Inouye Gets PATRIOTic
When Osama bin Laden died in a fortified compound in suburban Pakistan, our decade-old war on terrorism didn’t die with him. U.S. officials were quick to make that point—and it was punctuated last week when Congress voted to extend portions of the controversial USA PATRIOT Act, including open-ended wiretapping, court-ordered searches of business and library records and surveillance of suspects with no known ties to terrorist groups.
The bill—which President Obama signed remotely from the G-8 Summit in France—sailed through both the House and Senate, but enjoyed support from only one Hawaii lawmaker: Sen. Dan Inouye (pictured at right).
Inouye issued no official statement about his decision, which ran counter to the “no” votes cast by Rep. Mazie Hirono, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and Inouye’s longtime colleague, Sen. Dan Akaka, who stood behind the original PATRIOT
Act in October 2001 along with every Senator except Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold.
If you’ve ever thought Hawaii exists on a different planet, you’re right—sort of. The terrain in parts of the state is similar to that of Mars and the Earth’s moon, making it an ideal staging ground for space-program testing.
Hence a new partnership between UH Hilo and NASA, trumpeted last week by officials on all sides. “Hawaii has been part of America’s space activities from the beginning of the space program, when Apollo astronauts trained in the islands for their historic missions to the moon,” Gov. Abercrombie said in a statement. “This partnership with NASA will broaden educational and employment opportunities for our local families and bring dollars into our economy.”
NASA administrator Rebecca Keiser called partnerships with universities and private organizations “an increasingly important component of the 21st century space program.”
Needless to say, it’s been a while since the Apollo glory days. Just this week, the journal Science published a scathing critique of the supposed discovery—loudly touted by NASA last year—of arsenic-based lifeforms in California’s Mono Lake. As one prominent local scientist told us at the time, “NASA used to look up at the moon, now they’re looking at pond scum.”
Of course, a research site in Hawaii won’t make the space program sexy overnight—but it can’t hurt.
Scam It All
It’s easy to laugh as fools are parted from their money—until you’re the one playing the fool. The victims of five Maui residents indicted last week on fraud charges learned that lesson the hard way.
According to the indictment, between 2008 and 2010 Mahealani Ventura-Oliver and her husband John Oliver, along with Pilialoha Teves, Leatrice Lehua Hoy and Peter Hoy, held a series of seminars under the guise of a Native
Hawaiian group called the Hawaiiloa Foundation. The seminars, which promised to teach participants about Hawaiian history and property rights, were allegedly used to push a phony debt-relief program, for which the defendants charged a fee of $1,500 to $10,000.
In all, Hawaiiloa made off with almost $500,000. (Ventura-Oliver and Oliver are also charged with filing fraudulent tax returns.) If convicted, each defendant could face the equivalent of a life sentence. ■