Letters for Friday, May 18, 2012

Get your coffee however you want itNo jokeWho should pay?Surprise visitPray for unity

Get your coffee however you want it

Dear Mr. Brown (Letters, May 11: “Gay marriage with your coffee?”), I respect your right to have an opinion and boycott Starbucks or any other company that chooses to take a risk and make a stand on something that will, inevitably, cause an uproar. I wonder how you will determine which community coffeehouse you will patronize that supports your values — do they refuse service to someone who appears lesbian or homosexual?

Perhaps to someone who they think may support same-sex marriage?  I am also unclear how supporting same-sex marriages will “alienate such a large portion of their constituents.” All they’re really supporting is equal rights for everyone. How does that alienate anyone?

The Declaration of Independence states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Who are you to judge what is right and what is wrong when it makes someone happy and causes no harm to others?

Kelly Clancy, Kapa‘a

No joke

Is this some sort of a test or the Highway Department’s idea of a joke? There is no correct answer and people wonder why we have accidents. At the intersection of Kuhio Highway and Kuamo‘o Road in the two southbound lanes, the number one lane (closest to the double yellow line) must go straight; however, in the number two lane (closest to curb alongside Coco Palms Resort) there is a right turn-only arrow painted on the road, meaning that all vehicles in that lane must turn right. It was that way for many years, when suddenly the Highway Department changed it, removed the arrow and made that lane optional for turning or going straight, and it remained so for several months. Now, once again, there is a painted arrow on the road, meaning that all vehicles in the number two lane must make a right turn onto Kuamo‘o and a large electric sign has been placed on the road mid way alongside the bushes surrounding Coco Palms Resort, and for not more than two days and nights it read that all traffic in the right lane must turn right at the intersection. Wonderful, except the lit sign suddenly went dark and has never been turned on again, even though it remains in that location. Now we know that all traffic in that right lane must turn right according to the painted arrow on the road. This is good. Not so fast. There’s a major problem, and here comes the test. The signal at the intersection has a lit arm for each lane, and when the lights are green both arms show a green arrow pointing straight ahead. What? No way can this be. Many drivers pay absolutely no attention to the painted arrow and go barreling straight ahead through the intersection. Some have on their right turn flashing indicators, but that only meant that they were changing from the number one lane into the number two lane and not making a right turn at all. Talk about confusing. The poor driver in the left turn northbound lane makes his turn when the number one southbound lane is clear only to find out the he’s about to get smacked broadside by the driver in the number two southbound lane who had no intention of turning right. Attention Highway Department: What are we supposed to do at that intersection? Which is correct? The painted right turn only arrow on the roadway or the green arrow on the signal indicating that drivers may go straight ahead? Right now there is no correct answer. Make up your minds and fix this problem.  You can’t have it both ways at this busy location. 

 And while you’re at it, please remove the dead wild pig carcass draped over the guardrail on Kuamo‘o Road just a short distance uphill from Coco Palms Resort. Not a pretty sight for our visitors on the tour buses to see.

Gini Stoddard, Wailua

Who should pay?

“State to pay $210,000 settlement for fatal Kaua‘i wreck”was published in TGI 04 April 2012. If you’ve ever wondered how your tax dollars are being spent, read, learn and be appalled. The loss of any life is a shame, but when do individuals and communities step up to the plate and take responsibility for their own actions? Three young adults get drunk and the inebriated driver tried to negotiate the turn onto the Hanalei Bridge, but couldn’t, which resulted in the deaths of two youths. Who’s responsible? Who should pay? The state bows to the sentiment of the Hanalei community and did not update the bridge in 2003, thus “preserving the rural nature of their community.” And finally, the insulting message to the taxpayers: It’s cheaper to settle out of court than it is to do the right thing, i.e. replace the historic bridge with a safer one.

Personally, I would like the State to refund my pro rata share of the state Department of Transportation’s highway fund, which was used to pay this absurd settlement.  

Michael Diamant, Kalaheo

Surprise visit

Mr. President, I don’t believe you.

As it was reported in TGI and in the media worldwide, you made your fourth surprise visit to Afghanistan on May 1, 2012. You went there to sign the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement during the night and hurried back before dawn’s break so that nobody could see your plane taking off. You also gave a televised speech from Bagram Air Force base and shook hands with U.S. servicemen and women. You praised their courage and assured them of our significant progress in bringing freedom to the Afghan people and the success of Operation Enduring Freedom. Why, how is it possible then that after 10 years of a huge U.S. military presence in Afghanistan you had to sneak into the country with the biggest secrecy at the cover of the night? You, the Commander in Chief of the strongest military power in the world with 90,000 U.S. soldiers, 30,000 allied forces, plus another 90,000 private U.S. defense contractors on the ground, all paid by the U.S. Department of Defense and consequently by us through our taxes, could not be sure that these 180,000 people on your payroll secure the area and provide enough security for you to safely fly to Kabul in the daytime and with proper protocol for your very short visit? Apparently not, because you did not trust them nor their ability. Not now, and not before.

And where is that significant gain in fighting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan if they are still so strong and dangerous that the U.S. president has to be afraid of them so much that he had to make sure that his plane took off before daybreak.

Mr. President, I think I have discovered the progress you have mentioned. It’s in the current Afghanistan Index of the Brookings Institute, the one that the White House requested and we paid for. It can be seen here www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/Programs/FP/afghanistan%20index/index.pdf.

We can see from the Index that weekly attacks by insurgents rose from 40 in 2008 to 800 by June last year. Hmm, they have made progress. The cross-border attacks of the Haqqani Network have increased by 500 percent by 2011. That’s more huge progress. Attacks by the U.S.-trained Afghan Security Forces against Allied Troops show an all-time high – 10 so far in 2012. Is this progress in training? Since July 2009 U.S. and Coalition troop fatalities have also significantly increased. But the biggest progress is in an area that you would never think of: annual opium production in Afghanistan rose from 185 metric tons in 2002 to 5,800 metric tons by the middle of 2011. Operation Enduring Freedom really helped those poppy growers to make huge progress. Is this how progress is measured?

I also have problems with the words freedom and enduring. Where is freedom if all U.S. politicians, including the president have to sneak in and out of a country that their troops have liberated? If freedom is nonexistent, it must be missing an adjective, so we can speak about “enduring nonexistent freedom.” Actually, the spirit of the freshly signed Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement truly supports this, because there are no consequences therein for breaking the agreement, and it can be canceled by either party with a one-year notice.

Was this visit worth the barrage of breaking news in the American media? Not at all.

When next time the American president flies to Kabul at daytime to address the Afghan and American peoples from an open stage in Kabuls’s main square with tens of thousands of Afghans cheering him and waving Afghan and American flags, we can call it an act of courage, which will deserve the breaking news, but until he and the Vice-President stop traveling  in secrecy and covering up the reality with rhetoric, the event is not even newsworthy. So far both of them have even fell short of clearly and convincingly demonstrating what the measurable benefits of these wars to the average American and average Afghan are. When they can do it, they will deserve double breaking news.

János Keoni Samu, Kalaheo

Pray for unity

It was with utter amazement that I learned that Mayor Carvalho participated in two National Day of Prayer events, one immediately following the other.

During the Interfaith Roundtable event, there was much talk of unity, including in your proclamation, however the only unity was between Hindus, Buddhists, Catholics, Jews, Christians and a number of nondenominational organizations. There is no unity between evangelical Christians and any other religion. The main purpose of the National Day of Prayer is to encourage all people and religions to pray for our country. I feel you are promoting separation and division by agreeing to participate in two identical events. If we can’t even all come together to pray for peace and our country, it’s no wonder there’s no peace on the planet. Jesus prayed with beggars, prostitutes and thieves; it would appear that evangelical Christians aren’t aware of those biblical stories. As the mayor of all the people on this island, I am requesting that if you choose to participate in religious events, that you keep in mind that we are all one and that you do your part to facilitate that unity.

Judie Lundborg Hoeppner

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