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False Alert of Incoming Ballistic Missile in Hawaii Causes Panic

This weekend, cell phones across the islands of Hawaii received a false alert warning of an incoming ballistic missile. The alert was initiated by a state worker who “pushed the wrong button.” The false alert caused panic with people frantically trying to reach loved ones to say goodbye. Some parents even tried to place their kids in sewer drains.

Hawaii U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard stated that it took her only 12 minutes after the alert was issued to confirm with “authorities” that it was a false alert and there was no incoming missile. Yet, it took “authorities” 38 minutes to issue a false alarm message.

So, it was a government worker who caused the mistake in the first place, by “pushing the wrong button” (Was he high? Drunk? Too much Xanax or Adderall? Was he texting while “pushing the wrong button”?), and it was government “authorities” who took 38 minutes to finally let people know they weren’t going to be disintegrated by a nuclear blast. (Not that “government worker” means anything.)

This reminded me of the time that another government worker, President Ronald Reagan, was about to do his weekly radio address, on August 11, 1984. When asked to do a sound check prior to his address, he decided to clown around, and, he stated, “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” Now, after that occurred, I remember listening to a radio talk show in which the host clearly said that the mic was live, or that Reagan was told it was just a sound check but that it was actually live on the air. However, everything on the Internet now is saying it was not live on the air.

But as people found out later, news of Reagan’s joke wasn’t just on our own biased newscasts but actually caused alarm in other countries. For instance, Politico noted recently that, “TASS, the official Soviet news agency, solemnly declared that ‘the USSR condemns this unprecedented and hostile attack by the U.S. president’.”

The Russians (then known as the Soviets) actually did go on a “Red Alert.” As NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw and reporter Marvin Kalb told the story a few months later in October, 1984:

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