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LETTERS for October 13 issue

By Staff | Oct 13, 2016

Bike lane at Olowalu is narrow and dangerous

The bike lane, which is also the shoulder of the highway, has been severely narrowed on the mauka side over a long length just north of Olowalu by restriping it in accommodation for the seawall, making it very dangerous for bicycle riders. I discovered this while bicycling home to Lahaina a few days ago.

I went back today with a tape measure and found that the vehicle lane had inexplicably been widened three feet more than the pre-existing and normal width over a significant span for no apparent reason, as the highway there is not near the ocean or the seawall.

This resulted in the bike lane being reduced to a dangerous width of less than one foot in some areas – really scary. This needs to be corrected immediately – NOW – before a biker gets seriously injured or killed.

We need to protect the shore, but we also need to protect our bikers, including me.



Hawaiians have a heritage of faith in God

If I wrote about the Hawaiian goddess Pele, it may be received better from a cultural standpoint. However, the Hawaiians’ ardent faith and belief in the “living God” is most compelling to me. The passion and willingness to act on their convictions is inspiring.

Chiefess Kapiolani, the cousin of King Kamehameha I, in 1824 defied the volcano goddess Pele and exclaimed, “If I am destroyed, then you may all believe in Pele, but if I am not, you must all turn to the true writings.”

She faced physical hardships making the long journey over sharp lava fields and endured threats, taunting, ridicule and fearful unbelievers. She climbed down into the lava crater, said a Christian prayer and returned unharmed.

She praised “the one true God,” proclaiming, “Jehovah is my God. He kindled these fires. I fear not Pele. All the gods of Hawaii are vain.”

Hawaiians have an amazing heritage of faith in God. Love endured despite centuries of oppression, including human sacrifices and bloody civil wars.

The Hawaiians benefited greatly from the arrival of Christian missionaries. Some heirs, later arrivals and American businessmen exploited the Hawaiians. Hawaiians are exploited to this day. We have a choice to remain silent, ignorant, complacent, or do what we can.

“What does God require of us? To do justice…” (Micah 6)

Writing letters is something I can do to make people aware of the injustices and offer hope. Real change occurs by transforming thoughts and challenging the status quo.

My writing is not meant to “impose” but rather “propose” solutions to restore the Hawaiian Nation with invaluable insight found in the Bible, mostly from Isaiah, Leviticus 25-26, Joshua, Jeremiah 30-33, and the teachings of Jesus.

Queen Liliuokalani is one of the most intelligent, wise and admirable persons that lived. She was discerning and could distinguish between real Christians and frauds. David Malo, Henry Obookiah and many other notable Hawaiians have tremendous testimonies.

These Hawaiians are my heroes of faith and “cloud of witnesses” described in Hebrews 12: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”

David Malo described his conversion as being “delivered from the pit.” (Psalm 40)

I can relate. I tried to do everything right with good intentions and attending church. Religion was like trying to find my way home in the dark; following a descending pathway led to what I thought was the right road. Deceived, I stepped onto the glassy surface and sank in miry clay. My desperate cry for help was stifled. I doubted anyone could hear me.

“He (Jesus) heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit.” He rescued me from religious “do’s and don’ts,” trying to be good enough, and society’s expectations of “correctness.”

Jesus offers a relationship that restores us to our heavenly Father while providing the comfort and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Words cannot describe my gratitude of His saving grace and the joy and peace that I have because of Him.

In my imperfect way, I attempt to share my lifesaving, perfect Jesus. What people do with Jesus is up to them.



Pay attention to domestic violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Dwarfed by the enormous outpouring for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it receives attention largely from survivors, advocates and activists. But it should warrant far greater and more careful consideration.

Domestic violence is not only deadly, it is also associated with a host of other social problems. It costs the country billions in criminal justice expenditures, healthcare, lost productivity and more. It is a contributing factor to many other crimes; yet it is preventable.

This October, I implore everyone to do what they can to support survivors but also to teach our children and young adults how to engage in healthy, peaceful relationships.

Here is why we should all care about domestic violence. According to the Violence Policy Center, more than 1,600 women were murdered by men in 2013. Of those, 62 percent were wives or intimate partners. Almost one-third of the mass shooting deaths in 2015 were domestic violence-related, and in cases in which four people were killed (but not the shooter), 57 percent included family members or intimate partners as victims. Domestic violence was the reason for more than 20 percent of police officers killed in the line of duty between 2010 and 2014.

Bullying is a predictor of later involvement in an abusive dating or domestic situation. Dating violence is a major cause of school massacres. According to sociologist Jessie Klein of Adelphi University, of 12 school shootings that occurred in the U.S. between 1997 and 2002, assailants specifically targeted girls who had either rejected them or broken up with them. The boys had previously made threats against the girls, typically both in person and online.

The CDC has estimated domestic violence costs $8.3 billion per year, with $5.8 billion of that in medical costs and $2.5 billion in lost productivity. Domestic violence is the most common cause of injury for women in the U.S. ages 15 to 44. Victims of domestic violence use emergency healthcare services eight times more frequently than do non-victims. The increased healthcare costs for victims can persist 15 years after the abuse.

According to a 2005 survey, some 64 percent of domestic violence victims say the abuse has impacted their work. It is estimated that victims lose eight million paid days of work annually. Abusers often injure or kill others while targeting victims at the workplace, as in the recent shooting at a mall in Burlington, Washington.

Children who witness abuse are at greater risk for becoming either victims or abusers. They are also prone to act out in school, creating a challenging climate for teachers, administrators and classmates. They may require mental health assistance, which is also costly. And many, especially boys, end up involved in the criminal justice system – yet another cost.

The above-listed statistics should be enough for us to take action in our homes, schools, workplaces and communities. We can teach our children healthy, respectful relationship boundaries and to intervene when they witness someone mistreating a date or partner. We can include these topics in our school and college curricula. We can train employers and colleagues to identify the signs of abuse and to be helpful supporters. We can educate healthcare providers and police on best practices in identifying and responding to abuse that help survivors receive the support they need and hold abusers accountable. Amazing resources are available through organizations like Futures Without Violence, The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the Partnership for Prevention. While it is easy to buy one more pink item that contributes minimally to breast cancer awareness and research, it is equally easy to learn and act to end domestic violence.



Time to review your Medicare Coverage

Medicare’s annual open enrollment season begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7. This is the time every year when you can sign up for a new Medicare drug or health plan, or switch the one you have now. Any new coverage you select will take effect Jan. 1, 2017.

In addition to Part D drug plans, open enrollment applies to Medicare Advantage health plans, which are essentially managed care plans run by private insurers approved by Medicare.

If you have Original (traditional) Medicare and you’re satisfied with it, you don’t need to do anything during open enrollment.

If you have a Medicare Advantage health plan or Part D drug plan, keep in mind that these plans can make changes each year, including what they cover, how much they charge for monthly premiums and deductibles, and which doctors, hospitals and pharmacies are in their networks.

Always review the materials your health or drug plan sends you, like the “Evidence of Coverage” and “Annual Notice of Change.” Make sure your plan still meets what you anticipate will be your health needs for next year. If you’re satisfied with your current plan, and your insurer is still offering it in 2017, you don’t need to make any changes.

Here are resources to help you compare your current coverage with new plan offerings for 2017. You can visit www.medicare.gov to review drug and health plans, including costs, available in your area and enroll in a new plan if you decide to; call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for around-the-clock assistance to find out more about your coverage options; and review the “Medicare & You” handbook, mailed to the homes of people with Medicare each fall and posted online at www.medicare.gov/pubs/pdf/10050.pdf.

People with Medicare who have limited income and resources may qualify for Extra Help to pay for their Part D drug plans. There’s no cost or obligation to apply for Extra Help, and it can save you thousands of dollars each year.

Medicare beneficiaries, family members, or caregivers can apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 to find out more.

CATE KORTZEBORN, Medicare’s Acting Regional Administrator for Hawaii