Hawaii governor signs same-sex marriage bill into law
Star-Advertiser: Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed the marriage equality bill into law today, making Hawaii the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage.
He signed the bill before a crowd of several hundred people at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu.
Now, the struggle over marriage equality will shift to the courts, where Rep. Bob McDermott (R, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point) and a group of Christians will seek to block the state from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples on Dec. 2, as the measure allows.
The lawsuit contends that the 1998 constitutional amendment that gave the Legislature the power to reserve marriage to heterosexual couples outweighs a statutory change. Another public vote, the lawsuit argues, would be necessary to redefine marriage.
Judge Karl Sakamoto has scheduled a hearing for Thursday in Circuit Court.
Photo: Gov. Neil Abercrombie and his wife Nancie Caraway sit in the auditorium at the Hawaii Convention Center before today’s bill-signing ceremony. (Craig T. Kojima / Star-Advertiser)
Alaska Airlines is partnering with The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii to restore near-shore coral reefs.
The airline says in a release that it will donate $1 to the conservancy for every download of its mobile application in August. The minimum contribution will be $30,000.
The money will be used to help the conservancy’s near-shore coral reef restoration work to remove invasive seaweed from Oahu’s Kaneohe Bay. The reefs will then be seeded with native sea urchins that prevent the algae from growing back.
The restoration team is working with the Hawaii State Division of Aquatic Resources and University of Hawaii scientists. It’s expected that the north end of the bay will be cleared by 2015. [x]
The tech giant is letting third-party groups borrow its camera-equipped backpacks to create their own 360-degree ‘Street Views,’ starting on Hawaii’s Big Island.
National Museum of American Indian Celebrates Hawaiian Arts and Culture
Hawaiian arts and culture will be featured May 24-26 at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. during the 2013 Celebrate Hawaii Festival.
Hawaii approves permit for world’s largest telescope
Pacific Business News: A permit for the $1.3 billion Thirty Meter Telescope was approved by the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday.
The telescope will be built on the summit of the volcano Mauna Kea by a group of research universities primarily from California and Canada.
Researchers believe the telescope will produce images three times sharper than those produced by optical telescopes today.
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Illustration courtesy TMT Observatory Corp
Hawaii Sign Language found to be distinct language
Linguists say they have determined that a unique sign language, possibly dating back to the 1800s or earlier, is being used in Hawaii, marking the first time in 80 years a previously unknown language — spoken or signed — has been documented in the U.S.
Researchers will formally announce their findings this weekend showing it’s not a dialect of American Sign Language, as many long believed, but an unrelated language with unique vocabulary and grammar.
Only about 40 people, most in their 80s, are known to currently use Hawaii Sign Language, meaning the discovery comes just as the language is on the cusp of disappearing.
"I think that everyone in the room is aware of how Hawaiian, the indigenous language of this state, has been brought back from the brink of extinction," William O’Grady, linguistics professor at the University of Hawaii, said at a news conference. “But what we didn’t know until very recently is that Hawaii is home to a second highly endangered language that is found nowhere else in the world.”
Researchers said they interviewed and videotaped 21 users of Hawaii Sign Language — 19 elderly deaf people and two adult children of deaf parents — for their study.
They documented how Hawaii and American sign languages have different grammar. In Hawaii Sign Language, adjectives come after nouns, like “dog black” instead of “black dog” in American Sign Language.
They found words for father, mother, dog and pig are all different in Hawaii and American sign languages. In fact, only 20 words on a list of 100 key words are significantly similar in both languages.
"It’s clearly a separate language and it clearly developed independently," said James Woodward, a University of Hawaii, Manoa, linguistics adjunct professor and co-director of the Center for Sign Linguistics and Deaf Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Languages are considered dialects when they share more than 80 percent of the words on the list, said Woodward who has documented distinct sign languages in Thailand, Vietnam and other parts of Asia.
Languages are considered related if 36 to 80 percent of the words on the list are significantly similar.
Four scholars involved in the research plan to present their study at the 3rd International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation in Honolulu on Sunday.
Academics became aware of Hawaii Sign Language’s unique characteristics because of Linda Lambrecht, an American Sign Language instructor at Kapiolani Community College in Honolulu.
She grew up learning Hawaii Sign Language from her brothers, and it was her first language.
But at school she was taught to use American Sign Language, which entered Hawaii in the 1940s and became the dominant sign language in the islands by the 1950s.
She held on to her first language regardless, and used both. Later in life, she began approaching other scholars about researching it.
The attention it’s now receiving helps her look past the lack of interest people paid to it before.
"It will be recognized in addition to the sign languages of other countries, and that itself makes me so proud that I don’t feel that frustrated," Lambrecht said through an interpreter.
O’Grady said Hawaii Sign Language is the first previously unknown language to be documented in the United States since the 1930s, when scholars identified the South Central Alaska spoken language of Eyak as unique.
Sign language was used in Hawaii in the 19th century, if not earlier. The first known written reference to sign language in the islands is in an 1821 letter from Protestant missionary Hiram Bingham to his friend Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, said Barbara Earth, a University of Hawaii, Manoa, adjunct assistant professor and Gallaudet University research fellow. Gallaudet co-founded one of the first deaf schools in the U.S.
Hawaii Sign Language is used by people of many ethnicities, not only Native Hawaiians. It may be influenced by sign language used by Native Hawaiians and immigrants to Hawaii, though research needs to be done on this, Earth said. It’s not related to spoken Hawaiian, nor is it related to any other sign language scholars are aware of, Woodward said.
Researchers plan to publish three Hawaii Sign Language textbooks and a dictionary to help keep the language alive. They also plan to publish their findings in academic journals.
PICTURED ABOVE: A sample of Martian soil delivered by the robotic arm on NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity to the rover’s observation tray for the first time on October 16, 2012.
Nasa’s Curiosity Mars rover finds soil similar to volcanic sands of Hawaii
In the first inventory of minerals on another planet, Nasa’s Mars rover has found soil that bears a striking resemblance to the weathered, volcanic sand of Hawaii, say scientists. The rover, named Curiosity, uses an x-ray imager to reveal the atomic structures of crystals in the Martian soil. It was the first time the technology, known as x-ray diffraction, was used to analyse soil not on Earth.
"This was a 22-year journey and a magical moment for me," said David Blake, Nasa’s lead scientist for the rover’s mineralogical instrument.
The Martian sand grains were found to have crystals similar to those of the basaltic soils found in volcanic regions on Earth, such as Hawaii. Scientists plan to use the information about the Mars minerals to ascertain if the planet most resembling Earth in the solar system could have supported and preserved microbial life.
"The mineralogy of Mars’ soil has been a source of conjecture until now," said David Vaniman, a scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, in Tucson, Arizona. "This interest isn’t just academic. Soils on planets’ surfaces are a reflection of surface exposure processes and history, with information on present and past climates."
Specifically, scientists want to understand the conditions that allowed the formation of particular minerals.
The first Martian soil scoop was mineralogically similar to basaltic materials and made mainly of feldspar, pyroxene and olivine. About half the soil was composed of non-crystalline materials, such as volcanic glass, formed from the breakdown of rocks. Several processes can account for this weathering, including interaction with water or oxygen in a way similar to rust formation on iron surfaces.
Brute force, such as sandstorms or meteorite impact, also could account for the soil’s weathered components, said Douglas Ming, a chemist at Nasa’s Johnson Space Centre, Houston. The Curiosity rover landed inside a giant impact crater near the Martian equator in August. The $2.5bn mission, lasting two years, is Nasa’s first astrobiology expedition since the 1970s-era Viking probes.
The rover is scouting a site where three types of rock intersect. Next year scientists plan to drive the rover across to a three-mile mound of sediment, named Mount Sharp, which rises from the floor of the crater.
"We’re hopeful that once we get into the truly ancient materials on Mount Sharp we will find minerals that suggest there was a habitable environment of some kind there. We haven’t had that happen yet, but we have a lot of time left," Blake said.
While x-ray diffraction is a technology that has existed for about 100 years, using the technology on Mars required years of work to scale down refrigerator-sized equipment into something that would fit into the space of a shoe box. The miniaturised, low-power instrument is used in the mining, oil and gas industries and is being evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration to screen for counterfeit pharmaceuticals.
Method’s sea trash-based soap bottle to debut this fall
At long last, Method is set to release the world’s first soap container — or any sort of container, for that matter — made partially from plastic trash recovered from the beaches of Hawaii.
Hawaii to become first U.S. state to ban plastic bags at checkout in every county
Hawaii is slated to become the first state in the nation to ban plastic bags at checkouts in every county.
“This is groundbreaking,” said Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle, according to msnbc.com.
Carlisle signed off on the ban last week, joining Honolulu County with the state’s three other counties, which had already passed the ban.
“By signing this environmentally friendly bill, Honolulu joined our neighbor island countries. Hawaii has become the only state in the United States where every county has plastic bag legislation.” Carlisle said.
The change goes into effect on July 15, 2015, giving retailers “plenty of time to get ready,” he told msnbc.com.
“Retailers will be able to use up their inventory of bags and make arrangements to educate the public on the importance of bringing their own bag,” Carlisle said.
Bans are already enforced in Kauai and Maui counties, and Hawaii County’s takes effect on Jan. 16, 2013.
The news comes on the heels of a report from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography documenting a shocking increase in plastic waste floating in the northeast Pacific Ocean.
Particularly in a region dubbed the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” marine life is changing as creatures ingest plastic at alarming rates.
The bans passed after a two-year campaign directed by the Sierra Club, an environmental group.
“Passing the bans did take an effort — change always does — but people seemed to understand the need for such an effort,” Robert Harris, director of the Sierra Club’s Hawaii chapter, told msnbc.com.
“Being a marine state, perhaps, we are exposed more directly to the impacts of plastic pollution and the damage it does to our environment,” he said.
“People in Hawaii are more likely to be in the water or in the outdoors and see the modern-day tumbleweed — plastic bags — in the environment.”
Hoku Solar selected to design and build seven-megawatt solar energy facility on Kauai
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Better Place launches free electric car charging in Hawaii
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Albatross found in LA freed to fly home to Hawaii
A large seabird found in the back of a pickup truck in Los Angeles has been released to begin its long flight home across the Pacific.
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China, India to jump forward in astronomy with participation in Hawaii telescope project
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Moss has cloned itself for 50,000 years, study says
Hawaiian plant may be one of oldest multicellular organisms.
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Several same-sex couples came together in the first minutes of New Year’s Day in Honolulu to become the first in the state’s history to enter into civil unions.
With Hawaii and Delaware joining the list Sunday, five states now recognize same-sex civil unions, while six other states and Washington, D.C., allow same-sex marriage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
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