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Ian Lind • Online daily from Kaaawa, Hawaii

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Even lychee have a down side

May 26th, 2015 · 12 Comments

[text]There seems to be a bumper crop of lychee this year, and bags of the fruit are being sold in supermarkets, along highways, and given away by friends lucky enough to have trees loaded with the tasty treats.

So did anyone else note the news reports earlier this year that fingered a lychee toxin for an illness hitting children in India “that kills many victims and leaves others brain damaged.”

The magazine, Science, reported:

Now, scientists believe they have unmasked the mystery culprit: a toxin in the lychee fruit. After a 2-year investigation, researchers suggest in the 30 January issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that the illness results from crashing blood sugar levels likely due to a lychee toxin known to cause hypoglycemia in rats.

Even the New York Times reported on it back in January, “Litchi Toxin May Have Caused Mysterious Epidemic in India, Inquiry Finds“).

Apparently there’s still not all that much known about the lychee toxin or how it works.

Hopefully this toxin isn’t found in the fruit here in Hawaii! At least, as far as I’ve been able to see, there haven’t been any reports of lychee illnesses here.

Any UH folks want to chime in here?

Just another thing to worry about!

→ 12 CommentsTags: Health

A beautiful morning to start the week (photograph)

May 26th, 2015 · 1 Comment

It’s a Tuesday that feels like Monday because of yesterday’s holiday.

And it was a beautiful morning.

The sun had just come up when we got down to Swanzy Beach Park. That seems to be our current schedule. It’s hard to get out of the house early enough to see the sun make its first appearance. Too many cat chores first thing in the morning. Washing the cat dishes from last night, measuring out dry food for the Kaaawa Six, checking water dishes, cleaning out the litter boxes, remembering to do the insulin shots, check the food again, find something special to tempt Ms. Wally, and it seems to go on and on.

It’s a relief to get done and get out of the house. And the morning views, like this one, are the reward.

And just click the photo to see a larger version.

Kaaawa, Hawaii

→ 1 CommentTags: Kaaawa · Photographs

Looking for lotus ponds

May 25th, 2015 · 14 Comments

Any ideas?

A friend coming to Honolulu in June asked for suggestions of lotus ponds or fish ponds on Oahu, and I draw a big blank, but said I would seek your advice.

She’s a photographer, and her website mentions her lotus project.

I love to photograph people; it’s inspiring and a privilege to get close.

My lotus project of the last twenty years is my focus now.

A book is coming soon, the first of several, I hope!

And in a recent email, she wrote:

For 20 years I photographed on my parents big pond in the Sierra Foothills.; it was full of lotus.

Mom remembered one in Waialua when she was a girl going to visit her grandmother’s brother, Uncle Manini. That area is probably very developed now. It would be great to see some ponds on Oahu.

So, ideas? Please leave a comment with any suggestions you may have.

→ 14 CommentsTags: Art · Photographs · Travel

Boots on the ground and drones above

May 25th, 2015 · No Comments

Here’s a bit of reading to start the week.

First, thanks to the media watchdog, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, or FAIR, for pointing out how recent news of a U.S. raid in Syria that killed an ISIS commander was reported in a manner that buried the “real” news (“White House Reveals ‘Boots on Ground’ in Syria, but Media Too Giddy Over Special Ops Porn to Notice“).

FAIR reports:

The real issue is that the White House just admitted it has American ground troops engaged in combat missions in Syria—and no one seemed to notice, much less care.

While it’s true the White House has acknowledged hostage rescue missions in Syria, this is the first time it’s admitted soldiers have been deployed inside Syria for expressly military purposes. As one Defense Department official would explain to the Washington Post:

The raid was only the second time US Special Operations forces are known to have operated on the ground in Syria, and the first “direct action” mission by US forces there. Special operators conducted an unsuccessful mission last summer to rescue American hostages being held by the militants, who later executed them.

Isn’t this important? Isn’t the fact that what began 292 days ago as a “limited,” “humanitarian” mission in Iraq has now expanded (again) to include US ground troops—albeit in a measured capacity—in Syria?

Fair then underscores the point.

As I’ve pointed out previously, only 40 percent of Americans read past the headline, so when everyone from CNN to New York Times to Vox announces it as a military raid to catch a “key ISIS commander,” and puts the fact that it’s the first direct military action in Syria by US troops—if they do at all—in paragraph 12, most people will never notice the expansion in US military objectives.

And then there’s an excellent interview with the NY Times executive editor regarding that newspaper’s decision to publish the names of top CIA officials in charge of the agency’s drone program. The original NYT story naming names was published at the end of April (“Deep Support in Washington for C.I.A.’s Drone Missions“).

The interview, by Jack Goldsmith, a professor at the Harvard Law School, appears on the Lawfare Blog.

From Goldsmith’s introduction:

On April 25, two days after President Obama announced that a U.S. drone strike accidentally killed two innocent hostages, Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo published a story in the New York Times about congressional and White House support for the CIA’s “targeted killing program.” A major point in the story was that some of the CIA officers who built the CIA’s drone program also led the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. In that connection, the Times identified three men by name: Michael D’Andrea, who was “chief of operations during the birth of the agency’s detention and interrogation program and then, as head of the C.I.A. Counterterrorism Center, became an architect of the targeted killing program” until he was “quietly shifted to another job” last month; his replacement “as head of the drone program,” Chris Wood; and the new chief of the Directorate of Operations, Greg Vogel, whom the Times described as “a former agency paramilitary officer.”

All three men were undercover officers, a status sanctioned by Section 23 of the Central Intelligence Agency Act that indicates that the CIA does not want their identity to be public or acknowledged. The CIA accordingly asked the Times not to identify the three men by name. The Times rejected this request. It explained in the story that it decided to identify the officers by name over CIA objections “because [the men] have leadership roles in one of the government’s most significant paramilitary programs and their roles are known to foreign governments and many others.”

The interview is definitely worth reading.

→ No CommentsTags: Media · Politics · War & Peace

Crashing Kahala School’s 60th anniversary celebration

May 24th, 2015 · 7 Comments

Two photographs taken 59 years apart.

The top photo was taken in May 1956, somewhere near the end of my 3rd grade year at Kahala Elementary School. I entered the 2nd grade when the school first opened in the fall of 1954, and graduated from the 6th grade as Hawaii became a state in 1959.

May 1956

In the second photo (below), I’m standing in approximately the same spot yesterday–Saturday, May 23, 2015–during the school’s 60th Anniversary celebration.

May 2015

Kahala Elementary SchoolStumbling across the 60th anniversary was, in hindsight, a remarkable bit of synchronicity. I was rather mindlessly browsing online a couple of days ago and, through a set of connections I don’t recall, ended up glancing at the Kahala Elementary School website. And there it was, an announcement of the 60th anniversary.

“There is still time to be a part of Kahala’s 60th Anniversary luau,” it promised.

My first thought–I should attend. I was, after all, there at the beginning. I entered the 2nd grade at Kahala School when it first opened in 1954. During that first year, I think there were just two classroom buildings. Before I finished the 6th grade and graduated, the school had added two more classroom buildings closed to what is now Kahala Park, as well as the cafetorium.

I decided that I would just drop in, not for lunch, but to look around the school and see what it’s like after all this time.

So yesterday morning we drove to Kahala. Meda dropped me at the school on her way to browse through the Leahi Hospital thrift shop.

I strolled over to the school, spotted the table outside the cafetorium where people were checking in, and went over to introduce myself.

My introduction went something like this: “I’m don’t have a reservation and don’t plan on having lunch, but I was a student here the first year the school opened, and I hope I can just look around a bit.”

I quickly got the idea that I was perhaps the only student from the school’s first year to be present for the 60th anniversary. I was introduced to the principal, and warmly welcomed to make myself at home. First stop, a small display of graduates being claimed by the school, where I was quite surprised to see my photo!

My second stop was that spot along the central walkway where I tried to replicate that 1956 photo, with the help of a family with two boys currently enrolled in the school.

Then it was back to enjoy a complimentary lunch, courtesy of the school. Thank you, folks!

Here are some of the earlier photos I’ve posted from my Kahala School years.

Among the items:

Class photo, Ms. Suiso’s 2nd grade class.

Cub Scouts, Den 1, Pack 116. October 1955, first meeting at Kahala School.

Class photo, Mrs. Ginder’s 3rd grade class.

Class photo, Mrs. Lau’s 5th grade class.

Class photo, Ms. Yamasaki’s 6th grade class.

So where’s the 4th grade? It seems there’s a gap in the photos and in my brain cells.

–> See a few more photos from the Kahala Elementary School 60th Anniversary.

→ 7 CommentsTags: Education · History