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Thursday, May 5, 2011
May 5, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:50 PM :: 13516 Views

Hawaii Christian Coalition to Pray over Capitol May 5

Study: Hawaii has most expensive rentals in Nation

VIDEO: House Republicans speak up on Taxes, Budget

Marumoto: State becoming addicted to Marijuana Money

Berg on Transit Authority: Mayor, Council Leadership put Cronyism ahead of qualifications

Cam Cavasso: Family and the Future

Hawaii Right to Life PAC endorses Neighborhood Board Candidates

Slom: Business freeze hiring in response to Legislature, Non-Profits may close doors

Hawaii citizens missed some lawmakers’ bullets; bit others

Marumoto: Retirees have won the Day, Pension Tax is Dead

Political Correctness: SEALS who got Bin Laden also captured Jihadi murderer of Big Isle man—and were prosecuted for it

Inouye, Akaka votes: A ticket to USA for Guantanamo detainee who attempted attack on Honolulu

UH Medical School to lose Tobacco Settlement Funding

Akaka, Inouye to hold hearing to complain about ‘racist’ language used by Special Forces killing Osama

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will be holding an oversight hearing this morning (PST) in Washington on the depictions of Native peoples in American society (hint: Geronimo, Osama ... it was in the news yesterday) "and the effect they have on these communities and the American public in general," according to a press release:

The Committee will explore how Indian mascots, common caricatures and prevalent mis-portrayals have far-reaching impacts on the identity and sense of self-worth of Native peoples and negatively impact how all Americans perceive and relate to each other.

"Our hearing is about the real harm that is done to all people, Native and non-Native alike, when mascots, movies and images reinforce the stereotypes and the lines that divide rather than unite us," said Senator Daniel K. Akaka, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

Live video and witness testimony will be provided.

CB: 'Geronimo' as Code Name Bad Idea

RELATED: Inouye, Akaka votes: A ticket to USA for Guantanamo detainee who attempted attack on Honolulu

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Hawaii Legislature poised to approve broad changes in public worker retirement benefits

The Hawaii House of Representatives planned a final legislative vote Thursday on the pension overhaul, which is intended to tame the system's $7.1 billion unfunded liability. If passed, the bill would advance to Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

The changes would affect only new hires, and the state's existing employees would continue under current benefit levels of the Employees' Retirement System.

Modifications to Hawaii's retirement system include raising the retirement age, lowering retirement payments by adjusting how they're calculated and requiring higher worker contributions to pension accounts. The amount of time before employees are vested would increase, and the system's projected return on investment would be reduced, from 8 percent to 7.75 percent.

The measure was estimated to save $440 million over the next five years, with additional savings in the future as newer hires make up a larger part of the government work force.

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Slom Questions If State Legislative Budget is Balanced

Slom said that even if the budget’s revenue and spending totals are equal, an expected drop in tax revenues will unbalance it in the near future.

“We’re not looking for a major recovery soon,” he said.

“The budget is larger than it was before,” Slom continued.

“We have not cut back. We have into the increases that the governor had suggested in his executive budget,” said Slom.

“I think that we have major problems still ahead,” he said.

HNN: $600 million worth of higher fees and tax increases

SA: With steeper fees and taxes as well as the rising cost of gas, driving is becoming a costly experience

CB: Hawaii to Spend $2.9B on Capital Projects

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Its Party Time! Jobs Available Soon At Some State Agencies

The Department of Public Safety, stretched thin by security demands of the new Kapolei courthouse, was authorized to hire 14 more sheriffs.

The Tax Department will get nine employees in its computerized compliance program. The land department's Historic Preservation Division, which oversees Native Hawaiian burial sites as well as historic buildings, will get seven new workers and the Department of Agriculture will be able to hire four more employees. Three of the new hires will be clerks on Maui, the Big Island and Kauai, where state layoffs caused agriculture service offices to be locked during some work days.

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Abercrombie, BoE, Obama’s Sister put on Education Reform Dog n Pony Show 

Hawaii lawmakers to vote on massive pay hike

Hawaii lawmakers are voting on extending their 5 percent pay cuts for another two years at a time when other government workers are taking similar pay reductions.

The Hawaii House of Representatives set a Thursday vote on a bill that extends legislative, executive and judicial salary decreases through 2013.

If the measure doesn't pass, legislators would be giving themselves huge pay raises.

The 5 percent cut would be restored, and they'd also be owed a total of 12 percent in scheduled raises that have been frozen over the last two years.

Their pay would jump from about $46,000 a year to $52,000 a year.

CB: Salary Bill may be Unconstitutional (So they can pass it and the courts will overturn it and give them their raises anyway.  Perfect way to get the money without leaving fingerprints.)


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Race Hustlers Recognize State Akaka Tribe is Illegal

Just as the majority leader of the House, in conference, said: `Somebody going to sue.’

Of course somebody going to sue. If this legislation wasn’t important, nobody would sue. It is because it’s important.

But could you imagine my thoughts when listening to the House majority leader that somebody going to sue? After we passed Act 1? Somebody going to sue? Of course, because Act 1 is important legislation.

And no wordsmith of the new law of this importance could prevent (conservatives like) Bill Burgess, Kenneth Conklin, (Thurston) Twigg-Smith, from filing a lawsuit.

Bring it on. Bring it on. Because the facts of history will not change, the feelings of the indigenous will not change, and this issue will not go away.

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Conklin: Best for Process to fizzle once again

The best outcome for Hawaii would be for the process set in motion by SB1520 to fizzle and die. That’s what actually happened with a similar process that started more than a decade ago and was funded by Hawaii taxpayers. As the bill itself recounts: Hawaii “has supported the Sovereignty Advisory Council, the Hawaiian Sovereignty Advisory Commission, the Hawaiian Sovereignty Elections Council, and Native Hawaiian Vote, and the convening of the Aha Hawai‘i ‘Oiwi (the Native Hawaiian Convention).” That convention produced two proposed Constitutions (one for an independent nation and one for an Akaka tribe). But in the end the whole process simply died without much of a whimper; although Hayden Burgess (alias Poka Laenui), who became the final chairman of the convention, continues to bemoan the demise of the convention on his radio program and calls for it to be reconvened. In his mind both the Hawaiian Kingdom and the Native Hawaiian Convention still are alive, just like some nostalgia buffs say about Elvis Presley and now also Osama Bin Laden.

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Bond sales for rail work get preliminary approval

Bill 40 was passed out of committee with one objection. Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi echoed concerns raised by several members of the public, asking why the city needs to borrow for the project when administration officials have said time and again it would be paid for with money from the general excise tax surcharge and federal dollars.

The city is seeking $104 million in bonds to get some working capital for the $5.3 billion rail project.

"We haven't even begun and you don't know what all the costs are and you're going into the bond market to obligate the taxpayers," said George Fox, president of Advocates for Consumer Rights. "That's unconscionable."

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Honolulu Council Learns Rail Contractor Gave A Gift — Two Months Later

The late disclosure of a gift the city received from a rail contractor drew criticism from City Council members in a Transportation Committee meeting Wednesday afternoon. It's the latest in a series of complaints from council members about a lack of transparency about the city's polarizing $5.3 billion rail project.

City Council members questioned Transportation Services Director Wayne Yoshioka about the timing of a resolution to accept $9,471 from InfraConsult LLC to pay for part of the city's rail $30,000 rail groundbreaking ceremony.

The company paid for food and catering at the February 22 event but approval of that gift didn't reach the council until late last month.

Transportation Chairman Breene Harimoto asked Yoshioka why the City Council was notified more than two months late….

One woman said she hadn't planned to testify but was so bothered by what appeared clearly to be "corruption," that she had to speak up.

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Abercrombie sends out Lawyer to Argue for Judicial Secrecy

A state lawyer has laid out for the first time Gov. Neil Abercrombie's legal arguments for refusing to disclose the names of judicial candidates, saying the governor cannot be required to do so unless ordered to by a state judge.

Abercrombie "firmly believes" that the disclosure would be detrimental to attracting judicial candidates, Deputy Attorney General Charleen Aina wrote this week in a letter to the Office of Information Practices.

The governor believes disclosure would reduce the number and range of experience of the applicants, Aina wrote.

The office is reviewing the governor's refusal to disclose the names of the judicial candidates sent to him by the Judicial Selection Commission, and is considering an appeal by the Ho­nolulu Star-Advertiser and online news service Civil Beat.

Abercrombie chose Sabrina McKenna from the commission's list for a vacancy on the Hawaii Supreme Court, but has refused to disclose the names of the other candidates.

CB: Gov Willing To Fight For Judge Secrecy In Court

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UH Manoa Perfesser gets no jail time for Rape of Child

A couple of court cases yesterday:

• Honolulu prosecutors threw the book at former beauty queen Susan Shaw in a $200,000 identity theft and credit card fraud case, refusing to negotiate the charges, and she was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

• Retired University of Hawaii math professor David Stegenga got a plea deal of five years probation with no jail time for sexually assaulting a neighbor girl from 1999 to 2005, when she was between the ages of 7 and 13, in a crime that often causes major long-term trauma for the victim.

How is this right? What are our values?

HNN: Former beauty queen sentenced to 20 years in prison for ID theft

SA: Woman gets 20 years in ID theft

(Shaw is being punished for inconveniencing the court.  Stegenga is being protected because he is conscious, enlightened, and progressive.  Both cases are about protecting the ruling class.)

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Hawaii Conspirator in Thai Laborer Trafficking Case Admits Guilt

Shane Germann stood before Hawaii’s U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway on Wednesday, May 4, remorsefully reciting details of crimes he committed in Hawaii between May 2003 and February 2006 as the on site manager and regional supervisor for the California-based labor recruiter, Global Horizons Manpower Inc.

RELATED: Neil Abercrombie’s Slavery Problem

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Hawaii lawmakers kill proposal to end Medicare Part B reimbursement benefit to public retirees

Gov. Neil Abercrombie had sought an end to the reimbursements of Medicare Part B premiums, which are deducted from retiree Social Security payments. The proposal would have saved the state government an estimated $42 million next fiscal year.

Lawmakers had considered killing off the reimbursements only for new hires to avoid concerns that reducing accrued benefits would be unconstitutional. But that idea also failed to advance.


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Hawaii Hotel Room Revenue up 19%

A report by Hospitality Advisors released Wednesday says statewide hotel occupancy averaged 75 percent for March, an increase of about 5 percentage points compared with March 2010.

Room revenue was about $746 million during the first three months of this year, an increase of about 19 percent compared with the first quarter of 2010.

The report says that while there was a sharp decline in Japanese visitors after the March 11 Japan earthquake the overall market improved because of strong gains from the U.S. mainland and Canada for the remainder of the month.

(Now that Abercrombie has got his tax increases, we can stop pretending that the Tsunami has driven the State into crisis.)

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REAL ID: Hawaii Not In Compliance, Residents may be blocked from flying without Passports in January, 2013

Question: In April, I renewed my Hawaii driver's license for another eight years. Since Hawaii is not yet in full compliance with the REAL ID Act ( licenses_ID_cards_do_not_conform_to_federal_ rules.html), will the city and/or state replace our current licenses/state IDs at no charge when we do have to comply?

Answer: State ID card holders will have to pay the regular full fee, while those renewing a driver's license will have to pay the cost of getting a duplicate license….

"It is our understanding that there is a phase-in period for Real ID," Uwaine said. "So, when Real ID takes effect, everyone will not have to get a compliant card right away. ... Hopefully, this will help to alleviate some of the concerns in having to pay for another card."

Until further notice, all current ID cards and driver's licenses are accepted for travel and entry into federal buildings. The deadline for states to institute all REALID security measures is now January 2013.

Many states continue to oppose REALID requirements, citing costs and privacy concerns.


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Schatz: Feds Will Provide APEC Funds

Despite the Hawaii Legislature's rejection of a $2.2 million administration request to support security for the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders Meeting, Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz says the state still expects to get financial support from Washington.

"We are confident that we will be able to provide adequate law enforcement," Schatz told Civil Beat Wednesday. "We will find the money."

The meetings are scheduled for Nov. 8-13 in Honolulu, primarily at the Hawaii Convention Center. A business advisory council meeting is set for Nov. 7-9, while a climate symposium is scheduled for Oct. 17-20.

House Bill 1012, which would have appropriated state funds for use by the Attorney General's Office, died in conference committee April 29.

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Legislators seize Tobacco Funds, cut $4 million from medical school fund

The University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine was a casualty of this year's legislative session as it lost up to $4 million in funding, or 4 percent of its annual budget.

Lawmakers decided not to extend a portion of the medical school's allotment of money from the tobacco settlement.

The school had used on average between $3 million and $4 million annually for operations from the tobacco settlement. That funding will expire on June 30.

Although the House and Senate were considering extending funding for four years in Senate Bill 239, lawmakers failed to take action before a procedural deadline on Friday.

The school is now considering reducing the number of local students it enrolls and increasing the number of out-of-state students to help make up for the loss.

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After 30 Years of Failure, Legislature votes to re-fund Aloha Tower Development Corp.

The effort to redevelop underused state land around Aloha Tower fell dormant for a year after Hawaii lawmakers killed the budget of a troubled state agency spearheading the effort last year. But the agency is now on the verge of being revived.

State House and Senate legislators unanimously approved a bill Tuesday to reconstitute the Aloha Tower Development Corp. with a slimmed-down board dominated by the state Department of Transportation. The bill now heads for consideration by Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

If the bill becomes law, it would rekindle a 30-year-old mission to transform a valuable section of waterfront fronting downtown Ho­no­lulu through redevelopment into more of a "people place."

A state audit that recommended ATDC be abolished also was produced last year.

The audit said ATDC responsibilities should be split between the Transportation Department and an agency overseeing development in Kakaako, the Hawaii Community Development Authority.

A bill proposing that split, Senate Bill 1247, advanced to a House and Senate conference committee, but was rewritten last week in a failed attempt to authorize a casino in Waikiki.

Under HB1020, the new ATDC board will pick up where the old board left off.

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Proposal would require developers to provide warning sirens

The state last month went out to bid on new sirens for Mauna Lani Resort, Waikoloa Beach Resort and Kona Village Resort. In all, the state has spent $14.2 million since 2007 on sirens, but it doesn't have funding to respond to the need.

The state's priority is replacing existing sirens in tsunami zones that have fallen or are falling off their poles, followed by new sirens in tsunami zones, upgrades in tsunami zones and new sirens in non-tsunami zones. Developers who don't want to wait for the state to buy the sirens to start their developments must buy their own under the proposal.

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Kauai Bus Shelters $50K Each

A roof over your head — plus a bike rack, trash can and lighting — while you wait for the bus could cost taxpayers $50,000.

County Transportation Executive Celia Mahioka told Kaua‘i County Council members during a budget review session April 25 that the agency is requesting $250,000 for Fiscal Year 2012 to build five bus stop shelters.

The shelters will have seating and, if necessary, solar lighting, bicycle racks and trash receptacles. The ideal would be to build the shelters in the most sustainable way, she said.

The county is projecting to collect $750,000 in revenues for the Kaua‘i Bus in FY12,

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Hawaii Co Ending Free Bus Fares

At least one council member, Chairman Dominic Yagong, reluctantly gave the bill's first reading an affirmative vote, because Kenoi's amended budget comes to the council today, and that budget will include $560,000 in bus fare revenues.
"What that means is, we would have to come up with $560,000 if we do vote against Bill 42," Yagong said. "It's not going to be the mayor. It's going to be the council, because this was not brought forward in a timely fashion. Right now, guys, your backs are against the wall."

The administration has an apparent lack of commitment to cutting back on other subsidies before implementing bus fares, Hoffmann said.
"You can't charge people who are trying to make a living while at the same time, for about the same amount of money, about $800,000, provide for people to play golf," he said.

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$40 Million Revenue Bond Bill Benefits Energy Venture

For the third time in three years, the Legislature has approved issuance of $40 million in special purpose revenue bonds for a company that says it has a process to convert organic waste and even old tires into energy.

The first bond approval in 2009 was on behalf of Carbon Diversion, Inc., but it was cancelled the following year after company ownership changed in a hostile takeover and the new owners were sued by federal securities regulators for fraud.

A new bond issuance was approved last year and again this year for Carbon Bio-Engineers, Inc., founded by the original owners of Carbon Diversion.

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Pork Project: Inouye delivers $5.5M for Green Energy and Pig Slop

A Hawaii biofuel company will receive more than $5.5 million from the federal government to produce affordable animal feed from marine algae, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye announced Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture grant will help Cellana LLC, owned by HR BioPetroleum, produce feedstock for biofuels, aquaculture and other animal feeds. The grant will be combined with $1.6 million Cellana has raised for the project.

For the past several years, HR BioPetroleum has been evaluating sites in Hawaii to deploy a commercial-scale algae facility. In 2008, a memoranda of understanding was signed between Alexander & Baldwin, Inc., Hawaiian Electric Company and Maui Electric Company, subsidiaries of Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. to pursue joint development of a commercial algae facility on land adjacent to Maui Electric’s Ma’alaea power plant….

“Cellana has won a grant that will address one of the most limiting factors affecting local chicken, pig, dairy, and aquaculture production—the availability of affordable feed. The cost of importing feed has led to the closure of a number of poultry and dairy operations in Hawaii. Cellana is a forward-looking company focused on both Hawaii’s energy and food security needs. I commend and congratulate them,” said Congresswoman Mazie Hirono.

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Guam Mayors Concerned About Possibility That Marine Buildup Won't Happen

Guam - Village mayors are concerned about reports that the military buildup on Guam might not happen. As you may recall Senators Carl Levin and Jim Webb visited the island last week and appeared to be questioning the viability of the Guam buildup given the financial condition of both Japan and the U.S. also, reports out of the Philippines indicated that U.S. Senators Daniel Inouye of Hawaii and Thad Cochran of Mississippi, visited the city of Olongapo to look into the possibility of moving the marines from Okinawa there.

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Oahu elementary school accredited as International Baccalaureate World School


The Department of Education announced Wednesday Iroquois Elementary in Ewa Beach is the first public elementary in Hawaii to achieve the elite accreditation.

The decision was released from IB headquarters in Geneva Switzerland last month but announced to the school during an assembly Wednesday.

As an IB World School, Iroquois Elementary is authorized to offer the Primary Years Program, which focuses on high academic standards with an emphasis on international understanding and responsible citizenship.

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Maryland suspends Hawaii autism doctor's license

BALTIMORE -- Maryland officials are suspending the license of a doctor nationally known for treating autism with a drug that decreases hormone production.

The Maryland Board of Physicians determined that Dr. Mark Geier is putting children at risk and last month suspended him from practicing medicine in his home state. The board alleges that Geier misrepresented his credentials, misdiagnosed children and urged parents to approve risky treatments without fully informing them of the potential dangers.

Geier is well known in the alternative autism treatment community. The board says he also has licenses in California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, Virginia and Washington

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HPD Officer Had 2x Legal Alcohol Limit

KITV4 has learned that a Honolulu Police Department officer charged with driving drunk last month had a blood-alcohol content that was more than twice the legal limit, according a police report.

Fellow officers arrested William Suarez, 40, about 5:30 a.m. on April 22. That was about 2 1/2 hours after he apparently crashed his car on Kona Street in Kakaako, police said.

The seven-year veteran paid $600 bail after being charged with driving under the influence of an intoxicant and leaving the scene of an accident.

The police report, obtained by KITV, said Suarez's blood-alcohol level was 0.167, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08.

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Trial opens for HPD officer accused in overtime pay scandal

A jury trial began Wednesday for a Honolulu police officer accused of filing a false police report so that his supervisor could fraudulently collect extra overtime pay.

Ofr. Leighton Kato, 37, is charged with tampering with a government record and two counts of theft. All three charges are misdemeanors.

Prosecutors say the defendant wrote in a police report that his supervisor, Sgt. Duke Zoller, was working with him at a DUI roadblock near the Honolulu International Airport on November 29, 2009, when, in fact, Zoller had the night off.

(Hmmm.  Ever wonder why so many police officers are demoralized?  See next article….)

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Kau: Convicted Killer Occupies Million Dollar Shoreline Parcel

(Sovereignty activist) Abel Simeona Lui and his “family” have been fighting eviction notices for nearly as long as he’s lived here. Numerous court cases have been filed, and won, against him, over the ownership of the land, but the cost of physically evicting him has deterred the winners from actually doing so. Now Lui is facing lawsuits from the County of Hawaii, which has purchased one section of the property from the state-recognized owner, Ed Olson, and is in the process of purchasing more.

County land manager Ken Van Bergin told BIW that the county bought one 234-acre parcel in 2008, and was in the process of purchasing three adjacent parcels, totaling 550 acres, with for $3.9 million, including $2.5 million in state and federal grants and $1.4 million in from the "Two Percent for Public Lands" fund.

Convicted Killer’s Blogsite:  (Complete with fake yellow and green Jawaiian flag)

1979: State v. Lui  (Like many sovereignty activists, Simeloa is a convicted felon and ex-con.)

(The rest is a fluff piece in which the phrase “convicted of manslaughter” never appears.)

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Michigan Republicans Threaten to cut off Michigan Welfare Card use in Hawaii

A Republican state senator is calling for a crackdown on what he calls abuse of Michigan's food assistance program.

Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge said about $2 million in Bridge card benefits were used in traditional vacation hot spots such as Florida, California, Hawaii and Nevada and on cruise ships in January and February, according to the Detroit News.

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Gambling with Paradise: Illegal activities in Hawaii

The purpose of these articles is to make the case for legalized gambling.

More: Gambling with Paradise: Las Vegas

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'Million-dollar sharks' a boon to eco-tourism, says study

A single reef shark can be worth nearly two million dollars in tourism revenue over its lifetime, according to a study released Monday by researchers in Australia.

The analysis from the Pacific island nation of Palau shows that sharks -- hunted worldwide for their fins, a Chinese delicacy -- are worth many times more to some local economies alive than dead.

"Sharks can literally be a 'million-dollar' species and a significant economic driver," said lead author Mark Meekan, a scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

"Our study shows that these animals can contribute far more as a tourism resource than as a catch target," he said in a statement.

(So naturally in Hawaii, we have neither.  Duh.)

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Legislature praised for work on Dogs, Peacocks

The Humane Society of the United States praised the Hawaii Legislature for passing bills that significantly strengthen the state’s weak dogfighting law and address a vagueness in the cruelty statute brought to light by a particularly cruel peacock killing that garnered worldwide media attention.

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Donald Trump's lawsuits could turn off conservatives who embrace tort reform

As billionaire Donald Trump flirts with a run for the White House, his lengthy history of filing lawsuits — often to protect his image or gain a financial edge — is making conservatives wary of excessive litigation wince.

The real estate tycoon has been a party (as defendant or plaintiff) in about 100 federal lawsuits, according to a review of a legal database. Moreover, five of Trump’s major companies have been embroiled in over 200 civil suits in federal courts, according to court records.

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SA: Championship series needs reform

Utah's attorney general appears poised to sue college football's Bowl Championship Series for violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. Other state attorneys general are being invited to join in the lawsuit, and Hawaii's David M. Louie should prepare himself to be first in line, reflecting the strong and well-founded feelings of his boss.

Utah AG Mark Shurtleff has talked of a legal challenge of the BCS for three years, ever since the University of Utah was snubbed from the championship game despite its spotless record. Utah finished that season ranked No. 2, although it was the only unbeaten team.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has made his opposition to the six-league BCS monopoly well-known. After then-President-elect Barack Obama called for March Madness-like football playoffs in a "60 Minutes" interview in December 2008, then-Congressman Abercrombie and two other House members pleaded in a letter that the newly elected president order a Justice Department investigation of football's cartel.

(Yep.  Obama, Abercrombie and the Advertiser taking on the BIG issues….)

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