Hawaii Supreme Court hears arguments on TMT constructions

Hawaii’s Supreme Court on Thursday heard arguments for and against the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea.

Based on reading the various news reports of the hearing and the questioning by the judges, it appears to me that the judges have already decided against the telescope. Race, ethnicity, and hatred of western technology must take precedent over all else.

I repeat: If the court shuts down TMT astronomers should consider moving out entirely. Furthermore, Americans should maybe consider other places for their tourism, considering how hostile Hawaiians now appear to be.

Eight telescope protesters arrested on road to summit of Haleakala on Maui

Police arrested 8 protesters on Thursday attempting to block trucks delivering construction materials for the new Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) under construction since 2012 on the summit of Haleakala on the island of Maui in Hawaii.

One of those arrested has been a leader of the protests at Mauna Kea against the Thirty Meter Telescope.

The Hawaii state government continues to waffle on what it is going to do. Either they will make sure that construction of these telescopes can proceed, as per the agreements made after years of negotiation, or they are going to bow to a handful of protesters. Right now it appears that it can’t seem to make up its mind.

Meanwhile, if these protesters really have the support of a majority of Hawaiians, then astronomy in Hawaii is doomed.

Mauna Kea visitor center reopens

The visitor center on Mauna Kea was reopened this weekend after a month closure that supposedly forbid access by the public.

And yet, for that entire month, the state has allowed the protesters opposing construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) to remain camped across the street.

To me, this illustrates where the state’s loyalties lie. They might talk a tough game, but they are really doing nothing to enforce the law and the legally negotiated agreements between the astronomical community and the various Hawaiian cultural institutions that had agreed on the conditions for building TMT. By allowing the protesters to continue to break the law and set up house on the mountain, the state is saying they really want construction to cease.

I say, maybe the time has come for astronomers to agree, and move lock, stock, and barrel south to Chile. In addition, maybe tourists should consider other places to visit, rather than a place that exhibits such hostility to outsiders.

TMT protesters gather outside IAU conference in Hawaii

Two quotes from the article I think clarify what is going on here. First, one of the protester signs illustrated very clearly the level of ignorance and foolishness of the protesters;

“We don’t want your big toy telescopes on our sacred mountain.”

Then there was this significant point noted in the article:

The demonstrators are a diverse group but are generally led by men and women in their twenties who were educated in modern Hawaiian-language immersion schools. Decades ago, children were beaten for speaking the language; today it is a source of cultural pride and a touchstone for Hawaii’s burgeoning sovereignty movement.

In other words, for the past few decades the public schools in Hawaii have been focused on teaching young Hawaiians to hate American culture and whites. Instead, race and ethnicity come before concepts of freedom and individual rights. How nice. (If you don’t believe me spend just a little time studying what these native peoples courses teach. I’ve seen it here in Arizona as well as in New York. They really do teach anti-Americanism and a hatred of whites.)

However, considering that Hawaii has been controlled exclusively by leftwing Democrats for decades, no one should be surprised.

Hawaii government not enforcing Mauna Kea emergency rule

Surprise, surprise! The emergency rule imposed by the Democratic governor of Hawaii at Mauna Kea, restricting access and forbidding camping, is not being enforced.

A week after Governor David Ige signed the rule into effect on July 14, signs informing the public were posted on along the Mauna Kea summit access road. Days later on Thursday, July 23, DLNR Conservation and Resource Enforcement officers started distributing what officials are calling educational handouts.

Cell-phone video taken by protesters, who say they’re standing in protection of the mountain as a sacred Native Hawaiian place, captured the first exchange. “We’re here just to serve you these papers, okay? And basically what you need to do is just to read them and understand that this is the emergency proclamation that went through,” a DOCARE officer explained.

DLNR officers have been back five times since then, but no citations or arrests have been made.

This is typical behavior when faced with liberal illegal protesters for most modern political leaders, especially Democrats. Even when they talk a good game, when it comes time to actually enforce the law, they chicken out. And until Governor Ige enforces the law, I do not see how construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope can resume.

Road to Mauna Kea opened, with restrictions

The University of Hawaii has reopened the road to the summit of Mauna Kea, subject to the emergency restrictions imposed by Hawaii’s Board of Land and Natural Resources.

The visitors center remains closed, and access by the public is much more limited. However, with the road open to employees it means astronomy can resume on the mountain as well as construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

I fully expect some of the protesters to defy these restrictions and get arrested. Based on their behavior these past four months, they don’t have much respect either for the law, or for the sacredness of the mountain.

Hawaii officials vote to limit access to Mauna Kea

Hawaii’s Board of Land and Natural Resources voted 5 to 2 on Friday to restrict access to Mauna Kea.

The rule restricts being within a mile (1.6 kilometres) of the mountain’s access road during certain nighttime hours, unless in a moving vehicle, and prohibits camping gear. It would allow construction to resume on the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope, the subject of months of protests. Many Native Hawaiians consider the mountain sacred. Camping was already prohibited on the mountain. “We need the tools to keep order on the mountain,” said board member Chris Yuen. “It’s sad that it has come to this point.”

Not surprisingly, the leader of the protesters said they would ignore the rule and continue their overnight protests.

The incivility and hostility of the Mauna Kea protesters

The management of Mauna Kea has released event logs by both their rangers [pdf] and the visitor center [pdf], outlining the generally hostile and illegal behavior of the TMT protesters during the past four months, including threats of violence against visiters and workers to the mountain.

The news story above does not really give the full flavor of the protesters’ generally rude and hostile behavior. They repeatedly threatened workers and visitors, damaged both existing facilities as well as the natural environment on which they camped illegally, and interfered with others who had come to the mountain to star-gaze or work. The logs also include numerous examples of the protesters exhibiting incredible ignorance about the astronomy on the mountain as well as the Thirty Meter Telescope itself. If you get the chance, read these logs yourself. They clarify for everyone which side stands on the side of civilization and which does not.

Finally there is this important tidbit:

From March 24, 2015 through present, groups of protesters, some up to nearly 200 persons, have sporadically been onsite on the University of Hawaii management lands and DLNR lands on Maunakea. A group of about 10 protesters has maintained a continuous presence day and night. [emphasis mine]

As is usual for protests like this, the actual numbers are miniscule, and are magnified by a press that wants to promote the protesters’ agenda, even though a very large majority does not agree with that agenda.

TMT protesters complain about road closure

The leader of the protest that is opposing the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is now complaining about the road closure imposed by Hawaii’s government that is preventing him and his followers from returning to the mountain.

“The telescope employees have been able to access the mountain every single day to go up and come back down and even we as protectors of the mountain have been given daily access to conduct pule and religious practices on the mountain,” said Kahookahi Kanuha, a member of Ku Kia’i Mauna, which hopes to keep the telescope from being built. “So, if they do deem it unsafe, it is quite irresponsible of them to allow other individuals up the mountain.”

So let me get this straight: He thinks it is wrong for the people who own or lease the mountain — who have legal right to control access — to block the protesters, but he sees nothing wrong with him going there — trespassing — and blocking access to others. What a hypocrite.

This article proves that my analysis from Tuesday is correct. The government has shut the road mainly to quietly get the protesters out of the way and let things cool down. When construction resumes, I guarantee that road access will restricted to prevent the protesters from returning and blocking the road. (Update: The quotes here from the state’s attorney general provide even further confirmation that the state will not allow protests to obstruct future access to construction crews.)

One other note: The author of the first article above uses the typical dishonest mainstream media technique of only quoting one protester, the activist leader, while claiming that “protesters” are objecting. The data in the article, however, does not document this spin. As far as I can tell, the only one complaining about the road closure is this one guy.

Road to Mauna Kea to remain closed for the rest of the week

The University of Hawaii, which manages the astronomy facilities on top of Mauna Kea, said today that the road to the summit will remained closed for at least the rest of this week so that they can do repairs and maintenance resulting from the protests last week.

I think I finally understand what is going on, and why the protesters themselves offered last week to remove the boulder barricades they had built, something that had not made sense to me at the time.

Because of landslides and the hostile environment, the road needs constant maintenance. The barricades prevented that, which gave the governor and the University the justification to shut the road. And by shutting the road, the University has essentially locked the protesters out. I am sure that the repairs could be done much faster, but the University is probably dragging its feet to make sure they get all the protesters out and things cool down. When the reopen the road, I expect them to make sure it is secure and only official personal use it.

This is why the protesters suddenly offered to remove the barricades. They realized that they had shot themselves in the foot, and wanted to remedy the situation in a way that would allow them to continue protesting. It appears they have failed.

Hawaii governor condemns protesters

Pigs fly! The liberal Democratic governor of Hawaii today strongly condemned the protesters against the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) for blocking the roads to Mauna Kea and made it clear that his administration will do what is necessary to prevent that from happening again.

To quote his statement:

“We expected there to be a protest when construction resumed, and there was. We hoped we would not have to arrest people but were prepared to do so, and we did when they blocked the roadway. We also saw, in what amounts to an act of vandalism, the roadway blocked with rocks and boulders. We deployed to remove the rocks and boulders, but the protesters wisely chose to remove them themselves. And then we saw more attempts to control the road. That is not lawful or acceptable to the people of Hawai‘i. So let me be very direct: The roads belong to all the people of Hawai‘i and they will remain open. We will do whatever is necessary to ensure lawful access.”

Forgive my cynicism and hostility to the Democratic governor. In my experience, it is rare for a Democrat to actively oppose liberal protesters such as these. Normally, Democrats encourage their misbehavior, and do what they can to aid them. For example, in Ferguson, Missouri Democrat governor Jay Nixon intentionally delayed calling out the National Guard in order to allow the riots to continue. Similarly, the Democratic mayor of Baltimore intentionally restrained the police in order to allow the demonstrators, in her own words, “space to destroy”. And then there was the entire Occupy Wall Street protests, all of which trespassed illegally in Democratically controlled urban areas. In every case, there trespass was allowed, and even applauded, by Democrats.

David Ige however has made it clear that he will no longer tolerate any blockage of the road to Mauna Kea, and will do what is necessary to allow the legally agreed construction of the the TMT to go forward. Hooray for him!

Hawaii governor halts TMT construction again

In a very vague statement the governor of Hawaii has once again stopped construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) while he reassesses the situation after protesters yesterday blocked the road to the mountain summit with boulders.

“We are disappointed and concerned that large boulders were found in the roadway leading to the summit of Mauna Kea,” McCartney said in the statement. “This action is a serious and significant safety hazard and could put people at risk. “Because of this, we are making an assessment to determine how to proceed,” he said. “We will be working to clear the roadway tomorrow. Therefore, construction is on hold until further notice.”

The statement implies that he is trying to figure out a way to prevent the protesters from blocking the road, without causing more conflict. I instead suspect he sympathies with the protesters, and is looking for a way to stop construction, which he legally cannot do.

If the road is not reopened by the end of this week and construction is still blocked, I think the TMT managers, as well as the operators of the other telescopes on the mountain, should seriously consider moving from Hawaii. I also repeat that a boycott of Hawaiian tourism might also be appropriate now. This is what these nativist activists want, no more outsiders. We should give them what they want.

Construction crews turned back by protesters at Mauna Kea

Despite an announcement that construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea would resume today, construction crews turned back when faced with protesters who blocked the road at 10,000 foot elevation.

The protesters, who number about 200, left the road when police asked them to, then regrouped further up the road. The caravan came to an abrupt stop at the 10,000-foot level at about 12:30 p.m. because protesters had placed boulders in the road, blocking the vehicles.

Andre Perez, a Hawaiian activist and teaching assistant at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, was among the protesters arrested at about 11:30 a.m. “We have a human right to control our land. This is not American land,” Perez said as police took him away.

The first arrest happened at 8:39 a.m. and police arrested more people as the protest moved up the mountain. [emphasis mine]

First, I want to know exactly when this activist purchased the land, since he claims he has the right to control it. Second, what right does he have to rank himself above everyone else in this matter? Does he consider native Hawaiians superior to non-natives? If so, isn’t that somewhat racist and bigoted?

Finally, based on his own words above I think the activist revealed the true hatred that fuels his actions (as well as his fellow protesters). He really doesn’t care about the mountain’s sacredness. He simply hates the United States and wants to destroy it.

Hole in observatory door was not caused by bullet

Curiouser and curiouser: In a statement to the press the Subaru Telescope has said that the hole in its door was not caused by a bullet this past weekend but has been known about for months and was caused by wind banging the door against a piece of equipment.

But on Monday, the observatory said in a statement the hole was caused by strong wind swinging a metal door into an instrument fixture attached to a wall. “We at Subaru Telescope are relieved that this is the case and regret the confusion caused by earlier reports,” the statement said.

A detective investigated Monday and determined the hole from the bolt on the wall was there about six months, police said. The observatory’s statement says the day crews knew about the hole from a severe winter storm earlier this year. The observatory didn’t immediately explain why someone reported it to police Saturday night.

The contradictions between the story released today and what was revealed yesterday is quite stark. My guess would be that someone at the telescope, unaware of the hole previously, saw it this weekend and panicked, thinking it caused by a bullet and fearful because of the illegal presence of protesters on the road to the mountain. It is also possible that someone at the telescope saw the hole for the first time and wanted to smear the demonstrators. It is also possible that the rumor was spread by a demonstrator who wanted to smear the astronomers, knowing that the false story would be quickly uncovered.

I could speculate for hours, pointlessly. The bottom line is that the lack of good will from the demonstrators is successfully spreading the ill will to all sides.

Bullet hole found in Mauna Kea observatory

Even as protesters continue to block the roads to the top of Mauna Kea to prevent construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), workers at the Subaru Telescope at the mountain have reported a bullet hole in one door that had been put there sometime over the weekend.

No one knows who did it, or even if the hole was caused by a bullet, though that is what it looks like. The leader of the protests has of course denied any participation and condemned it.

I found this quote from the first link above (which spends a lot of time describing the heroic protesters who have been camping on the road) to be very revealing about this whole affair:

In an email Saturday, DLNR spokeswoman Deborah Ward said the area is not permitted for camping but did not respond to the Tribune-Herald’s questions about why the department has allowed the protesters to remain at the site. “Both state and county officials are monitoring the situation,” she wrote.

Gee, don’t we all remember how government officials turned a blind eye to tea party protests? Not! They did however allow illegal trespassing for Occupy Wall Street. In all these cases, the government officials reveal whose side they are on.

I personally think the astronomy community should organize a boycott of tourism to Hawaii. If their island is so sacred that outsiders shouldn’t be there, maybe we should hold them to their word. We would then find out how serious they really are about the island’s sacredness.

Astronomers accept terms imposed on them by protesters in Hawaii

The University of Hawaii, which manages the astronomy operation on Mauna Kea, has accepted the terms laid down by the state’s governor for allowing construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Essentially the number of telescopes on the peak will have to be reduced above and beyond the original decades-old agreement, and the University will have to find money to pay for these “native” programs:

Improved cultural research, education and training: We will work with Kahu Kū Mauna and other Native Hawaiian advisors to develop new cultural training and educational programs about Maunakea. Training is currently required for people working on the mountain and we will look for opportunities for improvement. We will develop training and education programs for visitors to ensure that all who come to Maunakea understand its cultural significance and how to respect the mountain. To ensure our cultural training and education programs are accurate, effective and continuing, we will establish at UH Hilo a new program to lead and evaluate our expanded cultural stewardship and educational activities related to Maunakea. …

New scholarship programs: The governor asked TMT to increase its support to Native Hawaiian students, particularly those from Hawaiʻi Island, who wish to pursue science and technology careers. UH recognizes its responsibilities in this area and we will launch a campaign for new scholarship programs for Hawaiʻi Island and Native Hawaiian students to increase their participation in the sciences. The university will allocate a portion of its observing time to UH Hilo for use in projects and programs to support greater participation and improved preparation of Hawaiʻi Island students for professional careers.

The first will essentially buy off the leaders of the protesters, hiring them to pound into outsiders the wonderfulness of native culture. The second, though it will provide educational scholarships — a good thing — is still essentially bigoted and discriminatory in that it determines who shall get the scholarships solely by their ethnic origin. Imagine the reaction if a university in the U.S. offered a comparable scholarship only to whites.

Hawaii agency withdraws support for TMT

Maybe it is time to get out: The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), which had approved the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) in 2009, has formally withdrawn its support.

I think the testimony to OHA by the opponents of the telescope says it all:

Thursday’s vote followed a day of emotional testimony at OHA’s offices in Honolulu.

“We have compromised and negotiated 13 times already, and enough is enough,” said testifier Mehana Kihoi. She said scientists did not understand the significance of the mountain to Hawaiian people. “These are people with no sacred place, no connection, no culture,” she said. Kihoi had spent more than 28 days occupying the mountain with other protesters and choked back tears as she described the spiritual experience of being there. “When you place your hands and your bare feet into the soil, you feel that warmth, you feel her heart. At 3 a.m., when … you feel her breath come down and sit on your bones, you know that she is alive.” She called on trustees to oppose the project: “Money comes and goes; our aina [land] is forever.”

Longtime Native Hawaiian activist Walter Ritte said stopping the TMT was no longer enough and that Hawaiians needed to take a stronger stand on the mismanagement of the mountain summit. “They’ve misused it to the point that they need to get all of those telescopes off Mauna Kea,” he said. “It’s a matter of principle.” [emphasis mine]

The comments of the first woman reveal an underlying bigotry and hatred of non-Hawaiians. The comments of the second person reveal a hostility to science and the advancement of knowledge that is most striking.

My instinct is to tell them to go to hell and to pull out all the telescopes, and financial support, to the islands. Maybe a tourist boycott should be started, since they obviously find non-Hawaiians and Western culture so offensive. We’d suddenly discover that these self-righteous claims are as shallow as I’ve described, bigoted and small-minded. Suddenly Hawaiians would be begging Westerners to return to the island.

My second and stronger instinct is to also tell them to go to hell, and to push through construction so that we do not bow to this kind of bigotry.

Unfortunately, our society no longer has the courage to do either. We will bow to these demands, and bigotry will win again.

TMT construction postponed again

The builders of the Thirty Meter Telescope have temporarily extended the suspension of construction originally demanded by Hawaii’s governor.

The tone of the article, especially the comments by the governor, suggests that the state is accepting the reality that they have no legal right to stop construction, and are making that fact very public. Instead, the govenor is now beginning the public relations campaign to make construction possible despite the protests, including negotiating some other givebacks to the protesters to shut them up. Sadly, those giveback appear to be the decommissioning of some other working telescopes as well as some increased restrictions on access to the mountain by the public.

Hawaii governor extends halt to construction of telescope

Bowing to extortion: The governor of Hawaii has extended her stop order on the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope at Mauna Kea because of the protests of about 30 people.

I am sorry, but I remain very skeptical about the real motives of most of these protesters. In every previous example, the reasons for the protests always vanished as soon as the protesters got a deal and some cash for their trouble. I suspect this is what is going to happen this time as well.

They aren’t protecting their “sacred site” on Mauna Kea. They are using the sacredness of the site to extort cash and favors from the state and the telescope operation.

Governor orders one week shut down of Thirty Meter Telescope project

Bowing to the demands of about two dozen protesters, the governor of Hawaii has ordered a one week halt in the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea.

You can read statements from the governor, the protesters, and the telescope’s project manager here. Make sure especially you read the statement by the telescope manager, as it outlines in great detail the negotiations over the past seven years between the telescope and the local community. This project was not forced upon them. They discussed it and agreed to it. As the statement notes,

Following an appeal of the permit and further contested case proceedings, the TMT project has proceeded in full compliance with the law. The TMT site was selected with great care and respect. There are no archaeological shrines or burial sites within TMT’s project site. Comprehensive research by expert hydrologists confirm there is no threat to the aquifer.

This is the same story we’ve seen for the past half century with every telescope that has been built in territories where the local native population has some say in construction. Years of negotiation are ignored just as construction is about to begin by a small number of protesters demanding a halt. The protesters always claim a combination of religious and environmental concerns. In every case, these so-called passionate demands somehow vanish after they are promised some additional cash.

It would a terrible tragedy for Hawaii, and the human race, if this $1.4 billion telescope ends up getting canceled because of the complaints of a handful of people who to my mind are behaving like extortionists. It will also be unfortunate if the government bows to this extortion and rewards them for this behavior.

Ground-breaking ceremony for Thirty Meter Telescope cancelled because of protesters

A ground-breaking ceremony on Mauna Kea, which would have included a blessing from native Hawaiians, was cancelled Tuesday when protesters showed up trying to block the telescope’s construction.

There were also small numbers of protesters at other locations that are also connected to the telescope project.

With previous similar protests of other telescope projects, the protesters seem to always disappear when the projects agree to give them money. Makes me wonder if their religious fervor is much shallower than the news stories of this protest would lead us to believe.

The Giant Magellan Telescope project has decided it will not participate in a funding competition offered by the National Science Foundation.

The 24.5 meter Giant Magellan Telescope project (GMT) has decided it is not interested in competing for funds offered by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

With just US$1.25 million available to the winner, the NSF competition was less about money and more about prestige. The NSF has been adamant that it has no significant money to support either project until the early part of next decade. But the Thirty Meter Telescope, which will still respond to the NSF’s solicitation, believed that a competition would at least demonstrate the NSF’s intention to eventually support one project — and that the winner would have an easier time attracting international partners.

But the GMT says it can go it alone, at least for now. On 23 March, the group began blasting at its mountaintop site in Chile. And they say they are nearly halfway towards raising the $700 million they need to complete construction.

If the GMT has already raised almost $350 million without NSF support, it makes perfect sense for them to thumb their noses at this piddling funding from the NSF, especially since the bureaucratic cost of getting that money will probably be far more than $1.25 million.

The National Science Foundation has declined until 2020 to commit to funding a giant American-built ground-based telescope

Bad news for American astronomy: The National Science Foundation has declined until 2020 to commit to any funding for either one of the two giant American-built ground-based telescopes.

For nearly a decade now, two university consortia in the United States have been in a race to build two ground-based telescopes that would be several times bigger than today’s biggest optical telescope. One group—led by the University of California—plans to build the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) in Hawaii. The other team—led by Carnegie Observatories, the University of Arizona, and other institutions—is developing a 28-meter behemoth named the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT), which would be built in Chile. Over the past few years, both teams have raised tens of millions of dollars toward the billion-dollar-plus projects in the hope that the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) would come up with the balance.

But now, it turns out, neither project has a chance of receiving any significant funding from NSF for at least another decade. In a solicitation posted by NSF last week, the agency indicated that it does not expect to fund the building of any giant segmented mirror telescopes—that is, TMT or GMT—until the beginning of the 2020s. According to the solicitation, all that NSF can provide right now is $1.25 million over 5 years for the development of a public-private partnership plan that could eventually lead to the building of a large telescope, should NSF be in a position to fund such a telescope sometime in the next decade.

I suspect the NSF’s unwillingness to fund this project at this time is directly related to the budget crisis in Washington. Though the NSF got slightly more money in 2012 than in 2011, that money is all accounted for by other projects. There is no margin for anything new that will be as expensive (in the billions) as these giant telescopes will be.

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