News Updates

The fight to save Hawaii

August 19, 2023
It’s the weekend, Insiders! If you plan to do some online shopping this weekend, beware of counterfeit goods. New technology has made selling fake items easier than ever, but experts have shared the top ways to identify inauthentic goods.

Before you embark on a digital shopping spree, our big story is examining the future of Lahaina.


What’s on deck:

But first: the Maui wildfires.
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What’s at risk in Lahaina

PAULA RAMON/Getty Images


The Maui wildfires are the deadliest in modern US history. The death toll is over 100, and more than 1,000 people are still missing.

Despite the widespread damage in Lahaina, more remains at risk.

As recovery efforts continue, Hawaii residents have urged tourists to stay away and slammed them for clogging roads and delaying supply deliveries. Many have shared on social media firsthand accounts of the devastation.

While agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the military have stepped in to help, locals have a historical distrust of the US government.

Plus, to circumvent intermediaries — who sometimes capitalize on people’s donations — many have worked on grassroots efforts to get money donated directly to Lahaina residents and local groups.

For example, one person made a viral spreadsheet of more than 1,000 verified Lahaina residents that included their stories, what they needed, and how to pay them directly.

However, even those efforts have had hiccups. Initially, the size of the list meant those toward the top received the lion’s share of the aid. But another person created a method to help sort the verified residents by who received the lowest number of donations.

Direct monetary relief currently helps locals with short-term needs. Many Lahaina residents in the spreadsheet detailed their needs for food, clothes, and shelter after losing everything in the fire.

Beyond the immediate, some mentioned rebuilding their homes in the future. The fire burned down about 3,000 structures, including whole apartment buildings.

Developers have already started reaching out to Lahaina residents to see whether they’d be willing to sell their waterfront land, social-media posts and reports have said. Many have urged each other online to stand strong — no matter how tempting — and resist the offers during this time of need.

Gov. Josh Green of Hawaii has tried to make sure local landowners don’t feel pressured to sell amid these dire times. He accused developers of trying to “steal land from our people” and contacted the state attorney general about pausing land transactions in Lahaina.

“My intention from start to finish is to make sure that no one is victimized from a land grab,” Green said. “Do not approach their families saying they’ll be much better off if they make a deal. Because we’re not going to allow it.”

Lahaina was the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom at two points during its existence. And it’s considered a sacred spot to Native Hawaiians — their beliefs say Lahaina is the home of Kihawahine, a woman who turned into a shape-shifting lizard goddess.

“Hawaiian Indigenous practices have a lot of gods, goddesses, supernatural entities that are part of their belief system that live in the metaphysical but also the physical,” Rosalyn R. LaPier, an Indigenous scholar who studies the environment and religion of Indigenous peoples, told Insider.

She added that these physical places could be anywhere from their homes to a rock and served as spots where people could physically go to practice their religion.

Despite his efforts, Green acknowledged that his move to protect local landowners would likely face legal challenges. And if developers succeed, yet another part of Hawaii will be stripped from locals and reserved for the wealthy.


3 things in travel

Air India
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  2. “I tried the viral fishing-vest travel hack.” TikTokers are wearing fishing vests on planes to avoid extra baggage fees. The handy garment can fit toiletries, clothing, and even a laptop.
  3. The seven things this solo traveler always packs. From domestic hiking trips to exploring foreign cities, he’s been taking solo trips for six years. His travel essentials include earbuds, a money belt, and a portable power bank.
3 things in health
Courtesy of Mary Cannon
  1. Florida native moved away over “truly unbearable” heat. Growing up in Orlando, she would wear sweaters and jackets in the wintertime. Now cold in the winter is a rarity. And for months out of the year, she’s unable to enjoy being outside because of the heat.
  2. Signs you may be a toxic person, according to a therapist. This licensed therapist shared three signs of toxic behavior that she initially identified in herself. These included being passive aggressive and seeking constant validation from partners.
  3. Learning how to relax. This 43-year-old never experienced true relaxation — until recently. Doing nothing on a family vacation was originally mind-boggling. But it changed everything for him.
3 things in life
Ground Picture/Shutterstock; New Africa/Shutterstock
  1. The nine colors you should never have in your bedroom. Avoid hues incompatible with a restful bedroom environment. And steer clear of certain shades of orange (too overstimulating) and most shades of purple (often overwhelming).
  2. Bama rush: “hot,” “sweaty,” and “miserable.” A student shared her three-day experience trying to get into a sorority at the University of Alabama. “It’s just so hot, and I’m nasty, and I want to go to bed, but I’m nasty so I have to take a shower,” she said.
  3. This Aldi hater turned lover shares her 12 favorite items from the grocery store. Besides the avocados that are a steal, she loves the specialty cheeses, the Deutsche Küche spaetzle, and unsweetened vanilla almond milk.

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Jeff Bezos’ homes

Marketing by Visualhouse
Photos of Jeff Bezos’ lavish properties across the US. He’s the 24th-largest landowner in the country. His latest acquisition, Bloomberg said, is a $68 million waterfront mansion in Florida’s “billionaire bunker.”
The Insider Today team: Dan DeFrancesco, senior editor and anchor, in New York City. Diamond Naga Siu, senior reporter, in San Diego. Hallam Bullock, editor, in London. Lisa Ryan, executive editor, in New York City.
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