Category Archives: Crime

Claims of war crimes on Kauai

My Civil Beat column this week tackled another bizarre case created by David Keanu Sai, the political scientist who has been promoting his theory that the annexation of Hawaii by the U.S. never happened, and spinning out fictional accounts of what he claims are the results of that failed annexation.

Here’s the column lead:

It’s quite a story.

A Swiss citizen living with his family in a rural part of a peaceful, far-away island becomes a victim of war crimes perpetrated by an occupying power, his property pillaged and plundered, and his family home lost to a criminal fraud involving a cabal of government and corporate officials, while he lives in fear of retaliation for filing a war crimes complaint with his government.

It sounds like the product of an overly imaginative novelist.

But those alleged war crimes supposedly took place in Kilauea on the north shore of Kauai over the past five years, according to a criminal complaint filed with the Federal Attorney General in Berne, Switzerland, in January 2015.

The complaint was filed on behalf of a Swiss citizen living on Kauai who is, according to Sai, a the victim of war crimes.

Based on Sai’s theory that modern land titles in Hawaii are defective and essentially worthless because they were not done under the law of the Hawaiian Kingdom, the complaint argues that the Kauai man and his family have lost all the equity in their home and are left holding worthless property.

But I was able to identify the man, Yoshiko l’Hote, who is president of the Kilauea Neighborhood Association. State business registration records show he is also the agent for a new nonprofit organization, `Aina Ho`okupu o Kilauea, formed to manage the Kilauea Community Agricultural Center, a 75-acre agricultural park complex.

State real estate records show l’Hote and his wife own the home in Kilauea identified in the complaint. Far from being worthless, real estate records show it has almost doubled in value in the five years since they bought it.

Other evidence of war crimes? Well, l’Hote paid taxes to the state and federal governments, and Sai pointed to the taxes as evidence of “the war crime of pillaging under the guise of taxation.”

I reached l’Hote by phone and asked him about these rather ludicrous but serious allegations. He declined to comment, and referred these questions to Keanu Sai, who I was unable to reach. But he certainly didn’t sound like a man who had suffered a series of war crimes, that’s for sure.

Even though the complaint was dismissed in short order by Swiss authorities, Sai–who also claims the titles of Acting Minister of the Interior and chairman of the Council of Regency of the Hawaiian Kingdom Government–and his Hawaiian Kingdom Government were quick to claim a victory, claiming that the court recognized that an 1864 treaty between Switzerland and the Hawaiian Kingdom is still in force.

There’s nothing in the court decision to support this false conclusion, but that didn’t stop the Hawaiian Kingdom website from loudly proclaiming Swiss recognition of the long ago treaty. In fact, the whole Swiss complaint would have been unknown except that it was widely promoted by Sai’s Hawaiian Kingdom website and through press releases.

Some of the comments on the Civil Beat column are worth noting.

One reader wrote:

This is the man who convinced my friends and neighbors that they shouldn’t be paying their mortgage and because of that they were kicked out of their home. They made their own choices of course but you can’t trust anything he says.

He was likely referring to Sai’s role in the Perfect Title mess back in the 1990s, when Sai was convicted of attempted theft for his role in the Perfect Title scandal.

Another reader, Z Aki, wrote:

I know international law and I have been saying pretty much the same thing that Mr. Lind is now saying. In fact, I did multiple write-ups that have – in great detail – analyzed Sai’s misrepresentation of a number of events. I have provided this information to Sai – both to his face and in the comments of his blog.

Sai’s response, as you well know, was in the form of TWO attempts to have me expelled from William S. Richardson School of Law. Instead of engaging in scholarly discourse, Sai threatens other Kanaka Maoli with actions that would ruin lives.

That got my attention, so I dug around a bit. Apparently Aki had disputed an earlier claim by Sai about a different court case. Aki argued that either Sai was ill informed about the law, or was lying when he said that a state court had ruled that the Hawaiian Kingdom still exists.Rather than tackle the argument, Sai threatened.

Here’s what Sai wrote:

“In response to Zuri Aki’s inflammatory and malicious postings on this blog accusing me of lying is not only untrue, but is clear evidence of criminal acts of libel. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, libel is defined as “A method of defamation expressed by print, writing, pictures or signs. A false and unprivileged publication,” which attempts “to blacken a person’s reputation.” Under Hawaiian Kingdom law, libel is a crime, but under U.S. law it’s civil tort.

Mr. Aki is a naïve student whose irresponsible diatribe has just implicated three or more professors at the law school in this criminal act. These three professors are David Cohen, Diane Desierto, and Carole J. Peterson. This is not only a criminal matter, but also a university matter because I am also a faculty member of the University of Hawai‘i Windward Community College.

On January 30, 2015, I wrote a formal complaint to the Dean of the Law School, but he chose not to hold these three professors and Mr. Aki accountable. This failure to do so is what led to the ultimate commission of the crime of libel. I will be initiating proceedings in a timely fashion and before the proper authorities.”

It’s funny that Sai raises the issue of libel.

In the complaint filed with the Swiss government, Sai alleged that several current or former state officials, cited by name, are guilty of war crimes, and in another section accused the person who notarized the deed to Mr. l’Hote’s Kilauea property of criminal fraud.

Those are far closer to libelous accusations than disputing Sai’s historical arguments.

Incident at University of Hawaii cited in harassment findings against high profile Berkeley astronomer

Campus sexual harassment and sexual assault are back in the headlines with news about charges against superstar astronomer Geoff Marcy that have prompted his resignation from the University of California at Berkeley (see NYT, “Geoffrey Marcy to Resign From Berkeley Astronomy Department“).

Marcy’s case calls attention to the apparent difficulties many universities, including our own, have in pursuing sexual allegations involving prominent faculty and staff. Actually, I think the problems extend far beyond these cases with prominent perpetrators, but these high profiles cases call attention to the problem.

And the University of Hawaii plays a role in Marcy’s drama.

One of four former students who brought the complaint that triggered the current imbroglio was UH when she was assaulted by Marcy, according to the findings of a Berkeley investigation.

According to an account in Buzzfeed, which broke the story earlier this week (“Famous Berkeley Astronomer Violated Sexual Harassment Policies Over Many Years“):

BuzzFeed News spoke to three of the four complainants in the investigation. One of the women, known as Complainant 3, studied astronomy as a graduate student. She spoke on the condition of anonymity because she did not want her involvement in the matter to affect her current job.

According to her account to Berkeley’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination, she was at a post-colloquium dinner with her graduate department at the University of Hawaii when Marcy placed his hand on her leg, slid his hand up her thigh, and grabbed her crotch.

She didn’t register an official complaint until eight years later, by which time she’d left astronomy — in part, she said, because of the sexual harassment she and other female astronomers experienced. “When you’re a student and you see every complaint being ignored, and every male professor who has violated that have zero consequences, it really makes you not want to step forward,” she said.

In that brief description, it certainly sounds like the woman was a UH student at the time of the incident.

One of Marcy’s former students, John Asher Johnson, now a professional astronomer in his own right at Harvard, had some harsh words last week for Marcy, for himself, and for his profession. Most important, perhaps, is his assertion that Marcy’s reputation was well known among astronomers. From his blog post, “The Long Con“:

Geoff’s inappropriate actions toward and around women in astronomy is one of the biggest “open secrets” at any exoplanets or AAS meeting. “Underground” networks of women pass information about Geoff to junior scientists in an attempt to keep them safe. Sometimes it works. Other times it hasn’t, and cognizant members of the community receive additional emails, phone calls and Facebook messages from new victims.

In 2013 I received tenure. Leading up to my tenure decision, I decided that I would use my position, voice and male privilege to finally do something about the open secret—Geoff’s long con of holding the community in fear to provide himself cover to continue harassing our junior female colleagues. Yes, I have greatly benefited from Geoff’s letters over the years. But his publication record shows that he has benefitted from my scientific productivity. In 2013 I figured we were square, and I effectively ended our 13-year collaboration.

I’m ashamed that I didn’t speak out sooner. I hate that academia’s power structure, which allows a single phone call from a senior member to sink a person’s career, so often forces junior people into silence for fear of losing their jobs. For this reason I am in awe of the bravery of the women who spoke out all the more; they were far braver than I and other male astronomers have been over the years.

Last year, Johnson published what he called “The Serial Harasser’s Playbook,” based on his personal observations and of incidents reported by others over the years. What Johnson lays out are a series of progressive steps that serve to trap victims and give perpetrators plausible deniability.

Keep in mind that these steps are “designed” so as to provide escape hatches in case the target is not receptive. Any step in isolation, save the last few, are not by themselves strong evidence of harassment, and I expect many commenters (mainly men) to complain. But you should think of this as a slow ratcheting process that can be released with plausible deniability a any one stage. If the woman doesn’t cry foul at step N, then the harasser is off to step N+1. If you have a complaint about any of these steps, take them to your campus’s Title IX officer for further discussion and clarification. For women: in all things trust your instincts.

Another astronomer, writing in Science 2.0, notes that some allegations against Marcy were not acts of sexual harassment, but rather of sexual assault, but covered up or tolerated for years by his peers and academic administrators (see “The Alleged Perversion of Geoff Marcy and Sexual Harassment“).

In any case, moving this discussion into the public arena is long overdue.

Our home security system made the move with us

Back in November 2014, I described my selection and installation of a wireless home security system from SimpliSafe, (“Testing out a home alarm system“).

It has worked very well, including the time an alarm was triggered while we were in Auckland. The monitoring company called my cell phone, which rang in our hotel in Auckland, and while on the phone I was able use my laptop to check one of the cameras in our living room and determine that there wasn’t an intruder. I cancelled the alarm, the police were not called, and all was well.

And here’s another good thing about this SimpliSafe system. When we moved, the alarm system moved with us. I removed the sensors, one at a time, noting the identifying number on each. Then, in the new house, I reinstalled them using good, double-sided tape. Then all I had to do was go online to my Simplisafe account, change their labels to describe the new location of each (“front door”, “garage door”, “laundry window,” etc.) and run the system on a “test” mode for a while, just to make sure everything was being recognized properly. It took less than an hour for me to put the alarm sensors in place, update their locations, and turn the system back on.

Then I went online and registered the system at the new location with the Honolulu Police Department.

Any of the other alarm systems I had originally considered would have required a technician to come to the house in Kaaawa, remove the sensors, then come to the new house and reinstall them.

So in our circumstances, SimpliSafe has proven to be a very good choice.

I’m sure the system isn’t perfect, but it’s done a very good job for us at a very reasonable price.

Throwback Thursday: From my time in the Oahu Community Correctional Center

And this time it’s back to 1981, and the identification badge issued when I was teaching an introductory class in political science in the Oahu Community Correctional Center’s Hoomana School, deep in the middle of OCCC.

Meda had been teaching at OCCC for several semesters, and found it to be educational and rewarding, so I signed up too. The classes were offered through Honolulu Community College, and students could earn college credit.

But in December 1981, allegations surfaced of beatings and assaults by prison guards during a major shakedown at the facility. We used our knowledge of the facility to gather information from various sources, including families of prisoners, including descriptions of specific assaults. We collated the information and forwarded it to the governor, the news media, and elsewhere.

Over the next year or so, we worked to raise community awareness of conditions in the prison, and organized support for inmates who were organizing to protect their rights. Several investigations, and ultimately a lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice, resulted and stretched over a number of years. Needless to say, our contracts to teach at OCCC were not renewed.


More homeless trouble in Kakaako reported

The State’s Department of Public Safety, which runs the prison system and the state sheriffs, has received emergency approval to hire private security guards for its administrative offices on Ala Moana due to “increasingly confrontational” acts apparently committed by homeless campers around the building.

According to an emergency procurement request submitted the the department last week:

On August 4,2015. the Deputy Director for Administration notified ASO of an incident on August 3, 2015 between a member of the public and a staff employee of PSD, where the staff member was chased into the building. The situation has escalated from PSD and DOH staff being verbally assaulted to being chased by dogs owned by the public residing outside of the AAFES building.

Security Guard Services are immediately necessary in response to the increasingly confrontational conduct of the public. This behavior by the public poses an immediate threat to the safety of the employees of the PSD, DOM and the public having a bonafide business purpose visiting the building.

The AAFES (Army & Air Force Exchange Service) Building at 919 Ala Moana houses offices of the Department of Public Safety and Department of Health.

DPS received approval to spend up to $50,000 for guard services over the next several months while a formal solicitation and contract awarded through the regular competitive procurement process.

The quick approval was based on “the department’s determination that the health and safety of employees and the public engaged in business at the AAFES building are at risk” without the requested security.

According to the written scope of services attached to the request, one unarmed security guard will be posted at a security station inside the makai door to the building between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.

The guard will be expected to record all visitors entering the building, issuing visitor badges to authorized visitors, unlocking the restrooms on the ground floor “when requested by authorized visitors,” and escorting staff to their cars on request. When the building closes at 4:30 p.m. daily, the guard will be expected to check the restrooms and stairwells on all floors “to ensure visitors have exited the building and exit doors are properly locked.”