Letters to the Editor
DON'T OUST RESIDENTS TO CATER TO TOURISTS
While I wholeheartedly agree with Connie Wiedeman that the low-rise apartment buildings across from Kailua Park are old and ugly (Letters, Dec. 6), to turn them into a "charming" hotel does one thing that, in my opinion, hurts more people than it helps: It pushes many people out of the only housing they can afford.
We know Kailua is now one of the most expensive places to live in, and if we push them out to cater to tourists, where do they go?
Yes, Kailua is touted as a tourist destination, but it is, first and foremost, a residential community and only a 30-minute drive from Waikiki, a designated tourist accommodation area.
When you open the door to building hotels here, more developers will want to jump on the bandwagon. Shall we end up looking like the mess Kihei has become?
Those buildings do need to be cleaned up, but let's take care of our own residents first, not push people out of their homes to accommodate tourists.Caroline Viola
WHY ARE HANNEMANN, ABERCROMBIE SO UPSET?
I, too, am baffled. Why are Mayor Mufi Hannemann and Rep. Neil Abercrombie so up in arms over City Councilman Charles Djou's inquiry into possible irregularities in the awarding of a rail transit subcontract?
What makes the inquiry into the selection of Community Planning Inc., whose chief executive officer, Joe Pickard, is a close associate of the mayor, for a sizable subcontract so threatening? Why the lashing out, the chastising, the name-calling if everything is squeaky-clean? What is there to be afraid of?
In a town so rife with cronyism, I as a taxpayer welcome anybody's attempt to make sure that things are done aboveboard. And so should all who are concerned with ethics in government and the cost to taxpayers of improprieties.
Indeed, I want to be assured that favoritism does not enter the game, and that the best possible people are chosen for contracts. A federal inquiry may at times be the only way to give us that assurance.
Concerning the characterization of Djou as a "kid," was it not a kid who dared to say that the emperor was naked? I wish we had more "kids" like that.
I hope that neither Djou nor anyone else who dares to pose questions will be intimidated into silence. They should be allowed to pursue their civic duty of making sure that the public interest is served by all government actions without being subjected to recriminations.Ursula Retherford
GUIDED BOAT TOURS GREATLY APPRECIATED
Thank you to the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Department of the Interior for conducting guided boat tours around Ford Island to commemorate the 64th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
With heightened security since 9/11, the agencies went to great lengths to ensure the safety of all. The tour around the island was very meaningful to my wife and me, and added to our appreciation for those who died in the attack and those who survived and went on to fight other battles in World War II.John Andrews
NOT A 'CORPSE'
BRAIN DEATH IS NOT UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED
I imagine many readers were baffled, and some even offended, by the semantic correction performed by my colleague Ken Kipnis in his letter of Dec. 4, which purports to dispel "public confusion about the nature of death."
Kevin Dayton's harrowing report on Dec. 1 concerned a Big Island woman in extremely critical condition at The Queen's Medical Center, but Professor Kipnis would have us believe that the woman the doctors have put on life support is only a "former patient," no longer a person but rather a "corpse."
This judgment is based on a conception of what constitutes death, namely "neurological brain death," which is by no means universally accepted.
There has been a great deal of debate about the brain death criterion, especially in Japan, where the person is traditionally understood as the whole lived body and not just as a mind somehow lodged in the brain. The Japanese have been correspondingly hesitant about the practice of organ "harvesting" that Professor Kipnis mentions.
Dogmatism and Eurocentrism are occupational hazards for many philosophers in this country, but I wish to assure readers that most of us in the Manoa Philosophy Department are more open to non-Western views and ways of thinking.Graham Parkes
TRANSPORT INDUSTRY TAXING THE TAXPAYER
The state of Hawai'i has just given a tax break of $6 million to Aloha Airlines. If Aloha had charged $5 per ticket more to the last million passengers, it would neither be bankrupt nor would it need to be bailed out by the taxpayer. So one way or another, the bills have to be paid.
The same applies to mass transit. The projected cost of the rail line is $2.8 billion. At a bond interest rate of only 5 percent, this results in payments of $140 million per year. The estimated number of passengers is 70,000 per day, or 25 million passengers per year. Consequently, each trip on the rail is subsidized with $5 per passenger and has to be paid by the taxpayers, in excess of the operating cost of the system.
When will our legislators and council members do the math?Klaus Wyrtki
UH JAZZ ENSEMBLE IS A WORLD-CLASS ACT
On Nov. 19, I had the distinct honor of appearing in concert with the University of Hawai'i Jazz Ensemble during its fall concert. What a tremendous band this is and what a great group of young people you have in your midst.
I have performed all over the world, and I must say that this was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. The band was not only one of the most musical ensembles that I have ever played with, but also one of the most exciting.
Another great honor was to get to share the stage with a true living legend, Mr. Gabe Baltazar.
To the standing-room-only crowd, thanks for supporting these superb young musicians.
To those of you who missed it, you must put attending one of these concerts on your "must do" list. You will not be disappointed.
To the university officials, you must know what you have on your campus. They represent not only the university, but the entire Hawai'i community in a world-class way.
My congratulations and thanks to Mr. Patrick Hennessey for the dedication and leadership he has shown to these students. Both of the jazz ensembles were first class, and I welcome the opportunity to perform with them again, anytime, anywhere.Jim Widner
Bassist/coordinator of jazz studies, University of Missouri-St. Louis
MARATHON IMPOSES TOO MUCH ON US; SHUT IT DOWN
Here we go again — another daylong blockade of public roadways, parks and beaches.
The reality for events like the Honolulu Marathon and the JAL Triathlon is money. Profits for promoters and sponsors, like most of the major hotels in Waikiki, tour and transportation companies, travel agents and of course the airlines.
Unfortunately, all Joe Public is apt to get is stuck in a ridiculous Sunday traffic jam and barred from using any park or beach from Waikiki to Maunalua Bay because it's in the path of the marathon.
Jim Barahal is quoted as saying that having to move his race course would mean the end of the marathon. Really, maybe it's time to kill the beast for the betterment of the communities and people who are consistently impaled by it.
I wonder how Barahal would like it if I got a permit for a daylong party on his block that prevented him from entering or leaving his house once a month. Not so fun now, is it?
If Barahal really wants to share these "millions," then he should take the race where it is needed — maybe the west side, for instance. Let residents and businesses there share in some of those golden profits he keeps telling people are the reason the race should continue to be run.
There should be a serious time limit on how long these things are allowed to close down already overtaxed transportation routes. If I had my way, no marathon should last over five hours; after that, people still running, or more likely walking at that stage, would have to use the sidewalks and observe all regular traffic rules just like everyone else. Red light, you stop and jog in place; green, you go.
Barahal makes it sound as if he is doing everyone a favor by holding this race and that somehow we should be grateful. Well, let's see, how does it improve quality-of-life issues for anyone in and around it?
Take it or leave it? I think we should leave it and move on; it's a dated and old concept that has outlived its arguable usefulness.
WAR: THERE'S NOTHING TO DEBATE
In his Dec. 4 column ("Hawai'i rep wants war debate"), Jerry Burris concluded that Congress should engage in a debate of the Iraqi war. This came after a lengthy discussion about Neil Abercrombie's proposal to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. Prior to any debate, I believe it's time for America's leaders and mainstream media moguls to grasp the reality of what is truly happening in the world today.
Western culture is engaged in a clash of civilizations with radical Islamists. Whether you love or hate President Bush, are a Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, one fact is without argument: Western civilization is under attack by Islamic terrorists.
Starting with the 1983 attack on U.S. Marines in Beirut, killing 243 men, jihadists have collectively murdered thousands at places like Khobar Towers, a Pan Am flight over Scotland, U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, on the USS Cole, and not once but twice at the World Trade Center in New York City. By the way, it's not our fault.
This isn't an American conflict. Bombings at Bali, aboard a Philippine ferry, a train station in Spain, buses on the street in London, and two weeks of uncontrolled riots in France (the Western country most tolerant of Muslim radicals) should awaken every citizen of all nations that radical Islamic fundamentalists want to kill us.
This is preached in radical mosques throughout the world. This isn't a war between Arabs and Jews. This isn't about what Middle Eastern country we should befriend and which country we should attack. This isn't about oil. And please, enough about WMDs! This is a religious war, as in past centuries. Haven't we learned anything?
To amuse ourselves nightly on TV news programs by debating the nuances of "Bush's war plan" is analogous to Western Europeans debating whether or not Hitler was going to invade their country next. With millions of fanatical Germans behind Hitler's formation of the Third Reich, the Nazis laughed all the way to the English Channel, with the German army nearly walking through France.
Congressman Abercrombie needs to stop analyzing this global cancer as if it were some American political skirmish hinging on our next election results.
The world, at least the U.S.A., needs a political leader who will navigate us through the fog of political correctness. I don't care what his political persuasion is. I do care that he has the moral backbone to stand up to Islamic terrorists.
Like the "greatest generation" that sacrificed so much during the 1940s, will Americans again be the world's savior, rallying to push Islamic terrorists back under the rock from which they crawled? Or will we join with the ACLU, roll over and play coy to appease our attackers in a fatalistic hope that they will leave us alone? That strategy didn't work for Europe in the 1930s. I believe it won't work now.
As a conservative, I'm not thrilled with Bush's plan either. But so far, he's the only guy around with a plan that may in time allow my 10-year-old daughter a future without a burkha or being beaten daily by her husband, as Allah wills it. I have an idea for a real debate: Do female and child suicide bombers get 72 virgins in heaven, too?