Akaka bill is a bad substitute for justice
Why is the Star-Bulletin pushing the Akaka bill ("Use Bush visit to make pleas for Akaka bill," Editorial, Oct. 12)? What's in it for you? The Akaka bill is a sorry, even insulting, substitute for real justice and "reconciliation" as called for in U.S. Public Law 103-150, the apology resolution signed by President Clinton in 1993.
Most Hawaiians have had absolutely no input into the many versions of the Akaka bill. Most have no idea what it will cost them in lost reparations, resources, lands and sovereignty. This bill will cause more problems than it solves as it does not address the many crimes committed and admitted to in the apology resolution.
Sovereignty advocates will continue to resist the illegal occupation of Hawaii, and who knows where that may lead to in the future? What the Akaka bill tries to avoid is at the very heart of the problem.
Just how did the United States get legal possession of Hawaii? How did it transform itself from illegal overthrow to statehood? Show the legal process and end the sovereignty question.
Republicans aren't at fault if bill fails
Don't blame President Bush. It's not his fault that the Akaka bill won't pass. Since last year our congressional delegation has taken turns blaming various Republicans for the Akaka bill not passing.
When Governor Lingle was elected, they immediately made it clear that if the Akaka bill did not pass it was surely her fault since she is the highest-ranking Republican in the state.
Then the blame went to Sen. Jon Kyl, a Republican from Arizona who they claim has an anonymous hold on the bill that not even the powerful Sen. Dan Inouye can get around.
Now the blame has come to where the buck stops. Rep. Ed Case says the bill would pass if Bush would just "remain neutral." It seems obvious to even the most casual observer that the congressional delegation and first-termer Case know the Akaka bill is fatally flawed and will never pass in the incoherent form it has become.
It's time to stop playing the blame game and realize that the Akaka bill hasn't got a chance at passing, not because of Republicans but because it's a bad bill.
Japan's reality gets 'Lost in Translation'
The new movie "Lost in Translation," about an American working in Japan, should be subtitled "Lost in Accuracy." Hospital staff members and other citizens of Japan are depicted as continually speaking Japanese to Americans who obviously do not know the language, which is misleading and untrue. I have made many trips to Japan, and I have never found it difficult to communicate with the Japanese.
Japan has a national mandate to become multilingual, and English has been taught for decades in all the schools. There are taxicabs with signs stating "English spoken," trains with recorded announcements of upcoming stops in English, many restaurants with the menus in English, and at all cultural sites and at nearly every staffed public facility you can find someone who can speak passable English, at least.
Many signs also are written with English lettering for easy translation and pronunciation. Many retail items also have English writing. Using a note written in English can clear up pronunciation problems.
The Japanese make much effort to be understood to visitors. The movie industry should get real.
Lottery for schools is good idea, if modified
Elia Tanga has a introduced a nice idea about a weekly lottery to help the schools (Letters, Star-Bulletin, Oct. 15); however, having the state tax the winner at 50 percent would leave little money for the winner. Elia neglected to state that if the winner were to win $400,000 he or she would then have to pay about 35 percent federal tax. And then, paying the state 50 percent income tax would leave the big winner with 15 percent of the $400,000. That is a nice win, but it sure isn't much to brag about.
I recommend that the Department of Education would get its 45 percent and the state would get its 15 percent to run the lottery, and the winner would not be taxed by the state, as the state already received its share of the winnings.
Hemp farm wouldn't have worked in Hawaii
The Hawaii experimental hemp farm has been shut down, according to Rep. Cynthia Thielen, "because investors declined to continue funding the project" ("End federal hysteria about growing hemp," Editorial, Oct. 3). They apparently know something Thielen doesn't: Hemp is not an economically viable crop.
Thielen asserted that now "Canada and France and other countries will be making the (hemp) money." What money? Valarie Vantreese, economist at the University of Kentucky, notes that "none of these (European Union) countries have a thriving hemp industry." Worldwide hemp acreage amounted to only a quarter-million acres in 2002.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture study said that U.S. imports of hemp fiber, yarn, fabric and seed in 1999, could have been produced on fewer than 5,000 acres. This amounts to only about 10 average-sized farms in the United States.
Public funding was never available for the hemp project because Hawaii's farmers opposed the 1999 hemp bill if it drained precious research dollars -- thus the project's need for "private funding." According to a Hawaii Farm Bureau spokesman, large, labor-intensive plantation farming -- as hemp farming is -- in Hawaii is a thing of the past. Hawaii's farms now grow high-value, specialty crops on an average acreage of 10 to 12 acres.
In short, hemp is not the magic solution for Hawaii farmers.
Chairwoman, Hemp Committee
Drug Watch International
Don't convict Kobe before he's been tried
I was quite amused to read Lance Grolla's letter of Oct. 11. The impression I got from it was that Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant is guilty. He even went on to compare Bryant with Nixon, who everyone knew was guilty as sin.
But here we have a man who is presumed innocent before proven guilty. Prior to his rape charge, Bryant, a stand-up family man, wasn't a party animal and wasn't known to pick up women -- unlike another, infamous Laker.
He's a "huge embarrassment?" I don't think so. He has gotten huge support from his family, friends and fans, including me. Yes, he did something very stupid by having sex with another woman while being married with a newborn child.
Should he quit? I believe many, including myself, would probably say no. He should show his strength by standing up to his critics and not cowering like some weakling.
Matsudo, Chiba, Japan
Lingle wastes money on redecorating
Regarding the Political File story "Lingle moves into Capitol's new-look governor's office," (Star-Bulletin, Oct. 13): She spent $25,409 of our tax money to refurbish the executive office. What a big shibai Linda Lingle and her Republican buddies are. Talk about waste of taxpayers' money. Auwe.
Bush shows courage by holding firm on Iraq
I hope we will stay the course in Iraq. If we succeed, it will be a defeat for terrorists because the success of a true Iraqi democracy with a market economy will show the world that this route is the way to go.
I thank President Bush and his administration for having the courage to try to do something about terrorism. Did people who think that the war in Iraq was a sham forget the effect of Sept. 11, 2001, on our economy? I haven't.
I also thank the president for stating clearly the reasons -- even the possible reasons -- why we did what we did. He didn't lie to us. Common sense tells us that lunatic dictators who support terrorism will be dangerous if left unchecked.
I won't go to see our president when he comes to Oahu next week. I will be happy to admire him from a distance. I thank him for trying to look out for the whole country and not just for a few.
U.S. will pay dearly for pursuing war
President Bush now tells us that there is a plan for Iraq, and that he is in charge. That is a tragedy for the many unnecessary deaths, for our nation now and for generations to come who will pay dearly and for the attack on world peace.
Nancy Bey Little
State must provide enough school books
When my little brother was in the third grade, I was shocked to see him bring home the same math book I had used when I was in the third grade. Now that he is in the fourth grade, he is once again using the same math book that I used 14 years ago when I attended August Ahrens Elementary School!
My sister, now a junior in high school, is not allowed to bring her Spanish book home because there are not enough for everyone. When I was in high school, there were enough books for every student.
Our students need books that they can take home. Notes alone are limited in examples, concepts, pictures and words. Even outdated books have limitations.
With a book to study, I was able to see examples and read materials that weren't discussed in class. My sister relies on her notes as a reference and supplement. If the teacher made an exam based only on notes, it would be an unchallenging exam, one that would not exercise the student's thinking. Truly, it is not the teacher's fault, but the students are losing opportunities to be challenged.
If the demand for books is greater than the supply, why is the state not providing more? Our students are facing a scarcity in efficient learning. And the state wants to know why we failed "No Child Left Behind"?
Flo Jayar Daguio
Say stands in the way of school reform
I am dismayed by the comments of House Speaker Calvin Say in the article "Forums to discuss school system" (Star-Bulletin, Oct. 10). Reacting to Governor Lingle's efforts to reform our failing school system, Say said the governor is acting "a little too quick." Instead of reforming now, Say said, "I would first try to get all the different studies and get all the stakeholders together, rather than having some outsiders come in and say, 'This is how to do it.'"
First, these "outsiders," such as Professor William Ouchi, are among the brightest minds in education reform. They have produced profound and measurable improvement in public education systems across the country. The improvements are so great that in some places public schools are putting private ones out of business.
Second, it is important to note that in the past 30 years there have been at least five studies done locally that recommend the Department of Education be decentralized. These studies were conducted by task forces, including then-Lt. Gov. Ben Cayetano and members of the Department of Education, Board of Education, the unions and the House and Senate. They included exhaustive public comment from every conceivable stakeholder. There is nothing left to study. So my questions to Say are these: In your 27 years in office, have you actually read any of these reports? If so, why haven't you acted on any of them?
Third, the only stakeholders who benefit from Say's continuing inaction are those whose jobs depend on the preservation of the status quo at the expense of those who have the most at stake -- our children.
Gary Paul Jr.
Teen drivers need longer training period
Teen drivers should be required to obtain a "pre-operation" license before being allowed to drive alone. This would mean that after a person under age 19 has passed a road test, he or she would get a pre-operational license before being issued an operational license at 19.
This would require the driver to undergo an observation stage, during which a judge would assess any moving violations. If a moving violation occurred during the pre- operational period, a judge could revoke the license or authorize the driver to continue driving.
With the excitement and hype of young people becoming independent drivers, we need to think about the safety of the driver and others. A new law might decrease driving fatalities among young people.
The "One Strike and You're Out" proposal may seem harsh. However, with lives on the line we cannot afford to let irresponsible drivers behind the wheel of a vehicle. This would ensure a fair opportunity for teens to drive responsibly while adhering to the law.
Hawaii voters can hear Kucinich in person
Concerning a story in the Oct. 16 edition: While it may be true that only 1 percent of Howard Dean's supporters have given the maximum contribution, I suspect that some of them have moved over to the other candidates. There was a flurry of excitement early last summer when Dean began his campaign. I admit to having been one of those early donors.
I have since "seen the light" and become an active supporter of Dennis Kucinich's campaign. The $1.65 million raised by Kucinich's campaign is far more significant than it appears. Contributions have been increasing steadily, and his volunteer-run, low-overhead, grassroots organization is gathering steam.
The near total local media blackout on Kucinich makes it easy for those who have never heard of him to dismiss him. Check out his Web site at Kucinichforpresident.org. The big news for us on Oahu is that Kucinich will be speaking at 6 p.m. tonight at Church of the Crossroads. He will be the first 2004 Democratic presidential candidate to appear in person in Hawaii. It's an opportunity not to be missed.
Beautifying roadways is too painful
There was a beautification project on Hunakai Street about three years ago. Hunakai was then a generously wide, two-lane road. Today, the lanes are about half their original size. There was once little or no traffic on the road, but now it is a busy and traffic-filled street. This is partly due to a 12-foot-wide island in the middle of the road.
This beautification project is complete, but a similar one is planned for Hawaii Kai. Our taxes pay for these projects, and yet they just cause us more problems.
I understand the need for Hawaii to beautify the island, but what is the point of looking beautiful when it is so painful? The trees and flowers may improve the public scene, but the traffic congestion gets worse. Commuters have to wake up earlier just to get to work on time. I say let's put an end to this.
Highway haiku for a wet day
H1, H2, rain
Streetlights glare from highway sheen
I can't see my lane
Kamehameha Schools' admissions policy is justified
The Board of Trustees and the acting CEO of Kamehameha Schools have defended the schools' policy of offering admissions preference to applicants of Hawaiian ancestry as an issue of social justice. They have explained how their mission to improve the capability and well-being of Hawaiians through education lifts society as a whole, and have declared that the work must continue until Hawaiian well-being is fully restored.
Education is a crucial component of a healthy society. It is a great equalizer. It improves and empowers the lives of individuals. That educated individual becomes a better person, a better parent and provider, a contributing member rather than a burden and a drag on society.
That is why all of us must support every public and private school, including Kamehameha Schools. The individual benefits, but so does the entire community.
Kamehameha Schools must also teach the values and cultures that build self-worth in being Hawaiian. It must develop a sense of pride in their ancestors, who were warm, caring and sharing people. This ohana and the aloha spirit represent Hawaiian values.
Hawaii is so often referred to as a "melting pot." I prefer to think of Hawaii as a "mixing pot" where individuals retain their individual identities and cultures but touch and share them with others. Like a tasty stew, all the ingredients remain identifiable, but each contributes to its rich flavor. This exposure of one's culture to others makes our society more understanding and tolerant. That is the magic that unites this very diverse community.
Accordingly each group must strive to retain its culture and Kamehameha Schools must be involved in this effort.
I look forward to the fruits of Kamehameha Schools' efforts when it educates and develops good Hawaiian role models so that succeeding generations need not be reminded of failures but be inspired by successes.
We need to be reminded that no public funds, no tax dollars are used for Kamehameha Schools. Rather, it is funded by private assets set aside many years ago by a caring and astute Princess Pauahi, concerned about the future of her people.
Hawaiians are now reclaiming some of the pride that has been so painfully diminished. But they are not yet there. Perhaps when they get there we can think of helping others.
Former Hawaii governor