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State roundup for Aug. 27

Group finds no tsunami debris

HONOLULU (AP) — Researchers who returned from a 24-day expedition to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands said the pristine coral reef systems there appear to be healthy, thriving and safe from debris dragged to sea by the tsunami that hit Japan last year.

Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who returned from the trip Friday, found no widespread coral or fish disease outbreaks and no evidence of coral bleaching after conducting 472 dives and 138 reef surveys, the expedition’s chief scientist Scott Godwin said.

“You see a lot of sharks, which people think are bad, but a lot of healthy upper-level predators … is an indication of health that means there’s a lot there to support these larger species,” Godwin told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

The remote islands northwest of Hawaii’s main, populated islands are home to the country’s largest protected marine sanctuary.

Godwin said the protected status and extremely limited access to the islands have protected the area from human impact.

Health exchange gets $62 million

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii’s health insurance exchange has received a nearly $62-million federal grant.

The funds come from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Hawaii was the first state in the nation to declare its intent to set up a state-certified health insurance exchange to help carry out President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

Millions of uninsured Americans will be able to buy private coverage through these online supermarkets starting in 2014.

The Hawaii Health Connector says statewide community outreach is under way to share information about the launch of the Hawaii’s health insurance exchange.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie says the grant is an important part of implementing the Affordable Care Act.

Maui teen dies at house party

KAHULUI, Maui (AP) — Police say a 15-year-old Maui boy is dead after taking painkillers and drinking beer at a house that was broken into for a party.

Police say the owner of the Kahului home wasn’t on the island and didn’t know it had been broken into to throw a beer party.

When police were called to the house on Thursday, the teen was dead. Police say an investigation shows he brought the medication to the party and offered it others.

He and a 19-year-old were seen ingesting the drugs with beer.

The 19-year-old was taken to a hospital and was expected to be released Friday.

Police continue to investigate.


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