• 10 Nov 2014 /  BULLETINS, Lava Reports, news

    After burning an unoccupied house at around noon today, the lava flow remains active, though none of its current fingers have reached as far downhill as its stalled leading edge.  The nearest active lobe of the flow is currently moving down on the  Kea`au-side edge of the flow.  Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, in a report shortly before 6 p.m. today, said that lobe was about 500 yards upslope of  Pahoa Village Road.

    HVO also reported “a number” of active breakouts in the vicinity of Apa`a Street, including one that had moved to within 22 yards of the old transfer station fence and “also continued to expand through private property across the street from the station.”  This is the flow which took out the unoccupied house shortly before noon.

    Another lobe to watch is “a narrow finger of lava that has advanced downslope from the wide portion of the flow just above the narrow gulley through which lava advanced toward P?hoa more than two weeks ago. HVO described that finger as “the most significant activity of the entire flow.”

    Meanwhile, up at the summit,  “period of inflation began at about 2 p.m.,” with a corresponding rise in the lava level at Halemaumau.

    Below: HVO’s most recent map of lava activity, including the new “significant” mauka finger, which appears to be taking a somewhat different path.

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  • 10 Nov 2014 /  BULLETINS, Lava Reports, news

    According to Hawaii County Civil Defense,  lava claimed a “residential structure” near Apa`a Street today at 11:55.  Other sources said that the lava moved away from the garage that it had originally appeared to threaten and hit the house instead.

    “Emergency personnel are on scene and there is not threat to any other properties at this time.  Smoke from the burning structure is currently rising and dissipating,” stated the Civil Defense update.

    In previous weeks, the flow had claimed a garden shed, a cattle feeding station and a horticultural shade house.

    Above: Helicopter view from Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, showing areas of active lava on the morning of November 10. Active areas (marked by smoke from burning vegetation) include just above and below old Transfer Station and a new lobe of lava headed northeast, approximately 820 yards  above Apa?a Street (upper right)


    Below: GIF showing recent lava activity, courtesy of Reel Marketing

    output_EpvzRR 11_10_14

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  • 10 Nov 2014 /  BULLETINS, Lava Reports, news

    The lava flow appears to be poised to claim its first residential structure–or to have already claimed it.   At 8:36 this morning,  Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported that a lobe of lava had emerged about 82 yards above Apa`a St. on the Kea’au side of the flow, had crossed the road and was within about five yards of a residence’s garage–and was advancing  at about five  yards an hour.

    Another outbreak was also advancing at about 3 yards per hour near  the transfer station and a third is moving slowly downslope of P?hoa Cemetery.  We’ll publish more information as it becomes available.

    All of this activity is going on upslope from the leading edge, which remains stalled about 170 yards above  Old Government Road.

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  • 09 Nov 2014 /  BULLETINS, Lava Reports, news

    The leading edge of the lava flow remains stalled, but the flow is still very much alive.  It  took out another small section of Apa`a Road today.

    According to Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s 6:45 p.m. report, “a breakout just above Apa?a St./Cemetery Road sent lava across the road along the north margin of the existing flow. By the afternoon, that breakout had separated into three lobes: 1) moving along the existing flow margin towards the cemetery, 2) moving down the road towards the transfer station, and 3) moving towards an abandoned set of buildings across the street from the transfer station.”  There was also some lava activity “between the cemetery and private property” and “Small, sluggish breakouts and flow inflation…in the vicinity of the cemetery.” The active lobe near the old  transfer station had come to within about 22 yards of the station fence, but was expected to pass parallel to the fence due to the shape of the land there.

    An active flow burned along Cemetery Road/Apa`a Street today. Photo: Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.


  • 09 Nov 2014 /  Elections, news, politics

    The new leadership assignments for the Hawaii State Senate are out in the wake of last week’s election, and three Big Island legislators will be in positions of power.
    Sen. Josh Green (D-Kona, Ka`u) is will serve as the Senate’s floor leader—the number four leadership position, after President Donna Mercado Kim, Vice President Will Espero, and Majority Leader J. Kalani English. Sen. Gil Kahele (D-Hilo), formerly the Senate Whip, will serve as Caucus Leader. Green will also continue to serve as chair of the Health Committee, and Kahele will continue to head the Committee on Tourism and International Affairs. In one of the more significant shifts of leadership, Sen. Russell Ruderman (D-Puna) will take over the chairmanship of the Agriculture Committee from Clarence Nishihara. Ruderman is the owner of the Island Naturals grocery chain and a staunch opponent of genetically modified foods. Without a committee to lead, for now, is the Big Island’s fourth senator, Lorraine Inouye (D-Hamakua, Kohala). Inouye is a veteran legislator, but had to sit out a term after redistricting forced her to run in the same North Hawaii district with Sen. Malama Solomon. Solomon narrowly won that contest, but lost the rematch to Inouye this year.

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  • The flow front remains stalled, the the flow is still active uphill.  Some small breakouts are active near the remains of the Pahoa Japanese Cemetery and just south of the old Transfer Station. A new lobe  broke out about 600 yard sbove Apa`a St. has extended approximately 175 yards downhill, burning vegetation along the way.  Another lobe is still active, extending north from Kaohe Homesteads.

    Below: an HVO photo shows the melted casing of a remote camera that got caught too near  in a breakout on the flank of Pu`u O`o yesterday.  Remarkably, the camera inside was undamaged.


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  • 07 Nov 2014 /  BULLETINS, Lava Reports, news

    The leading edge of the flow system remains stalled where it stopped on October 30, but there’s plenty of activity upslope.  Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory reported multiple breakouts, ranging from one below Pahoa Cemetery, about 490 yards above Old Government Road in Pahoa, to one on the flank of Pu`u O`o itself. Several breakouts are active a mile and a half upslope of Apa?a St. and Cemetery Road. One, about 165 yards above the road, has “merged with the now inactive lobe” that came to a halt at the border of the  old transfer station. More breakouts have happend “at the top of the narrow gulley that channeled lava towards P?hoa two weeks ago,” approximately 765 yards above the road. Yet another, extending north from the Kaohe Homesteads area also remains active. Still more breakouts are occurring about halfway between the lower end of the flow and P`u O`o.  A breakout on the north flank of Pu`u O`o itself damaged some of the observatory’s observational equipment.

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  • 07 Nov 2014 /  Lava Reports, news

    Ed. note: I’ve just updated this article with a working link to the Park Service’s plan for the Chain of Craters emergency access road. –AM


    The social media has been buzzing with various reports about who Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will allow to travel in and out of the land below the Pele Partition, if and when that should happen, via the Chain of Craters emergency road.  We contacted the park to get the latest information on what is still an evolving policy.

    According to Rainey McKenna, who’s filling in for Jessica Ferracane as the park’s information officer,

    The emergency access route, as well as connecting park roads, will be available for use by Puna area residents affected by the lava flow, their invitees and agents, and the transportation of goods and services needed to sustain the community including vendors, contractors, and service providers. Puna area residents will be able to obtain a free window decal to help expedite travel through the park’s entrance gate. Regular visitors to the park will continue to be charged an entrance fee, however those entities who are using park roads for the purpose of accessing lower Puna will not be charged an entrance fee. 

    We asked McKenna how the park would determine which “entities” were “using park roads for the purpose of accessing lower Puna.”  McKenna replied that the park is” currently working on figuring out how best to provide access to ‘other entities’  traveling to lower Puna,” but he added, “At this point, other than for the resident decals, we are not anticipating asking for documentation from “other entities.”

    Regular park visitors would still have to pay standard park admission fees, though it’s not exactly clear how the Park would tell the difference between park visitors and those headed to Puna.

    The park IS seeking input on the emergency road plan at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=307&projectID=55067&documentID=62314, although that site was down when we tried it this afternoon. When it gets back up, click on “Emergency Access Route along the Lava-Covered Section of Chain of Craters Kalapana Road,” “Document List” to review and comment on the plan.

    McKenna said plans currently call for the road to be finished with a “two lane aggregate” surface–in other words, gravel, not blacktop.

    –Alan McNarie


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  • 06 Nov 2014 /  Uncategorized

    Dearest Representatives,

    I haven’t had a response yet to my musings.  The Mayor, being in control of the “operation” out here needs to really know about how we are being treated.  I ran into an acquaintance (male approx 55) earlier this morning, he was soaking wet and tired.  I think hadn’t rained since last night, and he said he had caught the bus in to SouthEast Pahoa from Kalapana, walked in to eat something and check his mail at the Post Office.  He needed to shop at Malama Market so he asked at the blockade if he could walk through (since we all know the lava front has stalled) and was laughed at.  In fact, he heard them snickering as he had to walk down the post office road, out along the bypass where he got smothered by passing cars throwing dirty water from the stupid little mosquito breeding dugouts carved on purposed on the side of the road, and trudged all the way to Malama Marketplace.  This is absurd and the most blatant abuse of power.  Someone else who heard us talking said that happened to a young mother with a baby in a stroller yesterday.
    Please take immediate action.
    –Sara Steiner

  • 06 Nov 2014 /  environment, Island Events

    From Kristine Kubat:

    On November 20th, Recycle Hawaii will be celebrating America Recycles Day with an afterschool program for kids and a movie followed by a panel discussion in the evening for adults. In between we are folding cranes from magazine paper for the 199,000 Cranes Project.  The movie is called “Racing to Zero” and it features the efforts of San Francisco to become a zero waste municipality. 


    The whole program starts at 2:30PM. The film will begin at 6:45PM. Please come and tell all your friends to come as well!



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  • 05 Nov 2014 /  BULLETINS, Lava Reports, news

    According to the morning Civil Defense and Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reports, the flow front above Pahoa remained stalled, with minor breakouts upslope and some inflation.  The lava lake at Halem`uma`u  has dropped about five meters.


    A sluggish breakout invades and orchard near Pahoa on Nov. 4.   Photo: Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

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  • 05 Nov 2014 /  Uncategorized

    by Alan McNarie

    Okay, the election is over.  The 11:30 printout is here, and at least as far as the Big Island is concerned, the results from 10 p.m. stand. And where Hawaii is concerned, this may have been the least dramatic election in history. All the people who were expected to win, won.  There was maybe some doubt, at least in major newspapers’ minds, about the governor’s race, but that was quickly resolved: David Ige took a commanding lead early and never let go of it.  All Mufi Hanneman’s 3rd-party run did was deprive Ige of a full majority; he’ll have to rule with a 49 percent mandate instead of 51 percent or more, which he would almost certainly have gotten  if Mufi hadn’t tapped the same overwhelmingly Democratic pool of voters.

    Or maybe a lot less than 49 percent.  There actually is some drama in those election numbers if you look at them. This election does raise some questions and suggest some uncomfortable implications for the state of the State of Hawaii, and of  democracy therein. Among them:

    The majority that elects people isn’t a majority of the people. No sooner had the 11:30 printout come out, then the Star Advertiser posted a story that this election had marked a new “record low” turnout of voters–at “52 percent.” But I suspect that percentage is based on the number of registered voters compared to people who voted. The reality may be even grimmer. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that in 2013, Hawaii had a population of  1,404, 054 people (That’s a pretty fine-toothed estimate. If I was doing it, I’d have rounded off to the nearest 100, at least).  Out of those, the Census’s  Quick Facts Page says that 21.9 percent of Hawaii’s population was under the age of 18. That means 78.1 percent of the population is of voting age. 78.1 percent of 1,404,054 people is 1,096,566.174, if this English major’s calculator is correct. Round that down to a whole person: 1,096,566. Again, if I’ve calculated correctly, 325, 560 voted for a gubernatorial candidate in the 2014 General election.  That means that, assuming our population has grown since 2013, less than 30 percent of persons of voting age in Hawaii actually voted in this year’s most important, controversial race.  Of those, only 180, 790 voted for Ige. So Ige was actually elected by a little under 16 percent of people of voting age in Hawaii.  Is this really democracy?

    In some races, there was no vote at all.  Dennis “Fresh” Onishi is going back to the Hawaii County Council, despite a horrendous absentee rate and a habit, even when he makes the roll call,  of being out of the room when people are testifying. He’ll be there because nobody ran against him.  Dru Kanuha has never actually been voted on.  He “ran” for a council seat that he helped create as a member of the rezoning committee, and nobody opposed him then, and nobody opposed him for a second term either.  He’s  a councilmember by default.

    So why don’t people vote? Why don’t they run?

    I don’t have any solid numbers about that.  But I’ve heard a lot of  personal testimony. A  lot of people in the social media are  maintaining that they aren’t really being offered a choice at the ballot booth–that Big Money has rigged the ballot, and no matter which candidate they choose, they basically end up with the same uncaring  government.  As one reader put it in a comment on this site on election day:

    Why vote? Good question, it is a futile act of craziness. Anyone who thinks their vote is counted or even is significant is wrong! MONSANTO votes regularly, it’s [sic]vote counts. If you are an average person with average income your vote is negated by MONSANTO and the rest of the 1%.

    There’s some truth in this.  I should know.  I’ve been writing about campaign finance and money in politics for twenty years. It’s a big, big problem. But I also know that….

    Big Money doesn’t always win.  In fact, time after time, I’ve seen big money backfire–especially if its presence is pointed out. Case in point: Margaret Wille. The author of the county’s law limiting genetically modified crops, who’s known for her pro-environmental leanings,  was targeted with an enormous $100,000 media blitz by a Carpenter’s Union PAC called Forward Progress–all of which was documented and brought to the public’s attention by Nancy Cook Lauer in an excellent article in West Hawaii Today. That $100,000 was in addition to the $34,00o raised by Gonzales from other sources.    Wille  was outspent by a margin of over three to one.   For  that 134,000 dollars or so, Gonzales got 2,149 votes. Wille got 3, 154.

    And then, of course, there’s Maui, where the full economic might of Monsanto and the whole agribusiness establishment couldn’t stop an anti-GMO charter amendment.

    There are reasons that Big Money doesn’t always win, and one of the big reasons is the Internet. Big Money doesn’t really understand the Internet as well as activists do, at least at this point in time.  Big business is still making big media buys on TV and radio, while activists can spread ideas and knowledge like wildfire for free. I first read Lauer’s article, for instance,  not in West Hawaii Today, but in an e-mail. That Internet edge  may change soon. But right now, there’s a window of opportunity for real change.

    All politicians are definitely not the same.  I’ve known some real stinkers, but I’ve also met a number of good ones, who put the people and the land and the ocean and the air ahead of dollars. The problem is getting more good ones on the ballot. Which leads to the next point:

    We need better candidates.Take a good  look at tonight’s results: Many of those people  were elected with margins of 70 percent or more.  Some of them are good public servants who’ve earned people’s support. Others have mediocre legislative  records, at best.  But they have name recognition and they have money,  so people don’t even challenge them.  Or their challengers are ideologues, less concerned about winning than about preaching.  If you look at the ballots tonight, at first glance, it might appear the main opposition to the Democrats, especially on this island, are the Libertarians.  There are more Libertarians in general election races in Hawaii County  than there were Republicans this year. But that ubiquitousness doesn’t mean that they were strong opposition; their percentage of the vote was generally in the teens or  lower, and it generally shrank to single digits if  a Republican was in the same race.  And remember, even a 15 percent showing  is only 15 percent or so of the 30 percent or less–perhaps significantly less, in less publicized races–who bothered to vote, which suggests that these candidates’ actual appeal is–well, incredibly miniscule. Which brings up the next point:

    Primaries are important, dammit. Many local politicians were elected before tonight even happened. Their real opposition, in this Democrat-dominated state, was other Democrats. Certainly, if you want choice aside from the far right, that choice is going to appear in the primaries. That’s become even more true since the advent of the non-partisan council election, where any candidate who pulls more than 50 percent of the votes of the people who bothered to vote in the primary doesn’t even have to face a Libertarian in the general; he or she is home free.

    So you want change?  You can have change, if you don’t just assume you can’t. It’s really simple: register to vote, you pick good people to run, and then you vote for them in the primaries. and vote for them in general elections.  It’s simple, but not necessarily easy. But if you don’t, then I guarantee: if the one percent don’t run your government, the 30 percent will.




  • 04 Nov 2014 /  BULLETINS, Elections, politics

    With all precincts reporting:

    Brian Schatz and Tulsi Gabbard have retaken their Senate and House seats by landslides, and Democrat Mark Takai  beaten Republican Charles Djou 51.2 percent to 47.5 percent.  The Democratic governor/lt. governor team of Ige and Tsutsui have won election over Aiona/Ahu, Independents Hannemann/Chang and Libertarians  Davis/Marlin, but the four-way split has deprived David Ige and Shan Tsutsui of an absolute majority; they’ll have to rule with a plurality of 49 percent of the votes cast.  Democrats Gil Kahele, Josh Green and Lorraine Inouye will be representing the Big Island in the State Senate, swamping their Libertarian opponents (the Republicans didn’t even bother to field candidates, by capturing 79 percent, 76.1 percent and 72.4 percent of the votes in their races, respectively.  In State House District 1,  incumbent Democrat Mark Nakashima cruised past Libertarian Eric Weinert, 75 percent to 17.4 percent.  In District 3, incumbent Democrat Richard Onishi brushed aside Republican Bill Dixon and Libertarian Fred Fogel, 70 percent to 13.7 percent and 11.1 percent, respectively. In District 4, Democratic newcomer Joy SanBuenaventura put up numbers nearly as impressive, walloping Republican Gary Thomas 67.9 percent to 27.1 percent.  Democratic incumbent Richard Creagan  handily beat his two opponents, Republican Dave Bateman and Libertarian John A Lalanne, 56.9 percent to 36 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively.  In District 6, incumbent Democrat Nicole Lowen whipped  Republican Kelley Valenzuela, 60.9 percent to 36. 9 percent. In the two County Council Races, Daniel K. Paleka, Jr. has defeated Tiffany Edwards Hunt, 50.2 percent to 44.1 percent, and incumbent Margaret Wille has soundly beaten Ronald Gonzales, 56.7 percent to 36.6 percent.

    In OHA At Large races, in which voters picked three candidates, the top three vote-getters on this island  were John D. Waihee  with 12.7 percent, Mililani B. Trask with 11.5 percent, and Rowena Akana with 11.2 percent; the also rans were Lei Ahu-Isa with 7.9 percent, Keli`i Akina with 7.6 percent, and Harvey McInerny with 5.1 percent. But statewide, Waihee, Akana and Ahu Isa were the top vote-getters and Trask dropped to fourth. In the race for OHA Maui Resident Trustee, for which residents of this island, oddly enough, get to vote, Carmen Hulu Lindsey handily beat Mahealani Wendt 41.1 percent to 21.1 percent. That result held up statewide, with Lindsay beating Wendt 35.0 percent to 23.7  percent.



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  • 04 Nov 2014 /  BULLETINS, Elections, politics

    All the constitutional amendments are winning except “Relating to State Justices and Judges” and “Relating to Early Childhood Education.” The former, which would have raised the mandatory retirement age of judges from 70 to 80, is losing by a landslide, 156,624 to 47,852.   The latter, which would allow state funds to be used for early private preschools that don’t discriminate on the basis of race, religion, etc., is closer: 109,326 against to 95,838 in favor.  Interestingly enough, on the Big Island voters so far are in favor of the Early Childhood Education amendment, 16,665 to 16,247.

    The only charter amendment on the ballot, which would increase the term for the County Clerk to four years, is winning by about a three to one margin.

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  • 04 Nov 2014 /  BULLETINS, Elections, news, politics

    The 8 p.m printout is out (well, electronically–do they actually print these things anymore?), and  with generally a third to a half of precincts reporting, the Dems generally appear to be rolling to easy victories over their Republican opponents, Libertarian and Independent opponents.  Even in the Governor’s race, where an independent candidacy by veteran politico Mufi Hannemann was supposed to make things interesting, Democrat David Ige was rolling up a nearly huge  margin, 111,335 to Republican Duke Aiona’s 74,871 , with Hannemann trailing a distant third at 24,509. Sen.  Brian Schatz was leading his Republican opponent Cam Cavasso by over two to one, 147,279 to 53,572.  Tulsi Gabbard was wracking up an even bigger margin with 77 percent of the vote, 85, 880 to Republican Kawika Crowley’s 18,065. The only federal race that is even remotely close is for the U.S. House of Representatives District 1, where Democrat Mark Takai leads Republican former Rep. Charles Djou, 56,609 to 47,940.  Libertarian candidates in these races are all less than four percent of the votes.

    In Big Island State Senate Races, Gil Kahele, Josh Green, Lorraine Inouye all lead their nearest opponents by 3-1 margins or better. So are Democratic State RepresentativesMark Nakashima, Richard Onishi and Democratic newcomer Joy SanBuenaventura.  Incumbent state reps Richard Creagan and Nicole Lowen’s races are only slightly closer Creagan leads Republican Dave Bateman, 3,269 to 1,95.  Lowen is besting Republican Kelly Valenzuela, 1,937 to 1,115. In non-partisan Council races, Daniel K. Paleka leads Tiffany Edwards Hunt, 1,214-947 and incumbent Margaret Wille is ahead of Ronald Gonzales, 1,413-1,056.

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  • 04 Nov 2014 /  Uncategorized

    The leading edge of the flow has still not advanced since last Thursday, October 30, but  the flow has continued to swell, with minor breakouts scattered across the flow’s interior.  According to Hawaii Volcano Observatory, as of 5:12 p.m., “minor breakouts   breakouts were occurring about 405 yards above Apa?a Street on Tuesday afternoon. Civil Defense reported “upslope breakouts ….approximately .7 to 1.5 mile above the ?Apa?a Street area and along the north side of the flow and moving in a north/northeast direction,” but it said non of the moving lava nodes presented an “immediate threat to residents.” All in all,  reported HVO, a “brief helicopter overflight on Tuesday afternoon confirmed that little surface lava is present on the June 27th flow field. The outbreaks on the north and south margins of the flow near Kaohe Homesteads have also subsided relative to a few days ago.” According to HVO, the situation at the summit was also relatively calm, with ” no net inflation.”