Progressive Caucus Endorses Mark Takai for Congress (CD1)

On the heels of a solid performance in the Hawaii Congressional District 1 debate among the 7 candidates running in the Democratic Party, Mark Takai racked up another progressive coup:  Endorsement by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC).

Progressive Caucus member, Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41) said

“If Hawaii voters want to stand up for progressive values, then they have a clear choice for Congress in Mark Takai. In Hawaii’s House of Representatives, Mark Takai has fought for seniors, veterans, and working families. His record of military service and unwavering support for equality for all Americans make him an outstanding candidate.As a former high school teacher, I particularly appreciate his commitment to public
education. We need a courageous leader and progressive champion like Mark Takai in
the U.S. House of Representatives.”

In an unusual move that watchers theorize has to do with Takai elucidating a more and more progressive stance and also a recognition that he is in the best position to beat anti-progressive Donna Mercado Kim, CPC issued a dual endorsement in this race.

Consternation about the possibility of anti-environmental, anti-gay, theocrat Donna Mercado Kim being elected to Congress has apparently reached all the way to Washington D.C.

Takai worked hard in the Hawaii State Legislature to pass the  2013 Minimum Wage increase. Unfortunately, state senate president, Donna Mercado Kim managed to torpedo the increase that year.

Kim not only delayed a raise in the minimum wage in Hawaii, but tried to increase tip credit to $2.  In other words, keep restaurant workers’ minimum wage $2 below everyone else.

Takai supports the president’s call for a higher minimum wage and has vowed to work for federal minimum wage to be pushed up to a living wage, saying that no person working full time should be living in poverty.

Since two-thirds of workers making minimum wage across the country are women, this is an issue that unfairly and disproportionately impacts women.

Hard to believe that a Democrat could vote against Marriage Equality – especially in a progressive state like Hawai’i with a culture that is extremely accepting of various gender identities, but Donna Mercado Kim did so.

Mark Takai has been vocal in how proud he was to vote for Marriage Equality in the State House last year.  Like many people here in Hawaii and across the country, including President Obama and Tulsi Gabbard, Mark evolved on the issue.  One wonders if the common denominator in awakening people to equality is serving in war areas and seeing first hand the toll discrimination takes on gays when it comes to benefits etc.

Takai has gone farther and stated his support of President Obama’s decision to sign the Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009, which protects LGBT citizens from being targeted because of their sexual orientation.

“I voted yes for marriage equality in the Hawaii State House in November because it was the right thing to do. In Congress, I will work to ensure that the LGBT community has the same rights afforded to everyone else. As a Lt. Colonel in the National Guard, I supported the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” I was pleased when the Supreme Court ruled DOMA unconstitutional. I think all people should be treated the same.I will also support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in Congress. No one deserves to be fired because of his or her sexual orientation.”

Kim voted no on Marriage Equality  saying she was guided by her personal religious convictions.  News Flash, Kim:  When you vote religious dogma into law, you are violating the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In an outstandingly bad decision the more and more discredited Emily’s List mistakenly endorsed the same candidate as the far right anti-abortion organization Family Forum supports.  Say what?

Their decision to endorse Kim is as bad as their Nikki Tinker endorsement which had to be withdrawn.  One hopes that Emily’s list comes to their senses and withdraws this one too.

In 2013, Mark supported a bill, signed into law, requiring hospitals to provide victims of sexual assault with emergency contraception, without any religious exemptions.  He says:

“Government shouldn’t be involved in the most personal decisions a woman and her doctor can make. It is government’s job to ensure that women have access to important and sometimes lifesaving medical services.In Congress I intend to be a faithful defender of a woman’s right to choose. Legislation, such as the so-called “Protect Life Act,” which would allow hospitals and emergency doctors to deny giving a woman a life-saving abortion, is wrong. These political tactics are an outrage and I will fight it on the floor of the House.”

Will Kim, guided by her church’s teachings opposing contraception and abortion, vote her “personal religious convictions” on choice and contraception too?  What was Emily’s List thinking endorsing someone who has a history of voting her religious positions?


Takai opposes the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby ruling and has said it is wrong for some “closely held” corporations to deny women their reproductive freedom and deny coverage of specific birth control methods if those methods conflict with the owners’ religious belief.  He vowed to support legislation that will remove the legislation on which the Court relied to come to this tortured decision.

According to Takai,

“That the Court’s 5-4 ruling was made along gender lines, with only Justice Stephen Breyer dissenting with all three female justices, clearly shows that more needs to be done to protect the rights of American women.  Government must ensure that all women have access to important and life saving medical services and business owners should not be involved in the most personal decision a woman and her doctor make.”

Will Kim fight to keep the Hobby Lobby decision intact?  Given her vote on marriage equality, the prognosis is not encouraging.


Hawaii is in a unique position as it has required businesses furnish their full-time employees with health insurance (HPPHA) since well before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law.

Takai said he supports both the ACA and the HPPHA. “The Affordable Care Act has been good for Hawaii. It helps to reinforce some of the issues Hawaii’s Prepaid Healthcare Act did not address.”  He went on to list:
•    Children coverage to 26 years old.
•    Expansion of MEDICAID
•    No pre-existing condition limitations

Takai has hopes that a less grid-locked congress can work on the ACA to fine tune it as was done with Medicare and Social Security.  He’s said he wants ACA to work in conjunction with our Prepaid Healthcare System as that provides the best of both worlds.

Kim has been scathing in her comments about ACA and  has taken a position against the Affordable Care Act.

Takai points out that it took us over 30 years to get national healthcare coverage – especially coverage that doesn’t exclude pre-existing conditions and has subsidies to help all residents, regardless of job status, afford insurance.  He urges that we work to make the system better, not start all over again.

The good news is that we have a great HI-01 candidate, endorsed by the Sierra Club, the Progressive Caucus, unions, and a GLBT organization.  The bad news is that the other candidates in the race, although not polling as close to Kim as Takai is, are decent candidates and are going to cause the progressive vote to split.

If the vote splits among all the Not-Kim candidates, Kim will walk away with it.  That is why Equality Hawaii and Sierra Club came out early to endorse Mark Takai – both organizations were hoping to kick start a chain reaction to consolidate support behind Mark Takai.

There are only 14 days until the Hawaii primary and voters have already received their ballots.  Mark tells me he needs $60,000 for a last minute ad blitz to push him past Kim.

We either help him now or resign ourselves to being represented by a Republican theocrat in Dem clothing.

Please give what you can.…

Reprinted from DailyKos

Posted in Mark Takai Tagged with: , , , ,

Inouye’s Chief of Staff Manipulating Governor’s Race in Hawaii

Reprinted and expanded from DailyKos

Inouye’s hatchet man and former Chief of Staff has been using the late senator’s machine to manipulate politics in Hawai’i.

By her own admission former Inouye Chief of Staff Jennifer Sabas created the “Deathbed Letter” supposedly from Inouye, robosigned and delivered to Governor Abercrombie a half hour after Inouye’s death.  In this letter, Sabas ordered Abercrombie to appoint Colleen Hanabusa to Inouye’s position.

How coincidental that Sabas is now described as a “top Hanabusa campaign official.” In fact, a source is telling us that Sabas pushed Hanabusa to abandon her House seat and challenge Democrat Senator Brian Schatz for the senate position in the 2014 election.

That would be the entire story – machinations to keep a powerful “fixer” and political insider in a job except that it appears that Sabas’ meddling goes far beyond the Hanabusa campaign.

We’re being told by a reliable confidential informant that Sabas is also behind David Ige’s primary challenge to Governor Neil Abercrombie.   And this isn’t just revenge that Sabas’ trick with her “deathbed letter” didn’t work.

One explanation for Sabas backing Ige to primary Abercrombie is that it will keep the Governor from concentrating on helping Senator Brian Schatz defeat his primary challenge from Hanabusa.  We’ve always felt that was reaching and a fairly ineffective strategy considering all the time a campaign and fundraising takes.  Although it most certainly would explain Ige’s lack of preparation on issues he was asked about in the debate.

Our source has another explanation:

Colleen Hanabusa is falling each day in the polls and the writing is on the wall:  Sabas will be out of a job soon with no powerful politician to hand her a position.

What to do?  How about Sabas back another of the the Inouye group for Governor?

Enter state senator David Ige challenging Governor Abercrombie in the Democratic primary.  Our source tells us Sabas was behind his challenge to Abercrombie.

Speculation is that there is a behind-the-scenes agreement that Hanabusa will become Ige’s Attorney General, Sabas will get a position, and Department of Land and Natural Resources Director (and respected Hawaiian) William Aila will be replaced with another Inouye insider.

Goodbye to all the progress that has been made by DLNR to protect Hawaii’s natural resources from over-exploitation.

The Ige campaign through email denies that he has decided on any appointments yet.  This may be true.  But with Sabas advising, these guesses seem pretty likely.

Here’s the kicker.  Sabas was Inouye’s fixer on the Oahu rail project and gave the Pacific Resource Partnership PAC their marching orders.  (PRP lobbied for rail.) Sabas called the shots on who did what and how the campaign was structured. The Hanabusa campaign is using anger at the PRP’s strongarm tactics over the controversial project in a pretty farfetched attack on Sen Schatz — while the very person who called the PRP shots is on her campaign staff!

As a few small voices have been warning:  Don’t mistake Ige’s mild manner and noncontroversial (actually nonexistent) positions as being a blank slate for voters to project their own wishful thinking. You are getting someone who is part of a powerful Inouye military/aerospace/construction group.

If Sabas fails to defeat incumbents Senator Brian Schatz and Governor Neil Abercrombie, the last remnants of the good ‘ol boy network will disperse.  But Sabas has two chances to retain power:  Colleen Hanabusa and David Ige.

Posted in Colleen Hanabusa, Neil Abercrombie Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

New Guard vs Old in State House 48?

Robert Harris and family

Robert Harris and family

Interesting the way the Democratic primaries are shaping up to be the old guard vs the more idealistic and environmentally conscious candidates.

We see this in Hanabusa (heavily supported by Big Pharma and the Defense Contractors) vs Senator Brian Schatz who has made climate change a priority.

This dichotomy is echoed at the state level in the vacant Kaneohe seat where we have former Sierra Club Executive Director, Robert Harris facing off with developer-supported Jerrett Keohokalole in August 9th’s Democratic Primary for House 48.

Presumably in both these races the winner of the Democratic primary will easily win the general election. (Sorry guys, don’t want to bachi you folks.)

A quick peek at the campaign contributions tells the story. Among Keohokalole‘s $41,893 in donations are some of the biggest names in development: Cameron Nekota (VP of Ho’opili). Castle & Cooke. Stanford Carr. Bill Mills Development Company. David Hulihee (Royal Contracting). Leonard Leong (VP of Royal Contracting),  D.R. Horton-Schuler, Alexander & Baldwin . That’s just a few. These developers are obviously  counting on Keohokalole to support upcoming Windward Oahu projects like the Envision Laie development and to be favorable to converting agricultural land to development.

This is a battle between the old guard “develop at any cost” and the modern progressive view of smart growth. It could have an interesting implications for Oahu and neighbor island development.

Do these developers still have the ability to buy politicians and elections? Or are people starting to get alarmed about the unbridled destruction of our environment by luxury condo and vacation rental builders?

Posted in Robert Harris Tagged with: , , , , ,

Is the Dept of Health Clean Air Branch Misleading Public on HC&S Mill Emissions?


In a letter to the Clean Air Branch of the State Department of Health and the EPA, citizen investigator and attorney Christine Andrews harshly criticized what she (and others) consider misleading statements by Clean Air Branch head Nolan Harai.

I am concerned that Mr. Hirai is making factual misstatements to the media, and would like to request that he formally retract or correct his statements.

The following statement printed in an article in the Star Advertiser, and attributed to Mr. Hirai:

“Though the violations are serious, DOH said emissions did not exceed levels protecting public health based on the agency’s continuous air quality monitoring in the area.”

“There is no indication that any of the emissions resulted in any health impact,” said Nolan Hirai, manager of DOH’s Clean Air Branch.

As I have discussed with Mr. Hirai, Mr. Sims, and Mr. Drake, there is NO ambient air quality monitoring for SO2 or NOx on Maui that would detect ambient air quality impacts of excess emissions of those pollutants by the HC&S Puunene Mill.

The HC&S Puunene Mill which burns about 1/3 coal and 2/3 sugarcane bagass was recently cited for emissions violations after Andrews’ two year investigation and repeated attempts to get Dept of Health to enforce the Clean Air Act.  (Notice of Violation)

Sounds like Andrews is pretty fed up with the Department of Health’s foot dragging and dissembling:

I understand that Mr. Hirai does not have the time, inclination, funding, staffing, legal and regulatory experience to learn the public health justifications for the 2010 SO2 ambient air quality standard as published in the EPA’s Regulatory Impact Analysis for the new standard, or access to modeling that documents that the HC&S Puunene Mill violates that standard and that my home is in the emissions plume.

At the very least, however, Mr. Hirai should understand, because his department completed the Notice of Violation, that there were excess SO2 and NOx emissions and that those emissions would have health impacts.  He should stop cowering behind the lack of ambient air quality monitoring as a shield, and install the monitoring for SO2 and NOx that myself and others have asked for for two years.  While you all are at it, please enforce the Clean Air Act and get HC&S to install the required COMS and CEMS that the community has also been asking for for more than two years.

Posted in Dept of Health

South Maui Rep Kaniela Ing Survey results

According to Maui Weekly, State Representative Kaniela Ing surveyed his south Maui constituents and found that:

61% favor marijuana legalization

66% favor  new voter registration regulations

90% favor video conferencing for Neighbor Islands

83% favor  raise in minimum wage

80% favor GMO food labeling


Posted in Uncategorized

Christine Andrews’ Testimony on GMO Moratorium

As members of the Maui County Council debate whether to independently pass the proposed ordinance for a moratorium on GMO cultivation and associated pesticides, I have attached  a pdf of the report, GMO Myths and Truths, 2nd edition, for your reference.  It is one of the best summaries of the science on the subject available for the layperson and produced by independent scientists that I have found.

I have provided the report’s “Summary” section at the end of this email.  The report is over 300 pages long, but you can download it for free to print out or read on your computer or other pdf-readable device.  I was able to print a double-sided copy at Office Max for about $34.

In addition to the above report, the organization GMO Free USA has a very thorough list of scientific studies related to GMOs and associated pesticides (mainly glyphosate) on their website:

Please feel free to share this email with friends and family, neighbors and colleagues.  Monsanto and its agribusiness friends, lobbyists, scientists, and spokespeople will continue to try to confuse Maui residents, voters, stakeholders, and policy makers by using the “tobacco strategy” to attempt to misrepresent the science and discredit responsible scientists in order to avoid meaningful regulation of their harmful products and practices.  The best way we can fight back to protect residents and agricultural workers, family farmers, and our native ecosystems from industrial agribusiness and pesticide companies is to educate ourselves and fellow voters.  It is ultimately up to us to stand up for the independent science that says that GMO crops and associated pesticides should be more stringently regulated and that a moratorium is the responsible course of action for a community that has been failed by its federal and state representatives and regulators.

In case you missed it, here is a link to the recent Notice of Violation issued by the Hawaii Department of Health to Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar.  These violations were denied by several levels within the Department of Health for years.  It took the efforts of myself and others for more than two years to independently document the violations and appeal to the EPA for intervention.  Our regulators in the state of Hawaii do not have the resources to appropriately enforce regulations intended to protect public health, which is one more reason to support the moratorium by voting “Yes” to the moratorium in November.

Christine L. Andrews, J.D.

Summary from GMO Myths and Truths, 2nd Edition

Genetically modified (GM) crops and foods are promoted on the basis of a range of far-reaching claims from the industry and its supporters. They say that GM crops:
➜➜Are an extension of natural breeding and do not pose different risks from naturally bred crops
➜➜Are safe to eat and can be more nutritious than naturally bred crops
➜➜Are strictly regulated for safety
➜➜Increase yields
➜➜Reduce pesticide use
➜➜Benefit farmers and make their lives easier
➜➜Bring economic benefits
➜➜Benefit the environment
➜➜Can help solve problems caused by climate change
➜➜Reduce energy use
➜➜Will help feed the world.

However, a large and growing body of scientific and other authoritative evidence shows that these claims are not true. On the contrary, evidence presented in this report indicates that GM crops:

➜➜Are laboratory-made, using technology that is totally different from natural breeding methods, and pose different risks from non-GM crops
➜➜Can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts
➜➜Are not adequately regulated to ensure safety
➜➜Do not increase yield potential
➜➜Do not reduce pesticide use but increase it
➜➜Create serious problems for farmers, including herbicide-tolerant “superweeds”, compromised soil quality, and increased disease susceptibility in crops
➜➜Have mixed economic effects and disrupt markets
➜➜Harm soil quality, disrupt ecosystems, and reduce biodiversity
➜➜Do not offer effective solutions to climate change
➜➜Are as energy-hungry as any other chemically-farmed crops
➜➜Cannot solve the problem of world hunger but distract from its real causes – poverty, lack of access to food and, increasingly, lack of access to land to grow it on.

Based on the evidence presented in this report, there is no need to take risks with GM crops when effective, readily available, and sustainable solutions to the problems that GM
technology is claimed to address already exist. Conventional plant breeding, in some cases helped by safe modern technologies like gene mapping and marker assisted selection, continues to outperform GM in producing high-yield, drought-tolerant, and pest- and disease-resistant crops that can meet our present and future food needs.

The quality and efficacy of our food production system depends only partly on crop genetics. The other part of the equation is farming methods. What is needed are not just high-yielding, climate-ready, and disease-resistant crops, but productive, climate-ready, and disease-resistant agriculture.

Posted in GMO-Chemical Corporations

GMO Moratorium Debate Reaction

I am appalled that Mike Victorino listened to Dr. Pang’s testimony about Monsanto field workers (probably all shipped back to the Philippines by now) coming to him for help about the cancer they were getting working for the GMO companies.

And then he said he’d vote against the Moratorium because he didn’t want to see families hurt by losing jobs. So Mike, you’d rather see them lose family members to cancer?? JESUS CHRIST are you a complete moron?

There was plenty of testimony that Monsanto has nonGMO seeds and that they are a larger part of their business – in fact they are patenting organic seeds.

So this whole bullshit about Monsanto packing up and leaving if they aren’t allowed to grow GMOs is a shabai.

But then again, perhaps Victorino is not smart enough to put 2 and 2 together and realize this.

Yes, Victorino, help these families you say you care aboiut get cancer and birth defects. Ship them back to the Philippines when they get sick so they are out of sight and out of mind.


  • Karen Chun: Dr. Pang is a world renown scientist. I give him kudos for being totally unbiased. He even did a chemtrail study for the chemtrail nuts (and showed there was ZERO correlation between what they claimed were days that had chemtrails and his air tests, thus conclusively disproving their conspiracy theory)

    So the man approaches every question with an open mind. Does good science. Gets accurate results.

    If he DID find the science saying that GMOs damage health (which he did), I’m inclined to trust him as being honest and objective.

  • Another person: Damn, I never saw Lorrin get choked up like that… talking about all of the sick biotech farm workers who are coming to him; that really got to me. Only a loon wouldn’t realize we most likely have a silent emergency happening here between biotech & the cane company.
  • Karen Chun: I know. I could see he was trying hard not to show emotion about the GMO workers who came to him for help about their cancers.
  • Karen Chun: And the take-home message is that most of these field workers are imported from the Philippines so when they get sick, they can just get disappeared BACK to the Philippines.
  • Another person: I hope the ‘humans’ who devised this business model end up a few floors below hell.
  • Karen Chun: Even Gladys Baisa who was concerned about jobs got that the GMO companies are making people sick.
  • Another person: I’m here crying over these sick workers and Victorino is cool as ice
  • Karen Chun: Dr. Pang referenced the uranium workers. Saying that the workers who testified that uranium mining was safe were the ones that weren’t sick. Of course we now know that the radon in the mines was giving a significant number of them cancer.
  • Another Person: I think he was stating that there weren’t any others alive…if I know my sensei and his bent but beautiful mind!
  • Another Person: Nice try Wong attempting to get them to say oh sure let us wait until the end of July and then miss putting this on the ballot this year… I do not think so Mr. Wong that just isn’t the will of 19,000 people who want this moratorium!
  • Karen Chun: Actually I thought Don Couch was even worse because he kept making these sly digs at Dr. Pang….calling into question his credentials (which are impressive including working for the Federal government on panels, being a Professor at a University, publishing scientific papers, etc). We are unbelievably lucky to have Dr. Pang as our Public Health Officer.

    I believe Dr. Pang is the only person in history to eradicate Dengue Fever once it got a hold. We owe him a HUGE debt of gratitude for that!

  • Karen Chun: Who is this dude, Wong? Corporate Council aka do NOTHING to uphold the rights of the citizens? (on any subject)
  • Another person: He didn’t even recuse himself he just refused to vote… why? Don Couch worked with the Mayor for years it isn’t surprising at all as they have different thought processes. It was fascinating seeing a Intellectual of great merit attempting to get across some heady precepts of science and yet keep it friendly. I can only imagine what it was like reading his research paper, Big Words Indeed! What I find the most egregious here is the fact that Council is having a difficult time wrapping their collective brains around the fact that this is not a proven science and it is killing people! They are more concerned about getting back on the campaign trail than listening to something that keeps people alive!
  • Karen Chun: I know – Couch isn’t actually that stupid – he was just ACTING.
  • Another Person: whatevers it takes to get that vote afterall his homeowners fees are around $800 per month now versus the $80 they started out with ….is that called” Arrested Developers Syndrome Karma”?
  • Karen Chun: Don Couch and the Mayor are both Republicans as in, don’t put ANY restrictions on corporations or developers
  • Karen Chun: Which is why I am voting for John Fitzpatrick.
  • Karen Chun: Except for Victorino does not have an opponent who is any better. Blackburn does not believe in regulating corporations.
  • Karen Chun: Next election we need to get a good candidate for Wailuku. I’m willing to help anyone who wants to run on an environmental platform
  • Another person: There are no Medical Toxicologist on Maui an only one on Oahu that works for Tripler… He cannot keep up with his work load. So I have to go to the mainland to prove this crap is killing me and my bird! I am not surprised by Victorino for his position because he is only positioning himself for his constituency… A good leader is one that cares about ALL THE PEOPLE! I wonder how much money he has taken from Chem Co’s? Have you researched the Council to see who has been bought off?
  • Karen Chun: I don’t think any of our council has taken Monsanto etc donations. Who needs to donate to them? They’re sold out anyway (except Don Guzman and Elle Cochran – who are under attack by heavily financed opponents fronting for A&B/Monsanto)
  • Another Person: What happened to Don’s ring finger I can understand how the middle one could get bent during all this but… just saying
  • Karen Chun: Dunno…fortunately it won’t affect his partying ability – I am totally looking forward to another of his election night parties.
  • Karen Chun: Ha,ha – now you candidates know the secret to my support
  • Another person: oh yah, I want to go to one of em heard they are pretty wild… but I do know a friend of mine approached Don G. asking him to sign his petition for the moratorium and Don got all legal on him and wouldn’t sign it…
  • Karen Chun: I wouldn’t let that weigh too heavily. Don seriously considers everything and doesn’t take action until he’s considered the subject in depth.
  • Another person: I found it very heartening to see people showing feelings today at the conclusion of the meeting. Now if they would invest some time in researching this subject they would be better suited for their positions but all this did was reinforce my thoughts that we really need progressive leadership that can wrap its mind around the necessity of cleaning up the Mother Earth!
  • Karen Chun: Note his question to Dr. Pang on exactly how one section of the Moratorium law would be implemented – he thinks thing through, looks at all potential pitfalls, etc.
  • Another person: I am totally in support of Don Guzman as he is an intellectual and a good person who is honest and polite to everyone. His presence is crucial for the Council because he is educated and does not use double negatives thinking it is cool to sound illiterate to future generations.
  • Karen Chun: “I can understand how the middle one could get bent during all this but… just saying”
  • LOL! I know what you mean. When Victorino was talking I was yelling at my TV all kinds of things I wouldn’t say in public. Moron was the mildest
  • Another person: LOLOLOL
Posted in GMO-Chemical Corporations

Paying for war violates my religious beliefs

Thanks to Ward Reilly of Iraq Veterans Against the War for this image

Thanks to Ward Reilly of Iraq Veterans Against the War for this image

If Hobby Lobby can deny women healthcare coverage based on their religious beliefs, we should certainly be allowed to stop paying taxes that go to killing people in violation of our religious beliefs.

Posted in Stupid Supreme Court Decisions

BAB Letter in Support of the Maui GMO Moratorium

Watch live now GMO moratorium Maui Council meeting: Read BAB Pres. comments sent to Maui Council this morning:

Aloha Honorable Chair Hokama and Distinguished Maui Councilmembers,

I confirmed this morning again that the HDOA has only 5 pesticide inspectors statewide. This year in the legislature, we added 3 and we lost 4, despite promises of HDOA, the Governor and Kauai legislative delegates to address pesticide failures at the state level as a method to avoid the passage of Bill 2491. Just 7 of 72 cases on Kauai alone in 2011 and 2012 have been completed as only one person is assigned to process complaints. Our HDOA is absolutely not doing its’ job and has not been for years, hence the major pushes for protections at the home rule County level in order to protect citizens’ “life and health.” The state regulations should be a floor, not a ceiling for the Counties and the federal regulations are supposed to follow the same model. Please read the full articles linked.

Furthermore, the HDOA actions and leadership relies almost entirely on the opinion of the Hawaii Attorney General, who defers to the Federal government on nearly everything regarding GE and pesticides. Therefore, it is almost as if, we are missing our entire state-level regulation of agricultural GMOs and pesticides as our HDOA literally defers nearly all of their decision making to the positions of the federal government. The federal government, which as you can see, performs absolutely zero testing on pesticides, GMO crops or human safety studies in regards to both. Instead federal agencies rely primarily on studies performed by the companies applying for approval which a major conflict of interest and prime example of the highly concerning and numerous chemical+GMO company executives and lobbyists in key regulatory positions of the FDA, EPA and USDA.

Hawaii Department of Agriculture pesticide branch WOEFULLY UNDERSTAFFED and has been since budget cuts in 2008 and 2010.

“The state Department of Agriculture in Hawaii has only one employee assigned to review pesticide inspection reports and follow up on possible violations. And she says she hasn’t gotten around to reviewing most reports in several years so there’s been little if any action against pesticide misuse.

Since 2009, the department has suffered budget cuts that have stretched its pesticide oversight to the limit, its director says. There are only six pesticide inspectors in the state, including one on Kauai, where local officials are moving to take pesticide oversight into their own hands.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Health has no program in place to regularly test for pesticide contamination in the soil, air, or water. The sole position on Kauai that is supposed to monitor dust under pesticide regulations has been vacant for more than a year.

The state Department of Agriculture in Hawaii has only one employee assigned to review pesticide inspection reports and follow up on possible violations. And she says she hasn’t gotten around to reviewing most reports in several years so there’s been little if any action against pesticide misuse.

Since 2009, the department has suffered budget cuts that have stretched its pesticide oversight to the limit, its director says. There are only six pesticide inspectors in the state, including one on Kauai, where local officials are moving to take pesticide oversight into their own hands.”

Really appreciated your intelligent questions today and am pleased to see that the clarification has been made, that the EPA does not only perform NO testing of pesticides, but uses the industries’ own studies and studies of companies applying for registration to “register,” not “approve.” The same is true with the USDA in regards to GMO foods, where approval for US food supply is founded on studies funded and provided by the companies applying for approval. This is done under the understanding that the USDA cannot afford to test GE crops, cannot possibly assess all the risks and are relying on the industry public relations success of assuring the public that GE crops are “substantially equivalent” to conventional crops despite their contradicting methodology of applying for and receiving patents for GE crops as entirely unique and clearly, substantially different and new life forms thus justifying the grant of patents for GE crops. Basically the companies talk out of both sides of their mouths, one to the public, one to the patent office.

Furthermore, “Genetically engineered crops have led to an increase in overall pesticide use, by 404 million pounds from the time they were introduced in 1996 through 2011, according to the report by Charles Benbrook, a research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University.”

Essentially, the Bt GMO crops provide minimal decrease in sprayed pesticides (while assuring EPA pesticide registered Bt GMO crops produce pesticides leading to human consumption of genetically engineered Bt toxin,) while the majority of GE crops are engineered to promote the sale of pesticides by chemical companies producing patented GE crops, thus increasing the amount of pesticides used overall. For the record’s sake, Dow Agroscience, parent company of Mycogen, is currently nearing final approval for 2,4-D herbicide resistant corn, which is an ingredient of the infamous Agent Orange. Already, at least 46 millions of 2,4-d herbicide is sprayed in the United States on an annual basis. Where do you think Dow was testing 2,4-d resistant corn? Their open air laboratory in the Hawaiian islands perhaps? We already know that Agent Orange was field tested in Kauai prior to use, and suspect that the islands have been used to prepare 2,4-d resistant corn but can not confirm many of the chem+GMO activities due to corporate resistance to public disclosure.

In addition, Sri Lanka and Argentina studies regarding the toxicity of glyphosate have led to major legal restrictions and prohibitions of Roundup citing renal toxicity and numerous health maladies including widespread birth defects in residents abutting or engaging in GMO Roundup Ready soy production in Argentina and for farmers using Roundup in Sri Lanka. A recent University of Caen study linked the inert (inactive) ingredients of Roundup to. Excerpts from the Scientific American coverage include:
“But now researchers have found that one of Roundup’s inert ingredients can kill human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells.
The new findings intensify a debate about so-called “inerts” — the solvents, preservatives, surfactants and other substances that manufacturers add to pesticides. Nearly 4,000 inert ingredients are approved for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Glyphosate, Roundup’s active ingredient, is the most widely used herbicide in the United States. About 100 million pounds are applied to U.S. farms and lawns every year, according to the EPA.”
“…But in the new study, scientists found that Roundup’s inert ingredients amplified the toxic effect on human cells—even at concentrations much more diluted than those used on farms and lawns.
One specific inert ingredient, polyethoxylated tallowamine, or POEA, was more deadly to human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells than the herbicide itself – a finding the researchers call “astonishing.”
“One label requirement for Roundup is that it should not be used in or near freshwater to protect amphibians and other wildlife.”

Glyphosate-Based Herbicides Produce Teratogenic Effects on Vertebrates by Impairing Retinoic Acid Signaling (Argentina study)

I am including a study showing the transfer of Bt toxins from GMO foods to the majority of blood of pregnant women, umbilical blood and non-pregnant women. It does not break down in the human body as suggested by the manufacturers of GMO Bt crops, which are registered as pesticides with the EPA but fed to US citizens without any type of labeling.

Furthermore, it should be noted that regardless of starvation problems in Africa, an proposed industry candidate for GMO crops allegedly “feeding the world,” has experienced a mixed rejection of GE crops due to health and environmental risks and that: “From 2002, GM crops have been offered as food aid. In Southern Africa, several countries have expressed concern about the use of GM crops as food aid, given the lack of clarity about their potential impacts. During the drought of 2002-03, several countries opted to reject GM food aid. In making their decisions, countries considered not only the immediate issue of food shortages and the overall implications of GM crops for human and environmental health, but also future directions in agriculture, the implications of private sector-led research, livelihood and development options, ethical issues and rights concerns (Mohamed- Katerere 2003). Similarly, public concerns are raised about the relationship between GM crops and sustainable agriculture. Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM-Tanzania, PELUM-Kenya, and PELUM-Zimbabwe), Biowatch South Africa, and national consumer councils have all been key players.”

GMO crops do not “feed the world,” and to date in the US there are no commercially approved drought-resistant or yield increasing GMO crops. GE crops are primarily used for fuel and livestock feed.

A recent report in Cascadia Times suggested that GMO testing sites have made parts of Hawaii into some of the most toxic chemical environments in a comparison between all United States agriculture. Data suggests that use of some of the most toxic pesticides, are ten times the national average. It’s the multiple growing seasons. That’s why other communities can pass GMO and pesticide regulations without getting sued but they don’t want to let Hawaii go. Just like the sugar and the pineapple corporations. Medical doctors treating communities near fields are concerned that they are seeing elevated rates of serious illness, possibly including rare birth defects ten times the national average.

Fiji’s organic islands have business booming, and I propose this is the agricultural industry most residents would support, that would seriously boost our economy, provide stable, sustainable and safe jobs. I also believe that the pure and pristine environment visitors expect of Hawaii, would be best preserved heading in this direction:

Risk-benefit analysis v. precautionary principle. Europe is not willing to risk the health of their children, the stability of their agricultural crops, and the safety of their environment for Monsanto and Mycogen. The United States use the risk-benefit analysis which seems to assume the “risks” associated with GMO farming, underweight the benefits. For who? The US is one of the last several countries in the world allowing GMO crop production. It is on it’s way out because it’s not working and industry claims have already been disproven. This is one of the last places in the world allowing these companies to do this. The risks are on our communities and the benefits are for the minority population profiting through the chemical companies, and commercial enterprises such as Monsanto and Mycogen.

What makes GMOs seem “cheap” in the US is federal subsidies. Without them, there would be likely be no GMO industry in the US because it is not cost-effective or affordable. Patented seeds which must be re-purchased each growing season, chemical fertilizers, pesticides and the inability to save seed to re-plant remove while some crops require twice the water as conventional versions. It is easy to understand how the profits for farmers are redirected to GMO companies and place them in a dependent cycle with chemical corporations. In 2010 70% the US soy bean value was subdized by US tax dollars and 40% of the value paid, was from federal crop insurance subsidies. If 94% of US soy is GMO, and 40% of US soy had to be subsidized with crop insurance due to crop failure, how efficient is this and what does this say for the reality of GE crops? If you kicked out all of the federal subsidy crutches for GMO crops, this industry in the US would collapse on itself.

Councilmember Couch and I discussed the Russian government’s rejection of GE crops briefly last night and here is the bill which considers GMO crop production by companies, elected officials allowing GE crops and individual disciplinary actions for illegal GMO usage or imporation, to be considered as terrorist threat in Russia. This bill is still being considered while a moratorium on GMO food imports, approvals and planting has already been established. The proposed penalties include a minimum 15 year prison sentence and a maximum of life in prison. Here are some news releases from a major news agency, the Information Telegraph Agency of Russia, ITAR-TASS:

“The bill also provides for fines for concealing or deliberate distortion of information about environmental impacts of GMOs. Thus, individuals will be punished by a fine ranging from 500 to 1,000 roubles (14.5-29 U.S. dollars), government officials – by a fine of 1,000-2,000 roubles, and legal entities – by a fine of 10,000-20,000 roubels.”

“We do not want to develop the production of genetically modified foods or to import them from other countries,” Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at a congress of legislators from Russia’s rural communities on Saturday. “We are capable of feeding ourselves with normal, ordinary foods, and not genetically modified foodstuffs. If the Americans like to feed themselves with such foods, they are free to do so. We should not do that. We have enough arable land and opportunities to consume normal products.”

Russia’s national association of genetic security last year came out with a demand for banning the use of transgenic cultures in Russia’s territory for a period of ten years. Fundamental GMO studies will be carried out during that period and the effects on the human body established.

For your information, your Mayor Alan Arakawa just happened to publicly receive $1100 from Monsanto lobbyist Carol Reimann and Monsanto just weeks before signing that memorandum with them.

You are the last governing body in the state clear of Chemical and GMO funding from 2007-2013 and I have hope and faith in your integrity. Here are the Council analyses, I will leave it up to you to guess why the Honolulu City Council removed GMO labeling from the HSAC package despite unanimous support from neighbor island Councils (two years in a row):

Here are the chemical and GMO campaign contributions to the Hawaii state legislature form 2007-2013. You can draw your own conclusions as to why the Senate Agriculture Chair Nishihara, (who believes DDT is still safe and who taught Special Education for twenty years and does not believe in any link between pesticides and birth defects,) and our Senate Chair of Consumer Protection Rosalyn Baker, has fundraisers thrown for them by the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association (HCIA) lobbyist, Alicia Maluafiti. No increase in pesticide inspectors, regulation, disclosure, or GE food labeling has been able to get past the Senate Ag and CPN committees for years.

I urge you to read the United Nations 2013 Trade and Environment Review entitled, Wake up Before It is Too Late. It essentially states that if we do not immediately depart from high-external-input, petrochemical and heavy pesticide use monocultures such as the GMO farming methods, for small, “mosaic-like,” bio-diverse, sustainable, low-input, organic and natural farming methods, that the problems associated with pesticide/monoculture/GE farming (such as pesticide resistant “superweeds,” and “superbugs,”) will lead to massive global food shortages causing trade and economic disruption and even civil war over food:

(Wall Street Journal) China already has rejected billions of dollars of US corn due to GMO contamination:

Hundreds of millions lost for US farmers due to GMO contaminated soy and corn rejection by China:

Lending evidence to the prohibition of open air GE experimentation, even unapproved GM crops such as GM wheat field testing, has led to wheat contamination and cancellation of imports of US wheat:

Should you be interested in reading over 1500 studies regarding GE and related pesticides:

Colonel Dr. Don Huber of the Army Medical Intelligence Center and former consultant for Dow Chemical said, “Future historians may well look back and write about our time, not about how many pounds of pesticide we did or did not apply; but by how willing we were to sacrifice our children and jeopardize future generations based on false promises and flawed science, just to benefit the “bottom line” of a commercial enterprise.” Here are his expansive credentials:

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions. I will continue to provide you with critical information we believe is relevant to your decision making. Thank you for your time.

Malama Pono,

Nomi Carmona
Babes Against Biotech
twitter: @babesagainstgmo
insta: Babes Against Biotech

Posted in GMO-Chemical Corporations

HI-01: Will progressives split the vote and let the anti-progressive win?

Reprinted from DailyKos

The Hawai’i Congressional 1 race has several good candidates and a leading candidate who is so bad that progressives are saying they’ll vote the Republican candidate if she wins the primary.

Despite being a deep blue state, (or maybe because it is) Republican candidates often join the Hawai’i Democratic party.  You folks may talk about the “Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party” but here we talk about the “Republican wing of the Democratic Party” and we’re dead serious.

One of the most egregiously unprogressive candidates is Donna Mercado Kim who is leading the HI-01 race both in the polls and in the money.

The Civil Beat poll (margin of error 6%) showed “…it clearly looks like a race between state Sen. Kim and state Rep. Takai”.
Kim 30%
Takai 24%
Chang 9%

And Open Secrets shows that only three candidates are competitive:
Kim: Cash on Hand:$534,893, Total Raised: $582,775
Chang: Cash on Hand: $331,213, Total Raised: $557,748
Takai: Cash on Hand: $322,026, Total Raised: $453,919

Takai and Chang are both espousing progressive positions.  In the Hawaii Legislature, Takai has been a reliable vote in favor of the environment.  His lead in the polls and consistently good votes on environmental issues led the Sierra Club to endorse him and urge folks to consolidate around a single Not-Kim candidate.

If there is no consolidation Kim will win.

Kim not only has a checkered past when it comes to ethics but she’s being supported by the Pat Roberts Christian Coalition for her anti-abortion, anti-gay, and pro-school-prayer positions.  Kim recently voted no on marriage equality (which passed anyway).

She’s made it clear that she supports corporations over the environment by appointing a Monsanto lobbyist to the Water Commission nominating committee right after Monsanto was twice turned down by the Water Commission.

In contrast, the Sierra Club endorsee Mark Takai, has expressed progressive positions.  He’s always been excellent on renewable energy, supporting programs for low income people to install PV, credits for solar, and walking the walk by converting his own home to solar.

He voted in favor of Marriage Equality and received the Equality Hawaii endorsement.  (Equality Hawai’i is another progressive organization which is extremely worried that folks won’t rally around a single Not-Kim candidate)

Mark Takai is advocating for rebuilding our transportation and communication infrastrucucture.  He says, “At a time of unprecedented onslaughts and attacks against unions and working families across the country, I will continue to be a champion for organized labor and working families.”  On women’s issues he supports choice, equal pay and has worked hard on the military sexual assault issue.

Takai supports Brian Schatz and Elizabeth Warren in the “Strengthening Social Security Act” which will raise or eliminate the cap on FICA taxable income.  That cap means that the poor and the middle class pay 6.5% FICA tax on everything they earn but that someone making a million dollars per year pays less than 1% on their earnings.

Takai, a member of the Hawaii National Guard, was deployed to the Middle East and, as is often the case, this has reinforced his resolve to prevent us from engaging in unnecessary wars.  He opposed entering the Iraq war and continues to oppose more involvement in Iraq.

Takai’s military experience will help him in HI-01 where there are substantial military votes and will also position him to compete head to head with the Republican Charles Djou who is in the Army Reserves.  (We’re talking about the registered Republican – not Donna Kim who is the stealth Republican.)

Progressive Caucus members Mike Honda and Mark Takano have both endorsed Mark Takai.

The Civil Beat poll showed that Takai is within striking distance of Donna Kim and two progressive organizations are urging us to consolidate support around this progressive Not-Kim candidate.   Whatever we do, we cannot allow the Republican-registered-as-a-Democrat, Donna Kim win.  It will take all of us getting behind one of the progressive alternatives to beat her.


Posted in Mark Takai