News Headlines


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lava Threatens to Destroy Pahoa Town

The eruption of Pu'u O'o volcano on the southeastern flank of 4,000 ft. high Kilauea, is on the verge of sending a destructive lava flow into the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii. A 4-month long vigil has been in place since the the latest lava flow started from a vent eruption near Pu'u O'o on June 27.

The lava flow has taken 4 months to travel the approximate 13 mile long path downslope in the northeastern direction. It is already on the outskirts of Pahoa town and threatens to overrun it this week.

Officials on the Big Island of Hawaii have been busy coordinating the evacuation of Pahoa residents and businesses as the lava gets close to town. Schools in the area have closed and will be consolidated in different locations to the north and south of the community dividing lava flow.

The lava flow is heading toward the ocean which is 6 miles downslope from Pahoa with many more homes and subdivisions in its path. Doesn't look very good for the community as long as this eruption continues in the current phase.

I haven't been to this area of the Big Island since 1978. It has changed a lot. The population has grown. It will be sad to see some or much of this destroyed.

Top photo: Pu'u O'o volcano in the foreground with a smoke plume billowing out of the main Halemaumau crater at the summit of Kilauea on the background. Framing the top of the photo lies Mauna Loa volcano which dominates much of the Big Island at 13,680 feet. Courtesy of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, USGS.

Lava Flow in Pahoa

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory photos of the current lava flow that is making its way downslope to Pahoa. While the lava is fascinating sight to behold, its destruction is final and absolute. The entire town of Pahoa is at risk this week as the lava continues its movement down the mountain from its source at Pu'u O'o. We'll be revisiting this lava flow from time to time in the coming weeks. USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory photos link.
hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php Pu'u O'o Volcano

The source of beauty, awe, destruction, pain and more, thjis is Pu'u O'o volcano on the infamous eastern flank of Kilauea mountain. At its summit Kilauea rises more than 4,000 feet above sea level and makes up about 13.7% of the Big Island's land area. The Pu'u O'o crater and its related vents have been continuously erupting since 1983. Thousands of yards of lava has flowed out of this volcano and overrun much of the southeastern flank of Kilauea, destroying more than 200 homes in Kalapana. This year a new lava flow that started on June 27 has made its way down the northeastern flank of Pu'u O'o and now threatens to wipe out the town of Pahoa and subdivisions beyond it. Photos from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) - United States Government.


Kilauea Volcano Eruption Status

Eruption Photos from the HVO:

Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C4%ABlauea

Lava Flow enters Pahoa. Video by County of Hawaii. Posted by Earthspace 101.

The view of Pahoa Village Road in front of the Pahoa Post Office on the morning of Tuesday, October, 28, 2014. As lava enters the residential area to the west utility crews prepare power, cable and telephone lines and create steel and cinder barriers around the extended 70' poles where lava is expected to cross in the next 24-48 hours. Media conduct interviews with residents and Hawaii News Now is shown doing their live remote. (Hawaii Hqrbors Network)

ABC News Report on October 27. Lava flow to Pahoa.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Recommendations for the 2014 Election

With the November 4 election a little over a week away, here are my prognostications and recommendations (if any of this counts) for candidates that "could" help our precarious state called Hawaii.

Governor's Race: So we basically have a three way race here. Mufi, David and Duke (sorry Jeff). All three are experienced politicians. In one way or another they have over time to screwed us in the wallet by their actions, inaction or simply association.

Case in point: The Rail Tax. In 2005 the Hawaii State Legislature voted to increase the general excise tax (HB1309) to support the building of a mass transit system on Oahu. Mufi who was the mayor of Honolulu at the time was asking for a 1% increase to the tax. He got a half-percent which we are painfully paying today for the tax train to nowhere. State Senator David Ige was one of many legislators who voted for the tax.

Mr. Aiona was Lt. Governor for Linda Lingle who at that time was Governor. Ms. Lingle decided to let the tax bill become law without her signature (HB1309). I don't recall Mr. Aiona saying or doing anything to tell his then boss to veto this bad tax bill. So he is guilty by association.

Today we have to choose between the 3 top candidates (sorry again Jeff). Mufi I don't like because he loves rail too much. David had his chance to stop the tax. He didn't. Ironically current Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui who is also David's running mate, was the only Democrat in the State Senate to vote against the GE tax increase for rail in 2005. Who knows? Someday he may run for Governor.

That leaves me with Duke who is guilty of this tax atrocity only through his association with the Lingle administration. Other groups and individuals don't like him on other issues such as abortion and teacher furloughs.

I don't like abortion and I am pro-life.  Plus I did not hear Duke say anything about taking away more lanes for bicycles on King Street and increasing the cost of parking to $500 in Downtown Honolulu that David wants to do. So my rather lukewarm recommendation and vote will go to Duke. Hopefully if he becomes Governor he may be able to reverse the wrongs that both the Lingle and current administration have already done to us.

U.S. Congress: Charles vs. K. Mark: Clearly my choice is Charles. Don't be stupid Hawaii. The GOP will likely hold on to the U.S. House of Representatives this fall and the state will benefit to at least have one of our two Congresspersons be in the majority party there. So yes, Charles has my vote.

Second district residents should vote for Kawika Crowley. He is a long-shot facing one of the darlings of the Democrat Party, incumbent Tulsi Gabbard.

In the U.S. Senate race it is almost a given that incumbent Senator Brian Schatz will win this one after beating his primary election foe U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa in August. His Republican opponent is Cam Cavasso.

Local Races

Julia Allen's Campaign Fundraiser

I've been helping the Julia Allen campaign this season. She deserves a vote if you live in Honolulu's 20th House District (Palolo, St. Louis Heights and other nearby hilly neighborhoods). She definitely lives in the district unlike Mr. Say who only maintains a facade that is not his true home, is not a wacko like Bonk, and has pledged to not raise your taxes. That is good. Vote for Julia.

I don't have much to say about the rest of the local races. I urge a vote for more fiscal conservatives, candidates who will not increase your taxes. We already pay enough taxes. There is no room for more. Our wallets hurt.

Constitutional Questions: There are 5 constitutional amendment questions on the ballot this year. Without elaborating on any of them, the only thing I can say is that a NO VOTE should be cast on Question #4 regarding taxpayer funding of private pre-schools. Go to this link for details on all 5 State Constitution questions.

Conclusion: Since Hawaii votes overwhelmingly Democrat at every election, I don't see much hope for that changing. Most if not all of the seats at all levels of Hawaii government will be won by candidates with a D next to their name. We'll see how it goes after November 4.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Kona's Margaret Masunaga Will Become a District Court Judge

State Senate Special Session

The Hawaii State Senate was called into special session this week to take care of the "advice and consent" duties in the process of voting on three judicial nominees to the Hawaii State Circuit Court and the State District Court. Above District Court nominee Margaret Masunaga testifies before the State Senate Judicary and Labor Committee on Monday, October 20. I've met nominee Masunaga and talked to her for a few minutes. She is well liked by her associates on the Big Island. Her personality is very pleasant. I think she will be a good judge for the District Court in Kona.

Margaret Masunaga is currently with the Corporation Counsel for the County of Hawaii. She has served as a government attorney since 1992, previously at the Department of the Attorney General and the Planning Department. Ms. Masunaga was also an attorney in the private sector for Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel.

She will be confirmed by the full State Senate in special session today.

State Senate Special Session

Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi testifies in favor of nominee Margaret Masunaga.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Photographing the Blood Red Moon

6 Phases of Today's Lunar Eclipse

Hawaii sky viewers were blessed with good weather early Wednesday morning as the moon went into eclipse for the second time this year. It was a cosmic show as the Earth's shadow slowly nibbled away on the night's full moon as the giant white disc slipped into darkness. At its apex was totality, an erie state of being where the Earth's shadow almost completely blots out the sunlight. While not exactly dark, the fully eclipsed moon turned a blood red / rustic orange color for all the world to see. And so there it was, the perfect cosmic photo op that had thousands of shutter-bugs snapping away in the early morning darkness. It was a sight to behold!

Today's Total Lunar Eclipse

Wide shot of the fully eclipsed moon high above my building.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Kickstarter Campaign Brings Digital Projector to Honokaa People's Theatre

Honokaa Peoples' Theater

Honokaa People's Theatre has beaten the odds and got its funding through a Kickstarter campaign to purchase a new digital projection system in order to keep showing films well into the future.

The theatre was forced to purchase a $60,000 digital projection system in order to continue showing films beyond the end of this year. The movie industry is abandoning the practice of sending films out on 35mm prints and moving on to a digital delivery system. All of the big, mainstream theatre chains have converted to digital projection.

Small operators and second run movie houses have been caught in an expensive dilemma of either biting the digital bullet and upgrading, or going dark because of cost and the fact that movies will not be delivered on film anymore. Film projectors will become as obsolete as victrola phonographs, 8-track tape players and VCRs.

Because the cost of obtaining a digital projector was so great, Honokaa People's Theatre turned to the community in order to seek funding. The Kickstarter campaign was launched early this summer with the goal of bringing in $40,000 to fund a major part of the system. At the campaign's end on September 27, the theatre covered its goal and then some by bringing in $43,995.

The theatre held an earlier campaign in which it raised $10,000. The film Honokaa Boy is being used as a fundraising vehicle where it has been shown numerous times in the theatre. The Japanese made film was shot in Honokaa in 2008 where the theatre itself was one of the central locations in the story about a young man's relationship with an older woman.

To say the least the operators of the theatre are happy as expressed in their latest Kickstarter email: "Big mahalos friends!  From the bottom of our hearts, we love you all and we're so glad to be here! Wooo hooo we made it!"

Honokaa People's Theatre has been in business since 1930 operated for most of its existence by the Tanimoto family who owned other theaters on the Big Island of Hawaii. The theatre changed hands in the late 1980s when Dr. Tawn Keeney bought it and upgraded the facility over several years.

Today People's Theatre not only shows movies, but is a showcase for many live music and dance events as well as classes for the people in the Hamakua - Honokaa community.

While a digital future is assured in Honokaa, Hilo's discount movie theatre in the old Kress building closed on September 26 because its operators Regal Entertainment Group could not justify the cost of upgrading their equipment to digital. The theatre space has been leased to a church.

The author spent his childhood and teen years in Honokaa and attended many movies at People's Theatre from the 1960s through the late 1970s. He is one of the donors to the Kickstarter campaign. Written and photographed by Melvin Ah Ching. Photos (top): Honokaa People's Theatre familiar facade. Below: The interior of the theatre looks much like it always has except that some of the front row seats were removed to make room for a larger stage area.

Honokaa People's Theater