Monday, March 16, 2009


BESTEST FRIENDS: With the death of newspapers like tomorrow’s closing of the Seattle Post Intelligencer many trained as journalists are turning to public relations work, attempting to turn sows ears into silk purses.

But sometimes there’s little they can do to repair the images of the morally bankrupt, especially these days when even the biggest polluters and environmental criminals are trying to show their green credentials.

So it should have come as no shock when the local paper, desperate for “free content”, rewrote a piece of PR absurdity last Saturday, telling us that “PMRF (Pacific Missile Range Facility) wins Navy Cultural Resource Management Award

A reading of the lead shows that the award was of course not from the Sierra Club or Friends of the Earth or some environmental organization but from the Navy itself.

The article says that

The Chief of Naval Operations recently announced the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands, Kaua`i as the one of the winners of the 2008 CNO Environmental Award for the Cultural Resources Management Installation category, a PMRF news release said this week.

It blathers on about some invasive eradication program- i.e. trying to kill of some off the keawe on the base- and some “cultural/natural resources display” about the “significance of these components to the Native Hawaiian culture prior to Westernization — food, shelter, construction, medicine and cultural practices.”

For those who have followed the exploits of PMRF over the last 20- or ever 40- years it’s a real stomach churning experience to read thorough all the platitudes regarding how caring and concerned- not to mention beloved- the Navy base is about that “significance”.

But the end of the article pushed the button that for many no doubt opened the ear-valve, allowing the emission of a stream of steam.

It quotes one particular “coconut” (brown on the outside white on the inside), Kunane Aipoalani who works on the base as a “transportation buyer” and is a member of the Kaua`i Burial Council.

Ignoring historical desecration and environmental despoilage in Mana, he uses the magic words the rest of the article avoided.

“As a descendent of Nohili and the surrounding area of Barking Sands, I’ve felt PMRF has always been a good neighbor in their established relationship of being sensitive and respectful to the ‘aina (land), its people, and the cultural history of this place. I appreciate the importance of this relationship which is vital to the preservation of a legacy that was left by our ancestors.” (emphasis added)

Good Neighbor, eh. Do good neighbors turn pristine accessible beaches- the longest and widest stretch of beach in the islands- into a restricted, often closed-off cog in the war machine, while spewing rocket fuel, dumping their rockets and waste on the ocean floor in the Ni`ihau channel and, in it’s latest land grab, closing down existing local farms (and preventing new ones) on well-irrigated, prime ag land?

We don’t know if Aipoalani is too young to remember or is exhibiting intentionally selective memory but other do remember the phrase “Good Neighbors” from the base’s PR campaign back in the 90’s when base Commander Robert Mullins repeated it ad nauseum during the infamous “Star Wars” battles when the Navy set brother against brother inland-wide so they could fire off 40 dilapidated old Polaris missiles in an early test of Ronald Regan’s sci-fi movie fantasy.

(Parenthetically Mullins eventually landed a job as former Mayor Maryanne Kusaka’s Administrative Assistant where his first act was to steal the economic development money slated for the Hanapepe Economic Alliance’s efforts to revitalize the town’s economy and spent it on the “High Tech” center for PMRF defense contractors in Waimea. He then took a job with contractor Textron and opened an office in the building he built, as PNN reported on “The Parxist Conspiracy” TV newsmagazine in the 90’s.)

When people hear the phrase “Good Neighbors” many also remember a film called “Good Neighbor?” by local videographer Ed Coll depicting Mullins repeatedly and defensively stating “we ARE good neighbors” while defending the main gate of the base before his soldier goon squad beat and arrested a group of Hawaiian religious and cultural practitioners who attempted to access those beloved sacred Nohili burial dunes that Aipoalani mentioned, for a religious ceremony.

The film hadn’t been seen publicly for many years but recently it has been resurrected by Coll and is now posted on line.

It shows a goon squad of camouflage-clad soldiers using excessive force and injuring the group members, led by Rev Ka Leo Patterson and a group of reverends and pastors from across the island and world and supported by other guests who accompanied them.

For those who haven’t seen it- and even for those who haven’t seen it in a decade and a half- it’s a must see now. It shows how the cultural and religious practitioners went around a fence to get to the dunes only to be clubbed and dragged behind couple of buildings- where they could not be seen by those who waited outside the fence- for some final abuse. Coll followed them in, wearing his press pass around his neck, before a hand over the camera stopped his filming and he was told he would be arrested with the group and have his camera and tape confiscated.

They never did either.

But before they stopped him from taping, the video shows Kanaka Maoli Michael Grace being subdued by six soldiers and beating him and attempting to put him in plastic handcuff with him screaming in pain and the screaming “he’s resisting- he’s resisting” all while Grace is doing his best to submit to their handling despite the rough treatment.

Grace had plastic handcuffs placed on him, according to Coll, so painfully tight they “disappeared into the folds of his skin” until later when an officer came by and cut them off.

One of the guests Fred Dente wasn’t as lucky. Dente was supporting Patterson’s group and came to participate in the ceremony. He was placed in cuffs so tight that his hands started to turn black during the bus trip to be “processed” according to him and others on the bus.

After being released Dente had to go to the emergency room and suffered permanent nerve damage causing him to miss work for six months afterward eventually contributing to ending his career as a master carpenter.

Those arrested were never charged with anything, many think to remove any record of the arrests so that those injured could not sue.

But is that ancient history- and have things changed?.

Just last year apparently they were at it again when local videographer Bob Sato was physical attacked by base security personnel when he legally refused to leave a public area just off the base while making a kids surfing video, as PNN wrote at the time.

Sato posted his video on-line for a while until, he says, some goons from the base came to his home and threatened his family if he kept up his attempts to publicize the event.

And as far as environmental protection just this month questions have been raised regarding whether the fish kill last January off Ni`ihau was cause by concurrent war games in the area, possibly due to use of sonar.

Local reporter Joan Conrow’s March 9 investigative piece in the Hawaii Independent headlined “Fish fears on Kaua`i, Ni`ihau – Is the Navy to blame?” seems to indicate that the PMRF activity is the most likely reason for the kill off- and a couple of dead whales.

Here’s some excerpts of the article

It’s been weeks since a massive fish kill was discovered on Nihau, but those living on the privately-owned island remain afraid to eat the reef fish that are a dietary staple...

(State aquatic biologist on Kauai Don) Heacock said he observed hundreds of dead fish on Ni`ihau and many had distended swim bladders, a phenomenon more typically associated with deepwater fish that are brought up to the surface. Fish use their swim bladders to “sense, hear and feel sounds and vibrations underwater,” he said.

“If there was a very large underwater explosion, for example, fish would feel that, and if it was loud enough, it could kill them,” Heacock said. “It could destroy organs and tissue.”...

Heacock said that (Ni`ihau owner Bruce) Robinson also reported a baby humpback had washed ashore on Ni`ihau on Jan. 21....
A large swell apparently washed the calf away before Heacock and others were able to get to Ni`ihau on Feb. 4, where they collected dead fish and monk seal scat and observed several seals, which appeared healthy.

On Feb. 9, another humpback calf washed ashore on a section of beach between Kekaha and Kauai’s Pacific Missile Range Facility.

“We don’t know if the fish kills and the two baby whales washing ashore are related, but they might be,” Heacock said. “We do not know if there was some kind of sonic experiment or sonar testing going on. We do know there were military activities going on during that period. Several commercial fishermen said they’d seen some large Navy ships, Marine Corps helicopters and even Australian ships around Ni`ihau in that time period.”

Paul Achitoff, an attorney with Earthjustice, said that the Navy’s counsel confirmed that the January 2009 undersea warfare training exercise (USWEX) began at 4 p.m. Jan. 15 and ended at noon Jan. 18.

The Navy did use mid-frequency active sonar during antisubmarine training exercises last year. However, PMRF spokesman Tom Clements refused to confirm whether the Navy had used sonar during this year’s USWEX, or even that military activities had been conducted at all.

“If an anomaly occurred at that time that people are trying to connect to our activities, we’re saying they were no different than the activities that have been done on the range over the past 40 years,” Clement said.

The Navy contends there is no connection between such strandings and sonar use, but has never released any necropsy reports on the dead animals.

In a response to an email posing additional questions, Clements wrote: “As far as ‘loud noises underwater,’ as you know, there are many anthropomorphic sources of sound in the water, including recreational and commercial boat traffic that crosses our range. Our activities that can cause sound in the water are managed and quantified, as expressed in the Hawaii Range Complex EIS completed in 2008.

“And regarding the introduction of toxic or noxious chemicals, if your question refers to operations specifically designed to test or train with or against chemical agents, than the answer is ‘no.’ The PMRF range did not have any spills or accidents resulting in unintended releases. Most human activities on and in the water can potentially introduce chemicals into the ocean, from sunscreen to diesel fuel emissions.”

When asked whether any intended chemical spills or releases occurred, and why the Navy declined to comment on the date or nature of its activities, Clements replied in a second email: “I believe I did respond within the context of the question by distinguishing between intended (operations specifically designed) and unintended (spills or accidents). Not commenting specifically on all-inclusive military operations within a given parameter of dates is not unusual.”

It should be pointed out that the EIS, which underwent years of court battles, was only okayed by the courts, not because it wasn’t dangerous to marine mammals but because “national security” was more important than a few dead whales.

Of course this kind of doubletalk, avoiding the question and attempts at whitewash by Clements are typical of the Navy and PMRF spokespersons over the years. And we’ve come to expect it as they have cut off access to fishing and surfing spots since September 11, 2001 only opening it up after massive community protests threatened to make their claims of being “good neighbors” even more specious than it already was.

Now select local people are occasionally allowed into the area but only with special IDs issued after extensive background checks.

We expect a lack of respect to the local and native culture from the US government and it’s armed forces, and their defending the theft of the kanaka maoli land base at the point of a gun- heck, they’re the ones whose troops backed up the original theft in 1893.

And we expect them to defend the attempt to “steal the land one last time fair and square” via the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision on the never-ceded lands and through the Akaka Bill now before the U.S. congress.

That’s because this country was founded on genocide and is supported through it today both domestically and throughout the world. As George Carlin used to say “bombing brown people” is our favorite activity- our very stock-in-trade.

But to try to claim some sort of cultural and environmental bonefides by giving itself an award for being such “good neighbors” and getting one of the poor kanaka house nig... ah, slaves to make a statement on what good neighbors they are is about as galling as it gets.

1 comment:

clark r. said...

Greetings Sir,

I have lived in the state for a long time, most recently on Maui. Only within the last couple years have I learned of and researched the many conspiracies and cover ups the .gov has fomented. You know the ones they accuse us of being kooks for uncovering and exposing to the light.
I have been researching the names behind the overthrow and am trying to learn what really happened... Not the stuff from wiki. Would you please direct me to research material?