The shaka sign - a person's thumb and pinkie extended, the rest of the fingers in a fist - is uniquely Hawaiian, a way to say "right on," "hang loose" or simply hello.
But it turns out it's not the only way islanders have used their hands to communicate.
A research group at the University of Hawaii at Manoa announced Friday that they had documented - for the first time - Hawaii Sign Language, or HSL, which deaf people across the islands' diverse ethnic groups have used for decades if not longer.
While there is written evidence dating back to 1821 indicating such a language existed, beginning in the 1940s it started to get largely phased out in favor of American Sign Language.FULL STORY
The talk in Washington is all about the "fiscal cliff" and what the president and Congress need to do to avoid it. Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of the fiscal cliff debate.
Today's programming highlights...
3:00 pm ET - Sen. Inouye memorial service - President Obama will attend the final memorial service for the late Sen. Daniel Inouye at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii.
CNN.com Live is your home for breaking news as it happens.
Sen. Daniel Inouye, 88, a long-serving Democrat from Hawaii and a wounded veteran of World War II, has died, Capitol Hill sources tell CNN.
Inouye died of respiratory complications at 5:01 p.m. EST Monday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, his office said.FULL STORY
If you're like billionaires Richard Branson or Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, buying an island and claiming it to be your personal paradise is just another way to invest in happiness.
Ellison has bought about 98% of Lana'I, the sixth-largest island in Hawaii. That's 140 square miles of personal getaway, confirmed by Hawaii's governor, but no one's talking about how much it went for just yet. And it just happens to be more than 1,000 times larger than Branson's Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands.
The package deal includes two luxury resorts, two golf courses, two clubhouses and 88,000 acres of land, according to a document filed with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. It's also full of gorgeous scenery and pineapples as well. Some residents have said they hope that Ellison, who has a deep love of nature, will give the island an economic lift.
If you could buy any island, which one would it be? What would you do with it, and how would you use it?
Six fingers from a child found in a Hawaii trash bin have been examined by experts at the military's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command at Pearl Harbor, but there are no new leads in the case, CNN affiliate Hawaii News Now reports.
Robert Mann, director of the forensics academy at the military unit, said the fingers give investigators only scant information on where to take an investigation.
"It's not a complete hand. It's not a complete body. And so the less you have of an individual to try to identify or to work with, the harder our job is," Mann told Hawaii News Now.
A woman searching for recyclables found the fingers sealed in a zippered plastic storage bag inside a trash bin at a Honolulu housing complex more than a month ago, according to Honolulu police.
Police in Honolulu are asking for the public's help in finding the answers to a horrible mystery: How did the fingers of a child end up in a trash bin at a housing complex?
The fingers were found a month ago, according to a Honolulu Police Department news release.
"Laboratory testing has determined that the fingers are those of a child," police said in Monday's release.
The fingers are those of a girl, 2½ to 4 years old, CNN affiliate KHON-TV reported, citing police sources. Six fingers were recovered, according to the report.
A 4.7-magnitude earthquake rocked Hawaii's Big Island Sunday afternoon, the U.S. Geological Survey reports.
The quake, centered 26 miles south of Hilo at a depth of five miles, hit at 4:36 p.m., according to the USGS.
It was followed by about a dozen aftershocks, the biggest of which had a magnitude of 3.1, USGS data shows.
The quakes caused two small collapses in a lava delta from the Kilauea volcanic eruption, bigislandvideonews.com reported, citing a USGS press release.
No other damage was reported.
Mark down January 4 as one strange day for weather in the United States. The extremes were topsy-turvy.
While Floridians were experiencing record low temperatures, Montanans were seeing record highs that are normal for April or October.
Forecast highs in the upper 50s in Montana were expected to break records in Lewistown, Great Falls, Harve and a handful of other places, according to the National Weather Service.
Similar highs were forecast Wednesday for large portions of Florida.
Seventy years have not dulled the memories of Bob Kerr.
One need only look at the detailed map of the Hawaiian island of Oahu he drew for me off the top of his head on a napkin during our lunchtime conversation.
Kerr, 90, is one of an estimated 8,000 survivors of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, who are still alive. Telling that story became a big part of his life.
(Click the audio player to hear a podcast version of this story from CNN's Matt Cherry.)
He points out Pearl Harbor, the adjacent Hickam Field, and even the path the Japanese planes took over the island on December 7, 1941.
"It’s important for people to know that there was such a thing as an attack in 1941 on December the 7th," Kerr said. "It’s part of history. It’s one of the biggest events in our history. 9/11 may equal it, but it can't be forgotten."
Researchers in Hawaii who predicted that a wave of debris from Japan’s March 11 tsunami may hit Hawaiian shores by 2013 are preparing studies that may allow more precise forecasts.
The preparations come a month after a Russian ship found “unmistakable tsunami debris” – including a refrigerator, a TV and a damaged 20-foot fishing vessel – in the Pacific Ocean between Japan and the Midway Atoll, according to the International Pacific Research Center of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
The fishing boat had markings that indicated it came from Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture, the university said.
“The most important thing the (Russian ship did in September) did was provide solid proof of the existence of the tsunami debris,” researcher Nikolai Maximenko said Wednesday. “Soon we hope to have better information and to make exact forecasts for the landfall of debris for Midway (Atoll).”
Maximenko and fellow researcher Jan Hafner predicted in April – using computer models developed from observations of how buoys drift in the ocean – that some of the debris that the tsunami carried away would reach the Hawaiian islands by 2013. Some debris would then hit the western U.S. and Canadian coasts by 2014 before bouncing back toward Hawaii for a second impact.
They also predict that some of the smaller, lighter debris such as plastic bottles could reach the Midway Atoll, more than 1,200 miles northwest of Hawaii, by this winter.
Three things you need to know today.
NBA lockout: The start of the NBA season could depend on what happens at a pivotal meeting Tuesday between the owners and the players in New York.
National Basketball Players Association President Derek Fisher put it like this Monday: "We are aware of the calendar. We know our backs are against the wall in terms of regular season games and what those consequences will be."
Added NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver: "We can only say we are running out of time so many times. We are getting close to the point where we are going to lose the rest of the preseason and have to start canceling regular season games."
The sometimes bitter NBA labor struggle and lockout has now stretched to three months.
Meanwhile, some of the league's top agents are urging players not to back down in the negotiations, SI.com's Sam Amick reports.
Tuesday's meeting starts at noon ET.
California weather: Temperatures in inland areas of California could be 15 to 30 degrees lower than normal over the next few days as two weather systems moving down the West Coast from the Gulf of Alaska hit the state.
The first on Tuesday will bring light rains and snow above 8,000 feet in the mountains, the National Weather Service says.
The second storm moving into the state Wednesday and Thursday will bring the big temperature drop as well as light to moderate rain west of the mountains, gusty winds and snow at elevations above 6,500 feet, forecasters said.
School surfing: Surfing, which is synonymous with the culture of Hawaii, is expected to get formal approval Tuesday as a sanctioned sport when the state board of education meets.
The proposal, if approved, would sanction surfing as a sport available in all 46 high schools in the island state.
"High schools have had surf clubs for years with informal competitions," explained Alex de Silva, a spokesman for the State Board and Department of Education.
The idea was originally proposed in 2004 but didn't go far "because we are in a tight budget situation like nearly every other school system," said de Silva. But now the plan is to seek outside corporate support for the program.
One man was killed and another seriously injured as they tested a zip line on Hawaii's Big Island on Wednesday.
The man who was killed, a 36-year-old from Maui, was about halfway across the 2,300-foot line above a stream bed when a tower holding up one end of line collapsed. He plunged 200 feet into the rocky stream bed and died at the scene. The injured worker, a 35-year-old from Ohio, fell about 30 feet from the collapsing tower and was in critical condition at Hilo Medical Center, according to a statement from the Hawaii Police Department.
The two men were working on a new course at the zip line facility just outside Hilo when the accident occurred, their employer, Experiential Resources Inc. of Maui, said in a statement distributed by Hawaii247.com. On its website, the company bills itself as "the global leader in the designing and building of adventure courses, canopy tours and zip line courses."
The company that owns the zip line, Lava Hotline, told CNN affiliate KHON-TV that all lines at the facility would be closed pending an investigation.
Three things you need to know today.
Pacific surf: While the National Hurricane Center watches Hurricane Katia in the Atlantic and a tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico, forecasters on the West Coast are warning of high waves and dangerous riptides on southwest facing beaches.
Waves of up to 11 feet could pound Southern California beaches from San Luis Obispo south to San Diego, the National Weather Service said.
"The surf may cause hazards for anyone entering the water," the weather service's forecast said.
The high waves are the result of a winter storm off the coast of New Zealand whose rough seas are now being felt across the Pacific.
Big waves have been pounding Hawaii since Tuesday, CNN affiliate KHNL reports, and forecasters say 8-to-12-foot waves can be expected in the islands today.
Oklahoma fires: One of two wildfires burning in Oklahoma City on Wednesday pushed north toward suburban Edmond, illuminating the windy night sky with spirals of flame and flying embers.
The fire broke out Tuesday in the less densely populated northeast Oklahoma City and was moving in a northerly direction toward more largely residential, Edmond Fire Chief Tim Wheeler said.
"The winds have shifted a bit," Wheeler said. "It's current path it's going to travel through a heavily wooded area, which will allow the fire to grow in intensity."
He said it is hoped the fire can be stopped before it crosses Interstate 44 to the southeast of Edmond, but the department had already initiated its Code Red system, which autodials residents' telephone numbers encouraging them to evacuate.
Money for Libya: The British government has started delivering money that it unfroze to a bank in Libya, the foreign secretary said in a statement Wednesday.
The Royal Air Force delivered 280 million dinars (about 140 million pounds) to the Central Bank of Libya in Benghazi, the statement said.
The money is among billions of dollars ordered frozen by the United Nations when the crisis began.
The money "will be used to pay the wages of Libyan public sector employees, including nurses, doctors, teachers and police officers," the statement said. It also will be used to pay for medicines and food.
The lava-filled crater in Hawaii's Kilauea volcano collapsed more than 250 feet Wednesday, according to the Hawaii Volcano Observatory.
The Puu Oo crater, which holds a lake of lava inside the cone at Kilauea's summit, last collapsed in March. Wednesday's collapse created a lava flow that split into two directions and closed a portion of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It did not affect any areas outside the park's boundaries.
According to an update from the Hawaii Volcano Observatory on Thursday night, "The crater rim remained extremely unstable, with continued collapses along the crater walls sending blocks of rock onto the crater floor."
Kilauea has been erupting continually since 1983. Hawaii's volcanoes erupt effusively, meaning runny lava bubbles up and flows out, as opposed to building up pressure and exploding violently.
U.S. military forensics scientists in Hawaii are investigating whether a skull unearthed during dredging at Pearl Harbor may be from a Japanese flier killed in the December 7, 1941, attack.
Historian Daniel Martinez tells CNN affiliate KHON-TV that based on where the skull was found, it may be that of an aviator from a Japanese torpedo plan that was attacking battleship row and was hit in its engine by anti-aircraft fire from the destroyer USS Bagley.
"Once they came over Hickam Field, they lowered to an altitude of about 35 feet and they're moving across that water at about 150 knots. Well that projectile stopped that plane right in its tracks," Martinez told KHON.
The widow of the doctor whose signature is on President Obama's birth certificate was honored to learn of her husband's role in bringing the future president into the world and hoped the document would end debate over his citizenship.
"It is a great thrill and a great honor and I had no idea," Ivalee Sinclair, an Obama supporter, said Wednesday in a phone interview from her home in Honolulu, Hawaii.
"I was just overwhelmed with the news."
David Sinclair's name appears as the attending physician on the live birth certificate that the White House released Wednesday in response to doubts over his citizenship. The "birther debate" has waxed and waned since Obama's presidential campaign, returning with renewed vigor last week due in large part to the efforts of billionaire entrepreneur Donald Trump.
After years of speculation and several major media outlets debunking claims, President Obama moved to put rumors about his birth certificate to bed by releasing the long-form document. While this may quiet some of the noise from some so-called "birther" conspiracy theorists, it may not be enough for others. In today's gotta watch we take a look at some of the most vocal "birthers" and their years-long quest to see Obama's birth certificate. And if you're still not sure what all the stink is all about, we've got a cheat sheet here.
The born conspiracy? – "Birther" movement leader Orly Taitz has been very vocal about her doubts concerning the president's birth place. She even took the issue to a California court. She said her goal was to find out if Obama was U.S. citizen and to hold a special presidential election if he wasn't.
Families of U.S. service members in Japan who voluntarily left the country after the March 11 quake are entitled to as much $21,225 in living expenses for their first month back in the United States, according to Defense Department documents and officials.
That amount, based on one adult, one teenager and one child under 12 who chose to evacuate to Honolulu, decreases to about $11,000 in months two through six the family spends in a "safe haven," the place the family has chosen to spend their time away from Japan. Military families were given their choice of destinations in the continental United States, according Eileen M. Lainez of the Defense Press Office in Washington, but evacuation to Hawaii and Alaska was considered on a case-by-case basis. Civilian dependents were given their choice of destinations in the 50 states.
The amount varies by location and cost of living and could be considerably less. While the family could get $21,225 the first month for staying in Oahu, Hawaii, and almost $15,675 if it went to Santa Barbara, California, it would be authorized $9,225 for North Dakota or rural areas of North Carolina, for example, according to Defense Department figures.
A fire ignited by lava from the Kilauea Volcano on Hawaii's Big Island is threatening what a National Park Service spokesman calls "a living laboratory of Hawaiian plants and animals," the Star-Advertiser in Honolulu reports.
The fire, which began on March 5, has burned 100 acres of a 2,750-acre special ecological area in a lowland rain forest, according to the Park Service.
Among the creatures in the area are happy face spiders, carnivorous caterpillars and the endangered Hawaiian bat, the newspaper said, citing Park Service fire information spokesman Gary Wuchner.
"It best represents what Hawaii was, and is a seed source for plants and refuge for birds," Hawaii Volcanoes National Park spokeswoman Mardi Lane told the Star-Advertiser.
Forty Park Service firefighters from Hawaii and western mainland states are battling the fire, according to the report.
Rain and high winds hindered clean-up efforts in coastal communities along the West Coast of the United States and Hawaii after a tsunami triggered by Friday's earthquake destroyed harbors and swept out to sea at least three people and dozens of boats.
The National Weather Service on Saturday canceled tsunami advisories for the immediate coastal areas of central and Southern California, while warning residents of continued tidal surges in harbors across the region. But assessment of the damage was just beginning.
Local officials put damage estimates to harbor facilities in the millions in two seaside communities along the Oregon-California border hit hardest by the surge, which originated some 5,000 miles away.
Residents of Crescent City, California, and Brookings, Oregon, were spared the extent of devastation wrought in Japan, where the death toll continues to rise and a state of emergency has been declared at a power plant. A tsunami warning was declared in many American jurisdictions minutes after the earthquake hit, prompting evacuations and emergency measures, which effectively minimized damage.