Saturday, October 30, 2004


State must do its best
to support bottle bill


The measure's 6-cent deposit fee will kick in on Monday.

THE state administration's slow pace in carrying out Hawaii's beverage container law undermines a good program that will reduce litter, encourage recycling and lessen the need for landfills. Even though Governor Lingle did not support the so-called bottle bill approved by lawmakers in 2002, her administration is required to implement the law fully and to the best of its ability.

This includes the timely hiring of the needed employees to manage the program, advising retailers and bottling companies about what they must do, setting up redemption centers and educating the public about deposits and how to get refunds.

In September, the Sierra Club, one of law's chief proponents, complained that the state was dragging its feet in getting the program started, but officials promised they would be ready to go come November. However, with deposit charges set to begin on Monday, not all containers will have the labeling required and because the state's information program won't begin until tomorrow, consumers likely will be confused.

As with anything new, people and businesses will need time to make adjustments. Knowing this, the state should have launched its publicity program sooner.

Beverage bottlers, who also strongly opposed the law, have had adequate time to comply. The only reason they might not have changed their labeling is that they held out the hope that the law would be repealed, which they lobbied heavily for during the last legislative session. To complain that the transition period is too short to properly label their products is ludicrous. They have until Jan. 1 to do so and have known for two years that the change was coming.

More problematic is the delay for opening redemption centers, also set for Jan. 1. Consumers will be paying the 6-cent deposit fee for two months before being able to get their money back. The delay was adopted primarily at the behest of the bottling industry and because the state wanted to make sure it had enough time to collect adequate fees from retailers and beverage distributors to cover refunds.

The new law will help to clean up the huge amount of litter that mars the state's parks and roads, a problem that many tourists note about Hawaii. It will send to recyclers about 80 percent of the 800 million drink containers used in the state every year, bottles that previously ended up in already-stuffed landfills. Rather than obstruct its implementation, the administration, retailers, the beverage industry and consumers need to embrace the measure that will truly benefit Hawaii.


Bush should explain
explosives blunder


A TV crew's videotape shows that explosives missing from an Iraq complex were present at the site nine days after Saddam Hussein's fall.

FAILURE by U.S. forces to secure a stockpile of powerful explosives in Iraq after the fall of Baghdad appears to have provided weaponry to insurgents. President Bush has held forth the possibility that the explosives were removed prior to the U.S. invasion, but a videotape made by an American television crew shows otherwise. A better explanation is needed from the president.

American troops should have been aware that the Al-Qaqaa facility south of Baghdad held 377 tons of the explosives. United Nations inspectors discovered and sealed them in 1991, last checked them in January 2003 and provided the information to the Bush administration. A videotape made by a crew from the ABC affiliate in Minneapolis shows that the explosives still were there on April 18, 2003, nine days after Baghdad fell.

The TV crew observed U.S. troops open some boxes and examine barrels, then head north to Baghdad, apparently leaving the site unguarded. A senior Iraq official reported to the U.N. earlier this month that the explosives were lost through "the theft and looting of the governmental installations due to lack of security."

Before the videotape was made public, Bush suggested a "possible" scenario that the explosives "may have been moved before our troops even arrived at the site." The video eliminates that possibility. David Kay, the former U.S. weapons inspector, likened the certainty of the ammunition being take after the fall of Baghdad to "game, set and match."

Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita has tried to downplay the significance of the blunder, noting that the 377 tons amounts to only "one-thousandth" of the 400,000 tons of explosives that U.S. troops have seized since invading Iraq. The suggestion that the disappearance might be considered a minor slip-up is ludicrous. Less than a half-pound of the kind of explosives missing from Al-Qaqaa was used to bomb Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, killing 270 people.

Bush has accused Kerry of making "wild charges," saying that a candidate who "jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief." However, the evidence is now conclusive and supports Kerry's charge that the Bush administration failed to secure Iraq and prepare for the war's aftermath.




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