TERRORIST SHOULDN'T GET MIRANDA RIGHTS
The Obama administration is definitely on the wrong track in charging the accused terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as an everyday criminal as opposed to charging him as an enemy combatant and terrorist.
This terrorist wanted to bring a Northwest airliner with 278 passengers down on Christmas Day.
The decision to give this terrorist Miranda rights was about the worst thing this administration could do.
This terrorist was trained by al-Qaida, equipped with a bomb made by them and dispatched by them.
Eric Holder owes the people of this country a full explanation for the decision to charge him as common criminal instead of as an enemy combatant and terrorist. We realize that the administration has abandoned the term "war on terror" but we are still at war and this terrorist does not deserve Miranda rights and a group of liberal defense attorneys to plead his case.
He should be handled as an enemy combatant and receive a military tribunal. Since when are full American constitutional rights granted to foreign terrorists? Wake up, Obama administration. This was once again a wrong decision from the start.
al eisner | Wheaton, Silver Spring, Md.
OUR GOVERNMENT IS STRICTLY SECULAR
So, yet again, another group has to fight for its rights. Just as, historically, so many others have in the past.
But there's an important aspect to this latest battle which is relevant to all such situations, and it needs to be strongly emphasized. That is: Our government is strictly secular. It functions only on the basis of civil laws. Period.
Our government is not run to fulfill any religious doctrines. Our laws are not to be written to conform to any religious texts; not the Bible, or the Quran, or the Book of Scientology. The opinions or rulings of any religious leader have no bearing on our laws; not the pope, or the Mormon Council of Elders, or any ayatollah.
Government employees, especially elected officials, are not in office to serve any church or religious group; they are there to serve their full constituencies.
Regardless of how many religious zealots show up at the Capitol, for whatever reason, they all must understand the reality of our government, which is — again — that it is 100 percent secular. And it will remain so.
D. BROWN | Honolulu
STATE'S HANDLING WILL COST ALL OF HAWAII
Our state's distorted perception of the role of the public education system in our society will exacerbate problems in Hawaii for years, with repercussions we can only begin to fathom.
From increased crime rates to job loss, this gross neglect of education will deliver endless blows to the already bludgeoned working class. In the midst of deficits it's easy to disregard the pricelessness of going to school five days a week, but even though a child's future may not be quantifiable, the ramifications of furloughs will cost all of Hawaii's people.
What happens to the children whose reduced lunch fares allow their parents to feed them each day, especially when joblessness is so rampant? Are these kids expected just to go hungry on Fridays for the good of the state? The state's handling of the education crisis is equivalent to organized crime against the working and poor families of Hawaii, all neatly packaged and wrapped up in a furlough.
If we keep treating education with the same reckless abandonment, in 10 years there will be no kids growing up with the passion to challenge their reality, or the tools to bring about change in our community.
CHLOE EDINGER| KÝhei, Maui
WE MUST NOT FORGET ACCOMPLISHMENTS
I'm glad that state Rep. Lynn Finnegan decided to place education as a priority for the 2010 Legislature ("Put students, families first," Jan. 21).
Finnegan claims Hawaii's $2 billion public education system is broken, citing low national ranking and furloughs.
I agree we have much work to do to prepare all students for college and a career, but Finnegan does a disservice to the public by neglecting the accomplishments of our educators and students and inflating the Department of Education's budget.
The department's budget for fiscal year 2011 is $1.66 billion, including federal stimulus funds. Meanwhile, test scores have steadily risen in math and reading in the Hawaii State Assessment and the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Regarding furloughs, instructional days have declined as a result of Gov. Lingle's 2009-11 biennium restriction of some $270 million, which came on top of an additional $200 million budget cut to schools.
To truly put students first and collaborate on solutions, we must stick to the facts and acknowledge the accomplishments of our schools.
I look forward to working with the Legislature to support our schools and reduce furloughs so our educators can maintain and accelerate student achievement.
GARRETT TOGUCHI| Chairman, Hawaii State Board of Education