Palm trees waved in the tropical air. Scores of surfers dotted the flat, blue Pacific expanse, resting on their boards for hours at a time, like hens awaiting their eggs. The slim crescent of Waikiki Beach curved up the island, ringed by glimmering high-rises. At the other end, the old brown face of Diamond Head jutted out into the flawless sky. Here in Honolulu, life really could be a beach. But inside the Hawaii Convention Center, we could have been on another planet. Under the ...

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