Monday, January 2, 2017

SOOOOLD, AMERICAN


"Since minimum wage is so low I think I'll hire more people than I absolutely need to run my business," said NO BUSINESS OWNER EVER.

Yet the predicable crocodile tears shed by employers large and small over the $15/hr minimum wage State Senator Josh Green will introduce during the upcoming Hawai`i legislative session are already flooding over the rail at the Capitol.

The truth is that all business owners hire not one more nor one less worker than they need, because, as you can hear even the most curmudgeonly sarcastic among them routinely remind their workers, "I ain't runnin' no charity here, ya know."

So where is this magical world they seem to be living in, where a hike to the minimum wage – or even a living remuneration – will cause them to lay off some of their staff? Probably shouting from the same post-truth delusional universe where they alone are the "job creators" who "pay way too much in taxes" because "I built this business without any government help," while standing on a public sidewalk beside a public highway, all of which were built with taxpayers’ money and are patrolled by municipal police and fire departments.
And I guess they must use some kind of barter system or maybe Bit-coin so as not to have to depend on the government to print the money they grub.

The worst ones even have the temerity to complain about "the bums" who sit on the pavement outside their establishments – you know, the ones we, at best, call "homeless" so we don't have to acknowledge that they work full time but, at the current minimum wage level, can't afford both rent and food.

As you might have guessed by now, I don't have much respect for western capitalism, although there's nothing wrong with "cottage industry." The problem comes not when you make and sell those cute little $20 hand-made hats that are oh-so popular and take you an hour to make. Rather, it's when you can't keep up with the demand for them, so you hire staff at $10 an hour to make more hats than you and your family can make, and keep the other $10 a piece so you can live in your penthouse and send your kids to private school while your employees live not just down the street but on the street, and their kids have to drop out of school so maybe all of them together can afford to rent a one-room tenement apartment – that's when we've got a problem.

Sen. Green's bill would make a $15-an-hour minimum the law by 2018 and $22 over time. And, no matter what kind of faulty reasoning – or faulty economic system – the Chamber of Commerce wants to sell you, once you have a taste of it, it's not hard to recognize that it's just another turd sandwich they want you to chew on.

Just don't swallow.

Friday, December 16, 2016

HOW SHOULD I KNOW? JUST MAKE SOMETHING UP.



I've been obsessed with the story of "fake news"- the actual made-up-of-whole-cloth stuff that dominated Facebook and Twitter during this election season.


But perhaps even worse has been the stilted corporate press coverage of this supposed "Russian hacking the elections" story which, while not actually counterfeit has been presented as factual despite the fact that it is almost almost 100% conjecture without any real evidence produced by the so-called US "intelligence community."


I've spent weeks trying to blow a hole in reactions to- to re-coin a term- "faux-info" by, shall we say, the less astute among us who have been insisting that it's the traditional media that's "the real fake news." And that's led to a dispute about the very definition of fake news.


But after watching the morning news I feel like giving up.


First up on CBS' a.m. news today was the pounding of the Russian hacking story with pronouncements of various degrees of evidence-free, speculative certitude. The use of the terms "possible," "maybe," and other such qualifiers is routinely and progressively abandoned by each successive pontificating pundit and definitive statements about what one partisan or another is saying about the matter becoming more important that any actual evidence for it.


The next story was Facebook's promise to rid peoples' "newsfeeds" of "fake" or completely fabricated news while remaining an information distributor instead of a media company (a very important legal distinction) by using some convoluted filter through which other media outlets will tag these kinds of posts without much attention to the issue of what is fake and what is just opinionated or slanted.


"What is reality?" we ask. The question of who can we we trust seems to have become more important that what.


So after varying degrees of fakeness we got to the third story this morning- the cold weather.
Ah... time for some accurate- if useless to us in Hawai`i- non-fake, accuracy.


And there stood the weather guy in front of his map of the continental US with what appeared to be the latest measurable numbers- the temperatures from around the nation. Can't fake that- the mercury (or at least your iPhone) never lies.


But there, on the top of the map, are the words telling us that these are simply "Feels Like" temperatures- not the actual thermometer readings but something someone made up to tell us, as the overly-sensationalized, mainstream media is wont to do, it's worse than it actually is.


Yes- that's right- IT'S THE FAKE WEATHER.


What's next? "This snow is so deep that, even though it's six inches, when you step in it it "feels like" it's a foot deep."


Wait- what? Did I hear right?: "Alien Dolphins Have Taken Over Congress." Film at 10.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

ANOTHER TOUR TO "SECRET (ULUWEHI) FALLS" IN BAD WEATHER REQUIRES AIR RESCUE.




(PNN) -- Kaua`i-- Although a county press release doesn't say which tour company took tourists to Secret Falls in bad weather when rain was apparently so bad that a woman required air rescue.


Last week a woman died and nine others had to be rescued when Kayak Wailua took a tour to the same falls during a flash flood warning prompting owner Peter Fisher to sya that in the future he would not run tours during flash flood watches or warnings.


According to the Kaua`i Fire Department release "(r)escuers were prepared to hike the woman out of the area using a Stokes litter, but requested Air 1 assistance due to the hazardous condition of the trail."

Thursday, December 8, 2016

(PNN) KAYAK WAILUA OWNER FISHER SAYS HE WILL 'CLOSE BARN DOOR'; LOOSE HORSES SAY 'LOL'


[PNN] (Kaua`i) -- Kayak Wailua owner Peter Fisher reportedly says he will no longer conduct kayak tours of Wailua River when a flash flood watch or warning is in effect after a tourist drowned in a flash flood Sunday while taking one of his kayak tours.

A flash flood warning was in effect for all of Kaua`i at the time and had been, on and off, for three days .Fisher has reportedly claimed it was a "calm... sunny day" on Sunday.

Flooding had been occurring on the North and East sides of Kaua`i all weekend.

During a flash flood, flooding happens suddenly and during a "warning" flooding is imminent or currently occurring.

Another of Fisher's customers died in 2010 when one of Fisher's tour guides reportedly told a man it was okay to swing from some long vines "like Tarzan," according to a lawsuit filed in Utah where the tourist was from. He apparently fell and hit his head on a rock and wandered off after first landing on hos mother-in-law and braking her leg His body was found six days later.

Calls for Fisher's arrest and prosecution have permeated social media this week. So far there has been no comment from the Kaua`i PD on possible charges. There have also been numerous, but thus far unverified, claims on social media saying that his employees had told people before the incident that they are pressured never to cancel tours no matter what the weather.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

(PNN) BECK'S HYBRIDS TO TAKE OVER BASF;S GMO, PESTICIDE EXPERIMENT FACILITIES




by Andy Parx


(Parx News Net- PNN) Oct. 12,2016 --- (Kapa`a) Beck's Hybrids has purchased and will be taking over BASF's GMO corn seed pesticide experimental facilities in Kekaha, although a Beck's press release and web site attempt to downplay if not coverup their intent beyond "hybrid seed production."


Although the terms GMO. genetically modified seeds and in fact pesticides are absent from the release and apparently impossible to find at Indiana-based Beck's web site a spokesperson from Kauai Farming & Jobs Coalition (KFJC) who refused to be identified did confirm the nature of Beck's intentions for their purchase of the former "BASF Seed Research Facility" on the Westside of the island of Kaua`i.


In a "sponsored" post from their Facebook page, the spokesperson refused to be identified because "each of our admins have been personally attacked by activists in the past." (S)he accused PNN of engaging in "haphazard activist reporting."


"We're used to you spreading misinformation," we were told.


KFJC is a pro-GMO/pesticide group that bills itself as "an issue-based organization (that) seeks out and presents answers on issues raised in our public discourse (and) represents a wide range of individuals and organizations in our community.


The soft-sell approach continued as the spokesperson deflected and misrepresented Beck's intentions until persistent questioning by PNN and others forced an admission that Beck's produced more than "traditional hybrids" and in fact did intend to continue BASF's pesticide experiments on genetically modified seed corn.


Despite a thorough search of the Beck's web site the term "genetic modification" or references to either pesticide use (RUP or otherwise) specifically or generally could not be found. The closest we found to a disclosure of GMOs was the use of the term "trait introgression" under the research and development section


According to Wikipedia "Natural introgression does not have human direct interference while the exotic introgression is induced intentionally (as for instance genetically modified organism)."


Beck's web site does not differentiate between natural and "exotic" introgression. It does say that they "practice genome-wide selection with a state-of-the-art molecular marker laboratory," although they do not further expand on that statement.


Apparently due to these deceptive tactics many who have been active in opposing the chemical companies' genetic modification/pesticide experiments on Kaua`i actually "liked" the KFJC Facebook post linking to the Beck's press release.


In 2013 up to 4.000 people on Kaua`i (population appx. 60,000) marched in support of Ordinance 960 which required disclosure of pesticide and GMO use and required buffer zones.


"(N)obody is claiming that Beck's won't be growing any GE corn" the spokesperson finally disclosed following a series of evasive answers to both our and others' directed questions in the comments section of KFJC's Facebook post . "Beck's carries hybrid corn both in conventional and GE varieties.


"Beck's will be using some of the approved pesticides that you listed," (s)he said referring to questions regarding use of glycophosate (Roundup) and restricted use pesticides (RUPs) atrazine, 2-4D (part of "Agent Orange") and others.


"(I)t is likely that they will participate in the Good Neighbor Program on Kauai." (s)he said referring to a voluntary unverifiable project sponsored by the governor and mayors of the neighbor islands in response to the Kaua`i legislation and a temporary ban of GMOs on Maui and a permanent ban (except for papayas) Hawai`i Island.


The Good Neighbor Program falls well short of the disclosures and buffer zones required in Kaua`i Ordinance 960.


The three laws are currently before the 9th Circuit Federal Appellate court awaiting a decision after being blocked from implementation by local federal magistrates.


Though, as usual, invitations to "tour the facilit(ies)" were extended we were, as usual, refused permission to bring a camera crew to record questions and answers. The spokesperson questioned whether "you could pay attention to what someone is saying or be genuinely interested when you're just trying to catch something on film."


What we might "catch" was not further defined.


For the record PNN has done dozens of TV interviews in producing "The Parxist Conspiracy" newsmagazine during the 90's, as do all professional video journalists- even while "touring" facilities.


Despite repeated requests from PNN and many other national and international news organizations all requests for formal interviews from a Kaua`i-based chemical company spokesperson have been refused.


The industry, through spokespersons, paid bloggers, PR companies and trade organizations has insisted that there is no difference between traditional cross-breeding that has been creating hybrid seeds for millenia and modern "gene-splicing" genetic modification technology which has been producing commercial products for less than a quarter century.


Caution flags have been raised by many predominant independent geneticists who say that the industry engages in bad science and produces stilted studies that presume the absence of evidence is the same as evidence of absence when it comes to health concerns over but genetically modified foods and moreover the use of restricted use pesticides such as atrazine which has been found to be probable carcinogens by the World Health Organization.


Genetically modified foods have been banned across the globe but not in the USA where the presumption of safety until harm is proved defies the science-based "precautionary principle" and the logically fallaciousness of "proving a negative" which cannot, by definition, be done.


Evidence of RUPs have been found in Westside Kaua`i waterways outside the boundaries of the chemical company experimental facilities - a violation of federal law.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

ROSENSTIEL'S N. SHORE STATE HOUSE CAMPAIGN GETS BOOST AS NAKAMURA'S LTE FLIES IN FACE OF HER RECORD ON LOCAL FOOD PRODUCTION; ATTEMPTS TO SABOTAGE BILL 2491 COMES BACK TO HAUNT NAKAMURA.

Environmental activist Fern Anuenue Rosenstiel's campaign for the North Shore (14th district) State House of Representatives seat got an unintentional boost last Saturday when her opponent, former Councilmember and assistant to Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Nadine K. Nakamura published an inexplicable letter to the editor asking voters to "be sure and get the facts" regarding her supposed "longstanding support for small farms and local food sustainability," revealing what she claims was "a telephone campaign from a Mainland group that is misrepresenting my position."


The facts are that, as a councilmember, Nakamura was instrumental in "watering down" and trying to indefinitely defer Bill 2491 (Ordinance 960) during what was known as "Text-gate" and later, as Mayor Bernard Carvalho's top lieutenant, supporting and engineering his veto of the bill as reported in 2013 by PNN.


In her LTE Nakamura didn't identify the supposed "mainland group" and didn't address her support for the chemical companies, nor did she discuss actual local food production agriculture or small, "healthy food" or organic farms, referring instead to her support for the corporate "Value Added" and "Kaua`i Grown" programs.


Rosenstiel is an environmental scientist who was one of the leaders in creation and passage the Ordinance 960 requiring chemical companies on Kaua`i to disclose specifics regarding the types, locations and amounts of Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs) and experimental genetically modified organism (GMO) crops used and the maintenance of modest buffer zones, especially around schools, hospitals, waterways and residences. Rosenstiel's testimony on the bill can be seen here.


Rosenstiel, who was born and raised on Kaua`i, has been a staunch supporter of the healthy food/sustainability movement. Her platform calls for "Food Production Agriculture" saying "(i)t's important to our entire community and our ongoing survival that we put our attention to supporting food production agriculture, farmers and food security.  We must support food production agriculture parcels and programs and projects to get farmers initiated and self-sustaining."


The divisive use of the "dog whistle" term " Mainland group" has been at the heart of an often divisive split in the community between the Chamber of Commerce crowd and employees of chemical giants like Syngenta, BASF and Dow on one side and members of the community who have battled for years for disclosure of and protections against the use of RUPs and GMOs on the other.


The term is actually a misnomer because many of the families affected are multi-generational former plantation families, some of whom sued and won a settlement against Pioneer for damages to their homes due to wind-blown "drift."


The story behind Nakamura's attempt to parse and re-write her record was reported by PNN shortly after the Oct 16, 2013 marathon county council committee ,meeting (see newspaper report) and poat-3 a.m. vote on the bill. As a councilmember Nakamura was been observed discussing strategy with and taking directions from Carvalho's then chief political advisor, Beth Tokioka, with whom Nakamura- along with Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura- had been texting all day on the 15th and into the night of the 16th during the meeting.


Following the passage of the bill Tokioka quit her long-time county job as confidant to three different mayors and went to work doing PR for Syngenta and right after the bill passed Nakamura was appointed County Manager, Carvalho's "deputy mayor," where she backed his eventually overridden veto of the bill. Tokioka was recently appointed to the county Board of Water supply


Syngenta has sued the county over the bill and the matter is awaiting a decision by the Federal 9th Circuit Appellate court.


The oddest part of this is Nakamura's decision to publicly repeat allegations about her lukewarm- or even lack of- support for small farms and sustainable or organic local food production, countering it the claim by citing her promotion of things like "value-added products" and the "Kaua`i Made" programs when most see the real issue as centering around promoting actual food production for local use vs experimental "seed" production which supplies no food whatsoever- a subject that has, due to the LTE, now been raised to the forefront in District 14 which has thus-far avoided having experimental pesticides and GMOs grown there.


For the full details of the "Text-gate" story go to http://parxnewsdaily.blogspot.com/2013/11/mayors-political-advisor-tokioka-caught.html


The primary election is on August 13 and walk-in voting begins on Aug. 1 while absentee mail-in ballots are currently being delivered to voters' mailboxes.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

ACCOUNT-A-BULL-ITY


"Stop us before we appropriate again?"


The now-defeated proposed Kaua`i charter amendment to put 1% of real property tax revenue was an incredibly blatant political move to protect the Kaua`i County Council from itself and allow them to shirk their decision-making responsibilities so they can't be held accountable.

The whole problem is that visitors do not pay their fair share of taxes and vehicle fees especially without our fair share of the Transient Accommodation Tax (TAT) from the legislature.


So why not raise property taxes on resort-zoned properties and other visitor accommodations? Gee- you don't think it's because the tourism industry sector is the biggest campaign contributor do ya?. Or the fact that we couldn't even pass a decent lobbyist law (such as the one Councilmember Hooser proposed before the rest of the council watered it down to irrelevancy).


We are being robbed blind by the visitor industry. Not only does that keep real property taxes on homeowner-occupants high but keeps residents' fees unfairly high for instance when car rental companies register their vehicles in Honolulu.


And those "jobs jobs jobs" they create are predominantly low (if not minimum) wage putting even more financial stress on residents and the system in general.


God forbid, since the state legislature won't do it, we pass a $15 minimum wage at the county level- something not forbidden under the state's $10,10 minimum wage law. An island like this is the perfect place for a $15/hr minimum wage because people can't just go to a neighboring county for goods and services negating the business' usual (fallacious to being with) arguments against it.
It seems like the concept of progressive taxation has never occurred to the council’s Tea Party majority who want to raise vehicle registration and weight taxes... much less real property taxation where resort and speculative visitor accommodation don't pay their fair share when compared to what they are costing us all.


There's your $100 million in road repairs- a figure that was seemingly plucked out of thin (hot) air - in the first place.