Sunday, September 23, 2001
Bad news for OHA is good news for HawaiiA Sept. 13 Star Bulletin headline read: Ceded-lands law deemed invalid. "This is really bad stuff," says OHA trustee Colette Machado.
Yes "bad stuff" for OHA, but good stuff for the citizens of Hawaii, especially Hawaiians. This issue is emotional for some Hawaiians, but please examine the facts.
OHA was originally formed by taxpayers to help poor Hawaiians. It has evolved into a self-centered, self-serving political muscle. It has done virtually nothing with its $300 million to help Hawaiians with their most critical issues: Providing seniors with supplemental health-care insurance; helping the elderly find affordable housing; providing substance abuse treatment for inmates in prisons; helping schools to interdict and assist youths at risk; assisting school children into higher education or trade education; providing professional help for families in trouble.
OHA sloughs off the needy to state and federal programs, which are sadly underfunded. If these agencies had OHA's hoarded funds to work with, more poor citizens, public schools and Hawaiians could be helped.
Humans are guinea pigs for modified foodThe article "It's in the genes" (Star-Bulletin, Aug. 15) discussed a few of the risks of genetically modified (GM) food. One potential risk not discussed concerns the modified gene in the GM food becoming part of the food consumer's DNA. The FDA approved GM foods because they felt that modifying only one gene in a plant would not significantly change it.
The FDA stated arbitrarily that no further research was needed to test the safety of GM food; however molecular biologists don't even know how food is assimilated. The question we all should ask is why didn't the FDA insist that biotech companies do long-term animal and human studies to ensure the safety of GM food? Certainly the safety of our food supply is one of the most important concerns we all should have. Could this be another example of the need for campaign-finance reform?
It's true that few problems have come to light with GM food to date, but most people are consuming only a small percentage of this food daily. With the increase of production of GM food and corresponding increase in consumption, could unexpected problems develop in our physiologies? No one knows; the research hasn't been done. We are the guinea pigs.
Degree doesn't make a good teacherPeople are missing the point and so is the Star-Bulletin in its editorial (Sept. 6) that made light of the Hawaii State Teachers Association's warning that the teacher shortage is caused by low salaries, poor working conditions and lack of a contract.
The point is how much do we value our children's education? Just enough to let anyone off the street teach in our schools?
Hundreds of people inundated the Department of Education's personnel office with job applications, but if they haven't been trained to teach, they are not qualified and should not be in a classroom with our precious children.
Hawaii also has shortages of police officers, firefighters and nurses, but none of those jobs is filled by people without appropriate training and certification. If you or your child needs surgery, would you want the surgeon to be a certified professional or someone hired off the street with just a bachelor's degree?
Sometimes HPD must close roadsLately there the Honolulu Police Department has been criticized for shutting down roads for hours and hours after an accident. This is not done deliberately to inconvenience the public. There are times it has to be done so that all evidence connected with the accident can be documented. Some evidence is very short-lived and will not be there the next day.
A few readers have said that places on the mainland have had similar situations where the road was re-opened within an hour and a half. That's still an hour and a half someone was stuck sitting in their car.
They also forget certain circumstances: 1) Most mainland law enforcement agencies won't respond to a motor vehicle collision unless someone is seriously injured. 2) A lot of the specialized accident investigation teams won't respond unless someone is dead. 3) Mainland freeways have many lanes and at times lots of real estate on either side that allow vehicles to drive around the accident scenes.
The HPD is very service-oriented and handles many more types of cases than their counterparts on the mainland. There are mainland agencies that will not handle "bounced check," auto accidents, restraining orders and employee theft cases to name a few.
Most of the traffic congestion "whiners" probably have never had someone close to them get seriously injured or die in an auto accident.
It's time to resurrect rapid transitLots of accidents, traffic snarls and tie ups have made the news lately. On the radio, the traffic watch reports blare out daily hot spots and back ups. We definitely need to be smarter. We need a better solution to our traffic mess, and I don't mean more traffic lights and bigger highways as some might suggest.
Plans for the city's bus rapid transit look better and better to me each day I have to sit in traffic and waste my valuable time.
Scott D. Sunaoka
Japanese textbooks ignore WWII atrocitiesOn the recent 50th anniversary of the peace treaty that ended the war between the United States and Japan, conflicts of interest are still alive and seem to be growing into hefty problem. The United States, Korea and China are all after Japan to acknowledge its wrongdoing in the war. Groups in these countries want money for forced labor.
While I agree that these people should be compensated for their pain, suffering and labor, I think the real issue should be the education of the Japanese youth concerning Japan's involvement in WWII.
I have just returned home to Hawaii after living in Japan as a college student for a year and a half. While I was there I had ample opportunity to interview fellow college students about the atrocities of WWII. The sad truth is that none of the students I interviewed had much of a clue about the atrocities caused by their countrymen.
While it is worthwhile to publish articles about people fighting for compensation, it would be more worthwhile to support the Korean and Chinese governments who are putting pressure on Japan to change its school history textbooks.
"It's a defining moment in the life of all those who voted -- OHA cuts its own throat."
Office of Hawaiian Affairs member and former chairman who is in the center of a power struggle in the organization. The dispute centers around the board leadership's decision to halt talks in a settlement with the state in a lawsuit over ceded lands. OHA lost out on $250 million when a judge ruled against the Hawaiian organization.
"The outpouring of support we've had, it restores your faith in human kindness."
Hawaii Baptist Academy graduate and wife of Dave Laychak, a civilian Pentagon worker who was killed the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, on the kind thoughts and gestures from friends in Hawaii and neighbors in Manasses, Va.
Fear not and be kind to one anotherFear not to smile. Don't be afraid to go outside and say "hi" to your neighbors. Don't be afraid to go to work by car, by bus, by train, or even by an airplane.
Don't be afraid to go to a game in a stadium. Don't be afraid to go to the mall and be with your friends. None of us should be afraid to live our lives to the fullest.
The World Trade Center could have been destroyed in any moment of any time. Anything created can be destroyed. We assume we're safe, and we are until a disaster happens. After it happens, you're back at square one; you're once again safe. You're still alive, you still have the chance to live life by its great moments.
But you have to wash off the fear and get back in gear. Time still flows, and life still goes.
Remember, we all go at our own pace. We should all get past the hardships, and be patient with one another.
Cycle of killing does not honor victimsOn Sept. 11, civilians used airliners as weapons and caused unprecedented loss of life. Financial and military icons were attacked as Americans and the world watched in horror.
Now, international leaders support our retaliation against those responsible, as this was not only an attack on America, but on all nations. They suggest that military solutions, especially surgical strikes, are justifiable and honorable, that the victims would be better memorialized upon the deaths of the perpetrators.
Yes, the calls for justice are reasonable. But should we engage in a cycle of killing to honor those who died? We do not set fires or commit murder to honor the loss of firefighters, police officers and other innocent victims. There is little honor in a rush toward violence and its "collateral damage."
We are peace-loving nations seeking justice for the victims and heroes who died. An honorable memorial would be peace and an end to the senseless killings.
Charles E. Chong
Send part of refund back to governmentOn Sept. 14, the inmates at Folsom State Prison in California not only stood in silence but also contributed more than $1,000 to be sent to New York for disaster relief.
If they could do that, then every American who received a refund check should give at least $50 back to our government to help fund this vast, costly and very long war we must fight in the years ahead.
Complaints about tourists now hauntingTo all those who complain about "all these tourists:" Be careful what you wish for.
Falwell, Robertson arise from Dark AgesWhat an embarrassment Jerry Falwell is to the human race. At a time when the entire nation and most of the world is reeling from the inhuman attacks on America, when our nation is working so diligently to bind together as a cohesive whole, this so-called religious leader has announced that these dastardly acts are, at least partially, the fault of gay and lesbian Americans, as well as those who support the rights of women and the civil rights of all citizens.
Worse, Pat Robertson, once a presidential candidate, concurred on his show "The 700 Club," of which he is the host. These comments were not only wholly inappropriate but destructive to the national spirit of unity and are clearly intended to divide our nation into divergent factions.
At other times in history, so-called religious leaders have tried to blame the tragedies of their generations, such as wars and various plagues, on unpopular minorities like gays, lesbians and Jews. I had hoped we had progressed beyond that point, but apparently there are a few medieval thinkers who refuse to abandon the reasoning of the Dark Ages.
These men, and their hateful rhetoric, deserve to be denounced by every citizen of this great country, as the White House has already done.
Legislators should cut state expendituresIn the wake of the World Trade Center attack, our beaches are deserted and our hotels and airplanes are half empty. Our tax revenues must be plummeting. Our Legislature increased state spending a whopping 12 percent this year, anticipating boom times. So why isn't the legislative leadership calling a special session to cut state spending? Legislators need to get their okoles into the Capitol and undo the damage they wrought.
DEALING WITH TERROR AT HOME
It's time for war, not for peaceAs I listen to the give-peace-a-chance and books-not-bombs crowd, I am reminded of the battered wife who thinks her husband will stop attacking her if she treats him a little nicer. Then I ask myself, how successful would Gandhi have been if his protests were directed against the Third Reich instead of the British empire? The bad guys have to be apprehended and restrained before they cause more harm.
Violence requires a spiritual answerAfter the attack on our people, we along with the rest of the world are in a daze. We are asking ourselves, "Why?" Why are we so cruel to each other?
We are the children of loving parents who held us close to their bosom, loved and protected us. So are the others whom we hurt and who hurt us.
Why? I have been asking this question ever since I became aware of the oppression and cruelty we commit upon one another. It becomes still harder to comprehend as I have begun reading scriptures and talking to learned and spiritual souls of different religions -- Sikhs, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and their subsects -- in a group called Open Table that meets every month. As we sit together, I hear the echo again and again that we are one family. I look forward to observing our fine differences. To me they are a cause for celebration in my heart, just as the beautiful colors of a rainbow.
The country is confused and numb. Some are so angry that they are looking for the enemy everywhere. Some hot heads want a horrendous response to the unknown enemy. Some already seem to know the enemy, while the majority still wonder who is it who wants to hurt us so badly.
While the administrative machinery looks for the mechanics of crime and people responsible for the crimes against unsuspecting families and friends, we need to take a step back and look at world events in a spiritual fashion. We need to comfort each other and not lose faith. We should never forget that violence and counter-violence is an unending cycle and causes more grief and sadness.
Birendra Singh Huja, M.D.
Where was God on Sept. 11?Where was God when those trapped inside the World Trade Center towers were forced to the windows and made to choose between burning alive or jumping to certain death? Was God listening when the doomed implored him for rescue? Did he help them decide between burning and jumping? Did he aid by making unconscious the jumpers before they hit the ground? Did he feel their pain? Is he the same deity to whom the mass-murdering terrorists dedicated their martyrdom?
For me, our culture's notion of "God" was in the eyes and hearts of those now-missing firefighters as they trudged up stairwells of two towering infernos while residents flowed down those same escape routes. Certainly those firefighters knew how potentially lethal their efforts were, yet still they climbed toward their deaths. They went as a team, trained to serve with one purpose in mind, to help others.
That's as close to God as I can imagine.
Police, not soldiers should fight terrorismThe men who blew up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were psychopaths. Their lunatic brothers are still out there and active.
I am clear that we need to stop fanatical terrorists and destroy their organizations. But I doubt that starting a war, bombing Arab countries, inevitably killing innocent civilians, is the way to do it. There is an old saying: "You become like the worst in those you oppose." Guns and bombs only make us like them. We become the world's biggest terrorist and drive thousands of new volunteers into Islamic terrorist organizations for revenge and retaliation.
Terrorists have no nation, no fixed base. They can be anywhere. Tracking them down, capturing, trying to jail them is a job for police, not soldiers. We need to mount a global law-enforcement effort, share legally convincing evidence of who is responsible, then lead a world-wide manhunt to bring these mass murderers to trial and punishment as criminals under international law.
This does not take a war. It is much harder, requiring a level of leadership, organization and funding we have not yet shown.
This is not a time to turn our brains over to television or to a rattled and vindictive leadership. I am a combat veteran from World War II and I am clear that we cannot secure a peaceful world through violence. Let's take these guys out in a way we can be proud of -- with intelligence, restrained force and the power of international law.
Is this war going to be conducted in secrecy?Recent talk by President Bush and members of his cabinet alluding to the need for high-level secrecy frighten us. If it's a war that is fought in secrecy, how will we know if we're winning or losing?
What is the current status in the war on poverty? It appears that we have more homeless in our parks and alleys.
How is the war on drugs going? At a community meeting that I attended this past week at least 70 members of the community were practically begging for a Weed and Seed program because drug labs and drug dealers are increasing in our neighborhoods.
The president states that this will be a long war. Unless he can explain in clear and convincing terms what the objective is, when it will end and how we will return to peace, we're not so sure that we want to commit our child -- who will be 18 in five years -- to fight an undefined cause in unknown countries with a faceless enemy. Please tell us what we are sending our children into.
William and Melua Aila
Airline safety changes necessaryThe havoc for which the United States blames Osama bin Laden and his network of terrorists will likely lead our economy into a recession. As the United States prepares for war, taxpayers can say goodbye to their federal refunds and retailers can say goodbye to their Christmas earnings.
Hawaii's already slow-moving economy will just get worst as the airlines lose billions in revenues and many Hawaii hotels see their occupancies drop.
Airline companies need to make dramatic changes to improve their security and convince tourists that they can travel with a sense of security.
Arsenio R. Pelayo
We are no longer detached from terrorThe horror that America witnessed on our shores shattered our cloistered insularity forever. We have witnessed, always through the detachment of our media, the inhumane acts committed upon humanity and intellectualized them as we sat safely within our borders. But on Sept. 11, Americans were attacked in our own country. Our way of life, our principles, the value we place upon a single human life, has been challenged.
A human evil in the world, the perpetrators of terrorism and death of innocents, operate like cancerous cells, and we must have the strength and commitment to eradicate them. There are no assurances that it can be done and the consequences may have a high cost in further human life, yet it is our very way of life that is being threatened. There is no choice.
Our innocence has been lost forever. No longer are we able to intellectualize the tragedies of cultural conflict we have observed from afar.
Now it is America that must seek out and destroy the resolve of those who hold such contempt for life and would destroy us and the free world.
God Bless America.
Today, I saw my young son runningAs grief spilled into every home in America today, I smiled. As tears fell, I laughed. As horror unfolded on televisions everywhere, I watched happiness and bliss. For today, I chaperoned my son's first-grade class on a field trip.
We saw a play, went to a bakery and played games in the park after lunch. There at the park, we played Duck-Duck-Goose and Simon Says. Then I sat and watched as they played tag, kids running around laughing and chasing, completely oblivious to the tragedy being played out elsewhere.
I smiled as they raced back and forth trying to catch each other. I laughed as four children tried to hide behind a single light pole. My son hid behind me and was proud that he was not caught. When he wasn't hiding, he was running. It was a picture in time I was privileged to capture in my heart, a picture I will never forget.
There was great tragedy on Sept. 11, pain so great that words cannot explain. But not in that park today.
Public servants were valuable in crisisGovernment workers -- federal in particular -- never get credit for doing anything right.
In this past week the impact of the events of Sept. 11 have cast a pall over American life. Yet during this time all of the representatives of our local, state and national governments have reacted with extreme care and concern for the citizens of this country. I'd like to particularly commend Tweet Coleman, the Federal Aviation Administration Pacific representative and spokesperson.
Coleman was everywhere that counted after the tragedy, her presence calmly reassuring us on TV, radio and in the newspapers. Knowledgeable and forthcoming, active and effective, she worked tirelessly to help us understand what was going on. I can personally attest to her good work because when I, a native New Yorker, sought her help in locating loved ones in transit to the islands, she not only provided crucial information I could get nowhere else, she even called me back more than once to make sure everyone was all right.
Tweet Coleman lived up to everything that is inherent in the term "civil servant." All Americans owe a great debt to her and every other governmental employee in this country, from the rescue workers in the streets of New York City to the air traffic controllers across the country who work so diligently behind the scenes to protect us.
E.S. Max Aronov
Homecoming week turned to sharingSept. 10-14 was homecoming week at Leilehua High School. Needless to say, our week was not normal. The day after the tragedy, we had our school fair as planned and supported the Red Cross by playing games and collecting pennies. Food and game booths were spread out over campus and we gathered over $400 that day.
On Friday, we passed out red, white and blue ribbons to every student. At our assembly that day, we started with the presentation of colors by our JROTC and the pledge of allegiance, followed by the National Anthem. We reminded everyone that we were lucky enough to be here in a country of freedom.
All week long we continued to collect donations and will send the money to the Red Cross. We hope that these efforts can allow our students to feel that they are a part of something bigger and that even the smallest things count.
I am sharing this information because I feel that sometimes the teenagers are forgotten and don't know what they can do. This is just one way we are trying to empower them and help them become responsible and productive citizens.
Student Activities Coordinator
Generation changes its way of thinkingAmerica's "Me Generation" must now think U.S.
Don't strike back; tread more softlyEvery time I hear Pearl Harbor used as a comparison to the terrorist attacks, it frustrates me. Military attacking military is not a match. Why is not the bombing of Hiroshima used as a historic relative instead? It was military bombing civilians.
We are blind to our own evils, led by a weak president who speaks from the lowest levels of human function: "Hit back."
This was my fantasy of how Bush would respond: "We must urgently look at how we treat others and the planet. We force our entitlement to power and resources on others, with no regard for their struggle for less corruption and violence. Let's be humble and prioritize a peaceful heart, a world team spirit, and less greed, gluttony and affluence. My father started this war and his son must mend this cry for help."
So while Bush and his followers choose eye for an eye, let the rest of us choose an eye that sees our part.
In this long pause of shock, grief and paranoia, we have the chance to go down a less hurried and less technological path to prioritize time with family, friends and self, to tread more softly on ourselves, on others, and Mother Earth. How rare for us to pause, let alone pause at the same time. Don't think about it. Feel about it.
Lori Dee Kunkel
HOW YOU CAN HELP
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