This Week in Review
February 22, 2007
WEDNESDAY, Feb. 14
About a dozen local peace activists stage an anti-war protest at the Queen Ka`ahumanu Center this afternoon. At least a few got kicked out because, according to The Maui News, the protest "was not authorized by mall management." One of those tossed was Paia resident Karen Chun, who sent me the following email a few hours later: "We stood on the sidewalk holding antiwar signs," she wrote. "Then we assembled in front of the recruiting offices on the second floor of Ka`ahumanu. Mele [Stokesberry] read a statement against the war in one office, which was received with courtesy. At the other office, we were not allowed inside and Mele read the statement outside. We were careful not to block access. The [military] recruiters treated us with courtesy and professionalism. Then we walked, holding our medium sized hearts with antiwar messages to the escalators. We were met with Ka`ahumanu private security and told we could not demonstrate. We told them we were leaving. I continued down the escalator, holding my sign. I walked directly to the front entrance. A security guard told me I had to turn my sign so no one could read it. I replied, 'I am complying with your request to leave.' Again she told me to turn my sign around. I told her, 'No. I am leaving as you requested.' She then placed herself directly in front of me (inches) blocking my ability to leave. She grabbed my arm with her right hand and my sign with the other hand, trying to pull the sign from me. I said firmly in a carrying voice, 'Take your hands off me. I am trying to comply with your request to leave'… She then told me I was [trespassing] and followed me out to my car, demanding my ID, name, etc. I ignored her, walking directly to my car. She called for backup, called in my vehicle license plate and kept [haranguing] me… The real bummer about this is that I was going to go back and get some Korean BBQ at the Food Court afterwards…"
THURSDAY, Feb. 15
Good to see the disgraced but still feisty nonprofit Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) has decided to start ripping into tax proposals way out here in Hawai`i. Specifically, they're taking umbrage at state Senator Shan Tsutsui (D, 4th District) and his plan to extend the state's current $2 per day tax on rental cars and allow counties to levy an additional per-day tax on rentals that could be as high as $3. "Hawaiians will soon be saying 'aloha' to higher taxes every time they want to rent vehicles," ATR President Grover Norquist said in a press release sent out today. "Sen. Tsutsui is failing to check his blind spot. Hawaiians, tourists and business owners will be run over by this rental tax." Of course, it's hard to take Norquist and ATR seriously on this issue, though not because they're headquartered 5,000 miles away in Washington, D.C. In October, U.S. Senate investigators released a report detailing how Norquist and ATR "appear to have perpetrated a fraud" on taxpayers by whoring their services to Republican lobbyist/convicted fraud Jack Abramoff. According to an Oct. 13, 2006 Washington Post story on the report, Norquist and other ATR officers, as well as four other groups engaged in such activities as "laundering payments and then disbursing funds at Mr. Abramoff's direction [and] taking payments in exchange for writing newspaper columns or press releases that put Mr. Abramoff's clients in a favorable light." Abramoff's since gone to prison on a five-year, 10-month sentence, but it's somehow comforting that Norquist is charging ahead as though he still has credibility.
FRIDAY, Feb. 16
By the way, last week this paper pointed out that a bill calling for a full environmental review of the proposed Superferry was up before the state House Transportation Committee, which is chaired by Joe Souki (D, 8th District), who took $1,000 from Hawaii Superferry, Inc. in 2006. Well, it should come as no surprise that Souki declined to hold a hearing on the bill, effectively killing it. Wasn't that sweet of him?
SATURDAY, Feb. 17
Run, Dog, run!
SUNDAY, Feb. 18
Show of hands please of those who want to move to the moon and live in a "mining town" that extracts the rare isotope helium-3 from the surface? Anyone? Today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin has a big story on a proposal by University of Hawai`i researcher G. Jeffrey Taylor to do exactly that to get fuel for big fusion reactors that, though clean, haven't actually been invented yet. Stories like this are always fascinating for what they don't say, like how such mining towns would require battalions of space marines for security. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with the exploration of space, though considering the fact that space vehicles and bases tend to be expensive as well as taxpayer-funded, it's worth being honest about who ultimately benefits from using the moon for fusion reactor fuel. Though in all fairness, by the time we actually reach the point where we can fly to the moon more or less routinely, humanity will probably have evolved into some soulless cyborg-like creature that considers helium-3 a tasty snack.
MONDAY, Feb. 19
In honor of President's Day, The Maui News editorial page opines that "the lack of common civility in today's national discourse" is "repugnant" and "destructive"–so much so that it "would probably dismay"President's GeorgeWashington and Abraham Lincoln. Really? You mean our current debate, vitriolic as it can be, is worse than the American Revolution and the Civil War–two times when "political discourse" gave way to murderous war that killed tens of thousands of people?
TUESDAY, Feb. 20
Breaking news headline from yesterday's Honolulu Advertiser website: "Fiji coup 'unconstitutional,' Pacific leaders say." Does that mean there's such a thing as a "constitutional" coup?
Anthony Pignataro likes his humor so dry there's dust on it. MTW
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