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Hawaii Air National Guard Supports Hurricane Maria Relief Mission

A Hawaii Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft from the 204th Airlift Squadron, 154th Wing, left Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam this morning, heading to Puerto Rico, as part of the Hurricane Maria relief effort.    The C-17, carrying two flight crews and maintenance personnel (17 Airmen in total) will initially stage at Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, from where they will transport relief supplies to Puerto Rico.

A Hawaii Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft from the 204th Airlift Squadron, 154th Wing, left Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam this morning, heading to Puerto Rico, as part of the Hurricane Maria relief effort. The C-17, carrying two flight crews and maintenance personnel (18 Airmen in total) will initially stage at Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, from where they will transport relief supplies to Puerto Rico.
Gov. David Y. Ige and Hawaii National Guard leadership saw off the flight crews and maintenance personnel at Hickam Field.
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andrew Lee Jackson)

Gov. David Y. Ige and Hawaii National Guard leadership saw off the flight crews and maintenance personnel at Hickam Field.   “Puerto Rico is suffering through a disaster of epic proportions.  The people there lack electricity, food, water and fuel. The people of Hawaii will do everything we can to assist our fellow Americans while they work to recover from this horrible devastation”.

The C-17 crew has been tasked with flying first to Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington State, where they will pick up relief supplies and additional personnel before heading to Puerto Rico.   They anticipate flying multiple missions, possibly including some to the U.S. Virgin Islands, which was hit by not only by Hurricane Maria but also by Hurricane Irma earlier in September.

The 204th Airlift Squadron is one of three flying units within the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 154th Wing, the largest and most complex wing in the entire Air National Guard.   The Guard is tasked with being ready for war or any other operational contingency overseas and well as disaster response here at home.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes for FAA Extension and Immediate Hurricane Relief for Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today voted for H.R.3823, legislation that temporarily reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration, provides tax relief to those affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, extends critical health care provisions, and modernizes aspects of the National Flood Insurance Program.

Emergency tax relief for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands comes after Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard joined colleagues in delivering a letter to President Trump, urging the administration to immediately mobilize additional Department of Defense (DOD) resources for Puerto Rican and U.S. Virgin Island recovery efforts.

“While this bill failed to extend key healthcare and education programs that will be expiring soon, it included critical measures that will ensure the FAA reauthorization is extended, stabilizes the National Flood Insurance Program, extends programs for Teaching Health Centers, strengthens Medicare, and protects diabetes treatment programs for Native Americans.

“Most critically, this bill provides tax relief to Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who saw their lives and livelihoods upended by Hurricane Maria, as well as those impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  Congress and the Administration must take further action to ensure those impacted get the relief and assistance they so desperately need,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

Click to read full letter

Commentary in Response to Syd Singer Mangrove Lawsuit

Commentary by Larry O’Brien from Knowing.net:

Ours is not “a time of rapid evolution,” as claimed by Syd Singer in his misguided commentary recently posted at http://mauinotices.com/2010/08/12/syd-singer-on-climate-change-and-conservation/. It is the opposite — a time of extinction and the passing of great things.

It saddens and shocks me that anyone who lives on these islands can dismiss extinction so lightly. You will never see or hear an ‘o’u, a a koa finch, a mamo, a nukupu’u, an ‘akialoa, a Kona grosbeak. You may see an ‘alala — there are some left in captivity. You might have seen a po’ouli but the last one died in captivity in 2004.

Kona Grospeak

I don’t know if it’s misguided hope or willful blindness that can claim that, because preserving nature is a struggle, we ought not “weed for the past.” Wouldn’t you have liked to go for a walk and caught a glimpse of some of these “weeds”.

Singer likes to say that the displacement of native species by non-native species shows that native species are “weak and unhealthy.” That’s nonsense. Any High School biology student (or anyone with the eyes to see our Hawaiian reefs and native forests) knows that islands create species that are specialists — the longnose butterflyfish that can snip away at individual coral polyps, the parrotfish that grind away at more solid corals and excrete the sand that, over thousands of years, become the beaches where the turtles lay their eggs. Just because lauwiliwili don’t expect to be eaten by roi (introduced in 1956), they are “weak and unhealthy”? Because the native birds aren’t immune to avian malaria (brought in the early 1800s) they are unworthy to live anywhere that mosquitos live?

Just as the native species are not “weak and unhealthy,” the ability of a species to invade is not proof of some moral superiority. The coqui frog is controlled in Puerto Rico by populations of specific species of tarantulas, whip scorpions, crabs, and lizards; we don’t have any of those species here. (And if Singer is such a fan of “winner takes all” conservation, does he think we should introduce whip scorpions to see if the coquis are really so wonderful?) One reason we have so many roi is because they can be ciguateric, so no one fishes for them (except for speardivers, who have begun conducting “roi roundups” — which Singer undoubtedly opposes).

It’s true that environmentalists sometimes overemphasize the drabness of invasive species — the mats of invasive algae that clog the once-colorful bays of Oahu, sparrows and pigeons as opposed to honeycreepers. But it’s not a matter of what’s prettiest — who’s to say that a java or saffron finch is not more attractive than an apapane or amakihi? It’s a matter of preservation. Just because there are plenty of sparrows in the world, is it okay if the i’iwi goes away? Just because there are plenty of cockroaches in the world, is it okay if the wekiu bug goes away?

The Hawaiian Islands have been changed by human activity ever since the first voyagers landed here bringing taro, pigs, and chickens. That the slopes above Kohala were covered with sandalwood trees when Kamehameha the Great built Pu’ukohola heiau and allowed cattle to begin roaming. Conservationists don’t deny that and aren’t motivated by a vision of a world that never was. Conservationists look at the world we have and see the passing of great things. I once saw a 1,000-pound bluefin tuna — you never will. I’ve dived on reefs that are gone now. My nieces and nephews have never seen an i’iwi or a blue whale. My 14-year-old nephew who lives in Pennsylvania has never seen the Milky Way. The world becomes a lesser place when uniqueness is lost.

If Hawaii is overgrown with the same vegetation that grows in Florida and the same birds that live in Hong Kong, what unique stories will our grand-children hear from the land? If the coral is gone and the reefs are covered by the same algae that lives in the Mediterranean and, without the reefs, the honu and the mano and the billfish go away, what stories will our grand-children hear from the ocean? If the sky above Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa is painted over with the same glaring lights that blanket the mainland, what will our grand-children learn by looking to the sky? That what came before was “weak and unfit,” nothing but “weeds,” and that you preferred to “surf the wave of change”?

Or are you going to tell them that you once saw great things, and you fought to preserve them?