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Sunday, January 12, 2014
January 12, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:41 PM :: 3666 Views

Interview: Drug Dealing N. Shore Anti-GMO Leader Has 'Penchant for Violence'

Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell

Star-Adv Demands State Action, Hits Anti-GMO activist 'Quest to Control Hawaii Farmers'

Star-Adv: That a Big Island councilwoman would seek to revive a bill banning all genetically modified crops on Hawaii island, even though strict limits on such agriculture were approved only a month ago under another bill, indicates just how emboldened biotechnology foes have become in their quest to control Hawaii farmers.

The measure is not expected to pass, and should be rejected. It should not, however, be ignored, especially on Oahu. Councilwoman Brenda Ford's proposal signals that rather than taking responsible action to assess the impact on local agriculture of the newly approved Bill 113, some elected officials are willing to put productive local farmers flat out of business.

Bill 113 is bad enough — banning open-air cultivation of genetically modified plants except for farmers already growing them — but Ford wants to rid the island of every current GMO crop and prevent cultivation of any new ones.

She's not alone in this goal, which represents an unfair attack on Hawaii farmers, cattle ranchers, dairy farmers and flower growers who produce the largest segment of Hawaii livestock and agriculture.

The approach also exhibits an unwarranted distrust of University of Hawaii specialists in tropical agriculture....

Agricultural policy should never be set without a full and fair hearing of the people who are actually producing food for our consumption, but that is what appears to be happening in Hawaii at the moment.

The Hawaii County Council declined to form a task force to study the full implications of Bill 113 before approving it, despite being urged to do so, and the decision has implications for anyone who buys food in this state.

The state Legislature may be able to undo this wrong, but it will take true leadership and real political courage. Lawmakers should assert the state government's authority over agricultural rules and enforcement, rather than standing by as the counties continue to impose undue burdens on local farmers.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie should seek advice from the attorney general now on the state's options, and release that advice to lawmakers and to the public, so that all can see the state government is acting within its authority.

It's important to set a strong, fact-based, transparent tone on this issue from the outset of the upcoming legislative session.

For months now, Hawaii's small, local farmers have been caught in the crossfire of an issue that conflates legitimate concerns about the global dominance of Big Ag and environmental concerns about pesticide use with fear-mongering GMO disinformation that demonizes farmers and ranchers who defend the careful use of biotechnology and stigmatizes the products they produce.

It's time for elected officials and policymakers throughout the state to stand up and be counted. Let's have an "Eat GMO Papaya Day." This food is safe, it's affordable and it's grown right here at home.

Destroying a safe, legal industry that creates local jobs and feeds local families should not be on any politician's to-do list.

Also: Star-Adv Reprints Hot NYT Article deconstructing Hawaii Anti-GMO Lies 

read ... State must take lead in GMO debate

Kauai County: We Will Seek Pro-Bono Shysters from Mainland Anti-GMO Groups

KGI: In a statement Saturday, Carvalho said the county has been told repeatedly that it would face a legal challenge.

“Once we have been officially served, we will be soliciting pro-bono legal services in accordance with State procurement law,” he wrote.

“It will be our intent to complete that process as quickly as possible, while insuring that the County retains the most qualified special counsel available in this matter. Our ability to move forward on implementation of the various components of Ordinance 960 will be dependent on the court’s ruling relative to the requested injunction.”

In the meantime, Carvalho said the county has been assured that the Good Neighbor Program that has been put into place via a voluntary agreement between the State Department of Agriculture and the four seed companies currently operating on Kauai will continue without interruption.

The voluntary program went into effect Dec. 1 and calls for the same companies to disclose their use of restricted use pesticides and implement buffer zones. But bill proponents have said the state program is insufficient and does not actually require the companies to do anything.

Syngenta and Dow released identical statements Saturday regarding the 69-page complaint. 

“The ordinance is invalid,” they said. “It arbitrarily targets our industry with burdensome and baseless restrictions on farming operations by attempting to regulate activities over which counties in Hawaii have no jurisdiction. These activities are already regulated by governmental agencies under state and federal laws.”

In October, attorneys with Earthjustice and the Center for Food Safety vowed to defend the county law in court if necessary. Both stood by their offers Saturday.

“Kauai’s ordinance is a sound and well-crafted law,” George Kimbrell, a senior attorney with the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement. “The industry’s challenge is without merit, and we will vigorously defend it.” (LINK: Kimbrell debunked)

Paul Achitoff, managing attorney for Earthjustice, said he is also looking forward to defending Kauai and is “confident justice will prevail.”

Background: The Other Shoe Drops: Kauai Anti-GMO Ordinance Challenged In Federal Court

read ... Supporters of Kauai’s GMO, Pesticides Law React to Biotech Lawsuit

Resolving minimum wage tops lawmakers' priority list

Borreca: Negotiations to raise the $7.25-an-hour minimum wage to $9 or more buckled last year over how much to expand the 25-cent tip credit, the amount businesses can pay below the minimum wage to waiters, valets and other workers whose income is supplemented by tips....

Last year, House negotiators had recommended expanding the tip credit to 35 cents an hour, while the Senate had sought to bring it to $2, which was unacceptable to labor interests.

Senate President Donna Mercado Kim (D, Kalihi Valley-Moanalua-Halawa) says a compromise is possible.

"I think cooler heads have met — and prevailed — and I'm very hopeful," she said.

Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom (R, Diamond Head-Kahala-Hawaii Kai) and other Republicans — and possibly some conservative Demo­crats — will argue against an increase or, if it looks inevitable, call for a significantly higher tip credit. Slom said the minimum wage is an entry-level training wage.

"It continues to be our position that this further harms our business climate and actually destroys jobs, rather than creates opportunities," he said....

Emotionally drained from the special session on gay marriage late last year, many lawmakers have no real appetite for political drama on issues such as gambling, physician-assisted suicide or legalizing marijuana, especially in an election year. Privately, many would also like to avoid internal leadership fights until after the elections, when both the House and Senate will likely make leadership changes....

Related: Flawed Minimum Wage Hike Advocacy Will Cost Hawaii's Poorest Workers $7M this Year

read ... Legislative Agenda

Counties Push Massive GE Tax Hike

KGI: A bill being submitted by the Hawaii State Association of Counties and Hawaii State Association of Mayors seeks to allow the counties to establish a county surcharge on the state tax, i.e., increase the current General Excise Tax at 4.167 per cent to an additional increase between one-half per cent to one per cent. This is a result of the cap placed on the Transient Accommodations Tax which each county receives. The cap was instituted due to the economic downturn. As the economy improves and more services are needed by visitors and residents, the cap results in less funds available to support public services provided by the county. To make up for the loss, the increase in the GET will permit each county to have the ability to levy the additional tax increase.

The Kauai Business Council’s legislative wish list and member organizations’ top priorities range from Capital Improvement Projects such as public restroom facilities in Hanapepe town, to road and traffic improvements and to allowing video testimony in court cases for thefts against tourists who do not live in Hawaii. Also, new programs to address the rapidly growing use of illegal drugs, continued efforts in economic and workforce development for a returning and expanding economy, funding to support the maintenance and upkeep of parks, trails, facilities (both county and state) to enforcement of regulations at parks, enforcement of illegal vending and camping and destruction of property. Water safety and education were also outlined as other important priories as well as the support and perpetuation of the Hawaiian culture.

WHT: Big Isle lawmakers outline priorities

read ... Tax Hike

HECO Gaming the Oil Market more than doubles Hawaii soldiers' bills

AT: Hundreds of soldiers in Hawaii are facing a 123 percent rate hike in their electric bills — an increase brought on by the Navy’s failure to properly estimate the cost of energy.

The rate hike began this fiscal year and affects about 4,300 service members and their families living in Navy privatized housing around Pearl Harbor. This includes about 400 soldiers....

Over the past six years, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii vastly underestimated the cost of electricity, incurring operating losses of about $200 million. It was determined by Navy higher-ups in Washington that Hawaii had to recoup those losses in a single year, fiscal 2014, and Defense Department policy offers the Navy no alternative to a rate increase.

Residents, meanwhile, are taking drastic measures to reduce energy costs. Some families are living in the dark, unplugging everything in the house, throwing their breakers — one has even boiled water to do the dishes....

The Navy buys power from the Hawaiian Electric Co., which operates its power plants using oil. The cost of electricity is directly related to the cost of oil, purchased through the Asia market.

The Navy estimates electricity costs and adjusts its rate structure every two years. From 2007 to 2012, the Navy underestimated that rate. Fluctuating oil prices, increased demand from china and Japan’s earthquake and tsunami all contributed to the problem.

One resident said, despite her best efforts to conserve, she’s getting bills between $150 and $400....

As Explained: To Stampede Legislature, HECO Trumpets High Rates

read ... HECO's Bad Faith, not the Navy's Bad Estimate

Under a plan, Molokai would rely completely on renewable energy-- Cost Unknown

SA: Taber said the project would cut energy costs for ratepayers, but he would not say by how much.

The residential rate for electricity on Molokai was 47.5 cents a kilowatt-hour in November, the second highest of any island in the state after Lanai at 47.7 cents a kilowatt-hour, according to data from the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism....

Members of I Aloha Molokai, a community group that successfully opposed plans to build a utility-scale wind energy project on Molokai, said it was reserving judgment on Princeton Energy's proposal until more questions could be answered.

One concern is that the proposed project not diminish the ability of Molokai residents to put up their own rooftop PV systems, said Kanohowailuku Helm, I Aloha Molokai president.

He said the group also wants assurances from Maui Electric Co. that the project would bring down electrical rates on Molokai.

"If Princeton is selling the electricity to MECO for, say, 20 cents a kilowatt-hour, what does MECO want to charge us? That's a big factor," Helm said. "What's missing is how much will this bring our bills down," he said.

Princeton Energy Group is largely a wind developer but has done some solar and energy efficiency projects, Taber said. Some of Princeton's larger undertakings include a 12-megawatt wind project in Turkey and a 67-megawatt wind project in Mexico that included work done by a Princeton affiliate.

Princeton's plans for Molokai call for a 17-megawatt solar farm on 80 acres near the Manila Camp area.

The second major piece of the project would be a hydroelectric generation system using water from a Molokai Ranch reservoir in the mountains above Kaunakakai. Princeton would build a second reservoir downslope and allow the flow of water from the upper to the lower reservoir to turn a turbine. Excess electricity from the solar farm during the day would be used to pump the water back uphill.

read ... Cost?

Undersea Cables: The Return of the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement

IM: On January 10, 2014 the Hawaii Energy Policy Forum (HEPF) held a Legislative Briefing at the State Capitol. Almost 200 people attended.

The Hawaii Energy Policy Forum is a group founded by HECO, housed at the University of Hawaii, and populated by federal, state and county legislators, agencies, trade groups, utilities, refineries, energy companies, consultants and a few community groups.

The Draft Hawai'i Clean Energy Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be published in March 2014 according to the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) Fact Sheet provided at the meeting.

Perhaps by coincidence, the Maui Arts & Cultural Center will host the “Electric Utility of the Future Conference” at the end of March....

The Programmatic EIS is designed to guide future U.S. Department of Energy funding for all aspects of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI) including inter-island connectivity, undersea cables, Big Wind, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), hydrogen, geothermal, electric vehicles and fuel cells.

The publishing of the Draft Programmatic EIS will kick off public hearings and a public comment period.  The Barrel Tax provided the $1.7 million needed of the study....

HNEI hired FACTS Global Energy (FGE) to study Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). 

FGE asserts that “our Mission is to deliver the best strategic advice available on the oil and gas market to a select and prestigious group of clients.” The Report was released in January 2013. (Civil Beat’s Sophie Cocke wrote about the Report)

read ... Undersea Cables

Starting anew by taking the words out of my mouth

Shapiro: For Sen. Clayton Hee: "He is a self-made man and worships his creator." — John Bright

For state Rep. Bob McDermott: "A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject." — Winston Churchill

For U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz: "Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do." — Isaac Asimov

For U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: "I'm not conceited. Conceit is a fault, and I have no faults." — David Lee Roth

read ... Starting anew

Phonies Cry About Sea Level Rise, Say Nothing About Rail, Kakaako

KGI: We can’t really have one policy that applies to all (islands),” he said. “However, I’m really glad you’re coming over and talking to everybody on Kauai because we’ve got Honolulu to scare the crap out of us, right?”

Unlike Oahu, Kauai is at an advantage by its lack of development, according to Blay.

“We have kind of a chance to get ahead of the curve by not getting to that point,” he said. “We can adjust better here. So it’s really helpful for us, our policy makers, to see what could happen.”

Reder walked the audience through NOAA’s Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer, showing what would happen if sea levels rose between 1 and 6 feet in places like Hanalei, Lihue and Honolulu.... 

“The bottom line is there’s not any single number that everybody agrees on for sea level rise,” he said, adding that a “conservative middle point” is somewhere around 3 feet by 2100.  (Inundating the ground below how many rail stations?)

To date, there is no state mandate in Hawaii that requires planners to consider sea level rise. Instead, Eversole said state law says that all state and county agencies “shall consider climate change” in their plans and policies.

While encouraging, he maintains nobody knows what that means. (It means the Obama Library will be soaked.)

(Meanwhile, Kakaako is being built up.  And nobody says anything about this screaming contradiction because none of these clowns actually believe any of this stuff.)

read ... Phonies Faking it

Star-Adv Runs Another Sales Pitch for Pre-K

SA: Recent national research (designed to arrive at the pre-determined conclusion) suggests that Gov. Neil Abercrombie's scaled-back, dual approach to early learning — focused on getting the neediest kids into a variety of public and private programs — fuels the best educational outcomes for disadvantaged children and offers taxpayers a stronger return on their investment.

Rebuffed last session in his nearly $30 million "preschool for all" initiative, the governor is pushing ahead this legislative session with a hybrid plan that seeks a total of about $8 million to subsidize enrollment in private early-learning centers, establish a total of 32 preschool classes at 30 public schools statewide and fund programs designed to improve low-income parents' interactions with their children. All of the outreach would be targeted at lower-income children, and is pending budgetary approval from state lawmakers.

Although the combined programs would not serve all 5,100 4-year-olds who will be displaced by the termination of the state Department of Education's junior kindergarten program this fall, much less all 17,200 children that age in the state, the focus on bringing needy kids into both private and public programs "is a very good way to start. It's economically and educationally sound," said Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, an economist at Northwestern University's Institute for Policy Research and co-author of "The Impacts of Expanding Access to High-Quality Preschool Education."

Best Comment: "I nominate this sophomoric piece of naive drivel for Puff Piece of the Year. Does anyone with an IQ above room temperature believe any of this nonsense?"

Reality: Abercrombie 'School Readiness' Plan Based on Proven Failure

read ... Pre-K Sales Pitch

City Confiscations of Junk from Homeless Who Refuse Shelter Drop from 11 Tons to 3 Tons / week

SA: Usually around 6 a.m., as the sun rises, the trucks and vehicles gather on Ilalo Street as city Department of Facility Maintenance staff prepare to scatter the makeshift community of families and chronic homeless who live in camps there. Word travels fast of the looming sweep, and campers — now used to the drill — quickly pack their belongings so the city won't confiscate them.

"We just hide in the park or hang out and wait and then come back again," Martin, 48, said Wednesday....

"We're trying (not) to get off the streets but the sweeps make it hard (to refuse shelter)," said Martin, who said (claims) he lost his job after suffering a heart attack in May and that the family later was evicted (some people actually believe these stories). "It's hard to go look for your job (or fix). Sweeps basically affect everyone. It paralyzes us. We don't know when it's coming."  (And yet, he still refuses to go to a shelter.) ....

"I don't think they have enough resources to enforce it to have the impact it should," said Connie Mitchell, executive director of the Institute for Human Services. "I know it's very costly, but if you go to any other city this just wouldn't be allowed. There hasn't been the ability to enforce it in a way that is consistent enough. But they're starting to make more of a dent." ....

Two of IHS' shelters — one for women and one for families — are currently full to capacity, Mitchell said. The women's shelter sees new spots become available daily, but there's a two-week waiting list at the family shelter, she added.  (But other shelters are wide open.  Don't be fooled by what they don't mention.)

When the actions were first conducted in early 2013, the city collected about 11 tons of items a week, Caldwell said. That's now down to three tons a week, he said. "If we didn't do this, on average three times a week, how many more tons would be on our sidewalks every week?"

(If there is a shortage, build more shelters now.  Allow no excuses for the bums and addicts.)

read ... More Pressure Needed to Force them into Shelters

Child Molestation Leads to Prostitution

SA: Her hanai father began sexually exploiting her when she was 4, she says, and the abuse continued until she reported it when she was 13. Authorities placed her in a foster home, where she was introduced to drugs, alcohol and partying.

She made her way to Waikiki one day and was scooped up by a pimp who put her on a plane headed for Alaska.

In Alaska, Bitanga worked at a massage parlor for a few months, servicing five to 10 men a day, she said. She got brave and befriended a pimp who helped her get back to Hawaii because her old pimp was on the run after allegedly shooting another pimp for stealing one of his girls.

"It's not a thing where, ‘Oh, there's no crime and there's just such a happy life and everything is all grand,'" Bitanga explained to a group of public officials, concerned community members and volunteers gathered at Mililani Hongwanji on Saturday for a human trafficking awareness forum.

Once back in Hawaii, Bitanga returned to Waikiki before ending up back in the foster system. She graduated from high school pregnant and worked in nightclubs to support her daughter.

Eventually she landed a job as a receptionist for a local lawyer but continued to live a double life.

"Thankfully I have been restored, I have been healed," she said.

read ... About How people are 'Turned'

UH Perfesser: We're too Hard on Criminals, Need to be Harder on Prosecutors

SA: In the ongoing federal trial of six persons accused of trafficking methamphetamines, U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Kobayashi recently ruled that despite Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Loo's repeated failures to disclose evidence to the defense that he was legally and ethically obligated to disclose, she will not dismiss the case against the defendants.

Kobayashi's remedy for this serious prosecutor misconduct amounts to little more than a soft slap on the wrist. She is allowing a few witnesses to be recalled and the jury to be told about the prosecutor's misconduct, and she is referring Loo to the Department of Justice's office of professional responsibility which, truth be told, seldom does anything to hold wayward prosecutors accountable....

This is why the failure of Judge Kobayashi and her colleagues on benches around the country is so troubling. Only judges can put a stop to rampant prosecutorial misconduct. Turning blind eyes and slapping wrists only allow the problem to worsen.

read ... Soft on Crime, Squared

Caregivers Underpaid, to Form Union

SA: They have being ignored and left out for years. While other groups had pay raises, the pay of caregivers has been stagnant....

There are numerous labor organizations in Hawaii. Some of these unionized groups have fewer numbers than the caregiving industry. Sources from the Department of Human Services and the Department of Health show that there are about 1,500 licensed and highly trained caregivers in Hawaii. Most of them are licensed registered nurses and certified nurses' aides. Some are Philippines-trained doctors who, sadly, do not meet the requirements to practice their trade in Hawaii.

If the only way to prevent them from being left out and ignored is to form their own bargaining unit, so be it. With the help of some concerned and kind lawyers who are willing to give pro bono services to this thriving caregiving industry, uniting the caregivers can make a seemingly impossible dream a reality. They know there are challenges and problems to overcome. But with tenacity, hard work, perseverance and clear resolve, they can prevail. Other groups did. Caregivers are aware that self-confidence is a must — a key to success.

read ... Union

In Tonga Cyclone Ian causes devastation and death

ETN: The Kingdom of Tonga in South Pacific was directly hit by Cyclone Ian early Saturday, with gusts of up to 287 kilometers per hour. Officials said damage caused by the category five storm was quite substantial. The number of one confirmed death could rise significantly .

One person died on LIfuka as Tropical Cyclone Ian Category 5 ripped through the Ha‘apai Islands yesterday afternoon, causing extensive devastation, although the full extent of the impact on the low lying islands is unknown after Tonga's first recorded Category 5 cyclone. It's not known if any tourists are among possible victims....

Sione Taumoefolau head of the Tonga Red Cross said early this morning that because of a lack of communications around midday yesterday, the extent of the devastation was not immediately clear to the NEMO meeting that was held with donor partners who were offering surveillance aircraft and support services, which were on standby yesterday. He understood that the government was trying to accept that now.

The cyclone was hitting Ha‘apai at the time and the communications networks went down.

Sione is now communicating by satellite phone to the Red Cross in Ha‘apai.

He said from what has been reported he believes that the main island of Lifuka was devastated, and there was one death there.

The Governor of Ha‘apai from his office at Pangai reported that he could see from one side of the island to the liku on the others side of the island “and that's how devastated it is.”

He believed the main islands of the area Ha‘ano Lifuka and Foa are all devastated....

read ... Tonga

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