Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hawaii media spotlight turns to Snowden's girlfriend, workplace; lawmakers and public react; more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Edward Snowden
Bikini-clad Lindsay Mills cavorts in Hawaii with boyfriend Edward Snowden according to this You Tube screen capture
The girlfriend of Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who leaked classified documents about US surveillance operations, has apparently blogged about the couple's life in Hawaii and her uncertainty about the future without her "man of mystery". The Guardian.

Watch the YouTube video here.

The live-in girlfriend of National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden was described by acquaintances Monday as a dancer and acrobat who was on Oahu about a year. Star-Advertiser.

Edward Snowden’s most intimate connection to Hawaii in the months leading up to a massive leak of top-secret American surveillance techniques is a 28-year-old acrobatic dancer named Lindsay Mills. Civil Beat.

Booz Allen Hamilton said Tuesday that it has fired Edward Snowden from its Hawaii operations following Snowden's confession over the weekend that he had been the source of leaked documents detailing top-secret National Security Agency surveillance programs. Pacific Business News.

Pacific Guardian Center
The former Kunia resident who’s accused of leaking classified U.S. government information worked for one of the best firms in Hawaii. KHON2.

A day after former Hawaii resident Edward Snowden revealed that he leaked top-secret government information to the media, his employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, would say nothing beyond a written statement posted Sunday on its website. Star-Advertiser.

Edward Snowden, the man who said he's responsible for leaking information about classified surveillance by the U.S. government, was one of about 350 Hawaii employees of the contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, sources told Hawaii News Now. Booz Allen Hamilton's Hawaii office is headquartered downtown in the Pacific Guardian Center at the corner of Nimitz and Alakea.

National Security Administration surveillance programs recently revealed by the media are "troubling" and "unacceptable" and deserve a thorough investigation to determine whether they were an abuse of government power, members of Hawaii's all-Democratic congressional delegation said Monday. Star-Advertiser.

Last week saw revelations that the FBI and the National Security Agency have been collecting Americans' phone records en masse and that the agencies have access to data from nine tech companies. But secrecy around the programs has meant even basic questions are still unanswered.  Here's what we still don't know. Has the NSA been collecting all Americans' phone records, and for how long? It's not entirely clear. Pro Publica.

Edward Snowden's revelation about secret NSA surveillance programs was a reminder that intelligence-gathering and intrigue related to it go way back in Hawaii and are alive and well today. Star-Advertiser.

The leaker who revealed top secret U.S. surveillance programs says he hopes to find shelter in Iceland, but he may be disappointed by the reception from a new government seen as less keen than predecessors to attract exiles and Internet renegades. Hawaii Reporter.

With the recent identification of Edward Snowden as the man who leaked National Security Agency documents detailing anti-terrorism programs unknown to the public, Hawaii is home to yet another man accused of releasing top-secret government information. Star-Advertiser.

Local experts react to reported NSA leaker. KHON2.

The Hawaii Health Connector said Monday that the state’s first online health insurance exchange has received the next stage of federal approval to launch on Oct. 1. Pacific Business News.

A new state law removes the University of Hawaii president's power to serve as the chief procurement officer for construction contracts. Associated Press.

In the event of a large tsunami, surging water levels could easily course past two rows of houses, across a flat clearing, and reach an important one-story cinder-block building in Ewa Beach. Employees in the exposed structure joke about the irony of their situation, which isn't entirely surprising given that they work in the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Civil Beat.

The state's film industry is expecting a big boost in business thanks to a new law. With an enhanced tax credit starting next month, companies like Hawaii Media Inc. predict more productions will be shooting in the islands. Hawaii News Now.

An estimated $400 million polysilicon plant built in eastern Idaho by Hawaii firm Hoku Scientific Inc. now has only eight workers, all security guards, after its last engineer exited last month amid dwindling hopes the facility will ever produce materials for solar panels. Associated Press.

State roundup for June 11. Associated Press.

Oahu
Sewer rates on Oahu are going up again on July 1. KITV4.

The Academy of the Pacific is shutting down due to financial struggles and dwindling enrollment at its Alewa Heights campus, following more than 50 years of educating "out-of-the-box learners," school officials said Monday. Star-Advertiser.

The University of Hawaii is hoping a late "push" will stimulate the sale of slow-moving football season tickets. Star-Advertiser.

A nonprofit group that provides shelter, training and work experience for the elderly and people with learning disabilities is the focus of two separate investigations regarding the use of $7.9 million in Community Development Block Grant funds, which were given to the city by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. KITV4.

Hawaii

Some Hawaii Island residents have told Margaret Wille she doesn’t need to be in a rush to prohibit genetically modified crops here. But the Kohala councilwoman said she’s seeing both proposed GMO projects on Hawaii Island that concern her, and ways banning GMO here could provide the county with an economic boost. West Hawaii Today.

For Hawaii’s floral industry, genetic engineering may be an idea whose time is near. Fifteen years after the transgenic Rainbow papaya was commercialized, scientists say the state’s valuable flower crops could be the next to benefit from the controversial technology. Tribune-Herald.

Anthurium isn’t the only flower that University of Hawaii scientists have considered for genetic engineering. Research has also been done on making a virus-resistant orchid, but funding has dried up, leaving that effort on hold, said Teresita Amore, assistant researcher with the University of Hawaii’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

A council committee will consider a resolution that if approved, would authorize an investigation into the “potential misuse” of county funds, Policy Chair Riki Hokama announced today. The resolution reportedly seeks authorization to investigate funding of the  Old Wailuku Post Office demolition, and master planning for the expansion of the Kalana O Maui campus. Maui Now.

A husband and wife on Maui have filed a class-action lawsuit against the Oregon fruit distributor whose frozen berry mix has been linked to four cases of hepatitis A in Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

With Maui Memorial Park at capacity, the Wailuku cemetery has begun construction on its second mausoleum. Maui News.

California-based developer Brian Hoyle is more optimistic than ever that funding will come through in the next several months and he can finally build the long-awaited West Maui Hospital and Medical Center. Maui News.

Even in the usually slower shoulder season of tourism, many Maui hotels are still seeing gains in occupancy rates and earnings, according to the latest Hospitality Advisors LLC report. Maui News.

Kauai

Scientists continue to look for clues to what is causing an outbreak of skin disease in Hawaiian puffer fish on Kauai's North Shore, but have had some success using a marine epoxy to slow the large-scale kill-off of diseased coral in the same area. Star-Advertiser.

A group of South Kauai landowners and residents agreed that more must be done to address development, roadway safety and parking concerns in long-term community plans, according a straw poll taken Saturday. Garden Island.

Kauai Planning & Action Alliance will be “Celebrating 10 Years and Charting the Future” at their annual meeting in a few weeks — and they want the public to speak up. Garden Island.

Molokai

Seven years after Molokai veterans began the process to construct a veterans center, the building is finally nearing completion. But the group is far from celebrating. Hawaii Public Radio.