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    A protester demonstrates against the effects of palm oil manufacturing on endangered animals during a climate change rally in London earlier this month.

Palm oil not a clean-energy option

Tom Tanton, the president of an energy development firm, claims that palm oil is an environmentally sound source of energy ("Palm oil-into-biodiesel is heart of Hawaii’s green energy future," Star-Advertiser, Dec. 14). He further claims that palm oil from Malaysia is particularly well managed. This is simply untrue.

The December issue of Smithsonian magazine featured a cover article on the fate of orangutans in Borneo (part of Malaysia). They are reduced to a mere 48,000 individuals, from well over 300,000 in 1900. The article points its finger directly at palm oil plantations for the loss of habitat leading to this decrease and further predicts the extinction of these wild orangutans by 2050.

I am no "extreme environmentalist," as Tanton would have me. For instance, I support Oceanic Technologies’ plan for deep water aquaculture because it appears to have done its homework and has a reasonable approach for dealing with environmental issues.

Farmed tropical palm oil at the expense of wild forest is not a good plan. Imagine the outcry if Tanton planned to clear Big Island rain forest to replace it with oil palms.

Ken Berkun


Bring back most prisoners

With the exception of the most incorrigible inmates, I strongly agree with Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s pledge to return Hawaii inmates from mainland prisons.

I support this even though I argued and won a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238 (1983), upholding the right of states to house prisoners anywhere in the nation.

In that case, the prisoner was considered the "most dangerous and assaultive inmate" in Hawaii. Such inmates, serving life terms for unspeakably violent crimes, can be so incorrigible and pose such a menace to the life and limb of guards and other inmates that there is no safe place to house them here.

But that is not the case with the hundreds of nonviolent prisoners whom the prison system routinely places in mainland prisons solely because of cost. As to them, I agree with Justice Thurgood Marshall in his dissent that "in addition to being incarcerated, which is the ordinary consequence of a criminal conviction and sentence," a Hawaii prisoner in a mainland prison "has in effect been banished from his home, a punishment historically considered to be ‘among the severest.’"

Most prisoners will eventually return to Hawaii as contributing citizens or recidivists. Housing them in Hawaii where they can regularly interact with family and friends and also seek job placement opportunities upon release is the right decision for them and our community.

Michael A. Lilly
Former Hawaii attorney general


How to write us

The Star-Advertiser welcomes letters that are crisp and to the point (~175 words). The Star-Advertiser reserves the right to edit letters for clarity and length. Please direct comments to the issues; personal attacks will not be published. Letters must be signed and include your area of residence and a daytime telephone number.

Letter form: Online form, click here
Fax: (808) 529-4750
Mail: Letters to the Editor, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, 500 Ala Moana, Suite 210, Honolulu, HI 96813


‘Camelot’ wasn’t covered

For the Star-Advertiser to not do any kind of story on the Army Community Theatre production of "Camelot" is a disservice to the struggling artists who comprise our local theater community.

The actors in these shows are not paid; they volunteer their time for love and glory, and after working daily for more than eight weeks, for them not to read anything about their efforts in the local paper is very disappointing, to say the least.

We are very lucky here in Honolulu to have such a thriving community theater scene, and the professional caliber work always astonishes visitors.

It doesn’t matter whether your reviewer likes the show or not; his words give any production a legitimacy that many cash-strapped local audience members wait for before deciding to attend any show.

Tom Holowach
Manager, Paliku Theatre


Ho’opili will help traffic

As a longtime resident of Leeward Oahu, I understand the traffic problems firsthand and was appalled to see the distortion of truth in Kioni Dudley’s commentary ("Current rail plans rife with problems," Star-Advertiser, Island Voices, Dec. 13).

D.R. Horton and its Ho’opili development are cited in the commentary. Ho’opili seeks to lower automobile dependency through the creation of a transit-oriented development that will use rail and other transportation options within the community. Ho’opili is planned to have several rail transit stops as well as bus routes within the community, which will help to alleviate traffic from West Oahu.

Ultimately rail is an opportunity for Hawaii’s next generations. I have a 7-year-old daughter whose future will be greatly and positively affected by rail and transit-oriented development.

Georgette Stevens


Don’t start over with rail

After reading the commentary by Kioni Dudley and associates, I can agree with some of their points, particularly about the route and the elevated waterfront. I could even agree with the final conclusion, if it were actually possible to stop and start over. But that is not the case. Stopping means there is no starting over, unless you consider maybe — and a big maybe — starting over in 15 or 20 years.

There were major design flaws with the construction of our current freeway system, such as the Middle Street merge and a too-narrow corridor through downtown, but there’d be no freeway system now if we’d stopped development until we thought we’d solved all the problems. Can anyone imagine Honolulu without our freeways?

Sam Gillie


Thank you, Outdoor Circle

We have two unbelievably beautiful monkeypod trees on our campus here at Kualapuu Public Conversion Charter School on Molokai. Their ever-present shade and grace have blessed our campus and community for more than 40 years.

It was with deep sadness that the faculty and staff received the news by our administration that the trees would be cut down, to make way for wiring and plumbing. We were told that the loss of the trees was regrettable yet inevitable.

The impending loss of the trees led us to contact the Outdoor Circle, whose Bob Loy, in collaboration with the state Department of Education’s arborist, had the trees assessed. Found healthy, they were declared to be an invaluable asset to our campus and community. I would like to thank the Outdoor Circle for its tireless work and guidance, whose efforts mean these trees will be enjoyed by future generations.

Merry Kiyan

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