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POSTED: Sunday, November 01, 2009

Lingle criticized for trip to China

Gov. Linda Lingle is promoting Hawaii as a tourism destination during her two-week trip to China, but a Democratic leader says she should have stayed home.

Hawaii Democratic Party Chairman Brian Schatz says the Republican governor should have stayed in Hawaii to continue work on fixing the state's budget shortfall and reaching deals with labor unions.

Schatz says he recognizes the importance of expanding tourism, but Lingle should do whatever it takes to find solutions to the budget crisis.

Lingle left for a six-city tour Friday. It includes meetings with Chinese tourism officials, U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman and Hainan Airlines, which recently won approval for at least one weekly nonstop flight from Beijing to Hawaii.

A spokesman for the governor did not return a phone call asking for comment. But in her weekly radio address, Lingle said strengthening the state's relationship with China helps Hawaii business.

Tsunami donations reach nearly $300,000

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa » Nearly $300,000 in financial donations have been received in American Samoa in the month following a tsunami that claimed 34 lives in the U.S. territory.

The territorial government said last week that about $30,000 came from individuals and organizations in Hawaii. International contributions included $15,000 from the Royal Thai Embassy and $50,000 from Tonga.

The $300,000 figure doesn't include donations made directly to the American Red Cross or donated supplies, such as food and clothing.

The Sept. 29 tsunami spawned by a magnitude 8.3 earthquake killed 34 people in American Samoa, 183 in Samoa and nine in Tonga.

Applications available for Angel Tree program

Applications for the Salvation Army's Angel Tree Program to help needy families will be available until Friday at Salvation Army locations on Oahu.

The program helps the community provide holiday gifts for children and senior citizens.

Needy families can describe a special Christmas gift wish for children up to the age of 12 or for seniors.

Donors will select gift tags hung on Angel Trees in shopping malls, shop for the needy recipients, and return gifts to Salvation Army pickup locations.

Applicants must have photo identification for themselves and their children to provide age and income verification and proof of address.

Applications are available at:
» Kauluwela Mission Corps, Mayor Wright Housing library, 521 Kukui St., Bldg. 25A, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call 521-6551.
» Kaneohe Corps, 45-175 Waikalua Road, Kaneohe, from noon to 7 p.m. Call 235-1408.
» Leeward Corps, 98-612 Moanalua Loop, Aiea, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 487-1636.

Most of U.S. shifts back to standard time

WASHINGTON » That time already?

Come today, standard time is again the standard in America.

Switching time was at 2 a.m. today in much of the nation, when clocks were to be set back an hour.

Good news for most folks—an extra hour of sleep. Bad news for workers on the overnight shift—more work time.

Some states and territories didn't observe daylight-saving time, so they didn't have to switch back. That's the case in Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.

Daylight-saving time returns March 13.

Maui offers $15,000 aid for first home

Maui County is offering up to a $15,000 toward the down payment for a home for a first-time buyer, under a program that begins today.

The maximum annual income of a qualified household applying for the grant is $105,560, based on federal guidelines.

“;This is an exciting opportunity for those whose only obstacle to owning their first home is that much-needed down payment,”; Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares said.

The money is being provided through $180,000 in the county's general fund.

Applicants must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien, live in the county, be a first-time homebuyer, meet income and asset requirements, and not have a greater than 50 percent interest in a fee simple or leasehold land suitable for a dwelling, the county said.

Applications will be available starting today at Evergreen Home Loans at 173 Hoohana St., Suite 104, Kahului 96732. The telephone number is 808-873-3480.