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Congressional Candidate Bob Marx on Genetically Engineered Foods (GMO)

Democratic Congressional candidate Bob Marx calls for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require labeling of genetically engineered foods.

Responding to a February 8th letter from US Congress to the FDA, where Democratic leaders Barbara Boxer (CA) and Peter DeFazio (OR) asked the FDA  to consider a legal petition filed by 400+ companies and organizations to demand that the FDA label genetically engineered food, Bob Marx declared:

“Our keiki and ‘ohana have been eating genetically engineered food for almost 15 years now. We don’t know if it is safe for them. As your Congressman, I will demand that Americans know the risks of genetically engineered food. We must demand that the federal government require transparency in the gentic engineered food industry.”

Marx continued, “Almost 80% of processed foods in US supermarkets contain genetically engineered ingredients.  Yet, we are one of the only industrialized nations in the world where we are not given the right to chose if we want to eat these potentially harmful products. This right to choose is a fundamentally American principle. Americans need to know what is in their food.”

In preparation for Wednesdays televised Town Hall meeting, hosted by the Hawai’i Democratic Party Environmental Caucus in Moanalua, O’ahu, Bob Marx had the following to say:

“The FDA says their hands are tied when it comes to labeling of genetically engineered food. We need to untie their hands – now. Genetically engineered food labels are required in 50 countries around the world, but not in America. Hawai’i’s residents live alongside genetically engineered food farms throughout the state, yet its risks are not known. Hawai’i’s newborns breathe in pollen that contain genetic material from experimental crops.”

“You can stop using DDT. You can recall a pesticide if you find out it’s harmful. But you can’t recall DNA. We must demand that the federal government require transparency in the genetically engineered food industry.”

Marx concluded, “We must stop tax breaks for large corporations that use Hawai’i as a genetics laboratory. That energy and those tax dollars must be redirected to benefit local farmers who are a cultural and economic backbone to our state. Instead, we must invest in sustainable agricultural initiatives at Universities and local organizations, to protect our biodiversity and the livelihoods of Hawai’i’s hard-working people.”

First Annual University of Hawaii Hilo Student Film Festival

Big Island Publicly Funded Elections Pilot to Be Terminated Early if Hearing Not Heard THIS WEEK

According to Senator Les Ihara, Big Island’s publicly funded county elections pilot will be terminated early if HB2700 does not get a hearing this week.

“Treasures of Hongwanji” Features Handcrafted Foods, Guitarist Unzan Pfennig, Taiko and More

Every year, the Buddhist temples from Honpa Hongwanji and Higashi Hongwanji come together to share their special treasures with the general public.  This year, the “Treasures of Hongwanji” takes place Saturday, March 3, 2012, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Sangha Hall in Hilo, 424 Kilauea Ave., on the grounds of Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin.  Admission is free, and includes an intriguing collection of displays and sales of unique items and handcrafted foods, some of which are not easily available any other time of the year.  The event also features the intricate and soulful music of guitar soloist, Unzan Pfennig.

Unzan Pfennig photo by Jason Carey Smith

A Zen priest and an Aikido instructor. Unzan performs at Miyo’s Japanese Restaurant , Tues. Thurs. and Sat.5:30-8:30 p.m.  In a recent story for Big Island Weekly, J Walk Smith described him as “a big guy who gracefully loops and layers melodies with a guitar and foot pedals. He has a unique take on difficult songs and is able to layer and montage recognizable and unrecognizable pieces into harmonious sound.”

“World music is a strong influence,” said Unzan, “So you will hear something inspired by Asian, African, Eastern European, Mainland US, Native American.”  Although he doesn’t play Hawaiian music as such, he says, “My ‘style’ arose in me at the sound of the slack key masters, where they play something ‘only’ because it is beautiful… I never played this way until I came to Hawaii almost 10 years ago and started to play at Miyo’s.”

“I am really grateful to Miyo’s but truly to Hawaii and Hawaiian Music,” said Unzan.  “I feel it is like moving to Nashville or the Mississippi Delta where everyone plays, and in my audience are great players any night of the week, so I try to always play in a respect toward my senior players.”

Unzan performs at 10:30 am.  Also appearing on the bill will be the Puna Taiko group.

Puna Taiko

In addition to musical food for the soul, delicious food for the body will also be available for purchase.  Some of the items expected this year are:  chicken sausage, chayote sambaizuke, milk bread, jams, yomogi dango, papaya namasu, Kona Coffee (hot brewed and bags), jellies, ampan, ti leaf dango, sekihan, barbecued ribs, mini spam musubi, smoked pork, and more!  There will also be plants, vegetables, Cherry Blossoms and other flowers, crafts, informative displays, entertainment, kids’ activities, and lucky number prizes.  (Come early for the best selection.)

Keaau Youth Business Center Celebrates It’s 5th Birthday

On Saturday, March 10, from 12- 5 pm, Kea`au Youth Business Center (KYBC) will celebrate its’ 5th Birthday and release its second original CD, Na Ano, Native Seeds, Vol. II.

The event will take place in front of the Center, located in Kea`au Town Shopping Center, across Ace Hardware, 16-540 Kea`au-Pahoa Highway. Kat and Keala from KWXX will be broadcasting the  show live featuring performances by former and present students whose songs appear on the CD as well as other special guests like well-known Big Island musicians Wendell Ing and Trever Veilleux.

At 1 p.m., Joshua Pertubal and Sonny Puerto will perform “Good Vibrations”, their composition that won the Judge’s Award for Creative Merit from the national Young Media Makers Big Screen Showcase competition. Other former and present students who will perform are Makana Kamahele, Beautiful Wilson, and Kaimana Nakea as well as the  groups Melekane and Soul Redemption who are also featured on the CD. Tribe Nation from Connections Public Charter School will close the show.

There will be drawings for free plants supplied by Hawai`i Community College, healthy and ono food prepared by culinary arts students and a silent auction featuring local products, art and clothing from some of the best Big Island artists and designers. All proceeds from the event will go towards launching a capital campaign to secure a permanent location for KYBC to continue it’s award-winning efforts of providing innovative pathways to higher education and workforce development and entrepreneurial training for area youth.  A larger facility will enable KYBC to pursue its long-term vision of becoming a major platform for sound recording and film and video production on the Big Island and becoming a hub for attracting world-wide audiences to local products, services, and the arts.

660 Acres in South Kona to Be Auctioned Off – Starting Bid $5 Million for the Keupuka Lands

The Keupuka Lands in South Kona are set to be auctioned off and the starting bid is nearly 80% off what the previously traded price was on them.  I saw the following online and I had to ask a realtor friend if there was some news to this that I wasn’t seeing and he said “Welcome to 2012, where reality is tough to swallow“.

These 660 acres in Kona, HI is going for 80% less than the previous trading price

If I had a lot of money… I’d try to sink my hands into a 660 acre lot for $5 million.

…While not as dramatic a decrease, a similar parcel in Hawaii is singing a similar tune—660 acres, previously at purchased for $26 million, now listed at $5 million.

That particular development parcel is in South Kona, HI—a site known as Keupuka Lands. The parcel will be auctioned by New York City-based Racebrook Marketing Concepts, and its auction affiliate Sheldon Good & Co. Racebrook tells GlobeSt.com that Pacific Star is the owner of the property. GlobeSt.com learns that in 1990, some of the principals behind Pacific Star purchased the land from a private party, however, reasons for selling at this time could not be disclosed by deadline.

Zoned for more than 100 five-acre lots, Keopuka is an opportunity for a developer, investor or private buyer seeking to acquire prime land at an incredible discount to market value, according to Racebrook Marketing. Previously traded for $26 million, Keopuka will be offered via sealed-bid auction with an opening bid set at $5 million…

Full article here: Another Huge Land Parcel to Go for Major Discount

Na Ali’i of Comedy Starring Frank De Lima, Mel Cabang, Andy Bumatai, Ed Kaahea and Augie T at the Hilo Palace Theater

Are you ready for the biggest comedy show of 2012? Hawaii’s legends of comedy together on one stage for the first time. Over 100 years of comedy experience entertaining people locally, nationally and worldwide, Na Ali’i of Comedy Tour will make you laugh out loud.

Friday March 2nd at the Hilo Palace Theater at 8:00 pm is the place to be!

Frank De Lima has been entertaining Hawaii with family friendly local style humor for 36 years. The 14 time Na Hoku Hanohano award winner has been busy visiting Hawaii school children with his student enrichment program. Frank has been touring nationwide with Augie T. for the past 2 years.

Ed Kaahea is the last surviving member of the iconic comedy trio, Booga Booga. With over 30 years in the entertainment business.

Mel Cabang has been a comic and business man in Hawaii for 40 years. You can see Mel on numerous tv commercials and local tv programs.

Andy Bumatai has been a comic for over 30 years. He has traveled as a headliner in comedy clubs across America. He has opened for some of the biggest acts in the industry. Tom Jones, Paul Anka, Kenny Loggins, The Beach Boys and Lionel Richie.

Augie T. performs live on stage and on television for audiences here in the islands as well as across the United States. He was voted the funniest comic in Hawaii by Star Bulletin and Midweek and has been the core artist in the revival of the Hawaii comedy scene these past few years.

Tickets:  $22.50 in advance and $25.00 at the door, on sale at the Palace Theater 10am-3pm weekdays.  Call 934-7010 to purchase tickets by phone with a credit card.  Also on sale at:  Ken’s House of Pancakes, CD Wizard, BJ Penn Training and Fitness, KTA Downtown and KTA Puainako

Opening Act – Pomai Longakit

Project Better Place Comes to Hawaii… East Hawaii Residents on the Big Island Left Uncharged

For the last few years I have been blogging about Project Better Place coming to Hawaii and how I didn’t see it working on the Big Island very well.  Better Place today announced it’s network here in Hawaii and of course folks on the EAST SIDE OF THE ISLAND… ARE OT OF LUCK… Again.  See the map of charging station options available for Big Island users on the bottom of this press release.

Media Release:

Better Place today announced activating the largest electric car charging network in Hawaii, offering drivers free charging via more than 130 charge points through the end of 2012. The network allows drivers to charge their electric cars at convenient locations on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island that include hotels, resorts, office buildings, shopping centers, parking garages, businesses and public venues.

“As more Hawaii drivers experience the benefits of electric cars, it is important to have the network that gives people convenient access to charge their cars,” said Brian Goldstein, director of Better Place in Hawaii. “The Better Place network of Charge Spots on four islands offers more public charge points per capita in Hawaii than any other state. Our multi-island network is another step toward making sustainable transportation a reality in Hawaii and moves us toward achieving the state’s goal to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels by at least 70 percent by 2030.”

“As electric car adoption grows, we are excited to see the Better Place charging network in place and ready to support the Aloha State’s growing number of Nissan LEAF™ drivers,” said Brendan Jones, director, Nissan EV Marketing, Sales and Strategy, Nissan North America Inc. “Nissan understands the importance of locations to plug in when it comes to making EVs more convenient and enabling drivers to take full advantage of all electrified transportation has to offer.”

To use the network, drivers can signup for a free membership and see an interactive map of Charge Spot locations at www.betterplace.com/hawaii. New members will receive a welcome kit with a membership card, giving them access to all Better Place Charge Spots across the state, and a guide to using the network. Membership includes free network access for 2012. Beginning January 1, 2013, drivers will have the option to sign up for an affordable Better Place membership plan.

“Our vision is a world no longer dependent on oil, so for a limited time we are offering free membership to early electric car champions who can both help enhance the network with feedback from their own experiences and encourage more people to switch to electric driving in the country’s most oil-dependent state,” said Goldstein.

The Better Place network offers the public convenient locations to charge electric cars that are compliant with the current standard for plug-in vehicles in North America — such as the Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt, and Mitsubishi i and other vehicles in the future— as a supplement to a primary charging location at home or work. The network is intended to support charging for periods of up to four hours, rather than overnight or long-term charging.

Over the past year and a half, Better Place has been working with businesses and property owners to install charging infrastructure across the state, as well as completing a project that included Chevy Volts, with funding in part from the State Energy Office at the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT) and the U.S. Department of Energy.

“Chevy Volt customers have the freedom to drive their electric vehicles wherever and whenever they want,” said Britta Gross, General Motors Director, Global Energy Systems and Infrastructure Commercialization.“We applaud Better Place’s initiative to open its charging network to new Volt customers in Hawaii, who will benefit from the ability to drive on pure electricity more often.”

In April 2011, Better Place installed its first Charge Spots in Hawaii in the parking structure of the Sheraton Waikiki/The Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Today, there are also Better Place Charge Spots at five Starwood hotels and resorts on Oahu, Maui and Kauai.

“As the first Hawaii hotel to install charge stations, we are pleased to expand our partnership with Better Place to offer our guests – both visitors and kamaaina – convenient locations to recharge their electric cars, while helping our Islands become more environmentally sustainable,” said Keith Vieira, senior vice president and director of operations for Starwood Hotels & Resorts in Hawaii and French Polynesia.

Last year Enterprise Rent-A-Car began adding electric cars to its fleet on Oahu, enabled by Better Place Charge Spots at the Enterprise site next to the Honolulu International Airport.

“Since we installed our first charging station and began renting electric vehicles last year, the demand from both visitors and kamaaina has continued to increase,” said Paul Kopel, vice president and general manager of operations for Enterprise Rent-A-Car Hawaii.“More people are discovering the convenience of electric cars, and the addition of Better Place’s charge stations at our locations on Maui, the Big Island and Oahu will help meet the needs of EV renters.”

In March, Better Place will host a series of public events around Hawaii to increase awareness of electric cars and the Better Place charging network. We invite current electric car owners and those interested in learning more about electric cars to join Better Place and its partners for charging demonstrations. “Drive Electric Days” will be held as follows: Drive Electric Maui, March 9, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Kihei Town Center (Foodland Kihei); and Drive Electric Big Island, March 17, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Kona Commons Shopping Center. Better Place also will be in the Hawaiian Electric Company booth at the First Hawaiian International Auto Show in Honolulu, March 30 to April 1.

About Better Place

Better Place is the leading global provider of electric car networks that enable the mass market adoption of electric cars through an innovative battery switch model that makes driving electric cars more affordable, convenient and sustainable than today’s gasoline-powered cars. Better Place owns and operates a network of battery switch stations and public/personal Charge Spots, along with the supply of batteries that power the cars, to provide drivers with instant range extension and the convenience to drive, switch and go across an entire region. Where possible, Better Place uses renewable sources of energy to deliver fully zero-emissions driving. The World Economic Forum has named Better Place a “Global Growth Company Industry Shaper” for its innovative approach in advancing the global switch to electric cars. Check out www.betterplace.com.

Blue represents the current stations... Grey represents PLANNED locations

Here is a video of former Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle driving a Project Better Place car back in 2008 when company founder Shai Agassi first set his eyes on the Hawaii Islands:


Mayor Kenoi Announces Community Talk Story Events

In an effort to bring government to the people, Mayor Kenoi and the directors of County departments will be all over the island for Community Talk Story events scheduled throughout the month of March.

These events, hosted by groups in the area, are an opportunity for residents to meet and talk with County leadership about projects and issues important to their communities. Over 40 Talk Stories have been held since 2009.

These March Talk Story events are just the first in this year’s series. More events in more communities are being planned, and those dates will be announced as they are finalized.

Meeting places are accessible to persons with disabilities. Anyone who requires an auxiliary aid or service to particiapate in these events should contact Lisa at 961-8211 as soon as possible but not later than five days before the event. For more information, contact the Mayor’s Office at 961-8211.

  • Thursday, March 8 – Honoka‘a, North Hawai‘i Education & Research Center, 45-539 Plumeria St. in Honoka‘a, Hosted by the Hāmākua Farm Bureau
  • Monday, March 12 – Pāhoa, Pāhoa Neighborhood Facility, 15-2910 Kauhale Road in Pāhoa Town, Hosted by the ‘Āinaloa and Nānāwale Community Associations & Maku’u Farmers Market
  • Thursday, March 15 – Waikoloa, Waikoloa Village Association Community Room, 68-1792 Melia St. in Waikoloa Village, Hosted by the Waikoloa Village Association
  • Monday, March 19 – Ka’ū, Nā’ālehu Elementary School, 95-5545 Māmalahoa Highway, Hosted by the Ka‘ū Rural Health Community Association & Hawaiian Civic Club of Ka‘ū
  • Friday, March 30 – Waimea, Kahilu Town Hall, Behind the Parker Ranch Center, Hosted by Hale O Nā Ali‘i, Waimea Chapter & Waimea Community Association

National Parks in Hawaii = Visitors, Money and Jobs

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that national park visitors in Hawaii in 2010 spent more than $252 million in communities near national parks and supported 3,420 jobs in the state.

“The people and the business owners in communities near national parks have always known their economic value,” said NPS Pacific West Regional Director Chris Lehnertz. “In Hawaii communities, national parks are clean, green fuel for the engine that drives the economy.”

Most of the spending/jobs are related to lodging, food, and beverage service (52 percent) followed by other retail (29 percent), entertainment/amusements (10 percent), gas and local transportation (7 percent) and groceries (2 percent).

The figures are based on $12 billion of direct spending by 281 million visitors in 394 national parks and nearby communities and are included in an annual, peer-reviewed, visitor spending analysis conducted by Dr. Daniel Stynes of Michigan State University for the National Park Service.

The national parks in Hawaii included in this study are: Haleakala National Park, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kalaupapa National Historical Park, Kaloko-Honokohua National Historical Park, Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site, and World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.

Across the U.S., local visitor spending added a total of $31 billion to the national economy and supported more than 258,000 jobs, an increase of $689 million and 11,500 jobs over 2009.

To download the report visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/products.cfm#MGM and click on Economic Benefits to Local Communities from National Park Visitation and Payroll, 2010.

The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.

For more information on how the NPS is working in Hawaii, go to http://www.nps.gov/hawaii

Mesa Airlines Receives FAA Maintenance Gold Award

Mesa Airlines, Inc. is pleased to announce that the Company’s Maintenance team was awarded the Federal Aviation Administration’s prestigious Employer’s Gold Award for 2011.

The award is based on the percentage of the company’s eligible aviation maintenance technicians (“AMTs”) who complete a minimum amount of initial and recurrent training during the year. Of Mesa’s 221 eligible maintenance professionals, 195 — or 88 percent — received an individual AMT Award for 2011. The award provides maintenance technicians with incentives to improve safety by actively participating in initial and recurring training programs on their own initiative or in training programs subsidized by their employers.

Jonathan Ornstein, Chairman and CEO, said, “We are delighted to be recognized by the FAA for training excellence, and I appreciate the hard work by our maintenance people and training team for continuing to be industry leaders in training and safety programs.” Garry Appling, Senior Vice President of Maintenance & Engineering, added, “Mesa takes great pride in the dedication of our maintenance staff and I applaud our personnel for maximizing the opportunities to benefit from the training resources they have available to them. This dedication is a strong reflection on Mesa’s commitment to a Safety First culture.”

Mesa currently operates 77 aircraft with over 390 daily system departures to 92 cities, 35 states, Mexico, Canada and the District of Columbia. Mesa operates as US Airways Express and United Express under contractual agreements with US Airways and United Airlines, respectively, and independently as go!. In June 2006 Mesa launched inter-island Hawai’i service as go! and in October 2009 formed a joint venture with Mokulele Airlines. The go! and Mokulele operations link Honolulu to the neighbor island airports of Hilo, Kona, Kahului, Ho’olehua, Lana’i and Lihu’e, utilizing 5 CRJ-200 aircraft operated by Mesa Airlines and 4 Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft operated by Mokulele Flight Service under a code-sharing agreement. Mesa, founded by Larry and Janie Risley in New Mexico in 1982, has approximately 2,800 employees.