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An open letter to Rep. Hanabusa RE: Israel Anti-Boycott Act

Cynthia Franklin is a Jewish-American scholar and co-founder of the Hawaiʻi Coalition for Justice in Palestine.

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Cynthia Franklin
Israel lobby’s targeting of BDS would have a chilling effect on political dissent

Far from being about protecting Jewish people from discrimination, proposed legislation that would outlaw the boycott of Israeli-made products and practices over political beliefs is, in fact, a danger to First Amendment rights.

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Will Caron
In the wake of Marco Polo fire, Caldwell introduces sprinkler bill

Mayor Caldwell introduces bill to require retrofitted sprinkler systems in residential high-rises for fire safety

Mayor Kirk Caldwell introduced a bill to the city council yesterday afternoon requiring that retrofitted sprinkler systems be installed in all high-rise residential buildings over 75 feet tall built before sprinkler systems were required in 1975. On July 14, a blaze destroyed multiple apartment units within the 36 story Marco Polo building on Kapiolani Boulevard. Three people lost their lives.

“Sprinklers save lives, and our keiki and kupuna need them most,” said Mayor Caldwell. “We know the Marco Polo fire would likely not have spread if the building had sprinklers. We also know that many O‘ahu families struggle to pay for affordable housing, and we are working with the City Council to find ways to help homeowners pay for this lifesaving upgrade.”

The bill was introduced today with the supprt of Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves. Details such as the timeline, assistance programs for homeowners, and penalties for non-compliance will be added during City Council deliberations.

In 1975, the City and County of Honolulu surpassed national standards of the time by enacting a law requiring sprinkler systems in all newly constructed high-rise buildings, but not to existing buildings. In 1983, Honolulu required all existing hotel high-rise buildings retrofit an automatic fire sprinkler system. In 2001, the requirement was extended to all existing commercial high-rise buildings. The requirement had not been extended to existing high-rise residential buildings.

Legislative efforts to force pre-1975 era buildings to meet the code have been defeated multiple times through lobbying by building associations and others who say the retrofits would be too costly.

Honolulu’s Building Code currently requires all newly constructed multi-family apartment buildings be equipped with an automatic fire sprinkler system, even if they are not a high-rise building. But Civil Beat reports that, just hours before the fire erupted, the Building Industry Association (BIA) of Hawaii had sent out an invitation for a celebratory pau hana to mark a new law passed this year (Act 053) that continues to prohibit counties from requiring single-family and duplex homes to have sprinklers. The BIA has since canceled the event.

Caldwell’s bill will not impact Act 053, as that law deals only with single-family and duplex homes, not high rise apartments. According to a survey conducted by the Honolulu Fire Department, there are approximately 300 high-rise apartment buildings on O‘ahu which currently do not have a fire sprinkler system.

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Special session will be called to fund Rail

Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi (Kauai, Niihau) and House Speaker Scott K. Saiki (McCully, Kakaako, Kaheka, Downtown) sent a joint letter to the Executive Director of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) advising the FTA of the Legislature’s commitment to convene a special session in July or August.

Although no specific dates have been set for the special session and no rail funding mechanism has been agreed upon, Speaker Saiki and President Kouchi said that, “after working with members of our federal delegation, it was deemed necessary and prudent to assure the FTA that the Legislature recognizes and understands the requirements under the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) between the City and County of Honolulu and the FTA.”

Link to letter

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Video: Nainoa Thompson urges Hawaii to become a leader on sustainability, stewardship

The Polynesian Voyaging Society president and mālama Honua advocate speaks of the challenges ahead and the hope he has witnessed in people around the world during Hōkūleʻa's worldwide voyage.

On June 6, 2017, Hawaiʻi Governor David Ige signed two important climate change preparedness bills into law, advancing our commitment to a sustainable future in which the planet we call home is cared for, rather than exploited. During the ceremony, Nainoa Thompson offered powerful remarks about the future of the planet and the great challenges still ahead; but also of the hope he witnessed and experienced in his interactions with people around the world. The Worldwide Voyage was inspired by Thompson’s friend and mentor, astronaut Charles Lacy Veach, who believed that the ultimate test we will face in this century will be one of returning to an ecological balance in which humans live sustainably on this blue island we call Earth.

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Will Caron
Rather than keep us safe, U.S. militarism puts Hawaiʻi in the crosshairs

The very security forces stationed here, ostensibly, to protect Hawaiʻi from potential aggression across the dateline are, in fact, the reason we are still a target for nuclear strike.

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State House adopts resolution urging the teaching of Hawaiian language in private schools

House Resolution (HR) 16 urges Hawaiʻi’s private schools to offer or continue to offer Hawaiian language instruction as an option or elective in their academic curriculum. The language in HR16 explains the importance, advantages and logic of learning ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, and copies were sent to all private schools in Hawaiʻi, most of which fail to offer Hawaiian language instruction or curriculum despite many free resources and learning aids readily available.

The seed for encouraging private schools to teach Hawaiian was planted by Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi Political Action Committee (KPAC) member Rebekah Luke who bemoaned the fact that the private school her grandchildren attended did not teach ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi. In conjunction with the discussion over this obvious gap in cultural education in the Hawaiian archipelago, KPAC decided that its focus for the 2017 state legislative session would be education.

KPAC helped to draft a resolution and, with the help of community advocate Kiana Marshall, persuaded both Sen. Maile Shimabukuro of the Senate Hawaiian Affairs Committee, and Rep. Takashi Ono of the House Education Committee to introduce companion versions (SCR49, SR13 and HCR37, HR16 respectively).

“HR16 had the support of the Hawai’i Association of Independent Schools who provided testimony in support of the measure, along with hundreds of community members. Although, the Senate Hawaiian Affairs committee refused to pass the Senate companion measure, KPAC appreciates Sen. Maile Shimabukuro efforts for introducing the resolution and scheduling a hearing. Thankfully, the companion resolution (HR16) passed the House Joint Committee on Education and Higher Education and the House floor unanimously,” according to a statement released by the organization.

“It seems that a critical mass has been reached among the people of Hawaiʻi that Hawaiian is a good thing,” said Luke in response to the resolution’s adoption. “KPAC is thankful and amazed that a cry for Hawaiian language survived.”

“HR16 is a first step in raising the status of the native language of the Hawaiian archipelago, in providing job opportunities for a growing number graduates with college degrees in Hawaiian and, most importantly, will raise the overall well-being of the Kanaka Maoli people,” said KPAC member Emma Oto-pale.

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