WEDNESDAY, Oct. 17
At roughly the same time retired Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez—who commanded all “coalition” forces in Iraq in late 2003 and 2004—describes the war as a “nightmare with no end in sight,” the Associated Press breaks the news that the Pentagon seems to be proving Sanchez right by preparing to send eight more National Guard units to the desert next summer. And though local Guard officials say they’ve received no official deployment order, it looks like at least one Hawai’i unit will be in the group. How the war is actually going is anybody’s guess. Creaky people like Sanchez—who looked the other way while American soldiers and who knows who else tortured Iraqis at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison—kept their mouths shut while in power but suddenly want to preach catastrophe. As usual, more moderate voices are still counseling patience and, predictably, the White House is making giddy inferences that everything’s much, much better and that we’ve actually defeated the terrorist group Al Qaeda in Iraq. In other news, the number of American soldiers killed in the war is up to 3,829, while the documented number of dead Iraqi civilians has topped 75,000. Sounds to me like the war’s right on schedule.
THURSDAY, Oct. 18
Speaking of bloody, prolonged, humiliating agonies, the state Legislature has finally seen fit to make public a draft (#7, with no mention of what the previous six looked like) of that special law that they’ll pass in special session that will grant special permission to their special friend Hawai`i Superferry, Inc. to operate while they conduct an environmental review, even though state law very clearly states that no one may operate anything until the environmental review is over. Posted on the Honolulu Advertiser website today, the draft makes clear that “it is clearly in the public interest” to override a court ruling and exempt the Superferry (referred to as the “qualifying ferry vessel company”) from state environmental law because it “provides a real and innovative alternative to existing modes of transporting people, motor vehicles, and cargo between the islands of the State.” What’s more, the Superferry deserves special exemption because it “produces less carbon emissions when compared to inter-island aircraft,” can transport produce with “less heat damage,” “would foster diversified agriculture” and, in the event of an emergency, “could provide the means to rapidly deploy disaster relief personnel, equipment, and supplies.” By the way, did I mention that the Advertiser also recently reported that Hawai’i Superferry sent $175,000 worth of campaign contributions and high-powered lobbyists to state public officials? Guess you get what you pay for.
FRIDAY, Oct. 19
After a flurry of contradictory news reports, some indicating the Hawai’i National Guard’s 29th Brigade Combat Team would return to Iraq next fall—I’m sure guard family members appreciated such news—it’s now clear that the unit will, in fact, be heading to Kuwait. While much superior to a posting in Iraq, which despite all the good news spinning its way out of the White House remains a hellish place, this still means the 29th will have to return to the Persian Gulf a mere two years after returning from its last Iraq War deployment.
SATURDAY, Oct. 20
I’d say you get the war you pay for, but since future generations will have to pay for this one, I’ll just let them decide if it was worth it.
SUNDAY, Oct. 21
Looks like we have a new insidious enemy to worry about these days: Water. See, water is trying to kill us. Especially bottled water, which is at least an $8 billion industry. “Environmentalists warn that bottled water’s popularity comes at a great cost,” reported a Detroit Free Press story reprinted in today’s Honolulu Advertiser. “It takes a lot of energy to produce and transport the bottles, many of which end up in landfills. Most of the bottles contain an oil-derived plastic called polyethylene terephthalate, or PET.” Though not mentioned in the story, environmentalists have also long questioned the safety of bottled water. In 1999, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a report stating that not only do people “spend from 240 to over 10,000 times more per gallon for bottled water than they typically do for tap water,” but that “No one should assume that just because he or she purchases water in a bottle that it is necessarily any better regulated, purer, or safer than most tap water.”
MONDAY, Oct. 22
Of course, tap water’s been trying to kill us for even longer than bottled water. A current report posted on the NRDC’s website warns that, “In the long term, we all have reason to be concerned about pollution in tap water. The water in many cities contains pollutants that are carcinogens and that, over time, could cause cancer.” And don’t bother putting your faith in a water filter, either. “Filters are no better a long-term solution than bottled water,” states the NRDC. “[I]n the end, we need to make tap water safe for everyone.” Now the Maui County Department of Water says that all our tap water is safe for everyone, and meets all state and federal drinking water standards, but I couldn’t help but pause when I found this sentence, printed on all the latest county Water Quality Reports: “As a general practice, you should flush your tap for 30 seconds to 2 minutes before using the tap water, if you have not used it for 4-6 hours.”
TUESDAY, Oct. 23
If all this water stuff sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because a few years ago the comedian Lewis Black told us during his “Black on Broadway” show that water was killing us. Why didn’t we listen to him when we had the chance? Why?
Anthony Pignataro is frightened of people who have more than 100 friends on Facebook. MTW