Refuge for NWHI a good first step
Governor Lingle and state Board of Land and Natural Resources Chairman Peter Young are to be commended for the bold and visionary step they took in creating a state refuge in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (Star-Bulletin. Sept. 30
). Their admirable initiative ensures that a unique and fragile ecosystem is more completely protected. That important first step should lead the way for stronger federal protections, such as those being proposed by Congressman Ed Case.
Since at least the late 1800s the NWHI have seen a whole series of commercial harvest efforts debilitate an ecosystem that has time and again proved to be incapable of sustaining a high level of harvest and human intrusion. From the over-collection of sea-bird feathers and albatross eggs, to the decimation of pearl oysters, to the overfishing of NWHI lagoons after World War II, to the collapse of the lobster fishery in more recent times, the NWHI have had an unfortunate history of human abuse for commercial gain.
As both an international treasure and a cultural, historical and natural resource asset of Hawaii, it is high time that our government agencies institute more stringent protections for the NWHI.
If fetus has no rights, Aiwohi is not guilty
James Roller (Letters, Oct. 23
) makes some good points concerning Tayshea Aiwohi, the drug-addicted woman whose baby died due to her drug use during pregnancy. However, he doesn't address the legal arguments involved. It is one thing to hold people accountable for negligence. It is another to convict them under a manslaughter statute that does not fit the actions involved.
In Hawaii, as throughout the United States, a pregnant woman has the legal right to terminate her pregnancy through an abortion. If women can legally terminate pregnancy, how can they be prosecuted for negligently harming a fetus through drinking, smoking, eating the wrong foods or any one of a hundred things that could be harmful to the unborn? Either a fetus has legal rights that the mother must respect or it hasn't. For Hawaii's manslaughter statute to be applicable to Aiwohi's actions, only those actions she engaged in during the two days after the birth of her child can be considered.
It is inappropriate for the prosecutor and courts to mangle the meaning of criminal statutes to fit political agendas. If the state Supreme Court does not act to overturn Aiwohi's conviction, this is exactly what will have happened.
Chairwoman, the Libertarian Party of Hawaii
State raking it in on uncollected bottles
Regarding "$15M in bottle deposits has gone uncollected" (Star-Bulletin, Oct. 20
): Let's not forget that the state also collects a general excise tax on top of the 6 cents it charges for every beverage container. That works out to a windfall of between $1.6 million and $1.8 million, depending on whether one does the math on the 652,413,317 containers sold or the $44 million in reported collections. Was the tax on deposits an oversight or was it part of the plan all along?
Scouts builds stronger future for isle girls
On behalf of the Girl Scout Council of Hawaii, a big mahalo to Star-Bulletin reporter Susan Essoyan for speaking at our Volunteer Leadership Summit last weekend. Essoyan graciously joined us to share the information gathered in her research for the Star-Bulletin's in-depth series on "Women of Hawaii
." Her article "Females lead in school, lose clout in workforce" is a sober reminder that while women continue to achieve great things, we still have a long way to go. More than ever, our work with Hawaii's girls to help them build character, confidence and courage is needed.
As Hawaii's only organization dedicated solely to girls, the Girl Scouts program continues to reach out to girls ages 4-17 of all backgrounds to prepare them with the life skills needed to develop to their full potential.
A study of 1,000 successful women across the country found that more than half cited their Girl Scout involvement as a contributing factor to their success. That's partly because Girl Scouts provides girls with the opportunity to see women in strong leadership roles at all levels -- as troop leaders, event coordinators, workshop leaders, guest speakers. We hope that many more women -- and men -- will join the ranks of our many volunteers. It is critical for Hawaii's girls to grow up surrounded by adults who remind them they, too, can be great human beings.
Gail Mukaihata Hannemann
Chief executive officer
Girl Scout Council of Hawaii
Let Shiites and Sunnis fight it out in Iraq
When the war in Iraq first started, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that thousands of Americans would not die in Iraq. He lied, they died.
The so-called insurgents (Iraqi Sunnis) make up most of the so-called terrorists cells. Proof? The Sunni clerics told everyone to vote in the recent election. There were very few attacks that day. Why? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that it wasn't a lack of Arab insurgents, but the Iraqi Sunnis themselves.
Let the Shiites fight a civil war with the Sunnis and have our military stand down. It will happen soon anyway.
Another point: U.S. military recruits only train for about four to six months before going into combat. How stupid do President Bush and our military leaders think we are when they say the Iraqis are not ready to fight on their own after more than two years?
Ronald L. Edmiston
Act now or endure Medicare cuts later
If you live to age 65, you will have Medicare coverage. Unless we act now, effective January 2006, Medicare law will automatically impose a 4.4 percent reduction in physician reimbursements. This same law will again impose a similar reduction in January 2007. The total programmed cut over the next six years is 26 percent! Physicians and other providers in southern New Mexico already are refusing new Medicare patients because of low reimbursements.
The U.S. Senate has pending legislation, S1574, the Affordable Access to Medicare Providers Act of 2005, which would do two things:
» it would stop the drastic Medicare physician payment cuts over the next two years by replacing the scheduled 4.4 percent reductions in reimbursements with a minimum increase of at least 2.7 percent in 2006 and 2.6 percent (est.) in 2007, and
» it would prevent certain of the increases representing the proposed 2.7 percent minimum increases from being included in Medicare Part B premiums, currently $88/month, which have had annual increases of at least 10 percent for several years.
Please urge Senators Inouye and Akaka to support this legislation by co-signing the bill, and urge your congressman to introduce a companion bill in the House of Representatives.
Fois gras wrong dish for charity event
I was disappointed to learn that foie gras was served at the Four Seasons Resort in Wailea for the Terry Fox Dinner Gala fund-raiser last night. Foie gras (translated from French as "fatty liver") is not likely a "food" the athletic and humanitarian Terry Fox would have approved of for the menu. It is produced by force-feeding ducks or geese large amounts of food so that their livers swell to up to 10 times normal size. A pipe is shoved down the bird's esophagus and food is forced into the stomach. The birds suffer tremendously, both during and after the force-feeding process, as their physical condition rapidly deteriorates. In just a few weeks these animals can scarcely stand, walk or even breathe.
Throughout the Hawaiian islands, indeed around the world, conscientious restaurants and other businesses are taking a stand against the cruelty of foie gras production, and hundreds have pledged not to serve it. Foie gras production has been illegal in other countries for years, and legislation to ban it is now pending in New York, Massachusetts, Oregon and Illinois. California passed a bill last year.
Males are victims of domestic abuse, too
Regarding "Men's role emphasized in curbing domestic abuse" (Star-Bulletin, Oct. 24
): Women also should take the initiative because most domestic abuse against children is committed by women, and while most spousal abuse is committed by men, wives are also capable of spousal abuse (usually using ambush and weapons), but it's hard to determine to what extent because no survey include male victims; thus male victims have no recognition and sometimes are denied assistance. New York male victims of domestic violence had to sue to get assistance, and only recently a Texas court ruled that domestic abuse centers must take male victims.
Boys are taught from when they are very young not to hit girls, yet the opposite is taught to girls through television, where women and girls frequently hit men for laughs in family sitcoms and children's cartoons, so when a woman assaults a man or boy, most males don't know what to do except to "weather it out" and not tell anyone. In our society, males are too humiliated to admit being victims of any kind, especially if it's at the hands of a female. Education about domestic violence should encompass all victims and special outreach should be given to men and boys.