Star-Bulletin staff and wire

Thursday, December 30, 2004

UH calculates asteroid will not hit us after all

University of Hawaii astronomers say Earth is safe from a recently discovered asteroid that they once thought had a good chance of smacking the planet in 2029.

In June, UH astronomers David Tholen and Fabrizio Bernardi, working with University of Arizona astronomer Roy Tucker at Kitt Peak, Ariz., discovered asteroid 2004MN4. Studies of the asteroid continued to Monday, and it appeared that there was a 1-in-37 chance of the asteroid hitting Earth in 25 years.

But another team at the Spacewatch Observatory near Tucson found an image of 2004MN4 from March that resulted in a recalculation showing no collision, the UH Institute for Astronomy said.

The astronomers say they are continuing their efforts to find other potentially dangerous asteroids.

The institute is continuing work to build its own asteroid-hunting telescope called Pan-STARRS. A prototype is set for Haleakala on Maui in 2006 and a full-scale telescope will be placed on Maui or the Big Island in 2007.

Architect fined $39,500 in probe into donations

The state Campaign Spending Commission has approved a $39,500 fine against a local architect who made illegal contributions to several isle Democrats.

By 4-0 vote, the commission approved a conciliation agreement with Pacific Architects Inc. and its president, Dwight Mitsunaga, for giving nearly $40,000 under false names to the campaigns of Mayor Jeremy Harris, former Gov. Ben Cayetano, ex-City Councilman Arnold Morgado, past Maui Mayor James Apana and ex-Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono.

The deal comes several months after a state judge ordered Mitsunaga to pay a $2,000 fine after the architect pleaded no contest to misdemeanor criminal charges of making political donations under false names. Mitsunaga is the brother of local engineer and political fund-raiser Dennis Mitsunaga, who is a target of the city prosecutor's three-year investigation into illegal political donations to the Harris campaign.

State will test sirens at 11:45 a.m. Monday

State Civil Defense will administer the monthly siren and Emergency Alert System test on Monday at 11:45 a.m.

The siren test is a 45-second alert signal on all sirens. The steady siren is used to alert the public to any emergency that could pose a threat to residents. Residents are to turn on any radio or TV for information when the sirens are activated.

» Nalani Fujimori has been selected as deputy director of the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii. She was an attorney in the society's Molokai office from 1999 to 2001, then became the Maui branch's manager, also overseeing staff on Molokai and Lanai.

» Brandon Weaver, a junior at the University of Hawaii's College of Engineering, was awarded the 2004-2006 Eric N. Jacobsen Memorial Scholarship from Bonded Materials Co. He will also receive a paid summer internship in the company's quality control and testing laboratory, worth about $12,000.

» The University of Hawaii-Manoa Chapter of the Golden Key International Honour Society has received the Key Chapter Award, the highest award of recognition distributed by the society, competing against some 350 chapters around the world. Other awards went to chapter president Rouel Velasco, advisor Lori Ideta, vice president Lisa Kitagawa and the chapter as a team.

"Taking Notice" also runs on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Police, Fire, Courts


By Star-Bulletin staff


Firefighters cite arson at vacant Kalihi house

Fire investigators have determined that the fire that destroyed a vacant Kalihi house early yesterday morning was intentionally set.

Fire Capt. Emmit Kane said investigators discovered burning patterns that indicated an ignitable liquid was used in multiple areas of the single-family home at 1819 Republican St.

Police have classified the fire as a first-degree property damage case.

The fire was reported shortly after 1 a.m. About 35 firefighters brought the blaze under control in 30 minutes.

One neighbor said he heard a sucking of wind and a small explosion before he saw the fire, Kane said.

The neighbor also told fire officials that a tenant had moved out within the last week or two and that there allegedly was "a lot of suspicious activity" in and around the property, Kane said.

The building was destroyed, Kane said.

Damage to the house was estimated at $250,000, Kane said.


Arson destroys house under construction

Police and fire investigators are looking into a Tuesday afternoon house fire in Ewa.

The one-story, wood-frame home was under construction near Renton Road and Park Row when fire struck at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

According to police, the house was being built by the Self-Help Housing Corp. of Hawaii.

Police classified it as a second-degree criminal property damage case.

The fire was intentionally set, according to fire investigators.

E-mail to City Desk


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