Fight airline fee increases
In Hawaii, we often have to rely on planes to see our doctors, colleagues, families and friends. We don't get to choose to take the bus or hop on the subway or even to drive. For us, to get from island to island, our only option is to fly.
Yet as part of the recent budget compromise, Washington politicians more than doubled the airline passenger security fee. For those of us who rely on flying for basic essential services, this increase is an undue burden on already expensive travel.
The entire Hawaii delegation has called on our colleagues in the House and Senate to exempt Hawaii from the fee hike, but I need you to add your voice to the call. Join Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and me as we fight against this fee hike.
I've introduced a bill with my colleagues from Hawaii and Alaska (which has a similar problem given its unique geography) to grant an exemption from these fees.
In the past, Congress has exempted these states from paying increased fees given the unique role air travel plays in our basic infrastructure. But we need your help to ensure our voices are heard.
Mahalo for standing with travelers in Hawaii and Alaska.
MAZIE HIRONO, U.S. Senator
Less cars, more bikes on Maui
I read your paper with great interest every time I'm in Maui. It's how I came across the documentary "Black Fish" and the collaborative research on whales being undertaken by scientists in Maui and Ecuador.
I'm writing you because I believe Maui needs less cars and more bikes. I'm writing a media outlet, because media can be the voice that inspires action. I'm writing you because I'm a city planner and columnist who believes that everybody wants to bike. I don't think I've ever seen a child frowning while cycling. An island of bicyclists would be an island of smilers.
But I guess what I'm saying really isn't about what I'm saying. I'm just writing about things I've seen; about how successful biking can be as a mode of transportation when biking is enabled and not driving.
The new road above Lahaina utterly saddens me. That highway will simply create weed vectors and more automobile traffic. That's what cars do well: fill up roads they've been allotted.
Cars are also alienating. No one meets a stranger while driving. No one smiles to another driver. The ocean boardwalk in Kaanapali, people only ever smile. They're in the ocean breeze. They're going somewhere. They're in Maui; they feel as though they're in Maui. All a bike does is allow you to speed up a little bit, get to a place quicker, and yet still feel like you're in a place, rather than whizzing by it at 60 mph.
So, that's all I wanted to say. I love Maui, and Maui is best when not in car, stuck in traffic; it's better out in the breeze. Maui needs to embrace bicycling, build bikeways, have a bike share program and stop building highways that incise communities.
Disappointed in Souki for withholding bill
As a Maui resident, I was shocked to learn that our Representative, Speaker Joseph Souki, withheld the passage of Senate Bill 2026, to explicitly prohibit the slaughter or trafficking of dogs or cats for consumption.
Surprisingly, his office stated the bill was killed for "cultural reasons," yet the bill received overwhelming public support and no opposition. Whose culture, I ask? No other state in the U.S. allows the killing of dogs or cats for consumption. The Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, among many others, have long prohibited the dog meat trade due to its inherent cruelty and spread of rabies and other diseases. While Hawaii has many unique and treasured customs and traditions, being the only state in the nation, let alone the world, to allow the slaughter of dogs for consumption shouldn't be one of them. The claim of "culture" is no excuse for cruelty.
Sadly, pets were another loser this legislative session. Senate Bill 2026 was initiated after the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney and The Humane Society of the United States identified a loophole in our cruelty law, making prosecution of such cases near impossible.
Shockingly, House leadership held the bill from final passage despite receiving no opposition and overwhelming public support, including testimony from residents who witnessed dog slaughter in Moiliili, Kalihi and Waianae, and two unsolved dog decapitation cases last year.
The community should be outraged, as we were in the 2007 case involving Caddy, a beloved pet who was admittedly stolen and butchered.
This election year, be sure to ask your legislators where they stand on animal protection; compassionate and progressive leaders understand that animal issues are people issues, and that anti-cruelty legislation creates safer communities for all.
BARBARA STEINBERG, Kihei
Support ag on Maui
It is springtime on the Mainland and the whole Northern Hemisphere. Springtime is planting season for farmers and a very busy time of year. Hundreds of millions of acres are being prepared and planted to provide all of us with food for our tables, to grow feed for animals, fuel for our energy and clothes for our backs.
Here on Maui, it is also springtime. I am proud of the role that Maui and Monsanto play in supporting agriculture around the world by producing seed for farmers. I ask everyone to find a way to support agriculture on Maui, so that we all can continue to have springs filled with abundant production.
DAVID STOLTZFUS , Kihei
Monsters afraid of educated women
By now, thanks to social media, the world has heard about the Nigerian girls who were kidnapped from their boarding school by a fundamentalist group whose name roughly translates into "Western education is a sin." No one is quite sure what the fate of these girls will be, but from reports, they will be married off or trafficked. It is a horrific crime against a group of girls with big dreams and bright futures.
Now, the real question is, what else can be done?
The reality is, beyond creating awareness and pressuring the Nigerian government to take action to rescue the girls, not much can be done by the average person who wants to help.
But here's a thought. Why are fundamentalist groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria or the Taliban in Pakistan targeting schools, especially schools that teach girls?
Because they are afraid.
These groups understand what the world is still waking up to: that educated women and girls will rise up to be their own people. They'll make their own decisions: what to wear. Who and when to marry. How many children to have. Whether to have a profession.
Educated women and girls will not be vulnerable. They will not be subjugated. They will not have their human rights violated. Beyond their own self-determination, educated women and girls will rise up to help their sisters near and far.
That terrifies fundamentalist groups who aim to keep women and girls trapped in lives where they have no voice and no rights.
At some point, media attention about the Nigerian girls will subside. But desperate conditions facing women and girls throughout the world will continue to exist. The best way to improve this situation is to support organizations that work every single day to ensure women and girls throughout the world have the basic human right of access to education.
Here's hoping for the safe return of the Nigerian school girls, and a world where all women and girls have freedom and the resources they need to live happy, healthy and productive lives.
(This letter was provided by Soroptimist International of the Americas and LiveYourDream.org.)
JINNY McCULLOCH, Soroptimist International of West Maui