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Presentation – Understanding the Dynamics of Human Trafficking in Hawaii

The Zonta Club of Hilo is hosting a presentation by Kathy Xian, Executive Director of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, on understanding the dynamics of human trafficking in Hawaii on Tuesday, December 1st, 2015 at the Hilo Women’s Club located at 7 Lele Street from 5:30 – 7:30.

The free, public presentation is part of the Zonta Says NO 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence—an international campaign that aims to inspire action and end violence against women and girls around the world.

16 Days of Activism kicked off on Nov. 25 (International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women) and ends on Dec. 10 (Human Rights Day).

  • WHO: Kathryn Xian, Executive Director of The Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery (PASS)
  • WHAT: “Understanding the Dynamics of Human Trafficking in Hawaii” Presentation

kathy xian

NOTE: Presentation is free and open to the public. Zonta Club of Hilo president, Tonya Ozone, and Zonta Says NO Hilo campaign chair, Ashley Kierkiewicz, will be present and available for remarks.

In addition, Zonta Hilo has teamed up with local businesses to host shoe displays geared towards increasing awareness of gender-based violence. Each display includes a pair of shoes, “Who will be next?” poster, domestic violence survivor quote and resource cards. To date, 12 businesses have agreed to host a display for the duration of the 16 Days of Activism. A limited number of displays are left; interested individuals should contact Ashley Kierkiewicz at (808) 989-4004 or by emailing alk@hastingsandpleadwell.com.

Worldwide Travel Alert Issued by U.S. State Department

The State Department alerts U.S. citizens to possible risks of travel due to increased terrorist threats. Current information suggests that ISIL (aka Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions.  These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, using conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests.  This Travel Alert expires on February 24, 2016.

Authorities believe the likelihood of terror attacks will continue as members of ISIL/Da’esh return from Syria and Iraq.  Additionally, there is a continuing threat from unaffiliated persons planning attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations but conducted on an individual basis.  Extremists have targeted large sporting events, theatres, open markets, and aviation services.  In the past year, there have been multiple attacks in France, Nigeria, Denmark, Turkey, and Mali.  ISIL/Da’esh has claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt.

U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation.  Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowed places.  Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events.  U.S. citizens should monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.  Persons with specific safety concerns should contact local law enforcement authorities who are responsible for the safety and security of all visitors to their host country.  U.S. citizens should:

  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.  Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
  • Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.
  • Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.
  • Register in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

Foreign governments have taken action to guard against terrorist attacks, and some have made official declarations regarding heightened threat conditions.  Authorities continue to conduct raids and disrupt terror plots.  We continue to work closely with our allies on the threat from international terrorism.  Information is routinely shared between the United States and our key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats.

60% of Hawaii Adults Living With at Least One Chronic Disease

Dr. Howard Koh, former Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and other national experts in chronic disease prevention joined the Department of Health and local experts today at a symposium, “The Weight of the State: Solving the Chronic Disease Crisis through Innovative Policy Change.”

Weigh of Hawaii

The event focused on shared best practices and policy priorities that are relevant for Hawaii, given the state’s rapidly rising obesity rates and its contribution to developing debilitating chronic health conditions.

“Our state is facing an epidemic of obesity and diabetes type 2 that is preventable, and costly to our health and pocket books,” said Director of Health Virginia Pressler. “We need to work collaboratively with leaders across every sector of society if we want to reduce this unnecessary burden on our people and economy.”

Dr. Koh explained in his keynote address that health is shaped by the policies, conditions, and environments in which people live, labor, learn, play, and pray. Over 100 elected officials, leadership from state agencies, healthcare and community organizations attended the symposium.

More than 60 percent of Hawaii adults or 3 in 5 are living with at least one chronic disease or condition such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. Obesity is associated with a significantly increased risk of preventable chronic disease. Obesity has doubled in the past 15 years, and we are now seeing similar trends with diabetes rates.

The Department of Health reported that when data is adjusted for age and awareness, the rates of pre-diabetes and diabetes in Hawaii correspond to rates of obesity. Forty-two percent of Native Hawaiians and 49 percent of Other Pacific Islanders are obese, and 25 percent and 27 percent respectively are estimated to have pre-diabetes or diabetes.

Additionally, Hawaii spends an estimated $470 million on obesity-related medical costs and $770 million on diabetes-related medical costs annually. These figures do not account for indirect costs such as reduced worker productivity and absenteeism that results from having one or more of these diseases or conditions.

A mural developed with input by over 30 organizations statewide was also unveiled at the symposium. The policies illustrated were highly recommended by more than 140 community partners who participated in the 2015 Physical Activity and Nutrition (PAN) Forum, which took place in May.

Health Policies

This mural, called “Healthy Policies for a Healthy Hawaii,” depicts the implementation of 19 state-level policies across four sectors of society: Communities, Worksites, Schools, and Health Care Systems.

It is a vision for Hawaii where physical activity and access to healthy food, are integrated into our daily lifestyle choices, where residents live, learn, work, shop, and care for each other. Health is integrated into the social, economic, and physical landscape. The illustrated policies include: creating “complete streets” to ensure that all people in Hawaii have the ability to safely walk, bike, and access mass transportation; fostering a more robust local food system to reduce imports and producing more locally produced foods; institutional policies to access healthier food and beverage options; increasing health and physical education requirements for middle school students; and many others.

“It’s been amazing to see partners from all sectors come together and identify solutions to the complex issue of obesity and chronic disease prevention,” said Jessica Yamauchi, Chair of the Obesity Prevention Taskforce. “This mural provides a sense of place and what a health promoting community looks and feels like when these recommendations are in place.”

To learn more about the policy recommendations of the PAN Forum, please visit: http://health.hawaii.gov/chronic-disease/events.

DCCA Consumer Alert: Starwood Data Breach – Hawaii Hotels Affected

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) is encouraging consumers who may have dined or shopped at any of the 54 locations identified by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. to protect themselves from potential credit card fraud.

Starwood made a list of the affected hotels, along with other information, available at www.starwoodhotels.com/paymentcardsecuritynotice. Affected Hawaii locations include: Moana Surfrider; Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa; Sheraton Waikiki; The Westin Ka‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas; The Westin Maui Resort & Spa; and, The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas.

Click to view letter from Starwood President

Click to view letter from Starwood President

“We strongly encourage anyone who has used a credit or debit card to purchase food, drinks, or souvenirs at a Starwood property to check the list of hotels and identified dates of the data breaches,” said DCCA Director Catherine Awakuni Colόn. “According to Starwood, the information compromised could be used to make fraudulent charges on credit and debit cards. Everyone should make it a habit to check your monthly statements and annual credit report.”

DCCA has information on how to protect yourself following a security breach at http://cca.hawaii.gov/identity-theft-information/. This website includes links to sample forms and letters for victims of identity theft to help with the recovery process.

DCCA also partnered with the Department of the Attorney General and the Department of Health to offer guidance on how to avoid fraud and common scams in the Hawaii’s Fraud Prevention & Resource Guide available at http://cca.hawaii.gov/sec/files/2015/10/Fraud-Guide-2.pdf. Tips from the guide on how to protect yourself from credit card fraud include:

  • Keep a record of your account numbers, expiration dates, and phone number and address of the card issuer in a secure place.
  • Save receipts to compare with billing statements. Destroy them when no longer needed.
  • Open bills promptly and reconcile accounts monthly. Report questionable charges immediately and preferably in writing to the card company.

If you think your credit or debit card information may have been compromised in the Starwood data breach call Starwood at 1-855-270-9179 Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST.

Hawaii Lawmakers to Hold Informational Briefing on Dengue Fever Outbreak

Tomorrow at 10:0am at the State Capital in conference room 329, the Hawaii State Legislature House Committee on Health and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health will hold an informational briefing to receive an update on the status of the current dengue fever outbreak on Hawaii island and the coordinated efforts of the Department of Health and other governmental agencies to treat, monitor, and prevent further transmission of dengue fever.


Invitees to this informational briefing are:

  • Director Virginia Pressler, M.D., Department of Health
  • Sarah Y. Park, M.D., Chief & State Epidemiologist, Disease Outbreak Control Division
  • Chief Darryl Oliveira, Civil Defense Administrator, Civil Defense Agency, County of Hawaii (via telephone) & designated representatives.

The hearing will be aired live on Oahu channel 55 and broadcasted live to the neighbor islands on their local public access stations.  It will also be streamed online at www.olelo.org.

1,000 Desks Donated to South African Schools on Behalf of the Worldwide Voyage

Hokulea crewmembers and a delegation of Hawaii students, teachers and families visited St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School near Cape Town, South Africa to present 50 Tutudesks featuring artwork inspired by the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage. An additional 1,000 desks will be delivered to township schools in the Durban, South Africa area in early 2016. The donation of desks will support the campaign’s goal to provide 20 million desks to 20 million children by 2020.


“These Tutudesks will help students have space at home to do their homework. Even in the   classroom, it’s going to help teachers do individual work with each child,” said Vuyiswa Lebenya, principal of St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School.

Following the presentation, Ke Ka o Makalii – a group comprised of teachers and students from Kamehameha Schools and Halau Ku Mana Public Charter School – offered hula and mele celebrating the past voyages of Hokulea. Students from St. Mary’s then followed with their own local songs and dances before inviting the Hawaii delegation to participate.


“When I saw them dancing together, that is what global peace looks like. It’s finding that rhythm that’s down deep inside that allows us to be completely the same, to be respectful and caring of everyone,” said Nainoa Thompson, president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Hokulea crewmembers and the Hawaii delegation are in South Africa this week as part of Polynesian Voyaging Society’s Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage.


The Desmond Tutu Tutudesk Campaign provides portable school desks to children in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 95 million school children do not have the benefit of a classroom desk. This shortage affects the development of literacy and overall academic performance.

Hawaii Loses Ground on Business Tax Climate

In a nationwide survey of state tax structures, Hawaii continues its stagnant economic performance, ranking 31st out of 50 states in the 2016 State Business Tax Climate Index. The study, released today by the Tax Foundation, compares five different metrics in a state’s tax system to calculate the state rankings–Corporate Taxes, Individual Income Taxes, Sales Tax, Unemployment Insurance Tax, and Property Tax.
tax climate index
While other states have enacted reforms that have improved their rankings and encouraged investment in their state, Hawaii has done little to improve its tax climate. This year’s ranking represents a minor slide, down from a ranking of 30 in the 2015 Index. The worst performance came in the category of Individual Income Tax (#37), while the best was in Corporate Tax (#10). The dichotomy demonstrates that economic stimulus requires a broader approach than focusing solely on corporate taxes and tax credits.

Individual Income Tax is actually one of the best indicators for how business-friendly a state truly is. A number of businesses, including sole proprietorships, S corporations, and partnerships, report their business income via the individual income tax code. It can also affect the labor pool as high income taxes chase potential workers to friendlier states. In order to encourage small business and entrepreneurship, taxes like the individual income tax and the general excise tax need to be reexamined.

“This ranking simply demonstrates that the leadership in our state is running out of ideas when it comes to encouraging investment and growth,” stated Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., President of the Grasssroot Institute. “The current scheme does nothing to help small businesses, but only contributes to the high cost of living and the state’s brain drain. We need reforms that will make Hawaii more affordable–to live, to do business in, and to work in. That starts with real, effective tax reform that will help keep people and jobs in the state.”

The 2016 State Business Tax Climate Index can be found at http://taxfoundation.org/

Hawaii Electric Bills Fall to Lowest Levels in More than Five Years

Customers of Hawaiian Electric and Maui Electric this month are seeing the lowest monthly electric bills in more than five years, largely due to the continued drop in fuel prices. And on Hawaii Island, customers of Hawaii Electric Light are benefitting even further, with the lowest monthly bills in more than six years.

“Lower oil prices are helping our customers right now, but we know our state needs to stay committed to long-term solutions, which means developing a diverse portfolio of low-cost renewable energy resources. It’s critical that we keep working toward our state’s goal of a 100 percent renewable portfolio standard,” said Darren Pai, Hawaiian Electric spokesman.

Based on 500 kwh/month for Oahu, Hawaii Island, and Maui; 400 kWh/month for Molokai and Lanai

Based on 500 kwh/month for Oahu, Hawaii Island, and Maui; 400 kWh/month for Molokai and Lanai

Currently, 22 percent of the electricity needs of the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ customers are met using renewable resources and Hawaii is by far the national leader in the percentage of customers with rooftop solar. And the Hawaiian Electric Companies are continuing to increase renewable resources and develop new options for customers to manage their bills. Recent actions include:

  • Proposed time-of-use rates for residential customers, public schools and electric vehicle owners
  • Expansion of utility-owned electric vehicle fast chargers
  • Piloting intelligent energy storage systems
  • A proposed community-based renewable energy program that would benefit customers who cannot or chose not to take advantage of rooftop solar to receive the benefits of renewable energy
  • Plans to install 137 megawatts of solar power from grid-scale projects to be completed in 2016

Hilo Photographer Receives Second Award at Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Today

Bruce Omori, co-owner of Extreme Exposure Fine Art Gallery in Hilo, received the Windland Smith Rice International Award for his lava photo titled “Ribbons in the Sky,” which will be displayed at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History’s annual exhibition which opened on October 24, 2015.

Bruce Omori standing with his image "Ribbons in the Sky" at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.

Bruce Omori standing with his image “Ribbons in the Sky” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.

Omori with his family by his side traveled to Washington, DC to be honored amongst all the other recipients in a formal ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History on November 12, 2015. His winning photograph was selected from almost 20,000 submissions from photographers in 46 countries.

“It’s such a tremendous honor to receive this award again, as many previous WSR winners are the very photographers who have been my source of inspiration over the years…   I’m truly grateful for the work they’ve done and continue to do, and humbled to share this experience with so many other talented photographers in this competition as well.” Omori said.
Omori’s winning entry in the Art in Nature category, “Ribbons in the Sky,” is a wild airborne abstract created by a huge lava bubble explosion at the ocean entry.  “Lava bubbles are definitely one of my favorite aspects of volcanic activity, as its infrequent and unpredictable nature make it difficult, yet exhilarating to shoot.


The bursts are so spontaneous, there is no way to plan for a precise composition, and this 50 to 60 foot wide bubble was no exception.  The early morning light gave a perfect balance to the expanding ribbons of lava against the contrasting background for a one of a kind image.  And, about being in the right place at the right time…  I’m just so thoroughly blessed to have the opportunity to witness, let alone photograph, this incredible living and breathing planet we dwell on, from this perspective…  at home, here in Hawaii!”

Navy Rethinks Pacific Training that Endangers Whales, Dolphins and Other Marine Life

The US Navy today said it plans to prepare a new environmental impact statement for training and testing exercises in the Pacific Ocean from December 2018 onward, including the use of sonar and explosives that threaten widespread harm to whales, dolphins, other marine mammals and imperiled sea turtles. The move follows a March 31 federal court ruling that the Navy illegally failed to consider restricting military exercises in biologically important areas within the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing Study Area to reduce harm to marine mammals.

USS Lake Erie

“The Navy doesn’t need to blow up breeding areas or blast migrating whales with sonar so we’re glad they’re taking a closer look at this critical issue,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans program director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Navy doesn’t need continuous access to every square inch of the Pacific. It’s a big ocean, and we need protections for the areas that are particularly important for whales and dolphins.”

The Navy’s current five-year training plan was overturned after a legal challenge in federal court by Earthjustice, representing Conservation Council for Hawai‘i, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Ocean Mammal Institute. In a September 2015 settlement, the Navy agreed to put important habitat for numerous marine mammal populations off-limits to dangerous, mid-frequency sonar training and testing and the use of powerful explosives during the remainder of the five-year plan, which expires in December 2018.

“The science is clear.  To avoid permanent injuries and death to whales, dolphins and other marine mammals, it is vital to keep Navy sonar and explosives out of the areas these animals need for essential activities like feeding, resting and caring for their young,” explained Earthjustice attorney David Henkin, who represented the conservation groups in the federal court case.  “When it voluntarily agreed to the settlement, the Navy made clear that it can both perform its mission and stay out of important marine mammal habitat.”

“We urge the public to get involved and tell the Navy its new study needs to examine ways to keep destructive training out of vital marine mammal habitat,” said Marjorie Ziegler, executive director of Conservation Council for Hawai‘i.

The public comment period on the new environmental impact statement ends January 12, 2016. The public can submit comments online at http://www.hstteis.com. The public can also attend one of three scoping meetings: December 1 in San Diego, CA; December 3 on Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i; and December 5 in Honolulu, Hawai‘i.

Despite the March ruling and September settlement, the Navy continues to conduct military exercises that can injure and kill marine wildlife. On November 4, the National Marine Fisheries Service said it is investigating the death of two dolphins that washed ashore near San Diego after Navy ships were using sonar in the area.

“The bottlenose dolphins that died last month off San Diego likely came from a population that numbers less than 400,” said Susan Millward, executive director at the Animal Welfare Institute.  “We need to keep up the pressure on the Navy to do more to protect these highly intelligent and vulnerable animals.”

Ocean mammals depend on hearing for navigation, feeding and reproduction. Scientists have linked military sonar and live-fire activities to mass whale beaching, exploded eardrums and even death. In 2004, during war games near Hawai‘i, the Navy’s sonar was implicated in a mass stranding of up to 200 melon-headed whales in Hanalei Bay, Kaua‘i.

The Navy and Fisheries Service estimate that, over the current plan’s five-year period, training and testing activities will result in thousands of animals suffering permanent hearing loss, lung injuries or death. Millions of animals will be exposed to temporary injuries and disturbances, with many subjected to multiple harmful exposures.

A video on the effects of Navy sonar training on marine mammals is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9gDk29Y_YY

Hawaii Is the State with the 3rd Lowest Uninsured Rate Post-Obamacare

With the third open-enrollment period for health insurance upon us and 11.7 percent of the U.S. population still lacking coverage, the personal finance website WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2015’s States with the Highest & Lowest Uninsured Rates.

Click to view entire list

Click to view entire list

For the second year in a row, WalletHub’s analysts drew upon the most reliable data to estimate the rates of uninsured pre- and post-Obamacare for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. For a broad perspective of those rates, we broke the national figures down to the state level and other categories, including age, race and income level.

Health Insurance Coverage in Hawaii:

  • Obamacare reduced the children’s uninsured rate by 15.29 percent between 2010 and 2014.
  • Obamacare reduced the adult uninsured rate by 35.52 percent between 2010 and 2014.
  • The uninsured rate for whites is 1.51 percent lower than that for Hispanics.
  • The uninsured rate for higher-income households is 57.03 percent lower than that for lower-income households.
  • The rate of publicly insured is 30.61 percent.
  • The rate of privately insured is 69.39 percent.
  • The rate of employer-based health insurance coverage increased by 8.03 percent between 2010 and 2014.
  • The uninsured rate pre-Obamacare was 7.89 percent and has fallen to a current rate of 5.27 percent, with 31,653 persons gaining health insurance coverage.

For the full report, please visit:

Two Hawaii Island Properties Added to the National Register of Historic Places

Two well-known and popular community locations in Honokaa, Hawaii were recently added to the National Register of Historic Places:

Hotel Honoka‘a Club

The Hotel Honoka‘a Club, dating to about 1927, is a two story-wood frame commercial building located at 45-3480 Māmane Street in the historic plantation town of Honoka‘a. It is an example of “plantation” style of architecture and method of construction, with a main floor, a rear second story addition, and basement.

Hotel HonokaaThe hotel/club functioned as a local gathering place that provided guest accommodations for travelers and temporary sales space for the display of commercial samples and wares by traveling salesmen. It includes a dining room and bar facility which has served numerous local social occasions from the 1920s to the present.

It began as a social gathering place for large numbers of unmarried males seeking entertainment after a long day’s work. It became U.S. Department of the Interior hotel accommodations, resting place and headquarters for sales personnel/drummers who traveled the island peddling their wares. Its bar operations were boosted by lack of liquor establishments in nearby Waimea town, and the alcohol needs of World War II soldiers. Wedding receptions and high school gatherings at the Club have knit the Honoka‘a community together for generations.

Honoka‘a People’s Theatre

The Honoka‘a People’s Theatre also fronts Māmane Street, the main street traversing Honokaʻa, a town of almost 3,000 people. The classical revival building is characterized by its symmetric facade with pilasters, cornice and false front parapet.

Honokaa Peoples Theater Historic

It sits on a concrete foundation, which is raised toward the rear, and has a corrugated metal, front facing, gable roof with overhanging eaves and exposed rafter tails. The Honoka‘a People’s Theatre has been a center of community life since its opening in 1930. Its ability to accommodate both live and moving picture entertainment has led to extensive use as a multipurpose facility. Generations of audiences and performers have here experienced ethnic dances, music festivals, plays, and cultural exhibitions. The theater has been a venue for political/economic speeches and rallies. Its size and facilities, as the largest theater on the island outside of Hilo, attract people to Honokaʻa.

These two properties were added to the Hawai‘i Register of Historic Places in May this year. The Hawai‘i Historic Places Review Board at that time recommended that they be nominated for inclusion in the National Register.  Properties are eligible for inclusion in the Hawaiʻi register because of their association with broad patterns or events, or individuals important in the history of Hawai‘i. Inclusion in the National Register signifies that they also meet the requirements for national recognition. Places included in the registers are usually significant in architecture and design, or are likely to yield important information, and their features retain their qualifying integrity.  On October 16, 2015, the National Park Service did add the two sites to the National Register of Historic Places.

For additional information, please contact:  Megan Borthwick, 808.692.8015

Free Entry to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Veterans Day

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park joins national parks across the country in waiving entrance fees for Veterans Day, Wednesday, November 11.

“The men and women who have served our nation have sacrificed much to protect our freedom,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “We invite everyone to honor their service and experience the American heritage by visiting their national parks at no charge this Veterans Day,” she said.

Visitors enjoy scenic views of Kīlauea Caldera and the summit eruption in Halema‘uma‘u Crater from Crater Rim Trail near Steaming Bluff.   NPS Photo/Janice Wei

Visitors enjoy scenic views of Kīlauea Caldera and the summit eruption in Halema‘uma‘u Crater from Crater Rim Trail near Steaming Bluff. NPS Photo/Janice Wei

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has dozens of veterans among its employees and volunteers. Active duty U.S. military can obtain a free annual Military Pass at the park’s entrance station all year. For more information on the free Military Pass, visit the park website.

The park, which is open 24 hours a day, offers more than 150 miles of hiking trails and many opportunities to appreciate the volcanic landscape, native ecosystem and the Hawaiian culture that define this World Heritage Site. More than a dozen free interpretive programs are offered daily, and special events, including ‘Ike Hana No‘eau cultural workshops, After Dark in the Park presentations, and Nā Leo Manu “Heavenly Voices” concerts, are ongoing. Check www.nps.gov/havo for information for all events.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is one of five national park units on the island of Hawai‘i.  Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park is also free of charge Veterans Day weekend. There is no admission charged for Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site, Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park, or the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail.

Information on special offerings at parks nationwide is available at http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm.

Senator Schatz on Syria – Policy is a Strategic Mistake

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, released the following statement on the Administration’s announcement that it will deploy a small number of Special Operations Forces to Syria:

Senator Schatz in Puna after Hurricane Iselle.

Senator Schatz in Puna after Hurricane Iselle.

“The Administration’s announcement that it will deploy Special Operations Forces into Syria to combat ISIL marks a major shift in U.S. policy—a shift that is occurring without congressional debate, is unlikely to succeed in achieving our objective of defeating ISIL and instead threatens to embroil the United States in Syria’s civil war and could bring us into direct confrontation with the Russian Federation military and Syrian government forces.

“In the 16-months since the United States began its participation in the regional fight against ISIL, our military involvement has escalated without a clear sense of how our escalating involvement will achieve our strategic objectives.  With ISIL’s control of northern Syria, we cannot reasonably expect that the deployment of Special Operations Forces would be limited in scope or duration.

“As we have seen from our failed train and equip program, U.S. support for moderate Syrian opposition has its limits. Rather than ratchet up our own involvement, we must look for other opportunities to strengthen the coalition’s ability to effectively prosecute the fight against ISIL.

“This shift in policy is a strategic mistake.  Regardless of my views, the War Powers Resolution requires Congress to debate and authorize the escalation of U.S. military involvement in Syria.”

$54 Million in Settlements to Benefit Hawaii Purchasers/Lessees of New Motor Vehicles and Purchasers of Certain Replacement Parts

Settlements totaling approximately $54.1 million have been reached with two Defendants.  The lawsuits allege that they fixed the price of certain motor vehicle components, causing millions of consumers and businesses from around the country to overpay for new or leased automobiles and replacement parts, such as air flow meters, alternators, ATF warmers, electronic throttle bodies, fuel injection systems, ignition coils, inverters, motor generators, radiators, starters, and valve timing control devices.

Consumers and businesses in Hawaii may be included in the Class if, from 2000 to 2015, they:

  1. Bought or leased an eligible new vehicle in the U.S. (not for resale), or
  2. Indirectly paid for an eligible motor vehicle replacement part. (Indirectly means they bought the replacement part from someone other than the manufacturer of the part.)

Eligible new motor vehicles are automobiles, light trucks, vans, mini-vans, and sport utility vehicles.


The Settlements provide monetary relief for consumers in the District of Columbia and 30 states – Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.  The Settlements also provide non-monetary relief, including cooperation, and an agreement by the Defendants not to engage in certain conduct for a period of 24 months.

The litigation is continuing against the remaining Non-Settling Defendants.  All funds received in this case will be distributed at the conclusion of the lawsuits or as ordered by the Court.  Notice about the claims process will be provided at a later date, and consumers and businesses should register to receive notice about the claims process or future settlements at www.AutoPartsClass.com.

Important Information and Dates:

  • Eligible consumers or businesses that want to sue the Settling Defendants regarding a particular component part must exclude themselves from that Settlement Class by March 28, 2016.
  • Eligible consumers or businesses can object to one or more of the Settlements by March 28, 2016.
  • The Court will hold a hearing on May 4, 2016, to consider whether to approve the Settlements and approve Class Counsel’s request that up to $2 million be set aside for future litigation costs and expenses.  Class Counsel will also request at the hearing, or at a later date, attorneys’ fees of up to one-third of the Settlements’ funds, plus reimbursement of costs and expenses.

For more detailed information about the Settlements and a full list of Settling Defendants and time periods:

  • Visit: www.AutoPartsClass.com
  • Call: 1-877-940-5043
  • Write to: Auto Parts Settlements, P.O. Box 10163, Dublin, OH 43017-3163

Green Rush, Gold Standard: A Conversation About Hawai‘i’s Cannabis Frontier

State Senator Will Espero  will be a panelist for a discussion about the potential benefits from Hawai‘i’s cannabis business, including solutions, economic activity and career opportunities. The dialogue will also cover how residents can participate in the new industry.

Medical MarijuanaThe panel discussion, moderated by ThinkTech Hawai‘i’s Jay Fidell, will be held on Wednesday, October 21, 2015 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the William S. Richardson School of Law, Moot Court Room, 2015 Dole Street.  Other panelists include Mitzi Vaughn, member of the National Cannabis Industry Association and on the founding board of the National Cannabis Bar Association, Tyler Anthony, Attorney and Former Regulator with the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, Dr. Marc Kruger, Honolulu Pulmonologist, and Jari Sugano, Family Caregiver.

The public is invited to attend.

New Scientific Study Finds Coral Reefs Under Attack From Chemical in Sunscreen as Global Bleaching Event Hits

A new study published today in a toxicology journal has found that a chemical widely used in personal care products such as sunscreen, poses an ecological threat to corals and coral reefs and threatens their existence.

Coral BleachingOxybenzone is found in over 3,500 sunscreen products worldwide, and pollutes coral reefs from swimmers wearing sunscreens and through wastewater discharges from municipal sewage outfalls and from coastal septic systems.

The study comes less than two weeks after NOAA declared the third ever global coral bleaching event and warned that locally produced threats to coral, such as pollution, stress the health of corals and decrease the likelihood that they will resist bleaching, or recover from it.

It demonstrates that exposure of coral planulae (baby coral) to oxybenzone, produces gross morphological deformities, damages their DNA, and, most alarmingly, acts as an endocrine disruptor. The latter causes the coral to encase itself in its own skeleton leading to death.

These effects were observed as low as 62 parts per trillion, the equivalent to a drop of water in six and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools

Measurements of oxybenzone in seawater within coral reefs in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands found concentrations ranging from 800 parts per trillion to 1.4 parts per million. This is over 12 times higher than the concentrations necessary to impact on coral.

A team of marine scientists from Virginia, Florida, Israel, the National Aquarium (US) and the US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, undertook the study.  Lead author Dr. Craig Downs of Haereticus Environmental Laboratory Virginia, said, “The use of oxybenzone-containing products needs to be seriously deliberated in islands and areas where coral reef conservation is a critical issue.  We have lost at least 80% of the coral reefs in the Caribbean. Any small effort to reduce oxybenzone pollution could mean that a coral reef survives a long, hot summer, or that a degraded area recovers. Everyone wants to build coral nurseries for reef restoration, but this will achieve little if the factors that originally killed off the reef remain or intensify in the environment.”

Between 6,000 and 14,000 tons of sunscreen lotion are emitted into coral reef areas each year, much of which contains between one and 10% oxybenzone.

Further information about the study can be found at http://www.haereticus-lab.org and marinesafe.org.

Chinese Navy Ships to Visit Hawaii

The U.S. Navy announced today that a People’s Liberation Army-Navy [PLA(N)] ship is expected to visit Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Oct. 12-16.

Zheng He (Type 679, Hull 81)

Zheng He (Type 679, Hull 81)

Zheng He (Type 679, Hull 81), a midshipmen training ship, is expected to arrive at 8 a.m. This routine port visit will give Chinese sailors an opportunity to interact with their U.S. counterparts

Foreign Navy ships come to Pearl Harbor-Hickam regularly for scheduled port visits.  Ships from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force have visited the base twice in recent months.

As part of a planned series of military-to-military exchanges between the two nations, Zheng He will be hosted by USS Chosin (CG 65). Chinese and U.S. naval officers will conduct dialogues to build confidence and mutual understanding.

Senior Captain Yan Zhengming, Superintendent of the Dalian Naval Academy; Senior Captain Xu Ping, Deputy Political Commissar of Dalian Naval Academy; and Senior Captain You Dade, Chief of Training Division of Dalian Naval Academy will be met by Captain Eric Weilenman, Chief of Staff, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific.

American and Chinese sailors plan to engage in deckplate level events and sporting events – including soccer, tug-of-war and basketball games – between our sailors. Receptions aboard the Zheng He and USS Chosin are also planned.  Capt. Ye Kaihua is commanding officer of Zheng He; Capt. Kevin Brand commands USS Chosin.

The last port visit by PLA(N) ships to Pearl Harbor-Hickam was in September 2013.

The U.S. Navy is committed to continued engagement to improve mutual understanding, build trust, enhance transparency, and reduce the risk of misperceptions and miscalculations. Military-to-military engagement is an important tool to build trust, encourage multilateral cooperation, enhance transparency, and mitigate risk.

Many Atolls May be Uninhabitable Within Decades Due to Climate Change

A new study shows that the combined effect of storm-induced wave-driven flooding and sea level rise on island atolls may be more severe and happen sooner than previous estimates of inundation predicted by passive “bathtub” modeling for low-lying atoll islands, and especially at higher sea levels forecasted for the future due to climate change.

Photograph showing the impact of a large wave at the south shore of Laysan Island, with endangered Laysan teal in the foreground. Location: Laysan Islands (Northwestern Hawaiian Islands). Location: Laysan Islands , HI, USA Date Taken: 2012 Photographer: Michele Reynolds Photographer Email: mreynolds@usgs.gov Photographer Organization: USGS

Photograph showing the impact of a large wave at the south shore of Laysan Island, with endangered Laysan teal in the foreground.
Location: Laysan Islands (Northwestern Hawaiian Islands).
Location: Laysan Islands , HI, USA
Date Taken: 2012
Photographer: Michele Reynolds
Photographer Email: mreynolds@usgs.gov
Photographer Organization: USGS

More than half a million people live on atolls throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and although the modeling was based on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, the results from the study apply to almost all atolls.

U.S. Geological Survey scientists and their colleagues at the Deltares Institute in the Netherlands, and the Hawaii Cooperative Studies Unit at University of Hawaii, Hilo report that numerical modeling reveals waves will synergistically interact with sea level rise, causing twice as much land forecast to be flooded for a given future sea level than currently predicted by models that do not take wave-driven water levels into account.

Observations show global sea level is rising due to climate change, with the highest rates in the tropical Pacific Ocean where many of the world’s low-lying atolls are located. Sea level rise is particularly critical for low-lying coral reef-lined atoll islands; these islands have limited land and water available for human habitation, limited food sources and ecosystems that are vulnerable to inundation from sea level rise. Sea level rise will result in larger waves and higher wave-driven water levels along atoll islands’ shorelines than at present.

“Many atoll islands will be flooded annually, contaminating the limited freshwater resources with saltwater, and likely forcing inhabitants to abandon their islands in decades, not centuries, as previously thought,” said USGS geologist and lead author of the study, Curt Storlazzi.

The study explored the combined effect of storm-induced wave-driven flooding and sea level rise on atoll islands within the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, including Laysan and Midway Islands, which are home to many threatened and endangered endemic species. The same modeling approach is applicable to most populated atolls around the world.

The study, “Many Atolls May Be Uninhabitable Within Decades Due to Climate Change,” was recently published in Nature’s Scientific Reports journal, and is available online.

Hawaii Lawmakers Meet With President Obama During National Summit

State Senators Will Espero (Senate Dist. 19 – ‘Ewa Beach, ‘Ewa by Gentry, Iroquois Point, portion of ‘Ewa Villages) and Jill Tokuda (Senate Dist. 24 – Kane‘ohe, Kane‘ohe MCAB, Kailua, He‘eia, ‘Ahuimanu), along with State Representative Chris Lee (House Dist. 51 – Kailua, Waimanalo) were among more than 50 Democratic lawmakers from around the country at the White House on Wednesday to meet with President Barack Obama.  The President encouraged them to push for domestic policy change at the state level because “you can act when Washington won’t.”
Lawmakers whitehouse

The Hawaii lawmakers were in Washington, D.C. to participate in discussions on how the states can address issues including raising the minimum wage, paid family leave and sick days for workers, expanding pre-Kindergarten education, college affordability, and reforming licensing laws to allow more people to get jobs.

Following the summit, the Hawaii delegation clearly understood the burden and opportunity for change that befalls legislators.

“The meetings with the White House staff were productive and informative. Hawai’i families are counting on us to make good policy and improve the quality of life where they live. I look forward to working with the President to pass legislation which supports working men and women and families in our state,” said Sen. Espero.

Sen. Tokuda said the meeting “was a good opportunity to connect with senior White House officials and lawmakers from other states to discuss how we can move forward on important issues like paid leave, early childhood education and criminal justice reform. These discussions were timely as we head towards our legislative session and prepare priorities and bills that will be introduced in concert with local and national efforts.”

Rep. Lee said, “Issues like paid family leave and medical leave aren’t red or blue issues. They will benefit everyone and are overwhelmingly supported by people around the country, but Congress has been unable to take action. Families in our community are hurting. I have friends just starting families who are being forced to choose between caring for their newborns or keeping their jobs. That isn’t right. The United States is the last developed nation in the world without meaningful paid family leave. If Congress won’t act to fix that, then it’s up to us at the state level.”