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DOCTOR SHORTAGE-CRITICAL

Report says Hawaii has critically low number of doctors

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — A new report says a physician shortage on Hawaii Island is approaching a critical state, falling short of the number required by the population. West Hawaii Today reported a University of Hawaii Physician Workforce Assessment Project report says the Big Island has 230 fewer doctors than necessary. The report submitted Jan. 9 to the Legislature says the island needs at least 528 doctors. The report says there is a 24% shortage across the state, with only 2,974 doctors in a population that needs 3,483 physicians. The report concludes primary care physicians represent the biggest shortage area statewide.

GHOST NET SEARCH

Hawaii on lookout for 'ghost net' threatening area sea life

HONOLULU (AP) — Reports of a “ghost net” floating off the coast of Hawaii have mariners, pilots and residents on the lookout for the large array of netting that poses a threat to sea life. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday that the U.S. Coast Guard, state Department of Land and Natural Resources and local boating companies have all been alerted. The net was spotted west of Molokini islet Dec. 29 and a handful of nonprofit groups began planning its recovery. Poor weather has impeded searches for the drifting net, which is estimated to be 50 feet long and deep by 70 feet wide.

HAWAII-LEGISLATURE

Hawaii lawmakers vow to address high cost of living

HONOLULU (AP) — Lawmakers are opening a new session of the Hawaii Legislature with vows to address the state's punishingly high cost of living so that families don't have to abandon the islands for cheaper places. House Speaker Scott Saiki says lawmakers need to fix problems working families face on a daily basis. The House and Senate Democratic majorities and Gov. David Ige have already agreed to the outlines of the proposals. Ige says there's much to still work out, including how the state would find and train enough teachers to staff early childhood education centers. He says bold action is needed.

TOUR HELICOPTER-HAWAII

Report: Visibility low when Hawaii tour helicopter crashed

HONOLULU (AP) — A person who was near a remote Hawaii site where a tour helicopter crashed and killed seven people last month has told investigators that visibility was about 20 feet at the time because of fog and rain. The account was provided in a preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report about the crash made public on Wednesday. The unidentified person was on a hiking trail in Koke'e State Park on Kauai island and described hearing a hovering helicopter followed by a high-pitched whine. The NTSB report also says the pilot was on his eighth and final scheduled 50-minute tour flight of the day.

AP-US-BASE-CLOSURE-HAWAII

3 who brought mortar round to gate at Pearl Harbor released

HONOLULU (AP) — Military officials say three people were taken into custody and later released after being found with a mortar round in their vehicle at a gate to the sprawling Pearl Harbor military base. A base spokesman said Wednesday that there was no explosive material inside the round. He doesn't know what the trio planned to do but doesn't think they were trying to get on the base. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service says it was an “inert training round” and doesn't believe terrorism played a role. The Navy said the base was shut down to traffic late Tuesday while a bomb squad investigated the vehicle that appeared without authorization.

AP-US-MARINE-ARRESTED-NEBRASKA

Marine sentenced to 3 years for illegal firearms

HONOLULU (AP) — A Marine stationed in Hawaii has pleaded guilty to possessing unlawful firearms. Ali Al-kazahg was accused of trying to bring weapons onto an Air Force base while home in Nebraska. His sentence includes three years confinement and a bad conduct discharge. His sister says the military overreacted and treated him unfairly because he's a person of color. She says the Michigan-born, Nebraska-raised son of Iraqi refugees is the target of racism. He also pleaded guilty to fraudulent enlistment and making false official statements.