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Panel approves East-West Center funds

A Senate committee has restored funding to the East-West Center that had been cut for next fiscal year.

On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $16.7 million in federal funding for the center. The Obama administration had requested only $10.8 million for the fiscal year beginning in October.

"The Senate took a major step, especially during tough economic times, in approving much needed funding for the East-West Center that is critical to promote better relations and understanding between the United States and other Asia-Pacific nations," said Schatz in a news release. "It is vital to Hawaii and our national defense that both chambers of Congress act now to move forward with final approval of funding for the East-West Center."

Schatz said he wrote letters to the committee requesting that the East-West Center receive $16.8 million — the same amount it received this fiscal year.

The appropriation request still must be approved by the full Senate and House.

Kauai GMO hearing moves to bigger venue

In anticipation of a big turnout at a public hearing pertaining to pesticide use and farming of genetically modified crops, the Kauai County Council has changed the venue for the meeting for a second time.

The hearing, set to get underway at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, will be held at the Kauai Veterans Center, 3215 Kapule Highway in Lihue, which can seat up to 600 people. Early this month the Council had moved the venue from its regular meeting place at the historic Kauai County Building to a larger venue at Kauai Community College’s Performing Arts Center, which has a maximum capacity of about 540 people.

Councilman Gary Hooser, who introduced Bill 2491, said he anticipates a large crowd at the hearing. The bill targets large users of restricted-use pesticides, farms using experimental pesticides, and growers of genetically modified crops for new regulations, such as mandatory disclosures about pesticide use and the presence of GMOs.

Trio charged with robbing Maui store

Maui police charged three men Thursday in connection with a robbery at a convenience store in Wailuku.

Joyner D. Recheungel, 25, and Rowan Sombelon, 24, were each charged with first-degree robbery and three counts of first-degree terroristic threatening. Bail is $65,000 for Recheungel and $13,000 for Sombelon. The third suspect, Stanceford M. Kaina Jr., 23, was charged with first-degree robbery, with bail set at $50,000. Kaina has been on probation since 2011. 

The three were arrested Wednesday after a robbery at the Minit Stop Store. Two men wearing hooded sweaters and masks entered at about 6:50 a.m. demanding money. Police said one man had what appeared to be a semiautomatic pistol, and one had a pipe.

Two of the men ran when they heard police sirens, while a third drove away in a truck. Officers caught the two on foot on Nani Street. The driver was arrested after he was pulled over in Maalaea.

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