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An open letter to the brave members of the Kamehameha Schools class of 2016

The decision by certain graduating Kamehameha seniors to remain seated during the "Star-Spangled Banner" should be celebrated as an act of independent thought deserving of praise, not condemnation.

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Noelani Goodyear-Kaopua
McCarthy’s ghost

Civil rights boycotts are a form of protected First Amendment expression because they are, too often, the last peaceful means available to an oppressed people and their supporters in calling for justice.

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Will Caron
A kiaʻi kai movement

Ocean guardianship, cultural seascape protection and the expansion of Papahānaumokuākea

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Kekuewa Kikiloi
LNG protest to take place outside Hawaii Gas HQ

Hawaiʻi residents to call on Hawaii Gas to drop Liquified Natural Gas as part of a global movement to "break free" from fossil fuels

Local residents plan to protest outside the Hawaii Gas headquarters (745 Fort Street Mall) on Friday May 13 in the hopes that the company will drop its latest proposal to import more fossil fuel gas to Hawaiʻi. The protest comes as people around the world are scheduled to participate in demonstrations against some of the world’s most dangerous and unnecessary fossil fuels projects.

“Importing more fossil fuel is not the way to achieve Hawaiʻi’s 100 percent renewable energy goals,” said David Mulinix of Idle No More Hawaiʻi. “We should be focusing on the installation of solar panels and batteries, not new schemes to further our dependence on imported fossil fuel.”

Hawaii Gas was recently granted approval by the Public Utilities Commission to import Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) to Hawaiʻi. The project will require investment in new infrastructure and create new demand for fossil fuels in the islands.

“It feels like Hawaii Gas is looking out for their own corporate profits and not the best interests of Hawaiʻi’s people when they talk about importing LNG to our islands,” said Marti Townsend, Director for the Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi.

LNG is touted by the industry as a cleaner, cheaper fuel, but the methane that is released when it is mined and that must be regularly vented while it is stored contributes as much or more to global climate change as carbon pollution from coal or oil.

“The truth is LNG is still a dirty fossil fuel that makes no economic sense for Hawaiʻi. If anything, LNG is nothing but a “broken bridge” that climate experts assert actually accelerates climate warming,” said Henry Curtis of Life of the Land.

“LNG, which is essentially methane, is 30 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas” explained Mulinix.

On April 6, 2016 the Public Utilities Commission approved Hawaii Gas’ application to bring in containers of LNG from the mainland for up to 30 percent of their supply needs. This is a first step in Hawaii Gas’ broader plans to further expand the use of LNG in Hawaiʻi, which entails spending $200 million for infrastructure. This includes off-shore docking facilities and a pipeline system to bring the fuel onshore.

“All this expense and effort for something that’s supposed to be temporary makes no sense,” added Mulinix, “Considering the State of Hawaiʻi’s goal is to attain 100 percent renewable electric generation by 2045, we should be focusing on improving our options for that.”

Hawaiʻi Governor David Ige signed a bill into law last year committing the state to using only renewable sources of energy by 2045. As part of that policy, the Governor denounced LNG as distraction from achieving our longer term goals.

“The science is clear,” said Sherry Pollack of 350.org Hawai’i. “If we are to keep below the tipping point for climate chaos and protect our ‘life support system’ i.e. the planet, scientists have confirmed we must take bold action now to stop burning fossil fuels. The reality is that the proposed LNG plans by Hawaii Gas will exacerbate the climate crisis by supporting the burning of fossil fuels for decades, and overlooks the price Hawaiʻi is already paying for past reliance on fossil fuels. Look at our loss of coastline, coral reefs and trades winds, not to mention the destruction caused to communities where fracking occurs. This is unacceptable. We refuse to stand idly by and let short-sighted companies wreak havoc on our planet and our children’s future. That is why we say no to LNG.”

Friday’s protest will be one of many global “Break Free from Fossil Fuels” actions happening this weekend. Thousands of people around the world are joining actions which aim to divest from fossil fuels and speed up the just transition to 100 percent renewable energy. These peaceful worldwide mobilizations are intended to serve as an important turning point in the trajectory to increase pressure on the fossil fuel industry.

The local Hawaiʻi action is co-sponsored by: 350 Hawaii.org, DeOccupy Honolulu, Hawaiʻi Interfaith Power and Light, Idle No More Hawaiʻi, Life of the Land, Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi, Surfrider Foundation Oʻahu Chapter, Transition Oʻahu, Windward Ahupuaʻa Alliance.

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What really happened at the ʻAha, part V

The purpose of the ʻAha is fulfilled and a federal recognition-friendly constitution is adopted, but the call for true self-determination still grows louder.

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Ka'iulani Milham
Student Deaths at the University of Hawai’i: Part III

It's been over two weeks since a freshman at UHM died on campus after falling from one of the dorms, and administration has communicated nothing to the larger community about the event or resources students and faculty can access if they are troubled by it. Students and faculty should not find out via gossip and surmise.

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Susan Schultz
New Publication: Rights of Hawaiiʻs Homeless

The ACLU of Hawai‘i Foundation (ACLU) today announced the publication of a “know your rights” guide for houseless individuals impacted by City & County of Honolulu sweeps to enforce the Stored Property Ordinance and the Sidewalk Nuisance Ordinance.

The ACLU guide details the rights most often affected during a sweep, including the right to retrieve property prior to a sweep, what items must be stored by the City, and how to reclaim property taken by the City. A printed version and several language translations are also planned. The guide also includes information about local shelters, community resources, and the voting rights of the houseless in Hawai‘i.

“Many of the rights outlined in the guide resulted from the U.S. District Court’s order in the Martin v. City and County of Honolulu lawsuit, brought by the ACLU and the law firm of Alston Hunt Floyd and Ing, in response to City sweeps,” the organization said in a press release.

The guide is the latest in a collection of Hawai‘i-specific “Know Your Rights” materials that the local ACLU has created, including a “First Amendment Toolkit” and a “Youth Rights Guide.”  These resources are available at acluhawaii.org.

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Tupola hosts informational meeting on Maili area soil contamination

State Representative Andria Tupola will host an informational briefing regarding contamination in Maʻili with guest presenters from the Department of Health and the U.S. Coast Guard on April 9, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

In October 2015, news stations shared details regarding the chemical pollution in a portion of the 93 acre lot partly owned by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) and the U.S. Coast Guard. The meeting will take place at the Kamehameha Schools Learning center which is on the southwest corner of the 93 acre lot. From 1953 to 1970, a portion of the 93 acre lot had electrical transformers on a concrete slab which left toxic chemicals (PCB’s) found in dangerous quantities contaminating the soil of the surrounding area. The alarming levels of these chemicals pose a risk to residents.

The Coast Guard has received the funding necessary to clean the contaminated area and the Department of Health is working together with the Coast Guard to organize an appropriate clean up effort. Both agencies will be sharing with the community their action steps, their timeline, and will be answering questions. A representative from DHHL will be present in the event that community members have questions regarding the DHHL portion of the aforementioned parcel.

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Pohakuloa fire not a threat to community, PTA officials say

A range fire that began March 24 within the Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) on Hawaii island during a combined armed live-fire exercise is contained but still smoldering near Range 3 in the PTA impact area, where officials say it is running out of fuel.

The area where the fire is located is surrounded by lava and a road network, serving as a barrier to stop the fire from spreading. The closest vegetation is more than a mile away.

Several community members have raised concerns regarding the fire and depleted uranium (DU) left over from the military’s live fire training exercises at PTA. According to PTA officials, DU only aerosolizes at temperatures much higher than those produced by brush or range fires. Additionally, the fire is located approximately two miles from the nearest DU location, and this area is separated from the fire area by a lava field devoid of combustible fuels and vegetation. It is extremely unlikely that the fire will reach the DU area.

According to officials, past air samples taken during prescribed range burns have not detected DU.

“We appreciate the community’s interest, and we want to assure the community—especially those of us who live and work in the immediate area—that we take everyone’s safety seriously,” said Lt. Col. Jake Peterson, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Pohakuloa. “If people do have questions about DU, we encourage them to check out our website and get the facts.”

The Army’s local DU webpage is available at www.garrison.hawaii.army.mil/du/. The site lists frequently asked questions, health and investigative reports, and other DU resources.

The range fire began March 24 at approximately 11:30 a.m. To date, the fire has burned approximately 200 acres and has not expanded.

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Will Caron
What really happened at the ʻAha, part IV

The international committee struggles to have its alternative documents to the federal-recognition constitution put before the participants for consideration.

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Ka'iulani Milham