2018: Hawaii headlines go worldwide

Volcanoes! Hurricanes! Political intrigue! Hawaii news stories have garnered a fair share of national headlines thus far in 2018. Here is a rundown of some of the most prominent Hawaii headlines that have been featured on the national and international media stage.

Missile Alert! Not!

Hawaii started off the year by bursting onto international media platforms when an official, false missile alert was issued inadvertently, warning of an impending missile attack. The incident turned out to shine a light on lapses within such warning systems.

A missile detection system at Pearl Harbor

No one was hurt, but there were a whole lot of very terrified people here for the 35 minutes before the warning was cancelled. At a time when US-North Korea relations were perilously close to all-out war and North Korean nuclear tests were headlines, the false alert was a fiasco of international proportions.

Kilauea Volcano Eruption

The images and video have been spectacular. Since the eruption began on May 3, the eyes of the world have been on the remote, rural community of Puna on Hawaii Island. Hundreds of homes and structures have been consumed or made inaccessible by the lava flow from the now famous Fissure 8. Thousands of residents have been displaced.

Big Island resident Ikaika Marzo has become a sort-of celebrity through is man on the street Facebook and Youtube updates of activity in the area affected by the eruption. The citizen-journalist did a fantastic job of updating the public in real time as the lava flowed. Ikaika was even invited onstage to join world-famous Hawaii musician and environmental activist Jack Johnson in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Drone allow relatively access to dangerous locations. Photo courtesy US Geological Survey

As the volcanic and seismic activity at Kilauea have subsided somewhat, media coverage has also waned. As is the way in Puna, life goes on. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t more natural disasters to cover!

Hurricanes Lane and Olivia

Like video of fountains and rivers of lava, radar images of hurricanes bearing down on the Aloha State are eerily compelling. After the catastrophic devastation of Hurricane Iniki, we here in Hawaii are keenly aware of the potential destruction of an approaching storm.

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Local weatherman Guy Hagi has become a meme-celebrity. News stories of runs on rice, Spam, water and toilet paper lead every newscast and headline in the path of a hurricane. There is definitely a “here we go again” mentality among Hawaii residents when it comes to hurricanes, but everyone takes the threat seriously. Our isolation out here in the Pacific means that supplies in the event of a disaster will be a long time coming.

A hurricane from space. Courtesy NASA.


Hurricanes Lane and Olivia
petered out from Category 5 hurricanes to menacing tropical storms, without widespread damage. But communities on Maui and the Big Island suffered considerably flooding and power outages.
With the earth positively roiling with cyclones at present, it seems likely that more storm alerts, watches and warnings are on the horizon. Hurricane season in Hawaii runs through November.

The Political Tempest

Hawaii politicians and officials have also crashed the national media stage. Most recently it was US Senator Mazie Hirono, following her grilling of US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh over his record regarding the rights of native Hawaiians and other indigenous people of the United States. Only the charismatic Kamala Harris got more attention for her interrogation of the nominee. The people of Hawaii cheered Hirono.

Hirono remains in the national spotlight, having recently urged the men in Congress and of the whole U.S. to “just shut up and step up and do the right thing” in response to allegations of sexual misconduct by the Supreme Court nominee. This one isn’t over.

US Senator Brian Schatz has quietly become a leader in the Democratic Party for his firm and articulate stances on a variety of important issues facing not only the State of Hawaii, but the country as a whole.

Hawaii's Capitol Building in Honolulu. Courtesy: hawaii.gov

Then-Attorney General Doug Chin made national headlines by opposing Donald Trump’s brutal immigration policies. Tulsi Gabbard has become a darling of the Democratic Party, making frequent appearances and comments on many issues. She drew political fire for her seeming support of the Assad regime in Syria. Any press, eh?

That Hawaii is a source of fascination is no surprise. It’s paradise. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of it? But in recent months, the Aloha State has taken the main media stage for reasons other than sunsets and Mai Tai’s.

As Hawaii is a remote Pacific outpost, much of the world is fascinated by the goings-on here when those events make the spotlight. We are a curiosity. As a sovereign state in America, however, the words and deeds of our leaders, and the fate of the people here are relevant to the rest of the world.