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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
Bernie made me white

How mainstream media tried and failed to whitewash Bernie Sanders’ Hawaii win

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Poems for Fiji after Cyclone Winston

"I dreamt last night / that brown bodies, again, / were under water."

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Craig Santos Perez
What really happened at the ʻAha, part III

Impediments to carrying out the people’s business continue throughout the final days of the convention.

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Ka'iulani Milham
Three major problems with the ʻAha constitution

Amid speculation about what will become of the Native Hawaiian Convention’s constitution, there are certain things that should be addressed. First, that the convention, composed by individuals who were not elected by anyone and whose placement came from a volunteer organization consisting of fewer than a half dozen officers and no membership, cannot claim to represent anyone but these unelected candidates themselves. Second, by limiting the membership of this ʻAha and the citizenry they identify in the constitution to “Native Hawaiians,” this document cannot accommodate either loyal Hawaiian Kingdom subjects nor Kanaka Maoli who are seeking decolonization and a UN approved exercise of our right to self-determination.

But the biggest problem with this constitution is its silence on the issue of “Ceded Lands.” Instead it refers to something called “National Lands” which, lacking clarification must be assumed to be whatever lands are conveyed to it, presumably by the U.S. government or the State of Hawaiʻi. Unlike Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi, which in 1987 laid claim to the “Ceded Lands” as our national lands, this document does nothing nearly so bold. This constitution says that, in terms of land, the Hawaiian government will take, not what it deserves and not what it is still entitled to; rather, it will take what it can get.

This is not the kind of call to nationhood that inspires pride and commitment. Indeed, it is careful to reserve its citizen’s right to continue to consider themselves Americans and makes it unlawful to legislate anything that would diminish the benefits they enjoy as Americans.

Even Kanaka Maoli who might not support independence should not enlist in a government that shrinks from offering what even the poorest governments in the world offer their people—a defined land base and a distinct identity for its citizens.

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Jon Osorio