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Intro to Pacific Eco-Poetics

The Hawaii Independent is pleased to present a series exploring eco-poetics and eco-criticism, featuring poems, reflections and critiques about the environment, climate change and more.

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Craig Santos Perez
Military build-up on Guam to go forward

On August 29, 2015, the U.S. Navy signed the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Guam-Marianas Military Build Up despite significant, long-standing opposition to the plan. When President Obama visited Guam in 2010,it was under the guise of speaking about sustainability and environmental practices within the Pacific. Barely mentioned were the real reasons for Obama’s visit: to rally community and official support for the Department of Defense plan to relocate 8,600 Marines from Okinawa (Japan) to Guam, provide additional live-fire training sites, expand Andersen Air Force Base, create berthing for a nuclear aircraft carrier, and erect a missile defense system on the island.

The ROD allows for:
the green light on massive base construction and expansion projects set over eight years, including a new Marine Corps Base at Finegayan;
the taking of more sacred, historically and culturally rich lands at Litekyan and water for military use in Northern Guam;
the closure of public access to one of Guam’s most pristine places, the Ritidian Wildlife Nature Refuge;
the clearing of over 1,000 acres of diminishing limestone forests;
The destruction of some 55 acres of coral reef;
more war games, weapons testing and arms training over ancestral lands;
thousands more troops living and working behind thousands of more feet of fenced off lands;
an increase in waste left from live-fire training; and
the expansion of militarization to the rest of the Mariana islands.

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Lanakila Mangauil and the foundation for kapu aloha

Part two of our profile on Joshua Lanakila Mangauil examines the origins of the kapu aloha, a Hawaiian philosophy of non-violence and respect that the Mauna Kea defenders are using to deflect development advances on the sacred mountain.

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Ka'iulani Milham
Fecal matters

Fecal Matters

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Will Caron
UH exec raises reward incompetence

The front page headline​ of the Sunday Star-Advertiser virtually screamed:  “UH ​RAISES WOULD COST $1M,” (Star-Advertiser, 8/18/15)​! That article​ leaves me, after 40 years as a professor at UH, Manoa, with only one response: SHIBAI! Maybe even two SHIBAI! No, for sure three SHIBAI!

Shibai 1: The people who received the raises generally are paid so much more than the faculty and staff at UH that the need to add to their already bloated income makes UH look ridiculous​, even anti-academic​. Look at some of their salaries as reported by the Star-Advertiser. It is likely that many of the ​10 ​executives ​listed on the front page, with salaries from $279,000 to $522,000 (!), are already millionaires from feeding out of the public trough. They need cost of living increases like the rest of us need our ​salaries​ reduced to pay for these raises.

Shibai 2. The raises “were based on performance reviews and were only given to those who received an outstanding or superior rating​!​”​(emphasis added).​ These execs are outstanding?! Give ​m​e a break. These are the execs that lurch from one disaster to another that they themselves create. Ain’t it wonderful that UH rewards some of the most incompetent UH employees—all administrators—​for causing, not solving, problems? Ask any faculty member or staff: ​many of​ these “execs”​ ​can​​ ​barely function in a modern-day university​ that purports to aim at excellence.​ The evidence of their incompetence: dilapidated, outdated facilities and awful national ratings, to wit, UH Manoa was ranked last year by “US News and World Report” as 168th out of 201 research universities nationwide and receiving an evaluation score of only 23 points out of 100, a failing score in any class in the country. These leaders are outstanding? At what?

Shibai 3: Outstanding performance reviews, eh?​ Says whom?​ ​There are way too many examples of individual incompetence in this bunch, but let’s just take a few. President Lassner: fires the best chancellor we have ever had at UH because others told him to.​ What kind of “leader” just does what he is told to do? Jerris Hedges​, Dean of the Medical School, makes a completely undeserved $500,000 and change: facing continuous budget shortfalls​ in the Med School​, ​he reportedly ​moves his staff to the Cancer Center, and pays them out of the Center’s funds​, ​thereby—in one fell swoop—saving the ​M​ed ​S​chool money and taking money away fr​o​m the Cancer Center that is supposed to go to research on cancer. And, most unbelievable of all, ​Vice Chancellor ​Reed Dasenbrock: he’s outstanding all right. He has the most faculty and staff complaints of any general UH administrator ​in the history of UH​​!​ He has been accused of racism, sexism, ​harassment, ​temper tantrums and other egregious offenses. He is under investigation by UH right now. He should be fired, not rewarded. Unless, of course, his actions are covertly supported by other UH administrators and the Board of Regents. Not beyond the realm of possibility​, say I​.

It seems like UH is living in a fantasy world wherein incompetence is viewed as “outstanding” (outstanding incompetence?), where these so called “evaluations” are completed without any transparency, and where the Mad Hatter would as much be at home as he is in Alice’s Wonderland. The only possible rational explanation is that the incompetence starts at the top, with the Board of Regents, and their incompetence begets even more incompetence as the incompetent at the top hire ever more incompetent executives and administrators at all levels.

Systemic problems require systemic changes. When will the community realize this?

Dr. Joel Fischer, ACSW​ (735-7582)​
Professor (Ret.)
University of Hawai`i, School of Social Work
Honolulu, HI 96822

Dr. Joel Fischer retired in December, 2009, after 40 years as a professor at UH Manoa.

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Dr. Joel Fischer
Why UH Manoa needs a student death protocol

A small group of students and faculty at the University of Hawaii at Manoa has been trying to get the administration to create a humane protocol for handling tragedy on campus, and to better advertise mental health services, for nearly a year.

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Susan Schultz
How Lanakila Mangauil came to Mauna Kea

The first installment of a three-part profile of Joshua Lanakila Mangauil, based on interviews conducted over several weeks.

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Ka'iulani Milham
Is rail too little, too late?

With auto sales, population and tourism numbers projected to continue to rise rapidly, how effective will rail actually be in reducing congestion on Honolulu roads?

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit (HART) trumpets a reduction in traffic congestion on Honolulu’s crowded streets and clogged freeways as the primary benefit to the multi-billion dollar rail project. But, while the project is still years away from completion, statistics on the contributing factors show that congestion will only get worse in the mean time.

The auto industry is booming across the state; car sales and registrations continue to rise rapidly. In 2014, new auto registrations throughout Hawaii increased 11 percent in just the first quarter. Although registrations have stayed flat during the first quarter of 2015, they are projected to rise nearly four percent by the end of the year. And research from the National Automotive Dealers Association found that the auto business remains a multi-billion dollar industry in Hawaii. In 2013 alone, 78 new car and truck dealerships opened across the state.

Part of these gains can be attributed to Hawaii’s growing population. A report from Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism says the state’s population has steadily increased every year since 1980. Hawaii’s overall resident population is expected to increase from 1,363,621 in 2010 to 1,708,900 in 2040, an average growth rate of 0.8 percent per year. Oahu, of course, will retain the largest population, currently at 976,000 and projected to rise to 1,008,000 by 2040.

Add to that the impact tourism will have on driving. This year, Oahu has had at least 400,000 visitors each month, many of them renting cars. Nationwide, car rental businesses are seeing significant gains. The American car rental industry generated a record $26.1 billion in revenue last year, sparked—in part—by growing tourism, which is back to pre-recession levels in Hawaii.

HART is making its best effort to assure Oahu residents that rail will alleviate traffic congestion. Rail’s official website says it will, “eliminate an estimated 40,000 car trips from our congested streets and highways.” But does the project take into serious consideration the island’s continued growth? Increases in population, tourism, and vehicles will continue to make HART’s goal of traffic reduction a hard one to reach. If all rail does is take some cars off the road to create room for new ones, its net effect on traffic will be nothing.

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Alex Kekauoha
BLNR to discuss Pohakuloa lawsuit on Friday

The Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, which represents the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, will offer testimony at Friday's board meeting. So can you.

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Will Caron
TPP could draw U.S. into Asia territorial disputes

The trade deal comes with strengthened military ties between the U.S. and East-Asian nations, some of which are already involved in regional territorial disputes with China.

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Alex Kekauoha