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Saturday, May 23, 2009
May 23, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:22 AM :: 7143 Views

EIS says good outweighs bad if giant telescope built on Mauna Kea

If Hawaii were selected as the preferred site, and if the state Board of Land and Natural Resources approved it, from 2011 to 2018 an average of 50 to 60 construction workers a day would arrive at the 13,150-foot high work site, building the Thirty Meter Telescope with its 98-foot wide primary mirror within a dome enclosure 180 feet tall and 216 feet in diameter.

Battle lines have long been drawn over the project. Labor unions, business and astronomy interests favor bringing the telescope to Hawaii, due to the unprecedented economic impact and scientific prestige it could bring.

Alternately, environmental and Hawaiian activist groups have been just as outspoken in opposition, citing the potential for environmental harm, loss of indigenous species like the wekiu bug, and the desecration of the mountain. They favor locating the observatory at TMT's other candidate site, the mountain Cerro Armazones in Chile's Atacama Desert. (And they have demanded $50M/year in 'rent')

The final decision on where to build the telescope will be made following the acceptance of the final environmental impact statement in 2010. 

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No ceasing ceded-lands fight

University of Hawai'i-Manoa Hawaiian Studies Professor Jonathan K. Osorio will continue the legal fight to block the state from selling ceded lands, even as the Lingle administration, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and three other plaintiffs in the case appear to be close to a settlement.

In an action designed to remove the uncertainty of an impending Hawai'i Supreme Court ruling, lawmakers this month passed Senate Bill 1677, requiring the governor to obtain a two-thirds approval of both houses of the Legislature before being able to sell any of the 1.2 million acres of ceded lands.

The Lingle administration, OHA and three of the four individual plaintiffs have agreed to the settlement. Attorney General Mark Bennett said last week he expects Gov. Linda Lingle to sign the bill, formally signaling that an agreement has been reached.

Osorio, however, said in a statement to The Advertiser he is not part of the settlement and that he believes the two-thirds approval requirement in SB 1677 does not go far enough to resolve the concerns he and other Native Hawaiians have raised.

OHA administrator Clyde Namu'o pointed out the "without prejudice" provision in the agreement allows for OHA and all other parties to sue again. "It leaves it open for future lawsuits," he said.

OHA and the Lingle administration view the settlement as a compromise that will get each side at least close to its desired result without risking the uncertainty of an impending Hawai'i Supreme Court decision.

The Lingle administration has stated repeatedly that it has no desire to sell any ceded lands but believes it must have the ability to dispose of the lands as it sees fit. Meanwhile, OHA gets a near-ironclad assurance that lands won't be sold until Native Hawaiian claims are settled.

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Obama to appoint federal judge in Hawaii after Gillmor retires

U.S. Sens. Daniel K. Inouye and Daniel Akaka will recommend the names of potential replacements to the Obama administration, which will then nominate a candidate for confirmation by the full Senate. Confirmation hearings are held by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Rae Saint Chu, president of the Hawaii Bar Association, said a committee to screen applicants is being formed. Four members of the committee are appointed by Inouye, three by Akaka and two by the bar association, she said.

The head of the committee is Inouye appointee Lawrence Okinaga, a private attorney. The group will hold its first meeting next week with Akaka in attendance, according to Jennifer Goto Sabas, head of Inouye's office here.

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Hawaii jobless rate dips to 6.9 percent

His caution was echoed by Leroy Laney, professor of finance and economics at Hawai'i Pacific University, who said a 0.2 percentage point drop was probably within the margin of error for the unemployment rate, which is based on a telephone survey of households.

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Matson increases fuel fee

Matson Navigation Co., citing a renewed rise in fuel costs, is increasing its fuel surcharge for its Hawaii-mainland service by 3.5 percentage points to 20 percent, effective June 21.

The state's largest ocean shipper also warned that if prices don't decline soon, it "will need to make further upward adjustments."

Matson's increase follows a similar increase announced Monday by rival Horizon Lines Inc., which also is raising its surcharge the same amount from 16.5 percent. Horizon's surcharge will go into effect June 7.

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Another assault at Hookena Beach reported

Police received a 6:43 p.m. call Wednesday from an unidentified woman reporting a fight between two men at the South Kona park.

Officers arrived on the scene at 7:30 p.m. However, officers were unable to locate the two responsible parties, said Kona Patrol Capt. Chad Basque.
After speaking with numerous unidentified individuals at the park, police learned that the parties had left about 15 minutes before patrol officers arrived, Basque said.

Fitzgerald confirmed that the 9-1-1 call box at Hookena Beach Park was inoperative. He directed further questions to Deac deCamp, Hawaii County superintendent of parks maintenance for West Hawaii.
DeCamp said that the call box may have been out for up to three weeks adding that it appeared a firecracker or other similar device had disabled the callbox.

Alcohol and marijuana were being used at the time of the incident, Fitzgerald said.

However, at least four incidents of assault at Hookena Beach Park have been reported to police since January 2007.

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Samoa's Democrat Governor tries to block minimum wage hike

The governor wrote U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, chairman of the Senate's labor committee, asking lawmakers to postpone the May 2010 wage increase for one year.

Tulafono, in a letter dated May 12 and released yesterday, explained to Kennedy, D-Mass., that Chicken of the Sea International plans to shut down its COS Samoa Packing plant at the end of September, laying off 2,172 workers.

Chicken of the Sea is due to move its tuna-processing work to Vietnam, where the hourly pay is less than 70 cents, he said.

The governor said the territory's other cannery, StarKist Samoa, which is owned by Dongwon Enterprise Co. of South Korea, plans to eliminate 20 full-time salaried positions and trim hourly workers to cut costs.

The continued operation of the remaining fish processor in the territory is highly doubtful, Tulafono said.

The fish-canning industry directly and indirectly accounts for nearly three-fifths of all economic activity in American Samoa.

(WHAT?  IS IT TRUE?  Do minimum wage laws actually kill jobs?)

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