About The Kaʻū Calendar

Ka`u, Hawai`i, United States
A locally owned and run community newspaper (www.kaucalendar.com) distributed in print to all Ka`u District residents of Ocean View, Na`alehu, Pahala, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Village and Miloli`i on the Big Island of Hawai`i. This blog is where you can catch up on what's happening daily with our news briefs. This blog is provided by The Ka`u Calendar Newspaper (kaucalendar.com), Pahala Plantation Cottages (pahalaplantationcottages.com), Local Productions, Inc. and the Edmund C. Olson Trust.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs March 7, 2013

Filipino World War II heroes would be able to bring their families to the U.S. under Sen. Mazie Hirono's legislation.
Photo from the American Coalition of Filipino Verterans 
SUPPORTING FILIPINO WAR HEROES, Sen. Mazie K. Hirono introduced her first bill as United States Senator this week. The legislation would allow immigration for Filipino World War II veteran families. A statement from her office says, “The long-overdue legislation, which has been the priority of Hawai`i’s congressional delegation for many years, could gain new life as the Senate drafts and marks up immigration reform legislation. This legislation underscores Hirono’s immigration reform approach of bringing families together and assisting communities whose voices aren’t often heard in
Sen. Mazie K. Hirono
     Hirono stated: “Immigration reform should reflect our values and these are the types of ideas I will be working to include in the final legislation,” said Hirono. “Our nation can never fully repay the debt we owe the Filipino World War II veterans who bravely served and sacrificed alongside Americans in the critical South West Pacific Theatre. The brave servicemen who are still with us, now in their 80s and 90s, should not have to wait any longer in order to be reunited with their children.” Thousands of Filipino veterans were granted citizenship in recognition of their service to the United States in World War II. Their children, however, were not granted citizenship. As a result, the veterans who came to the United States could only sponsor their children by filing a petition and “getting in line,” Hirono noted. The backlogs affecting Filipino immigration applications date back more than 20 years in some cases.
       The statement says that Hirono has “a key perch to influence immigration reform legislation” as she sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration.
      The American Coalition of Filipino Veterans estimates that 20,000 sons and daughters of U.S. Filipino World War II veterans will directly benefit from Hirono’s legislation. “We applaud Sen. Hirono's great decision in reintroducing the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification bill,” said Eric Lachica, Executive Director, American Coalition of Filipino Veterans. "Salamat po! Mabuhay Senator Hirono,” he proclaimed.
      Rep. Colleen Hanabusa will introduce the bill in the House of Representatives.

FRESHMAN CONGRESSWOMAN TULSI GABBARD voted with Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday when they passed their budget. Gabbard was among 53 Democrats who said yes to the measure, noting that it would restore some military funding cut by the sequester.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
      Hawai`i is considered one of the states most dependent on infusion of military money. While protecting some military funding, however, the bill would preserve the overall $85 million in budget cuts, meaning that funding restored to the military would come from reduced funding for social services, education and other federal services, including furloughing some air traffic controllers and airport security staff – as many as 21 air traffic controllers in Hilo. Democrats warn that this could mean long waits for air travelers.
     Hawai`i’s senior House member Colleen Hanabusa voted against the Republican budget, which received 267 votes in favor and 151 in opposition. “This measure not only reaffirms sequestration, it does nothing to remove sequestration," said Hanabusa. A member of the House Armed Services Committee, she called for flexibility for the military in the use of its funding – a measure that was included in the Republican budget. Hanabusa also called for congress to give agencies beyond the Defense Department more flexibility in the use of their reduced budgets.
The proposal before congress is called the Continuing Resolution and would prevent a government shutdown at the end of March when the current resolution expires. 
Sen Colleen Hanabusa
     Hanabusa said: “While I support in principle extending funding and also making full-year appropriations for Defense spending and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, this bill does not accomplish what we need to get done.” 
      Gabbard called the bill she voted for “far from perfect” and said she supported it “because it provides important funds for our men and women serving overseas, our military-related jobs in Hawai`i, and it works to avert a government shutdown, protecting our economy from yet another self-manufactured crisis… I’m hopeful the Senate will improve upon this bill and a final bipartisan compromise can be reached to ensure the government remains open at the end of the month.”

VISITOR INDUSTRY SPENDING is expected to total $15.8 billion in Hawai`i this year with a half million more tourists coming to the islands. The Hawai`i Tourism Authority adjusted its projection yesterday and pointed to the increased number of airline seats coming to Hawai`i. The Tourism Authority predicted that 8.5 million visitors will come to the Islands in 2013.

THE USE OF THE CHEMICAL ATRAZINE is the subject of a Civil Beat investigative story published yesterday. The Sophie Cocke article states that “For decades, Hawai`i sugarcane and pineapple farmers, and increasingly seed corn growers, have sprayed the weed killer atrazine on their fields. Atrazine is the second most used weed control chemical in the country, first registered with the federal government in 1958. Civil Beat reports that “When it rains, the popular herbicide is swept into rivers and streams, threatening plant and aquatic life. Atrazine has been shown to reduce reproduction in fish and amphibians, cause birth defects, and according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is toxic to algae and plant life.”
Atrazine is a popular herbicide in the U.S. and is found in streams and oceans.
Photo from agritrue.com
    According to Civil Beat, its “review of state records and interviews with local regulators shows Hawai`i’s rivers, streams and coastal waters are not being tested for the chemical even though the EPA established water safety levels a decade ago and last year required states to regulate pesticides under the Clean Water Act. The state doesn't track where the chemical is being sprayed and in what quantities,” Civil Beat reports.
      Cocke writes that “atrazine users are largely left to police themselves when it comes to complying with strict EPA guidelines that limit spraying and require setbacks from water resources.”
      She quotes Thomas Matsuda, manager of the pesticides program at the state Department of Agriculture, saying, “We don’t test.” Matsuda told Civil Beat: “Basically, the label is the law. So basically whoever is the applicator is supposed to comply with whatever the label states.”
     The Civil Beat story also quotes Matsuda saying he is concerned about pesticide levels in Hawai`i, but monitoring is difficult with only six inspectors statewide. He said state agriculture inspectors must initiate formal investigations to gain specific information on atrazine use. Civil Beat followed the paper trail of sales records of atrazine at the Department of Agriculture and reported they “indicate that some of the largest buyers of atrazine include Hawai`i seed corn companies, Monsanto and Mycogen, and some of the state’s biggest farming operations.” 
Scientist and ocean researcher Joy Shih says that atrazine
should be banned to protect groundwater and marine life
 in Hawai`i.  Photo from SOEST
      The Natural Resources Defense Council sued the Enviornmental Protection Agency in 2003, “arguing that lax regulations failed to protect endangered species from atrazine in waterways throughout the mainland. In recent years, the EPA has required testing of 40 waterways in agricultural areas in the Midwest and southern U.S. but not in Hawai`i. The tests revealed widespread atrazine contamination, according to a report by the NRDC. In one-third of the waterways, tests came back with atrazine levels five to 10 times higher than the EPA’s safety limit,” Civil Beat reported. “The European Union has prohibited the use of atrazine since 2003 out of concern that the herbicide can easily contaminate groundwater,” according to the Civil Beat story. 
      Atrazine “has shown up repeatedly in drinking water in Hawai`i — something that the state does monitor. Much of the contamination is in Hilo on the Big Island, according to data from the Hawai`i Department of Health. The levels are within the EPA's safe standards for drinking water, and state officials say they don't warrant concern,” reports Civil Beat.
      According to the Civil Beat story, researcher Joy Shih, a doctoral candidate at the University of Hawai`i’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, believes that atrazine should be banned. “I think of Hawai`i as one giant watershed,” she told Civil Beat. “There is no inland, from the tops of the mountains, everything flows into the ocean. So anything that you apply that is water soluble ends up in the ocean. Fish are definitely affected and coral is affected.”
      Shih told Civil Beat that studies link atrazine to coral bleaching and that the chemical harms the phytoplankton at the bottom of the aquatic food chain. Phytoplankton is “like grass in a prairie. It’s analogous to that,” Shih told Civil Beat. See more at www.civilbeat.com

KA `OHANA O HONU`APO hosts Tutu & Keiki, its first 2013 Sunday in the Park family event, this Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Whittington Beach Park. Co-hosts are Tutu & Me Traveling Preschool and Hawaiian Civic Club of Ka`u. The event features Hawaiian activities, games and prizes. For more information and to volunteer, call 929-9891.