News Bites

Nick Yee
Nick Yee

For the last two-decades the Ellison S. Onizuka Space Center has sat on outskirts of the Kona airport.  It’s a tribute to astronaut Ellison Onizuka, who was killed in the Challenger accident after becoming the first Asian American to reach space.

Around 15,000 people visit the center each year to see exhibits which teach the principles of space and physics as well as memorabilia from Onizuka’s life.  But the center plans to close its doors at the end of the month to make way for a seventy-million dollar renovation to the Kona Airport.

Larry Loos / FLickr
Larry Loos / FLickr

This Friday marks five years since a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck northern Japan. More than 16-thousand people were killed and another 7,000 were injured. The estimated $235-billion in damages makes it the costliest natural disaster in human history.  It was also a life-changing experience for HPR guest commentator Ray Tsuchiyama who now works with a national disaster training center in Honolulu.

Matthew Kent
Matthew Kent / redringstudio.com

As people like to say… “Eddie Went”

After a six-year wait and one false alarm… The “In Memory of Eddie Aikau” big wave surf competition was a “Go”. 

Marufish / Flickr
Marufish / Flickr

Homeowners frustrated over Hawaii Electric’s reluctance to add more solar power systems to their grid may soon have another option.

SolarCity announced the addition of battery sustained photovoltaic systems into the residential market.  Their design lets customers gather and store solar power throughout the day in batteries, using it at night when it’s most needed.  Homes would still be connected to the Hawaii Electric grid, but only drawing power if it were needed.

The Eddie Is On

Feb 24, 2016
Nick Yee
Nick Yee

After a six-year wait, and one false alarm… The Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau is on.  Contest organizers gave the “green alert” warning early Wednesday morning following a forecast for another round of record-breaking surf.  The contest commenced early this morning and is now underway.

Randy Rerick is the former director of the Triple Crown and acting Beach-Master for the Eddie. 

UPDATE - 10:00

Updates:

Hawaii Department of Agriculture
Hawaii Department of Agriculture

Exactly how much land in Hawai‘i is used for agriculture?

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture has released an agricultural land use study which provides information on the location of commercial agriculture activities statewide.

The 2015 baseline study updates the last survey done in 1980 and provides current information and maps of the locations of Hawaii’s farms and ranches. The 1000 page report published under contract with UH Hilo is intended to help the community to make decisions about agricultural land use in the state.

The Eddie Will Go

Feb 9, 2016
Noyle
Noyle

6:30am update: The Eddie has been called off. Event officials say the big wave surf contest will not run at Waimea Bay today due to slowly building conditions. 

5:30am update: The Eddie MAY Go.  Swell has shifted, with Waimea no longer getting a direct hit.  Start of contest may be delayed till noon.  Officials are contemplating running a modified heat format. 

Parking in Waimea valley has been filled for hours, and there are reports of heavy traffic delays. 

After a six-year wait…Eddie will GO.

Global Reactions / Flickr
Global Reactions / Flickr

Toyota will discontinue its line of Scion cars later this year.

Scion was formed in 2003 to attract a younger American market with experimental designs and easily customizable body kits. You may remember the infamous “toaster shaped” XB model. Although more a million cars were sold nationally, several years of slumping sales and a lack of connection to the intended market are being blamed for the decision.

But here in Hawai‘i, local dealerships sold more than 12,000 Scion cars, with half of those sales going to people under the age of 35.

Duncan Hull / Flickr
Duncan Hull / Flickr

Here's a story to take you back to high school biology class.

You may recall that the "Y" chromosome is present in all males.  While a lot remains unknown about that gene, a recent study shows that it can be mimicked or replaced. The application of that knowledge could lead to advances in fertility treatments.

A team from the Institute for Biogenesis Research at the John A. Burns School of Medicine spent the last 2 years researching replacements for the Y chromosome.

bluewaikiki.com / Flickr
bluewaikiki.com / Flickr

Some change is in the works at Honolulu’s largest art museum.

Stephan Jost is stepping down as the director of the Honolulu Museum to lead Canada's largest art gallery the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Over the last five years he oversaw the rebranding of the museum’s different locations including the Spalding House on Tantalus and the historic Doris Duke estate on the slopes of Diamond Head.

Jost is credited with balancing the museum’s budget as well as increasing the museum’s attendance, programs and membership.

Christopher Michel / Flickr
Christopher Michel / Flickr

The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary will remain in its current form.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had proposed broadening the sanctuary to include a larger area and the protection of other species.

But after a lengthy process including public hearings and discussions with the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, NOAA has decided to withdraw its proposal.

Allen Tom is the Regional Director of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

Pacific Fire Exchange
Pacific Fire Exchange

Scientists with the University of Hawai‘i are mapping the human impact of wildfires in the islands.

Over the past decade, the state has experienced on average, more than 1,000 fires burning over 20,000 acres each year.  Relative to total land area, the percentage of Hawai‘i’s land that burned from 2005 to 2011 was roughly equivalent to a fire consuming the western United States.

Robert Hartwick
Robert Hartwick

Box jellyfish are responsible for more deaths each year than shark attacks.  But despite the danger, scientists and medical professionals still do not agree on the best way to treat and manage jellyfish stings.

Researchers at UH Mānoa have developed an array of experiments to allow scientists to safely test first-aid measures used for box jellyfish stings without using human subjects.  By creating an artificial skin with human cells, scientists were able to simulate a sting and test different scenarios.

TravelingOtter / Flickr
TravelingOtter / Flickr

A project to measure sediment runoff on Lāna‘i is connecting the effectiveness of watershed restoration techniques used on land. Runoff is caused by soil erosion, allowing dirt to flow downstream where it empties onto coral reefs.

Alan L / Flickr
Alan L / Flickr

Hawai‘i residents will have a rare opportunity to visit the telescopes atop Mauna Kea.

The ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center will begin a series of tours beginning this Saturday to see the telescopes and learn about the cultural and environmental importance of the mountain. The Kama‘āina Visitor Experience is held on every third Saturday, and space is limited.  It’s offered on a first come, first served basis with only 24 seats available each month. 

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

Officials of Maui County and Alexander and Baldwin are putting together a task force to assist workers displaced by the closing of the state’s last sugar mill.

Last week Alexander and Baldwin announced they would cease cane operations on Maui---affecting nearly seven-hundred workers. Beginning in March- half of the HC&S workers will be laid off, with the rest staying until the end of the 2016 harvest.

Brett Neilson / Flickr
Brett Neilson / Flickr

After years of planning, the Bishop Museum is pushing its primary focus back to its visitors.  It’s begun a 5 year plan to help the museum become more self-sustaining and less reliant on government funding.  The museum has already implemented a $24-million renovation to Hawai‘i Hall and the J. Watumull planetarium.

Ilya / Flick
Ilya / Flick

Hawai‘i’s gas utility is looking into adding renewable gas into its product.  Hawai‘i Gas has released a request for proposals to buy raw bio-methane from municipal wastewater treatment centers and landfills in Hawai‘i.  The company is seeking proposals from local and national suppliers who can provide large quantities of gas on a daily basis.

Alejandro Forero Cuervo / Flickr
Alejandro Forero Cuervo / Flickr

The State Department of Health has selected the on-line “seed-to-sale” tracking system that will manage Hawai‘i’s medical marijuana inventory.

Florida based BioTrackTHC was awarded the contract yesterday.  Their system will track every plant with a unique number, measuring each fraction-of-a-gram of cannabis from seed, through sale. Patrick Vo is the CEO of BioTrack THC. He says the system is important to bring transparency and accountability to cannabis operations.  

Forest and Kim Starr / Flickr
Forest and Kim Starr / Flickr

On Maui, a piece of history is scheduled to be destroyed….on purpose.

The Hana Pier was built in the early 1920’s.  It was fenced off in 2010 after falling into disrepair with exposed holes and rebar in the deck.  The Department of Transportation reviewed various options for rebuilding the pier but settled on its removal following public feedback.

Tim Sakahara is the spokesperson for the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation.

Microbeads Get Banned

Jan 6, 2016
Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

Microbeads are tiny pieces of plastic that are often added to beauty products to gently exfoliate the skin.  But environmental advocates say their small size makes them extremely difficult to filter and clean from water.  They add that marine life often mistake the particles for food and when consumed the beads enter the food chain. 

Norbert Schörghofer via aaarjournal.org
Norbert Schörghofer via aaarjournal.org

Researchers with the University of Hawai‘i are studying the potential impact of climate change on melting ice on Mauna Loa.

In the 1970’s researchers documented two frozen lava tubes perched more than eleven-thousand feet above sea level.  Scientists say the lava tubes could be between 750 and 1,500 years old - and the ice inside may contain clues to Hawai‘i’s past environmental conditions.

The Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land

A historical area of land on the Southern Coast of Hawai‘i Island will be protected from development.

The Kuamo‘o battlefield and burial grounds cover forty-seven acres of land south of Kona.  In 1819- the Nephew of Kamehameha the first clashed with Liholiho over keeping the traditional Kapu system of order in place.  Liholiho was victorious, but many warriors from both sides perished in battle and were buried on the property.

Rose Parade Honors Float Designer

Jan 1, 2016
John Zak
John Zak

Part of this New Year’s Day is the 127th Rose Parade in southern California. One of its millions of fans is HPR classical music host John Zak, who has a story from Pasadena about an artist, a bird, and more than five-hundred parade floats.

Nick Yee
Nick Yee

For some families in Hawai‘i the end of the year brings the tradition of Mochitsuki or mochi pounding.

Glutinous rice is steamed, and then put into a mortar where it’s pounded.  It’s then cut, formed into balls, and filled with sweet beans or covered in soybean powder.

HPR visited the Kubo family for their annual gathering.

Mariah OConnell / Flickr
Mariah OConnell / Flickr

Hawaii will become the first state in the nation to raise the minimum age for tobacco sales to 21 beginning on January 1st.  A secondary measure will prohibit the sales of electronic cigarettes (E-Cigarettes) to anyone under 21.

Nick Yee
Nick Yee

Two locations of a popular Honolulu café chain are suddenly closing their doors.

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

November was another record-breaking month for the hospitality industry in Hawai‘i. The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority reports visitor arrivals were up nearly four-percent from a year ago. HPR’s Bill Dorman has some of the stories behind the numbers.

Brett Levin / Flickr
Brett Levin / Flickr

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health has released operation guidelines for the medical marijuana licensing program.

Under the current law, the DOH will establish eight dispensaries – three on O‘ahu, two for both Maui and Hawai‘i Island, and one for Kaua‘i. The rules explain the process for awarding dispensary licenses, and outlines security, safety, and tracking requirements.

Earlier this month the department announced that an on-line “seed to sale” system will be installed to track all marijuana in the islands.

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

The state says there’s been some significant progress on the road to Hawai‘i’s clean energy objectives.

The Hawai‘i State Energy Office released its Energy Resources Coordinator’s Annual Report for 2015.  The report outlines the State’s current energy policies in accordance with the goal to reach 100% renewable energy by 2045.

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