Hirono, Blue Dogs and Health

SUBHEAD: Progressives in House do not want compromised health care plan.
By Nita, Kat, Ilya and Peter on 31 July 2009 for MoveOn.org
Huge news! Yesterday, 57 members of Congress—including your representative, Mazie Hirono—stood together and showed unified support for a robust public health insurance option.1 After a small group of conservative Democrats cut a deal to weaken the public option, progressives held a late-night meeting and sprung into action the next morning. They gathered enough signatures on a letter opposing the deal to show that without their support, it could not pass the full House.2
image above: Variation of cartoon by Matson in Roll Call True leadership like this is critical to winning real health care reform with a robust public health insurance option this year—and we need to make sure Rep. Hirono hears just how much we all appreciate it. Can you sign a thank you card to Rep. Hirono today? The card thanks her for her leadership and says her we're counting on her to keep fighting until we get a real public option. Click the link below to sign the card: http://pol.moveon.org/thankscpc/?tg=FHHI_02&cp_id=1058&id=16699-6816816-wgF1LQx&t=3 We're closer than we've ever been to achieving real health care reform, but Republicans and their industry allies continue to fight tooth and nail to weaken reform—and too many conservative Democrats are still playing into their hands.3 Rep. Hirono needs to hear from thousands of us that her strong statement means a lot to the people in her district who are in desperate need of quality, affordable health care. Can you sign the thank you card today? http://pol.moveon.org/thankscpc/?tg=FHHI_02&cp_id=1058&id=16699-6816816-wgF1LQx&t=4

7,700 tons of Aloha?

SOURCE: Ken Taylor (taylork021@Hawaii.rr.com)
SUBHEAD: The navy nuclear killer submarine USS Hawaii welcomed to Hawaii by Governor Linda Lingle.

By Jim Albertini on 30 July 2009 for the Maui Aina Center -
Malu ‘Aina Center

image above: Aloha ceremony welcoming the USS Hawaii to Pearl Harbor. From http://hawaii.gov/gov/govtube/photogallery/2009/uss-hawai-i-arrival-ceremony

On Friday, July 24, 2009 the Hawaii Tribune-Herald published a photo (see below) of a blue and yellow lei draped USS Hawaii as it entered its new homeport of Pearl Harbor. Governor Linda Lingle was there for the greeting and the nuclear-powered and armed sub was given an Hawaiian blessing. Can you imagine such blasphemy and desecration of the culture and language of Hawaii and all creation? Dr. Glenn Paige, author and retired professor at UH Manoa wrote a letter to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. It is reprinted below. 
I wonder how many readers were shocked by the Star-Bulletin's July 24 welcome to the nuclear submarine USS Hawaii with the banner heading, "7,700 tons of Aloha." According to the Pukui-Elbert dictionary, "aloha" means "love, affection, compassion, mercy, sympathy, pity, kindness" and more.

By all accounts, the USS Hawaii, with sponsor Gov. Linda Lingle's initials inscribed on a keel metal plate and a Hawaiian blessing by a member of the Hawaii Army National Guard, is the most murderous war machine yet devised by the lethal ingenuity of mankind. Its presence in Hawaii does not make the islands safer, but a target, as did the ships at Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Much greater safety must be sought in developing the applied multidisciplinary science of nonkilling security in Hawaii, the Asia Pacific region and the world Furthermore, despite celebration of the boost to Hawaii's economy, the cost of the $2.6 billion killer submarine constitutes what President Eisenhower in 1953 called "theft" by warships and guns from those who are hungry and poor."
image above: USS Hawaii in Pearl Harbor wearing giant lei draped over conning tower.From http://honolulunavyleague.org/theusshawaii/

Please note that the USS Hawaii is able to launch Tomahawk nuclear-armed missiles far more powerful than the atomic bombs which destroyed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The USS Hawaii can also deliver comandoes in violation of other nations sovereignty. The Navy acknowledges discharging 4,843,000 gallons of radioactive liquid waste into Pearl Harbor from nuclear-powered submarines as of l973.

 Since then they have withheld data about such discharges. The Navy also admits to dumping over 2,000 fifty-five gallon steel drums of radioactive solid waste on the ocean floor off Hawaii's shores. (Source: The Dark Side of Paradise, p.l8) What effects such pollution may have on marine life and, in turn the health and safety of Hawaii's people is simply not clear.

But it is commonly accepted that there is no safe level of radiation, and even low-level doses of radiation accelerate our aging process and may cause cancer. And let's not forget the confirmed military radiation contamination in Hawaii from weapons training that has yet to be fully assessed. End U.S. Occupation: Military Clean-Up NOT Build-Up! 1. Mourn all victims of violence. 2. Reject war as a solution. 3. Defend civil liberties. 4. Oppose all discrimination, anti-Islamic, anti-Semitic, etc. 5. Seek peace through justice in Hawai`i and around the world.
Contact: Jim Albertini Malu ‘Aina Center for Non-violent Education & Action P.O.Box AB Kurtistown, Hawai’i 96760 phone: 808-966-7622 email: JA@interpac.net website: www.malu-aina.org

See also:

Rainwater Harvesting

SUBHEAD: Eight principles for successful rainwater harvesting.  

By Brad Lancaster on 29 July 2009 in The Oil Drum
image above: Detail from rainwater catchment system.From http://seemoregreen.wordpress.com/2007/07/10/rainbarrels-part-1-a-half-tonne-of-water
 My interest in water -harvesting arose from a desire both to reduce my cost of living and to be part of the solution rather than the problem in my desert city of Tucson, Arizona. One of Tucson’s biggest problems is its mismanagement of water resources, pulling more each year from the water table than nature can replace. This is a practice that has dried out the Santa Cruz river, killed countless springs and wells, and severely depleted available groundwater resources.

Living in the desert has put a special emphasis on water -harvesting for me, but it’s a valuable strategy for non-desert environments, too. Rainwater harvesting is effective for reducing or preventing erosion and downstream flooding while improving stormwater quality.

Thus, Portland and Seattle have embraced water-harvesting to protect salmon populations, and Maryland is doing the same to protect the Chesapeake Bay. And anywhere in the world, water -harvesting is a smart strategy for helping to recharge groundwater tables, springs, wells, and rivers. Back in 1994, my brother Rodd was also interested in water-harvesting, but as long as we were both renting, all we could do was read up on the subject. At the time, we were both self-employed, making what the government considers poverty wages. No bank would touch us.

On our own, neither of us could afford to purchase a home, but together, it was feasible. (It helped that the house we wound up purchasing was about to be condemned.) We did 95% of the renovation work ourselves and used mainly salvaged materials. Twelve years later, our property value has shot through the roof. The integrated water-harvesting techniques Rodd and I learned and implemented on this once-barren urban lot have transformed it into an oasis in the desert, with temperatures ranging an average ten degrees lower than our neighbors’.\

Our land produces 15-25% of our food, which includes organic, homegrown fruits, nuts, vegetables, eggs, honey, and mesquite flour grown solely with rainwater and greywater (reclaimed household wash-water.) Our utility bills have been dropping steadily since we moved in and now run an average $20 per month. In the course of creating our sustainable oasis here in Tucson, Rodd and I arrived at eight basic principles that anyone can use to implement a successful rainwater-harvesting strategy of their own.

 Principle #1: Begin with long and thoughtful observation.
 Right after we bought the house, monsoon rains poured from the sky. Rodd and I got acquainted with where where runoff pooled against the house and how the bulk of the rain ran off our site into the street. We mapped these observations, and others, including noise, head¬lights, and pollution from the street; where we wanted privacy; where we needed shade; and where we needed to enhance winter solar exposure. Wherever you direct rainwater in your landscape, you will be nurturing plant life, so take the time to make ensure this vegetation is part of your overall plan.

Next, calculate the rainwater resources available within your site's “watershed.” For us, that area included not only the 12 inches of annual rainfall on our roof and 1/8th of an acre property, but the 20 foot wide public right-of-way adjoining our property, the section of street draining past the right-of-way, and the runoff from our neighbor’s roof. (See Table, below) This totaled about 104,600 gallons (397,000 liters) of rainwater in an average year!

Principle #2: Start harvesting rain at the top of your watershed, then work your way down.
In most cases, the top of your watershed means the roof of your house. Our leaky asphalt roof was a mess, so we removed it and installed 26-gauge galvanized steel metal roofing instead, which harvests rainwater in a potable form. However, as long as you’re only harvesting rainwater for use in landscape irrigation, this isn’t a necessary step. (Rainwater harvested off a conventional asphalt roof can also be made safe for consumption with the installation of an appropriate water filtration system.) Take a look at your roof.

Where do the gutters drain? Where is rainfall currently being directed? This is where you should begin with mulched water-harvesting basins and plantings (at least 10 feet from the building's foundation.) On our property, just under half of the roof runoff is directed to earthworks and fruit trees north of the house. The rest is directed to an above-ground cistern west of the garden along our property boundary on top of a 2-foot (60 cm) high earthen platform. Our cistern is a custom-modified new ferro-cement septic tank, but a number of good alternatives exist. (See, Choosing a Tank.) We selected the location of our cistern to provide multiple functions.

By placing it on the western boundary of our yard to shadeing out the hot afternoon sun, it creates a beneficial microclimate for our garden. By acting as part of the property line, it provides a privacy screen from a peering neighbor. And by placing the cistern on an elevated platform, the system utilizes gravity in circulating water from the roof’s gutter to the tank, and from the tank to the garden. Whatever type of cistern you choose, having your garden located nearby will keep hose length to a minimum (25 ft. ideal) This will reduce water-pressure loss to surface-friction inside the hose and make watering with rainwater a convenience. (Your plants will love it too!)

Principle #3: Always plan an overflow route, and manage overflow as a resource.
Eventually, all water-harvesting systems will meet a storm that exceeds their capacity, so don’t get taken by surprise. All rainwater harvesting structures should be managed in such a way that the system can overflow in a beneficial, rather than destructive way. In that spirit, overflow from our backyard cistern is directed via a 4-inch diameter overflow pipe gutters to a series of adjoining mulched basins that passively irrigate a citrus tree and our garden. 
In addition, all of our sunken earthworks have an overflow “spillway.” Typically, one earthwork overflows to another and another, until all are full and then, if needed, the lowest earthwork can overflow to a natural drainage–-or, in a typical urban context, the street. Your goal should be to harvest the rain, but never get flooded by it. This is key.

Principle #4. Start with small and harvest the rain as close as possible to where it falls.
When people think of rainwater harvesting, usually it’s cisterns and tanks that spring to mind. But the water collected off your roof is typically much less than what’s actually falling on your property. Simple water-harvesting earthworks, such as basins, terraces, contour berms, and check dams will harvest the rain where it falls, on the land. The water-harvesting earthworks Rodd and I created collect the vast majority of our rain. We dug level-bottomed basins and deeply mulched them (about 4 inches) in order to infiltrate rainfall and runoff throughout our watershed—once again starting at the highest points of the yard and working down. Overflow water was directed from the upper basins to the lower basins, which brings us to principle number five.

Principle #5. Spread, slow and infiltrate the flow of water into the soil.
Cisterns along with mulched and vegetated earthworks basins with overflow routes will effectively transform your erosive runoff during heavy rainfall into a calm, productive resource while reducing water loss to evaporation and downstream flooding. Raised pathways and gathering areas are also a great strategy for spreading water through the landscape. This pattern of “high and dry” regions that drain to adjoining basins kept “sunken and moist” will help to define those areas through vegetation while spreading and sinking the flow of water. (This also helps keep ice off walkways and driveways in colder regions.) At our place, we also used earthworks to redirect the runoff that used to pool against our house to planting areas 10 feet or more away from the building's foundation.

Principle #6. Maximize living and organic groundcover.
All your basins and other water-harvesting earthworks should be well mulched and planted. This creates a “living sponge” effect that will utilize the harvested water to create food and beauty in your surrounding landscape while steadily improving the soil’s ability to infiltrate and hold water due to the vast network of growing roots and beneficial micro-organisms. Groundcover is equally important in helping to ensure that, in your enthusiasm for harvesting rainwater, you don’t wind up creating a haven for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes need three days of standing water to transform from eggs to adults. Water-harvesting earthworks allowing water to infiltrate below the surface of the soil (typically within one hour) where it won’t be lost to evaporation. 
Take a hike in the natural unmanaged areas near your home to determine what native vegetation would be best to plant within or beside your earthworks. Out in the wild, you'll notice which plants grow naturally in depressions – they can be planted within your basins. Wild plants preferring better drainage can be planted beside, but not within earthworks. Blue palo verdes, velvet mesquite, chuparosa, oreganillo, and desert lavender are a few of the native plants found along the ephemeral washes in our area of Tucson that we plant within our earthworks.

Principle #7.  Maximize beneficial relationships and efficiency by “stacking functions.”
As mentioned previously, water-harvesting strategies offer maximum benefits when they’re integrated into a comprehensive overall siteplan. We focused on locating the earthworks where we wanted to stack functions with multi-use vegetation. Through rainwater harvesting earthworks, we’ve nurtured a solar arc of deciduous trees on the east, north, and west sides of our home that cool us in the summer, but let in the free light and warmth of the sun in winter. A living fence of native plants along the property line (along with an existing citrus tree) form part of a sun trap. This suntrap shades our garden from the afternoon sun, creates on-site stormwater control, and enhances habitat for native songbirds and butterflies.

Within our generative landscape, rainwater has become our primary water source, greywater our secondary water source, and municipal groundwater a strictly and infrequently used supplemental source (meeting no more than 5% of our exterior water needs). Most of our established landscape has even become regenerative by thriving on rainwater alone.

Our household consumes less than 20,000 gallons of municipal water annually, with over 90% of that being recycled in the landscape as greywater. Additionally, we harvest and infiltrate over 100,000 gallons of rain and runoff into the soil of our site (and, by extension, the community's watershed) over the course of our annual average rainfall. As a household, we’re shifting more and more to living within our rainwater “budget”: the natural limits of our local environment.

As a result, we’re enriching the land, growing up to 25% of our food on site, creating a beautiful home and neighborhood environment – and giving back more than we take! The further we go, the easier and more fun it gets, which brings us to the eighth and last principle:The Big Picture Within our generative landscape, rainwater has become our primary water source, greywater our secondary water source, and municipal groundwater a strictly and infrequently used supplemental source (meeting no more than 5% of our exterior water needs).

Most of our established landscape has even become regenerative by thriving on rainwater alone. Our household consumes less than 20,000 gallons of municipal water annually, with over 90% of that being recycled in the landscape as greywater. Additionally, we harvest and infiltrate over 100,000 gallons of rain and runoff into the soil of our site (and, by extension, the community's watershed) over the course of our annual average rainfall. As a household, we’re shifting more and more to living within our rainwater “budget”: the natural limits of our local environment. As a result, we’re enriching the land, growing up to 25% of our food on site, creating a beautiful home and neighborhood environment – and giving back more than we take! The further we go, the easier and more fun it gets, which brings us to the eighth and last principle:

 Principle #8. Continually reassess your system and improve it.
Three years ago, Rodd and I set up an outdoor shower so the bather could either use pressurized municipal water at the showerhead or cistern water distributed from a shower bucket on a hook. Other strategies have included a solar-powered greywater “laundromat” in our backyard (utilized by seven neighboring households) along with a reduction in impermeable hardscape by replacing our asphalt driveway with lush plantings and earthworks. One of our most rewarding recent improvements has been the process of working with our neighbors and the city to replace 26% of the pavement from the corner intersection with a water-harvesting traffic circle planted with native vegetation.

We also succeeded in implementing a system that harvests street runoff within curbside mulched basins to grow a greenbelt of trees along the street and sidewalk, so the street now passively irrigates the trees. As a result, our neighborhood—once the victim of urban blight—is now one of the greenest and most livable areas of the city. My advice to anyone who wants to get started living more sustainably is to start with rainwater-harvesting. Start at the top. Start small. But above all—start!

 Sidebar: Choosing a Rainwater Cistern
Our cistern has a 1,200-gallon (4,560 liter) capacity. We selected this size after calculating the average annual roof runoff, assessing our water needs, and determining the resources we wanted to commit to the system. We opted for a precast concrete septic tank for a number of reasons, but primarily because it was affordable as well as a workable size and shape for our space (5 foot wide, 6 feet tall, 10 feet long). Our septic tank was custom-made for use as a cistern, and further reinforced for above-ground installation. The cost back in 1996 was $600, which included delivery and placement. It's been working great ever since. Other options for pre-manufactured cisterns include light-free dark green or black polyurethane plastic, corrugated metal, and fiberglass. See www.watertanks.com for options and look in the yellow pages under tanks for local suppliers.

Calculating Your Rainwater Resources
To calculate the volume of rain falling in an average year on a specific surface such as your roof, yard, or neighborhood, use the following calculation:

CATCHMENT AREA (in square feet) multiplied by the

AVERAGE ANNUAL RAINFALL (in feet) multiplied by

7.48 (to convert cubic feet to gallons) equals the


Hawaii Statehood Unmasked

SUBHEAD: Did Statehood benefit everyone? What some in Hawaii might celebrate others think of as an injustice.
image above: A typical Waikiki evening from the 17th floor. Photo by Juan Wilson WHO: Presenter - Dr. Dean Saranillio WHAT: Videos - "Then There Were None" & "Taking Waikiki" A panel discussion to follow WHEN: Saturday, August 1, 3:30p.m. to 8:00 p.m. WHERE: Lihue Neighborhood Center, (new hall) NOTE: Pot luck dish welcomed. From http://kauainet.wiki.zoho.com on 29 July 2009
In counterpoint to the State of Hawaii organizing contests and special events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Hawaii's becoming a U.S. state, Kaua'i Alliance for Peace and Social Justice will further its public education mission by presenting an event titled "Hawai'i: Statehood Unmasked" on Saturday, August 1, 3:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Lihue Neighborhood Center, (new hall). The event asks the question, "Does statehood benefit everyone?" and will provide alternative perspectives through a presentation, a panel, discussion and two documentary videos. Dean Itsuji Saranillio, Ph D., will present a talk based on his doctoral dissertation,Seeing Conquest: Colliding Histories and the Cultural Politics of Hawai’i Statehood. Saranillio recently completed his dissertation at the University of Michigan.
The panel discussion with questions and answers will follow. The panel will include: Kauai residents Puanani Rogers, Ben Nihi, Dayne Aipoalani and Oahu resident Ikaika Hussey. Two documentaries, "Taking Waikiki" and "then there were NONE", will also be shown. Both videos focus on the history of Hawai'i and the impacts of U.S. colonization. "Then there were NONE", is a documentary on the relationship between colonization and the the declining native Hawai'i population. The 26-minute film was produced by Dr. Elizabeth Kapu'uwailani Lindsey, the great-granddaughter of Hawaiian high chiefs and English seafarers. "Taking Waikiki" details the series of events that transformed Waikiki from an agriculture and aquacultural area into an international tourist destination. This 34-minute documentary was produced by Kaua'i residents, Carol Bain and Ed Coll.
see also:

Economics of Entropy

SUBHEAD: The notional wealth of the financial economy will have to lose significant value. By John Michael Greer on 29 July 2009 in The Archdruid Report - http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2009/07/economics-of-entropy.html Over the last few weeks, my posts here on The Archdruid Report have tried to sketch out a way of understanding economics that doesn’t contradict the laws of physics or the evidence of history. Perhaps the central concept I’ve been developing along these lines is the sense that there is no such thing as “the” economy in any human society; there are, rather, three economies, each of which follows distinctive rules.
image above: Detail of illustration "Rusty Truck" by Martin Lisec.
From http://www.martinlisec.com/illustrations.html The primary economy, in this way of looking at things, is the natural world itself, which produces something like three-quarters of the goods and services on which human beings rely for survival. The secondary economy, which depends on the primary one, is the collocation of labor, capital plant, and resources extracted from the primary economy that produces the other quarter or so of the goods and services human beings use. The tertiary economy, finally, is the system of social processes by which the products of the first two economies are allocated to people. This can take many different forms, of which the one most familiar to us is money. The differences between these three economies run deep, and so do the differences in the way they are treated in conventional economic thinking. Unfortunately these two sets of differences do not run in parallel. One way to explore the resulting mismatch is to look at how the three economies, in reality and theory, are affected by the least popular of all the laws of physics: the second law of thermodynamics, more popularly known as the law of entropy. To call this law unpopular is not to say that it suffers from any lack of recognition by scientists. The comment of Sir Arthur Eddington, one of the twentieth century’s greatest physicists, is typical: “If your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics, there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation” – a summing-up so useful that it probably deserves to be called Eddington’s Law. Entropy is the gold standard of physics, the one thing you can count on even when the rest of the cosmos seems to be going haywire. What makes it unpopular, rather, is that it stands in stark conflict with some of the most deeply and passionately held convictions of modern industrial humanity. For all that, it’s a simple concept to grasp. Pour a cup of hot coffee on a cold morning and you can watch entropy in action. The coffee will gradually get colder and the air around it will get very slightly warmer. All energy everywhere, left to itself, always moves from higher to lower concentrations: that’s the second law of thermodynamics. On the way from higher to lower, the energy can be made to do useful work, and you can even force some energy to a higher concentration by allowing a larger amount of energy to go to a lower one, but one way or another entropy’s price must be paid. We don’t like thinking in these terms, and for the last three hundred years, most of us in the industrial world haven’t had to. The 18th-century breakthroughs that allowed coal to be turned into steam power, and gave human beings command over amounts of highly concentrated energy never before wielded by our species, convinced most people in the western world that energy was basically free for the taking. In the halcyon days of industrialism, it was all too easy to forget that this vast abundance of energy was a cosmic rarity, a minor and finite backwash in the flow of energies on a scale almost too great for human beings to comprehend. As far as we know, there are two and only two phenomena in the cosmos that naturally produce high concentrations of energy. The first is gravity. Unlike most physical phenomena, gravity has robust positive feedback: the more mass a body has, the more gravitational attraction it exerts, the more additional mass it can attract, and the more its gravitational attraction increases. This is why what starts as an eddy in an interstellar cloud of hydrogen gas, set in motion perhaps by the shockwave from a distant supernova, can attract steadily more hydrogen to itself until its gravity is strong enough to achieve the fantastic pressures needed for nuclear fusion, and a newborn star flares into life. Even so, entropy still rules; the light and heat that flows out from our Sun over the course of its ten billion year lifespan is still only a fraction of the potential energy of the gravitational collapse that brought it into being and keeps it going. The second phenomenon that produces concentrated energy is biological life. Life combines positive and negative feedback loops, and so it’s much more fitful and fragile than gravity, but it can still surf the entropy of its neighboring star, tapping a small part of the vast streams of energy that flow entropically from the Sun’s core to the near-absolute-zero cold of interstellar space to concentrate chemical energy for its own use. Over the ages, the resulting concentrations of energy have transformed our planet, pumping oxygen into its atmosphere and burying trillions of tons of carbon underneath the ground in the form of coal, oil, and natural gas. Once that carbon was buried, gravity got to work on it, concentrating it further through heat and pressure. The energy stored in today’s fossil fuel deposits, in turn, is still only a fraction of the energy lost to entropy in the long slow process that brought those deposits into being. This is why, as I’ve tried to point out in previous posts, those who expect to get some new and even more concentrated energy source to replace our dwindling reserves of fossil fuels are basically smoking their shorts. It took an extraordinarily complex series of processes, more time than the human mind has evolved the ability to grasp, and an equally unimaginable amount of energy lost to entropy, to produce the highly concentrated fossil fuels we’ve wasted so profligately over the last three hundred years. There are plenty of diffuse energy sources left, but raising them to concentrations that will allow them to power our current civilization would require huge amounts of additional energy to be sacrificed to entropy – and once you subtract the entropy costs of concentration from the modest energy supplies available to a deindustrial world, there isn’t much left. Try telling that to most people, though, and you’ll get a blank look, because we’ve lived with abundant concentrated energy for so long that very few people recognize just how rare it is in the broader picture. Economics, once again, feeds this blindness. Most economic models, interestingly enough, admit entropy into what I’ve called the secondary economy: there’s a clear sense that producing goods and services consumes resources and produces waste, and that energy fed into the process is lost to entropy in one way or another. Most of them, however, explicitly reject the role of entropy in the primary economy, insisting that resources are always available by definition if you only invest enough labor and capital. As for the tertiary economy, most economic theories accept it as given that money is anti-entropic – it produces a steady increase in value over time, which is the theoretical justification for interest. In the real world, by contrast, the primary economy is just as subject to entropy as the secondary one. Oil that has been pumped out of the ground and burned is no longer available to use as an energy resource, and if enough of it has been pumped out, the oil field runs dry and it stops being a resource too. Natural cycles can keep some resources available at a steady level by surfing the entropy of the Sun, but only if human action doesn’t mess up those cycles – something we are doing a great deal too much of just now. By ignoring the reality of entropy in the primary economy of nature, we are setting ourselves up for a very awkward future. And the tertiary economy? This is where things get interesting, because the anti-entropic nature of money posited by mainstream economic theories has been accepted even by most critics of those theories. There’s accordingly been a flurry of proposals for changing the way money works so that it loses value over time. This is understandable, but it’s also unnecessary, because money as it exists today has an exquisitely subtle mechanism for losing value over time. The only difficulty is that mainstream economists and the general public alike treat it with the same shudder of dread and indignation their Victorian ancestors directed toward sex. We’re talking, of course, about inflation. I’ve come to think of inflation as the primary way that the tertiary economy resolves the distortions caused by the mismatch between the limitless expansion of the tertiary economy and the hard limits ecology and entropy place on the primary and secondary economies. When the amount of paper wealth in the tertiary economy outstrips the production of actual, nonfinancial goods and services in the other two economies, inflation balances the books by making money lose part of its value. I suspect – though it would take a good econometrician to put this to the test – that in the long run, the paper value lost to inflation equals the paper value manufactured by interest on money, once the figures are adjusted for actual increases or decreases in the production of goods and services. It’s instructive to note what happens when governments attempt to stop the natural balancing process of inflation. In American economic history, there are two good examples – between the Civil War and the First World War, on the one hand, and between 1978 and 2008 on the other. In the first of these periods, the US treasury reacted against the inflation of the Civil War years by imposing a strict gold standard on the currency, and since the pace at which new gold entered the economy was less than the rate at which the production of goods and services expanded. The result was the longest sustained bout of deflation in the history of the country. Despite the claims of precious-metal advocates today, this did not produce economic stability and prosperity. Quite the contrary, the economic terrain of the second half of the 19th century was a moonscape cratered by disastrous stock market collapses and recurrent depressions. The resulting bank and business failures probably eliminated as much paper value from the economy as inflation would have, but did so in a chaotic and unpredictable way: instead of everybody’s corporate bonds losing 5% of their value due to inflation, for example, some bonds were paid in full while others became worthless when the companies backing them went out of existence. The same calculus has come into play since the beginning of the Volcker era at the Federal Reserve Board, when “fighting inflation” became the mantra of the day; since then we’ve had a succession of crashes as colorful as anything the 19th century produced. Thirty years of economic policy dedicated to minimizing inflation have guaranteed a sizable second helping of economic collapse in the years to come – it’s only in the imaginations of politicians and publicists that the recent “dead cat bounce” in the stock market, and various modest decreases in the rate at which economic statistics are getting worse, add up to a recovery of any kind, much less a return to the unsustainable pseudoprosperity of the years just past.
Still, in the longer term, I suspect inflation will also play a major role in the unraveling of the current mess. With the end of the age of cheap abundant fossil fuels, the world faces a very substantial decrease in the amount of primary and secondary wealth in the world, and the notional wealth of the tertiary economy will have to lose value even faster to make up for that decline. Just how this will play out is anyone’s guess, but one way or another it’s unlikely to be pretty.

And I feel fine!

SUBHEAD: We need a world free of Monsanto. Its a choice between the corporations or humanity.

It's the end of the world as we know it (...and I feel fine)

By Reid Horne on 25 July 2009 in Living Green - http://savethebiosphere.blogspot.com/2009/07/its-end-of-world-as-we-know-it-and-i.html Probably few saw this meltdown coming. We have come to view human progress as a given, and an ever growing economy and living standard as an entitlement.
image above: Visitor's slide of Monsanto's "House of the Future" at Disneyland circa 1960.
The chemical company offered "plastics used boldly, creatively, as building materials".
From http://matterhorn1959.blogspot.com/2006/04/monsanto-house-of-future-1960.html Certainly, the US and world economy has proven to be less robust than the most ardent skeptics would have thought, outside perhaps the peak oil group. Current talk is of green shoots and the V-shaped recovery. However, the next wave of trouble is likely to be the commercial sector, with apartment and office leasing under pressure from the highest jobless rate in 26 years.(2) Who will be around to buy up these assets? Congress is initiating a commission to determine the causes of the crisis, which already seem to stem from the regulatory lapses of a freewheeling era as well as risk build-up from perpetual and unstemmed exuberance. The economic costs so far are $1.4 trillion in financial industry losses, $700 billion in U.S. taxpayer cash infusions and loans to businesses, and $37 trillion in destroyed world stock market value since October 2007.(3) One factor that seems to be overlooked is the run up of oil prices in the face of worldwide demand. Our nation was built on a model of cheap oil, having been the Saudi Arabia of the world until the 1950s, when the OPEC cartel took over as the world's leading oil exporter. The US crisis precipitated the world economic crisis. The world economy runs on oil, and high prices seem to take the wind out of the proverbial sails. That run up culminated on July 11, 2008, when the price of a barrel of oil hit a record $147.27 in daily trading. That same month, world crude oil production achieved a record 74.8 million barrels per day. Prior to that record, during the period from 2005 to 2008, though oil’s price steadily rose, production remained essentially flat. Though new sources of oil were coming on line, they barely made up for production declines in the older fields due to depletion. In the wake of the following crisis, both prices and production fell as demand for oil collapsed. Since then, up to $150 billion of investments in oil production capacity have evaporated. Apparently, oil companies and oil producing nations can afford to expand or at least maintain production around 75 million barrels per day, collectively, but the world economy cannot afford oil at $150 a barrel.(4) What's all this? I thought we didn't have to worry about oil until 2050. Its a problem for the grandkids to figure out, right? In November, 2008, the International Energy Agency (IEA) issued a turnabout in its World Energy Outlook. This, from a generally conservative agency. The opening paragraph: "The world’s energy system is at a crossroads. Current global trends in energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable - environmentally, economically, socially. But that can - and must - be altered; there’s still time to change the road we’re on. It is not an exaggeration to claim that the future of human prosperity depends on how successfully we tackle the two central energy challenges facing us today: securing the supply of reliable and affordable energy; and effecting a rapid transformation to a low-carbon, efficient and environmentally benign system of energy supply. What is needed is nothing short of an energy revolution." In preparing this report, the IEA performed a comprehensive study of 800 of the world's largest oil fields. It concluded that without massive investment in discovery and drilling, the current world oil production will decline by over 9% per year. To use another source, on May 4 of this year, Raymond James Associates, a brokerage specializing in energy investments, issued a report stating,
“With OPEC oil production apparently having peaked in 1Q08, and non-OPEC even earlier in 2007, peak oil on a worldwide basis seems to have taken place in early 2008.”
This conclusion is being echoed by numerous other analysts. There seems to be a widespread tendency to discount oil's value to humanity. We treat it like a commodity, right next to pork bellies, which are, in fact, renewable. Oh, we say, we'll just go back to horses. We'll just to go to electric cars. Or, someone will think of something. Let's address these three points, as they are ubiquitous. Firstly, we could not grow enough hay to feed that many horses, at least not without clearing the remainder of the nation's or world's forests. Already, one third of the planet's forests have been cleared, resulting in about half of anthropogenic (man-made) carbon dioxide emissions, which by the way is a green-house gas. Secondly, in a collapsed world economy, we would not all be able to afford electric vehicles, and if we could, the dilapidated electrical grid could not support the new load without browning out or collapsing. Thirdly, this is capitalism, unless as Newsweek has stated on a cover, that we are all socialists now. So if someone could think of something so brilliant that it could usurp the laws of physics and thermodynamics, they would patent it and make trillions overnight. Besides, I think socialism requires its practitioners to possess at least some feeling of well being towards the other members of a society, so right off, we would suck at it, rather badly; whereas in capitalism, its all been chalked up to “just business.” Oil under girds the world economy, and was primarily responsible for our population growth and prosperity. In essence, we have been too successful for our own good. Like a lottery winner, we don't know when to stop. In the case of world population, scientists estimate a sustainable number to be between one and two billion. Sustainability should be thought of as a mode in which resources are not being used up at a rate faster than they are renewed, resulting in a subsequent population crash. Current population is now almost 7 billion, which is 3 and a half times the upper limit of a sustainable number. To use another analogy, the capacity of a Honda Odyssey is 8 people (with 3 point seat belts for all, actually). Would we pack 28 people into an Odyssey? Do we believe that would that be wise? Hey, all 27 of you...pack in!!! We're going bar hopping!!! The results of our short-term thinking are becoming obvious, although we were warned repeatedly in the 70s (in a lot of ways, the hippies and vegetarians have been right all along). We are running out of oil. Our oceans are over-fished and acidified from excess atmospheric carbon dioxide uptake. Our forests are being pulled down, reduced to scorched earth and cattle fields. Our little experiment of loading the atmosphere with 150 million year old carbon is resulting in a warming and changing climate. The plants and animals that we share this planet with are dying off at 1000 times the historical background extinction rate, caught between over-fishing, over-hunting, land use change and climate change. Monsanto is playing God with genetics, then suing farmers for stealing when the wind blows Monsanto's transgenic seed's pollen into that farmer's neighboring field, infecting the hapless farmer's organic canola plants. Oh, Joy! And the model of modern industrial agribusiness is playing a significant role in the destruction of planet Earth. It goes on and on and on....this is the tragedy of the commons, on a planetary scale. Everyone is responsible, and no one person is responsible...an intractable problem. Certainly corporations aren't responsible... they are only doing what we designed them to do. We should not act surprised or indignant. Would a scorpion change its character? That would not be logical. As Americans and as a species, we need to develop some degree of awareness of these issues. There is oblivious and then there's oblivion. We need a world free of Monsanto.(5) Its either corporations or humanity. Show me a garden, that's bursting into life.(6) It is likely that we will still need to eat in the imminent collapsed world economy. We face an uncertain future, one we should at least be aware of and then approach with some degree of resolution. After all, Lenny Bruce is not afraid. (1)R.E.M. – Document album (2)U.S. Office Vacancies Near 4-Year High on Job Losses, Reis Says - Bloomberg (3)U.S. House Approves Panel to Probe Causes of Financial Crisis - Bloomberg (4)Richard Heinberg - http://postcarbon.org/peak-oil-day (5)Combat Monsanto - http://www.combat-monsanto.co.uk/ (6)Snow Patrol – Chasing Cars

Wife Power vs White Power

SOURCE: Shannon Rudolf (shannonkona@gmail.com)  
SUBHEAD: The clown women finally understood what the Klan members were chanting. "Wife Power! 

Clowns Kick KKK Asses By Alex on 3 September 2007 in Neatorama.com http://www.neatorama.com/2007/09/03/clowns-kicked-kkk-asses/

image above: Wife Pwer clowns on street in Knoxville, Tennessee.

When the white supremacist group VNN Vanguard Nazi/KKK tried to host a hate rally in Knoxville, Tennessee, they were foiled by … clowns!

 Unfortunately for [VNN] the 100th ARA (Anti Racist Action) clown block came and handed them their asses by making them appear like the asses they were.

Alex Linder the founder of VNN and the lead organizer of the rally kicked off events by rushing the clowns in a fit of rage, and was promptly arrested by 4 Knoxville police officers who dropped him to the ground when he resisted and dragged him off past the red shiny shoes of the clowns. http://www.volunteertv.com/home/headlines/7704982.html “White Power!” the Nazi’s shouted, “White Flour?” the clowns yelled back running in circles throwing flour in the air and raising separate letters which spelt “White Flour”. “White Power!” the Nazi’s angrily shouted once more, “White flowers?” the clowns cheers and threw white flowers in the air and danced about merrily.

“White Power!” the Nazi’s tried once again in a doomed and somewhat funny attempt to clarify their message, “ohhhhhh!” the clowns yelled “Tight Shower!” and held a solar shower in the air and all tried to crowd under to get clean as per the Klan’s directions.

 At this point several of the Nazi’s and Klan members began clutching their hearts as if they were about to have a heart attack. Their beady eyes bulged, and the veins in their tiny narrow foreheads beat in rage. One last time they screamed “White Power!”

The clown women thought they finally understood what the Klan was trying to say. “Ohhhhh…” the women clowns said. “Now we understand…”, “WIFE POWER!” they lifted the letters up in the air, grabbed the nearest male clowns and lifted them in their arms and ran about merrily chanting


Sunshine dawns on Kauai?

SUBHEAD: Equal access to the Council agenda still has not been addressed, but progress has recently been made. By Brad Parsons on 29 July 2009 in Aloha Analytics - (http://alohaanalytics.blogspot.com/2009/07/sunshine-begins-to-enter-kauai-county.html) Image above: Photograph by Hanapepe artist Arius Hopman "Stillness in Action" shows Puolo Point at dawn. From http://www.hopmanart.com/artwork_detail.php?products_id=441&2c9ec5e92d31517f931525cd On July 22, 2009 Council Chair Kaipo Asing stated “I am willing as chair to work with you to solve the problems" changes asked for over two years ago are indeed starting to happen. We are very pleased at this turn of events and appreciate Mr. Asing's decision to allow the changes. Following are landmarks of Kauai Council meetings concerning the Sunshine Law and open government. • July 2nd 2008, The council chair in a press release announced that minutes of Council meetings and reports of Council actions will start to be posted on the County's web site • July 27, 2008 the Council Chair issued a memo stating that documents sent to all Councilmembers will be available upon receipt. • July 28, 2007 County Clerk issued a routine memo stating minutes were ready for review; for the first time they were available in an electronic format on the Council services shared folders and hard copies. see also: Ea O Ka Aina: Kauai Back-Room Dealing 7/28/09

Kauai Back-Room Dealing

SUBHEAD: Chang said "cutting a deal” and “playing the game” described how he did most council business with Asing.
We've sprung a leak Mr.Christian! By Andy Parx on 27 July 2009 in Got Windmills http://parxnewsdaily.blogspot.com/2009/07/weve-sprung-leak-mr-christian.html
Our coverage of last Wednesday’s Meltdown of the Minotaur gave a lengthy depiction of the issues raised by council reformers Tim Bynum and Lani Kawahara and Chair Kaipo Asing’s point by point ducking of the issues and attempts to make it a personal pissing contest.
image above: Back-room office in the HBO mafia series "The Sopranos" Before we begin today’s part 2 we should correct our reference to “an apparently long recess where, according to witnesses Castillo badgered Kawahara in an animated conversation” and that “she wanted an executive session (ES) to apparently discuss some of the threats Castillo made.” Although she did have a short conversation with Castillo, according to other witnesses it was brief and uneventful and there was a different conversation with “someone” else that had her apparently upset her and was possibly related to the reason the police showed up later and spoke with Kawahara. But, back to the meeting, despite the fact that at one point Asing promised he would “work to resolve the issues” beginning today, no one believes that will happen based on his continued adamancy after that statement that everything was ok with the way he manages the council. And the reason is that it’s more than apparent that, although the issues raised so far by Bynum and Kawahara - getting mail and correspondence addressed to them, placing bills on the agenda and equitable access to all council documents, seem like relatively small simple matters, they strike at the heart of Asing’s control of every aspect of the function and work product of the county council. If you watch the part of the meeting after the dinner break you’ll see how the implications of any implementation of these seemingly manini changes threaten the day-to-day backroom dealing that is the hallmark of Asing’s rule, as it was for every chairman before him. That may be why at one point an agitated Asing screamed “So we now have two people running things - the clerk and Lani Kawahara” and “Why are we having this discussions in public?”
Control information and you control everything. That’s may be why Asing stated that communications from the administration and constituents alike dealing with matters for the council’s considerations go first to an “agenda file” where they are “sanitized” and “cleaned up”. And that may be why Asing’s three supporters- the three D’s who voted to put him into the chair- all said they like it that way so they aren’t “overwhelmed” with information. Obviously Uncle Kaipo gives them all the information they need. Anyone who has read the full liturgy of attempts by Bynum, and later Kawahara (detailed at their kauaiinfo web site) to get just the three simply “no-brainer” changes made knows how despite Asing’s incredulity that they “went to the newspaper” instead of going to him are bafflingly disingenuous. The stream of memos there show how hard they tried to take care of matters internally. Bynum’s memos go back years and when Kawahara came on board last December she started asking for the same changes. Yet Asing ignored every single memo, not just ignoring the content but not even responding by saying “let’s talk about it” or something similar. In fact the document trail shows Bynum tried over and over to set up a meeting with both Asing and County Clerk Peter Nakamura in the same room at the same time. Instead each told him to talk to the other. Which is why the crucial moment of the long day’s journey into night came when freshman Councilmember Dickie Chang asked Kawahara if she had ever met face to face with Asing on the matters they raised. Kawahara told him “no” and that began the unraveling and full confession, unintentional though it was, by Chang, Asing and long time councilperson Darryl Kaneshiro as they described not just specific instances but the broad practices of making decisions in the bowels of the county building instead of on the council floor. Tone deaf and seeming having never read the state Sunshine Law (or at least certainly not “getting it”) Chang actually told how he discusses all matters with Asing and others, colluding to make sure everything, including the outcome, was already scripted by the time of the meeting was called to order. Kaneshiro, who should have known better, joined in also incredulous over Kawahara’s lack of an appearance before Asing to kow-tow and “request” these things to happen, despite the fact that a two year lack of response to Bynum’s memos, and six months to hers,had made it apparent Asing had no appetite for even discussing the changes. Chang prattled on and on actually using the terms “to cut a deal” and “play the game” in describing how he discussed most council matters with Asing and also implicating councilperson Jay Furfaro with whom Chang said, he discusses “everything”. For the record, the Sunshine Law does allow two and only two councilmembers to meet and discuss council matters as long as they don’t achieve inclusion of three or more members in the discussion by having serial one-on-one communications to “spread the word”. But even in a two person discussion any commitment to voting certain way on any matter, including even asking directly whether the other supports specific legislation amendments (or other official council action) is strictly prohibited. The law is designed to prevent deals from being made anywhere but in a duly called meeting of a subject body, in front of the public where all deliberations toward decisions and all decision-making is supposed to be done. Oh, and the law states that in every case the Sunshine Law is to be “liberally construed toward openness”. Kawahara’s memos to resolve these issues and make them part of the public record is exactly the way things are supposed to happen under the Sunshine Law. But as actually described by Chang, Kaneshiro, and rookie Councilperson Derek Kawakami (who left the meeting at one point) and intimated by Furfaro, for those seeking admission to the Kauai County Council Club the way that business is conducted is in a backroom office where the script is written and violations of the law go undetected. Wannabe old boy Chang is just clueless enough to think that meeting face-to-face in a back room is preferable to the professionalism that Bynum and Kawahara use in doing their job. Chang made a point that he does government business the same way he does business in the schmooze-o-rama, glad-handing world of the visitor’s industry and in his promotional television program Wala`ua. He treats his official duties as if he were “playing the game” and “cutting a deal” with his resort-manager and tourism promotion crowd and actually thinks that’s a good thing. He seems oblivious to the difference and, in fact, laws designed to prevent that very type of deal making by public officials. We were surprised by one conversation we had over the weekend with a voter who supports open government but told us of concerns that Kawahara hadn’t “played the game the right way” perhaps because she is a political neophyte who just hasn’t learned to cut a deal yet. We suggested that perhaps she simply has principles, “gets” the open government and prefers to lead by example by refusing to bow down to the illegal back-room methodology, hoping that others will eventually get the message and stop their secret dealings. Or that voters will understand that and vote out those who continue to think skulking in the labyrinth is OK, and vote in people who will do a professional, transparent job of governing. One other thing should be pointed out: Kaipo Asing is almost impossible to communicate with much less to meet with. He doesn’t send or receive email. He doesn’t now how to gather information on-line. He does not “get” email or computers, in any sense of the word. But he also does not take phone calls when he is at the county building– and he almost never returns any of the resulting messages unless it’s from someone internal to the county or someone else with whom he wants or needs to communicate. His office door is anything but open. As a matter of fact few even know where it is. He has refused to take the great big “fish bowl” office designated for the council chair that’s right next to the entrance to the council chamber. Nor is he in one the offices in the mutli-office room in the front end of the building. As a matter of fact the only way to find his office is to go through the council services section where no members of the public are allowed without invitation. One more note for today; much was made by Asing at the meeting that there is an ongoing “investigation” because he believes that “someone tampered with the county web site”. This charge has made numerous times and was apparently used by County Attorney Al Castillo to successfully shut down much of the discussion. But apparently, it was the recent institution of a new email address, counciltestimony@kauai.gov that was at issue. One of the mail problems Kawahara and Bynum had was, as we reported Friday, getting email at the council@kauai.gov address that was supposed to go to all councilmembers in email format but, in actuality, was distributed via a print-out, without the return address and delayed- sometimes by a week or more. So, since Asing and Nakamura refused to send all councilmembers constituent mail going to the “council” address, County IT director Erik Knutzen set up the new "counciltestimony" address that automatically sends copies to each councilperson with no intermediary. Our understanding is that this is what Asing is objecting to calling it “tampering with the county web site” without of course understanding that email is not the same as a “web site” and so understanding that simply forwarding mail for an entirely new address “tampering”. Bizarre. We still haven’t written about the section of the meeting dealing with the “resolution” to form an advisory committee to study council rules, comprised of three charter old-boy-club members.
We’re waiting until tomorrow because of the usual total incompetence (which we presume it was despite widespread conspiracy theories in the community) of Hoike Community Television and its chief, Jay Robertson. On Saturday we called to report that at the end of Friday’s cablecast of the meeting the last crucial moments of the vote to go into an executive session were deleted. On it two voices can be heard voting “aye” before the tape end moments later. According to the article by reporter Michael Levine in Friday’s local paper: The motion to go into the late-night executive session garnered only two votes — Bynum’s and Kawahara’s — causing Kawahara to yell angrily and slam her papers on the table. However this correction appeared in the paper on Saturday. The... story... should say the final motion to go into executive session at the end of the meeting garnered three votes — Lani Kawahara’s, Tim Bynum’s and Jay Furfaro’s — failing 3-3. Although the tape seems to indicate only two votes, it does end there. Email attempts seeking clarification from Levine as to how his original observation came to be “corrected” drew no response at press time. Back to Hoike: We were told Saturday that only Mr. Robertson could “fix” the apparent glitch and despite our repeated attempts to communicate the urgency we were told he couldn’t be disturbed until Monday. Then for the rest of the weekend instead of the last two plus hours of the meeting- including the entire resolution discussion- viewers watched a black screen. Seems they could fix it, so they “fixed it good”. The executive session was requested by Kawahara but everyone was mum as to the reason although many who were there believe it directly related to whatever happened to upset Kawahara during the first recess and something that happened between her and “someone” other than Castillo, as mentioned above. Interestingly, Castillo illegally called for the “unanticipated” ES saying it was to “discuss the councils privileges, liabilities, power and duties” using the language of exemption from open meetings #4 under HRS 95-5(a) of the Sunshine Law. But according to a long standing opinion from the Office of Information Practices (OIP), which administers the Sunshine Law, all agenda items, including Executive Sessions, must have a detailed, specific (not general) purpose listed for the ES in addition to the cited exemption.

Sow the Right Seeds

SUBHEAD: Farming’s future on Kauai hinges on an enforceable law that makes sense.

 By Editor of The Garden Island on 26 July 2009
Image above: Last sugarcane planting in Kamukani, near the only mill still operating on Kauai. Photo by Juan Wilson.

As the Kaua‘i County Council continues its work on the critical farm worker housing bill, we must ensure the legislation sows the right seeds to sustain our long-term vision for the island. A law is only as good as its enforcement. This puts particular pressure on the seven-member legislative body to craft a bill void of vagueness and loopholes. As with all lawmaking, we must break down the barriers that could block the bill from accomplishing its intended purpose. In this case, we want to incentivize farm workers with free or affordable housing.

Attracting and retaining this labor force will help the island move forward in its quest to grow this essential industry. Agriculture is key to our survival, first and foremost. As we’ve heard before, if the ships stop coming, we’ve got a week or two before our food supply runs dry. Farming will also serve as an economic driver while preserving open space and our rural character. The definitions are a vital component. T

he County Code already has some 19 pages worth from “accessory building” to “wall.” But the key ones missing — “farm,” “farm worker,” and “farm worker housing” — must be carefully defined. As is often the case, we’re dealing with things we know when we see them. But that argument won’t stand up in court if someone challenges it.

So spelling out in fine detail what it is we’re talking about here is a tricky task of utmost importance. The county can regulate farm worker housing all it wants, mandating this or forbidding that, but if we don’t have a shared understanding of what constitutes a farm and the housing that should be allowed on such land then we don’t have an enforceable law. For far too long, the county has allowed people to buy property on ag land and not operate a real farm on it.

The owner signs an agreement acknowledging they’re buying a farm, they plant a mango tree in the front yard and they’re “farmers” — taking advantage of drastically discounted property tax rates and inflicting eyesores on our beloved view planes. It seems common sense. We would naturally expect someone living on ag land to be operating a farm.

Instead, we have some wealthy part-time residents building mansions while others subdivide it to death and still more operate vacation rentals. These practices fail to produce the food, fuel and fiber for which this land was designated. This bastardization has befallen us, producing the pickle we’re now in. The county must reap what it has sown as it plants a legal framework to foster true farming.

A couple components seem to have ensnared the council. One is how many hours a farm worker must work to be considered a farm worker and thereby able to live in farm worker housing. The other snag is how much a farm must gross to be considered a farm.

Bill No. 2318 Draft 1, introduced July 15, defines a “farm worker” as a farm owner, employee or intern who works no less than 14 hours per week in farm-related operations on a farm. (The legislation defines “farm” as an operation or enterprise in operation for at least one year, the core function of which is the commercial cultivation of crops, including crops for bioenergy, flowers, vegetables, foliage, fruits, forage and timber or the raising of livestock, including poultry, bees, fish or other animal or aquatic life that are propagated for commercial purposes as evidenced by the annual filing of a Schedule F form with federal income tax filings by the owner or lessee.)

This draft sets the limit on how much money the farm must generate at $12,000 of gross sales of ag products annually for the preceding two years for each unit on the lot. The June 3 version of the bill set these two limits at 19 hours and $35,000 a year. We agree with the hours provision contained in the earlier version because it would better uphold the “worker” part of “farm worker housing.” However, it seems like an extremely challenging piece to enforce. A forged time card and voila, you’re a farm worker.

This provision needs more teeth to make it worthwhile for inclusion. Similarly, we understand the rationale behind putting a sales requirement on a farm because it could prevent an ag lot from being used for residential or other purposes. However, as farmers testified before the council in recent weeks, some years farms aren’t making money, especially those trying to get up and running. With start-up costs, crop rotation and myriad other factors, this limit becomes an ineffective tool to weed out the real farms from the fake ones.

 And if the council is now leaning toward slashing that number to $12,000 or $10,000, why bother? It just creates another burden for farm workers to manage, detracting from their real work. How about this as a deterrent.

We let the Planning Department go in and tear down buildings, at the owner’s expense, that fail to conform to the required legal use. We must reverse the awful trend we’ve grown too comfortable with of importing more and more of our food. What if the Garden Isle could achieve self-sufficiency and, dare we suggest it, actually export more ag products than we have boats and planes bringing us from abroad.

A novel concept for an island so aptly named, yeah? Some provisions in the drafts currently before the council are off to a good start. Another provision we like is the one requiring farm plans to be submitted to the planning director. This provides a framework of what the owner is intending to do with the property by which the county can hold that individual accountable.

We also like the clause allowing the planning director to make two unannounced inspections annually in addition to a limitless number of properly announced inspections. However, these are only worthwhile if he actually does it. If not, this amounts to a worthless threat. We obviously haven’t been too effective to date at scaring anyone into compliance.

 Instead of the law requiring the owner to give consent to the Planning Department for an announced annual inspection, the law should go a step further and require the director to actually inspect the place each year. The council seems to agree that more than 75 percent of an ag parcel must be used for farming purposes. We think that’s a fair number and an important one to set. This will better accomplish the goal of eliminating the current perverse practice of being able to grow a tomato plant to meet your requirement to live at your farm house. Again, enforcement is the bottom line here. The Planning Department is concerned about this aspect.

The council says it will fund the necessary positions; it must. But it will take political will to achieve anything. A law is simply words on paper without enforcement of its provisions. We’re all too familiar with this. While we mentioned our distaste for part-time residents coming here and building their multi-million dollar homes on ag land to take advantage of the cheaper tax rates and sweeping views — the so-called gentleman’s versus genuine farms debate — we have our concerns about the county setting a limit on how big a farm worker’s house can be. The numbers circulating in the proposed legislation are 1,200 square feet of living space for a family and 650 square feet for a single person.

Why, if you choose to devote your life to this noble profession, should the government say how big your house can be? Plus, wouldn’t a bigger house actually help the government collect more property taxes in a time when revenue shortfalls are what we’re growing the most of right now? If the person living in the house is working the farm it’s on, that’s sufficient. We also disagree that the Planning Commission should have the right to determine the location of each farm worker housing unit.

Does a seven-member volunteer group really know where such a unit should be situated better than the farmer on the property? This provision places an unnecessary burden on the commission, which already has its hands full with a bunch of other important work. While the council is tackling the issue of vacation rentals more directly in separate legislation, the fact that these businesses are still operating on ag land can’t be ignored. The allowable uses on farm land must be specific. How can we be serious about making ag land strictly for farming if we can’t enforce existing laws and are actually moving now to allow vacation rentals for the time being to continue to operate on such land?

It’s a classic case of politicians trying to make everyone happy — the farmers because that’s a popular thing to do these days and the business community, which if it couldn’t be confronted before, certainly can’t now due to the economic downturn. Vacation rentals, as a commercial business, have never been legal on ag land under state law despite the county allowing them to flourish for years.

A back door to the county’s current law, which makes it crystal clear that TVRs are illegal on ag land, should not be passed to temporarily grandfather in those that have been operating illegally for the past five, 10 or 20 years. Enforce existing laws. Make sure this new one is air tight. And let’s get ag land back into agricultural production by helping farm workers find affordable housing.

Food Self-Sufficient Society

SUBHEAD: Should Kaua‘i follow Cuba’s agricultural footsteps?

By Michael Pilarski on 19 July 2009 in The Garden Island - http://www.kauaiworld.com/articles/2009/07/19/business/kauai_business/doc4a62befc552db556436660.txt

Image above: Looks like old Kauai, a historic Cuban cane haul train on way to sugar mill. From http://www.zelmeroz.com/albumquery/cuba.htm

What do Cuba and Kaua‘i have in common? Both are islands, and both had economies based on sugar cane plantations and tourism (Kaua‘i still has substantial tourism, but it is shrinking). They have taken widely divergent paths since Cuba kicked out the United States in 1959. Cuba has been under embargo by the U.S. ever since.

Plantation sugar cane was still booming under Castro until the USSR fell apart in 1990. All of a sudden, Cuba was cut off from almost all petroleum fuels, tractors, tractor parts, fertilizer, other industrial agriculture inputs plus a big chunk of their imported food supply. Cuba was not focused on feeding itself, it was focused on exporting sugar. There was not enough food.

The society was cohesive enough to collectively tighten its belt and survive, even though people lost an average 30 pounds each over the next couple years while they invented a nation-wide gardening movement. Most of the sugar cane plantations switched to other food crops. There was a big change to animal traction for agriculture and organic fertilizers.

A lot of the sugar cane plantation acreage was distributed to the plantation workers in the first five years after export/import collapse. In response to the imported fertilizer shortage, Cuba has gone on to become one of the world leaders in the development, large-scale production and application of nutrient-fixing, micro-organisms on soils and crops. This includes a wide-scale, large-scale use of vermicomposting (using wormbeds to convert organic matter to fertilizer). They are currently developing a technique of applying foliar sprays of nitrogen-fixing microorganisms which live on leaf surfaces. They also commercially produce soil phosphorus-solubizing bacteria. The red earth soils of Cuba and Kaua‘i have some similarities and the islands are both subtropical.

So no matter what you think about the political scene, it would make good sense for Kaua‘i to research what Cuba has discovered about organic agriculture, vermicomposting and the agricultural use of micro-organisms.

A good book to start with is “Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance: Transforming Food Production in Cuba.” Okay, so there are also huge differences between the countries and I am not promoting their political ideology. Political differences aside, what can Kaua‘i learn from Cuba’s agriculture change-over? Kaua‘i is not likely to see an economic embargo, but it is obviously subject to economic downturns in the global economy.

If tourism keeps dropping (which looks to be the case), there is going to be less money flowing into Kaua‘i’s economy. If Kaua‘i wakes up some day and finds that its imports of fossil-fuels, food, etc., are greatly reduced, then people will be very glad for any effort expended to plan and prepare for such an eventuality.

 How do we develop an agriculture (and gardening movement) which will make Kaua‘i less dependent on imported food? This means producing more food, a wider diversity of food crops and a higher quality of nutrient dense food. It is critical to figure out how to do all this while reducing imported agriculture inputs.

Some of these questions will be explored in the Kaua‘i Agricultural Study currently being conducted (visit KauaiAgriculturalForum.org or contact info@malamakauai.org). If Cuba can do it than Kaua‘i can achieve this too, of that I am confident.

The knowledge is available. Traditional ahupua‘a management, permaculture and other holistic, ecological, agro-ecosystem design systems are available. The people power is available within Kaua‘i’s diverse and capable population. And, there is a huge ground-swell of public support for local food production. If you are interested in learning more about Cuba’s transition to a food self-sufficient society, please join Malama Kaua‘i and Activate Kaua‘i for a free showing of “The Greening of Cuba.” Visit MalamaKauaiNews.org or ActivateKauai.Org for details.

 [IB Editor's Note: Michael Pilarski is a permaculture instructor, and led the two-week Permaculture Design course on Kaua‘i in March 2009]

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Health Risks of GMO's

SUBHEAD: We are All Eating GMO Foods, and Research shows Serious Health Effects.

By Linda Pascatore on 26 July 2009 for Island Breath - (http://islandbreath.blogspot.co.uk/2009/07/health-risks-of-gmos.html)

Image above: Onion illustration from "Know What You Eat" campaign created by GreenPeace. From http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/04/genetically-modified-organisms-greenpeace-ads.php  

[IB Publisher's Note: The following is a brief summary of important material on the health effects of GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms). For the full text, go to Health Risks on the Institute for Responsible Technology website: http://www.responsibletechnology.org]
Americans are now eating genetically modified ingredients in most of their processed foods. GM (Genetically Modified) plants have had foreign genes inserted into their DNA. Many of these genes are from viruses and bacteria which are new to the human food supply.

The most common GM plants which are found in processed food include corn, soybean, canola, and cottonseed. Genetic Engineering is nothing like conventional hybrids or breeding that have been done in the past. In genetic engineering, the species barrier is crossed: two different species that normally can never cross breed are artificially forced together on a genetic level.

This Genetic Engineering is little understood, even by those who perform it. They use several different methods.

One is like a crap shoot: a "gene gun" shoots genes into a group of cells, hoping they will hit the correct gene to have the desired effect.

Another method involves using a bacteria or virus to invade the host cell with the foreign DNA.

Both of these methods can cause mutations and unexpected and undesirable effects. Research has been done, primarily in animal studies.

Some of the known health effects which have been found include damaged immune systems, pre-cancerous growth, smaller brains, problems with the liver and other organs, cellular anomalies, reproductive problems and sterility, increased infant mortality, and death. Some noted human effects are increased allergic and immune system reactions to GM foods. There have been few human clinical trials for GM foods.

However, there is one published study in which humans were fed GM soy. It found that the Genetically Modified bacteria in the soy was transferred into the DNA of the human's digestive tracts.

That means that these foreign proteins with their unknown effects may continue to reproduce inside us. If the antibiotic gene which is inserted into most GM crops were to transfer, it could create antibiotic resistent diseases. If the BT gene that secretes pesticides were to transfer, we could have pesticides produced in our intestines.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: AAEM calls for GMO Ban 5/19/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Genetically Modified Kauai 12/10/09

Kaipo worries supporter

SUBHEAD: Even those loyal to Asing Kaipo are questioning his judgment on secrecy and operations.
Comment by Miliaulani on 25 July 2009 in Kauai Eclectic -
Locally born and raised, and part Hawaiian like Kaipo, I have voted consistently for this man for as long as he has been running for office. What I admired about him for many years was the one-man campaign he ran, keeping his spending to a minimum, his integrity unable to be bought. I don't understand what happened along the way, but I do believe the very qualities I admired over the years must still be a part of who this man is.
image above: William "Kaipo" Asing, on 7 July 2008, before being appointed temporary mayor of Kauai following death Bryan Baptiste.
There is no doubt of his love for Kauai and his desire to preserve the specialness of this place, but he has made some obvious missteps. If anything, he needs to be open to new ideas, new ways of doing things. Just because things were done the same way for the last 26 years, doesn't means it cannot be improved upon. If other councilmembers are having difficulties with the processes, then it behooves him to listen and implement change that is beneficial to all concerned. I voted for Lani and want her to be able to do her job just as effectively as Kaipo. She is young with fresh ideas and she is helping to bring County government into this new age of technology. Kaipo should support that and be willing to change with the times. If not, perhaps it is time for him to step down. He has done many good things for Kauai and we owe him gratitude for his years of service, however, perhaps it is time for a change. I support Lani and Tim's desire for a change in the way the council runs their business. Lani openly admitted that she was somewhat intimidated by Kaipo and so she communicated via written correspondence. Nothing wrong with that and I admire her for saying as much publicly. Being the only woman on the council makes it even more intimidating, especially when both Kaipo and Darryl have talked down to her in a patronizing way in the past. Lani does not deserve that. She is green yes, so the responsibility lies with the seasoned councilmembers to assist in any way possible to help her to do her job, if they are truly 'ohana as Jay said.
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