The BDI can't Lie

SUBHEAD: Supply and Demand. One last look at the real economy before it implodes - Part One.

By Brandon Smith on 4 March 2015 for Alt-Market -
(http://alt-market.com/articles/2528-one-last-look-at-the-real-economy-before-it-implodes-part-1)


Image above: The largest ship breaking yard at Alang in Gujarat, India. From (http://gcaptain.com/cargo-ships-shipbreaking-environmental-impact-jacob-sterling/).

We are only two months into 2015, and it has already proven to be the most volatile year for the economic environment since 2008-2009.

We have seen oil markets collapsing by about 50 percent in the span of a few months (just as the Federal Reserve announced the end of QE3, indicating fiat money was used to hide falling demand), the Baltic Dry Index (BDI) losing 30 percent since the beginning of the year, the Swiss currency surprise, the Greeks threatening EU exit (and now Greek citizens threatening violent protests with the new four-month can-kicking deal), and the effects of the nine-month-long West Coast port strike not yet quantified.

This is not just a fleeting expression of a negative first quarter; it is a sign of things to come.

Stock markets are, of course, once again at all-time highs after a shaky start, despite nearly every single fundamental indicator flashing red.

But as Zero Hedge recently pointed out in its article on artificial juicing of equities by corporations using massive stock buybacks, this is not going to last much longer, simply because the debt companies are generating is outpacing their ability to prop up the markets.

This conundrum is also visible in central bank stimulus measures. As I have related in past articles, the ability of central banks to goose the global financial system is faltering, as bailouts and low-interest-rate capital infusions now have little to no effect on overall economic performance.

The fiat fuel is no longer enough; and when this becomes apparent in the mainstream, all hell will indeed break loose.

The argument that banks can prop up the system forever is now being debunked. In this series of articles, I will cover the core reasons why this is happening, starting with the basis of all economics: supply and demand.

The BDI has been a steadfast indicator of the REAL economy for many years. While most other indexes and measures of fiscal health are subject to direct or indirect manipulation, the BDI has no money flowing through it and, thus, offers a more honest reflection of the world around us.

In the past two months, the index measuring shipping rates and international demand for raw goods has hit all-time historical lows, plummeting 57 percent over the course of the past 12 months and 30 percent for the year to date.

The dwindling lack of demand for shipping presents obvious challenges to mainstream talking heads who contend that the overall economic picture indicates recovery. That’s because if demand for raw goods has fallen so far as to produce a 57 percent rate drop over the past year, then surely demand for the consumer goods that those raw goods are used to produce must be collapsing as well.

The establishment machine has used the same broken-record argument against this conclusion, despite being proven wrong over and over again: the lie that fleet size is the cause of falling shipping rates, rather than a lack of demand for ships.

This is the same argument used by pundits to distract from the problems inherent in the severe drop in oil prices: that oversupply is the issue, and that demand is as good as it ever was. Forbes has even attempted to outright dismiss the 29-year low of the BDI and alternative economic analysts in the same lazily written article.

First, let’s address the issue of global demand for goods. Does the BDI represent this accurately? Well, as most of you know, the real picture on manufacturing and export numbers is nearly impossible to come by considering most, if not all indexes fail to account for monetary devaluation and inflation in costs of production.

For instance, mainstream propagandists love to argue that manufacturing (like retail) generally posts at least small to modest gains every year. What they fail to mention or take into account is the added costs to the bottom line of said manufacturers and retailers, as well as the added costs to the end consumer. Such costs are often not addressed in the slightest when final numbers are tallied for the public.

In manufacturing, some numbers are outright falsified, as in the case of China, where officials are forcing plant managers to lie about output.

In my view, any decline made visible in the false numbers of the mainstream should be multiplied by a wide margin in order to approximate what is going on in the real economy.

China, the largest exporter and importer in the world, continues to suffer declines in manufacturing “expansion” as it’s PMI suggests orders remain steadily stagnant.

“Official” statistics show a 3.3 percent decline in Chinese exports in January from a year earlier, while imports slumped 19.9 percent. Exports slid 12 percent on a monthly basis while imports fell 21 percent according to the Customs Administration.

In Japan, despite the falling Yen which was expected to boost overseas demand, export growth declined for last year, certainly in terms of export volume. The recent “jump” in January does nothing to offset the steady erosion of Japanese exports over the past five years and the flat demand over the past two years.

Japan’s manufacturing expansion has slowed to the slowest pace in seven months. 

In Germany, the EU’s strongest economic center, industrial output has declined to the lowest levels since 2009, and factory orders have also plunged to levels not seen since 2009. 

Despite the assumptions in the mainstream media that lower oil prices would result in high retails sales, this fantasy refuses to materialize. Retail sales continue the dismal trend set during the Christmas season of 2014,with the largest decline in 11 months in December, and continued declines in January. 

Oil is certainly the most in-our-face undeniable indicator of imploding demand. Volatility has skyrocketed while pump prices have dropped by half in many places. One may be tempted to only see the immediate benefits of this deflation.

But they would be overlooking the bigger picture of global demand. Oil is the primary driver of economic productivity. Dwindling demand for oil means dwindling productivity which means dwindling consumption which means a dwindling economy. Period.

OPEC reports announce downgraded global demand for oil above and beyond expectations. Oil demand has fallen to levels not seen since 2002.

Beyond the issue of real global demand for raw goods, the argument that the BDI is being gutted only due to an oversupply of cargo vessels also does not take into account the fact that Shipping companies often SCRAP extra ships when demand falters.  I find it rather amusing that mainstream economists seem to think that dry bulk companies would continue a trend of fielding cargo ships they don't use causing an artificial drop in freight rates.

As far as I know, such companies are not in the habit of undermining their own profits if they can help it.  When an oversupply of ships occurs, companies remove unused vessels either through scrap or dry dock in an attempt to drive freight rates back up to profitable levels.  This often works, unless, it is DEMAND for cargo shipping that is the issue, not the supply of ships.

Ship scrapping boomed in 2013 and has not stopped since.  In fact, dry bulk mover COSCO dismantled at least 17 ships in the month of January alone and has been dismantling ships consistently since at least 2013.

The trend of scrapping is often glossed over by shippers as a "modernization effort", but the fact remains that cargo companies are always removing ships from supply in order to maximize rates and profits.

Finally, global shipping giant Maersk Line now openly admits that the primary detriment to shipping rates, the reason the BDI is falling to historic lows, is because of falling demand in nearly every market; ship supply is secondary.

Does falling demand result in a lack of fleet use and thus "oversupply"?  Of course.  However, this chicken/egg game that establishment economists play with the BDI needs to stop.  Falling demand for goods came first, the number of unused ships came second.  This is the reality.

A rather cynical person might point out that all of the stats above come from the propaganda engine that is the mainstream, so why should they count? I would suggest these people consider the fact that the propaganda engine is constantly contradicting itself, and in-between the lines, we can find a certain amount of truth.

If manufacturing is in “expansion”, even minor expansion, then why are exports around the world in decline? If the BDI is dropping off the map because of a “supply glut of ships”, then why are other demand indicators across the board also falling, and why are major shipping agencies talking about lack of demand?

You see, this is what alternative analysts mean by the “real economy”; we are talking about the disconnect within the mainstream’s own data, and we are attempting to discern what parts actually present a logical picture.

The media would prefer that you look at the economy through a keyhole rather than through a pair of binoculars.

Beyond this lay the true beneficiaries of public oblivion; international corporate moguls, banking financiers, and political despots. Corporations and governments only do two things relatively well — lying and stealing. One always enables the other.

The establishment has done everything in its power to hide the most foundational of economic realities, namely the reality of dying demand.

Why? Because the longer they can hide true demand, the more time they have to steal what little independent wealth remains within the system while positioning the populace for the next great con (the con of total globalization and centralization). I will cover the many advantages of an economic collapse for elites at the end of this series.

For now I will only say that the program of manipulation we have seen since 2008 is clearly changing. The fact of catastrophic demand loss is becoming apparent. Such a loss only ever precedes a wider fiscal event.

The BDI does not implode without a larger malfunction under the surface of the financial system. Oil and exports and manufacturing do not crumble without the weight of a greater disaster bearing down. These things do not take place in a vacuum. They are the irradiated flash preceding the deadly fallout of a financial atom bomb.

Central Banks Can't Fix It

SUBHEAD: The global problem is that monetary policy can't fix an economy's structural problems.

By Charles Hugh Smith on 5 March 2015 for Of Two Minds -
(http://www.oftwominds.com/blogmar15/monetary-fail3-15.html)


Image above: An Occupy Wall Street protest sign from October 2011. From (http://acidcow.com/pics/24834-classic-occupy-wall-street-protest-signs-26-pics.html).

When we look back from 2025, it will be painfully obvious that central bank policies exacerbated the systemic crises that brought down the global financialization machine.

What with all the praise being heaped on central banks for "saving" the world from economic doomsday in 2008, it's only natural to ask which structural problems their unprecedented policies solved in the past 6 years. After all, "saving" the world from financial collapse was relatively quick work; so what problems beyond imminent implosion did the central banks policies solve in the past 6 years?

Answer: none. zip, zero, nada. The truth is central bank policies of zero-interest rates and free money for financiers have made many structural problems worse.

Did central bank policies resolve the structural problem of unfunded pension and retiree healthcare liabilities? No, they made it worse, as zero-interest rates have reduced the yields on pension funds, 401Ks and IRAs to mere pittances. This destruction of safe yields has driven pension funds into risky investments in junk bonds and stocks, leaving them vulnerable to devastating losses when the current credit bubble bursts.

Did central bank policies resolve the structural problem of corporate wealth buying political influence? No, they made it worse, by encouraging corporations to borrow vast sums to use on whatever they fancied--for example, lobbying and share buybacks.

Did central bank policies resolve the structural problem of rising dependence on credit for weak "growth"? No, they made it worse, as cheap money enabled the re-emergence of subprime loans to marginal borrowers. The deterioration of credit quality guarantees a credit crisis and bubble pop as marginal borrowers default.

Did central bank policies resolve the structural problem of low investment in new assets that boost productivity, enabling widespread advances in wealth?

No, they made it worse, as near-zero interest rates for financiers and corporations and limitless liquidity have incentivized debt-based speculation and highly leveraged bets on completely unproductive projects such as share buybacks, which boost the value of corporate insiders' stock options while producing no new goods or services.

Did central bank policies resolve the structural problem of rising wealth/income inequality? No, they made it worse, by boosting the value of assets owned by the super-wealthy .01% and to a lesser degree, the top 5%.

Did central bank policies resolve the structural problem of moral hazard, the separation of financial risk from consequence? No, they made it worse, as monetary policies were designed not to help Main Street but to recapitalize Wall Street banks by diverting tens of billions of dollars that were once paid in interest to depositors straight into the banks' coffers.

Nothing has changed: private banks are free to make risky bets, knowing that if the bets go sour the state or central bank will make good their losses.

Did central bank policies resolve the structural problem of sovereign debt, i.e. central states overborrowing and saddling future generations with crushing debt loads?

No, they made it worse, as zero-interest rate policies have enabled central states to borrow gargantuan sums without the interest due on the debt squeezing out other spending.

When credit is nearly free, there's no need to make hard choices or face the costs of systemic corruption, waste, fraud, cronyism and inefficiency; just borrow another trillion dollars, yen, euros or yuan to prop up parasitic elites and vested interests.

When we look back from 2025, it will be painfully obvious that central bank policies exacerbated the systemic crises that brought down the global financialization machine.

Extend and pretend only increases the power and amplitude of the crises that will eventually burst forth from the monetary dysfunctions and distortions that are currently praised as financial genius.


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Don’t come back in until dinner

SUBHEAD: Maybe our inner mom needs to say, “Get out of the house! Don’t come back in until dinner.”

By Brian Miller on 1 Mrch 2015 for Winged Elm Farm -
(http://www.wingedelmfarm.com/blog/2015/03/01/dont-come-back-in-until-dinner/)


Image above: Warm and safe couch potato children working their tablets. From (http://www.ubergizmo.com/2012/03/experts-parents-control-kids-tablet-usage/).

I grew up in a household with strict rules. Foremost among them: Get out of the house. When not in school we were expected to be outside. We spent our days doing chores and fishing, looking for pirate treasure along Contraband Bayou or building forts, swimming in ponds or going to the library.

Whether on bikes or on the bayou, that landscape was full of kids. On days spent inside because of rain we would play board games or read, watching TV was off limits.

Today, where our farm is located, in East Tennessee, the countryside is mostly empty. You see the occasional activity outdoors, usually men on tractors. But only once in sixteen years have I seen a kid cross the seventy acres of our farm. Never have I had to yell at a kid for building a fort on our land. No kid has ever darkened the door to ask permission to hunt rabbit or squirrel, or fish in our ponds.

There are homes nearby where I have never observed a person outside. Cars appear and disappear in the driveways. But the owners are not once glimpsed. I’ve cut a hay field; long hours, three days in a row and never spotted a person outside a neighbor’s house. A house, I add, that often had four cars in the drive.

While baling that hay on the final day, I saw one of the cars start up and move down the driveway. It drove the 150 feet to the mailbox. A youthful arm extended out of the driver’s window and collected the mail. The car reversed back up to the house.

It would be tempting to ridicule the generation of kids who spend their lives in darkened rooms, zombied in screen-time with their gadgets. But their parents, who by example, are equally to blame. With all of the challenges we face to our civilization and planet, it seems somehow dishonorable to while away one’s life in such an unproductive manner.

That the rural landscape is empty in the very place where hands and eyes are needed is troubling. Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson refer to the benefit of “eyes to acres”. They mean that the understanding and the correction of problems in our landscape begin by an intimate daily familiarity.

In a way, it seems like a modern day Highland clearance; where blame rests partly with forces that have devalued the local in favor of the global, removing those eyes-to-acres. But it is a blame shared by us for our willing collusion in that withdrawal, as passive consumers of this life.

Understanding our land begins with engagement, even if it is just a kid rambling along on an idle afternoon across a pasture and a wooded hill.

Maybe our inner mom needs to say, “Get out of the house! Don’t come back in until dinner.”

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That's all Folks!

SUBHEAD: Lest some colleague accuse me of burying the lead, here it is up front - I’m leaving Truthdig.

By Peter Z. Scheer on 1 March 2015 for TruthDig -
(http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/thats_all_folks_20150301)


Image above: Porky Pig bids "adieu" for Looney Tunes. From (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/363665738630869742/).

Lest some colleague accuse me of burying the lead, here it is up front: I’m leaving Truthdig.

In case you don’t know me, I’m the managing editor, which means I more or less run the show. (Truth is, our talented staff does most of the hard work.) I feel strange about leaving. Roll with me—I have some things to get off my chest.

When I started this job nine or so years ago, George W. Bush was in his second term and the U.S. was plainly stuck in two costly, deadly, seemingly endless wars. America was torturing people.

Our government routinely lied about pretty much everything. Bush’s attorney general, who tried to eliminate all traces of marijuana and boobies from the national landscape, was replaced by a guy who was somehow worse.

The people of New Orleans were drowning and waiting to be saved by the horse enthusiast who was in charge of FEMA. In those times, running Truthdig was a lot easier. The targets were clearly marked.

In a period when the press at large had mostly failed in its duty, Truthdig would avoid quibbling about the obvious and dig for lesser-known truths about the day’s events. We would mine these truths from experts, on-the-ground reports and the small crevices of the Internet and broadcast them as far as our readers, friends and online allies would carry them.

Now, as I write this, an original print of Shepard Fairey’s “Hope” poster sits behind me, Barack Obama’s eyes overseeing everything I type. How appropriate given what we now know about the NSA. I cannot think of a greater disappointment than President Obama—like so many millions of other Americans, I completely fell for it.

I remember sitting in a Nevada home surrounded by volunteers from California, Chicago and elsewhere. Among those migrants were disaffected Republicans who may have more clearly recognized a fellow traveler in the candidate. I thought then that they were the dupes. I was wrong.

Regardless, we were united by a common desire for profound change, and we seemed to have found a vehicle for it in Obama. Of course he would go on to squander it all. Truthdig covered the hell out of Obama’s fall from grace. It wasn’t easy, or popular.


Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld—these had been natural villains for us to pick on. Obama turned out to be an American tragedy. I think of all the young Obama volunteers sleeping in their cars and on couches, sacrificing their time, comfort, energy and zeal for the man.

He marched them from a mountaintop of idealism into a cynical swamp. In doing so, he destroyed my generation’s faith in the political process. It won’t come back. I keep the poster of the young, idealized Obama to remind me not of the man but of the hope—raw and addictive and now gone.

As the Obama years were getting underway, terror raged—not in the form of a missile, bomb or hijacked airplane but of a financial system that apparently still gets to do whatever the fuck it wants. I remember Paul Krugman saying that if the stimulus package was not twice the size of what was being offered, America would end up with a slow, Japanese-style recovery that would take a decade or more.

He was right, obviously. Through its timidity, the government crushed my generation’s belief in the economy: Jobless and with few prospects, we were forced to go back to live with our parents ... unless their homes had been foreclosed.

The Occupy movement restored, for a wonderful moment, the flicker of hope, until some mostly Democratic mayors helped snuff it out. That was a great story to cover. Less so drones, extrajudicial assassinations and mass deportations, including those of refugee children.

Obama’s legacy, as he so often reminds us, is that Detroit—the city bankrupt and the U.S. auto industry now owned in part by Fiat—still kind of makes cars, albeit in Mexico. Also, we have a somewhat reformed health care system, of which I am admittedly a beneficiary.

Don’t get me started on the national security state. It is baffling to me to think that Richard Nixon’s presidency was brought down by a burglary, while the NSA and other intelligence agencies continue to stampede the Constitution without repercussion.

They want to know who you are, what you do, what you say and what you think, and will put you in prison if you dare let anyone know the full extent of what they’re up to. That’s America now, and the collective reaction is “Meh.”

Where does that apathy come from? Some people blame America’s young, but these kids live on a planet that is melting and they exist under a government whose only accountability is to billionaires. Is it apathy, or resignation?

A woman I met while I was at KPFK in Los Angeles one day to broadcast the “Truthdig Radio” show turned to me in tears. She had done the math and figured out she would never be able to pay off her student loans. She begged me to do something about it. Me? Me.

The exaggerated power of the blog had become her last, best hope. I promised to try, but never really did. So before I go, let me venture into the area that so worried her.

Allen Ginsberg wrote in the 1950s, “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked. ...” I, too, have seen the best minds of my generation go to waste, but not all of these people are starving.

On the contrary, many are doing very well by suckling at the teat of corporate America as they tithe to the student-loan sharks, hoping to hold on to some security in an increasingly frightening world. People in their 20s and 30s no longer have the luxury of “finding themselves,” as their parents used to call it.

The late billionaire Steve Jobs told the assembled graduating students of Stanford University just two years before the nation’s economic collapse, “You’ve got to find what you love.” Because, he elaborated, “the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

I have two friends who would like to be artists. Instead, one is now a graphic designer, the other makes Internet ads. I have a friend who loves to act; he’s a lawyer. Journalism is now a training camp for PR. The best mathematicians go to work for Wall Street investment firms.

Many of these people are shackled to what is estimated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to be $1.2 trillion in student loan debt. By law, they are not allowed to default. In 1972, the year Jobs dropped out of college, the average annual cost for a four-year education, including fees, room and board, was $2,031, according to the Digest of Education Statistics.

 In 2013 it was $23,872. That’s an increase of more than 1,100 percent. Reed College, which Jobs attended for six months, now costs $59,960 a year for tuition, room and board, a figure greater than the net worth of the typical American household. Not including books, transportation and other expenses, that’s $239,840 for a bachelor’s degree, which is significantly less valuable in the marketplace now than it was in 1972.

And so artists become decorators, anthropologists join global marketing firms and documentarians make crap about Hitler and interplanetary aliens for the History Channel.

These are the lucky ones, the ones who have good jobs and can live well as they lose their creative ambition. There are millions more who must choose between rent and food, who are forced to toil more for fewer dollars and less opportunity.

Let’s think about the long-term consequences of a culture’s failure to value historians, philosophers, artists, musicians, writers and teachers. This attitude and the burden imposed by the student loan system ensure our social slide from passionate to pacified.

We’re taking a generation of educated, potentially independent thinkers and turning it into an organ of multinational corpulence. One day we’ll all wake up to our morning news sponsored by Chevron, eat our sodium flakes and have Siri walk the dog, and no one will remember the name Allen Ginsberg.

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Carbon Bubble Threat

SUBHEAD: Carbon emissions limits, and moves to alternative energy pose risk to fossil fuels investment.

By Deirdre Fulton on 3 March 2015 for Common Dreams -
(http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/03/03/bank-england-issues-warning-over-looming-carbon-bubble-threat)


Image above: Man in jumpsuit of Royal Dutch Shell Oil investigating the 2011 Bonga oil spill in Nigeria.  From (http://royaldutchshellplc.com/2012/01/30/call-for-norwegian-government-pension-fund-disinvestment-in-shell/).

The Bank of England, one of the oldest banks in the world, has joined the growing ranks of those warning of the financial risk posed by a "carbon bubble," which will occur if urgently needed climate change regulations render coal, oil, and gas assets worthless.

"One live risk right now is of insurers investing in assets that could be left 'stranded' by policy changes which limit the use of fossil fuels," Bank of England official Paul Fisher told (pdf) the Economist's Insurance Summit 2015 in London on Tuesday. "As the world increasingly limits carbon emissions, and moves to alternative energy sources, investments in fossil fuels and related technologies—a growing financial market in recent decades—may take a huge hit."

Reserves are by definition bodies of oil, gas or coal that can be drilled or mined for financial gain. Currently, regulators allow companies to book them as assets, and on the assumption that they are at zero risk of being stranded—left below ground, "value" unrealized—over the full life of their exploitation.

But several recent analyses have shown that most existing reserves of fossil fuels cannot be burned if global warming is to be limited to 2° Celsius, as the world's nations have pledged. A study in January found that to avert climate disaster, the majority of fossil fuel deposits around the world—including 92 percent of U.S. coal, all Arctic oil and gas, and a majority of Canadian tar sands—must stay in the ground.

Despite such warnings, the Guardian notes, "companies spent $670bn (£436bn) in 2013 alone searching for more fossil fuels, investments that could be worthless if action on global warming slashes allowed emissions."

The newspaper further cites former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, who said in 2014: "When the credit bubble burst in 2008, the damage was devastating. We’re making the same mistake today with climate change. We're staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy."

These economic concerns have bolstered a vibrant and growing fossil fuel divestment movement around the world. As Common Dreams reported in December, "the elite investor class and world leaders have been much slower to admit the Earth has limits to the amount of carbon and other greenhouse gases it can absorb."

However, as University of Queensland economics professor John Quiggin wrote last year:
"Leaving aside the ethics of divestment and pursuing a purely rational economic analysis, the cold hard numbers of putting money into fossil fuels don't look good."
 Since 2012, the London-based Carbon Tracker Initiative has warned of how the governing financial system—in its gross over-valuation of fossil fuel reserves—leads to "capital being wasted on carbon intensive projects that are not certain to generate value, and are not consistent with the coming carbon constrained world."

When the Bank of England announced its new research agenda last week, acknowledging for the first time systemic environmental risks such as climate change, Carbon Tracker Initiative research director James Leaton said:
"It is encouraging to see this major central bank seeing the need to move with the times and understand its role in dealing with one of the major challenges facing our economies today: climate change. We hope to see other financial regulators around the world responding in a similar fashion and collaborating on this issue."
According to the Carbon Tracker Initiative's calculations, up to 80 percent of oil, gas and coal reserves listed on stock exchanges are unburnable.

"The six trillion dollar bet is that this calculation remains entirely theoretical, and that fossil-fuel companies will be allowed to keep pumping up the carbon bubble by investing more cash to turn resources into reserves, and continue booking them at full value, assuming zero risk of devaluation," environmentalist Bill McKibben and Carbon Tracker chairman Jeremy Leggett wrote in 2013.
"It's a bet that effectively says to government: 'nah, we don’t believe a word you say. We think you’ll do nothing about climate change for decades'."

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Please step out of the vehicle!

SUBHEAD: It's for your own health, safety and sanity. You can't say you haven't been warned.

By Juan Wilson on 3 March 2015 for Island Breath -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2015/03/please-step-out-of-vehicle.html)


Image above: Kauai Police Department’s Sgt. Roderick Green stands with one of the new Ford Explorer Police Interceptor Utility vehicles. From (http://thegardenisland.com/kpd-car-jpg/image_a19f6118-c8f2-11e2-86c8-0019bb2963f4.html).

Last week I attended a meeting with some of the members of a Kauai group of a national environmental organization. The group does good work for the community as well as provide services for the island and its visitors.

Much of the in-house work of the group has been adapted to work done at home and through telecommunications. This saves greatly on fuel burned in order get from Hanalei and Hanapepe just to sit and the same room and talk.

However, every so often we do get together for meetings when needed. The meeting was set for 11:00am at a unit of the Waipouli Beach Resort opposite the Kapaa Safeway. I began my trip from Hanapepe Valley with over an hour set for traveling time. Thus began my tribulation. 

Highway Blues
There is only one way around the island - the Kaumualii and Kuhio Highways that link up in Lihue.   They were crowded all the way from the Westside to the Eastside of the island. Some of it was normal Kauai traffic but I also had to pass a nasty accident between Tree Tunnel Road and Halfway Bridge.

If you are familiar with  in that area you might have noticed there is a "Bike Lane" marked with signs going west from Puhi. It mysteriously disappears before you get to Knudsen Gap with a cryptic sign that simply reads "Bike Lane Ends". What bike lane merely ends in the middle of nowhere?

I think this "Bike Lane Ends" is due to the fact that the bridges over the stream crossings along much of the Southside after Halfway Bridge were built in the 1930's when the vehicular traffic on Kauai was so light that oncoming traffic was a rarity.

Back then one-lane bridges were acceptable. From 1911 until the late 1938 the main highway over the Hanapepe River was a one-lane bridge.

Now those one-lane bridges over the Route 50 on the Southside are deathtraps to pedestrians and bikers, if two trucks are passing one another while you are on one of those bridges. Between the stone wall of the bridge and the side of a speeding truck there is hardly the room for a wobbly bike handle bar.

Several years ago my wife Linda and I were driving west on this section of road and came across a couple with three young children on bikes as they were approaching the "Bike Lane Ends" sign. They kept going and Linda and I worried about their safety.



Image above: Approaching the "Tree Tunnel" Road from the west. Note stone bridge over stream ahead with no margin for bikes or pedestrians. (http://islandbreath.org/2005Year/a05-01-access/0501-13KauaiBikeways.html)

Accident Along the Highway
As I passed the Tree Tunnel Road going east there were cones in the road diverting traffic around a tree trimming operation that was working on the side of the road going westbound. Traffic slowed to a crawl. But the traffic was not alleviated once past the tree trimming trucks. There were more cones behind the trucks diverting westbound traffic toward the east-bound traffic so as to avoid the tree trimming. Ahead of me were flashing lights. Two cop cars and a fire truck were there. Also an ambulance with a empty stretcher.

East of the ambulance a single new model car was parked on the verge with a caved in grill. Behind the ambulance I could just see the outstretched arms of the victim. It seemed the paramedics were still working to stabilize the victim before transfer to the stretcher.

What seems to have happened was a cyclist followed the line of cones and was clipped from behind by the car with the bent grill. A did not see a twisted bike, but I figure someone walking would have stayed outside of the cones and avoided the traffic until they got to the tree trimming.  

More Different Bike Path
If the state and county had any interest in cycling they would change their priorities entirely. At a fraction of the cost per mile of their current "Bike Path"construction plans, they could make much of the island accessible for bikes. They would simply add a relatively cheap bike crossing bridge on the sides of the 1930 deathtrap they call bridges now along the southern leg of Route 50. I have not counted them but my sense it it may be as few as a dozen such crossings.

On the Southside this would open Koloa, Poipu, and Kukuiula to cyclists as well as be the first phase of a gateway to the whole Westside. Once past Kalaheo riders could take the lovely Rt 540 bypass down to Old Hanapepe Town. Beyond this, biking is fairly easy.


Image above: Does this Costco look familiar? The corner entrance, the food court on the right hand, the mountain in the background?  No it's not Puhi, but Costco Rancho Cucamonga. From (http://www.fuscoe.com/portfolio-items/costco-wholesale/).

Continuing Down the Road
The traffic was solid past halfway Bridge and into Puhi.  There a large new shopping plaza is arising in what was recently an open field opposite the Chiefess Kamakahelei, Middle School and the YMCA of Kauai Fitness Center. Both of those were fields in recent years too. Nearby is the Home Depot and Costco (which replaced a public park). The effect of all this is architectural chaos and suburban sprawl.

What was once open space on either side of the road is morphing into the southern California hell of Rancho Cucamonga.

The road goes on in a river of rental cars and commuters through the new (five years in the making) highway widening passing the Kukui Grove Mall, on past the Walmart and beyond.

I know, I know... this is what progress means. More time in your car's air conditioning, listening to an $800 dollar sound system while you checking your iPhone's text messages. At least you're getting some hard earned "me time".

But I digress.

Counter Intuitive Counter Flow
Once past the Walmart and Lihue we're into the chute of traffic cones that define the Counter Flow Lane between Hanamaulu and Kapaa. Every weekday northbound Route 50 is reduced to a single narrow lane by the placement by hand of thousands of OSHA orange traffic cones that allow two lane traffic south for the rush hour for half the day. I forgot the cost for this daily service that requires two trucks and a crew of eight.

Along the way we come to the next hurdle -  the traffic pile up once over the Wailua River of people trying to access Kaumoo Road and one of the largest areas of residential development on the island. This bottleneck is right where some idiots want to rebuild the Coco Palms Hotel. It was a bad idea when it was built over a Hawaiian cultural site and graveyard in 1953 and it's a worse idea now.

Climate change driven global warming will make this spot untenable in not much more than a generation. We have already seen the ocean cut away the beach right to the edge of the highway in 2012. (see http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2012/08/wailua-beach-under-water.html and http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2012/06/wailua-beach-erosion.html and http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2012/12/wailua-beach-elephant-path.html). Some kind of passage across the  Coco Palms site may be the only way to to keep the north and south sides of the island connected.


Image above: Wailua Beach in 2012 with erosion taking out the life guard stand and endangering the highway. From (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2012/06/wailua-beach-erosion.html).

The Last Leg
Soon we are on to what was once called the Royal Coconut Coast. A 100 acres of coconut tree orchards were spread out on both sides of the Kuhio Highway. Over decades it has been picked apart by development. The Coconut Marketplace was one of the earliest big modernizations. It is now an almost abandoned shopping area with a few tourist traps. Most recently a gigantic Longs Drugs plaza was built blacktopping acres of coconut trees. More is planned. A few scraggly patches of palms still stand. Even that will be gone soon.

Then we crawl through traffic to Waipouli. Sprawl is dense here. Large supermarket anchored plazas (Foodland and Safeway) sit side by side. In the Waipouli Shopping Plaza where the Safeway is sits the now abandoned old Long's Drug store and a variety of low traffic store fronts.

Deep in this plaza was once a beautiful inner court that featured a waterfall behind a lava lock stage facing a lawn with a stream leading past a koi pond next to an artist's gallery.  Papaya's Health Food Store faces that courtyard and had tables and umbrellas for people to eat and rest in a cool quiet space away from the highway. It was truly a place of refuge on the suburbanized Eastside of Kauai.

Now waterfall, the stream the grass and the pond and gallery are gone. It was all  blacktopped over for additional parking that were requested by struggling retailers.

Across the street from the Waipouli Shopping Plaza was once about ten acres of undeveloped beachfront property with low dunes rimmed with ironwood trees. A field of grasses and bushes came all the way to the highway.

This was my destination. But it was not a field any more. It is now the recently opened Waipouli Beach Resort. It's also provides residences and vacation rentals.


Image above: Nighttime under the stars at theWaipouli Beach Resort. Tropical Elegance of Surf, Sun & Sushi equals Livin'the Dream!" From (http://www.vrbo.com/122141).

The meeting I was going to was to take place - in a top floor suite of the Waipouli Beach Resort. This one was one of the projects our group had fought so hard to stop in 2005 and 2006. (see http://islandbreath.org/2005Year/a05-02-growth/0502-08badplanning.html and http://islandbreath.org/2006Year/02-development/0602-07CocoPalms2.html)

I had never been on this site after construction. After the meeting I went on a walking tour around the grounds. The buildings are dense and as tall as legally allowed. They cluster around one of these amusement park styled pools that go on forever with slides and coves and even sport an artificial beach. I finally crossed the Eastside bike path along the ocean shore.

The developers of the Waipouli Beach Resort tried to force it mauka to go along the highway instead of along the shore. They lost that battle but their landscaping kind of hints that you are trespassing if you are in front of their beach.

But strangely that beach was empty. The swimming there is not good. It requires crossing a long shallow jagged reef.

Even so, you'd think that if you were at a "beach resort" you might try at least try sunning on the shore for a while. But no. Everybody was at the pool. It was safer and you can get a drink and a hamburger poolside. Who even needs a beach at a beach resort?

Some background
I guess I'm spoiled by having driven on Kauai for over a year in 1971-72. Back then there were no traffic lights at intersections of public roads. There were yellow warning lights on public roads that were occasionally turned on at harvest time when cane haul trucks crossed public roads loaded with sugarcane going to the mill.

Today the mills are dormant and much of the island is denied via the cane haul roads by padlocked gates. But back in the day the public had access to the streams, waterfalls, and forests of the plantations if it wasn't harvest time. Back then you could enter plantation property to park and then hike into all kinds of wonderful places. Not any more.

One after another those special mauka (inland) places have been denied -  Ooiki Falls in Hanapepe Valley; Waipahee Slippery Slide, Kealia; Kipu Falls, near Puhi...

...That is unless you have paid a hefty fee for a ride in an off-road-vehicle across tough terrain, or on a zip line through the trees, or in an inner-tube down a ditch.

Those old places for recreation will be lost to people on Kauai until the credit card wielding tourists don't come by the thousands anymore and the GMO companies fade back to the mainland.


.

Pulling the Plug - Part One

SUBHEAD: Starve the system. Any machine can withstand tinkering, but no machine can run without fuel.

By Vera Bradova on 28 February 2015 for Leaving Babylon  -
(https://leavingbabylon.wordpress.com/2015/02/28/pulling-the-plug-part-1/)


Image above: Illustration of apocalyptic midtown Manhattan, looking south-west, as seen from south end of Central Park. From (http://www.starseeds-quebec.org/?page_id=1021).

 "We can refuse to participate in a dead society gone shopping."
— Joe Bageant
Once we understand what feeds it, it becomes possible to think of stopping the Machine. I puzzled over this one for a long time, only to suddenly grok the obvious: the fodder for the Machine is our precious life energy!
Eeww…

So then. Deny it its coveted fuel: your effort, your attention and interest, your money, your loyalty, your goodwill and your good ideas. Deny it your streams of energy, one by one. Direct them instead to the Lifeworld. And don’t shout it from the rooftops! Just blend discreetly into one of the various subcultures experimenting nowadays with a saner way of life; the minions and guardians of the Machine will never even notice you.

This is the crux. Any machine can withstand tinkering, but no machine can run without fuel. Like an old mill on a dry riverbed, it will become a relic of a past that’s done with, a useless hunk of debris. Our radical withdrawal will be the end of the Machine.

Here are some of the ways of seceding from Babylon:
  • Down-work, un-work
More work is the source of evils like resource depletion and stress and pointlessly complicated lives; the Earth needs us to stop working so hard! The less we work, the less we feed the Machine.

Our work aids the plunder, our de-working slows and stops it, one person at a time. This is why Babylon has always reinforced the message that work is virtuous and important even as it was inventing pointless busywork, harmful work, useless work.

Let’s celebrate “Freedom from Labor” Day! Working more is not the way to leisure. Leisure is the way to leisure. Find it before the Machine uses you up and spits you out.

Working less will give the earth a break and repatriate you from ratdom back to humanity. There is plenty of work out there for those who want to do real things, useful things that matter. Once we shed debts and provide ourselves with paid-for basics, money is a small part of the picture.

Well-being is what matters, not cranking out a pittance while the planet is plundered more and more. What we need is a “less work ethic”! Less work, less planet being used, more life.
  • Unschool
Unschooling does not mean turning the parent into a traditional teacher, and stuffing the kids full of the same nonsense that the official curricula dictate. No!

Let children learn as they did between the ages of birth and 5 or 6, when they acquired prodigious quantities of knowledge, all by their own efforts. Just help them along, and they will be far ahead of their institutionalized peers.

Best learning happens in context, by learners who are busily exploring their environment. Spend time with your children sharing with them what you know and what you love. Create neighborhood co-op schools. Get tutors (elders in particular): kind, child-cherishing experts who can take the kids down paths you do not know.

And make it possible for children to learn real things: basic medical care, care for animals, food growing and cooking, conversation, geography of travel, building. All those abstractions schools “teach” will either be learned in the course of their exploration, or will never be needed anyways. Honest: when was the last time you needed algebra?
  • Dis-identify with the hologram 
Exit the theater of the audience-nation! As Joe Bageant once ranted so well: “All Americans, regardless of caste, live in a culture woven of self-referential illusions. Like a holographic simulation, each part refers exclusively back to the whole, and the whole refers exclusively back to the parts.

All else is excluded by this simulated reality, a simulated republic of eagles and big box stores, a good place to live so long as we never stray outside the hologram. The corporate simulacrum of life has penetrated us so deeply it now dominates the mind’s interior landscape with its celebrities and commercial images.

Within the hologram sparkles the culture-generating industry, spinning out our unreality like cotton candy.”

The hologram and its spin meisters have been having themselves a veritable orgy of lies and propaganda dealing with the wreck that is Ukraine. This has been one part of the world I have followed with some alacrity over the last year. Nothing, nothing, nothing reported in the MSM was close to the reality on the ground. When the fated Malaysian plane was shot down, a relentless stream of deception sloshed out like long-stored toxic sludge that burst its containment.

As Ilargi has recently pointed out on Automatic Earth, 2014 was the year when the bargeload of lies heading our way was no longer even disguised. It may be time for me to pull back even from the little “Babylon-watching” that I still do. Their self-referential faux-reality does not deserve the gift of anyone’s attention. My heart goes to all those trapped in Babylon’s perpetual wars, and my blessings.
  • Unplug from the Spectacle
Toss the damn stupid boob box. Why are you still watching all those hundreds of channels with nothing on? It sucks away your hours like a vampire. Give those hours to something that will give you joy. After all, your supply of lifetime hours is very limited. News? You will learn about the important events from other people. It is quite possible to stop reading the papers – skimming the headlines is more than enough.

And you will spare yourself the crassness of commercials, ads, infomercials and disinformation. Computer news can be used far more selectively, and can supply news directly from other people like us, unfiltered by official channels. Find what works for you. Waking from the trance takes time and new habits.

But that’s not nearly enough. I have been amongst the TV-unplugged for 15 years now, and yet I too get sucked into the vortex of disastrous news. In the fall of 2008 I gaped with horror and disbelief as the evidence of stupendous plunder unfolded. I spent inordinate amount of my time trying to fathom it. But what good has it done me or my neighbors?

All those fear-mongering stories – the true and the false – are just stories, repetitive and debilitating messages of scarcity and doom, bringing about a festering sense of anxiety, failure and helplessness so that people become ripe pickings for demagogues and con-men.

We can choose not to play this game. We can tell stories that are of use, and disseminate them via our own channels.

And while the thugs and thieves will keep on with their business, we can and will find a way to secede from their Kingdom of Spin, leaving them to their slime, moving on.
  • Unshop
Buy only what you must. Economize. Go frugal. Share. Grow and make your own. Join a community that knows how. Support local merchants. Let the uglification of box stores mercifully fall into the understory of history. A healthy economy does not depend on buying up an avalanche of crap and working in pointless jobs to be able to afford i

It depends on people being genuinely productive and economical. It also depends on a healthy planet to feed us, and on social systems not based on theft so that we don’t have to run just to stay in one place, while others fatten themselves at our expense.
  • Undebt
Get a debit card if you must, or do a cash economy. Pay off the debts. Do what it takes. Get out of the yoke too demeaning even for oxen.
  • Delegitimize
Judiciously unvote. The choices are really between really bad and “keep fingers crossed” less bad. Is that good enough? For how long? Let Babylon’s politics languish on the periphery of your attention. Ignore the inanities of the election races. Stop chasing after the liars. Refuse the system your loyalty and your goodwill.
  • Break the spell of Thingness
We’ve been taught for endless generations that it is stuff that really matters. Stuff is primary. Stuff gives security and happiness. After all, we are the descendants of the Neolithic cult of MORE. But material stuff is just a fraction of what really matters here on Earth, and we already have more than enough of it.

Let us return to a larger vision: humans who break their addition to material wealth for the greater good. Humans as intelligent beings who cherish– not ruin — creation, humans as those who are wise enough to enlarge the chances of Life.
  • Down-specialize
Back off from single-minded pursuits and become a generalist. Every biochemist should know how to fix what breaks in the home. Every engineer should know how to start a fire. Every office worker should know how to do basic healing.

Every one of us should know how to grow food. We all together hold the potential to be able to do most anything that really matters and our local communities require. Let’s look at the priorities, and put specialization in its valuable, but much smaller place.
  • Undomesticate
Domestication, like slavery, rebounds on the perpetrator. We must return to thinking of our fellow animals and plants as symbionts, and more, as devoted friends. Some of these friends feed us; they give the gift of their lives so that we may live on. Others maintain the atmosphere, the ecosphere, the soil. Why don’t we treat them accordingly?

In return, we will reap a restoration of our own wild spirit now crushed under the weight of misery-spreading dependency, under the burden of everyday brutality that exists because of our own complicity. Babylon sweeps it under the rug, and then abuses the rebels who refuse to look the other way.

Dare I say it? Let’s rewild!
  • Repudiate usury
Babylon would like us to forget that usury, historically and biblically speaking, did not mean charging high interest. It meant not charging interest at all. Medieval economies flourished without interest. And it was interest that pushed the cancerous expansion of Western civilization.

Interest is one of the most powerful ratcheting forces behind the vicious circle of “endless growth” and accompanying plunder. There are other ways to conceive of money and lending. Send some of your energy to the financial rebels who are disseminating them.
  • Disencumber
Remember those storage sheds full of crap you will never use again, the closets chock-full of stuff you haven’t seen in years? Time to “shed it” for good. Most places have second-hand stores happy to take some of it. Try craigslist or freecycle websites. Some communities have Free Stores or book kiosks too, or need to.

I have had good luck with half.com and amazon for passing on books that I cared about but that I would never read again. Every time something, no matter how small, is passed on to the next user, life opens up new possibilities.
  • Divest
We cannot expect to shrink Babylon or leave it while giving it our money. These money systems are the dark heart of Babylon, and they are the ones that transform our living energy into the stuff that flows out. It is laughable to think that Babylon will allow significant reform so that community banking and money issuance could take hold.

But thousands of hidden, small experiments growing like mushrooms everywhere? At a time of ongoing high-level crises Babylon must deal with first – that indeed would be a formidable challenge. Divesting deflated South Africa’s balloon. It will deflate Babylon’s zeppelin too. Let’s find ways to invest our money in the service of Life.
  • Phase out economic dependencies
Learning to supply one’s basic needs without the dependence on Babylon is the key to freedom. Follow the paths of food to learn how ridiculous, wasteful, unsafe, and downright revolting our system is. Find local sources for the basics from food and soap to pottery and clothes. Become one of the local sources for something. Be part of the local economy. Cook from scratch. Relearn frugality and old-time skills and teach others. Restore the free and the abundant. Earn local money into existence.
  • Lighten the overhead
Stop feeding the chiseling bridge-trolls. Go direct for all the goods that you cannot buy locally. Look where the skimming goes on in an economic transaction, and find ways to circumvent the middlemen. The maintenance of elites is a luxury the planet can ill afford. As soon as we refuse to produce the skim-surplus that finances them, they will vanish like mist over a morning swamp.
  • Decontaminate one’s self
There are plenty of noxious ideas and patterns of thinking out there, the sort that keep us tied to Babylon’s strings forever. We must become shrewd and discerning. As we disencumber materially, it makes sense to do spring cleaning inside our heads as well. Community is more important than “multiculturalism” or “cosmopolitanism.”

Anomie is not something we must accept along with stainless steel and velcro. And good medical care need not be based on an overly high-tech, top-heavy, impersonal model. Dare to imagine — and come to visit — the lovely world outside Babylon’s box.
  • Un-victimize
We must learn to defend ourselves and our communities. A time may come when it becomes imperative. In any case, the police are expensive, and not really needed in communities run well by their citizens. The Amish have no need of the police.

And we must learn to ease off the grid, to rethink our vulnerabilities to centralized solutions from electricity to emergency services. There are many ways a small community can provide its own, and become far less vulnerable to sudden problems. Remember the hard winter 2008 out east and its long lapses in utility provision along with a run on generators and attendant theft?  None of that is necessary among people who have made reasonable provisions for unusual situations.

And finally, we must again play a key role in keeping our food supply safe. Becoming part of a network of trustworthy farmers, food processors and artisans is where it begins.
  • Down-compete
Competition, like fire, is a good servant but a terrible master. It works best when it’s contained within a larger collaborative world. Unfettered competition fails to promote common good, and often leads a race to the bottom. When the emphasis on competition makes people less cooperative, selfishness and free riding are promoted, contributions to public good are reduced, heavy stress takes a toll on health, and we all end up worse off.

Take a good look around you at this world out of kilter. One Harvard professor did, and he began to penalize students for lack of teamwork, even at exams. What do American schools call such teamwork? Cheating! Cheat Babylon by playing fair: cooperate.
  • Un-waste
Waste too is part of the grid in Babylon. The system encourages it in a myriad ways, from free dumps to curbside unlimited pick up, from its hidden network of sewers to water treatment plants (which are free at a glance, and very expensive and poorly designed if you really look) and toxic dumping.

Eeww indeed! Yet the solutions are already out there, from composting to grey water systems and water-purifying wetlands, from reusing to making do. Waste comes from feeding human and planetary energy to the maw of the Machine. Food into waste, life into death. Let us reverse the transformation and reestablish natural cycles.
  • Dis management
Letting go of the controlling, managerial paradigm and meddlesome interventionism will be key in regaining our sanity. Interventionism breeds more interventionism and has costs that Babylon hides by “cooking the books.” Remember… when it comes to the universe, we did not cause it, we cannot cure it, and we cannot control it. Let it run itself – it knows how.

Ran Prieur once said, “I swear, if we had infinite technological power, at our present emotional level, we would destroy all the clouds, replace them with holograms of clouds, and have fleets of airships drop water, instead of just letting it rain.” Isn’t that modern mis-managerial hubris in a nutshell!? Enough already…
  • Down-tech
Individuals and communities can scrutinize technology and pick and choose carefully. Must you really have another kitchen gizmo? Do you want to spend your days staring at a smart-phone, with the Eye following you wherever you go? Do you really need electricity 24/7? Each new artifact has its price, and impacts the well-being of human communities and the natural world. Heed the wise Akela’s call: “Look well, look well, oh wolves. As befits a Free People.”
  • Detoxify
Detoxify relationships, that is. Have you noticed? Anti-bully programs in schools are all the rage now, but nobody ever points out that schools exist, in part, to inure kids to being bullied (by teachers, administrators, and curriculum planners), so that when they get absorbed into the workforce, they think it’s normal, just put up and shut up. Domination is the poison in the wellspring of Babylon. Don’t drink from it.

Easier said than done. Bossism in all its forms has contaminated almost everything. Domination is a dirty trick, and we are all tainted. We all play the domination/submission game. But another game is afoot. The partnership game. The more you learn to play it, the less beholden you will be to the con-games of Babylon.

See? You don’t have to leave the country to leave the culture.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Pulling the Plug - Part Two 3/9/15

.

Ugly show at the Cow Palace

SUBHEAD: What did we learn from Hawaii Dairy Farm open house? How guile, disinformation, issue avoidance works.

By Diane de Vries on 27 February 2015 in TGI -
(http://thegardenisland.com/news/opinion/guest/what-did-we-learn-from-hdf-open-house/article_a46ced8e-be4b-11e4-bf8f-73d0a52e287a.html)


Image above: A herd of cattle pause in the Cow Palace parking lot after their arrival for the 63rd annual Grand National Rodeo, Horse & Stock Show in Daly City, California on Thursday, April 3, 2008. From (http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Cow-Palace-won-t-be-sold-after-all-3218092.php).

[IB Publisher's note: Been through this on many occasions when the development speculators bring in their consultants to do a smoke-and-mirror show for the "public".  It's all public relations and eye-wash. They are merely there to grease the skids on the next big ugly thing coming our way. This is another mess to blame on Pierre Omidyer.]


I don’t know about the rest of you but Thursday night’s dairy farm meeting at Koloa School cafeteria left me angry, disappointed and completely frustrated.

I went with the hope that some of my concerns would be answered or that I would feel reassured the dairy personnel or their contractor, Group 70 International, had things under control and knew what they were doing. Instead, we received no new information but were asked to break into groups and walk to tables set up around the periphery of the room where we could have our questions “addressed.”


Were they addressed? Not at all. Instead, Group 70 personnel stood with sharpie pens in hand, next to large white note pads and wrote down the questions people were asking. There were no answers at all. In fact, the engineer supposedly responsible for the dairy’s Waste Management Plan (WMP), was not even able to say how many cows would be grazing per paddock. How could he have been the person who “designed the WMP” as the head of Group 70 told the audience?

A copy of the dairy’s current WMP is on friendsofmahaulepu.org. That plan specifies the number of acres in each paddock, the herd size and the plan’s design to rotate 105-115 cows per paddock. When asked the question about how many cows HDF plans to graze per acre, the engineer told all who were clustered around that he would have to “look into that.” And so it went.

The only thing that happened was that people with black sharpies wrote down questions to be addressed, hopefully, in the draft Environmental Impact Statement at some future unspecified date.

So no one heard any confirmation of the total cow waste to be produced, how the surrounding streams and nearby ocean are to be protected from contamination by runoff with irrigation or rains or storms, and we heard nothing about how this farm meets any sustainable criteria when the dairy plans to import grain and export the milk to be processed elsewhere by another company before it is fit for consumption by the public somewhere.

The most unsettling aspect of this meeting was the fact that the Group 70 International architects and engineers seemed to be unaware of the concerns people were voicing as they made remarks like, “Oh, you’re concerned about contamination of the drinking water in the Koloa Wells, we’ll write that down.”

As I traveled from station to station watching the faces of so many concerned members of our community I found myself wondering, “Is their ignorance feigned or real?” Neither was comforting.
So folks, I don’t know about everyone else but the reactions I saw and experienced myself, I’d say the night was a complete bust! I invite others to do the same. We need our editor and the public to know.

[IB Publisher's note: Below are three recent letter in the Garden Island on the issue of the HDF Cow Palace.]



Dairy a Risky Proposition

As a frequent visitor to Kauai and the Koloa/Poipu area, we urge the citizens of this beautiful island to really ask the tough questions. We are former natives of Wisconsin, our families have roots there and some are still involved in the dairy business.

We have witnessed firsthand the inception of these huge, futuristic “modern-agriculture” practices to rural communities. This is not advanced thinking, as Susan Fukumoto so aptly stated at the Koloa meeting last Thursday evening.

First, there are thousands and thousands of gallons of waste that has to be dealt with on a daily basis! Where will it go? Will it be spread over unoccupied land in the guise of “fertilizer?” In your back yard? Shipped as sea cargo for the ocean?

Second is the smell. Trust us — our parents still live in their 145-year-old farmhouse and it’s unbearable when the wind shifts to the northeast. Instead of a valuable property that could be sold at a comfortable profit in their golden years, now it doesn’t have a prayer on the real estate market.

These are only two of many, many issues. Kauai would be the loser in this proposal.

Ken and Laurie Hartwig
Mayville, Wisconsin
1 March 2015



Perhaps a Dairy is Not End Goal
Thirty years ago our family was invited to a tour of the Koloa Mill by the manager John Hoxey. We met John at the mill offices. On the wall was a map of the entire area. The map showed all the area under cultivation for sugar from Koloa to Mahaulepu and the amount of rain that each section had annually.

What was really interesting was all the roads that were on the map. Mr. Hoxey explained that it was Grove Farm’s 50-year plan for development of Mahaulepu. The map was about 10 to 15 years old at that
time.

Now why would a man (Pierre Omidyar), who is a developer of high-end resorts, Hanalai Plantation Resort, want a dairy? Is the long-term goal really a dairy?

Kathie Bedwell
Koloa, Kauai
28 February 2015



Dairy Farm History Raises Questions Regarding HDF

Does HDF want to consider relocating their eventual 2,000 dairy cow herd now, before having to move it later? The history of milking cow dairies on Kauai is one of relocating here and there until they all moved off the island of Kauai.

In 1905, Mr. HP Faye started the Waimea Dairy as a part of his Waimea Sugar Mill Co. His in-laws had a dairy in Moloa’a prior to his marriage. He suggested to the Lindsay family they relocate their dairy to Waimea, which they did. Over many years, Waimea Dairy flourished through the late 1960s when the milk was delivered by milkmen as far as Hanalei. The dairy herd was about 278 milking cows.

As a young teenager, through high school, I worked many dairy hours. We mulched sugar cane tops and mixed this with pineapple bran skins that were dried. We even picked keawe-tree beans as school kids during World War II for 10 cents a burlap bag! There was no “milk-flo” feed coming during the war. Keawe-tree beans kept cows cleaner, along with sugar-cane tops and pineapple bran.

Waimea Dairy was always very careful about cleanliness of the cows, pastures and pasteurizing plant. Near the end of 1969, the Faye family faced a required major expense to update the pasteurizing plant. The decision was made to accept an offer from MeadowGold Milk Co. of Honolulu. They would buy the herd, take over operations, and lease the facilities.

All went well until MeadowGold stopped control of nauseous odor and biting flies. Waimea Sugar Mill Co. closed operations and Kikiaola Land Co. then owned the Waimea Dairy facility. After Hurricane Iniki, Kikiaola converted the many sugar plantation homes into the Waimea Plantation Cottages. Now came the problem of dairy causing a problem with guests at the Waimea Plantation Cottages; a resort. Kind of like HDF being near the Hyatt Resort, hey?

As a result, Kikiaola evicted MeadowGold, who then moved their dairy to Moloaa; not to process milk, but to produce milk from the cow herd and send to Honolulu for processing and selling. It was not very long that the local residents of Moloaa managed to evict MeadowGold, claiming bad odors and dirty runoff that polluted Moloaa Bay.

This begs the question: Why not relocate the HDF now? There are many parcels that should not result in eventual eviction. Example: Kahili Mountain area. This location is away from residential complainers and business ventures. The special New Zealand grass will flourish there. The higher the elevation, the better the growth. The soil is more porous and less likely to generate major runoffs.

Surely, Mr. Case and his 16,000 acres of former Grove Farm lands can find a more suitable location that is still “ag” than historical Mahaulepu. I rest my case.

Alan Faye
Princeville, Kauai
26 February 2015


See also:

Ea O Ka Aina: Another Pierre Omidyer Screwup 2/24/15 
Ken Silverstein resigns from Omidyer's First Look Media, slams company's 'Incompetence'.

Ea O Ka Aina: Hawaii Dairy Farm Factsheet 10/11/14
HDF's sole owner is Pierre Omidyar, through his venture capital company Ulu'pono Initiative.

Ea O Ka Aina: The Hail Mary Pass 8/27/14
Pierre Omidyar, the founder of Ebay who has his telescopic sights set on Kauai.

Ea O Ka Aina: Omidyar - NSA - Snowden 12/17/13
Pierre Omidyar's PayPal corporation said to be implicated in withheld NSA documents.

Ea O Ka Aina: Beach Blockage Push Back 6/8/12
Montage Resorts, an ultra luxury hotel developer owned by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

Ea O Ka Aina: Preserving What's Left 1/15/12
Billioniare Pierre Omidyar  to develop an uberluxe sites along the the Hanalei River ridge.

Ea O Ka Aina: Hawaii's Farm Future 9/27/10
Speakers such as Kyle Datta, a founding partner with Pierre and Pam Omidyar's Ulupono Initiative


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