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POSTED: Friday, November 27, 2009

Free wi-fi spots abound in U.S.

The number of free public Wi-Fi or wireless local area network locations in the U.S. is 81 percent greater than the amount worldwide, according to a recent study.

Nearly half of those U.S. locations are cafes, bars and restaurants, while paid public Wi-Fi is more common in airports, travel centers, hotels and convention centers, according to online media company JiWire Inc.

Based on data from approximately 280,000 public Wi-Fi locations, as well as 2,633 people randomly selected in about 80 U.S. airports, the survey found that 26 percent of business travelers visit social networking sites, compared with twice as many personal travelers.

Jobless rates decline on all islands

Hawaii's nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell on all islands in October from the previous month, according to data released late Wednesday by the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Honolulu's rate dropped to 5.9 percent from 6.2 percent, the Big Island decreased to 10.4 percent from 10.7 percent, Kauai fell to 9.1 percent from 9.5 percent, Maui declined to 9.0 percent from 9.4 percent, Molokai eased to 13.5 percent from 13.7 percent and Lanai dropped to 10.1 percent from 11.0 percent.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that Hawaii's seasonally adjusted jobless rate matched the 7.2 percent level of the previous month. The state does not compile seasonally adjusted numbers for the separate islands.

Carpenters to rally against Walgreens

More than 200 members of the Hawaii Carpenters Union are scheduled to stage a protest rally beginning at 11 a.m. today to bring attention to Walgreens' alleged use of contractors who pay workers below industry standard wages.

The rally will be held in front of Walgreens on Makaloa and Keeaumoku streets.

“;Walgreens entered the Hawaii market with the intention of being embraced and supported by our local community—yet they refuse to respect industry standards of pay, hurting our local workers who in turn have less money to spend at local businesses, less money for basic needs and are going without health insurance for themselves and their families,”; said Lance Yoshimura, HCU assistant business representative.

HCU claims that some contractors used to build Walgreens stores on Maui are paying cash wages to carpenters at a rate below industry standards and are not providing medical benefits.

Walgreens officials could not be reached for comment.

Hilo Hattie launches new Web site

Hilo Hattie has launched its newly redesigned Web site, www.HiloHattie.com, just in time for the holidays.

In addition, the 46-year-old Honolulu retailer, which recently emerged from bankruptcy, is offering a lowest-price guarantee for the first time on its chocolates, coffee and macadamia nuts.

The lowest-price guarantee is designed to compete against local retailers including Longs Drugs, Safeway and Walmart.

If customers find a cheaper price on chocolates, coffee or macadamia nuts elsewhere, they can receive the price difference for each item.

Hoku amends supply contract

Honolulu-based Hoku Scientific Inc., which is building a polysilicon plant in Pocatello, Idaho, has amended its supply contract with China-based Jinko Solar Co. to delay the first shipment date from December of this year to December 2010.

This will result in a 10 percent reduction of the total volume of polysilicon to be sold by Hoku to Jinko. Polysilicon is the raw material used to make solar panels.

Aid available for Kauai ag producers

Diane Ley, state executive director for the USDA, Farm Service Agency, said its emergency loan program is available for eligible Kauai agricultural producers who suffered physical losses because of the excessive rain, flooding, landslides and high winds that occurred Nov. 13-15.

Examples of qualifying physical losses include damage to land, buildings, equipment, livestock and perennial crops.

The deadline for applications is July 24. For more information and to make an appointment with farm loan staff, contact either the FSA Kauai County Office at (808) 245-9014, ext. 353, or the Honolulu County Office at 483-8600, ext. 353.

ON THE MOVE

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Roselani Ice Cream has rehired Michael Webb as manufacturing/project engineer. He has 30 years of engineering and maintenance experience, including serving as plant engineer for Roselani Ice Cream from 2003 to 2005.

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Gov. Linda Lingle, McDonald's Restaurants and Hawaii Children's Trust Fund have named Big Brothers Big Sisters of Honolulu the 2009 Outstanding Advocate for Children and Youth. Honorees were chosen due to their dedication to children and youth advocacy during this past year.

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Girl Scouts of Hawaii has announced the following 2009 Woman of Distinction honorees: Judith M. Dawson, Atherton Family Foundation president; Irene Hirano Inouye, Ford Foundation trustee and Kresge Foundation trustee and past chair; Alana Kobayashi Pakkala, Kobayashi Group partner and executive vice president and Gift Foundation of Hawaii founding member; and Kitty Sullivan Woo, Sullivan Family of Cos. owner and director. Honorees will be recognized at a dinner at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Coral Ballroom.

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The Gas Co. has named Michael H. Kita as division director of supply and logistics. He has 30 years' experience with the company.