Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who gave the keynote address at Kilauea Military Camp's Memorial Day ceremony in May,
is co-sponsoring legislation to improve privacy protections. Photo by David Howard Donald
KAU’S U.S. REP. TULSI GABBARD today co-sponsored a bill to improve privacy protections for Americans and limit the National Security Administration’s domestic surveillance programs. The USA FREEDOM Act primarily targets reforms to Section 215 of the 2001 USA PATRIOT Act, which has been widely blamed for the bulk collection of innocent Americans’ personal data. 
      The USA FREEDOM Act was introduced in the House today by Wisconsin’s Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, author of the 2001 USA PATRIOT Act.
      “The NSA’s blatant violations of personal privacy and freedoms – and abuse of the USA PATRIOT Act’s original intent – are absolutely unacceptable,” said Gabbard, who has repeatedly expressed concerns about the NSA’s surveillance programs and spoke in support of an Amash-Conyers proposal to strip funding from the NSA in July. “The USA FREEDOM Act is the first piece of major legislation in Congress designed to make necessary reforms to the sweeping surveillance programs which violate basic levels of personal privacy of the American people. As recent headlines continue to reveal, we still do not know how extensive and invasive these programs truly are. The American people deserve a balanced solution that focuses on keeping our country safe and ensuring the protection of our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.”
      The USA FREEDOM Act targets four key areas of surveillance reform.
      First, it would end bulk collection of Americans’ communications records under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. The bill would strengthen prohibition on “reverse targeting” of Americans — targeting a foreigner with the goal of obtaining communications involving an American. It requires the government to more aggressively filter and discard information about Americans accidentally collected through PRISM and related programs.
      Second, it would reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court. It creates an Office of the Special Advocate tasked with promoting privacy interests before the FISA court’s closed proceedings. OSA would have the authority to appeal decisions of the FISA court.
      Third, it would increase transparency by requiring the attorney general to publicly disclose all FISA Court decisions issued after July 10, 2003 that contain a significant construction or interpretation of law. Internet and telecommunications companies would be allowed to publicly report an estimate of (1) the number of FISA orders and national security letters they received, (2) the number of FISA orders and letters they complied with, and (3) the number of users or accounts on whom information was demanded by the government. The bill would require the government to make regular public reports estimating the total number of individuals and Americans that were subject to FISA orders authorizing electronic surveillance, pen/trap devices, and access to business records.
      Fourth, the USA FREEDOM Act adopts a single standard for Section 215 and National Security Letters protection to ensure the Administration doesn’t use different authorities to support bulk collection. It also adds a sunset date to NSLs, requiring that Congress reauthorize the government’s authority, thereby ensuring proper congressional review.

THE KA`U COMMUNITY IS REPRESENTATIVE of the rest of the state of Hawai`i in being divided in opinion regarding the Marriage Equality Act of 2013 currently being discussed at a special session of the state Legislature. Several Ka`u residents sent testimony to the Legislature in advance of the bill being considered by the Senate Judiciary & Labor Committee, where it passed yesterday with a vote of 5 – 2. 
      “In Hawai`i, we don’t turn our backs on family. No member of anyone’s ohana – gay or straight – should have to face shame because of who they are and who they love, wrote Thelina O’Daniel, of Ocean View. “The government should not be in the business of telling people who they can and cannot marry. None of us would want to be told that it is illegal to marry the person we love.”
As with the rest of Hawa`i, Ka`u residents are divided
in their opinions regarding same-sex marriage.
      Muriel Mililani Hughes, of Volcano Village, wrote, “Marriage by definition is the moral, physical, and social union of a man and a woman. If two people of the same gender would like to form a union, then it should be called something else other than a marriage. If individuals desire equality under the law, provide for the same legal rights, but do not call the arrangement a marriage.
      “In light of how the local community has been suffering due to the federal shutdown, I am appalled by the decision to schedule a special session on taxpayers’ money to determine this issue. In a small community such as Volcano, the closing of the Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park had far outreaching effect beyond the impact on federal workers ... consider the people who had bed and breakfast units, restaurants, stores, service businesses. A travesty on the small people.”
      James Long, of Na`alehu, wrote, “I believe it is the right thing to do, to pass SB1 and allow our same-sex, married island brothers and sisters federal recognition and be treated equally under federal law. It is not only the right thing to do, it is the right time to do it.”
      Also from Na`alehu, James T. Oyama, Jr. wrote, “Religious freedom is one of the founding principles of our country. It is not uncommon knowledge that the Bible teaches that gay and lesbian relationships are against the laws of God. It is not a new radical philosophy but a moral principle that has been in place for thousands of years. It is a principle that even our founding forefathers believed in. Although society is changing, the bible has not changed, and many people still uphold the principles in the Bible. It is their religious right to do so.
      “To require any religious leader, organization, small business or individual to provide goods or services that assist or promote the solemnization or celebration of any marriage, or provide counseling or other services that directly facilitate the perpetuation of any marriage that is against their religious beliefs, would be infringing on their religious rights.”
      Julie and Thomas Pasquale, of Na`alehu, submitted testimony saying, “This is a basic civil rights issue. The freedom to marry the person you love is a basic freedom that should not be denied to anyone.
      “The government should not be in the business of telling people who they can and cannot marry. None of us would want to be told that it is illegal to marry the person we love.
      This issue is no different than past laws outlawing marriage between couples of different races or religions. It is the role of government to assure equal rights for all couples who want to make a marriage commitment.
      “It is time to put this issue behind us and allow equal rights to marry to all couples.”
      Ron Ebert, of Pahala, testified, “I am totally against legalizing same sex marriage. At the very least it should be put to a vote of the people. It might be legal to ram this into law without a vote of the people, but is it the right thing to do?”
      This and other testimony from Ka`u and other Hawai`i residents is available at capital.hawaii.gov.
      More testimony from Ka`u residents will be reported in upcoming Ka`u News Briefs.

Bay Clinic is one participant in
Better Choices, Better Health.
BETTER CHOICES, BETTER HEALTH: A FAMILY AFFAIR is the name of the health fair taking place Saturday, Nov. 9 at Pahala Community Center. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the fair offers health, education and prevention booths, nutrition and healthy food demonstrations, Hawai`i Health Connector enrollment, games and door prizes. 
      Sponsored by Ka`u Rural Health Community Association, Inc., participants include University of Manoa John A. Burns School of Medicine, UH-Manoa Nutrition, EMO Dance & Fitness, Bay Clinic Family Health Center, UH-West Hawai`i Campus, Tutu & Me Traveling Preschool and UH-Hilo College of Pharmacy.

`OHI`A LEHUA ECOSYSTEM IS THE TOPIC at After Dark in the Park this evening at 7 p.m. when University of Hawai`i at Manoa professor Dieter Mueller-Dombois discusses his new book, Rainforest: Born Among Hawaiian Volcanoes, Evolved in Isolation: The Story of a Dynamic Ecosystem with Relevance to Forests Worldwide. He will also be available to sign copies of his book.
      The program takes place at Kilauea Visitor Center in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. $2 donations support park programs, and park entrance fees apply.

KA`U `OHANA BAND REHEARSALS take place tomorrow and Thursday at 4 p.m. at Ocean View Community Center. Instruments are provided; no experience is necessary. Contact Ka`u School of the Arts at 854-1540 or info@kauarts.org.



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