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Sunday, January 16, 2011
January 16, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:59 PM :: 17933 Views

March for Life planned for Honolulu, Hilo

Prayer: Will Hawaii Senators surrender to ACLU?

Abercrombie, Legislators scheme to divert capital improvement money to General Fund

Honolulu Grand Jury charges two more in human trafficking case

Tucson Shooting: Progressive activist who blamed Palin flips out, held for psychiatric evaluation

Comprehensive List of Tax Hikes in Obamacare

Atheist praises Nestor Garcia for replacing pastors and rabbis with secular Demi-Gods

The Honolulu City Council, under the leadership of Chairman Nestor Garcia, provides a template. The Council no longer begins its regular meetings with an invocation.  (compromise, eh?) Instead, it provides a moment for any brief statement that does not run afoul of the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

The Council's "Message of Aloha" is not limited to invocations seeking "divine guidance" but is instead open to any inspirational or motivating expression. Recent speakers have included various Council members, a University of Hawaii baseball coach and the president of the Hawaiian Humane Society…. 

For example, common phrases such as "In the Name of Jesus" or "Our Heavenly Father," which are decidedly Christian in meaning and origin, have been deemed inappropriate.  (By whom?) In fact, any speech that could be offensive to members of the community at large is rightly prohibited under the new rule.  (Unless it is offensive to believers, then it is mandatory) All invited speakers, religious or otherwise, are advised in writing that constitutional limits must be respected in exchange for the privilege of using this government-sanctioned forum.

The Council's rule represents a fair compromise….  (ie you surrender and worship at MY altar)

Are you going to let one atheist get away whit this? Prayer: Will Hawaii Senators surrender to ACLU?


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NCTQ: Only the Legislature can stop HSTA from sabotaging RTTT

a national teacher quality group is expressing skepticism that the HSTA and DOE can agree to widespread changes to teacher evaluations, without a law or regulation mandating the change….

Because of strong opposition from the HSTA, drug testing for teachers never got off the ground, though it was included in the last contract that the union signed. Money was never appropriated for testing, and the program is postponed indefinitely.

Wil Okabe, HSTA president, said the teacher evaluations issue isn't like drug testing. This time, he said, "we are all focused on the same goals." (Who could possibly be stupid enough to believe him?)

Some national voices have raised doubts about whether Hawaii can make good on its big promises for Race to the Top, and questioned whether the application was overly ambitious.

Sandi Jacobs, vice president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, said the DOE's evaluation proposal "said a lot of the right things, but also made us nervous in some respects." Chiefly, she said, there is no law requiring the changes.

That means, she said, "there's nothing underpinning it."

There are also a slew of details — too many, in the council's opinion — that need to be hammered out in collective bargaining. "The lack of an underlying framework concerned us especially since so much of it had to be hashed out in this agreement with the union," Jacobs said, adding that Hawaii does have the advantage of a single, statewide school district.

LINK: http://www.nctq.org/p/states/?state=HI

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Civil unions and budget top Hawaii Democrats' list

The nation's most politically lopsided Legislature convenes this week with majority Democrats aiming to pass same-sex civil unions, climb out of a financial hole and consider costly new programs.

Democrats control all but nine of 76 legislative seats and have a strong ally in new Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie, leading lawmakers to believe they'll have free reign when the Legislature starts its annual session Wednesday after eight years under a Republican governor….

Lawmakers are quick to say that the economy is their top priority, but they'll likely deal with civil unions grab the chance to further undermine the nuclear family first. A civil unions bill passed the Legislature last year but was vetoed by former Gov. Linda Lingle. Abercrombie has said he would sign it into law.

"I'm optimistic. ... We can finally eliminate some discrimination, " said House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro, D-Aiea-Halawa, the sponsor of last year's civil unions bill. "But there's a long road ahead until that day arrives."

Gay rights advocates said they're closer than ever to getting civil unions approved.

"There definitely seems to be a sense that it's going to happen," said Josh Frost, legislative committee chair for Equality Hawaii, as he walked door-to-door to lawmakers' Capitol offices.

SA: Lawmakers should not postpone civil unions for another year

Abercrombie’s core supporters will be thrilled:

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Vituperative Abercrombie suddenly quiet on state’s budget mess

HONOLULU - Neil Abercrombie stressed during last year's gubernatorial campaign that decades of political experience left him ready to hit the ground running.

But the ground has shifted conspicuously since the Democrat took office last month.  (No, Abercrombie’s 20 years of experience mostly amounts to him being Chira of the House Gym Committee.  The ground has not shifted, but his innate incompetence has been exposed.)

Abercrombie discovered that state finances are in worse shape than thought. (That’s such an old worn out line.)

State Republican Party Chairman Jonah Kaauwai put it more bluntly: "What happened to 'ready on day one'? Now we have to wait 'till mid-March for a budget?"

Dela Cruz called comments like Kaauwai's unfair… 

(Yeah right “Just because it was OK for us to say that on the campaign trail doesn’t mean it is OK for Kaauwai to make us eat our own words.  We’re Enlightened, Conscious, and Progressive.  Godlike almost.  No need for us to be consistent.  As Gods, whatever we say is divine—even if it contradicts our earlier divine pronouncements.”)

What happens when Abercrombie opens his mouth: WaPo: Abercrombie “taking the pole position of political surrealism”, Abercrombie’s Birther War named in top ten Flubs of the Year, Hartford Courant: Who’s Abercrombie kidding?, HuffPo: Abercrombie on a fool’s errand, USA Today: Neil Abercrombie, the friend you don’t need

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Borreca: Inouye got three fireplaces, he will get us our pork

In terms of political muscle, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee is not someone to trifle with. According to one congressional insider, there are five working fireplaces in the U.S. Capitol and Inouye's fleet of Capitol offices are the location of three of the five.

Inouye's earmarks contained in the spending bill that failed would have steered $27.5 million in defense spending to the University of Hawaii, $10 million to Oceanit for a system to track space satellites and millions more to projects at Pearl Harbor.

All totaled, Hawaii was Inouye cronies were in line to get $321 million in that omnibus spending bill. Inouye was asked what happens now.

Is there a new congressional order? Have Inouye's 141 earmarks evaporated?  (Were all those campaign contributions for naught?)

"As far as I am concerned, I am going to do my best to undo that," Inouye said.

"I will do my best," Inouye repeated, adding "as chairman of the Appropriations Committee."

REALITY: 650% return on Inouye: $1.9M in contributions, $1.25B in earmarks, Inouye becomes useless? House, Senate Republicans place moratorium on Earmarks

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Geothermal: Act 221 scammers and Sovereignty Perfessers team up to line OHA’s pockets

Puna Geothermal Venture is now producing 30MW and will soon be able to go to 38MW, but given its potential against wind and PV, that's small and a small fraction of its capacity. Are we limiting it because we don't want to keep all our renewables in one basket? Is it because we want to keep the peace among competing developers? Or is it because the protest of the 1990's isn't over?

Those who fought again geothermal in the 1990s seem to have had a change of heart. Attorney Mililani Trask and her colleague Robbie Cabral would like to see the Hawaiian community get a benefits package from geothermal, like the model that has been developed to satisfy cultural concerns in New Zealand.

Richard Ha, a sustainability farmer in Hamakua, is on board. He wants to put lots more emphasis on geothermal. Ha is also part of the group led by former DBEDT energy administrator Ted Peck that would like to acquire HECO. Their plan, long on geothermal, has been met with skepticism, but that's based on concerns about the group's viability rather than the viability of geothermal.

SA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs reflects and regroups after the federal sovereignty bill fails  (Hmmm how can we make a buck…hmmmmm….)

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Sierra Club, OHA’s NHLC team up to stop DHHL from building houses for Hawaiians

It was exactly the practice of relying on income provided by leases to non-Hawaiian corporations that prompted the 1978 amendment, according to Con Con minutes cited by the plaintiffs….

The appeals court agreed with plaintiffs that the record of the 1978 Constitutional Convention provides numerous standards that can be applied to determine whether a particular level of funding is “sufficient.”

The decision sends the case back to the Circuit Court for further proceedings to determine whether actual funding levels are “sufficient” to meet the suggested standards.

RULING: http://www.courts.state.hi.us/docs/opin_ord/ica/2011/jan/ica30110.pdf

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Serving the Corporatist State: “Radical” Aila overules Oahu Burial Council

The state has approved the city's plan on how it will address archaeological and historical finds, including ancient burials, along the route of the rail project, the interim state land director said yesterday.

William Aila, interim director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, said he signed off on the rail project's "programmatic agreement" last week.

"The programmatic agreement provides us a process to protect historic properties and respectfully address any burials that may be found along the route of Honolulu's rail project," Aila said in an interview.

Aila's signature allows the $5.5 billion transit project to clear another permitting hurdle. The agreement also needs approval of the Federal Transit Administration, the National Park Service, the Navy and the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Aila, who is also interim state historic preservation officer, approved the city's plan to conduct its archaeological survey in phases. The Oahu Island Burial Council last year pushed for surveying the entire route before construction would be allowed to begin.

TOTALLY RELATED: Abercrombie, Legislators scheme to divert capital improvement money to General Fund

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Video: Canonization for Hawaii’s Mother Marianne Cope

HNN: As we await canonization for Hawaii's Mother Marianne, Honolulu Bishop Larry Silva has joined us today in studio to discuss the process.

RELATED: Secular Humanists push back against St Damien,

watch interview

Free VA Workshop for Nonprofits to Benefit from Two Federal Grant Programs Aimed at Ending Veteran Homelessness

HONOLULU – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will host a grant-writing workshop for two federal programs to help local nonprofit organizations and consumer cooperatives that offer services to low-income Veterans and their families.

This free workshop will be held Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 1 p.m., at Central Union Church, 1660 S. Beretania St.   Hawaii-based nonprofits will have a unique opportunity to obtain advice and feedback on the federal grant application process.

“The problems that lead to homelessness begin long before Veterans and their families are on the streets,” said VA Assistant Secretary L. Tammy Duckworth, a Hawaii native.  “By putting more resources into local intervention programs for people at risk of becoming homeless, we can help to turn their lives around.  This workshop helps non-profits working directly with Hawaii’s homeless Veterans.”

RELATED: Abercrombie caught lying about federal VA funds

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Attorney General's office works through budget problems

Attorney General David Louie during his first official day on the job says they have more than two-dozen vacancies in the department and about 600 backlogged default child support orders.

"And that's just the challenge that we've had to work with and our deputies who are very dedicated are working with," Louie said.

Louie says 90-percent of their budget pays for workers who also provide services to other state departments.

A proposal soon to be submitted to lawmakers is aimed at bringing in money to the to help fill positions, stabilize operations and offer an incentive.

"That we be allowed possibly to obtain some of the funds that we collect," Louie said.

Right now when the state receives a settlement the money is paid to other agencies or given back to the general fund.

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Mortgage fraud boosts isle foreclosures

Last year, lenders began the foreclosure process or completed it on a record 12,425 Hawaii properties, according to the latest data released this week from California-based research firm RealtyTrac. Some of these were related to fallout from the rampant mortgage fraud that took place from 2004 to 2007 during Hawaii's housing boom, said FBI Special Agent Tom Simon of Honolulu's field office.

While mortgage fraud has existed since loans became available, it exploded during this period, Simon said.

"In the past it was always up to the borrower to romance the lender into giving them a loan," he said. "This era turned the dynamic on its head. When lenders and sellers began to push buyers, it was a recipe for disaster on a fraud level and a national economic level."

The FBI's Honolulu office has charged 37 people with various crimes related to mortgage fraud over the last three years, Simon said. More charges are expected to be filed in 2011 as a five-year statute of limitations for cases involving nonfederally insured financial institutions nears, he said.

"We've only gotten to the tip of the iceberg," he said.

RELATED: Maui Victims of Sovereignty Mortgage Scammers may lose home, FBI raids alleged sovereignty mortgage scammers, Naming names: Who are the alleged Sovereignty-mortgage scammers?

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Paper bags proliferate as tree huggers become tree choppers

Some supermarkets in Maui and Kauai counties are hoping more customers will get into the habit of bringing reusable bags, as stores and shoppers experienced the first week of the new ban on plastic shopping bags.

For now, many retailers are absorbing the higher cost of providing paper bags.

"Paper bags are more expensive. It's three or four times more (than plastic)," said Rod Sueoka, manager of Sueoka Store on Kauai….

Retailers have heard a number of customers say they miss the plastic bags because they would reuse them to line small trash containers in their bathrooms or to pick up after their dogs during walks.

RELATED: 'Great Garbage Patch' Not So Great After All, Calif. EIS shows plastic bag ban harms environment

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Piles Of Medical Waste Continue To Wash Onshore

Environmental watchdog Carroll Cox raked through broken coral in a cove just west of the Ko Olina Resort.

Within an hour, Cox exposed a pile of medical waste, discharged from the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill.

“I found blood vials. I found samples that appear to be urine or other body fluids still sealed. I found syringes, as we see there laying right here on the edge of the water,” Cox pointed out.

The city said it could not have prevented the landfill's massive waste release instead blaming it on the record setting rain. Officials also said the medical waste is sterilized.

SA: More medical waste at ocean's edge

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Honolulu Pacifists, Maoists team to recruit kids to : “F*** the USA”

Ann Wright, a former United States Army colonel and retired official of the State Department, spoke about her recent work in Afghanistan though Voices for Creative Nonviolence, as well as her activism in Gaza, at the Honolulu Friends Meeting House on Monday January 10. The forum was free, and sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee Hawaii Peace and Justice.

Last month, an anonymous group named Gaza Youth Breaks Out issued a manifesto (see it on their Facebook page in the “notes” section)that was later published in the U.K. Guardian, which called it “an extraordinary, impassioned cyberscream.”

The manifesto begins with a “F*** everyone,” goes on to detail the innumerable miseries of the occupation, and ends with a seemingly basic request:“We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask?”

You might ask yourself, what can you do? Wright recommends contacting these groups directly. Get involved. Show Hawaii is listening. Have extra time or money? Help Wright fundraise for the The Audacity of Hope or sail to Gaza with them (applications due January 15).

Honolulu AFSC beloved GAZAN YOUTH’S MANIFESTO FOR CHANGE:  “Fuck Israel. Fuck Hamas. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA!”  (Yes but will they wear a condom?)

TOTALLY RELATED: On the trail to Hawaii Islam Day: Saudi money, Libyan assassins, Palestinian Jihad, London bombers, Malaysian sodomy, and laughing Islamists

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