Let's not celebrate with arson, vandalism
My heart sank when I was taking my morning walk up Wilhelmina Rise last Wednesday, 10 days after the start of the new year. Hundreds of pieces of paper and plastic from exploded fireworks were on the edge of many storm drains, waiting for the next rainfall to spill them into the gutter and carry them to the ocean.
It seems we are at cross-purposes here. On the first day of the year -- in an age when we are trying to reduce our ecological footprint and minimize greenhouse gases -- we create more smoke, smog and pollute our lands and oceans more than any other day of the year. This is the reality of New Year's Eve fireworks, coupled with the fire chief's acknowledgement of the high risk of fire.
I am sure the hospitals also see their disproportionate share of injuries due to burns and explosions. After midnight, I witnessed a neighborhood kid running up the road, lighting firecrackers and hitting them into garages with a tennis racquet. He could have ignited an automobile, burned a house down, killed a grandmother. Arson is a federal offense; death by arson brings a murder charge.
Licensed professionals should be the only people allowed near these explosive devices.
Wie lacks professional maturity to play men
Michelle Wie's dismal performance at the Sony Open is just further proof that she is not ready to play with the men. It is not her talent that is in question but rather her emotional and professional maturity. Yes, she is only 17, but even at that age she has shown a lack of respect for her peers on the LPGA as well as the men she often plays against.
Wie's future is bright and she has much to look forward to, but she needs to gain maturity and experience before playing with the men again.
Blast with the classics rather than sirens
These sirens are intolerable. This is not intended to be critical of the professional work of the Honolulu Police Department, the Honolulu Fire Department or the Emergency Medical Services; but rather a plea from those who live along the main routes these vehicles travel who endure the sirens.
My recommendation would be to change the wailing sirens of HFD and HPD to the "William Tell Overture" and the EMS vehicles to sound off with Wagner's "Die Valkyrie."
William J. King
Don't take away Kailua parking lot
The other day, on my way to keep a doctor's appointment, I found the parking lot full, which isn't unusual. This lot is where most Kailua residents park when they have appointments with their doctors, dentists, attorneys and others in one of the two tall professional buildings or in several other buildings and a small shopping center located around the periphery of this parking lot.
The question I'm posing to our mayor and the City Council is this: Where are Windward residents supposed to park when this lot is replaced with a homeless shelter? Naturally, we can hardly argue against offering shelter to those who are homeless. We are proud, in fact, that we live in a community willing to extend its help to those who need. At the same time, we hope you can explain to us why this shelter should be located smack in the center of Kailua, and where we may park while this shelter is under construction and after it has been completed.
Lawmakers should get property taxes down
My property tax will be increasing to more than $9,000 for 2007, from less than $2,000 in 2003. I do not disagree that my North Shore property value has skyrocketed. Obviously, I have no control over the external factors that have led to rising values; i.e., wealthy mainland purchasers of vacation homes and investors purchasing homes to use as nonzoned vacation rentals.
I congratulate the Legislature on the laws passed last year to protect the lower-income elderly from a forced sale.
I ask the legislators: Do they believe it is fair that some individuals have had more than a four-fold increase in property tax? What level of priority do they assign to property tax relief for the middle class?
This more than four-fold tax increase is an example of an injustice incurred by following the letter of the law. The recourse in such situations is to change the law. We need legislation that will shift the tax burden to the wealthy vacation owners. We need legislation to limit the amount of increase. If such legislation is not passed, our more desirable neighborhoods will turn into ghost communities of empty, expensive vacation homes, with locals forced to live elsewhere, similar to what has occurred on Maui and the North Shore of Kauai.
Increases in costs are killing paradise
Never thought I'd see the day when the island of Oahu would turn into the "Looney Tunes" town of the United States of America. But it's here.
And from the looks of it, it's going to get worse and might never get better. Let me count the ways:
The general excise tax for rail comes on line this month; property taxes are up 18 percent; gas tax increases 11 cents; electric rates are up 6 percent; Matson is going to hike shipping rates on food and goods; the city talks a big "rail game," but shuns repairing the road craters we drive on; homelessness, affordable housing; high rents; all of this obscures this place we call paradise and home.
Remember the mayor's mantra? "Do we need it?" According to the numbers, no. "Can we afford it?" Absolutely not. "Can we maintain it?" Are you kidding?
Democrats should offer clear Iraq plan
Democrats began bashing our commander in chief's plan to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq, even prior to the president's official announcement.
It's fine to disagree on policy, but if one is going complain, it is his or her responsibility to offer constructive criticism or alternative ideas. With this said, there's one question that keeps reoccurring in my mind.
Aside from cut and run or sending more troops without adequate funds, what exactly is the Democratic plan for victory in Iraq? I'm still waiting ...
Justin L. Tanoue
Bush should follow majority rule
Our elected leaders should follow what the majority of the population in the United States wants. A majority of the people oppose escalation of troops in Iraq. But that doesn't faze President Bush! He wants to send 21,500 additional troops. Is this what we call democracy, which he keeps saying that he wants to spread around the world?
Most people are for stem cell research, and he vetoes the bill passed by Congress. Again, is this the kind of democracy that he keeps promoting?
According to his democracy, the majority of the people do not count. Only what he thinks matters. No wonder al-Qaida is fighting us. Maybe they have a good reason, and we are being duped by all this propaganda.
Francis K. Ibara
Reports exaggerate 'threat' from Iran
The Star-Bulletin reports, "As the Iraq security operation matures, the focus for Central Command is expected to shift toward countering the threat from Iran" ("Adm. Fallon to lead U.S. war in Iraq," Jan. 5
The war in Iraq, now euphemistically dubbed the "Iraq security operation," has matured into an unmitigated disaster.
Now, the very same people who lied us into it are at it again, this time with Iran. And, once again, the mainstream media unquestioningly parrots their talk of the "threat," placing the idea that such a "threat" exists firmly in the minds of the American people so that when war is unleashed upon Iran we will passively accept it.
The fact is, the CIA has found no evidence whatsoever of an Iranian nuclear weapons program. Seymour Hersh reported in the New Yorker that the CIA findings have made "planning for an attack on Iran ... far more complicated."
However, as we have seen with the Bush administration, inconvenient facts are simply dismissed when they conflict with President Bush's policies.
The American people were fooled once regarding Iraq and have come to regret it. With the Star-Bulletin and the rest of the mainstream media daily engaging in fear-mongering about the "threat" from Iran, we are about to witness another disastrous war unleashed upon a country that poses no threat to us, resulting in far-reaching negative consequences for us all.
Terrance C. Horton
Will Iraq invasion bring economic gain?
So many of us who remember Vietnam and who have seen service, unlike our president and vice president, want the invasion of Iraq stopped now by immediate withdrawal with the beginning of widespread Middle East negotiation. Vietnam is now a cherished trading partner. Was this because we invaded them?
There's no need to call Watada a coward
Will everybody please stop calling 1st Lt. Ehren Watada a coward? If you don't agree with his views or actions, try to be civil in expressing your feelings. Besides, Watada volunteered to serve in Afghanistan -- not exactly a trip to Disneyland. A coward would hardly do that.
Watada is within his constitutional rights to oppose an illegal war, and he has bravely done so. If you are right-wing and of a strong military mind, you might disagree with what Watada has done, but don't call him a coward. It sounds juvenile.
More wishes for 2007
On New Year's Day and again last Sunday, we published letters from isle residents --young, old and in between -- telling us of their desires and predictions for the new year. Today, we offer another sampling of the many letters we received.
Wishes for a new year
In 2007, I want a few things to change. One thing I want is to end the Iraq war! The USA is sending troops to Iraq for no good reason. President Bush says the reason we got into this war is because we thought there were explosives, but there weren't any after all.
Another thing I want to change is adding snack bars or vending machines in school. All these kids are starving right after school and the only food we get is at snack time -- but we're still hungry! So just keep that in mind.
Nuuanu Elementary School
Shelter and food for all
My wish for 2007 is for all unfortunate families to have a house to sleep in and enough money to last them until they can get a job. I want this wish to come true because I've been thinking about families that are poor or their house may have burned down. But the real reason I want this to happen is that I want every family to have a great Christmas every year, just like mine.
Nuuanu Elementary School
A peaceful world
With new conflicts rising in the world, 2006 was almost dreadful. With heightened tensions and war in Israel, the missile conflict in North Korea and new methods of terrorism in the Middle East, 2006 reminded me of the Period of Warring States in China.
I hope for resolutions or at least temporary amelioration of the current situation in 2007. I hope belligerent nations try to pursue peace and look towards the common good for the world, instead of desiring to wreak havoc or seek revenge. Also, I hope that the United States can redeem its status as a neutral nation instead of being a "world police" or even a "war mongrel."
Although asking for world peace may be unrealistic, I can only wish that 2007 would be a more pleasant year, a year when we will not have to tremble in fear for another terrorist attack or even an armed conflict. With these thoughts, I certainly hope that 2007 would be a harmonious and peaceful year for all of us.
Si Won Oak
Return safely, troops
My 2007 hopes are that my family and friends all enjoy some much-needed good health. I also want to pray for all of our troops and the safe return of my U.S. Marine Corps nephew, stationed at Kaneohe Bay, who will be deployed to Iraq in March. God bless us all.
Shooting of a different sort
The 2006 Quote of the Year should be:
"What are friends for?"
-- Vice President Dick Cheney
And one would hope that, in 2007, governments and citizens agree our world is a much better place to live when we shoot our "friends" with cameras instead of guns!