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The Week: Dec. 18-24

    Kat Wade / special to Star-Advertiser a hawaii holiday welcome Kristie Bahena was greeted Wednesday at the Honolulu Airport by her lei-bearing mother, Frances Lehleitner, and father George after returning home for the holidays from Mexico City .


» Hawaii Medical Center closed its emergency room facilities at its Lili- ha and Ewa hospitals Monday, three days after the bankrupt operator said it would close the two hospitals after a bid to buy them fell through. About 990 people lost their jobs and many people awaiting organ transplants had to make new arrangements.

» Norm Chow signed a five-year contract Wednesday to be head football coach for the University of Hawaii. The 65-year-old Punahou School alumnus from Palolo is the first Asian-American head coach of a major college football program. Chow will earn a base salary of $550,000 per year, half that of his predecessor, Greg McMackin.

» Pope Benedict XVI approved sainthood Monday for Blessed Marianne Cope, a nun who carried on Father Damien’s work with Hansen’s disease patients on Molokai. She is Hawaii’s second saint, following Damien’s canonization in 2009.

» President Barack Obama arrived in Honolulu on Friday evening for his fourth consecutive Christmas holiday at a Kailua vacation rental. First lady Michelle Obama and their two daughters arrived a week earlier.

» Fifty-two Schofield Barracks soldiers arrived back in Hawaii from Iraq on Sunday night, a historic homecoming because they were among the last combat troops in Iraq as the U.S. completed its military withdrawal.

» The U.S. Department of Education warned Hawaii on Wednesday that it could lose a $75 million federal grant if it does not move more quickly on promised education reforms.

» The Hawaii County Council approved a ban on plastic shopping bags Wednesday, following similar bans by Maui and Kauai counties.

» Two-thirds of Hawaii public school teachers who participated in an unscientific union survey said they work one or more outside jobs.


» Bowing under intense pressure from members of their own party, House Republican leaders agreed Thursday to accept a temporary extension of the payroll tax cut, beating a hasty retreat from a showdown that Republicans increasingly saw as a threat to their election opportunities next year. Congress approved the legislation Friday and President Barack Obama signed it.

» The economy powered to the end of 2011 on a roll, with a healthier job market, robust holiday spending and signs pointing toward a turnaround for the depressed housing industry. Most analysts are now ruling out another recession.


» North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died at 69 last weekend, fueling fears of instability in the secretive country. But his anointed heir, Kim Jong Un, stepped to the forefront as North Koreans mourned his father, indicating that a smooth leadership transition was under way.

» A southern Philippine area devastated by flash floods that killed more than 1,000 people looks as if it was struck by a tsunami, a U.N. official said Thursday as he appealed for $28 million in aid for the region.

» A U.S. military probe found that a system designed to prevent deadly cross-border mishaps with Pakistan failed to avert a NATO airstrike last month that killed 26 Pakistani troops, in part because U.S. officials did not trust Pakistan enough to give it detailed information about U.S. troop locations in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said Thursday.



» Wednesday: The World Harmony Run "Relay for Peace" will begin at noon with a torch-lighting ceremony at the Honolulu Civic Center complex. Organizers plan to carry the torch around the world.

» Thursday: The University of Hawaii Board of Regents audit committee meets to review and vote on approval of audits for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, 1:30 p.m. in Bachman 113.


» Tuesday: Standard & Poor’s releases the S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices for October; the Conference Board releases the Consumer Confidence Index for December.

» Thursday: The Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims; Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates; the National Association of Realtors releases pending home sales index for November.

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