Editor's Notes


Editor’s note

Comes with video

We have a piece on rail by Curt Sanburn this week. Sanburn, a former Weekly editor who famously penned a blistering profile of then-Councilman Mufi Hannemann years ago, contacted the publisher last month with the thought that the Weekly should do a piece on what he felt were problems with the City’s selection of heavy rail technology, and with the process that lead to the choice.

I asked Sanburn to be sure that, if it was to be an advocacy piece, that the story be for something, not simply against what the City has planned for now. This week’s cover story is the outcome of his efforts.

The story is a departure from our usual offerings in that with a few exceptions, this is not intended to be a work of original reporting. Most of the relevant details here have been presented in other news outlets over the course of the past several months. Sanburn felt that these developments had not been put in their proper context, and wanted to make the case, while there might still be time, for a reopening of the process and a reexamination of alternatives.

Sanburn’s piece makes a strong case, but it is a departure from the direction Honolulu Weekly has taken over the past 18 months, and I felt readers should know that going in. The editorial team here is committed to original reporting on the stories that matter to Honolulu, and that’s where our focus will remain.

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Among the many ripple effects of Barack Obama’s ascendancy to the presidency: a suddenly roiling public debate in many Asian countries about race and ethnicity. Much-reported in recent weeks has been the experience of Lou Jing, a mixed-race contestant on China’s answer to American Idol, whose Sino-African American parentage touched off an often-vicious debate about what it means to be Chinese. Lou has told reporters that she considers Obama a role model and someone who gives hope to mixed-race people throughout Asia.

Meanwhile, in Japan, Obamamania is in full swing. According to Christine Yano, an anthropology professor at the University of Hawaii who gives a talk on the phenomenon Wednesday, most of the president’s Japanese admirers claim that his race has little to do with their affection, and that he is a post-racial leader. Yano, with an eye to the enduring power of “blood ideology” in contemporary Japan, is not so sure. Her lecture, which is part of the East-West Center’s Fall 2009 Lecture Series, will explore Obama’s image in Japan in the context of historical representations of African Americans there.

East-West Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa campus, Burns Hall Room 2118, Wed 11/18, Noon–1:20pm, [email: culture], 944-7593

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This week we kick off our annual series of Holiday Gift Guides with a look at how non-profits and other community groups are coping with the recession and a few ideas about how to start your holiday season by giving to the community. Please see our guide to holiday giving beginning on page 14.