December 19, 2017 § Leave a comment
UH is a broken institution which nourishes bureaucrats that don’t really do anything and when they do something do it badly.
December 18, 2017 § Leave a comment
Mauna Kea Deserves New Management
The University of Hawaii has failed to demonstrate any ability or willingness to be a proper land manager.
By Dan Ahuna / About 8 hours ago
For nearly half a century, the state of Hawaii and the University of Hawaii have failed their legal responsibility to properly manage Mauna Kea. Their mismanagement continued despite constant calls for reform from the community and the state auditor.
A review of this well-documented mismanagement leads to one conclusion: Appropriate management will only be achieved when control over the mountain is wrestled away from the university and an entirely new management structure is installed.
Ultimately, this is the goal of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ lawsuit that was filed in November.
Snow on Mauna Kea in December 2016. OHA is suing the state and the University of Hawaii over management of the mountain, which is considered sacred by many Native Hawaiians.
Twitter/Leslie E. Shirkey Jr.
Years of complaints from the community resulted in the state auditor issuing four reports that slammed the state and UH for their failure as stewards. The first audit in 1998 was particularly severe, finding that UH prioritized astronomical development at the expense of properly caring for Mauna Kea’s natural and cultural resources. All subsequent audits continued to document critical deficiencies in UH’s management.
While UH argues that the first audit served as a “wakeup call” that led to improvements, the truth is that the state’s and the university’s failure to meaningfully implement any management structure can only be resolved by a complete overhaul in management authority.
Broken From The Start
Perhaps the biggest management failures are found in the inadequate leases, subleases and conservation district permits for Mauna Kea. These agreements should be the state’s most important management tools to protect the mountain. Unfortunately, these tools were broken from the start.
In 1998, the auditor noted that the permit conditions placed on the university are “often broad, general and difficult to enforce.” In UH’s effort to create a world-class center for astronomy, it overlooked creating proper subleases and permits for telescopes, with no accountability from the state’s Board of Land and Natural Resources, the owner of UH’s Mauna Kea lands.
These leases and permits provide the state with practically no oversight authority. Over the years, state audits noted that the leases and permits do not allow the BLNR to directly fine observatories for violations and that permits have no expiration date, preventing decades-old permit conditions from being updated.
If that is not appalling enough, these subleases do not expressly require compliance with the 2009 comprehensive management plan, which the university has championed as a game changer for its stewardship of the mauna.
Probably the most egregious flaw with the subleases is their rents — or the lack thereof. Instead of charging sufficient rent to help cover the cost of managing the mountain’s natural resources, the university has negotiated free viewing time from the observatories in exchange for nominal or gratis rents.
To this day, no observatory pays more than $1 a year for use of the mauna. This means that taxpayers and students are left to foot the bill for the management of natural and cultural resources.
Under UH, management for the mountain has and always will take a back seat to astronomy.
For years, the state auditor urged the BLNR and UH to review and update these leases, subleases, permits and agreements. In 2014, the auditor noted that these subleases still “lack provisions providing for adequate stewardship of Mauna Kea, such as ones addressing cultural and historical preservation.”
In addition, over the years the auditor has identified numerous other management deficiencies by the university that still persist today. These include:
“tolerating” multiple management plans at once (in 2014, the auditor noted that there are currently six plans governing management);
submitting plans to BLNR late (the first five-year update for the 2009 Comprehensive Management Plan has yet to be issued);
only partially implementing management plans (UH has failed to adequately implement 32 of the 54 management actions in the CMP that specifically affect Native Hawaiians); and
failing to adopt a single administrative rule to regulate commercial activity and public access (despite first being told to do so by the auditor in 1998 and receiving rule-making authority from the Legislature in 2009).
The fundamental problem with the management of Mauna Kea is the university. UH is primarily an educational institution. It has failed to demonstrate any ability or willingness to be a proper land manager. All of its decisions over the last 50 years have supported astronomy research at the expense of everything else.
Under UH, management for the mountain has and always will take a back seat to astronomy. The state, through the BLNR, has done nothing to hold UH accountable in its decades of mismanagement. This is not in the best interest of the mauna or the public.
Nothing UH can say will change that. It’s time for a complete overhaul of the management structure on the mauna.
Half a century of empty promises to the public, Native Hawaiians and — most importantly — to the mauna is unacceptable.
Mauna Kea deserves better.
December 18, 2017 § Leave a comment
ICE Kept 92 Immigrants Shackled On A Plane For Two Days In ‘Slave Ship’ Conditions, Advocates Say
By Carlos Ballesteros On 12/14/17 at 9:48 AM
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) kept 92 Somali immigrants chained on an airplane for 46 hours in “slave ship” conditions during a botched attempt to deport them back to Somalia earlier this month, detainees and advocates say.
The plane carrying the Somalis—chartered by the ICE Air Operations division—made a pit stop in Dakar, Senegal, 10 hours after taking off from Louisiana on December 7. But the plane never made it to Mogadishu. Instead, after parking the plane on the tarmac for nearly a day, ICE turned it around and made the 4,600-mile flight back to the United States on December 9.
Interviewed by Newsweek, one of the men on the plane and an attorney for two others said ICE deprived the Somalis of adequate food and water, and access to a working bathroom, during their two-day detention on board, forcing them to urinate in empty water bottles or, when they ran out of the bottles, on themselves.
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The Somalis also claim that the plane’s air-conditioning system was dysfunctional, making it hard to breathe in the crowded cabin. One of the immigrants also says he and another Somali were hit in the face by ICE agents on board.
“We were treated like slaves,” Rahim Mohamed, 32, told Newsweek. A diabetic truck driver and father of two, he has lived in the U.S. since 2002.
“We were shackled for nearly two days,” he continued. “We weren’t allowed to use the bathroom or get out of the plane. I was not given the medication I need. I peed into a bottle, and then I peed on myself. It was a horrible thing, man. I thought my life was pretty much over.”
For Rebecca Sharpless, an immigration law professor at the University of Miami who has been following the situation, it was a gross violation of basic decency.
“If you shackle someone to a chair for almost 46 hours with very little food and very little water with no access to a bathroom, it’s a violation of their human rights. It’s reminiscent of a slave ship experience,” she said.
In an emailed statement, ICE denied the complaints were valid.
Upon landing for a refueling and pilot exchange at Dakar, Senegal, ICE was notified that the relief crew was unable to get sufficient crew rest due to issues with their hotel in Dakar. The aircraft, including the detainees and crew on board, remained parked at the airport to allow the relief crew time to rest. During this time, the aircraft maintained power and air conditioning, and was stocked with sufficient food and water. Detainees were fed at regular intervals to include the providing of extra snacks and drinks. Lavatories were functional and serviced the entire duration of the trip. The allegations of ICE mistreatment onboard the Somali flight are categorically false. No one was injured during the flight, and there were no incidents or altercations that would have caused any injuries on the flight.
The agency did not dispute the claims that passengers were shackled during the 46 hours on board.
According to ICE, 61 of the 92 Somalis had criminal convictions, including “homicide, rape and aggravated assault.” The rest were picked up for being in the U.S. without proper authorization. Like Mohamed, most of them have U.S. citizen spouses and children. (His immigration lawyer, Mirella Ceja-Orozco, told Newsweek in an email that Mohamed has “one misdemeanor from 2005,” which she declined to discuss.)
ICE did not give an exact reason why the plane could not make it to Somalia.
The 92 Somalis are currently being held in two detention centers in Florida. Their lawyers, along with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, a civil rights group, are calling on the government to delay their clients’ deportation for a month so they can receive legal counsel.
ICE refused to say when it expected to deport the 92 Somalis, citing agency policy and operational security. But Mohamed said an ICE agent informed him on Wednesday that the agency planned to fly them out to Somalia sometime early next week.
RTR2OT50 Pedro Pimentel Rios is transferred to an awaiting plane bound for Guatemala by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials at Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona, in July 2011. REUTERS
It’s been decades since ICE issued deportation orders on most of the 92 Somalis. Almost all of them came to the U.S. at the height of Somalia’s multiple civil wars in the 1990s and early 2000s. They were allowed to stay in the U.S. under ICE supervision because the government of Somalia either refused or was unable to issue proper travel documents.
But in 2014, two years after the Somali federal government was fully established, ICE began to quickly deport more Somalis than ever before. Since then, over 900 have been deported, more than half during President Donald Trump’s first year in office, according to The New York Times.
Human rights advocates and experts in the region warn that the situation in Somalia is volatile and precarious, especially for Westernized expatriates without strong economic or political ties.
In October, militants with Al-Shabab, a separatist Islamist group in Somalia, killed 300 people and injured hundreds more in one of the deadliest attacks in the history of sub-Saharan Africa.
For Laetitia Bader, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, the attack best illustrates the dangers facing Somalis. “What we’re seeing is the return of tensions and conflict around the underlying problems that led to the civil war in the first place,” she told Newsweek by phone from Nairobi, Kenya.
Mohamed says that Al-Shabab has also threatened to kill Somalis coming back from the U.S.
“My mom’s family in Somalia told her that Al-Shabab wants to behead Somalis coming back from the United States,” Mohamed said. “I’m terrified of going back.”
Furthermore, the Somali government’s ability to protect civilians remains very limited. According to a United Nations report released earlier this month, over 4,500 civilians have been killed by terrorism or internal warfare since 2016. “State and non-state actors also carried out extrajudicial executions, sexual and gender-based violence, arbitrary arrests and detention, and abductions,” the report adds.
Many of the lawyers for the 92 Somalis claim that these are reasons enough to hold off on deportations to Somalia, but the government has so far disagreed.
Still, Mohamed’s lawyer, Ceja-Orozco, says that they will take advantage of ICE’s failure to deport her client and will submit another emergency application to reopen his file.
“This doesn’t happen, ever,” she said. “This is our second chance.”
RTS1HIF7 Somali security officers assess the scene of a suicide car bomb explosion at the gate of the Naso Hablod Two Hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia, on October 29. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
For years, human rights organizations have raised red flags on ICE’s treatment of detained immigrants.
Most recently, Human Rights Watch cited “serious lapses in health care that have led to severe suffering and at times the preventable or premature death of individuals held in immigration detention facilities in the United States.” It concluded there is a pattern of “systemic indifference” to immigrants’ health and well-being while detained by ICE.
At the time, ICE said it always wants to make sure detainees are well cared for.
“Staffing for detainees includes registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, licensed mental health providers, mid-level providers that include a physician’s assistant and nurse practitioner, a physician, dental care, and access to 24-hour emergency care,” an agency spokeswoman told The Guardian.
Advocates remain concerned that the torturous conditions the 92 Somalis were reportedly subjected don’t represent a stand-alone case.
“People who are deported basically disappear to U.S. human rights activists. The Somalis were able to make a complaint because the plane turned back around. I don’t think that’d be the case if they were successfully taken back to Somalia,” said Clara Long, a senior immigration researcher for Human Rights Watch.
As his lawyer rushes to file reams of paperwork, Mohamed is behind bars, waiting to be deported—again—while his wife is back in Atlanta raising their two infant children.
“I don’t think any of them deserve for us to be treated like this,” Mohamed’s wife, Maryam Maye, told Newsweek. “I have a newborn daughter. I worry she will never remember her father. My son is 22 months old. He cries out for his father every day. What do I tell him?”
December 18, 2017 § Leave a comment
Corker demands to know how #CorkerKickback made it into the tax bill just as he decided to vote yes
By Laura Clawson
Monday Dec 18, 2017 · 3:51 AM HST
86 Comments (86 New)
WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 30: U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) listens to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee ask questions to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis during a hearing about authorization for use of military force on October 30, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. As Mattis and Tillerson face questions about the administration’s authority to use military force, Congress is still seeking more information about the deadly ambush that killed four U.S. troops in Niger. (Photo by Keith Lane/Getty Images)
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Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) on Friday dropped his “principled” opposition to the Republican tax plan and on Sunday was struggling to explain how this sudden about-face wasn’t because a provision had been added to the bill that would enrich him personally. To that end, he wrote Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch a letter explaining that he was shocked, shocked to find this provision and demanding to know how it got there.
Corker began his quest for information by, uh, reading the bill—having previously made his decision to support the bill based on “a two-page summary I went through with leadership.” But now that he’s been publicly embarrassed for voting to give real estate millionaires like himself a big tax cut, “I went back through the bill in detail” and found the not-at-all-a-bribe provision.
My understanding from talking to leadership staff today is that a version of this provision was always in the House bill — from the Ways & Means markup, through House floor consideration — and in reconciling the divergent House and Senate approaches to pass-through businesses this House approach stayed in the final conferenced version.
Because this issue has raised concerns, I would ask that you provide an explanation of the evolution of this provision and how it made it into the final conference report.
As it happens, Sen. John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, has already explained how that happened. Asked by George Stephanopoulos how that specific provision ended up in the bill, Cornyn said that “what we’ve tried to do is cobble together the votes we needed to get this bill passed.” And since Corker’s was a key vote they were looking for, it’s not exactly a stretch to suggest that the inclusion of a provision that benefits him and people just like him might have been part of that cobbling together process.
But that’s probably not the answer Corker is looking for—he wants an answer that will make him look good. He’d been enjoying this whole “Bob Corker, principled Republican” thing he had going and then those pesky reporters went and ruined it by finding out that one of the principles the bill now serves is making Bob Corker even richer. Doubtless Republican leadership will try to oblige him and come up with an excuse. But good luck selling that. We know what’s going on here.
TFTD: Understanding [whatever that may mean in context] GMOs is not the same as understanding the risk of GMOs. Each GMO is different and carries different risks.
December 18, 2017 § Leave a comment
December 18, 2017 § Leave a comment
Federal Judge Announces Retirement After Sexual Misconduct Allegations
At least 15 women have said Judge Alex Kozinski groped them, made inappropriate sexual comments, and/or showed them pornography.
By Marina Fang
A federal judge on Monday announced his retirement from the bench, in response to accusations of serial sexual misconduct, including groping and showing pornography to his female law clerks and staffers.
Judge Alex Kozinski, a veteran of the powerful 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California, said in a statement that he is retiring “effective immediately” because “I cannot be an effective judge and simultaneously fight this battle.”
At least 15 women have said Kozinski subjected them to “a range of inappropriate sexual conduct or comments” over the years, including groping and showing them pornography.
Kozinski disputed their accounts in a statement to The Washington Post, which first reported the allegations earlier this month.
“I treat all of my employees as family and work very closely with most of them,” he said. “I would never intentionally do anything to offend anyone and it is regrettable that a handful have been offended by something I may have said or done.”
In a subsequent statement after more women reported similar stories, he attributed his behavior to “my unusual sense of humor,” apologizing that it “caused offense or made anyone uncomfortable.”
“I deeply regret that my unusual sense of humor caused offense or made anyone uncomfortable.”
December 18, 2017 § Leave a comment
Battle of Trenton
Battle of Trenton
Posted on December 18, 2017
December 26, 1776
Trenton, New Jersey, on the Delaware River (eastern United States)
General George Washington
Colonel Johann Rall
Approx. # Troops
Restores confidence in Washington’s leadership and in the possibility of ultimate American victory in the war
Continental Army commander General George Washington’s first military campaign ended in disaster. In July 1776 British commander in chief Major General William Howe and 32,000 British troops (the largest expeditionary force in British history until the 20th century) landed in New York and proceeded to drive Washington’s troops from Long Island and Manhattan. Washington suffered one defeat after another; often his men simply broke and ran. Washington then left an isolated garrison at Fort Washington on the Manhattan side of the Hudson River. In mid-November, supported by ships in the Hudson, British forces cut off the garrison and captured it along with 3,000 prisoners, 100 cannon, and a huge quantity of munitions. The same thing almost happened a few days later to the colonials at Fort Lee, across the Hudson in New Jersey.
Washington fled to the interior. Howe pursued in dilatory fashion, ignoring the Hudson to go after the Continental Army. Washington got away, his army safely behind the Delaware River. On December 13, 1776, British forces caught up with Major General Charles Lee, who had rejected Washington’s orders to join him. The British captured him and some of his 4,000 men near Morristown, New Jersey. The British then went into winter quarters, their forces covered by a line of outposts. The most important was located at Trenton, New Jersey, and was held by Colonel Johann Rall’s Hessian mercenaries. What was left of Washington’s force was deployed across the Delaware River from Trenton.
Washington’s position was critical. Smallpox ravaged his force, and half of his 10,000 men were sick. To make matters worse, enlistments for most would expire in a few days, at the end of the year. Washington decided to risk everything and mount a surprise attack on Trenton. Everything depended on getting the men across the icy Delaware at night to achieve surprise. Crossings by 5,500 men, horses, and artillery were to occur at three separate locations, with the forces converging on Trenton. If circumstances allowed, they could then advance on the British posts at Princeton and New Brunswick.
The attempt was planned for Christmas night, December 25. The crossing was to start at 5:00 p.m., with the attack at Trenton scheduled for 5:00 a.m. the next morning, but weather conditions were terrible, and the troops were slow to reach their assembly areas. As a consequence, the men began loading an hour later than planned. Shallow-draft wooden Durham boats, 40–60 feet long by 8 feet wide, transported the men across the river. Perfect craft for such an operation, the Durham boats had a keel and a bow at each end. Four men, two to a side, used setting poles to push off the bottom and move the boats, which also had a mast and two sails. Horses and artillery went across the river in ferries.
All did not go smoothly, as a storm swept through. Of the three crossings, only the major one at McKonkey’s Ferry under Washington with 2,400 men occurred in time for the planned attack. That force was divided into two corps under major generals John Sullivan and Nathanael Greene. Colonel Henry Knox commanded 18 pieces of artillery. Conditions were horrible. The men had to contend not only with the dark but also with wind, rain, sleet, snow, and chunks of ice in the Delaware. The password for the operation, “Liberty or Death,” reflected its desperate nature.
Washington had planned for the crossing to be complete by midnight, but the last man was not across until after 3:00 a.m., and it was nearly 4:00 a.m. before the army formed and began to move. Washington’s men were poorly clad for such an operation; some actually had no shoes and wrapped their feet in rags. The men thus marched the nine miles to Trenton.
Washington was determined that the attack would succeed. When Sullivan sent a message to him that the storm had wet the muskets, making them unfit for service, Washington replied, “Tell General Sullivan to use the bayonet. I am resolved to take Trenton.” Washington’s will, more than anything, kept the men going. On nearing Trenton, Washington split his force into the two corps to follow two different roads for a converging attack on the British outpost.
The attack began at 8:00 a.m., with the two columns opening fire within 8 minutes of one another. The battle lasted some 90 minutes. The Hessian garrison consisted of three regiments, 50 Hessian Jägers, and 20 light dragoons—about 1,600 men in all—along with six 3-pounder guns. Continental Army forces soon drove the Hessians back. Artillery played a major role, and here Washington enjoyed a 6 to 1 advantage, with his guns deployed to fire down the streets of the town. The battle itself was a confused melee of men fighting in small groups or singly. Rall rallied his men, intending a bayonet charge down Queen Street, but was soon mortally wounded, and the Hessians were cut down by individual Americans with muskets and rifles and by artillery fire.
The Hessians lost 22 troops killed and 92 wounded; 948 were captured. The remaining Hessians would have also been taken had the other columns gotten into position in time. The Continentals also secured a considerable quantity of arms and booty. The Americans lost only 2 men, both frozen to death, and 5 wounded. With little food or rest for 36 hours, Washington’s men needed relief, and he was thus forced to suspend operations. On December 27 the Continentals were back across the Delaware.
Washington followed up Trenton by an attack against Princeton. Recrossing the Delaware on January 2, 1777, he routed 1,700 crack British troops at Princeton under Lieutenant Colonel Charles Mawhood. These two small Continental victories changed the entire campaign. Washington called Trenton “A glorious day for our country,” while British minister for the colonies Lord George Germain exclaimed, “All our hopes were blasted by the unhappy affair at Trenton.” Trenton helped end the Continentals’ fear of the Hessian troops. More importantly, the two battles of Trenton and Princeton added immensely to Washington’s prestige, which was at a low point a month before, establishing his reputation as a general and a leader of men. The battles also restored Continental morale, which had been at its lowest point since the start of the war. In two weeks Washington had snatched victory out of the jaws of death and fanned the dying embers of American independence into flame again.
References Fischer, David Hackett. Washington’s Crossing. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Ketchum, Richard M. The Winter Soldiers: The Battles for Trenton and Princeton. New York: Anchor Books, 1975. McPhillips, Martin. The Battle of Trenton. Parsippany, NJ: Silver Burdett, 1984. Ward, Christopher. The War of the Revolution, Vol. 1. New York: Macmillan, 1952.