Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hawaiian monk seal captured after biting Kona Ironman contestants, Honolulu one step closer to rail transit, Kauai postpones GMO vote, gay marriage symposium canceled, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

photo by contestant Greg Welch
Hawaiian monk seal watches Ironman contestants, photo by Ironman Greg Welch
Two marine biologists and a veterinarian have removed a young Hawaiian monk seal from the wild after it bit two triathletes swimming in Kamakahonu Bay Tuesday. The 6-month-old seal, weighing 100 pounds, was reportedly following and swimming circles around the triathletes prior to nipping them. Both men had minor injuries and were treated on site. One man was bitten on a knee and the other was bitten on the side of his abdomen, said Michelle Barbieri, a veterinarian with The Marine Mammal Center. West Hawaii Today.

Honolulu transit officials filed court documents Tuesday asserting that they've complied with a federal judge's instructions to study the alternative routes and impacts of the city's rail project. If Judge A. Wallace Tashima accepts the city's "notice of compliance," filed in District Court, the move could lift his order blocking rail construction in the heart of Honolulu. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu is one step closer to putting to rest a federal lawsuit that aimed to stall the city’s $5.26 billion rail project. On Tuesday, the city’s attorneys filed paperwork with the U.S. District Court that answered Judge A. Wallace Tashima’s questions regarding the city’s compliance with federal transportation and environment requirements. Civil Beat.

A symposium on the religious exemption in a gay marriage bill that was scheduled for Wednesday evening at the state Capitol has been cancelled. Organizers from the University of Hawaii law school said there was a misunderstanding about whether the symposium would only focus on the religious exemption or whether other issues related to the bill would be discussed. Star-Advertiser.

Marriage Equality Could Make Hawaii Schools More Gay-Friendly. Civil Beat.

State Rep. K. Mark Takai, a congressional hopeful who voted against civil unions and had been undecided on gay marriage, said Tuesday that he supports marriage equality. Star-Advertiser.

Ahi lovers could face a price hike for fresh sashimi and poke next year because of a proposal that would slice the bigeye tuna limit for Hawaii's longline fleet. The overfishing of bigeye tuna is a problem across the Pacific Ocean. The issue is managed at an international level, and the U.S. is hoping to keep the current quota in place. Hawaii News Now.

The Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations is warning the public about unauthorized websites that appear to be trying to get personal information from those seeking unemployment benefits. The department said Tuesday the sites bear the state of Hawaii seal and are targeting those wanting to file unemployment benefits online. Associated Press.

Twenty-nine confirmed cases, 11 hospitalizations, two liver transplants and one death later, the state Department of Health on Tuesday finally confirmed the name of the dietary supplement linked to a surge in acute liver inflammation and liver failure in the isles, asking that sale of the product come to a halt. Health Department staff traveled store to store Tuesday appealing to local retailers to voluntarily remove all formulas of the marketed "fat burner" OxyELITE Pro from their shelves while the agency continues to work with the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control to investigate the precise cause of the rash of cases. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Department of Health and federal agencies are warning the public to stop using a diet supplement and have asked retailers to take the product off the shelves after reports of hepatitis and liver failure around the state. Associated Press.

Some Hawaii Army National Guard soldiers will soon be flying missions in unarmed civilian turboprop aircraft over battle zones in Afghanistan. The Detachment 55 soldiers will be using Super King Air 300s loaded with high-resolution sensors and cameras to support troops on the ground. Star-Advertiser.

The state Department of Health reported Tuesday afternoon that it had linked a single case of salmonella poisoning reported in Hawaii to multiple other illnesses on the mainland that have been connected to a California-based chicken farm. Tribune-Herald.

Chad Blair: A Postcard From Washington, D.C. Civil Beat.

Nationwide, Hawai`i has the second-largest percentage of its agriculture land held by foreign investors, according to a recent survey by the US Department of Agriculture. Maui Now.

Oahu
Hundreds turned out at Kahuku High School where the Honolulu City Council heard a controversial plan that could pave the way for new housing and hotel developments to the North Shore and Windward Oahu communities. The Koolau Loa Sustainable Communities Plan, or Bill 47, sets the blue print for future growth in the rural community that first coined the term "Keep the Country Country." Hawaii News Now.

State conservation officers continue to monitor waters off Oahu for large illegal fishing nets after several were confiscated in Kaneohe Bay this summer. The Department of Land and Natural Resources this week reported that its enforcement officer retrieved two illegal lay nets in Kaneohe Bay this summer that totaled more than 1,200 feet long and also removed several derelict net balls comprised of different types of tangled net whose weight can destroy coral reefs as they roll around in the waves. Star-Advertiser.

Federal agent Christopher Deedy has joined in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser's request for an order from the Hawaii Supreme Court prohibiting a state judge from holding closed court sessions in his murder case without giving the public a chance to object. Star-Advertiser.

A veteran police officer who's the member of an elite Honolulu Police Department unit is facing a criminal trial and an internal investigation after being accused of assaulting a man arrested for beating up the officer's adult daughter. Hawaii News Now.

Aloha Tower Marketplace would look less like a retail center and more like a university campus under the latest plan proposed by Hawaii Pacific University a year after it took control of the shopping and dining complex fronting Honolulu Harbor. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

County Public Works crews expedited a Kuakini Highway-Kaiwi Street intersection repaving project this month, partially at the request of Ironman World Championship officials, Public Works Director Warren Lee said. West Hawaii Today.

A measure asking the state Legislature to fund the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy Building at the University of Hawaii at Hilo — one of 14 bills being circulated among the four counties for approval before the January legislative session — is apparently not getting much support outside Hawaii County. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii County and the state are quickly running out of patience with the operators of the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort. Both the county and state Attorney General’s Office submitted filings in federal bankruptcy court late Monday requesting that the hotel’s bankruptcy trustee be unable to assume its lease on Oct. 21, a step needed to proceed with a sale, citing more than $1.6 million in unpaid bills and other problems with the beleaguered operation on Hilo’s Banyan Drive. Tribune-Herald.

For the second time in less than two weeks, a breakdown at an East Hawaii wastewater treatment plant has resulted in ocean discharge of partially treated but disinfected sewage. The latest event occurred at the Papaikou Wastewater Treatment Plan located near Waipahi Point several miles north of Hilo. Big Island Now.

Maui
The second of two stakeholder meetings to discuss a plan for the proposed transition of Pāʻia Elementary School into an entirely Hawaiian speaking, immersion site, takes place tonight. Maui Now.

A workday Saturday at the Kalakupua Playground at the 4th Marine Division Park in Haiku will literally help lay the groundwork for the rebirth of the community-built play structure that had deteriorated to the point where it was no longer safe for children. Maui News.

Kauai

Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho wants to put the brakes on a controversial bill that would increase county oversight of biotech companies and heavy agricultural users of pesticides. Carvalho and his staff testified Tuesday during the Kauai County Council’s hearing on Bill 2491, that the county is ill-equipped to implement the measure, lacking qualified staff and sufficient funds. Civil Beat.

The Kauai County Council will reconvene Tuesday after the administration asked for more time to tackle a bill that would regulate use of pesticides and genetically modified crops by large agribusinesses. The Council heard testimony on Bill 2491 from community members, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., Managing Director Gary Heu and Deputy County Attorney Mauna Kea Trask. Star-Advertiser.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and his administration recommended Tuesday that the Kauai County Council consider another deferral of Bill 2491. Garden Island.

Kauai Island Utility Cooperative officials say they will break ground next month on the state’s largest photovoltaic facility aimed at curbing the island’s dependence on imported fossil fuels. The 12-megawatt array, which will be built on 67 acres of leased land owned by Grove Farm Company affiliate Haupu Land Company LLC, is scheduled Nov. 6 following nearly a year of work.  Garden Island.