Prisoners being used as slaves
The front-page article describing the slave labor practices of Hawaii’s Department of Public Safety was shameful to read ("Isle prisons become key source of labor," Star-Advertiser, Feb. 14). The glowing comments by business and government employees about what a deal they’re getting paying prison inmates 25 cents an hour, plus a bento lunch, to do manual labor showed the absolute lows to which our society has sunk when everybody involved begins to think this is right.
Allowing inmates to work in the community prior to release is a valuable practice, and inmate labor can be an important resource in these tight economic times. But DPS should pay inmates more so that, upon release, they have some money to see them through the difficult post-release period of finding a job, food and shelter.
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Fats, sugars are big health risk
As bad as lung cancer and alcoholism are, neither is the No. 1 health problem. The major problem is cardiovascular disease: heart attacks, strokes, aneurysms and other diseases linked to indulgences high in fats and sugars.
If our lawmakers are using health concerns as the reason to impose more taxes, before they again go after tobacco and alcohol, let’s see if they have the honesty and fortitude to go after the real culprits: fats and sugars.
That would mean raising taxes on things such as hamburgers, sausages, french fries, chips, pastries, ice cream, candies and soda.
Passage? Fat chance.
Public has right to know on GMO
Killing Senate Bill 713, which would require genetically modified (GMO) foods to be labeled, is a disservice to all consumers. While the committee assumes that this would be discrimination against farmers who produce GMO crops, the public has the right to know what we are buying. Regardless of how anyone views organic crops, agri-farm crops or GMO crops, the issue is our right to know what we are buying to eat — not the right of lawmakers to prevent consumers from the truth of what we may choose purchase for consumption.
Not enough done to alleviate pain
I have to agree with Deborah McGuire ("Death can be a welcome option," Star-Advertiser, Letters, Feb. 14).
I watched my wife die a little each day without being able to help her. The prescribed pain medication (morphine) was ineffective in stopping the pain she was in, and every day she would ask that I give her all of the meds at one time. If I allowed my dog to suffer as much as my darling suffered, I would be put in jail for being cruel to animals. If the pain is this bad, life is no longer a precious thing.
Classrooms can easily be cooled
I read with concern the problems of uncomfortably warm schools that detract from our students’ learning environment ("DOE seeks ways to cool classrooms," Star-Advertiser, Jan. 31).
By implementing retrofits, the goals of reducing cost, conserving energy and creating a comfortable learning environment can all be achieved. Additionally, efficiency upgrades provide tremendous upfront and long-term savings while presenting opportunities to teach students about conservation, stewardship, science and climate change. Central to conservation strategy is reducing energy use before creating more.
The EPA Energy Star program provides resources for K-12 school districts at http://tinyurl.com/lffzhf. This website has educational resources, lesson plans, practical information and success stories from school districts throughout our country that are reducing their energy usage while maintaining comfortable learning environments.
Executive director, Hawaii Interfaith Power and Light
City has not ‘sidestepped’ need to conduct rail AIS
Sunday’s editorial was misleading in calling for the city to do something the city has already done ("Do iwi survey downtown as rail starts in West Oahu," Star-Advertiser, Our View, Feb. 13).
For years throughout the environmental review process, the city consistently consulted with the State Historic Preservation Division and dozens of stakeholders and government agencies in conducting the numerous environmental studies of the project’s potential impacts to resources, including native Hawaiian archaeological and cultural resources.
Long before this lawsuit was filed, the city had already committed to conducting the archaeological inventory survey (AIS) for Kakaako in an expedited fashion as the project begins in West Oahu. On this timetable, the survey will be done years before construction on the Kakaako segment begins. State law does not require an AIS prior to acceptance of the project’s environmental impact statement, so to suggest the process had been "sidestepped" is inaccurate and misinforms readers. The city has followed both the letter and the spirit of the law and will continue to do so.
Chief planner, Rapid Transit Division