Letters to the Editor

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Union leaders' actions show their hypocrisy

I was delighted to read how Harold Dias Jr., the president of the state AFL-CIO, cares deeply about workers' rights -- for example, how "workers should have the right to make their own choices about forming a union" ("Gathering Place," Star-Bulletin, June 30).

It's heartwarming to hear he's alarmed that "abuse of workers' rights is so rampant in the United States that we've made it on the radar of Human Rights Watch." Clearly, this fine gentleman intends to fight, tooth and nail, to reinstate in Hawaii the most fundamental right of unions: the right to strike. Ummm, wait a minute ... didn't he and the other labor unions' bosses coerce their Democratic pawns in the Legislature to strip away that right from public worker unions? Naah, no one could be so Machiavellian and two-faced as to profess their love of workers immediately after confiscating their most precious right.

Jim Henshaw

Pretty fireworks are full of toxic compounds

Kristine Woodall ("Letters," July 2) has good reason to be concerned about smoke from fireworks. If enveloped in significant quantities of the smoke, people in the audience and those downwind of the fireworks display could be exposed to dangerous levels of metal oxides such as sodium oxide (and hydroxide) and potassium oxide (and hydroxide), both of which are extremely caustic to the lungs.

In addition, the smoke contains strontium, barium and copper oxides, which are known toxic compounds. These three metals are used to produce the red, green and blue colors of the incandescent burst, respectively.

Other components of the smoke include nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, magnesium oxide, iron oxides and (sometimes) titanium dioxide and are of less concern.

Bob Nielsen

America is headed down dangerous path

We are now involved in a nightmare that will take many more innocent lives (civilian and military). This is an illegal war based on lies that our president told us after 9/11, when as a nation we were scared and vulnerable. I still haven't totally figured out what his hidden agenda was, but I'm beginning to believe he is out of touch with reality and a threat to our country and perhaps the world.

It made my blood run cold to hear him say, in a somewhat bragging way, that he thinks about Iraq every day. And when I heard Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld say we might be in Iraq for 12 years, I saw the slow demise of our country on the horizon.

I'm 70 years old. I remember World War II and felt elation when the Cold War ended. Now, I thought, we can find new ways to resolve our problems without violence. The World Crimes Court was a start. But we choose not to participate. I saw the handwriting on the wall. We, the United States, are the problem. We are not leaders, and we do not act Christ-like though we profess to be a Christian country.

I'll be leaving this mortal coil soon, and I feel profoundly sorry for us and our country. Perhaps this is evolution -- nature's way of making sure no one civilization remains dominant for too long.

Pegge Hopper

Social Security need not be partisan battle

Is it partisanship to defend Social Security? Critics say it is, if you go against a commander in chief who wants to gut the Social Security trust fund to establish private accounts that take money away from those who most need it.

In 1954, President Eisenhower embraced Social Security by signing into law the right of disabled workers to collect Social Security benefits earned through their work history. Today, 38 percent of Social Security beneficiaries are children, widows and the disabled.

In 1981, President Reagan signed into law a bill to forward-fund Social Security through a trust fund because there was a "baby boom" coming online. As he signed the bill, he was quoted as saying, "This is a great deal for America."

It is that sort of positive leadership we need right now, not divisive red-state, blue-state knuckle-headedness.

Young people think they will never see a Social Security check. They had better count on it because only 50 percent of our employers today give workers a pension plan. America's Social Security System is the most successful, productive and popular government program ever devised.

Patrick Stanley

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