» Several couples were set to have civil-union ceremonies soon after 12:01 a.m. today, the first day civil unions were legal in Hawaii. A federal judge on Friday denied a request by two Oahu churches to block the implementation of civil unions.
» President Barack Obama spent a low-key, family-oriented holiday at a Kailua vacation rental, venturing out to play golf and eat at restaurants. He visited service members and their families Christmas Day at Marine Corps Base Hawaii and paid his respects at the USS Arizona Memorial Thursday. He is scheduled to return to Washington on Monday.
» Oahu skies were less smoky this New Year’s Eve, in the first year of an Oahu ban on virtually all consumer fireworks except for firecrackers. Sales of firecracker permits were down 15 percent, to 8,461 this year from 10,008 in 2010.
» Hawaii Medical Center closed its Ewa hospital Wednesday, transferring about 20 remaining patients to its Liliha hospital. The bankrupt health care provider is expected to close the Liliha facility this month.
» The Filipino Community Center in Waipahu raised more than $25,000 during a fundraiser Monday for victims of flooding in the southern Philippines that killed more than 1,500 people.
» A state jury on Wednesday convicted a Kaneohe man, Makuola Collins, 27, of murder in the fatal shooting of a former Castle High football teammate, Joel Botelho.
» The Federal Transit Authority gave the city approval Thursday to begin final design of the $5.27 billion rail project. The approval signals that the project remains on track to receive $1.55 billion in federal funding.
» Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney emerged as the front-runner in Iowa even as polls suggested large numbers of Republicans in the Hawkeye State could change their minds before caucuses Tuesday night provide the first test of the 2012 campaign. Early leader Newt Gingrich appeared to be fading.
» The number of reported sexual assaults at the nation’s three major military academies increased overall in the latest academic year from one year earlier, according to a report released Tuesday by the Pentagon.
» Measured in dollars, the U.S. was on pace last year to ship more gasoline, diesel and jet fuel than any other single export, according to U.S. census data.
» North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong Un, continued to consolidate his power in the nuclear-armed nation, collecting the titles of supreme commander of the military and ruling party leader after his father’s Dec. 17 death. The North also showed no letup in its hostility toward South Korea, accusing the South’s president of "madcap saber-rattling."
» The Arab League sent a mission to Syria last week seeking to end the violence that has enveloped the nation. In the largest protests Syria has seen in months, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets Friday in a display of defiance to show the Arab League observers the strength of the opposition movement.
THIS WEEK, JAN. 1-7
» Tuesday: Parts of Waikiki Beach will be closed while the Department of Land and Natural Resources conducts a three-month project to restore sand to 1,730 feet of shoreline from the west end of the Kuhio Beach swim basin, near the Duke Kahanamoku statue, to the Royal Hawaiian groin between the Royal Hawaiian and Sheraton Waikiki hotels.
» Wednesday: A portion of Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, from the third comfort station to the Ewa side of the park, will be closed to the public while workers remove loose rocks and debris that could pose a hazard.
» Thursday: Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. will hold a community meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Hanapepe Neighborhood Center. The mayor and his Cabinet will give an update on the Lima Ola Green Affordable House project in Eleele, the new police substation at the Hanapepe Armory and the Kalaheo Community Garden.
» Tuesday: Iowa will hold its lead-off presidential caucuses.