Hawaii Archives:

HONOLULU, HAWAII (BNO NEWS) — Billionaire Larry Ellison, the co-founder and chief executive officer of multinational computer technology company Oracle, has agreed to buy the Hawaiian island of Lana’i, officials said on late Wednesday.

Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie confirmed current landowner Castle & Cooke, which owns approximately 98 percent of the state’s sixth-largest island, has filed a transfer application with the Public Utilities Commission. He identified the buyer as Ellison, but no financial details were made public.

“It is my understanding that Mr. Ellison has had a long standing interest in Lana’i,” Abercrombie said in a statement. “His passion for nature, particularly the ocean, is well known specifically in the realm of America’s Cup sailing. He is also a businessman whose record of community involvement in medical research and education causes is equally notable. We look forward to welcoming Mr. Ellison in the near future.”

While financial details have not been disclosed, previous estimates put the price around $500 million. The deal includes two resort hotels, two championship golf courses and club houses, and more than 88,000 acres (35,612 hectares) of land. The island also has more than 3,000 residents.

Forbes magazine estimates Ellison’s net worth to be around $36 billion, making him the world’s sixth richest person.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — The United States on early Thursday morning successfully tested a hypersonic aircraft which will allow the U.S. military to strike targets anywhere in the world within an hour, the Pentagon confirmed on Friday.

The Pentagon said the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW) glide vehicle was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai County, Hawaii at 1.30 a.m. local time on Thursday. It later hit its target, the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll, in the Pacific Ocean.

“The objective of the test is to collect data on hypersonic boost-glide technologies and test range performance for long-range atmospheric flight,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “Mission emphasis is aerodynamics; navigation, guidance, and control; and thermal protection technologies.”

The Pentagon said a three-stage booster system launched the AHW glide vehicle and successfully deployed it on the desired flight trajectory. “The vehicle flew a non-ballistic glide trajectory at hypersonic speed to the planned impact location at the Reagan Test Site,” it said. “Space, air, sea, and ground platforms collected vehicle performance data during all phases of flight.”

The AHW program is managed by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command and is part of the “Prompt Global Strike” program. The program will allow the U.S. military to deliver a precise weapon strike anywhere in the world in less than 60 minutes.

On August 11, the U.S. military unsuccessfully launched the Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2) from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The HTV is part of the “Prompt Global Strike” program but has a larger reach than the AHW.

Contact with the HTV-2 was lost after an Air Force Minotaur IV rocket inserted it into the desired trajectory. Separation of the vehicle was confirmed by a rocket cam and the aircraft transitioned to Mach 20 (15,200 miles or 24,500 kilometers per hour) before it failed.

The prototype HTV-2 aircraft had its first test flight on April 22, 2010, when telemetry assets also experienced a loss of signal from the aircraft. The Pentagon has invested nearly $240 million in the “Prompt Global Strike” program this year, including some $69 million for Thursday’s test.

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MIAMI (BNO NEWS) — Tropical Depression Six-E formed between the Pacific coast of Mexico and the Hawaiian islands on early Monday afternoon, forecasters said, but there is no immediate threat to land. The system is expected to soon become a tropical storm.

Forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) have been following the weather system since Friday afternoon when it emerged as a weak area of low pressure located about 975 miles (1596 kilometers) southwest of the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula in Mexico. It slowly became better organized over the next few days.

“The small low pressure system, located near the intertropical convergence zone about midway between the southern tip of Baja California and the Hawaiian islands, continues to produce a compact area of deep convection,” said NHC hurricane specialist Robbie Berg. “Easterly shear which has been impacting the system has decreased today, and a small band of convection has developed around the southern and southwestern side of the circulation. Satellite intensity estimates are now [between 29 to 40 miles (46 to 64 kilometers) per hour], and the system is therefore designated as a depression at this time.”

As of 8 p.m. PDT on Monday (0300 GMT Tuesday), the center of Six-E was located about 1,690 miles (2715 kilometers) west-southwest of the southern tip of Baja California. It is moving toward the west at a speed near 9 miles (15 kilometers) per hour, steering it into the Central Pacific later this week.

Maximum sustained winds of Six-E are near 35 miles (55 kilometers) per hour, with higher gusts, according to forecasters. “Global models still forecast the vertical shear to decrease during the next couple of days,” NHC hurricane specialist Todd Kimberlain said. “On the other hand, the cyclone will gradually be moving over marginally warm waters and will begin to ingest a relatively drier and more stable air mass from the north. The latter two factors would likely offset any potential for significant intensification, especially given the current organization of the system.”

Kimberlain said Six-E will likely acquire tropical storm status for a short time before an abrupt increase in southeasterly shear and sub-26 Celsius (78.8 degrees Fahrenheit) waters on Thursday, which should hasten the demise of the tropical cyclone. “Given the increasingly hostile environmental conditions later in the forecast period, it would not be surprising to see the cyclone degenerate into a remnant low sooner than what is currently indicated,” Kimberlain noted.

And while some weather models indicate a track towards the Hawaiian islands, Six-E is not expected to last that long to pose any threat to Hawaii. If Six-E does become a tropical storm as expected, it will be named Fernanda.

Six-E is the sixth storm of the 2011 Eastern Pacific hurricane season, following Hurricane Eugene which formed far off the Pacific coast of Mexico on July 31. As the system stayed far from land, Eugene caused no damage or casualties.

According to figures released in May, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is expecting a below normal hurricane season in the Eastern Pacific this year. The outlook calls for 9 to 15 named storms, with five to eight becoming hurricanes and one to three expected to become a major hurricane (category 3 or higher).

An average Eastern Pacific hurricane season produces 15 to 16 named storms, with eight to nine becoming hurricanes and four becoming major hurricanes. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15 through November 30, with peak activity from July through September.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday released his long form birth certificate in an attempt to stop ongoing conspiracy theories about his place of birth.

Conspiracy theories regarding Obama’s citizenship first emerged in 2008 during his election campaign, alleging that he is not a natural-born citizen of the United States and therefore is not eligible to be President under Article Two of the United States Constitution. Some claim Obama was born in Kenya, not in Hawaii as is on his certification of live birth.

The issue again received widespread media coverage in the United States in recent weeks as Republican Donald Trump repeatedly called on Obama to release the documents. It led to a new debate over the issue.

But Obama’s campaign team had already released a certificate of live birth in 2008 and posted it to their campaign website. Nonetheless, critics demanded to see the long form version of the document.

“When any citizen born in Hawaii requests their birth certificate, they receive exactly what the President received,” Dan Pfeiffer, the White House Communications Director, said on Wednesday, referring to the certificate of live birth that was released in 2008. “In fact, the document posted on the campaign website is what Hawaiians use to get a driver’s license from the state and the document recognized by the Federal Government and the courts for all legal purposes. That’s because it is the birth certificate. This is not and should not be an open question.”

Pfeiffer said Obama does not believe the distraction over his birthplace is good for the country, and therefore he decided to release it. “It may have been good politics and good TV, but it was bad for the American people and distracting from the many challenges we face as a country,” he said.

He added: “At a time of great consequence for this country – when we should be debating how we win the future, reduce our deficit, deal with high gas prices, and bring stability to the Middle East, Washington, DC, was once again distracted by a fake issue. The President’s hope is that with this step, we can move on to debating the bigger issues that matter to the American people and the future of the country.”

Obama later commented on the issue during a White House news conference in which he said that he was “puzzled” as to why it remained an issue for so long. “We’ve had every official in Hawaii, Democrat and Republican, every news outlet that has investigated this, confirm that, yes, in fact, I was born in Hawaii, August 4, 1961, in Kapiolani Hospital,” he said.

The president said he was surprised to see earlier this month that the headlines were focused on his place of birth, rather than one of his speeches on his budget. “During that entire week the dominant news story wasn’t about these huge, monumental choices that we’re going to have to make as a nation. It was about my birth certificate.”

In response to the release of Obama’s long form birth certificate, Trump said he hoped the document is real and took credit for achieving the release of it. The White House nor Obama did not specifically name Trump, who is considering a run for the White House.

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HONOLULU, HAWAII (BNO NEWS) — At least two people were killed and two others remain missing after multiple explosions blasted a fireworks storage facility Friday morning in Hawaii, local authorities said.

Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Captain Terry Seelig told the Honolulu Star Advertiser that firefighters removed two bodies from the underground cave in Waikele, Hawaii, where confiscated fireworks were stored.

In addition to the two confirmed dead and two missing, two others were injured due to the explosions and fires. The injured were transported to a local hospital for medical treatment, where one of them was reported to be in critical condition.

Seelig said all six men are believed to be in their 20s and employed by Donaldson Enterprises, which uses the bunker, located at the Waikele Business Center on Pakele Street.

Firefighters received the first emergency call at around 9 a.m. local time, and upon arrival, they found the two wounded outside the bunker.

After a quick knockdown of the flames, firefighters identified two others just outside the bunkers, which used to be military munition storage facilities designed to hold explosive material, and are about 250 feet long, 12 to 20 feet wide, and 18 feet high. However, after bringing them out, they had no signs of life.

The two missing are presumed to be inside the bunker, but with high temperatures and numerous fireworks, which are mostly aerial, still in danger of lighting up inside the facility, it remains unsafe for firefighters to enter and search the area.

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HONOLULU, HAWAII (BNO NEWS) — A U.S. Marine helicopter crashed off the coast of Hawaii killing one person and injuring another three, officials said Wednesday.

The CH-53E helicopter crashed off the coast of Kaneohe, Hawaii Tuesday night at around 7:30 p.m. local time, around 2 miles from Marine Corps Base Hawaii, KITV reported.

Following the crash, the U.S. Coast Guard deployed planes and boats to the scene, and a Honolulu Fire Department helicopter was able to rescue the three surviving Marines and transport them to base before they were taken to Queen’s Medical Center. On Wednesday, one fatal victim was confirmed.

Reports indicate that the surviving Marines were in critical condition, and the Coast Guard established a 500-yard ‘safe zone’ around the crash site to prevent people from entering the area where recovery teams work.

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HONOLULU, HAWAII (BNO NEWS) — Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano has continued its eruptions, causing experts to set the volcano’s alert level at warning and its aviation alert at red, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said Sunday.

On Saturday, at around 2 p.m. local time, the floor of Pu`u Oo collapsed as the November 29 flows were weakly active Sunday morning, the USGS said.

At the summit, the lava lake level receded deep below the rim of the vent inset within the east wall of Halemaumau Crater.

In addition, the lava level receded rapidly through Saturday afternoon and evening but seemed to slow since midnight. At 7:03 a.m. local time, a large collapse caused the lava lake level to recede almost beyond view of the webcam.

The USGS also said the summit tiltmeter network recorded continued deflation at a steady rate amounting to almost 28 microradians by this morning. Seismic tremor levels elevated further between about 2 and 4:30 p.m. Saturday and then increased to almost ten times background between 8 p.m. last night and 4 a.m. this morning.

Furthermore, approximately one-hundred-and-fifty earthquakes were strong enough to be located within Kilauea volcano with more than 100 clustered in the east rift zone, in location, between Maka`opuhi and Napau Crate.

The Pu`u Ōō-Kupaianaha eruption of Kīlauea, now in its twenty-fourth year and 55th eruptive episode, ranks as the most voluminous outpouring of lava on the volcano’s east rift zone in the past five centuries.

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HONOLULU, HAWAII (BNO NEWS) — Two people have been presumed dead after remaining unaccounted for after the motorized hang glider on which they were riding crashed off the coast of a Hawaiian island, local media reported Wednesday.

According to KXLY, the island of Kauai’s Fire Department and U.S. Coast Guard intensified their search efforts by boat, helicopter, and plane, using sonar to locate the bodies of the two passengers who flew out and crashed into the ocean near Hanapepe, Hawaii.

However, the owner and pilot of the aircraft, Jim Gaither, of Hanapepe, and Kim Buergel, 49, of Spokane, Washington, have been presumed dead, as officials confirmed that they are no longer conducting a search, rather a recovery operation.

Crews were able to recover some material that is believed to be from the Light Sport Aircraft which they were riding. The hang glider is operated by Big Sky Kauai and owned by Gaither himself.

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HONOLULU (BNO NEWS) — U.S. President Barack Obama spent New Year’s Eve in Hawaii by playing golf with friends and attending a private talent show with his family.

Obama and the First Family have been staying on the Hawaiian island of Oahu since December 22 and will stay there until January 4, two days longer than initially planned. He has been keeping low-key ever since arriving on the island and his New Year’s Eve was no different.

The President began New Year’s Eve by receiving the Presidential Daily Briefing, a top-secret document which is provided to Obama every morning. He then left his vacation home at around 8.15 a.m. local time for his usual workout and was greeted by a handful of well-wishers who had waited for him outside a Secret Service checkpoint. They were holding signs such as “So much love & Gratitude.”

Obama finished his workout at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe about an hour later, at 9.20 a.m. local time, and returned to his vacation home shortly after. Several hours later, at 12.50 p.m., Obama left his rental home for the Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course where he played golf all afternoon.

He left at around 6 p.m. after playing 18 holes with his friends Eric Whitaker, Marty Nesbitt, Bobby Titcomb, and Mike Ramos. “A few onlookers were waving as the motorcade passed through the first checkpoint,” said reporter Rob Shikina, who was covering Obama’s last day of 2010 for the White House press pool.

Not much else is expected to be released about Obama’s last hours of 2010, although the White House did release some insight. “Tonight, the President will be spending time with family and friends and later they will have the annual New Year’s Eve Talent Show,” said Bill Burton, a White House spokesman.

Besides celebrating New Year’s Eve and Christmas in Hawaii, Obama has also had some time to read books. Burton said the books Obama read were ‘President Reagan – The Role of a Lifetime’ by Lou Cannon, ‘The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet’ by David Mitchell and ‘Our Kind of Traitor’ by John le Carre.

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TOKYO (BNO NEWS) — A strong earthquake struck off Japan’s Bonin Islands on early Thursday morning, seismologists said, generating false earthquake readings elsewhere in the world.

The 6.5-magnitude earthquake at 7.49 a.m. local time (2149 GMT Wednesday) was centered approximately 146 kilometers (91 miles) east-northeast of Chichi-shima on the Bonin Islands, which are also known in Japan as the Ogasawara Islands. It struck about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) measured the strength of the earthquake at 6.3 on the Richter scale, slightly weaker than Japan’s estimate.

Neither JMA nor the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami watch or warning as a result of the earthquake, which happened a day after a 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck nearby. Thursday’s earthquake is believed to be an aftershock.

Soon after Thursday’s earthquake, the USGS and the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center reported that a strong 6.5-magnitude earthquake had struck the North Pacific Ocean, some 873 miles (1404 kilometers) northeast off Hilo, Hawaii.

However, seismologists later determined that the earthquake in the North Pacific Ocean was a false reading, generated by the earthquake off Japan. Strong earthquakes sometimes generate false readings elsewhere in the world.

In addition to the false readings off Hawaii, other false earthquake readings were seen in Taiwan and China.

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