Oahu, Hawaii – Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) reminds Vietnam-era veterans, once again, that an important due date is almost here for those who have medical diagnoses for three presumptive conditions related to exposure to Agent Orange.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says eligible veterans have until tomorrow, August 30, 2011 to file their disability claims order to qualify for up to one year of retroactive benefits.
Veterans can file for disability claims online at VA’s Agent Orange Fast Track Claims Processing System. Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam or in-land waterways between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 may use this website to apply for disability benefits for these conditions.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs refers to presumptive diseases as certain cancers and other health problems related to exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service.
The three new presumptive diseases are: Ischemic heart disease, hairy cell and other B-cell leukemia, and Parkinson’s disease.
Widows and widowers whose spouses have died from Agent Orange presumptive conditions may also qualify for retroactive benefits and are encouraged to file for dependent indemnity compensation by August 30.
US Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue Northwest
Washington D.C., DC 20420-0002
Hawaii Office of Veterans Services
Tripler Army Medical Center
459 Patterson Road
E-Wing, Room 1-A103
Honolulu, HI 96819-1522
MONTPELIER, Vt. >> Vermont towns battled floods of historic proportions, utility crews struggled to restore power to 5 million people along the East Coast, and big-city commuters coped with transit-system disruptions Monday as the rainy remnants of Hurricane Irene finally spun into Canada.
The storm killed at least two dozen people, forced the cancellation of about 9,000 flights, washed away roads and bridges and toppled trees and power lines.
It never became the big-city nightmare forecasters and public officials had warned about, but it caused severe flooding in New England, well inland from the coastal areas that bore the brunt of the storm’s winds.
In Vermont and upstate New York, normally placid streams turned into raging torrents tumbling with tree limbs, cars and parts of bridges.
Hundreds of Vermonters were told to leave their homes after Irene dumped several inches of rain on the landlocked state. Gov. Peter Shumlin called it the worst flooding in a century, and the state was declared a federal disaster area.
Communities were cut off, roads washed out, and at least a dozen bridges lost, including at least three historic covered bridges.
“We prepared for the worst and we got the worst in central and southern Vermont,” Shumlin said Monday. “We have extraordinary infrastructure damage.”
Video posted on Facebook showed a 141-year-old covered bridge in Rockingham, Vt., swept away by the roiling, muddy Williams River. In another video, an empty car somersaulted down a river in Bennington.
“It’s pretty fierce. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Michelle Guevin, who spoke from a Brattleboro restaurant after leaving her home in nearby Newfane.
Officials at one point thought they might have to flood the state capital, Montpelier, to relieve pressure on a dam. But by Monday morning that threat had eased.
President Barack Obama, speaking from the Rose Garden, pledged the federal government would be doing everything in its power to ensure people have what they need to get back on their feet, saying it will take time to recover from the storm.
Across the Northeast, commuters coped with slowly restarting transit systems as the workweek began.
In New York City, limited bus service began Sunday and subway service was partially restored at 6 a.m. Monday. Commuter rail service to Long Island and New Jersey was being partially restored, but trains from the city’s northern suburbs were suspended because of flooding and mudslides. New Jersey Transit rail service into the city was suspended as crews assessed storm damage and made necessary repairs.
Riders were warned to expect long lines and long waits, but early commuters reported empty subways and smooth rides.
Mentor Vargas, 54, said he made his 40-minute trip on a New York subway train without incident. “It seems people aren’t going to work today,” he said on his way to work at a repair company in Staten Island.
Likewise, Philadelphia’s transit system was mostly restarted Monday, though some train lines weren’t running because of downed trees and wire damage.
Utilities scrambled to restore power across the Eastern Seaboard with help from thousands of out-of-state repair crews, but it could be days before the lights are back on in some homes.
Irene smashed power poles, ripped transmission wires and flooded electrical stations over the weekend, blacking out more than 7.4 million homes and businesses from South Carolina to Maine. Nearly 5 million power customers remained in the dark.
The New York Stock Exchange was open for business as usual Monday.
Airports in New York and around the Northeast reopened to a backlog of hundreds of thousands of passengers whose flights were canceled over the weekend.
One private estimate put damage along the coast at $7 billion, far from any record for a natural disaster.
Irene had at one time been a major hurricane, with winds higher than 110 mph as it headed toward the U.S. It was a tropical storm with 65 mph winds by the time it hit New York. It had broken up and slowed to 50 mph by the time it reached Canada.
Chris Fogarty, director of the Canadian Hurricane Centre, warned of flooding and wind damage in eastern Canada and said the heaviest rainfall was expected in Quebec, where about 250,000 homes were without power.
At least 25 people died in the U.S., most of them when trees crashed through roofs or onto cars. One Vermont woman was swept away and feared drowned in the Deerfield River.
Communities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania along the Delaware River prepared for possible flooding but got a bit of good news Monday when the National Weather Service lowered the expected crest level of the river. In Pennsylvania, the Schuylkill River was steadily dropping.
In Pompton Lakes, N.J., a house exploded in an evacuated flood zone early Monday. No injuries were reported. Officials said natural gas service had not been turned off in the neighborhood.
In the South, authorities still were not sure how much damage had been done but expressed relief that it wasn’t worse.
“Thank God it weakened a little bit,” said Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who toured a hard-hit Richmond neighborhood where large, old-growth trees uprooted and crushed houses and automobiles.
It’s hardly viral — just a scant 47 views to its name as of early Sunday evening — but a YouTube video of Gov. Neil Abercrombie speaking with a small group of Kauai teachers on Saturday may offer a bit of hope that the governor and the Hawaii State Teachers Association could return to the negotiation table sometime soon.
The video — accessible at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1kxi_GKFcM — captures a 10-minute exchange between Abercrombie and about nine teachers, including HSTA Kauai Director Tom Perry, in an outside parking lot purportedly in Puhi, where Abercrombie was having lunch.
Early on in the mostly civil conversation, and again toward the end, Abercrombie indicates that he is ready and willing to meet with HSTA negotiators.
“I would do it this afternoon,” he says as the video opens.
But in an e-mailed response early this morning, HSTA President Wil Okabe said the governor is the one who walked away from talks and the union wants to go to arbitration.
The two sides have been engaged in a testy public exchange of allegations since Abercrombie imposed a “last, best and final offer” based on what he said were terms already agreed upon by both sides. HSTA filed a complaint with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board arguing that the state did not bargain in good faith and that it violated its members rights by imposing the contract.
In the YouTube video, Abercrombie and Perry rehash many of the already well-documented talking points on the impasse.
At one point, Perry reminds Abercrombie of the union’s early support of his gubernatorial campaign and quotes Abercrombie’s own exhortation that everybody paddle in the same canoe.
“What we feel is, right now, there were 10 days left in that canoe race and you jumped out of the canoe,” Perry says in the clip.”You are the only person in this state who can bring everybody back. What we’re asking from you is to find that steering paddle and get back in the canoe.”
Abercrombie responds by saying he’ll take the 4 p.m. plane back to Honolulu and invites HSTA leaders to meet with him that evening.
Okabe said the Kauai union members shared their video with HSTA leadership.
“You will hear the Governor say again and again that he has lost faith in HSTA’s negotiators,” Okabe said. “But, he hasn’t given a reason to have faith in him: he imposed his contract on us, hired an anti-union lawyer, interfered with the labor board, and refused a neutral arbitrator.
“But an arbitrator is exactly what’s needed when people lose faith in one another.”
In the video, Abercrombie also says, repeatedly, that he has been waiting for HSTA leaders to discuss their concerns with the contract and, if necessary, to make a counter-proposal.
“I asked, the superintendent asked, the chief negotiator, the board of education — what is it that is not acceptable to you?” Abercrombie says. “That was asked in mid-June and it is now almost the end of August and we never received word.”
The exchange effectively ends with Perry agreeing to go back to the union leadership to help arrange a time to meet with the governor. The media-savvy Abercrombie then uses the final minute or so to speak directly to the camera.
“I’m ready, my people are ready, our negotiators are ready (and) have been ready since mid-June,” he says. “As far as I can see, no HSTA negotiator has taken one single step physically or otherwise to sit down to do the actual negotiating you’re speaking of. I think this gentleman here (Perry) has the right idea. Go back to your people who are doing the negotiating and tell them the governor is ready and has been ready since mid-June. There’s a very simple way to test it:
“Pick a date, pick a time and show up.”
Reach Michael Tsai at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star Advertiser)
The National Weather Service issued a high surf advisory for south-facing shores of all islands through Tuesday morning.
A new south swell is expected to increase wave heights to 6 to 8 feet today, forecasters say.
A first swell arrived Sunday and a new, reinforcing swell is expected to push wave heights above the advisory level of 8 feet.
Surfers on the north shore should also see some waves of about 3 feet when a new northwest swell arrives today.
Surf is expected to decline starting Tuesday.
Hawaii is receiving $1.5 million in federal grants to support the protection of threatened and endangered species.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Wednesday the funds include $900,000 for a survey of how many Hawaiian hoary bats and Hawaiian petrels live at a site on Maui.
The state is getting more than $390,000 to buy more than 3,500 acres upslope of Makawao and Haiku on Maui. The land is at the center of the East Maui Watershed Partnership — a project managed by six major landowners. The area provides habitat for 13 rare or endangered birds.
The grant funds will also help the state expand the scope of a habitat conservation plan for Kauai sea-birds to include the Hawaiian hoary bat.
MANILA, Philippines — A slow-moving typhoon dumped heavy rains in northern and eastern Philippines, triggering landslides and floods that left at least 10 people dead, police and relief officials said Sunday.
The Office of Civil Defense said six more people were missing as Typhoon Nanmadol battered the northernmost province of Cagayan and nearby areas on Saturday.
Among the fatalities were five children ages 4 to 13 who were buried in landslides in the northern province of Pangasinan and the mountain resort city of Baguio, the office reported.
Police said three people drowned in the provinces of Zambales, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte while a miner was crushed by cascading mud and stones from a hill in Baguio. A man also died after he was hit by a fallen concrete wall in Manila’s suburban Quezon City.
Abigail Valte, a deputy presidential spokeswoman, said the government expressed sympathy to the victims of Nanmadol.
“Unfortunately, despite our desire for a zero casualty, there were still people who died due to the typhoon,” she said. “We sympathize with their families.”
Valte said the government would provide assistance to the victims of Nanmadol.
Nearly 50,000 people were displaced and almost 10,000 of them were staying in different evacuation centers.
The OCD said nine bridges and 28 roads remained impassable on Sunday due to floods, landslides and mudflows.
The weather bureau said Nanmadol, packing maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour and gusts of up to 95 kph, was spotted early Sunday 35 miles west off the island-province of Batanes.
The bureau said Nanmadol was moving north northwest at 6 mph and would remain within Philippine territory until Tuesday.
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