The Trans-Pacific Partnership, Pivot and Pathway

The TPP and its corresponding and supporting military "pivot" have been impacting the lives of Pacific peoples for years through military-industrial buildups, the removal of indigenous self-determination, environmental degradation and wealth extraction.

Craig Santos Perez
ACLU files injunction against city’s houseless sweeps

New evidence, new legal action asking court to halt city’s immediate destruction of property

Citing new evidence that the City and County of Honolulu is using ‘sweeps’ of homeless individuals to continue bypassing Hawaii laws and violate the state Constitution, the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i Foundation (ACLU) and the law firm of Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing, filed a new request in federal court for a preliminary injunction.

The new documents show that city officials are continuing an illegal practice of immediately destroying property instead of—as required by the City’s own ordinances—first taking then storing items for recovery by the owner.

The added evidence includes sworn testimony by city officials contradicting earlier city assertions that the government is following the law in taking individuals’ possessions.

“The Constitution requires that, regardless of whether you are rich or poor, everyone is entitled to equal treatment under the law,” said Daniel M. Gluck, Legal Director for the ACLU of Hawaii. “The ACLU is committed to making sure the city follows its own laws and treats everyone fairly, and will continue to fight on behalf of Hawaii’s most vulnerable residents.”

Nick Kacprowski of Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing added, “We have supplied the court with a mountain of evidence—including City officials’ own sworn testimony and many videos and photographs of recent sweeps—proving that, contrary to the city’s earlier claims, and consistent with what we told the court at the earlier hearing, the city routinely and consistently destroys property belonging to homeless individuals, rather than storing that property as required by law. The city refuses to follow the law, [has] misrepresented its activities to avoid a temporary restraining order, and now we are renewing our clients’ request for an injunction to stop ongoing civil rights violations by the city.”

Labor board schedules unfair labor practices hearing on Aqua-Aston

Thirteen unfair labor practice charges have been filed against Aqua-Aston since February.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint today against Aqua-Aston Hospitality in response to five unfair labor practice charges filed by UNITE HERE Local 5 against Aqua-Aston (formerly Aston Hotels & Resorts) since July. The charges include allegations that Aqua-Aston unlawfully threatened and discriminated against workers for engaging in lawful union activity, even going so far as to discipline two workers and terminate one.

In April, the NLRB issued a complaint against Aqua-Aston for eight additional unfair labor practice charges. Local 5 alleged that Aqua-Aston violated federal labor law by intimidating and harassing workers at the Aston Waikiki Beach and Hotel Renew. Aston agreed to settle these allegations by posting notices in the hotels committing that the hotels “will not threaten [employees] with adverse job consequences if [they] engage in union or other protected and concerted activities.”

The new complaint alleges several instances where Aqua-Aston management continued to threaten workers for engaging in union activities, even after it agreed to a settlement in April promising to cease these unlawful threats.

Edgar DeGuzman, a maintenance worker at Aston Waikiki Beach, says he received a written warning just for mentioning the union.

“This isn’t right. The hotel posted these notices, and then I got disciplined just for talking about the union. I am happy to hear that the NLRB is going to schedule a hearing,” said DeGuzman.

Another charge alleges that Gary Ettinger, Executive Vice President of Operations, “threatened employees with the loss of their jobs for engaging in union and/or protected concerted activities.”

The NLRB complaint notifies both Aqua-Aston and Local 5 that a hearing will take place starting February 2, 2016.

Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel is owned by Xenia Hotels and Resorts (NYSE:XHR), a recently spun-off affiliate of Inland American Real Estate Trust Inc.

Nai Aupuni releases strange, defensive statement regarding protesters

The statement has no attribution and insinuates that protesters like Walter Ritte, who held a press conference about his own decision to abstain from the Nai Aupuni aha process and withdraw as a candidate this morning, are refusing to participate because they are afraid that they won’t get their way. Here is the statement:


HONOLULU – Na‘i Aupuni encourages Native Hawaiians to voice their opinion on the election process because the voters and delegate candidates should hear all voices.

However, the fact that some Native Hawaiians protest because they are concerned that their desired outcome will not be accepted emphasizes the need for a Native Hawaiian convention. Without a process where elected leaders can discuss various options and issues to find a consensus, the Native Hawaiian community will never proceed forward in unity. The outcome of the Na‘i Aupuni process, which involves 90,000 potential voters and 200 candidates, cannot be predetermined but it will be an important first step toward achieving Native Hawaiian solidarity.

In fact, protesters like Ritte and Andre Perez, have repeatedly said that their concern stems from the use of the Kana‘iolowalu roll, which did not come close to including even a majority of possible Hawaiian registrants and which, as a roll controlled by the State of Hawaii, is inherently another form of U.S. control and occupation over Hawaii.

Will Caron
The poetry of plastic

Plastic is a normal part of our everyday lives, environments and even bodies; poems about plastic help us to truly see its impact, entanglements and dangers.

Craig Santos Perez
Creating a compassion contagion at UH Manoa

Institutional compassion is different from individual compassion, and it's lacking at the university's flagship campus when it comes to student death protocol.

Susan Schultz
The poetry of extinction

After discussing creation stories last week, we turn to extinction stories this week, another important theme in eco-poetics.

Craig Santos Perez