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POSTED: Saturday, May 09, 2009

Looking forward to riding the rail

Mayor Mufi Hannemann has signed a bill into law that prohibits drivers from using hand-held phones, laptops and other portable electronic devices while driving a car. This is a good thing for all of us, and it will make our streets a lot safer.

But in a few years we will all be able to talk on cell phones, use our laptop computers to get our e-mail, play video games or whatever while traveling in style on a new, modern rail system.

Rather than being stuck in my car in traffic, I'll be getting on the train and reading a newspaper or taking a nap if I want and enjoying the ride for a change.

 

Lisa Matsumoto

Honolulu

               

     

 

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Islam Day resolution wasted legislators' time

I just read that the Hawaii Legislature quietly passed a resolution proclaiming Sept. 24, 2009, as Islam Day. It was passed the same day the civil unions bill was still being argued at the Legislature. I suppose they were trying to hide it behind this more controversial issue.

What is it with these Democrats? We have many more pressing problems that need their attention now.

This is irresponsible and an insult to the memory of the victims of 9/11. The final vote was 22-3. Both Republicans and one Democrat voted nay. At least three saw the idiocy in this measure.

Jim Fromm

Waipahu

 

Diversity in the courts will lead to justice

I recently watched three white males on MSNBC discuss what President Obama could possibly have meant when he said he would seek a Supreme Court nominee who had empathy. "Does empathy trump law?" they asked.

I flashed back to 1985 when I moved to Hawaii. An all-male Supreme Court had just decided that a girl had not been sexually molested by her stepfather because she was wearing a nightgown when he fondled her breasts.

Fast forward to a recent hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court of a young woman who had been strip-searched by her high school principal because she had been accused of hiding drugs. The lone female justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has expressed dismay that her colleagues didn't seem to understand the issue beyond the panties and bra presentation of the male authorities.

For too long, justice has been filtered through the perspective of middle-class white males. Creating a justice system that reflects and is sensitive to the reality of the broad spectrum of the population is what President Obama seeks. There will be no justice until that is achieved.

Laura Crites

Honolulu

 

Biotech seed industry spurs economic growth

I was concerned by the comment from Earthjustice lawyer Paul Achitoff that our local seed crops "don't feed anybody in Hawaii" ("Dow AgroSciences to lease Kauai sugar lands," Star-Bulletin, April 29). It paints a distorted picture of Hawaii agriculture.

As someone who has an appreciation and a first-hand knowledge and understanding of agriculture in this state, I whole-heartedly agree that increasing locally grown crops is absolutely needed for Hawaii. But there is no reason that Hawaii cannot or should not have a diversified ag industry encompassing everything from produce and meats to dairy, flowers and agricultural research including seed research.

Plant varieties being developed by Hawaii's seed industry are a high-value export that supports our economy, and they do come back to us, in the form of cooking oils, corn starch, packaged foods, animal feed and other useful products such as biodegradable corn plastics.

We need to work together in forging through the realistic challenges and opportunities facing Hawaii's economy, specifically the agricultural industry.

Alan T. Takemoto

Community affairs manager, Monsanto Co.-Hawaii

 

'Ellis Island' honoree is Hawaii's third

It was great pleasure to read that HEI Chairman Jeffrey Watanabe was selected to be a recipient of the prestigious national award "Ellis Island Medal of Honor" for 2009 (Star-Bulletin, May 5).

Mr. Watanabe takes his place alongside such notables as Sen. Daniel Inouye and Muhammed Ali, but Mr. Watanabe is actually the third such person from Hawaii to receive the award.

Dr. George Kanahele, who was the first person from Hawaii to receive the award in 1987, was honored for his accomplishments in writing, thinking and the many programs he developed for the benefit of Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike.

Gene Ward

Hawaii Kai