Letters for Saturday, November 24, 2007

• Increased whale collisions with ferry? Probably not

• The answers are at hand

• Could the draft be the answer?

Increased whale collisions with ferry? Probably not

In Hawaiian waters, the humpback whale has been increasing seven per cent per year. Three to five collisions between whales and ships in Hawaiian waters have been reported each season to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA believes that most collisions go unreported.

There has been at least one collision each with a cargo ship, a fishing boat, and the Lahaina ferry.

The rest of the collisions occur between whales, and whale-stalking boats.

In 2003, a three-year-old boy was killed when a whale breached next to the boat. In 2007, a woman broke her knee when a whale struck her boat. Eliminating whale-stalking tour boats would reduce the number of ship-whale collisions by half or more.

Whale-watching from shore is a popular activity on the windward shores of Kaua‘i. Safer for the whales. Safer for the watchers.

Most sources seem to agree that the collisions between humpback whales and ships occur between calves that breach more frequently, and younger inexperienced whales who haven’t learned to avoid ship noises.

Deliberately chasing humpback whales to observe them seems like a bad idea, given that whales migrate to Hawai‘i to breed and give birth.

Whale migration has increased from 7,000 in 2003 to 10,000 this season in Hawaiian waters. The number of whale-stalking commercial tour boats owned by the American Cetacean Society, the Pacific Whale Foundation, and other “research” organizations, is also increasing dramatically. Collisions between them will likely increase, too.

Speed does not seem to be a factor in whale collisions. Ships that have struck whales in Hawaiian waters were mostly slower medium-size vessels. At the 2003 NOAA Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary conference, presenters noted that 84 percent of whale-vessel collisions were attributed to medium-size vessels between 31- and 100-feet in length.

No whale collisions have been reported among the 16 submarines, and 16 or 17 destroyers and cruisers based at Pearl Harbor, which are designed to escort the Navy’s Carrier Battle Groups at 30 to 35 knots. Hitting a 50-ton whale with a 7,100-sub, or a 9,500-ton cruiser, will cause substantial structural damage, wreck the underwater sensors of the warship, and end the career of the ship’s captain. Not to mention violate federal laws. So the Navy takes great caution to avoid collisions with “biologicals.”

In fact, whales have successfully survived high-speed ships for 150 years. Clipper ships were widely used in the 19th century to transport high-value cargoes across the Pacific and Indian Oceans. In 1854, the British Sovereign set a sailing speed record at 22 knots.

Will the Hawaii Superferry, traveling between 25 and 40 knots result in increased whale collisions? Probably not, at least as long as they avoid active whale-stalking.

Emmette Honjiyo


The answers are at hand

The letter in TGI (Nov. 23) on “Priorities need work” is asking why US citizens cannot go to Cuba. The answer is simple: They may find out that George Bush is not telling the truth about this country. And another reason: they are banned from going there for their own protection. You probably know the three proverbial American lies: “The check is in the mail.” “We’ll call you.” “I’ll respect you in the morning too.” Now you can add the fourth one: “For your protection.”

And why our illustrious governor is cheating and lying? She is just following the example set by the top executives in Washington.

Still I have a Christmas for George Bush: He should make an announced visit to Iraq with at least two weeks advance notice and stroll down the main market in Baghdad at daytime with Linda Lingle, without any bodyguards and without any military protection. That’s how we would measure the progress they so often claim.

János Samu


Could the draft be the answer?

It’s time to stop referring to the oval office of the White house as if it were the Sistine Chapel. The skullduggery that has emanated from that unique place of business is a matter of history, often recorded for posterity as in the case of Richard Nixon’s tapes. And then there was the devious young lady who bragged about bringing her presidential kneepads to Washington, D.C., eventually giving exultant Republicans the opportunity to impeach Bill Clinton.

Neither Nixon’s crimes, nor Clinton’s indiscretion, come anywhere near the murderous results of a war by a nation confused by Sept.11 and looking for leadership from a Commander in Chief, who had his own deviously destructive agenda.

When I voted to place the Democrats back as the majority in the Congress, I fully expected them to take immediate action to impeach the George W. administration and take charge of ending the war. You can imagine the deep disappointment that this loyal FDR Democrat felt when Ms. Pelosi blithely took impeachment off the table. Bill Clinton gets impeached for a minor indiscretion and we let President Bush and his cronies get by with murder.

Where are the howls of rage from our mass media, the guardians of our freedom? Where are the expressions of anger and disappointment from the great American masses? Where is the reaction from the American Civil Liberties Union? Where is the loud voice of the NAACP, decrying the needless death and maiming of hundreds of black American soldiers. Need I go on?

Something is very, very wrong with this great country of ours. I, as an 85-year-old WW2 vet, say it’s broke and we’d better fix it before we lose it. Is it possible that something as extreme as reviving the draft is the answer. It would certainly be a wakeup call. It might not be considered extreme if you consider that neutral countries such as Sweden and Switzerland have universal conscription requiring every able-bodied citizen to serve a short hitch in their defense services. A draft, rather than leading to war, might encourage a trigger-happy government to make every diplomatic effort to avoid armed conflict.

The GI bill changed my life. Conscription rewarded by a college education could be a large part of the answer that we are seeking.

Think about it.

Harry Boranian



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