Daily Archives: November 19, 2011

Checking the news after a long flight home

We left the Washington Hilton hotel at 12:30 a.m. Friday, Hawaii time, and arrived at Honolulu airport at about 5 p.m., finally getting home to Kaaawa about 7 p.m., making for a very long day with a lot of things happening. I noted several media-related items.

First, there was the sale of the San Diego Union-Tribune by an investment group that included Star-Advertiser owner David Black, originally described as an “advisor.” The buyer is a conservative area businessman who is looking to turn the newspaper into an unabashedly pro-business voice.

According to one account:

But Lynch (John Lynch, the newspapers new president and CEO) said he wants the paper to be pro-business. The sports page to be pro-Chargers stadium. And reporters to become stars.

“It’s news information, but it’s also show biz,” Lynch said. “You get people to tune in and read your site or the paper when there’s an ‘Oh wow’ in the paper.”

He wants that sports page to be an advocate for a new football stadium “and call out those who don’t as obstructionists.”

A bit frightening for news junkies or, for that matter, anyone worried about the health of local democracy. But it may be that the approach isn’t that dissimilar to other surviving newspapers. Perhaps the new U-T owners are just a lot more candid about the approach.

Then there was the Thursday court appearance of Christopher Deedy, the special State Department security agent now charged with second-degree murder for a fatal shooting incident in Waikiki just prior to APEC.

Let’s give credit to Hawaii Reporter, which reported that a knife found at the scene belonged to Deedy, and acknowledged its earlier rush to judgement.

Hart (Deedy’s attorney) said the pocket knife recovered by police at the scene was used by Deedy to open Elderts’s shirt before performing cardio pulmonary resuscitation on the victim after he was shot.

Hawaii Reporter incorrectly reported November 8 that the knife belonged to Elderts and that he used it to threaten Deedy.

So, as many have commented here, the facts are still emerging, and speculation appears to just muddy the water further.

Also noted, in an article about the Honolulu Police Department major indicted on drug charges after an FBI raid on his home, was a reference to a federal investigation of the Hawaii prison gang, United Samoan Organization.

It was just dropped into the story as an aside, but isn’t that news in itself?

When I searched the Star-Advertiser website for other mentions of the USO, only one appeared. It was a December 2010 interview in which activist Kat Brady talked about the group’s background and the problem of gangs in Hawaii prisons.

When we first started sending people abroad, we might have had one gang at Halawa, and it wasn’t hard-core. But when we sent our people over there, all the prisons are organized by ethnicity. So when our guys went to Texas, they were like “Who are you? Mexicans?” No, so they didn’t know, so our guys got together, and that was sort of the birth of USO, the United Samoan Organization, which is probably one of the biggest gangs we have, started by our guys on the continent. So when they came back, guys in Halawa (Correctional Facility) were afraid of them, so they started a gang, so now we have four gangs. And the sad part is we created this by sending people abroad, because those gangs are now spilling over into the streets.

That’s a bit different from another online account, which said the gang originate at Halawa.

In 1998, Samoans formed a prison gang called “USO Family” or “USO” (United Samoan Organization/or “Brother” in Samoan). At one time USO was only Samoan, but now it’s a mixed race Security Threat Group with approx. 200 members in Hawaii and other correctional facilities. The USO Family prison gang started in Halawa Prison, Module 2, in 1998 by a group of nine Samoans and grew fast. When HI-DOC started shipping Hawaii inmates to the mainland, USO Family started to appear as a dominant force on some prison yards. According to one source, USO Family has high ranking gang members from major gangs in Hawaii, even some L.A. area gang members.

I recall a mention of USO in a Defense Department study of gangs in the military, which described the United Samoan Organization as “the largest organized gang in the state of Hawaii.”

In any case, I thought it was news then, and I still think it’s news now. But it hasn’t seemed to draw any interest in local newsrooms.