By Matthew McDermott on 28 May 2010 in Tree Hugger - (http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/05/australia-takes-japan-to-court-stop-whaling.php)
Threatened for some time now, Australia has begun legal action against Japan to stop whaling in the Southern Ocean. Formal proceedings will begin in The Hague next week and would lead to a provisional order for Japan to halt whaling ahead of a full hearing. As you might imagine, the Japanese fisheries ministry isn't too pleased:
"We will continue to explain that the scientific whaling that we are conducting is lawful in accordance with article eight of the international convention for the regulation of whaling," said the ministry's deputy press secretary Hidenobu Sobashima. Mr Sobashima said the issue "shouldn't jeopardize the overall good relations between Japan and Australia". (BBC News)
Indeed, Australian officials echo the sentiment of cordiality, with Foreignn Minister Stephen Smith saying, "Whatever our differences on whaling, this issue should not be allowed to jeopardize the strength and the growth of our bilateral relationship." (Reuters)
Whaling Peace Plan Ironically Declares War on Whales All of this comes as a so-called 'peace plan' proposed by the International Whaling Commission continues to move forward, which would legalize commercial whaling with stricter quotas--the very type Japan now conducts under the guise of lethal scientific research, permitted under the decades-old international ban on whaling.
Food Freedom recently reported that Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, peasant farmer leader of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) called the entry of Monsanto seeds into Haiti "a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds. Monsanto's seed donations were an unwelcomed gift to a country with vocal opposition to GMO seeds for fear they would ruin what little agriculture the country has left.
Monsanto will be donating 60,000 seed sacks of hybrid corn and vegetable seeds to Haiti and MPP leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste has vowed to burn them. According to Food Freedom,
"The hybrid corn seeds Monsanto has donated to Haiti are treated with the fungicide Maxim XO, and the calypso tomato seeds are treated with thiram. Thiram belongs to a highly toxic class of chemicals called ethylene bisdithiocarbamates (EBDCs). The EPA determined that EBDC-treated plants are so dangerous to agricultural workers that they must wear special protective clothing when handling them"
Monsanto is trying to create the same addiction it created at home, abroad. Considering that more than 9 out of 10 soybean seeds in the U.S. are linked to Monsanto. It's the same for cotton and just a little lower for corn. That gives Monsanto complete control over seed companies because no seed company could survive without selling Monsanto's Round Up Ready Seeds.
I wrote last year that with a monopoly on the industry the company can increase prices. In the end, this cycle will hurt farmers who depend on the seeds because farmers can't risk the litigation that would ensue should they replant the seeds. While the initial donation would be free, peasant farmers could never afford to continually pay from them year after year. It's a heartless scheme..
As it blazed, a dense column of black smoke rose toward the sky. Oily water, the color of strong tea, slopped up the sides of boats. The breeze carried an acrid smell, like gasoline fumes.
Aboard the research vessel F.G. Walton Smith, anxiety was growing.
Five scientists and six students had come to study the oil leak and its effect on the sea. They brought flasks and gloves, refrigerators and freezers, tiny tools and huge cylinders of gas.
They were not looking for oil on the surface, where it was so thick in places that it was being burned off, but for plumes of fine oil droplets far beneath the waves.
The stakes were high. Two weeks earlier, when some of these scientists had disclosed evidence of undersea oil plumes, their claim had been greeted skeptically by the government. The scientists’ credibility was on the line.
If the plumes did exist, much of the wisdom about combating oil spills might need to be reconsidered. The plumes would suggest that any future oil leak in deep water could be expected to do much of its damage in the sea, not on shore.
But where were the plumes?
After a slow start, American science is finally beginning to tackle the oil disaster in earnest. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal agency charged with monitoring the health of the oceans, is sending multiple boats into the gulf. The National Science Foundation, another arm of the government, is issuing rapid grants to finance academic teams, including the one aboard the Walton Smith. BP, the oil company responsible for the spill, has pledged $500 million for research. And scientists like those aboard the Walton Smith are getting emergency financing from the government for their studies.
This stepped-up effort is starting to bear fruit. This week, another research vessel confirmed the existence of a huge undersea plume. And on Thursday, a team of scientists appointed by the Obama administration offered a more credible estimate of the flow rate at the broken well, putting it at two to four times the previous calculation.
That higher estimate only added to the sense among academic scientists that much of the oil must be hovering in the deep sea, instead of surfacing. The goal of the researchers aboard the Walton Smith was to nail the existence of such deep-sea plumes beyond any doubt.
They sailed early this week from Gulfport, Miss., and went back to the spot where they had originally discovered a large plume. It was no longer there.
All one afternoon, the Walton Smith hopscotched across the gulf. The top scientists on board, Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia and Vernon Asper of the University of Southern Mississippi, peered intently at instrument readouts, hoping for a signal.
Down to the bottom of the sea went a huge apparatus designed to test the water and grab samples of it. The results kept coming up clean.
Then, late in the afternoon of the second day at sea, the entire scientific crew suddenly leapt to attention.
The boat had arrived at a new sampling site, west of the oil leak, and the instruments were traveling once again to the bottom. In a clean ocean, they would be expected to produce fairly straight lines on a graph.
Instead, wild squiggles were showing up. The display looked like one of those seismograph readings taken in the throes of an earthquake. At three different depths, the instruments picked up plumes of material drifting through the deep ocean.
Dr. Asper stood back, arms crossed, watching the squiggles appear. “To see something like this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” he said. “It’s really remarkable.”
Soon, a giant winch on the rear of the boat hauled special bottles back from the deep, carrying water samples. The younger researchers rushed to the rear deck.
Working quickly in a daisy chain, circling the bottles, they filled small vials and other containers, then hustled back to their makeshift laboratory on the main deck of the Walton Smith.
Over the next few hours, they filtered some of the water. They shook some samples. They stirred some. They pickled some. They bubbled gases through the water. They refrigerated some vials. They froze some more.
Then they got ready to do it all again.
Within a day, word would come that a separate university vessel, the Weatherbird II, had discovered a giant plume stretching in the other direction from the broken well, toward Mobile Bay. That one threatens some of the finest fishing territory in the gulf.
It will take weeks of laboratory work to confirm with certainty that the plumes are made of oil droplets, or more likely, some complex mixture of oil and natural gas. If that idea holds up, the existence of these undersea plumes may well turn out to be the major scientific discovery of the great oil spill of 2010.
It could take years for scientists to assess the deep-sea damage fully, if that is even possible. Among other problems, gulf researchers have long been hobbled by a critical shortage of vessels equipped for oceanography.
Only a handful of such ships ply the Gulf of Mexico, and the best-outfitted boats tend to work for the oil industry. Exploring and protecting the gulf has simply not been as high a national priority as drilling it for oil.
Still uncertain are the fates of deep coral reefs that live in the gulf, as well as the condition of a unique cluster of bottom-dwelling organisms only nine miles from the damaged well. The ultimate impact the spill will have on commercially important fish like tuna and snapper is anyone’s guess.
As the week wore on, the Joye-Asper team found more and more evidence for the existence of the plumes.
The water samples they pulled up suggested that any oil in the plumes was highly diffuse — not even visible to the naked eye. But when several gallons of the water were forced through a fine filter, tiny black oil droplets appeared.
Even in that diffuse form, the plumes were having a drastic impact on the chemistry of the ocean, with dissolved oxygen levels plunging as each plume drifted through the sea.
That, Dr. Joye said, was most likely because bacteria were ramping up to consume the oil and gas — a good thing, over all, but it was creating a heavy demand for oxygen and other nutrients. Aside from the toxic effect of the oil, the declining oxygen was a potential threat to sea life.
Slowly, as the Walton Smith and other boats worked the gulf this past week, the weird physics of a deep-water well blowout came into better focus. The idea that oil rises quickly to the surface of an ocean may be one of the casualties of this disaster.
“Nothing really makes sense out here,” Dr. Joye said as her ship plowed through orange slicks of oil. “I don’t know that you can necessarily trust your intuition.”
From the bridge of the ship, Capt. Shawn Lake made an announcement. Everyone rushed to the outside decks.
Once again, in the middle distance, the ocean was burning.
By Staff on 27 January 2010 review for Uniondocs,org -
Image above: Defiant artchitect Michael Reynolds in the process of building home from "garbage". From (http://thecia.com.au/reviews/g/garbage-warrior.shtml).
What do beer cans, car tires and water bottles have in common? Not much unless you're renegade architect Michael Reynolds, in which case they are tools of choice for producing thermal mass and energy-independent housing.
For 30 years New Mexico-based Reynolds and his green disciples have devoted their time to advancing the art of "Earthship Biotecture" by building self-sufficient, off-the-grid communities where design and function converge in eco-harmony. However, these experimental structures that defy state standards create conflict between Reynolds and the authorities, who are backed by big business.
Frustrated by antiquated legislation, Reynolds lobbies for the right to create a sustainable living test site. While politicians hum and ha, Mother Nature strikes, leaving communities devastated by tsunamis and hurricanes. Reynolds and his crew seize the opportunity to lend their pioneering skills to those who need it most.
Shot over three years and in four countries, Garbage Warrior is a timely portrait of a determined visionary, a hero of the 21st century. Garbage Warrior is a feature-length documentary film telling the epic story of maverick architect Michael Reynolds, his crew of renegade house builders from New Mexico, and their fight to introduce radically different ways of living.
A snapshot of contemporary geo-politics and an inspirational tale of triumph over bureaucracy, Garbage Warrior is above all an intimate portrait of an extraordinary individual and his dream of changing the world. www.garbagewarrior.com
Video above: Here's a look at extreme green living, in an 'Earthship'. From (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ENIhmDskmY)
By Juan Wilson on 28 May 2010 for Island Breath -
Image above: The author ruminating in the offices of www.islandbreath.org on 5/28/10
I was born sixty-five years ago (5/28/1945): That was after the first test of an A-Bomb, but before the drop on Hiroshima. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, but before the surrender of Imperial Japan. It has put me in a slightly odd no-where-land regarding the Baby Boom generation.
Technically, I was born before the Second world War was won by America, but after it was a foregone conclusion.
When I was a young man I was certainly counted a member of the Baby Boom. I was in the first generation to live in the archetypal suburb of Levittown, Long Island, amongst the GI veterans living the dream of house, car and BBQ.
Back then my generation felt that it consisted of those born between 1945 and 1950. Some have even dated the Boom back to 1943. Others have defined the span of Boomers to be those born between 1946 to 1964. What the..?
As I've aged, the Baby Boom era has gotten younger. Hell, 1964 is years after Bob Dylan started cutting albums for Columbia Records. It's after the Vietnam War had begun. I'd call those born then the V Generation, maybe. Certainly not Boomers.
The same sort of phenom happened to me regarding hipness. I am of an age to have fallen between the Beat Generation - Beatniks (coffee houses, jazz, beat poetry, marijuana) and the Acid Generation - Hippies (free-stores, psychedelic music, underground cartoons, LSD). Again, 1964 seems to be a kind of watershed.
In 1963, as Beat Generation member, I saw the original Dave Brubeck Quartet jazz ensemble... but by 1965 I had sampled Sandoz Lab LSD in a Manhattan artist's loft as an entry to the Acid Generation.
By the time of the 1967 Summer of Love in San Francisco, when mobs of youngsters (including myself) descended on the city to see what the brouhaha was all about, the residents of Haight Ashbury held a march celebrating the death of the Hippie.
But somehow youngsters seem to have glommed onto the Hippie thing and now anyone born even into the 1980's can consider themselves in the Hippie generation. Many skipped-over identifying with the Disco scene... probably a good idea.
Two people dear to me wrote this on my birthday. My son, John, said,
"I was talking to a group of 8th graders about Iraq and Afghanistan the other day and realized half way through the conversation that they had no memory of 9/11 or the early years of the Bush Administration and therefore no emotional response. It was a bit of a shocker! Luckily as a result their collective conclusion was that both wars were pointless and a waste of lives and money! Sometimes the emotional detachment time can be useful. Maybe the next generation won't have an attachment to empire and oil. "A mutual friend, Dana, whose age falls between us, responded,
"John, that's how I feel when I mention Viet Nam. Their eyes gloss over and I realize just how old I really am."History really begins when there is no one left who lived through the events in question. When there are no more eyewitnesses... when there are only cold artifacts. As it is, I have personally listened live to the music of 8 decades.
The 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, 00's, 10's. That means without the clawing veil of nostalgia... I've heard Lena Horn and Lady Gaga both as new and fresh. That seems incredible. How old am I? I can remember when toys contained no plastic... just wood, metal, string. I now own an iPod Touch.
My grandmother lived from about 1890 to 1971. She visited and lived in Southwest US over several decades. On her first trip to Arizona she arrived by a horse drawn stagecoach when Arizona was a territory in Indian country. Her last departure from the bustling state was from modern Phoenix on a Boeing 707 jet.
A single life can span seven generations and not much more. You may have been held in the arms of your great-grandmother, and hold in your arms your great-granddaughter. Their eye-witness memories of you are your extent in this world. .
According to the Times, a BP technician said that engineers will revise their plans and hope to resume "top kill" efforts by midnight.
"Top kill" is the company's boldest attempt yet to plug the gusher that has spewed millions of gallons of oil over the last five weeks. BP hopes that by pumping mud into the well, it can overpower the steady stream of oil. The company wants to eventually inject cement into the well to permanently seal it.
The stakes are high. Fisherman, hotel and restaurant owners, politicians and residents along the coast are fed up with BP's so far ineffective attempts to stop the oil leak that sprang after an offshore drilling rig exploded April 20. Eleven workers were killed, and by the most conservative estimate, 7 million gallons of crude have spilled into the Gulf, fouling Louisiana's marshes and coating birds and other wildlife.
The top kill has worked above ground but has never before been tried 5,000 feet beneath the sea. Company officials peg its chance of success at 60 to 70 percent.
President Barack Obama said "there's no guarantees" it will work. The president planned a trip to Louisiana on Friday.
"We're going to bring every resource necessary to put a stop to this thing," he said.
Meanwhile, dozens of witness statements obtained by The Associated Press show a combination of equipment failure and a deference to the chain of command impeded the system that should have stopped the gusher before it became an environmental disaster.
In a handwritten statement to the Coast Guard obtained by the AP, Transocean rig worker Truitt Crawford said: "I overheard upper management talking saying that BP was taking shortcuts by displacing the well with saltwater instead of mud without sealing the well with cement plugs, this is why it blew out."
At a Coast Guard hearing in New Orleans, Doug Brown, chief rig mechanic aboard the platform, testified that the trouble began at a meeting hours before the blowout, with a "skirmish" between a BP official and rig workers who did not want to replace heavy drilling fluid in the well with saltwater.
The switch presumably would have allowed the company to remove the fluid and use it for another project, but the seawater would have provided less weight to counteract the surging pressure from the ocean depths.
Brown said the BP official, whom he identified only as the "company man," overruled the drillers, declaring, "This is how it's going to be." Brown said the top Transocean official on the rig grumbled, "Well, I guess that's what we have those pinchers for," which he took to be a reference to devices on the blowout preventer, the five-story piece of equipment that can slam a well shut in an emergency.
A live video stream Wednesday showed pictures of the blowout preventer, as well as the oil gushing out. At other times, the feed showed mud spewing out, but BP said this was not cause for alarm.
A weak spot in the blowout preventer could blow under the pressure, causing a brand new leak.
Gene Beck, a petroleum engineering professor at Texas A&M in College Station, said the endeavor would likely fail quickly if the mud could not overcome the pressure of the oil. "The longer it goes, maybe the better news that is," Beck said.
Frustration with BP and the federal government has only grown since then as efforts to stop the leak have failed.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, both outspoken critics, led a boat tour around the oil-fouled delta near the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Through the Mississippi's South Pass, there were miles-long passages that showed no indication of the oil, and the air smelled fresh and salty. Nearby fish were leaping and tiny seabirds dove into the water.
But not far away at Pass a Loutre, the odor wafting above the oily water was that of an auto shop.
"We have yet to see a plan from the Coast Guard, a plan from BP, a plan to keep it from coming in, a plan to pick it up," Nungesser said of the oil."There's no wildlife in Pass a Loutre. It's all dead," Nungesser said. .
Hawaii's last sugar plantation on Wednesday grudgingly accepted and Native Hawaiian residents swiftly rejected a water commission ruling ordering the restoration of water to six East Maui streams, some of it on a seasonal basis.
The action came a day after the state's water commission voted to order Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar to return water to the streams to improve habitat for native plants and animals and to provide Hawaiians in the area with water to farm taro.
The ruling addresses a decade-long legal dispute between the plantation and Native Hawaiians living at the base of the East Maui mountains where HC&S has been diverting water for its fields since the late 1800s.
Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar General Manager Chris Benjamin called the ruling "another bite from the apple," noting the commission two years ago ordered the plantation to give up millions of gallons a day from eight other streams. He said the decision would lead to "another sizable reduction in its access to water."
Yet Benjamin said in a statement that "we appreciate" commissioners recognized that the company needed more water during the summer and allowed for a seasonal restoration of stream water.
HC&S says it needs the water to survive, warning that 800 employees could lose their jobs if it goes out of business.
Alan Murakami, an attorney for Native Hawaiian complainants, said he would challenge the ruling.
Murakami had asked the commission to restore water to 19 East Maui streams, but the panel left the status quo in place for 13 of the streams. The decision would hurt Hawaiian traditions and practices, he said.
"They will certainly have less habitats from which to gather, and estuaries from which to fish, both of which are critical to the survival of the Hawaiian culture on that coastline," Murakami said.
He accused the water commission of failing to adequately consider Native Hawaiians' rights to the water and only taking into account HC&S' arguments about the important role the company plays in the local economy.
"It's simply outrageous -- the lack of understanding of their public trust duties and the degree to which they're supposed to adhere to them," Murakami said.
The company began diverting water from East Maui to irrigate sugar cane fields in the central part of the island in 1876.
The company uses East Maui stream and well water to irrigate about 30,000 acres in the Central Maui valley. The plantation, one of Maui's biggest employers, indirectly supports dozens of vendors such as heavy equipment and fuel providers.
Native Hawaiians have relied on East Maui's streams to fish and farm taro for hundreds of years.
The commission ordered some water to be restored to Makapipi and Hanawi streams year-round.
It voted to restore some water to four streams -- Waikamoi, West and East Wailuaiki and Waiohue -- only in the wet season.
Murakami argued the company could restore more water to the streams without jeopardizing its business by lining reservoirs to prevent water seepage and otherwise reducing water waste.
The company has said it had already invested in steps to prevent water waste.
Google, Ads & Phones Go Together Video above: Satire created by the Onion News Network. From(http://www.theonion.com/video/new-google-phone-service-whispers-targeted-ads-dir). By Miguel Helft on 8 OCtober 2007 in the New York Times - (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/08/business/media/08googlephone.html) For more than two years, a large group of engineers at Google has been working in secret on a mobile phone project. As word about their efforts has trickled out, expectations in the tech world for what has been called the Google phone, or GPhone, have risen, the way they do for Apple loyalists ahead of a speech by Steven P. Jobs.
But the GPhone is not likely to be the second coming of the iPhone — and Google’s goals are very different from Apple’s.
Google wants to extend its dominance of online advertising to the mobile Internet, a small market today, but one that is expected to grow rapidly. It hopes to persuade wireless carriers and mobile phone makers to offer phones based on its software, according to people briefed on the project. The cost of those phones may be partly subsidized by advertising that appears on their screens.
Google is expected to unveil the fruit of its mobile efforts later this year, and phones based on its technology could be available next year.
Some analysts say that the Google project’s effect on the wireless industry is not likely to be as profound, at least initially, as that of Apple’s iPhone, whose revolutionary look and features have redefined consumer expectations for mobile phones.
“The iPhone was a milestone in terms of how people use a mobile device,” said Karsten Weide, an analyst with IDC. “The GPhone, if it does come out, will help Google with distribution for their online services.”
At the core of Google’s phone efforts is an operating system for mobile phones that will be based on open-source Linux software, according to industry executives familiar with the project.
In addition, Google is expected to develop mobile versions of its applications that go well beyond the mobile search and map software it offers today. Those applications may include a Web browser to run on cellphones.
While Google has built phone prototypes to test its software and show off its technology to manufacturers, the company is not likely to make the phones itself, according to analysts.
In short, Google is not creating a gadget to rival the iPhone, but rather creating software that will be an alternative to Windows Mobile from Microsoft and other operating systems, which are built into phones sold by many manufacturers. And unlike Microsoft, Google is not expected to charge phone makers a licensing fee for the software.
“The essential point is that Google’s strategy is to lead the creation of an open-source competitor to Windows Mobile,” said one industry executive, who did not want his name used because his company has had contacts with Google. “They will put it in the open-source world and take the economics out of the Windows Mobile business.”
Some believe another major goal of the phone project is to loosen the control of carriers over the software and services that are available on their networks.
“Google’s agenda is to disaggregate carriers,” said Dan Olschwang, the chief executive of JumpTap, a start-up that provides search and advertising services to several mobile phone operators.
Google declined to comment on any specifics of its mobile phone initiative. But its chief executive, Eric E. Schmidt, has said several times that the cellphone market presented the largest growth opportunity for Google. “We have a large investment in mobile phones and mobile phone platform applications,” Mr. Schmidt said in an interview this year.
Industry analysts say that Google, which has little experience with complex hardware, faces significant challenges.
“Running a Web site and a search engine is one thing,” said Mr. Weide of IDC. “But developing a phone is a whole different game. It will not be easy for them.”
Mr. Weide added that Google’s impact on the industry will depend to a large extent on its ability to sign deals with wireless carriers that distribute hundreds of millions of phones each year and often control what software and services run on them.
Some carriers, especially in the United States, are likely to give Google a cool reception. Companies like Verizon Wireless and AT&T have spent billions of dollars building and upgrading their networks, establishing relationships with customers, subsidizing handsets and creating their own mobile Internet portals. Now they want to make sure those investments pay off, in part, through mobile advertising, and they see Google and other search engines, who are after the same ad dollars, as competitors.
As a result, most carriers in the United States have chosen to shun the major search engines for now. Instead, they have promoted the search engines and ad systems of small technology companies like JumpTap and Medio Systems, whose services they can stamp with their own brands.
Most carriers declined to comment on Google’s plans. But Arun Sarin, the chief executive of Britain’s Vodafone Group, which offers the Google service on its phones, said it was not clear what compelling functions Google would offer that are not already available.
“What is it that is missing in life that they are going to fulfill?” Mr. Sarin said. “It is not a no-brainer. You can reach Google already through a number of devices. You don’t need a Google phone to do that.”
Google’s desire to loosen the carriers’ control over their networks has hardly been a secret. The company recently lobbied the Federal Communications Commission to impose rules on any carrier who wins a coming auction for valuable wireless spectrum. The rules, which the F.C.C. adopted despite opposition from Verizon and others, require that the network using a portion of that spectrum be open to any handset and software applications from any company.
Google said it is considering bidding for some of that spectrum. But regardless of who wins it, phones based on Google’s software would be able to take advantage of it.
Google’s lobbying, as well as its work on a phone software platform that would be open to other applications, represent an effort to bring to the mobile Internet the dynamics of the PC-oriented Internet, which is free of control by network operators. Google is hoping that it can beat competitors in an open environment.
The mobile phone project at Google was built in part around Android, a small mobile software company it acquired in 2005. An Android co-founder, Andy Rubin, had founded Danger, which created the popular T-Mobile Sidekick smartphone. Mr. Rubin works at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, but another part of Google’s team is reported to be in Boston, where Android’s co-founder, Rich Miner, another veteran of the mobile phone industry, is based.
Some analysts say there are no guarantees that Google will be able to replicate its online success in the mobile world.
“The wireless market does not have the same global scale and scope efficiencies, nor the lack of transactional friction, of software on the Internet,” said Scott Cleland, a telecommunications industry analyst who recently testified before the Senate against Google’s proposed acquisition of DoubleClick.
“It is a completely different world and completely different set of economics,” said Mr. Cleland, who has opposed Google on a number of policy issues.
Microsoft, whose mobile operating system has been available for years, has distribution agreements with 48 handset makers and 160 carriers around the world. Still, only 12 million phones sold this year will be based on Microsoft’s software, giving it 10 percent of the smartphone market, according to IDC.
Microsoft declined to comment on potential competition from Google. “The market is huge, and our partners are really motivated to bring Windows Mobile phones to market,” said Doug Smith, director for marketing of Microsoft’s mobile communications business.
Mahesh Veerina, the founder and chief executive of Celunite, which makes cellphone software based on Linux, said Google’s offering was likely to be attractive to small carriers, who may see it as a competitive weapon.
But if Google-powered phones prove to be a hit with consumers, other carriers may feel pressure to follow suit, said Richard Doherty, director for the Envisioneering Group, a consulting firm.
“No one wants to be the last carrier to endorse Google,” Mr. Doherty said..
Image above: Kauhale Makai Condominium on the ocean in Kihei, Maui, Hawaii. From (http://activerain.com/blogsview/845359/kauhale-makai-condominium-kihei-maui-condominiums-)
By Harry Eagar on 26 May 2010 in the Maui News - (http://www.mauinews.com/page/content.detail/id/531847.html)
A condo owner who had his water shut off after he stopped paying common area maintenance fees said he could get by for a while, but condo associations on Maui may not fare as well.
Nai'a Properties President Penny Munroe, who has managed multifamily properties on Maui for 15 years, said two of the condo associations she works with are on the verge of collapse because so many apartment owners have fallen behind on their fees.
"I have never run into this before," Munroe said.
Munroe said the Condominium Council of Maui has been trying to educate condo associations for a year and a half about the looming financial crunch. Nai'a has insisted that its clients write budgets that anticipate uncollected debts and prepare to manage shortfalls.
Ron Wilson was featured in a story Sunday by The Maui News about condo owners who fall behind on their fees. He said his association, Kanani at Wailea, is not in danger of financial collapse but is having trouble collecting from members like him who cannot pay their maintenance fees.
Wilson's condo was foreclosed and sold at auction, although he is continuing to live in the unit until Bank of America tells him to move out.
After he stopped paying fees, his association warned that it would cut off his water if he didn't settle the debt. Wilson filled buckets and tubs with water, and his service was turned off Sunday morning.
"It's a good lesson in conservation," he said Monday. "I realized how much water you waste and how much you really need."
He said he "could hold out all summer," but since BofA will have to file notice of its takeover within a few days, the bills will then be the responsibility of the bank, which should answer at least part of the Kanani association's problems.
Associations have few options when they cannot collect, said Munroe, but she was surprised to hear that Hawaiiana had followed through on its plan to shut off water. Hawaiiana did not respond to inquiries.
Munroe is very worried that associations with big accounts receivables are going to fail. "It's going to start happening," she said. "What with the foreclosures, the filing for bankruptcy and the lease rent negotiations, people just cannot pay."
Two of her clients are very shaky, she said. The boards have done what they can to cut expenses, including deferring maintenance and cutting services.
Munroe recently attended a conference on the Mainland, where condo associations also are facing this problem, although the amounts of money are often larger in Hawaii.
"They're in the same boat," Munroe said, who met with other associations to share ideas about how to deal with the problem.
There is little precedent to suggest what options are available. As far as Munroe knows, only one condo association in Hawaii went into bankruptcy, some years back, and that was not a matter of finances.
She is also concerned about the snowball effect of condo budget cuts. It's bad enough when services are cut for full-time residents, but cutting services for units that are run as short-term rentals can drive away tourists even more.
One of the Nai'a's nearly broke clients is entirely investor-owned, all absentees, with no resident manager and no on-site presence, she said.
Boards did not expect such problems, she said, and already one board member she knows has resigned, "because he couldn't deal with it."
"We have a well-trained, large team of attorneys and other experts" on Maui who are exploring every avenue for rescuing the finances of hard-pressed associations.
Wilson said that isn't a problem at Kanani, where he was board president last year. It has 32 units, of which only three are not paying dues: his place, one that was never occupied and one that is in foreclosure but occupied by tenants.
There was no point in shutting off the water on the unoccupied unit, and it would not make sense to shut off the tenants, who are not responsible for the dues, he said. That left him.
"I'm camping out," he said. Friends have called, offering him a place to shower and tips on finding a new home.
By Leo Azambuja on 26 May 2010 in Garden Island News - (http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/article_84e275ae-6894-11df-b5d1-001cc4c002e0.html)
Image above: Planning Director Ian Costa, on the right, sitting by Planning Commission Chair Caven Raco at commission hearing. From source article.
[IB Editor's note: Whenever a bad planning request is to be made on Kauai, local lawyer Walton Hong will be on hand to represent Satan; and when that request is to be approved, planning director Ian Costa will be the stooge that supports it.]
Koloa and Po‘ipu house some of the richest archaeological sites in the entire state. Despite widespread development, new sites are still being discovered there.
Malama Maha‘ulepu, a Koloa-based nonprofit, claims mining activities may be polluting the pristine waters of Maha‘ulepu Beach while damaging the area’s cultural and historical resources.
“It’s important to remember who we were,” said Stella Bridges, a lineal descendant of native Hawaiians who lived there. Hawaiians used to grow many crops there and the area is still a source of fresh water, she said.
Malama Maha‘ulepu recently asked the Kaua‘i Planning Commission to review conditional permits for the New Maha‘ulepu Quarry transferred from the original applicant, Grove Farm Company, to Jas W. Glover Ltd.
The Maha‘ulepu Ahupua‘a was once a dense ancient Hawaiian village. Later, in the plantation days, it was there that the Old Koloa Mill operated. It has reportedly been the site of mining activities since the 1950s.
It is also in Maha‘ulepu, in a cave famous for its archaeological wealth, that the endemic Kaua‘i cave wolf spider and the Kaua‘i cave amphipod thrive. Both species were discovered in the 1971, are blind and only exist in fewer than a dozen caves. A 2005 study by the state government said counts have never documented more than 30 spiders and 80 amphipods.
The Old Maha‘ulepu Quarry started functioning since the mid 1950s, said Suzanne Kashiwaeda, president of the board of directors of Malama Maha‘ulepu. She said that a 1992 testimony before the commission shows the permit had been grandfathered.
The new quarry operates about a quarter mile northeast from there. Malama Maha‘ulepu members said that one of the conditions for the new quarry’s permit was that the old quarry would cease operations two years after the new one opened.
The new quarry’s permit is on its 17th year. But to this day the old quarry is reportedly still in operation. Rocks from the old quarry are transported to the old one, where they are crushed and washed, Kashiwaeda said.
The Maha‘ulepu cave sits on the edge of the old quarry. Farther up, inside the quarry, is the Waiopili heiau.
She also asked for site visits at the old and new quarries by the Planning Commission, the Land Use Commission, the Department of Health and the public.
Kashiwaeda showed the commission a map delineating the new quarry’s boundaries. About 42 acres are to be mined for limestone, which is the current activity; 25 acres are reserved for basalt mining; and another 41 acres are designated for operations and storage.
Malama Maha‘ulepu Board Vice President Napua Romo asked for the restoration of the Waiopili heiau, which she said was intended and promised back in 1992.
“Waiopili is more than one archaeological site,” she said, quoting a 1974 archaeological study that says the “the original setting which surrounds the site is as important as a site itself, including a pond, a spring, and a limestone cliff abutting the south side of the pond.”
Romo said the archaeologist recommended the heiau be stabilized and restored, and all quarrying operation which had adverse effects in the pond and the spring be stopped.
Jerry di Pietro, also from Malama Maha‘ulepu, showed pictures of a 2006 limestone rockslide near the cave, revealing bird footprints that are tens of thousands of years old.
Not far from there, the new quarry operators mine for the same limestone.
Kashiwaeda said that limestone was formed between 10,000 and 100,000 years ago. “All of that is being sold for roughly $56 a ton.”
Romo said some members of Malama Maha‘ulepu, plus a consultant and an archaeologist, trespassed on the property one weekend to visit the heiau.
“We wanted to find Waiopili heiau, particularly because some people said it was entirely gone,” she said.
Romo showed a 1974 picture of the heiau; compared with a picture taken recently, it suggests that only a couple rocks from the heiau remain in place.
“Since 1974 the heiau has certainly not been protected or cared for,” said Romo, adding that Malama Maha‘ulepu suggests that restoration should commence next June.
The landowner, she said, should fund a heiau restoration plan, complete with a consultant, cultural experts and community participation. She also said restoration work should be open to the public during daylight hours.
Romo said if the heiau is found damaged beyond the condition described in 1974, the responsible parties should be fined no less than $1 million. The money would be put in a trust to support the Koloa communities and nonprofits that take care of the remaining cultural sites in the area.
“We have a permit with a number of conditions. We’ve heard allegations that these conditions have not been met.” said Walton Hong, Glover’s attorney. “We’ve not had a chance to respond to them.”
Hong said his client is in the process of preparing a report to be delivered to the Planning Department. Only then the department will be able to decide if there’s any merit to the permit violation allegations, he said.
“We started on it. It’s a mass of material we have to get through; it’s not just a couple pieces of paper,” said Hong, adding that he should get the report ready in 30 days.
Commissioner Jimmy Nishida reminded Hong that regardless of the recommendations of the planning director, the commission still may initiate Chapter 12.
Meanwhile, the community is seeking cooperation.
“We are lay people, we are not lawyers or planners,” Kashiwaeda told Hong, explaining that even though they have been adversaries in the past, Malama Maha‘ulepu would rather work things out.
“Our point is, we want to save the important historic, cultural sites,” she said. “If we can work together that’s what we would like to do.”
The site, however, is currently off limits to the public.
“We don’t have access to the place,” Kashiwaeda said. “We don’t have access to the information. They hold all the cards.”
After receiving the report from Glover, the planning director will decide on the next action.
“I take my responsibility very seriously, especially as a kanaka maoli,” said Planning Director Ian Costa.
“I will provide information to the commission on whether the information provided is satisfactory,” Costa said. “Depending on how that information goes, we would not hesitate to file a petition (for Chapter 12).”.