Bob McDermott needs to shut up about sex ed

The socially conservative state rep. is doing his constituents, and all the children in Hawai‘i's public school system, a disservice with his continuing crusade against the BOE's new comprehensive sexual education policy

Will Caron
An open letter to President Obama and the members of the IUCN Congress

On September 1-10, 2016, the IUCN World Conservation Congress is gathering in Hawai`i because “the ecosystems that underpin our economies, well-being and survival are collapsing. Species are becoming extinct at unprecedented rates. Our climate is in crisis.”

The time for action is now. IUCN has called for change in the wake of the 2015 Paris climate conference in which “almost 200 nations agreed on ambitious goals for sustainable development and achieving climate neutrality. These agreements represent an historic opportunity to improve the lives of billions of people around the globe and put nature at the heart of our decisions. It’s time to move these agreements into action.”

Yet, Hawai`i—the country hosting this historic gathering—has been subjected to tremendous and consistent environmental attack. Most recently abuses include:

1. Desecration of Sacred Mauna Kea. The State of Hawai`i has supported the construction of telescope after telescope on the sacred slopes of Mauna Kea. These actions are undertaken over the objection of the first peoples of the land, Nā Kānaka Maoli, and are in clear violation of our Free, Prior, and Informed Consent. Most recently the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope has threatened our sacred Mauna. Our kīa`i have been dutifully protecting Mauna Kea for over a year as courts deliberate the legality of the construction of this $1.4 billion project.

2. The Trans Pacific Partnership. The TPP trade agreement empowers corporations over nations and peoples, endangering indigenous lands in Hawai`i and across the globe.

3. The United States Military & RIMPAC. Live fire training on our lands, sea, and air has destroyed and poisoned hundreds of thousands of acres of Hawai`i’s limited lands, polluted Hawai`i’s formerly pristine seas, and contaminated Hawai`i’s winds with depleted uranium which poisons residents and visitors alike. RIMPAC, the Rim of the Pacific Exercise, is the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise. Held biennially in Hawai`i, it turns the Kanaka Maoli homeland into a playground for global military powers, selling weapons of destruction and training nations in the oppression of others.

4. The proposed Department of Interior (DOI) Rule to create a Native Hawaiian Tribe. In 2014 the DOI held a set of hearings throughout the islands asking Hawai’i’s communities if they would like the DOI to propagate a Rule that would facilitate the creation of a federally recognized Native Hawaiian tribe.  Over ninety-five percent of the in-person testimony at these hearings were opposed to the creation of a Rule (with many advocating for complete Independence for Hawai’i). These testimonies were discounted when the DOI chose to consider anonymous and duplicate written testimony on par with in-person opposition. This practice resulted in flawed numbers which suggest that 70% of our people support the unethical process initiated by the DOI. Moving forward in this flawed process will circumvent critically important discussions about independence and self-determination currently taking place among Kanaka Maoli communities in Hawai`i and on Moku Honu.

5. Building of the North Dakota Access Pipeline. Our concern for the environment extends globally. An unprecedented unification of First Nations people has taken place in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux who are protecting their waters from the Dakota Access Pipeline which (if built) will transport 570,000 barrels of crude oil over 1,172 miles daily. This unity echoes throughout Indian country in struggles for Sacred Oak Flats, Moahdak D’ag, and countless others. It exemplifies what First Nations people undertake to protect our environment when, more often than not, the safety of our land, water, and air is threatened by local and federal authorities. We stand with our brothers and sisters who are uniting all indigenous people to protect our water and future generations against corporations and the short-sighted fixation on fossil fuels.

We the undersigned firmly oppose the continued destruction of Hawai`i and all First Nations lands at the hands of governments, corporations, and militaries which prioritize money over the health and well-being of people and the environment. We call on President Obama and the IUCN World Conservation Congress to take clear and immediate action to stop these abuses.

Kanaka Maoli Individuals, Organizations and Supporters

‘Aha Aloha ‘Āina New York City
‘Aha Aloha ‘Āina O’ahu
Anne Keala Kelly, Filmmaker & Journalist
Ben Manuel
Bianca Isaki, Ph.D., Esq.
Candice Fujikane, PhD, English Professor, University of Hawaiʻi
Cheryl Burghardt
Christina Bacchilega
Claud Sutcliffe, PhD
David Maile
Healani Sonoda-Pale, Protest Naʻi Aupuni
Hui Kū Like Kākou
Iraq Veterans Against the War NYC
Isaac Harp, Destination Restoration
Jeanette Soon-Ludes, PhD, ‘Aha Aloha ‘Āina Washington DC
KĀHEA - The Hawaiian Environmental Alliance
Ka Lāhui Hawai`i Political Action Committee
Kalamaoka’āina Niheu, MD, ‘Ohana Koa Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific
Kau’i Trainer
Kealoha Pisciotta, President of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou and member of Kai Palaoa
Nā Koa Ikaika O Ka Lahui Hawai`i
Nodutdol for Korean Community Development NYC
Laurel Turbin Mei-Singh
Melissa Moniz, President of Kai ‘Ula Pono’i Texas HCC
Patricia A Gozemba, SAFE Co-Chair
Stephanie Mushrush, MSW member of Washoe Tribe of NV and CA
R. D. Conner & Rachel L. “Momi” Kailianu-Conner
Shalee Kekawa, ‘Aha Aloha ‘Āina SoCal
Tuti Baker
Will Caron

Anti-TPP protest planned for president’s IUCN appearance reflects party differences

The protest, planned by Sanders delegates--many of whom are Democratic Party newcomers--will take place tomorrow outside the East-West Center

President Obama will make two public appearances on Wednesday, August 31, and anti-TPP activists from within his own party intend to protest outside both. The president will appear first at the Lake Tahoe Summit in California and next at the World Conservation Congress at the East West Center in Honolulu from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. HST.

The protests are being organized by Bernie Sanders delegates who first met at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia last month. There they protested platform committee co-chair Elijah Cummings appearance on the first day of the convention and President Obama’s on the third day over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) issue. The East-West Center protests will also reflect opposition to U.S. military buildups throughout the Pacific as part of the Obama Administration’s Pacific Pivot.

“The TPP will be devastating for Hawaii’s people and our economy,” said embattled member of the Democratic Party of Hawaii Chelsea Lyons-Kent, an organizer for the protests, “We’re all very aware how destructive these so called trade deals can be. NAFTA has cost the U.S. millions of good paying jobs that were sent overseas. It has also been a major factor in the shrinking of our middle class. The TPP is NAFTA on steroids. The people of Hawaii cannot afford to have anymore good paying jobs being sent overseas.”

Lyons-Kent is under fire from the conservative, established members of the Democratic Party of Hawaii after she photobombed an image taken at the DNC that included party bigwigs Sen. Brian Schatz, who opposes the TPP, Sen. Mazie Hirono and former governor John Waihee. Lyons-Kent flipped her middle finger as the photo was taken. She defended the gesture as a legitimate, if ill-advised, protest over the establishment’s support of policies like the TPP and Pacific Pivot in the party platform committee debates, and out of frustration at the establishment’s stonewalling of the newer, more progressive members of the party.

Hawaii democratic officials are now using the photo in an attempt to remove her from the party altogether, and are attempting to remove a longtime progressive leader within the Democratic Party as well, simply because he defended her action, which begs the question, Are party officials simply using the “she has no aloha spirit” excuse as cover to try and remove progressives who intend to “cause trouble” over issues like the TPP?

During his primary campaign, Senator Sanders opposed the TPP, saying it represents an evolution in lopsided trade deals that benefit major corporate interests and hurt workers, consumers and the environment since the NAFTA deal of the mid-‘90s. Sanders selected platform committee members were outspoken opponents of the TPP during platform debates and attempted to include opposition to the deal in the Democratic party platform. The attempt was thwarted by Clinton and DNC committee appointees who said they didn’t want to embarrass President Obama. Sanders delegates decided to stay together after the convention, forming the TPP Action Network to organize actions against the TPP.

Both major presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump purport to be against the TPP, but Clinton’s chief strategist has said she would not drop the deal, but would rather renegotiate it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel has indicated that he is amenable to passing the TPP with changes in the next administration.

The Hawaii action is being cosponsored by: Our Revolution Hawai’i, 350.org Hawai’i, DeOccupy Honolulu, Idle No More Hawai’i and The World Can’t Wait.

The Tahoe event will also include a protest against Jerry Brown, who has steadfastly refused to ban fracking since activists began petitioning and protesting him four years ago. Fracking has quadrupled under President Obama, causing the U.S. to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s number one producer of oil. This is despite the desire by both Brown and Obama to be known as climate leaders.

Will Caron
Police killings and education in occupied Hawai‘i

What Hawai‘i can, and must, learn from the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

Tyler Greenhill
An open letter to the brave members of the Kamehameha Schools class of 2016

The decision by certain graduating Kamehameha seniors to remain seated during the "Star-Spangled Banner" should be celebrated as an act of independent thought deserving of praise, not condemnation.

Noelani Goodyear-Kaopua
McCarthy’s ghost

Civil rights boycotts are a form of protected First Amendment expression because they are, too often, the last peaceful means available to an oppressed people and their supporters in calling for justice.

Will Caron
A kiaʻi kai movement

Ocean guardianship, cultural seascape protection and the expansion of Papahānaumokuākea

Kekuewa Kikiloi
LNG protest to take place outside Hawaii Gas HQ

Hawaiʻi residents to call on Hawaii Gas to drop Liquified Natural Gas as part of a global movement to "break free" from fossil fuels

Local residents plan to protest outside the Hawaii Gas headquarters (745 Fort Street Mall) on Friday May 13 in the hopes that the company will drop its latest proposal to import more fossil fuel gas to Hawaiʻi. The protest comes as people around the world are scheduled to participate in demonstrations against some of the world’s most dangerous and unnecessary fossil fuels projects.

“Importing more fossil fuel is not the way to achieve Hawaiʻi’s 100 percent renewable energy goals,” said David Mulinix of Idle No More Hawaiʻi. “We should be focusing on the installation of solar panels and batteries, not new schemes to further our dependence on imported fossil fuel.”

Hawaii Gas was recently granted approval by the Public Utilities Commission to import Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) to Hawaiʻi. The project will require investment in new infrastructure and create new demand for fossil fuels in the islands.

“It feels like Hawaii Gas is looking out for their own corporate profits and not the best interests of Hawaiʻi’s people when they talk about importing LNG to our islands,” said Marti Townsend, Director for the Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi.

LNG is touted by the industry as a cleaner, cheaper fuel, but the methane that is released when it is mined and that must be regularly vented while it is stored contributes as much or more to global climate change as carbon pollution from coal or oil.

“The truth is LNG is still a dirty fossil fuel that makes no economic sense for Hawaiʻi. If anything, LNG is nothing but a “broken bridge” that climate experts assert actually accelerates climate warming,” said Henry Curtis of Life of the Land.

“LNG, which is essentially methane, is 30 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas” explained Mulinix.

On April 6, 2016 the Public Utilities Commission approved Hawaii Gas’ application to bring in containers of LNG from the mainland for up to 30 percent of their supply needs. This is a first step in Hawaii Gas’ broader plans to further expand the use of LNG in Hawaiʻi, which entails spending $200 million for infrastructure. This includes off-shore docking facilities and a pipeline system to bring the fuel onshore.

“All this expense and effort for something that’s supposed to be temporary makes no sense,” added Mulinix, “Considering the State of Hawaiʻi’s goal is to attain 100 percent renewable electric generation by 2045, we should be focusing on improving our options for that.”

Hawaiʻi Governor David Ige signed a bill into law last year committing the state to using only renewable sources of energy by 2045. As part of that policy, the Governor denounced LNG as distraction from achieving our longer term goals.

“The science is clear,” said Sherry Pollack of 350.org Hawai’i. “If we are to keep below the tipping point for climate chaos and protect our ‘life support system’ i.e. the planet, scientists have confirmed we must take bold action now to stop burning fossil fuels. The reality is that the proposed LNG plans by Hawaii Gas will exacerbate the climate crisis by supporting the burning of fossil fuels for decades, and overlooks the price Hawaiʻi is already paying for past reliance on fossil fuels. Look at our loss of coastline, coral reefs and trades winds, not to mention the destruction caused to communities where fracking occurs. This is unacceptable. We refuse to stand idly by and let short-sighted companies wreak havoc on our planet and our children’s future. That is why we say no to LNG.”

Friday’s protest will be one of many global “Break Free from Fossil Fuels” actions happening this weekend. Thousands of people around the world are joining actions which aim to divest from fossil fuels and speed up the just transition to 100 percent renewable energy. These peaceful worldwide mobilizations are intended to serve as an important turning point in the trajectory to increase pressure on the fossil fuel industry.

The local Hawaiʻi action is co-sponsored by: 350 Hawaii.org, DeOccupy Honolulu, Hawaiʻi Interfaith Power and Light, Idle No More Hawaiʻi, Life of the Land, Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi, Surfrider Foundation Oʻahu Chapter, Transition Oʻahu, Windward Ahupuaʻa Alliance.

What really happened at the ʻAha, part V

The purpose of the ʻAha is fulfilled and a federal recognition-friendly constitution is adopted, but the call for true self-determination still grows louder.

Ka'iulani Milham
Student Deaths at the University of Hawai’i: Part III

It's been over two weeks since a freshman at UHM died on campus after falling from one of the dorms, and administration has communicated nothing to the larger community about the event or resources students and faculty can access if they are troubled by it. Students and faculty should not find out via gossip and surmise.

Susan Schultz