The reliance on food stamps to help out with grocery bills was high in Hawaii even before the recent recession hit, according to a study by the U.S.D.A.’s Food and Nutrition Service.

The program found that 78 percent of people eligible for the food stamp program – formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP – used it in the state in 2008.

That was the 12th-highest rate of usage in the U.S. and well above the nationwide average of 66 percent. Maine possessed the highest rate of eligible people using food stamps at 94 percent while Wyoming was last at 46 percent.

The study notes the program is intended to help households maintain a more nutritious diet by increasing their purchasing power. One of the goals is to help working poor with their food budgets.

The study said there was a significant gap between overall usage by all low-income individuals and usage by those who were considered the working poor. In Hawaii, 58 percent of the people in the category used food stamps.

The report can be found here:  http://www.fns.usda.gov/ora/menu/Published/snap/FILES/Participation/Reaching2008.pdf

Donald Trump Says He’s a Really Smart Guy, Questions if Obama was Born in Hawaii

Developer Donald Trump says he finds it strange that people haven’t come forward to say they knew Barack Obama as a child in Hawaii in hinting that he questions whether the president was born in the U.S.

Trump, in a piece broadcast on ABC’s Good Morning America Thursday, said he realizes that so-called birthers who say Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. get labeled as idiots.

“Let me tell you, I’m a really smart guy. I was a really good student at the best student in the country. The reason I have a little doubt just a little is because he grew up and nobody knew him,” said Trump, interviewed by ABC during a flight on his private 727 aircraft.  Trump has toyed with the idea for a Presidential run.

“If I ever decide to run, you may go back and interview people from my kindergarten. They’ll remember me.”

But in Obama’s case, Trump said no one has come forward to talk about his early years.

“No one knows who he is until later in his life. It’s very strange. The whole thing is very strange.”

The Obama campaign produced a short-form Hawaii birth certificate during the presidential campaign and Hawaii state officials have certified they have seen Obama’s long-form certificate.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie was a friend of Obama’s parents and has said he saw Obama as a child. Two retired Hawaii teachers told the Maui News in 2009 that they were student teachers at Noelani Elementary School in 1966 and remembered Obama in a kindergarten class.

“He was a cute, likable, heavy build-child,” Aimee Yatsushiro, one of the former student teachers recalled in the interview with the newspaper.

“I could visualize Barry smiling, dressed in his long-sleeved, white shirt tucked into his brown Bermuda shorts, and wearing laced shoes.”

Japanese Arrival Numbers Still Depressed

Daily flight arrival numbers from Japan fell for a seventh consecutive day on Thursday, according to data posted by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism on its website.

Visitor arrivals from Japan have plummeted in the wake of catastrophic natural disasters that beset the country a week ago. Flights from Japan were initially curtailed, but even with the restart of the service the numbers remain well below last year’s levels.

On Thursday there were 3,142 Japanese arrivals, or 22 percent lower than the same day a year earlier, according to DBEDT.

Kauai Noni Farmer and Purveyor up for Visionary Award by Computer Chip Maker

Steve Frailey, a Kauai resident who began organically farming Noni fruit in 1981, is among people in the running for Advanced Micro Devices’ inaugural Visionary of the Year Awards.

Frailey has been selected as a finalist in the “Foodie” category along with a Madison, Wisconsin chocolatier and a Washington state beekeeper who is pioneering urban honey.  Other categories are photography and entrepreneurship.

To select the finalists, we scoured the U.S. to find nine true ‘VISIONaries’ spread across three categories that our customers are passionate about: food, photography and entrepreneurship,” Sunnyvale, California-based AMD said in announcing the awards. “The finalists did not apply for the award, but were selected based on their unique offerings and drive for innovation.”

The winners will be determined through votes cast at http://www.amdvisionary.com.

Sarah Vowell

Author Sarah Vowell Takes on Hawaii History

Hawaii’s history may make it to best seller lists next week as a nonfiction work by New York Times’ bestselling author Sarah Vowel hits store shelves.

Vowell, known for a wry sense of humor and quirky insights, has written “Unfamiliar Fishes,” a nonfiction work that looks at events leading up to the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and Hawaii subsequent annexation by the United States. It goes on sale Tuesday.

“Many think of 1776 as the defining year of American history, when we became a nation devoted to the pursuit of happiness through self- government,” say promotions for the book.

“In Unfamiliar Fishes, Sarah Vowell argues that 1898 might be a year just as defining, when, in an orgy of imperialism, the United States annexed Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam, and invaded first Cuba, then the Philippines, becoming an international superpower practically overnight. “

“With her trademark smart-alecky insights and reporting, Vowell lights out to discover the off, emblematic, and exceptional history of the fiftieth state, and in so doing finds America, warts and all.”

Pre-orders of the book have started on Amazon.com, which ranks the as-yet-released, 256-page book as its 355th best seller.

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