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Homeless in Honolulu

The local chamber of commerce in Hawaii wants visitors to think of Honolulu as a place where one can—at least temporarily—relax and forget about life’s problems. But this tropical paradise is not immune to serious economic hardship. Homelessness in Honolulu has risen 32 percent over the last five years, a troubling—and increasingly visible—trend.

Although government officials and representatives of the tourism authority have expressed a desire to find long-term, compassionate solutions, thus far the bulk of the city’s efforts to combat homelessness have taken the form of a police crackdown on homeless people—confiscating their belongings, waking them from sleep and issuing multiple tickets and fines for low-level offenses.

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These efforts have succeeded in displacing the homeless, shifting them from tourist-filled areas to other parts of the city. The strategy addresses what Mayor Kirk Caldwell of Honolulu described to The New York Times as “the visual impact of homelessness.” Cities like Portland, Tucson and Los Angeles have proposed similarly tough legislation.

In a city heavily reliant on income from tourism, concern for aesthetics is understandable, but a pristine view must not come at the cost of compassionate treatment of city residents. Officials in such cities should push for more legislation that addresses systemic causes of homelessness, and local and state governments should offer greater funding to local nonprofits working to address the issue. We are called to recognize the dignity of all people and to build a culture in which homeless people are treated as individuals, not eyesores.

An Unending Cycle

The death of young people is always a tragic event, but the kidnapping and murder of three teenagers in Israel has taken on a special resonance. Thousands of Israelis turned out to mourn their deaths. The government’s responded with swift military action, even though the perpetrators of the crimes have not yet been identified with certainty. Israeli leaders suspect members of Hamas, but they have provided no definitive proof of the group’s involvement.

In most circumstances, the mysterious deaths of three individuals would be investigated by the proper authorities before any form of punishment was meted out. In Israel, however, any killing that seems to implicate Hamas is met with almost immediate retribution. In this case, the homes of the two leading suspects have been razed to the ground, though the suspects remain at large. The sadness of the Israeli people is understandable, but the fierce reaction of their leaders is disproportionate to the crimes. What in most countries would be a criminal case has been turned into an act of war. In a sad but not unexpected turn of events, a Palestinian youth was kidnapped and murdered in the heated atmosphere following the original killings.

If the Middle East peace process is to have any chance of success, both sides must learn to take a step back before resorting to violence. The death of innocents naturally stirs feelings of rage and injustice, but if the cycle of violence in the Middle East is to end, then these human emotions must not be allowed to drive events on the ground. For the peace and safety of all inhabitants of the Middle East, restraint must be the watchword of the day.

To Care for Her

The scandal within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has already led to multiple investigations and resignations. Now an investigation by the Associated Press has added to the scrutiny. The news organization found that the V.A. is especially lacking in its treatment of female veterans, even though it has invested more than $1.3 billion into the effort since 2008. The review found that one in four V.A. hospitals has no full-time gynecologist; about 15 percent of clinics in rural areas do not have a designated women’s health provider; a greater proportion of female veterans are on the notorious V.A. electronic wait list; and the wait time for mammogram results is overextended.

And veterans’ care is not the only concern. In a recent examination of military hospitals that serve 1.6 million active duty soldiers and their families, The New York Times (6/28) found “persistent lapses” in the care of patients and a system in which “scrutiny is sporadic and avoidable errors are chronic” and “mandated safety investigations often go undone.” In some cases, the consequences are fatal. Jessica Zeppa, the pregnant wife of an active-duty soldier, complained of pain, weakness and fever on four visits to Reynolds Army Community Hospital in Fort Sill, Okla., but was given an appointment only to have her wisdom teeth extracted. Not long after, she died of severe sepsis.

President Obama has nominated Robert A. McDonald, former head of Procter & Gamble, to help fix the mismanagement within the V.A., but much more needs to be done. Along with better leadership, the government has a responsibility to provide whatever funding is necessary to shorten the waiting lists and properly inspect health care facilities. The military health care system should not be contributing to U.S. military casualties.

 

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John Feehily
3 years 5 months ago
Once again, America's lean to the left results in unjustly criticizing Israel for yet another attempt to extricate itself from annihilation. The order of offenses was as follows: Three Israeli teenagers kidnapped and murdered, presumably by Palestinians whose hatred of all things Israeli motivated these heinous deeds. Someone in Israel retaliated by injuring and arresting a boy who happens to have a residence in the US. West bank Palestinians responded with rock throwing. Gaza Palestinians responded by lobbing rockets into Israel, endangering civilians. Israel responded defensively and offensively in knocking down incoming rockets and attacking rocket launcher sites in Gaza. It is a well known fact that Hamas embeds its rocket launchers in civilian areas to guarantee lots of photos of injured and killed women and children. Following all this America and others call upon Israel to exercise restraint. Where are the calls to Hamas to end its terrorist actions?
Gerelyn Hollingsworth
3 years 5 months ago
Agree. (With John F., not with Francesca G.)
Vince Killoran
3 years 5 months ago
With its many decades as an occupying power, the nation of Israel, is losing its moral bearings.
Francesca G
3 years 5 months ago
I agree. Sadly, Israel is becoming genocidal in it's use of disproportionate force to collectively punish all Palestinians.
Francesca G
3 years 5 months ago
The murder of three Israeli teenagers was horrific. In return, the IDF has killed many times that number of Palestinians, a Palestinian teen has been kidnapped and burned alive, and a 15-year-old Palestinian boy has been savagely beaten by the IDF (this was captured on video.) It is extremely racist to bracket "Palestinians" as a single entity and to collectively punish them. The Israeli Defense Minister, Danny Danon, has called on Israel to cut off fuel and electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip. Palestinians are being dehumanized and demonized because of the actions of a group (there is no proof that Hamas killed the three teens and Hamas has denied the killing.) There's an excellent article on this on Israel's actions, which are illegal under international law, at http://www.juancole.com/2014/07/israels-groundhog-snowballs.html
Paul Stolz
3 years 5 months ago
According to a July 1st NY times article on the kidnapping, "Hamas leaders have praised the kidnapping but have not claimed credit for it". Also the article claims the suspects were affiliated with Hamas but it remains unclear if they acted on their own or under official orders. In my opinion, if the Hamas leaders praised the murder of 3 Jewish boys then they must take a large degree of responsibility whether they actually ordered it or not. As of today Gaza Militants have fired over 550 rockets from homes and populated neighborhoods of innocent people. In response Israel has carried out over 1000 airstrikes that have resulted in the deaths of over 100 people. Military spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner has stated Israel's military "uses its weapons to defend its civilians. Hamas uses its civilians to defend its weapons. I feel the need to point out these facts because they are glaringly absent from your editorial and my guess is they won’t be in future op-ed pieces. Hamas is not a victim here. When you talk about restraint in the future maybe you should make an attempt to be balanced in your condemnation.
Gerelyn Hollingsworth
3 years 5 months ago
Agree.
Marie Rehbein
3 years 4 months ago
Your provision of facts seems to indicate that you think Israel's choice of reaction to the kidnapping is the only and best response that Israel could have made. I don't believe the Editors were saying that Hamas is a victim. I believe they were pointing out that Israel could have arrested the suspects and put them on trial instead of reacting against the whole Palestinian population.
JOSEPH D'ANNA
3 years 5 months ago
If one believes that God created man in his image and likeness, one has to wonder, "Did God make a mistake"?
Terrance Wagner
3 years 4 months ago
I think the best solution would be for all congressmen and women to put their healthcare on hold, no benefits, until the vets get the proper medical treatment that they deserve. You would see speedy action. But it will never happen. Please vote them out this November
STEVEN PAYNE
3 years 4 months ago
Couldn't the Israelis close the tunnels on their side of the border, rather than go into Gaza? That way would save more lives than their current incursion and achieve the same result it seems to me.
Marie Rehbein
3 years 4 months ago
Nice to have the VA, but why does the government not simply cover the costs of sending Veterans and military personnel to the physicians everyone else uses?

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