Cyber Security2

A 21st Century Power Struggle: bombs are out, bots are in!

Article Update

April 11, 2021

Israel confirms it carried out cyberattack on Iran nuclear facility

Israel appeared to confirm claims that it was behind a cyber-attack on Iran’s main nuclear facility on Sunday, which Tehran’s nuclear energy chief described as an act of terrorism that warranted a response against its perpetrators.

The apparent attack took place hours after officials at the Natanz reactor restarted spinning advanced centrifuges that could speed up the production of enriched uranium, in what had been billed as a pivotal moment in the country’s nuclear program.

As Iranian authorities scrambled to deal with a large-scale blackout at Natanz, which the country’s Atomic Energy Agency acknowledged had damaged the electricity grid at the site, in statement today by Israeli defense chief, Aviv Kochavi.

Natanz has remained a focal point of Israeli fears, with an explosion damaging a centrifuge assembly plant last July, and a combined CIA and the Mossad cyber-attack using a computer virus called Stuxnet in 2010 that caused widespread disruption and delayed Iran’s nuclear program for several years.

With barely sixty days into his administration, President Joe Biden got a taste of what the next four years may look like: a new era of bitter superpower competition, marked by perhaps the worst relationship Washington has had with Russia since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and with China since 1972, marked by the beginning of diplomatic relations with the United States.

In recent years, Putin’s Russia and Xi Jinping’s China both took sharp turns toward authoritarianism.  President Biden acknowledged a reporter’s question-statement that Putin was a “killer”, in reference to a long string of not-so-mysterious deaths of people on Putin’s enemy list.

Then there’s the first Biden administration meeting with Chinese officials last month in Alaska, when Chinese representatives lectured the American delegation about their arrogant view that the world wants to replicate their freedoms.  It may have been political theater, but the underlining issues were real enough for both sides.

The Cold War period has not resumed, there are no drop drills or super power nuclear brinkmanship, the current competition is over technology, cyber attacks, and influence operations — scenes which are now playing in the shadows of those bygone bad old days.

Russia today

Putin, however, has lamented that the Russia of the early 21st century is a shadow of the former Soviet Union. Russia’s economy is roughly the size of Italy’s and is based on two assets of the past, fossil fuels and weapons.

The real power in Putin’s Russia, in the 21st century, is mostly limited to cyber warfare in disrupting governments and societies, instilling fear, stealing trade and state secrets,  silencing dissension, and using the state’s highly advanced cyber abilities for personal political and economic gain.

Today’s Russia mostly resembles a mafia-run enterprise more than a former superpower. Its state goals are not social or idealistic, but for profiting the few and powerful within Putin’s inner circle, an almost czar-like government.  It’s a far cry from the idealistic workers revolution of 1917 which created the former Soviet Union.

China today

After several decades experimenting with shades of capitalism, China’s recently installed (in relative terms) president Xi Jinping has placed China back onto its authoritarian path to power by building new networks, rather than disrupting old ones.

Economists debate when the China will assume the title (currently held by the United States) of having the world’s largest gross domestic product — some economists predict within less than 10 years.

Underlying the goal of global economic dominance, China’s national goals are building the world’s most powerful military and dominating the race for key technologies by 2049 — the 100th anniversary of Chairman Mao’s revolution. Their military aspirations are not to repeat the costly mistakes of their former ally the Soviet Union.

The United States invented the Internet, we own it through one means or another from the idea of the Internet to its underlying technology, standards and regulatory entities.  But that is changing, and changing at technology fast speeds.Russian Cyber Center

For China, it’s all about expanding economic might by positioning their government-subsidized technology to wire developing nations — be it Latin America or the Middle East, Africa or Eastern Europe — with Chinese 5G wireless networks intended to tie them ever closer to Beijing. Like competing rail monopolies of the 19th century, it was all about who owned the rails, not the trains that mattered.

For China today, Internet competition and cyber dominance comes in the form of laying the undersea cables. China is presently connecting the developing world with undersea and terrestrial fiber and 5G wireless networks running on Chinese-owned (not US) circuits.

China is developing the “second” worldwide Internet. The one we know and the one that’s coming under the control of Chinese minders, placing national and commercial interests of the United States and its democratic allies at risk; not as enemies, but as economic competitors for market and mind share.

The United States (a new sheriff is in town)

Shortly after taking office, President Biden met by phone with President Xi Jinping.   In the two hour conversation, Biden told Xi that the Chinese narrative of the U.S. in decline was badly mistaken.   It was a foundational statement from this new president whose mission is to right the America ship of state which had been adrift the previous four years and was sailing through a foreign policy fog.

President Biden’s leadership mission for the United States is summed up on the White House web site as…

This is the moment to reimagine and rebuild a new economy.

The American Jobs Plan is an investment in America that will create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s infrastructure, and position the United States to out-compete China. Public domestic investment as a share of the economy has fallen by more than 40 percent since the 1960s.

The American Jobs Plan will invest in America in a way we have not invested since we built the interstate highways and won the Space Race.

Biden’s Infrastructure plan clearly recognizes what’s needed at a time of a growing global threat to US dominance. Elements of the plan include a historic national investment – consisting principally of one-time capital investments in our nation’s productivity and long-term growth.

The plan will invest about 1 percent of GDP per year over eight years to upgrade our nation’s infrastructure, revitalize manufacturing, invest in basic research and science, shore up supply chains, and solidify our care infrastructure.

In total, the plan will invest in America nearly about $2 trillion this decade – perhaps this is what Biden meant when he told president Xi of China “the Chinese narrative of the U.S. in decline was badly mistaken”.


Yang Jiechi, China’s most senior diplomat, put China’s present day’s feeling about the United States this way…“I don’t think the overwhelming majority of countries in the world would recognize that the universal values advocated by the United States or that the opinion of the United States could represent international public opinion…”   In another words, there is room for oligarchs and dictators, just not democracies.

The ongoing cyber attacks by Russia and China (and others) on the United States and Western democracies is ample evidence that a new age of soft warfare is well underway — practiced daily by both the United States and its competitors. Less obvious than the cold war days of classroom drop drills, but equally representative of times. Cyber Security3

In 2020, a major cyberattack by a group backed by a foreign government penetrated thousands of organizations globally including multiple parts of the United States federal government, leading to a series of data breaches.

While malicious attacks occur every day through phishing, malware, and other means, the so-called SolarWinds attack (because hackers used the SolarWinds software platform — unbeknownst to the company) to facilitate the hackers’ attack and enable the attackers code scale to spread across companies and government agencies. It is especially shocking by weaponizing third-party software operating on targeted systems as the means of attack.

The hackers’ attack spread into data systems around the world faster than a pandemic.

Austin-based SolarWinds sells technology products to an extensive list of sensitive targets, including all five branches of the U.S. military.  The company sells it’s technology products to an extensive list of sensitive targets, including all five branches of the U.S. military. The company said it has more than 300,000 customers worldwide, including a large number of the U.S. Fortune 500 who have been affected by the attack..

The SolarWinds cyberattack and data breaches were reported to be among the worst cyber-espionage incidents ever suffered by the U.S., due to the sensitivity and high profile of the targets, as well as  the long duration (eight to nine months) before being detected. Hackers had access to the systems data and data operations. Within days of discovery, at least 200 organizations around the world had reported being affected by the attack, and some of these suffered serious data breaches.

The attack, which had gone undetected for months, was first publicly reported on December 13, 2020, and was initially only known to have affected the U.S. Treasury Department and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.  Key agencies within the United Kingdom, European Parliament were also attacked, as well as Microsoft and many of its large private and public sector customers. Microsoft reported they knew of at least 60 major customers with compromised email systems, in which the same attackers had used email for reconnaissance purposes.

In addition to the theft of data, the attack caused costly inconvenience to tens of thousands of SolarWinds customers, who had to check whether they had been breached, and had to take systems offline and begin months-long decontamination procedures as a precaution.

U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin described the cyberattack as tantamount to a declaration of war.

US intelligence agencies have been expectedly silent on the hack, but technology experts strongly believe the pattern of the attack suggests it originated with Russia’s Federal Security Service, the FSB.

How Secure Is Hawaii?

State and local governments have been begging the Federal government for help and more resources since they are on the front lines of a growing number of cyberattacks.

State and local government computer systems have, in effect, been locked up by hackers seeking a ransom payout before they release the attacked computer systems data files, and some cases system access.

The intended targets of this type of cyber attack is normally directed to government data silos responsible for vital services. Digital applications and databases, some of which are even more critical during a pandemic – including hospitals, schools and government benefit distribution systems.

It’s a problem growing exponentially according to the US Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity division. Hawaii is not exempt from these attacks — the question is are we prepared?


Beyond Kona Energy Feed

Legislative Update; EV Market Analysis

Hawaii EV Legislative Update

Ev Charging L 1 2 3

As we reported earlier, there is a variety of EV bills in this year’s legislative cycle. One of those bills, Senate Bill SB756 SD2, is still alive (and made it out of committee) and is presently before the House Energy & Environment Committee for full consideration. Today’s hearing is open to public testimony. If you missed today’s hearing, you can view the hearing and public testimony at:

The SB756 bill-specific testimony begins at 1:15 mark.

SB756 SD2 is a particularly important bill as it addresses the state’s multi-island deficient EV charging infrastructure. One of the key aspects of the bill is its intent to address the need for an effective public charging infrastructure, and which will enable equitable access to electric vehicles for Hawaii’s residents and visitors.

Many within Hawaii’s growing EV owner community charge their vehicles at home. But for Hawaii’s mass market EV adoption to be realized, both state and private sector partners must join together and address a growing demand by the state’s residents and future EV owners; especially those who live in condos and apartments and those who are renters, who altogether today do not have practical access to convenient vehicle charging options.

SB756 is designed to address these and other of Hawaii’s infrastructure components needed to fulfill the potential of a 100% statewide transition to electrification in ground transportation.

For more details on the status of current EV legislation, and more specifically SB756, we recommend you visit:

EV Market Analysis; present and near future

Bank of America analysts have calculated that a shift to a 100% Electric Vehicle (EV) world would need more than $2.5 trillion in investments, coming from companies, investors, and governments across the world.

So far, Wall Street and Silicon Valley have poured billions of dollars into electric-vehicles and supplier companies over the past year. They’re betting on the future dominance of EV’s and the sunset of ICE vehicles, fueling valuations, and creating an economic catalyst for EV start-ups and major automakers alike.

There is little doubt that the automotive industry is trending toward electric vehicles amid the rise of Tesla Inc.  Within the past 10 years, the pure EV universe was owned by Tesla, with only tentative and limited EV production steps taken by GM and Nissan, along with a smattering of R&D stage fuel-cell companies. In the past two years along comes China, now a major driving force for both EV market makers and for EV demand.

In total, at least $28 billion was invested in public and private electric-vehicle companies in 2020, according to the Dow Jones Market Data Group.

This bird has flown

No longer confined to regulatory-driven market experiments, EV’s have gone main stream. “The writing is on the wall with regard to the long-term EV versus internal combustion debate,” said John Mitchell, a partner at Blue Horizon Capital. In several countries around the world, people will no longer be allowed to purchase internal combustion-engine vehicles within a short decade or two, and global automakers have realized that “the transition to electrified vehicles is the only way to compete,” he said.

According to Mitchell, the enabling elements on EV’s:

  • declining prices with technology breakthroughs enabling cheaper, longer-lasting, and faster-to-recharge battery options
  • increasing availability of electric vehicles,; and
  • potential political strides towards a national EV infrastructure buildout, together with other “green friendly” government initiatives now taking root, the U.S. and elsewhere are on a path forward to a national and global switch in the electrification of transportation.
  • Marine and aviation sectors are presently in the R&D stages of applying battery tech towards the eventual  replacements of ICE powered planes and ships.

“The EV party is just beginning, buckle the seat belts,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said recently. Recent weakness are short-term “growing pains,” he said.

Market investments, driving meaningful change

A switch from combustion engines to electric cars will not be an easy ride for consumers and manufacturers or take place quickly, with so many legacy stakeholders working to retard the growth of EV’s.

Electric cars currently make up around 2-3% of global auto sales, and estimates for a future market penetration share vary from a low-end forecast of 10% to 20% of cars sold by 2030 to as much as two-thirds of the market by that time.

Much more money will be needed to fund the switch, despite the billions that already found its way to EV-related investments. Boding well for the future, however, Blue Horizon’s Mitchell pointed to the increasing quality and technical improvements for EVs.

“Battery life is only going to be extended and with the trillions being invested globally by all those supporting the electrification of the transportation system the infrastructure for widespread adoption and usage of EV technology is only going to increase,” he said.

Analysts at UBS forecast that global auto makers’ revenues from EVs are going to shift to $1.16 trillion by year 2030, from $182 billion today.

Conversely, revenue from ICE vehicles, at $1.77 trillion today, will dwindle to $1.07 trillion. Revenues for software will make an even bigger slice of that revenue pie by 2030, at nearly $2 trillion.

Building a charging infrastructure for Hawaii and the nation.

The electric vehicle charging stations market is a highly concentrated market which includes key players and local players. The market has witnessed increased various strategic developments producing a favorable market scenario.Ev Charger Market

The market has a prominent growth in upcoming years due to increasing demand for electric vehicles, incentives & subsidies by government for electric vehicles and increasing environmental concerns. The vehicle-to-grid (v2g) technology for EV charging stations and renewable sources of energy for electricity are also posing as an opportunity for the market.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Market Trends

For bills like Senate Bill SB756 SD2 to become successful, regulators, Hawaiian Electric, and private sector partners must engage in a market ready and consumer friendly cost effective charging architecture – and one based on clean, renewable, and locally produced energy.

Global electric vehicle charging stations market today is segmented into five segments: the charging station, vehicle type, charging stations standards, installation type, and last but not least, the technology employed which must resilient and easily maintained.

  • The present market segmentation for EV chargers are confined to AC charging stations (Level 1 & 2), DC charging and inductive charging stations. The DC charging station segment is projected to grow at the highest CAGR in the forecast period of 2019 to 2026.
  • Vehicle type is the second grouping, with a market today segmented into both (all) battery electric vehicles (BEV), and plug–in hybrid vehicles (PHEV)
  • EV Chargers are generally segmented into level 1, level 2, level 3, and Tesla’s advanced, and vary fast, Supercharger network (presently, not available for Hawaii’s neighbor islands)
  • Charging stations are evolving quickly, as are standards governing chargers.  The current chargers are segmented not only their rate of charge, but their plug type, e.g., CHAdeMO, CCS, Tesla Supercharger, SAE J1772 and IEC 62196
  • And finally building a charging infrastructure must be structured to address two basic market segments; residential and commercial

Disruptive EV Market Factors

  • Tesla, the established global EV leader

Its first-mover advantage widely viewed as substantial, as ICE competitors continue to chase Tesla’s taillights for piece of the emerging EV marketplace.

The UBS analysts calculate that Tesla has a cost advantage around $1,000 to $2,000 per electric vehicle over other auto makers, although competition is increasing.  Analysts see large legacy auto makers, like VW, will be able to reach an EV manufacturing cost and margin parity with Tesla today within five years – which in terms of building market share can be a lifetime in business and technology terms.

The problem for VW and other Tesla competitors is the company is not standing still waiting for its competitors to catch up. Innovation and cost and profit performance will be the deciding factors in the next few years.

Today, VW is the No. 2 auto maker in the world, but lags behind Tesla in terms of battery costs, software, and EV production tech. Tesla likely to keep its price advantage in the battery space due to its vertical integration and technology advances.


  • EVs, not FSDs (full self-drive) vehicles could be the real game-changer

Related to investor’s inflows to electric-vehicle makers is the interest generated by lidar, batteries, sensors and other components hailed as key to autonomous vehicles.

Full autonomy (FSD) has proven to be a stubborn and costly problem to solve, with regulatory, legal, and technological hurdles aplenty.

Despite lofty driver automation goals, most cars on the road today offer advanced driver-assistance systems that are not dramatically different from previous years’ systems and still far from being the game-changer they are expected to be for lives and economies in a not-so-distant future.

For now, in spite the hype, automakers are mostly focused on partial autonomy and ADAS offerings that can be commercialized in the short term, as EVs continue to pull ahead in terms of consumer interest and the current regulatory push.


  • Pandemic Life Lessons; working without a daily commute

As appealing to some of the promise of a fully automated and self-driving vehicle may be, there is the larger of the role and demand for personal vehicles, electric and otherwise.

During past year of COVID-19 lockdowns and working remotely, an unintended social experiment was underway. In highway-heavy Los Angeles the average commuter saved 10.25 days last year by working from home during the pandemic the past year.

In Honolulu, a similar number of days saved while working at were logged.  Working at home commuter saved Hawaii’s primary workforce (Oahu) a total time in days saved, altogether were logged in at 9.68 days.  If someone said to you, here, take these 10 (saved) days add the to your life, and do with the saved time what you want – that too would be an interesting experiment.

According to a December Pew Research study, about 71 percent of the American workforce was working from home during the past pandemic year. Only 20 percent worked from home before the pandemic.

About half of those Pew surveyed said they want to continue to work from home after the pandemic ends — perhaps they’ve gotten used to the break from commuting.

The study used data from the U.S. Census Bureau and calculated the above rate by averaging the number of days most people work in a year. On average, Americans work about 242.8 days a year, factoring in sick and vacation time.

If the pandemic has forever changed us in the way many of us will work and socialize, then what does that say about future demand for personal vehicles or that second car or truck? Only time will tell us the answer to that question.

Beyond Kona Energy Feed

Senate Bill 243, a Wake-up Call for Hawaii’s Clean Energy Ambitions

previous published in ililani media

  • The Biden administration plans to decarbonize the U.S. power sector by 2035.
  • Hawaii plans to decarbonize its electric grid by 2045.

The Hawaii Legislature proposes to tax rather than to ban fossil fuel, as this will send a message to the marketplace, rather than imposing sustainability on the out-of-control fossil fuel industry.

The fossil fuel industry got us into this mess, and by being taxed, they will find solutions to get us out of this mess. So, the theory goes. Just like tobacco which then discovered flavored stuff.

Hawaii proposes using a crystal ball to develop strategic plans to reach future goals.

Imagine the pre-internet, pre-cell phone world from 25 years ago.

Imagine having a crystal ball in 1995 and being asked to map out what 2020 would look like.

Imagine being paid to do this. That is, having the taxpayers fund your analysis.

Fast forward to the new, exciting, cutting edge, energy revolution.

Solar and wind are now the cheapest forms of electricity for virtually everyone on the planet. Energy storage on a large scale has just begun and is poised to take-off.

The electric grid has become a dynamic, two-way, flow of real and reactive power, and communications, with smart devices installed throughout.

The simple world of yesterday`s electricity generation and distribution is becoming vastly complex. New regulatory mechanisms like incentive regulation are being implemented.

Imagine being paid to determine what the world would look like in 2045.

Football and a Crystal Ball: Data Privacy Predictions for 2016

Paid by taxpayers – Hawaii Senate Bill 243 was signed onto by over half of the Senators.

“The legislature finds that section 269-92, Hawaii Revised Statutes, requires each utility company that sells electricity for consumption in this State to establish a renewable energy portfolio standard of one hundred per cent of its net electricity sales by December 31, 2045.”

“The legislature also finds that section 225P-5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, establishes a zero emissions clean economy target to sequester more atmospheric carbon and greenhouse gases than emitted within the State as quickly as practicable, but no later than 2045.”

“The legislature finds that no strategic plan currently exists for the attainment of either of these goals.”

“The Hawaii state energy office … shall establish a strategic plan.”

The problem is pesky community people who pushed for these laws to be passed in the first place and who also care about equity, respect, community values, and participatory democracy.

The goal of the strategic plan is to provide clarity for utilities, utility-scale developers, and energy distributors in planning to achieve the benchmarks.”

Two different groups would be funded by Legislators to study this impossible analysis of the future.

The University of Hawaii, Mānoa`s Hawaii Natural Energy Institute of the University of Hawaii “shall conduct a feasibility study on the State’s ability to achieve its goal.”

The Hawaii State Energy Office “shall submit its strategic plan, including proposed strategies, benchmarks, and metrics.”

Both studies would be paid for by taxpayers.

The Hawaiian Electric Companies and the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission already tried this.

The Power Supply Improvement Plans (PSIPs) were developed from 2013-16 and are already out-of-date.

Long-term utility planning used to examine scenarios 15-20 years in the future. Today, that has shrunk to five years.

The dynamic electricity sector is changing too fast for longer-term analysis.


Pv To Ev

New PUC Model Holds the Promise of Lower Rates

A new PUC regulatory framework will have repercussions for most of Hawaii’s electricity consumers, and in advancing the state’s transition to a 100% clean energy economy.

The new framework governing Hawaiian Electric’s operations establishes a rate-setting basis designed to incentivize the state’s largest electric utility’s transition off imported fossil fuels, beyond the state’s current 2045 and 100% clean energy mandate. Hawaiian Electric (HE) will soon find itself operating in the new regulatory world of a “Performance Regulatory Framework” (PBR).

According to a statement by Hawaii’s PUC, the new regulatory framework will transition Hawaiian Electric from a system wherein energy rates are determined by the cost of providing service to one which the company is rewarded for providing “exemplary performance” – in effect, a balanced approach between incentivizing and penalizing Hawaiian Electric based on the company’s performance and actions.

Performance-based ratemaking rewards utilities for performing well on key metrics, such as efficiency, customer service and greenhouse gas emissions reduction. PBR is a departure from the traditional utility model of reaping returns from capital-intensive investments (the cost-of-service model).

The PUC, in its governing role as the state regulatory body ensures HE’s performance and compliance in meeting state goals, and the utility’s ability to profit from its operations, but the PUC also foresees the new PBR model as an opportunity for HE customers and the utility to reduce customer electricity bills.

– Legacy and PBR Utility Operating Models –


Utility Puc Performance Model


PBR is new, but not unique to Hawaii

A total of 19 states and Washington D.C. have seen recent legislative and/or regulatory developments related to PBR. That’s six more than a year ago, according to new data on PBR activity by utility commissions and utilities compiled by regulatory intelligence firm EnerKnol and analyzed by Wood Mackenzie.

Yet analysis of regulatory and legislative activity shows that while PBR is becoming more widespread, linking new performance metrics with financial consequences for utilities remains rare. How well Hawaii’s largest electric utility does in this PBR environment remains to be seen.

According to EnerKnol research, … “Utilities increasingly view the programs as critical for locking in more stable revenues in the face of declining power sales and costly environmental mandates.”

Incentives are a key element of the PBR regulatory framework, but so far are mostly absent in most state-regulated PBR utility programs.  Performance mechanisms for PBR are divivded into three general categories,, according to Wood Mackenzie:

  • Metrics: Required reporting of quantifiable and verifiable metrics (greenhouse gas emissions, clean peaks, efficiency and customer satisfaction are typical examples)
  • Scorecards: When metrics are associated with targets and utility performance can be scored to compare to its historical levels or with peer utilities
  • Incentives: When scorecards are associated with financial incentives and/or penalties, giving performance mechanisms real enforcement power

Among the 11 states and territories with 100 percent renewable or carbon-free goals either signed into law or being acted upon in the state legislature, nine of them have recent PBR developments at the state or utility level: Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada, New York and Washington.

Wirleless Tower

Norman Abramson, ALOHAnet and Wireless Networking Pioneer, Dies at 88

His ALOHAnet, designed a half-century ago in Hawaii, was a precursor to the technology used in today’s smartphones and home WiFi networks.

Professor Abramson’s project at the University of Hawaii was originally designed to transmit data to schools on the far-flung Hawaiian islands by means of a radio channel. But the solution he and his group devised in the late 1960s and early ’70s would prove widely applicable; some of their technology is still in use in today’s smartphones, satellites and home WiFi networks.  Alohanet Pioneer Dies

The technology he helped to create allowed many digital devices to send and receive data over that shared radio channel.

It was a simple approach that did not require complex scheduling of when each packet of data would be sent. If a data packet was not received, it was simply sent again. The approach was a departure from telecommunications practices at the time, but it worked.

“It was an incredibly audacious idea, real out-of-the box engineering,” said Vinton Cerf, a computer scientist at Google and the co-author, with Robert Kahn, of the technical standards for linking computer networks on the internet.

The wireless network in Hawaii, which began operating in 1971, was called ALOHAnet, embracing the Hawaiian salutation for greeting or parting. It was a smaller, wireless version of the better known ARPAnet, the precursor to the internet, which allowed researchers at universities to share a network and send messages over landlines. The ARPAnet was led by the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, which also funded the ALOHAnet.

“The early wireless work in Hawaii is vastly underappreciated, said Marc Weber, an internet historian at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. Every modern form of wireless data networking, from WiFi to your cellphone, goes back to the ALOHAnet.”

The ALOHAnet technology became so widely used was partly because Professor Abramson and his team had shared it freely and welcomed other scientists to Hawaii.

Professor Abramson majored in physics at Harvard, then earned a master’s degree in physics from the University of California, Los Angeles, and his doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford, in 1958. He briefly worked in industry and had postdoctoral teaching stints before he went to Hawaii. He retired from the University of Hawaii in 1994.


Covid 19 Breaks Apart

Promises of a COVID-19 Vaccine or Cure?

“I think that we’re going to have some degree of public health measures together with the vaccine for a considerable period of time. But we’ll start approaching normal — if the overwhelming majority of people take the vaccine — as we get into the third or fourth quarter [of 2021].”

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert and a member of the White House task force on the coronavirus, (NYT Interview Nov. 19-2020).



Pfizer Claims Early Data Shows Their Vaccine Is More Than 95% Effective

The drug maker Pfizer announced on Monday that an early analysis of its coronavirus vaccine trial suggested the vaccine was robustly effective in preventing Covid-19, a promising development as the world has waited anxiously for any positive news about a pandemic that has killed more than 1.2 million people.

Pfizer, which developed the vaccine with the German drugmaker BioNTech, released only sparse details from its clinical trial, based on the first formal review of the data by an outside panel of experts.

PfizerThe company said that the analysis found that the vaccine was more than 94.5 percent effective in preventing the disease among trial volunteers who had no evidence of prior coronavirus infection.

If the results hold up, that level of protection would put it on par with highly effective childhood vaccines for diseases such as measles. No serious safety concerns have been observed, the company said.

Pfizer plans to ask the Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization of the two-dose vaccine later this month, after it has collected the recommended two months of safety data.

By the end of the year it will have manufactured enough doses to immunize 15 to 20 million people, company executives have said.

Wait & See

Independent scientists have cautioned against hyping early results before long-term safety and efficacy data has been collected. And no one knows how long the vaccine’s protection might last.

The data released by Pfizer Monday was delivered in a news release, not a peer-reviewed medical journal. It is not conclusive evidence that the vaccine is safe and effective, but it is certainly welcome news to a world-weary population living in a pandemic if Pfizer’s claims of more than 90 percent efficacy are independently validated — the trial goes on.


Covid 19 Treatments 1

There is no cure yet for Covid-19. Only one treatment, a drug called remdesivir, has been approved by the F.D.A. for the disease, and with only a modest benefit to patients. Scientists are also studying a wide range of other potential treatments, but most are still in early stages of research.

Categories of COVID-19 Treatment


How Antibody Tests Work - WSJ


Antibodies are one of your body’s natural defense systems against foreign attackers. When your body detects foreign intruders (like bacteria or viruses), your immune system makes antibodies that recognizes them. These specific antibodies attach to the foreign intruders and target them for destruction.

To treat or prevent disease, scientists can either use antibodies from the blood of people who have recovered from the infection (i.e., “convalescent plasma”) or use antibodies made in a lab that will attach to and stop (“neutralize”) the foreign intruders.

Antibodies created to attach to different molecules in the body (i.e., not foreign intruders) can also be used to treat disease, for example, by turning down your immune response to stop it from overreacting and causing damage to the body (a phenomenon known as “cytokine storm”).



BREAKTHROUGH! Boston Researchers Identify New Target For Broad-Spectrum Antiviral Treatment That Can Be Used For Corvid-19 Coronavirus. - Thailand Medical News

Viruses travel light—they usually only carry a few things they need, including the code to make more of themselves (the “nucleic acid,” either DNA or RNA) and a protective shell around them.

They can’t make more of themselves (“replicate”) on their own. They need to get into animal cells, where they hijack the replication system that those cells use.

Antiviral treatments stop viruses from making more of themselves by blocking one or more steps in the process.


Cell-Based Therapies

2020 Autologous Stem Cell Based Therapies Market Growth Factor By Regeneus, Mesoblast, Pluristem Therapeutics, US STEM CELL – Galus Australis

Cell-based therapies work by transferring into patients live cells to treat a specific disease. To make cell-based therapies, researchers take cells either from the patient (called “autologous” therapies) or from a donor (called “allogeneic”therapies) and either transfer the cells unchanged or change the cells in specific ways to treat a specific disease (e.g., CAR-T therapies).

Different cell types from different sources can be used (e.g., stem cells from fat tissue or bone marrow, cells from placenta, T-cells, natural killer [NK] cells). To treat COVID-19 disease, potential cell-based therapies work, in general, by helping the patient’s immune system work better (and not overreact) by releasing signals to other cells in the body to coordinate a proper reaction to the infection and help healing.



Brita Filter for Blood” Aims to Remove Harmful Cytokines for COVID-19 Patients - IEEE Spectrum

Not all potential therapies to treat COVID-19 are drugs. Some are devices or machines that in some way treat a disease.

These potential treatments include blood purification devices that filter patients’ blood to remove excess proteins (e.g., cytokines causing the“cytokine storm”) or toxins that are causing problems that can lead to respiratory or organ failure in patients.




COVID-19 Drugs or Potential Vaccines in Testing


 Remdesivir — made by Gilead Sciences under the brand Velkury, is the first drug to gain approval from the F.D.A. for the treatment of Covid-19. It works by interfering with the creation of new viruses, inserting itself into new viral genes. Remdesivir was originally tested as an antiviral against Ebola and Hepatitis C, only to deliver lackluster results. But a randomized controlled trial published in May concluded the drug reduced the recovery time of people hospitalized with Covid-19 from 15 to 11 days.   Updated Oct. 23


  • Favipiravir — Originally designed to beat back influenza, favipiravir blocks a virus’s ability to copy its genetic material. A small study in March indicated the drug might help purge the coronavirus from the airway. Larger, randomized trials are now underway.   Updated Sept. 29
  • Molnupiravir — (also known as MK-4482 and previously as EIDD-2801) is another antiviral originally designed to fight the flu. Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Merck are collaborating to develop it as a treatment for Covid-19.   Molnupiravir produced promising results against the new coronavirus in studies this spring in cells and on animals. In October, the companies started two Phase 2/3 trials to see if it can reduce mortality and speed recovery in patients.   Updated Oct. 13   
  • Recombinant ACE-2 — To enter cells, the coronavirus must first unlock them — a feat it accomplishes by latching onto a human protein called ACE-2. Scientists have created artificial ACE-2 proteins which might be able to act as decoys, luring the coronavirus away from vulnerable cells. Recombinant ACE-2 proteins have shown promising results in experiments on cells, but not yet in animals or people.  Updated Oct. 13
  • Ivermectin — For decades, ivermectin has served as a potent drug to treat parasitic worms. Doctors use it against river blindness and other diseases, while veterinarians give dogs a different formulation to prevent heartworm. Studies on cells have suggested ivermectin might also kill viruses. In April, Australian researchers reported that the drug blocked coronaviruses in cell cultures, but they used a dosage that was so high it might have dangerous side effects in people. The FDA immediately issued a warning against taking pet medications to treat or prevent Covid-19. “These animal drugs can cause serious harm in people,” the agency warned.  Updated Oct. 13
  • Oleandrin  — It is a compound produced by the oleander shrub. It can cause irregular heartbeats, making the plant dangerous to ingest. But many plant compounds — even some potentially lethal ones — have proven to be medically useful, and so researchers have investigated oleandrin as a potential treatment for cancer. The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases tested oleandrin on coronavirus-infected cells in May but the experiments were inconclusive.  But most compounds that kill viruses in cell cultures fail in further testing in animals or humans. Phoenix Biotechnology is considering selling oleandrin as an over-the-counter supplement. Consumers should be aware that there is no evidence that it’s safe or effective against the coronavirus in people.  Updated Aug. 21


  • Lopinavir and ritonavir — Twenty years ago, the F.D.A. approved this combination of drugs to treat H.I.V. Recently, researchers tried them out on the new coronavirus and found that they stopped the virus from replicating. But clinical trials in patients proved disappointing.
  • Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquineGerman chemists synthesized chloroquine in the 1930s as a drug against malaria. A less toxic version, called hydroxychloroquine, was invented in 1946, and later was approved for other diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, researchers discovered that both drugs could stop the coronavirus from replicating in cells.  The World Health Organization launched a randomized clinical trial in March to see if it was indeed safe and effective for Covid-19, as did Novartis and a number of universities. Meanwhile, Trump repeatedly promoted hydroxychloroquine at press conferences, touting it as a “game changer,” and even took it himself. The F.D.A. temporarily granted hydroxychloroquine emergency authorization for use in Covid-19 patients — which a whistleblower later claimed was the result of political pressure. But more detailed studies proved disappointing. Studies on animals such as monkeys and mice found no evidence that hydroxychloroquine stopped the disease.
Covid 19 Image

COVID-19; more than a question of life or death

A study of low-risk COVID-19 infected individuals finds impairments four months after first contracting the virus.

Young and previously healthy people with ongoing symptoms of Covid-19 are showing signs of damage to multiple organs four months after the initial infection, UK study suggests.

The findings are a step towards unpicking the physical underpinnings and developing treatments for some of the strange and extensive symptoms experienced by people with “long Covid”, brain fog, breathlessness, and pain are among the most frequently reported effects.

The UK-based Coverscan study assessed the long-term impact of Covid-19 on organ health in around 500 “low-risk” individuals – those who are relatively young and without any major underlying health complaints – with ongoing Covid symptoms, through a combination of MRI scans, blood tests, physical measurements and online questionnaires.

A total of 200 COVID-19 patients in the study had undergone screening suggesting 70% have impairments in one or more organs, including the heart, lungs, liver and pancreas, four months after their initial Covid-19 illness.

There is some post-infection impairment in 25% of the people in the study,  affecting two or more organs,” said Amitava Banerjee, a cardiologist and associate professor of clinical data science at University College London.

“This is of interest because we need to know if [the impairments] continue or improve – or if there is a subgroup of people who could get worse.”


Between April and September 2020, 201 individuals (mean age 44 (SD 11.0) 55 years, 70% female, 87% white, 31% healthcare workers) completed assessments following 56 SARS-CoV-2 infection (median 140, IQR 105-160 days after initial symptoms).

The 57 prevalence of pre-existing conditions (obesity: 20%, hypertension: 6%; diabetes: 2%; heart 58 disease: 4%) was low, and only 18% of individuals had been hospitalized with COVID-19. 59 Fatigue (98%), muscle aches (88%), breathlessness (87%), and headaches (83%) were the 60 most frequently reported symptoms.

Ongoing cardiorespiratory (92%) and gastrointestinal 61 (73%) symptoms were common, and 42% of individuals had ten or more symptoms. 62 There was evidence of mild organ impairment in heart (32%), lungs (33%), kidneys (12%), 63 liver (10%), pancreas (17%), and spleen (6%). Single (66%) and multi-organ (25%) 64 impairment was observed, and was significantly associated with risk of prior COVID-19 65 hospitalization.

In some, but not all, cases there was a correlation between people’s symptoms and the site of the organ impairment. For instance, heart or lung impairments correlated with breathlessness, while liver or pancreas impairments were associated with gastrointestinal symptoms.

“It supports the idea that there is an insult at organ level, and potentially multi-organ level, which is detectable, and which could help to explain at least some of the symptoms and the trajectory of the disease,” said Banerjee.

The new findings could also have implications for the management of people with long-term Covid impacts, suggesting the need for closer collaboration between medical specialists. “Sending the people you need to the cardiologist, and then to the gastroenterologist, and then to the neurologist would be an inefficient way to deal with things as the pandemic continues,” Banerjee said.

For Mirabai Nicholson-McKellar, Covid-19 brought an onslaught of symptoms from chest pains to an 11-day migraine, three positive test results, and a period in hospital.

Brain Fog: the long and unclear road to coronavirus recovery

Seven months later, the rollercoaster is far from over: the 36-year-old from Byron Bay, Australia is still experiencing symptoms – including difficulties with thinking that are often described as “brain fog”.

“Brain fog seems like such an inferior description of what is actually going on. It’s completely crippling. I am unable to think clearly enough to [do] anything,” says Nicholson-McKellar, adding that the experience would be better described as cognitive impairment.

The consequences, she says, have been enormous.

“I can’t work more than one to two hours a day and even just leaving the house to get some shopping can be a challenge,” she says. “When I get tired it becomes much worse and sometimes all I can do is lay in bed and watch TV.” Brain fog has made her forgetful to the point that she says she burns pots while cooking.

“It often prevents me from being able to have a coherent conversation or write a text message or email,” she adds. “I feel like a shadow of my former self. I am not living right now, I am simply existing.”

Nicholson-McKellar is far from alone.You Can Ease Inflammatory Arthritis Brain Fog with These 12 Tips for a Sharper Mind – CreakyJoints

Dr Michael Zandi, a consultant at the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology , says he has seen patients who have been living with brain fog for a few months. While some have been admitted to hospital or intensive care with Covid, Zandi says he is now seeing cases among people who coped with Covid at home.

“The proportion of people with cognitive symptoms for any period of time as a result of Covid-19 is unknown, and a focus of study now, but in some studies could be up to 20%,” he says.

Zandi agrees that difficulties with thinking and concentration have previously been reported by patients with other conditions, including the auto-immune disease lupus.

“Doctors and scientists wouldn’t necessarily use [brain fog] as a diagnosis as it doesn’t exactly tell you what the problem is and what could be causing that,” says Zandi.

Dr Wilfred Van Gorp, former president of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology, says many Covid survivors he has seen with brain fog also have problems ranging from headaches to difficulties tolerating loud noise and controlling emotions.

 “The complaints are very much similar to [those of] post-concussion patients,” he says, adding that there are also similarities to chronic fatigue syndrome.

Zandi says there could be many causes of brain fog in Covid survivors, from inflammation in the body to a lack of oxygen to the brain – the latter is a particular concern for those who spent time on ventilators.

Dr Nick Grey, a consultant clinical psychologist at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said terms similar to “brain fog” have previously been used in connection with extreme tiredness, low mood and conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – the latter of which is thought to affect about a quarter of Covid survivors who were in intensive care.

(originally published, Guardian, 10-09-20)
Ff Pollution

Hu Honua Meltdown

No amount of political influence is going to change the outcome for the Hu Honua Biomass project.

While there continues to be an effort to somehow rescue this ill-conceived power plant, the principals are already locked in litigation. Kind of a fitting end considering how many years they wasted in court as Ian Lind,  has exposed in his excellent coverage.

 Construction related litigation, suits against HELCO and NextEra, and even now they are trying to get their way using a writ of mandamus to the Hawaii Supreme Court and short cut the legal appeals process. The irony being that they want special expedited treatment because they are financially crumbling.

 Ian Lind, (Hawaii-based investigative reporter) recently exposed the curious case of certain elected officials attempting to bully the PUC into granting a waiver from the competitive process. Threatening to cut agency funding. This behavior was even brazenly put in writing which will likely attract attention from federal law enforcement tasked to prevent public corruption. Something that should bring immediate censure from their colleagues at the very least.

The PUC denied the waiver from competition because they found that Hu Honua wanted too much money for electricity and that it wasn’t in the public interest to raise rates for all consumers including State and County facilities on the Big Island as well as hard hit businesses and homeowners suffering through the pandemic economy. This at a time when solar farms have been approved and more are proposed at a fraction of the cost to ratepayers. Rates will actually go down for huge savings and creating lots of jobs in the process. Why would our elected officials jump on board an effort with this as the result?

 Finally, we really don’t need Hu Honua to get Hawaii island to 100% renewables. We don’t need an antique technology like burning trees to create energy that is hugely inefficient and represents the old central generation model with high transmission and distribution costs that get added on to our electric bills, when low cost and zero emissions wind and solar, and with Beyond Kona Banner Co2zero fuel costs, offer Hawaii clean and abundant self-sufficiency energy options.   With global heating on the rise, we certainly don’t need to be spewing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when Hawaii has climate-compatible generation alternatives available for half the energy cost of Hu Honua.

 Governor Ige has already committed federal CARES Act funding toward workforce development and training to ensure that as we create the grid of the future that we are hiring locally. That is something we can all embrace. Help diversify our economy and recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

 We can also support a County ESPC or energy saving performance contract to save millions and reduce grid demand. Leverage this third party financing approach to build green infrastructure and create jobs without the need to float bonds.

Steve Holmes is the former Energy and Sustainability Coordinator for the City and County of Honolulu. He won the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Champion Award in 2002.
He served 12 years on the Honolulu City Council putting large areas into parks and preservation.   He was a state energy analyst in Hilo, a Park Ranger at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Executive Director of Hawaii’s Thousand Friends, Hawaii Chapter Conservation Chair of the Sierra Club, President of Kokua Hilo Bay, and has won numerous awards for his efforts on behalf of Hawaii’s environment.
Beyond Kona Powerlines Solar Field

Big Island Electricity Prices Could Fall or Rise Dramatically

Donald Trump campaigned in 2016 pledging to save the coal industry. The problem is that coal and biomass have high unchangeable price points. Not so for solar energy.

The Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) is a term which describes the wholesale cost of the power produced by solar and sold to HELCO over a contract term. The wholesale cost is about 50-60 percent of the retail price that HELCO sells electricity to customers.

The Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission approved the HELCO-Hu Honua Power Purchase Agreement in December 2013. Hu Honua failed to meet contractual deadlines and HELCO canceled the contract.

The Commission approved the Amended and Revised HELCO- Hu Honua Power Purchase Agreement in July 2017.

The Consumer Advocate noted that the LCOE for the Hu Honua project in 2013 was consistent with other contracts: Hu Honua (25.3 cents/kWh), Kahuku Wind (22.5 cents/kWh), H-Power (22.4 cents/kWh), Interisland Wind (22.0 cents/kWh), and Kalaeloa Solar (21.8 cents/kWh)

The Public Utilities Commission described how the LCOE had changed between 2013 and 2017.

The LCOE for the Hu Honua biomass project in 2013 was 25.3 cents per kilowatt-hour over the 20-year contract.

If this same contract was signed in 2017, then in 2017 dollars the cost would be 28.6 cents per kilowatt-hour over the 20-year contract.

But HELCO and Hu Honua agreed to extend the contract from 20 to 30 years, thereby spreading out the fixed costs. With the extended contract, the price fell to 22.1 cents per kilowatt-hour over the 30-year contract.

The price of Hawai`i solar electricity in 2010 exceeded 20 cents per kilowatt-hour. By the end of the decade, the price of solar combined with a battery energy storage system was below 10 cents per kilowatt-hour.Solar Costs 2020 A

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) recently documented how the price of various types of renewable energy changed from 2010 to 2020.

Over the period from 2010 to 2020, the price of solar fell from 37.8 cents to 4.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The price of on-shore and off-shore wind both fell, but not as dramatically. They had started the decade much cheaper than solar, but by the end of the decade, they were competitive.

Because wind turbines take longer to install, future projections are easier to estimate. The cost of contracted offshore wind scheduled to become operational in 2023 is 8.2 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The 2010-20 decade also saw the price of batteries fall by almost 90%. The prices are expected to drop dramatically in the 2020s as battery energy storage systems increase exponentially to meet electric grid and transportation needs.

International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) published the Future of Solar PV report. “The price of solar electricity is expected to fall further from an average $0.085/kWh last year to $0.02-0.08/kWh by the end of the next decade and $0.01-0.05 by mid-century.”

Throughout this period, Hu Honua will have a locked-in price exceeding 20 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Hu Honua points out that they add diversity to the renewable mix on the Big Island: wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, and biomass. Hu Honua also points out that a portfolio of higher and lower-priced renewables are cost-competitive today.

The price of electricity on the Big Island is three times higher than the national average.

If all fossil fuel and biomass plants on the Big Island was replaced with solar, wind, and batteries, prices would fall sharply, except for the fact that ratepayers are still contractually obligated to pay for the outdated generation currently being used.

The Public Utilities Commission is wrapping up its two-plus year investigation of Performance-Based Regulation, seeking ways to incentivize Hawaiian Electric Company to reduce its costs. The current PUC has put the public interest and ratepayers ahead of utility inefficiencies and shareholder profits, a welcome change.

Dirty Power Plant Emissions

Hu Honua – An Open Letter to Hawaii’s PUC

ref: LETTER IN SUPPORT OF PUC DECISION – Docket No 2017-0122

To whom it may concern,

Hawaii’s PUC decision to deny Hu Honua’s exemption from a public and competitive power supplier process (in which all other power suppliers must compete to benefit ratepayers), was summed up by this well-reasoned PUC decision and explanation:

“The pertinent issue here is whether this particular Project (Hu Honua) should be exempted from competitive bidding against other renewable projects to determine the best value for HELCO and its customers. The Commission is aware that biomass resources offer different considerations than other renewable resources, such as solar and wind, but believes that these distinctions are better weighed and addressed in the context of the Competitive Bidding Framework.”

Hawaii Island (like much of the rest of the state) is on two divergent and transitional energy paths, and depending on which path we take, future energy costs to consumers and the state’s environmental impacts can range from beneficial-to-significant.   This energy transition is best exemplified by both good and bad fossil fuel replacements available to Hawaii Electric and ratepayers – enabled by present-day legislative deficiencies within state-mandated RPS rules.

Hawaii Electric’s PPA track record in addressing both cost and environmental considerations has not always been in the interest of ratepayers and our island residents.

What two better examples of clean energy versus dirty and renewable energy options for Hawaii Electric than the present day energy choices here on Hawaii Island between Hu Honua (the tree-burning) 21.5 megawatts bio-energy power plant in Pepeʻekeo, and the proposed Waikoloa Village 55 megawatt photovoltaic solar array with a 220-megawatt battery storage system – both offering on-demand power delivery options to the grid.

Which of these two examples of energy replacements options best serve the public interest and ratepayers?

We believe the graph below clearly illustrates the differences and which is best for Hawaii Island, ratepayers, and the state’s clean energy future.

Huhonua Comparison To Solar

Although not all the above points of consideration within the graph are within the regulatory purview of Hawaii’s PUC authority or mission, clearly there are other public benefits to the PUC’s decision to deny Hu Honua’s exemption from a competitive process, and considerations that exceed the strictly regulated elements of the Commission’s decision — a PUC decision the majority of Hawaii Island’s residents support, and with great appreciation.

Story Update: Sept 21, 2020

Lawsuit: Hu Honua ‘A Fiasco From The Beginning’