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Friday, May 11, 2001

Geneva still swings on summer evenings

ADB Conference Logo Richard Halloran must have been in Geneva in the winter because he speaks of the city rolling up the sidewalks at 8 p.m. (Scratchpad, May 8). That would be very inconsiderate in the summer, seeing that it doesn't even get dark until about 10 p.m., and a lot of people are enjoying beer, cheese and sausages at the many sidewalk cafes.

Peter L. Nelson
Keaau, Hawaii

Can HPD get refund on unused riot gear?

I think it was American writer Ambrose Bierce who observed that, "All big countries act like gangsters, and all little ones like prostitutes." Local business leaders and government officials sure acted the part of the small by bending over backward and forward to accommodate the Asian Development Bank.

I'm glad to have been one of the thousand people who chose not to bend in either direction and stand up to the presence and existence of the ADB. As promised, the demonstration was nonviolent. No demonstrators carried firearms, bricks, stones, or anything of the like.

The only specter of violence was presented by the hundreds of policemen openly carrying 9mm automatic sidearms, pepper spray, handcuffs and clubs. They were on foot, bicycle, squad car and helicopter. At intersections they stood shoulder to shoulder blocking access.

Is it too late to get a refund on all that newly purchased and completely unused riot gear and weaponry? Maybe trade it in for school books? Or does the local government plan to use the weaponry again in the vain hope of intimidating the populace and inhibiting free speech?

H. Doug Matsuoka


"Peace is truly a primal part of my soul."
Joshua Cooper,
ADBwatch organizer, describing the personal feelings that motivate his activism on behalf of human rights.

It "is a drop against a tidal wave."
Kelly Brownell,
Director of the Yale University Center for Eating and Weight Disorders, on the disproportionate amount of money spent to advertise healthy foods vs. fast foods and soft drinks. Brownell spoke at a conference on Childhood Obesity in Hawaii held this week at the East-West Center.

ADB meeting cost us more than money

This week the Asian Development Bank meeting brings to a head nearly a year of mostly quiet but expensive protest-prevention planning in both the private and public sectors.

I doubt there will ever be a complete public accounting of the all the related multi-agency costs. Although we now know that the Honolulu Police Department alone has incurred millions of dollars in expenses. There also has been a hidden cost -- the cost to our human spirit that goes beyond limiting public speech and access to our streets, sidewalks and parks. It is the cost of being told that nothing but the worst can be expected from us.

I'm not afraid of a bank meeting. I am afraid that our youth can't get jobs because they can't read. I'm afraid that families will go to sleep hungry tonight. And I'm afraid of the devastating effects the crack epidemic is having on this state. Where are the much-needed resources for these all-too-real issues?

If there is cause for civil unrest, it has nothing to do with the ADB; it has everything to do with the misdirected focus and allocation of resources from the people who make Hawaii their home to a one-time meeting in Waikiki.

Miki Lee

Where do I go to protest the protest?

As I write on this lovely Thursday afternoon, protesters have again started up their noise bombardment behind the Hawaii Convention Center.

A pathetic clutch of about 15 people have a siren, a bullhorn and some metal to bang on. They have succeeded in disturbing the peace of about 15,000 people who live nearby.

I have lived in police states, and know what freedom of speech really means, but like most other retirees living around here, I want to take my afternoon nap. We have seen protests for about 35 years -- and they just aren't fun any more.

The noisemakers took a break a while back, and immediately from the lanai of one of the surrounding condos, I heard the sound of two fragile old hands clapping a slow beat of thanks.

God Bless America. Ya gotta love it.

Beverly Kai

Local news gave both sides of ADB story

Sensational headlines of violent protests, missile attacks against civilians and dying e-commerce companies sell. Real stories on the human condition, progress in a area of civilized communication between heads of state and organizations that criticize just do not make the national and international headline news.

The fact that the president of the Asian Development Bank walked out of a conference to personally accept grievances from critical organizations only made the local news headlines. The Star-Bulletin and local television stations should be recognized as improving the public awareness of both sides of today's news. Mahalo.

Albert Nakao

Asian Development Bank

Kahle should take on more offensive signs

The United States is not a democracy, it is a republic. Mitchell Kahle, an advocate for the separation of church and state, who sees a cross as a violation of his First Amendment rights, should be speaking to the representative of the district in which that religious cross is located.

One also can conclude that the government should not be interfering with the freedom of religious expression. Any government action against a person's religious expression (i.e., a cross) should be considered a violation of one's constitutional rights, which allows separating church activities from government actions.

Kahle has every right to say whatever he wants to, so does St. Jude Catholic Church.

Instead of wasting his energies on something that represents peace and goodwill, he should be attacking those neon signs that grace Kapiolani Boulevard advertising the decadence of secular living. I'm sure he'll get a lot more support than attacking something that doesn't seem to be bothering anyone else.

Craig Watanabe

Critics use any excuse to remove a cross

Any pretext is used in order to remove a cross!

Now that a Christian church has placed this symbol of the Christian faith upon its own property, the cross is no longer a religious symbol, it is a sign! And the sign, as such, is apparently 20 feet high and is claimed to be 10 times the legal height of a sign and should be removed.

This raises some interesting questions. If a cross is considered a sign, how does a flagpole differ? Is it also illegal? And what about acknowledged signs that are over height? Must we remove all the street signs? And why don't they object to these things?

Finally, if a cross is deemed to be a sign rather than a religious symbol, then the crosses that were removed from Camp Smith and Pass were removed in error and the parties responsible for causing this should restore them.

Robert Henninger

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