POLL – Hawaii County Council District 4

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POLL – Hawaii County Council District 3

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POLL – Hawaii County Council District 2

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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

POLL – Hawaii Island Prosecuting Attorney

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POLL – Office of Hawaiian Affairs (Hawaii Island)

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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.

POLL – Hawaii House Representative District 7

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POLL – Hawaii House Representative District 6

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POLL – Hawaii House Representative District 5

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POLL – Hawaii House Representative District 4

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Poll – Hawaii County Mayoral Race

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POLL – Hawaii House Representative District 3

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POLL – Hawaii House Representative District 2

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POLL – Hawaii House Representative District 1

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POLL – Hawaii Senate District 2 Race

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POLL – Hawaii Senate District 1 Race

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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.