The Week in Review
July 10, 2008
WEDNESDAY, July 2
At first glance, the new law passed by Gov. Linda Lingle "protecting" journalists from legal action should they refuse to disclose their sources looked like a tough stand upholding journalistic sovereignty and integrity. The Honolulu Advertiser, gladly patting itself on the back for supporting the bill, reported today that Lingle signed the shield law into effect to "provide some legal protection to the news-gathering process." According to the article, the State Supreme Court ruled that reporters had zero First Amendment Rights way back in 1961, so I suppose this is a step. But what the article also mentions is that the new law does allow the court to "force disclosure from reporters in felony cases, or in civil cases of defamation, as long as prosecutors or defense attorneys meet a three-part test." In other words, whenever they feel like it. So while this law seems to give the third estate freedom from legal tyranny, it's really just a legal roadmap for lawyers and judges to go after reporter's sources. Luckily, the law is set to eclipse in three years to "ensure a legislative review." Maybe they'll get it right next time around. Nice try though.
THURSDAY, July 3
The story of Damien of Kalaupapa is as inspiring as it is bizarre. Born Joseph de Veuster, the Belgian priest cared for and ministered to thousands of banished and diseased people at the infamously mysterious Kalaupapa leper colony on Molokai. While caring for his flock, Damien also contracted leprosy and died in 1889. He was 49. Today The Maui News reports Damien is on his way to sainthood, with the Vatican confirming that the 1999 recovery of a Honolulu woman from terminal lung cancer was in fact a miracle attributed to her prayers to Damien. This was the second miracle attributed to Damien, which puts him on the fast track to sainthood, but it's still in the hands of Pope Benedict XVI. All this tedious, dogmatic rigmarole seems unnecessary considering the huge sacrifice Damien made in his life. He was an incredible man, no doubt. But why all the holy hoops to jump through? I guess it wouldn't be Catholicism without the pomp and circumstance. Another odd side-note to this story is the fate of Damien's remains. Exhumed, to be re-buried in his native Belgium, his right hand was lopped off and sent back to Molokai to lay beside the church he helped build with, well, his own two hands.
FRIDAY, July 4
Happy Independence Day! It was on this day in 1776 that 56 members of the Continental Congress signed their names to the Declaration of Independence, a cornerstone of modern democracy. Seriously though, through all the fireworks, long holiday weekends and barbecues, sometimes it really blows you away to sit back and think, a bunch of guys actually got together and pulled this off. Sure they where aristocratic, wealthy land owners who may have turned a profit by kicking those Brits back across the Atlantic, but you have to give it to them, they where ambitious. And even if you don't think of yourself as an American citizen—a moniker many people in this particular state still wrestle with, and I don't blame them—the truth and intent of that document is very important. "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." As simple as it is profound. If you ask me, it's something worth fighting for. Just be sure you know who's really trying to take it away.
Speaking of Democratic government, Gov. Lingle signed a bill today to begin work on a so-called West Maui Transportation Access Plan. Armed with her mighty veto pen, Lingle cut down a portion of the bill that would hire a mainland consultant for $50,000. So for now, a "working group" will be formed to discuss just what the hell to do when the Honoapi`ilani Highway is shut down. I'm sure the solution is there somewhere. And I'm just as sure it will take years before anything gets done about it.
SATURDAY, July 5
OK, so we all saw the headline on the front page of today's Maui News and gasped. "Lahaina Town denied a Halloween permit," it read ominously. But don't worry, it was just a business organization–Lahaina Town Action Committee—getting shut down on a proposed costume contest and vending permit. Halloween will still happen this year, meaning 30,000-plus scantily dressed drunks will still descend on Lahaina like locusts. Hey, costume idea! Wait what's a locust look like anyway and how do I make it a sexy locust?
SUNDAY, July 6
You know the drought situation is getting bad when they stop planting sugar cane because they can't find enough water to feed their new plants. Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Co. says it will suspend replanting through the month of July when it hopes the island's reserves will be replenished. According to an article in The Maui News, Wailoa Ditch, a major thoroughfare for the East Maui Irrigation, is running at a meager 18%. County Water Director Jeff Eng urged people countywide to curb usage. I wonder if those guys I saw using a fire hose to wash the parking garage of a large condo complex on South Kihei Road know there's a drought.
MONDAY, July 7
Hilarious article in The Honolulu Advertiser today. Another new law signed by Gov. Lingle would only permit the sale of "fire-safe" cigarettes. By next October, retailers will only be allowed to carry cigarettes approved by the Hawaii Fire Council as "reduced ignition" smokes. Basically they burn at a lower temperature, somewhat reducing the chance they'll cause a fire. But fall asleep with one in bed, and I'll bet the term "reduced ignition" no longer applies. Maybe I'm the only one who thinks this an oxymoronic joke. Can't wait until they start selling only non-alcoholic beer at bars and bullet-less guns at the sporting goods store. Thank God we have such a wise and caring government to keep us safe from ourselves.
TUESDAY, July 8
New Editor Jacob Shafer here, poking my head in and grabbing the baton from Jared, who's done a wonderful job filling the empty space between Mr. Pignataro's departure and my arrival. I'll do my best to keep up the insightfully good work. MTW
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