Monday, April 27, 2015

Mauna Kea telescope protestors shut down state website, invasive fire ants spotted at Thirty Meter Telescope protest site, Hawaii could be first state to raise smoking age, Sea-Based X-Band Radar could move to mainland, Kalaupapa plan released, Maui mulls recycling, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Mauna Kea sunset in the clouds © 2015 All Hawaii News
Hawaii state government’s official website went down Sunday, along with the main site for the organization building the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea. A group of hackers associated with Anonymous claimed responsibility for the cyberattack that began at 9:21 a.m. and lasted for several hours. Civil Beat.

The hacking group Anonymous claimed responsibility today for shutting down the websites for the Thirty Meter Telescope and state of Hawaii. Tribune-Herald.

The official website of the Hawaii state government was allegedly hacked by an online group opposed to construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.  A Hawaii Community Affairs official confirms the telescope's website was hacked as well. Hawaii News Now.

Mauna Kea protesters who want to stop the Thirty Meter Telescope apparently brought with them a potentially destructive force of a different kind — invasive ants. Star-Advertiser.

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents listened to more than four hours of testimony Sunday from speakers opposing the Thirty Meter Telescope, with many Native Hawaiians expressing their spiritual and cultural connection to Mauna Kea where the $1.4 billion observatory is planned to be built. Tribune-Herald.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs will meet again on Thursday, April 30 where they are expected to (again) take a position on the Thirty Meter Telescope planned for the summit area of Mauna Kea. OHA voted to support the project in the past, but with the emergence of a vocal and determined opposition from beneficiaries, the Board of Trustees is entertaining the demand to reconsider. Big Island Video News.

As protests against the Thirty Meter Telescope continue, many critics say they’re worried that the $1.4 billion project will damage Mauna Kea’s pristine environment. Thirteen observatories have already been built on the top of the state’s tallest mountain, but the TMT will be by far the largest. Once completed, the observatory and its support building will span 1.4 acres. Civil Beat.

Putting a stop to the Thirty Meter Telescope also would mean losing $1 million a year for Native Hawaiian scholarships and other programs provided by the project’s education fund, an issue that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs board chairman is keeping in mind as the state agency faces pressure from protesters to change its endorsement. Tribune-Herald.

The author of a violent, profanity and hate-filled rant on Facebook that targeted supporters of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea on the Big Island now says he's sorry. Hawaii News Now.

A bill that would make Hawaii the first state to raise the legal smoking age to 21 cleared the Legislature on Friday and is headed to the governor. The bill would prevent adolescents from smoking, buying or possessing both traditional and electronic cigarettes. Associated Press.

There’s a proposal in the State Legislature that could ban something you probably have in your home. Lawmakers are pushing to ban the manufacture and sale of personal care products that contain synthetic plastic microbeads, saying they’re harmful to marine life, possibly even carcinogenic. KHON2.

It's the final rush in the Legislature, and major decisions are looming on several issues, including the Hawaii Health Connector. All state-run insurance exchanges are required to be financially sustainable this year, and the federal government has been in discussions with the state about whether the Health Connector will be partially taken over by federal officials. Associated Press.

Suzanne Case, who has been with The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii for 28 years, won confirmation from the Hawaii state Senate to serve as the chair of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Pacific Business News.

The Jones Act Pays Off — in Politics. The state’s delegation in Washington, D.C., enjoys outsized donations from maritime lobbyists, but several members told Civil Beat this doesn't affect their stances. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Honolulu's rail project faces a new challenge against its construction bid process, and the officials overseeing the project say this latest bid protest could create a ripple effect that might delay the project's completion and opening. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Fire Commission gave Fire Chief Manuel Neves an excellent rating on his annual performance evaluation despite ongoing tensions between the chief and the firefighters union. Star-Advertiser.

Some in Congress want to move the Sea-Based X-Band Radar, otherwise known as the floating golf ball, from Pearl Harbor to the East Coast to provide greater missile defense over the Atlantic and a hedge against attacks from Iran. Star-Advertiser.

More than 40 veterans have been in limbo because they haven't been able to use their Housing Choice vouchers, which would cover all or most of their rent, due to the lack of affordable housing in Honolulu. Star-Advertiser.

A rekindled effort is underway to build homes with golf course views on a strip of land in Hawaii Kai once intended to become a city road. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

The University of Hawaii at Hilo will receive $800,000 from the state Department of Transportation as part of the agreement forged around the widening of the Queen Kaahumanu Highway. West Hawaii Today.

When it’s not an election year, only the most faithful of the party faithful show up for the convention, as was the case Saturday when the Hawaii County Democratic Party held its annual event. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii Innocence Project has taken up the case of one of three men convicted for the 1991 rape and murder of Dana Ireland. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Dozens of Maui Meadows residents had expressed a willingness to pay an extra $5 or $6 per month to keep their curbside recycling program, but cost estimates released last month by the Maui County Solid Waste Division have some residents reconsidering. Maui News.

House Speaker Joe Souki said Friday afternoon that he was "very confident" a version of the much-debated, public-private partnership bill for Maui Memorial Medical Center and the Kula and Lanai Community hospitals would be passed by the state Legislature. Maui News.

Mike Atherton, owner of Maui Tropical Plantation, has big plans for the small town of Waikapu and is looking to build thousands of homes and businesses in the area over the next decade. Maui News.

A group of youth volunteers spent recent weeks planting thousands of native trees on the leeward slopes of Haleakalā as part of an effort aimed at restoring dryland habitat for endangered native plant and bird species including the Kiwikiu or Maui Parrotbill bird, which numbered only 500 at last report. Maui Now.

Kauai

Providing quality service under a balanced budget is the goal. Kauai County officials say they’re hashing out their proposed fiscal year 2016 budget with both of those components in mind, but with collective bargaining raises coming online, that task has been difficult — and will require that some positions go unfilled. Garden Island.

County of Kauai officials say rough portions of several highly traveled roads are scheduled to be smoothed out over the next two years as a part of a $3.5 million initiative to address those in most need. Garden Island.

Kauai North Shore Community Foundation member Lorraine Mull and others are pushing for a public middle and high school on the North Shore. There are elementary schools in Hanalei and Kilauea but no public school on the North Shore that goes beyond the sixth grade. Garden Island.

Island residents and visitors still have an opportunity to view rare prints of plants collected during Capt. James Cook’s first of three Pacific voyages. Garden Island.

Molokai

The Kalaupapa National Historical Park Draft General Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement is now available for public review. Molokai Dispatch.