Friday, December 6, 2013


Mayor Billy Kenoi signed Bill 113 on December 5, 2013. Below is the message he sent to the Hawai’i County Council:

Aloha, Chair Yoshimoto and Members:                                            

On Nov. 19, 2013 the Hawai‘i County Council adopted Bill 113 Draft 3 adding a new article relating to Genetically Engineered Crops and Plants, and on Nov. 21, 2013 delivered the bill to me for my consideration. After careful deliberation and discussions with members of my administration and the public, I am signing Bill 113.

Our community has a deep connection and respect for our land, and we all understand we must protect our island and preserve our precious natural resources. We are determined to do what is right for the land because this place is unlike any other in the world. With this new ordinance we are conveying that instead of global agribusiness corporations, we want to encourage and support community-based farming and ranching.

The debate over this bill has at times been divisive and hurtful, and some of our hard-working farmers who produce food for our community have been treated disrespectfully. We are determined to protect every farmer and rancher. Agriculture on Hawai‘i Island will continue to grow with county assistance, investment and support. That commitment includes initiatives such as the public-private partnership to improve and expand the Pa‘auilo Slaughterhouse to support our grass-fed beef industry, and the launch of the Kapulena Agricultural Park, the largest agricultural park in the state on 1,739 acres of county-owned land. It also includes support for innovative training programs to grow the farmers of the future, and to train veterans to engage in agriculture on Hawaiian Home Lands, and the introduction and advancement of Korean Natural Farming as a sustainable method of producing healthier crops and livestock. It includes completion of the first-in-the-state Food Self-Sufficiency Baseline Study of Hawai‘i Island to measure the island’s progress toward food self-sufficiency.

We are determined to reunite our farming community to create a stronger and more vibrant agricultural sector. It is time to end the angry rhetoric and reach out to our neighbors. Our farmers are essential to creating a wholesome and sustainable food supply on this island, and they deserve to be treated with respect and aloha. We must turn now to a meaningful, factual dialogue with one another.

With my approval of this bill, our administration will launch a year of research and data collection to investigate factual claims and to seek out new directions that farming in our community should take. This work will include an expanded database detailing the locations of both organic and conventional farms, the crops that are grown, more accurate estimates of the revenue earned from these enterprises, and the challenges our farmers face in meeting food safety and organic certification requirements. We will work with our farmers and our ranchers to carefully monitor the impacts of this bill over the next year to separate speculation and guesswork from the facts.

Today our communities expect that government will be as cautious as possible in protecting our food and water supplies. We all want to minimize impacts to the environment while also producing abundant, affordable food for local consumption. This ordinance expresses the desires and demands of our community for a safe, sustainable agricultural sector that can help feed our people while keeping our precious island productive and healthy.


William P. Kenoi

Press Release

Facebook: MayorKenoi
Twitter: @Mayorkenoi Mayor Billy Kenoi mahalo!

Mahalo for your commitment and perseverance!

GMO-Free Hawaii Island



12 Fast Facts About Thursday’s Fast-Food Strike

(Credit: Low Pay Is Not Ok)This Thursday, December 5, workers at fast-food restaurants around the country will be striking for higher pay and better working conditions. Their primary demand is an increase in their base hourly wages to $15 an hour.
Here are 12 things you should know about Thursday’s action.
1. If wages had kept pace with productivity gains, the minimum wage would be over $16 an hour.
Corporate profits have soared. Workers are producing more, but they’re not sharing in the rewards.
Productivity and the minimum wage generally increased at the same rate from 1947 to 1969, during this country’s postwar boom years. Using a conservative benchmark, economists Dean Baker and Will Kimball determined that the minimum wage would be $16.54 today if it had continued to keep pace with productivity.
The strikers are asking for $15 an hour.
(Source: Baker and Kimball, Center for Economic and Policy Research)
2. The average fast food worker makes $8.69 an hour.
Many jobs pay at or near the minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour. And an estimated 87 percent of fast food workers receive no health benefits.
3. The CEO of McDonald’s Corporation makes $13.8 million per year.
That’s a 237 percent pay increase over last year, when he was paid a “mere” $4.1 million. Presumably health benefits are also included.
(Source: USA Today)
4. McDonald’s cost the American taxpayer an estimated $1.2 billion in public assistance per year.
In other words, taxpayer money is subsidizing this large corporation’s profits – at the expense of American workers.
5. McDonald’s made $1.5 billion in profits last quarter.
That’s up 5 percent from the previous year.
6. The 10 largest fast food companies cost taxpayers an estimated $3.9 billion in government health assistance and $1.04 billion in food assistance.
Republicans are demanding cuts to government health and food programs. With all the talk of deficit reduction, it’s surprising that no one has pointed out that a great way to lower expenditures would be by ending these backdoor subsidies for highly profitable corporations.
7. These 10 companies earned $7.4 billion in profits last year.
They also paid out $7.7 billion in dividends. Meanwhile …
8. Fast food workers are more than twice as likely to be on public assistance.
25 percent of American workers receive some form of public assistance – which is a disturbing figure itself. For fast food workers that figure was 52 percent.
And it’s not just part-time work that’s causing the problem.  More than half of full-time fast food workers receive some form of public assistance.
9. Most of the workers who would be affected by this wage change are adults.
We also hear that it’s not necessary to raise the minimum wage, especially for fast food workers, because most of them are “kids” working a few hours each week for pocket money. Think of this as the “malt shoppe” argument.
But it’s not true. Most low-wage workers are adults. Nationally, adults make up 88 percent of the workers who would receive a raise if the minimum wage were increased to $10.10 per hour. In locales as distinct as New York State and Albuquerque, New Mexico, that figure rises to 92 percent.
10. Over 7 million children live in minimum-wage households.
And many of these workers are parents. Seven million children – nearly  one American child in ten – feels the effects of low wages.
(Source: data from the National Women’s Law Center)
11. This strike is targeting large employers.
66 percent of low-wage workers are employed by organizations with 100 employees or more. Thursday’s strikers aren’t targeting mom-and-pop operations. They’re striking against some of America’s largest corporations.
How large? McDonald’s employs 707,850 people. Yum! Brands (better known as Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC) employs 379,449 people. Altogether these 10 companies employ 2,251,956 people.
The workforce for these ten companies is greater than the populations of Nebraska, West Virginia, Idaho, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota,  Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming, states which hold 28 seats in the United States Senate.  Shouldn’t these fast-food workers have a voice of some kind too?
(Sources: National Employment Law Project, US Census Bureau)
12. There’s probably a rally near you.
There’s an easy-to-use website to help you find one. There’s also an online workers’ strike kit, for fast food workers who want to take action.
(Source: Low Pay Is Not OK)


December 5, 2013
3:13 PM
CONTACT: Greenpeace
Tristan Tremschnig, Communications Coordinator Indonesia Forests, Greenpeace International, mob: +31 6 43 78 7393

Palm Oil Giant Wilmar Caves to Public Pressure, Commits To End Forests Destruction

JAKARTA - December 5, 2013 - Wilmar International, the world's largest palm oil trader today announced a No Deforestation Policy in response to pressure from Greenpeace, NGOs and consumers around the world. The policy has the potential to be a landmark win for the world’s forests and the people that depend on them for their livelihoods.

Bustar Maitar, head of the Indonesia forest campaign at Greenpeace International said:
“Wilmar has responded to years of pressure from Greenpeace, other NGOs, and a growing movement of consumers around the world demanding clean palm oil and an end to forest destruction. Wilmar’s commitment to No Deforestation has the potential to transform the controversial palm oil industry.”
“Wilmar’s policy shows that the sector has a massive problem, and while this policy is great news for forests and tigers, its success will be judged by Wilmar’s actions to implement and enforce it. Our challenge to Wilmar is this: will it now immediately stop buying from companies such as the Ganda Group, which is closely linked to Wilmar and is involved in ongoing forest clearance, illegal peatland development and social conflict?”
Over the last seven years, Greenpeace has repeatedly exposed Wilmar’s role in gross acts of forest destruction; sourcing from national parks, destroying prime tiger habitat, sourcing from suppliers linked to orang-utan ‘graveyards’ or this year’s forest fire crisis in Sumatra, to name a few.
“For years companies, including Wilmar, have been hiding behind so called sustainability bodies such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Greenpeace will be closely monitoring how Wilmar will put these words into action, and will welcome Wilmar’s immediate end to all trade with companies involved in deforestation. The gauntlet is thrown to other palm oil traders such as Cargill, Musim Mas and Sime Darby to release similar policies,” added Bustar.
The palm oil sector is the greatest single cause of deforestation in Indonesia. Ministry of Forestry maps show that Indonesia is losing some 620,000ha of rainforest every year between 2009-2011 (an area greater than the size of Brunei). Palm oil’s expansion into New Guinea and Africa is already threatening forests, sparking controversy and conflict with local communities.
Wilmar International accounts for more than a third of global trade of palm oil.
Independent campaigning organization that uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


December 4, 2013
2:42 PM
Darcey Rakestraw,; 202-683-2467

USDA’s Salmonella Action Plan Misses the Mark

Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch Executive Director

WASHINGTON - December 4 - “Today the USDA released its new Salmonella Action Plan, which highlights a controversial proposal to radically change inspection of poultry products as a top priority in battling salmonella. Unfortunately, this new packaging doesn’t make the ‘Modernization of Poultry Inspection’ proposal any more logical or protective of public health. It is still a deregulation of the poultry industry that will put consumers, workers and even animal welfare at risk.
“USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service wants to expand a pilot project in place in two-dozen plants to 200 poultry plants across the country. The proposed change would remove most FSIS inspectors from the slaughter lines and replace them with untrained company employees, allowing processing companies to police themselves. It would also permit chicken plants to increase line speeds to 175 birds-per-minute. FSIS has received hundreds of thousands of comments from consumers opposed to this change and worker safety advocates have raised serious concerns that poultry plant workers will suffer increased rates of injuries trying to keep up with increased line speeds.
“This fall, the Government Accountability Office released a report on the pilot project that is being used to justify this proposed change. The GAO evaluated 20 young chicken and five young turkey plants and found gaping methodological flaws in the pilot project. The GAO also questioned how FSIS could use its flawed evaluation of the pilot project as the basis to propose expanding the privatized inspection model across the entire poultry industry.
“This flawed proposed rule cannot serve as the foundation of any serious plan to reduce salmonella rates in meat and poultry products. To really tackle the salmonella problem, USDA should not be trying to cut government inspection of poultry products. Instead the Obama administration needs to get the legal authority from Congress to hold companies accountable for putting contaminated food into commerce, not deregulate inspection.
“We also call into question the salmonella reduction statistics that the agency is touting in its press release. While the Centers for Disease Control has stated that minimal progress has been made to reduce the number of food borne illness outbreaks associated with salmonella contamination, FSIS argues that salmonella rates in young chickens have decreased by 75% since 2006. The agency is deriving these numbers from its regulatory testing program that is not based on random sampling. In fact, the agency concluded in a 2012 research paper (“Use of FSIS Regulatory Verification Sampling to Generate Prevalence Estimates”) that accurate prevalence estimates for salmonella could not be calculated by the data generated in its current salmonella testing program.
“Instead of deregulating inspection, the agency needs to go to Congress and seek the legislative authority to fix the current legal loophole in the Federal Meat Inspection and Poultry Products Inspection Acts so that it can effectively regulate salmonella as a food borne pathogen.”
Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.

Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.


Fast Food Strikes Hit 100 Cities Thursday

Demonstrators hold signs and chant slogans outside of a Wendy's fast food restaurant, April 4, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)Fast-food workers in New York City are expected to walk off their jobs Thursday, one year after their first strike, joining a 100-city strike wave. Organizers say actions will take place all across the country as part of the movement for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation.
In New York City, there are more than 57,000 fast-food workers, and the median wage is $8.89/hour, the lowest of any occupation in the city.
With support from union groups such as the Service Employees International Union, the fast-food protests have dramatically grown over the course of the last year. The early protests in New York City in November grew to thousands of protesters waging actions in seven other cities during the summer. An August strike spread to more than fifty cities, including areas in the South that have historically been hostile to union actions.
This Thursday, there will be more new strike locations in Charleston, South Carolina; Providence, Rhode Island; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Mary Coleman, known to her co-workers as Ms. Mary, works at a Popeye’s in Milwaukee for $7.25 an hour. Coleman, 59, lives with her daughter, who has a heart condition, and her two grandchildren. She also relies on food stamps to make ends meet and says she would gladly trade in her Qwest card for higher wages. Thursday marks Mary’s fourth strike. Previously, she walked off the job on May 15, August 1 and August 29.
“I’m tired of working for $7.25,” Coleman says. “I can’t take care of my household, I can’t even take care of myself.”
Little amenities many individuals take for granted, such as deodorant, are unaffordable for Coleman on fast-food low wages.
“Every day struggles are being able to keep food on the table, being able to get the necessities that’s needed for every day living…. And then if you need to go to the doctor, you can’t afford that either.”
Coleman says she is inspired by the organizing of low-wage workers in other states.
“I’m very excited about it, and it lets me know people can come together and do what’s right,” she says.
Some workers Coleman’s age might consider protesting a job for younger people, but she felt compelled to join the strikes, if only to show apathetic youth that change is possible.
“If we sit back and leave everything to the younger generation, we’ll never get anywhere,” she says. “At this point, it seems like a majority of the younger generation thinks that their voices don’t matter. I want to let them know that their voice does matter.”
Danielle, 23, is a fast food worker at Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ’n Biscuits in Charleston who will be going on strike
Danielle has worked at Bojangles for four years, started as a cashier and is now a manager making $11 an hour, and though she makes more than entry-level position workers, she still can’t survive on her wages. Over the past year, Danielle’s mother, father, and grandmother have all passed away, so she is now struggling to support herself.
She walks five miles every day to work, and because she’s on her own, says she has trouble paying her bills on time. Sometimes she receives her paycheck and sees it isn’t even enough to cover rent.
“I’m tired of living paycheck to paycheck. I can’t live like that,” says Danielle.
Like many fast-food workers, Danielle says she isn’t scheduled for enough hours, but works hard while she’s at the restaurant, and yet she isn’t fairly compensated for her labor. However, she too draws inspiration from the wave of strikes and walkouts occurring at major big-box stores and fast-food chains all across the country.
“It makes me feel good because people are opening their mouths and going on strike, and saying we want a raise. We’ve been busting out butts and we finally want a raise. I’m glad to be one of the people going on strike because this is ridiculous,” she says.
Danielle adds she doesn’t fear retaliation from her employers for going on strike.
“I know my rights as a manager. They can’t fire me for opening my mouth. I earned [my paycheck], I’m a hard worker.”
Brooklyn KFC worker Naquasia LeGrand, 22, will be going on strike for the fifth time this week. While she doesn’t have children, LeGrand does have an extended family that she helps support, and even though at $7.70/hour she earns slightly above New York’s minimum wage ($7.25), LeGrand says the fifteen-hours-per-week cap at KFC makes it impossible to earn a living wage.
“I have to pay for my Metro card, I have to pay $100 for my phone bill, I do try to put food in the house…. Sometimes I can’t even feed myself,” says LeGrand, who has been working at KFC for two years.
The lack of resources finally drove LeGrand to participate in her first strike: “I realized that we needed a change. I thought about the future. Are we going to be living off $7.25 in twenty years?” she asks.
LeGrand says she feels under-appreciated by an industry that makes lavish profits off the hard labor of workers like herself. To the naysayers and critics, who say fast-food jobs are low skill, and therefore deserve low pay, LeGrand says these businesses could not profit without workers.
“Why do you think these corporations are an over $200 billion a year business? Off our hard work. [The CEOs] aren’t working. They’re just collecting all the money.”
LeGrand has participated in the fast-food strikes since they began in November, and hers is a unique perspective, since she’s witnessed the movement grow and flourish, an evolution that mirrors her own transition from skeptic to passionate activist.
“In the beginning, I was afraid. I was skeptical. I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t even know what a union was. People say, ‘You’re not gonna get $15 [per hour].’ But I would tell people to look at what’s going on. Look at where we started in New York City. On November 29, 2012, it was 127 workers who decided to walk out on their jobs to make a statement and say we want $15 [per hour] and a union. Now, [this week] 200 cities are about to have actions. This is spreading around the whole country.”


'Low Pay Is Not OK': Fast Food Workers Rise Up with Nationwide Protests

Actions expected in over 100 cities demanding end to poverty wages

- Common Dreams staff
Fast food workers and their supporters protest outside a McDonald's before dawn in Chicago as a day of similar actions kicked off Thursday. "On strike. Shut it down! Chicago is a union town!" read the twitter message attached to this photo. (Credit: @fightfor15 / Twitpic)Worker strikes and public protests outside fast food restaurant chains are kicking off across the country on Thursday as low-wage employees in the industry are demanding a federal living wageof $15 an hour.

'Low Pay Is Not OK': Fast Food Workers Rise Up with Nationwide Protests

Actions expected in over 100 cities demanding end to poverty wages

- Common Dreams staff
Fast food workers and their supporters protest outside a McDonald's before dawn in Chicago as a day of similar actions kicked off Thursday. "On strike. Shut it down! Chicago is a union town!" read the twitter message attached to this photo. (Credit: @fightfor15 / Twitpic)Worker strikes and public protests outside fast food restaurant chains are kicking off across the country on Thursday as low-wage employees in the industry are demanding a federal living wageof $15 an hour.
Organizers for the day's events include the groups Low Pay Is Not OKFast Food Forward,Fight for 15:
. @RonaldMcGrinch bringing a McChristmas of low wages 2 Chicago but @fightfor15 workers fight back!
Organizers for the day's events include the groups Low Pay Is Not OKFast Food Forward,Fight for 15:
Those groups are being supported by various local, regional, and national workers rights groups and labor organizations who all agree that stagnant wages across all fifty states are keeping huge segments of the population trapped in poverty while the giant fast food corporations who make huge profits while dodging taxes and paying their executive exorbitant salaries can afford to pay more.
Organizers created this tool to help individuals locate protests that might be in their area and received support for their efforts from former U.S. Secretary of Labor and economist Robert Reich, who released this video to explain why workers are right to be making their demands for a $15 wage:
With actions expected in over 100 cities, the Twitter hashtag #FastFoodStrikes is being used to post updates and photos throughout the day: