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Monday, December 23, 2013
December 23, 2013 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:14 PM :: 3859 Views

Akaka Tribe ‘Exit Plan’ -- Padding Rolls with Fraudulent Tribal Enrollment?

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted December 23, 2013

Hawaii Scores 60% on Infectious Disease Prevention and Control

Priced out of Paradise: What are Hawaii Leaders Doing?

Spike in Harm to Liver Is Tied to anti-GMO Funders -- Dietary Aids Industry

(Anti-GMO activism is funded in Hawaii by money from Mercola and other dietary aids fraudsters.  Although they do not compete directly with GMO products, the dietary aids and 'organic' foods industries reap mega profits when consumers are driven by hype and fear to buy their products.  Here is a NYT story which sheds light on the deadly price we pay for pandering to these quacks.) 

NYT: Dietary supplements account for nearly 20 percent of drug-related liver injuries that turn up in hospitals, up from 7 percent a decade ago, according to an analysis by a national network of liver specialists. The research included only the most severe cases of liver damage referred to a representative group of hospitals around the country, and the investigators said they were undercounting the actual number of cases....

Americans spend an estimated $32 billion on dietary supplements every year, attracted by unproven claims that various pills and powders will help them lose weight, build muscle and fight off everything from colds to chronic illnesses. About half of Americans use dietary supplements, and most of them take more than one product at a time....

the supplement business is largely unregulated. In recent years, critics of the industry have called for measures that would force companies to prove that their products are safe, genuine and made in accordance with strict manufacturing standards before they reach the market.

But a federal law enacted in 1994, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, prevents the Food and Drug Administration from approving or evaluating most supplements before they are sold. Usually the agency must wait until consumers are harmed before officials can remove products from stores. Because the supplement industry operates on the honor system, studies show, the market has been flooded with products that are adulterated, mislabeled or packaged in dosages that have not been studied for safety....

A second trend emerged when Dr. Navarro and his colleagues studied 85 patients with liver injuries linked to herbal pills and powders. Two-thirds were middle-aged women, on average 48 years old, who often used the supplements to lose weight or increase energy. Nearly a dozen of those patients required liver transplants, and three died.

It was not always clear what the underlying causes of injury were in those cases, in part because patients frequently combined multiple supplements and used products with up to 30 ingredients, said Dr. Bonkovsky, an investigator with the network.

But one product that patients used frequently was green tea extract, which contains catechins, a group of potent antioxidants that reputedly increase metabolism. The extracts are often marketed as fat burners, and catechins are often added to weight-loss products and energy boosters. Most green tea pills are highly concentrated, containing many times the amount of catechins found in a single cup of green tea, Dr. Bonkovsky said. In high doses, catechins can be toxic to the liver, he said, and a small percentage of people appear to be particularly susceptible.

But liver injuries attributed to herbal supplements are more likely to be severe and to result in liver transplants, Dr. Navarro said. And unlike prescription drugs, which are tightly regulated, dietary supplements typically carry no information about side effects. Consumers assume they have been studied and tested, Dr. Bonkovsky said. But that is rarely the case. “There is this belief that if something is natural, then it must be safe and it must be good,” he said.

read ... Anti-GMO Activists' Funders

Hawaii Health Connector sign up deadline Today Tomorrow

KHON: The Hawai‘i Health Connector Hawaii is urging individuals to sign up for a health insurance by the Dec. 23 deadline to ensure their coverage begins Jan. 1, 2014.

NRO: Administration Extends Deadline for Obamacare Sign-Up Through Christmas Eve

read ... Connector

Obama Repeals ObamaCare

WSJ: It seems Nancy Pelosi was wrong when she said "we have to pass" ObamaCare to "find out what's in it." No one may ever know because the White House keeps treating the Affordable Care Act's text as a mere suggestion subject to day-to-day revision. Its latest political retrofit is the most brazen: President Obama is partly suspending the individual mandate.

The White House argued at the Supreme Court that the insurance-purchase mandate was not only constitutional but essential to the law's success, while refusing Republican demands to delay or repeal it. But late on Thursday, with only four days to go before the December enrollment deadline, the Health and Human Services Department decreed that millions of Americans are suddenly exempt.

Individuals whose health plans were canceled will now automatically qualify for a "hardship exemption" from the mandate. If they can't or don't sign up for a new plan, they don't have to pay the tax. They can also get a special category of ObamaCare insurance designed for people under age 30.

read ... Obamacare

Hanabusa to Campaign on Budget No Vote

CB: Hanabusa did delve into the details, deeply. She ultimately decided that she could not support a measure that, as she put it, balanced the budget on the backs of kupuna, federal workers, military retirees and the unemployed.

In voting against the budget deal, Hanabusa was not only among a minority of lawmakers from both parties in both the House and Senate, she also was the lone Hawaii delegate. Schatz, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Sen. Mazie Hirono, while agreeing the bill was not perfect, concluded the compromise legislation was in the best immediate interest of Hawaii and the nation. President Barack Obama said much the same.

The budget vote could become a campaign issue. While 31 other House Democrats and 62 Republicans joined Hanabusa in voting no, not a single Senate Democrat sided with the 36 Senate Republicans who said "nay."

read ... Split Delegation

Turtle Bay Setting the Price of Condemnation

SA Editorial: We sure hope that Turtle Bay Resort is bluffing with its claim that $40 million isn't enough for a conservation easement that would protect Kawela Bay and Kahuku Point from being overrun by development. The state's proposal seems like more than a fair bargain that keeps title to the land with the resort, allows two new hotels to rise elsewhere on the property and avoids the condemnation option still available should this plan fall through....

The five-member working group of state officials and preservation advocates was created last spring at the behest of the Legislature, which shelved a Senate bill that would have condemned the land and taken it for the public good in favor of a negotiated process that respects the landowner's rights as it seeks to save a scenic stretch of rural Oahu threatened by overdevelopment. Negotiations are the better path, and the proposal that has emerged is promising.

Replay refused to sell the land outright, which is why the conservation easement prohibiting development is on the table. The deal would preserve nearly three-quarters of the land now marked for resort expansion — or 610 acres out of 852 acres — and prevent the construction of 750 homes.

read ... Setting the Price of Condemnation

Developer Seeks DoH Report on Anti-GMO Activists Touchstone

CB: Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture says it will cost $1,800 to review public records related to its investigation into whether Syngenta's pesticide spraying on Kauai sickened students and faculty at Waimea Canyon Middle School several times between 2006 and 2008.

Civil Beat (owned by resort developer Omidyar) requested the case files in October to get more details about the four-year investigation.

Some Kauai residents have worried for years that pesticides sprayed by biotech companies on Kauai's leeward side might pose a health hazard. The Waimea Canyon Middle School case provides a window into those concerns and into the responsiveness of state regulatory agencies that have been accused of lax oversight of pesticide use.

On several occasions, students were sent to the hospital when some grew dizzy, vomited and had trouble breathing, according to news reports at the time that cited people saying they smelled a pungent odor before coming down with those symptoms.

Some teachers and parents came to suspect that the cause was pesticide spraying on a nearby field owned by the biotech company.

Ultimately, the investigation was inconclusive, with agricultural officials saying that the source of the problem could have been pesticides, stinkweed or even a wave of hysteria among students.

(Why would a developer want to help anti-GMO activists?  Because fewer farms = more resorts.)

read ... and whines about the cost

As Internet Gambling is Pushed on Hawaii--Atlantic City and Las Vegas face catastrophic collapse

FNY: With the closure of the recent Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, rumors of the bankrupt Revel being sold to Hard Rock, Las Vegas real estate prices remaining depressed, casinos opening up all around the country and online gambling legislation underway in various states, it seems as if the reasons for the very existence of Atlantic City and Las Vegas are in serious jeopardy.

As Las Vegas moved to market itself as purely an entertainment paradise, one local said “The reality is, people just won’t fly to the middle of a desert to play some slots, watch shows and sit down for some blackjack when they can drive right near their town or city, or play legally online.”

And now it looks like the feds may soon allow online gambling across the United States.

Last May, the American Gaming Association called on Congress to enact federal legislation that would allow states to license and regulate online poker so Americans who play can do so safely using responsible, law-abiding operators. The Department of Justice made a decision that the Federal Wire Act only prohibits the transmission of communications relative to bets or wagers on sporting events or contests. It also clarifies that intrastate lottery tickets sold online are legal, so long as the lottery games do not involve sport wagering, even if the transmission crosses state lines.

Officials say this has opened up the possibility that online gambling may get approved on a federal level.

New Jersey is the third state in the U.S. to have authorized internet gambling.  However, these online casinos are owned and controlled by Atlantic City casinos in an effort to boost profits in the face of fierce competition.

California, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Texas are hoping to join Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey and the U.S. Virgin Islands in offering online gambling to their residents.

read ... Coming to Hawaii?

Pension Cut Angers Senate's Staunchest Military Supporters

NPR:  In the two-year, $2 trillion budget deal that cleared the Senate last week, one item, worth just one-sixth of 1 percent of that total, was the reason many senators said they voted against it.

That item would produce some $6 billion in savings by shaving a percentage point off annual cost-of-living adjustments, and it would apply only to military pensions. Not all military pensions — just the retirement paid to veterans younger than 62....

"A sergeant first class who retires at age 40 could stand to lose $72,000 by the time he turns or she turns age 62," she said.

read ... Pension Cut Angers Senate's Staunchest Military Supporters

Want Washington compromise? Elect young members of Congress, Reps. Schock and Gabbard say

RAP: Looking for a little more compromise in Washington? Then it’s time to elect young members of Congress, according to Reps. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).

The heads of the Congressional Future Caucus sat down with CNN host Candy Crowley for a pre-recorded interview that aired Sunday on State of the Union. The duo decried the partisan divide in Congress, as well as the focus on short-term solutions to long-term problems. Schock pointed out that many of the younger members, on both sides of the aisle, are engaging with bigger issues than just three- or sixth-month battles....

“I believe that if Tulsi and I can bring together 20, 30, 40 members of Congress behind an initiative, it provides the cover to allow a John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to actually become leaders, to be able to stick their necks out and embrace it,” the Congressman said.

Schock added that the bipartisan budget solution designed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would not have been possible if Boehner or Reid had proposed it.

“It requires sometimes the rank and file, or folks further down the leadership ladder, to bring forward thoughtful ideas and build the momentum before we ultimately get the leaders to embrace it and change to happen,” the Illinois Republican said.

read ... Compromise?

Arbitrator: Counties Have Money to Pay for Raises Without Caldwell's Tax Hike

CB: While city officials have said they budgeted for the raises in the coming year, future years appear to be more uncertain, and talks are already underway to find new revenue sources, such as through new taxes or bus advertising.

A previous arbitrator's decision to approve a $200 million collective bargaining agreement with the police union, the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, is driving the need to raise more money in coming years.

But there seems to be a disconnect between government officials who say they can’t afford the continual increases in salaries and the independent arbitrators who keep awarding the pay raises.

R. Douglas Collins, the arbitrator who ultimately decided to award the HFFA pay raises, said the state and the counties can absorb the increased costs without new revenue.

He even noted the recent SHOPO decision, which also found that the government was “financially capable” of paying for the raises and that there was “little if any evidence to the contrary.”

“It is the opinion of a majority of the Panel that the Employer has the financial ability to meet the costs of the contractual changes recommended herein without the necessity of increasing existing taxes or fees or imposing new taxes or fees, or developing other new revenue sources,” Collins wrote in his 30-page decision.

Collins said government financial data and economic forecasts from the University of Hawaii, the state Council on Revenues and bond rating companies, such as Moody’s and Standards and Poor, helped bolster his decision. Those reports all supported the idea that Hawaii’s economy “will remain strong for the foreseeable future.”

LINK: Hawaii firefighters interest arbitration 2013 (12 075) signed (1)

read ... Another Union, Another Raise: Who's To Say There's No Money?

Man Shot By Honolulu Police Gets $150K

CB: In 2009, Honolulu police officer Keith Marini had just bought a cup of coffee at a 7-Eleven in Makaha when he was approached in his unmarked vehicle by Kiha Silva.

According to media reports at that time, authorities said Silva started to punch Marini and threatened to kill him.

Marini, who had more than two decades of policing experience, was reportedly seated in his vehicle when the attack occurred and defended himself by shooting Silva with his personal firearm.

But a federal lawsuit filed in 2011 paints a much different portrait of what happened that day.

LINK: Text of Legal Complaint

read ... $150,000

Hunters offer to clear pigs from city park — at no cost

SA: The city is considering allowing members of the Oahu Pig Hunters Association to trap, capture and take the wild porcine creatures at Hoo­malu­hia Botanical Garden at no cost to taxpayers, Mayor Kirk Caldwell said Friday.

The City Council earlier this month passed a resolution renewing a contract for workers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to remove the pigs from the grounds at Hoo­malu­hia at a cost of $53,009 a year.

But Caldwell asked that the contract signing be delayed until a review of an offer by association President Ollie Lunasco to have his members deal with the pig problem for free.

Council member Kymberly Pine, chairwoman of the Council Intergovernmental Affairs and Human Services Committee, first broached the subject of using private pig hunters at Hoo­malu­hia during a committee's hearing on Resolution 13-275, renewing the USDA contract, last month.

"It saves taxpayers money and frees up our Leeward landfill, and also allows the residents to benefit from the situation," Pine said....

read ... Free Pig Removal

Dumbest Idea Ever? City Wastes $1000 for Screwdriver on a Chain

SA: Dubbed a "Fixit" stand, the station was installed about two weeks ago and cost about $1,000, according to city Transportation Services Director Mike Formby.

It includes an air pump, screwdrivers, wrenches, a hex key and other tools — along with a platform where cyclists can hang their bicycles to do maintenance. More tech-savvy riders can also use their smartphones to scan a posted QR code and access bike repair instructions.

The station is designed to be as "low-maintenance" and "vandal/theft-proof" as possible, and DTS staff is keeping tabs on how frequently it's used, Formby said in an email. If it proves to be popular, the department will consider installing more stations at parks and bus transit and rail stations, Formby added.

read ... New bicycle repair station set up outside city building

Heroin use in Hawaii could be on the rise

KITV: Before many addicts shoot up, they visit one of the state's free needle exchange vans. The vans are part of an effort to stop the spread of AIDS, hepatitis and other diseases by discouraging needle sharing by drug users.

The program has worked so well, its numbers are at an all time high.

"In the past year we've had over 800,000 syringes exchanged for the several thousand people that we service," said Heather Lusk with the Community Health Outreach Work project.

CHOW workers are encouraged more drug users are exchanging their needles, but they have also seen a discouraging trend on the street.

"It is disconcerting that the numbers are getting higher. We're also seeing more young people using needles, which wasn't common before," said Lusk.

According to some drug users and those who work with addicts, prescription drugs are behind the increase.

"What we're seeing is a movement from an addiction to pills like oxycontin to moving to heroin or injection of those prescription pills," said Lusk.

read ... Heroin

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