POSTED: 20 MARCH 2008 - 8:00am HST

Westernmost dissent

image above: In Lihue, Linda Pascatore, David Ward and Rich Hoeppner demonstrate for peace

by Jon Letman on 20 March 2008

New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago... Lihue.

Huh? Yes, Lihue. There is such a place in the United States. It is the county seat (pop. 6,000) of the small Hawaiian island of Kauai, about as far as you can get from New York or Washington and still be in the same country.

A former sugar growing district, best known today as a jumping off point for eco-tourism and sun-splashed resorts, Lihue rarely makes national headlines.

But people do live here, they do vote in the national election (in last month's state caucus overwhelmingly for Obama) and some of them do protest against the war in Iraq.

At least they did tonight.

I know, I was there. And while Lihue doesn't get the crowds you find at the Mall in Washington, in a place where even politicians show up in beach sandals and shorts, take to the streets-in your face activism in Hawaii, especially on the neighbor islands, is pretty rare.

image above: In Lihue, Carol Bain and Marge Dente demonstrate for peace

Having said that, last summer it was the impassioned efforts of people on Kauai who swam, surfed and paddled into Lihue's Nawiliwili Harbor to protest and successfully block the arrival of the Alakai (aka Hawaii SuperFerry), a 349 foot long passenger/car ferry which is widely seen as detrimental to the environment and lifestyle of people on the neighbor islands of Maui and Kauai.

It was the people of Kauai that physically stopped that ferry from docking (the hulking vessel actually had to turn around and hasn't been back since) by risking their lives, some of them bobbing in the choppy harbor waters for hours. These protests garnered the attention of, among others, the LA Times , New York Times and other national media outlets.

For Lihue, this was major big time.

And these protesters were among the same ones who were out tonight, standing alongside the Kuhio highway in Lihue, across from the local newspaper and purposefully in front of the local army recruiting office, holding signs which protested the Iraq war and American militarism in general.

One sign read "700,000 Iraqi Civilians Dead = 10X Pop. of Kauai." Others focused on the costs of war, now estimated to be as high as $3 trillion.

The protests were cordial, even somewhat subdued, with no police, no counter-protesters and mostly just the sound of passing cars honking in support, their drivers giving the protesters the 'shaka' sign (hang loose). A few other hand gestures were seen (the one with just the middle finger raised), but these were by far in the minority and, as one protester who recalled demonstrating against the Vietnam War observed, "we're mostly being greeted with support or, at worst, indifference, but no real outward hostility." That difference between the Vietnam era and now, he said, was a sign of improvement. At least they weren't being spat on.

image above: In Lihue, Ray Catania and many more demonstrate for peace

Indeed, this is Hawaii, islands of aloha, the place where the state motto "Ua Mau ke Ea o ka Aina i ka Pono" translates as the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness. People are generally nicer here. They smile, they wave, and let you into traffic. And so protests, even ones as impassioned as a protest against the Iraq war, tend to be fairly harmonious affairs. No barricades, no tasers, not even any police. People showed up with their signs, they made their point, they smiled and waved as supporters honked back and then at six o'clock they packed up their signs and many headed back to the local community college to attend more meetings examining the unanswered question of an Environmental Impact Statement for the SuperFerry if it is to return to Kauai.

And just as Hawaii's Governor Linda Lingle learned during a heated SuperFerry meeting last year in Lihue, even in paradise people will stand up and speak out against that which they see is wrong. So too would Gov. Lingle's friend George W. Bush learn if his rare visits to Hawaii ever amounted to anything more than a refueling stop and chance to eat pancakes hidden safely from view inside a military base on Oahu.



POSTED: 19 MARCH 2008 - 8:45am HST

The Cost of the Iraq War

image above: graphic design by Jonathan Jay

by Katy Rose on 2 March 2008

The March 19 Organizing Committee (M-19) will hold an observance of the Fifth Anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq: Shock & Awe!


Wednesday, March 19 from - 4:00 - 6:00pm
(in between sessions of the Superferry EIS meeting at KCC)


on the sidewalk in front of the Army recruiting station Kuhio Hwy near Hardy Street in Lihue (across from McDonald's).

The message of our action is "The Cost of War." We will be linking the
cost of the war to the bankruptcy of social programs, loss of human life and the
loss of peace. We will be using data about the money spent on the war and compare it to what we could be spending it on (health care for every citizen, good schools, etc.)

see also a sample of one article a year:
Island Breath: The Military & the Navy
Island Breath: 3500 Strikes and you're out! 5/15/07
Island Breath: Put a Fork in it - Iraq is lost! 10/31/06
Island Breath: Someone tell Bush Iraq is over 8/17/05

Island Brath: Less Safe and Less Free 9/11/04