Military is scapegoat for chaos in Iraq
I have now seen the clearest explanation for our troubles in Iraq on the Star-Bulletin's Oct. 22 Nation page. The three articles, two from the New York Times and one from AP, described a situation that defies resolution. It comes down to a sectarian war, Shiites vs. Sunnis.
Because the sects control their own militias, the police are powerless. Further, insurgent infiltration into the police force is a given. Our men are being offered up for sacrifice on sniper-filled streets. So why can't the administration or the military see this and try negotiation?
I see complete chaos whether we do an immediate or a phased withdrawal. The Iraqis need a scapegoat, and the U.S. military is an unwilling victim.
Bus, not rail, is reliable during emergencies
The recent earthquake was a test of emergency preparedness for Hawaii. The ugly truth revealed communications failures for the public and lack of generators. But one thing did work: TheBus kept running!
That is why Mayor Mufi Hannemann's rail transit should never be built. Construction of an elevated overhead electrical catenary railroad system would be a disaster. In the event of a disaster, the catenary power lines will go down, rendering the entire system, or large sections, idle until reconstruction.
Use the elevated corridors exclusively for the "train with rubber wheels," The E-bus (Bus Rapid Transit hybrid electric bus), emergency vehicles, police with pedestrian/bike access. Even if the elevated corridor collapsed, the E-bus would be able to return to street level travel during a state of emergency.
Everyone failed earthquake test
I am baffled that people in our community had such a hard time being without electricity for 14 hours after the Oct. 15 earthquake. I am aware of many critical needs for continuous power -- hospitals, airports, water sanitation systems, etc. -- and resources must be secured to ensure these types of facilities are not affected by extended outages.
But families and retail businesses who can't function without electricity for one weekend day need to take responsibility for their own needs and be prepared in the case of an emergency. It's ridiculous that folks are grumbling about being bored or hungry or having to toss food. We should all be extremely thankful that the earthquake did not cause loss of life or significant infrastructure damage on Oahu or throughout the islands.
What I am concerned about is our emergency preparedness and communication systems. Why did it take more than 30 minutes for anyone to be able to get any information about what had occurred? What if there had been a tsunami generated? How would that information have been communicated to the people near the shore (My daughter was boogie boarding in Waikiki)?
I did not hear a Hawaii Civil Defense announcement until after 10 a.m. -- fully three hours after the incident. Please spend my tax dollars on a formal investigation into this matter and be thankful that HECO was well prepared and responded in a very appropriate fashion.
New Medicare rules on wheelchairs are unfair
As the wife of a person who relies on a power wheelchair, I'm outraged by the Medicare policy changes scheduled to take effect Nov. 15, which will restrict access to power wheelchairs with anything more than basic features. These new policies also will cut Medicare reimbursement for some wheelchairs by up to 40 percent.
Medicare's new policy doesn't account for the fact that many disabling conditions, like my husband's, get progressively worse over time and require more specialized equipment.
It ignores the long-term health and safety consequences for vendors and buyers. And it sets back the movement toward greater independence for those with severe disabilities. As Jerry Lewis, the Muscular Dystrophy Association's national chairman, says, Medicare is "misleading Americans by claiming these new policies will provide appropriate power wheelchairs for all Medicare recipients." Please contact your members of Congress and ask that Medicare's policies regarding power mobility devices be postponed until these critical issues have been addressed.