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AirAsia adds Sihanoukville to its Cambodia routes

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SEPANG, 11 AUGUST 2017 – AirAsia continues to connect southest Asia further with the inaugural flight of its latest route to Sihanoukville, Cambodia that flies four times weekly directly from Kuala Lumpur. The airlines is also the first Malaysian carrier to operate the unique route in Cambodia.

The maiden flight, AK264, recorded a remarkable flight load of 100% and all guests on board were treated to a special send-off at klia2. A receiving ceremony was also held at the Sihanouk International Airport with a water cannon salute upon the arrival of the aircraft.

Spencer Lee, Head of Commercial for AirAsia Berhad said, “We are thrilled that our first flight to Sihanoukville marked a milestone with a successful full flight for our 50th unique route. As a truly Asian airline, it remains as our commitment to drive tourism efforts to all countries that we operate in especially within the region. This coastal city in Cambodia presents great potential and dynamic opportunities in terms of tourism, trade and economy which we are happy to be a part of this journey to develop Sihanoukville further. We would like to also take this opportunity to thank Cambodia Airports, Cambodia Tourism and the local authorities for their tremendous support in the launch of this new route.

“With Sihanoukville added into our extensive network map of over 120 destinations, we hope to grow this city to be a popular tourist destination that enables travellers from the region to experience a hidden side of Asean that has yet to be discovered. More importantly through this direct route, we want to open up air travel for the people of Sihanoukville to explore Asean and the world using our wide connectivity across 27 countries,” he added.

As the country’s fourth-largest city, Sihanoukville offers a getaway with untouched beaches, jungle mountains, mangrove and marine life. Visitors can take in the beautiful islands of Koh Rong Samloem and Koh Rong; enjoy the late night scene along Ochheuteal Beach; immerse in lush nature at the Kbal Chhay Waterfalls, or the country’s first national park, the Ream National Park; or savour fresh seafood like sear-grill squid and the national dish, Amok Trey.

AirAsia also connects Kuala Lumpur directly to capital city of Phnom Penh with 21 times weekly flights as well as Siem Reap with 14 times weekly flights.

For latest AirAsia news, activities and promotions, please follow AirAsia on Twitter (twitter.com/AirAsia) and Facebook (facebook.com/AirAsia).

Flight Schedule for Kuala Lumpur (KUL) – Sihanoukville, Cambodia (KOS)

Flight No From To Departure Arrival Flight Schedule
AK264 KUL KOS 1215 1300 Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday
AK265 KOS KUL 1340 1630 Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday

 


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AAA Hawaii Weekend Gas Watch: Prices Inch Up

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Gas price averages moved up slightly throughout the islands this past week, according to the AAA Hawaii Weekend Gas Watch. Today’s statewide average price is $3.07, up two cents from last Thursday and three cents more on this date a month ago. Today’s state average price is 34 cents higher than on this date a year ago, according to GasPrices.AAA.com.

In Honolulu, today’s average price for regular is $2.90, which is up a penny since last Thursday, the same price on this date last month and 37 cents higher than last year. The Hilo average price is $3.09, which is one cent higher than last Thursday, six cents higher on this date last month and 33 cents higher than on this date a year ago.  Wailuku’s average is $3.50, which is two cents higher than last Thursday, two cents higher on this date a month ago, and 22 cents higher than on this date a year ago.

“Hawaii (at $3.07 a gallon) remains the nation’s most expensive market for retail gasoline and drivers in the state are paying ten cents more per gallon than second-place California ($2.96).  Regional neighbors, Washington ($2.83), Alaska ($2.81), Oregon ($2.69) and Nevada ($2.63) join in the rankings as the top six most expensive markets,” said AAA Hawaii General Manager Liane Sumida.  “In other West Coast oil, gas and travel news, the Oil Price Information Service reports that Oregon refiners are ramping up production in anticipation of an expected tourist spike related to the total solar eclipse later this month.  This will be the first total solar eclipse in the continental U.S. since 1979, and the Oregon Department of Energy anticipates it will draw about 1 million visitors to that state.”

Motorists can find current prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app also can be used by AAA members to map a trip, find discounts, book a AAA-rated hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. AAA Hawaii reminds drivers that AAA continues to help travelers and the public with fuel information onGasPrices.AAA.com.

Prices as of 8 a.m. Aug. 10:

 Area                    Regular    One Week Change     Record Price
Honolulu $2.90 +1 cent  $4.48   (5/8/2011)
Hilo $3.09 +1 cent  $4.76   (4/22/2012)
Wailuku $3.50 +2 cents  $4.98   (5/9/2011)

AAA Hawaii Weekend Gas Watch is a weekly snapshot of gas prices.  Price comparisons are offered as a community service.  Prices are derived from fleet vehicle credit card transactions at more than 120,000 stations around the country.  Prices shown are combined averages updated three times daily.


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The Grand Skim of Things, Part 1

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In this space, we have often spoken of funding government with “special funds.”  Special funds are pots of money dedicated to a specified purpose.  Money in the fund can be spent for the specified purpose without going through the general appropriation process at the Legislature.  Agencies love them because they can spend money without interference by meddlesome lawmakers.  Supporters of the programs and services that the fund is spent on like them too, because the fund is dedicated to their program or service.  Or so they think.

But there is some “skimming” going on.  A Hawaii law dating back to 1955, which now can be found at HRS section 36-27, says that 5% of any special fund’s income will be paid to the state general fund to pay “central service expenses,” which we assume are shared services costs such as payroll, accounting, compliance reporting, and other administrative costs.  HRS sections 36-28, 36-28.5, and 36-29 apply a similar skim to the highway, airport, and harbor funds respectively, except that the 5% applies to the fund’s income net of payments for principal and interest on bonds.

The same 1955 law contained another provision, now found at HRS section 36-30, which says that each special fund “shall be responsible for its pro rata share of the administrative expenses incurred by the department responsible for the operations supported by the special fund concerned.”  This law does not provide for a flat percentage, but instead requires the state department in charge of the special fund to figure out the proper administrative costs.

Reports to the Legislature by the Department of Budget and Finance show the amounts assessed in recent years:

Fiscal Year Ending 6/30/ Central Services Expense Assessments Departmental Expense Assessments
2016 $ 44,216,395.76 $ 3,137,519.32
2015 46,154,994.98 3,733,194.31
2014 45,108,045.50 3,497,915.92
2013 39,093,748.69 3,206,727.79
2012 39,468,690.86 2,981,309.31
2011 40,516,153.25 3,789,295.21
2010 32,804,292.00 2,951,017.00
2009 31,703,168.00 3,336,976.00
2008 37,486,514.00 2,693,986.14
2007 30,473,089.00 2,169,355.00

Source:  Department of Budget and Finance, Budget, Program Planning and Management Division website

In 1994, the State Auditor, Marion Higa at the time, issued Report 94-17 on these assessments.  She concluded that it was appropriate for special funds to pay their fair share of administrative costs.  But she observed that a flat 5% seemed to be an arbitrary percentage and wondered whether it was a reasonable amount, observing that other states that charged central services expenses were charging quite a bit less in percentage terms.

To determine whether the 5% flat amount is fair, we need to know what costs this charge was meant to cover.  The State Auditor recommended that the Department of Budget and Finance put out some rules, which the statute authorizes explicitly, to add clarity and consistency.  It’s 23 years later and we’re still waiting for those rules.

In upcoming weeks, we will examine other issues relating to the Central Services Skim, as I call it, including the sheer number of funds that are exempt from it and how continued proliferation of the exemptions may get us in sky high trouble with the federal government, and the one department in state government that flatly refuses to pay a penny of the Central Services Skim.


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No Hanahana, Kaukau Anyway

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Growing up in these islands, I always heard the part-Hawaiian proverb that describes a very simple work ethic: “No hanahana, no kaukau.”  Meaning: if you don’t work, you don’t eat.

Recently, some very notable people including Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook have been championing the idea of “universal basic income,” which basically is a payment from the government to individuals simply for being alive.

Our Legislature latched onto that idea, passing House Concurrent Resolution 89.  That resolution says that universal basic income “is analogous to providing social security to every citizen at a level sufficient to cover their basic needs.”  It “would allow individuals seeking job retraining or working part-time to maintain a basic standard of living,” and “would also allow more people to share part time work between the fewer number of jobs that may be available, while lifting burdens on businesses, and providing a more secure and substantial safety net for all people, ending extreme financial poverty, and providing for a more financially sustainable and equitable future for all citizens in spite of coming economic disruption.”  It asks two of our government agencies to get together a working group to study the issue and come up with a report, including proposed legislation.

In other words:  No hanahana, kaukau anyway.

My advice is to keep two things in mind.

One:  How do we pay for it?  If we are talking about $10,000 per resident per year, for example, with a million people in our state we are looking at a price tag of $10 billion.  That amount would fund Honolulu rail in one year rather than the 30 years or so that taxpayers are now on the hook for.  And we would need to pay that every year.  For those who think the answer is to soak the rich, we just signed into law a bill that gives us the second-highest maximum income tax rate in the country.  Are we seriously thinking of going to that well again?

Two:  If you build it, they will come.  Whatever becomes of Hawaii v. Trump and the other court cases challenging immigration policy, U.S. nationals have a constitutional right to travel between states.  If we dole out copious amounts of cash to each resident, we will magically find more and more new residents.  We also will find that it is not legal to exclude them from the distribution.  Alaska has a Permanent Fund built up with taxes on oil extraction, and tried distributing it to residents based on how long they’ve lived in Alaska.  Its system got shot down by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Now Alaska makes Permanent Fund payments to everyone who has lived there a year.

How did most of us non-Hawaiians get to Hawaii in the first place?  Folks in other countries saw the United States as the land flowing with milk and honey, and were willing to come here and work hard in the plantations and elsewhere.  These immigrants were ancestors to most of us.  Some of us may be immigrants ourselves.  And now we are talking about making a land where you don’t even need to work to make money.  Go back to Point One again, because we are going to have cost overruns.

Rep. Chris Lee, credited as being the “brains” behind HCR 89, is quoted as saying: “Pursuing hard work enough to make a decent living no longer applies in an economy in which automation and innovation have taken that away from so many people.”  Hawai`i statewide annual average employment for the calendar year 2015 was 637,813, a 14.5% increase over the 557,041 in 2001, according to DLIR statistics.  That doesn’t look like our labor force is tanking because of the automation and innovation that have taken place over the last 15 years.  That flawed premise is no justification for adding universal basic income to the social programs and tax credits we already have (including a few we just extended with the income tax hike bill just signed into law).


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AAA Hawaii Weekend Gas Watch: Prices Stable

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Gas price averages continued to remain steady throughout most of the islands this past week, according to the AAA Hawaii Weekend Gas Watch. Today’s statewide average price is $3.05, which is a penny higher than last Thursday and the same price on this date a month ago. Today’s state average price is 26 cents higher than on this date a year ago, according toGasPrices.AAA.com.

In Honolulu, today’s average price for regular is $2.89, which is the same price as last Thursday, one cent lower than on this date last month and 29 cents higher than last year. The Hilo average price is $3.03, which is two cents higher than last Thursday, a penny higher on this date last month and 23 cents higher than on this date a year ago.  Wailuku’s average is $3.48, which is the same price as last Thursday, one cent higher on this date a month ago, and 20 cents higher than on this date a year ago.

“Gas prices on the West Coast continue to lead the nation: Hawaii, $3.05, California, $2.91, Washington, $2.81, Alaska, $2.80, Oregon, $2.65 and Nevada, $2.62,” according to AAAHawaii General Manager Liane Sumida.  “Hawaii drivers should remove extra items like sports equipment from their vehicle. Extra weight from unnecessary items consumes gas.  Also, if possible, put bulky items inside the vehicle or trunk instead of a roof rack to reduce drag and fuel economy.”

Motorists can find current prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app also can be used by AAA members to map a trip, find discounts, book aAAA-rated hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. AAA Hawaii reminds drivers that AAAcontinues to help travelers and the public with fuel information on GasPrices.AAA.com.

Prices as of 8 a.m. July 27:

 

 Area                    Regular    One Week Change     Record Price
Honolulu $2.89 No Change  $4.48   (5/8/2011)
Hilo $3.03 +2 cents  $4.76   (4/22/2012)
Wailuku $3.48 No Change  $4.98   (5/9/2011)

AAA Hawaii Weekend Gas Watch is a weekly snapshot of gas prices.  Price comparisons are offered as a community service.  Prices are derived from fleet vehicle credit card transactions at more than 120,000 stations around the country.  Prices shown are combined averages updated three times daily.


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EITC:  Devil in the Details

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By Tom Yamachika – On July 10, 2017, Governor Ige proudly signed House Bill 209, a bill that establishes a Hawaii earned income tax credit (HI-EITC for short).  The EITC has been described as “a federal tax credit that helps families work their way into the middle class.  Since its inception in 1975, the federal EITC has been hailed as the most effective anti-poverty program in the U.S., improving the futures of low- and moderate-income workers and that of their communities.”  But it looks like there are going to be lots of devils in the details.

HI-EITC is a temporary credit, effective for years 2018 through 2022.  It and two other anti-poverty credits are being paid for by a permanent income tax increase.  This, of course, makes me wonder what will happen at the end of 2022.  If HI-EITC goes away, will legislators move the income tax rates back down?  Oh!  I’d better stop dreaming.

HI-EITC, according to the bill, is 20% of the federal EITC “allowed and properly claimed … and reported as such on the individual’s federal income tax return.”  What does that all mean?  Clearly, if a taxpayer fills out a Form 1040 and claims $1,000 in federal EITC, then the HI-EITC will be 20% of that amount, or $200.  But figuring the federal amount is not easy.  There are 17 pages in the most recent Form 1040 instructions devoted to the EITC, including multiple worksheets, definitions, and tables (out of 106 pages total in the Form 1040 instruction book).  In several places, the IRS offers to figure the credit for you.  To take the IRS up on this offer, the taxpayer needs to write “EIC” on the dotted line next to the place where the dollar amount of the credit would normally be written, and then leave the later tax computation lines blank.  If a taxpayer does this, has the taxpayer just killed any chance of obtaining HI-EITC?  The taxpayer has properly claimed the EITC for federal purposes, but can’t enter a dollar amount for the federal credit on the Hawaii tax forms because the taxpayer doesn’t know the amount.  Does that mean the federal EITC is not “reported as such” on the Form 1040?  “Reported as such” must mean something different from “properly claimed,” otherwise why use those words?  If not “reported as such,” is HI-EITC disallowed?  If there is any possibility of disallowance, the Department should be telling us exactly how to avoid it, and soon.  Once the floodgates open, a glitch in credit qualification could cause pandemonium.

And what about refunds for the rest of us who are waiting for them?  In the beginning of 2017, the Department warned taxpayers that they might need to wait 16 weeks for a refund check after filing a Hawaii state return, comparable to delays in 2015 and 2016.  The Director of Taxation then foresaw the same until 2019, after having flagged 638 returns as problematic in 2016.  In the first years of implementing the credit, the Department of Taxation will feel some pressure to look at returns with HI-EITC very carefully.  IRS reports that 104,000 returns from Hawaii filed EITC claims in 2016.  Thus, we can expect 100,000 or so HI-EITC claims in 2019 for the 2018 calendar year.  Does that mean the refund delays will be longer than 16 weeks, or will affect years after 2019?  Good grief!

This, of course, is just scratching the surface.  The EITC is a decades-old federal program, but our state has zero experience implementing and administering it.  It is, of course, possible that our Department could smoothly incorporate all the knowledge developed by IRS in administering the federal program, resulting in no hiccups whatsoever on our side … darn it, did I start dreaming again?


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The Mainstream Media Won’t Change Until the Ratings Game Is Removed

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BY FRANK SALVATO

There is a lot of complaining about the disingenuous nature of the mainstream media, and rightly so. Most news outlets have morphed into what the National Enquirer used to be before they attained a modicum of credibility. Or, perhaps, it’s just that the news media has devolved that far.

But, there is no hope of relief from the sensationalism and their penchant for stretching the truth because in today’s news media ratings are more important than delivering the facts and the truth. If a news program doesn’t get the necessary ratings to compete in their time slot — if they can’t attract advertisers — they do not survive. Today’s “news” has to be “sexy”; it has to be “breaking,” “scandalous,” and fast-paced. It’s got to “sell.”

It is in large part because of this that there is very little “journalism” in today’s mainstream media newsrooms. Facts must, necessarily, give way to supposition, conjecture, and theory when they aren’t scandalous enough. A five-minute conversation about bad sushi between President Trump and Vladimir Putin is — through supposition, conjecture, and opinion — transformed into a treasonous collusion that tossed an election.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that political ideologues control the mainstream media newsrooms. They can use the excuse of a need for ratings to justify their “sexy” emotion-based approach to skewing the narrative to the Left. The two, together, are a recipe for 1984-type propaganda come to life.

Understanding that the Progressive-Left does not intend to surrender their hold on the news information apparatus, the question becomes how do we force the mainstream media complex to at least cease from advancing blatant falsehoods into the public square.

The mainstream media is protected by the First Amendment, and Thomas Jefferson rightly alluded to the fact that we need a free press if we are to remain a free country. So, how do make a free press accountable to the truth?

Many say that it is the ratings game that holds them accountable. But people are habitual creatures. The New York Times, CNN and MSNBC blatantly lie, and the consumers of those lies — even when they know the lies are deliberate — continue to consume the products. So, there is a vulnerability in that argument.

An old friend of mine once pondered the idea of using lemon laws against the purveyors of non-truths in the mainstream media. After all, the consumer is buying a product with the expectation that the truth — accurate information — is being delivered. When a media outlet skews the truth, for whatever reason, they are selling you a defective product and doing it intentionally. If it were a car, major lawsuits would result. Why not a mainstream media information provider? Laws would have to be enacted, but the mainstream media is selling a product; they make money (read: profits) off of what they do.

Then there is the idea of having full fidelity o the First Amendment but mandating that mainstream media organizations be non-profit entities, thus removing the “ratings game” entirely. This could be achieved by creating tax incentives for companies and corporations for the costs of airing news channels, and printing and operational costs, including salaries. Gone would be the days of high-priced “news stars.”

These are just two possible remedies for that situation in which we find ourselves. I am sure there could be many more, both private and public sector. But the truth remains, as long as news has to “sell” to achieve ratings, Progressives will use that “reality” to advance political agenda narratives that center on non-truths, innuendos and agendas, all in the name of the “ratings game.”

Until something changes – or a committed group of financiers set themselves to creating a new media outlet wholly devoted to the truth, ratings be damned – the people will have to suffer the insult of the mainstream lying to our faces. To paraphrase musician David Lee Roth, we will have to “eat it and smile.”


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SPOTLIGHT ON OAHU’S FUTURE

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HONORING THE MISSION OF HŌKŪLEˋA, HER CREW AND THEIR MESSAGE OF MALAMA HONUA: TO CARE FOR OUR ISLAND EARTH.

WE LOOK TO HAWAII’S PAST IN ORDER TO SEE OUR FUTURE

By Kymberly Marcos Pine

Wednesday July 12, 2017 was no ordinary full council session at Honolulu Hale. It was the day I was blessed to be able to help honor the successful voyage of the Hōkūleʻa, her sister Hikianalia, The Polynesian Voyaging Society, Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson, and the 245 dedicated volunteers who made up the rotating crews throughout the three year, 40,300 nautical mile journey ( over 60,000 miles when combined with Hikianalia) which visited more than 150 ports in 23 countries around the globe. I was especially proud that my Chief of Staff Matthew Caires was not only on the Hōkūleʻa during the leg that took them through a stormy Northeastern U.S. winter in 2016, but that he was also on the Hikianalia during the final five week stretch that saw both sailing canoes come home to Hawai’i.

Matt and all of the crew members in this epic journey collectively took part in the longest ocean voyage in recorded history, which for all intents and purposes did not end on the morning of June 17th when Hōkūleʻa sailed into the Ala Wai Boat Harbor. As Nainoa Thompson stated at the City Council meeting: “This was not a safe voyage, it was a dangerous voyage. But it needed to be made because the great danger was not on the voyage, it’s what is happening to the voyage of the earth.” And that is clearly reflected in the mission statement “Malama Honua”: To care for our island earth which is a message and a mission that I hope we will all continue to carry on.

Matt Caires summed it up perfectly in his address to the council: “Along the way we talk about the shooting stars, the fishing, the music, all the sunsets…all that nice stuff. That’s all part of the experience, but when it comes down to it they’re secondary to the mission of what the world wide voyage is all about. When we have a moment to reflect and we think about these things, especially when it’s the middle of the night and you’re freezing, we ask ourselves ‘Why am I really here?’. And then you realize it’s to take care of our island earth. When that realization happens you think of the warming oceans, the changing weather patterns, the poor fishing; the things we need to perpetuate our culture.” Matt went on to say, “Papa Mau (a master navigator from Micronesia who guided Hōkūleʻa on her maiden voyage in 1976) said ‘It’s your responsibility as a voyager to leave your island and bring something back to feed your people to survive.’ And that was my lesson. Today we don’t have to leave our island to go find food but I am bringing back this message that we have to create a more sustainable future for our community to survive.”

Matt, Nainoa, Papa Mau, and the mission of the Polynesian Voyaging Society—Malama Honua—are correct that the signs are all around showing us that it is time we become better stewards of our precious `aina.

The voyage of the Hōkūleʻa, circling the globe only using ancient Polynesian navigation skills, has sparked an interest in Polynesian history and culture that stretches across the Pacific from Micronesia to Hawaii and beyond. It has also reignited a pride among the people who have called these Islands home for many centuries. With that awakening comes a responsibility and an opportunity for all of us to take stock in what we have and what we need to do to keep our Hawaiian Islands, as well as our island earth a clean, sustainable and viable place for us, our keiki, and their keiki, to live. I hope and trust you will join me in continuing the Hōkūleʻa’s mission.

To learn more about this amazing voyage please visit: http://www.hokulea.com/

With Aloha,

Kym

 


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