• Follow on Facebook

  • air-tour-kauai
  • what-to-do-media
  • RSS W2DM

  • puako-general-store
  • Cheneviere Couture
  • PKF Document Shredding
  • Arnotts Mauna Kea Tours
  • World Botanical Garden
  • Hilton Waikoloa Village
  • Hilton Luau
  • Dolphin Quest Waikoloa
  • Discount Hawaii Car Rental
  • 10% Off WikiFresh

  • Say When

    May 2017
    S M T W T F S
    « Apr    
     123456
    78910111213
    14151617181920
    21222324252627
    28293031  
  • When

  • RSS Pulpconnection

  • Recent Comments

Video – Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Republican Health Care Bill Keeps Getting Worse

In a speech on the House floor today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) urged the House to reject the Republican’s latest health care bill:

“I recently wrapped up a town hall tour across my district in Hawaiʻi, visiting every single island. A common theme that I heard from folks was one of concern and questions about this Republican health care bill that we may be voting on later this week. They’re worried about their aging parents not being able to pay for their premiums and prescriptions, and that newly added provisions that threaten those with pre-existing conditions with skyrocketing costs will have such a devastating impact.

“Every time we hear about the new versions and new changes to this bill, it gets worse than the one before. Among a host of new problems, the newest version strips away protections on healthcare benefits like maternity care, substance abuse, and mental health services, while also expanding an already crippling age tax against our seniors—against our kūpuna.

“No matter how you package it, this bill is a handout to insurance and pharmaceutical companies while breaking the bank for those most in need of care. I urge my colleagues to stand in strong opposition to this bill and instead pass a health care bill that works for the American people.”

Three Hawaii Public School Students Selected for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program

Seniors from Mililani High School, Waipahu High School and Kalani High School have been selected as semifinalists for the 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. These students were selected out of 5,100 candidates and are in the running, along with 723 semifinalists nationwide, to be in the 53rd class of U.S. Presidential Scholars.

L to R: Emily Yang, Jommel Macaraeg, Tyler Labonte

The 2017 Hawaii public school semifinalists include:

  • Tyler Labonte, Mililani High School
  • Jommel Macaraeg, Waipahu High School
  • Emily Yang, Kalani High School.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 to honor distinguished graduating seniors. The program recognizes students who demonstrate exceptional academic performance, talent in the visual, creative and performing arts and accomplishment in career and technical education fields, as well as evidence of community service, civic leadership and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.

“Congratulations to these outstanding students, their families and schools for receiving this prestigious recognition acknowledging their hard work and commitment to academic and civic excellence,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We wish them the best of luck as the finalists are selected, as well as continued success as they pursue their college and career goals.”

As a third degree black in Karate, Tyler Labonte has the discipline and drive it takes to balance a full schedule, which includes advanced placement classes, extracurricular activities and a part-time job. He is currently a member of the Mililani High Student Senate, a programmer for the school’s VEX Robotics team, state president for SkillsUSA Hawaii and executive committee member of Mensa Hawaii.

Jommel Macaraeg has taken on numerous leadership roles at Waipahu High including class president during his junior and senior years, president of Waipahu High’s Academy of Health and Sciences House Council, and secretary for the school’s National Honor Society. He has also balanced a rigorous class schedule maintaining a 4.075 grade point average, while also giving back to the community by volunteering at events like the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Walk, the Great Aloha Run and the Taste of Waipahu.

Emily Yang will be graduating as the top valedictorian of Kalani High and plans on attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she will major in Biology. Her interest and talent in science has helped her win numerous awards at district and state Science and Engineering Fairs. This year, she competed in a science fair in Japan and was a return participant at the 2017 Intel international Science and Engineering Fair.

Annually, up to 161 students are chosen for one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students. For more information about the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, click here.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Statement on NSA Ending Warrantless Collection of Americans’ Emails

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), a member of the Fourth Amendment Caucus, issued the following statement in response to the National Security Agency’s (NSA) announcement to end its collection of Americans’ Internet communications that may include mentions of a foreign intelligence target. The announcement marks a break in years of NSA policy to collect email, texts, and other Internet communication that merely mention identifying terms for foreign targets, but are not to or from those targets, also known as “about” surveillance.

“For years, Americans have been kept in the dark about our government’s unconstitutional collection of their personal communications and data in the name of national security. This change in NSA policy is an important step in the right direction. In order to ensure we do not backtrack on this progress, I will be introducing legislation to permanently codify this policy change to permanently ban this privacy-invading collection.”

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has long advocated for reforms that address our government’s responsibility to protect civil liberties and ensure a strong national defense. She has actively sought reforms to Section 702, the Patriot Act, introduced legislation to strengthen and expand the functions of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), and is a founding member of the bipartisan Fourth Amendment Caucus focused on protecting the privacy and security of Americans in the digital

100 Days of Broken Promises: Hawai‘i Democrats to Highlight Trump’s Disastrous Administration

Tomorrow (Saturday), April 29th will mark 100 days since Inauguration Day.  So far, Trump’s first 100 days have been filled with broken promises and policies that hurt Americans in every corner of our nation.

For example:

  • Trump promised he would drain the swamp, but instead he’s filled his administration with billionaires, Wall Street bankers, lobbyists and the same Washington insiders he railed against during the campaign.
  • Trump promised better health care that would cost less and provide more benefits, but instead he backed a bill that would have thrown 24 million off of their health care and driven up premiums for older Americans, all while giving tax breaks to the wealthy.
  • Trump promised he would deliver for the “forgotten man,” but his budget would cut funding for vital services like job training, Meals on Wheels, and disease research to finance yet another tax break for the rich.
  • Trump promised Mexico would pay for the wall, but instead he’s trying to get U.S. taxpayers to pay for it in the latest government funding bill.
  • Trump upset bipartisan negotiations to fund the government with a late-in-the-game attempt to get funding for his border wall and even threatened to hold health care for millions hostage to do so.
  • Trump promised he would get tough on outsourcing and trade, but he has failed to stand up to China and continues to hire foreign workers at his resorts like Mar-A-Lago.
  • Trump signed an executive order blocking citizens of six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, the most significant hardening of immigration policy in generations. In bringing a national halt to the executive order, Judge Derrick Watson (ruling on a challenge to the ban by Hawai‘i Attorney General Douglas Chin) wrote “The illogic of the government’s contention is palpable… The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed.”
  • Trump’s Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, insulted Hawai‘i residents by saying (in reference to Judge Watson’s ruling) “I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.” Senator Mazie Hirono responded: “Hawaii was built on the strength of diversity & immigrant experiences – including my own. Jeff Sessions’ comments are ignorant & dangerous” and Senator Brian Schatz tweeted: “Mr. Attorney General: You voted for that judge. And that island is called Oahu. It’s my home. Have some respect.”

Hawai‘i Democrats will be gathering across the state to continue to #resist by marching for climate change, rallying for our ‘āina, and talking about how Trump’s broken promises, disrespect, and disastrous policies are impacting their lives.

Join us Saturday at an event below as we mark 100 days of the Trump administration’s broken promises:

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Opposes Attack on Net Neutrality

In a speech on the House floor today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) spoke out strongly against the FCC’s recent announcement of plans to unravel net neutrality:

“Yesterday, the new Trump-appointed FCC Chair announced his mission to undermine the net neutrality rules we fought so hard to put in place. In 2015, over 4 million people submitted comments, calling on the FCC to keep the internet open and fair.

“However, the FCC’s new Chairman, who used to work as counsel for Verizon, wants to turn the internet into a system of pay-to-play fast lanes for big money and those who can afford it, leaving everyone else behind in the slow lane.

“This hands the levers of access over to big ISPs at the expense of students, small businesses, entrepreneurs, independent content creators, and millions more.

“In today’s digital age, maintaining open and equal internet access is essential to breaking down barriers in education, media, expanding access to jobs and employment, driving innovation in healthcare, and so much more.

“We must stand strong in opposition to the FCC’s attack on fairness, equality, and net neutrality.”

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has strongly supported net neutrality, and has cosponsored legislation to prohibit multi-tiered pricing agreements between ISPs and content providers.

Hokulea and Hikianalia Return to Taputapuatea for Ancient Voyaging Ritual and Ceremony

Traditional Polynesian voyaging canoes Hokulea and Hikianalia were welcomed by local dignitaries, spiritual elders and community members at Taputapuatea. The marae, or the focal meeting ground, is located on the southeastern coast of Raiatea in French Polynesia. The purpose of the stop was to honor the ancient tradition of Hawaii’s Polynesian ancestors who would go to Taputapuatea, the spiritual center for voyagers of the Pacific, to ceremonially launch and close their voyages of discovery. After sailing about 100 miles from Papeete, Tahiti, the canoes arrived at Taputapuatea yesterday morning following the historic protocol of entering via the sacred pass of Teava Moa.

The ceremony began with pwo navigator Nainoa Thompson and captain Billy Richards returning two sacred stones to the marae that were given to the crew when the canoes last visited Taputapuatea in 2014 to launch the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage. The return of the two stones signified that the Hokulea and Hikianalia crews fulfilled their responsibility to sail around the world and deepened the connection between Hawaii and its navigational roots in Taputapuatea.

“These stones carried the spirits of all of our ancestors and the direct descendants of all of our families as we sailed around the world,” said Thompson. “Today we brought the stones home to Taputapuatea and were granted permission from by our ancestral family to return home. It’s the last permission based on the fulfillment of many promises we made,” he added.

In addition to the spiritual elders of Taputapuatea, the crew was greeted by French Polynesia president Edouard Fritch, the Taputapuatea mayor Thomas Moutame, and the country’s minister of culture Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu. The day-long ceremony featured the ancient rituals conducted to ceremonially complete a voyage, traditional chants and dance by the Taputapuatea community and students from Kamehameha Schools and Milolii Charter School.

In honor of this ceremonial milestone, crewmembers from Hokulea’s first voyage to French Polynesia in 1976 joined this leg from Tahiti to Raiatea, including Gordon Piianaia, Billy Richards, Snake Ah Hee, Kainoa Lee and John Kruse. Zane Aikau, nephew of 1978 crewmember Eddie Aikau, also participated on the leg on behalf of the Aikau family and 1976 crewmember Buffalo Keaulana who was unable to join the sail.  Special guests who also participated on the overnight sail included Hawaiian Airlines CEO Mark Dunkerley, University of Hawaii president David Lassner, and Hawaii State Department of Education superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.

Once considered the religious and cultural center of Polynesia, Taputapuatea is the location of an ancient marae that was once considered the central temple and religious center of Eastern Polynesia. Established around 1000 AD, the marae was a place of learning where priests and navigators from all over the Pacific would gather to offer sacrifices to the gods and share their knowledge of the genealogical origins of the universe, and of deep ocean navigation.

Most significantly, a truce known as the Faatau Aroha was established with the surrounding islands to form an alliance that lasted for many years and perpetuated the growth of voyaging and exploration leading to the discovery and colonization of all the islands of Eastern Polynesia, including Hawaii, Rapa Nui and Aotearoa (New Zealand).  New marae were established on each of these islands with a rock being taken from Taputapuatea so that Raiatea served as a spiritual link. However, the Faatau Aroha was broken due to a conflict between two leaders of the alliance that resulted to open warfare and an end to large-scale interisland voyaging.

The archaeological remains of Marae Taputapuatea were restored in 1994 and efforts to preserve the site continues. Association Na Papa E Vau Raiatea is working towards having Marae Taputapuatea designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site and continuing work to revive connections between communities of the Polynesian triangle and throughout the Pacific region.

Hokulea and Hikianalia are scheduled to depart Taputapuatea today and will return to Papeete, Tahiti where the crews will prepare the canoes for the voyage back to Hawaii. The canoes will depart French Polynesia in mid-May and will arrive at Magic Island on Oahu for a homecoming celebration on Saturday, June 17.

Japan Tsunami Gift Fund Supported Removal and Detection – How Was Hawaii’s $250,000 Spent?

After the devastating tsunami generated by the 9.0 earthquake that struck the coastal areas of Japan’s Tōhoku Region on March 11, 2011, the Japanese Ministry of the Environment estimated that 1.5 million tons of floating debris had been swept into the ocean. This unprecedented single pulse of marine debris drifted offshore and was eventually swept out to sea by oceanic currents to enter circulation in the North Pacific Ocean. This debris impacted western shores of the continental U.S., Canada, as well as Hawaii.

In 2013, the State of Hawaii received a portion of a $5 million diplomatic monetary gift offered to the United States by the Government of Japan. The gift was intended to help the affected U.S. states address Japan tsunami marine debris or “JTMD”. An initial distribution of $250,000 was made to each of the affected states: Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii. In Hawaii, the Department of Health (DOH) represented the State in a Memorandum of Agreement with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which had been designated as administrator of the JTMD Gift Fund. The Department of Land and Natural Resources was designated as the expending agency, so in November 2013 the funds were transferred from DOH to DLNR and subsequently used to support projects in three general areas:  removal, aquatic invasive species monitoring, and detection.

REMOVAL PROJECTS:  $91,712.66

DLNR staff routinely removes and disposes of marine debris.  When an item exceeds in-house capabilities, contracted services by qualified commercial entities are procured.

  • Contract for services: Removal & disposal of the side of a shipping container on Kauai  $3,875.51
  • Landfill fee for disposal of damaged JTMD vessel on Oahu $219.90
  • Contract for services: Removal of damaged JTMD vessel on Kauai $8,000.00
  • Contract for services: Removal & disposal of 20-ft diameter mooring buoy on Hawaii Island  $28,500.00
  • Purchase of a utility task vehicle for transporting heavy items out of areas inaccessible to larger vehicles and that would otherwise require access on foot    $12,321.79
  • Small equipment for removal of a JTMD boat by sea from a Maui beach site inaccessible to truck and trailer required for street transport  $1,438.22
  • Marine Debris Cleanup Project for a beach at Kanapou, Kahoolawe that included transporting staff and volunteers by boat, camping for four days, transporting the collected marine debris by helicopter to Maui for final disposal at the landfill, and bringing communications staff to Maui to document the activity  $24,716.12
  • Reimbursement for staff time for various JTMD removal activities during 2013-2015   $12,641.12

 AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES MONITORING PROJECTS:  $44,902.05

Marine debris can carry alien species hitchhikers attached to the debris and travel great distances via oceanic currents and wind. If successful at colonizing in new locations, some species have the potential to become invasive and disrupt local marine ecosystems. Researchers have identified over 70 non-native species associated with JTMD landing on Hawai‘i shorelines.  In response to the concern of establishment of non-native species via JTMD, monitoring was conducted to investigate JTMD biofouling species in 2015.  The first deployed a small team of biologists to do visual in-water surveys of nine landing sites on Kauai that were previously known to have been exposed to JTMD-transported alien species. The second project utilized advanced techniques in collaboration with other scientists monitoring JTMD landing sites in California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.

  • AIS Monitoring Project on Kauai        $3,345.87
  • AIS Monitoring Project on Oahu         $41,556.18

DETECTION PROJECTS:  $69,165.46

DLNR conducted the first state-wide shoreline marine debris survey to census the number and type of marine debris and identify debris accumulation sites.  Aerial survey techniques and analysis were used to estimate the number and type of marine debris distributed throughout the main Hawaiian Islands In early 2015 DLNR biologists applied for a grant to conduct aerial surveys, and received partial funding ($65,000) from a collaborative international group of researchers, the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (“PICES”).  The JTMD Gift Fund was used to supplement the PICES grant, enabling complete coverage of all shorelines of the main Hawaiian Islands. In the fall of 2015, the high resolution aerial images were successfully collected, the first such effort in the State of Hawai‘i. Analysis of the images followed through a contract with the University of Hawai‘i.

  • Contract for Aerial Survey of Main Hawaiian Islands $37,994.76
  • Aerial Survey Post-Image Processing Contract         $31,170.70

MARINE DEBRIS COORDINATOR:  $44,219.83

Since marine debris response activities are conducted by various DLNR staff with many other duties, a dedicated marine debris coordinator position was created through a seven month contract with the University of Hawaii.  This position contributed support for all of the project areas as well as database management and outreach activities related to JTMD.

After the initial distribution of $250K to each of the five Pacific states, the remainder of the $5 million gift fund was held in reserve for specific subsequent requests. This diplomatic monetary gift was unprecedented in U.S. history. Managing it at national and state levels required adapting existing protocols for accounting and expenditures, and sometimes processing could be a bit challenging. In the end, however, the diplomatic gift helped fill a gap for the previously unfunded liability of marine debris and through the projects it supported, bring more public awareness to this international problem.

Former Heald College Students Eligible for Federal Student Loan Cancellation and Refunds

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) Hawaii Post-secondary Education Authorization Program (HPEAP), joined with at least 42 other states and the District of Columbia, is notifying nearly 2,500 Hawaii residents who attended schools operated by Corinthian Colleges, Inc. – including Heald College in Honolulu – that they are eligible for cancellation of their federal student loans used to attend those schools.  If a student’s federal loan is cancelled, the student will make no more payments on the loan, and any payments already made will be refunded.

Approximately 2,474 Hawaii residents are eligible for federal student loan cancellation and will receive a letter explaining the relief available and enclosing a short application that must be filed with the U.S. Department of Education.

After intense scrutiny by various government entities, for-profit Corinthian Colleges abruptly ceased operations in 2015, transferring some of its campuses to a non-profit called Zenith Education Group.  The U.S. Department of Education then found that while it was operating, Corinthian Colleges made widespread misrepresentations between 2010 and 2014 about post-graduation employment rates at its Heald College campus, and elsewhere across the nation. Lists of the affected campuses, programs, and dates of enrollment are available at https://www.StudentAid.gov/heald-findings and at https://www.StudentAid.gov/ev-wy-findings.  Students who first enrolled in the identified campuses and programs during the specified time periods are eligible for streamlined discharge of their federal student loans.

“Former students are still unnecessarily paying for loans that should be forgiven,” said Bobbi Lum-Mew, HPEAP Program Administrator.  “This is the latest effort by state and federal officials to reach these Hawaii residents and put money back in their pockets.”

 HPEAP’s outreach will be sent to students who fall within the U.S. Department of Education’s findings of fraud discussed above, and who are eligible for a special “streamlined” process to discharge their federal student loans.  However, any student who attended Corinthian Colleges and believes that the school lied about job prospects, the transferability of credits, or other issues may apply to have their federal student loans canceled using the Department of Education’s universal discharge application at https://borrowerdischarge.ed.gov.  More information is available at https://studentaid.ed.gov/borrower-defense.

Borrowers should beware of student loan scams.  You can apply for loan forgiveness, or get information on loan forgiveness, for FREE through the U.S. Department of Education.  The U.S. Department of Education never charges application or maintenance fees, so if you’re asked to pay, walk away.

It may take time for the U.S. Dept. of Education to process applications, so anyone who applies for loan discharge should continue making payments on the affected loans until informed by the U.S. Dept. of Education or his loan servicer that his federal loans are in forbearance while his application is pending or that his loans have been cancelled.

If you have questions, more information about the Office’s outreach to former Corinthian Colleges students can be found at http://www.HealdOutreach.com.  Students can also call the U.S. Department of Education hotline at 1-855-279-6207 or e-mail questions about discharge of their federal student loans to FSAOperations@ed.gov.

Travel Ban Case Update: Hawaii Files Answering Brief with the Ninth Circuit Court Appeals

Last Friday afternoon the State of Hawaii filed its answering brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Hawaii v. Trump.

Click to read

On March 15, 2017, Judge Derrick Watson issued a 43-page opinion temporarily enjoining the federal government nationwide from enforcing or implementing Sections 2 and 6 of a second Executive Order issued by President Trump (the travel ban).

The travel ban would have restricted immigration from Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen, and also temporarily suspended refugee admissions. The travel ban had been scheduled to become effective on March 16, 2017.

The temporary restraining order blocking the travel ban was converted to a preliminary injunction on March 29, 2017. On April 7, 2017, the Department of Justice filed its opening brief seeking to overturn that preliminary injunction.

Hawaii’s answering brief states in part:

“The Executive Order flouts [the] protections [in the Constitution]. While the Constitution commits the immigration power to Congress, the President claims it for his own, recognizing no statutory limits on his powers of exclusion. And while the Bill of Rights guarantees Due Process and forbids the establishment of religion, the President seeks to enact a thinly veiled Muslim ban, shorn of procedural protections and premised on the belief that those who practice Islam are a danger to our country. The Constitution is not so easily cast aside.”

The Trump Administration is expected to file a reply brief on April 28, 2017. The appeal is scheduled to be heard before a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on May 15, 2017 at 9:30 a.m. in Seattle, Washington.

Leeward Oahu Administrator Named Hawaii’s 2017 National Distinguished Principal

The Hawaii Elementary and Middle Schools Administrators Association today named Principal Nelson Shigeta from Makaha Elementary School as the 2017 National Distinguished Principal. Shigeta will join the National Association of Elementary School Principals awardees from the other 49 states in Washington D.C. in October.

2017 National Distinguished Principal Nelson Shigeta thanks his staff and praises other nominees and administrators. Photo Credit: Department of Education

“These school leaders possess strong collaborative values, working with their teachers and staff to create effective school communities to support students,” said Deputy Superintendent Keith Hayashi. “Congratulations to all of the nominees, Principal Nelson Shigeta and the Outstanding Vice Principal of the Year Greg Nakasone.”

Shigeta is a veteran educator who has spent many years on the Leeward Coast. He values technology and has identified ways to incorporate 21st Century Learning strategies to improve reading proficiency, and increased the number of 1:1 devices available to students in order to enhance access to leveled texts in each classroom. As a result, students have spent more than 5,000 hours reading a total of 19,000 books, and reading proficiency has improved in numerous areas.

“I’m humbled to be recognized, especially after hearing the stories of the other nominees,” shared Shigeta. “Leadership is a team effort and one of the things I’m most proud of at Makaha Elementary School is my staff who work hard everyday to meet the needs of our students. This award means so much to me because it recognizes their commitment too.”

The other 2017 National Distinguished Principal (NDP) nominees who were honored include:

  • Alison Higa, Shafter Elementary School
  • Darlene Javar, Naalehu Elementary School
  • Gay Kong, Keolu Elementary School
  • Jason Yoshida, King Kaumualii Elementary School
  • Kim Mukai-Ontai, Kamalii Elementary School
  • Laura Vines, Kalihi Kai Elementary School

Front Row (L to R): Nelson Shigeta, Laura Vines, Darlene Javar; Second Row (L to R): Gay Kong, Kim Mukai-Ontai, Alison Higa, Jason Yoshida, Greg Nakasone. Photo Credit: Department of Education

The 2017 NDP awards took place at the Hale Koa Hotel and were sponsored by Oceanic Time Warner Cable, Hawaii USA Federal Credit Union and VALIC.

The Hawaii Elementary and Middle Schools Administrators Association (HEMSAA) is the local chapter of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. The purpose of HEMSAA is to facilitate positive educational leadership and serve as a voice for elementary, middle-level principals and other members. For more information, click here.

Students from Kalani High School Power Ahead to 20th Annual National Ocean Sciences Competition

Kalani High School students will be competing for the first time in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl. The 20th annual Nationals Finals Competition will take place April 22-23 at Oregon State University. The team joins 24 other regional winners out of a total of 392 competing teams.

L to R: Zoe Asahan, Rovi Porter, Mika Ishii, Daniel Huang, David Higashi, Coach Leslie Hamasaki.  Photo Credit: Kalani High School

Students from Kalani High School will compete against other top high school scholars in the 20th annual National Finals Competition of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) this Sat., April 22 and Sun., April 23. The team won the Hawaii regional competition and joins 24 other regional winners (out of a total of 392 competing teams) at the finals at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon.

“This is the first time that students from Kalani High School will be competing in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, and we are excited to cheer them on this weekend,” said Principal Mitchell Otani. “The lessons and skills the students have learned by preparing for the competitions have given them a strong foundation as they pursue post-secondary opportunities in science-related fields as well as public policy.”

Students will test their knowledge of ocean-related topics, which include cross-disciplines of biology, chemistry, policy, physics, and geology by answering buzzer-style, multiple choice questions, and longer, critical thinking-based team challenge questions. They will also participate in the Science Expert Briefing, a mock congressional hearing where they present science recommendations on a piece of legislation, enhancing their critical thinking skills and building a better understanding of the broader context of science.

The Kalani High School team consists of: Zoe Asahan, David Higashi, Daniel Huang, Mika Ishii and Rovi Porter.

The NOSB, a program of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, is building the next generation of ocean-literate citizens and scientists, educating them on timely topics that will remain relevant for years to come. The Finals competition theme this year is “Blue Energy: Powering the Planet With Our Ocean.”

Follow the Kalani High School team at the NOSB National Finals competition this weekend on Twitter (@NOSBRocks), FacebookInstagram, and Tumblr, using #NOSB17 and #NOSBturns20.

More Than 1,000 Maui Residents Pour Into Castle Theater For Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Last Stop On Statewide Town Hall Tour

At the Maui Arts & Cultural Center Castle Theater last night, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) hosted her seventh Town Hall to an audience of more than 1,000 Maui residents, making it the largest of the crowds to gather for a stop on the congresswoman’s statewide tour between April 11-20. In total, more than 3,500 constituents from Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Maui, and Hawaiʻi Island participated in Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s “Aloha Town Hall Tour” with many of the meetings having more than 30,000 viewers via Facebook Live.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said, “As we wrap up this Aloha Town Hall Tour that has brought together so many of us from communities across the entire state, I want to express my gratitude to everyone who took the time to come out, to listen, to share, and to ask questions—your kindness, your activism, and your aloha is what made these meetings so powerful and productive. Each of us has an opportunity to act with love and aloha, to respect others, and to work together despite any differences we have as we do our best to be of service to others.”

Issues of concern that came up on the Valley Isle tonight included online privacy rights and the congresswoman’s fight to stop Internet Service Providers from selling individuals’ internet browsing history without consent, Maui’s water infrastructure, overcrowding at the island’s prison, the need for more programs that assist inmates and reduce recidivism, criminal justice reform, decriminalizing marijuana, and access to truly affordable healthcare—not just health insurance. The audience expressed support for her Stop Arming Terrorists Act, her continued push to end the illegal regime change war in Syria, and her fight for peace.

Earlier today on Maui, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard participated in the Future Forum with her House colleague Rep. Eric Swalwell (D, CA-15) to address common issues facing millennials, the challenges of entering the work force, and solutions to exponentially increasing student debt. The congresswoman also visited the Maui Food Innovation Center, where she met with young entrepreneurs and UH Maui College students to discuss sustainable business practices and food security on the Valley Isle.

For more information, please contact Erika Tsuji at (808) 286-0803.

Hawaii Attorney General Responds to Attorney General Session’s Comment

Attorney General Doug Chin issued the following statement today in response to the statement from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he is “amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and Constitutional power.”

“President Trump previously called a federal judge in California a so-called judge. Now U.S. Attorney General Sessions appears to dismiss a federal judge in Hawaii as just a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific. Our Constitution created a separation of powers in the United States for a reason. Our federal courts, established under article III of the Constitution, are co-equal partners with Congress and the President. It is disappointing AG Sessions does not acknowledge that.”

Sea Floor Erodes, Reefs Can’t Keep Up – Coastal Communities Losing Storm Protection

In the first ecosystem-wide study of changing sea depths at five large coral reef tracts in Florida, the Caribbean and Hawai’i, U.S. Geological Survey researchers found the sea floor is eroding in all five places, and the reefs cannot keep pace with sea level rise. As a result, coastal communities protected by the reefs are facing increased risks from storms, waves and erosion.

Elkhorn corals (Acropora palmata) near Buck Island, U.S. Virgin Islands have died and collapsed into rubble. As coral reef structure degrades, habitat for marine life is lost and nearby coastlines become more susceptible to storms, waves and erosion.  Photo: Curt Storlazzi, USGS. Public domain.

In the Florida Keys, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Maui, coral reef degradation has caused sea floor depths to increase as sand and other sea floor materials have eroded over the past few decades, the USGS study found. In the waters around Maui, the sea floor losses amounted to 81 million cubic meters of sand, rock and other material – about what it would take to fill up the Empire State Building 81 times, the researchers calculated.

As sea levels rise worldwide due to climate change, each of these ecologically and economically important reef ecosystems is projected to be affected by increasing water depths. The question of whether coral colonies can grow fast enough to keep up with rising seas is the subject of intense scientific research.

But the USGS study, published April 20, 2017 in the journal Biogeosciences, found the combined effect of rising seas and sea floor erosion has already increased water depths more than what most scientists expected to occur many decades from now. Other studies that do not factor in sea floor erosion have predicted seas will rise by between 0.5 and 1 meter, or between 19 inches and 3 feet 3 inches, by 2100.

“Our measurements show that seafloor erosion has already caused water depths to increase to levels not predicted to occur until near the year 2100,” said biogeochemist Kimberly Yates of the USGS’ St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center, the study’s lead author. “At current rates, by 2100 sea floor erosion could increase water depths by two to eight times more than what has been predicted from sea level rise alone.”

The study included areas of the reef tract in Florida’s Upper Keys and Lower Keys; looked at two reef ecosystems, St. Thomas and Buck Island, in the U.S. Virgin Islands; and also included the waters surrounding Maui. The researchers did not determine specific causes for the sea floor erosion in these coral reef ecosystems. But the authors pointed out that coral reefs worldwide are declining due to a combination of forces, including natural processes, coastal development, overfishing, pollution, coral bleaching, diseases and ocean acidification (a change in seawater chemistry linked to the oceans’ absorption of more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere).

For each of the five coral reef ecosystems, the team gathered detailed sea floor measurements from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration taken between 1934 and 1982, and also used surveys done from the late 1990s to the 2000s by the USGS Lidar Program and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Until about the 1960s sea floor measurements were done by hand, using lead-weighted lines or sounding poles with depth markings. From approximately the 1960s on, most measurements were based on the time it takes an acoustic pulse to reach the sea floor and return. The USGS researchers converted the old measurements to a format comparable to recent lidar data.

They compared the old and new sets of measurements to find the mean elevation changes at each site. The method has been used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to track other kinds of sea floor changes, such as shifts in shipping channels. This is the first time it has been applied to whole coral reef ecosystems. Next the researchers developed a computer model that used the elevation changes to calculate the volume of sea floor material lost.

They found that overall, sea floor elevation has decreased at all five sites, in amounts ranging from 0.09 meters (about 3 ½ inches) to 0.8 meters (more than 2 ½ feet). All five reef tracts also lost large amounts of coral, sand, and other sea floor materials to erosion.

“We saw lower rates of erosion—and even some localized increases in seafloor elevation—in areas that were protected, near refuges, or distant from human population centers,” Yates said. “But these were not significant enough to offset the ecosystem-wide pattern of erosion at each of our study sites.”

Worldwide, more than 200 million people live in coastal communities protected by coral reefs, which serve as natural barriers against storms, waves and erosion. These ecosystems also support jobs, provide about one-quarter of all fish harvests in the tropical oceans, and are important recreation and tourism sites.

“Coral reef systems have long been recognized for their important economic and ecological value,” said John Haines, Program Coordinator of the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program. “This study tells us that they have a critical role in building and sustaining the physical structure of the coastal seafloor, which supports healthy ecosystems and protects coastal communities. These important ecosystem services may be lost by the end of this century, and nearby communities may need to find ways to compensate for these losses.”

The study brought together ecosystem scientists and coastal engineers, who plan to use the results to assess the risks to coastal communities that rely on coral reefs for protection from storms and other hazards.

The study is available at www.biogeosciences.net/14/1739/2017.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Addresses Kauaʻi Dairy, Labor Unions, Water Quality at Town Hall With 500+ Garden Isle Residents

More than 500 Kauaʻi residents packed into the Veterans Center in Līhue to hear from Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) at her sixth Town Hall on a statewide tour.

The audience shared concern over the difficulty in accessing quality affordable healthcare, expressed strong support for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s work to reinstate Glass-Steagall and reform Wall Street, and favored her bill (H.R.1227) to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, removing the conflict between federal and state law for places like Hawaiʻi that have approved medical marijuana dispensaries.

Local concerns that took center stage during the Q&A included protecting water and reef quality, the high cost of inter-island travel, the Jones Act, and “Right to Work” legislation. Kauaʻi residents also asked Rep. Tulsi Gabbard about the threat of North Korea’s nuclear escalation and Trump’s recent illegal attack on Syria, and they thanked her for introducing the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608).

The final stop on Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s statewide Town Hall Tour is tonight on Maui. Second Congressional District residents are encouraged to RSVP at gabbard.house.gov/townhall or by calling the office at (808) 541-1986.

Tulsi’s Maui Town Hall:

Tonight, April 20th, 7:30 – 9:00 PM, Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater, 1 Cameron Way, Kahului, HI 96732

 

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Hilo Town Hall Draws Largest Crowd Yet on Statewide Tour With More Than 600 East Hawaii Residents

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) was in Hilo last night to host her fifth Town Hall in a series of seven statewide. More than 600 East Hawaiʻi residents attended the meeting at Waiakea High School—the largest crowd yet on the congresswoman’s Town Hall Tour across the islands. Many brought homemade signs showing their support for peace over escalating wars abroad. They expressed deep concern over the threat of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, Hawaii’s preparedness, and also Trump’s recent illegal attack in Syria.

Residents asked Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard a variety of questions from healthcare to decriminalizing marijuana to criminal justice reform, and many other issues that affect the people of Hawaiʻi. She was thanked for introducing the Stop Arming Terrorists Act, for cosponsoring “Medicare for All” legislation, and for her work to honor Filipino World War II Veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal.

The next stops on Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s statewide Town Hall Tour are below. Second Congressional District residents are encouraged to RSVP at least one day prior to the meeting date at gabbard.house.gov/townhall or by calling the office at (808) 541-1986.

  • Kauaʻi – Tonight, Wednesday, April 19th, 6:00 – 7:30 PM, Kauaʻi Veterans Center, 3215 Kapule Hwy, Līhuʻe, HI 96766
  • Maui – Thursday, April 20th, 7:30 – 9:00 PM, Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater, 1 Cameron Way, Kahului, HI 96732

 

Hawaii Attorney General Supports Federal Rule Requiring Retirement Advisors to Put Clients Ahead of Their Own Profits

Attorney General Doug Chin joined with a group of eight state attorneys general on Monday urging the U.S. Department of Labor to lift its delay in implementing a rule that would require financial advisors to put clients’ best interests ahead of their own.

Click to read full letter

The investment advice fiduciary rule was set to take effect April 10, but the Department of Labor delayed it by 60 days to June 9. On February 3, President Donald Trump ordered the agency to review the fiduciary rule “to determine whether it may adversely affect the ability of Americans to gain access to retirement information and financial advice.”

“To the contrary, postponement of its application is costing investors tens of millions of dollars each day as advisors continue to give conflicted advice and the rule should be implemented without further delay,” the attorneys general wrote in a letter to Acting Secretary of Labor Edward Hugley. “This rule is long overdue and would provide substantial protections to consumers seeking retirement investment advice and create only necessary changes to the retirement investment market.”

The rule would expand the definition of fiduciary and hold all retirement investment advisors to the standard of a fiduciary. In addition to putting client interests before advisors’ profits, the rule also would require advisors to disclose conflicts of interest, and would remove advisors’ limited liability for harms resulting from their advice.

The Labor Department issued the fiduciary rule on April 6 of last year, to protect investors and address problems in the retirement investment advice market. Previously, an agency analysis found that conflicting advice issues were widespread and cause serious harm to investment plan and IRA investors. Additionally, the analysis found that investment agencies often arrange compensation ahead of clients’ interests.

“The rule addresses conflicts that lead to widespread abuse of vulnerable investors and in turn dramatically improves the quality of financial investment advice provided,” the attorneys general wrote. “Rather than self-regulating in anticipation of change, the industry has taken full advantage of their non-fiduciary status to the detriment of consumer investors.”

The letter is signed by attorneys general in the states of Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington, plus the District of Columbia. A copy of the letter is attached.

Big Island High School Senior Earns National Art Award

Parker School is pleased to announce senior Eric Fetsch has earned national recognition in the 2017 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

Eric Fetsch

Fetsch was selected by a panel of creative professionals as the most accomplished in the nation and received a Scholastic National Silver medal award for his art portfolio titled “Human Figures.” His portfolio included 10 sculptures of the human figure in clay and is one of the most prestigious categories as it shows a sustained level of excellence over multiple works in both concept and execution.

This year, more than 330,000 works of art and writing were submitted, with approximately 18,800 submissions receiving a Gold Key award – the highest honor at the regional level. Fetsch is among the top 1% of only 2,740 students to be awarded at the national level.

Fetsch has been invited to attend a ceremony at the world-famous Carnegie Hall on June 8 and to participate in showcase events at Parsons School for Design at The New School and Pratt Institute’s Pratt Manhattan Gallery in New York City.

Nine additional Parker high school students earned regional recognition out of more than 1,500 submissions in the state, including Shea Ervin (grade 10), Riley Herendeen (grade 11), and Coco Romano Giordano (grade 12) who each earned Gold Key awards.

Since 1923, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards have recognized creative teenagers from across the country. By earning this award, Fetsch joins a legacy of celebrated authors and artists including Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, Robert Redford, Lena Dunham, and many more.

Over 500 Attend Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Town Hall in Windward Oʻahu

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) hosted a Town Hall on Saturday evening for Oʻahu residents of the Second Congressional District.  More than 500 constituents from all over the island, including North Shore, Central Oʻahu, and Waianae Coast residents, gathered in Kailua to hear from and ask questions of their congresswoman. More than 25,000 viewers tuned in via Facebook Live for the third of seven meetings she is hosting on her statewide Town Hall Tour during the April District Work Period.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard spoke about her work in Congress, explained the bills she’s introduced and cosponsored that benefit Hawaiʻi families, and answered questions from the audience on a range of topics, including the threat of North Korea’s nuclear escalation, defeating terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, and Trump’s recent illegal attack on Syria.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard earned roaring applause for her work to pass “Medicare for All” legislation, her strong positions fighting for peace, demanding transparency in the Trump Administration by releasing the president’s tax returns, and fighting to protect the environment and our precious resources. She used the example of Kainalu Elementary School’s warm cafeteria, where the meeting was held, as she spoke about the many local infrastructure projects here at home that would benefit from taxpayer dollars if they weren’t being spent abroad in regime change wars.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Relocates Maui Town Hall to Accommodate High Number of Attendees

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today announced that her Maui Town Hall location has been moved to accommodate the growing number of attendees. The previous venue had a maximum capacity of 250 people, and already, more than 400 Valley Isle residents have RSVP’d to attend this week’s meeting.

The town hall meeting in Kona drew a huge crowd.

Please note the new location that can accommodate a larger crowd:

  • Tulsi’s Maui Town Hall – Thursday, April 20, 2017, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM, Maui Arts and Cultural Center’s Castle Theater, 1 Cameron Way, Kahului, HI 96732

All other meeting locations on Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s statewide Town Hall Tour during the April District Work Period remain unchanged at this time. To RSVP for one of the upcoming Town Halls, residents from the Second Congressional District are encouraged to sign up at gabbard.house.gov/townhall at least one day prior to the meeting date: