Newark operations resume after drone reports halt arrivals
Wednesday, January 23
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Flight arrivals at Newark Airport were briefly suspended Tuesday evening after a drone was spotted over another nearby airport, officials said, in the latest incident of the unmanned aircraft affecting commercial air travel.
At about 5 p.m., the Federal Aviation Administration received two reports from flights headed to Newark that they had spotted a drone about 3,500 feet (1,000 meters) over nearby Teterboro Airport. The administration said in a statement that arriving flights were held briefly but resumed after no further sightings were reported.
The airport, which serves New York City, said just after 7 p.m. that it was operating normally again. The FAA had no reports of delays at the airport on its website.
Brett Sosnik was on a United Airlines flight bound for Newark when the pilot told passengers that they would be circling in the air because of a drone spotted in Newark airspace. Sosnik, who was returning from the Bahamas, said his plane circled for about half an hour.
“I was looking around trying to find a drone in the air when we were closer to landing, but I didn’t see anything,” said Sosnik, a New York City resident who works in marketing. “There’s got to be a way to combat that stuff and not have it affect huge airports with such a little piece of technology.”
United Airlines spokesman Robert Einhorn said the impact on its operations “has been minimal so far.”
London’s Heathrow Airport briefly halted departing flights earlier this month after a reported drone sighting — just three weeks after multiple reports of drone sightings caused travel chaos at nearby Gatwick Airport.
In the U.S., unless the operator gets a waiver from the FAA, drones are not allowed within 5 miles (8 kilometers) of most airports, and are not supposed to fly above 400 feet (120 meters).
Have you caught a catfish? Online dating can be deceptive
January 23, 2019
Author: Nicole Marie Allaire, Lecturer in English, Iowa State University
Disclosure statement: Nicole Marie Allaire does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: Iowa State University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
On the internet, you can become anyone you want to – at least for a while. And though deception doesn’t fit well with lasting romance, people lie all the time: Fewer than a third of people in one survey claimed they were always honest in online interactions, and nearly nobody expected others to be truthful. Much of the time, lies are meant to make the person telling them seem better somehow – more attractive, more engaging or otherwise worth getting to know.
“Catfishing” is a more advanced effort of digital deception. Named in a 2010 movie that later expanded into an MTV reality series, a catfish is a person who sets up an intentionally fake profile on one or more social network sites, often with the purpose of defrauding or deceiving other users.
It happens more than people might think – and to more people than might believe it. Many times in my own personal life when I was seeking to meet people online, I found that someone was being deceptive. In one case, I did a Google image search and found a man’s profile picture featured on a site called “Romance Scams.” Apparently, not everyone looking for love and connection online wants to start from a place of truth and honesty. Yet, as the show demonstrates to viewers, online lies can often be easy to detect, by searching for images and phone numbers and exploring social media profiles. Some people lie anyway – and plenty of others take the bait.
Why would they lie? Why might someone become a catfish?
When a deep emotional bond grows with someone, even via texts, phone calls and instant messages, it can be devastating to find out that person has been lying about some major aspect of their identity or intentions. My analysis of the first three seasons of the “Catfish” TV show reveals that there are several reasons someone might choose to become a deceitful catfish. On the show, ordinary people who suspect they’re being catfished get help from the hosts to untangle the lies and find the truth.
Sometimes the deception is unintentional. For instance, some people don’t know themselves well, so they tend to see and present themselves more positively than is accurate. In episode 13 from the show’s second season, a woman named Chasity uses someone else’s pictures and claims to be named Kristen. Others may intentionally create a fake profile but then connect with someone unexpectedly deeply and find the situation hard to come clean about.
Other catfish intend to deceive their targets, though not out of malice. For instance, they pretend to be someone else because they have low self-esteem or for some other reason think people won’t like the real person they are. On the show, there are several episodes about people who are struggling with aspects of their gender identity or sexual orientation and don’t know how to behave appropriately about those internal conflicts, or who fear bullying or violence if they openly identify their true selves.
Some catfish, though, set out to hurt people: for instance, to get revenge on a particular person because they are angry, hurt or embarrassed about something that has happened between them. In one episode, for instance, a woman catfishes her best friend to get back at her because they’re both interested in the same real-world man.
The show also highlighted a few catfish who found enjoyment making fake profiles and getting attention from strangers online. Others wanted to see if they could make money. Still others hoped to capitalize on the growing popularity of the show itself, wanting to actually meet someone famous or become famous by being on TV.
Some people think they’re actually dating a celebrity online.
Why do people fall for a catfish?
People want to trust those they interact with online and in real life. If a person believes he or she is on a date with someone being deceptive, things tend not to progress to a second date.
In the TV show, victims find out about the lies the catfish have told, exposed by the show’s hosts and co-investigators. Many who learn of being lied to aren’t particularly interested in meeting up with the real person behind the mask they’d been communicating with.
Someone who is enthralled in their connection with another person often fully believes what they’re told – even if it seems too good to be true. This is what scholars call the “halo effect,” which suggests that if a person likes someone initially, they’re more likely to continue to view them as good, even if that person does something bad. Effectively, that positive first impression has created a figurative angelic halo, suggesting the person is less likely to do wrong. In the very first episode of “Catfish: The TV Show,” Sunny believes that her love interest Jamison is a model holding cue cards on a late-night comedy show and studying to become an anesthesiologist. Sunny has a very hard time accepting that none of those claims are true of Chelsea, the real person claiming to be Jamison.
Sometimes the catfish is someone the victim knows.
A complementary idea, called “hyperpersonal connection,” suggests that people who develop deep emotional ties to each other very quickly may be more trusting, and may even feel safer sharing things facelessly online than they would in person. So someone who met a new friend online and felt an immediate connection might share deeply personal feelings and experiences – expecting the other person to reciprocate. Sometimes the catfish do, but they’re not always telling the truth.
Another reason people might not look too deeply into whether the person they’re talking to is real is that they don’t want the relationship to change, even if they say they do – or think they might in the future. If it’s meeting their needs to feel accepted, appreciated, connected and less lonely, why rock the boat? That could risk shattering the fantasy of a potential “happily ever after.” Some people also might not really plan ever to meet in real life anyway. So they don’t feel a need to verify the identity behind the online mask, and any lying will never actually matter.
Other people might feel guilty, as if they were snooping on someone they should trust, who might be upset if they found out their claims were being verified – even though the liar is the one who should feel bad, not the fact-checker.
People can still meet and develop real relationships through dating sites, apps and social media. But catfish are still out there, so it pays to be skeptical, especially if the person is never able to talk on the phone or by video chat. Ask questions about their lives and backgrounds; beware if someone gives fishy answers. Do your own background checking, searching images, phone numbers and social networks like they do on the “Catfish” show. Someone who’s sincere will be impressed at your savvy – and that you care enough to ensure you’re both being honest.
Family of slain Mongolian seeks answer as lawsuit begins
Wednesday, January 23
SHAH ALAM, Malaysia (AP) — The family of a Mongolian woman murdered in Malaysia 13 years ago hopes to find answers with a lawsuit that opened in court this week, their lawyer said Wednesday.
Altantuya Shaariibuu was shot dead and blown up with military-grade plastic explosives in a jungle outside Kuala Lumpur in October 2006. Her killing touched off a scandal linked to former Prime Minister Najib Razak, but he has repeatedly denied any involvement.
Two members of an elite police unit who were Najib’s bodyguards were convicted of killing Altantuya. Her lover Abdul Razak Baginda, a close aide to Najib, was tried but acquitted of abetting the crime, whose planner was never determined. Altantuya was 28 and pregnant at the time of her death.
There was speculation that Altantuya, who was also working as a translator for Abdul Razak, was killed to shut her up from exposing alleged corruption involving the purchase of submarines from France under Najib, who was then deputy premier and defense minister. Najib later became prime minister, until his party lost power in a shocking defeat in May last year.
The new government last year ordered investigations into her death to be reopened following appeals from Altantuya’s family. The family filed a lawsuit in 2007 seeking 100 million ringgit ($24 million) for the shock and trauma they suffered over her death, but the case was delayed pending conclusion of the criminal trial.
Lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo said Altantuya’s family wants justice for her. One of her two sons died last year, she said.
The family “wants to know who ordered her murder and we hope to get some answers from this trial,” she told The Associated Press. The lawsuit names the government, Abdul Razak and the two policemen as defendants.
Burmaa Oyunchimeg, a cousin of Altantuya, testified Wednesday that Altantuya and Abdul Razak were lovers since 2004. She said Altantuya had shown her photographs of a trip to Paris with Abdul Razak in 2005, including one of her taken with Abdul Razak and Najib.
“I remember I saw a picture of three people, two men and Altantuya. I asked her who they were, and she said one was the deputy prime minister and the other was (Abdul) Razak who worked with him and do business together,” said Burmaa, the first witness in the trial. She didn’t elaborate further.
Najib reiterated later Wednesday that he didn’t know the Mongolian nor had any connection with her.
“That is slander. Lies. I never met her,” he was quoted as saying by the Malaysiakini online news portal.
One of the policemen convicted of the murder fled to Australia while his conviction was on appeal. Sirul Azhar Umar has been detained there since 2015 for overstaying his visa and has offered to return to Malaysia to provide evidence in the case if he is promised a pardon. His colleague is on death row.
Altantuya’s father, Shaariibuu Setev, is due to testify later this week.
Inside the Kingdom of Hayti, ‘the Wakanda of the Western Hemisphere’
January 23, 2019
Author: Marlene Daut, Associate Professor of African Diaspora Studies, University of Virginia
Disclosure statement: Marlene Daut does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: University of Virginia provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
Marvel’s blockbuster “Black Panther,” which recently became the first superhero drama to be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award, takes place in the secret African Kingdom of Wakanda. The Black Panther, also known as T’Challa, rules over this imaginary empire – a refuge from the colonialists and capitalists who have historically impoverished the real continent of Africa.
But fans of the box-office hit might not realize that they don’t need to look to the make-believe world of the Black Panther to find a modern-day black kingdom that aspired to be a safe haven from racism and inequality.
The fictional kingdom has a real-life corollary in the historic Kingdom of Hayti, which existed as a sort of Wakanda of the Western Hemisphere from 1811 to 1820.
The Haitian Revolution led to the creation of the first free black state in the Americas. But the world was hardly expecting a former enslaved man named Henry Christophe to make himself the king of it.
Media accounts from the era, some of which I’ve collected in a digital archive, serve as a window into a brief period of time when the kingdom stood as a beacon of black freedom in a world of slavery. Yet, like Wakanda, the Kingdom of Hayti wasn’t a utopia for everyone.
A new kind of kingdom
On Jan. 1, 1804, an army led by former enslaved Africans in the French colony of Saint-Domingue staved off France’s attempt to bring back slavery, and declared themselves independent and free forever.
The leader of the revolutionaries, General Jean-Jacques Dessalines, had defeated Napoleon’s famous army and made himself emperor of the newly-renamed Haiti.
But in October 1806, Dessalines was assassinated by political rivals, leading the country to be divided into two separate states: General Henry Christophe named himself president of the northern part of Haiti, while General Alexandre Pétion governed a completely separate republic in the southern and southwestern part of the country.
‘I am reborn from my ashes’ was the motto of Henry I, the former slave who became king. In March 1811, President Henry Christophe surprised everyone when he anointed himself King Henry I and renamed the northern republic, the Kingdom of Hayti. Henry I soon had a full court of nobles that included dukes, barons, counts and knights to rival that of royal England.
Haiti’s first and only kingdom immediately attracted the attention of media outlets from around the world. How could there be a republic on one side of the island and a monarchy on the other, they wondered? Was the new black king trying to mimic the same white sovereigns who had once enslaved his people, others asked?
The edicts establishing the royal order of Haiti were immediately translated into English and printed in Philadelphia, while many American and British newspapers and magazines ran celebrity profiles of the Haitian king.
One newspaper described him as “the elegant model of an Hercules.” Another described him as “a remarkably handsome, well-built man; with a broad chest, square shoulders, and an appearance of great muscular strength and activity.”
The ‘First Monarch’ of the ‘New World’
In 1813, construction of the opulent Sans-Souci Palace – meaning literally “without worry” – was completed.
The palace was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 1842; today, its remains have been designated a world heritage UNESCO site.
During its heyday, the palace dazzled.
There were the elegantly manicured gardens and a unique, domed cathedral. The structure was flanked by a dramatic double staircase leading to the entryway and two arches detailed with etchings and inscriptions. One acknowledged Henry, rather than Jean-Jacques, as the country’s “founder.”
There were also two painted crowns on the principal palace façade, each of which stood at 16 feet tall. The one on the right read “To the First Monarch Crowned in the New World.” The one on the left said “The Beloved Queen Reigns Forever Over Our Hearts.”
King Henry lived in the palace with his wife, Queen Marie-Louise, and his three children, Prince Victor Henry, and the princesses, Améthyste and Athénaire.
An April 1815 issue of The Gazette Royale details how the Kingdom of Hayti foiled France’s attempt to reconquer its former colony.
Newspapers around the world reprinted articles from the monarchy’s official newspaper, the Gazette Royale d’Hayti, detailing the royal family’s lavish dinners, replete with bombastic speeches and lengthy toasts to famous contemporary figures such as King George III of England, U.S. President James Madison, the King of Prussia, and the “friend of humanity,” the “immortal” British abolitionist Thomas Clarkson.
The Gazette also recounted the decadence of Queen Marie-Louise’s August 1816 official birthday celebration, which lasted for 12 days and had 1,500 people in attendance. On the final day of the party, 12 cannons fired after the Duke of Anse toasted the queen as “the perfect model of mothers and wives.”
A free island in a sea of slavery
There was much more to King Henry’s reign than luxurious parties.
On March 28, 1811, King Henry installed a constitutional monarchy, a move lauded by many in the British elite. The famous British naturalist Joseph Banks championed Henry’s 1812 book of laws, titled the “Code Henry,” calling it “the most moral association of men in existence.”
“Nothing that white men have been able to arrange is equal to it,” he added.
Banks admired the code’s detailed reorganization of the economy, from one based on slave labor to one – at least in theory – based on free labor. This transformation was wholly fitting for the formerly enslaved man-turned-king, whose motto was “I am reborn from my ashes.”
The code provided for shared compensation between proprietors and laborers at “a full fourth the gross product, free from all duties,” and it also contained provisions for the redistribution of any land that had previously belonged to slave owners.
“Your Majesty, in his paternal solicitude,” one edict reads, “wants for every Haytian, indiscriminately, the poor as well as the rich, to have the ability to become the owner of the lands of our former oppressors.”
Henry’s stated “paternal solicitude” even extended to enslaved Africans. While the Constitution of 1807 had announced that Haiti would not “disturb the regimes” of the colonial powers, royal Haitian guards regularly intervened in the slave trade to free captives on foreign ships that entered Haitian waters. An October 1817 issue of the Gazette celebrated the Haitian military’s capture of a slave ship and subsequent release of 145 of “our unfortunate brothers, victims of greed and the odious traffic in human flesh.”
Too good to be true?
Yet life in the Kingdom of Hayti was far from perfect.
Henry’s political rivals noted that people frequently defected to the southern Republic of Haiti, where they told stories of the monarch’s favoritism and the aristocracy’s abuse of power.
Worse, Henry’s famous fortress, the Citadelle Laferrière, was, according to some accounts, built with forced labor. For this reason, Haitians have long debated whether the imposing structure, which was restored in 1990, ought to symbolize the liberty of post-independence Haiti.
Henry’s dreams of a free black kingdom would not outlive him. On Aug. 15, 1820, the king suffered a debilitating stroke. Physically impaired – and fearing a fracturing administration plagued by the desertion of some its most prominent members – Haiti’s first and only king killed himself on the night of Oct. 8, 1820.
Despite some questions about living conditions in the Kingdom of Hayti, its ruler can still be recognized as a visionary. Even one of his most ardent rivals from the south, Charles Hérard Dumesle, who often referred to Christophe as a “despot,” nonetheless praised the remarkable “new social order” outlined in the Code Henry. Dumesle appeared to lament that the king’s “civil laws were the formula for a social code that existed only on paper.”
For all those who still dream of black liberation, strong – if ultimately flawed – leaders, like both the King of Hayti and Black Panther, have always been central to these visions.
King Henry was even depicted as a sort of superhero in his time. As one article from 1816 noted of Henry,
“History demonstrates that no people has ever done anything great entirely by themselves; it is only ever in collaboration with the great men who become elevated in their midst that they raise themselves up to the glory of accomplishing extraordinary deeds.”