Thursday, December 26, 2013

Obama and First Lady visit troops in Hawaii, Native Hawaiians sue state over Kulani prison, Kauai mayor needs more time to implement GMO and pesticide law, Oahu road paving continues, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands


President Barack Obama stepped away from the seclusion of his quiet Hawaii vacation for what's become a Christmas tradition: paying tribute to U.S. troops and the sacrifices their families make during the holidays and throughout the year. After a morning of presents and carols with their two daughters, the president and first lady Michelle Obama took a short drive to Marine Corps Base Hawaii, where nearly 600 troops and their families gathered in a mess hall, half-eaten pieces of cake still on the table from Christmas dinner. Associated Press.

In the middle of their Christmas meal, 580 troops and their spouses looked up to see quite the dinner guest. The President and first lady were in Anderson Hall, also known as chow hall on the Marine Corps Base Hawaii. KITV4.

President Obama engaged Wednesday in what has become his Christmas Day tradition, visiting with troops at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Obama spoke to and took pictures with nearly 600 servicemembers and their families who had gathered at the base's chow hall. USA Today.

The polar bear protester who's been trailing President Obama during his Hawaii vacation took off his mask Tuesday and spoke about his efforts to oppose a controversial oil pipeline thousands of miles away from the islands. Bill Snape, 49, is an environmental lawyer with the Center for Biological Diversity in Washington, DC, which sent him to Hawaii to wear a polar bear costume with a message.  Hawaii News Now.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has appointed Gary Gill to the position of acting director of the Hawaii Department of Health, effective immediately, temporarily filling the shoes of the late Loretta Fuddy, the state said Tuesday. Pacific Business News.

Amount of Taxpayer Money Spent on Advertising Hawaii's Obamacare Exchange is "Proprietary" Hawaii Reporter.

The Native Hawaiian Roll Commission plans to end its “outreach efforts” Jan. 19 but will continue to accept registrants afterward, according to its executive director. Formed to set up the foundation of a Native Hawaiian government by creating a roll — a list of names of people of Hawaiian descent — the commission gathered 101,130 registrants as of Tuesday. Tribune-Herald.

Three hundred eighty-eight Hawaii band students from 44 schools on six islands will converge today in Los Angeles for an intense five-day crash rehearsal before the Pasadena Tournament of Roses' 125th Rose Parade on New Year's Day. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Work crews will round out 2013 having repaved a record 392 lane-miles of crumbling city road across Oahu, capping year one of Mayor Kirk Caldwell's publicized push to fix the island's streets, city reports show. Star-Advertiser.

People in the solar power industry refer to them as rogue systems and say they've been popping up everywhere in just three months. KHON2.

The ongoing administrative meltdown in the UH Cancer Center, where alleged mismanagement has prompted a faculty revolt, has revealed a broader problem of crossed lines of authority on the Manoa campus that need to be taken seriously. Civil Beat.

A project to remove invasive algae from Kaneohe Bay has taken 250,000 pounds of algae out of the bay, clearing 20 acres of reefs and replacing the algae with 150,000 native sea urchins, which prevent algae from building up again, according to the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

A Native Hawaiian group suing two state agencies because of plans to reopen Kulani Correctional Facility on July 1 added three inmates incarcerated at an Arizona prison as plaintiffs to its suit against the state. Georgette Yaindl, a Hilo attorney representing Ohana Ho‘opakele and inmates Van Keoki Kahumoku, Bryan Miller and Cedric Ali‘i Kai Ah Sing said at a Monday press conference outside the Hilo state courthouse the state “is avoiding its responsibility to the Native Hawaiians of this island and all citizens of this state to establish puuhonua as the alternative to more incarcerated members of our society.” A puuhonua is a place of refuge or healing. Tribune-Herald.

The University of Hawaii's controversial pharmacy school building tops the list of next year's capital improvement priorities for the Abercrombie administration, the state's budget director told lawmakers at a briefing last week. Gov. Neil Abercrombie's proposed budget includes $28 million in state-backed bonds for the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy building at UH-Hilo. Star-Advertiser.

State regulators have approved a biomass plant on the Big Island that is expected to satisfy up to 10 percent of the island’s electricity needs and help Hawaii in its shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. The ruling by the state Public Utilities Commission Friday marks a major step forward for Hu Honua, the company that has been developing the project in Peepekeo since at least 2008. Civil Beat.

2013 may have flown by, but there was still plenty of time for big news in West Hawaii. From shark attacks and a hospital affiliation to new laws and construction of a long-promised place of higher learning getting underway, the plethora of news stories coming out of the western half of Hawaii Island made choosing the year’s top 10 difficult. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

More than 200 Maui homeless people got a free backpack and meal Wednesday afternoon at St. Theresa Church, thanks to the church's Hale Kau Kau program and a Chicago philanthropist. Maui News.

Most of the individuals and groups selected for The Maui News 2013 People Who Made a Difference have a definite green tint, making a difference in preserving the environment in which Maui County residents live, work and play. Maui News.

Kauai

More time is needed than the allotted nine months to implement a new law that regulates pesticide use and growth of genetically modified organisms by large farm operations on Kauai, according to Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. Star-Advertiser.

Humpback whales have returned to the Hawaiian islands and each year, volunteers flock to coastal lookout points to participate in the annual Sanctuary Ocean Count. Coordinated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the annual counting project offers residents and visitors the opportunity to monitor whales and their activity from 15 different locations on Kauai. Garden Island.

Molokai

When I visit the desolate Kaupoa beach village on the edge of one of the more beautiful remote natural shorelines on these islands, I am transported back, unexpectedly, to places I have photographed in the past. Civil Beat.