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Sunday, January 12, 2003



Protesters aren't doing God's work

As a Christian, I would like to publicly denounce the Christian group from Kansas who is in Hawaii protesting homosexuality (Star-Bulletin, Jan. 10). They do not represent all Christians. They should know that we are not to cast judgment on others if they are morally wrong. That is God's duty, not humans. Our duty is to love everyone like our Lord loved prostitutes, tax collectors and others of low status in society.

I have many gay friends, and they are nice people. They don't bother me just because they are gay, and I do not try dictate their lifestyle. If they want, I'll counsel them, but I will not pass judgment on them.

Clifford Ishii
Waimea, Kauai

Hatred is the devil's message, not God's

As the Rev. Fred Phelps and his disciples of hate bring their venom to our Hawaii, we should remember that God is love. Those who live with kindness, compassion, love and forgiveness abide with God.

Christ told us that there would be many false prophets, and that we would recognize them by their works. Those who spread anger and hatred serve the devil in his favorite disguise, that of an angry, righteous man.

Gary F. Anderson
Waimanalo

Bush's economic plan helps all Americans

When it comes to the economy, President Bush is demonstrating genuine leadership. His economic growth package will take us in the right direction by accelerating the successful tax cuts of 2001, providing marriage penalty relief, and incentives for individuals and small businesses to save and invest.

The president's plan helps everyone who pays taxes -- especially the middle class. This year alone, 92 million taxpayers will receive an immediate tax cut averaging $1,083 -- and 46 million married couples will get back an average of $1,714.

That's not pocket change for a family struggling through uncertain economic times. Combined with the president's new initiatives to help the unemployed, this plan gets people back to work and helps every sector of our economy.

Dirk M. Maurins
Hawaii Kai

Life can be hazardous to your health

The Star-Bulletin's Jan. 8 edition had a story about the Minnesota man who jumped 80 feet down Hilo's Rainbow Falls and broke several bones in his spine. He complained that there were no signs warning people not to jump. I bet the lawyers are lined up to handle his case.

Does this mean that the family of the elderly Japanese man who fell and broke his neck up in the watershed area can sue as there are no signs saying don't fall and break your neck?

What about that woman in Newark, N.J., who starved three children, one to death? I'll bet she gets a lawyer to sue the state because there was no sign telling her that she had to put food in front of the children.

Arnold van Fossen

Death penalty leaves no room for error

Sen. Willie Espero has called for reinstatement of the death penalty in Hawaii. Such an idea is a grave mistake. Perhaps Hawaii readers missed the story, but five young men in New York were recently exonerated of a barbarous act for which they had been convicted: the 1989 "gang" rape and near-fatal beating of the "Central Park Jogger" in New York City.

These young men, rounded up after a night of nearby "wilding," were convicted of the crime under a cloud of anger and fear, although DNA testing did not implicate them and their confessions were obtained under a cloud.

The woman had indeed nearly died. What if she had? These men most likely would have faced death if the penalty was available. Assume they had been executed. Now, 13 years after the crime, the real rapist has come forward, confessed and had his DNA matched to the crime scene. Would Espero be willing to face those five families and apologize?

Mistakes happen, and execution is forever. Don't go there.

Khalil J. Spencer
Los Alamos, N.M.
Former Hawaii resident

New technology protects the innocent

I was pleasantly surprised to read "Some crimes deserve the death penalty," written by my senator, Willie C. Espero (Star Bulletin, Jan. 9). I agree with his arguments concerning the use of the death penalty and all the fail-safes that he feels are needed. With the technology available to the police department and prosecutors today, I believe that justice can be meted out properly.

Great strides have been made in evidence gathering. Look at the numbers of prisoners who are being released because new technology has now proven them innocent. Then look at the numbers who have been found guilty of murder and given a slap on the wrist by the judicial system and let loose in society again.

Robert A. Edwards

Violence, not drugs, fills up the prisons

In a recent column, Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Constitution claimed the "overzealous war on drugs ... has fostered one of the world's highest rates of incarceration while having no discernable effect on the flow of illegal drugs." As Tucker knows, or should know, this is simply not true.

Since the 1980s we have been waging a very successful struggle against drug abuse in the United States. Between 1979 and 2000 the number of drug users in America declined by 45 percent. Cocaine use in America declined by 75 percent. Adolescent drug use in 2000 was almost half the level of 1979 (2.3 million youth vs. 4.1 million). (Source: Office of National Drug Control Policy, see their Web site, www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov.

The war on drugs is not responsible for America's growing prison population. In the latest detailed survey of state-prison inmates, more than 91 percent of American prisoners were either violent criminals or repeat offenders. Only about 11 percent of state prisoners were drug traffickers and less than 9 percent were behind bars for drug possession. Violent criminals accounted for 51 percent of the growth in state prisoners in the 1990s while drug offenders made up only a fifth of population growth, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs)

Tucker's opinions on drug use in America might carry more weight if she would accompany them with facts.

Ray Gagner
Kailua

Interceptor missiles work very well

University of Hawaii professor Michael Jones has written another lengthy column condemning the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) program (Star- Bulletin, Jan. 5). To quote the greatest supporter of the ABM program, Ronald Reagan, "There you go again!"

Jones has listed many "facts and statistics" that purport to show the program doesn't work, can't work, has not been properly tested and is a waste of money.

However, his own statistics show that the system does work, with many successful tests already completed. Sure, some failures have occurred. That is why they are called "tests."

I am an engineer, and in the early '60s, working on Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands, I saw many successful intercepts of Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) by ABMs. The "interceptor" missiles were guided to their target by computers that used vacuum tubes, and were so cumbersome that they had to be housed in air-conditioned gymnasium-sized buildings. They had much less capability and were far slower than the laptop computer used to type this letter. It's now possible to "hit a bullet with a bullet" -- a description often been used by the politically motivated opposition.

It would be a simpler task if the politicians would allow the use of an explosive warhead. The "hit-to-kill" political restriction makes an intercept more difficult.

Most opponents of the ABM are politically motivated, and have used the "It won't work" argument for many years. Now that it does work, they have been forced to change their tactics. Now they say that even though it works, it's too expensive to "waste money" by deploying it. Are flak jackets too expensive? I don't think so!

Bud Weisbrod
Photo-Optics Supervisor
Kwajalein, Marshall Islands 1961-1964

City BRT system will be a disaster

Honolulu should learn a lesson from Boston's new transit system, "The Big Dig," which could cost Massachusetts $16 billion. The original estimate was $1 billion.

Now comes the Oahu Big Dig -- Bus Rapid Transit. The estimated cost is $2 billion with a completion time of more than 10 years.

The city already has appropriated more than $31 million to the BRT project. This is more than questionable when the chances of this thing working are slim to zero.

There hasn't been a negative outcry because we have not been properly told by city planners what's going to happen to our major streets. Underground trenches will be dug along Ala Moana, Kuhio, Dillingham and many other streets for electrical and/or other power sources. This will be devastating to business owners along both sides of these streets and to on-street parking. The 744 BRT buses would run every two minutes along the 26-mile round trip "in-town" route. Please visualize a convoy of empty buses rolling along Kalakaua and Kuhio.

Oahu has the best bus system and bus drivers in the world. TheBus works extremely well and is vigorously supported by our good tourists. Tourists kokua for a BRT would be next to nele. Building another white elephant is not an answer when a no-cost Emergency Action Team and an expanded school bus program would solve much of the traffic problems.

Max H. Watson

Airline ticket changes jeopardize family trips between the islands

When I read the new Hawaiian and Aloha airlines ticketing program, I felt like I'd just been kicked in the gut. At risk are our monthly visits with our 6-year-old granddaughter. Each visit uses six tickets. An adult makes a round trip to fetch her and a round trip to return her, plus her ticket.

We fight for the few decent Hilo slots. We must factor in school schedules. Maximizing every hour of long weekends is key.

What the new program has done is penalize us multiple times. First, with electronic ticketing, we no longer have the flexibility of having the most available adult go (Tutu, Poppa or Auntie).

Second, to avoid really high-ticket costs ($90) we have to lock in the passenger, time and date 7-10 days in advance.

Third, we fear monthly visits may be become a thing of the past, and this hurts the family as keiki and kupunas will see each other less.

When you want to raise the price on a commodity, you first make it scarce. The oil companies are masters at this. A few months of long lines at the gas pump and the public will swallow any price increase. Aloha and Hawaiian have cut their flights because they say they are losing money on interisland flights. Cutting flights and spreading administrative overhead over fewer passenger miles doesn't make business sense.

Ah, but it does create a shortage and since we've heard the litany of losing money for many months, the public is now ripe for the coup de grace: no coupons, only electronic ticketing, advance booking and charge for changes.

This new ticketing brings tears to my eyes because it means we must make a choice between grandchild and purse. We averaged between 70 to 100 tickets annually in the past five years for visits. That is between $4,000 to $6,000 per year. The price for late bookings or changes drives the ticket up to $90. That adds $3,000 per year, which we can ill afford. It could be a year of private school for the keiki.

We ask the airlines to find a ticketing program that takes into account the ohana's need to maintain family ties across the islands. There isn't an alternative.

Jean and Ron Morrison






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