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RIMPAC Begins… May Affect Garage Door Openers

Dozens of ships from 26 nations are arriving in Pearl Harbor this week for the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise. RIMPAC 2016 will be held in and around the Hawaiian islands and off the coast of Southern Calif. June 30-Aug. 4.

RIMPAC brings international participants together to foster and sustain cooperative relationships.  Training during RIMPAC builds credible, ready maritime forces that help to preserve peace and prevent conflict.

RIMPAC is hosted by U.S. Pacific Fleet, headquartered here, and led by U.S. 3rd Fleet. The exercise will be based at Navy Region Hawaii, which includes Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, and the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai. Training will also be held at Marine Corps Base Hawaii and several other locations in the state.

Hawaii’s operating areas and ranges offer realistic, relevant training opportunities like nowhere else in the world and environmental stewardship and protection of marine mammals are always top priorities during RIMPAC.  During the in port portion of the exercise, crews receive training on sighting marine mammals and required protective measures. Participants follow established and approved procedures to minimize the potential impact on marine life.

Some Temporary Noise and Crowds

With 25,000 participants coming to Hawaii, noise, crowds and traffic will increase in the last week of June and through the end of July. Some residents in Hawaii can expect aircraft noise temporarily in certain areas, including the early evening.

According to the Hawaii State Department of Business and Economic Development and Tourism Research and Economic Analysis Division, RIMPAC 2016 is initially anticipated to bring $52.5 million to Hawaii, based on the number of exercise participants and their time in port.

By the end of RIMPAC, the overall economic benefit is expected to be tens of millions of dollars higher than $52.5 million after purchases of supplies, fuel and food or the spending by family and friends of participating personnel are calculated.

Raising Discussion of Garage Door Openers

During RIMPAC some remotely operated garage door openers may be temporarily affected. This can occur if the device is a type (FCC-regulated but unlicensed Part 15) that operates on frequencies reserved for federal government systems.
Garage Door
Remotely controlled garage door openers legally operate at a very low power on an unlicensed basis. Therefore, they can be affected by electromagnetic activity that is generated by navy ships, civilian boaters or other sources.

Such devices may not work properly from time to time, especially if they are not pointed directly at the door.  If that happens, drivers may have to remove the opener from their sun visor and point it directly at the door.  If the opener still doesn’t work right, garage door owners may have to open and close their doors manually or consider other options for a short time.

The Navy is required to test commercial surface search radars in port prior to getting underway and as part of scheduled maintenance.  Surface search radars are available commercially, used by civilian boaters and not a safety issue.  Exercising safety is a top priority for the Navy.

To be sure their garage door opener will function properly, owners may want to check with their garage door company.  At least one company in Hawaii asks their customers to be patient in dealing with the inconvenience, “for a short bit of time, [but] for a lifetime of safety and freedom.”

To learn more about RIMPAC, please visit http://www.cpf.navy.mil/rimpac/2014/
For concerns, noise complaints or general questions about RIMPAC, please call the Combined Information Bureau at (808) 472- 0235. Media interested in covering RIMPAC can call 808-472-0239.

High Technology Development Corporation Announces Three New Graduates

The High Technology Development Corporation (HTDC), the state of Hawaii agency that promotes and supports innovation and technology business startups, has graduated three more companies from its successful business Incubator Program at the Manoa Innovation Center (MIC).

High technology development corporation announces three new graduates.

High technology development corporation announces three new graduates.

Having graduated from the program, these firms have moved out of the MIC into their own headquarters, where they will continue to develop and grow. The graduating companies are:

  • The Collective, a startup created by Hawaii fashion designers Allison Izu Song and Summer Shiigi that helps independent designers use technology to streamline manufacturing and develop ways to provide high quality, locally produced clothes to consumers.  The Collective has helped launch a number of Hawaii designers and has managed DBEDT’s Creative Industries inaugural Creative Lab Fashion Immersive.  The Collective recently expanded their operations to Ward Village with retail space.
  • MeetingSift, a “meeting collaboration platform” that uses technology to bring meeting attendees closer and encourage participation, no matter where they may be in the world. MeetingSift’s products make meetings more efficient, allowing participants to use their smartphones to provide real-time feedback and communication, keep track of minutes, and provide more focus to discussion topics.  The company is moving closer to its investors.
  • Slickage Studios, a Honolulu-based company specializing in creating full-stack software solutions including customized website backend development, web applications, and native mobile apps.  Downtown Honolulu is their new home where they will be closer to their clients.

“We are happy to partner with the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii to host this celebration, which honors the three graduating companies from the Manoa Innovation Center,” said Luis P. Salaveria, director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, which oversees HTDC and promotes Hawaii’s innovation economy. “MIC’s mission to accelerate the growth of local tech companies by providing business development services, funding, and training are part of the state’s overall growth strategy to build a strong innovation economy.”

Robbie Melton, executive director and CEO of HTDC adds: “It’s always an honor to see companies graduate from our incubation program. The creativity and innovation that propelled these startups from dreams to functioning business entities will ensure they will make their mark in the marketplace, no matter their field. Birthing a startup takes immense drive, talent, and perseverance, and we congratulate the principals of all three companies for moving on to the next step.”

The three companies graduated at a ceremony during HTDC’s Wetware Wednesday on June 29, 2016, a monthly networking event for the innovation and technology industry.  The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii sponsored the graduation celebration.

“We are grateful to HTDC for the support and guidance,” said Allison Izu Song. “In today’s fast-paced society, it’s nice to find an organization that sees the potential in small businesses, and offers the tools and guidance to learn and grow.  We are especially thankful for the guidance and mentorship from Innovate Hawaii’s, Wayne Inouye, and HTDC’s, Len Higashi.  Their doors were always open for us to talk about our issues, roadblocks, ideas and successes!”

Philippine Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines Forge Code-Share Partnership

Philippine Airlines (PR)  and Hawaiian Airlines (HA) recently forged a code-share partnership which will provide passengers convenient connections between the Philippines and the Hawaiian Islands.

Philippine Airlnes
“Philippine Airlines is proud to forge a codeshare partnership with Hawaiian Airlines from Honolulu in O‘ahu to the  inter-island points of Līhu‘e, Hilo, Kona, and Maui.  From these points, passengers can visit other neighboring island destinations including Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i Island,”  PAL President Jaime J. Bautista said.

Passengers on PAL’s five times weekly Honolulu flights will have a seamless transfer to Hawaiian Airlines. PR passengers will be checked-in all the way to their final destination.

“As we widen our route network, we aim to not only provide point to point travel, but to create passenger traffic beyond the main gateways. All these are geared towards providing passenger convenience and satisfaction,” Bautista added.

The code share flights will be made available in conjunction with the flag carrier’s weekly service to Honolulu. Passengers on the HA/PR code-share flights between the inter-island points and Honolulu now have the chance to seamlessly connect to PAL’s regular flights between Honolulu and Manila and journey onto any of the flag carrier’s 30 domestic destinations.

Hawaiian Airlines (HA) is the 1st US Carrier Code Share Partner of PAL.

Governor Ige Signs Housing, Health Care Bills Into Law

Yesterday, Gov. David Ige signed into law six housing bills that aim to address the long-standing, complex housing shortage that has been a problem in Hawai‘i for decades.

Governor Ige Profile“My administration and the Legislature worked tirelessly and collaboratively on various measures to address the housing shortage this past session. We focused on maximizing the use of financing tools, we re-oriented target policies to boost production and we collaborated with the private sector and the counties to increase the housing supply,” said Gov. Ige.

The governor also signed into law bills relating to foster children, insurance and gender identity, long-term care facilities, health care and aging.

Here is a complete list of bill signed by the governor on Wednesday, June 29:

Housing Bills: SB 2561 (Act 127), SB 2566 (Act 128), SB 2833 (Act 129), SB 3077 (Act 130), HB 2293 (Act 131), HB 2305 (Act 132)

HB 2350 (Act 133) Relating to Foster Children – Expands opportunities for children in foster care to participate equally with classmates and peers by providing qualified immunity from liability for caregivers and childcare institutions for decisions regarding child’s participating in age or developmentally appropriate extracurricular, enrichment, cultural and social activities…

SB 2878 (Act 134) Relating to Youth Transitioning from Foster Care – Extends the application deadline for financial assistance for higher education available to foster or former foster youth.

HB 2084 (Act 135) Relating to Insurance – Prohibits all insurers in the state, including health insurers, mutual benefit plans under chapter 87A, HRS, from discriminating with respect to participation and coverage under a policy, contract, plan or agreement against any person on the basis of a person’s actual gender identity or perceived gender identity.

HB 1943 (Act 136) Relating to Long-Term Care Facilities – Provides an inflationary adjustment to the methodology used to reimburse facilities for long-term care of Medicaid recipients for FY 2016-17.

SB 2076 (Act 137) Relating to Health Care – Establishes a license program for suppliers of durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and related supplies through the Office of Health Care Assurance.

HB 1878 (Act 138) Relating to Aging – Appropriates funds for Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) for fall prevention and early detection services for the elderly.

Lava Flow Front Reaches Base of Pali

The flow front was reaching the base of the pali today, burning vegetation in the adjacent kipuka.

The front consisted of ʻaʻā that was fed by a narrow channel extending down the steep section of the pali.

The front consisted of ʻaʻā that was fed by a narrow channel extending down the steep section of the pali. Pictures via USGS

A mango tree is surrounded by the ʻaʻā flow:

hvo 6292The flow front as it approaches another mango tree.

hvo 6293The flow front was supplied by a narrow channelized section on the steep portion of the pali.

hvo 6294A close-up of clinker at the flow front

hvo 6295

County Opening Emergency Road for Lava Viewing Tomorrow

The active lava flow from Puʻu ʻŌʻō is making its way over the Pulama Pali along the western boundary of the former Royal Gardens Subdivision.  The lava flow does not pose a threat to any community.

Lava ViewingTo maintain public safety and to preserve the emergency road or Highway 130, the County of Hawai‘i will open the emergency road to lava viewing on June 30, 2016.  Lava viewing along the three mile stretch of the County’s portion of the emergency road is permitted between the hours of 3 pm to 9 pm, daily. Vehicular traffic on the emergency road will be limited to local residents and emergency vehicles.

Security guards will be posted on the emergency road or Highway 130 before the entrance to Kalapana Gardens to provide lava viewing information and to direct parking. As in previous lava viewing events, visitors will be asked to park in marked areas near the end of the paved portion of Highway 130.  Again, it is approximately three (3) miles from this parking area to the end of the County portion of the emergency road, and vehicular traffic on the emergency road will be limited to local residents and emergency vehicles.

Visitors are reminded that the emergency road is a gravel road that traverses over older lava flows and ends at the National Park Service boundary.  Visitors are also reminded to prepare for the trek with proper footwear, sun screen, warm clothing, and water.

The County has established lava flow viewing areas along Highway 130 as far back as 2001 and most recently in Pāhoa in 2014.

Our goal is to maintain public safety, protecting the interests of Kalapana residents, and the protection of the emergency road or Highway 130.  We ask for your patience and kokua.

Hokulea Arrives at Martha’s Vineyard for the First Time in Her History

Hokulea achieved another first in her epic Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage: the famed voyaging canoe and her crew arrived at Martha’s Vineyard yesterday, an area accessible only by boat or air travel.

Marthas VineyardThe canoe’s interaction with the local community highlighted the area’s thriving Native American tribes and innovative sustainability practices.

Marthas Vineyard2Hokulea’s sail to the dock was escorted by a mishoon, a traditional dugout canoe that the Wampanoag – a Native American tribe on the US east coast – had just finished building.

Marthas Vineyard3The mishoon is the first one built on the island in over 300 years. Captain Bruce Blankenfeld displayed two strands of wampum (beads made from shell) that the crew received from the tribe, to acknowledge the Wampanoag nation’s welcome.

Marthas Vineyard4Hundreds of local community members on the dock greeted the crewmembers from Hawaii with a welcoming ceremony.

Marthas Vineyard5Customary chants and speeches were exchanged between the Hokulea crew and the Wampanoag, in honor of each group’s respective traditions. The crew was also presented with gifts of school-grown food from the Edgartown School students.

Marthas Vineyard6The canoe’s arrival was particularly meaningful to Sanford Low, a Hokulea crewmember and current resident of Martha’s Vineyard. “To me, this day could not have gone better; it was full of aloha, it was full of spirit, and it was just plain joy,” Low said. “This is really a joining of two different islands across a massive ocean… This canoe has come, these people, this crew has come to learn from the people of Martha’s Vineyard and take back to Hawaii.”

Marthas Vineyard7Hokulea will remain docked at Martha’s Vineyard for a few days, and crewmembers will set up tents and exhibits for the local community to learn more about the Malama Honua message of taking care of Island Earth.

Marthas Vineyard8The canoe is slated to continue her sail to Woods Hole, Massachusetts on Friday.

Chamber of Commerce Hawaii Donates $17,100 to Kahi Mohala

Sutter Health Kahi Mohala received a $17,100 donation from The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii’s Public Health Fund.
Kahi Mohala
The funds will be used to support Kahi Mohala’s Healing Forces Trauma Recovery Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), a specialized outpatient day program designed for military personnel and veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related mental health problems caused by trauma during their service.

“The Chamber’s generous gift will increase operational capacity and treat more of our military service members and veterans exposed to things like combat and multiple deployments,” said Dr. Ken Delano, clinical director for Healing Forces. “Through our partial hospitalization program, we help patients improve their coping skills and implement permanent lifestyle changes to maintain long-term recovery.”

The program provides treatment five days a week and is aimed at preventing further de-compensation and inpatient hospitalization. The program is the only one of its kind in Hawaii treating both military men and women.

“We are deeply committed to helping the military personnel and veterans who served our country recover from their time abroad by contributing to the innovative, high-quality treatment,” said Phyllis Dendle, Administrator for the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii’s Public Health Fund.

Statewide Campaign on Mosquito-Borne Diseases and Threats to Hawaii to be Announced

Governor Ige and the Mayors of Honolulu, Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii Counties will announce a new statewide public education campaign to build awareness of mosquito-borne diseases and their threat to Hawaii.

Mosquito Bite

The state and counties will also announce the state’s planning efforts to prevent, prepare, and protect Hawaii from mosquito-borne disease outbreaks this summer and throughout the year. State departments will mention special efforts underway to reach visitors, traveling residents and students with guidance on preventing the spread of Zika.

Why: As a favorite travel destination, Hawaii is identified as one of the nation’s higher risk areas for the potential spread of Zika virus. With the Aedes Aegypti mosquito present in our state, year-long warm climate, and past experience with dengue outbreaks, mosquitos pose a serious threat to our residents and visitors.

When:  Thursday, June 30, 2016 at 1:00 p.m.

Where: Governor’s Ceremonial Chambers, State Capitol 5th floor

Who:

  • Governor David Y. Ige
  • Mayor Kirk Caldwell, City & County of Honolulu
  • Mayor Alan Arakawa, County of Maui
  • Mayor Bernard Carvalho, County of Kauai
  • Mayor Billy Kenoi, County of Hawaii
  • Dr. Virginia Pressler, Director, Hawaii Department of Health
    Major General Arthur J. Logan, Adjutant General, Department of Defense
  • George Szigeti, Director, Hawaii Tourism Authority
  • Ross Higashi, Airports Division Deputy Director, Department of Transportation
  • Steven Schatz, Deputy Superintendent, Department of Education

Lava Flow Continues Towards Ocean

The lava flow is now about 2.5 miles from the ocean and shows no sign of stopping any time soon.

This small-scale map shows Kīlauea’s active East Rift Zone lava flow field in relation to the southeastern part of the Island of Hawaiʻi. The area of the active flow field on June 23 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow field as mapped on June 28 is shown in red. Older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows (1983–2016) are shown in gray.

The blue lines over the Puʻu ʻŌʻō flow field are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 2013 digital elevation model (DEM), while the blue lines on the rest of the map are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 1983 DEM (for calculation details, see http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/). Steepest-descent path analysis is based on the assumption that the DEM perfectly represents the earth's surface. DEMs, however, are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map can be used to infer only approximate flow paths. The base map is a partly transparent 1:24,000-scale USGS digital topographic map draped over the 1983 10-m digital elevation model (DEM).  (Click to enlarge)

The blue lines over the Puʻu ʻŌʻō flow field are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 2013 digital elevation model (DEM), while the blue lines on the rest of the map are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 1983 DEM (for calculation details, see http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/). Steepest-descent path analysis is based on the assumption that the DEM perfectly represents the earth’s surface. DEMs, however, are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map can be used to infer only approximate flow paths. The base map is a partly transparent 1:24,000-scale USGS digital topographic map draped over the 1983 10-m digital elevation model (DEM). (Click to enlarge)

 

Big Island Police Asking Public’s Help in Identifying Three People

Big Island police are asking the public’s help in identifying three folks wanted in separate incidents:

  1. Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a reported break-in to a vehicle Monday (June 27) in the parking lot of a restaurant on Pauahi Street in Hilo.
    Scooter dudeAfter receiving a report and reviewing video surveillance, it was discovered that at approximately 2:54 p.m. Monday, an unidentified male entered a 40-year-old woman’s vehicle and removed an item. He then left the area in an unknown direction on a blue scooter or moped.

    He is described as a younger “local” male with a slim-to-medium build. He was wearing a light shirt, light shorts, a white hat and a dark backpack. His image was captured on a surveillance camera.

    Police ask anyone who recognizes his photograph or knows anything about this case to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Officer Tyler Jelsma at 961-2203.

  2. Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a robbery that was reported on Tuesday (June 28) at a business on the 300 block of East Makaʻala Street in Hilo.
    combative womanAt approximately 5:32 p.m. Tuesday, a woman was observed to exit the store without paying for several selected items. When a 27-year old female store employee attempted to contact the woman outside the store, the woman became combative and struck the employee. The woman then ran into the parking lot and left the area in a white two-door sedan.

    She is described as Caucasian, in her early 40s, about 5-foot-11 and 130 pounds with dark eyes and short dark hair. She was wearing a white long-sleeved dress. Her image was captured on a surveillance camera.

    Police ask anyone with any information on the identity of the woman in the photograph or any information about this case to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or Officer Tyler Jelsma at 961-2213.

  3. Hawaiʻi Island police are asking for the public’s help in identifying anyone involved in a break-in at a Hawaiʻi County facility on Railroad Avenue.
    Generator dudeThe break-in occurred early on the morning of May 18. A generator was removed from the facility. Surveillance cameras captured images of the suspect and a suspect vehicle.

    Police ask anyone with information about this incident, the person or vehicle shown, or persons in possession of the stolen generator to call Officer Jacob Obermiller at 961-2213 or the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Commentary – Hawaii Department of Health Dengue Fever Survey

In a continued effort to research, document, and analyze the knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) related to the recent dengue outbreak on the Big Island I’d like to ask you to complete a brief and simple survey on behalf of the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH). The survey is primarily for HI residents but there is no problem if you live outside of the State and would still like to participate.

Dengue QR Code

Results will help to describe the KAP of respondents related to mosquito illness and prevention and will help to coordinate future activities on this topic. Your individual responses, including IP address, will be kept anonymous and only one entry per device will be accepted at this time.

Please click on the link below or use a QR reader if you are so inclined to scan the QR code (that UPC looking thing with public enemy #1 in it). Better yet, help the DOH collect even more responses by sharing either the link or the QR code with your family & friends. Additional instructions are included in the link.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DOHDENV86

Mahalo,
Jason Dela Cruz, Hawaii Department of Health

Lava Flow Continues Down Pali Towards Ocean

The active lava flow from Puʻu ʻŌʻō was on the slope near the top of the Pūlama pali today, one of the steep escarpments on Kīlauea’s southeast flank, and had transitioned into a channelized ʻaʻā flow.

The view is to the northwest.  (Click to enlarge)

The view is to the northwest. (Click to enlarge)

This photo shows a closer view of the front of the ʻaʻā flow.

hvo 629bAn HVO geologist photographs the front of the channelized ʻaʻā flow.

hvo 629cThis photo is a view from the edge of the ʻaʻā flow, looking up slope at the flow’s channels.

hvo 629d

Hawaii Signs Nation’s Broadest Wildlife Trafficking Ban Into Law Act Targets Illegal Wildlife Trade in Hawaii

As the “endangered species capital of the world,” Hawai‘i knows first-hand the devastating impacts of losing significant and iconic native species. The state has now taken a historic step in helping to prevent the further loss of critically endangered species within its own borders and abroad.

sb2647

With the signing of Senate Bill 2647, now Act 125, Hawai‘i passes the most comprehensive U.S. state law targeting the illegal wildlife trade.

The law goes into effect immediately, although enforcement of the law is delayed until June 30, 2017 to grant individuals and businesses with wildlife products in their possession time to lawfully dispossess of the items. The law also provides reasonable exemptions for bona fide antiques, musical instruments, guns and knives, and traditional cultural practices.

In the past two years, a number of states across the U.S. have pushed for stricter laws to crack down on illegal wildlife trafficking.  New York, New Jersey, and California have each passed laws prohibiting the purchase and sale of products made with elephant ivory and rhino horn. And in 2015, philanthropist and entrepreneur, Paul G. Allen backed Initiative 1401, a first-of-its-kind statewide ballot measure that will keep products from 10 highly endangered animals out of his home state of Washington.

“The loss of species has significant and unpredictable consequences for the health of our planet. The passage of this legislation is an important step in stopping this race to extinction,” said Jared Axelrod, government affairs manager for Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc.  “We believe the most effective way to save animals from extinction is to strengthen enforcement. This new law will provide enforcement officials with the tools they need to stop the traffickers and disrupt the supply chain.”

The Hawai‘i bill was supported by hundreds of local residents and dozens of grassroots groups across Hawai‘i who testified in support of the measure this session and the Hawai‘i Wildlife Coalition – Vulcan Inc., a Paul G. Allen company, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Humane Society International (HSI), The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

“Hawaii has long been one of the United States’ major markets for ivory and other wildlife products, and illicit trade is driving many species – from tigers and rhinoceros to sharks and pangolins – to the verge of extinction,” said Jeff Flocken, IFAW’s Regional Director for North America. “Act 125 proves that the state’s citizens and lawmakers prioritize living, breathing animals more than bangles and gaudy curios.”

“Hawaiians are determined to do their part to protect elephants and other endangered species and want the massacre of these creatures for their body parts in other regions of the world to stop. Hawaii has adopted a zero tolerance policy for wildlife trafficking and cruelty with the signing of this critical legislation,” said Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States.  Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the State Senate Water, Land, and Agriculture Committee and co-author of the Hawai‘i bill, said, “We feel a grave responsibility for protecting wildlife species from illegal trafficking, both here and around the world. This bill is a powerful step in the right direction.”

Act 125 passes just as Curtis Wilmington, owner of Hawaiian Accessories, was sentenced to a six month jail term and $40,000 fine in federal court for conspiring to smuggle ivory in and out of Hawai‘i. The company was ordered to pay an additional $50,000 fine. Wilmington and four others were charged with federal wildlife crimes after US Fish and Wildlife agents seized hundreds of products from the business, including illegal parts from elephants, whales, and walruses. “Hawaii officials are sending a strong message to wildlife traffickers that their borders are closed to all activity which is devastating wildlife around the globe,” said John F. Calvelli, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the Wildlife Conservation Society and director or the 96 Elephants Campaign. “At WCS, we are committed to continue this fight across the United States and the world. We look forward to joining our partners at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii in September to take further action to end the domestic ivory trade in other countries around the world and to put an end to the illegal wildlife trade.”

The federal government is working to help ensure that the United States is appropriately fighting the poaching and wildlife trafficking crisis, and earlier this year President Obama announced a near-total ban in the interstate trade in ivory. But states must also do their part to ensure that their laws sufficiently protect endangered animals. Hawai‘i State Representative Ryan Yamane, Chair House Committee on Water and Land hopes Hawaii’s law will become the model for future state legislation across the country. “I am proud to craft this model legislation that will protect our endangered species from the threat of illegal trade to preserve our precious animals for our future generations.  This law was a collaborative effort balancing our conservation needs with our local cultural practices to erase Hawai‘i’s involvement in the global blood ivory trade.”

Rhea Suh, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council, praised the new law, “The Hawaiian Islands have long been a sanctuary for some of the earth’s greatest creatures. Now, these protections and aloha are being extended thousands of miles away for one of the most majestic animals: the African elephant. Hawaii’s leadership shows us how we can all do our part to combat the illegal trade and trafficking of highly threatened elephants, rhinos and sea turtles. We hope their leadership will be replicated across the country and the world.”

Hawai‘i is the latest state, after Washington, California, New York, and New Jersey, to take action to address the continued threat of poaching and wildlife trafficking.

Compensation for Hawaii Consumers Under Settlements with Volkswagen Over Emissions Fraud

Volkswagen Required to Repurchase or Fix Falsely-Marketed Diesel Vehicles, Provide Restitution and Address Environmental Harms; Attorneys General Nationwide Obtain More Than $570 Million in Civil Penalties 

Attorney General Doug Chin and Office of Consumer Protection (“OCP”) Executive Director Stephen Levins today announced a settlement requiring Volkswagen to pay more than $570 million for violating state laws prohibiting unfair or deceptive trade practices by marketing, selling and leasing diesel vehicles equipped with illegal and undisclosed defeat device software.

Volkswagen Recall

This agreement is part of a series of state and federal settlements that will provide cash payments to affected consumers, require Volkswagen to buy back or modify certain Volkswagen and Audi 2.0-liter diesel vehicles, and prohibit Volkswagen from engaging in future unfair or deceptive acts and practices in connection with its dealings with consumers and regulators.

Attorney General Chin said “This settlement punishes Volkswagen for deceiving Hawaii consumers. It affects the owners of more than 900 vehicles owned or leased in Hawaii. In addition to consumer restitution, it provides up to $10 million in payments to Hawaii.”

Today’s coordinated settlements resolve consumer protection claims raised by a multistate coalition of State Attorneys General in 43 states and jurisdictions against Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., Porsche AG and Porsche Cars, North America, Inc. – collectively referred to as Volkswagen. They also resolve actions against Volkswagen brought by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), California and car owners in private class action suits.

OCP Executive Director Levins said “This settlement will provide excellent relief to the Hawaii consumers who were victimized by Volkswagen’s outrageous conduct.”

The attorneys generals’ investigation confirmed that Volkswagen sold more than 570,000 2.0- and 3.0-liter diesel vehicles in the United States equipped with “defeat device” software intended to circumvent applicable emissions standards for certain air pollutants, and actively concealed the existence of the defeat device from regulators and the public. Volkswagen made false statements to consumers in their marketing and advertising, misrepresenting the cars as environmentally friendly or “green” and that the cars were compliant with federal and state emissions standards, when, in fact, Volkswagen knew the vehicles emitted harmful oxides of nitrogen (NOx) at rates many times higher than the law permitted.

Under the settlements, Volkswagen is required to implement a restitution and recall program for more than 475,000 owners and lessees of 2.0-liter diesel vehicles, of the model year 2009 through 2015 listed in the chart below at a maximum cost of just over $10 billion. This includes up to 911 vehicles in Hawaii. 820 affected vehicles in Hawaii are 2.0 liter engine models. The remaining vehicles are 3.0 liter engine models. This settlement specifically pertains to the 820 2.0 liter engines in Hawaii. Lawyers continue to negotiate about what relief will be available later to owners of the 3.0 liter engines.

Once the consumer program is approved by the court, affected Volkswagen owners will receive restitution payment of at least $5,100 and a choice between:

  • A buy back of the vehicle (based on pre-scandal National Automobile Dealers Association (“NADA”) value); or
  • A modification to reduce NOx emissions provided that Volkswagen can develop a modification acceptable to regulators. Owners will still be eligible to choose a buyback in the event regulators do not approve a fix. Owners who choose the modification option would also receive an Extended Emission Warranty; and a Lemon Law-type remedy to protect against the possibility that the modification causes subsequent problems.

The consumer program also provides benefits and restitution for lessees (restitution and a no-penalty lease termination option) and sellers after September 18, 2015 when the emissions-cheating scandal was disclosed (50 percent of the restitution available to owners). Additional components of today’s settlements include:

  • Environmental Mitigation Fund: Volkswagen will pay $2.7 billion into a trust to support environmental programs throughout the country to reduce emissions of NOx. This fund, also subject to court approval, is intended to mitigate the total lifetime excess NOx emissions from the 2.0-liter diesel vehicles identified below. Under the terms of the mitigation trust, Hawaii is eligible to receive $7.5 million to fund mitigation projects.
  • Additional Payment to the States: In addition to consumer restitution, Volkswagen will pay to the states more than $1,000 per car for repeated violations of state consumer protection laws, amounting to $570 million nationwide. This amount includes $2.5 million paid for affected vehicles Volkswagen sold and leased in Hawaii.
  • Zero Emission Vehicles: Volkswagen has committed to investing $2 billion over the next 10 years for the development of non-polluting cars, or Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV), and supporting infrastructure.

Volkswagen will also pay $20 million to the states for their costs in investigating this matter and to establish a fund that state attorneys general can utilize for future training and initiatives, including investigations concerning emissions violations, automobile compliance, and consumer protection.

The full details of the consumer program will be available online at VWCourtSettlement.com and www.ftc.gov/VWSettlement.

State Asks Websites and Bloggers to Remove Directions to Sacred Locations

Following on its action in February 2015, the operators of the popular tourism and travel website, Exploration Hawaii, have removed information regarding King Kamehameha III’s summer palace, Kaniakapupu, on Oahu.

Kaniakapupu-VandalismLast year the website was among the first to strip information about the long-closed Sacred Falls State Park from its site.  This was after the DLNR released a video that highlighted the continuing problem of people illegally entering the park and potentially putting themselves and rescue crews at risk.

Last week, after DLNR released a video depicting recent vandalism at Kaniakapupu, Coty Gonzales of Exploration Hawaii wrote DLNR to say, “I saw that video on vandalism at Kaniakapupu and like you, was disgusted.  I posted your video to our original post about Kaniakapupu and previously had stripped away any information regarding directions to the site.”  The video news release on the vandalism has been viewed nearly 10,000 times since its release last week.

Kaniakapupu is in a closed watershed and anyone caught trespassing in the area can be cited.  DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “We appreciate websites and social media joining us as partners to provide accurate and responsible information about all that Hawaii has to offer.  Part of that responsibility is to avoid sending visitors and locals alike, to places that are off-limits for safety and/or cultural reasons.  We applaud Exploration Hawaii for its proactive response and hope other sites that continue to send people to closed places will follow their lead.”

The DLNR has sent letters to more than a dozen websites and blogs that mention Kaniakapupu, asking that they also remove directions to the sacred location. Two blogs: “Outdoor Ohana-Happy Hiker and Traveling Thru History have indicated they will remove directions to Kaniakapupu from their sites.

Tourism Relations Between China and Hawaii Deepened

Tourism relations between China and Hawai‘i was deepened over the weekend with the signing of the Tourism Cooperative Agreement between the Jiangsu Tourism Administration and Hawai‘i Tourism Authority.

(L-R: Rep. Jon Burns, House Majority Leader, R-GA, Rep. Jan Jones, House Speaker Pro-Tempore, R-GA, Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-CA, Sen. J. Kalani English, Hawai‘i Senate Majority Leader, Mme. Li Xiaolin, Pres., CPAFFC, Stephen Lakis, Pres.& CEO, SLLF, Rep. Scott Saiki, Hawai‘i House Majority Leader, Rep. Al Carson, House Speaker, R-ND) Photo courtesy: Senate Communications

(L-R: Rep. Jon Burns, House Majority Leader, R-GA, Rep. Jan Jones, House Speaker Pro-Tempore, R-GA, Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-CA, Sen. J. Kalani English, Hawai‘i Senate Majority Leader, Mme. Li Xiaolin, Pres., CPAFFC, Stephen Lakis, Pres.& CEO, SLLF, Rep. Scott Saiki, Hawai‘i House Majority Leader, Rep. Al Carson, House Speaker, R-ND) Photo courtesy: Senate Communications

The significant cooperative agreement was reached at the first Sino-U.S. State and Provincial Leadership Summit being held June 25-26, 2016 in Honolulu. The agreement was the end result of thorough discussions on legislature, tourism, trade and economic partnerships between Hawai‘i and Jiangsu, a province which harbors a population of 79.7 million.

“With the declaration of 2016 being ‘U.S.-China Tourism Year’ by President Obama and China President Xi, it marks a significant tourism milestone for both countries and this memo of understanding further encourages collaboration for the future advancement of tourism,” said George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. “Jiangsu Province is one of China’s most prosperous regions accounting for one-tenth of its GDP. This partnership between Jiangsu Tourism Administration and HTA serves our mutual interest and we look forward to welcoming more Chinese citizens from the province and other parts of the country to Hawai‘i.”

The summit was part of the fourth annual Conference of State Majority Leaders with the State Legislative Leaders Foundation (SLLF). Majority leaders of state legislatures from across the country were in Hawai‘i for the meeting. State Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English and State House Majority Leader Representative Scott Saiki were co-hosts of the conference.

“The impact of these meetings are substantial on so many levels,” said Sen. English on the success of the summit. “This was immensely important not only for building tourism in Hawai‘i, but also for furthering U.S. – China relations.  This agreement marks just the beginning of meaningful conversations and deepening state-level cooperation between the United States and China.”

Rep. Saiki echoed the significance of the meetings. “The Summit opened the doors to a renewed relationship between China, Hawai‘i, and other states to strengthen cultural, economic and political ties,” stated Rep. Saiki.

The Sino-US State and Provincial Leadership Summit is a direct result of an agreement reached between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping last September during President Xi’s visit to the U.S. The agreements endorsed by both Presidents included language specifically mentioning SLLF as a partner with the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) and is the sole organization that the Chinese will deal with at a state and local level.  Sen. English and Rep. Saiki traveled to China with 12 legislative leaders and a small contingent of SLLF Advisory Council members and staff in March of this year to initiate these friendship agreements.

For more information on SLLF, visit www.sllf.org

Help Me Test Survey Monkey – Do You Do Political Polls?

Well it’s funny season again… you know the time of the year when you start getting bombarded by political messages at every corner you turn.

I’m going to run some political polls on my site again this year, however, Survey Monkey has changed some things around from the last time I used it so I’m going to run this trial poll just to get the feel of the functionality of some of the changes Survey Monkey has made.

Polling SiteFeel free to take this simple two question survey just to get my blood flowing and to see how I can make the polls as valid as I can while realizing that it still will not be a scientific poll (USE SLIDER ON RIGHT TO ANSWER BOTH QUESTIONS):

Create your own user feedback survey

Lava Flows Over the Pali – Tour Company Begins Taking Reservations

This satellite image was captured on Monday, June 27, by the Advanced Land Imager instrument onboard NASA’s Earth Observing 1 satellite.

The image is provided courtesy of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Although this is a false-color image, the color map has been chosen to mimic what the human eye would expect to see. Bright red pixels depict areas of very high temperatures and show active lava. White areas are clouds.

The image is provided courtesy of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Although this is a false-color image, the color map has been chosen to mimic what the human eye would expect to see. Bright red pixels depict areas of very high temperatures and show active lava. White areas are clouds.

The image shows continued advancement of the flow towards the southeast. The flow front is progressing down the pali, along the western portion of the abandoned Royal Gardens subdivision and along the eastern boundary of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Over the past few days, the flow has moved at a rate of about 300 meters per day (0.2 miles per day) – an increase over the rate last week and likely due to the steeper slope on the pali.

Back in business baby. Who wants to see Lava. Come check us out at Kalapana Cultural-Tours and we can get you there. Lava is pumping right now.  "Ikaika Marzo"

“Back in business baby. Who wants to see lava. Come check us out at Kalapana Cultural-Tours and we can get you there. Lava is pumping right now.” ~Ikaika Marzo

Kalapana Cultural-Tours is now accepting reservations to take visitors out to see the lava safely with an experienced guide.

Hawaii is 2016’s 6th Most Patriotic State

Hilton Fireworks

With the Fourth of July just days away, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its list of 2016’s Most Patriotic States as a follow-up to its recent look at the Best & Worst Fourth of July Destinations.

Hawaii ranked 6th in patriotism.

To identify the country’s patriotic hotspots, WalletHub compared the 50 states across 12 key metrics such as military engagement, voting habits and civic education.

Patriotism in Hawaii (1=Most; 25=Avg.):

  • 10th – Percent of Residents Who Enlisted in the Military
  • 1st – Number of Active-Duty Military Personnel per Capita
  • 28th – Number of Peace Corps Volunteers per Capita
  • 9th – Number of Veterans per Capita
  • 22nd – Civics Education Requirement
  • 9th – Number of Americorps Volunteers per Capita

For the full report, please visit:
https://wallethub.com/edu/most-patriotic-states/13680/