Friday, March 30, 2001

Holiday bowl games
should be rescued

The issue: The Aloha and Oahu Bowl
football games may move to the mainland
because of low attendance and
lack of state funding.

HAWAII'S allure to tourists is at its zenith over the year-end holidays and is exploited at its greatest through outdoor sporting events televised across the country. If the Christmas football bowl games were to move from Aloha Stadium to a mainland field, the blow to Hawaii's tourism industry would be substantial. State tourism officials should therefore make sure that doubts about the continued scheduling of holiday bowl games here are not added to the uncertainties about Hawaii's economy.

Fritz Rohlfing, executive director of Aloha Inc., told the Star-Bulletin that both the Oahu Bowl and the Aloha Bowl, which have been played in tandem since 1998, could both be transferred to the mainland. Today is the deadline to submit certification papers to the NCAA for bowl locations, and Rohlfing planned to list Honolulu, San Francisco and Seattle as possible sites for the games.

While TV ratings for the Christmas doubleheader have been high, stadium attendance has been low for two seasons. The NCAA insists on certain standards for attendance, Rohlfing says. If each school is asked to buy 15,000 tickets at $50 apiece, Aloha Inc. must agree to sell at least 15,000 in Hawaii at the same price. The state's economy in recent years has made that difficult. The state injected $100,000 into the two games last year to make up for the shortfall, but Rohlfing said no similar infusion is being offered this year.

Why not? The Hawaii Tourism Authority has a $2 million special fund that seems intended for that very purpose. Robert J. Fishman, the authority's CEO, told a state Senate committee this week that the fund is used to initiate plans "to maintain the marketing momentum during this significant economic slowdown."

Given the importance of the tourism industry, that is reason enough against diverting the special fund to help meet teachers' wage demands, which was the gist of Fishman's testimony.

Unless Rohlfing is bluffing, which seems unlikely, the Tourism Authority should use its special fund to subsidize local ticket sales for the game or games. That would seem to satisfy the NCAA's attendance concerns and keep Hawaii's warm image showing on TV sets across the snow-covered mainland.

Congress should ban
human cloning efforts

The issue: Congress is considering
a law banning experiments
in human cloning.

SUCCESSFUL EXPERIMENTS in the cloning of sheep and mice have raised moral and ethical questions about the prospect of cloning humans. While irresponsible scientists charge ahead, research has shown that such fanciful notions are not only morally questionable but frighteningly risky. Congress should ban human cloning experiments and urge other nations to do the same.

Three years ago, following the cloning of a sheep named Dolly in Scotland, University of Hawaii scientists won international acclaim by cloning mice. They went ahead to make clones of clones for six generations. Last year, the UH research team led by Ryuzo Yanagimachi, professor of anatomy and reproductive biology, released findings that they said would improve cloning efficiency and explain "what Mother Nature is doing -- the natural process" in biological development.

But the researchers also have noticed problems in cloning mice. Some of the clones became enormously fat, even following the same diet as uncloned mice that are otherwise identical. The obesity occurs after the cloned mice have reached the age of the human equivalent of 30, Yanagimachi says.

Scottish scientists noticed the same phenomenon with Dolly, who had to be separated from other sheep and put on a diet.

Yanagimachi adds that cloned mice also tend to have developmental abnormalities, taking longer to begin blinking their eyes or twitching their ears. "Cloned embryos have serious developmental and genetic problems" that usually kill them before birth, Yanagimachi says. Just after birth, he says, more die, usually of lung problems.

Attempts at Texas A&M University to clone cattle have been successful in only one in 100 attempts. Yanagimachi says cloning mice is more efficient, but only 2 percent or 3 percent of his attempts succeed.

Still, some scientists plan to go ahead with human cloning experiments in any country that will allow it.

Cloning research is important in potentially reprogramming animals with human genes to mass-produce proteins that could be essential in treating illnesses such as diabetes and Parkinson's disease. Scientists also say clones might be used to custom-grow organs to be transplanted in humans.

Any human cloning experiments in the United States would require approval by the Food and Drug Administration, and the FDA is not about to issue its approval at this point because of obvious safety concerns.

Those risks are so great that even discussing the moral and ethical questions is foolishly premature.

Published by Oahu Publications Inc., a subsidiary of Black Press.

Don Kendall, President

John Flanagan, publisher and editor in chief 529-4748;
Frank Bridgewater, managing editor 529-4747;
Michael Rovner,
assistant managing editor 529-4751;
Lucy Young-Oda, assistant managing editor 529-4751;
Richard Halloran, editorial director 529-4790;
Ed Lynch, city editor 529-4758;
Nadine Kam, features editor 529-4759;
Stephanie Kendrick, business editor 529-4757;
Cindy Luis, sports editor 529-4782;
Dean Sensui, photo editor 529-4791;
Blaine Fergerstrom, webmaster 529-4840;

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