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Tereza Coraggio

Third Paradigm is an out-of-the-box thinktank on community sovereignty and regenerative economics.

We look at how to take back our cities, farmland and water; our money, production and trade; our media, education and culture, our religion and even our God.

We present a people's history of the Bible and a parent's view on how to raise giving kids in a taking world.

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Past Shows


The SuperFerry Chronicles

April 5, 2009

3P-021 Show Information (includes MP3 download link)

Welcome to the twenty-first episode of Third Paradigm. This past week, Jerry Mander, the "patriarch of the antiglobalization movement" came to Capitola Book Café to present his book written with Koohan Paik, The Superferry Chronicles: Hawaii's Uprising Against Militarism, Commercialism and the Desecration of the Earth. How can a simple ferry, scuttling between the Hawaiian Islands, be so evil? Militarism, commercialism and the desecration of the earth? Come on. Well, picture the Battleship Galactica slicing through whale breeding grounds and sea turtle sanctuaries at 40 mph, its Darth Vader visage five stories high. In this episode, we'll look at why appearances may not be deceiving, except for the paintings of happy manta rays on the sides. Jerry's research uncovers a dead zone of fishy evidence that the catamaran is a prototype for a fleet of high-speed shallow-water vessels sized to transport military vehicles. When we return, we'll look at the web of collusion and deception trailing it, and how 1500 citizens and surfers from Kaua'i stopped the oncoming colossus.

But first, I'll read a poem by William Stafford:

A Message From Space

Everything that happens is the message:
you read an event and be one and wait,
like breasting a wave, all the while knowing
by living, though not knowing how to live.

Or workers built an antenna -- a dish
aimed at stars -- and they themselves are its message,
crawling in and out, being worlds that loom,
dot-dash, and sirens, and sustaining beams.

And sometimes no one is calling but we turn up
eye and ear -- suddenly we fall into
sound before it begins, the breathing
so still it waits there under the breath --

And then the green of leaves calls out, hills
where they wait or turn, clouds in their frenzied
stillness unfolding their careful words:
"Everything counts. The message is the world."

~ William Stafford ~
From The Way It Is

That was A Message from Space by William Stafford from The Way It Is. The Portland, Oregon-based 'little orchestra' was founded in 1994 by Thomas Lauderdale, a Harvard graduate and classically trained pianist, to play political fundraisers for progressive causes such as civil rights, the environment, affordable housing and public broadcasting. Lauderdale met China Forbes, Pink Martini's "diva next door" lead vocalist, when the pair was at Harvard. In the years following Pink Martini grew from four musicians to its current twelve, and has gone on to perform its multilingual repertoire on concert stages and with symphony orchestras throughout Europe, Asia, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Canada and the United States. The band's own label Heinz Records is named after Lauderdale's dog and because everyone in the band contributes in the writing and arranging of songs, the repertoire is wildly diverse.

"At one moment, you feel like you're in the middle of a samba parade in Rio de Janeiro, and in the next moment, you are suddenly in a French music hall of the 1930s or in a palazzo in Napoli, like an urban musical travelogue." Lauderdale says, "We're very much an American band, but we spend a lot of time abroad, in Europe, in Turkey, in Lebanon and therefore have the incredible opportunity to represent a different kind of America through our repertoire and our concerts – that is, an America which is the most heterogeneously populated country in the world – comprised of people from every country, every language, every religion. One of our goals is to make music which has broad appeal to people, no matter who they are or where they come from. We play the same set of music wherever we go, whether it's in a small farming community in Oregon or in France or Turkey or with a symphony orchestra. My hope is that we're creating music which can be turned up or down, and played on almost any occasion, from background music of a love affair to vacuuming around the house."

Both the poem and song are a fitting introduction to The Superferry Chronicles, from the time of waiting and trying to read the message, to those who were hanging on in the water, through the long moonlit night. Stafford writes:

Everything that happens is the message:
you read an event and be one and wait,
like breasting a wave, all the while knowing
by living, though not knowing how to live.

The SuperFerry wave started out small. When a young Silicon Valley entrepreneur put together a business plan in 2001, it seemed like it could be good for families, tourism, and trade. It was touted as a friendly, modern, green inter-island connecter service – only three hours between islands. But as the financing got tricky, a NY investment banker stepped in to save the day with government contracts. Soon the entrepreneur was out, and a board of former military commanders was in. John Lehman, whose firm does strictly military investing, became the lead financier and Board chairman. He was a security advisor to Nixon under Kissinger, and a member of the 9/11 Commission under Bush. He's an outspoken advocate for nuclear first-strike and "winnable nuclear wars."

And with the Project for a New American Century, he's pushed hard for a vast expansion of the Navy fleet to dominate the world's oceans and "protect our vital interests worldwide." He was predicted to be chief of staff in a McCain presidency. He invested $80 million in the SuperFerry, but only after the Maritime Administration gave a $140M loan guarantee at taxpayers' expense. However, there was one condition - that there would be no environmental review at any level. He also bought a big ship production yard in Alabama, adjacent to where the Superferry was being manufactured, perfect for dozens more of these monster catamarans in case of a Navy contract. But any doubt about the geopolitical ambitions of the Superferry were put to rest when the new CEO became Admiral Thomas Fargo, commander of the US Pacific Command, including the Navy, Air Force, and Marines, reporting directly to Rumsfeld and Bush.

Linda Lingle, Republican governor and close friend of the Bush family, then got the Hawaii state legislature to authorize its own $40 million loan to the Superferry, putting taxpayer money at risk for a project they'd never been consulted on. She ordered state agencies to get out of the SuperFerry's way and stop their demands for an Environmental Impact Study (EIS). Outraged citizens took the case to the Hawaii Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously for the EIS before the SuperFerry could rev its 6000-gallon per trip engines. But in what she brazenly called Act 2, Lingle bullied the legislature into overriding the Supreme Court ruling. This new law allowed the ferry to operate while the EIS was being done, and gave the EIS no power to stop the boat, no matter how disastrous their findings were. Throughout, she refused to consult with the small islands that the project was supposed to benefit. Instead, Lingle told protesters that they'd face $10,000 fines and jail time for violating "terrorism laws" if they went inside the zones set by the Department of Homeland Security.

On August 26th, 2007, the SuperFerry appeared on Kauai's horizon in its maiden voyage. 10% of Kauai's residents had signed a petition demanding an EIS, they had written letters, filed lawsuits, and testified in front of the legislature. When, in flagrant disregard of the law or public opinion, the Superferry entered the harbor, 1500 people spontaneously showed up at the dock, beating drums, chanting, and waving ti leaves to ward off evil – native Hawai'ians, Japanese, Filipino, Portuguese, Chinese, descendents of missionaries, lawyers, musicians, New Age haoles, doctors, professors, and mechanics. All distinctions of class and race were gone.

Then, in a sort of Tiananmen Square challenge, a few dozen surfers leaped from the jetty to paddle out. The photo of this is phenomenal – they look like mice about to be run over by an impervious, demonic Hummer of the Sea. Dozens more jumped in like arrows from a bow. For two hours, a Coast Guard wielding M16's tried to herd the surfers while a SWAT team tried to disperse the crowd on shore. Finally, through aggressive intimidation, the ferry docked, and a white-knuckled line of drivers inched out.

To underscore the drama of the situation, I'll now play an instrumental by Pink Martini called Song of the Black Swan.

[Pink Martini – Song of the Black Swan]

That was Pink Martini with Song of the Black Swan, from their Hang On Little Tomato CD. The music is by Heitor Villa-Lobos and features Pansy Chang on cello and Thomas Lauderdale on piano.

The second evening, the ship reappeared and the people in the water doubled. SWAT teams with German shepherds made some arrests, including four children, but they couldn't clear the people in the water. I'd like to refer to the morning-after diary entry of Michael Shooltz, a 61-yr-old semiretired banker who went into the water to block the Superferry, despite threats of being arrested. Someone loaned him a boogie board, and another person gave him a shirt to keep warm. He brought chunks of Snickers bars out to those who had already been in the water a couple of hours, who joked about it being a boogie-board delivery.

Under the rising full moon, he had quiet conversations with other protesters: with farmers about their lettuce and broccoli crops, and with teenagers, about their concerns for the whales and dolphins. As the hours wore on, one woman led them in Hawai'ian chants, which helped with the thirst and cold and occasional cramping. Every so often, the Superferry would kick on its engines and move towards them, while the Coast Guard and police boats incessantly harassed them.

He writes, "On occasion, we would ask if they had anything to eat that they would share. They didn't. They shared that they were 'just doing their jobs.' I'd heard those same words from some of the police back on the pier. For years, whenever I hear those words, I have always been reminded of the question I used to wrestle with as a youngster when I first learned about the Holocaust in Nazi Germany: 'How could a whole country of people allow something like the Holocaust to happen?' I just couldn't understand it. Now I see how much easier it is to 'just do my job' than to take a stand that might bring much inconvenience into one's life; and how easy it really is for a whole society to slide into numbness and denial while 'just doing my job.' What is happening at Nawiliwili Harbor here on Kaua'I is about much, much more than the Superferry. It is a microcosm of how the military/corporate establishment is circumventing existing laws, totally trampling the well-being and constitutional rights of people everywhere..."

He continues,

"As I witnessed the conversations between the crews on the Coast Guard and police boats and those in the water, it struck me now that those in the water were speaking Truth as best they know it. And those in the boats spoke words containing intentional lies, other attempts at deception, or efforts to provoke fear. It struck me that if a person was going to be a peacekeeper, a fundamental requirement might be a willingness to speak the truth."

He then talks about the symbolism of a 12-yr-old boy being met by police in riot gear, after they've tricked him into getting arrested.

After three long hours of quiet confrontation, the SuperFerry finally backed out of the harbor in retreat, amidst cheers, high-fives, and surfboards slapping the water. As the swimmers returned to shore, more people jumped in to make it difficult for the police to identify them. Welcoming hands pulled out people and surfboards, and gave them dry shirts and hats to disguise them from the SWAT team. Walking later across the park, a young Hawai'ian man approached Michael and told him, "You're wearing my cap." Back at home, he laid out under the Kauaian night sky, to "witness the shooting stars and the unimaginable vastness of this universe within universes, wondering what the magic of this night's lunar eclipse holds for us all."

He reflects, "The beauty and the courage of the 'Ohana together will stay in my heart. I wish I could do a search on this computer that would reveal the thoughts and feelings of each stalwart in the water as we watched the lights of the Superferry disappear over the horizon under the full moon...In those moments, life was good and all was well on Kaua'i. In seeming acknowledgment, a streaking meteorite flashed across the water of Kalapaki Bay..."

He concludes, "Today is another day, full of potentials and choices. Each is an opportunity to express our truth. May we have the wisdom to know what is right and the courage to do what is right, with peace in our hearts and love for one another." Blessings, Michael Shooltz.

I'm someone who believes that every failure is a temporary setback, but success is never lost. It lives in history, empowers our collective voice, and brings us closer to the goal. Some would say that this only uprising only bought a little time against the inevitable, but I think that peace and justice are inevitable. Kaua'i is a sign of good things to come. And so I have to play the ultimate song promising good things to come, which has been made into Hawaii's own - Somewhere over the rainbow - sung by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole . Somehow, this song became authentic when sung by a mountain of a man who became the heart and soul of his occupied island.

[Israel Kamakawiwo'ole – Somewhere Over The Rainbow]

That was the late Israel Kamakawiwo'ole singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I've particularly wished that I had my website up so I could have downloaded the youtube I found to this song before I lost it. It starts with a sign that says, "Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out," under a grinning skull wearing a Navy cap. It then goes into a montage of beautiful Middle Eastern children. They might be Iraqi, or Afghan, or Palestinian, or Pakistani, but they are smiling, eyes shining, playing, looking inquisitive, taking care of siblings, laughing.

This continues all the way through the ironically-named Israel's haunting version of the song, up to the last photo, where an explosion has gone off and a small child is in her mother's arms, crying. The day we wake up with the clouds far behind us can't come soon enough.

I'd like to dedicate my final song to my daughters. The next decade is going to be a difficult one for the US – full of identity crises, learning to take responsibility, coming to terms with our entitlement, and having to master the art of the good apology. I don't think we're going to get through it gracefully. It's likely to get pretty ugly before it gets better. At the same time, my daughters will be going through their own decade of transition – from teens to twenties. I wish that the world they'll be launched into was kinder, and not so competitive. I wish relationships were based on respect, and there was a global community of parents who saw every person as someone's child. I wish there wasn't so much work to be done. And frankly, I wish that I could keep them at home forever – a wish the economy seems to be cooperating with. But since this isn't likely, I want them to know that I have faith in them, no matter who breaks their hearts, or what trouble finds them, or how lost they feel. I know they can come out on the other side of any difficult time. As a mother's love song to her daughters, this is Everything But the Girl with We Walk the Same Line from the CD Amplified Heart.

This has been Tereza Coraggio with Third Paradigm. Thanks to Skidmark Bob for production and editing.

[Everything But The Girl – We Walk The Same Line]

Thank you for listening.