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Religion overpowers legislative proceedings

The founders of our nation, who came here to resist religious domination, would have been ashamed at the power of religious fanatics to overpower our government and to impose their beliefs over a majority of citizens who seek to control their own lives.

The debate on the "death with dignity" bill at our Legislature on Thursday was an embarrassment from the over-the-top prayer until the final vote -- with the exception of a few rational statements from Sen. Colleen Hanabusa and others.

Nancy Bey Little

School has promising anti-violence program

The Star-Bulletin recently told the story of Bill Bond, who was principal of Kentucky's West Paducah High School in 1997 when a 14-year-old student shot and killed three students and wounded five others ("Involvement key to averting school violence," April 26).

Bond, now a safe-schools advocate with the National Association of Secondary School Principals in Washington, D.C., spoke last week at the American Society of Safety Engineers' Hawaii Chapter biennial conference on workplace safety in Honolulu. He talked about the need to create school environments that discourage bullying, and persecution of students, which often trigger violent outbreaks.

During the conference, Bond learned about an anti-bullying pilot program at Farrington High School. He visited the school and was impressed. He plans to track the program, which was developed in Hawaii by World Youth Network International, and tell educators across the nation about it.

We congratulate him and the leaders of Farrington High School. Their work and vision are improving the safety and security of our schools and workplaces, using solutions made right here in Hawaii.

Allan Yokoyama
President, ASSE, Hawaii Chapter

Internet radio in peril of being destroyed

I have a strong fear that the U.S. Copyright Office and the Library of Congress may effectively destroy the nascent Internet radio industry. Internet radio offers wonderful benefits for musicians, record companies and consumers.

Internet radio offers exposure to dozens of genres of music and thousands of artists who don't get AM or FM airplay, including bluegrass, electronica, traditional jazz, folk, Broadway, blues and world music. The Internet radio audience is a key driver of consumer broadband adoption.

With their increased listener support, broadband services -- such as Roadrunner and ADSL -- will be increased, making prices lower and increasing availability.

Congress should prevent the closure of Internet radio.

K. Kim

Drilling for Alaska oil won't ease shortage

Martin Schram's commentary that Sens. Dan Inouye, Daniel Akaka and Judd Gregg know the "score on oil policy" is a sham ("Three who got it right on energy," Star-Bulletin, May 1). Schram wrote that the best way to solve the impending oil crunch is to pursue a two-prong approach of higher fuel efficiency and more drilling. However, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge should not be part of this solution.

The idea that drilling in Alaska will open up new frontiers for oil is ludicrous: 95 percent of Alaska's North Slope is already open for exploration and drilling. Even if we did open up ANWR, we'd find at the most only six months worth of oil.

Further, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office noted that by the year 2020, oil from ANWR would reduce our dependency on foreign oil only from 62 percent to 60 percent. So, according to Schram, we should wreck part of Alaska's ecosystem to decrease our imports by 2 percent -- an amount we wouldn't even see for 20 years. Does this Band-Aid solution make sense?

What does make sense is higher fuel-efficiency standards and development of alternative sources of energy. More drilling and more oil is what caused America's foreign-oil dependency in the first place. Too bad Hawaii's two senators couldn't come to this conclusion.

Eric Hananoki

Road rage was absent in parking-lot column

I always enjoy Cynthia Oi's "Under the Sun" column, but I thought her May 1 column, "Cars isolate people from each other," was especially nice. It was full of aloha and none of the rage and anger at Mr. Blue Van that she rightfully could have expressed.

I sat back and smiled and was sure I could feel trade winds blowing through my office. A slight hint of ginger was in the air. For a minute I was back in Hawaii, thinking of the many trips I made to "my" Longs and happy parking-lot faces, and "No, you go" as they waved me through the line of traffic.

Tom Foster
El Cajon, Calif.

State has obligation to keep roads safe

I am amazed at the speeds that people drive. I try to stay between 55-60 mph and, now that the cameras are gone, people just fly past me. I factor in speed, road conditions (Hawaii's roads are some of the worst I have seen), weather and the number of vehicles on the highway, and it is just downright scary.

What is even more amazing is that the state government is going to raise the speed limits in some areas. I believe I pay the government to at least try to keep me safe from some of the idiots on the road. If it fails to make a reasonable effort to do so, then not just the offending driver but the government, too, is at fault and both should be held accountable.

In Europe, insurance premiums aren't raised if you are caught speeding (within certain limits). You just pay the fine. They have used the cameras for years with no one arguing about the government's right to enforce the speed limit. They have a saying: "You can't sue someone because you were stupid." I believe that can be translated to, "You can't blame the police or the van cam for the ticket because you broke the law."

If I, or someone in my family, get injured because of a speeding driver, I will sue not just the offending driver, but also the government for failing to use the equipment available to keep me and my family safe on Hawaii's roads.

Ramo Jimie
Ewa Beach

Taniguchi was wrong -- state is wasteful

Richard Borreca's May 1 article about the state budget ("Senate saves suicide bill") quotes Senate Ways and Means Chairman Brian Taniguchi that the state government "is not the wasteful machine it is characterized to be."

What nonsense! Taniguchi must know that most state programs are mired in bureaucratic confusion and inefficiency. The state bureaucracy not only is slow, self-absorbed and customer insensitive, but what's more important is that it frustrates people, distorts our priorities and limits our dreams.

Are our legislators so devoid of ideas that their solution is to continue taking more money from taxpayers so the government can spend it? The bottom line is, our government costs too much.

It is insane to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. The number of bad policies our elected officials have implemented combined with a tax-and-spend propensity that has unnecessarily prolonged our stagnant economy is appalling. It seems as if our elected leaders do not want to understand what brought us to this endless problem because such understanding might shatter some of their dearest illusions.

Jade Butay

Assisted-suicide bill endangered unwanted

On Tuesday evening, 500 supporters of the Aloha Pregnancy Center met to express concern for the lives of the unborn, which are threatened each day by abortion. While there, we were notified that the lives of the elderly and terminally ill also were endangered.

When it was announced that the "death with dignity" bill was to be voted on by the Senate that week, 500 people united to pray for the end of this bill, despite their different religious and cultural backgrounds.

The "sound mind" requirement included in this bill sought to appease the conscience of the public. Who is it that determines the soundness of mind? Would this wording be enough to protect the legal and personal rights of the patients in question, young and old, who often are deemed unwanted or an inconvenience by some?

At least one thing is for certain: This bill would not have protected the most fundamental right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution: life.

Jeffrey and Mary Klipp

Don't ban student from graduation

Shame on the Baldwin High School principal for forcing female graduates to wear dresses under their gowns. This archaic, sexist and discriminatory policy should not be allowed, especially when it causes discomfort to participants.

The female student who requested that she, like the boys, be able to wear slacks should not be banned from participating in commencement ceremonies. Through academic achievement, she earned the right to graduate and take part in the school ceremony.

Mahalo to the Star-Bulletin for publishing Corky's cartoon last Sunday, which portrayed this ridiculous issue so brilliantly. It does not matter what graduates wear under their gowns at commencement.

Holly Huber

Graduation dress code isn't discriminatory

Once again I read with dismay, on the front page no less, of another frivolous case being taken up by the ACLU and Brent White ("ACLU blasts graduation female dress code," Star-Bulletin, April 27). This time the issue is dresses. Regardless of White's flawed arguments, enforcement of a dress code is not sexual discrimination. The government is not requiring anyone to wear a dress, it was a consensual decision by the graduation committee.

A graduation ceremony is a privilege and something that a student should be proud to participate in, and if that means wearing a dress, then so be it. We are doing more harm to our society and injustice to our young people by embarking upon these bullying tactics and ridiculous lawsuits by those who wish to see a gender-neutral and godless society. I keep wondering when the ACLU and White will take on cases that will make a difference in our society, and when they will defend someone who has really been violated.

James Roller

Rules are rules, so put on that dress

I was greatly surprised when I read the news article about the ACLU's challenge of Baldwin High School's graduation dress code (Star-Bulletin, April 27). ACLU legal director Brent White's argument against Baldwin's regulations does not make sense. It would be reasonable if the school had made the graduation dress code regulations, but in this case a committee composed entirely of students chose the guidelines and was backed by school officials. Student-made choices should not be challenged by outside sources.

Furthermore, just because senior Ivy Kaanana has not worn a dress "since about the sixth grade" does not mean she should have special permission to wear pants at her graduation ceremony. Rules are rules, and they must be followed.

One might wonder if a Baldwin boy wants to wear a kilt or a dress to his graduation, will the ACLU run to his defense, too? After all, we are looking for gender equality, and it would be discriminatory if the school did not allow a boy to wear a skirt to his graduation.

Celia Downes
Baldwin High School junior

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