemed invalidated. 3) Please state the reason for each invalidation. We see this as a reasonable expectation in a democratic process and essential in putting to rest any lingering doubt about discrepancies. As well, this would be a clear indication that the mutual interests and responsibilities are transpiring with clarity, transparency and accountability in our shared quest to build trust. Please provide this information within 5 working days, addressed to: PETITIONERS C/O Tek Nickerson 6978-b Kokeanu Place, Kapaa, HI 96746 With kind regards,
Representatives of KIUC Petitioners Jonathan Jay Tel: 808-634-6267 Scott Mijares Tel: 808-652-7113 Ken Taylor Tel: 808-823-8527 Jose Bulatao 337-9135 Tek Nickerson Tel: 808-822-4795 6978-b Kokeanu Place Kapaa, HI 96746 .

Privatizing Hawaii's Public Lands

SOURCE: Ken Taylor (taylork021@hawaii.rr.com)
SUBHEAD: Abercrombie signs bill that will create a Public Lands Corporation to privatize and develop Hawaiian public lands.

 By Staff on 2 June 2011 for Lahaina News - 
  (http://lahainanews.com/page/content.detail/id/502120/Governor-signs-bills-on-public-lands-into-law.html)

  Image above: Stanford Dole (center) proclaiming himself President of the Republic of Hawaii on July 4th 1894. From (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sanford_Dole_proclaiming_the_Republic_of_Hawaii.jpg).

 Gov. Neil Abercrombie has signed two bills relating to public lands into law. Introduced by Sen. Malama Solomon, the measure, now Act 54, establishes a comprehensive information system for public lands. The system will be used for the inventory and maintenance of information relating to the public lands trust, also known as ceded lands, and other state lands. “Senate Bill 2 is a long-awaited initiative that has finally come into fruition. The land inventory required to be taken and maintained will be an all-important tool to help the state of Hawaii manage its public lands,” said Solomon, who represents Waimea, Hamakua, North Hilo, Rural South Hilo, Hilo. Abercrombie also signed Senate Bill 1555.

Introduced by Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, the measure, now Act 55, establishes the Public Land Development Corporation which will serve as an arm of the DLNR. The overall purpose of the Corporation will be to generate revenues that may be used to offset the regulatory functions of DLNR.

The Corporation is tasked to administer an appropriate and culturally sensitive program that will make optimal use of public lands for the economic, environmental and social benefit for the people of Hawaii. It will also identify public lands that are suitable for redevelopment, administer marketing analysis to determine the best revenue-generating programs for the public lands, enter into public-private agreements to appropriately redevelop the public lands and provide the leadership for the redevelopment, financing, improvement, or enhancement of the selected redevelopment opportunities.
“As the State faces a budget shortfall and departments such as the Department of Land and Natural Resources continues to see cuts in staff, it is imperative that we get this economy back on track,” 
said Dela Cruz, who represents Mililani Mauka, Wahiawa, Haleiwa, Mokuleia, North Shore. Dela Cruz said;
“The DLNR will focus on the regulatory functions while the Public Lands Corporation will focus on the revenue generating functions.”
“By creating opportunities through public-private partnerships we can revitalize our state parks, redevelop our boat harbors, and create revenue generating opportunities that result into jobs. The end-game is to get the dilapidated infrastructure and underutilized land generating revenue so that no taxpayer money will be directed to supporting DLNR and the department will no longer need to rely on the general fund,” Dela Cruz said. [Editor's note: Both acts went into effect on July 1, 2011.]
 

PLOP - Colonialism 4.0 Sneak-Attack  

By Arnie on 28 June 2011 for Statehood Hawaii -  
(http://statehoodhawaii.org/2011/06/28/dlnr_plop)
 
SB 1555–DLNR’s Public Land Optimization Plan
Today, July 1st, 2011, Act 55 goes into effect in Hawaii, an act that gives the State of Hawaii, through the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), a new for-profit entity directed by DLNR, the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), and the Department of Budget and Finance (DBF), headed by William Aila, Richard Lim, and Kalbert K. Young, respectively, called the -

PUBLIC LAND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION (PLDC)

to establish a PUBLIC LAND OPTIMIZATION PLAN that will create public-private investment opportunities to develop all public lands currently under the authority of DLNR, which could include the controversial “ceded” lands, the roughly 1.8 million acres of Crown Lands that were “ceded” to the Territory during the fraudulent transfer to the U.S by the Republic of Hawaii, and transferred to the administration of the State of Hawaii during statehood.

Read SB1555 CD1

Mission Statement for Department of Land and Natural Resources
“Enhance, protect, conserve and manage Hawaii’s unique and limited natural, cultural and historic resources held in public trust for current and future generations of visitors and the people of Hawaii nei in partnership with others from the public and private sectors.”
There was a lot of expectation for William Aila, an environmental and land rights activist, when he was appointed by Governor Neil Abercrombie in 2010 to become the new Director for DLNR. He served on the boards and commissions as Hawai‘i Community Development Authority, Wai‘anae Coast Weed and Seed Steering Committee, Makaha Elementary School Community Management Board, Wai‘anae Coast Neighborhood Board, Wai‘anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center Board, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Council, and is the kind of public figure many in the Hawaiian and environmental rights communities supported. How then, with a man of his credibility, was the state able to push SB1555 into law with no public outcry?

Senate and House Bill 1555 history
When SB1555 was introduced by Sen. Donavan Dela Cruz in January 2011, it passed its first reading and was referred to the Committee on Water, Land and Housing (WLH) and the State Senate Ways and Means Committee (WAM). DLNR Director, William Aila was the only one who presented testimony on February 8th, a proposition to establish a public corporation to administer an “appropriate and culturally-sensitive public land development program,” allowing for “limited issuance of commercial use permits for vessels in Ala Wai and Keehi harbors,” and directs DLNR to request proposals to enter into “a public-private partnership for the development of portions of Ala Wai small boat harbor facilities” to offset DLNR’s own limited funding and was to take effect upon legislative approval.

His testimony sought the establishment of a non-profit managing entity of which he would administer to seek private investments for development of Ala Wai and Keehi lagoons. How that turned into a managing entity that will seek public/private investments for development of all DLNR land is the question.

Aila’s testimony was likely the Red Herring, a misdirected measure, focusing on harbor usage, that took focus away from what, upon first reading, can only be read as divisive and troubling. It reads: “DLNR is hamstrung by its limited mission,” further, the purpose of this bill creates a “vehicle and process to make optimal use of public land for the economic, environmental, and social benefit of the people of Hawaii.” Deeper yet, the bill clearly states, that the establishment of this DLNR corporation is to attract investment opportunities for the development of public lands for revenue-generating “commercial uses; hotel, residential, and timeshare uses; fueling facilities; storage and repair facilities; and seawater air conditioning plants.” The meat of this 45-page bill is barely about Ala Wai Harbor or Keehi Lagoon development at all, and I am concerned that our trusted ally– someone we anticipated would steward the protection of Hawai’i lands, has either made a huge error, was duped, or was complicit in this craft.

Consider the timing of this Bill– four months before the upcoming APEC meetings in November 
where CEOs, financiers, bankers, trade ministers, business executives and 
government officials are meeting– now think, Disneyland, Monsanto, shopping malls, 
energy/gmo bio-tech/fuels, water, large transnational private investment firms leasing and developing our resources as public funds gets redirected to develop infrastructure projects like roads, utilities, security, etc…

For those unfamiliar with APEC, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation is a forum for 21 (soon to be 23) Pacific Rim countries or “Member Economies” that seeks to promote free-trade and economic cooperation throughout the region, key among this definition being “free-trade” and “cooperation.” This is another way of asserting economic hegemony in the region, including Pacific Islands and our resources through trade bullying mechanisms like regional agreements that deplete our resources in exchange for military security or other Development Aid packages that have only created debt crises and dependencies of Pacific Island Countries.

 In Hawaii, we may be less accustomed to this language as many of us have economic privileges as a result of statehood, but we face the same obstacles and challenges as the other Pacific Island nations in that we are intrinsically tied to the same body of water– historically, part of the same liquid nation, the same cultural roots– and will suffer the same environmental degradation and resource depletion, the same threat to food and water security as the rest of the Pacific, except we may be one step worse, in that we are also the home of the U.S. Pacific Command.

Except for the larger economies of New Zealand and Papua/New Guinea, the Pacific Islands are not part of APEC. Most of the islands are under economic subjugation or authority of the dominant economic powers– the U.S., Australia, Chile, France, Indonesia and China, and to a far lesser extant, New Zealand and the PNG. Currently the Pacific region is undergoing significant changes to regulations on Deep Sea mining, for example, as well as military development projects that will further exploit and threaten the bio-diversity and fragile reef systems and magnify the already unstable social and economic conditions of the people.

Much of the negotiations that will be going on in the November APEC meetings, will be of large multi-national corporations giving franchise 
rights more-or-less on a first-come, first-serve basis–with some 
bidding, of course to the development of large private-equity projects like resorts, mining, water or food industries, or other capital enhancement projects. The first-comers–the largest corporations that are able to secure markets of an entire region (like the Pacific)– stake out the boundaries of 
their franchise (sometimes on their own, sometimes prompted by the 
franchiser).

Often those boundaries are what would be called 
’extraterritorial’ in international law. To many corporations, Hawaii 
(as part of the US) may be seen as first choice for certain industries 
and markets, however, the cost may be too great and so, certain 
corporations may go down the list, until they are able to maximize 
cost/security/access etc… The point is, is that these negotiations 
are not simply about Hawaii residents and what’s good for our own 
public consumption, but about a kind of corporate colonial 
regionalism. In order for Hawaii to participate in this “regional” market, the state has to deregulate our environmental and land- 
use safeguards in order to lease out our resources, and make it attractive for investors and stakeholders.

Reminiscent of the 1959 Statehood Act which opened the doors of international investment causing Hawaii’s development explosion in the 1960s, resulting in the tenant-land struggles that immediately followed, the fact that this SB1555 was passed with nearly no public opposition suggests that somewhere between its introduction to its final passage, this bill was surreptitiously motivated by the business and development arm of the state. How is it that public opposition is almost entirely in the form of nimby-ism where residents or land owners are concerned about their views being compromised, or further traffic congestion around the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor.

Only the budgetary testimony by Kalbert Young, the Director of DBF, a member of the governing board of the newly created Public Land Development Corporation, addresses the bill in a tangible and comprehensive way. His testimony advised that this bill provide an appropriate means of financing the management program, directing it to be financially self-sustaining, and operating as a for-profit entity rather than a non-profit, as was changed in the final version.

SB1555 creates a corporate arm of DLNR and places lands and resources in its jurisdiction, including the controversial “ceded” lands, into what essentially amounts to a for-profit development corporation. This flies counter to what many assumed with the passage of SB 1520, the state’s “Akaka Bill,”that the “indigenous, aboriginal, maoli population of Hawaii” would somehow oversee and regulate any use of the ceded lands.

On May 6, 2011, Abercrombie established a governor-appointed five-person organization from each county (Hawaii, Maui, Kauai and Honolulu) and a fifth, at-large appointee, to reaffirm the U.S. authority to address the conditions of the indigenous, native people, a role that Department of the Interior oversaw during Hawaii’s territorial years. Previous to Statehood, and consistent with the policies of the State of Hawaii, members of this organization shall be acknowledged as the “indigenous, aboriginal, maoli population of Hawaii” and will report to the governor and legislature no later than 20 days before the convening of the 2012 regular session– January 1st, 2012– a little over one month after the conclusion of the APEC meetings in which development deals will have likely already been signed and under way.

Who makes up the Governing Board of the PLDC
In the first draft of this Bill, the Board of Directors of this corporation consisted of eleven voting members, eight who were to be appointed by the governor. Appointees would be selected by their knowledge and experience in “small and large businesses within the development an recreational industries; banking; real estate; finance; promotion; marketing; and management. Of these eight, one would be from each county (Hawaii, Maui, Kauai and Honolulu). the ex-officio voting members would be the Director of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), and the Chairperson of DLNR.

In the Second draft as provided in a second testimony by Aila on March 18, 2011, one of his revisions recommended that the deputy director of DLNR should serve as the executive director of the corporation.

Curiously, in the second Senate Draft from March 8th, this Act was to take effect on July 1, 2050 and in the second House Draft from April 8th, this Act was to take effect on July 1, 2030. In the final draft, this Act goes into effect next week.

In the Final Conference Draft of SB1555 (CD1), the Governing Board consists of five voting members, which includes the chairperson of the board of DLNR; the Director of Budget and Finance; the Director of DBEDT, one person to be appointed by the Speaker of the House, and the other appointed by the President of the Senate, provided that the persons appointed possesses sufficient knowledge and experience in the fields described in the first draft. Nowhere in the governing board is there any representation of Native Hawaiians, environmental, cultural, or public health or education advocate.

The idea that previous regulations of land and resource usage of the “ceded” lands, for example, will be up for investment opportunities during the APEC meeting in November, suggests that the passage of this bill was timed to coincide with what can only be described as a Pacific Islands investment market free-for-all. With all the legal protections around land-use over the ceded lands wiped clean, we can expect new public-private investment agreements to develop the public lands for revenue-generating “commercial uses; hotel, residential, and timeshare uses; fueling facilities; storage and repair facilities; and seawater air conditioning plants.”

The approval of projects, plans and programs– all Public Land Optimization Projects and public land development plans shall be approved by the new DLNR board.

Hawaii Public Land Optimization Plan
The new Public Land Development Corporation will set up a HAWAII PUBLIC LAND OPTIMIZATION PLAN (PLOP), that will define and establish goals, objectives, policies and priority guidelines for its public land optimization strategy, which includes the inventory of public lands with suitable, adequate development potential that will become available to meet the needs of recreational, visitor-related, or land development. Further, the PLOP looks to appropriate public lands to develop, manage or create revenue-generating centers where “opportunities exist to exploit potential local, national and international markets.”

The second part of the plan is to protect culturally-sensitive areas.

Support for this Bill
The conference committee passed CD1 with all the amendments on April 29th in House with with Representative(s) Awana, Belatti, Brower, Hanohano, Jordan, C. Lee, Luke, Saiki, Wooley voting no (9) and Representative(s) Carroll, Pine excused (2); and in the Senate with only one No: Senator(s) Ihara. 1 Excused: Senator(s) Kouchi.

The bill then passed the House and Senate on the May 4th and 5th of May, respectively, and enrolled to the Governor on the 6th. SB1555, now Act 055, passed Governor Abercombie’s desk on May 24th (Gov. Msg. No. 1158), and as stated in the final reading of the Conference Draft, this Act will take effect on July 1, 2011.

Mississippi Rising, Flood Gates are Opening
When we privatize public lands to transnationals, disputes of rights and violations become much more difficult. Keeping public lands public, at least constitutionally, guarantees our rights to resolve disputes. Transnational privatization and the leasing of our resources make dispute resolutions very costly and difficult. When the people have a dispute with transnationals under which court will disputes be heard?

In SB1555, the Public Land Development Corporations writes that it can” sue and be sued,” as the first power of the corporation, as if this qualification offers a salve of protection or remedy to violations or disputes. Again, this language seems duplicitous when the venue for hearing international trade disputes is not the local state court. It may be the federal court depending where and under what jurisdiction the corporation is, but generally, violations of trade agreements are heard in WTO court in Geneva, and this is explicit in the Trans-Pacific Strategic and Economic Partnership Agreement (TPPA) which is the multi-headed hydra trade agreement likely to be signed in Honolulu, in November.

These supra-national courts decide upon trade agreements between governments and corporations and cost a lot or money and take a lot of time to negotiate. Even if the courts rule in favor of the state, in this case, the federal government, there are still heavy penalties the government would have to pay for breaking the lease and investment agreements, and any dispute that may arise between DLNR and a transnational would likely be a long and costly road, particularly since one of the effects of the TPPA makes it easier for corporations to sue governments.

Further, these DLNR deregulations are indeed a state issue that will 
affect residents and likely contribute to the further competition for our resources, as is fair game according to the principles of the free-market/free-trade. This is also part of a far-reaching Pacific wide program that 
affects all PICs, and as we are all connected to the same ocean and 
environment, it is important that we act in Pacific-wide cohesion to 
prevent further resource depletion and environmental degradation that 
will affect not only our indigenous rights, but also our regional bio-diversity, a likely result of these APEC 
security and trade negotiations.

APEC is the Mississippi rising and these state regulations are the 
only levees we have protecting us. We knew the levee was shoddily 
constructed, but I didn’t realize it was held together by duct tape and chicken wire.


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