Two Realities

SUBHEAD:Horrible consequences from past growth are inevitable, but how bad, to a degree, is up to us.

By Richard Heinberg on 22 July 2014 for Resilience -
(http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-07-22/two-realities)


Image above: Two paths in the woods. From original article.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
–Robert Frost

Our contemporary world is host to two coexisting but fundamentally different—and, in at least one crucial respect, contradictory—realities. One of these might be termed Political Reality, though it extends far beyond formal politics and pervades conventional economic thinking. It is the bounded universe of what is acceptable in public economic-social-political discourse. The other is Physical Reality: i.e., what exists in terms of energy and materials, and what is possible given the laws of thermodynamics.

For decades these two realities have developed along separate lines. They overlap from time to time: politicians and economists use data tied to measureable physical parameters, while physical scientists often frame their research and findings in socially meaningful ways. But in intent and effect, they diverge to an ever-greater extent.

The issue at which they differ to the point of outright contradiction is economic growth. And climate change forces the question.


The voice of political reality tells us that economic growth is necessary. We need it for job creation; we need it to enable poor people to become wealthier, to maintain technological progress, to provide returns on investments, and to increase tax revenues so as to make essential government services available. Growth is even required to address environmental problems: after all, we need ever more money to fund disaster relief and renewable energy transition efforts. Only by growing the economy now can we become wealthy enough to afford to fix the problems created by past growth. Meanwhile population growth must continue because it is an essential component of GDP growth.

Within the realm of political reality, anybody who questions the importance of growth is not to be taken seriously. Such a person is obviously not a humanitarian, nor a responsible participant in mainstream political and economic discussions.

It wasn’t always this way: as I’ve explained in my book The End of Growth, and in a brief essay on the history of consumerism, economies tended to grow slowly or not at all prior to the fossil-fueled industrial revolution. Cheap, concentrated energy enabled industrial expansion and overproduction, which in turn laid the groundwork for consumerism, globalization, and financialization. Economies and governments came to expect high rates of growth, and to rely on them to fulfill increasingly extravagant promises.

The result has been—I’m choosing my words carefully—the gradual accretion of a set of widely shared assumptions that constitute a bounded ideational realm with rigidly consistent internal rules. Deviate from these rules, and there are predictable consequences. When any public person (writer, economist, scientist, whatever) demonstrates a disconnection from political reality by questioning the desirability or possibility of continued growth, the minders of the mainstream media turn their attention elsewhere.

How different physical reality is. Simple arithmetic shows that growth in population and consumption cannot continue indefinitely. In his book The No-Growth Imperative, Gabor Zovanyi offers an illustration: “If our species had started with just two people at the time of the earliest agricultural practices some 10,000 years ago, and increased by 1 percent per year, today humanity would be a solid ball of flesh many thousand light years in diameter, and expanding with a radial velocity that, neglecting relativity, would be many times faster than the speed of light.” Today’s global population growth rate of 1.1 percent per year is obviously unsustainable over any significant time frame. Growth in consumption levels faces similar practical limits.

Of course, long before we become a solid ball of flesh expanding at light speed while consuming galaxies of raw materials at a gulp, we will arrive at a point where the costs of further growth outweigh any real benefits. Those costs are likely to make themselves known in the forms of rising commodities prices, pollution dilemmas, biodiversity loss, crashing economies, declining real standards of living, and rising levels of conflict as nations and social factions fight over scraps.

Plenty of intelligent people whose first allegiance is to physical reality believe we are near or at that point now.

Some on both sides of the reality divide offer to compromise. If you’re an environmentalist and want to be taken seriously by politicians and economists, you propose ways to expand the economy with more environmentally responsible practices under the banner of “green growth.” If you’re an economist, politician, government bureaucrat, or business executive and you want to be taken seriously by environmentalists, you propose ways to solve environmental problems without sacrificing growth, such as by creating limited pollution regulations, promoting “green” products, or subsidizing renewable energy. Such projects and proposals help address some of the metastasizing crises resulting from humanity’s still-expanding population and rates of consumption, but so far they haven’t succeeded in changing worrisome consequence trends (warming climate, declining ore grades, depleting fossil fuels, disappearing biodiversity) or resolving the fundamental contradiction between the two realities.

Meanwhile many intellectuals mired in political realism reinforce the divide by arguing that physical limits are unimportant or nonexistent due to the promise of future (theoretical) technologies, resource substitution, efficiency, “dematerialization,” or “ephemeralization.” The late economist Julian Simon made a career of this, and his most famous follower, Bjørn Lomborg, proudly maintains the tradition. Physical realists refute such arguments as quickly as they are made, but that news doesn’t travel far in the world of political realism.

And so the disconnect continues and worsens.

Climate change has the potential to force the issue. To be sure, political realists work overtime to assure one and all that the world can reduce carbon emissions at a minimal cost, or even at a profit. (A recent example: The IPCC has released a report saying that the world can manage the climate crisis at a cost of “an annualized reduction of consumption growth by 0.04 to 0.14 … percentage points over the century.”) But they do this by deliberately underestimating costs, ignoring differences in energy quality, and overestimating the potential of alternatives to replace oil in the crucial transport and agriculture sectors. (The IPCC report just referenced does all these things.)

Climatologist Kevin Anderson of University of East Anglia’s Tyndall Centre concludes that, if we are to reduce carbon emissions as significantly and as quickly as needed, the economy will have to contract. Anderson estimates that industrial nations must cut emissions by 10 percent per year to avert catastrophe, and figures that such rapid reduction would be, in his words, “incompatible with economic growth.” Significantly, George Monbiot—a prominent voice in the world of climate change journalism—has adopted essentially the same view.

Given the dire planetary outcomes now looming, policy makers are increasingly committing themselves to doing something serious about climate change. If they do, the irresistible force and the immovable object will meet head-on. If they don’t, it will be because world leaders value political realism more highly than physical survival.

How to reconcile these two realities? This is one of the central problems of our time—and one of the least discussed.

Clearly, we’ve got to get past predictable cynical responses, with physical realists shouting “You’re driving us toward planetary catastrophe!” while political realists respond with, “You want to take us back to the Dark Ages!” That standoff accomplishes little.

Does this mean we should split the difference? In a word, No. In the contest between physical and political realities, it is political reality that must yield. Attempts to meet somewhere in the middle amount simply to reducing delusional thinking from absurd, world-annihilating levels to pathetic, self-immobilizing levels.

Our only hope of minimizing human suffering and wholesale ecosystem mayhem this century lies in coming to grips with the very limits that political realists spend their time seeking to hide and ignore. Their successful efforts at managing the public’s perceptions and beliefs have imperiled everything worth caring about. Soon the misled mass of humanity will be grappling with consequences of attitudes and actions that were insane from the get-go, yet cheered, rationalized, and normalized by nearly every respected public figure. Delusional expectations are about to crash upon the shoals of hard truth.

As we know from history, whole societies can descend into systemically delusional thinking. In the United States, with belief in climate change having become a matter of political affiliation, and with business pages of newspapers hailing each shred of ersatz evidence of economic “recovery” (i.e., return to GDP growth), we appear already to be far along that path.

Essayist John Michael Greer argues that the lunacy of managerial elites is a symptom invariably seen when civilizations approach collapse; he believes our society is in the early stages of one of history’s periodic, predictable, and inevitable phases of decline, and there’s essentially nothing we can do to stop the process.

I think he’s right, in that economic contraction is now inevitable. This is true whether or not governments and central banks are able to blow yet another bubble (perhaps one even beyond the current stock market / real estate / fracking bubble that’s set to burst the moment interest rates increase). What really matters is how contraction proceeds.

There are good arguments to be made that it’s too late to change population-consumption-pollution trends now converging, and that the best course of action for those of us awake and aware of physical reality is to adapt intelligently to the phases of collapse as they occur, while building resilience in our lives and communities so as to weather coming storms (literal and metaphorical) as successfully as possible. An equally good case holds that we should continue to do everything we can to counter those trends, so that whatever future unfolds is more survivable, and so that less damage is done to the ecological web on whose integrity the lives of future generations will depend. In my opinion, both are correct.

What’s needed is a contraction pathway that minimizes human suffering, averts the worst environmental impacts, and yields the best ultimate outcome of sustainable and thriving human cultures situated in functioning, restabilizing ecosystems.

Put off, for the moment, objections that “it’s too late” or “we don’t have the capacity.” What would be a strategy for reorienting society toward physical reality without incurring a collective psychological breakdown, so that the optimal contraction pathway can be realized?

At this late date, the following recommendations may constitute merely a speculative wish list. But just in case there is someone awake to physical reality at the Gates Foundation (which owns the only private philanthropic pile of money big enough to accomplish much of this), here are some ideas that could help avert the worst of the worst.

Start by putting effort into building a stronger consensus for action among those in the “physical reality” camp. Then pursue strategic alliances. There is a spectrum among those wedded to political reality, with denial of climate change and biological evolution at one end. Open a wider dialogue with those at the more physically realistic end of that spectrum, calmly insisting on the primacy of limits to growth while seeking common ground. Then help these reasonable folks work from the inside to transform political reality until it more closely resembles physical reality.

Dedicate major funding to a public education program in critical thinking. An Inconvenient Truth and Cosmos were helpful first volleys, but what is needed is something on a far larger scale; maintained over several years; encompassing classroom materials as well as television, YouTube, and social media; and addressing the population-consumption growth dilemma as well as numeracy, ecological literacy, and climate change.

Fund major culturally informed and targeted family planning campaigns throughout the world, with a special emphasis on nations with high birth rates.

There are already several movements aiding individuals and communities to adapt to a post-growth, post-carbon economic regime: localism, Transition Towns, the organics movement, Slow Food and Money, the voluntary simplicity movement, and more. These need far greater support.

Such movements tend to soft-peddle critiques of our society’s overarching systemic problem—the growth imperative built into our financial system, our economic system, and (some would argue) even our monetary system—simply because the issue is too big for local organizations to effectively address. The emerging discourse on alternative economics, including the economics of happiness and alternative economic indicators as well as the degrowth and post-growth movements, begin to fill that gap. This discourse also needs major support and elaboration, with the goal of utterly transforming both the discipline of economics (e.g., economics textbooks and classes must begin teaching ecological, steady-state economics) and the economy itself.

At the same time, think tanks should be funded to craft and promote policies that help households and institutions adapt to a contracting economy. These might include, for example, quota rationing of energy and informal training in home-scale arts of production and repair as well as supporting local distributed renewable energy; investment in public transit, electrified transportation, and nonmotorized transportation; and import substitution; and relocalization of appropriate industries.

Within a contracting economy, income and wealth inequality becomes a critical political and social issue. Unless policies dictate otherwise, those with prior economic advantage tend to aggressively aggregate an ever-larger share of overall societal wealth and income, while those at the bottom of the heap descend into absolute misery. Solutions would begin with taxing financial transactions, inherited wealth, high incomes, and luxury goods, with the revenues spent on building renewable energy infrastructure, redesigning food and transport systems to dramatically reduce oil dependence, and helping poor folks adapt and get by. These policies must be promoted on a national and global scale with major funding and the enlisted expertise of messaging professionals.

Now for those objections—“It’s too late,” “We haven’t the capacity.” They are persuasive. The fulfillment of the above wish list (it could be lengthened considerably) is indeed a far longshot. But even minor progress along any of these lines could help change the trajectory of collapse and our chances for a desirable outcome.

If the problem of political realists is self-delusion, the predicament of many physical realists is a sense of defeat and dread. So for the sake of the latter I will conclude with a little pep talk (directed as much to myself as to readers). Too much is at stake to retire in cynical self-assurance that we are right, they are wrong; we are weak, they are strong. Yes, horrible consequences from past growth are inevitable; today’s physical reality is a given. However, tomorrow’s reality is still, at least to some degree, up to us.

T

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Washington thinks we are fools!

SUBHEAD: And Uncle Sam counts on Americans! To swallow it all hook line and sinker. It works like a charm to date.

By Raul Ilargi on 28 July 2014 for the Automatic Earth -
(http://www.theautomaticearth.com/debt-rattle-jul-28-2014-washington-thinks-americans-are-fools/)


Image above: Did anyone at the time believe that Colin Powell actually brought a vial of anthrax into the UN General Assemby? If they didf they may have believed the rest of the False Flag lies dreamed up by Cheney and Rumsfeld. From (http://www.accuracy.org/release/colin-powells-infamous-u-n-speech-10-years-later-deceiving-public-ignoring-whistleblowers-led-to-war/).

At this point, you may want to consider making it personal. Your government, wherever you are in the west, but especially in the US, takes you for a bunch of fools they can feed anything at all and fully expect you to believe all of it. As for the media who convey government messages, it’s up in the air whether they too take you for a flock of dimwits, or are just plain fools themselves. As for your families, friends and neighbors, you decide.

After failing to present a single shred of evidence in 10 days to substantiate their claims that either the rebels, Russia or all of the above were involved in the downing of MH17, they still haven’t. They did, however, come with something that is as devoid of shame as it is full of disgrace. And the media, surprise, present it as the real deal once again. Which goes to prove that nothing has to be real or true, Washington only has to claim it is.

The latest ‘release’ allegedly proves that Russia is firing missiles into Ukraine across the border. But the country with by far the best satellites and other spy equipment (or should we from now on just say the most expensive?), with which it, on a daily basis, traces every move of millions of people worldwide, in particular its own citizens both home and abroad, hasn’t been able so far to locate one single incriminating piece of ‘evidence’ on its own multi-multi-billion dollar spy networks.

For its first ‘real’ proof it turns to a company called Digital Globe, which apparently has produced a number of satellite pics that the US now uses to show the world that the Russians indeed fire those missiles. Remember the precision bombing footage on CNN in the Gulf War? Think 50 years before that in technology. Think grainy pics you couldn’t make out anything on without the help of ‘useful’ US provided arrows and descriptions of what you see.
 
If you were a religious person, and one of those helpful arrows and partial blow-ups said “that’s Jesus walking on water there”, you’d probably believe it too. And if you’re of the anti-Putin conviction, you’ll be inclined to take these pics for gospel. But that still does not come anywhere near to constituting evidence.

Now if the US would really want to present these things as evidence to the whole world, in a serious way, they would do one of two things: either have Colin Powell take them to the UN and do a show and tell for the General Assembly (worked like a charm before), or at the least do a multi-hour State Dept. and/or Pentagon press-op, simulcast across all major networks, in which various experts can point long sticks at large blowups of the pics and tell us what we see (Thar walketh the Lord … ).

But that’s not what happened. Instead, the Digital Globe pics were released through, of all places, the Twitter account of Geoffrey Pyatt, the infamous US ambassador in Kiev who rose to fame when word got out that he and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland had handpicked the next Ukraine government even before the last – and elected – one had gone, after spending $5 billion to make sure the change happened.

Look, I don’t want to keep getting wound up about all this. What use is it? Suffice it to say that if Washington had solid proof of any of the accusations it has made against any of the parties it has made such accusations against, the ‘evidence’ wouldn’t be presented this way. That’s not the MO, and no, the government hasn’t all of a sudden gone all modern; things presented this way are simply much easier to dismiss when push comes to shove. That’s why they are.

Most accusations against Russia, Putin and the east Ukraine rebels since MH17 crashed 10 days ago have been made – and then easily refuted -through social media accounts located somewhere in Kiev, many through Kiev government accounts, and now Geoffrey Pyatt. This whole set-up stinks five ways into Tuesday.

One more thing: there is another implication of the release of the Digital Globe pics, namely that they make it even less probable that we’ll ever see any evidence that the rebels downed the plane. Unless Digital Globe has pictures of that too. The US government does not, or it would have already made it public. Then again, it has no need to: whatever it says is swallowed up whole by the faithful regardless of how likely its ‘reports’ are to be true.

The Dutch, Australian and Malaysian forensic experts who have been sent in to work on the crash site to save what is left of the bodies and dignity of the victims whose remains haven’t yet been found, cannot enter the area, because the Ukraine army happened to have elected the past weekend to start a new offensive against the rebels. Ostensibly to clear the crash site for the experts, but they would have had full access already without the offensive.

Rebel leader Borodai says the army went in to ‘evade exposure’ (i.e. hide evidence) of its culpability in the crash, and I’m wondering how far off he could possibly be.

And that brings up yet another question: who commands the Ukraine army? The latest offensive began after former PM Yatsenyuk resigned, and just yesterday Ukraine president Poroshenko told journalists – again – that he had ordered to stop combat operations in a 40-kilometer zone around the crash site (the latest attacks take place much closer than that). If it’s not the government or the president ordering the latest attacks, the ones that make truth finding impossible, then who is it?

Does Poroshenko lie through his teeth or is something else going on? The country’s bankrupt. It has used large swaths of its IMF loans to fund its army, it has proposed conscription for all men under 50 years old, soldiers are fleeing to Russia because they don‘t want to shoot their own countrymen, but attacks with bombers and tanks on cities filled with civilians are intensified.

I still haven’t seen one single western leader call for an immediate cessation of all attacks on both sides, so the dead can be properly and respectfully buried. Not one. Not even the Dutch PM. And I think that should tell you all you need to know about what the true priorities are that ‘we’ have. Respect is a fleeting term.

Not that it’s only in matters related to Ukraine that Washington fully and arrogantly expects you to take for granted anything it says. Libya is going down the drain as we speak, and weren’t we just there recently? Israel is once again shooting fish in a barrel in the Gaza strip (and I know it’s not black and white), and “we” are not just outside observers there either. The blood-smeared ISIS campaign in Iraq can’t even make the headlines anymore, but “we” obviously have something to explain about our recent involvement there too.

“America” and “peace initiative” are two terms that are getting ever harder to fit into one sentence. And somehow, no matter how naive it may sound, that still feels like a giant betrayal of what the nation once stood for.

America doesn’t want peace, because peace doesn’t rhyme with power.

Meanwhile, at home, whenever you see someone anyone talk about ‘recovery’, you now know they’re full of it. The Russell Sage Foundation issued a 2-page report
that makes clear ‘recovery’ is about the worst possible and least applicable term to use to describe what is happening in the US economy.

Households at the “median point in the wealth distribution – the level at which there are an equal number of households whose worth is higher and lower”, saw their wealth plummet -36% from 2003 to 2013. From the highest point, in 2007, to 2013 the number is -43%.

Five years after 2008 and Lehman, five years into the alleged recovery, which raised US federal, Federal Reserve, and hence taxpayer, obligations by $10-$15 trillion or more, US median household wealth was down -36% from 2003. And that’s by no means the worst of it:

If you look at the 5th and 25th percentile ‘wealth’ numbers (much of it negative), you see that they went down from 2003 to 2007, while the median was still rising. For both, wealth in the 2003-2013 timeframe deteriorated by some -200% (or two-thirds, if you will). -$9,479 to -$27,416 for the poorest 5%, $10.219 to $3,2000 for the lowest 25%.

This is how Washington defines recovery. Just in case you were wondering.

But they’re going to talk about it again, you just wait for it, just like they’re going to continue to blame Putin and the rebels for everything that goes wrong in Ukraine. They’re not going to stop until they have control over Russia’s resources, no matter what the body count, and they’re not going to stop until most Americans are de facto debt slaves.

And Uncle Sam counts on you! To swallow it all hook line and sinker. It works like a charm to date.

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Movie - America's Drone Wars

SUBHEAD: As RIMPAC 2014 winds down it seems the dogs of war are loose again... and now they have wings.

By Kip Goodwin on 26 July 2014 for Kauai Alliance for Peace -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2014/07/americas-drone-wars.html)


Image above: No we are not in Kansas anymore. Illustration from scen in movie "Oz the Great and Powerful". From (http://www.blastr.com/2012/11/new_poster_for_sam_raimis.php).

WHAT:
Documentary film "Unmanned: America's Drone Wars"

WHEN: 
Wednesday July 30, 6:00-8:00pm

WHERE: 
Kapa`a Public Library,
4-1464 Kuhio Highway
Kapaa, Kauai

SPONSOR:
Kauai Alliance for Peace and Social Justice

COST:
Free event.

INFO:
Please call Kip at (808) 822-7646 or
email Ray at may11nineteen71@gmail.com.

America's Drone War, the eighth full-length feature documentary from director Robert Greenwald and his Brave New Foundation organization, investigates the impact that U.S. drone strikes have across the globe.

The film reveals the realities of drone warfare-the violation of international law, the loss of life, the far-reaching implications for the communities that live under drones, and blowback the United States faces. Unmanned details the death of Tariq Aziz, a 16 year-old Pakistani boy, who like most teenagers, loved soccer and his computer.

He was killed in a drone strike three days after attending a public meeting in Islamabad calling for the end of drone strikes in Pakistan. Unmanned also investigates the Obama administration's use of signature strikes that targets people based on 'pattern of life' characteristics.

One such example took place in 2011 in Datta Khel, a tribal region in northern Pakistan, killing approximately 41 people and injuring scores more.

Robert Greenwald's newest full-length feature is now available.



Video above: The trailer for director Robert Greenwald's highly film. From (http://youtu.be/u7j8JudYOGI).

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RIMPAC 2014 - another whale death

SUBHEAD: It's not like this has not happened here before. The Navy washes off the blood and wears white.

By Juan Wilson on 27 July 2014 for Island Breath -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2014/07/rimpac-2014-another-whale-dead.html)


Image above: Image og pilot whale washed against shore along Hanalei Beach looking west. Photos provided by Pamela Burnell on 7/25/14. She noted: "My husband took these this morning.. 7ish.. distressing photo. He said it looked like it got shot??? It was still barely alive and thrashing about at the time."

It's not as if this has not happened before when the U.S. Navy is operating nearby. Shit happens! In this case another whale is stranded in Hanalei Bay here on Kauai during a RIMPAC exercise. Ten years ago, in 2004, it was 200 melonhead whales stranded (see below).

Some might call the current situation an improvement. Others might say the U.S. Navy is getting smarter about hiding the evidence of its crimes. And based on what we know now they are premeditated crimes.



By Phil Gast on 11 May 2012 for CNN -
(http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/11/us/navy-marine-mammals/)
Navy treads fine line when protecting marine mammals.

"I am not saying they are not well-intentioned," said Zak Smith, staff attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "But I am not sure their choices make the U.S. Navy the best environmental stewards they could be."

The debate over sonars and whales has gone on for years. It centers on balancing the need to defend the United States, while safeguarding its natural resources...

... Smith argued that the use of lookouts aboard Navy ships is not fully effective.

"Most marine mammals don't spend much time at the surface," he said. "When they do, you better have good weather conditions to see them."

Smith points to other consequences from the use of sonar and other acoustic sources off California and Hawaii.

Government estimates for 2014 to 2019 indicate there may be about 2 million cases of temporary hearing loss among marine animals, Smith told CNN. "Marine mammals use hearing the same way we use sight" to find food, he said.

"This kind of constant barrage and harassment is not a recipe for healthy populations," Smith added.



By David Kirby on 18 December  2013 for Yahoo News -  (http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/5803/20140128/navy-sued-violating-marine-mammal-protection-act-connection-sonar-training.htm)

A coalition of animal and environmental organizations filed a lawsuit Monday against the National Marine Fisheries Service asking it to compel the U.S. Navy not to proceed with a five-year plan to increase sonar and live-fire training exercises in a massive swath of the Pacific Ocean.


Announced last Friday but anticipated for months, the naval plan would, according to a study conducted by the Navy, kill or injure up to 2,200 marine mammals. An additional 9.6 million incidences of minor harassment, such as forcing whales and dolphins to stop feeding in a certain area, could also occur.

Through 2019, Navy training and testing in this zone, which covers an area of the eastern Pacific Ocean larger than all 50 U.S. states combined, will emit upwards of 60,000 hours of the military’s “most powerful mid-frequency active sonar,” emit more than 50,000 hours of other frequency sonar, and detonate more than 260,000 explosives, according to a lawsuit—filed Monday in federal court in Honolulu by Earthjustice, the Center for Biological Diversity, and other groups—seeking an injunction against the plan.

Barring a court victory by the coalition, the carnage will be considerable.

Under current rules, Navy training and testing in the zone are permitted to kill or injure up to 100 marine mammals over a five-year period. “Now, they’re going to be killing or injuring 2,200 over five years—or 22 times more,” says David Henkin, an Earth Justice staff attorney.



From Koohan Paik on 30 July 2014 via email
I want to share with you all a very interesting comment I received from a top cetacean expert from Holland, now based in Peru, after I sent him the news of the whale washing ashore at Hanalei. Here's what he said (I highlighted the parts i found interesting):

"Seems things are turned upside down, why not have the Navy demonstrate they supposedly are not the culprits, the burden of proof should be on them as they are a proven hazard. A subadult pilot whale in good body weight coming ahore alive, alone and dying would be most consistent with acoustic trauma.

Let's see what the necropsy says. but then who will trust NOAA Fishery to report all the evidence. And Navy got themselves mortality allowance to start with. Any democratic consultation on that?"


and in another comment...

"Nobody should jump to conclusions before necropsy results are in, absolutely. But it is accepted and normal practice in any scientific investigation to suggest working hypotheses re most plausible causes of a studied phenomenon that requires explanation.

This helps focus the investigation. Anybody who suggests a priori that the RIMPAC exercises should not be a primary suspect, is being un-scientific, and is invited to provide arguments of why not."




Dolphins, whales and other marine mammals that depend on sonar and echolocation to find food and navigate, will be in the crosshairs of a five-year naval exercise in the waters between Southern California and Hawaii.



< The lawsuit, which was filed by the influential non-profit group National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and several conservation organizations, says that the federal government, via the National Marine Fisheries Services, illegally granted the Navy permission to harm marine mammals during its ongoing underwater sonar and explosives training activities, which are scheduled to take place until 2018.
The U.S. Navy's current strategy to "protect" America will inevitably lead to the destruction of life in the oceans. They have no healing tools - only weapon systems. They continue to deal death and destruction while pretending to care for the environment. RIMPAC - what a load of bullshit!


Below is the Garden Island News story.



Whale washes up, dies
By Tom LaVenture  on 26 July 2010 for the Garden Island -
(http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/whale-washes-up-dies/article_d6bd3ca6-148e-11e4-9dfe-0019bb2963f4.html)


Image above: Image og pilot whale washed against shore along Hanalei Beach looking east. Photos provided by Pamela Burnell on 7/25/14.

A 16-foot sub adult pilot whale was pulled from the water at Waioli Beach Park after it died Friday.

Terry Lilley, of Hanalei, a marine biologist who has been studying coral disease on the North Shore, said he was on the scene early Friday when the whale was still alive and washing up to shore.

“This whale was alive and breathing at 6 a.m. this morning,” Lilley said. “It was sideways and just rolling in. It was already dying and there was no way to save it.”

The popular beach on Hanalei Bay was crowded with hundreds of people who watched as the mammal was moved from the shoreline to a trailer and taken from the scene just before noon.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources took charge of removing the whale, using heavy equipment from the County of Kauai and a DLNR trailer. It was unknown if the whale was a male or female.

NOAA Fisheries Service, Pacific Islands Region spokesperson Wende Goo, said the death is being investigated.

“Arrangements are being made for a necropsy and other procedures,” Goo said. “We currently do not have enough information to be able to say how the whale died.”

Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement personnel secured the site to safely recover the whale from where a large crowd watched.

Officials on scene discussed with volunteers the appearance of what looked like bite marks, possibly from a type of dogfish shark that gets its name from the way they attach and bite flesh with their snout, leaving deep, round marks on its prey.

Jean Souza, Hawaii programs coordinator for the Humpback Whale Hawaiian Islands National Marine Sanctuary, spoke to bystanders after the recovery to explain what had occurred and what would happen next to the whale. She said it is not uncommon for whales to beach there.

“Many times when they strand here in Hawaii, it is not like on the Mainland where a big tidal shift might cause them to get confused,” Souza said. “Most of the stranding that happens in Hawaii is because something is wrong with the animal.”

The mammal looked fresh with the skin intact and not yet decomposing, she said.

“That is the reason for quickly getting it off the beach to ship it to Oahu, for NOAH Fisheries to conduct a complete necropsy,” Souza said. “Because it is fairly fresh that means the chances are good for getting good information about tissue and structure.”

Lilley said the death could be a result of the military’s RIMPAC exercises going on in Hawaiian waters. The fact that a young and otherwise healthy whale died showing no visible signs of disease or attack should make military sonar and other war game activities suspect, he said.

Lilley said the military has a permit to injure or kill whales and dolphins during the ongoing multinational maritime exercise.

“This pilot whale has great body weight, and shows no visible infections, no problems with its mouth, and just two round wounds on the side that look like gaff wounds,” Lilley said. “This is a very healthy adult pilot whale with good weight, no obvious problems.”

Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nick Sherrouse said there is no indication that the loss of this animal was caused by naval activities and it would be premature to speculate.

“The Navy cares about the ocean environment, and we are fully cooperating with the National Marine Fisheries Service on the investigation,” Sherrouse said.



RIMPAC 2010 return stirs debate
By Coco Zyckos on 11 July 2010 for the Garden Island -
(http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/rimpac-return-stirs-debate/article_223d6a68-8d7d-11df-8d90-001cc4c002e0.html)


Image above: A mix of cetacean species stranded together in Tasmania in 2009 was enough to arouse suspicions of a human factor, including the use of sonar by the military. Photo by Dennis Fujimoto. From (http://kahea.wordpress.com/2009/03/02/another-mass-whale-stranding/).

The return of the military’s biennial Rim of the Pacific Exercise this month has environmentalists concerned.

Training activities associated with sonar have coincided with marine mammal strandings in the past, including some 200 melon-headed whales which herded into Hanalei Bay for more than 28 hours during the Navy’s 2004 RIMPAC exercises, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration documents.


“During this period, please keep your eyes open” said Surfrider’s Dr. Carl Berg. “We have to be super vigilant and really look out for the marine environment.”

Even though “causation” of the 2004 event was never “unequivocally determined,” the NOAA reported that “the active sonar transmissions” during that time were “a plausible, if not likely, contributing factor.”

“For them to come into the bay is definitely unusual behavior,” said Pacific Missile Range Facility spokesman Tom Clements.

However, one to two marine mammal strandings occur “somewhere in the state” each month, he said. “Biologists have told me this is a natural occurrence, and necropsies typically show disease as the cause.”

There has been no evidence of any stranding taking place during RIMPAC’s month-long exercises of 2006 and 2008, Clements added.

Marine mammals — who use sound to communicate, travel and discover food — have attempted to avoid sonar in the past, according to NOAA documents. Four mass strandings — Greece in 1996, Bahamas in 2000, Madeira in 2000 and Canary Islands in 2002 — involved beaked whales (similar to melon-headed whales) and NOAA identified the “most likely” cause as “active military sonar.”

Sonar produces “intense sound waves that sweep the ocean like a floodlight, revealing objects in their path,” according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Some sonar systems emit sound waves that “can travel tens or even hundreds of miles of ocean.”

Even at 300 miles, the “sonic waves” can “retain an intensity of 140 decibels — a hundred times more intense than the level known to alter the behavior of large whales,” the NRDC says.

Many of the whales involved in mass strandings where they beach themselves suffer “physical trauma, including bleeding around the brain, ears and other tissues” along with “large bubbles in their organs,” according to the NRDC.

“Deep-diving whales seem to be especially affected by low-frequency sounds, even at quite low received levels,” according to a 1998 study conducted by A. Frantzis at the Department of Biology’s Zoological Laboratory in Athens, Greece.

Melon-headed whales “prefer deep, equatorial ocean waters and are thought to feed deep in the water column,” according to NOAA.

The Navy’s most widely used sonar systems operate in the mid-frequency range, according to the NRDC.

Sonar is “not the primary focus” of the Navy’s training activities, Clements said. And several measures are employed when training in areas known to host marine mammals.

In addition, the Navy is one of the “largest contributors” to the billions of dollars spent every year to determine the effect of sonar on marine mammals.

“There is a whole lot more research to be done before we start looking at conclusions,” Clements said.

Moreover, this year’s RIMPAC activities are “almost exclusively off-shore,” Clements said. There are no scheduled actives on Kaua‘i.

“We’re not calling wolf,” Berg said. “This is something that’s real. It could happen again.”



RIMPAC 2008 - Navy to use sonar


By William Cole on 24 January 2007 in the Honolulu Star Bulletin -
(http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2007/Jan/24/ln/FP701240404.html)


Image above: Still image from KITV-News video of stranded dead beaked whale being removed from beach on Molokai durint RIMPAC 2008. From (http://www.islandbreath.org/2008Year/17-peace_war/0817-27RIMPACkillswhale.html). See also (http://earthjustice.org/news/press/2008/navy-sonar-heard-nearby-one-day-before-whale-strands-on-moloka-i-beach).

The Defense Department has exempted the Navy and its use of sonar from the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act for two years — causing an outcry from a national environmental group that maintains the underwater sound harms whales.

Last summer, a six-month exemption granted during biennial Rim of the Pacific, or Rimpac, naval exercises off Hawai'i led to a legal challenge, and a federal judge briefly prohibited midfrequency sonar use during the war games.

Rimpac is one of the largest naval exercises in the world, and last year involved eight nations, more than 40 ships, six submarines, 160 aircraft and almost 19,000 service members.

The new two-year exemption is the latest turn in an ongoing battle that has pitted environmentalists and emerging science on the harm of sonar to whales against the Navy's need for sonar training to detect a growing fleet of extremely quiet foreign diesel submarines.

The next court clash could come over expected Navy sonar use off the coast of California, but the Defense Department exemption would extend through the 2008 Rimpac exercises off Hawai'i.

Federal marine regulators last spring said sonar use was a "plausible, if not likely, contributing factor" in the stranding of up to 200 melon-headed whales off Kauai during July 2004 Rimpac war games.

The mass stranding of such whales was the largest recorded in Hawaii waters, but the science related to sonar impact on various types of marine animals is far from clear-cut.

"The Navy's position is that continued training with active sonar is absolutely essential in protecting the lives of our sailors and defending the nation," the Pentagon said yesterday in announcing the exemption.

PROTECTION EFFORTS
The Defense Department also said the Navy continues to work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, on a long-term sonar-use plan, and a range of marine mammal protection measures will remain in place.

"We will continue to employ stringent mitigation measures, developed with NOAA's concurrence, to protect marine mammals during all sonar activities," said Rear Adm. James Symonds, director of environmental readiness for the Navy.

But the Natural Resources Defense Council, which filed suit against the Navy in 2005 over midfrequency sonar use, said "numerous" mass strandings and deaths have been associated with sonar use.

Joel Reynolds, a senior attorney and director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Marine Mammal Protection Project, objected to the exemption from federal law.

"Obviously, the (Marine Mammal Protection Act) is a statute that is designed to protect marine mammals," Reynolds said. "When you nullify that, there's no getting around the fact that they are undermining the protection that federal environmental law provides."

Reynolds said the Navy has "more than enough room in the ocean to train effectively without injuring or killing endangered whales and other marine species," but chooses some locations because of their convenience.

PERMIT TO 'HARASS'
Responding to growing scientific evidence that sonar can disrupt, injure or kill whales or dolphins, the Navy for the first time last summer sought a federal permit under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to "harass" the sea creatures when it uses midfrequency sonar during Rimpac.

After NOAA Fisheries granted the permit, environmental groups sued to try to stop it. The Defense Department stepped in, said national defense concerns pre-empted the act, and granted a six-month exemption.

A federal judge subsequently said other environmental laws still applied and ordered the Navy and environmental groups to negotiate.

SAILORS ON LOOKOUT
Among the protections the Navy agreed to undertake were to not use sonar within 25 miles of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, and to report the presence of marine mammals detected through underwater listening devices or visual scanning.

The Navy also posted one person per ship whose job it was to search the waters for marine mammals during the exercises, and three others keeping an eye out.

Instead of applying for federal permits to "harass" marine animals for each and every sonar exercise, the Navy wants to conduct environmental impact analyses for "bodies of water."

"We did it (individually) for Rimpac, and that was kind of the example of, 'This isn't going to work,' " said Lt. Ryan Perry, a Navy spokesman at the Pentagon.

Reynolds said the Navy can accomplish some of its sonar training at locations such as the Pacific Missile Range Facility ocean areas, "but the way they've done it historically is to train all over the Hawaiian Islands, and inside of sanctuaries, really without regard to environmental harm. I think that's a mindset that has to change."



RIMPAC 2004 - Melonheads Stranded

Editorial on 1 September 2004 in the Honolulu Star Bulletin -
(http://www.islandbreath.org/2004Year/03-environment/enviro17Whales&Navy.html)


Image above: Two-hundred melon-head whales swim in circles in the shallow waters of Hanalei Bay in this July 3, 2004. The return of Navy RIMPAC exercises this month has environmentalists concerned a similar situation could arise again. Photo by Dennis Fujimoto. From (http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/rimpac-return-stirs-debate/article_223d6a68-8d7d-11df-8d90-001cc4c002e0.html).

The Navy has acknowledged that sonar was used in the hours before a pod of deep-water whales swam into Hanalei Bay. New information calls into question the Navy's contention that the use of sonar during maneuvers off Kauai had nothing to do with driving a large pod of deep-water whales into Hanalei Bay during the Fourth of July weekend.

The information further validates a collection of evidence, which the Navy dismisses, that sonar presents a danger to marine life and buttresses arguments for some restraints.


About 200 melon-headed whales alarmed residents and marine biologists they were spotted in the bay about 7:30 a.m. July 3, swimming in a tight circle about 100 feet from the beach. These whales normally stay at least 15 miles off shore. Specialists and volunteers managed to herd the whales out to sea, but a newborn calf became separated from the pod and eventually died of starvation.

At the time, Rim of the Pacific naval exercises were being conducted about 20 miles northwest of Kauai, but Navy officials said no sonar had been used before the whales were seen in the bay. A spokesman told the Star-Bulletin that active sonar-tracking simulations had not begun until 8 a.m. while another told the Washington Post the exercises began at 8:30 a.m.

The Navy now acknowledges that ships had used their sonar at intervals through about 20 hours before the whales appeared in the bay and specifically from 6:45 and 7:10 a.m. on July 3, according to the Post.

The Navy still maintains that the ships' distance and the time frame do not mesh with the near-stranding, but its conclusions appear as uncertain as its credibility.

Growing evidence suggests that sonar can kill marine mammals by causing their organs to hemorrhage or by frightening them so they beach, as the Navy has admitted happened in the Bahamas four years ago. There have been dozens of other incidents -- off the coast of Washington State, the Canary Islands, northwest Africa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and in Greece -- when strandings and deaths have coincided with sonar exercises.

Moreover, scientists suspect that most of the mammals harmed by sonar use aren't even tallied since their deaths may occur at sea.

The Navy says exercises are necessary to prepare sailors and Marines to counter a substantial and growing threat from diesel submarines that can only be detected by active sonar, but safeguards may be in order. Training can be conducted in low-risk areas and sonar signals can be reduced to minimize risk to ocean wildlife. Protecting whales and other marine animals need not be at odds with national security.




Kayaks used to move the whales out to sea

By Mary Vorsino on 5 July 2004 for the Honolulu Star Bulletin -

(http://archives.starbulletin.com/2004/07/05/news/story4.html)

Hundreds of volunteers herded a pod of about 200 melon-headed whales out of Kauai's Hanalei Bay and into deeper water yesterday morning, a day after the animals had initially come near shore in what experts called unusual behavior.

"It was a storybook ending," said Bob Braun, a veterinarian who helped lead the effort to get the whales out of the bay, "scripted from Hollywood ... and putting an exclamation point on Independence Day."

While in the bay, the whales stayed "in a fairly tight group" about 100 yards offshore and did not appear to be in distress, Braun said.

Some 200 volunteers, officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and marine biologists from other organizations drove the whales into deeper water by moving out from shore in kayaks and canoes, he said.

"There was an awful lot of people involved," Braun said. "It was an extraordinary effort by a very large, diverse group."

By about 10:30 a.m. the group had prodded the pod more than a half-mile out. No whales had returned to the bay last night, but residents were expected to monitor the waters and alert officials if the animals returned.

The whales were first spotted in the bay at about 7:30 a.m. Saturday. Lifeguards said they remained tightly packed together throughout yesterday and made no effort to swim toward the beach or the open mouth of the bay.

Marine biologists on Oahu who specialize in whale strandings arrived at the bay Saturday evening and camped on the beach overnight to make sure no whales came too close to shore. Bay residents also kept a close watch, Braun said.

Pods of melon-headed whales, which range from 100 to 500, are often seen in Hawaiian waters, but they usually swim at least 20 miles offshore.

"They're an offshore species," said Tamra Faris, a NOAA assistant regional administrator for protective species. "It's very unusual. ... The main pod was in a fairly healthy state."

The last time there was a mass sighting of melon-headed whales close to shore was about 40 years ago off the Big Island. There is no record of any similar events occurring in Hanalei Bay, Faris said.

It's still unclear why the whales came into the bay, she said.

And it's too early to tell whether Navy Rim of the Pacific sonar exercises Saturday morning were a factor in the whales' behavior, said RIMPAC spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Greg Geisen.

After the Navy received word of the whales' movement into the bay Saturday afternoon, sonar operations were suspended as a precaution.

"There's so many potential causes of this," said Brad Ryon, a NOAA marine biologist. "It's really hard to determine what it would be. There's always a potential that (the sonar) might have some effect. But there's not enough information to conclude anything about the cause."

The Navy had six ships about 23 miles northwest of Kauai at about 8 a.m. Saturday in operations that involved underwater sonar tracking, Geisen said.

He said the Navy will look over the ships' logs to determine how close they were to the pod while sonar was in use. He could not say when sonar tracking would be resumed.

"The best we can do is to make sure that we have a very good idea on where our vessels were when they were using that sonar," he said.

Navy scientists and mathematicians, Geisen said, are trying to figure out whether "sound could have traveled" in the direction of the whales.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC 2014 in Full March 7/16/14
Ea O Ka Aina: 21st Century Energy Wars 7/10/14
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC War on the Ocean 7/3/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Voila - World War Three 7/1/14
Ea O Ka Aina: The Pacific Pivot 6/28/14
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC IMPACT 6/8/14
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC Then and Now 5/16/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Earthday TPP Fukushima RIMPAC 4/22/14
Ea O Ka Aina: The Asian Pivot - An ugly dance 12/5/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Help save Mariana Islands 11/13/13
Ea O Ka Aina: End RimPac destruction of Pacific 11/1/13 
Ea O Ka Aina: Moana Nui Confereence 11/1/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Navy to conquer Marianas again  9/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Pagan Island beauty threatened 10/26/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Sleepwalking through destruction 7/16/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Okinawa breathes easier 4/27/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Navy Next-War-Itis 4/13/12
Ea O Ka Aina: America bullies Koreans 4/13/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Despoiling Jeju island coast begins 3/7/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Jeju Islanders protests Navy Base 2/29/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Hawaii - Start of American Empire 2/26/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Korean Island of Peace 2/26/12   
Ea O Ka Aina: Military schmoozes Guam & Hawaii 3/17/11
Ea O Ka Aina: In Search of Real Security - One 8/31/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Peace for the Blue Continent 8/10/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Shift in Pacific Power Balance 8/5/10
Ea O Ka Aina: RimPac to expand activities 6/29/10
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC War Games here in July 6/20/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Pacific Resistance to U.S. Military 5/24/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Guam Land Grab 11/30/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Guam as a modern Bikini Atoll 12/25/09
Ea O Ka Aina: GUAM - Another Strategic Island 11/8/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Diego Garcia - Another stolen island 11/6/09
Ea O Ka Aina: DARPA & Super-Cavitation on Kauai 3/24/09
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2008 - Navy fired up in Hawaii 7/2/08
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2008 uses destructive sonar 4/22/08
Island Breath: Navy Plans for the Pacific 9/3/07
Island Breath: Judge restricts sonar off California 08/07/07
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2006 sonar compromise 7/9/06
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2006 - Impact on Ocean 5/23/06
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2004 - Whale strandings on Kauai 9/2/04
Island Breath: PMRF Land Grab 3/15/04

Democracy trampled on Kauai

SUBHEAD: Today a coup d'etat was successfully executed on Kauai by the County Council - thwarting the will of the people.

By Michael Shooltz on 24 July @014 for Kauai Rising -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2014/07/democracy-trampled-on-kauai.html)


Image above: Cartoon of democracy undone by Ben Heine. From (http://theragblog.blogspot.com/2010/07/baudrillard-2-postmodern-democracy-and.html).

After today's Kauai County Council meeting I was moved to look up the definition of "coup d'etat".
 The following definition was found on Wikipedia:
A coup d'état (/ˌkuːdeɪˈtɑː/; French:  also known as a coup, a putsch, or an overthrow, is the sudden and illegal seizure of a government, usually instigated by a small group of the existing state establishment to depose the established government and replace it with a new ruling body, civil or military. A coup d'état is considered successful when the usurpers establish their dominance. When the coup neither fails completely nor succeeds, a civil war is a likely consequence.

Today a coup d'etat was successfully executed on Kauai. As stated in the above definition it was "instigated by a small group of the existing state establishment", namely the County Clerk (although his questions and statements throughout this process seem to have a high likelihood of having been generated by some other source), the County Attorney, and four members of the County Council. It was most likely aided and abetted by the Mayor behind the scenes as the efforts of this cabal have been consistently in line with his actions and the County Attorney is his appointee.

Today these six or seven individuals thwarted the legal, democratically established Charter Amendment process and the Amendment presented by Kauai Rising and the nearly 8,000 signatures of Kauai citizens who stepped forward to support Charter Amendment 33.

The Kauai County Council voted 4 to 3 today to refuse to accept the Petition signatures presented to them to place the Charter Amendment on the ballot in November to allow the citizens of Kauai the right to vote on the contents of the Charter Amendment.

The four Council Members voting against acceptance, (JoAnn Yukimura, Ross Kagawa, Mel Rapozo, and Jay Furfaro) chose to "depose the established government" (as clearly defined in the existing County Charter) "and replace it with a new ruling body", namely themselves.

There is absolutely no authority given in the County Charter to either the County Council, nor the County Attorney, nor the County Clerk in the County Charter, to refuse to accept a citizen generated petition to place an amendment on the Ballot, nor to judge the content of such an amendment.

However this Cabal, attempting to cloak their movement under the excuse of an "opinion" by the County Attorney who offered not a single reference to any aspect of the content of the Charter Amendment, nor any reference to any authority in the County Charter which would give the Council or the Clerk the right to reject the Petition.

The reason they have chosen to block the receipt of the petition signatures is that, according to the Charter Amendment, once the Petition is "presented" to the Council (again they have no authority to block it) it requires the County Clerk to validate the signatures.

If enough valid signatures are present the Amendment automatically goes on the ballot and the citizens of Kauai get to vote on the Amendment. This handful of county officials have usurped the peoples rights to vote on this Amendment and claimed that right for themselves. As most of you know this is the second time that the County has used an illegal action to block the Charter Amendment process.
Wikepedia:
A cabal is a group of people united in some close design together, usually to promote their private views or interests.......often by intrigue.  The term can also be used to refer to the designs of such persons or to the practical consequences of their emergent behavior, and also holds a general meaning of intrigue and conspiracy. The use of this term usually carries strong connotations of shadowy corners, back rooms and insidious influence.

By definition the Charter Amendment process from it's inception has been intended to be a critical piece of the Democratic process through which the citizens of Kaua'i have the clear right to place an Amendment on the ballot without the influence, hindrance or approval of the County Council, County Attorney, Mayor, nor the County Clerk. The three minority Council Members (Gary Hooser, Tim Bynum, and Mason Chock) concurred with the fact that Council had no authority to block the presentation of the Petition and voted to follow the existing Charter Amendment guidelines as currently defined by voting to accept the petition from the people of Kauai.

As is well known, Kauai is Ground Zero for the testing of GMOs and up to 93 various toxic formulations. There are approximately 1,000 pounds of toxins dumped by these Chemical Companies on Kauai daily, which is 30,000 pounds every month. It is unknown how long this island and its people can survive such a violent assault.

The people, nature and the animals of Kauai are the guinea pigs in the test tubes of these Multi-national Corporations that have invaded this island. These Chemical Companies are a cancer on Kauai and that cancer is manifesting on three different levels.

First, and most critical, it is manifesting as very serious cancers, birth defects, respiratory problems, nose bleeds, skin disorders etc. in the people of Kaua'i as confirmed over this past year by every aspect of Kauai's professional health care community. In addition numerous scientists and researchers have visited this island to share their findings of links between the Chemical Company operations and the diseases manifesting on Kaua'i.

The science is clear, growing rapidly and available to anyone who really wants to see it. And last week when we reported that hunters on the west side were finding the pigs and goats they are harvesting are infested with tumors, we received additional responses sharing that the same tumors are also being found now on the east side as well (where the test fields have spread.)

Second, this cancer is growing rapidly through the spread of the GMO test fields across Kauai. When referring to the GMO "test fields" on the island there is a perception that this is  a "west side" problem. However, the reality is that it has crept into Lihue across from the Kukui Grove shopping Center, then on to the fields across from the airport. And now a drive up to Wailua Falls reveals massive acreage of GMO test fields in full growth all the way to the edge of the Wailua River on property owned by Grove Farms. The spread is insidious.

Finally the third form of these cancers introduced on Kauai by these Chemical companies, which is spreading equally rapidly, is in the form of political and economic manipulation. Since the people of Kauai have begun to find ways to insure that these Chemical Company operations on Kauai be proven safe before being inflicted on the island and its people we have witnessed the following:
  • The County Charter Commission has been influenced to try to quadruple the number of signatures required for the citizens of Kauai to place a Charter Amendment on the ballot. This requirement has been in place for approximately 50 years and has never been changed.

  • The Kauai Chamber of Commerce was influenced to attempt to place a Charter Amendment on the ballot also attempting to quadruple the number of signatures required to place an Amendment on the ballot. (They felt that 5% was too low a number of people to change the County Charter. Their effort died when they were unable to gather the required 5%. Apparently the people of Kauai were not inspired by efforts to limit their voices in the Democratic process.) To our knowledge the Chamber of Commerce has never before attempted to place a Charter Amendment on the ballot.

  • The former lawyer for Dow Agrosciences here on Kauai has been appointed the new CEO of both state hospitals on Kauai, which includes the hospital in Waimea, ground zero for the GMO testing here on island. We are told that the health care professionals are much more reluctant to speak out on the health issues they are finding in the community with the former Dow lawyer as their CEO.

  • The Chairman of the Board of the West Side Business Association was forced from his Chairmanship after resisting the influence of the Chemical Companies as they tried block BIll 2491.

  • This week a visit to the County offices revealed that the aforementioned growth of the GMO test fields on the Grove Farm properties all the way to the Wailua River has been done without any record of the legally required grading and grubbing permits for at least the last decade. This is typical.

  • While recent water tests of the islands rivers and streams revealed the presence of numerous toxins the state declared that these one time tests would not be continued due to lack of funds.
And finally today, we watched this cancer reveal itself in the Kauai County Council as four members stripped one of the last bastions of democracy from the people of Kauai. Once again, as acknowledged by the County Council, the Council has never before in history taken action to block the submission of a Charter Amendment Petition. Their justification was that an "opinion" from the County Attorney raised enough questions in their minds that the stripping of the rights of the citizens of Kauai was justified.

The County Attorney's "opinion" was in response to a series of questions submitted through the County Clerk's office. The questions asked began with the following statements,
1. Can the County reject a submission......
2. Can the County refuse to process a submission........
3. Can the County challenge the validity of a proposed Charter amendment.....
4. Can the County reject a submission......
5. Can the County challenge the validity of a submission.........

It was quite revealing that none of the four Council members (Yukimura, Rapozo, Furfaro, and Kagawa) questioned the obvious bias and intention of this line of questioning. Rather than looking for ways to insure an efficient and legal democratic process, as is the County Clerks role, it is so blatantly clear that the formulator of these questions had a very clear intention of finding a way to kill Charter Amendment 33.

And while these four Council Members repeatedly stated that the County Attorney "is our attorney" and all felt that they must honor that opinion, even though they had passed Bill 2491/960 against the County Attorney's opinion, and in spite of the fact that only weeks ago the Council entertained a vote of No Confidence in the County Attorney, and the opinion itself acknowledged that they had every right to choose their own course of action.

These Council Members not only usurped the democratic rights of the people of Kauai, they also usurped the rights of the judiciary system, again by giving themselves the authority to be the "judge" who would under existing law be the arbiter of any legal questions that might arise in this process.

That would only occur, under the County Charter, after the Amendment has gone to the ballot and been passed by the citizens of Kauai. These members of the County Council have chosen to take away the rights of the people and to appoint themselves as the Judges. They are far, far away from the original intention of what the Charter Amendment was meant to be as a voice of the people in the democratic process.

And they have attempted to set an extraordinary precedent where in the future, if they have any question about any aspect of a proposed Charter Amendment, they claim that they have the right to kill it. They claim that they are not required to point out any specific aspect of the Amendment as justification for refusal, nor justify their actions according to the existing Charter Amendment which gives them no such authority.

Theirs is an extraordinarily profound attack on the rights of the people in a democratic system both now, and in the future if these illegal actions are allowed to stand.

I will offer one final definition that I heard somewhere years ago.  Cancer: a group of cells living on a body while consuming more than their fair share of the resources of that body, until it actually kills the very body that gave it life in the first place.

It's ironic that for the cancer cells themselves, the disease is a form of suicide.

We are witnessing the cancer brought to Kauai by the Chemical Companies in at least the three ways described above. Charter Amendment 33 addresses all three of these levels of cancer. It calls for the Chemical Companies to prove what they are doing is safe in terms of it's use of toxic chemicals. It calls for a limiting of the spread of GMOs through drift. And it calls for a transparent body of independent experts, as well as a new officer of Environmental Health on Kauai. And it empowers the people of Kauai to have a say in the process.

On the one hand the Chemical Companies do not want to see these remedies occur here on Kauai. On the other hand the people of Kauai have stepped up with nearly 8,000 signatures in support of, at a minimum, giving the people of Kauai the opportunity to vote on whether or not they would like to see these remedies applied. In the face of those many thousands of signatures these six or seven people have set themselves up as a new form of government.

Council Member Yukimura's favorite mantras are about "we are a country of laws" and "I have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution". Under current law on Kauai it is legal for a Multinational Chemical Company to come to this island and dump toxic poisons on our island and it's people.

In some cases it isn't even legal for them to use these same toxins in their own countries.

And current law says that it is illegal for the people of Kauai to say "No", you can't dump poison on my family or my island. One would like to think that there might be some connection between law and justice. It is time that justice becomes the focus.

When Council Member Yukimura chants about her oath of office she does a deep disservice to the many thousands of women who, for decades, went to prison, died, and suffered, standing up against unjust laws and the very Constitution that said that it was illegal for a woman to vote, let alone hold office. Those women deserve to be honored rather than have their efforts be mocked. Without their efforts it would still be illegal for Council Member Yukimura to sit on the County Council.

The following are the email addresses of the four council members who feel that you do not deserve to have your voice heard and that you do not have the right to vote on these serious issues on November's ballot. It might be nice to let them know how you feel about that. You might keep these four addresses handy and when you come across an article about GMOs, or health issues, or democracy. You might continue to let your voice be heard by them and forward the articles to them with your comments.

jfurfaro@kauai.gov, mrapozo@kauai.gov, rkagawa@kauai.gov, jyukimura@gmail.com

I apologize to you for the length of this article and I applaud your perseverance if you've read this far. Today's actions at the County Council hearing profoundly affect many things. Initially we joined together to face the issues of GMOs thinking that the Chemical Companies were the challenge. Then it became clearer that in addition to GMOs this is also a very political issue. And it has now evolved even further into a clear Human Rights issue. The people's rights are being trampled.

We believe that today's County Council actions will only make us all stronger. There are differences in opinion on approaches to the GMO issues. But there is very little difference of opinion when the democratic rights of the people are stripped away by a tiny minority.

That action affects everyone and every issue we all face moving forward. It will serve to unite us even further in stronger ways. Today's Council choices cannot be allowed to stand.  We will continue to strive for the shared visions of a healthy, abundant, honest island for all. We will achieve that shared  vision.

The Light is continuing to shine very, very brightly on the dark revealing many things for us all. That process of revelation is a necessary step in the healing process. These continuing revelations empower more effective choices.

We all seem to have chosen to be particpants in quite extraordinary times. And together we are up to the task. We will be asking for more of your continued support soon. Mahalo for all that you do, and all that you are.

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Signs of US Empire Passing

SUBHEAD: We can create a better future. It won’t come without serious challenges. Indeed, it may only come through them.

By Aaron lehmer-Chang on 20 July 2014 for World Shift Vision -
(http://aglehmer.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/top-10-signs-of-u-s-empires-passing/)


Image above: "Lady Liberty" about to drown. From original article.

t’s not fashionable to talk about American empire these days, much less our empire’s coming demise. Our status as the world’s preeminent superpower remains largely unquestioned (at least domestically). Politicians and media pundits still portray our military as the world’s last great hope against tyranny and global terrorism.

And yet, despite the U.S. military’s clear planetary dominance — its hundreds of thousands of troops deployed in more than 150 countries, its growing interventions in Africa and the Middle East, and its vast network of bases and installations across the globe — our empire’s days are indeed numbered. Like other past empires, the unraveling of our empire is shrouded in denial, masking the fraying foundations of our once-prosperous nation.

Ironically, the seeds of America’s decline were planted with its founding, marred as it was by the brutal conquest of the native population, the rapacious destruction of the natural environment, the shameful enslavement of African peoples, and the hypocritical disenfranchisement of women and non-property-holding immigrants.

These traumatic beginnings have echoed through the centuries that followed, in the form of aggressive military interventions, deepening social divisions, and ecologically ruinous relations to the country’s land, air, and water. Together, these festering dynamics now threaten to upend the great American experiment.

Of course, they’ve also provided the backdrop against which most Americans have struggled to secure their place in the social order, their human rights and dignity, and the protection of their precious lands and watersheds. America’s central animating ideal of “liberty and justice for all” may have been poorly instituted in practice, but the hopeful movements it inspired have gone a long way toward creating a more equitable and democratic union.

Today, as compound stresses and fractures undermine the foundation of U.S. empire, the central question remains: will the forces of hate and domination prevail, hijacking today’s crises to justify an authoritarian state and continued aggression? Or will enough people and communities willingly abandon the vision of empire, and reassert America’s cherished values of freedom and democracy?

The answer to that will depend on how we respond to the multiple signs of empire’s passing that are increasingly coming to a head. Here are ten (in no particular order) that are especially worth noting:

1. SKYROCKETING INEQUALITY:
It’s now a popular truism that the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer. President Obama often derides the fact that the middle class is shrinking, that average wages are barely keeping up with inflation, and that more and more American children are going to bed hungry. But neither he nor his allies in Congress have been able to halt these trends, much less slow them.

According to a 2014 report by the Economic Policy Institute, most recent economic gains have gone to the top 1 percent, who took home more than half (53.9 percent) of the total increase in U.S. income over the past several decades. “Over this period, the average income of the bottom 99 percent of U.S. taxpayers grew by [only] 18.9 percent. Simultaneously, the average income of the top 1 percent grew over 10 times as much — by 200.5 percent,” stated the authors.

And that’s just income. Distribution of total wealth when one includes stocks, property, and other assets has also widened to levels now resembling a new gilded age. Indeed, the wealth gap has become so obscene that billionaires themselves are starting to sound the alarms about the stability of American society.

One tech billionaire recently wrote a scathing article in Politico arguing that unless something is done to redistribute wealth more equitably, we can expect everyday people falling between the cracks to foment a pitchfork rebellion.

2. DETERIORATING INFRASTRUCTURE:
Decades of neglect and underinvestment have left America’s roads and bridges, its waterways and sanitation systems, its power plants and electrical grids (most of which are hopelessly outmoded and geared mostly to run on diminishing fossil fuels), and its harbors and transport hubs in severe disrepair.

According to a report by The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), our nation faces an infrastructure investment shortfall of $1.1 trillion by 2020, possibly increasing to $4.7 trillion by 2040. If sufficient investments fail to materialize, Americans can expect increasing risks associated with using deteriorating infrastructure, lower standards of living due to rising costs, and a less and less hospitable climate for commerce, given that businesses also rely heavily on smoothly functioning infrastructure. Shifting even a fraction of the $500+ billion spent annually on the military would be a wise investment in our future.

3. HOLLOWED-OUT DOMESTIC INDUSTRY:
It’s little surprise that high-wage U.S. manufacturing would suffer in a race-to-the-bottom, über-competitive global economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. manufacturing employment fell from 19.6 million in 1979 to 13.7 million in 2007. The decade of 2000-2010 was particularly devastating, according to a recent report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation:
 “Not only did America lose 5.7 million manufacturing jobs, but the decline as a share of total manufacturing jobs (33 percent) exceeded the rate of loss in the Great Depression.” 
 A misplaced faith in so-called “free trade” agreements that favor corporate offshoring of jobs while sacrificing much-needed tariff revenue has contributed mightily to this decline, along with a reluctance to boost training and skills-building among our nation’s growing underemployed and unemployed.

The consequences of this “hollowing out” of domestic manufacturing are already being keenly felt in terms of wage stagnation, a shrinking middle class, and diminished consumer spending capacity.

Perhaps even more tragic is the growing dependence Americans now have on imported goods, and the fact that we’re rapidly losing our capacity to make tangible goods of real value.

4. THE U.S. DOLLAR’S DECLINE:
The status of the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency is quickly eroding. Between 2002 and 2012, the dollar declined 54.7% against the euro, which coincided with a near tripling of the U.S. debt, from $5.9 trillion to $15 trillion.

Meanwhile, rising powers like Russia, China, Brazil and other emerging economies are separating themselves from the dollar-based global financial system, either by trading in other reserve currencies or actively proposing replacements. All told, foreign countries own more than $5 trillion in U.S. debt, with China alone owning more than $1 trillion.

If enough major debt holders started dumping their Treasury notes on the open market, this could cause a panic leading to a collapse of the dollar, and along with it a major decline in the standard of living for most Americans. At this point, the biggest holders of U.S. Treasury notes also rely on American markets for the sale of their products, minimizing the likelihood of any major dollar sell-offs.

But with consumer buying power declining, infrastructure deteriorating, and America’s ability to repay debt diminishing, the U.S. dollar’s future standing as the global currency of choice is in doubt.

5. DOMESTIC ENERGY SCARCITY:
As recently as 2012, the International Energy Agency (IEA) was predicting that the United States would overtake Saudia Arabia in oil production by 2020, and that North America would be a net oil exporter by 2030.

Now, the world’s leading energy agency has done a 180 degree about-face, predicting in its latest report that the United States will have to rely more heavily on Middle East oil in the years ahead, now that North American sources are starting to run dry.

Probably the most damaging news to the industry came earlier this year when the U.S. government’s own Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently downgraded its earlier assessment of the Montery Shale “tight oil” fields by a whopping 96%. Admittedly, U.S. energy production has had a “boomlet” recently, with much of it coming from oil and gas extracted from shale.

But the IEA now says U.S. production will start to lose steam around 2020, putting more bargaining power back in the hands of OPEC countries like Saudi Arabia and diminishing our influence abroad.

Sadly, the search for energy in ever-more remote and sensitive locations has also ravaged the environment, endangering sensitive waterways, gulf zones, the arctic, and even the stability of the global climate.

6. DIMINISHING U.S. INFLUENCE ABROAD:
From the end of World War II and throughout the Cold War, U.S. imperialism moved into overdrive. Following the devastating U.S. nuclear bombardment of Japan, American presidents began using the “fight against communism” to justify interventions throughout the globe, most notably in China, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iran, Guatemala, the Congo, Brazil, Cuba, Indonesia, Chile, Greece, Nicaragua, Grenada, Libya, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, El Salvador, and Haiti, among others.

Almost always, the actual “threat” was the desire of the local populations in these countries to decide their own economic destinies, rather than submit to open exploitation of their markets by U.S. or Western-based corporations. In recent decades, however, as U.S. debt has grown and popular uprisings like the “Arab Spring” and new populist movements in Latin America have gained traction, American influence has diminished.

A resurgent Russia under President Putin has rebuffed U.S. attempts to encircle the country with new NATO members, bases, and pro-Western regimes — even brazenly annexing Crimea with only symbolic protest from a largely helpless United States. American empire is also waning in parts of the Middle East, especially in Iraq where previously deposed Sunni militants have taken control of much of the country’s northern cities and towns, and may even bring down the pro-Western government in Baghdad.

The most recent presidential election in Afghanistan has also revealed the growing limits of American influence, with the losing candidate threatening to set up his own parallel government rather than honor the much-lauded democratic process the U.S. military spent so much effort supposedly trying to establish.

But perhaps the most telling example is the growing instability in Israel, arguably the U.S. empire’s most beloved ally. In its grossly lopsided conflict with the occupied Palestinians, the Israeli government has increasingly defied attempts by Washington to sit down and hammer out a workable peace agreement, even though time and time again the terms are mainly in their favor.

Instead, they use any provocation by Palestinians as an excuse to launch merciless air strikes and invasions of their territories, ensuring a nightmarish future for all concerned. Once the lavish U.S. military subsidies begin to dry up, the state of Israel will have a very difficult time maintaining peaceful conditions, much less its own survival.

7. DEMOCRACY FOR SALE:
The high esteem that public officials once held in America seems little more than a quaint memory today, as democratic “contests” for seats from City Hall to the White House now appear more like auctions than elections.

Recent Supreme Court decisions, most notably Citizens United, have undone even the most basic restrictions on special interest contributions to political candidates, opening the floodgates to private donors seeking special favors and legislation from candidates once they’re elected to office. Sadly, the trends are only getting worse. In 2008, spending on the U.S. presidential election almost doubled compared with 2004.

In 2012, it nearly quadrupled compared with 2008. What’s worse is that as inequality worsens (see above), it’s largely the super-wealthy who are now providing the most donor power.

According to the Sunlight Foundation, a mere 0.01% of Americans in 2010 accounted for one-quarter of ALL money given to politicians, parties and political action committees. Little wonder most Americans think the system is rigged.

8. THE RISE OF CHINA:
Ever since it shook off its British and Japanese imperial chains and reunified under the banner of Communist revolution, China has been a resurgent global economic superpower. Under Communist Party rule, the country established universal education and health care, modernized its rural agrarian economy, and invested heavily in technology and infrastructure.

Decades of internal development and policies that protected domestic industry combined to provide the foundation of modern China’s world-class economy, which has been averaging unrivaled growth rates of 9% each year.

Of course, since the 1980s, China has also opened its economy to more direct foreign investment, privatized much of its industry, and slashed its social safety net, creating a new elite class of wealthy capitalists alongside an increasingly exploited class of landless rural peasants and urban poor.

As the U.S. has encircled China’s borders with pro-Western governments (Pakistan, South Korea, the Philippines, etc.), China has largely taken a non-aggressive approach, favoring a strategy of developing ever-greater economic relations with countries around the world. Initially, it pursued investment mostly in developing countries for resource purposes, but has recently ramped up investments in industrial regions like Europe and North America.

This still leaves China vulnerable to imperial attacks on its investments by the U.S. and other powers (i.e., the U.S./NATO military strikes on Libya, which forced the evacuation of 35,000 of its oil workers and engineers). In response to this threat, Chinese military strategists successfully called for a 19% annual increase in military spending from 2010 through 2015.

And while this will still amount to a fraction of what the U.S. empire spends militarily, it foreshadows a new era in Chinese determination to back up its meteoric economic rise with increasing military muscle.

9. THE GROWING SURVEILLANCE STATE:
In recent decades, with the dramatic advances in computers, communications, and information technologies, U.S. intelligence and security agencies have developed intricate systems of monitoring and assessing “threats” to American assets both at home and abroad.

A shift is happening toward increasing surveillance of the U.S. domestic population, growing numbers of whom find themselves on the margins of society, whether through sudden unemployment, downsizing, or existential angst in a meaning-starved, conflict-ridden materialistic age.

Much of what the security apparatus was actually doing remained shrouded in secrecy until very recently, when the heroic actions of former National Security Agency specialist Edward Snowden helped reveal the full extent to which Americans’ civil liberties were being routinely violated.

Perhaps most disconcerting among these revelations was the indiscriminate, sweeping process by which virtually every citizens’ phone records, e-mails, purchases, and other important data were being collected, analyzed, and vetted – not solely to assess potential “terrorist” activity, but also to target those deemed “radical” by the NSA.

According to The Huffington Post, the NSA recently hatched a plan to discredit a group of “radicalizers” who merely held “extreme” views based on their Muslim faith, a tactic that FBI and NSA officials have employed over the decades against civil rights leaders, environmental activists, and labor organizers.

Clearly, the security state is getting nervous. The fact that increasing sums of taxpayer funds and expertise are being used to spy on U.S. citizens doesn’t bode well for the future of American democracy.

10. APOCALYPTIC DREAMING:
Rarely does a summer blockbuster season now pass without several mega-budget motion pictures hitting theaters that feature catastrophic, apocalyptic, or wrenchingly dystopian themes. Almost all of the recent super hero flicks have seemingly required that major U.S. cities be bombarded, thrashed, or completely devastated, almost with a feeling of cathartic glee.

The zombie genre has also made a powerful comeback, with scores of films released in the last decade alone, including such widely popular flicks as 28 Weeks, I Am Legend, and World War Z.

Fantastical, supernatural themes have also been accompanied by increasingly realistic accounts of a world in chaos. Children of Men depicts a world experiencing a plummeting human population due to sudden universal infertility, Contagion tells of a merciless virus that kills millions upon millions in only a few days’ time, and Elysium portrays a world divided where the wealthy elite have fled the earth to live on a luxury satellite while the rest of the planet wallows in squalor and environmental devastation.

All of these signs of U.S. empire’s passing may, at face value, seem deeply disturbing. To be sure, most Americans will face increasingly hard times as the disproportionate wealth that now flows freely through military force to our shores finally begins to slip from our reach.

There will be demagogues (indeed, there already are) who will call for more campaigns to reclaim our imperial birthright. They will conjure tales of lost glory to enlist us in more futile wars to maintain our “rightful place” as the world’s greatest superpower. We must ignore their call.

The passing of empire affords us all with an incredible opportunity to reclaim those values that once inspired America to true greatness, and lifted the spirits of all who call this beautiful country our home. Virtues like self-reliance, democratic self-government, and conservation of our land.

Current and future generations deserve much better than being saddled with crushing debt, being conscripted into wars in the Middle East and beyond, or wasting away in meaningless jobs hawking more and more needless consumer products.

Our nation harbors a wellspring of talented, hardworking, and passionate souls who yearn for the chance to do right by their families and their communities.

Rather than bemoan empire’s loss, we can rebuild our cities and towns to work with nature’s cycles rather than against them; we can reforge lost arts, crafts, and industries that were so carelessly discarded in the rush to globalization; and we can revitalize our local democratic institutions and practices that were once the lifeblood of community life, ensuring that everyone has a voice in the great transformations ahead.

We can create a better future. It won’t come without serious challenges. Indeed, it may only come through them.

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