September 11, 2013 | 04:17 PMWHEN WILL MAZIE HIRONO SPEAK OUT ON SYRIA?
Wow, I seriously cannot believe we're not already lobbing bombs and cruise missiles at Syria. I mean, that's how the U.S. solves humanitarian disasters like chemical attacks in vicious civil wars, right? Our invasion and occupation Iraq was a decade ago–more than enough time for everyone to forget what a complete disaster it was.
But then again President Barack Obama, whose aides had been saying that he had complete authority to launch whatever he wanted at whoever he wanted because he's the President, decided to ask Congress for their take on a possible military assault on Syria while letting the diplomats see if they can get Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to give up his chemical weapons. Seriously–more than a 100,000 people die in that country's civil war, but the White House doesn't take notice until Assad breaks out the Sarin?
Anyway, three of Hawaii's four voices in Congress (all Democrats, mind you) have already given their views on us possibly attacking Syria. And it's not good for Obama.
Colleen Hanabusa, who represents Honolulu in the House, was the first to speak out. She gave a lot of interviews, but her Sept. 4 Tweet "I oppose U.S. military intervention in #Syria and will vote NO" pretty much says it all.
U.S. Senator Brian Schatz followed her a day later. "I have weighed the expert briefings and analysis, and listened closely to the people of Hawaii," he said in a Sept. 5 news release.
"Though all of us are outraged by the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons, I have concluded that a military strike against Syria is not the answer. Therefore, I will oppose this resolution."
On Sept. 9, Tulsi Gabbard, who represents all of Hawaii except Honolulu in the House and is currently a captain in the Hawaii National Guard who served in Iraq, voiced her opposition to hitting Syria. "Presently, Syria does not present a direct security threat to the United States," she said in a press release. "Military action will undermine our national defense, as even a limited strike could very easily escalate into a regional conflict, stretching thin a military that has been at war for more than 12 years... We should learn from history; we cannot afford to be the world's policeman. The United States should not insert itself in the midst of this civil war, which is rooted in sectarian hatred and animosity between various warring religious groups."
That leaves Senator Mazie Hirono, who is apparently not ready to say what she thinks of a possible strike on Syria.
"This is one of the toughest decisions a member of Congress makes," she said in a Sept. 9 email. "I am reviewing the facts surrounding the reported chemical weapon attacks, the administration's plan and the scope of the authorizing resolution. The use of chemical weapons is universally abhorrent and deplorable, but we should always be cautious about the use of force abroad, especially after the rush to war in Iraq. My decision will rest on whether the administration's plan would advance our national interests."
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FEMALE TIGER SHARKS APPARENTLY LOVE HAWAII
Shark sightings and bites (one of them tragically fatal) have been in the local news a lot lately. Given that they've lived in the ocean many, many millions of years longer than we've been dipping our little toes into the waves, bad interactions between sharks and humans have always been a reality.
Now new research from the University of Hawaii says that some sharks–specifically female tiger sharks–may specifically be migrating from the Northwest Hawaiian Islands to the main Hawaiian Islands during the fall.
"A quarter of the mature female tiger sharks plying the waters around the remote coral atolls of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands decamp for the populated main Hawaiian Islands in the late summer and fall, swimming as far as 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles), according to new research from University of Florida and the University of Hawaii at Manoa," stated a Sept. 5 UH news release. "Their report is scheduled for publication in the November 2013 issue of Ecological Society of America's journal Ecology."
Tiger sharks live in the waters around our islands year-round, but such a specific, quantifiable migration as this is and isn't surprising, the researchers say. In fact, Hawaiian lore tells of increased shark bite risk in the fall months.
"Both the timing of this migration and tiger shark pupping season coincide with Hawaiian oral traditions suggesting that late summer and fall, when the wiliwili tree blooms, are a period of increased risk of shark bites," said researcher Carl Meyer of the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology in a Sept. 5 press release.
The research, the scientists say, also helps demolish old legends of sharks being "territorial."
"This research and other studies like it have solidly overturned mid-twentieth century ideas that tiger sharks stick to chosen territories in specific coves and bays," stated the news release. "The territoriality hypothesis led to culls during the 1960s and '70s under the belief that killing sharks in locations where people had been hurt meant killing the shark that had attacked them, eliminating a 'problem' shark."
As to why such a migration is taking place, the researchers aren't exactly certain. Study author Yannis Papastamatiou put forward the hypothesis that it's connected to pupping, "with female sharks swimming down to preferred nursery sites in the main Hawaiian Islands," said the news release. What's more, "The main Hawaiian Islands may offer different foods, protection from ocean waves, or some other, unknown factor."
Of course, the UH researchers caution everyone not to leap to the conclusion that the recent spate of sightings and bites is a direct result of this female tiger shark migration. "Many factors might influence shark behavior in ways that would lead to more frequent encounters with people, Papastamatiou said," according to the news release. "Scientists have almost no data on the attributes or particular behaviors of tiger sharks that bite people because bloody conflicts with humanity, though dramatic, are rare."
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