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Friday, December 22, 2000

Don’t allow
gambling on
Hawaii cruise ship

Bullet The issue: Senator Inouye has introduced legislation to bar casino gambling on a ship that is to make interisland cruises here.
Bullet Our view: This practice, if permitted, could lead to other exceptions to Hawaii's ban on gambling.

LEGALIZING gambling is a perennial issue in the Hawaii Legislature, and appears certain to re-emerge in the next session. But it's unusual for Congress to take action that bears directly on the issue here. That's the case with a measure sponsored by Senator Inouye aimed at preventing casino gambling on a cruise ship slated for Hawaii interisland cruises. It would plug a loophole in Hawaii's ban on gambling.

The issue concerns Norwegian Cruise Line, which plans to begin cruises from Honolulu by the 1,960-passenger ship SuperStar Leo in December 2001. The ship has a casino on board.

The company's plan is to circumvent the U.S. law prohibiting foreign vessels operating between American ports by including a stop at Fanning Island, in the nation of Kiribati, about 600 miles south of Hawaii, in its itinerary.

To deal with the issue, Inouye sponsored a measure as a rider to the Labor Department appropriations bill now before President Clinton that would bar ships with casinos from beginning and ending voyages in Hawaii.

If this measure becomes law, it may force Norwegian Cruise Line to abandon its Hawaii plans, although it says it will go ahead.

That would leave American Hawaii Cruises, which has had the interisland cruise market to itself, free of its prospective competitor.

American Hawaii Cruises introduced a second ship, the 1,212-passenger Patriot, to Hawaii this month. It is building two cruise ships for the Hawaii trade at a shipyard in Mississippi under a law sponsored by Inouye that gives the company a virtual 25-year monopoly on interisland cruises.

Inouye's Hawaii chief of staff, Jennifer Goto Sabas, said the senator's bill isn't related to his support for American Hawaii Cruises. She pointed out that Inouye has always opposed gambling in Hawaii and the ban would also apply to its ships. The difference is that American Hawaii Cruises' ships don't have casinos.

Norwegian Cruise Line reportedly planned to close the casino on the SuperStar Leo while the ship was in Hawaiian waters. Nevertheless, the cruises, by beginning and ending in Honolulu, would indirectly introduce legalized gambling to the state.

Governor Cayetano criticized the legislation, saying Hawaii can deal with the gambling issue without federal intervention. But this measure simply reinforces the state's anti-gambling policy.

Gambling would bring with it a host of problems -- bankruptcies, damage to families, stimulus to criminal activities -- in exchange for questionable financial benefit.

Competition in interisland cruises -- even by way of Kiribati -- is desirable, but not if it means casino gambling.

Powell predicts
Saddam’s ouster

Bullet The issue: Colin Powell has predicted that Saddam Hussein will soon be ousted as dictator of Iraq.

Bullet Our view: Powell's statement suggests a tougher policy on Iraq by the Bush administration.

WHEN the White House changes hands, the watchword in foreign policy is usually continuity between outgoing and incoming administrations. But it was immediately evident after President-elect Bush announced his nomination of Gen. Colin Powell as secretary of state that a new and tougher approach to Iraq's outlaw regime was likely.

After accepting his nomination, Powell declared, "Saddam Hussein is sitting on a failed regime that is not going to be around in a few years' time." Considering that Saddam has outlasted five American presidents, that prediction is worth noting.

Handling Saddam was not one of President Clinton's proudest achievements. As one analyst put it, the Clinton administration has gone out of its way to avoid talking about Iraq.

Two years ago Iraq expelled the United Nations weapons inspectors. That was a major blow to the international community's efforts to keep Saddam in check.

U.S. and British pilots continue to police the "no fly" zones in Iraq, but enthusiasm for the effort to contain Saddam has waned. There has been mounting pressure to ease U.N. sanctions on the Iraqi regime.

Powell, of course, views the situation from the perspective of the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who directed Operation Desert Storm, which expelled Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

He declared that Iraq had failed to fulfill its obligations under the 1991 truce, "and my judgment is that sanctions in some form must be kept in place until they do so." He said the Bush administration would "work with our allies to re-energize the sanctions regime."

Dick Cheney was secretary of defense at the time of the Kuwait crisis and is now vice president-elect. Like Powell, he has a personal motive to see a successful conclusion to the effort to end Saddam Hussein's long reign.

However, it is impossible to turn back the clock and reproduce the remarkable international alliance that was formed after Saddam's invasion of Kuwait.

The Bush administration may find it difficult to overcome the apathy that has set in after years of frustration with the failure to bring down Saddam. France and Russia are particularly eager to resume business as usual. Powell's tough talk indicates that policy changes are in order, but nobody should assume success is assured.

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John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

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Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor

Frank Bridgewater & Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editors

A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor

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