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.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Ka`u News Briefs Thursday, March 23, 2017

A 4.4 earthquake struck in the Hilina Pali area of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park on Thursday.
Photo from HVNP
A MAGNITUDE 4.4 EARTHQUAKE struck the Hilina Pali area at 10:27 a.m. on Thursday beneath the south flank of Kīlauea Volcano in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported that the non-damaging temblor was widely felt across the island. It was located about 3 miles WSW of Kaena Point and 12 miles south of Volcano, at a depth of 3.4 miles. A map showing the location is posted on HVO's website at http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/seismic/volcweb/earthquakes/. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported no tsunami threat. There was one minor (M2.6) foreshock and several minor aftershocks following the earthquake.

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Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said that money spent on prosecuting and
incarcerating citizens for marijuana crimes uses funding needed to improve
prisons and conduct rehabilitation programs.
Photo from Tulsi Gabbard
ENDING FEDERAL MARIJUANA PROHIBITION ACT (HR1227) is the latest bill introduced to Congress by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. The measure would take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list. Gabbard co-sponsored the bill this week with Republican Congressman Tom Garrett, of Virginia. Garrett is a former prosecutor. Like Gabbard, he is an Army veteran.
     Gabbard pointed to contradiction between federal and state laws. She noted that Hawai`i recently legalized dispensaries to grow, process and dispense medical marijuana, but federal law prohibits banks and credit unions from offering any type of financial services to businesses and individuals whose financial transactions have anything to do with marijuana. She said that recently formed Hawai`i state-licensed medical marijuana businesses and their employees can't open a bank account and have to hold thousands, if not millions, of dollars to conduct business.
Federal law prohibits financial institutions form handling loans, accounts
or any transactions with owners of marijuana businesses, even if
allowed by the state of Hawai`i. Photo from Wikipedia
   In Ka`u, holders of licenses for growing marijuana under the new state law have been arriving to look at possible locations and talking to landowners about leasing and buying property for their new agricultural ventures.
     Gabbard noted that Hawai`i is one of 28 states allowing medical use of marijuana and called for removing it from Schedule 1 under the United States Controlled Substances Act. The Act defines illegal drugs, such as heroin, based on their high potential for abuse, a lack of accepted medical use, and lack of safety, even under medical supervision. The removal of marijuana from the Schedule 1 list would be based on state-accepted medical use, said Gabbard, who also contended that marijuana "has been proven time and time again to be far less dangerous than alcohol, both for individual consumers and the people around them."
     Gabbard said that FBI reports show that in 2011 alone, an individual in the United States was arrested for marijuana use, sale or possession every 42 seconds, mostly in poor and minority communities. “Our current laws are turning everyday Americans into criminals, sending them to jail, ruining their lives, tearing apart families, and wasting huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate people for marijuana use.
     "Over the years, we've spent hundreds of billions of dollars locking people up for nonviolent marijuana offenses, creating strain within our criminal justice system, clogging court calendars and resulting in further overcrowding our prisons," said Gabbard. She recently visited Hawai`i prisons and saw "crumbling infrastructure, extreme overcrowding and facilities in dire need of upgrade." She pointed to "the shortage of services that are actually needed to help rehabilitate people and reduce our recidivism rate."
The vast agricultural lands of Ka`u have drawn the attention of some
prospective marijuana growers  recently licensed by the state.
Photo by Julia Neal
     Gabbard said, "Whether you personally think that marijuana use is good or bad, whether you would choose to use marijuana or not, the question is, 'Should we really be sending people to jail and turning them into criminals for it?' The answer is no. The fiscal impact, the social impact of our current policy are having devastating ripple effects on individuals and our communities and are only continuing to perpetuate the problem."
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OLDER CITIZENS OPPOSE AGE TAX IN ANY NEW HEALTH CARE BILL, according to the AARP with its 38 million members across the nation and many hundreds in Ka`u. One proposal in the American Health Care Act now before Congress would allow insurers to charge Americans 50 to 65 years of age five times more than younger people. Current law limits insurers to upping premiums for older Americans to three times the cost charged to younger people.
     AARP hired both Republican and Democrat polling firms that found that "the vast majority of older Americans, including those who voted for President Donald Trump, are opposed to the 'age tax.'" The poll also found that the majority, including Trump supporters, believe Congress should keep Medicaid funding where it is now and let Medicare negotiate prescription drug prices, rather than provide vouchers.
    The state director for AARP in Hawai`i said, “Congress should not rush this bill through. Health care and ensuring access to health care is too important. AARP is strongly against the age tax and other aspects of the bill that will give tax breaks to drug companies and increases profits for insurance companies while cutting tax credits and dramatically increasing costs and risks for older Americans.”
     AARP national Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond said, “Older Americans want affordable health care, including less-expensive prescription drugs and continued protections for the most vulnerable. When Americans over age 50 look at the details of the House health care reform plan, they don’t like what they see. They don’t want big insurance and drug companies to reap massive profits at their expense.”
    The legislation that was scheduled for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday, but delayed in the House of Representatives, drew outright opposition from AARP, which stated, "AARP has urged all members of Congress to vote 'no' to the proposed bill, and has vowed to make it an 'accountability' vote —meaning the association will let its nearly 38 million members know how their representatives voted."

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THE FUTURE OF THE FINANCES OF KA`U HOSPITAL and many other rural medical facilities throughout the country are in question as Congress works on the American Health Care Act, designed to replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Health insurance and health care are in play.
    With voting in Congress planned, then delayed, the American Medical Association, comprised of physicians across the country, posted an Action Alert on its website, prompting patients and doctors to "Urge Congress to protect patients currently insured, enable low and moderate income people to secure adequate coverage and maintain Medicaid and other safety net programs."
Ka`u Hospital is one of many rural hospitals whose finances could be
impacted by new health care legislation. Photo by Julia Neal

     In January, the AMA wrote to Congress and President Donald Trump's administration asking them "to lay out for the American people, in reasonable detail, what will replace current policies. Patients and other stakeholders should be able to clearly compare current policy to new proposals so they can make informed decisions about whether it represents a step forward in the ongoing process of health reform."
     The AMA offered to work with government "to continue the process of improving our health care system and ensuring that all Americans have access to high quality, affordable health care coverage." 

     An opinion piece by Howard Bauchner, MD, Editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, is entitled  Health Care in the United States A Right or a Privilege?" Until this question is debated and answered, predicts the author, "it may not be possible to reach consensus on the ultimate goal of further health care reform. Without agreeing to the goal, measuring success will be nearly impossible."
    The American Dental Association also sent out an alert to urge Congress to maintain Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment for children through Medicaid; allow states to continue to provide adult dental benefits in Medicaid; and increase transparency in dental insurance plans.
   The American Hospital Association, American Nurses Association and many other health care organizations are asking citizens to give their opinions to Congress and for Congress to take its time with new legislation for the health care system.

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Joyce Suenobu
THE KA`U HOSPITAL CHARITABLE FOUNDATION has shared a letter from the late Kazu Suenobu, written when he made a donation to Ka`u Hospital's Garden Lanai project to provide outdoor space and activity for long-term care residents. Wrote Suenobu, “This proposed raised bed garden area with roses and other flowers will be a wonderful addition to the Ka`u Hospital. A rose plant is like a pretty woman. To keep her happy she needs lots of loving care and attention."
     Suenobu, a lifelong gardener, also shared his method of caring for roses: "To make a rose bush thrive you need to: Plant it in a fertile ground with good drainage. (Roses don’t like wet feet). Don’t tell the 'Chinese rose beetles.' To control [them], dust with pyrethrum, a plant derivative that is non-toxic to animals. Shelter from the strong Ka`u wind. Plant in a sunny area. Water generously when needed. Enjoy!" He noted that his wife Joyce’s favorite rose is a long-stemmed fragrant red rose."
     Donations can be made for the project and to the foundation. See https://www.kauhospital.org/kau-hospital-charitable-foundation.html

Exploring Tunnel Books, Sat, Mar 25, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., Volcano Art Center. Participants take a trip down the rabbit hole with Charlene Asato. $35/$32 VAC members plus $10 material fee. 967-8222

Ecstatic Dance, Sat, Mar 25, 2 – 4 p.m., Volcano Art Center. Participants discover a dynamic way to work out and meditate with Jo Caron. $15 or $20 at the door. 967-8222

Mongolian BBQ, Sat, Mar 25, 5 – 8 p.m., in the Crater Rim Café, located in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Pick what you want for $.85 per ounce from an array of veggies and proteins. Call 967-8356 for more details. KMC is open to all authorized KMC patrons and sponsored guests. Park entrance fees apply.