Hawaii Police Kill 5 Unarmed Hawaii Residents in 8 Months – Group Calls for Justice for Sheldon Haleck

Today we say NO MORE!   World Can’t Wait-Hawai`i calls on the people of Hawai`i to demand the truth about the circumstances surrounding the death of Sheldon Haleck.

JusticeWe challenge the media to vigorously investigate the actions of the HPD and to refuse to parrot police reports and attempts to vilify victims of police brutality and murder.

We challenge the people of Hawaii to stand with the victims of police brutality and create an atmosphere where families can talk openly about their loved ones, and where witnesses of police brutality can step forward to tell the truth.

justice2In the wake of the police murders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, people across the U.S. righteously stood up against police murder and brutality, the targeting of Black and Brown people, and the lack of prosecution of the police for their crimes.

People of different races and nationalities, and from all walks of life, joined together to say, “We  Can’t Breathe,” in solidarity with those being victimized. Through many different forms of protest and resistance, the entire society was finally forced to confront this burning injustice.  Meanwhile, murder by police continues unchecked.

justice3In the last 8 months HPD has killed at least 5 unarmed Hawai`i residents.  Hawai`i has one of the highest rates of police murder and brutality in the U.S.

The epidemic of police murder and brutality must end!   NOW!

On April 14 World Can’t Wait-Hawai`i will be joining with people across the U.S. calling for a Shut Down to Stop Murder (#ShutDownA14).  Go to www.stopmassincarceration.net to connect with the growing movement against police murder, brutality and mass incarceration!”

Commentary:

15 people responded to our Call to a Vigil/Signholding in front of Iolani Palace to
Demand Justice for Sheldon Haleck.  A small memorial was set up and our signs lined King Street during rush hour.

Many commuters honked their horns; a few stopped their cars to ask what had happened; several pedestrians stopped to talk, thank us, or tell about their own experiences with police brutality.

We also heard some potentially important new information.  According to someone who was within several hundred yards of the killing but did not personally see Sheldon get tased,, Sheldon was “dragged from the street” rather than “escorted,” as the HPD report claimed, and  several people he had spoken with overheard conversations between the police immediately after Sheldon was tased saying they were “worried that the woman cop who tased Sheldon had tased him too long.”   At this point facts are still sketchy, but while we held signs we couldn’t help but note that there were a number of surveillance cameras in the vicinity that might hold important information.

A Press Release was sent to members of Hawai`i’s media; only Channel 9 came out.  The photographer took a lot of pictures, but we haven’t seen any coverage.

World Can’t Wait Hawaii

 

National PBS Documentary Features Local Efforts to Perpetuate Hawaiian Language

What does it take to save a language? Poet Bob Holman travels across the globe to uncover answers – including a stop in Hawaii to feature ongoing efforts to perpetuate our native language. Language Matters with Bob Holman makes its Hawaii broadcast premiere Thursday, March 19 at 8:00 p.m. on PBS Hawaii. language matters

Filmed around the world, the two-hour documentary features Hawaii in the third of three acts. Among those featured: Puakea Nogelmeier (pictured in attached photo with Holman), Pele Harman (pictured in attached photo with students from Ke Kula O Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u), Kauanoe Kamana, Larry Kimura, Kepa Maly, W.S. Merwin, Lolena Nicholas, Keali‘i Reichel and Kau‘i Sai-Dudoit.

Holman makes two other global stops:

  • In Australia, Holman visits Charlie Mangulda, an Aboriginal songman (poet), who is the only person left on the planet who speaks Amurdak. With linguist Nick Evans, Holman also flies to Goulburn Island off the coast of Northern Australia, where he meets a community of 400 people speaking ten languages, many endangered, all vulnerable.
  • In Wales, Holman explores the humor, rage and lyricism of the Welsh people, who brought their language back from the edge of extinction. Currently, three million people live in Wales and speak the native language.

Language Matters with Bob Holman is a co-production of David Grubin Productions Inc. and Pacific Islanders in Communications. For more information, visit the film’s website: www.languagemattersfilm.com

Hawaii County Ordered to Suspend Drug Tests for Employees

Constitution protects government employees from such invasive medical examinations

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai’i and the law firm of Peiffer Rosca Wolf Abdullah Kane & Carr sued Hawai’i County in federal court on Monday, March 9 on behalf of Rebekah Taylor-Failor, a Kailua-Kona woman who is about to begin working for the County.

After giving her a conditional job offer, the County required her, as it requires all its prospective employees, to submit to a urinalysis and an invasive medical examination.
Piss TestShe asked the Court to allow her to start working (as a Legal Clerk II – a typical desk job) without submitting to a urinalysis; on Friday, March 13, the Court granted that request, ruling that “the urinalysis would violate Taylor-Failor’s Fourth Amendment rights[.]”

Until now, the County of Hawai’i required its prospective employees to submit a urine sample, which the County would subject to analysis that could reveal sensitive private medical information – such as whether an individual is diabetic or has a urinary tract infection – regardless of the physical duties the applicant would perform on the job.  The ACLU of Hawai’i and co-counsel Adam Wolf asked the Court for a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent the County from obtaining this private information from Ms. Taylor-Failor’s bodily fluids, citing constitutional protections from suspicionless searches.

In an attempt to avoid litigation, the ACLU of Hawaii reached out to the Hawaii County Department of Corporation Counsel in 2013, explaining that the County’s policies and procedures were unconstitutional; the County responded – incorrectly – that its policies were valid.  But siding against the County, the Court ruled in its order that “the County has proffered no explanation as to why it is entitled to search Taylor-Failor’s urine before she may begin employment in her light duty, clerical, non-safety-sensitive position….  Employment requirements cannot stand where they violate rights of a constitutional dimension.”

Mr. Wolf said, “The Constitution protects government employees from such invasive medical examinations.  The County of Hawai’i has no need to demand that its clerks reveal whether they have a urinary tract infection or diabetes.  Today’s ruling is a historic step toward reforming pre-employment medical tests so that they comply with the constitution.”

Rebekah Taylor-Failor said, “I’m eager to start working for the County, and I’m glad that the Court is allowing me to do so without having to sacrifice my constitutional rights.”

ACLU of Hawai’i Legal Director Daniel Gluck said, “We are glad the Court has recognized that the government does not need to perform invasive searches of bodily fluids to determine whether an office worker can perform her job.  Medical data is some of our most privately held information, and it is critical that we protect it from government overreach.”

The mission of the Hawai’i affiliate of the ACLU is to protect the civil liberties contained in the state and federal constitutions through litigation, legislative and public education programs statewide. The ACLU is funded primarily through private donations and offers its services at no cost to the public. The ACLU does not accept any government funds.

20th Annual Kick Butts Day in Hawaii

Kids in Hawaii will stand up to Big Tobacco on March 18 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 20th annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,000 events are planned nationwide for this day of youth activism, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. (See below for a list of local events.)

toll of tobaccoOn Kick Butts Day, kids encourage their peers to stay tobacco-free, demand that tobacco companies stop marketing deadly, addictive products to them and encourage elected officials to do more to reduce youth tobacco use.

This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on how the tobacco industry still spends huge sums on marketing and is adopting new strategies to reach young customers. Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $8.8 billion a year – one million dollars every hour – to market tobacco products. In Hawaii, tobacco companies spend $26.9 million annually on marketing efforts. The industry’s tactics that entice kids include:

  • Splashy ads in magazines with large youth readership, such as Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine and Rolling Stone.
  • Widespread advertising and price discounts in stores, which make tobacco products appealing and affordable to kids.
  • New, sweet-flavored tobacco products such as small cigars and electronic cigarettes. The latest surveys show that youth use of e-cigarettes has skyrocketed.

In addition to organizing events, kids are standing up to the tobacco industry on social media through the #NotAReplacement selfie campaign. The tobacco industry’s own documents reveal that they have long targeted kids as “replacement smokers” for the more than 480,000 people their products kill each year in the United States. Kids are taking selfies to say they’re not a replacement and sharing the photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the #NotAReplacement hashtag. (view the #NotAReplacement selfie gallery)

“On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up and reject Big Tobacco’s manipulative marketing,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We can make the next generation tobacco-free and end the tobacco epidemic for good. Elected officials can help reach that goal by standing with kids and supporting proven strategies to prevent youth tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws and prevention programs.”

Health advocates in Hawaii are urging state leaders to increase the legal sale age for tobacco products to 21 to reduce smoking and save lives. In Hawaii, tobacco use claims 1,400 lives and costs $526 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 10.4 percent of Hawaii’s high school students smoke.

On Kick Butts Day, kids engage in creative events that range from small classroom activities about the harmful ingredients in cigarettes to large rallies at state capitols.

In Hawaii, activities include:

Youth with the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii in Honolulu will hold a major event at the State Capitol to educate and empower their peers to advocate for a bill to raise the tobacco age of sale in the state to 21. Youth will create signs, post to social media, and meet with legislators in support of the bill. Time: 10 AM. Location: 415 S. Beretania Street, Honolulu. Contact: Mary Goldsworthy (509) 710-4298.

Students at Helemano School Age Center in Wahiawa will learn about the dangers of smoking and create a short phrase about staying tobacco-free to display in the youth center’s fence with cups. Time: 3 PM. Location: 327 Kuapale Road, Wahiawa. Contact: Rebecca Staggs (808) 653-0724.

The U.S. Army Hawaii Youth Sports in Honolulu will hold a day of activities for youth to stand up to tobacco, including a fun run, a dance performance to ‘Thriller’ and informational activities. Time: 11:30 AM. Location: 4725 Bougainville Drive, Honolulu. Contact: Brittany Bigham (808) 426-8790.

All events noted above are on March 18. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Hawaii, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/map. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.

Friends of HVNP & Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Earn National Award for Public Lands Partnership

The nonprofit group Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park (FHVNP), and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, received the Association of Partners for Public Lands (APPL) 2015 Partnership Award for Public Lands Partners.

Funds raised by the Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park support many park programs, including the youth ranger internship program. Shown here, Youth Ranger Fernando Ramangmou trains for search and rescue missions in the park. NPS Photo/David Boyle.

Funds raised by the Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park support many park programs, including the youth ranger internship program. Shown here, Youth Ranger Fernando Ramangmou trains for search and rescue missions in the park. NPS Photo/David Boyle.

According to the APPL, the Public Lands Partners Award recognizes “an exemplary partnership for a stunning achievement to protect and preserve our public lands and enhance the experiences of their visitors and users.” The award is presented in tandem to both the nonprofit and agency partners for their shared achievements.

“We rely on the support of our Friends group, which is vital to the success of many park programs, including the Youth Ranger Internship Program, now in its sixth year, and the upcoming BioBlitz and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival in May,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “It is wonderful to be recognized for such a positive and essential partnership,” she said.

Because of the partnership, nearly 140 high school students in Ka‘ū and Puna have landed paid internships in the park since 2010, and thousands of island residents, visitors, and schoolchildren will be able to participate with scientists in discovering the unique biodiversity of the park.

The organization’s mission is to support the park in the protection, preservation, and interpretation of the natural and cultural resources for the enjoyment of current and future generations. It has raised more than $700,000 for the national park since 2009.

“We are honored to share this award with Hawai‘i Volcanoes National park,” said Elizabeth Fien, Executive Director of the FHVNP. “We have a very collaborative partnership that exemplifies the way nonprofits should work with public land agencies,” she said.

The APPL Partnership Awards celebrate the best in public lands partnerships, recognizing individuals, organizations, publications, products, programs and services that embody leading edge achievements in the preservation of public lands and the enrichment of visitors.

For over 35 years, APPL has served as the national voice for nonprofit public lands partners and has strengthened its membership through education, information sharing and representation. Its membership is comprised of nonprofit organizations whose missions embrace a vibrant future for the nation’s natural and cultural heritage.

Big Island Hosting 11 Nations: Trans-Pacific Partnership Meeting Begins

Eleven nations will be meeting tomorrow here on the Big Island at an undisclosed location  to work on passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Leaders of TPP member states and prospective member states at a TPP summit in 2010.

Leaders of TPP member states and prospective member states at a TPP summit in 2010.

U.S. failure to pass a trans-Pacific agreement would leave a political vacuum for China to fill.

Beginning tomorrow on the Big Island of Hawaii, U.S. officials will host trade negotiators from 11 nations spanning Asia and the Americas to work toward completing what could be the most significant trade deal in a generation. Five years in the making, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would cover 40% of global gross domestic product and a third of world trade.

Any such deal ultimately will have to make it through the U.S. Congress. In order to prevent lawmakers from amending the agreement and undoing years of international negotiations, Congress will first have to provide President Obama with trade promotion authority, also known as “fast-track,” that allows a yes-or-no vote on the package.

The remainder of this Wall Street Journal opinion piece can be found here: A Trade Deal With a Bonus For National Security

New Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Scientist-In-Charge

The U.S. Geological Survey is pleased to announce the selection of Christina (Tina) Neal to serve as the new Scientist-in-Charge of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Neal succeeds Jim Kauahikaua, who served in the position for the past ten years.

Christina Neal, Scientist-in-Charge, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Christina Neal, Scientist-in-Charge, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

It is a fitting coincidence that Neal, only the second woman to lead USGS HVO in its 103-year-long history, takes the helm on March 8, International Women’s Day, a day established to celebrate the achievements of women around the world.

“Tina brings to the HVO Scientist-in-Charge position the required breadth of scientific background, strong communication skills, and eruption response experience, including much work with various communities at risk. I was thrilled when she accepted the position, because I knew that both HVO and the communities that it serves will be in good hands going forward,” said Tom Murray, Director of the USGS Volcano Science Center, which oversees all five U.S. volcano observatories.

Neal comes to Hawai‘i from Alaska, where she spent almost 25 years working as a USGS geologist with the Alaska Volcano Observatory. After so many years in the land of the midnight sun, swapping snowshoes for ‘slippahs’ (flip-flops) might seem a drastic change, but she’s no stranger to the aloha state—or HVO.

From 1983 to 1989, Neal lived in Volcano, and worked on the staff at HVO.  Her work included monitoring Kīlauea Volcano during the early years of its ongoing East Rift Zone eruption, as well as Mauna Loa during its 1984 eruption. She fondly recalls one day in March 1984, when she spent the morning working atop the erupting Mauna Loa and the afternoon collecting lava samples from the active Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent on Kīlauea.  For a volcanologist, simultaneous eruptions on two volcanoes made for an unforgettable workday.

As part of the Big Island Mapping Project, Neal mapped the summit of Kīlauea, resulting in the USGS publication “Geologic Map of the Summit Region of Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaii.” She also mapped Kīlauea’s Southwest Rift Zone for the “Geologic Map of the Island of Hawai‘i.”

In 1990, Neal moved to Alaska to work at the newly-created AVO in Anchorage.  There, she monitored and studied a number of Alaskan volcanoes and their eruptions, including Redoubt (1989–1990 and 2009), Mount Spurr (1992), Augustine (2005–2006), and Okmok (2008). Working on remote Alaskan stratovolcanoes is not for the faint-hearted—the steep-sided, glacier-covered volcanic mountains are hazardous even when not erupting—a tip-off to the mettle of which Neal is made.

In 1998, Neal accepted a two-year assignment in Washington, D.C., as the first USGS geoscience advisor to the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, within the U.S. Agency for International Development, which is responsible for coordinating U.S. government responses to disasters overseas. Her travels during this assignment took her to Thailand, Nepal, Ecuador, Colombia, Kazakhstan, and other foreign countries, where she reviewed or assisted with the implementation of hazard mitigation programs.

When Neal returned to AVO in 2000, she resumed her work as a geologist—mapping and studying active Alaskan volcanoes. With colleagues, she strengthened the Alaska-based interagency response system for volcanic eruptions and coordinated AVO’s eruption monitoring and crisis response efforts with Russian volcanology counterparts. She is also internationally recognized for her efforts to reduce the risk of volcanic ash to aviation in the North Pacific and globally.

In addition to outstanding geologic work, Neal honed her managerial skills during two details as Chief of Staff and Deputy Regional Director for the USGS Western Regional Office in 2009–2010 and as Acting Scientist-in-Charge at AVO in 2010.

Over the years, Neal has maintained ties to HVO.  In 2012, she helped with HVO’s 100th Anniversary Open House, and in October 2014, she spent two weeks at HVO assisting with monitoring efforts and community meetings as Kīlauea’s active lava flow moved toward Pāhoa.

UH Hilo’s Team Hoku Wins Microsoft Video Challenge

UH Hilo’s Team Hoku captured first place in the 2015 Microsoft Imagine Cup Pitch Video Challenge, Games Category.

eam Hoku, featured from left to right: Casey Pearring, Brian Hall and Theodore DeRego (not pictured: Lucas DeRego).

Team Hoku, featured from left to right: Casey Pearring, Brian Hall and Theodore DeRego (not pictured: Lucas DeRego).

Team members Brian Hall, Theodore DeRego, Lucas DeRego and Casey Pearring created reForge, a 2D online sci-fi sandbox game where players command customizable ships in tactical battles. UH Hilo students Kristin Pederson and Kelli Yamane worked on the documentation aspects of the game, although they are not official members.

Team Hoku received a $3,000 cash prize and is moving on to the Blueprint and User Experience challenges. The Imagine Cup competition is recognized as the premier global student technology competition, honoring innovations that address the world’s toughest problems.

National Call to Native Artists: Support for Indigenous Culture Makers

American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists nationwide have until April 6 to apply for the 2015 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) Artist Fellowship.

To date, 41 American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists and culture makers have been honored with a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Artist Fellowship. NACF Fellows clockwise from left, work by Nora Naranjo Morse (Tewa), visual artist Sonya Kelliher-Combs (Athabascan/Iñupiaq) in studio, work by Alan Michelson (Mohawk), performance by author Sherwin Bitsui (Navajo), still from documentary film by Christen Marquez (Native Hawaiian) and weaver Jeremy Frey (Passamaquoddy) in studio.

To date, 41 American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists and culture makers have been honored with a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Artist Fellowship. NACF Fellows clockwise from left, work by Nora Naranjo Morse (Tewa), visual artist Sonya Kelliher-Combs (Athabascan/Iñupiaq) in studio, work by Alan Michelson (Mohawk), performance by author Sherwin Bitsui (Navajo), still from documentary film by Christen Marquez (Native Hawaiian) and weaver Jeremy Frey (Passamaquoddy) in studio.

The coveted national award includes support ranging up to $20,000 per artist. Awards will be made in six artistic disciplines, including: performing arts, filmmaking, literature, music, traditional arts and visual arts. “To meet a broadening need in the arts community, this year we invite applications in the discipline of performing arts,” said NACF Program Officer Andre Bouchard (of Kootenai and Chippewa descent). “More Native artists than ever before are exploring performing arts through multi-disciplinary approaches. We are looking forward to seeing what Native performing artists have been up to around the country!”

DEADLINE: Monday, April 6, 5 p.m. P.S.T.

To apply, artists who are members of federally and state-recognized U.S. tribes, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities can review criteria and complete an application at http://your.culturegrants.org before the April 6, 5 p.m. PST deadline.

The foundation will announce award recipients in August 2015. For questions and technical support, contact Program Officer Andre Bouchard at andre@nativeartsandcultures.org or (360) 314-2421.

One of the only opportunities in the U.S. of this magnitude dedicated to supporting Indigenous artists and culture makers, the foundation’s national fellowship has been awarded to 41 American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists so far. Artists who have received the award in the past are ineligible to apply for the 2015 NACF Artist Fellowship. Past fellows include visual artist Nora Naranjo Morse (Tewa), recording artist Keola Beamer (Native Hawaiian), choreographer Emily Johnson (Yup’ik), author David Treuer (Ojibwe), multidisciplinary artist Shan Goshorn (Eastern Band Cherokee) and film director Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (Iñupiaq).

Since it began operating in 2009, the nonprofit foundation has invested $5,113,574 in programs to support Native arts and cultures across the nation, including direct support for over 127 Native artists and organizations. To learn more about the foundation’s mission and past fellows awarded, visit www.nativeartsandcultures.org.

Department of Health Now in Charge of Medical Marijuana – Rules Change

The Hawaii State Department of Health has completed the transfer of the medical marijuana registration program from the Department of Public Safety. The program officially became part of the Department of Health on Jan. 1, 2015. Hawaii is one of 23 states along with the District of Columbia that allows medical marijuana use.

Possession of a valid medical marijuana registration card issued by the Department of Health and based on the written certification of a physician permits the lawful cultivation, possession, and use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Act 177 was signed into law in June 2013 and authorized the transfer of the 14-year-old program to the Department of Health. As a health initiative, the medical marijuana program is better aligned with the Department of Health’s mission and the department’s experience in working with patients and health programs that involve public outreach, education and safeguarding patient privacy.

Act 178, which was also signed into law in June 2013, amends sections of the existing law. The Department of Health has made the following changes to comply with the law:

  • Law Enforcement 24/7 Online Verification – In accordance with Act 178, the Department of Health will provide 24/7 subject verification to designated law enforcement officers. Although no confidential information will be released, designated law enforcement officers will be able to verify if an individual has a valid medical marijuana registration card should the need arise for official law enforcement purposes. Designated officers are being trained by the department.
  • Registration Fee Increase -The patient medical marijuana registration fee has increased from $25 to $35 effective Jan. 1, 2015. A new, convenient online application and payment system makes the application process easier and faster. A portal administration fee of $3.50 will be charged for the required online services. “We’re working to make the medical marijuana program more accessible to Hawaii residents who may have a qualifying debilitating medical condition and could benefit from medicinal use of marijuana,” said Scottina “Scotty” Malia Ruis, medical marijuana program coordinator with the Department of Health.

The Hawaii Department of Health has also initiated a number of upgrades to the medical marijuana program:

Click to enter site

Click to enter site

  • New Medical Marijuana Website – The Department of Health has established a website with information on the medical marijuana program at www.health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuana This is the most complete and up-to-date source of information for patients, physicians, law enforcement officials and the public. The site’s home page features a sign-up box for automatic medical marijuana program updates. This is the best way to keep abreast of all improvements and changes as the Department of Health’s medical marijuana program develops.
  • Phone Information Hotline – The Department of Health has established a phone hotline with recorded messages on different aspects of the medical marijuana program. The phone number is 733-2177. Toll free numbers have also been established for neighbor island residents: Hawaii Island residents may call 974-4000, ext. 32177; Maui residents may call 984-2400, ext. 32177; and Kauai residents may call 274-3141, ext. 32177.
  • New DOH Medical Marijuana Registration Card – This month, the Department of Health began issuing its new medical marijuana registration card, which includes the location of the where the marijuana is grown and the name of the primary care physician. The new card is thin and wallet-sized like an insurance card making it easier for patients and caregivers to keep with them whenever they are in possession of medical marijuana. The new white card with a colored Department of Health logo will replace the long familiar Department of Public Safety “blue card.”
  • Physician Education – Physician outreach and information sharing through planned conference calls has been ongoing to ensure healthcare providers have accurate information about the program. Physicians who are currently certifying patients for the program are emailed information about conference calls and other updates.

Beginning Jan. 28, DOH will hold public hearings for the proposed adoption of Chapter 11-160, Hawaii Administrative Rules for Medical Use of Marijuana. This proposed new chapter will include the process for DOH to consider approval of additional debilitating medical conditions for medical use of marijuana; physician requirements to participate in the program; registration of qualifying patients and primary caregivers; monitoring and corrective action; administrative procedure; and confidentiality of information. The proposed rules are posted at http://co.doh.hawaii.gov/sites/har/admrulechange/default.aspx

Public hearings are scheduled in each county as follows.

  • Jan. 28 (10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) in Hilo, Hawaii at the State Office Building conference rooms A, B and C located at 75 Aupuni St.
  • Feb. 2 (10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) in Honolulu, Oahu at the Diamond Head Health Center room 418 located at 3627 Kilauea Ave.
  • Feb. 3 (10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) in Wailuku, Maui at the State Office Building third floor conference room located at 54 South High St.
  • Feb. 5 (10:30 a.m.-12 noon) in Lihue, Kauai at the State Office Building basement room located at 3060 Eiwa St.

Requests or questions related to the upcoming public hearings may be sent to medicalmarijuana@doh.hawaii.gov

Senator Brian Schatz Responds to State of the Union Address

Today U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) released the following statement following President Obama’s annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.

Sen. Brian Schatz

Sen. Brian Schatz

“Tonight we heard the President lay out his vision for the year ahead to ensure that our economy continues its recovery and that our economic policies and priorities strengthen and expand the middle class.

“This is particularly important in Hawai‘i, where the high cost of living makes it tougher for hard-working middle class families to share in the American dream.

“For too long, the wealthiest Americans and big corporations have used unfair loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Tonight, the President proposed a simpler, fairer tax code that closes those loopholes and uses those savings to support tax credits for working parents. These smart investments will help middle class families succeed and bolster our economy.

“The President’s proposal to expand access to higher education and make community college free for every responsible student is an important step forward. We all know that a college education is the best way for people to move up the economic ladder.

“I am also glad that the President focused on home ownership and the need to make mortgages more affordable. Helping families attain the dream of home ownership is even more important in Hawai‘i, where the high prices stress family budgets.

“I hope as we begin the New Year my Republican colleagues in Congress will welcome the President’s proposals to strengthen the middle class and will work with Democrats to make the American dream a reality for all Americans.”

 

Hawaii Facilities Report 3 Million Pounds of Toxic Chemical Released During 2013

Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) report that showed that the majority of toxic chemicals managed at industrial facilities in the U.S. were not released into the environment. Nationally in 2013, approximately 84 percent of the 26 billion pounds of toxic chemicals were managed through the use of preferred practices such as recycling.

Of the 4 billion pounds that were disposed of or otherwise released to the environment, 66 percent went to land, 19 percent to air, 5 percent to water, and 10 percent was transferred to other facilities. Individual fact sheets for the Pacific Southwest Region states and territories were also made available yesterday.

toxic releases 2013

A total of 35 Hawaii facilities reported 3 million pounds of toxic chemical releases during 2013. Hawaii’s total reported on-site and off-site releases increased when compared to the 2.7 million pounds reported in 2012. AES Hawaii Inc., and Hawaiian Electric Co.’s Kahe Generating Station, both electric generation utilities, were the top two facilities for total on-site and off-site releases. For detailed Hawaii information and the list of the top facilities, please visit: http://iaspub.epa.gov/triexplorer/tri_factsheet.factsheet_forstate?&pstate=HI&pyear=2013&pDataSet=TRIQ1

Puna Lava Flow Causes Runaway Brush Fires – Evacuation Not Required Yet

This is a brush fire information update for Thursday January 15th at 3:30PM.

11515pic12

The Hawaii Fire Department reports two runaway brushfires in the area of the lava flow in Pahoa.  Both fires started from the active lava flow and are currently burning in a north/northeast direction.  The fires are located to the west or above highway 130 and approximately .6 to .9 miles from the Ainaloa subdivision.

The fires have not yet burned to the fire break adjacent to the Ainaloa subdivision and currently no homes or properties are threatened.  No evacuation is required at this time.

Fire department personnel and equipment are on scene along with helicopters and a bull dozer working to contain and extinguish the fires.

Additional updates will be broadcast as conditions change.

This is your Hawaii County Civil Defense

DLNR to Acquire and Permanently Protect Molokai Freshwater Pond

As part of the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources will acquire and permanently protect a 66-acre freshwater pond on Moloka’i, including the island’s largest freshwater pond.

Hawaiian Coot

Hawaiian Coot

The pond provides habitat for the endangered Hawaiian coot and the Hawaiian stilt, but faces an imminent threat from sedimentation and invasive plants that degrade, fill and eliminate wetland habitat.

Hawaiian Stilt

Hawaiian Stilt

Restoration will include the removal of invasive plants encroaching on the pond and removal of a large accumulation of sediment that has displaced a portion of the pond.

This project is a crucial part of a larger plan to protect the Pua’ahala watershed as a new state wildlife sanctuary extending from the mountains to the coral reefs.

molokai grant

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe today announced over $21 million will be provided to 25 projects in 13 coastal and Great Lakes states to protect, restore or enhance more than 11,000 acres of coastal wetlands and adjacent upland habitats under the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program.

State and local governments, private landowners, conservation groups and other partners will contribute over $35 million in additional funds to these projects, which include acquiring, restoring or enhancing coastal wetlands and adjacent uplands to provide long-term conservation benefits to fish and wildlife and their habitats.

The program, funded through taxes paid on equipment and fuel purchases by recreational anglers and boaters, creates significant benefits for other recreationists and the American public. The billions of dollars generated through recreational angling, boating, waterfowl hunting and bird watching benefit communities in the vicinity of wetlands restoration projects.

Click here for the complete list of projects funded by the 2015 grant program.

The Service awards grants of up to $1 million to states based on a national competition, which enables states to determine and address their highest conservation priorities in coastal areas. Since 1992, the Service has awarded over $357 million in grants under the program.

Conservation of coastal wetlands ecosystems will not only benefits coastal wetland-dependent wildlife, but will also enhance flood protection and water quality, and provide economic and recreational benefits to anglers, boaters, hunters and wildlife watchers.

2015 Ushered In By Largest First Day Hike In America

Sunrise on this first day of 2015 was foiled by heavy cloud cover, but an estimated 500 early morning hikers still made the one and a half mile trek to the Makapu’u Lookout in Kaiwi State Park in East Oahu, as part of the annual First Day Hike.
2015 Sunrise
For the past four years, First Day Hikes have been organized by state park systems in all 50 states.  Hawaii has the distinction of attracting what is perhaps, the largest number of hikers for a single event, according to America’s State Parks, the umbrella organization that initiated the annual hikes and tracks them around the country.
2015 Hawaii First Day Hike from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Curt Cottrell, the assistant administrator of the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of State Parks has organized the Makapu’u First Day Hike for each of the last four years.  He said, “When you consider the stunning views of Kaiwi Channel and the neighbor islands of Molokai, Lanai and Maui, Windward Oahu, Diamond Head, Koko Crater, and the opportunity to maybe see humpback whales breaching – all during the first sunrise of the new year, it’s really little wonder that Hawaii’s hike is the most unique and probably has the most participation for a single-location hike in the country.”

People lined the paved pathway for at least a half mile below the uppermost overlook in the state park.  The Hawaii event has grown steadily every year and seems to be particularly popular with Japanese visitors.  Sunrise at 7:09 a.m. was greeted with a pu by Gabriel Spencer of Ali’i Entertainment. Taiko drumming was provided for a third year, by the Taiko Center of the PacificIt is a school of traditional and contemporary Japanese drumming established in 1994 by Kenny and Chizuko Endo to preserve traditional Japanese drumming and to create new music for taiko.
A visitor from Taiwan set out from Waikiki on his bicycle at 2 a.m.  He arrived at 4 a.m. and was greeted with solitude and silence.  Less than an hour later, hundreds of people began arriving.

James Fritz of Waimanalo was among a group of people who crowded onto the uppermost viewing area where the Taiwanese cyclist was resting.  Fritz said he missed the first two First Day Hikes and barely made the third, but arrived on top early to secure a good viewing spot.  Commenting on the weather prior to sunrise he said, “Oh it’s beautiful. The stars are out, it’s cold.  If everybody bundled together we could stay pretty warm.”

January is “Volcano Awareness Month” in Hawaii

January 2015 is Hawaiʻi Island’s 6th annual “Volcano Awareness Month.”

A clear view today of Puʻu ʻŌʻō’s summit revealed no significant change during the past week. The cross-sectional area of the active lava stream in the tube on the flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō was the same as measured on December 22, suggesting no change in lava discharge from the vent. The central crater at Puʻu ʻŌʻō formed over several days following the opening of eruptive fissures on June 27; the view is looking toward the west. The distance from the high point on the northwest rim to the south rim (cliff in top middle to lower left in this photo) is about 300 m (~980 ft). (Click to Enlarge)

A clear view today of Puʻu ʻŌʻō’s summit revealed no significant change during the past week. The cross-sectional area of the active lava stream in the tube on the flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō was the same as measured on December 22, suggesting no change in lava discharge from the vent. The central crater at Puʻu ʻŌʻō formed over several days following the opening of eruptive fissures on June 27; the view is looking toward the west. The distance from the high point on the northwest rim to the south rim (cliff in top middle to lower left in this photo) is about 300 m (~980 ft). (Click to Enlarge)

With Kīlauea’s current lava flow impacting Puna residents, awareness is more essential than ever for us to live in harmony with the active volcanoes that are our island home.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, in cooperation with Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, and Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense, will provide a month-long series of programs about the volcanoes on which we live:

“At-a-Glance” Program Schedule

Program descriptions:

January 3, 2015, also marks the anniversary of Kīlauea’s ongoing East Rift Zone eruption, which began in 1983. During the past 32 years, lava flows have buried over 127 km2 (49 mi2) of public and private land, destroying 215 structures, 14 km (9 mi) of highway, and vast tracts of native forest. The ongoing destruction is a reminder of why it’s important to be aware of and understand how Hawaiian volcanoes work.

25th Anniversary America’s Health Rankings Finds Hawaii Ranks No. 1 Among All U.S. States in Overall Health

25th Anniversary America’s Health Rankings Finds Hawaii Ranks No. 1 Among All U.S. States in Overall Health

Health Rankings

  • Hawaii’s strengths include low prevalence of obesity and low rate of preventable hospitalizations; state’s challenges include high prevalence of binge drinking and high incidence of infectious disease

Nationwide, reduction in smoking, and improvements in adolescent immunization and infant mortality offset by rising rates of obesity and physical inactivity

  • Long-term analysis finds Americans have made considerable progress in avoiding premature and cardiovascular deaths in the past 25 years; life expectancy at its highest yet

HONOLULU (Dec. 10, 2014) – Rising rates of obesity and physical inactivity threaten Americans’ quality of life, even as Americans progressed in several key health metrics in 2014, according to the landmark 25th Anniversary Edition of America’s Health Rankings®: A Call to Action for Individuals & Their Communities.

Nationwide, obesity increased 7 percent from 27.6 percent to 29.4 percent of adults. Likewise, the percentage of adults who reported not participating in any physical activity in the last 30 days increased from 22.9 percent to 23.5 percent. At the same time, the number of Americans who smoke continued to decrease, declining by 3 percent this year, and has consistently declined over the past decade.

Hawaii’s Overall Health

According to the special 25th Edition of America’s Health Rankings, Hawaii ranks No. 1 again this year when compared with other states. The 2014 report illustrates Hawaii has its share of strengths and challenges.

Hawaii’s Strengths

  • Low prevalence of obesity
  • Low rate of preventable hospitalizations
  • Low rate of cancer deaths

Hawaii’s Challenges

  • High prevalence of binge drinking
  • High incidence of infectious disease
  • Low immunization coverage among children

“Hawaii’s top ranking reflects our state’s focus on maintaining healthy lifestyles and protecting our environment,” said Acting Health Director Keith Yamamoto. “The department is pleased to see Hawaii has maintained its number- one spot from last year, however, the report also points out some areas of concern that we will continue to work to address.”

“This is encouraging news and I look forward to working with our public health and health care communities to ensure access to care and strengthen prevention efforts to reduce chronic disease and injury in our state,” Gov. David Y. Ige said. “I’m proud to say that Hawaii is the healthiest state in the nation, and we must continue to invest in our public health efforts.”

Key Hawaii Challenges Addressed by UnitedHealthcare Programs

UnitedHealthcare watches America’s Health Rankings closely to better understand the health of individuals and communities across the nation and in Hawaii. UnitedHealthcare has several programs to address the nation’s health challenges at a state level. These programs help educate people on how to live healthier lives and empower them to take action to improve health in their communities.

UnitedHealthcare’s efforts include supporting local health and community events throughout the Islands for children, families and seniors, and supporting organizations such as the local chapters of March of Dimes, YMCA and Alzheimer’s Association to help promote health and wellness for Hawaii residents.

“For the last 25 years, United Health Foundation’s annual America’s Health Rankings has provided an invaluable look at the challenges and opportunities facing Hawaii and how the picture of health in our state compares with those of our region and our nation,” said Ron Fujimoto, D.O., chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Hawaii. “We look forward to continuing to use the report as a key tool for identifying and implementing solutions to our most pressing challenges and measuring the strides we’ve made to date.”

UnitedHealthcare in Hawaii has more than 300 employees located on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island with central offices in Honolulu. With a care provider network of 21 hospitals and more than 2,900 physicians statewide, the health and well-being company serves more than 230,000 Hawaii residents including members of the United States military and their families, and people enrolled in UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare and Medicaid health plans.

50-State Snapshot: Hawaii the Healthiest; Mississippi Least Healthy

Hawaii has again taken the title of healthiest state. Vermont came in second, followed by Massachusetts, which improved to third after being ranked fourth for two years. Connecticut came in fourth, rising three slots from last year. Utah came in fifth. Mississippi ranked 50th this year, preceded by Arkansas (49), Louisiana (48), Kentucky (47) and Oklahoma (46). West Virginia and Alabama moved out of the bottom five.

To see the Rankings in full, visit www.americashealthrankings.org.

Nationwide: Obesity and Physical Inactivity Increase after Short-Lived Improvements

“We applaud hard-won advances in several key measures, including smoking prevalence, even as this year’s America’s Health Rankings is a solemn reminder that we have a lot more work ahead of us,” said Reed Tuckson, M.D., senior medical adviser to United Health Foundation. “It is inevitable that increases in the rates of obesity and physical inactivity will result in more people suffering from significant chronic diseases that will compromise the quality of their lives, adversely affect their families and will be unaffordable for the nation.”

United Health Foundation is marking 25 years of America’s Health Rankings by introducing new online tools to inspire health advocacy across states and communities.

  • A “Change My Rank” online tool allows users to see how improving several key measures affects the state’s overall rank (for example, if a state reduced its prevalence of obesity by 5 percent, what would its overall rank be?).
  •  A Thought Leader Perspectives portal showcases notable leaders from the public health, government, academic, business, technology and consumer arenas reflecting on the achievements and challenges in America’s health over the last 25 years, and their thoughts for the next 25 years.

United Health Foundation will discuss the 25th edition Rankings at an event Wednesday, Dec. 10, at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The event will feature remarks from leading health experts and thoughtful conversation about the past, present and future of America’s health. To watch the event live – and to get more information about America’s Health Rankings – visit www.americashealthrankings.org.

25th Anniversary Report Reveals Major Long-Term Health Strides, Challenges

With the launch of this year’s report, America’s Health Rankings commemorates 25 years of comprehensive health reporting and advocacy for a healthier America. The special 25th Anniversary America’s Health Rankings report finds Americans have made meaningful strides in health since 1990, particularly as it relates to life expectancy:

  • At 78.8 years, Americans’ average life expectancy is at a record high.
  • The past 25 years have seen considerable declines in:

o            infant mortality, decreasing 41 percent

o            cardiovascular death, decreasing 38 percent

o            premature death, decreasing  20 percent

  • U.S. cancer mortality rates have also shown a steady decline, dropping 8 percent between 1996 and 2014.

The decline in smoking rates stands out as a significant health improvement over the past 25 years. Since 1990, smoking rates have decreased 36 percent, from 29.5 percent to 19 percent of adults who smoke regularly. Cigarette smoking is still associated with one of every five deaths in the United States, making it the leading cause of preventable death in the country.

While Americans are living longer, the past 25 years have seen a steady rise in chronic conditions, many of them preventable, that compromise their quality of life.

  • Obesity – now a leading contributor to death in the United States – more than doubled over the last 25 years, from 11.6 percent of adults in 1990 to 29.4 percent of adults today. One possible explanation for the increase: levels of physical inactivity remain high, with 23.5 percent of adults reporting no physical activity or exercise in the last 30 days.
  • Adults who say they have diabetes currently stands at 9.6 percent, more than double the number from 20 years ago when America’s Health Rankings first started tracking diabetes.

“The challenge for the next 25 years is to achieve widespread, uniform success in fighting the chronic conditions that threaten Americans’ quality of life and adversely affect our nation’s health care system,” said Rhonda Randall, D.O., senior adviser to United Health Foundation and chief medical officer and executive vice president, UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions. “Obesity, diabetes and physical inactivity rates are troublingly high. We must continue to promote positive health behaviors and help prevent the devastating consequences of chronic illnesses that are often left unchecked.”

Full Video – Kilauea Mountain of Fire

Kilauea, on Hawaii’s Big Island, is the world’s most active volcano. Its latest eruption began in 1983 and it hasn’t stopped since.
kilauea video
Since that time it has created 544 acres of new land and has consumed 200 homes. But as we watch nature’s own fireworks display and witness the devastation wrought by flowing lava, we’ve also been able to observe a process that’s central to life on these islands.

The most spectacular moment of creation is when lava pours into the ocean creating new land, and it is here that filmmaker Paul Atkins finds himself getting a shot few have ever filmed — the cataclysmic meeting of 2,000-degree lava and 75-degree ocean water — a sight to behold.

Hilo Folks are Big Spenders During the Holidays

Yep… us folks in Hilo are big spenders come Christmas time.  According to Nerdwallet, Hilo ranks 2nd in the most expensive places for holiday spending.

The average family in Hilo spends about $1,172.02 during the holidays.  The national average for a family of four is $877.22.

spending

Man Sentenced to Prison for Threatening Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

A New York man was sentenced on Monday to 33 months in prison for threatening Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, federal prosecutors said.

Aniruddha Sherbow

Aniruddha Sherbow

Aniruddha Sherbow, 44, whose last known address was in Poughkeepsie, New York, was sentenced in U.S. District Court. He pleaded no contest in February to two charges of transmitting threats, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement…

…Sherbow had been harassing Gabbard, a Democrat, since about February 2011, including making threats via email and telephone, prosecutors said. He was charged with two threats made in August 2013, one of them a voicemail message in which he threatened to kill her.

Full story here: New Yorker gets 33 months for threatening Hawaii congresswoman