Movement on state chlorpyrifos ban, neonicotinoids and glyphosate restrictions

Hawaiʻi lawmakers in the House Ag and Environmental Protection committees advance tough regulations against harmful pesticides for the first time.

Will Caron / Pesticide Misuse / Read
#MissileAlert could mean federal control over states’ alert systems

But does the move miss the point when it comes to keeping Hawai‘i free from the threat of nuclear attack?

Will Caron / Militarism / Read
Report documents the rise and the violent reach of the “alt-right”

On December 7, 2017, a 21-year-old white male posing as a student entered Aztec High School in rural New Mexico and killed two students before taking his own life. At the time, the shooting went largely unnoticed by national media outlets. But the online activity of the alleged killer, William Edward Atchison, bore all the hallmarks of what is now an infamous subculture and political movement consisting of vicious trolls, racist activists, and bitter misogynists—the “alt-right.”

Atchison wasn’t nearly the first to fit the profile of the alt-right killer—that distinction belongs to Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old who killed six in Isla Vista, California in 2014 after uploading a manifesto filled with hatred toward young women and interracial couples. Atchison admired Rodger and even used his name as an online alias, using the persona to laud the “supreme gentleman,” a twisted, paternalist, misogynist archetype Rodger had written about and a title he had bestowed upon himself, and which has since become a meme among the alt-right community.

Including Rodger’s murderous rampage, there have been at least 13 alt-right related fatal episodes, leaving a total of 43 dead and more than 60 injured. Nine of the 12 incidents occurred in 2017 alone, making last year the most violent year for the movement.

This week, The Southern Poverty Law Center released a report entitled “The Alt-Right is Killing People,” which examines the deadliness of the alt-right—a movement that enjoys continued and increasing access to the mainstream public sphere where it reaches young recruits like white supremacist killer Dylann Roof, and others.

The report reveals some key statistics:
· More than 100 people killed or injured in at least 13 fatal episodes related to the alt-right;
· 2017 was the most violent year of the alt-right movement;
· The perpetrators were all male and all are American with the exception of one Canadian;
· The average age of these alt-right killers is 26 with the youngest being 17. All but three were under the age of 30 at the time they are alleged to have killed;
· While some certainly displayed signs of mental illness, all share a history of consuming and/or participating in the type of far-right ecosystem that defines the alt-right.

According to the report, two formative moments helped to breed this young generation of far-right activists who were raised on the Internet: the murder of the unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin and “Gamergate,” a controversy in which female game developers and journalists were systematically threatened with rape and death by young male gamers. These events magnified the belief that white identity is under attack by multiculturalism and political correctness.

The “alternative right” was coined in part by white nationalist leader Richard Bertrand Spencer in 2008, but the movement as it’s known today can largely be traced back to 2012 and 2013 when two major events occurred: the killing of the black teenager Trayvon Martin and the so-called Gamergate controversy where female game developers and journalists were systematically threatened with rape and death. Both were formative moments for a young generation of far-right activists raised on the internet and who found community on chaotic forums like 4chan and Reddit where the classic tenets of white nationalism — most notably the belief that white identity is under attack by multiculturalism and political correctness — flourish under dizzying layers of toxic irony.

Significantly, Gamergate also launched the career of Milo Yiannopolous who later used his perch at Breitbart News to whitewash the movement and push it further into the mainstream (former senior adviser to President Donald Trump and Breitbart executive editor Stephen Bannon infamously called the site “the platform for the alt-right.”).

Today, the audience available to alt-right propaganda remains “phenomenally larger” than that available to ISIS-type recruiters, according to MoonshotCVE, a London-based group that counters online radicalization. This accessibility makes it easy for gradual indoctrination, particularly on social media platforms where tech companies long ignored the warning signs that their platforms were contributing to the radicalization of far-right extremists. That so much violence has taken on the shades of a specific subculture like the alt-right quickly shows just how critical these wide-open platforms have been to the growth of the movement.

Read more here.

Hawaii Independent Staff / Racism / Read
Hōkūleʻa to sail into Pearl Harbor for the very first time

The voyaging canoe will visit Puʻuloa or “Long Hill,” a place full of history, tragedy and, perhaps, hope as well.

Will Caron / Decolonization / Read
Founder, publisher of theHI announces council candidacy

Ikaika Hussey enters the race for Honolulu City Council in the 6th District.

After six months of house visits with residents from Makiki to ʻAiea, business owner and community organizer Ikaika Hussey formally announced his candidacy today for the sixth district of Honolulu’s City Council. He is running a uniquely grassroots campaign, dedicated to the stories of the people of this highly populous district.

“Over the last six months I have gone door-to-door everyday listening to the voices of our fellow islanders,” Hussey said in a press release. “What I’ve heard are stories of community, of family, of resilience—but also a deep concern about how difficult it is to make it here in this home that we love.”

He continued, “I’m running to carry the messages from our neighbors to Honolulu Hale: We need to focus on our people; on the basic needs of our fellow islanders.”

Hussey supports maintaining affordable rents for senior citizens in low-income housing, zoning changes to allow for denser affordable developments in urban Honolulu, limited budgetary authority for neighborhood boards and increased investment in infrastructure and public transit. He has assembled a diverse campaign team, bringing together environmentalists, organized labor, entrepreneurs, native Hawaiians and immigrants. The team is advised by veteran political leaders Marion Shim and retired federal appeals court judge Walter Heen.

With $30,165 cash on hand, Hussey faces incumbent Carol Fukunaga ($52,871 cash on hand) and construction industry lobbyist Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, Executive Director of the Hawaiʻi Construction Alliance, who has not yet filed a campaign finance report. In the 2014 primary election, Ms. Fukunaga received an average 46 percent across the 21 precincts of District VI.

Hussey informed Fukunaga of his candidacy with a letter sent to her at the end of November, 2017:

Aloha Councilmember Fukunaga: I hope this missive finds you well.

I am writing to inform you that I have decided to stand for election to the Honolulu City Council, District VI. I make this decision after much deliberation, and with no animus or ill-will towards you. Much to the contrary, I hold you and your four-decade career of public service in high esteem and appreciation. Mahalo nui loa.

I’m running for office out of a profound desire to serve our city and island. Honolulu should aspire to become our name — ‘sheltered harbor’ — as we confront several gathering storms: inequality, global warming, a technological revolution and a rapidly shifting global economy. Our forebears left us an island paradise, but I have grave concerns about the state of the inheritance we are leaving for our children and grandchildren.  We can and must do better.

I have been a passionate advocate for social justice for many years, stemming from my family’s Catholicism and simple deeds of goodness that I witnessed from my parents. I’ve lived those values as a student activist, volunteer on community boards, social entrepreneur and parent. I aim to bring that same passion, resoluteness and hunger for solutions to my tenure as councillor of this city which you and I both love.

Ikaika Hussey

Councilmember Fukunaga responded saying, “Mahalo for the heads-up on your candidacy. I welcome other perspectives on issues facing our constituents, and appreciate your contacting me in advance. Your participation gives voters a choice between candidates, which will clearly strengthen our democratic form of government.”

Hussey has been active in Hawaiʻi grassroots and electoral politics since the 1990s. He is a graduate of ‘Iolani School (1996) and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, from which he earned both a B.A. and Master’s Degree in Political Science. Four years ago he founded Summit, a nationally-distributed Hawaiʻi arts, literature and fashion magazine, which opened a retail storefront on King Street in 2017. He is an investor in social enterprises and local small businesses such as the Hau‘oli Lofts condominium in Mo‘ili‘ili. Hussey is active on the boards of several organizations including the Kalihi Valley Neighborhood Board, Kamehameha Federal Credit Union, Hanahauʻoli School, and the Domestic Violence Action Center. He lives with his spouse, Marti Townsend, the director of the Sierra Club of Hawai‘i, and their three young children in Kalihi.

Hawaii Independent Staff / Hawaii Politics / Read
More than half of Hawai‘i’s jailed population have not been found guilty

And the primary reason is because most jailed people cannot afford to post bail.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Hawai‘i has released a study showing that almost half of the people in Hawai‘i jails are pre-trial detainees who have not been convicted of the crimes for which they’ve been accused. This preliminary report, called “As Much Justice As You Can Afford: Hawaiiʻs Accused Face an Unequal Bail System,” also reveals that the average bail amount in Honolulu for the lowest level felony is over $20,000. The report is part of an ongoing, statewide investigation and analysis of how bail practices affect our local families and communities.

This means the primary reason that so many people wait in jail for months with their rights infringed upon is because they cannot afford to get out while waiting for trial. We are actively taking away people’s Constitutional rights for months at a time simply because they are poor.

ACLU Legal Director Mateo Caballero said, “Bail is not supposed to be punishment. Bail is supposed to minimize the risk of flight and danger to society while preserving the constitutional rights of the accused. Instead, our early findings show that the way bail is used in Hawai‘i does not serve any of these purposes. Instead, bail practices regularly cause people to waive their rights just to get out of jail. That is unjust and violates the constitution.”

The preliminary report is based on an analysis of six months of public data and interviews with court officials. It captures a snapshot of how bail is used in Hawai‘iʻs criminal justice system, typical outcomes for the accused, and how current practices affect overcrowding of local jails like the O‘ahu Community Corrections Center (OCCC). An update with a full year of data is planned for late 2018.

ACLU Executive Director Joshua Wisch added, “In practice, the way bail works in Hawai‘i means that if you’re wealthy you get out of jail while you wait for trial, and if you aren’t–you don’t. Almost half of the people in Hawai‘i jails have not been convicted of the crime for which they’ve been accused. They’re only in jail because they can’t afford bail. We hope this report will start a discussion about how we can improve this system.”

The report follows ACLU community events in Hilo and Honolulu to discuss criminal justice reform concerns. Among the report’s findings, which have been provided to legislators, the judiciary and the administration: Money is required for bail in about 93 percent of the cases on O‘ahu, 88 percent statewide; over 50 percent of those accused do not post bail, likely because they cannot afford it; of the almost 2,200 people held in Hawai‘i’s jails on any given day, about half are pre-trial detainees and they are held at a cost of $146/day per person (more than $53,000 per year, per person, though pretrial detainees are not usually in jail for an entire year); even if eventually allowed to go free without money bail while awaiting trial, the accused in Hawai‘i wait in jail an average of over 90 days before that hearing even happens, when most large counties in the country are able to release arrestees in 15 days or less; and almost 70 percent of accused who changed their “not guilty” plea to a “guilty” plea did so while in pretrial custody, raising serious concerns for due process, bias and fairness.

“As Much Justice As You Can Afford: Hawaiiʻs Accused Face and Unequal Bail System.” The report can be found at:

Hawaii Independent Staff / Criminal Justice Reform / Read
How the TMT reproduces sexual violence

What do rapists like Brock Turner or Harvey Weinstein have to do with the Thirty-Meter Telescope? They are deeply intertwined.

Tyler Greenhill / Thirty-Meter Telescope / Read
Hawaiian was even the official language of the Territory, circa 1903.

HONOLULU, April 9. — (By Pacific cable.) The legislature has passed, over Governor Dole’s veto, a joint resolution making the Hawaiian language the official language of the territory, as well as English. (Los Angeles Herald, 4/10/1903, p. 2)


Hawaii Independent Staff / Self-Determination / Read
What just happened at the State House?

Reps. Ito and Tokioka just lost their leadership positions on the House veterans committee, and it might have been because of a planned coup to overthrow House leadership.

Above: Rep. James Tokioka

Update: Rep. Ito released a statement giving his version of why he was removed as chair of the VMI committee. While acknowledging that he signed on to a resolution of support for Rep. Tokioka to become Speaker of the House, he still blames his removal on petty vindictiveness, something he claims is commonplace under Saiki’s leadership:

Today, I was approached by Speaker of the House of Representatives, Scott Saiki, and was informed that I would be removed, effective immediately, from my post as Chair of the House Committee on Veterans, Military & International Affairs, & Culture & the Arts (VMI).

I believe the reason for my removal from the VMI committee is purely political. I recently signed a petition supporting Rep. James Tokioka of Kauai as Speaker of the House of Representative, and that was the reason that prompted my removal as Chair of the VMI committee. I was unwilling to compromise my loyalty and friendship with Rep. Tokioka, who is Vice-Chair of the VMI Committee.  The nature of the current political environment in the House is one that operates in the dark, and with retribution for taking a stance that may not be popular to House leadership. I believe that we are a democracy, and all sides should be heard. This is the people’s House. I have full confidence that Rep. Tokioka represents this important, necessary change for the House.

House Resolution 9 was adopted during today’s floor session at the State House of Representatives. The result was that Ken Ito and James Tokioka were replaced as chair and vice chair, respectively, of the VMI committee by Reps. Matt LoPresti and Beth Fukumoto. Reps. Choy, Creagan, DeCoite, Har, Say, Souki and Tokioka voted no, and Reps. Cachola, Hashem, Kong, Chris Lee, McDermott, Tupola and Ward were excused.

We don’t have all the details yet, but as early as last week The Independent had heard rumors that Rep. Tokioka was gunning for Speaker Saiki’s position and was working on obtaining the necessary votes to overthrow the current House leadership. Rep. Tokioka is a member of the faction that held power prior to 2013 under the leadership of Speaker Emeritus Calvin Say. It appears the effort backfired however, with Majority Leader Della Au Belatti introducing HR9.

Because Rep. Tokioka’s efforts happened in caucus and, perhaps, with a floor resolution, there is no written record of what exactly transpired, or which representatives may have signed on to overthrow Speaker Saiki’s leadership team. An anonymous source within the House was unwilling to provide The Independent with a complete list, but suggested that some male freshman representatives may have signed on to the planned coup. It remains unclear whether this was simply a political miscalculation—that is, they thought Rep. Tokioka had the votes already and didn’t want to be left behind when it came to picking new leadership positions and committee chairs—or whether these young reps were legitimately hoping for a return of leadership to the former Calvin Say faction headed by Rep. Tokioka and, presumably Rep. Ryan Yamane as Finance Committee chair.

Another source close to the legislature thinks that there may be genuine dissatisfaction among representatives with the way Rep. Luke handles the Finance committee currently. It is possible that these legislators were tired of, what our source describes as, a certain level of pay-to-play in the form of displays of loyalty to rep. Luke. Specifically, our source mentions some reps. being forced to kill bills in committee simply to demonstrate a willingness to obey Rep. Luke. That being said, our source was highly skeptical that replacing the Saiki team with a reincarnation of the former Say team would be helpful with regard to passing progressive legislation this session, considering they are generally more pro-business and more socially (and perhaps economically) conservative than the Saiki team.

Rep. Say lost power when Rep. Joe Souki organized an unusual coalition of republicans and junior democrats who were less socially conservative than Say’s faction. This allowed then-Governor Neil Abercrombie to call for a special session in November of 2013 to pass a marriage equality bill. The passage of the marriage equality bill, along with other moves on the part of the more progressive democrats in Souki’s coalition, eroded the republican support for the coalition. Combined with a few leadership missteps, including that whole Angus McKelvey thing and pressure from the governor to settle the rail question, this erosion led to another leadership shakeup in which Rep. Scott Saiki assumed speakership from within the existing Souki faction. As we reported then, Reps. Saiki and Luke, had been calling the shots within the remaining Souki coalition for awhile before Rep. Souki was deposed.

For now it appears that Rep. Saiki’s tenure is still secure. It is highly unlikely that a leadership change would be forced in the midst of a session, so Rep. Luke will likely remain Finance chair for the remainder of the session as well. If that changes, we may have to create a new running column, perhaps titled the “House of Cards,” to track the frequent reshuffling of House leadership positions.

In terms of the VMI committee, having Matt LoPresti assume the chairship seems like a step in the right direction. Rep. Ito, who apparently did not even vote against his own deposition as chair (see vote count on HR9), held only a handful of hearings last session and didn’t even attend all of them. LoPresti, by contrast, has already been involved in the issues of cyber security, net neutrality, the missile alert and other potentially relevant VMI committee issues before he was awarded the chairship. There is essentially no time left to introduce new legislation to pass through his committee, but we will have to watch what he is able to accomplish as chair this session and going forward.

Will Caron / Hawaii Politics / Read
Court cases reveal the limited deference to which the Hawaiian language is afforded by the state

ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi is an official state language but, as two court cases are highlighting, the extent to which the State of Hawaiʻi recognizes its citizens' rights to access Hawaiian in official capacities is limited.

Two separate, pending court cases are revealing of the lack of any actual deference for Hawaiʻi’s indigenous language as an equal and legitimate alternative to the other official state language, English, on the part of the entity governing these islands today: the State of Hawaiʻi.

The first court case is the one involving petty misdemeanor charges brought against Hawaiian activist and Maui Community College professor Kaleikoa Kaʻeo, who led an action last year to stop a delivery of telescope equipment to the site of the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) atop Haleakalā. This case brings up the issue of whether or not Hawaiians can use their native tongue to defend themselves in court.

Kaʻeo says that there are certain things that can only, or at least best, be said in Hawaiian when it comes to expressing a Hawaiian cultural view of the world—something that would be important in explaining the action he took to defend a sacred site from development and desecration.

But the judge in his case has granted a motion by the prosecution compelling Kaʻeo to conduct court proceedings in English. Citing a 1993 federal case Tagupa v. Odo, the judge found that the mere fact that ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi is an official state language does not compel the court to provide an interpreter.

From Hawaii Public Radio:

I do not want to be held in contempt of court. I don’t wanna be fined. I don’t want to go to jail for this. But if there’s any reason for me, Kaleikoa Kaʻeo, to go to jail, it would be to defend our right as a people to speak our language in our own homeland.

Meanwhile, another pending court case addresses a similar incongruence between the rights of Hawaiians and existing state policy, this time within the Department of Education (DOE).

The Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC) is representing a mother and her two daughters in a case involving the right to be educated in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. In this case, the two daughters had attended an immersion school while they lived on Maui. The youngest was in kindergarten and the oldest was in first grade. The ʻohana moved to Lanai for the following academic school year.

When the children began attending school at Lanaʻi High and Elementary School in August 2013, they were unable to read, write or comprehend the English language. The Lanaʻi school administration recommended that the youngest repeat kindergarten. When the older daughter started school at Lanaʻi High and Elementary School, her teacher reprimanded her for responding to written assignments in the Hawaiian language. After being reprimanded, the family asked the acting school principal for an educational assistant (EA), a common tool in addressing some students’ unique learning needs that generates a tailored educational plan for the students’ success. The acting school principal instead offered to refer the older daughter to the school psychologist. Services designed to address the older daughter’s Hawaiian-language learning needs were not offered.

According to NHLC, “Besides the Hawaiian language being an official language of this state we fervently believe that [the language] and the right to ʻōlelo are imbued with significant constitutional protections. We believe, given these circumstances, that the Department of Education’s failure to staff a Hawaiian language immersion program on Lanaʻi is inexcusable.”

The State raises four arguments in its defense: That there is no fundamental right to an education under the State Constitution and Federal Constitution; that there is no individual right to an education of a certain quality under the State Constitution and Federal Constitution; that there is no right to an immersion program under the State Constitution; and that the provision of a Hawaiian immersion program is not a customary and traditional native Hawaiian right or practice.

On the other hand, the plaintiff’s claims arise from the Hawai’i Constitution as well. Article X § 4 of the Hawai’i Constitution guarantees a fundamental right to a comprehensive Hawaiian education. The plaintiff’s right to this comprehensive Hawaiian education is protected by the State’s affirmative duty to preserve and protect traditional and customary rights under Article XII § 7 of the Hawai’i Constitution. Furthermore, the plaintiffs are entitled to such protections under the equal protection clause of the Hawai’i Constitution.

NHLC will be asking the court to declare that the fundamental right to an adequate and equal education does, in fact, exist under Article X § 1 of the Hawai’i Constitution. The case will be argued before the justices of the Hawaii Supreme Court on Wednesday, February 7, 2018, at 10 a.m.

Will Caron / Self-Determination / Read