Friday, March 12, 1999

Two new cruise ships
will help Hawaii

CONSTRUCTION of new hotels in Hawaii has been conspicuously absent in recent years. But now a deal has been signed for the construction of two floating hotels meant for the Hawaii trade. When completed, the two cruise ships should contribute significantly to Hawaii tourism.

American Classic Voyages Co., which operates cruises in Hawaii waters with the aging SS Independence, signed an $850 million contract with the Ingalls Shipbuilding unit of Litton Industries for the construction of two cruise ships, with an option to build a third.

They will be the first large cruise ships built in the United States in more than 40 years. The first ship should be in service early in 2003, carrying up to 1,900 passengers. The second should be in service in 2004. Each will be about 72,000 gross tons and 840 feet long.

The cruise industry is growing rapidly elsewhere, becoming an important competitor for Hawaii's visitor industry. The new ships will represent a major leap forward for cruising in Hawaii, providing more and better facilities for people who prefer this mode of vacationing.

The contract was made possible by legislation sponsored by Hawaii's Senator Inouye guaranteeing American Hawaii Cruises, a subsidiary of American Classic Voyages, a 20-year monopoly on cruising in Hawaii waters and allowing the company to use a foreign vessel in Hawaii while the new ships are being built.

Not only does the deal provide a way to continue and expand cruising in Hawaii; it also revitalizes the U.S. shipbuilding industry. As Inouye pointed out, the Defense Department views this as important for national security.

The old days of the Matson liners plying between Honolulu and California are gone but cruising has returned. American Hawaii Cruises pioneered in cruises among Hawaii's islands, but it was confronted with the need to modernize its fleet. This deal ensures that Hawaii will be able to compete in the cruise market in years to come.


The Jervis tragedy

THE fatal affair between Bishop Estate trustee Gerard Jervis and an attorney for an estate subsidiary is a tragedy that affects many beyond their immediate families. Jervis' lover, Rene Ojiri Kitaoka, was found dead in her car at her Kaneohe home, an apparent suicide. Jervis took an overdose of sleeping pills after Kitaoka's death but was reported recovering at Castle Medical Center.

In addition to their personal tragedies, the affair is another blow to Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate, which was already staggering under the weight of the state's efforts to remove the trustees and related litigation.

If Jervis recovers, as we hope he will, he should resign from the board and withdraw from his suit seeking the removal of fellow trustee Lokelani Lindsey. It would be impossible for him to continue to serve effectively on the board after these events.

In addition, the other trustees whose conduct has been extensively criticized would do the estate and the Kamehameha Schools a service if they also resigned. The employees of the estate, the school faculty, staff and students have all been subjected to heavy stresses during the course of this conflict.

All those who wish the Kamehameha Schools well should try to support the schools as they carry on their work in these extraordinary circumstances.


Internet fraud

MARKETING has accelerated at an astonishing speed on the Internet, and it should be no surprise that age-old fraudulent "get rich quick" schemes have found a new niche. The Federal Trade Commission and a number of state officials have initiated 33 law-enforcement actions against 67 defendants for allegedly promoting pyramid schemes on the Internet. As e-mail address lists expand, Internet users must continue to be wary of con artists.

Like previous pyramid schemes, bogus operations using e-mail or pages on the World Wide Web urge people to invest some of their money and, to get a good return, sign on others to do the same. "The first couple people may make money, but two or three levels down, the pyramid topples," says Holly Cherico of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in Arlington, Va. Such schemes do not offer products but focus on recruiting new members.

One of the operations cited by the FTC promised online consumers an opportunity to lease their "dream vehicle" for free while earning up to $80,000 -- for an annual fee, $100 in monthly payments and recruiting others to join. Those who signed up received no free lease on a car and no earnings.

The Internet offers a cheap medium for mass-targeting and allows defrauders to hide, shut down their site or move when threatened with exposure. "It's the same old scheme. It's just cheaper to do," says Jim Lanford, co-editor of ScamBusters, on online magazine about Internet fraud.

The Internet even includes "fraud watchdogs" that are themselves phony. ScamBusters has identified two operations that send bulk e-mails to virtually all companies, offering for a fee to report that the subscribing company is legitimate.

Among ScamBusters' suggestions for recognizing Internet fraud are making sure the company has a phone number and physical address, calling the company back, checking with the state attorney general's office or the National Fraud Information Center at or 1-800-876-7060 and, above all, always using common sense.

Like potential victims of all previous scams, Internet users should keep in mind the admonition that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Published by Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership

Rupert E. Phillips, CEO

John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

David Shapiro, Managing Editor

Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor

Frank Bridgewater & Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editors

A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor

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