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CNN: FDA is failing to protect kids from e-cigarettes, American Lung Association says

(Source: CNN)

January 30, 2019

By: Susan Scutti

(CNN)The American Lung Association gives a federal agency and individual state governments poor marks in a new report card evaluating tobacco prevention programs.

The federal government is failing to act to protect kids from e-cigarettes, which can lead to a potential addiction, according to the association’s 17th annual State of Tobacco Control report. Tobacco, the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the nation, kills 480,000 people in the United States each year, while an additional 16 million are living with a tobacco-related disease.

Some of the harshest criticism is reserved for the US Food and Drug Administration, which received a grade of “F” from the lung association, primarily due to a “lack of action,” said Thomas Carr, an author of the new report and national director of policy at the American Lung Association.

The inaction, in particular the FDA’s passivity regarding vaping, is “putting the lives and health of Americans at risk,” said Carr, who noted the “staggering 78% increase among high school students and e-cigarette use in 2017-18.”

Regulation of e-cigarettes is the responsibility of the FDA, yet 20.8% of high school students are currently using e-cigarettes, said Carr. The escalation of vaping has “led both the US surgeon general and FDA commissioner to call teen e-cigarette use an ‘epidemic,’ ” he added. “That is a direct result of lack of regulation of the products.”

‘Lack of regulation’ resulted in high levels of teen e-cig use

Carr noted that the FDA said it would regulate e-cigarettes in 2011.

“Back then, e-cigarette use was at 1.5% among high school students, so that really was the time for action,” he said.

In fact, the FDA began regulating e-cigarettes in 2016,when it set 18 as the minimum sales age, while introducing additional requirements for retailers, and established standards for manufacturers.

More recently, the FDA has taken an “escalating series of unprecedented actions” to stop youth use of tobacco products, especially e-cigarettes, the agency stated. The FDA would not comment specifically on the Lung Association report and instead supplied a general statement to CNN.

“In the last year alone, the agency has advanced work to render cigarettes minimally or non-addictive, announced historic plans to ban menthol in cigarettes and cigars, and is exploring additional product standards,” according to the FDA.

“They’ve made a lot of announcements this [past] year, but there hasn’t been a lot of concrete action,” Carr said. “Yes, there has been an investigation of [e-cigarette giant] Juul, but that hasn’t led to a lot of meaningful policy change.”

The agency has also “advanced policies to increase access to, and use of, medicinal nicotine products to help people quit smoking, and has launched several adult and youth-focused tobacco public education prevention and cessation campaigns.” The FDA believes it “has made tremendous progress” on tobacco and nicotine regulation “with ambitious public health goals for 2019.”

Carr doesn’t buy it. The government’s general lack of action has “emboldened” the tobacco industry, which has become “very aggressive” in opposing or delaying state tobacco control measures, Carr believes. “They spent over $22 million opposing tobacco tax ballot measures in Montana and South Dakota, for example. If you know the populations of Montana and South Dakota, that’s a lot of money in those states. They clearly think tobacco taxes will reduce smoking among kids and adults.”

Michael Shannon, a spokesman for R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, told CNN in an email that “some newspaper accounts incorrectly reported” that his company contributed to campaigns opposing tobacco tax ballot measures. “We had spent limited funds initially but did not contribute to the campaign,” he said. “Generally, we do oppose higher taxes on tobacco products as higher taxes are unfair to our consumers, who already pay over $40 billion in taxes and fees in the United States.”

Shannon added that R. J. Reynolds does not market to minors.

“Furthermore, we have provided FDA additional steps we are taking to address youth usage, such as supporting laws to raise the legal age of purchase to 21, and commit to work with FDA to combat youth use of tobacco,” said Shannon.

Altria and industry groups contacted by CNN did not respond to requests for comment.

How the association graded the federal government

The association graded the federal government in four areas.

The first grade specifically targets the FDA: “FDA regulations of tobacco products is how well they’re implementing the 2009 law that gave them authority over the manufacture, marketing and sale of tobacco products and also whether Congress is providing the funding to accomplish that,” Carr said.

A second grade assesses the effectiveness of the federal tobacco tax. The third grade evaluates quit-smoking coverage and examines the requirements of the four major health insurance programs that the federal government runs — Tricare, Medicaid, Medicare and federal employee health benefits — as well as those of the Affordable Care Act state marketplaces, Carr explained.

Finally, government-run mass media campaigns were ranked by the association: the CDC’s Tips from Former Smokers campaign, which is aimed at adults, and the FDA’s Real Cost campaign, aimed at kids 12 to 17.

Though the feds get a big A when it comes to media campaigns, they earn a D in coverage for quit-smoking programs and Fs for both taxation and regulation policies.

How the association graded states

The report card also lists five grades for each state: tobacco program funding, smoke-free air, tobacco taxes, access to cessation and “Tobacco 21.”

Even the best-performing states — Alaska, California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts and District of Columbia — failed to get straight As in the five categories graded by the association, while the four states worst performing states scored Fs across the board: Mississippi, Missouri, Texas and Virginia.

The tobacco program funding grade is based on how much a state spends on programs intended to prevent kids from starting and to help people quit smoking, as compared to the funding levels recommended by the CDC for each state.

Smoke-free air is based on whether a state has prohibited smoking at work and public places, including restaurants and bars, and whether e-cigarettes are included in the law is factored into the grade, he said.

Similarly, the tobacco taxes grade takes into account the level of each state’s cigarette tax and whether the state taxes other tobacco products, including cigars and snuff but not e-cigarettes, Carr explained.

Access to cessation is “a bit of a complicated grade,” said Carr, who noted that this assessment includes whether a state’s Medicaid program and employee health plans cover quit-smoking treatments as well as the investment per smoker.

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Finally, “some states have moved to increase the minimum age of sale of tobacco products to 21, so that’s what the ‘Tobacco 21’ grade looks at,” he said.

The lung association report also finds that no state is funding its tobacco prevention efforts at levels recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Via: CNN

Science Daily: Huge cavity in Antarctic glacier signals rapid decay

(Source: Science Daily)

February 1, 2019

Source:NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Summary:A gigantic cavity — two-thirds the area of Manhattan and almost 1,000 feet (300 meters) tall — growing at the bottom of Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is one of several disturbing discoveries reported in a new study of the disintegrating glacier.

Thwaites Glacier.
Credit: NASA/OIB/Jeremy Harbeck

A gigantic cavity — two-thirds the area of Manhattan and almost 1,000 feet (300 meters) tall — growing at the bottom of Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is one of several disturbing discoveries reported in a new NASA-led study of the disintegrating glacier. The findings highlight the need for detailed observations of Antarctic glaciers’ undersides in calculating how fast global sea levels will rise in response to climate change.

Researchers expected to find some gaps between ice and bedrock at Thwaites’ bottom where ocean water could flow in and melt the glacier from below. The size and explosive growth rate of the newfound hole, however, surprised them. It’s big enough to have contained 14 billion tons of ice, and most of that ice melted over the last three years.

“We have suspected for years that Thwaites was not tightly attached to the bedrock beneath it,” said Eric Rignot of the University of California, Irvine, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Rignot is a co-author of the new study, which was published in Science Advances. “Thanks to a new generation of satellites, we can finally see the detail,” he said.

The cavity was revealed by ice-penetrating radar in NASA’s Operation IceBridge, an airborne campaign beginning in 2010 that studies connections between the polar regions and the global climate. The researchers also used data from a constellation of Italian and German spaceborne synthetic aperture radars. These very high-resolution data can be processed by a technique called radar interferometry to reveal how the ground surface below has moved between images.

“[The size of] a cavity under a glacier plays an important role in melting,” said the study’s lead author, Pietro Milillo of JPL. “As more heat and water get under the glacier, it melts faster.”

Numerical models of ice sheets use a fixed shape to represent a cavity under the ice, rather than allowing the cavity to change and grow. The new discovery implies that this limitation most likely causes those models to underestimate how fast Thwaites is losing ice.

About the size of Florida, Thwaites Glacier is currently responsible for approximately 4 percent of global sea level rise. It holds enough ice to raise the world ocean a little over 2 feet (65 centimeters) and backstops neighboring glaciers that would raise sea levels an additional 8 feet (2.4 meters) if all the ice were lost.

Thwaites is one of the hardest places to reach on Earth, but it is about to become better known than ever before. The U.S. National Science Foundation and British National Environmental Research Council are mounting a five-year field project to answer the most critical questions about its processes and features. The International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration will begin its field experiments in the Southern Hemisphere summer of 2019-20.

How Scientists Measure Ice Loss

There’s no way to monitor Antarctic glaciers from ground level over the long term. Instead, scientists use satellite or airborne instrument data to observe features that change as a glacier melts, such as its flow speed and surface height.

Another changing feature is a glacier’s grounding line — the place near the edge of the continent where it lifts off its bed and starts to float on seawater. Many Antarctic glaciers extend for miles beyond their grounding lines, floating out over the open ocean.

Just as a grounded boat can float again when the weight of its cargo is removed, a glacier that loses ice weight can float over land where it used to stick. When this happens, the grounding line retreats inland. That exposes more of a glacier’s underside to sea water, increasing the likelihood its melt rate will accelerate.

An Irregular Retreat

For Thwaites, “We are discovering different mechanisms of retreat,” Millilo said. Different processes at various parts of the 100-mile-long (160-kilometer-long) front of the glacier are putting the rates of grounding-line retreat and of ice loss out of sync.

The huge cavity is under the main trunk of the glacier on its western side — the side farther from the West Antarctic Peninsula. In this region, as the tide rises and falls, the grounding line retreats and advances across a zone of about 2 to 3 miles (3 to 5 kilometers). The glacier has been coming unstuck from a ridge in the bedrock at a steady rate of about 0.4 to 0.5 miles (0.6 to 0.8 kilometers) a year since 1992. Despite this stable rate of grounding-line retreat, the melt rate on this side of the glacier is extremely high.

“On the eastern side of the glacier, the grounding-line retreat proceeds through small channels, maybe a kilometer wide, like fingers reaching beneath the glacier to melt it from below,” Milillo said. In that region, the rate of grounding-line retreat doubled from about 0.4 miles (0.6 kilometers) a year from 1992 to 2011 to 0.8 miles (1.2 kilometers) a year from 2011 to 2017. Even with this accelerating retreat, however, melt rates on this side of the glacier are lower than on the western side.

These results highlight that ice-ocean interactions are more complex than previously understood.

Milillo hopes the new results will be useful for the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration researchers as they prepare for their fieldwork. “Such data is essential for field parties to focus on areas where the action is, because the grounding line is retreating rapidly with complex spatial patterns,” he said.

“Understanding the details of how the ocean melts away this glacier is essential to project its impact on sea level rise in the coming decades,” Rignot said.

The paper by Milillo and his co-authors in the journal Science Advances is titled “Heterogeneous retreat and ice melt of Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica.” Co-authors were from the University of California, Irvine; the German Aerospace Center in Munich, Germany; and the University Grenoble Alpes in Grenoble, France.

Story Source:

Materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Original written by Carol Rasmussen. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. P. Milillo, E. Rignot, P. Rizzoli, B. Scheuchl, J. Mouginot, J. Bueso-Bello, P. Prats-Iraola. Heterogeneous retreat and ice melt of Thwaites Glacier, West AntarcticaScience Advances, 2019; 5 (1): eaau3433 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau3433

Science Daily: Having stressed out ancestors improves immune response to stress

(Source: Science Daily)

January 22, 2019

Source:Penn State

Summary:Having ancestors who were frequently exposed to stressors can improve one’s own immune response to stressors, according to researchers. The results suggest that family history should be considered to predict or understand the health implications of stress.

Fire ants can bite and sting fence lizards, which is stressful to the lizards and sometimes lethal. The new study found that lizards whose ancestors were exposed to fire ants have improved immune function when exposed to stress, which might prepare lizards for potential wounding from fire ant attacks.
Credit: Langkilde Lab, Penn State

Having ancestors who were frequently exposed to stressors can improve one’s own immune response to stressors, according to Penn State researchers. The results suggest that family history should be considered to predict or understand the health implications of stress.

“Prolonged stress typically suppresses immune function within an individual,” said Tracy Langkilde, professor and head of biology at Penn State. “For example, we often think of ourselves as more likely to get a cold when we’re stressed. We found that lizards whose ancestors lived in low-stress environments experienced suppressed immune function when we exposed them to prolonged stress, just as you might expect. But for lizards whose ancestors lived in high-stress environments, those animals had more robust immune systems when they were exposed to stress. So the immune response to stress actually is dependent upon the environment experienced by previous generations.”

According to Langkilde, the team conducted its work on fence lizards (Sceloporus undulatus), but believes the results may be similar in other animals, perhaps even in humans. Of course, various animals are subjected to different kinds of stressors. In these lizards, she said, stress is often the result of attacks by fire ants (Solenopsis invicta), an invasive species that occurs in the southeastern United States and is spreading northward and westward.

“Fire ants can sting and envenomate lizards, which is stressful and potentially fatal for lizards,” added Gail McCormick, a graduate student in Langkilde’s lab at the time of the research. “These attacks break lizards’ skin, leaving them vulnerable to infection, so it’s probably a bad idea to suppress immune function in response to stress when the predominate stressor, the fire ants, already induce an immune response through wounding. It turns out that lizards whose ancestors are from areas with fire ants have an improved immune response to stress, which may help to ensure their survival.”

To investigate the immune consequences of stress on animals with different heritages, the team captured pregnant females from the wild from two different kinds of environments — one that had been invaded by fire ants 60-to-70 years prior, or the equivalent of 30-to-40 lizard generations, and one that had not yet been invaded by fire ants.

The researchers raised the offspring of the captured females in high- and low-stress environments until they were adults. They created high-stress conditions by either exposing the lizards to fire ants or by dosing them every week with the stress-relevant hormone corticosterone dissolved in oil.

“This concoction soaks into lizards’ skin like lotion, causing a spike in their blood corticosterone levels that mimics their physiological reaction to being chased or attacked by fire ants,” said Langkilde.

Once the lizards reached adulthood — approximately 1 year old — the scientists assessed the animals’ immune function by measuring the ability of their blood plasma to hold a foreign protein in suspension.

“We found that offspring of lizards from high-stress environments had suppressed immune function while offspring of lizards from low-stress environments had enhanced immune function when they were exposed to stress relevant hormones during their own lifetime,” said McCormick. “This change is likely adaptive, as an enhanced immune response in the face of stress should also enhance survival in the presence of frequent attack by fire ants.”

A paper describing these results appears online as an accepted manuscript Jan 18 in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

“This work poses several interesting questions,” said Langkilde. “In a stressful situation, animals often divert energy towards critical functions, like escaping a predator, and away from less immediately critical functions, like immune function, growth or reproduction. This is beneficial in the short term, but can be costly if stress is prolonged. If lizards from sites invaded by fire ants are not suffering from a compromised immune system, what are they trading off? Do they suffer lower growth or suppressed reproduction, instead, when exposed to high-stress environments? These are some of the questions we plan to investigate.”

McCormick noted that understanding how species respond to stress can help in their management.

“In this changing world, animals may experience stressful situations more often, in some cases due to new kinds of stressors such as interactions with humans or invasive species,” she said. “It’s imperative that we understand how species respond to stress, and if this response varies across populations, in order to better allocate resources to mitigate any negative effects.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by Penn StateNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Gail L. McCormick, Travis R. Robbins, Sonia A. Cavigelli, Tracy Langkilde. Population history with invasive predators predicts innate immune function response to early life glucocorticoid exposureThe Journal of Experimental Biology, 2019; jeb.188359 DOI: 10.1242/jeb.188359

Via: Science Daily

Star Advertiser: Census of Hawaii’s homeless begins

(Source: Star Advertiser)

January 23, 2018

By: Dan Nakaso

 The first night of the annual Point in Time Count, a nationwide homeless census that will determine whether Hawaii continues to lead the country with the highest per capita rate of homelessness, began Tuesday night. The count will be conducted across all islands through Friday. Hawaii’s numbers are typically announced in the spring or summer. Federal officials later rank each state’s numbers. Despite back-to-back statewide decreases of more than 9 percent in the past two years across all islands, veteran volunteer counters and professionals from the nonprofit organization ALEA Bridge weren’t sure what the numbers would show for the area from the North Shore through Wahiawa to Mililani.


The first night of the annual Point in Time Count, a nationwide homeless census that will determine whether Hawaii continues to lead the country with the highest per capita rate of homelessness, began Tuesday night.

The count will be conducted across all islands through Friday. Hawaii’s numbers are typically announced in the spring or summer. Federal officials later rank each state’s numbers.

Despite back-to-back statewide decreases of more than 9 percent in the past two years across all islands, veteran volunteer counters and professionals from the nonprofit organization ALEA Bridge weren’t sure what the numbers would show for the area from the North Shore through Wahiawa to Mili­lani.

ALEA Bridge workers are seeing new faces in the area, especially children, said Phil Acosta, executive director of ALEA Bridge, which organized this year’s Point in Time Count for that part of Oahu.

Last year 281 homeless people were counted in the area.

“There seem to be more people,” said Chris Voss, who, along with his wife, Karla, had volunteered to count homeless people for their third year. “They say some are from the Big Island because of the volcano.”

In January 2018, 6,530 homeless people were counted across the state — compared with 7,220 in January 2017.

Tuesday night in Wahiawa, the Vosses were among 58 volunteers who showed up at the Avocado Street chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-­day Saints for the first night of the Point in Time Count and were given fluorescent pink T-shirts that read, “Point in Time Count/Because Everyone Counts.”

The experience counting homeless people off of Kamehameha Highway around Wahiawa’s Lake Wilson was eye-opening for first-time volunteer Crystal Shimabukuro, a state Department of Health public health nurse.

In their first encounter, Shimabukuro’s group met a couple with a boy — who appeared to be around age 10 — who were living on the banks of the lake.

The group was led by Rose Coleman, a community health worker at ALEA Bridge who knows the homeless trio and is trying to help the woman leave a domestic-violence situation.

The man immediately began walking up the embankment while yelling and swearing at Coleman, who calmly directed the volunteers to walk away.

“It’s good to see the barriers, the challenges, firsthand,” Shimabukuro said.

Acosta said more volunteers will try to get the homeless trio to fill out the 22-question survey by Friday.

But because they’re known by name, they will be counted in the Point in Time Count even if they don’t fill out the survey, Acosta said.

Not all encounters were unpleasant.

“Most of them are very nice,” said Debra Zedalis of Mililani, who had volunteered for the third time in a row to count homeless people in Wahiawa. “Tonight we’re seeing more women.”

Many of the homeless people who were counted Tuesday night have been living around Lake Wilson and Wahiawa’s Karsten Thot Bridge for years. One such person was Clarence English, 59, who lives in an encampment below Kamehameha Highway with his dog.

“Out of sight, out of mind,” English said to explain why he set up camp on the shore of Lake Wilson.

Asked whether Tuesday night’s encounter with Point in Time Count volunteers might encourage him to get off the street, English replied, “That would be great!”

Later, Acosta said ALEA Bridge outreach workers had offered English housing multiple times, with no luck.

Dorothy Isaveau, 36, did not say how many years she’s been on the street — “long time, actually” — and was vague in answering the key question of where she slept the night before: “I have a tent,” she said, gesturing toward Lake Wilson.

Isaveau also gave contradicting answers when asked whether she’s seeing more — or fewer — homeless people in Wahiawa lately.

First she said Wahiawa’s homeless population is “growing”; then she said, “It would be down — way down, actually.”

Whatever this week’s Point in Time Count reveals about Hawaii’s homeless population, Karla Voss considered it a privilege to meet — and count — homeless for the third year in a row.

“It’s actually selfish,” Voss said. “You get so much more than you give.”

Via: Star Advertiser

Star Advertiser: Diversity and unity are focus of MLK Day parade

(Source: Star Advertiser)

January 22, 2019

By: Nina Wu

Honolulu-Hawaii NAACP President Alphonso Braggs talks about the legacy Dr. King has left future generation.
Video: Craig T. Kojima

Thousands participated in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration parade, which began Monday morning at Magic Island at Ala Moana Regional Park, wound its way through Waikiki and ended with an afternoon unity rally at Kapiolani Park.

Participants from churches, schools and various organizations marched; rode unicycles, hoverboards, cars and trolleys; and carried signs with messages including “Be the Dream” and “Black Lives Matter” to celebrate the civil rights leader, who would have been 90 last week.

Spectators, including visitors and residents, lined Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki to watch.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the celebration here, organized by the Hawaii Martin Luther King, Jr. Coalition, and the 60th year since King first visited Hawaii to address the state Legislature, just weeks after statehood. At the time, King said he looked to Hawaii as an inspiration and “noble example” of racial harmony and justice.

Suzanne Williams watched along Kalakaua Avenue for her son, Caden Forsgren, a fourth-grader who was marching in the parade with Assets School for the first time.

“I think it’s important to support these kinds of things,” said Williams, “and teach our kids, the next generation, to know that everybody should be treated with dignity and respect.”

One of Honolulu’s buses also participated in the parade with its digital message board reading, “In memory of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.”

“I think it is very important for those of us who love the life and legacy of Dr. King to really come together, regardless of our differences, and find that common entity to which we can all work on, whether it is schools, education, health, whatever it is, social justice,” said Alphonso Braggs, branch president of the NAACP, at Kapiolani Park. “All of us have a passion about the way that we need to resolve these issues — and if we simply take the time to first respect our differences and then come together to work on that common entity, that’s going to help us make America the greatest nation on the face of the earth.”

Howard Covington Sr., grand master of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Hawaii, said it was important to keep King’s dream alive. King paved the way, but there is still much work to do, he said.

“For us, as men and women of color, it’s always important to try to keep the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King alive,” he said.

At Kapiolani Bandstand following the parade, Kahu Kordell Kekoa offered a Hawaiian blessing and noted that in Selma, Ala., the site of an epic march for equal voting rights, King wore a white carnation lei given to him by the Rev. Abraham Akaka of Kawaiaha‘o Church.

“Today I wear that lei to honor what we do: celebrating aloha,” he said.

Gladys Singleton of Makaha attends the celebration for the civil rights leader every year.

“I remember Dr. King — I met him when he came to our church in New York — and his father, Martin Sr.,” said Singleton, a volunteer at Iolani Palace. “We have to be together, that’s the thing. Dr. MLK had a dream that we would all one day stand together, and you can see the country is just breaking apart.”

What struck her about King when she met him decades ago, she said, was how calm he was. She described him as “a dynamic speaker but a very calm person when he talked.”

Carolyn Golojuch, president of the group Rainbow Family 808, marched with a double-sided sign that depicted a tearful Lady Liberty hugging a man of color on the front, and in the back, the words “Can’t believe we still have to protest this s—.”

Golojuch said she has marched in every MLK parade since 1996. She wanted to remind people what the Statue of Liberty stands for, and was critical of the current administration’s treatment of refugees at the border.

“Some of what we’re doing now is we’re justifying persecution of refugees,” she said. “They’re running from oppression and death, and yet we want to build a wall. We don’t need a wall. We need love.”

Jamie McOuat marched along the route with the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu, with her son, Kaimana, age 4.

McOuat said Kaimana learned about King from Uncle Wayne and the Howling Dog Band, a children’s band led by Uncle Wayne Watkins, and his song “Happy Birthday Martin.” Kaimana carried a sign that said, “We’re all human beans!” while McOuat carried a sign that said, “The human race is not a competition.”

“We always celebrate Martin Luther King Day,” said McOuat.

Gov. David Ige issued a special message Monday recognizing the MLK parade and rally, calling Hawaii a truly special place “where diversity yields harmony.” The state Senate issued a proclamation Monday honoring and commending King on the two significant anniversaries.

Via: Star Advertiser

Star Advertiser: 4 Living Treasures of Hawaii to be honored

(Source: Star Advertiser)

January 22, 2019

By: Pat Gee

(l-r) John M. Hara, Earl Kawa’a, Gertrude Yukie Tsutsumi, and James “Jimmy” T. Yagi.

Four individuals named as this year’s Living Treasures of Hawaii include a pioneer of environmental architecture, a practitioner of the Hawaiian culture, a master teacher of Japanese classical dance and a legendary coach.

John M. Hara, Earl Kawa‘a, Gertrude Yukie Tsutsumi and James “Jimmy” T. Yagi will be honored at the 44th Living Treasures of Hawaii Recognition Program and Gala Luncheon at 11 a.m. Feb. 9 in the Coral Ballroom at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort.

The “Living Treasures of Hawaii” program was created by the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii in 1976 to honor those who demonstrate excellent standards of achievement and continue to make a significant contribution to society, a press release said.

The deadline to register is Feb. 2 at Early registration is $75 by Sunday; then the cost increases to $90. Call 522-9200.

John M. Hara

For more than four decades, Hara has designed over 65 public buildings that are culturally sensitive and environmentally conscientious. His clients include the Honolulu Museum of Art, University of Hawaii at Manoa and West Oahu, and major private schools. Since 1974 his buildings have won over 55 “Excellence in Architecture” and other design industry awards.

His Case Middle School on the Punahou campus was the first major certified “green” project in Hawaii, attaining Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. In 2006 Hara was the first architect ever awarded the prestigious Governor’s Award for Distinguished Achievement in Culture, Arts, and Humanities from the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.

Hara is also a teacher and mentor to UH students, and a board member of a number of community organizations.

Earl Kawa‘a

Born and raised in Halawa, Molokai, Kawa‘a has been a consummate teacher of the Hawaiian culture and its emphasis on family resiliency and sustainability through various methods. His mission has been to preserve Native traditions and values, mainly by holding classes on carving poi boards and stone pounders, and pounding poi over the last 10 years.

He has been a social worker, community organizer and peacemaker, recognized for his skills in hooponopono, or conflict resolution. A Kamehameha Schools curriculum specialist, Kawa‘a has been an instrumental volunteer for several nonprofit Hawaiian organizations, including Hui Malama o ke Kai, a youth development group in Maunawili Valley.

Internationally, he became a spiritual leader of the Daisen project, a cultural and economic exchange program between young leaders of Hawaii and Daisen city of Tottori prefecture in Japan.

Gertrude Yukie Tsutsumi

For more than five decades, Tsutsumi has been committed to perpetuating the Japanese art of Nihon Buyo, a dance form that developed in the 17th century with roots in Kabuki and Noh. Her lifetime of dancing started at the age of 8.

In 1953 she was bestowed the “natori” (professional name) of Onoe Kikunobu, and nine years later opened the Kikunobu Dance Company in Honolulu. Tsutsumi stresses the importance of building self-confidence and camaraderie as a strong foundation for dance performance and life skills. As of 2014, 13 students under her tutelage had been recognized with professional names.

Tsutsumi also taught through the state Department of Education and UH Manoa until her retirement in 2014. She continues to teach through her school, which performs across the state and the country.

In 2015 Tsutsumi received the National Endowment for the Arts’ most prestigious honor, the National Heritage Fellowship.

James “Jimmy” T. Yagi

In his 60 years of teaching basketball, Yagi has earned numerous awards and honors, but his greatest accomplishment has been his reputation of bringing out the best qualities in those he coaches.

Yagi was the first collegiate Japanese-American head coach in his 18-year tenure at UH Hilo, leading the Vulcans men’s basketball team to three district title wins and playing in three National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) championships. He remains the winningest men’s basketball coach in UH-Hilo history, amassing 250 wins. He has won an NAIA District II Coach of the Year award and is a member of the UH-Hilo Athletic Hall of Fame.

His greatest legacy may be the development of youth basketball camps and clinics across the state for over 40 years, with emphasis on playing the game the right way and with respect towards others. At age 83 he recently led the 43rd Annual Jimmy Yagi Hoops Camp in Hilo, and has established a UH-Hilo scholarship program.

Via: Star Advertiser

CNN: Climate change: Do you know the basics?

(Source: CNN)

January 19, 2019

By: Ryan Smith

(CNN)Climate change: it’s a subject you can’t avoid, and you’re only going to hear more about it as the world continues to feel the heat.

Maybe you’ve watched documentaries about cute endangered polar animals or tried to read complicated scientific journals about wildfires, rising ocean levels or fossil fuels. The causes of climate change are everywhere, from the clothes you wear to the burger you eat — but do you actually understand the basics?
At CNN, we recently analyzed the most searched climate change questions on Google Trends; the results revealed that many people are still looking for fundamental answers.
We’ve put together this list to help you learn more about our changing climate.

What is climate change?

The term, climate change is used to describe a long-term change in global temperatures and weather patterns.
The earth’s temperature has changed drastically in its 4.5 billion year history, from the Huronian Ice Age that covered vast portions of the planet in ice for nearly 300 million years, to a period about 50 million years ago, when scientists believe that palm trees and crocodiles were native above the Arctic Circle.
Today, climate change is commonly used as a term to describe the effects of global warming that have occurred as a result of human activity following the industrial revolution in the 18th century.

Why is climate change happening now, what are the causes?

This is where it gets a little complicated.
Earth’s atmosphere is full of gases.
Some gases, including nitrogen and oxygen — that together accounts for 99% of the gas in the atmosphere do not absorb heat from the sun, allowing it to reflect back into space from the Earth’s surface.
Other gases, known as greenhouse gases — including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide — absorb heat and make up roughly 0.1% of the atmosphere. When these gases absorb solar energy, they radiate it back towards the planet’s surface and to other gas molecules, creating the greenhouse effect.
Emissions from airlines also contribute to global warming.

The greenhouse effect plays an important role in naturally regulating the temperature of our climate. Without it the Earth’s average temperature would -18C. That’s roughly the temperature of a domestic freezer.
Since the industrial revolution the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has been increasing as a result of human activities like burning fossil fuelsdeforestation and modern farming practices. Which means more greenhouse effect, and more heating.
A 2013 report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a UN body of climate scientists, found that the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration had risen by 40% since the industrial revolution, resulting in earth’s temperature increasing by 1C.

What is the impact of climate change?

The impact of climate change depends on how much the earth warms.
In 2018, the IPCC released a stark report on the effects of a 1.5C temperature increase. These include more extreme weather conditions, sea-level rising, the destruction of coastal ecosystems, loss of vital species and crops, population displacement and a huge cost to the global economy.
In 2018, the United Nations warned that without urgent action global temperatures are set to rise above 3C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.
At that temperature the outlook begins to look even worse — Entire cities could be swallowed by the rising oceans, species of plants and animals face extinction as their ecological systems fail to adapt to the heat, and hundreds of millions of people could be forced to migrate due to coastal flooding, longer-lasting draughts and depleting crop yields.

Is climate change real, or a hoax?

Almost everyone now accepts that the global climate is changing. The biggest public debate — fueled by high-profile climate skeptics like US President Donald Trump — is around whether climate change is being caused by human activity.
But various studies have shown that a vast majority of scientists agree climate change is real and caused by humans, with one finding that 97% of the world’s scientists agree that human-caused global warming is happening.
Don't believe these climate change lies
In 2014, 1,300 scientists from around the world contributed to a UN (IPCC) report on the scientific knowledge of climate change. Their report said there was a 95% chance that human activity in the past 50 years had directly resulted in increasing the temperature of the earth.
Physical proof of global warming has been found across the globe, from glacial retreat high in the Himalayas, to coral bleaching in our oceans, to the regularity of extreme weather patterns.

Can climate change be stopped?

But there is hope.
Climate change can be limited and halted but only if we take what the IPCC describes as “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”
To do this, two things need to happen.
Firstly, we need to reverse 250 years of bad environmental habits. In December 2015, 195 countries agreed to a legally binding framework — The Paris Agreement — to achieve zero net carbon pollution by the end of the century. The immediate challenge is to slow down and limit global warming to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels.
Final draft of climate deal formally accepted in Paris
Final draft of climate deal formally accepted in Paris 00:49
A key aspect of this is to limit the human practices that create greenhouse gas emissions. That will mean changes to many aspects of our daily lives — from our diets, to the way we travel and how we produce the products we all buy.
The second, big challenge is reversing the effect of those practices by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that is already in the atmosphere. There have been advances on this front, ranging from hi-tech carbon capture technologies, to simply planting more trees. But as of yet the IPCC has categorized the technology as “unproven” at a large enough scale to move the needle.
(Via: CNN)

CNN: New ‘planetary health diet’ can save lives and the planet, major review suggests

(Source: CNN)

July 17, 2019

By: Nina Avramova, CNN

(CNN)An international team of scientists has developed a diet it says can improve health while ensuring sustainable food production to reduce further damage to the planet.

The “planetary health diet” is based on cutting red meat and sugar consumption in half and upping intake of fruits, vegetables and nuts.
And it can prevent up to 11.6 million premature deaths without harming the planet, says the report published Wednesday in the medical journal The Lancet.
The authors warn that a global change in diet and food production is needed as 3 billion people across the world are malnourished — which includes those who are under and overnourished — and food production is overstepping environmental targets, driving climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.
The world’s population is set to reach 10 billion people by 2050; that growth, plus our current diet and food production habits, will “exacerbate risks to people and planet,” according to the authors.
“The stakes are very high,” Dr. Richard Horton, editor in chief at The Lancet, saidof the report’s findings, noting that 1 billion people live in hunger and 2 billion people eat too much of the wrong foods.
Horton believes that “nutrition has still failed to get the kind of political attention that is given to diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria.”
“Using best available evidence” of controlled feeding studies, randomized trials and large cohort studies, the authors came up with a new recommendation, explained Dr. Walter Willett, lead author of the paper and a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan school of public health.
The report suggests five strategies to ensure people can change their diets and not harm the planet in doing so: incentivizing people to eat healthier, shifting global production toward varied crops, intensifying agriculture sustainably, stricter rules around the governing of oceans and lands, and reducing food waste.

The ‘planetary health diet’

To enable a healthy global population, the team of scientists created a global reference diet, that they call the “planetary health diet,” which is an ideal daily meal planfor people over the age of 2, that they believe will help reduce chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes, as well as environmental degradation.
The diet breaks down the optimal daily intake of whole grains, starchy vegetables, fruit, dairy, protein, fats and sugars, representing a daily total calorie intake of 2500.
They recognize the difficulty of the task, which will need “substantial” dietary shifts on a global level, needing the consumption of foods such as red meat and sugar to decrease by more than 50%.In turn, consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes must increase more than two-fold, the report says.
The diet advises people consume 2,500 calories per day, which is slightly more than what people are eating today, said Willett. People should eat a “variety of plant-based foods, low amounts of animal-based foods, unsaturated rather than saturated fats, and few refined grains, highly processed foods and added sugars,” he said.
Regional differences are also important to note. For example, countries in North America eat almost 6.5 times the recommended amount of red meat, while countries in South Asia eat 1.5 times the required amount of starchy vegetables.
“Almost all of the regions in the world are exceeding quite substantially” the recommended levels of red meat, Willett said.
The health and environmental benefits of dietary changes like these are known, “but, until now, the challenge of attaining healthy diets from a sustainable food system has been hampered by a lack of science-based guidelines, said Howard Frumkin, Head of UK biomedical research charity The Wellcome Trust’s Our Planet Our Health program. The Welcome Trust funded the research.
“It provides governments, producers and individuals with an evidence-based starting point to work together to transform our food systems and cultures,” he said.
If the new diet were adopted globally, 10.9 to 11.6 million premature deaths could be avoided every year — equating to19% to 23.6% of adult deaths. A reduction in sodium and an increase in whole grains, nuts, vegetables and fruits contributed the most to the prevention of deaths, according to one of the report’s models.

Making it happen

Some scientists are skeptical of whether shifting the global population to this diet can be achieved.
The recommended diet “is quite a shock,” in terms of how feasible it is and how it should be implemented, said Alan Dangour, professor in food and nutrition for global health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. What “immediately makes implementation quite difficult” is the fact that cross-government departments need to work together, he said. Dangour was not involved in the report.
At the current level of food production, the reference diet is not achievable, said Modi Mwatsama, senior science lead (food systems, nutrition and health) at the Wellcome Trust. Some countries are not able to grow enough food because they could be, for example, lacking resilient crops, while in other countries, unhealthy foods are heavily promoted, she said.
Mwatsama added that unless there are structural changes, such as subsidies that move away from meat production, and environmental changes, such as limits on how much fertilizer can be used, “we won’t see people meeting this target.”
To enable populations to follow the reference diet, the report suggests five strategies, of which subsidies are one option. These fit under a recommendation to ensure good governance of land and ocean systems, for example by prohibiting land clearing and removing subsidies to world fisheries, as they lead to over-capacity of the global fishing fleet.
Second, the report further outlines strategies such as incentivizing farmers to shift food production away from large quantities of a few crops to diverse production of nutritious crops.
Healthy food must also be made more accessible, for example low-income groups should be helped with social protections to avoid continued poor nutrition, the authors suggest, and people encouraged to eat healthily through information campaigns.
A fourth strategy suggests that when agriculture is intensified it must take local conditions into account to ensure the best agricultural practices for a region, in turn producing the best crops.
Finally, the team suggests reducing food waste by improving harvest planning and market access in low and middle-income countries, while improving shopping habits of consumers in high-income countries.
Louise Manning, professor of agri-food and supply chain resilience at the Royal Agricultural University, said meeting the food waste reduction target is a “very difficult thing to achieve” because it would require government, communities and individual households to come together.
However, “it can be done,” said Manning, who was not involved in the report, noting the rollback in plastic usage in countries such as the UK.

The planet’s health

The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement aimed to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Meeting this goal is no longer only about de-carbonizing energy systems by reducing fossil fuels, it’s also about a food transition, said Johan Rockström, professor of environmental science at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, in Sweden, who co-led the study.
“This is urgent,” he said. Without global adaptation of the reference diet, the world “will not succeed with the Paris Climate Agreement.”
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A sustainable food production system requires non-greenhouse gas emissions such as methane and nitrous oxide to be limited, but methane is produced during digestion of livestockwhile nitrous oxides are released from croplands and pastures.But the authors believe these emissions are unavoidable to provide healthy food for 10 billion people. They highlight that decarbonisation of the world’s energy system must progress faster than anticipated, to accommodate this.
Overall, ensuring a healthy population and planet requires combining all strategies, the report concludes — major dietary change, improved food production and technology changes, as well as reduced food waste.
“Designing and operationalising sustainable food systems that can deliver healthy diets for a growing and wealthier world population presents a formidable challenge. Nothing less than a new global agricultural revolution,” said Rockström, adding that “the solutions do exist.
“It is about behavioral change. It’s about technologies. It’s about policies. It’s about regulations. But we know how to do this.”
Via: CNN

Civil Beat: Big Island: The Vog Is Gone — For The First Time In Decades

(Source: Civil Beat)

January 2, 2019

By: James Armstrong

Kilauea didn’t just stop spewing lava. It ceased emissions that have been constant since 1983.

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii Island – Kona is enjoying life in high-definition.

From pristine sunrises breaking over Hualalai’s summit to green flashes beyond Kailua Bay, the Gold Coast’s intense beauty is now shining through air so rarified it’s not been seen in decades. 

“I think we’re experiencing some of the clearest visibility, some of the best air quality that any of us have ever seen,” said Wendy Laros, a 27-year West Hawaii resident and executive director of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce.

She sees lots of benefits from the change.

“We definitely believe this will enhance the experience for our visitors and for those who live here,” Laros said, noting chamber staff are no longer fielding numerous calls daily from people asking about the effects of volcanic haze known as “vog.”

That’s because for the first time since Kilauea volcano started erupting in 1983, leeward areas are no longer being polluted with unrelenting vog plumes that prevailing trade winds funneled around the Big Island’s southern tip, then north along the Kona Coast and beyond, stretching as far as Oahu.

The pollution, comprised mainly of hazardous sulfur dioxide and acid particles, sometimes got so thick people would mistakenly report wildfires.

Conditions changed for the better when the catastrophic lava-spewing that began in May suddenly ended, resulting in a near-complete cessation of emissions. By September, fresh, clean air began purging the vog-filled skies over West Hawaii. 

On a recent day, the Hawaii Department of Health’s website reported zero sulfur dioxide parts per million at each of several monitors placed around the island in response to the eruption. 

Longtime West Hawaii residents like Cindi Punihaole notice the improved air.

“On sunset on Christmas Eve, we had a green flash,” said Punihaole, an ocean educator with The Kohala Center. “Normally it’s rare to see a green flash (because of the vog), but we’re experiencing them now, so we’re fortunate.”

Impacts of the clean air, should it last – and that’s a big if given Kilauea volcano’s status as the world’s most-active volcano — are expected to go well beyond beauty to affect the tourism industry, resident health and even property values, according to experts in those fields.

Basically, it’s the bright side of a disaster that destroyed more than 700 homes in the Puna region.

“I think everybody is going to start coming back to the island,” said Ross Birch, executive director of the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau.

Big Island tourism was down 10 percent in November compared to 2017, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s latest tally, but Birch attributed part of the drop to being paired against last year’s record-high visitor count.

“Air quality is definitely something we mention in almost everything we talk about,” he said. “It’s far better than we’ve seen it in the last 35 years. The ocean’s bluer, the mountain’s greener.”

That helps children, the elderly and anybody with respiratory problems. Vog-related symptoms include coughing, headache and dizziness, according to a vog fact sheet the Hawaii Department of Health’s Clean Air Branch provides on its website. Even healthy people may suffer, the DOH says.

“Volcanic emissions and volcanic ash are hazardous to health,” the DOH said on its website in a Sept. 24 update, the text highlighted in red. “If you stay in the area, limit outside activities and stay indoors if you have breathing issues.”

On the worst days, however, even those restrictions proved futile, especially for some people living along the mid-level slopes of Haulalai where the vog concentrations were the greatest.

“You couldn’t breathe even in your home,” Punihaole said of conditions she experienced at her Kalaoa residence last May and June when Kilauea was undergoing what USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists say was the volcano’s largest eruptive phase in 200 years.

At its peak output, the volcano was releasing about 4,000 tons of sulfur dioxide a day, making it the nation’s largest single source of the hazardous gas, according to a recent report by the Hawaii Island Vog Network. The newly formed partnership between The Kohala Center and Massachusetts Institute of Technology staffers is working to place more monitors around the island to provide residents with real-time reports on air quality.

But they aren’t needed to notice how much conditions have improved.

“I got a million-dollar view from my house, and I couldn’t see the ocean in August,” Lance Owens said of his home overlooking Kealakekua Bay. “It was sad.”

Owens, who served as the West Hawaii Association of Realtors president until year’s end, said he’s lost sales due to buyers’ concerns about vog effects.

“Numbers indicate vog had a greater impact than lava when comparing number of (single-family) residential home sales” this year to the same period in 2017, Owens wrote in his official October report to the Hawaii Association of Realtors.

Homes sales in Puna, where the eruption was occurring, dropped 28 percent during this year’s lowest point, while North Kona’s sales plummeted 48 percent, according to his report.

“It is real for some people,” Owens said of the vog, adding he feels blessed that he and his family were unaffected by the constant emissions.

But since the eruption has stopped, November’s numbers for North Kona homes were off by just a single sale, he said.

Owens predicts buyers will discover that Kona-area homes are a “screaming bargain” compared to similar dwellings found on other islands, which likely will drive up prices “considerably.”

“We’re getting a lot of activity again,” he said.

And it’s all because the vog is gone.

“It’s like a life-changing moment,” Owens said.

Via: Civil Beat

CNN: Retail’s Amazon antidote: Buy online, pickup in store

(Source: CNN Business)

January 2, 2019

By: Nathaniel Meyersohn

New York (CNN Business)Brick-and-mortar retailers like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy found an advantage over Amazon this holiday: Store pickups on online orders.

Offering customers free pickups for digital orders has become a key part of these retailers’ strategy to compete against Amazon’s rapid and extensive home delivery network. Retailers have blanketed the country with store pickup options in recent years, and those investments paid off during the holidays.

Buy online, pickup-in-store spending increased 47% from November 1 to December 19 compared to a year ago, according to data from Adobe Analytics. Adobe said it was the biggest holiday on record for online pickups.

Customers have been quick to embrace online pickups from stores. Analysts say it appeals to shoppers who want to grab their stuff and go without waiting in checkout lines or interacting with sales workers on the floor.

At Walmart’s investor day in October, Chief Customer Officer Janey Whiteside said pickup was attractive to both “a time-pressed mom” heading home after picking her kids up at school and a “convenience-seeking baby boomer on the way home from the golf course.”

Picking up mobile or online orders from storesin hours can also be faster than waiting days for home delivery. It works for last-minute holiday shoppers who need to buy a gift in a hurry. Old Navy even partnered with Lyft to offer customers free rides to stores for online pickups last Saturday.

“The issue with delivery is that it can take several days,” said Georgianna Oliver, the founder of Package Concierge, a firm that creates in-store lockers for retailers. She said weekly orders have doubled for her company’s lockers since last last year.

For retailers, pickup is a better economic model because they can avoid paying expensive shipping fees. Retailers’ profit margins have dipped in recent years from fulfilling online orders.

“The realization of the growing costs of e-commerce fulfillment pushed many brands to step it up this past year,” said Steve Dennis, a retail consultant and former executive at Sears and Neiman Marcus.

Buy online, pickup-in-store spending increased 47% from November 1 to December 19 compared to a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics.

Buy online, pickup-in-store spending increased 47% from November 1 to December 19 compared to a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics.

Amazon (AMZN), which lags rivals in the space, just started offering grocery pickup from Whole Foods in August. It’s only available in 22 cities. It has also been building out new stores like Amazon Go, Amazon Books, and Amazon-4 Star.

Best Buy (BBY) started offering pickup more than a decade ago. Forty percent of Best Buy’s online orders today are picked up at one of its 1,000 US stores. “Stores are a wonderful asset,”CEO Hubert Joly told CNN Business in a recent interview. “People choose to go to the store because in less than an hour you can pick up your stuff.”

Customers often select pickup from Best Buy instead of home delivery because they’re buying gifts for family members, or they don’t want to risk someone stealing an expensive TV off their porch, Joly said.

Walmart (WMT) offers order online and pickup in store for general items in nearly all of its 4,700 stores in the United States, and the company has recently added grocery pickup to more than 2,000 stores. By the end of the year, it will be able to reach 70% of the US population with grocery pickup, it said.

That means, Walmart will soon overtake Apple as the third largest online retailer in the country thanks to customers picking up groceries in stores, according to report by research firm eMarketer.

Target (TGT) was late to roll out pickup, but has scaled what it calls “drive-up” to around 1,000 stores. Employees bring customers’ orders out to their cars.

Target said that it was helping the company reduce costs. “Given the cost of last mile shipping, we like the economics of drive-up much better,” Target Chief Operating Officer John Mulligan told analysts in November.

Despite the growth opportunitiespickup is not easy to operate andpresents several obstacles for retailers, including security, inventory control, and staffing. Retailers have to implement procedures that prevent fraud, Oliver said.

Retailers also need to make sure stores don’t run out of stock for online orders, and that workers are not overwhelmed with double duty handling pickups and running stores. Walmart, for example, has 25,000 trained personal shoppers to select produce and meat at stores for online orders.

Update: This story now includes details about Walmart’s plans to expand grocery pick up, which is different from the pick up program for general merchandise available at all of its 4,7000 US stores.


Via: CNN Business