Was anyone else marveling at the irony yesterday as the world honored Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who gained fame for describing the former Soviet gulag system of forced labor camps, while the U.S. proceeded with a military trial at our own most famous modern gulag in Cuba, with its wonderland of secret evidence, unidentified military judges, closed proceedings, classified trial records, torture, lengthy imprisonment without charges, and the possibility of indefinite confinement even of those found not guilty. Of course, we’ve not yet found our Solzhenitsyn capable of bringing daily life in the CIA’s network of global secret prisons to a mass audience. And when we do, those drivers, low-level aides, and others who have dutifully served those who planned and administered this system will now have to worry about the potential of war crimes charges. If bin Laden’s driver is guilty, then it seems to me that a lot of people will now have to worry about whether future international war crimes tribunals will focus so far down the chain of political and legal responsibility.
On the same day, the U.S. and the State of Texas thumbed their noses at the international community by executing a Mexican national despite a ruling of the International Court of Justice and an appeal from the UN Secretary General.
RIP, Mr. Solzhenitsyn.
We don’t get controversial ballot issues very often, so the current debate over the anti-rail intiative is helping to demonstrate the weakness of our campaign disclosure law in this area. Money spent to get an issue on the ballot, or to oppose a potential ballot measure, does not have to be disclosed because the current disclosure requirements don’t kick in until a measure is certified to appear on the ballot.
A story by Laurie Au in today’s Star-Bulletin provides a general update on some of the spending to date, although this is all so far off the books.
Meanwhile, the headline failed but today’s Advertiser column by Jerry Burris gets at a key underlying issue in the rail debate:
O’Toole’s argument, at the risk of oversimplification, is that planners are transfixed by the idea of changing behavior as a way out of fixing our transportation woes rather than focusing on the technical fixes that might make things better.
But what if it is in fact behavior, that is, our love of our cars and our insistence on the autonomy that commuting by private vehicle offers, that is the root of the problem? Should government — society if you will — have a role in turning us one way or another on this most basic question?
That’s the big issue that the debate over taxes and environment and political power has yet to fully confront.
Jerry is onto something significant here.
The Star-Bulletin has pretty good account of yesterday’s press conference by the Friends of the Honolulu Advertiser, made up of many of the same people who rallied to save the Star-Bulletin back in 1999-2001.
Meanwhile, the Newspaper Guild issued a media advisory about a planned Friday rally:
Unionized employees of The Honolulu Advertiser will say Aloha to 54 of their laid-off colleagues beginning at noon Friday, Aug. 8 in front of The Honolulu Advertiser, 605 Kapiolani Blvd.
Friday will be the last work day for most of the laid-off employees.
Union members also will continue to collect money and canned goods for their 54 colleagues, as well as some of the 100,000 circulation/subscription boycott cards that have been distributed around the Islands.
The National Weather Service today has most of the islands under a “red flag warning”. I’ve never heard of this, but it turns out to be a fire warning due to dry weather conditions.
A RED FLAG WARNING MEANS THAT CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE EITHER OCCURRING NOW…OR WILL SHORTLY. A COMBINATION OF STRONG WINDS…LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY…AND WARM TEMPERATURES WILL CREATE RAPID FIRE GROWTH POTENTIAL.
Best line of the day: “The Honolulu Police Department may say neigh to its horse patrol unit.” From a Star-Bulletin story by Gene Park on the possible retirement of HPD’s mounted patrols.