Yes, But For A Profit!

A controversial, mostly-mainland-oriented for-profit organization called change.org  is giving Hawaii petitioners professional advice in the dispute about opening up businesses, churches and even theaters despite the ongoing COVID-19 threat.

It’s helping promote a local petition which says: “INSANE SCARE TACTICS from Hawaii’s leadership. Just quarantine those over 70. Those with weak immunity, it’s up to you. THE REST OF HAWAII NEEDS TO RE-OPEN. Re-open the churches. Re-open the restaurants. Re-open the small businesses. Re-open the city streets. Re-open the parks. Re-open the beaches. Re-open the airports. Re-open the gyms. Re-open Ala Moana Mall. Re-open Diamond Head Theater. Re-open Waikiki. Re-open Ward 16. Re-open Iolani Palace. Re-open HAWAII.”

Change.org claims 366,757,000 members. It’s what is called a “B Corporation” (B for benefit) and claims positive impacts on society, workers, the community and the environment in addition to profit as its legally defined goals. Yes, it pay taxes if there’s a profit after it pays its 180 executives and staff members. Hawaii is one of 35 states recognizing B Corps.

One of its benefactors of late has been Pierre Omidyar of Honolulu, proprietor or Civil Beat and the Ulupono Initiative. The Omidyar Network has chipped in $15 million.

Here’s the rest of the petition to move Hawaii leaders away from the current shutdown:

“Just quarantine those over 70. The rest of Hawaii needs to LIVE. People are days away from begging for bread. Seriously.

“If Ige, Green, and Caldwell want to save a life so badly, then permanently close Hanauma Bay because 27 people have drowned in the last two years. Close H1 because 140 died in car accidents in Hawaii last year. Ban smoking because 314 people died of lung cancer in Hawaii last year. Ban McDonalds because 2,900 people died in Hawaii last year of coronary disease. These are TRUE FACTS.”

It also claims the virus “can’t withstand 80 degree heat” and so we and other warm climes have relatively few deaths. FactCheck, however, says sunshine does not kill this virus.

Change.org has been accused of fooling hiding the fact that it is a for-profit entity that has an economic incentive to get people to sign petitions.

It says in its mission statement that “We help people reach the business and government leaders whose decisions impact their lives, giving them the power they deserve. Connecting advocates and decision makers facilitates meaningful changes in policies, laws and business practices.”

It also sells what it calls its expert petition advice. “Most people who start petitions are new to the world of advocacy and activism. Our staff provide advice for mobilizing support, generating media interest and lobbying elected officials.”

How is the Hawaii petition doing? Earlier today (4/30), Change said there were 674 signatures and that it is seeking 1,000.

What Really Lost The Vietnam War?

Today is another anniversary for the end of the Vietnam War. Most of us who spent a chunk of our lives there thought it had ended in early 1973 when both sides declared a “permanent” cease fire.

But the signature ink on that pact was barely dry when the North Vietnamese army launched a new offensive that would carry them to Saigon and end the war with their military victory and our loss on April 30 of 1975.

Much of my young life was tied up in that war as a reporter. I also covered that “secret” war in Laos. Younger-than-me people don’t know much about those Indochina times. They are the Iraq/Afghanistan generation. 

 

 

 

 

I came back from Vietnam with bits of shrapnel still in me but no mental hangovers.

1966. 3rd Field Hospital, Saigon

Well, maybe I drank too much. Booze was cheap and plentiful on the U.S. bases.  Helicopters even delivered beer to patrols in the jungles. Shots in clubs on the bases were 25 cents.

But my title for this column is What Really Lost The Vietnam War?

#1 was getting into it. We supported an unloved king and then unloved generals. It was a moral blunder.

#2 was that our troops didn’t really respect the people. They were blighters and weird and Buddhist. And ate strange foods.

#3 was Gen. Westmoreland’s decision to go into the jungle and hunt for enemies to fight rather than use our troops to protect farmers and villages and settlements.

#4 was tolerating obvious corruption. By Viet generals, by our own supply managers, by our commanders who turned a blind eye to drug transport and sales.

I talked with some of our local vets of that time and produced a TV documentary. It was called “How Do You Remember Vietnam?”

This is a good week for you to see it if you missed it.

It’s at https://vimeo.com/100744168

Here Comes D.K.

There’s been a sudden flash of lightning out of Kauai, illuminating a potent player in Hawaii politics and maybe  primed to complicate the gubernatorial aspirations of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

It’s Derek Kawakami, the KCC and Chaminade grad who became the Garden Island’s 11th mayor in 2018, the same year that David Ige was re-elected governor. And that means when Ige is termed out in 2022, Kawakami might be seeking a challenging new job, and it won’t be back at Big Save or the Menehune Food mart!

Today, Gov. Ige singled Kawakami out in his COVID-19 briefing for his “leadership and the people of the Garden Island for becoming the first island with no new or active cases in two weeks.”

Kawakami’s young and very local. When the island curfew goes into effect he gets bored and posts videos on social media. Maybe he’ll sing. Or dance. Or remind people to remove the gloves after they’ve worn them at the supermarket and not leave them in a shopping cart.

I’ve watched Facebook videos of him making anti-virus masks from an old t-shirt and making ice cream at home while tossing in plenty pidgin.

Did I say he’s very local?

And he hasn’t made a single political misstep. For this pandemic, he quickly shut things down and put the island on a 9 a.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.

The video I saw of him dancing after a remote virus task force meeting got more than 2,000 shares and more than 400 comments on Facebook.

That’s about 1,600 more shares than my blog on that same April day!

Kawakami surfs, swims, runs, has participated in a grueling obstacle race (pictured). Healthy snack? Kulolo, the taro, coconut milk, honey and brown sugar “candy.” Song to work out to? Stir It Up by Bob Marley.

He’s a Democrat. Kauai County Councilman 2008-2011 and again 2016-2018. State Representatives 2011-2016.

Third generation Kawakami on that island and the third to serve in the State House.

I think I can see this one coming in 2022!

Cruising Into Oblivion?

Health experts say the cruise industry’s decision to keep sailing for weeks after the coronavirus was first detected on a ship helped carry the virus around the globe and contributed to the on-board infection toll.

My wife commented recently that she just cannot see herself ever getting on a cruise ship or a river boat again and being stuffed in with all those passengers with their sniffles, coughs and sneezes, and whatever infections they might be carrying.

It’s the COVID-19 hangover, of course. At first, I sort of blew her off and figured I’d be okay on one of those Europe river boats with fewer than 100 passengers. Then the doubts set in, and now I’m in the no-more-cruises mode also.

The life or death of the cruise industry depends on how many people come to my conclusion.

Some of the best reporting on that has been by the British newspaper, The Guardian. It points out that future worries by prospective passengers will not only be about the others on board, but also those working the ticketing, baggage and general dock duties.

“In Fort Lauderdale, authorities warned that up to 50,000 passengers might have been in contact with port workers infected with the virus, adding to a public relations nightmare that just days earlier saw one liner with 3,500 aboard refused permission to dock in California and two Florida-based ships ordered to stay at sea temporarily while crew members were tested.”

The shut-down list has been horrific for crews, dock workers and company employees. Princess Cruises, Viking Cruises and Disney Cruise Lines. Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines. Ports including Miami, Port Canaveral, Galveston, New York, Seattle and New Orleans went silent for the first time since the days following 9/11.

It started with the Diamond Princess. Its 3,700 passengers and crew were quarantined at a Japanese port on Feb. 4 after a previous guest, who didn’t have any symptoms while aboard the ship, tested positive for the virus after he returned to Hong Kong. More than 700 passengers and crew on the ship ultimately tested positive for the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 and at least 8 died. 

The Grand Princess was forced to moor off the coast of California when 21 people tested positive for the virus. After several days, California officials brought the ship to the Port of Oakland, where the last passengers disembarked for transport to federal quarantine facilities. More than 1,000 crew remained aboard the ship, anchored in the bay.

The cruise line stocks have collapsed. Caribbean and Norwegian lost more than 70% of their value over a one month period.

The lockdown will end at some point when new virus infection cases have tailed off, but will you go back to happily cruising to Tahiti, Antarctica, and on the Columbia, Danube and Rhine rivers?

Some, yes. Many, no. Between the SARS-CoV2 and that Legionnaires Disease there’s going to be a mountain of worry to climb. The same for airplane travel. And that spills over into hotel bookings, car rentals and all forms of entertainment for tourists. Who wants to be in a guided group any more?

The travel business is not going to be the same.

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