U.S. prisons have become a travesty
I salute Gov. Neil Abercrombie for his recent announcement of his intention to bring home Hawaii prisoners who are serving time in mainland prisons.
This practice is costly and contrary to any correctional philosophy — taking people away from their families and putting them into situations that could be injurious to their physical and mental health.
We should neither contract out the imprisonment of prisoners nor allow prison enterprises to make mega-profits for jailing people and prolonging their stays in prison.
Prisons have become a travesty across the country. In many states, such as Georgia, prisoners are put to work, produce commodities, but receive no compensation. They are slave laborers, a category that many of us thought had been abolished after the Civil War.
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Dems helped kill DREAM Act
Warren Kim says that "while 54 percent of the American people supported the DREAM Act, and despite the majority passage by the Congress, the Republicans were able to defeat the act" ("Push forward with DREAM act," Star-Advertiser, Letters, Dec. 29).
That is false. The bill was defeated by five Democrats who voted against the DREAM Act: Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and both Montana Democrats, Jon Tester and Max Baucus.
Not only that, but three Republicans crossed party lines to vote for the bill: Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Utah Sen. Bob Bennett.
If those five Democrats had voted for the bill, it would have passed into law. So much for calling the Republicans "the party of no."
Measurements of carbon dioxide on Mauna Loa have been misinterpreted and sensationalized for political purposes ("Mauna Loa facility immune to politics but not the climate," Star-Advertiser, Dec. 22).
The Keeling Curve traces tourism as well as carbon dioxide on the Big Island. A few hundred Hawaii hotel rooms in 1958 have grown to more than 10,000 today. Commercial jets account for most tourist arrivals. Heavier-than-air carbon dioxide from jet engines showered Keeling’s instruments on Mauna Loa.
Burning fossil fuels benefits all of humankind beyond generating energy. Carbon dioxide is essential for plant growth. Its production improves agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Accordingly, the latest trade balance numbers show that food is the only U.S. export exceeding imports.
Fear of global warming from burning fossil fuels has no scientific basis. Computer models cannot accurately predict climate change (See www.climatechangehoax.com).
‘Great treasure’ includes gays
Vince Vento writes that the job of the military "is to manage this great treasure that they have been entrusted with — America’s young men and women" ("Co-ed barracks a bad idea, just like gays in the military," Star-Advertiser, Dec. 20).
One would think this would also include gay sons and daughters.
McCain is right about earmarks
You correctly criticized Sen. John McCain’s mischaracterization of the Polynesian Voyaging Society in his diatribe against congressional earmarks. Nevertheless McCain should be applauded for leading the crusade against this shameful practice.
I celebrate the Senate’s rejection of the omnibus spending bill containing hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks.
You seem to think earmarks are good because they bring federal money to Hawaii. But the way they do it is all wrong. Earmarks are a means members of Congress use to secure federal funding for their states and districts without being balanced against other needs of the nation and the federal government’s fiscal situation.
It’s all a matter of seniority. The fact that Sen. Daniel K. Inouye has secured so much money for Hawaii has nothing to do with the merits of the projects funded and everything to do with seniority.
The Polynesian Voyaging Society deserves support, but that should come from private contributions. And if those are considered insufficient, the Hawaii state Legislature should appropriate the money rather than seeking an unjustified handout from Congress.
Warning signs too often ignored
I’ve just spent a week touring with my visiting daughter and her friend around the island. At almost every tourist lookout and scenic point we were appalled at the folks who flagrantly ignored posted warning signs to not climb over barriers, slipping and sliding over loose rock and gravel for picture-taking or exploring.
At the lookouts heading to Makapuu, people climbed out to areas that warned of dangerous waves hitting rocks and perched there, ducking breakers to get closer to the edge. My favorite episode came when a little girl pointed at the warning signs and told her mother, "It says we aren’t supposed to go there." Her mother told her, "Come on, that’s just so they can say they warned people when they get sued."
As a resident and taxpayer, I am sick and tired of paying when people blatantly ignore warnings, swim where they shouldn’t and climb where it is dangerous just because they want to.
Thanks for supporting libraries
As we begin a new year, the Hawaii State Public Library System (HSPLS) and the Friends of the Library of Hawaii would like to thank the hundreds of donors who contributed to the success of our joint statewide "Keep Your Library Open!" and "Keep the Doors Open!" fundraising campaigns.
Earlier this year, the Hawaii State Public Library System was facing budget cuts equivalent to two furlough days a month for all our employees. Through the combined efforts of HSPLS, the Friends of the Library of Hawaii and widespread public support, we were fortunate enough to have the nearly $3 million restored to our fiscal year 2011 operating budget during this past legislative session. With the restoration of these funds to our budget, we have been able to eliminate all furlough days for fiscal 2011 and have begun to recruit to fill more than 40 of our vacant positions.
While we are no longer facing immediate furloughs for our staff due to the previous budget cuts, we are still struggling to keep up with the rising operational costs (utilities, postage, delivery, etc.) for our system. Even though these campaigns are drawing to a close, we still need and welcome any donations to support your public libraries.
Mahalo nui loa and best wishes to all for 2011!