April 26, 2012, Maui, HI — On April 27, Maui’s Cynthia Matzke will depart for Honolulu to join a paying crew of scientists, educators, environmental activists and filmmakers on a research expedition to study the “Western Pacific Garbage Patch.” Travelling from Majuro, Kwajalein Atoll, in the Marshall Islands to Tokyo, the team will study both ocean plastic pollution and the impacts of the March 2011 Japan tsunami disaster.
Cynthia has been long recognized on Maui as a dedicated environmentalist and considered to be a valuable asset to the expedition. She has worked for Trilogy Excursions for over 14 years and leads their monthly Blue’aina Campaign, which works to collect marine debris and raise money for local non-profits. Trilogy has been her major sponsor, and makes her representation for Maui on this expedition possible. In addition to vital crew duties on board, she will document findings and collect footage for a documentary. She thrives on bringing people together on issues that affect the islands and finding community-based solutions, which can then spread outward.
This expedition has been organized by Algalita and 5 Gyres, in collaboration with Pangaea Explorations, offering the public an opportunity to work side by side with scientists, participating in an up-close and personal experience with plastic pollution in part of the largest body of water in the world, the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (aka the “Great North Pacific Garbage Patch.”) Through this investigative research, it is hoped the knowledge they gain by studying the distribution and movement of the material set adrift by the tsunami will be invaluable to scientists, government agencies and educators across the globe.
The expedition has been endorsed by leading ocean advocates such as, Earth Echo (Philippe Cousteau); International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa (Prof. Nikolai Maximenko); Maui Ocean Center; Ocean Conservancy, Washington D.C.; Pacific Whale Foundation, Maui; Surfrider Foundation, San Clemente, California; Surfrider Foundation, Japan; United Nations – Safe Planet, Geneva, Switzerland; Wyland, Wyland Design, Aliso Viejo, California.
One of the most important aspects of this investigation is sample collection. Analyses of these samples have the potential of changing our view of nature interacting with nature. These results will surely enhance our present knowledge of plastic interacting, or counteracting, with the marine environment. The value of analysis of these samples cannot be emphasized enough.
Of great interest to the researchers is (1) the rate of speed at which the material is traveling through the Gyre; (2) how quickly or slowly it is breaking down; (3) how rapidly marine life is colonizing on materials; and (4) to determine the potential transport of invasive species in the process.
Departing from Majuro May 1 on Pangaea’s Sea Dragon, they will sail through the Western Pacific Garbage Patch (“WPGP”) where little research has been conducted on plastic marine pollution in the last 25 years, arriving in Tokyo three weeks later. During this Leg of the expedition it is entirely possible they may encounter material from the March 2011 Japan tsunami disaster. While in Tokyo, Cynthia will attend the scientific Symposium being held at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology on May 27. Additional activities and events are planned during the week and details may be found on the Algalita website, www.algalita.org
On June 1, the Sea Dragon will depart Tokyo on Leg 2 with a new dedicated crew. They will travel east from Tokyo to Maui to encounter and cross the area of debris. On July 1st, the Sea Dragon will arrive at Ma’alaea Harbor, and Cynthia will play a large role in welcoming the crew’s arrival.
“Our vision is a global environment that is healthy, sustainable and productive for all living creatures, free from plastic pollution,” says Algalita Executive Director, Marieta Francis. “Understanding the impact of the Japan Tsunami resultant debris will provide once-in-a-lifetime information to help us move closer to that vision.”
Algalita and 5 Gyres, both non-profit organizations, have been leaders in pioneering research and increasing global awareness of plastic marine pollution. Algalita’s founder, Captain Charles Moore, brought attention to the problem in the “Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch” in the North Pacific Gyre in 1999.
HONOLULU – Seven Hawaii high school teams, and one independent elementary school team, are competing in the 2012 FIRST Championship robotics competition at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, MO. The FIRST Championship April 25-28 is the culmination of the season’s FIRST programs, bringing together three separate robotics competitions for the ultimate ‘Sport for the Mind.’ The event includes the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship, the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship, and the FIRST LEGO League World Festival. Also featured is the Junior FIRST LEGO League World Festival Expo.
The following Hawaii teams are competing:
Waialua High and Intermediate
Kealakehe High School
Island Pacific Academy
Baldwin High School
Kalani High School
Kohala High School
The first two days of competition, students participated in the FIRST Conference which hosted dozens of presentations from experienced FIRST team members, college and university representatives, and professionals covering a wide variety of topics in science, technology, engineering, and robotics fields. Tomorrow, teams begin the actual competition on the arena floor.
SAN ANTONIO — U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called on Thursday for a federal law to ban talking on a cell phone or texting while driving any type of vehicle on any road in the country.
Tough federal legislation is the only way to deal with what he called a “national epidemic,” he said at a distracted-driving summit in San Antonio, Texas, that drew doctors, advocates and government officials.
LaHood said it is important for the police to have “the opportunity to write tickets when people are foolishly thinking they can drive safely or use a cell phone and text and drive.”
LaHood has previously criticized behind-the-wheel use of cell phones and other devices, but calling for a federal law prohibiting the practice takes his effort to a new level.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 3,000 fatal traffic accidents nationwide last year were the result of distracted driving. Using a cell phone while driving delays reaction time the same amount as having a blood alcohol concentration of .08, the legal limit, the highway agency said.
But Gary Biller, president of the National Motorists Association, said laws banning specific actions like talking on a phone or texting are not necessary because those actions are already covered by existing distracted-driving laws. It would be more productive, he said, to invest resources in campaigns that discourage inattentive driving in general.
“It shouldn’t matter if the driver is distracted by a conversation with another vehicle passenger, tuning the radio, eating a snack, or talking on a cell phone,” Biller said in a statement. “Existing laws cover all those distractions and more.”
LaHood said, however, he was not as concerned about people who eat, apply makeup, or perform other distracting activities in cars because “not everyone does that.”
“But everyone has a cell phone and too many of us think it is OK to talk on our phones while we are driving,” he said at the summit, sponsored by insurance company USAA, the Texas Department of Transportation and Shriners Hospitals for Children.
LaHood was joined by people who have been hurt in accidents caused by motorists talking on cell phones, including children in wheelchairs who were paralyzed. Such accidents are “100 percent preventable,” he said.
He compared the situation facing the United States today with the problem of drunk driving 20-30 years ago. “It used to be that if an officer pulled you over for drunk driving, he would pat you on the back, maybe call you a cab or take you home, but he wouldn’t arrest you,” LaHood said. “Now that has changed, and the same enforcement can work for people who talk on cell phones while driving.”
Thirty-eight states have laws restricting or outlawing the use of electronic devices while driving, LaHood said.
LaHood said his department was researching the effect that hands-free devices and new systems like Ford Motor Company’s Sync have on distracting drivers. He said he has called the CEOs of major car companies and encouraged them to “think twice” before placing too many Internet-based systems into new cars.
HONOLULU, HI – “SBA Resource Days” are increasingly important in providing tools and information for Hawaii’s economic recovery. These special community-based events offer 30-minute free, confidential consultations with small business specialists from the federal agency and address critical issues like access to capital and credit. The full range of programs and resources available from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) can help small business owners get back to the business of doing business.
SBA’s experienced staff can help existing small business owners and start-ups evaluate their current operations and find resources available to deal with these challenging economic times. Information is available about the agency’s guaranteed loan programs, government contracting certifications and other sources for training, business counseling, planning, and technical assistance.
9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
First Hawaiian Bank
20 W. Kaahumanu Ave.
Reservations are recommended for the 30-minute appointments. Online registration is also available at www.sba.gov/hi. In the Events Calendar, view the event and click on the registration link. Appointments will be confirmed by SBA.
WASHINGTON — About 9,000 U.S. Marines stationed on the Japanese island of Okinawa will be moved to the U.S. territory of Guam and other locations in the Asia-Pacific, including Hawaii, under a U.S.-Japan agreement announced Thursday. While not specific, the figure of 2,700 marines still is the number of troops likely to home base in the Aloha State.
The move is part of a broader arrangement designed to tamp down tensions in the U.S.-Japan defense alliance stemming in part from opposition in Okinawa to what many view as a burdensome U.S. military presence.
It also reflects a desire by the Obama administration to spread U.S. forces more widely in the Asia-Pacific region as part of a rebalancing of U.S. defense priorities in the aftermath of a decade of war in the greater Middle East.
The agreement was outlined in a joint statement issued Thursday night by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and their Japanese counterparts.
Citing an “increasingly uncertain security environment” in the Asia-Pacific region, they said their agreement was intended to maintain a robust U.S. military presence to ensure the defense of Japan.
“Japan is not just a close ally, but also a close friend,” Panetta said in a separate comment. “And I look forward to deepening that friendship and strengthening our partnership as, together, we address security challenges in the region.”
The joint statement made no mention of a timetable for moving the approximately 9,000 Marines off of Okinawa. It said it would happen “when appropriate facilities are available to receive them” on Guam and elsewhere.
Under the new agreement, about 10,000 Marines will remain on Okinawa, which has been a key element of the U.S. military presence in Asia for decades. The U.S. also has a substantial Air Force presence on Okinawa.
Japan, including Okinawa, is a linchpin of U.S. strategy for deterring aggression in the region and for reinforcing the Korean peninsula in the event North Korea attacked South Korea.
The Obama administration believes the new agreement with Japan will make the alliance more sustainable, while also giving the Marines more regional flexibility.
Between 4,700 and 5,000 Marines will relocate from Okinawa to Guam, according to a U.S. defense official who briefed reporters on some of the details before the agreement was official announced in Tokyo and Washington.
The remainder of the 9,000 who are to relocate from Okinawa will move to Hawaii or be part of a rotational presence in Australia and elsewhere in the region, the official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was previewing the official announcement.
The official would not say how many would be moved to Hawaii.
Of the $8.6 billion estimated cost of relocating Marines to Guam, Japan agreed to pay $3.1 billion, the official said. The total cost includes an unspecified amount for possible construction of new training ranges in the Northern Mariana Islands that could be used jointly by U.S. and Japanese forces, he said.
The agreement also calls for a phased return to Japanese control of certain parcels of land on Okinawa now used by the American military.
The shift of Marines from Okinawa to Guam has been in limbo for years because it was linked to the closure and replacement of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. Okinawans fiercely oppose Futenma and believe the base should simply be closed and moved overseas or elsewhere in Japan. The U.S., however, has insisted that Japan find a Futenma replacement on Okinawa.
That issue remains unresolved.
The whole dispute over the U.S. military presence on Okinawa has its roots in the 1995 kidnapping and rape of a schoolgirl by three American servicemen. Top U.S. government officials publicly apologized for the crime, but tensions continued to grow despite a strong desire by Tokyo and Washington to maintain their historically close military and political alliance.
The accord was timed for completion and public announcement before Japanese Prime Minster Yoshihiko Noda’s scheduled visit to Washington on Monday for talks with President Barack Obama.
(Wailuku, HI April 25, 2012) – MEO Business Development Center (MEO BDC) graduated thirty four (34) students from its Core Four Business Planning course on April 24, 2012. At the graduation, the soon-to-be entrepreneurs were able to talk with Maui business bankers who had volunteered their time to review the students’ business plans and provide additional guidance in operating a successful business. The graduating students received a Certificate of Achievement and a congratulations dinner.
MEO BDC’s Core Four Business Planning is a 36-hour course on how to write a business plan while providing the information you need to know to start, operate and grow your business.
For those interested in learning more about the entrepreneurial training course you can call Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc. at 249-2990. Also, the next classes will be day classes. One hour introductory classes will be held on May1 & 3 from 9-10 a.m. at MEO’s Family Center, and at the Maui County Business Resource Center (Maui Mall) on May 2nd from 1-2 pm. The classes are free and open to the public. The six-week series begins on Tuesday, May 8th, and continues from 9-12 noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays through June 18th. All sessions will be held at MEO’s Family Center at 99 Mahalani Street in Wailuku.
Registration is required for the six-week series and can be done at the introductory classes or any weekday 8-4 at MEO’s Family Center. Funding from the County of Maui Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and the Administration for Native Americans helps to make the Core Four Business Planning Classes possible.
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