Top Army commander in Pacific to retire
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii (AP) — The Army’s top general in the Pacific is retiring and preparing to hand over leadership of the command to a four-star general.
The Army is holding a retirement ceremony for Lt. Gen. Francis Wiercinski at U.S. Army Pacific headquarters on Oahu on Tuesday.
His successor Lt. Gen. Vincent Brooks will take over during another ceremony next month. Brooks will also be promoted to general and receive a fourth star.
A three-star general has led U.S. soldiers in the Asia-Pacific region for decades. The assignment of a four-star general to the position puts the Army on par with the Navy and the Air Force, who already have four-star commanders in the Pacific.
Wiercinski says the appointment demonstrates the Army is serious about shifting to the Pacific region.
Alaska, Hawaii delegations discuss native issues
HONOLULU (AP) — A discussion in Washington, D.C. on native issues is continuing an alliance between congressional delegations of Alaska and Hawaii, forged by a longtime friendship between two senators.
The delegations say Tuesday’s round-table continues the special relationship established by Hawaii’s late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye and Alaska’s late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens.
The discussion included Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native business leaders, community organizations and policy advocates. It was hosted by the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement and the Alaska Federation of Natives. Topics included improving education and stimulating native-owned businesses.
The round-table is expected to become an annual event, with future discussions to be held alternately in Hawaii and Alaska.
Man charged in Maui dressing room sexual assault
WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) — A prosecutor says a man accused of a violent sexual attack on a woman in a Maui store dressing room had been released from jail the day before.
Charles Cowans is charged with kidnapping and sexual assault. Police say he dragged a 33-year-old woman into a dressing room at a Maui Mall store on Friday, where he forcibly took off her clothes and sexually assaulted her. Police say he punched and choked her when she tried to escape.
The Maui News reports his bail was increased Monday to $500,000.
Deputy Prosecutor Kristin Coccaro says the attack happened a day after he was released from jail. Court records show he was serving a one-year jail term for violating probation in a 1991 kidnapping and attempted assault case.
Alaska Airlines unveils Hawaii-themed airplane
HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii high school student’s design now adorns an Alaska Airlines jet.
The airline says Kaiser High School student Aaron Nee’s Hawaii-themed design was chosen from nearly 3,000 entries in the airline’s “Paint-the-Plane” contest. The contest was sponsored by the airline in partnership with the Hawaii Department of Education and Hawaii Association of Independent Schools.
The design depicts a voyaging canoe, a bright yellow hibiscus, the Hawaiian island chain and the phrase, “Spirit of the Islands.”
The plane touched down in Honolulu Monday. The aircraft will fly throughout most of the Alaska Airlines network, connecting destinations from Hawaii to San Diego and from Alaska as far south as Mexico.
Nee receives a trip for four to any of the carrier’s destinations and a $5,000 scholarship.
Hawaii announces state mortgage settlement
HONOLULU (AP) — More than 1,400 Hawaii borrowers will receive checks of $1,480 as part of claims paid for likely mortgage servicing abuse, the Hawaii attorney general announced Tuesday.
The 1,413 eligible borrowers lost homes to foreclosure between January 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2011, and were required to submit a valid foreclosure payment claim. The deadline for applying has passed.
Attorney General David Louie said the checks are drawn from a $1.5 billion payment pool negotiated as part of the National Mortgage Settlement.
Hawaii borrowers are in line for just more than $2 million.
“These payments help compensate borrowers for the mortgage servicing abuse that they likely endured,” Louie said in a statement. “And I’m pleased that the final amount of $1,480 is much higher than the minimum amount we first announced, which was $840.”
Hawaii was one of 49 states that participated with the federal government in the settlement with Ally, formerly GMAC, plus Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, the nation’s five largest lenders.
The payments, Louie said, are part of efforts to hold banks accountable.
“In addition to compensating borrowers for the servicing abuse that happened in the past, we’re trying to stop these practices through the settlement’s tough new mortgage servicing standards,” he said.
Payments do not limit borrowers from seeking additional relief through other claims or lawsuits, he said.
The settlement administrator, Rust Consulting, will mail payments starting Monday.
New Godzilla movie to feature Oahu scenes
HONOLULU (AP) — Oahu will be the backdrop this summer for movie scenes of a large, damage-prone star.
Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures on Monday said filming for its new Godzilla movie is planned for the island starting July.
Studio officials have picked several locations and filmmakers should be easy to spot, Hawaii film commissioner Donne Dawson told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (http://bit.ly/10OdfFu).
“They’ll be filming in some very public places,” she said. “The public will have no problem observing filming activity. It is not going to be hidden away in the jungle.”
The monster itself may not be apparent. Godzilla will be computer-generated on screen.
“They will be doing a lot of shooting with a lot of people,” Dawson said. “It’s probably not going to be evident from the shooting what is actually going to take place on the screen.”
Filming on the movie began March 18 in Vancouver, British Columbia, under British director Gareth Edwards, who directed the 2010 movie, “Monsters.”
The Godzilla screenplay is by Max Borenstein, Frank Dara7/8bonte and Dave Callaham. It stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Wata7/8nabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn and Bryan Cranston.
Honolulu film commissioner Walea Constantinau said filming will be good for the local economy. Filming of two other recent movies, “The Descendants” and “Battleship,” has underscored the island’s value for making movies, she said.
“This is an indelible franchise that lives through history,” she said. “For us to be part of it, with Honolulu front and center in some of it, is an unbelievable marketing opportunity.”
Godzilla has been to the island before. Matthew Broderick starred in a 1998 version of the monster movie shot on Kauai and Oahu, one of 30 Godzilla movies filmed since 1954.